Sunday, May 13, 2007

the most disheartening thing of all

* tristero:
"And that is the tragedy of the modern political discourse. There is nothing to gain from listening to any of the so-called conservative voices, be they Kristol, or Perle, or Wolfowitz, or Rumsfeld, or Cheney or O'Reilly...well, you can list them as well as I. There is no there there, intellectually or morally. There is only the will to power and the willingness to say anything, do anything, to seize power and wield it beyond oversight or question. There are no real ideas, despite their pretensions otherwise, and there are no fine minds"
i couldn't agree with Tristero more. one of the great tragedies that i don't repeat very often is the amazing fact that 'our leaders' never, ever exhibit 'smarts' - it's astounding - and it goes beyond, i think, talking point discipline. Very rarely do I think 'Person X just said something smart' - it just doesn't happen. That's perhaps the most disheartening thing of all.

* Boston Globe:
" The Pentagon has placed unprecedented restrictions on who can testify before Congress, reserving the right to bar lower-ranking officers, enlisted soldiers, and career bureaucrats from appearing before oversight committees or having their remarks transcribed, according to Defense Department documents.

Robert L. Wilkie , a former Bush administration national security official who left the White House to become assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs last year, has outlined a half-dozen guidelines that prohibit most officers below the rank of colonel from appearing in hearings, restricting testimony to high-ranking officers and civilians appointed by President Bush.

The guidelines, described in an April 19 memo to the staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, adds that all field-level officers and enlisted personnel must be "deemed appropriate" by the Department of Defense before they can participate in personal briefings for members of Congress or their staffs; in addition, according to the memo, the proceedings must not be recorded.

Wilkie's memo also stipulated that any officers who are allowed to testify must be accompanied by an official from the administration, such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his top-level aides.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress see the move as a blatant attempt to bog down investigations of the war. But veterans of the legislative process -- who say they have never heard of such guidelines before -- maintain that the Pentagon has no authority to set such ground rules.

The guidelines would not affect congressional subpoenas, which can compel anyone to appear before lawmakers. As a result, several lawmakers have pledged privately to use that power if the Pentagon's guidelines stymie their efforts to get information from specific sectors of the military.
The special House oversight panel, according to aides, has written at least 10 letters to the Pentagon since February seeking information and has received only one official reply. Nor has the Pentagon fully complied with repeated requests for all the monthly assessments of Iraqi security forces, reports compiled by US military advisers embedded with Iraqi units."
* Fred Barnes: it's the Leftists and atheists and liberals who have the most problem with Mitt Romney's Mormonism - other folks don't care too much.

* digby:
"Goodling was Comstock's protege at the RNC oppo unit in the 2000 election, her first job out of law school. She was groomed and trained by the most partisan, black operators in the Republican party and then planted in the most politically senstive department in the entire US Government when Comstock herself became the DOJ spokeswoman. Goodling's job seems to have been to populate the department, (most suspiciously the civil service) with Republican loyalists. I continue to wonder why nobody in Washington noticed this -- or if they did, why they didn't say anything? The fear (or sympathy for the cause) in that town must have been extreme. This has been going on for years.

And, perhaps more pertinently, how many more Goodlings are out there?"

* I used to occasionally note some odd google results that I rank highly in - or are otherwise just curious to note that someone is actually googling. Today's entry: "speaking arabic when having sex" - I'm second on the list!


steven andresen said...

I'm curious about Mr. Kiesling and whether the people who run this place, the U.S., really don't have any intellectual meat on their bones.

First, why did Kiesling quit? We're told it was to protest the Iraq war effort. As I read his brief exerpts taken from his book "Diplomacy Lessons." he has an idea how the United States needs to be relating to the rest of the wolrd. His problem was that the Bush administration was doing too many things wrong by his understanding.

For example, he says,

"The realistic goal of public diplomacy is not to make America loved. We will be loved by a plurality of the planet again only if and when enough countries recognize a need for our assistance and we respond wisely as well as bravely and generously. Pending such redemptive crises (earthquake diplomacy is, as Secretary Rice noted, an excellent opportunity), the attainable goal of public diplomacy is to foster an image of the United States that is tolerable enough to ordinary, conventional human beings that foreign governments, whether fundamentalist tyrannies or liberal democracies, can easily afford the political cost of cooperating with the American superpower on terms close to those we seek."

