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I’m watching the debate right now, and am not going to attempt to liveblog, but I did have one thought that I wanted to get out there:

I know Gravel doesn’t have a hope in hell of getting elected, and I don’t think I would want him in the White House, but damn, I love having him up on stage in these debates because he is willing to take the other candidates to task for their votes on some of the big issues. I really enjoyed seeing him go after Hillary for voting in favor of the Lieberman bill on the Iran situation.

And yes, I still think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe

I tried to watch it, honestly, but I had to stop. I can’t tolerate extended exposure to right wing doublespeak — all my neurons start misfiring and I have to completely reboot my brain. It isn’t pretty.

Having said that, I do have a few quick thoughts arising out of the part of the debate that I did watch:

  • Who designed the set for the debate? Do they normally design sets for game shows? Between the flashing lights and the bell that signals when candidates run out of time, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a debate or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Is that show still on? I don’t watch game shows, so I have no idea.)
  • Ron Paul is a complete nut who doesn’t answer the questions he’s been asked, choosing to ask and answer completely different questions, instead. I like his position on restoring the civil rights and liberties that have been vitiated by the current administration. But getting rid of the CIA and the FBI? Hey, I want those boys on a tight leash with regards to their surveillance activities and various other intrusions into our privacy, but even I will acknowledge that we need them.
  • Mitt Romney looks like my mental image of Bruce Wayne, which leaves me wondering what kind of car he drives and whether he has a costume with a bunch of cool gadgets on the belt.
  • Huckabee’s tax plans are insane, but probably no more so than the other Republican candidates’ tax plans.
  • Giuliani seems to have gotten a bit too much sun on the Labor Day weekend, and needs to learn about the joys of sunscreen if he is going to survive on the campaign trail. Either that, or he should leave his glasses on when cameras are pointed at him.

And furthermore, I think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe

Okay, someone needs to take Bush aside and explain to him that he can’t start a new war until he’s finished the one he’s already got going. According to the Times in London (h/t to QuakerDave), the Pentagon has plans for “massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days.” The article further notes:

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Now, I realize that the Pentagon has all sorts of plans, for all sorts of possible scenarios. That is what they do. They try to develop plans for every plausible “what if” scenario so that if the worst happens and we need to mount some sort of military operation somewhere in the world, we’re not just doing it by the seat of our pants.

But this is really disturbing (as if Bush’s saber rattling with respect to Iran weren’t bad enough in itself). If the Pentagon has these plans to basically wipe out Iran’s entire military with airstrikes in a three day timeframe, and if people who are in a position to know about it are actually talking to the press about it, it suggests to me that this might well be our brilliant president’s plan — just have a massive bombing attack to wipe out their military and nuclear capabilities, and say, “Okay, that was fun. Have fun rebuilding your military and infrastructure for the next decade, Iran. We’ve got to get back to Iraq now. See ya!”

And hey, by the way, exactly how do they think they can accomplish all this in three days, with our military already stretched too thin? I know our Air Force can do some pretty amazing things, but Iran is several times the size of Iraq, with almost three times the population, a bigger military, and more resources. I really don’t see us taking out their entire military, along with their nuclear program, in three days using conventional weapons.

That suggests that the Pentagon plans — assuming they really do exist, of course — involve the use of nuclear weapons.

I really don’t want to contemplate the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a preemptive attack, particularly since the last preemptive war initiated by our president was sold to the American public (and the rest of the world) using manipulated intelligence of dubious provenance. Frankly, at this point, the president has no real credibility left. There is quite simply no way for me or anyone else not actually working in the intelligence field to know whether the magnitude of the threat posed by Iran is as great as the president claims. Therefore, the idea of using nuclear weapons in an attack against Iran, based upon any statement by this president about the threat that country poses, does not bear serious consideration by any thinking person.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a thinking person making the final decision on this matter. We just have Dubya.

Neither do I like to contemplate the likely reaction of other nations of the world if Bush were to launch such an attack. Bush has already done more to alienate our allies than any president in recent history, destroying international goodwill built up over decades by preceding administrations. Any first strike against an enemy that is not literally threatening to overrun us in the immediate near future using nuclear weapons would likely be viewed by other nations of the world as sufficient justification to launch a war – possibly a nuclear war – against us, here, on our own soil.

And I really, really don’t want to contemplate that.

Thus I will simply close by saying once again that I really think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe

Hillary Clinton is getting a bum rap in recent days from both sides of the political spectrum at the moment for her remarks to the effect that another terrorist attack like 9/11 in the run-up to the next presidential election would help the Republicans.

It appears that many on the liberal side of the spectrum are accusing her of conceding that the Republicans somehow “own” the terrorism issue, and are the only party that can keep us safe. Meanwhile, at least one conservative goofball — Faux News’ John Gibson — is suggesting that by making these remarks, Hillary is trying to make a deal with the terrorists — essentially, that she is saying, “Hey, Bin Laden — lie low until after November 2008 and you won’t have any of those nasty scary Republicans to deal with. Instead, you’ll have a nice Democrat who will give you a free pass.”

In fact, all Hillary is guilty of doing is recognizing the reality of the situation.

