Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Obama Calls For Troop Withdrawal From Iraq


Sen. Barack Obama is the first potential presidential candidate to call for a measured withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.

Virtually culling his stance straight from the Iraq Study Group's report last December, Obama outlined his position on his website today.

The junior senator from Illinois is calling for a three-pronged withdrawal that includes a de-escalation of the war, a repudiation of the President's plan to increase troops in the region, in addition to adding benchmarks to measure the Iraqis improvement in the next year.

The senator's bold move hopes to differentiate himself from the frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Clinton's wishy-washy plan for Iraq and comes amidst a rising tide of opposition in Congress.

Sen. Arlen Specter today joined fellow respected Republicans, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) in harshly questioning President Bush's bullheaded position over a 21,000 troop escalation.

The president's stubbornness on this issue may seem like it was taken from the playbook of Julius Caesar, but it has it's reasoning and Democrats should be careful when initiating a straight withdrawal from Iraq.

In hindsight, Democrats should have stop this war when things didn't add up on 2003, but they didn't and that is where the biggest blow to our society occurred. By turning the tide in the complete opposite direction is far more harmful.

Saddam Hussein, despite being a despot, kept Iraq and its divergent factions together in a region perennially on a precarious slope towards chaos. Warnings that a shuffle of power would do more harm than good should have been listened to. Why they weren't lies within the ulterior motives Bush and Co. had in mind.

Any Democrat who dares calling for a immediate and measured withdrawal needs to also detail how the region will be stabilized when we're gone. The Shia and Sunnis will never coexist within a country, but the ruling party Shia within Iraq can easily coexist with the Shia-ruling Iranians to the west which would make the Saudis nervous in the north. An antsy Kingdom means a very nervous oil market which, in turn, makes driving a SUV in America a five dollar-a-mile endeavor.

Though, more than a monetary problem, the divide of these two Muslim sects will destabilize the middle east very quickly without the U.S. in the region. The health of the Iraqi democracy is of far little importance when the overall layout of the middle east is considered.

The Iranians are more than poised to jump into the fray in Iraq, not militarily, but in a calculated effort to use their former enemy as a pawn against the west and others like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and even Israel.

It comes down to this. The Bush administration is playing coy on the issue. Almost baiting the Democrats to bend to the will of the people. The Democrats are looking feeble to the dismay of many who believe with their newfound electoral power they should have nothing to worry about. The war is never going to get better, so why worry? They're apprehensive because a full withdrawal will turn this war far worse and they know it.

Bush, on the other hand, is actually in a win-win situation. If Democrats let him send more troops to Iraq he gets what he craves--more time to run the clock out on his presidency. If Democrats push for withdrawal and win, the whole house of cards will crash to the floor and it will be the next Democratic nominee who will be blamed.

Democrats like Obama need to be wary of the catch-22 Bush is perpetrating on the them before they get swift-boated into being the problem in the voter eyes come November 2008.

Viva Castro! At Least For Now

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is not dead despite the Lunatic Fringe Report predicting his demise over a week ago. Although, it's hard to fact check these things with the communist Cubans. I'm still giving Castro until Sunday night so he can ruin America's biggest sporting day--the Super Bowl.

I'm giving Castro the same odds as the Colts winning the Vince Lombardi trophy--seven points. Take death plus two days.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another Lightweight Joins GOP Race For '08


Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joined a group of lackluster Republicans vying for the White House in 2008. The problem is, Gov. Huckabee is portraying himself as the George W. Bush of 2000 when the real deal is vilified on the left and the right at an alarming rate.

Appearing of "Meet the Press" Sunday, Gov. Huckabee tried to muscle in on the Christian Coalition sect of the right that has been turf of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).

Despite the President's unpopularity, Brownback and now Huckabee are treading on a substantial sliver of the conservative right that is clearly out of style. Both are relying on the fact that this sort of ideology has brought two presidential victories, but not without a considerable amount of arm-wringing and blatant dirty tactics.

People care about values in America, but the post-9/11 reality in its infancy fostered a fear of guns, gays and God in red America. Without someone like Karl Rove masterminded the politics of grand deceit there's the question of whether a politician can move the masses with a strict conservative policy, anymore.

Huckabee detailed his background as a minister, defended a quite Draconian anti-abortion view that even bans the procedure after rape or incest. The governor also went against the current mood in the country by completely supporting the President "during a time war".

While Huckabee sidestepped many of Tim Russert's question, he was less than convincing when the jack-o-lantern-faced moderator asked him pointedly, "Do you have a problem with gay people?"

The governor responded, "No, I have a problem with changing institutions that have served us."

Meaning, yes, I have a problem with gays and lesbians getting married and to stretch it further; I don't want them kissing and hugging in front of my kids!

In the end, Gov. Huckabee's candidacy is completely based on all the same smoke and mirrors that fooled the country the last six years. Politicians like Huckabee and Brownback come from a part of the Repubicans part that breeds exclusion based on race and economic status and hate based on differences between us.

