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December 03, 2005


...and with who knows what else is yet to be unearthed ...

Every day I keep thinking: can there still be more?

Your antepenultimate paragraph is a gut-wrencher, even for those of us who wish that the junta winds up in a scene like that of the Nuremberg Courtroom. Do we open the floodgates to future crises? Or do we just drown in their swill?

If we do, we're doomed. If we don't, we're doomed.

So much of Bushco's policies have brought us to that same impasse, like what to do about Iraq 33 months in.

One problem in dealing with our current situation is that there are in our previous national nistory few if any applicable precedents. We have had previous abusive presidents, but - as in the case of Nixon - there were Congresses at least partially if not completely in the hands of opposite parties and thus capable of investigating and disclosing the abuses. We had a narrowly Democratic Senate for less than two years of Bush's first term, and that Senate, under the weak leadership of Daschle, did little to expose the wrongdoing of the administration, even when things like Rove's presentation of how to use the forthcoming war for politial purposes was exposed by being left in Lafayette Park.

In the past we could count on media resources to play a role at least in part to holding politicians to account. But we have had increasing centralization of major media into fewer and fewer hands, and many of those hands are corporate, with little interest in the news per se and far more in terms of profits. Thus we have had a principal owner of a network who is himself a Democrat say that his coprorate interests are more important than his personal political leanings.

We have had the further problem of a deliberate campaign to discredit any voice that might offer criticism. I believe that CBS was set up on the TANG documents as a two-pronged attack to (a) discredit the entire issue of TANG, and (b) to simultaneously get rid of a possible important critic (CBS and Dan Rather). The timing had the unfortunate for the public interest side effect of squeezing out the air time that would ahve gone to the ivnestigation of the Niger yellowcake memo on which Josshua Micah Marshall had been working.

And finally, and I realize that some here will disagree with me on this, we have the very real possibility of the total corruption of our electoral process through manipulation of electronic devices used to count or to accumulate votes. Now, voting fraud is not a new issue (although I totally reject the idea that fraud in Chicago elected Kennedy since (a) there was significant pro-Nixon fraud in downstate Illinois, and (b) more importantly, you could flip IL's 27 electoral votes and JFK still had enough electoral votes to win -- now if there was also fraud in texas we might have a different discussion), and for me one of the most famous examples was the election in which FDR won the governshipin New York thanks to a slow and corrupt count of paper ballots in the Bronx used to voercome the Republican margin in Upstate. But at least in theory, with paper ballots they could be reexamined, with mechanical lever machines there was a tape showing a reocrd that could be checked, etc The move towards paperless electronic devices for which the source software is not available for independent examination (and as a former computer programmer I can tell you that such an examination is very insufficient since it is possible to write self-altering codde that also wipes out the alterations after it has completed its tasks, and find such self-alterations can be difficult) sacres the hell out of me, and I think we have seen far too many questionable results using such devices that go back to well before the problems even in Florida in 2000.

I have not reached the point of dispair as of yet. This administration in its arrogance has quite possible gone so far as to create an environment in which things like the media may do some of the things they should have been doing. But having succeeded in pushing such a time until after the 2004 election, the administration has denied the American people any chance to comment through its ability to vote, and even if the Democrats take back one or both houses of Congress in 2006, I note the following

- that still means at least another year before meaningful hearings could take place
- in the mean time the administration will continue to place people in judicial positions to provide them with legal cover
- barring something at this point totally unexpected (the indictment of Dick Cheney, for example), we are unlikely to see a sufficient tidal wave to give any hope of sustaining an impeachment -- you could get a majority in the House, but it is almost unimaginable that one could have a Senate that would come close to the 67 votes necessary to convict, even were the Dems to win every possible seat.

Thus the damage will be ongoing. And I do not doubt that there are those in this administration who would allow or create another terrorist attack at home to have a basis to suspend political liberties so thyat they could continue to hold power and thus enhirch themselves and their buddies. And given the "religious" orientation of some of their supporters, they might justify such an action as bringing on the final judgment in which they expect to be "justified" while all those who oppose themj are condemned to Hell.

I'm not in a happy place this morning.

One minor point. It seems to me this approval process is Reason Number One why all supporters of democracy need to vote against Alito in January. SCOTUS is the only institution that really has some way of overturning this decision or even fully exposing it. But we know how Alito feels about voting rights.

I also think it worthwhile to keep an eye on the army. Perhaps I've studied Argentina too long (with its, for a long time, institutionalized support for military coups). I don't think we'd ever see a coup. But if the military balks at the new air campaign in Iraq. If they balk at the torture exception, then Bush will find it increasingly hard to maintain his veil of authority. And heck, if they keep feeding Murtha speeches, it will hurt Bush seriously.

And I'm also fascinated by the very obvious campaign of Wilkerson, Scowcroft, 41, and now Babs to reel in 43's advisors. 41 was no great shakes. But he knew when to reverse course. Plus, they've got the family name to think of. So there may be some leadership for a reversal on some of these issues. On voting rights? Probably not, yet. But it may give us some momentum.

Where will our fancy take refuge?

Congress. Elect the oppo party in 2006 or we're really screwed.