This sounds reasonable, but, he also writes about how his operation in Greece could better sell the huge and expensive American tanks to Greece.

So, my idea about this guy is that American diplomats are supposed to make America look good enough so that when governments like Greece spend their tax money on tanks and big fighter jets and other domestically threatening weaponry, the people can't complain too much.

I don't have a whole lot of evidence about this, but maybe Kiesling quit because he thought the Bush people were making it more difficult for diplomats to do the business of America, selling expensive weaponry, squashing domestic dissent, etc.

This is to say that we may need to be skeptical that Kiesling is a foreign policy white knight.

I am also suspicious about the claim that Cheyney, Bush, and the rest of the neo cons have no intellectual argument. Tristero claims he cannot see there's any there there.

I thought the neo cons, at bottom, were Machiavellians who believe that there are no moral standards which could be held up to anyone's actions in the world. This is why, I believe, they are persuaded that the only thing they need to do is succeed at surviving.

I don't see tristero addressing the validity of this account of morality, or whether it makes sense in politics. He just throws up his hands saying it bothers , it frustrates, it looks stupid, we don't agree with it, it hurts us, it doesn't compute, and it's un-american. Tristero doesn't show the neocons are wrong, and that there is an absolute moral standard, for example.

So, generally, it's too easy to make Kiesling into a hero, and really easy to make the neocons into villains, and beat the one bloody with the other. It's too easy.

Kax said...

Hmmmmm, Pentagon Guidelines on who can testify before Congress. Indeed.

Does this "administration" enjoy sufficient public trust to be permitted to set a new legal precedence? I think not.

I am especially interested in this particular question because of the Appeal to Congress submitted by Lt. Ehren Watada's father, requesting Congressional hearings to clarify a serviceperson's Consitutional Rights and duties in the absence of an imminent threat or formally declared war.

Although no hearings have yet been called for this purpose, Sarah Olson, the journalist ordered to appear in Court for Lt. Watada's Courts Martial, told me the Judge at the time of the Mistrail, said that the proper place for an Officer to object to the war is in a Congressional hearing. I've not seen a transcript of the hearing, so I can't verify that, but something tells me something is up.

The Pentagon is terrfied of hearing from Iraqi GI's and Veterans. I knew I was on the right track when I suggested requesting hearings, last September.

Well, for every thing, there is a season and now is the time for all of us to call Bob Schiff, Dem Staffperson for the Senate Judiciary SubCommittee on Constitution, Civil and Property Rights, chaired by Senator Russ Feingold, and ask for hearings to clairfy a servicepeson's right to obey their conscience and refuse an order and their duty to protect the Constitution from domestic enemies who circumvented it to take the Nation to war without an imminent threat or a formal declaration. Surely our Military families deserve to have their rights and duties clarified before being asked to to risk life and limb.

Our Consitution is very clear about our use of force. It can be used by the Executive, ONLY when there is a clear and present danger, or a formal Declaration of War. We have neither.

There is no Constitutional provision for ordering our Military into battle by vague, open ended "resoltions" with blank checks.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I had a thoroughly disgusting conversation with my father tonight. He's a good Reagan republican. (Note that during his working years, he was a thoroughly progressive democrat who hated the military and hated war, and was loyal to the party that made his career what it was, the democratic party.)

I mentioned the U.S.S. Nimitz on its way to the Persian Gulf, ahd he said we needed to destroy Iran because they'd been thumbing their noses at us. He said we must never leave Iraq because the countryside would be overrun with Iraqis, and he was going to buy a high-powered rifle with a scope to teach 'em a lesson.

He'll be 83 in December and has believed he was at death's door for the last 50 years of which I'm aware; so, he doesn't care what the world is like a few years in the future.

If you wondered how the people who strongly approve of Bush and Cheney think, now you know. If you want insight into the thought processes of republicans, you can ask me.