In his two minute propaganda story about the president turning 60, Axelrod used every superlative in the English language to remind the audience how fit Mr. Bush is. This is a feat, said Axelrod, who noted that the presidency has destroyed the health of other presidents like LBJ and Nixon.
I would expect that any president who has presided over as many disasters as this one has would be damn near broken. That Mr. Bush has retained his health by daily exercise (up to two hours) and a famous indifference to details (he lets others do the heavy lifting) is his special talent. But should we be celebrating it?
A month or two of vacation every year?
And in bed by 8:30pm at night?
We should all lead such lives.
"I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."
See AP story.
"Why doesn't George W. Bush want to win in Iraq? Seriously. The past several weeks have forced him to choose between two big goals: demonizing Democrats to help the GOP retain control of Congress and fostering a domestic climate that gives the new Iraqi government the best chance to survive. And, again and again, he has chosen door number one. This is what ex-Bush officials like Paul O'Neill and John DiIulio warned us about--and what Hurricane Katrina reaffirmed: that what matters in this administration is not policy, but politics. For all his talk about America's historical mission to defeat tyranny and spread freedom, there is only one mission to which George W. Bush has shown consistent devotion: winning elections. He acts less like the president than like the head of the Republican National Committee."
One of the longstanding principles concerning war crimes was that of "necessity and proportionality"; that is, particular military actions may be militarily necessary—according to some cogent argument of what constitutes necessity—but they must also be proportional to the threat or situation. The Israeli action now underway in Gaza is clearly disproportionate to the kidnaping of an Israeli soldier, which is probably a false reason for the attack, though it is the public reason given. In either case, its disproportionality would seem to make it a war crime—yet another tragically ironic development in the region. And it comes just as Fatah and Hamas seemed to have come to an agreement on recognizing the state of Israel.
I learned as a youth the principle that "two wrongs don't make a right". In saying what I'm saying, I'm not taking sides. I am simply saying what I'm saying. I am also fed up by an interminable, deeply tragic conflict between these two peoples, in which extremists on both sides use disproportionate violence to further their political agendas, ensnaring all of us in a web of recrimination and violence. I am fed up with my own government for its contributions to this intractable conflict. Déjà vu indeed.
A better title for Suskind's book would have been "One Percent Solution," which calls to mind Arthur Conan Doyle's phrase in Study in Scarlet about Sherlock Holmes' addiction to a 7 percent solution of cocaine, as well as Nicholas Meyer's 1974 takeoff on this idea in his book (and later movie of the same name), "Seven Percent Solution." Cheney et al, in other words, are drugged on power and an imperial world view.
Now, if Cheney thinks the 1 percent doctrine is OK, why isn't he concerned about human contributions to global warming, about which there's virtually a 100 percent consensus in the scientific community? (For scientific evidence see Al Gore's excellent movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and/or just Google "global warming.") Even if there's only a 1 percent or, say, a 7 percent chance that human activity is contributing to the unmistakable evidence of global warming, shouldn't the Cheney administration regard this as the most important threat to the United States, not to mention the Earth? There are things we can do to mitigate the dire effects of global warming, even if it may be too late to prevent many of them. But even if there's only a 1 - 7 percent chance of any dire consequence, why doesn't the administration act? Could the answer be that they are addicted to power, money, and greed? I think there's at least a 1 percent chance of that.
Click here for the Senate testimony.
Click here for a news story in the Wa Po.
I plan to read through the testimony and post an excerpt or two on HNN.
I have argued publicly that Bush has every right to say which provisions of laws he objects to. What he doesn't have the right to do is not enforce those provisions without informing Congress and asking for congressional approval of his actions (as Lincoln did during the Civil War).
Otherwise, he faces impeachment charges.
Here's the money quote:
``We're all Wilsonians now," announced columnist Jonah Goldberg last week.
Theodore Roosevelt ``still has many things to teach us," opined presidential adviser Karl Rove in this week's Time magazine, which has Roosevelt on the cover.
Meanwhile, Oxford Press this month issued the paperback edition of John B. Judis's book, ``The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson."
Roosevelt and Wilson are the men of the hour because the war in Iraq so perfectly combines Roosevelt's big-stick approach to forcing smaller countries into line and Wilson's idealistic dream of promoting democracy.
