A Giant Sucking Sound

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It’s been a big ol’ political vacuum hereabouts, lately. I guess that’s my fault. I could say something about still not having matched Mikey’s non-posting record, but I’ve guffed him enough.

Truth is, I just don’t know what to say about politics these days. The ’08 presidential race, well, I just don’t give a darn at this stage. And I can’t make heads ner tails of the rest. Here are the highlights.

Iraq

On the ground, it’s hurry up and wait. The surge has begun. Sweeps through Baghdad have begun. Results thus far are mixed, but positive. I don’t think that surprises anyone. The question remains what it always has been: will the Iraqis be able to make it last?

Back home, the Senate, supposedly the leading house when it comes to foreign policy, developed a sudden case of double trenchfoot and had to sit down and watch the House dash out in front. The Senate snafu reminds me of last fall’s Foley scandal in the House, about which I believe I said the leadership hadn’t exactly clothed itself in glory, however things turned out. Same thing, different house. Mitch McConnell was the only winner in the Senate, and even that was a Pyrrhic victory.

I guess the other Iraq news is the whole “Douglas Feith Is a Doody-Head” report that the DoD’s inspector general released. It’s good that that fact is being officially acknowledged, I suppose, but, really, is there anyone who didn’t already know Feith was a doody-head? Gen. Tommy Franks — a fellow member of Team Rumsfeld — was known for referring to him as “the dumbest f-er on the planet.” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief assistant at State, seconded the opinion. All in all, I think the IG’s report is a bust. It amounts to praising with faint damn.

Iran

I alternate about 60 times a second between thinking we are and are not headed for military action there. I don’t know what the Bush administration is trying to do. I don’t know if they know. But if they’re trying to keep everybody confused and off-balance (which is certainly possible), my personal testimony is that they’re doing a boffo job so far, but that that kind of diplomacy takes a level of panache and judgment they just haven’t demonstrated heretofore. More likely, their reeling gait reflects the White House’s internal struggle between the ideologically-driven hardliners and the pragmatists. Upshot: I need a Dramamine.

North Korea

Score one for the pragmatists. John Bolton’s head exploded, impaling dozens of trees and standers-by with mustache hairs. Yay, team.

Separation of Powers

It’s entirely possible “Dick Cheney” will be the “Jim Crow” of the 21st century — the name associated with the most poisonous influence on the nation’s politics. The man really knows no bounds when it comes to making claims for uncheckable power. John Yoo, the most prominent scholarly advocate for the “unitary executive” theory, looks like an anarchist compared to Cheney. And Cheney doesn’t limit his power grabs to the presidency. Even the vice-presidency — an all but symbolic office in everyone else’s eyes — has enormous power that cannot be checked or even overseen. (Cheney’s theory is that, constitutionally, the vice-presidency is not part of the executive branch. It’s sort of a free-floating fourth branch, partly executive in nature, partly legislative. Somehow this all adds up to his not having to tell anybody anything about anything he does.)

Democratic Congress

Too soon to tell. Harry Reid still seems to be thinking like a minority leader. Nancy Pelosi is taking a stronger lead in the House. Committees in both houses are doing some very odd things — like calling witnesses and asking them pointed questions. Even some Republicans are getting the hang of it. When Gen. Casey came up for hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain and Lindsey Graham declared the entire fiasco in Iraq to be his fault. IOW, not President Bush’s fault. It’s hard to feel sorry for Casey, since he evidently was one of Rumsfeld’s yes men, but McCain and Graham almost made it possible.

On the House Armed Services Appropriations subcommittee, there’s the Jack ‘n’ Jerry Show, in which Jerry Lewis needles Jack Murtha, Murtha goes off like Vesuvius, and Jerry nudges the guy in the next chair over and grins like the Cheshire cat. Pretty funny stuff for a couple of guys who’d be well advised to keep a low profile. But, hey, at least they never shot anybody in the face, right?

The Libby Trial

Man. Everybody — and I mean everybody — who’s had anything to do with this deal has come off looking like a blue-ribbon jackass on the original pattern. Journalists. Functionaries. Bureaucrats. Everybody.

Other

What am I overlooking?

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11 Responses to “A Giant Sucking Sound”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I can’t imagine you overlooked anything!

    At least the giant sucking sound wasn’t your post. Insightful, informative, and entertaining. Thanks!!!!!

