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Monday, November 21, 2005

Murtha Leads the Pack, Republicans Misfire, Again.

It seems the gloves have come off in Washington. Last week we saw for the first time the emergence of a hard opposition stance to the Iraq war, led mainly by Rep. Jack Murtha. Murtha, a Vietnam vet, multiple award recipient and long time member of Congress, very emotionally made his thoughts known to the public. The Republicans, reeling after Murtha's public call for withdrawal, mounted an attack on his integrity and service, much akin to what the Swiftboat Veterans did to John Kerry in 2004. This time, though, it backfired terribly. The White House had to pull back from its accusation that Murtha was along the same lines as Michael Moore, that he was unpatriotic, and the most ridiculous notion that he was a coward (offered by a punk of a freshman Representative, Ohio's Jean Schmidt. She was later forced to apologize for asinine comment). Those attempts by the White House and other Republicans to undermine Murtha's call backfired. Somewhere along the lines the Republican attack machine forgot about Murtha's military credentials and that he has always been a firm supporter of the military. His public outcry was a lot more resounding and more credible than any press conference or release given by the White House. The White House attempt to morph criticism and debate into unpatriotic and cowardly behavior did not work, mainly because, of all people, Murtha is not unpatriotic or a coward. It also did not help that the ones lounging these shameful statements had never worn the uniform and served, or even bled for their country. For them to level accusations at one of the most respected members of Congress is like Al Capone lecturing on taxes.

Friday night, the House of Representatives held a late night session in which they debated a resolution to withdraw troops immediately. It is important to point out that it was not the one pushed by Murtha. It was a Republican resolution that the Republican led House introduced. Murtha's was more elaborate and better crafted to redeploy the military outside Iraq in areas that it could keep a measured eye on the situation in Iraq, among other things. The Republican resolution was very reckless in the sense that it demanded an immediate withdrawal without a real exit strategy. It was defeated 403-3, not that it was a surprising outcome. What this debate served to do was to clearly outline the division in Congress over the war. The lines have been drawn and people are taking sides.

In an unprecedented act, Washington attacked the White House and President Bush while he was on foreign soil, usually something not done until the President is back in the country. From the other side of the world, President Bush ducked and avoided questions that trailed him his entire 8 day trip. Presidents will often go abroad amid heavy turmoil in Washington in an effort to stay away from the heat. This time it did not work. In fact, so heated was the Q&A that in one memorable instance, President Bush tried to escape a question by exiting the press conference to his right only to find himself trying to open a locked door. He then turned to face the flash bulbs and flashed his trademark smirk, and exited through the back as smoothly as possible (but hardly successful, as it has been broadcast all over the world). The mishap was reminiscent of how Bush feels right now, trying to duck attacks coming from everywhere only to find locked doors where they used to be open. It is really funny to watch on TV, but it is sad to see that the President is being reduced to a laughing stock and is dangerously close to becoming a second term lame duck. Whereas the White House used to be a well-oiled machine when it came to PR skills and the handling of critics, it has now come apart at the seams. They miscalculate fairly often, i.e. the attacks on Murtha, and sending the most disliked politician in the country to attack war critics (Dick Cheney). The White House soon realized its mistake with Murtha and tried to pull back from attacking, but the damage was already done. Cheney is still out there speaking his gibberish. Their confidence is shaken, in fact so shaken that unless they make some drastic staff changes, I believe they will not recover. Time will tell, but it will be soon enough.

