Monday, April 23, 2007

Who is actually prosecuting the IRAQ war? Who do the generals take their orders from? Is this war being manager by the generals or by the Command-in-Chief?

I ask this because President Bush has stated that "I believe strongly that politicians in Washington shouldn't be telling generals how to do their job"

Excuse me! I was under the impression that the President himself was deciding on strategy (supposedly with the advice of his generals in mind) and that the generals then execute the strategy that the President approves. To my mind, that's a politician in Washington telling the generals how to do their job.

And since when is it wrong to have an opinion about the war? Yes, Harry Reid has influence over congressional actions relating to the war but if he believes that the war has been lost at this point then is it not his duty to state that to the American people. The people elect their representative to be an advocate for them in the political arena. I actually agree with the administration when they say that if a congressman believes the war is lost then that congressman should vote to defund the war and Harry Reid should do that.

I am reminded of a quote from the movie "1776" when the delegate from Georgia states
"'that a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.' It was written by Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament." If any member of Congress believes that the war is lost at this point based on his judgement and the information that he is afforded as a member of the legislature, then no matter how unpopular the action may be, he should vote to defund the war.

The other point that galls me no end is the idea that the administration trumpets that any action against the current war footing is a betrayal of the troops, a morale crusher, an aid to the enemy, etc. I don't believe that. If the action is to bring the troops home, then I see that as more supportive of the men and women who have pledged to fight for our freedom(s) then to use them as cannon fodder in a bloody civil conflict a half-a-world away.

Ulysses S. Grant used superiority in numbers to force an end to the United States Civil War with the loss of a great number of lives. Robert E. Lee tried to use the same tactic to win the Battle of Gettysburg with Pickett's charge and failed although he lost a great number of men in the attempt. The President must believe that success in IRAQ will mirror Grant's success while the general population and the Congress are coming to the conclusion that Lee's failure will be the model for our fight in IRAQ.

Either way our troops are being sacrificed on the altar of freedom.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mums the word for this Administration

Especially if you disagree with them. "White House officials can exclude dissenters from taxpayer-funded appearances by President Bush without violating the protesters' rights."

The argument here is that the Administration has some kind of right to control the message being promulgated at these events. Excuse me! Private events and GOP funded events can be as restrictive as they want in terms of the guest list, what gets reported, what the message is and who the audience is.

Taxpayer-funded events are another story and here that ugly "free speech" thing comes into play. The administration has had no problem staying on message but I think that once again, they are chipping away at the constitution under the guise of firmness of resolve. One message, one voice, that's the mantra being chanted in the White House. But at taxpayer-funded events the opposing voices should not be silenced.

Don't get me wrong here. Disruptive behavior either for or against a particular position is wrong no matter how you slice it.

The parties in the issue at hand here had a "No blood for oil" bumpersticker. They also had anti-Bush T-shirts on but these were not displayed nor was there any disruptive intention (or so they say). Regardless of their intentions, they were summarily refused entry to the event.

The current administration flexes its muscles at every opportunity but once again I feel they have overstepped their authority. The voice of the opposition cannot and should not be silenced.

One of the main problems that I have with "W" is the unwillingness to hear other ideas. This "arrogance" is not "resolution". We are a weaker nation because of this attitude. The answers to many of our issues often can be found in the middle of the road but the unwillingness to listen and be open to compromise builds a wall that cuts off everything but a single lane of that road.

Maybe 2009 will see a widening of our political highways and a new willingness to stay to the middle. Go Purple...


Monday, April 16, 2007

During every congressional election cycle, regardless of the winning party, my optimism for a change in the way our democracy functions is always at its highest. I naively think that the majority will put the people of this country first and the goals of the party second. My disappointment this time is even more unpalatable because I believe that putting country over party will always produce a better result and the Democrats are missing the opportunity in a big way.

What have they done? Put troop funding into a bill laden with pork with unrealistic withdrawal timelines to bring the ill-conceived war in IRAQ to an ignominious end. The bill is set up this way in order to garner votes across the full spectrum of liberalism and conservatism. The Democrats had lots of options and chose the absolute worst in the belief that it would benefit the party. I'm sad, disillusioned and demoralized.

What are the other options? After the President vetos this ill-conceived bill the democrats propose "a second bill that would tie U.S. economic and military support to the Iraqi government's ability to meet performance benchmarks." OK, that's a little better and should have been the opening gambit in this game of one upmanship that has nothing to do with what is best for the country.

And here is a third option that was hinted at in the early stages of this game. Attach a requirement to the bill that the President will certify future troop readiness and necessary equipment and if he chooses to send in untrained and/or ill-equipped troops, he would provide that statement to Congress.

I like option 3 a lot. The first two options handcuff the President as Commander-in-Chief and result in Congressional micro-management of the war effort. Option 3 simply puts the President on notice that he has to keep Congress informed about troop readiness (or unreadiness as the case may be). The war will still be the Presidents to win or lose. The troops will be fully funded with no strings attached and the system of checks and balances that form the core of our democracy will be strengthened after 12 years of Republican apathy toward their congressional duty.

What is the downside? The only one I see is that troop morale may take a hit (even more than it already has) when the President sends troops into the war knowing full well that they are not properly equipped or not properly trained or they have not had enough time with their families between deployments. The men and women of our military are ill-served by a President that knowingly orders them into a war zone under these circumstances. But the people will be informed and Congress will be informed and democracy will flourish under option 3. The people can then judge how well our Commander-in-Chief is prosecuting HIS war and vote accordingly.

My vote is for Option 3.

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