Rangel Moves Democrats in Wrong Direction

It’s one thing for Democrats to win when there is tremendous opposition to failed Republican policies. It is another thing for Democrats to remain in power when judged by their actions. Unfortunately one Democrat plans to use his chairmanship in a matter which could call into question whether the Democrats are more fit than the Republicans to govern. AP reports:

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said.

While this doesn’t stand a chance of getting passed, it still sends the wrong message. Those who voted out the Republicans out of opposition to the war are not going to be impressed with Rangel’s debating points. They will see it as a Democrat threatening to send more off to the war. Such questions as whether we would be at war if more felt their children were in danger of being sent might make for interesting debates for a college dorm or for a blog, but have no place in a Democratic Congress. Besides, having a draft in the 1960’s sure wasn’t enough to get us out of Vietnam very quickly.

There is a big question as to where the Democrats will attempt to take the country if given the power. With the death of the old New Deal coalition, there has been a considerable realignment, with many new Democratic voters being fiscally conservative. Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats have already spoken out against big tax increases and continued deficit spending. We will also have to see how consistent the Democrats are in supporting individual liberty.

It wasn’t only Iraq and corruption which hurt the Republicans. Their support for increased intrusion in individual’s lives, from opposing abortion rights to intervening in personal end of life decisions, has caused many who have not voted Democratic in the past to reconsider. There is little that is more intrusive in individual’s lives than conscription, especially when the Pentagon does not even feel this is necessary or desirable.

For years the Republicans have been divided by their social conservative and libertarian wings. The Democrats might be facing a comparable situation. Many of us will only support the Democrats as long as they remain a voice for restoring the liberties threatened by the Republicans. Charles Rangel threatens to move the Democrats in the wrong direction.

Henry Kissinger: Iraq Military Victory Not Possible

Here’s yet another sign that Goerge Bush has lost and we must concentrate on an exit strategy which minimizes the damage. Henry Kissinger has conceded that a military victory in Iraq is not possible:

Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.

Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors _ including Iran _ if progress is to be made in the region.

“If you mean by ‘military victory,’ an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

A major problem with Bush’s plans from the start (beyond having no plan for stabilization after Saddam was removed) was his refusal to work with the United Nations and other countries. While Bush should have done this from the start, Kissinger is one of many who thinks Bush must start now:

Kissinger, whose views have been sought by the Iraqi Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker III, called for an international conference bringing together the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Iraq’s neighbors–including Iran–and regional powers like India and Pakistan to work out a way forward for the conflict.

Posted in In The News, Iraq. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Kerry Discusses Botched Joke on Fox News Sunday

Before the midterm elections, Republicans, in a real desperation move, once again attempted to avoid discussion of the issues by lying about something John Kerry said. While it is too early to determine the long term effects of the smear, the current conventional wisdom is that Kerry’s chances in 2008 have been harmed. Of course this is from the same people who also wrote him off in 2003.

Kerry had to keep a low profile in the final week of the campaign to keep this smear from creating problems for Democratic candidates. Now he can start to work on reversing the damage to his reputation, and he started by going into the heart of the right wing smear machine, Fox News.

Kerry was interviewed on Fox News Sunday. By now, all but the most dishonest partisan hacks have acknowledged that Kerry was speaking about George Bush getting us stuck in Iraq and was in no way disparaging the troops. Chris Wallace, never willing to give up a potential attack on Kerry, had to settle for questioning the propriety of Kerry attacking Bush in this manner. Here is a portion of the interview:

I want to put up on the screen what it is that your office, your staff said was the joke that you meant to say.

Please put it up on the screen, if you will.

That you said, “Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

Question: Do you think that — that was the real joke; that’s not the botched joke. Do you think that that’s funny, to call the president of the United States dumb and lazy?

KERRY: I think they didn’t do their homework, and I think Americans know they didn’t do their homework. It was not a good joke. It was not well-stated. I own it; I apologized for it. And it’s time to move on.

Let’s look at this question of homework. Let’s look at the question of the troops. Who really was insulted?