I have comments about 2 points. Firstly, I live in the Belly Of The Beast - Texas. There have been a number of anti-Texas posts on Kos, mainly, that have created huge firestorms in our local TexasKos community. I don't respond, usually; it takes too long to explain the local-national interface, the history of Texas politics, and the peculiar local laws governing political activity. But I agree 100% with Kagro's analysis, as I understand it, that the attack on Texas was made by a group of corrupt national traitors for their own purposes, abetted by local politicians who stood to gain financially by the plan. This, in my opinion, is all about money, and always has been. There is no philosophy of small government involved, it is about small government so that the looting of the country, including Texas, can proceed more cheaply and easily. I guess you could call that a philosophy, I simply call it the cardinal sin of greed.

These folks latched onto a romantic notion, given voice by Ronald Reagan, of America being a country of sturdy, independent yeomanry, needing no government save a defense infrastructure, in order to create the footsoldiers who prepared the battlefield for the pillage of America by the likes of Enron, Halliburton, Exxon, et al - Texas was just a target of opportunity, like California was to Enron.

As an aside to this discussion of Texas, Mr. dks just announced his candidacy for TX House seat in district 122, currently held by a guy who they keep busy by letting him bring ridiculous but potentially dangerous bills to the Lege. He is financed almost completely by James Leininger, a piece of work in himself. You can read about Mr. dks's opposition here, but my real point is that these seats have been kept warm by carefully-chosen, non-intervening weaklings whose real allegiance is to money, not Texas or America. Mr. dks is not a politician, just a guy who is stepping into the breach because no real, Democratic politicians have the balls. I suspect most of them have been seduced by the money, too, as have the media darlings. They have all been co-opted by the money.

My second comment is about the military, and Kag's idea that it needs to be watched. Well, yeah, that's why they got rid of the dissenting generals. My greatest fear for this country is that, like in Rome, the military will have to intervene politically to save itself from ruin, then our country will be finished; the whole idea of democracy will have failed here, because as good as it can be, as much moral courage it can have, a military organization can never be a democracy. Whenever I try to articulate this fear of mine, that the military is being destroyed by this administration, and my fear is that it will act to preserve itself, I get the looks that say I am a grey-haired Cassandra. Well, Mr dks spent 30 years in the military, 24 of them with me, and I think I know it pretty intimately. And I fear it is being destroyed, and I fear it will preserve itself with a coup.

So. There you have the rantings of a menopausal Texan whose spouse is dragging her into another adventure, but this time in middle age, not the eager springtime of new love. Stay tuned, and keep your eyes on the Army.

I have to disagree with the word "treason" here, temptacious though it is. Article III Section 3: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

Subverting constitutional government - or even an outright coup d'etat - is not treason (unless done on behalf of a foreign enemy). It is sedition, though the word has been in bad odor since the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Seditious bastards.

-- Rick

OK, sedition. For now. Perhaps the bushist relationship with Arabia will turn out to have been treasonous. We shall see if they don't, in fact, break the treason barrier.

Very, very interesting comments. The Army, of course, already is acting to preserve itself, though thank God they're doing so with one eye on the traditional boundaries between government and the military. But I think it's also fairly obvious that the occupying forces in DC are keenly aware of those limitations and the military's sensitivities to them, which they are already exploiting. It's the flip side of the "support the troops" hammerlock they keep the civilian population in, in which all dissent is disloyalty to the troops, if not their commander in chief. The taboo from the military side of the equation is being accused of penetrating into civilian politics.

Very much the same arc, really. "Policy" being shaped by and because of the known weaknesses and choke points that those who would pose opposition still feel bound to honor.

What's "war?" Would it be something against which the Armed Forces feel compelled to defend?

Who's the "them" it has to be "waged" against?

I still think there's a reasonable shot at an opposition party pushback, driven by the electorate.

I just wonder how long it would take a new majority party to out-bastard the bastards, as the main post hints. Once the institutional balances have been wrecked, what's available to reassemble a working equilibrium.

I take some heart in history, though it's tenuous. We were able to rebuild the republic after the civil war, and we were able to cobble some government back together after the gilded age of the late 1800's. Are there any historians around who may wish to weigh in?

Now, make no mistake: I'm not arguing that we are exceptional as a nation or protected by some invisible hand of destiny. Perhaps we have dodged as many bullets as we can, and we're about through beating the odds. But perhaps not.

In contrast to my hopeful post above, let me observe what I believe to be true, and which I've written elsewhere:

I can't prove it, but I believe we have sufficient reason to believe that the CIA, or some significant portion of it, is behind a lot of the pushback campaign against the current administration.

The conventional wisdom is that the CIA is offended at being abused and scapegoated for the ginned-up case for the war, and perhaps even moreso by the armchair, amateur spook games played by Cheney and the WHIG. It may also be the case, however unlikely, that some of these elements in the CIA are also motivated in part by what we would recognize as patriotism. Their campaign to discredit the administration, in this analysis, amounts to whistle-blowing, and is not just a function of turf battles and pride.