Roosevelt and Wilson truly hated each other, probably more than any other two former presidents, but the Iraq War is clearly their turbulent, angry child.
Click here for the story:
1. You might have missed Ben Stein's column in the Sunday NYT Business section. It shows that his sense of humor is exceptional. Stein, the former Nixon aide who has been lionizing George W for years now says that the new treasury secretary has to raise taxes or face the possibility of American economic ruin. Stein notes that if we don't do something our bond rating will fall to junk status by 2020.
To which I add: NOW he has finally figured this out?
2. The NYT last week stuffed deep inside the paper a stunning report from the National Acacdemy of Sciences that recently confirmed the findings of a controversial 1999 study that the temperature of the earth was warmer in the 1990s than at any time in the last 400 years and maybe even 1,000. (Panel Supports a Controversial Report on Global Warming .)
CBS put the story in its first block last week. The NYT buried it. Why? My guess ... the Academy hadn't leaked the results to the NYT first. Denied an exclusive the paper downplayed the story.
NBC TV news, meanwhile, properly sung the praises of an El Salvadoran-American doctor in the D.C. area who generously ministers to the needy. Brian Williams movingly emphasized the tragic tale of the doctor's life during the eighties when the rightist El Salvadoran government murdered his wife and tortured and maimed him, because he took in poor farm workers as patients. A glaring and ironic omission in Williams' moving tale was his failure to mention that the El Salvadorans who committed these crimes against the good doctor were aided and abetted by the government of the United States under President Ronald Reagan.
Earlier in the week, there was news of former Secretary of Defense William Perry's call for a preemptive American strike on the North Korean Taepodong missile-launch site—before the missile is test-launched. Newspersons seemed surprised that a former Clinton official should suggest such a crazy thing, because, you know, the Clinton administration was supposed to be "liberal." Perhaps had Rumsfeld made this recommendation, the media would not have thought it so unusual. After all, Rumsfeld is a "neoconservative" who has done and said nutty things before, and who, with Bush, has issued "madman" threats to take military action against North Korea. Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw—a bit mad himself—recently referred to similar preemptive threats against Iran as "completely nuts." This label equally applies to Perry's stupid suggestion. Former intelligence officer Ray McGovern asked, "Has everyone gone mad?" The only good purpose it served was to call Bush's bluff, forcing the administration to rhetorically emphasize diplomacy. The media, including Fox "News," failed to note that the Bush administration was flip-flopping—it had made similar but vaguely-worded threats in the past.
... rarely also has a president more thoroughly squandered an opportunity to lead a united nation. True, Lyndon Johnson lost the overwhelming support he received after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and in his landslide victory over Barry Goldwater a year later. But Johnson used up his political capital to enact historic civil rights legislation, to continue a war he had inherited, and to create Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start. Bush, by contrast, will be remembered for tax cuts that almost entirely benefited the wealthy, a failed attempt to privatize Social Security, a botched war of his own choosing, and an inept response to Hurricane Katrina.
Yet even as these disasters unfolded, Bush continued to speak in the eloquent voice that Gerson had created. And that, in the end, was the problem with Gerson's achievement: He was, put simply, a better speechwriter than Bush was a president. By making his boss sound plausible as commander-in-chief, he set a standard by which Bush's deeds have been found wanting. At first, Gerson's eloquence made the president seem compassionate, conciliatory, and conservative, all at the same time. When Bush declared in his first inaugural address that"No insignificant person was ever born," it was possible to hope that, in his own way, he would try to help poor people lift themselves up and most Americans win their struggles to stay even. But his policies have not delivered on this promise. And as his appealing, lofty rhetoric began to diverge more and more noticeably from the policies he pursued, Bush's speeches--still elegantly crafted--came to seem more and more like a bag of tricks. He presented policies that would benefit a privileged few as if they were intended to help women, minorities, and the poor; and he embedded his most controversial policies (the Iraq war, tax cuts for the rich) in the most popular initiatives (the fight against terrorism, tax cuts for the middle class). As his presidency has dragged on, these disconnects have become more and more glaring.
Howard Kurtz in the Wa Po tackles this question. Here's the money quote:
Now, how should journalists handle the situation?