Sen. Sam Brownback might be what Mike Huckabee wishes, at least, at 23 months before the 2008 election, but Brownback knows when the winds of change are whistling a high pitched "no" to the President's policy on Iraq.

Whereas, Huckabee took a loyal and noble stance in supporting Bush at all costs solely because he's Daddy President, the senator from Kansas, though, not much better, said he would "consider" voting for a resolution against the troop surge in Iraq.

He's considering it. Now that's brave, senator.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hillary's Iraq War Dilemma

Darrell Hammond as Chris Matthews interviews Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live

It may be a silly send up of Sen. Hillary Clinton and MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Saturday Night Live last Saturday, but it's worth noting that by officially throwing her hat into the race for the White House the attitudes and perceptions of Hillary the Candidate versus Hillary the First Lady are beginning to form.

The writers at Saturday Night Live just may have crafted the prevailing thought of Democrats across America with this line:

"I think most Democrats know me. They understand that my support for the war was always insincere."

We're likely to witness a Sen. Clinton vaguely extroplating her shifting positions on the war in tones similarly to that line. There is a very high liklihood that the stormy atmosphere on Capitol Hill and the rest of America regarding this war will likely persist. Because no matter the amount of resolutions against the surge in Iraq the Bush administration is dead-set on making it happen; not because it's the best tonic for the military's problems or the most righteous, but because it will literally run the clock out on this President's watch. There's is no other reason for it.

With the scenario of today still percolating in 2008, it will be to the advantage of those who stood against the war (Barack Obama) and those who either reversed course earlier enough (John Edwards) and those without much of a public record either way (Bill Richardson and Chuck Hagel)

In Hillary's case, her vote authorizing the President to invade Iraq is no different than Sen. John Kerry's or any candidate on the Republican side, but it is likely that by lying low the past six months regarding her opposition to the war as its quickly bogged down in the theater of war and opinion polls, her strength on this singular issue has been severely sapped by her competition thereby giving away much of her virtual lead and possibly campaign dollars to people like Obama and Edwards.

This race is on. The question is: can the prohibitive front runner win the presidency wire to wire without the country hearing the same old song of that it's heard through one Clinton and two Bush's?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Castro Almost Dead? 'We All Die Some Day' Says Chavez

According to the New York Times, the rumor of the day that Fidel Castro is in "grave condition" becomes more specific while Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remarks, "We all die some day."

How did Chavez become the family spokesman, anyway? He gives the impression of a mooching nephew buttering up his rich, dying uncle Fidel? Do you think he rubs his feet, too?

Here's a bet: the half-century long, Cuban pain in the ass to many an American president will be dead by the end of this week.

So long, Fidelito.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Scheer Disgrace: Hagel For President; Please


There's a reason why the Democratic Party has a perpetual problem of staying unified, it's called liberals like columnist Robert Scheer.

In the Huffington Post, Scheer, a noted left coast journalist and co-host of my favorite podcast KCRW's Left, Right and Center, gives a hallow recommendation for Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel for President.

Other than the first sentence, "Chuck Hagel for president!", there isn't a shred of evidence to believe Scheer.
He adds, "If it ever narrows down to a choice between him and some Democratic hack who hasn't the guts to fundamentally challenge the president on Iraq, then the conservative Republican from Nebraska will have my vote."

An anti-war candidate for President is, indeed, very important, but not a trade-off with a conservative senator opposed to reproductive rights, hostile to the environment and all-around a puppet of big business. The war isn't that important, besides, didn't Hagel go right along with his party whole-heartedly cheering for this blunder of a war in 2003?

This is why being a liberal can be so maddening and a purely Sisyphean act. We love the flavor of the month and wholly respond to challenges like a group of chiefs without any Indians.

Hagel's views today and his military experience in Vietnam may be formidable, but he's no different than any other possible candidate who followed the leader regarding Iraq. Only Sen. Barack Obama has ever articulated a 100 percent opinion against the war in Iraq from day one. At least, John Edwards has completely disavowed his vote while others like Sen. Hillary Clinton played both sides .

There's only one reason why Scheer likes Hagel and it's because a senator of the President's own party finally has the guts to blast him. Scheer isn't serious about Hagel for President because if he was my podcast would need a new left.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Is Bush Widening the War On Terror?


Undoubtedly, your morning paper will lead with the variation of the headline Bush says, "I blew it". More newsworthy, though, will be his veiled threat to Syria and Iran. During tonight's primetime speech President Bush said:
We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

On MSNBC's post-speech coverage both Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews highlighted this stark passage, yet looked less sure of whether the media would latch onto its implications. It was as if Olbermann and Matthews thought they really didn't believe what they heard.

Sen. Barack Obama, Tim Russert, Brian Williams and Pat Buchanan answered the duos questions with uncertainty regarding the President's statement. Between eating an Ultimate Cheeseburger and noticing how if you look at George W. Bush in the eyes his ears look oddly huge in the periphery, I couldn't recall anything about Iran and Syria, either.