  2. Michael Lasley Says:

    Haven’t been paying too much attention, but how’s the North Korea thingy being received? Seems like something that would be highly criticized from within the Bush circle of trust. Like we could be accused of giving aid to people for their development of nuclear weapons. Negotiating with terroists and whatnot. I like the attempt, at least what I know about it.

    Get off my back about my posts. I actually thought about posting this week, which should count for something.

  3. Michael Lasley Says:

    I have done some reading on the Libby trial. I’m still not sure what’s being tried. I mean, I get *what* he’s on trial for, but I don’t understand…no, actually, I don’t really get *what* he’s on trial for. Lying about where the information came from? Or who said what to whom?

    Okay, so there was a leak, no? And this is a bad thing, yes? But that’s not what he’s on trial for? He’s on trial for…? Not trying to be dense here, but I think your Blue-Ribbon Jackass comment sums up the trial for me. Seems like more or less just a good reason to publicly display this.

  4. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Yeah, a lot of conservatives are going apey over the N. Korea deal, and for exactly the reasons you mention. I think they’re worried that now that Bush has gone diplomatic once, it might become a habit (read: Iran). These folks want regime change, the whole regime change, and nothing but regime change.

    There has also been some grumbling from former Clinton officials about how we could’ve gotten the same deal 6 yrs. and an atomic test detonation ago. Personally, I have my doubts about that, but I agree with their basic point that the Bush administration’s approach to N. Korea has generally been less fruitful that the Clinton administration’s, not more.

  5. Michael Lasley Says:

    I sometimes wonder about our approaches with other countries. I realize we have our own interests to protect, but shouldn’t there be room for compassion for the people living in N.K.? The one’s starving and whatnot? That’s why I like this move for the moment. If we could make sure the money goes where it’s ‘posed to go.

    And seriously, it doesn’t seem like we’re sending them *that* much money, really. Wasn’t it $400 million. I mean, that really isn’t that much.

  6. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Libby’s on trial for lying to the grand jury about what he knew about Valerie Plame’s CIA status, when he knew it, who told him about it, and who he told about it.

    Although it sounds to me like he’s likely to be convicted, the real point of the trial seems to have been just what you said: prying open the VP’s office, for once, and giving everybody a glimpse of what it does and how it does it. It’s also been instructive, I think, about how the news media operate in Washington.

  7. Michael Lasley Says:

    It has been instructive, if nothing else. So what happens if he’s convicted of lying? How much time does he serve?

    And what be the ethics for journalists? Dejon? If you know something like the identity of a CIA operative, are you supposed to go ahead and print it? Just curious.

  8. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Yes, we’re actually giving NK less under this deal than under the Clinton deal.

    The problem with trying to look out for the ordinary folks in NK is that it really doesn’t matter if everybody eases up on the economic sanctions, etc., because any and all wealth that flows into that country goes straight to the top politicians.

  9. juvenal_urbino Says:

    So what happens if he’s convicted of lying?

    He goes to a cushy jail cell for a while (don’t know how long), then goes on the lecture circuit, becomes a hero of the right wing, and gets his own talk radio show. (See also, Gordon Liddy, Ollie North.) Maybe he’ll even get recycled back into government someday. (See also, Elliot Abrams.)

    The real question is: is he already guaranteed a speaking gig at Harding, or does he have to get convicted to rate that?

  10. Michael Lasley Says:

    I think he’s assured of a speaking gig at Harding regardless. Especially if he charges a lot of money. I mean, seriously, they had Sean Hannity earlier this year.

    Something I don’t know or haven’t heard anything about. What’s the relationship between Libby and Cheney now? Are they buddy-buddy or is there tension? If there’s tension, will he still he a hero of the right?

  11. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I think it’s safe to say everyone still in office is keeping their distance right now.

    Okay. So we’re having this standoff between Iran and the US. Here’s a quote about it. See if you can guess which country’s president said it about the other’s country.

    The ________ people are good, decent, honorable people. And they’ve got a government that is belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening — a government which is in defiance of the rest of the world . . . And so our objective is to continue to keep the pressure, in hopes that rational folks will show up and say, it’s not worth it — it’s not worth the isolation.

    Gee, remember when a fella could tell right off whether a quote came from a mentally unstable Middle Eastern potentate, or from the president of the United States?

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