You could go to the laundry list and say, since Cheney made his controversial comments last year, there have been X number of attacks and Y number of American deaths.
You could call up experts and political critics to say that Cheney was wrong.
You could say, it all depends on the meaning of the word throes .
But the difficulty here is that Cheney is subtly qualifying his remarks. He still believes in the last throes, but contends that nobody anticipated this level of violence, which is Beltway-speak for we didn't anticipate this level of violence.
But is that true?
Of the stories I read yesterday -- and most just used Cheney as an element in a broader piece -- only the WashPost's Tom Ricks found a way to challenge the veep. And he did it by providing some historical context. To wit:
"Despite Cheney's assertion that no one foresaw how difficult the post-invasion phase would be, defense and Middle East experts have said that administration officials during the run-up to the war ignored their warnings about potential obstacles ahead.
"For example, a group of specialists who met at the Army War College in December 2002, three months before the U.S. invaded Iraq, warned: 'The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace is real and serious.' Iraq had been strained by decades of misrule, wars and sanctions, they observed, noting that 'if the United States assumes control of Iraq, it will therefore assume control of a badly battered economy.' The writers of the Army report emphasized that Iraq was going to be tougher than the administration was acknowledging publicly. 'Successful occupation will not occur unless the special circumstances of this unusual country' are heeded, they warned.
"Likewise, 70 national security experts and Middle East scholars met about the same time for two days at the National Defense University and then issued a report concluding that occupying Iraq 'will be the most daunting and complex task the U.S. and the international community will have undertaken since the end of World War II.' One participant, Army Col. Paul Hughes, sent a copy of the conference report to the office of Douglas J. Feith, then the undersecretary of defense for policy, but 'never heard back from him or anyone else' over there, he said."
The distinction is not getting people to pop off about the situation now, with 20/20 hindsight, but to excavate what they said then .
Born during World War II in post-Huey Long Louisiana, coming of age in the White Citizens Council South and Cold War/post-Joe McCarthy America, having read It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis in college, having later taught courses on World War II, and having aged in the post-Cold War and post-Vietnam War eras, I've long been interested in the question of what fascism was and is.
Several of the authors in the Larsen book pointed out that the nature of fascism varied from country to country—from Croatia to Hungary to Germany, Italy, or Spain. Depending on nation or region, for example, varying social groups supported fascist movements; some fascist movements were more violent than others, with Hitlerian Nazism the most violent; some included strong religious components; others were more secular; and one author noted that it was ofttimes difficult to distinguish between fascist and right-wing authoritarian governments. Nonetheless, "fascism" was the generic term chosen to describe movements that went by different names, such as Nazi and Falangist. Deak thought that the essay, "The Concept of Fascism" by Stanley G. Payne was one of the best attempts at generalization. He summarized Payne's description of fascism this way:
"True fascism, he explains, is in opposition to liberalism, communism, and—less violently—conservatism. It advocates the creation of a new, nationalist, authoritarian state and an integrated social structure, and the building of an empire. Fascism . . . espouses an idealist creed calling on its followers to participate by an act of will. More important, it develops a very special style and organization, characterized by an emphasis on patriotic symbols and visible political 'choreography,' romantic and mystical rhetoric, attempts at mass mobilization, the cult and practice of violence, heavy emphasis on the masculine principle and male dominance, an organic view of society, an exaltation of youth, an emphasis on the conflict of generations, and, of course, a charismatic, personal style of leadership. Does Payne leave anything out? He could, in my view [Deak wrote] have said more about imperialistic expansion and war, about the militarization of society, and about the fascists' mania for demonstrations and marching."
In my view, other things should be included or given more emphasis in a general concept of fascism: a police-state approach to law and order; the emasculation of legislative and judicial entities; government spying on citizens; corporate-government-military alliances; the Leader principle; the desire to silence other political parties; racism; the use of populist rhetoric for reactionary purposes; and the identification and suppression of selected political, economic, social, and ethnic groups as the enemy within.
On Sunday's Meet the Press, Representative John Murtha responded with this quote of the week: "He's making a political speech . . . He's sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside, saying, 'Stay the course.' That's not a plan. We've got to change direction, that's what we have to do. You can't, you can't sit there in the air-conditioned office and tell these troops they're carrying 70 pounds on their back inside these armored vessels and hit with IEDs every day, seeing their friends blown up, their buddies blown up, and he says, 'Stay the course.' Yeah, it's easy to say that from Washington, DC."
