Thursday, October 20, 2005


Democracy Surgery

The Founders counted on factions to keep one another in check. City versus farm. Federalist vs. Democrat-Republican, finance versus manufacturing, Catholic vs. Protestant and so on. They could have predicted that when a senior member of one of the political parties would declare that "there is no Opposition Party" in Trent Lott's chilling phrase, the Republic was at maximum peril. And so it is heartening to see the knives come out as Bush's carefully-bundled fasces start to come unbound. This democracy has cancer, and this is part of the necessary surgery. Considering whose political blood must be metaphorically spilled, it should be a joy to watch-- and egg on. Here are a few excerpts from today: Colonel Lawrences Wilkerson, CoS to SoS Colin Powell: What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense and [inaudible] on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made....Read George Packer’s book The Assassin’s [inaudible] if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker, reporter for The New Yorker, has got it right.... if you want to read how the Cheney Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And, of course, there are other names in there, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas [inaudible], whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was stupidest blankety blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 billion department, rather than a $30 billion department, having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere. Melvin Laird, Defense Secretary under Nixon is warning that the United States is repeating in Iraq some of the mistakes that led to public disillusionment and ultimate defeat in Vietnam, including the impression that there is no clear goal for victory or a detailed, well-described plan to bring US troops home. Melvin R. Laird, who led the Defense Department in the final years of the Vietnam War, writes in the next edition of Foreign Affairs magazine that most Americans want to see a clearly defined exit strategy ... In the article, which breaks more than three decades of silence about his tenure during Vietnam, the 83-year-old Laird compares on-the-job lessons he learned from the US experience in Southeast Asia with the ongoing US presence in Iraq ... ''The war in Iraq is not 'another Vietnam.' But it could become one ... He adds, ''Our presence is what feeds the insurgency, and our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgency." The heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Barely concealing their irritation during a 35-minute news conference at the Capitol, Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called the lobbying on Miers' behalf "chaotic," and said the answers she provided Monday to a lengthy questionnaire were inadequate. "The comments I have heard range from incomplete to insulting," Leahy said...The two committee leaders - both of whom voted to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice last month - said they are bothered by accounts of telephone conference calls in which supporters of Miers reportedly have assured conservative activists that they will be happy with her political views on abortion and other subjects. " But of course the faction that really counts in the United States of Amnesia is the late night comedians. Conan O’Brien: “Over the weekend, speaking of Iraq, Iraq held an election to approve their constitution. Some Iraqis claim the voting was fixed and the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala, which, by the way, are the Iraqi words for Ohio and Florida.” (Thanks to Johnny Wendell of KTLK) Carve them turkeys!
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