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The Supremes have spoken. George, we put you in the White House back in 2000, but we can't go along with your "junk science" on global warming. We order you and your weak-spined EPA to obey the law. Do something real about the climate-change carbon emissions from automobiles that are killing the polar bears. Or, if you decide not to do so, then give us an explanation based on science, not on the latest press release from your pals at Exxon Mobil.
How radical is that? Of course, the four Corporate Justices â€“ Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito--choked and sputtered and pounded the bench. In the majesty of the Constitution, they insisted, this issue should never have come before the court. Leave it to the Congress. In the wisdom of democratic process, the lawmakers can decide whether to side with Al Gore and a zillion anxious scientists or the good folks from autos, oil and electric utilities who pass out the checks to deserving legislators.
After the court delivered its 5-4 decision, a political hack who fronts for the car makers, solemnly announced they "look forward to working constructively with both Congress and the administration." That's a hoot. Detroit has resisted every small step forward for forty years, starting with Ralph Nader's observation that many fewer people would be killed if the companies designed more for safety, less for testosterone.
Generally that was a predictable performance by the Decider, but one thing stuck out to me. The New Rationale TM for the war, (I've lost track of how many this is) is that the generals say the surge will work and the politicians should just butt out and let the men do their jobs. As Josh Marshall points out, this is patently untrue. The generals didn't think the surge would work so Bush replaced them with someone who did. But even more absurd is the notion that the people executing war policy should be actually determining war policy, that we should just outsource the decisions about the duration of our occupation of Iraq to the all-knowing David Petraeus.
This is particularly ironic against the backdrop of the US Attorney's scandal. The administration's MO from the very beginning has been to overide the judgement of experts and career civil servants, whether they be scientists assessing climate change, or public health officials evaluating food and drugs, or US attorneys weighing whether there is sufficient evidence for an indictment. In short they have politicized every last function of the government, so much so that the work product of the entire federal bureacracy must now be assessed as if it were little more than an RNC press release. And now, on the single most vital political issue, Bush wants to argue that politics should play no part and the judgement of a single man should dictate the entirety of US policy.
President Bush describes Iran's seizure of fifteen British sailors and Marines as "inexcusable behavior."
But did the Bush Administration's anti-Iran machinations lead to the escalation in tensions that culminated in the seizure of the Brits?
One of the finest reporters on the Middle-East affairs argues that this is precisely the case.
If it's spring break in Washington, then that must be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi--accompanied by, my goodness, the perpetually pro-Israel Tom Lantos!-- heading for Syria this week.
Pelosi's delegation is currently in Lebanon. AP's Zeina Karam writes there that the Speaker,
"We have no illusions, but we have great hope," she said.
As the crisis between Iran and Britain enters its second week, and confrontational rhetoric fills our newspapers and airwaves, it is worth reading a statement published just a few days ago by Iranian,Iraqi and British women activists, academics and politicians (including a few Western colleagues).
You know things aren't going well for the Bush Administration when a former top advisor to the President drafts an op-ed entitled "Kerry Was Right."
Matthew Dowd (no relation to Maureen) painted Kerry as a flip-flopper in 2004. Now he sides with the former Democratic nominee in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. "If the American public says they're done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want," Dowd told the New York Times in an interview published on Sunday. "They're saying, 'Get out of Iraq.'" He calls his former boss "secluded and bubbled in."
Dowd may be late to the party, as some have commented, but his entrance is a stirring one nonetheless. He's not the first Bush insider to speak out against the policies and tactics of this Administration. Think of John Dilulio and David Kuo and Lawrence Wilkerson and Flynt Leverett.
Ever since September 2001, the President's central operative image has been "war" -- specifically, his "global war on terror" (promptly transformed into the grim acronym GWOT). With it went the fantasy that we had been plunged into the modern equivalent of World War II with--as George loved to put it--"theaters" of operation and "fronts" on a global scale. Remember how, as we occupied Baghdad in April 2003, administration pronouncements almost made it seem as though we were occupying Tokyo or Berlin, 1945? And when things went badly in Iraq, that country quickly became "the central front in the war on terror" in the President's speeches. Well, now it may indeed be just that.
In the framework -- essentially a fundamentalist religion -- of global force and "preventive" war adopted by the Bush administration, the only place for diplomats was assumedly on the sidelines, holding the pens, as the enemy surrendered to the military. (Too bad, when we hit Baghdad, there was no one around to surrender, no way to put a John Hancock on our "victory.") Otherwise, as classically happened in Iraq, where the State Department, despite copious planning for the postwar moment, was cut out of the process and left in the Kuwaiti or Washingtonian dust by Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, all issues of diplomacy were essentially relegated to Wimp World. After all, as the infamous neocon slogan once went, "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." And it was well known that diplomats were not "real men."
Nowhere on the planet was a diplomat worth a sou. Not surprisingly, then, the two central figures in George W. Bush's second-term diplomatic non-endeavors became his two key female enablers, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, and Karen Hughes, now undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. Not surprisingly, Rice has managed to do nothing of significance on our planet -- even the great diplomatic "success" of this administration, its shaky deal with North Korea, was basically crafted by the Chinese on terms worse than could have been obtained years earlier -- and Hughes, as diplomacy's spinmeister, has managed to put less than no polish on our globally disastrous image.