US House votes down troop withdrawal, but war divisions widen
House defeats Iraq pullout in Republican tactic
Fineman: Iraq Debate Reaches a Turning Point

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bob Woodward Involved in CIA Plame Case

How fitting it is that one of the most famous journalistic figures in politics would be involved in the biggest investigation into possible crimes since Watergate. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, and one half of the duo that brought down Nixon's White House, revealed today that he was also involved in the CIA Plame leak case. The name was revealed to him fully one month before it became public. Woodward has stated that Lewis Libby, ex-VP chief of staff to Cheney, was not his source, possibly exonerating Libby of being the first to leak the name (that does not necessarily exonerate Libby of disclosing classified information). Woodward said that another senior White House official was the source, begging the question: who? Woodward apologized to his Washington Post editor for not revealing his involvement in the investigation. Only after special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called on Woodward to testify under oath did Woodward reveal that he had been told Valerie Plame's name before it became public. He has stated, though, that he was told in a very offhand manner and therefore he did not make much of the bit of information. But once again the spotlight shines brightly on Karl Rove's face, who is widely believed to have been the other source in the leak.
Woodward Says His Plame Source Not Libby

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Judith Miller No More

A sad ending to an illustrious career. Judith Miller went from hero and champion of journalistic integrity, to a shunned journalist that lost the respect of her own paper. Not that I feel any sympathy toward her. I was one of those that felt, before I knew all the facts, she was doing something very honorable in going to jail to protect a source in the CIA leak investigation. Funny how fast my opinion of her changed after all the facts of her involvement in the case came out. Miller not only tarnished the reputation of the New York Times, but she also tainted the reputation of all journalists by bedding the White House and serving as a conduit for misinformation leading up to the Iraq war. She used the reputation of The New York Times to make a compelling argument for war that ultimately benefit the White House tremendously. The idea being that if The New York Times, a left leaning paper, said the right wing White House had a compelling reason to go to war, then it must be true. She abused her position and prostituted her profession to get inside information that was manipulated and used one of the most influencial mediums to affect public opinion. Good riddance!

Judith Miller Retires From the N.Y. Times

Once again, shouldn't felony indicted rich people at least pay for their own defense?

Rove Resurfaces, Libby's Defense Trust Set

Democrats Maintain Governorships

Democrats won governor elections yesterday in New Jersey and Virginia, both by a comfortable margin. These two particular races were seen as key because of the problems the Republican party has had as of late. They were seen as a measure as to the mood of the country, and both parties were watching them closely. Now that the Democrats held both posts, they will play up the victories as much as possible while Republicans play them down.

I would not go as far as to say that these elections dictate exactly what is going on, specially since both positions were held by Democrats in the first place. I do think that they show a changing view of the Republican party to some extent, specially in Virginia, where President Bush showed up at the last minute to help Republican candidate Kilgore fire up their base. Kilgore lost to Democrat Kaine by a comfortable margin and it is clear that the President's appearance did not help. This is more a reflection on Bush's presidency than it is on the Republican candidate. State elections are different from federal elections. They have other problems and issues to solve than the federal government. The candidates run on issues that are important to their constituency, in this case Virginia and New Jersey, not on federal issues.

More revealing was the special election held in California by The Governator. All four of his reform initiatives were shot down, clearly showing that he is not well liked right now. At odds with his first year as governor, where he worked with both parties to pass very important legislation, Ahhnold decided to pick fights with the wrong crowd and lost. This is a bit hypocritical of him, claiming to go after special interests, when his campaign received a lot of donations from special interests too, just different ones. The Governator is in trouble, and he knows it. Last night, as soon as it was evident his initiatives would not pass, he changed his tune to that of stop the fighting, that the people of "Kahlifohnia" want the fighting to stop. Well, if I remember well, he is the one that began the fighting in the first place. It is funny how politicians change their tune when things do not go their way. Ahhnold ran on a platform of being the non-politician candidate and he has proven to be just another dirty politician.

Democrats Win Elections in N.J. and Va.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

CIA Leak Probe II: Revenge of the Republicans.

Or so they think!

Today, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Commission Chairman Pat Roberts and his House counterpart Peter Hoekstra, demanding an immediate investigation into who leaked to the Washington Post information regarding secret CIA prisons. They cited in the letter that the leak endangered national security and would "imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks."

