Beauty For The Brave

Whether you do it because Father's Day weekend is rolling in or just because it's a great thing to do for those who have given so (too?) much, please check this out and participate, the information coming here from Cernig and the Newshoggers:

My good friend Mr. M at Comments From Left Field just emailed me asking for my support in spreading the word about a worthy cause. Very worthy, and I'm happy to oblige.
    we at Comments From Left Field have decided to support the "Beauty for the Brave" campaign. 100% of the proceeds go to Fisher House which is an organization that builds homes outside of military hospitals so that family members can have a place to stay free of charge while their loved one receives treatment for injuries incurred while serving overseas.

    Me, I don't know if I could have fulfilled my time in the service without the support of the people I call family, and I had it easy. Imagine coming back from Iraq, no legs, or an arm missing, learning how to walk again, or how to reenter life as left handed when you have been a right hander for all of your life.

    Now imagine doing it alone.That is the kind of scenario that Fisher House seeks to avoid, and I for one support them completely.

    The Beauty for the Brave campaign is simple. It merely asks people to point out one beauty product that they use on a regular basis, and go without once. Lipstick, moisturizer, anything. Skip it for just one shopping trip, and instead use the money to donate instead.
In case you haven't caught the other links, go here.

Star Wars II: Bush's Dangerous Missile Shield Plan

More than 20 years ago, Ronald Reagan, already clearly well into the slide into the mental abyss of Alzheimer's Disease (and sadly, I suspect he was incompetent possibly well BEFORE the start of his 2nd term), pushed the Star Wars defense shield program while all the experts said it would not work.

Now, Bush is pushing it - in a measure he started the summer of 9/11 in his first major divide with the rest of the world - in a way that not only costs many, many times more than Reagan's while even less apt to "work", but he's winning whole new enemies. These enemies include, perhaps, nearly every world leader at the G-8 summit.

Putting The F Word Out Of The FCC

The Federal Communications Commission has always had a reputation for rather improbable rules. While there is no doubt that this has always been true, under the Bush Administration, one of the worst FCC commissioners ever happened to be Michael Powell, the son of then Secretary of State Colin Powell.

To have a Powell in charge at the FCC always struck me as a little too incestuous, when the Powell family has often sat on boards of communications companies like AOL/Time Warner. And Michael proved me right many times because never before has an FCC head worked so damned hard to:

a) block efforts for community based programming as with radio and TV
b) fine any company that allowed anyone to say or do anything unfavorable to the more extreme right wing (I wasn't happy to see Janet Jackson's nipple either but hey... bigger fish to fry, no? - and the hard turn on Howard Stern only after he started to go after Bush) and
c) "sell" the airwaves owned by the people to corporations.

So yes, after years of truly stupid, corporate-and-Bush friendly decisions, I was thrilled this week when the FCC decided that if Bush and Cheney can utter the "F words" as the big bold face of the hard right, then huge fines should not be handed out in other cases.

But we need the FCC to make other wise decisions. Now, we need to make sure the FCC doesn't help in handing off the Internet to corporations (aka Net Neutrality).


In The "Apparently Jail Isn't Exactly A Stay At The Hilton" Department

So all the real news has come to an abrupt halt because poor, poor, poor little billionairess Paris Hilton cried and screamed and pitched a tantrum because a judge sent her back to jail instead of the wildly preferential treatment she was given after just two days in lockup.

As I posted elsewhere, Paris is such a complete and utter oxygen-wasting fuckup that I can't imagine WHY President Bush hasn't appointed her to a key role, such as Paul Wolfowitz's replacement as head of the World Bank, Peter Pace's replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a newly created "Abstinence Czar" (just the kind of irony Bush loves even if he can't spell i-r-o-n-y), or as Secretary of Sleaze.

I learned this week that Paris is a committed Republican. Why does this not surprise me? Moneyed Republicans are famous for demanding tons of laws only to insist that they be held exempt from all of them because, of course, they're special.

Iraq's Curse (Besides George W. Bush Who Is Also Our Curse)

Offered without comment (since I'm not sure about a few of the items mentioned) is this bit from Edward Wong's piece, similarly entitled, in The New York Times:

PERHAPS no fact is more revealing about Iraq’s history than this: The Iraqis have a word that means to utterly defeat and humiliate someone by dragging his corpse through the streets.

