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    20 January 2006

    The GOP on the Rebound?

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    My perception after the attacks of 11 September 2001 was that a large portion of the Republican Party, or the right, underwent a huge shift in ideology. They dropped their responsibilities and causes as I viewed them growing up, and replaced them with religious chauvinism and reactionary nationalism. This lead to a resurgence of the almost extremist logic engrained in the right wing today, the same logic that has been used to influence the electorate by imploring them to vote Republican or suffer the consequences. As the attacks become history, it is inevitable that people will lose this passion that came from the aftermath of that morning in September. Two stories today indicate to me that that transformation may be underway. Hopefully it will continue on through '06 and '08. Not necessarily netting a Democratic White House or Senate. But rather leaders that deserve to lead based on merit, not a extreme world view, foaming at the mouth rhetoric, or crafty spin used by the likes of 'Mean' Jean Schmidt or Jim 'Homophobe' DeMint among others.

    The stories I'm referring to are unrelated in the general sense. The first being the party's (GOP) renewed love of Senator John McCain. Not that I particularly like him as a politician, I view him as a great man and a possible President provided he gets a backbone. He is a Republican which I, and many, can see eye to eye with at times. One who won't polarize and manipulate the electorate as the current leadership has.

    For one example, take the recent comments from Senator Rick "what's K-Street?" Santorum: "Obviously, when you're looking at the issue of congressional reform, the first person you turn to in the United States Senate is John McCain, and we've done so". I read this, and perhaps KE's Bullshit DetectorTM could verify, as Santorum saying 'we've been caught. Here is a shot of dignity and honor that surpasses my own or many of my colleagues in the Republican Party. Now we’ll wait for the smoke to clear and start over.' The Culture of Corruption rests heavily on the Republican Party but does not include all Republicans.

    The second story is an Op-Ed by Charles Marsh in which he reexamines the evangelical view of the War on Iraq. Noting that he is an evangelical himself, Marsh observes the enormous political power held by American evangelicals, and the effect this large mass has on national politics. He also examines the rhetoric of the "God is Pro-War" crowd, noting that to embrace this logic may indicate a huge change in Christian doctrine as interoperated in the past. Marsh writes:
    But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.

    ...The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.

    Such sentiments are a far cry from those expressed in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974. More than 2,300 evangelical leaders from 150 countries signed that statement, the most significant milestone in the movement's history. Convened by Billy Graham and led by John Stott, the revered Anglican evangelical priest and writer, the signatories affirmed the global character of the church of Jesus Christ and the belief that "the church is the community of God's people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology."

    Marsh concludes by noting and agreeing that if the evangelicals were to elect some sort of Pope, it could easily be Rev. John Stott (mentioned above) who in conversation with Marsh made his feelings on the war clear:
    "Privately, in the days preceding the invasion, I had hoped that no action would be taken without United Nations authorization," he told me. "I believed then and now that the American and British governments erred in proceeding without United Nations approval." Reverend Stott referred me to "War and Rumors of War, " a chapter from his 1999 book, "New Issues Facing Christians Today," as the best account of his position. In that essay he wrote that the Christian community's primary mission must be "to hunger for righteousness, to pursue peace, to forbear revenge, to love enemies, in other words, to be marked by the cross."

    In conclusion I'll pull from Marsh's piece once more:
    What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness.

    In the Op-Ed, Marsh notes that evangelical support for the war is down, but nowhere near the level of America as a whole and even further from that of world opinion. But progress is being made in the psyche of Republicans as they revert back to the foundation that existed before 11 September 2001 and the pull a few Republican ministers and corporate lobbyist have on a huge portion of the electorate and their representatives weakens. The election of someone like John McCain from the right or a moderate Democrat (or better yet a Progressive) that isn't effectively assassinated by the right-wing noise machine could end the systemic abuse of nationalism that has wrecked our military, marred our reputation, and eroded our rights in the wake of the attacks which, among other things, was a part of the terrorist’s master plan to divide and destroy.

    Posted by Geoff

    18 January 2006

    The Not-So-Nifty Swiftboaters

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    The Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan just shot a round across the bow of those guys who hated so much Kerry in '04 that they questioned his service while ignoring the lack of from Kerry’s opponent. Here is some of an Op-Ed authored by James Webb and titled Purple Heartbreakers:
    ...in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

    Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves.

    Not unlike the Clinton "triangulation" strategy, the approach has been to attack an opponent's greatest perceived strength in order to diminish his overall credibility. To no one's surprise, surrogates carry out the attacks, leaving President Bush and other Republican leaders to benefit from the results while publicly distancing themselves from the actual remarks.
    And now comes Jack Murtha. The administration tried a number of times to derail the congressman's criticism of the Iraq war, including a largely ineffective effort to get senior military officials to publicly rebuke him (Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was the only one to do the administration's bidding there).

    Now the Cybercast News Service, a supposedly independent organization with deep ties to the Republican Party, has dusted off the Swift Boat Veterans playbook, questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved his two Purple Hearts. The article also implied that Mr. Murtha did not deserve the Bronze Star he received, and that the combat-distinguishing "V" on it was questionable. It then called on Mr. Murtha to open up his military records.

    Cybercast News Service is run by David Thibault, who formerly worked as the senior producer for "Rising Tide," the televised weekly news magazine produced by the Republican National Committee. One of the authors of the Murtha article was Marc Morano, a long-time writer and producer for Rush Limbaugh.
    The Bush administration's failure to support those who have served goes beyond the smearing of these political opponents. One of the most regrettable examples comes, oddly enough, from modern-day Vietnam. The government-run War Remnants Museum, a popular tourist site in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, includes an extensive section on "American atrocities." The largest display is devoted to Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator and governor of Nebraska, recipient of the Medal of Honor and member of the 9/11 commission.

