As the Senate considers another emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fund the occupation of Iraq, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, has proposed an an amendment that would require the redeployment of U.S. forces from the country by the end of this year.
"Our country desperately needs a new vision for strengthening our national security, and it starts by redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq," Feingold explained. "Our military has performed valiantly in Iraq, but the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. forces there tends to weaken our ability to fight the global terrorist networks that threaten us today."
Feingold, who in June, 2005, became the first senator to call for an exit strategy, won the support of 40 Senators in November, 2005, for an amendment that proposed a flexible timetable for the withdrawal. His current amendment, while pressing for a deadline for a general withdrawal, maintains a measure of flexibility with regard to limited initiatives that might continue beyond December 31. In other words, it is a moderate proposal that will be opposed only by those who n-- whether they admit it or not -- have embraced the concept of open-ended occupation.
Republicans are in denial. They've forgotten all the favors they did for Jack Abramoff. They continue to raise unprecedented amounts of money from lobbyists on K Street. And today they're expected to vote for a lobbying "reform" bill that is so weak and watered-down one watchdog called it a "complete joke." A bill intended to strengthen representative democracy only insults it.
"My leadership doesn't think we have an ethics problem and doesn't believe in reform," remarked Rep. Chris Shays, one of the few Republican reformers left in Congress. His leadership, as the Washington Post describes today, is betting that the public won't notice, or won't care. When members of Congress went home recently for recess, their constituents complained about the Iraq war, immigration and gas prices--no matter that the GOP is on the wrong side of those issues as well.
It's true that few voters are following the intricacies of this debate or pressing their leaders for tougher ethics reform legislation. But everywhere you go, Americans are disgusted by the influence of lobbyists, skeptical of Washington rhetoric and convinced the system is broken. They're right. Sour voters usually turn on the party in power. Republicans elected in 1994 ought to know this.
In the Washington Post last week, Griff Witte reported that American businessman Philip Bloom--whose companies were awarded $8.6 million in Iraq reconstruction contracts--pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe U.S. officials with more than $2 million in cash and gifts in exchange for the reconstruction deals.
Three officials of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority have already been implicated and more arrests are expected.
According to Stuart W. Bowen Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (and former Associate Counsel to the Bush White House), "This shows oversight is working. It will send a message to those involved in similar schemes that we are on the case."
While it is not merely fair but necessary to challenge the Supreme Court nominations of presidents who seek to stamp a lasting ideological imprint on the Constitution, and even to deny them Cabinet picks who have records of lawlessness, it certainly seems reasonable that they should have freedom of choice when it comes to selecting their fabulists.
It is the job of White House press secretaries to baffle and bamboozle an intentionally naive press corps and, by extension, the Congress and the American people.
The soon-to-be-forgotten Scott McClellan, like his only somewhat more memorable predecessor, Ari Fleischer, never hesitated to dissemble the truth. McClellan's problem as far as this White House was concerned was not his dishonesty, but rather the ineptitude he so frequently evidenced when practicing to deceive.
Six weeks out from the primary vote that will select the challenger to Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election, the top two Democratic rivals are slugging it out in a bloody free-for-all. State Treasurer Phil Angelides gathered endorsements from unions, Democratic interest groups, and from elected officials early on in his campaign -- trying to create a certain sense of inevitability about his nomination. But his opponent, former E-Bay exec and state Controller Steve Westly, has got the really big bucks -- plowing some $22 million of his own fortune into his campaign. Westly has also has a widening lead in the polls.
The race may take a dramatic turn this weekend in Sacramento when the California Democratic Party meets in convention. The once slam-dunk Angelides may be denied the official party endorsement by the surging Westly. Stay tuned for more. I'll be doing some live blogging from the convention floor.
Thirty years ago, on April 26, 1976, the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, delivered its final report detailing the lawlessness of U.S. intelligence agencies and the need for Congress to reassert the Constitutional system of checks and balances to order to rein in the cloak-and-dagger excesses of the executive branch of the federal government.
The committee, mercifully referred to by the last name of its chair, U.S. Senator Frank Church, D-Idaho, produced fourteen reports on the formation of U.S. intelligence agencies, the manner in which they had and were continuing to operate, and the abuses of law and of power -- up to and including murder -- committed by these agencies in Chile, the Congo, Cuba, Vietnam and other nations that experienced the attention of U.S. authorities in the Cold War era.
The committee also made 96 recommendations for how to do that. Some of those recommendations, such as the committee's call for creation of a permanent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and for a ban on assassinations of foreign leaders, were implemented. But, as the current controversy over President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program illustrates, the potential abuses about which the Church Committee warned were not entirely -- nor even adequately -- thwarted.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was Jack Abramoff's best friend in Congress. The two were so close that Rohrabacher was the only member of Congress to sign a letter asking a federal judge to give Abramoff a reduced sentence.
"Over many years, I've known a far different Jack that the profit-seeking megalomaniac portrayed in the press," Rohrabacher wrote. "Jack was a selfless patriot for most of the time I knew him."
But when President Bush visited Rohrabacher's Orange County locale yesterday to pitch immigration reform, the OC Congressman wanted nothing to do with W.
After a week spent manhandling the Chinese President and kicking ScottMcClellan to the curb, The Decider finally got around to downsizing his brain. Karl Rove is giving up his policy role to focus on politics, a distinction without a difference in this White House.
With even Fox News reporting Bush's poll numbers (33 percent) threatening tofall below the Nixon line (28 percent), the best thing Bush could do for hisbeloved Republican majority is decide to resign. Or failing that, sincehe fails at almost everything he tries to do, Bush could simply fireRove the way the CIA fired Mary McCarthy. After all if Ms. McCarthy wasfired for a 'pattern' of inappropriate contact with reporters, thensurely Rove deserves the boot. Everything he does is inappropriate.
Instead we've learned that the Bolten recovery plan to bump up Bush'snumbers includes extending the tax cut for capital gains and stockdividends and more tours of the country to "brag" about the strength ofthe economy. This makes a certain amount of sense, since the onlyAmericans who will be able to afford a tank of gas to go see thepresident will be those who are rich enough to be affected by the taxcut on stocks.
First the Bush Administration undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by supplying India with nuclear technology, then it flirts with the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.
The Administration's reckless nuclear politics has led thirteen of the nation's pre-eminent physicists--including five Nobel laureates--to join generals and intelligence officers as the latest to speak out.
In a letter to President Bush--barely reported in the media--the scientists call the planned use of nuclear weapons against Iran "gravely irresponsible" with "disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world." They note that "the NPT will be irreversibly damaged by the use or even the threat of use of nuclear weapons by a nuclear nation against a non-nuclear oneâ€¦."