Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's the Constitution, stupid

Paragraph 8 of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution of the United States is:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

This is the Presidential oath of Office. It does not say, as the President did tonight, that his "most solemn responsibility is to protect our nation".

This is the problem. We have a President in a bubble, who will brook no dissent, who wants to do as he pleases, without oversight by the supine senate or the irritating courts - even the secret ones.

When the President said that Saddam Hussein "was given an ultimatum and he made his choice for war", what I heard was the excuse of a bully, a bully who made a demand carrying a threat, with the intention of starting a fight with a weaker opponent. Now he says, as bullies do, that it was the opponent's fault. What's more, he had it coming anyway - right, Mr. President?

But that was the first of the two 21st century Iraq wars, not the current one. In the first of these wars, the opponent was defeated: the mission was accomplished, but did not realise its goals. The war now is not the Wolfowitz war, not the war the Neocons promised, not the PNAC war.

Along the way, in support of this "Noble cause", we have seen the Administration define away torture, the applicability of the Geneva Conventions, and chemical weapons; compromise covert CIA operations to try to stifle dissent; and spy on Americans without oversight. The Senate has just begun to ask the questions about this.

I am one of those who objected to the original war before it began. I thought that Hans Blix was doing his job, and doing it well; that Hussein was cooperating (ibid.); I thought that Senator Bird's objections during the debate to authorise the President to start the war whenever he wanted to, were likely to be right, and I think the Senator's worst fears have been borne out. It's not defeatism that is at the heart of the opposition: it's the human cost of the amorality, the illegality, the greed, the cronyism, the corruption, and the countless lies.

Without a Constitution, there is no United States, no nation to protect. The Constitution and the rule of law must be restored.


It's time to make my Blogroll.

There's the inspiration of Dear Leader's Daily Thought, and the comic relief of Jesus' General. To find the General's Republican Jesus cartoons, use the search at the top - the General's been lobbying hard to make sure that the Top Weblog awards went to leftie blogs. He did very well, but his recent posts have lowered the level of the comedy. Look for your favorite right wingnut or religious leader. And don't miss the Operation Yellow Elephant banner: why is it that more campus republicans aren't showing that they support the troops and the war, by signing up? OYE exists to offer them the opportunity to serve.

Most of the good and timely video gets to Crooks and Liars, One Good Move and Daily Dissent. First reports of Grand Jury activity in Fitzgerald's investigation are at FireDogLake, excellent analysis too. For the inside scoop on the CIA and espionage, Larry Johnson (who was in the same CIA intake as Valerie Plame) at NO QUARTER has been invaluable. And the Huffington Post has some very good writing, and some occasional disasters - and some spirited bipartisan commenting - ok, a lot of flames and trolls.

Democratic grass roots news I get from the Daily Kos.

The geek in me follows Groklaw and /., and, for the lighter side of neat stuff, bOING bOING.

that's my roll for the moment. As Dear Leader thoughtfully says:

Bye for now.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Letter to Congressman Schiff

Dear Congressman Schiff,

First, thank you for your stand calling for a GAO investigation of the IRS' attack on All Saints. I heard George Regas' sermon that day, and I have read the sermon again since, and I am dismayed by this blatantly partisan action by the IRS.

But this instance of co-option of public servants to serve party political ends is a small example of this Administration's reckless disregard for the principles underlying our system of government, and our civil rights. We do not allow the President to rule by fiat: we have a constitution, rules and laws, two deliberative bodies of elected officials, and a judicial system which all play a role in reining in the President when the temptations of absolute power loom.

When this President authorises domestic spying on US Citizens in flagrant disregard of all these checks and balances, he must be put in check. We must call for him to be held to account, and a trial of impeachment in the Senate fits the bill. We have plenty of high crimes. The news now, as I write, has the President announcing that he broke the law. He must be tried. He must know that he is not above the law.

Please support any moves for an impeachment trial of the President.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ceci n'est pas un journaliste

Daily Dissent has a video of Jon Stewart on a CNN interview of Kenneth Bacon, a Former Pentagon Spokesperson.

I think that Former Pentagon Spokesperson Ken Bacon is also President of Refugees International. But this doesn't in any way undercut the surrealism that Jon's piece catches, because Ken Bacon was a Pentagon spokesperson, and he did tell the "reporter" (what is her name? I didn't catch it, but she has some explaining to do) what matters and what's wrong with passing off propaganda as legitimate news.

Go see it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bad Chess

At Thanksgiving two years ago, I was talking to a Caltech astronomer about the war in Iraq. I said then that I thought that invading Iraq was bad chess, that Iran and North Korea were greater threats. Now that we have created a greater threat in Iraq, we are still playing bad chess.

The author of President Bush's Strategy for Victory has been identified as Peter Feaver of Duke University. His website has some interesting reading, including "I am Usama Bin Laden" by Paul Schulte of the UK's Ministry of Defence Arms Control Secretariat. Mr. Schulte was writing in July 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, and what he then thought the world would see from the US in Afghanistan has happened in Iraq instead.

I think Mr. Schulte was right on about the nature of Al Qaeda, and Mr. Feaver thinks his students should be aware of his view; but in spite of this, when Mr. Feaver is writing a National Strategy for Victory, it has all the intellectual honesty and integrity of a brochure for real estate in the Florida wetlands.

Only Mr. Bush's stubborn tenacity makes the present position tenable. The propaganda effort is inadequate, in spite of the market research behind it - the National Strategy for Victory doesn't ask for a national response: no sacrifices, no unity of purpose, no drive to attain military recruitment goals. It's just a bunch of excuses. And just when the Strategy's "tracks" towards "Victory" seem to be hitting their targets, Al Qaeda will strike "the homeland" again: and again, Americans will be shocked, unprepared, scared and angry, and I don't think the chess will improve.

I think one of the basic conditions for good chess would be a President who was a uniter, not a divider. Unfortunately, the President we have lied on this very point. The need for not only honour and integrity, but also honesty, accountability and courage - which does not mean intimidation, despite what Mr. Cheney seems to think - from the White House is paramount. If we had an administration right now which could own up to its mistakes, stop repeating them, and then tell us truthfully what the scope and the objectives were, we would have somewhere to start. But we don't.

The larger game must be to foil the goal of rebuilding the Caliphate: but we never see maps, no-one mentions the strategic value of Iraq beyond platitudes about Freedom, and no-one is willing to take the dive for war crimes to help clear the board. Cindy Sheehan's question is still pending, and that's a further sign of the Administration's bad chess.

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