Saturday, February 23, 2008

Never Again.

The "Presidency" of George W. Bush is grinding to an excruciating, long-awaited and long-overdue halt; with luck and perserverence, we'll still find a way to get impeachment and accountability back on the table to ensure that none of the blaggards, thieves and liars who voluminously infest the framework around this "Administration" can ever return to government. The Ford, Bush I and even Clinton Administrations pardoned previous incarnations of the same under the misbegotten claim of "moving forward" -- we now face the same individuals, working together in a concentrated concoction of the nefarious and ne'er-do-well, as a result.

But this isn't even about them. It's much more focused.

This is about the first hints that George W. Bush's most important legacy -- the one we may actually thank him for, even if he is allowed to escape the Justice he's so actively thwarted and manipulated. This is about how George W. Bush may have saved the nation, simply by damaging it so badly that he's virtually guaranteed there will never be another Bush Presidency.

The article How W. derailed Jeb Bush's future by Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, was written for the Los Angeles Times, and appeared on Mercury News on February 17th. In it, Mr. Weisberg takes a sobering look at the chances of Jeb Bush for putting in a bid to take up the Bush Presidential Dynasty, and concludes that it is highly unlikely after George W's legacy of tragic destruction. A small excerpt:

As the second Bush presidency grinds to its dismal conclusion, Jeb and his parents seem to think that George W.'s mistakes have destroyed the second son's chances of ever occupying the White House, family friends say. Jeb was merely recognizing reality when he opted not to run for president in 2008. While a campaign in 2012 or beyond theoretically is possible, Jeb says he has no interest and complains that no one will believe him.

Among those who don't want to take no for an answer is his brother the president, for whom, ironically, Jeb's election would provide a measure of historical vindication.

While Jeb seems resigned to abandoning politics, family friends have described his parents as devastated that the older son spiked the chances of the younger one.


Jeb, the obedient son, the one who was supposed to be president, who even after George Junior's election was regarded as a potential third in the line, now faces a political impasse. His older brother dashed ahead and blew up the bridge behind him. At this point, not many people inside or outside the family think it can be rebuilt.

Perhaps we have one thing to be thankful for in the looming wake of the abysmal Bush II Presidency: that, should fortune smile upon us, we'll never -- EVER -- have to endure another one.

Now, if only we could be certain that Bush's true legacy would be that this incarnation of the Bush family, and their peers and supporters, would never again hold any office public or private in this still-reeling nation...

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Friday, February 22, 2008

URGENT ACTION - Abdel Al-Ghizzawi AKA Al-Ghazzawi

Abdel Al-Ghizzawi. Below is a post that H. Candace Gorman, Al-Ghizzawi's attorney posted on her blog. In addition she asked that we send as many letters and faxes as possible.

So I plead with you to read to the bottom - there is a form letter - please edit it as needed - and please please please - no matter what - please send and or fax the letters! This has to happen ASAP! Candace is going to see Abdel on Monday - she would love to tell him that people acted! Please send me a reply letting me know you've taken action - so that I can pass it on to her!

Don't let him die alone. He is no "enemy combatant". Please see the profile of him at if you want more information. Below is Candaces' post, below that is the letter. (If you are not a US Citizen - please edit it to fit.)

-------Candace's Post Below--------

Many of you have asked me for an update after that horrible news that Al-Ghizzawi was told by a doctor at the base that he has AIDS. I had a Reply due today in the District Court in DC and I have spent the week focusing on that document. It is now filed and I am waiting for "clearance" by the government before I can post it.

Immediately after I received Al-Ghizzawi's letter I sent an email to the government attorney who refused to tell me whether or not the report was correct. I filed with the Supreme Court but Chief Justice Roberts denied my emergency motion... I still had no word from the Government on the AIDS report... I filed back in the District Court (where this battle for medical treatment began more than 18 months ago). District Court Judge Bates ordered the government to respond by February 15th and asked them to update the Court on Al-Ghizzawi's medical condition. Finally in a typically snide response the government admitted that Al-Ghizzawi does not in fact have AIDS (the fact that the governmen waited this long to admit the truth...if it is the truth... only convinces me that this was a psychological game being played on Al-Ghizzawi... ) but anyway if it is true the good news is that Al-Ghizzawi does not have AIDS.

I say "if it is true" because what came out in the governments response is the fact that they have admitted in this same response that they have known for 18 months that Al-Ghizzawi's liver condition (from hepatitis B) is worsening... perhaps dramatically (they will never say anything directly) and they have not treated him... The affidavit makes clear that the medical staff at guantanamo does not have a clue how to diagnose or treat hepatitis and liver damage.... at the cost of Al-Ghizzawi's health.