The word is “sahel,” and it helps explain much of what I have seen in three and a half years of covering the war.

It is a word unique to Iraq, my friend Razzaq explained over tea one afternoon on my final tour. Throughout Iraq’s history, he said, power has changed hands only through extreme violence, when a leader was vanquished absolutely, and his destruction was put on display for all to see.

Most famously it happened to a former prime minister, Nuri al-Said, who tried to flee after a military coup in 1958 by scurrying through eastern Baghdad dressed as a woman. He was shot dead. His body was disinterred and hacked apart, the bits dragged through the streets. In later years, Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party crushed their enemies with the same brand of brutality.

“Other Arabs say, ‘You are the country of sahel,’ ” Razzaq said. “It has always been that way in Iraq.”

But in this war, the moment of sahel has been elusive. No faction — not the Shiite Arabs or Sunni Arabs or Kurds — has been able to secure absolute power, and that has only sharpened the hunger for it.

Listen to Iraqis engaged in the fight, and you realize they are far from exhausted by the war. Many say this is only the beginning.

President Bush, on the other hand, has escalated the American military involvement here on the assumption that the Iraqi factions have tired of armed conflict and are ready to reach a grand accord. Certainly there are Iraqis who have grown weary. But they are not the ones at the country’s helm; many are among some two million who have fled, helping leave the way open for extremists to take control of their homeland.

“We’ve changed nothing,” said Fakhri al-Qaisi, a Sunni Arab dentist turned hard-line politician who has three bullets lodged in his torso from a recent assassination attempt. “It’s dark. There will be more blood.”
The rest is here.

"Kerryitis" And Bush's (Latest) Attempt To Inspire Fear In American Citizens

Those who visit All Things Democrat (where I also blog) have noticed, I hope, that there are other fine folks contributing there, including Ralph Brauer (author of "The Strange Death of Liberal America") and bhfrik. Let me point you to two of their recent pieces.

Ralph writes:

The pattern of this Democratic Party presidential campaign has become increasingly clear. The Democratic candidates are all infected with Kerryitis. With great fanfare each candidate releases a “plan” for what they see as a critical issue.
And from bhfrik:
I can not recall ever having seen President Bush so blatantly wishing for the American people to be frightened than the following quote he gave to the traveling press corps that accompanied him to the G-8 summit:
    “What’s difficult is the fact that al Qaeda continues to kill. And it frustrates the Iraqi people, and it should frighten the American people that al Qaeda is active in Iraq looking for a safe haven from which to launch further attacks.”
This one statement crystalizes the governance of President Bush perfectly. Straight from the Presidents mouth comes a call for the American people to be afraid.

Could there be any more shameful a quote in the history of our nations leadership. How is it that any President could be brought to the point of calling for fear to guide this nations policies.

Bob Herbert: "The Passion Of Al Gore"

[Ed. note: See my post at All Things Democrat for more of what I see as the important differences between true leaders and politicians.]

Herbert has written many powerful columns, but this one hits me just at a time when I find myself (for the first time) really wanting him to run for president in 2008 because I think he may be more than a leader than many of the politicians who do want the job.

Al Gore is earnestly talking about the long-term implications of the energy and climate crises, and how the Arctic ice cap is receding much faster than computer models had predicted, and how difficult and delicate a task it will be to try and set things straight in Iraq.

You look at him and you can’t help thinking how bizarre it is that this particular political figure, perhaps the most qualified person in the country to be president, is sitting in a wing chair in a hotel room in Manhattan rather than in the White House.

He’s pushing his book “The Assault on Reason.” I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.

The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.

Mr. Gore takes a blowtorch to the Bush administration in his book. He argues that the free and open democratic processes that have made the United States such a special place have been undermined by the administration’s cynicism and excessive secrecy, and by its shameless and relentless exploitation of the public’s fear of terror.

The Bush crowd, he said, has jettisoned logic, reason and reflective thought in favor of wishful thinking in the service of an extreme political ideology. It has turned its back on reality, with tragic results.

So where does that leave Mr. Gore? If the republic is in such deep trouble and the former vice president knows what to do about it, why doesn’t he have an obligation to run for president? I asked him if he didn’t owe that to his fellow citizens.

If the country needs you, how can you not answer the call?

