Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bush ignores Constitutional responsibility in appointing 'War Czar'

By now, we know that the George Bush Administration doesn't have a great understanding of, nor respect for the Constitution of the United States. However, given his penchant for war, the last part of the Constitution I would expect him to ignore was his role as Commander in Chief. Yet, that's what he's done.

If you've followed the story, then you know that Bush reached out to no less than FIVE four-star Generals to fill this newly created role. All promptly turned him down. So, he's finally found a three-star General by the name of Douglas Lute to take on the moniker of "War Czar" and move into the West Wing. His job? To handle the day to day details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Is it me or don't we already have a Commander in Chief, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, National Security Adviser, and a cadre of military commanders that should have been doing this for the past four years? There are many problems with this.

The President of the United States is our Commander in Chief. It is his duty to oversee the day to day operations of the Military. Especially when he has made his so-called "Global War on Terror" the center-piece of his Presidency. I've said it before: Bush can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

Here is Tony Snow's response to a question about this during today's Press Briefing at the White House:

Q Back on Lute. Why did it take so long, now into the fifth year of the war, to come up with somebody of his seniority and stature?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. I think what happened is, again, as you're taking a review, it became clear to us that this -- as you develop -- as you move into a new phase of the war -- keep in mind, we are still in the process of deploying people in this new way forward, as the President called it, and therefore, it seems proper at a time like this also to task somebody with the job of keeping an eye on all the different players who are involved in it.

What we do have is a different set of policies governing what's going on in Iraq. It is something that is government-wide in its scope, and therefore, it is appropriate to have somebody coming in, in a new position, in support of a new philosophy and a new way forward in Iraq, not only to monitor progress, but to do everything possible to assist those on the ground to help them succeed.

Q So you think this is a new need and you did not need someone to do this for the previous four years?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, I'm not going to try -- I don't know. I don't have an answer for you. I'm telling you that's what he's here to do now.

This is further evidence that the President and his advisers inadequately planned for this war. They were negligent and it has cost us nearly 3500 American lives and over 20,000 injured soldiers.

Lute will assume the official titles of Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser. However, his military rank is still that of a Lt. General while he is in a position to be directing four-star Generals, Cabinet Secretaries, and senior White House staff. Given that extensive and complicated protocols are well established that govern the uber craziness of the flow-chart that is the Military bureacracy, this appointment may only complicate things. From the same Washington Post article linked above:

Bush hopes an empowered aide working in the White House and answering directly to him will be able to cut through bureaucracy that has hindered efforts in Iraq.

I can't believe this is coming out of the White House and that anyone would take it seriously. How many times have we heard Bush assert his authority? Now, he justifies giving away Constitutional authority as a means to cut through bureaucracy. If the President of the United States can't cut through his own bureaucracy, we can't expect a three-star General to do it.

This action and all of these reasons are further evidence that we need a change in course immediately. It is time for the Senate to adopt the legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives. It is also time for Republicans to get on board with holding this Administration accountable for its failure in Iraq. Failure to do so will only result in more deaths of our soldiers. Get with it!

Inside View of how Bush's Thugs Roll

Yesterday, former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the video below, he testifies about some amazingly unethical and illegal behavior conducted by former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and Former White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales. Yes, the embattled current Attorney General.

This testimony is absolutely amazing. It shows the depths to which this Administration will go in order to continue abusing the rights of Americans and dancing all over the Constitution. The video is twenty minutes long, but every moment of it is riveting. You'll see thoughtful questioning from New York Senator Chuck Schumer and the testimony of SOMEONE in this Administration that refused to bow to extreme pressure and forced the Bush Administration to back off. I'm not ready to give him a gold medal, but he's earned some respect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fallwell Dies, forgive me if I don't cry

Jerry Falwell hasn't been dead for more than a few hours. Yet, I've been inundated by emails and text messages touting the news. I've got mixed feelings on how to perceive the death of someone who would probably have celebrated my own death. So, I've decided to call a spade a spade, even in death. He was a hateful person who did not serve to inspire the better nature of America. Instead, he used religion to propagate hate and discrimination for as long we anyone can remember. Forgive me if I don't cry.

The Carpetbagger Report has a compilation of Jerry Falwell's most famous digressions from morality, ethics, and the law. Here is a classic from 2001:

Falwell blames Americans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

I remember, in the wake of great tragedy, Falwell making this statement. I'm happy to call attention to it today so people who give commentary on his life see that it was filled with hate. Forgive me if I don't cry.

Howie Klein, at Down With Tyranny goes a little farther than I would, but shows he is well versed in literature. Howie's post actually reminds me of the book "The Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl. You can read about it here. If you're already familiar with the book, then you'll know that a "man of God" who does not follow the spirit of the Word is reserved a particularly painful punishment in Dante's Inferno. Forgive me if I don't cry.

American for Separation of Church and State show how Falwell illegally transferred money from tax exempt institutions to pay for partisan political activities. This was $6.7 million dollars that regular people gave to him for his Ministry. Instead, he transferred it to political committees. He showed no regard for the law or the spirit in which that money was given. Forgive me if I don't cry.

So, he hated women, blacks, gays, jews, liberals, progressives, atheists, agnostics, foreigners, and anybody else who disagreed with him. He broke the law. He established a university that institutionalized everything he was about. I hope it all goes with him. The brand of conservative hate he represented has no place in what this country should stand for. Forgive me if I don't cry.