If this is the case, then that's all well and good, but I am nevertheless more than a bit queasy about the CIA taking an active role, placing a thumb, or more than a thumb, on the scales of American politics. Doubtless there are those who will point out my probable naivete, to think the CIA may not have performed black political ops domestically before. But it still makes me queasy. It's not a comforting precedent, even if I might agree with the need to push back against the junta in this case.

"Them" is the United States, still regarded as a plural back then. (It survives, fossilized, in the phrase "these United States.)

You raise an interesting - if horrific - question about the gray boundary between sedition and treason.

As for the Armed Forces, their responsibility is clear in principle: they swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, not the president or anyone else. It becomes dreadfully unclear in practice if all branches of the federal government are in the hands of people with seditious intentions.

-- Rick

Yes, "them" is the United States. But how many of them have to have "war" waged against them for it to count?

Is just Texas enough? Texas and Georgia? Must the be attacked as states, or is it enough to wantonly lay waste to their National Guard contingents?

Further, does espionage constitute "war?" What about a sustained program of illegal counterespionage? Say, the "outing" of undercover agents still in the employ of the legitimate intelligence agencies?

Not war? Even as we fight nebulous conflicts like a "War on Terrorism" precisely because the traditional definition of national "enemies" no longer sufficiently describes those against whom we fight?

And in the "information age," are "PsyOps" war? Disinformation campaigns, both foreign and domestic?

EW -- Strong reason why the Alito nomination should be confronted on broader, deeper grounds than some convenient revelation of embarrassing papers.

They've packed the House. They've packed the Senate (using the war as a wedge). They've packed the Courts. With substantial success, they've packed the lobbies, and the regulators, and the organs of law enforcement and national security. The people and the press have largely opted out of their democratic rsponsibiities.

They're stuffing everything in one bag. The seams will not hold. It's not yet clear just when or how the thing is going to give way -- but the more things that go into that bag, the more disorderly the rupture will be.

Treason? Sedition? By any light, it's a great betrayal.

Is the King mad? Multiple Republican sources report the President is determined to "stay the course" in Iraq, even if it costs him one or both houses of Congress in the Fall.

The Fall is coming.

Function following form!

I have been thinking that the best way to break the seeming stranglehold of corruption that these conservatives now running the country have is to overwhelmingly vote them out of power. Sounds simple, but we need a theme that will be easily embraced by voters to brand these guys as bad for the country! I think looking at any one issue by itself can't make the corruption theme in a simple clear manner. What I think is needed is an overarching paradigm that these conservatives govern by which will be seen by the electorate as dangerous and unethical.

I believe most Americans believe that law and ethics come first (function) and the form used to achieve these objectives must be changing in order to meet the functional objectives. I seem to see the current ruling conservatives following a different paradigm and one that is always dangerous. That being that function follows form. In other words, these guys set out their view of end reality and everything, and I do mean everything they do is to make function follow the form they want reality to look like.

I think we all can list many examples of this such as:
the reality of Iraq and their view with resultant consequences;
the reality of healthcare (Medicare drug law) and their view with resultant consequences;
the reality of human rights and their view with resultant consequences of torture and lack of a national human ethic pride;
Many, many more.

Could not a talented PR group distill this all into a relatively simple branding message that could help voters see the lack of reality based function resulting from how these guys operate, namely that all function will follow a preconceived form? Thoughts?


I think the CIA is something we need to treat with much more nuance here.

First, it's not the CIA currently constituted that has its thumb on the scale. It's a number of former officers, most of whom have been purged by Porter Goss. And of that group, there are some (Scheuer) who don't seem that interested in taking Bush on for his abuse of power, some (Tenet, McLaughlin) who are so compromised by Bush's failures that they can't really push back, and then a bunch of others. But it's a very disparate group, so it's hard to point to just them. And, they're out of power (like the former State crowd--Scowcroft, Powell, Wilkerson, with support from Poppy--that are showing more success at opposing Bush).

But here's another thing to consider. There is no evidence that after Iran-Contra we were able to demobilize the former intelligence officers who had set up their own covert operations. Iran-Contra legitimized non-agency intelligence ops, and they still seem to be very active. Particularly when you look at the presence of Ledeen and Ghorbanifar and Franklin's spy ring right on the borders of legitimacy.

If anyone has had its thumb on the scale, it's this group. I'm not sure how best to counter this, but I wonder whether the new crowd of ex-CIAers (the purgees) are more capable of doing so than Congress or the FBI.

Subverting constitutional government - or even an outright coup d'etat - is not treason (unless done on behalf of a foreign enemy).

It IS treason in every sense excepting the legal one, which is kind of the point.

(Websters) 'Treason': 1 : the betrayal of a trust : TREACHERY

'Traitor': 1 : one who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty.

'Treachery': 1 : violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence : TREASON

The FBI says it is reopening it's investigation in to the Niger Forgeries because of new info (from eRiposte and Emptywheel?) and greater cooperation from some witnesses. The noose tightens? We'll see.

Kagro's essay is brilliant. The comparison to King George is brilliant. A great movie for anyone who didn't see it.