I’m a veteran. I have fought all my life to help take care of veterans and to honor what service means. Just this past week, in the United States Senate, I added $18 million in order to help for mental health problems that a lot of veterans are having because they come back with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and there are waiting lines, and we’re not taking care of them.

You want to know what the insult to the troops is? The insult to the troops is sending them to war for false reasons. The insult to the troops is sending them to war without the equipment that they need, without the armor, without the armed Humvees. The insult was having the secretary of defense who, for month after month after month, refused to listen to the Congress and listen to his own advisers. The insult is having troops who have a strategy that has them mired without the diplomacy necessary to resolve what everyone has said cannot be resolved militarily.

Now, I’m going to continue to fight for that. That’s what the American people voted for the other day, Chris. And, you know, this parlor game of who’s up, who’s down, today or tomorrow, if I listened to that stuff, I never would’ve won the nomination, I never would’ve gotten up in the morning. And I’m not going to be sidetracked by it now, and nor should you.

WALLACE: But, Senator, people are trying to take a measure, as they look ahead to 2008, of the various candidates, and are they…

KERRY: Well, then, you know what I say to them? Take a measure of the guy who mortgaged his house when I was at 30 points below and nobody said I could win. Take a measure of a guy who got up every morning and went to Iowa and said, “I know how to win this.” Take a measure of a guy who was 10 points down and won three debates against a sitting president of the United States and put on a convention that had a great message to America about where we’re going.

I believe I learned a lot of lessons in that race. And one of the lessons is, when the full attack machine of the Republican Party is leveled at you, fight back. I fought back, for my honor, my integrity and for the rectitude of what I said.

Update: Video at Crooks and Liars.

McCain Panders to Religious Right on Abortion

John McCain is on the far right by most standards, but has managed to be considered a moderate due to at least being more rational than George Bush on some issues. Now that he hopes to win the Republican nomination for 2008, he is increasingly pandering to the religous right, again showing that the GOP has become a poor home for social moderates.

Back in 1999, when he was trying to establish his reputation as a centrist, McCain opposed immediate repeal of Row v. Wade:

“I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary,” McCain told the Chronicle in an article published Friday. “But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

On Sunday, on CNN’s “Late Edition,” McCain reiterated that he would not have an abortion “litmus” test for a running mate or Supreme Court nominees. He added that while he ultimately favors repeal of Roe, “we all know, and it’s obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations.”

Interviewed on This Week, McCain supported repeal of Row v. Wade:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask one question about abortion. Then I want to turn to Iraq. You’re for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, with some exceptions for life and rape and incest.

MCCAIN: Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is President Bush, yet that hasn’t advanced in the six years he’s been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn’t done?

MCCAIN: I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’d be for that?

MCCAIN: Yes, because I’m a federalist. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states. And I don’t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade.

Video available at Think Progress.

Goodbye Columbus, To Be Continued?

Ohio State showed why they have spent the season ranked number one yesterday. In the first half they totally dominated the Michigan defense by spreading out several receivers. At half time Ohio State led 28-14 and it appeared that Michigan’s national title hopes were over.

Michigan made corrections and came back to dominate the second half but fell short by three points. They likely would have won if not for, after stopping Ohio State on what became their final scoring drive, a late hit penalty gave Ohio State a first down deep in Michigan territory. Ultimately both teams scored the same number of times, but the difference was that Michigan had to settle for a field goal one time (and later got a two point conversion to narrow the deficit to three points).

Ohio State and Michigan went into the game as the number one and two teams in the country. Many feel they came out the same way, with Michigan deserving the second spot in the BCS Championship game. While the BCS was devised to settle the national championship on the field, once again one of the teams involved comes down to a choice of the pollsters and computers.

There are several one-loss teams which deserve to be considered. Michigan has the strongest case as their sole loss was a three point loss, on the road, to the number one team in a game in which they showed a tremendous second-half comeback. Michigan has also beaten two other one-loss teams ranked in the top ten. What will likely hurt them the most is that their loss came so late in the season. If they had such a loss earlier, the other one-loss teams would have subsequently fallen behind Michigan.

