Thomas Friedman Calls Bush and Cheney Frauds

Previously I had an excerpt from the first installment of an interview with Thomas Friedman at The Debate Link. In the second installment Friedman discusses his views on fighting radical Islam. While I don’t agree with him on all points, one area where we do agree is his criticism of George Bush and Dick Cheney, who he considers frauds:

Well what I find so breathtakingly dishonest about Bush and Cheney–and I wrote a column about this after the whole Ned Lamont victory over Lieberman, because as you recall Lamont defeated Lieberman in the primary then Cheney came out and said, “Well, this shows that the Democrats don’t really understand the war on terrorism, the titanic struggle we’re in.” He used it as a way to hit on the Democrats. And my response to that was: “Oh really? Oh really? Democrats don’t understand what a titanic struggle we’re in with these forces of violent radical Islam?” Well if that’s so, Mr. Cheney, then tell me something: If we’re in such a titanic struggle with violent political Islam, why is it that you fought the war in Iraq with the Rumsfeld doctrine of just enough troops to lose, and not the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force? …. And by the way, if we’re in such a titanic struggle, the struggle of our lives, with violent political Islam, why do you keep using it as a wedge issue in domestic politics? Would Roosevelt have done that? How do you think we’re going to win this titanic struggle with a divided country? You think you’re going to win with 50.1% of America? So please. Give me a break. You are just a fraud. This is just a fraud. You keep telling me we’re in a titanic struggle. Yet Ned Lamont doesn’t command our troops. Even Joe Lieberman doesn’t control our energy policy. You guys are the ones with all the levers of power. You have the House, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court. You could have fought this war either seriously or unseriously. And you have chosen to fight it unseriously…. That’s completely fraudulent. And history, ultimately, will be very unkind to these people. It will catch that fraud.

Rumsfeld Under Attack For His Failed Policies And Attack on Dissent

The Washington Post reports that Democrats are seeking a no confidence vote on Donald Rumsfeld.

Under assault from Republicans on issues of national security, congressional Democrats are planning to push for a vote of no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this month as part of a broad effort to stay on the offensive ahead of the November midterm elections.

In Rumsfeld, Democrats believe they have found both a useful antagonist and a stand-in for President Bush and what they see as his blunders in Iraq. This week, Rumsfeld compared critics of the war in Iraq to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, a hyperbolic attack that Democrats hope will backfire.

But even before that attack, Democrats and some Republicans had maintained that Bush has never held anyone in his administration accountable for decisions in the Iraq war that many military analysts say went disastrously wrong. The decisions include not mobilizing enough troops to keep the peace, disbanding the entire Iraqi army and purging all members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party — including teachers and low-level technocrats — from the Iraqi government.

“Secretary Rumsfeld’s stewardship of this effort is a failure, and he has let down our armed forces,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who is pushing for the no-confidence move.

By demanding accountability, Democrats hope to blunt what has been an all-out assault on their positions on national security. The Republican National Committee yesterday blasted Democrats again as “Defeatocrats,” and the attacks will continue when Congress returns next week from its month-long recess. Republican leaders plan to consider a full slate of security-related legislation before leaving on Sept. 29 for the campaigns.

Rumsfeld’s recent attack on critics was the subject of strong rebuttal from Keith Olbermann (video here) who reminds him that this is still a democracy, even if just barely, and that all voices count. The Los Angeles Times calls on Rumsfeld to “pipe down.” I agree with this critiicsm of Rumsfeld, but ultimately those really responsible for both the failed polcies in Iraq and the atmosphere in which dissent is not tolerated must be held accountable–George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Differentiating Between True From Untrue Accusations

Jeff Greenfield questions if the game is over on the Plame leak at the CNN web site. While the revelation that Armatage was responsible for the Plame leak cast some doubts on suspicions that Rove or Cheney was behind it all, we might have to wait for the legal and civil cases to be heard to get the full story. Regardless of how this plays out, Greenfield has some advice which some liberal bloggers should keep in mind. There’s plenty of reason to oppose the policies of the Republicans, but that does not mean that every accusation is true:

At the least, though, this story suggests that passionate opposition to a policy or an administration is no guarantee that every suspicion will be borne out.

Conspiracy is a great plot device for TV shows like “24”; it’s a much less reliable guide to what happens in Washington.

The Advantages of Trusting New Hampshire

David Broder doesn’t like the change in the Democratic caucus and primary schedule and sees the value of campaigning in New Hampshire:

What was lost in all this was any sense of public deliberation about the choice of the next president. In the general election, people have two months or more to evaluate two or maybe three candidates. In the early primaries, eight or 10 people may be vying. What is most needed is time — and a place — for them to be carefully examined.

