Cost of the War in Iraq
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Monday, August 22, 2005

Women's social rights not critical to democracy? Huh? 

This Sunday's Meet the Press included a segment on Iraq and the constitution currently being drafted. One guest was Larry Diamond, a former adviser to the CPA, and the other guest was former CIA Middle East specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht. At the end of the segment, when they were discussing the potential restriction of certain rights for women, Gerecht said the most remarkable thing:

Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

I now have DVR so I immediately rewound to double check whether he actually said the words that I've highlighted in the above quote. Indeed, he did.

"Women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy."

Almost worse than the statement itself---almost---is the fact that it went unchallenged by the host, David Gregory.

Mr. Gerecht's statement is one of the most remarkable statements on the modern status of women I have heard in recent years. What do you think?

Monday, July 25, 2005

CIA Leak Case By The Numbers 

A perspective of the CIA leak case provided by Senate Democrats. Check it out here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dems: Pick Your Battles 

The Dems would do well by not picking a fight over the nomination of Judge Roberts to the US Supreme Court. The Dems would lose the high ground as well as the confirmation battle itself. In light of the more pressing matters facing the US public, Democrats should decline to fight a battle over Roberts and focus on those other issues.

Roberts clearly has the experience and intellect to sit on the High Court. I may not agree with the positions he's taken in cases, but the man is highly qualified for the job as Supreme Court justice.
Hard questioning will just make Dems look like bullies. Republicans would love that, particularly because Roberts is well qualified for the job.

The appointment, while no doubt historic and significant, is really less significant to all Americans than Bush's lower court appointments are. Why? Because the lower courts hear a disproportionate number of cases in comparison to US Supreme Court.

In 2004, a total of 281,338 cases were filed in US federal district courts. Of those cases, approximately 27,438 were appealed to, and disposed of, by the courts of appeals. Lower court judges undoubtedly know that there is a slim chance that their decisions will be reviewed by a higher court. Thus, judges can make decisions without substantial concern they will be overturned on appeal. That gives those judges a tremendous amount of power. Judges acting firmly on the principle of judicial restraint---and there are many who do---do not abuse that awesome power. Those who pay only lip service to that principle can easily abuse their power without consequence.

In contrast to the lower federal courts, the US Supreme Court hears about 100 out of roughly 7,000-8,000 requests for review filed with the Court each year. There is no question that some of the cases on the Court's docket have major implications for all Americans. But in the big scheme of things, the action Americans should be concerned about happens at the lower court level.

Rather than fight a battle over Roberts, Democrats should focus on other more pressing issues. For example, the Bush administration's use of classified government information for partisan political purposes is horrifying. Of course I refer to the Valerie Wilson outing that has damaged our national security. The outing issue goes to the heart of the reasons the US invaded Iraq, which has caused the deaths and injuries of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. That abuse of power has far greater implications for the people of this country---not to mention the rest of humanity---than does the nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Republicans would relish a fight over Roberts for the sole purpose of diverting attention away from the Wilson outing. Democrats ought not to take the bait and remain focused on getting to the bottom of the administration's abuse of power.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ambassador Wilson Responds to Senators' "Additional Comments" 

Joe Wilson wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee responding to the additional comments relating to Wilson and his wife. Worth a read.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's Not About the Name "Plame"! 

I'm gonna go nuts! The GOP has successfully changed the frame of the debate about Rove's revelation to reporter Matt Cooper of the employment of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife. It's driving me crazy. Everywhere I turn I hear people saying, "Well, Rove didn't reveal her name." So what!???? Her name was not a secret. It was also no secret that Joe Wilson had a wife. Her name and relationship to Joe Wilson did not have national security implications.

The fact that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA is the key fact here. Bush's right-hand man Rove told a reporter that fact, under a "double super secret" promise, and that is the other key fact in this so-called Plame affair.

Who cares if it was not a technical violation of the law. (I concede nothing about the law; haven't looked carefully at the statute so I have no basis upon which to judge the legality-- yet.) Do we want officials to exercise their judgment in that manner?

Ken Mehlman of the GOP is out appearing wherever he can getting the GOP talking points out. The GOP's main defense of Rove? He told Cooper about Plame as a courtesy to prevent Cooper from erroneusly crediting the VP and/or the DCI with having authorized Wilson's trip to Niger.

Ok, think about that for a nanosecond. Plenty of alternatives to revealing Plame's occupation existed to prevent the alleged misinformation. If that were all Rove wanted to do, why did he need to tell Cooper on a "super secret" basis?

