Friday, September 08, 2006

Little Sympathy for Clintonistas

Clintonistas like Madeleine Albright and Bruce Lindsey are chuffed that ABC's upcoming docu-drama on 9-11 shows them in a bad light.

Even though I support Hillary for President, I don't have too much sympathy for them. The Clinton Administration didn't mess up as badly as the Bush people, but they still blew it in the run-up to 9-11. After the attacks on the Cole and the African Embassies, the Clinton Administration should have gone to war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Clintonistas had access to the intelligence, they were definitely worried about al-Qaeda, and they had the military at their disposal. They should have acted.

For some reason, however, they were more focused on Saddam Hussein.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bush Shows Why We're Losing in Iraq

President Bush's speech yesterday was a minor masterpiece of opportunism. Mounting a strong defense of Guantanamo, CIA prisons overseas, rendition of suspects to foreign countries, and the use of torture to interrogate suspects, President Bush argued that all of those illegal procedures had been important in heading off further terrorist attacks after 9-11. The President then capped off the performance by demanding that Congress pass legislation to legitimate military tribunals that used evidence gained through torture and deprived suspects of the right to know much of the evidence being used against them.

What made the speech masterful was that Bush and his team knows that most Americans support the extra-legal apparatus for dealing with terror suspects. As a result, Bush was able to remind voters of their bedrock support for prior Administration initiatives in the war on terror and then demand that the Democrats in Congress either affirm Bush's defiance of the Constitution, American law, and international law as valid or engage in their own defiance of American public opinion. Either way, the Democrats will end up looking weak--weak and ineffective in their opposition to the President or weak in their determination to fight terrorism.

It's all very clever. It's a bold stroke at a time when the Bush administration has looked increasingly inept in its efforts to cope with the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

However, the Bush administration's political opportunism is also a large part of the reason why we are doing so poorly in Iraq. For the Bush administration, the war in Iraq has first and foremost been a political war against the opposition Democrats. Much of the reason the Bush administration did not plan for the occupation, engaged in long-term denial of the seriousness of the insurgency, and took such a blase approach to Abu Ghraib was that they saw political disadvantage in admitting that there were problems to be addressed. After these mistakes, the administration then decided that doing what was necessary to retrieve the situation was intolerable because it would involve admitting errror. Consequently, Bush did not remove Donald Rumsfeld or re-evaluate the ineffective occupation tactics, did not move the increasingly disconnected Dick Cheney out of his policy-making roles, failed to send more troops to Iraq, and gave up on economic reconstruction despite the deterioration of the Iraqi economy.

This was the recipe for disaster in Iraq. Focused on not letting the Democrats get the upper hand in the political debates at home, the Bush administration neglected to do the basic things that were necessary for a successful mission in Iraq. The result has been an on-going failure that has the potential to turn into a major disaster.

Yesterday's speech by President Bush was more of the same. Although effective in the short term, it has to be seen as yet another example of the Bush administration's disastrous prioritizing of short-term political manuevering over effective policy.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Home Schooling Offensive

There isn't much spare money in Eastern Kentucky--for anything but religious education that is. When a schism developed in the Rowan County Christian Academy two years ago, funding quickly materialized for a new K-12 Christian school that was ready to open for the fall 2005 semester.

But the larger schism is within the middle and upper middle-class of rural and Southern states like Kentucky. The majority of the bankers, small businessmen, administrators, government officials teachers, doctors in small towns like Morehead, KY seem to be aligned with the larger urban and secular culture in the United States. They serve on local public school boards, work on the parent-teacher committees, promote science teaching in the school systems, support school theater programs, and engage in health outreach to rural areas.

However, another chunk of the middle-class is so profoundly alienated that they are seeking to create a network of alternative Christianized institutions. Promoting home-schooling is a big part of effort to create an insular, Christian culture. The Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has called for an "exit strategy" for public schools while the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical groups are debating resolutions for an "exodus" toward home schooling.