Soon I will be able to post my response and even though much of it is legalize and many of you are not lawyers.... you can figure it out.

And now it is time for Judge Bates to understand that many people are concerned with Al-Ghizzawi's health. Will you write him?

Please keep your letters polite and to the point... but let him know that this is not just about one person.... but about the dignity of a nation of people who care about what is being done in our name... and how this reflects on our nation as a whole... And if you are so inclined to write please do it soon... all of the documents are in this very capable judge's hands as of right now.... and I am off on Monday to visit with Al-Ghizzawi for for two days and how nice it would be to tell him that there was a groundswell of support for his cause by the people of the world.

The Honorable John D. Bates
United States District Court Judge
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20001

H. Candace Gorman


Interested in the Guantanamo Litigation?

See my blog at:

-----THE LETTER-----

The Honorable John D. Bates
United States District Court Judge
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 354-3433 fax)

Honorable John Bates;

I am writing to you today about Abdel Al-Ghizzawi, a detainee who has been in Guantanamo Bay detention facility for over five years. Al-Ghizzawi was sold to U.S. Troops as part of a bounty, he is not a “high value” detainee. Al-Ghizzawi was one of the “no hearings hearings” detainees who had new Tribunals convened in his absence when the initial Tribunals determined that he should never have been determined to have been an enemy combatant. Later in 2005 a new tribunal was conducted that declared him an enemy combatant. In fact, Abdel Al-Ghizzawi never fought with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, or anyone else.

Abdel Al-Ghizzawi has Hepatitis B as well as Tuberculosis. His condition is worsening, and is very grave. On January 28 2008 his attorney H. Candace Gorman filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court asking the US military to provide urgent medical treatment to Abdel Al-Ghizzawi, as well as access to his medical records. Chief Justice John Roberts denied the motion.

This is shameful. Our country is supposed to be run by us – the citizens of these United States, we are supposed to be the Government. However, in the past few years we have had very little say in what goes on, and none in how this country treats it's POWs or detainees. This needs to change. We care what's done in our name. Our country, while once a beacon of human rights is now one of the worlds worst offenders.

I ask you to help Abdel Al-Ghizzawi by providing him with the medical care he needs so desperately. I urge you to provide his attorney, H Candace Gorman access to his medical records so that she can assure that he gets the treatment that he needs for his condition.

The world is watching. Our reputation has been sullied enough. Please act in the best interest of everyone. Give us back our good conscience.




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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Non-Personal Reaction to Our Wreck-in-Chief

The following statements are culled from a recent BBC interview with George W. Bush conducted by Matt Frei (via):

Frei: But, do you regret, rather, I should say that you didn't listen to your - some of your commanders earlier, to send more troops to Iraq to achieve the kind of results that we're seeing now?

Mr Bush: You know, my commanders didn't tell me that early. My commanders said, "We got the right level of troops."
This is patently false, of course, but Bush is just getting warmed up with the self-serving lies and prevarications. From the same interview:
Frei: But, given Guantanamo Bay, given also Abu Ghraib, given renditions, does this not send the wrong signal to the world?

Mr Bush: It should send a signal that America is going to respect law. But, it's gonna take actions necessary to protect ourselves and find information that may protect others. Unless, of course, people say, "Well, there's no threat. They're just making up the threat. These people aren't problematic." But, I don't see how you can say that in Great Britain after people came and, you know, blew up bombs in subways. I suspect the families of those victims are - understand the nature of killers. And, so, what people gotta understand is that we'll make decisions based upon law. We're a nation of law [...]

Frei: Can you honestly say, Mr President, that today America still occupies the moral high ground?

Mr Bush: Absolutely - absolutely. We believe in human rights and human dignity. We believe in the human condition. We believe in freedom. And we're willing to take the lead.
Sigh. It's hard to read the words without imagining Bush making that exasperated little grunt noise he makes in the rare instances when he steps out his bubble of fawning advisors long enough to speak to an unreceptive audience. That aside, even to classify these statements as rationalization is an insult to the human art of self-justification, which I've seen more adroitly done by below-average preteens.

I prefer to avoid the embarrassed-by-my-president trope since it validates the hyperpersonalization of politics, whereas I think what politicians do matters infinitely more than what sort of persons they are. I can see being embarrassed by (or proud of) a sibling, parent, neighbor, friend, etc., but we don't have that kind of relationship with the president, and it's silly to pretend we do.

No, it's a lot worse than silly: the emphasis on personal characteristics feeds and is fed by lazy journalism and lazy thinking about the real consequences of politics, leading, for example, to a president with whom lots of people claim they want to have a beer but who can barely complete a valid English sentence and who has made a shocking ruin of everything he's touched in the realm of public policy, including Iraq, but going well beyond. The best he can say for himself -- petulantly -- is that "leadership is hard," or words to that effect, and "folks in the future will appreciate my decisions," or words to that effect. More often, he just asserts things that his own presidential deeds undercut: "we don't torture" and "we believe in human rights and human dignity."