Related link: http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/16319.html
1. Dan Froomkin in the Wa Po reports that Ron Suskind's new book documents Cheney's supremacy in Bush foreign policy.
2. Cheney has confessed to pulling a practical joke on a NYT reporter he hated back in '76 during the Ford presidency. It shows Cheney's mean side.
3. Cheney says he stands by his 'Last Throes" comment.
Wasn't it just the other day that Bush said things are looking up?"The progress here in Iraq has been remarkable when you really think about it."
The Cunning Realist compares the cable with George F. Kennan's famous X gram. Kennan warned prophetically that the government had to be truthful about the communist threat:
Our first step must be to apprehend, and recognize for what it is, the nature of the movement with which we are dealing. We must study it with same courage, detachment, objectivity, and same determination not to be emotionally provoked or unseated by it, with which doctor studies unruly and unreasonable individual.
Bush seems to have modelled his approach on LBJ's. That is, to be as untruthful as one can get away with.
James Traub in the Magazine explained why George W. isn't William McKinley, contrary to Karl Rove's contention.
In the Week in Review Mark Leibovich wrote a fun story about the latest pol to throw their hat in the presidential ring: Tom Tancredo. Tom Who? He's the obscure Colorado congressman who wants to build a wall on the Mexican border. Tancredo's not serious about running. But just being mentioned has raised his profile. A Democrat quoted in the piece says it can't hurt unless something weird happens. This is big loophole. Joe Biden still hasn't lived down the Neil Kinnock plagiarism of the 1988 campaign.
And on PBS there's the new Frontline show,"The Dark Side." Hmm. Who? Three guesses. Let me give you a hint. He's the John Foster Dulles of this administration. (Hint: As Stephen Kinzer explains in June's HNN Book of the Month, Dulles was so sure that Guatemala's Arbenz was a communist he got Ike to order the overthrow of the Central American government even though there was no shred of evidence in support of his suspicions. Dulles was convinced that Moscow was behind Arbenz's nationalistic program. It wasn't.)
Are Democrats nuts? Of course, this country elected Carter (1 term governor of Georgia) and Bush II (5 years experience as a governor) so we shouldn't be surprised by anything the parties do. Irresponsibility is birpartisan.
Leave the man alone.
If he has it in him to be president let him wait a few years.
In 1945-1954, the U.S. supported the French war in Vietnam in order to create a neocolonial co-prosperity sphere in the Pacific Rim so that Japan would not be forced to accommodate itself to the Communist sphere but would remain in the American sphere. (See, e.g., NSC papers 48/5  and 124 , and the Nixon and Eisenhower "domino-theory" speeches of 1953 & 1954.)
The U.S. government continued the war in Vietnam for two more decades for the above purpose but also because it saw the conflict in Vietnam as part of a global struggle between "free-enterprise" capitalist and "totalitarian" socialist-Communist models for political and economic development in under-developed countries. (See Eisenhower's April 4, 1959 address to the nation, as well as NSC papers).
In 1972, free-enterprise Nixon and totalitarian Mao met to practice triangular diplomacy against the Soviet Union and Vietnam and also to "bring China into the world of nations."
In the late seventies, after the Vietnam War ended in American defeat, the U.S. cooperated with China to punish and isolate Vietnam.
In 2006, free-enterprise capitalist United States competes with Communist-capitalist China for economic influence in Communist-capitalist Vietnam. The U.S. exports jobs to Vietnam and encourages imports from Vietnam; China invests in Vietnam's energy resources and Vietnamese infrastructure, such as roads linking Vietnam and China. (See NYT, June 19, 2006 .)
By 2006, the U.S. government was encouraging free-enterprise, authoritarian, and other governments and entities to invest in U.S. assets and infrastructure in order to assist in the economic re-development of the United States. Japan and China were at the top of the list of countries investing in and exporting goods and lending money to the United States. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was rejecting calls from abroad for democratic reforms in the United States and U.S. respect for international law, while it waged two new wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for democracy, free enterprise, and oil.