    In the display, Mr. Kerrey is flatly labeled a war criminal by the Vietnamese government, and the accompanying text gives a thoroughly propagandized version of an incident that resulted in civilian deaths during his time in Vietnam. This display has been up for more than two years. One finds it hard to imagine another example in which a foreign government has been allowed to so characterize the service of a distinguished American with no hint of a diplomatic protest.

    The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats.

    A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

    Good stuff. (tip Kos)

    Posted by Geoff

    Iraqi Insurgents evolving: airborne IED's

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    I just ran across this via Global Guerrillas quoted from DefenseTech via Defense News.

    Anyone who has studied International conflict know how important air travel is in a war zone such as Iraq. To keep our unarmored HMMWV's away from the constant IEDs and RPGs that have highlighted this little disaster know as Operation Iraqi Freedom our military has adapted and flies personnel and supplies whenever possible through the 'trouble spots.' Now it seems the insurgents have adapted as well. As you may know, the soviet occupation of Afghanistan turned when the mujahideen were able to disrupt air traffic. On to Iraq and the present (written by Greg Grant of Defense News who just returned from Iraq)
    Insurgents, who place these aerial IEDs along known flight paths, trigger them when American helicopters come along at the typical altitude of just above the rooftops. The devices shoot 50 feet into the air, and a proximity fuze touches off a warhead that sprays metal fragments, said Brig. Gen. Edward Sinclair, commander of the Army's Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.

    The bomb-builders may be obtaining radio-guided proximity fuzes from old Iraqi anti-aircraft and artillery shells and mortar rounds.

    Sinclair said these aerial IEDs have been used against multiple U.S. helicopters. He declined to say whether such IEDs had damaged any aircraft.

    The new weapon is one way insurgents are taking on Army aircraft, which come under fire between 15 and 20 times a month, Sinclair said. Other methods include small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and advanced shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

    "The enemy is adaptive," Sinclair said. "They make changes in the way they fight; they respond to new flying tactics."

    That said, the recent spat of downed helocopters should scare the living hell out of you.

    Posted by Geoff

    17 January 2006

    Beltway GOP: 'You Figure it Out' and 'What is a La, Labi, Lobbyistst?'

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    This is going to be a long (and fun) winter and spring (maybe fall too) if the Repubs just keep playing dumb WRT Abramoff. I mean you have Santorum today acting like he has never heard of the 'K-Street Project', but that was (of course) after he flippidy-floppity did.

    Meanwhile Hastert is claiming that "...a year ago most people around Congress couldn't tell you who Jack Abramoff was...".

    How can that be? The man moved millions around Washington, everybody knew him and he favored Republicans; Repubs with power. Heck I knew who he was at least a year ago. Damn, I must have some serious connections.

    Elsewhere, the Scotty M show was as pointless and answerless as ever.
    The White House is refusing to reveal details of tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits with President Bush's staff.

    Abramoff had "a few staff-level meetings" at the Bush White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday. But he would not say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House.

    Which means:
    Your the reporter you find out. We couldn't possibly have done anything corrupt so I won't even look (and by 'look' I mean tell ya).


    Everyone look over here; Middle East democracy, shiny object, The Plame leaker, anything!

    But for God sakes, Republicans do not know what lobbying is. They don't even believe it is a word. In fact, only terrorists use that word! Watch it asshole, I can have your phone tapped in a heartbeat!


    Which we would never do.


    Next question.

    I mean come on people.

    Posted by Geoff

    The Iraq pressure is working

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    The combination of grassroots pressure to end the war on Iraq, a few Dems with balls, even fewer Repubs with balls, and the fear the Repubs have about going into '06 with the stench of failed foreign policy on their hands has made an impact, finally.

    It has rumored and then reported that the US may be courting targets involved with the legitimate wing of the Iraqi insurgency and, perhaps more publicly, the Sunni political establishment to balance the power gained by the Shiite (and Iran).

    In addition, it is reported that the VP, Richard Cheney, will meet with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and other local (Mideast) Arab leaders. In this meeting, Cheney may request aid from Egypt in dealing with Iraq after the US withdrawal (reported in Al-Zaman, in Arabic). This would be a welcome alternative to the mess the presence of US troops has on the fledgling state. It remains to be seen how; the current and supposedly sovereign Iraqi government takes this (Egypt is largely Sunni), and how the Egyptians would carry out business. (for more check-out this post by Dr. Cole.)

    I believe this is an excellent counter to Iranian influence. Whether or not this war was necessary (ah-hem), we should try to get out of there having made some progress; regardless of the stupidity involved.

    Just to highlight where we are in Iraq, and to counter the pretty-talk we hear constantly from Republicans and their help, Walter Pincus digs up a report from USAID on the real Iraq. It, as we know, isn't going well
    The USAID program, outlined in a Jan. 2 paper, envisions development between 2006 and 2008 of partnerships in cities that make up more than half of Iraq's population. Those cities would include Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Najaf. The project, which to date has only $30 million [Geoff: of the $1.32 billion promised] of the proposed funds, will try to reduce violence by creating jobs, revitalizing community infrastructure, and mitigating ethnic and religious conflicts.

    To prepare potential bidders for the task, USAID included an annex with the contractor application. It describes Iraq as being in the midst of an insurgency whose tactics "include creating chaos in Iraq society as a whole and fomenting civil war." Many of the attacks are against coalition and Iraqi security forces, the annex says, and they "significantly damage the country's infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq."

    Although President Bush and senior administration officials tend to see the enemy primarily as Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists, the USAID analysis also places emphasis on "internecine conflict," which includes "religious-sectarian, ethnic, tribal, criminal and politically based" violence.

    Posted by Geoff


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