So, what is so repulsive about public schooling to the hard-core evangelical community? Of course, evangelicals object to mandates against school prayer, initiatives in sex education, teaching of evolution, and tolerance toward gays. Nevertheless, what I hear a lot from home schoolers though is fear of "peer group influence" on religious children.

According to the Considering Homeschooling Ministry, "homeschoolers avoid harmful school environments where God is mocked, where destructive peer influence is the norm, where drugs, alcohol, promiscuity and homosexuality are promoted."

Believe me, there is very little if any mocking of God in public schools in states like Kentucky. But peer influence is the norm and rural kids are pushed by the other kids toward booze, pill-popping, blow-jobs, and premature sex with older guys. Like the larger American society, public school can be a tough, unforgiving and corrupt place where kids can lose their way easily in the complex web of school demands and peer-group temptations. Nevertheless, evangelicals take a very narrow and short-sighted view of the issue. Instead of obsessing so much about the temptations of peer group culture, evangelicals should focus on making schools, and indeed American society at large, into a more forgiving place.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

George Allen: Plagiarist

Given Sen. George Allen's bullying mentality and racism, it's no surprise that he lacks a sense of decency in other areas. Today on the Senate floor, Allen cut in front of Dick Durbin to submit a bill on veteran's benefits that was identical except for one word to the bill that Durbin himself was set to submit.

Allen's showing the same sort of self-destructive tendencies that Sen. Jim Bunning showed in his 2004 re-election campaign in Kentucky. However, Allen will have a more difficult time than Bunning because former Navy Secretary James Webb is a much stronger opponent than the Democrat who ran against Bunning.

Allen's leading by three in Slate's most recent poll composite. If Allen's plagiarism has any media legs, it could give Webb the additional two points he needs to nose ahead.

George Allen is the right-wing's favorite son candidate for 2008. Evidently, there aren't any decent and competent bullies out there for the right to back.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The "Chestless" Bush Administration

Quite often, the right-wingers unintentionally reveal truths about themselves and their friends in the Bush administration.

Rush Limbaugh's Viagra sex odyssey to the Dominican Republica is one example. Limbaugh's inability to get it up on his own and his preference for Dominican prostitutes to any girlfriend says volumes about the right-wing fear of women.

Recent articles by Mark Steyne and David Warren about the Fox correspondents recently released in Gaza also say a lot about the Bush administration. Warren accuses Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig of being "chestless" men because they underwent phony conversions to Islam rather than risk being killed by their captors.

Glenn Greenwald hits back by pointing out that right-wingers like Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Pat Roberts of Kansas have no problem citing their fear of terrorism as a motivation for giving up our constitutional rights as Americans.

But Greenwald doesn't go far enough.

Isn't the "chestless" cowardice of the Bush administration one of the main reasons the American mission is going so poorly in Iraq. Of course, what the Bush administration fears most is the American public instead of global terrorism. Bush and his people were afraid to go to the American public and get support for their full ambitions of invading Iraq, Syria and/or Iran. They refused to debate their delusions. Likewise, they were afraid to put the U. S. on a war footing because raising taxes and reinstituting the draft would have entailed a lot of public debate. The Bush administration also was too afraid to ask for more troops and higher levels of resources when the situation started getting tough in 1004. That's because the Bush administration could not bring themselves to admit that they'd been wildly over-optimistic at the beginning of the occupation.

President Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld need the Viagra of absolute certainty to keep themselves going in the face of their fears of the American public, the media, and the Democrats. Bush and his people are afraid of those who disagree with them, afraid of any kind of negotiation, and so afraid of uncertainty that they refuse any kind of internal dialogue when making decisions. As President Bush famously stated, he refuses to negotiate with himself.

Bush, Cheney, and the neo-con utopians of the first George W. administration thought that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would entail as little difficulty as Rush Limbaugh's sex tourism. But the Bush administration's fearful and "chestless" rigidity doomed the American mission to failure as soon as resistance began to coalesce.