Some question whether anyone can beat Ohio State this year, but in their second-half come back Michigan showed they have the best shot. Picking up this contest in the national championship game would allow them to play on a neutral field, and after Michigan has had time to recover from the shock of Bo Schembechler’s death the day before.

The BCS standings are not out yet, but at the moment Michigan remains number two in the AP poll which often mirrors the Harris poll which determines a large share of the standings. Going into the game, Michigan was ranked even ahead of Ohio State in the computer ranking portion of the BCS standings and hopefully will only fall to number two there. USC has edged Michigan in the USA Today poll, while ESPN ranks Michigan number two.

It appears that it will come down to Michigan or USC to face Ohio State for the national championship, with Florida and Arkansas having an outside chance. While Michigan’s sole loss is to the number one team, USC lost to unranked Oregeon State. USC’s game with Notre Dame might be the deciding factor. If Notre Dame (or UCLA) beats USC, obviously USC is out of the title picture. Even if USC wins, the game will hopefully remind voters of how decisively Michigan beat Notre Dame at South Bend. As long as Notre Dame can keep it close, it is would be hard to justify voting for USC over Michigan. Fortunately, either Michigan or USC will at least wind up in the Rose Bowl if they don’t make it into the national championship game.

Update: Thanks to beating USC in five out of six computer rankings, Michigan remains number two in the BCS standings, setting them up for a rematch against Ohio State. This is not final as a victory over Notre Dame might improve USC’s computer ranking and push them ahead of Michigan. I also suspect that many voters in the polls voted for USC over Michigan purely due to preferring to see USC in the championship game as opposed to having a rematch, but as they become accustomed to the idea some might reconsider their vote. Rather than being decided on the field as the BCS claims, one team in the national chamionship game might be chosen by a very narrow lead over the other in votes and computer rankings.

Al Gore: This Administration Has Been Most Incompetent, Inept

GQ has interviewed Al Gore. Obviously the issue of running in 2008 came up, with Gore once again saying he does not plan to run, but also leaving the door open:

It’s funny. You constantly hear people say, “If only he were the way he was in the movie, he’d have been president.” Does that drive you crazy?
No! No, I appreciate that.

Do you agree?
Well, I certainly take my share of whatever blame is to be apportioned for not having more skill as a communicator. Maybe there are some things in politics I’m just not good at.

So if you decide to run, do you think we would see the Al Gore from the movie? Or the Al Gore from 2000?
Well, I don’t plan to run. I don’t plan to run. And I don’t expect to run.

How many times a day does somebody ask you this?
Well, I’m doing a lot of interviews and it’s on the list of questions. For every one of them. And I appreciate that. I appreciate that people think enough of me still in that world to ask that question. It’s true that I haven’t, uh, gotten to the point where I am willing to completely rule it out for all time. But, that is really more a matter of the internal shifting of gears. I’m not making plans to run again.

But you’re not ruling it out?
Uh… no. [smiles]

Later in the interview, GQ asked Al Gore about 9/11:

Do you feel that we would be safer today if you had been president on that day?
Well, no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president.

Really? How about all the warnings?
That’s a separate question. And it’s almost too easy to say, “I would have heeded the warnings.” In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have. We had several instances when the CIA’s alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail. And made suggestions on how we could respond in a more coordinated, more effective way. It is inconceivable to me that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, “Well, you’ve covered your ass.” And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I don’t understand it. And, I think it’s fair to say that he personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job. And now the Woodward book has this episode that has been confirmed by the record that George Tenet, who was much abused by this administration, went over to the White House for the purpose of calling an emergency meeting and warning as clearly as possible about the extremely dangerous situation with Osama bin Laden, and was brushed off! And I don’t know why—honestly—I mean, I understand how horrible this Congressman Foley situation with the instant messaging is, okay? I understand that. But, why didn’t these kinds of things produce a similar outrage? And you know, I’m even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because it’s so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing. I understand how it could sound that way. [Practically screaming now] But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!