Bush is a distant figure to us, someone who occupies the tee-vee screen and the column inches, someone who might as well be a fictional character for most purposes. There are severe limits to what it can mean for me or anyone to like or dislike him; he's the POTUS, not a babysitter. I am not embarrassed by or ashamed of George W. Bush in any way that matters. That's not the point. He has been stunningly incompetent as president and depressingly thin as a thinker, and his deeds have wrecked lives and a lot more.

This is cross-posted at faith in honest doubt, my personal blog.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

We are holding a fundraiser

A couple of weeks ago, I held a fundraiser at my blog and I was frankly humbled and gratified by the response. I exceeded my goal, so I did the liberal thing - I set aside some of the money donated in what I have been alternately calling the “Share the Love Fund” and the “Pay it Forward Fund.”

Well, I paid some of that love forward a couple of days ago. My friend and the driving force behind this very blog, Edger, is in a position where a few bucks mean a whole lot right now, so it was a no-brainer that I should throw a donation in the hat, once I managed to talk him into passing it.

Edger, in case you don’t know, has been a true blessing to the left blogosphere. He has literally done the coding to bring my visions to fruition for every single blog I post on, including this one. I don’t even strain my brain when I have trouble beating a template into submission or getting something to appear the way I want it to. I just turn to Edger, and he makes it happen. Promptly.

Here is the deal - even with health coverage, you can’t get sick. Last summer, my friend had a failing kidney removed, and in spite of having benefits, they were exhausted before he was released to return to work. Now he is back at work, but in the time between exhausting his bennies and returning to the work force, he lost a lot of ground economically and is quite frankly barely treading water.

He has a “donate” button in the left sidebar, and at his own place (which he has neglected lately because this place has grown so much and so rapidly that it takes most of his blogging time now that he is back in the workforce).

Blogtopia™ (y! sctp!) has one truly great strength - our ability to shape and develop and redefine “community.” Edger is a part of my community. As such, I am happy to acknowledge his contributions to the greater left blogosphere community by helping out a bit when he is in need, and spreading the word so people who are in a position to help out know that the help is needed and where to send it.

And hey - if you happen to need a website designed, let us know - we do that sort of thing together, heck, we have actually done paying projects and have references! He would much rather earn it than accept it…but the bottom line is, he needs it right now.



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Meanwhile, away from Baghdad

(Cross-posted from Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time with slight edits.)

On the Iraqi front that always seems to get overlooked, we learn from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) that

[t]ensions are building between Kurdish leaders and Arab prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government in Bagahdad, threatening to divide two of Iraq’s strongest political allies.

Kurdish leaders accuse Maliki’s government of not acting on issues most important to the Kurds, such as resolving a dispute over ownership of Kirkuk province and the funding of Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga.

At the same time, the Iraqi Kurdish government has forged ahead with signing private oil contracts without the approval of the central government, irking Baghdad and reigniting debates about how much power Iraq’s regional governments should hold.
The Kurdish Alliance is the second-largest bloc in parliament, holding nearly 20% of the seats. It's part of Maliki's governing coalition and if that alliance does fracture, it could turn the now-merely paralyzed government into one whose existence would extend little beyond the paper describing it.

Adding to those woes is that fact that the Kurds are becoming frustrated with their own leaders' inability to provide basic services. In response, a movement is trying to gather a million signatures on a petition calling for the local parliament to be dissolved and new elections held - but it's being hindered by active interference from security forces, which claim the petitioners need government approval to gather signatures.
In Chamchamal, police are said to have taken the coordinators of the petition to security headquarters in the town, confiscated their literature and told them they couldn’t collect signatures until they obtained permission from officials. ...

“[People] cannot do whatever they want,” said Ahmad Nadir, head of the Assaish, or security forces, in Chamchamal, told IWPR. “They don’t have a permit to collect signatures. We have told them to bring [one] from the governor of Sulaimaniyah and we will then let them work.”
Or, expressed more simply, you can only gather signatures on a petition calling for a new government at the times and places and in the way the challenged government chooses to allow. But that's necessary because, y'see,
[s]ome politicians argue that now is a difficult time to hold an election, citing tension between the Kurdish leadership and the central government in Baghdad over the future status of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, as well as recent conflict between Turkish troops and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, in northern Iraq.
Of course, it always seems to be a "difficult time" for elections when a government is under internal challenge, doesn't it? Hope it doesn't give you-know-who any ideas. Then again, I expect they've already had them.

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