On the military: They have one other option, and that is the one I believe they will take, at least as option 1. That is to tell George that it is all getting rosy in Iraq and we can bring the boys and girls home beginning next year. I see that happening already. They know we have to start withdrawing and so they will characterize it however they need to to make it happen, at least until the congresspersons tell Bush they will lose unless he announces a withdrawal.

What to do? I think a large part of the public realizes how bad it's getting. Iraq and Katrina saw to that. The most important thing is to take Congress. That will require us activists working and paying for it but also being careful not to buy into such familiar themes as "the Dems have no ideas" or "the Dems have no backbone" because both are happening and need to be nourished.

We should contribute our ideas to the emerging general theme. But we still don't have enough Dems in Congress to cannibalize any of them. Unfortunately, that includes Lieberman, much as I hate to say it. We need them all now, every one. In 2010 we can talk purity, if we do our job between now and then. But it is too soon this year. The most important votes are the ones for Reid and Pelosi.

And one more thing. If Steve Clemons is right about Barbara Bush wanting to get rid of Cheney, good. That is step one--getting rid of Agnew had to happen before it became thinkable to get rid of Nixon. Although swapping Bush/Cheney for McCain gives me pause.


Those are all good points, but the sense I get listening to Sy Hersh is that these ex-company guys working on the pushback still have allies on the inside, active. I'm not so sure there's a clean inside/outside distinction to be made.


But here's something I puzzle with, Mkatz. HOW is Babs going to get rid of Dick? She doesn't have the ability to name him an unindicted co-conspirator. She doesn't have subpoena power. Barring something like that happening, he's still a constitutional officer.

Impeachment addresses the removal of individuals, not regimes ... but it was constructed as a cure for conspiracies. Hamilton, in Federalist 69:

... the executive ... is to be vested in a single magistrate. ... if, in this particular, there be a resemblance to the king of Great Britain, there is not less a resemblance to the Grand Seignior, to the khan of Tartary, to the Man of the Seven Mountains, or to the governor of New York. ...

The power of the President, in respect to pardons, would extend to all cases, except those of impeachment. The governor of New York may pardon in all cases ... If a governor of New York, therefore, should be at the head of any such conspiracy ... he could insure his accomplices and adherents an entire impunity. A President of the Union, on the other hand, though he may even pardon treason ... could shelter no offender, in any degree, from the effects of impeachment and conviction.

IOW, to Hamilton the Constitution says "impeachment trumps a pardon".

Should we stop talking about impeaching W, and start moving articles of impeachment against such civil officers of the United States as he might be tempted to pardon?

Wow, wouldn't that be something if the means to the end -- an exit from Iraq -- was in fact best accomplished by agreeing, at least on the surface, that "all is getting rosy in Iraq and we can bring the boys and girls home beginning next year?"

You'd have to appear to be crazy in order to do something sane.

You'd have to take a position widely derided online as DLC/Vichy/blindly moronic in order to accomplish the goals of the positions widely applauded online as progressive and realistic.


Good point, yes. How much dirt on the CIA do we get, after all, from uberleaker Vincent Cannistraro? But if there are people on the inside, they're working against management.

One more consideration. The most valuable thing you get from an association with the CIA is training (and access to NSA intercepts, if NSA is willing to share). Well, and gobs of money, but with money-laundering like Abramoff is capable of, who needs official cash? Which means these people outside the official CIA are every bit as empowered to do what they do as those inside.


Very good question. Why not impeach Rove and Dick. Too late to impeach Libby though. And can we impeach Bolton yet? I'm not sure we've got the evidence, but damn it'd feel good.

And she isn;t in the WH, like Nancy Reagan. That, plus the fact that Lynne Cheney is probably Babs' match, makes me doubt that story is more than just Babs'fantasy.

But there are other people who must want to get rid of Cheney, and they are in Congress and elsewhere in and out of gov't. I have no idea what it would take short of a genuine health problem to get him to quit. But I suppose there is dirt that could be leaked. Anyway, I believe that until Cheney is gone, there is nothing to be done about Bush except undermine him further in the polls, keep the Dems' strength up and sow confusion and disarray among the Repubs.

Along those lines, Josh Marshall had a very important post a day or two after the election in which he said that the Dems' best and only real weapon was the ability to rob Bush's policies of the figleaf of bipartisanship. Make him and his party own them all. The Dems did a really good job of that on Social Security, and most recently on the budget. Their determination not to play along caught the GOP by surprise. Now that they have to rely only on their own caucus, with weakened leadership, they are much less strong. This is also why it is important to stop Alito with every tool in the box, thought it is not smart for the Dems (at least Reid)to say so right now.

And Bush? Trotting him out for 3 minutes to trumpet the jobs report and say nothing about the 10 dead Marines or take questions? How pathetic is that? Madness indeed.

emptywheel: That's sort of my point. And rumblings about mid-level career CIA hating management, particularly the new regime, are not hard to find.

Kagro--I'm saying the military would take the line that all is rosyu, we can come home. They don't have to worry about being called Vichy anything, just insanely optimistic. Crazy like a fox.

But it does put people whi want to be both progressive and responsible in a bit of a bind. The only way to avoid making the case for staying by telling it like it is, is to point out that we aren't making it better by staying.

