Wednesday, September 19, brought us news of a meeting – the president met with the columnists and pundits who support him fully and gave them an hour or two chat. He’s mad at the folks who ran the “General Betray Us” ad that said General Petraeus (the name is Dutch, not Roman) was shilling for the president – that it was a political con job, not a military assessment. Well, you find articles about how Petraeus is itching to run for president in 2012 (Google showed 197,000 on September 19) so the man is not that “pure military.” People are suspicious, and no minds were changed. But the president is, as they say, livid. It seems that this YouTube parody from last Friday wasn’t that far off the mark. He’s calling for his ink-stained auxiliary troops to do something about this.
It was a minor story, more of the same but it set some people off, like the old-style conservative Andrew Sullivan here –
Previous war-presidents have gathered opponents into their cabinets, reached out to estranged former allies, engaged in aggressive diplomacy to maximize effectiveness and rallied the whole country for the fight. What does this one do? Gets a bunch of right-wing “journalists” into the White House to spread some partisan talking points. What a fucking disgrace this man and his journalistic lackeys are.
Excuse my language. But I can’t take this any longer. We’re at war; and he’s still playing Rove’s game.
Day after day of observing the inexcusable can render one numb after a while. You can forget the trajectory of the deception and incompetence and recklessness of the last six years, and focus, as we should, on what can be done now, how to make things better in practice, how to rate the options in front of us. But at times, it’s worth looking back in anger.
You can read what he says about the film at the link, but it finally comes down to this –
For the United States to invade a country and then allow it to be destroyed – against our interests, against their interests – remains one of the more unforgivable acts of governmental negligence in modern times. It is unthinkable that a group of men with this record should have been re-elected to a local school-board, let alone the leadership of the free world. But, of course, they were. We can pray that somehow, out of this dark, long tunnel, something might be salvaged. But even if it is, it will never detract from the fact that this administration made the most colossal intelligence mistake since Pearl Harbor, ended two centuries of moral leadership by the United States on the treatment of prisoners of war, sunk what may soon be more than a trillion dollars into creating anarchy in a region where vital interests are at stake, and cost the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children in an occupation of such fathomless negligence it is close to a war crime in itself.
This coming election is about the candidates, the issues and the parties. But it is also a verdict on these past six years. Was it a mistake? Or was it a catastrophe? How far do we need to go to expunge this deep stain on the reputation and honor of the United States? That, for me, is the primary question. Everything else is a function of willful amnesia.
But the surge is working and we are making some incremental progress, or not –
Unknown attackers have blown up part of an Iraqi pipeline that pumps crude oil from Kirkuk oil fields to the Turkish export terminal, Ceyhan, a senior Iraqi oil official and a shipping agent said Wednesday.
“The pipeline was attacked and damaged Tuesday,” the official told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Baghdad.
The attack took place in the section of the pipeline connecting the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery. Iraq usually pumps Kirkuk crude oil to the refinery, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad, which takes what it needs before it pumps the rest to Ceyhan.
The official said the pipeline blast was “catastrophic” as it caused huge quantities of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River.
And so it goes.
The same day the Spector-Leahy bill to restore the right of habeas corpus to detainees was defeated. An “aye” vote of sixty senators was needed for cloture – as in “let’s stop talking and vote.” The final count was 56 to 43 – the nay votes included forty-two Republicans and Joe Lieberman. (The roll call vote is here.)
So what does it mean? It means executive imprisonment without judicial review. President Bush can continue to designate and detain individuals as “enemy combatants” and they have no way to challenge their confinement.
Once, people the world over had faith that America was a country where you couldn’t just suddenly “disappear,” taken away by the police in the night, never to be heard from again. Guilty or innocent, you would have your day in court.
The ACLU does the glass half full thing. There was no way to stop the Republican filibuster (the cloture sixty vote barrier these days) and no way not override the sure presidential veto (that would need sixty-seven votes) but it did get a majority –
“Today’s vote was a victory for those seeking to restore both the rule of law and our nation’s Constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “The Military Commissions Act of 2006 stripped away one of our most fundamental rights – to challenge your imprisonment by the government. While the amendment ultimately was not filibuster proof, a majority of senators have made it clear that they want to restore the right of habeas corpus.”
And that and four-fifty will get you a cup of coffee. Things have changed. Kevin Drum runs the numbers –
As you can see, Republicans aren’t just obstructing legislation at normal rates. They’re obstructing legislation at three times the usual rate. They’re absolutely desperate to keep this stuff off the president’s desk, where the only choice is to either sign it or else take the blame for a high-profile veto.
But that’s not the story you see it the press. It’s the usual narrative – the accepted narrative is the hapless Democrats even with a majority can’t get a damned thing done. But the new rule is that all legislation in the Senate now takes sixty votes to pass, not a majority. And all legislation will be vetoed, so for anything to become law you need sixty-seven votes.
It’s a new world, and it seems that people don’t much like it –
President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.
Only 29 percent of Americans gave Bush a positive grade for his job performance, below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March. A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.
The only way out of the bind is for everyone to agree with the president. This is very clever. You can see why there’s a feeling of “enough is enough” everywhere.