As the nation debates the logic in adding more troops to a lost cause the Adminstration, instead, has designs on widening the so-called war on terror.

Can President Bush's decision-making get any more bizarre? His candle in the proverbial wind of disagreement over the state of this war has grown worrisome. The troop escalation plan is favored, ostensibly, by one man. A vast majority of Americans disapprove of this exercise even more than they did last November when they handed control of Congress to the Democrats and you would be hard pressed to find any military expert who would call a troop surge nothing more than the President running out the clock on his term in office without a loss on his watch.

When does the inkling that President Bush views his presidency as a dictatorship where the voice of the people is non-existent and unwelcomed become frightfully real?

It's now imperative that the Democrats stop what they failed to do during the elections of 2000 and 2004 and stop President Bush or run the risk of becoming complicit in his dirty deeds. Those who envision the predicatable Democrat pussyfooting should be on notice that the party has nothing to fear. The power of the people are with them and those who waver are too disgusted with the current Administration to believe any of its forthcoming rhetoric.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Payback's A Bitch: Dems Take Control Of Congress


Washington is a buzz as the Democrats take control of Congress Thursday. After President Gerald Ford's death last week, the Capitol is dripping with nostalgia of a bygone era when Democrats and Republicans actually spoke decently to each other.

Hold on. Only half of D.C. is spewing this talking point and its Republicans.

After six years of nearly complete marginalization by the Republicans in Congress, the new majority party is poised to give the GOP a dose of their own medicine and it should be as costly as the over-priced medication millions of uninsured American dole out everyday.

There is no reason for the Dems to concede anything to their GOP colleagues, at least until next year when conciliatory gestures will go well with a cocktail of Hillary, Obama or John Edwards.

The Dems constituency made it implicitly clear last November that the ultra conservative direction of America needed a correction in the direction of the center. I have no allusions of Democrats achieving anything more than their pre-programmed first 100 hours of a minimum wage hike, stem cell research and reduction student aid interest rates, but if they do anything they must contain President Bush's maniacal grasp on leading this country by the slimmest majority of popularity and logic.

After those first 100 hours, Nancy Pelosi must vigorously lead the party and a possible sizable chunk of the GOP caucus against the President's blood lust for further entrenching the U.S. in Iraq. The position must be clear and concise; nobody in America except for the men in Bush's shrinking inner circle believe a troop surge is anything but folly.

Pelosi must realize the basic duty of their service is to lead the country by the wishes of the people and they have spoken. Take a stand, Madame Speaker.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

President Ford's Pardon Set The Tone For Crooks Of Today


President Ford is in the ground so now the world can freely opine on one of the most unmomentous presidents in our history. That pundits were surprised at the lavish praise of the former President who caught enormous flak for quickly pardoning President Richard Nixon in 1974 only shows how the press and Washington insiders went out of their way to hint at his greatness.

An overwhelming majority of Americans were completely outraged when Ford announced a full pardon to Nixon in the midst of Watergate. His popularity dropped seemingly overnight in the polls from an approval rating of over 70 points to 30. When news of his death at 93 filtered throughout the country a generation of baby boomers now grappling with the evils of George W. Bush again ridiculed the unelected leader for his cowardice. Yet, if you read the newspapers or watch the Ford-a-thon on cable news, the masses were fed this newfangled revision of history that profusely praised Ford for doing, in hindsight(?), the right thing for the country.

My generation knows President Ford as Chevy Chase--a bumbling, uncoordinated nimcompoop. Instead, we were reminded that he was a great athlete at the University of Michigan and captained their undefeated seasons in 1932-33. Pictures of Ford comically sliding down the stairs of Air Force One and maintaining famously that the Soviet did not have a foothold in Eastern Europe didn't seem to fit the youthful linebacker and graceful congressional parliamentarian.

So, why this muddling of history? He was only President for 2 1/2 years whether he wanted the job or not. The reason lies with today's headlines made by former Ford adminstration lieutenants.

The revisionist history of Ford's presidency serves only Vice President Cheney and the neocon establishment. Ford did not save the country from a brutal criminal investigation of Nixon but only prolonged the misery up until this very day. The outrage in 1974 over granting a pardon to Nixon stemmed from the fact that the Tricky Dick nearly ruined the country yet escaped unscathed.

Ford's handling of his personal life and the addiction problems of his wife, Betty, are instructive in how he enabled this country political crooks then while they perpetrated the same sort of corruption in the Bush adminstration.

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz all got their start in the Ford administration. During the neocons nascent period the lessons was learned that the Republic could be imperiled without any consequence to those who attempted to dismantled it for their own personal idealougies and financial gain.

If Ford would have run Nixon through the ringer, however excruciating it would have been, the country would have been stronger by it and more incline to read the political tea leaves when the bad guys returned to power in 2000.

President Ford may have been an excellent placeholder in presidential history, but the excessive mourning period was only afforded by his title and not by his political actions. The view of Ford today may be rosy, but when talk show pundits move on to the next big story, the real, less exciting and more critical view of post-Watergate America will rise to the surface.