Barbara's leverage flow completely through W. I don't doubt he's fundamentally scared of her, on a primal, almost infantile level. If she gives him some serious WASP matrician down-the-country, challenging his manhood and pushing him to fire the help, who knows what might happen.

Mothers can have a power all their own that none can match. And Bush to me is essentially a mama's boy.

Mimikatz, I was just thinking about what Democrats might do if they wanted to further that work.

Anyway, I wanted to add in two more scenes from Madness that make tangential points.

First, the initial meeting between Willis and the King, in which Willis describes the methods he uses at his hospital, and comes to realize the challenge of separating the lunatic from the king:

Willis: My patients work, sir. They till the soil, cultivate... and in so doing, they acquire a better conceit of themselves.

The King: I'm king of England. A man can have no better conceit of himself.

The second, the moment when Greville and the king realize he may just have snapped out of it after all, and both realize what's been expected of the king all along -- and it's not necessarily that he not be a lunatic:

Greville: Your Majesty seems more yourself.

The King: Do I? Yes, I do. Yeah, I've always been myself, even when I was ill. Only now I seem myself. And that's the important thing. I have remembered how to seem.

EW -- Not too late to impeach Libby, AFAIK. Maybe too early. Start with a peripheral central cog in the machine -- some minor Pioneer, maybe.

Gut-check time for GOP Members of Congress. Take an acknowledged evildoer, someone who has taken The People's grant of authority and done The People wrong. Do you or do you not choose to revoke his/her eligibility a for Presidential Pardon? If not, why not?

And follow this procedure up the pyramid.

Murtha moves on Iraq, and RonK moves on impeachment. Buy lottery tickets!

Mimi -

But it does put people who want to be both progressive and responsible in a bit of a bind. The only way to avoid making the case for staying by telling it like it is, is to point out that we aren't making it better by staying.

I'll again pitch the simple way to square this circle: blame it on the Iraqis. That is the groundwork that Murtha implicitly set up, surely with quiet encouragement by people with stars on their shoulders. It is also implicit in the declared policy of leaving Iraqi troops and police to "hold" towns after our troops have "cleared" them of insurgents. Everything is "rosy" in the sense that our guys 'n' gals have done their job; whether the Iraqis can do theirs is up to them.

Sure it is a sham, but why exactly is it a sham? Because to most of the Sunnis, Shia or Kurdish troops are as much occupiers as we are. Because "Iraq" is itself largely a sham. Kurdish peshmerga don't really regard themselves as Iraqis, no matter what uniform they wear, and I doubt most of the Shia do either. Iraqi nationalism, so far as I can tell, is mainly a Sunni Arab thing to begin with.

The American public will accept this, because they just want us the hell out, preferably on terms that don't sound like "losing." What happens after that is up to the Iraqis, whoever exactly Iraqis are.

-- Rick

Great essay, great discussion.

As per "treason," jonnybutter and RonK take the position I took when I wrote Enough already with calling Iraq a “mistake” five weeks ago. There's the legal meaning, and then there's the vernacular meaning we all carry in our heads: "betrayal," or, better yet, "sell-out." Bushco has sold out American ideals, the civics textbook image - partly real, partly myth - about "truth, justice and the American way."

So much of a sell-out that sober folks here are actually discussing impeachment as if - sorry, Kagro X - it really could happen. So much so, that we're actually talking about military revolt as if it could happen, if not quite Argentine-style, somethign quite unthinkable until recently.


For months I've been getting derisive hoots from all but a few for saying that Democratic hesitance over being considered "weak on defense" is stoking my personal fear that it will be Bush and the GOP who benefit in the 2006 election cycle from a withdrawal out of Iraq. Now, Jonathan Rauch at the National Journal (hidden behind a subscription firewall) notes that Every Way But Militarily, The Pullout From Iraq Has Begun.

Nixon recognized that without U.S. military support, the government of South Vietnam would fall to the Communist insurgency, and he believed that a fall would represent a humiliating and costly defeat. "But Nixon realized that his approval ratings would slip fast unless he made progress in bringing the boys home," writes Stanley Karnow in Vietnam: A History. American officials searching for a "breaking point" in Vietnam had found one, but what had broken was not the insurgency. It was U.S. public opinion: Americans no longer believed the war was worth it.

President Bush may not know it yet -- or, then again, he may -- but in Iraq he is about to do a Nixon. Psychologically and politically, the withdrawal phase has already begun. Militarily, the pullback will start within weeks or, at most, months after the December 15 Iraqi parliamentary elections.


And so, any day now, the president's political advisers will go to him and say something like this:

"Mr. President, if U.S. forces are not clearly on their way out of Iraq by about June 30, we will face a bloodbath in the midterm elections, and the Republicans will lose the House or the Senate or both. On the other hand, if U.S. forces are coming home, you will have cut the legs out from under the Democrats. They will have no choice but to support your drawdown or call for an even faster one. Either way, they would be in no position to blame you for any subsequent setbacks over there. Right now, you have nothing to say on Iraq that makes sense to the public. Once the troops start coming home, it will be the other side that has nothing to say."