As I have already discussed elsewhere in this blog, research in terror management theory (some of it funded by the Department of Homeland Insecurity) has demonstrated that when people are reminded of death — in psychspeak, when they are placed in a condition of mortality salience — most tend to retreat into more conservative political views and endorse more conservative, charismatic and/or authoritarian candidates.

Bluntly speaking, at the present time, in the United States, these candidates seem to be showing up more often on the right side of the political spectrum. Republican candidates are more likely to hammer the themes of traditional values and, at least in recent years in the neo-conservative branch of the party, a very strong central executive.

Bush has been a huge offender in this regard: he has done more to expand executive authority beyond the intent of our country’s founders than any president in recent memory. And Bush has been very savvy in his use of fear for political purposes. I know of at least one study that links his win in the 2004 election to his repeated hammering of the 9/11 drum.* Many of his political maneuvers that have expanded the power of the executive branch or narrowed or destroyed our civil liberties have been directly tied to his asserted need for such powers to protect us from the terrorists, bringing us to the point where it is very difficult for me to say who I fear more: the terrorists, or our own government.

The current Republican candidates are no better: Giuliani is expressly campaigning on a 9/11 platform, and Romney has said he wants to double the size of Guantanamo. Don’t even get me started on Tancredo.

So don’t get on Hillary’s case for recognizing the reality of the situation. A terrorist attack in the run-up to 9/11 the presidential election likely would help the Republicans. Many of the Republican candidates know this — that is why they are emphasizing it so much. The Department of Homeland Security has funded a number of studies in the field of terror management theory in the years since 9/11, and the Republican political leadership is aware of the results of those studies — I know for a fact that some of the university professors doing the research have briefed very highly placed military and civilian officials in the government on the outcomes of those studies.

We need to wake up to the reality that certain politicians are using our fears of terrorist attacks to manipulate us. Hillary gets my thanks for pointing this out in a larger venue than this tiny blog.

jane doe

* The study is in a proprietary academic database, so I can’t post a link to it here, but if you are interested in obtaining a copy, send me an e-mail and I will be happy to send you its citation, or check the references listed at the end of this post.

I’ve said it before, and I say it again. Keith Olbermann is a god. Once again tonight he hit one out of the park with one of his special comments.

Keith was reacting to two things in this special comment: (a) the alleged president’s recent surprise trip to Iraq, during which he admitted to now being willing to (and I swear that I am not making this up) “speculate on the hypothetical” of removing some (not all, just some) of our troops from Iraq, and (b) this article in the New York Times (h/t to Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars) which includes excerpts from a Dead Certain, a new book by biographer Robert Draper, who managed to get half a dozen one-on-one interviews with the chimp in chief by casting the book he was writing as essentially the first draft of how history would interpret Bush’s legacy.

I have not read the book yet (just ordered it from Amazon — I’ll post a review later), but judging from some of the excerpts in the Times article, Bush is every bit as appalling in person in unguarded moments as I had previously suspected. Speaking about the ongoing debate about troop levels in Iraq, he actually told the biographer, “I’m playing for October-November…To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence.” Playing, as if this were some sort of game and not hundreds of soldiers and civilians dying and suffering life-altering trauma.

Keith did an admirable job of ripping Bush a new one this evening, as he has so often with his special comments in the past. Tonight’s was particularly scathing. Crooks and Liars already has the video posted. Here are a few particularly choice remarks, transcribed as always by yours truly:

“And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was. But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.”

* * *

“And there it is, sir, we’ve caught you. Your goal is not to bring some troops home, maybe, if we let you have your way now. Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal. You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us into it with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and anon.”

* * *

“Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely. War today, war tomorrow, war forever! And you are playing at it. Playing! A man with any self-respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret would have already resigned and fled the country. You have no remaining credibility about Iraq, sir.”

* * *

“Just over five hundred days remain in this presidency. Consider the dead who have piled up on the battlefield in the last five hundred days.

“Consider the singular fraudulence of this president’s trip to Iraq yesterday, and the singular fraudulence of the selling of the Petreus Petraeus report in these last five hundred days.

“Consider how this president has torn away at the fabric of this nation, in a manner of which terrorists can only dream in these last five hundred days.

“And consider again how this president has spoken to that biographer, that he is playing for October-November, that the goal in Iraq is, to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence. And consider how this revelation contradicts every other rationale he has offered in these last five hundred days.

“In the context of all that, now consider these next five hundred days.

“Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end. Even if it means your resignation. Even if it means your impeachment. Even if it means a different Republican to serve out your term. Even if it means a Democratic Congress, and those true patriots among the Republicans, standing up and denying you another penny for Iraq, other than for the safety and safe conduct home of our troops. This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country in the next five hundred days, not while you, sir, are playing.”

Keith already said it, but just so there’s no doubt, allow me to state once again that I truly believe, based upon all the evidence to date of their various high crimes and misdemeanors against this country, that both Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe

Addendum: There is a nifty extension that puts a countdown clock reflecting the number of days left in the Bush presidency (barring impeachment) right in that little status bar at the bottom of the browser window. It’s reassuring to see that number go down each day, I can tell you, though it is distressing to think how much more trouble Bush might cause in the time he has left in office. You can download the extension here.

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September 2007
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