Historically, New Hampshire has fulfilled that responsibility. Voters there — in both parties and especially among the numerous independents who also vote in the primary — take their role seriously. They turn up at town meetings and they ask probing questions. So do the interviewers at local papers and broadcast stations. So do high school students.

New Hampshire voters don’t need — or particularly want — guidance from Iowa, and frequently they ignore the Iowa results. But they are stuck with Iowa. Now, thanks to the Democrats, they may be stuck with Nevada as well, and crowded from behind by South Carolina.

The governor of New Hampshire, Democrat John Lynch, told me his state might defy the party rules and move its primary even earlier — despite a threat to strip the winner of any delegates New Hampshire could deliver. That is a terrible remedy — but one the Democrats have forced New Hampshire to consider.

New Hampshire did a good job in 2004, picking the most qualified Democrat without being misled by the distortions of both the media and opponents. If only the rest of the country would take the advice of those who got a good look at the candidates close up.

Bloggers on Vacation

I took a quick minute to check out the newspapers on line before dinner, and it looks like I’m not the only blogger dealing with handling a blog while off on vacation. The Wall Street Journal looks at bloggers on vacation:

In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit.

To be sure, most bloggers don’t agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer — 10% — spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs.

Yet for the sliver of people whose livelihood depends on the blog — whether they are conservative, liberal or don’t care — stepping away from the keyboard can be difficult. Unlike other jobs, where co-workers can fill in for an absent employee, blogs are usually a one-person show. A blogger’s personality carries the site. When the host isn’t there, readers tend to stray. August is a slow time for all blogs, but having an absent host makes the problem worse. Lose enough readers, and advertisers are sure to join the exodus.

It’s something that John Amato, host of the political blog Crooks and Liars, knows all too well. Mr. Amato rarely steps away from his site for any significant amount of time, although he finds updating the page multiple times a day exhausting.

“You become your blog,” says Mr. Amato, whose site gets an average of 150,000 hits a day. “It’s John Amato. They’re used to John Amato.”

Some bloggers thrive on the manic pace. Getaways for Jim Romenesko, host of the popular media blog bearing his name, consist of a Friday afternoon drive every month or so from his home in the Chicago suburbs to visit friends in Milwaukee. The 85-mile trip should last around 90 minutes. For Mr. Romenesko, it takes nearly four hours — because he stops at eight different Starbucks on the way to update his site.

The longest Mr. Romenesko has refrained from posting on his site, which gets about 70,000 hits a day, was for one week three years ago on the insistence of site owner, the Poynter Institute. He hasn’t taken a vacation in seven years. “The column’s called Romenesko,” he says. “I just feel it should be Romenesko” who writes it.

While it may seem like a chore to outsiders, many bloggers enjoy the compulsion. Mark Lisanti, who runs the entertainment gossip blog Defamer, is much like Mr. Romenesko in his no-vacation tendencies. Although he gets three weeks off each year from Gawker Media, which owns the site, he rarely takes a day. Not because he can’t, he just doesn’t want to. “My plan is to die face down on the desk in the middle of a post,” Mr. Lisanti jokes.

Then there’s hotel WiFi which keep some of us at least partially connected to the blogoshere at all times. Blogging while looking at the Straits of Mackinac, with sounds of the Grand Hotel Jazz Festival in the background, isn’t all bad.

Looking Back: Kerry Was Right and Other Stories

I’m on the road today, but hopefully will make it on line later on. Even if I’m not by the computer, Liberal Values will continue to post material. Recently I went through my download of Light Up The Darkness to find posts which are still relevant, but no longer available on line. I’ve set some posts to appear over the holiday weekend. To start out today I have a variety of posts about John Kerry from around June 2005. This includes some “Kerry was right” posts. As usual I’m putting old posts below the fold so that readers looking for new material only aren’t subjected to them. Tomorrow Sci Fi Friday includes Al Gore. (more…)

Faith Based Contraception

The Washington Post shows that religion is having an increased influence on medical care, especially in OB-Gyn. An increasing number of physicians are practicing medicine based upon their religious beliefs as opposed to medical science.  The recommend “natural family planning” (a.k.a. Vatican Roulette) in place of contraceptives.

While I find practice medicine based upon religion as opposed to medical science distasteful under any circumstance, I figure that it is acceptable as long as the patient is aware of the religious beliefs and has other alternatives. I fear that in rural areas, or other area with physician shortages, patients may be denied modern birth control if their physician opposes it. A representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists expressed similar  views:

“If women know before selecting them, then it’s quite a legitimate thing to do and might meet the needs of many women and doctors,” said Anita L. Nelson of the University of California at Los Angeles, speaking for the organization. “But if you hang out your shingle that says ‘All-purpose OB-GYN’ and don’t offer certain services, that’s false advertising.”

Some women are happy to find gynecologists with similar religious views, but others are surprised and dismayed:

Some women, however, report being dismayed after stumbling into one of these practices without realizing what they were.