Which will Bush choose? If political reality alone does not sway him, he will reflect that maintaining a massive Iraq deployment in the face of public hostility is unsustainable and ultimately counterproductive, setting up conditions for a Vietnam-style collapse and a backlash against Bush's democracy agenda.

So by spring, if not earlier, Bush will announce that progress in Iraq allows U.S. forces to start coming home. He will say that an American drawdown is the best way to help the Iraqis stand on their own. He will argue, much as he did with his tax cuts, that whatever pace he sets is precisely the right pace, and that withdrawing any faster or slower would be the height of irresponsibility. He may also say that withdrawing is "not a formula for getting out of [the region], but one that provided the only sound basis for America's staying in and continuing to play a responsible role."

Those were the words of Richard Nixon, who, somewhere, is wanly smiling.

OK, maybe not. Bush & Cheney are stubborn men. But, if a reversal does occur, isn't getting out what matters? And isn't worrying about whether a GOP-initiated withdrawal (with appropriate propaganda) boosts the party's chances in November just a little too pragmatically calculating, or to say it shorter, amoral?

Let me answer my own question "yes." But let me add that the distance a certain mixed coterie of elected Democrats have put between themselves and John Murtha over the past week - which some of them and some folks in www.Land seem to see as pragmatic - makes them puke worthy and may indeed cost the party dearly 11 months from now.

Could not a talented PR group distill this all into a relatively simple branding message...

This is the problem, not the solution.

There are no end of domestic distractions
that can be serially ginned up and thrown in the path of any meaningful change in this country.

Gay marriage may be a spent force, but it was enough to hold, just barely, the ramparts in '04.

In '06, it will be illegal immigration.

In '08, some other highly decorated tub will be thrown in the path of the angry whale, Democracy.

Do the people of this country have the will, the fortitude, the energy and the stamina to first swallow the tub but
keep on chasing
JuntaBoy's regime?

Have we lost the taste and talent for self-government?

I am skeptical.

Saw a bumpersticker the other week:


Might have to buy me one.

Do the people of this country have the will, the fortitude, the energy and the stamina to first swallow the tub but
keep on chasing JuntaBoy's regime?

This is important, IMO. The deference given to Executive Branch decisions that was mentioned in the essay is the trend that needs to be exposed and exploited in this case. Trust in facts and trust in reality once proven violated a few times, may be all that is needed to brand an administration as non-functional in reality. To be branded as liars and untrustworthy. At that point, the administration loses it traction. That is what we have to expose and hope for subsequent logic to set in!

Mothers can have a power all their own that none can match. And Bush to me is essentially a mama's boy.

It's one thing to dis poppy...

The whole family dynamic thing is absolutely nauseating to think about, and I resent my or anyone else's ever being forced to do it. It's humiliating for everyone. That said, it's easy to imagine Barbara's busting poppy's balls a lot over the years. It's easy to imagine that there's a 'wimp factor' phenom. in the family itself. Dubya, of course, ran his last campaign explicitly as a 'real' man. 'We must not wilt, we must stay firm, we must not be gay, bla bla bla'. He surely doesn't want to alienate his 'work wives', but there's not much chance of that anyway. But what's the precise difference between a workwife and a 'work mother'? Gack.

Who knows what Barbara could actually do? She is a terror. She makes Nancy R. look retiring.

I was just thinking about what Democrats might do if they wanted to further that work [declaring Iraq to be rosey so as to get us out]

Democrats - other than Murtha - don't have much of an influential role either way at this point, do they? From the WH POV, dems are there to be useful idiots, and that's it - 'when they zig, you zag'. It would be amusing if suddenly lots of dems came out spinning Murtha's 'the military goals have been achieved' as 'everything's going great in Iraq'. The WH would then have to talk about all the 'work' which still needs doing, although we are 'making good progress'. Feh. When Bush is forced to declare the 'mission accomplished' at some point, he'll just do it. It ought to be clear by now that the guy will say absolutely anything, no matter how preposterous, and people will want to believe him, or pretend to - because he's not just the president, but the Presidency. Top of the world, ma!

KX: Second mimikatz - great post, and those Madness quotes are just killin' me.

I think Metor Blads is exactly right about the trap that hawkish Democrats are setting for themselves. After Dec. 15, Bush could conceivably declare "victory," thereby satisfying the base, and begin to pull enough troops out to make voters less anxious about the war. The question is, will enough people in the 2 camps buy it?

Whether that's the plan or not, the very possibility that he could try it underscores how poorly the Democrats have done in formulating an Iraq policy. It's truly unbelievable when you consider that a lot of voters are more willing to listen to Democratic alternatives than at most other times in the last 5 years.

And that's a shame because the only hope in the near future for rebuilding our political system is to have the Democrats win big in '06.

Hadn't read MB's comment above when I posted mine...