Most likely thinking it was a Democrat who leaked, this move by both leaders is a very transparent attempt to put the target on Democrats' back, probably as retaliation for the White House CIA leak case. The funny thing about the whole deal is that the leak probably came from a Republican, according to Sen. Trent Lott. I bet Frist and Hastert were not expecting that. Their attempt seems to have backfired. Hastert has already signed the petition for the investigation, but Frist, who called on the investigation, now that a Republican could possibly be the source, is hesitating. Eventually I think he will have to signed in order to not look like a schmuck. If it is a Republican that leaked, I guarantee Frist and friends will say that they hold anyone who breaks the law accountable, even in their own party. It is also speculated that Lott will clarify his remarks (or muddy them if you ask me, since he can't be any clearer) later this evening, possibly in an effort to pull back from his earlier assertion. We will see.

Now, the leak of the CIA prisons is very disturbing in that it is classified information. Whoever leaked it should be held accountable. That said, the information was probably leaked to shed light on the possibility that illegal activities are taking place in these secret prisons. While leaking the information is bad, what is happening inside these facilities could be worse, and unless somebody leaked that information to the media, whatever is happening would never be discovered.

Frist, Hastert Consider Prison Leak Probe

Delay Trial Should Move to Jupiter

Why not just hold the trial on Mars? Heck, I can assure you that you will find a non-partisan jury there. Well, maybe not. Who knows if President Bush secretly followed through on his desire to send men to Mars, possibly to make all life Republican on the planet. How about Jupiter? That's it! Nobody has suggested going to Jupiter so there defintely has to be a non-partisan jury there. As long as you can handle alien jurors, everything should be just fine.

Delay's attorneys and prosecutor Earle have wrangled the last couple of weeks over judges, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Now they are fighting over the trail's venue. Delay's attorneys claim Austin is too Democratic, and they are probably right. But the rest of Texas is too Republican! The idea that they are going to find a completely neutral venue is just prepostorous. Just like finding a judge that has not picked a political party in Texas is. Texas judges ussually ally themselves with one party or the other. While that certainly creates the perception of bias, it does not mean that the judge will not be able to perform his duties honorably and lawfully. It is all politics. Changing the venue to anywhere else will certainly benefit Delay, since most other counties are Republican. The difference is that while Democrats are more willing to lay politics aside and act more sensibly, Republicans, at least this new breed of Republicans, are out to protect their own. Just look at the government right now if you think me biased toward Democrats. I am not. But I am not blind. Then again, it is Tom Delay, and if anyone is to stir up anger and partisanship in Democrats, it is Tom Delay.

Lawyers Wrangle Over DeLay Trial Locale

Mandatory Ethics Seminar Too Little Too Late

This is a little late on the issue but I couldn't help myself. The White House announced late last week that they would have a mandatory staff ethics seminar led by White House counsel Harriet Miers. Isn't it a little late for the staff to have an ethics seminar? Shouldn't they have done that when Bush and Cheney campaigned on the promise to restore honor and integrity to the White House? And how do you forget what is ethical and what is unethical? It is as easy as right and wrong. But, I guess when you have Karl Rove anywhere near you, the line between ethical and unethical blurs or shifts. At least they are trying.

Bush Orders Staff to Review Ethics Rules

Why a Torture Exemption for the CIA?

Merely saying it does not mean it is so! If the United States does not torture and does not wish to torture, then why is Dick Cheney fervently seeking an exemption for the CIA on torture ban? If we don't torture, why does the CIA need it? Needless to say that Cheney is pushing for this measure alone, since the overwhelming majority of Congress does not agree with him. Senators, for once are listening to someone with experience on the matter, John McCain, who was tortured in Vietnam as a POW, as opposed to listening to the chickenhawk and multiple time draft dodger Cheney. The White House has threatened to veto a torture ban bill, but they seem to forget that it passed the Senate by a 90-9 vote, more than enough for the 67 votes needed to overcome a presidential veto. If the chickenhawks, and I emphasize chicken, keep pushing, they will most likely end up embarrassed on the Senate floor and in front of the country. We can all agree that the White House does not need any more embarrassments under its belt right now.

Bush Declares: 'We Do Not Torture'

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