Rove could have (1) waited until a story was written and then ask for a correction to the record; (2) advised the VP and the DCI to issue press releases explaining that they did not know or authorize the trip (I think the DCI acknowledged something about it later, but the VP has all along denied any knowledge of Wilson's trip); (3) spoken to Cooper on the record to explain the "truth." There were other ways for accomplish the goal his defenders now claim he had by revealing the occupation of Wilson's wife.

The fact that so many alternative methods existed to accomplish Rove's claimed goal proves the lie. The only plausible reason for telling Cooper that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and ok'd his Niger trip was to out her and punish Wilson.

Rove even felt it ok to tell one reporter, after Novak revealed Plame's occupation, that Wilson's wife was "fair game." That hardly supports the GOP assertion that Rove's motives were pure and in the public interest.

It is just appalling to me that anyone could come to Rove's defense under the circumstances. Any other President would have had Rove's resignation long before this point. (Well, maybe not Nixon.) But personal loyalty is more meaningful than ensuring the safety of our CIA operatives, particularly one working on WMD proliferation like Plame.

Remember, it's not about the name "Plame." It's about the betrayal of a CIA agent who spent more than 20 years working in defense of her country by a college drop-out who managed to work his way up to the top of the US government by winning political campaigns.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

One Former Presidential Physician Speaks Out Against Torture 

From Friday's Washington Post:

The Stain of Torture

A must read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why I Didn't Watch the President's Iraq Speech 

I refused to waste my time watching Bush's speech about Iraq at Ft. Bragg last night. Aside from finding him painful to watch most of the time, I knew exactly what the major content of the speech would be. We all did. We've heard it over and over and over.

I couldn't tell you the order of the ideas or which precise words he would use, but I knew that it would consist of:

Freedom, staying the course, path to victory, 9/11, 9/11, democracy, liberation, human quest, God, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, war on terrorism, fight over there, support the troops, 9/11, world is better off without Saddam and his gassing, mass graves, weapons, bad intentions, America is a great country, 9/11, no cutting and running, the terrorists won't defeat us, 9/11 . . . .

I intend sometime, maybe, to read the speech to see which concepts or catch phrases I missed. From what I heard today about his speech, I was right.

This guy has absolutely nothing new to say. How could he? He's denied any mistakes or wrongdoing despite stacks of evidence to the contrary. Why would anyone think that Bush's speech last night would depart from the same old schtick given his record?

The cost of this tragic invasion of Iraq has been, what, hundreds of billions of dollars? BILLIONS! And the progress we get with that amount of money is increased insurgency and rising numbers of injured US troops. Oh, don't forget the billions of dollars the US sent to Iraq to pay contractors and others that remain missing.

Can't wait to see what "progress" the additional billions of dollars the US is expected to spend will buy.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Some democracy 

Check out this story.

Some Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee invoked some rule and were able to get a panel of witnesses on matters surrounding the reauthoirzation of portions of the Patriot Act that are scheduled to sunset. The committee chairman, Rep. Sensenbrenner, ended the hearing on his own, in violation of house rules, and in the face of two committee members requests to speak.

(Video is here. A must see.)

Ick. Hastert in Vermont 

Looks like Bernie's run for Jim Jeffords' Senate seat has Republicans excited about the House race. US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert paid a visit to Vermont to fund raise. My guess is that the visit wasn't publicized to avoid protestors outside the residence where the fundraiser took place. Read more below.
Times Argus

Friday, May 27, 2005

War Supporter Calls on Bush to Shut Gitmo Down 

Tom Friedman's plea to shut down Gitmo. I couldn't agree more.

Just Shut It Down - New York Times

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Reaching out to the political minority 

"In talks with Iraq's new Shiite leaders, [Condi Rice] urged a more convincing effort to reach out to the dispossessed Sunni Arab minority, warning that success in the war required a political strategy that encouraged at least some Sunni insurgent groups to turn toward peace." NYT, courtesy of Truthout.org

So the Senate isn't at war, but the majority is insisting on circumventing the rules to achieve its will. Condi Rice at least recognizes the need to include the minority to make democracy meaningful. Bush and the GOP in the Senate are trying to ram through the confirmation process a handful of judicial nominees so offensive to the minority party that its members are willing to filibuster. Reasonable people would withdraw the names in favor of other more acceptable candidates.

That does not mean that the opposition party needs to approve of the nominee. Rather, it means that the nominee may not get a unanimous vote, but he or she would not be subject to a filibuster. There have been plenty of judges like that appointed to the federal bench during Bush's presidency.

Fault for the current fight rests squarely at the feet of President Bush and the rest of the GOP leadership in Congress. They really ought to take note of Condi's admonition to the Shiites in Iraq. Maybe then the Senate could move on to other business more pressing for the American people.

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