If dems' early endorsement of Murtha's position is good politics, then they should do it (and I think more will, soon). Regardless, we have to stop thinking about policy in our usual literal way. This is the Bush WH and its puppy congress! It's ALL politics. Whether declaring the situation in Iraq 'rosy' is smart or not, it's the right track, it seems to me, to think in primarily werewolf-political terms. The 'dems have no ideas' trap is basically a way for the gop to use the dems as 'ground' - when political lightning strikes the gop, it's (at least partially) channeled harmlessly through the 'hapless' democrats who are so keen on being wonky and responsible and helpful. That dynamic must be broken. So, in a sense, emphasizing a rigid position on the war is not good politics, because Bush isn't really encumbered by a rigid position himself (nor by a strategy, or plan, or..etc.); he just pretends, and says the words 'resolve' and 'leadership' a lot. On the other hand, withdrawl is the right policy (Bush himself will all-but-certainly do an at least token drawdown before the '06 elections) and may also be good politics if dems commit early. But either way, you end our war in Iraq not by coming up with a 'good plan', but by winning elections. I know that sounds circular, but I'm just positing a different way of prioritizing imperatives (next slide!).

Slam the gop next year. Go ahead, dem candidate, be a little demogogic, a little broad. Be a little 'unfair'. Be a little 'unhelpful' (all deftly, of course). Do NOT share the blame. Tora tora tora! Voters say they don't like attack politics, but they sure as hell vote for it. When asked why you voted for the war, say, 'Like many Americans, I trusted President Bush. I won't make that mistake again (and neither should you)'. Don't make the campaign about your own judgement, or about a detailed plan to get out of Iraq (necessarily). If you're not an incumbent, same message. Broken trust. Perhaps it'll the dem's turn to talk incessantly about 9/11. About 'terra'. About 'wolves in the woods'. Terror-and-Katrina. Would that be shameless of us? Not at all, because it's all true.

The DC CW is that Democrats have a problem vis a vis the Iraq war. That is spin of the 'lightning rod' variety. The Republicans have a BIG problem vis a vis the Iraq war (among others). Can we dems just please concentrate on and remember that? If we take a house of congress, we can possibly finish the gop off before '08 AND force a rational Iraq policy in the meantime (with political warfare rather than a 'plan').

Democrats campaign in prose; Republicans govern in poetry

Meteor --

If BushCo grabs the last seat on the reality bus out of Iraq, there's not an awful lot we can do about it. Fretting that he might rob us of an issue is not only amoral, as you said, but abysmally stupid.

But I'll see your brutal realism and raise you some cynicism. Americans will not be thankful for getting out of Iraq; they will just want to forget about it, like a bad date.

Bush's bad poll numbers are not "because of Iraq" as such, but because his pretty thin charm has worn off and his ineptitude laid bare for all to see. Iraq has been the single largest contributing factor, but the result is not so much antiwar sentiment as such (except among people who didn't like him to start with, e.g., us) as generalized disgust.

In short, getting out of Iraq will no more undo the Iraq effect than pumping the water back out of New Orleans undid the Katrina effect. It will simply keep his position from getting even worse.

If Bush were to show competence and leadership in the next year, we could have a real problem. But what is the chance of that?

-- Rick

I don't get the angst about an '06 drawdown benefitting the GOP.

Since the amjority no longer believe in the president's credibility, and given all the relevant poll numbers, do you really think the majority will believe the "victory is at hand" bullshit? After Katrina? You really think so?

I don't buy it.

Of course they will try to spin a victory through PR. I just think they've jumped the shark in their ability to sell that story and make it stick. No matter what fig leaf they attempt to contrive, I expect it won't be big enough to cover even Bush's little willy.

As more and more Republicans abandon Bush, as is already happening, perhaps reaching a crescendo in the first months of the new year, there will be in minds of many fence-straddlers, a sort of divorce from Dubya and the GOP. We've seen the polls that give the Dems a huge edge over Republicans in congressional races. But we've also seen so often in the past how people who low-rate Congress still think their incumbent congressperson is a swell guy, and they vote for her regardless. I know quite a few folks who comphrehend electoral politics far better than I who think we're headed in '06 for a '74 (or a '94 in reverse). Maybe so. You'd find nobody more delighted than I would be if that turns out to be true. However, I'm not so confident as others in this regard, and some elected Dems' unwillingness to come around on Iraq is contributing to my angst.

I find two factors missing from this discussion. One is the economy... our debt... the fading Petro Dollar.

It was not the German people who saved Germany from herself, from Hitler.

Well, in the end changing the direction of politics comes down to two things -- one, Constructing a new and winning voting coalition, and two, destroying the other guy's working coalition. You have to do both things at the same time.

I certainly would not pay all that much attention to where the CIA happens to be -- most of the 80 thousand or so of them vote in Virginia and Maryland. The Army or Military vote might be more significant in some places -- again, I would not place that much emphasis on in in conceptualizing the process of forming a voting coalition.

Instead, let's indeed look at History. The roots of what we call the New Deal Coalition, really begin with Bryant who three times ran as the populist and anti-corporatist Democratic Candidate -- and lost. But his themes were picked up by Teddy Roosevelt who was very much an accidental Republican President, but created the modern Progressive Republican political center, that lost its force with Taft. TR's Bull Moosers assured that the more progressive Wilson would win in 1912, and from then on Progressives migrated slowly out of the Republican orbit, first to third parties such as LaFollete's Progressives, and then were captured by the New Deal by FDR -- and well into the Johnson years, that coalition was dominant.