“It never crossed my mind that it would be an issue,” said Katie Green, 26, who was refused a birth-control prescription by Jones-Nosacek. “I was really irritated. It just rubbed me the wrong way.”

“It caught me completely off guard,” said Elizabeth Dotts, 25, who had a similar experience in Birmingham. “I felt like he was judging me and putting pressure on me. . . . I am the patient. I am the client. It should have been about me — what I needed. Not what he needed or believed.”

Many physicians are also critical of this approach, feeling patients are offered substandard care and are not fully aware of the difference between their physician’s practice and standard medical care:

Some experts say such practices are providing substandard care if they do not fully inform patients about all options.

“It’s not enough for someone to advertise ‘We provide natural family planning’ or have a sign up in the waiting room that says ‘Only natural family planning available here,’ ” said Jeffrey L. Ecker, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Harvard Medical School. “The assumption shouldn’t be that patients understand exactly what that means. The doctor has an obligation to fully explain all options to their patients.”

Some experts also criticize doctors who represent natural family planning as being as effective as birth-control pills, patches and other medical approaches.

“To suggest they are equivalent to modern methods is simply incorrect,” said David A. Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. “These methods do not compare favorably in terms of effectiveness, acceptability and continuation rates.”

Live Longer Through Medicine

With health care expenses going up, one question is whether we are getting anything of value. The Wall Street Journal reports on a study which found that the increased health care spending is worth it:

Health-care spending may be soaring, but the increased outlays over the last 40 years are worth the price in terms of extended U.S. life expectancy, a new study argues.

That conclusion, reached by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, may surprise patients and employers alarmed by their health-care bills. Government figures show health-care outlays have risen at better than twice the inflation rate in recent years.

The university researchers attempted to tackle the question of whether the spending is worth it by looking at how much more Americans spend today on health care compared with past decades, and how that relates to the number of years of life gained.

Overall, the increases in spending over the last 40 years have provided “reasonably good value,” according to the University of Michigan’s Sandeep Vijan, one author of the study that appears in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

With increased heatlh care expenses being found to be of value, ways will need to be found to make it affordable to those who currently cannot afford adequate insurance or medical care.

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The Effects of Katrina on Bush and The Election

The Fix parses the polls to evaluate public reaction to Bush’s handling of Katrina. The data is there for those who care to see the specifics, but the conclusion is no surprise:

While it’s important to remember that the impact of a single event cannot be analyzed in a vacuum (the hardening of opposition to Bush surely also has something to do with the ongoing conflict in Iraq, among other factors), but it is at least worth pondering the possibility that Katrina played a central role in both consolidating and energizing those who already disapproved of the Bush. While they may have passively disapproved of the chief executive prior to Katrina, they became ardent opponents following the disaster and the administration’s handling of it. And, remember that in midterm elections only the most passionate (or most angry) of voters tend to turn out — a factor that could lead to major Democratic gains this November.

While other factors were certainly at play, the perception of Bush is primarily based upon two events. Skilled public relations made up for incompetent handling of the 9/11 attacks and rescued what was looking like a one term Presidency as of August 2001. PR couldn’t cover up the incompetence of the Bush Administration a second time when Katrina hit.

Bush Attacks Foes as Washington Post Exposes Bush’s False Accusations

The Washington Post reports on the latest attempts of the Bush Administration to spin their failed policies on Iraq. Typically Republicans promote their positions by lying about the positions of the opposition, and then refute the straw men they have created rather than addressing the actual views of their opponents. In the past the media has generally quoted the Republican distortions as “news” without evaluation of their claims. Today the Washington Post exposes the dishonesty in Bush’s rhetoric:

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics “claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.” And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that “many have still not learned history’s lessons” and “believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased.”

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

The Washington Post also notes that many Republicans are no longer going along with the White House:

The White House strategy of equating Democratic dissent with defeatism worked during the 2002 and 2004 elections, but it could prove more difficult this time. Some Republicans, such as Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), line up with Democrats in seeking a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq. When Bush and his allies accuse those favoring such a timetable of “self-defeating pessimism,” as Cheney put it this week, they risk spraying friendly fire on some of their own candidates.

In an interview yesterday, Shays said the charges by Cheney and Rumsfeld are “over the top” and unhelpful. “The president should be trying to bring the country together and not trying to divide us,” he said. Shays, a longtime supporter of the war who just returned from his 14th trip to Iraq and faces a tough reelection battle, said he plans to outline next month a deadline for replacing U.S. troops doing police-style patrols with Iraqi forces. But he fears the Bush administration might not be supportive.

Other GOP incumbents, such as Reps. Gil Gutknecht (Minn.) and Michael G. Fitzpatrick (Pa.), are also raising serious concerns about Bush’s Iraq policy.