In otherwords -- be conscious of how large voting blocks can indeed move from one party's orbit to another. Be conscious of how new voting blocks are formed around common interests. It is politics 101 -- but we need to keep it squarely in mind.

I would contend the New Deal Coalition came apart on two points -- first deindustrilization which disoriented the working class (and Reagan knew how to exploit this), and the essential reality of the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, which put literally 90% plus of black voters in the Democratic Orbit. We still have not mastered putting this allegiance to the Democrats into more than racial terms -- which means we can't really square the circle and be competitive with white voters who have economic interests in line with Democratic Party Policy. This, to be sure, has happened before -- in the late 19th and early 20th century the Dem party had most of the Northern Urban White Ethnics, and ultimately nominated one for President -- Al Smith. He lost at least in some measure because Southern Baptists could imagine a gaggle of gin drinking Irish Roman Catholics taking orders from the Pope and doing in their culture. FDR certainly was not "one of those kind" but he sure did provide coattails for them to get elected to Congress, and he appointed them to high offices.

more later...

As to rebuilding a Democratic Coalition, I think we have lots of assets we are not using.

We really need to pay attention to the "Culture of Corruption" issue, and make the side arguments about it. Yes -- making it does depend on getting guilty pleas and convictions in Plame, Abramoff, Cunningham and perhaps other scandals. But more than that we have to interpret what it means for ordinary voters.

Let me put it this way -- if one business or industry gets favored treatment because it's executives kick back campaign funds from contracts they received due to influence of an irregular nature -- that also means that other businesses and the workers in them got shafted for reasons other than price and quality of product or service. We need to make those shafted workers, and the communities where they live really really mad at the system -- and then run on the old Progressive Good Government ideas, transparency, good regulation -- keeping the system honest, and all the im agined slogans and ideas. Given the current Republican networks -- "The Shafted" are a huge voting block, and the "favored" are pretty small. Those are at least some of the consequences of dishonest and corrupt government that impact a whole lot of potential voters. Getting there is a matter of framing the corruption -- and then doing the Saul Alinsky thing of rubbing raw the sores of discontent.

We need to understand clearly the difference between Party (which I would contend has one goal -- winning elections) and political movements which tend to carry the issues debates. Movements get attention and support in government councils to the extent they seem to deliver voters -- but care has to be taken not to allow a whole party to seem captured by one way of comprehending the issues -- particularly in national politics where regionalism does change how issues are understood. The Republicans have that danger now on Reproductive issues, the power of the Religious Right and Uber-corparatism (and we should be exploiting these) --Afterall, one of our missions needs to be to throw enough weggies into their soup to make it unappetizing. But again, in each instance, the implications of the arguments you use need to be interpreted to average voters in different regions in ways that might move them away from current allignments.

I take a contrary view of Bush pulling out of Iraq. For two reasons (aside from general stubborness) I don't see him doing it. To begin with, the public associates this as his war and he's already stated that this won't happen as long as he is the Commander in Chief. After leading us into the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions in to Germany and lost them, it's his war! He got us into it with a devout belief that there wouldn't be casualties and there is a messaniac sense that frightens me. It's akin to Hitler being advised to pull back his troops on the Russian Front and he instead ordering his troops to fight until the last bullet had been fired--it's insanity. Bush has already said he doesn't care about the political cost Also, if they think they are bringing on the Rapture, do they really care about losing one or more branches of the legislature? Personally, that scares the bejesus out of me.

Second (as has been said here about money), does anyone think that the CorpoRATe powers that be will give up the Iraq Gravy Train? Does anyone believe that Papa Smirk's Caryle options aren't growning exponentially by the war? I'm think that the non devout members of the administration had only one goal in mind: Word Wide Looting for as long as they could get away with it, for as much as they could steal! Recently we had Ahmed Chalabi doing his tour through Washington. It wasn't a public victory lap, but Cheney, et al took the flack to meet with him. In that regard, there's an excellent article up on Common Dreams about "PSA"s that would give the Oil companies carte blanche to Iraq's oil at a price that no government not under our control could tolerate. If these agreements go through, they need someone cooperative enough to enforce these terms on the Iraqi people. Imagine if the Bushista's pull out and whatever government comes to power decides to repudiate those agreements with US Multi-Nationals! Worse yet from an Administratioin point of view, an actual independent government in Iraq might turn it's oil over to China and insist on payment in anything but the US Dollar. If other oil producing nations were to follow suit.....

No, I think the whole house of cards is going to begin to unravel by itself and we can help the process by pointing out it's flaws along the way and doing whatever we can to get at least one chamber of government in the hands of the Democrats. We are going to be handed significant election advantages in terms of scandals that should have us all repeating over and over "Culture of Corruption". Bumper Sticker slogans like that on top of scandals are what brought the Repugs to power in 94. Even if only one body of the Legislative branch were to be handed to us, there are enough scandals to Subpoena that would keep the administration on it's heels till it's either impeached or it leaves office 1/20/09.

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