He seemed taken aback. “Well, I respect the logic behind that question,” he said. “I also am under no illusion that there is any position that even approaches that of president in terms of an inherent ability to affect the course of events.”

But while leaving the door to a possible run carefully ajar, he candidly mentioned a couple of personal reasons why he is disinclined to seek the presidency again.

“You know,” he said, “I don’t really think I’m that good at politics, to tell you the truth.” He smiled. “Some people find out important things about themselves early in life. Others take a long time.”
Read the rest here.

The National Disgrace Called Gitmo

We have committed at least as great atrocities against others - many of them just as innocent as so many who died on September 11th, 2001 - in the name of the national security we not only didn't have then but have even less of today. That we operate anything like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, or many other politically-oriented prisons like those Jose Padilla is held in as well as the countless "secret" prisons throughout the world does more than endanger us; it betrays absolutely everything that this country and we, its people, are supposed to stand for.

From The New York Times Op/Ed page Wednesday (June 6, 2007):

Ever since President Bush rammed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 through Congress to lend a pretense of legality to his detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, we have urged Congress to amend the law to restore basic human rights and judicial process. Rulings by military judges this week suggest that the special detention system is so fundamentally corrupt that the only solution is to tear it down and start again.

The target of the judges’ rulings were Combatant Status Review Tribunals, panels that determine whether a prisoner is an “unlawful enemy combatant” who can be tried by one of the commissions created by the 2006 law. The tribunals are, in fact, kangaroo courts that give the inmates no chance to defend themselves, allow evidence that was obtained through torture and can be repeated until one produces the answer the Pentagon wants.

On Monday, two military judges dismissed separate war crimes charges against two Guantánamo inmates because of the status review system. They said the Pentagon managed to get them declared “enemy combatants,” but not “unlawful enemy combatants,” and moved to try them anyway under the 2006 law. That law says only unlawful combatants may be tried by military commissions. Lawful combatants (those who wear uniforms and carry weapons openly) fall under the Geneva Conventions.

If the administration loses an appeal, which it certainly should, it will no doubt try to tinker with the review tribunals so they produce the desired verdict. Congress cannot allow that. When you can’t win a bet with loaded dice, something is wrong with the game.

There is only one path likely to lead to a result that would allow Americans to once again hold their heads high when it comes to justice and human rights. First, Congress needs to restore the right of the inmates of Guantánamo Bay to challenge their detentions. By the administration’s own count, only a small minority of the inmates actually deserve a trial. The rest should be sent home or set free.
Read the rest here (no subscription required).

Nicholas Kristof: "Repression By China, And By Us"

I have some very big conflicts when it comes to Kristof, one of The New York Times' top Op/Ed columnists, but I daresay he got most of this right. What's more, it's very important reading for us.

I’d meant to focus this column on a Chinese woman whose battle for justice has led the police to arrest her more than 30 times, lock her in an insane asylum, humiliate her sexually, shock her with cattle prods, beat her until she is crippled and, worst of all, take away her young daughter.

The case of Li Guirong, a graying 50-year-old who now hobbles on crutches, reflects China at its worst — government by thuggery. But each time I start this column, I feel that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have pulled the rug out from under me. Do I really have the right to complain about torture or extra-legal detentions in China when we Americans do the same in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba?

I keep remembering a heated conversation I had in Yunnan Province when I lived in China years ago. I reproached an official for China’s torture and arbitrary imprisonment, and he retorted that China was fragile and had lost hundreds of thousands of lives in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. “If you Americans ever faced the threat of chaos, you would do just the same,” he said.

“Impossible!” I replied.

Yet I owe him an apology, for he has been proven right. The moment we did feel a threat, after 9/11, we held people without trial, and beatings were widespread enough that more than 110 of our prisoners died in custody in places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo.

Our extrajudicial detentions and mistreatment of prisoners are wrong in and of themselves. But they also undercut our own ability to speak against oppression and torture around the world.
Read the rest here.


If You Missed The Third Republican Presidential Debate...

Here's the transcript from last night's b.s. boogie. [My favorite part was the technical glitches and the asides.]

P.S. Don't eat this on a full stomach. Or when you're sitting or standing close to sharp objects (thankfully, none of these GOPers seem all that sharp themselves).

Fred Thompson: If Smug, Self Righteous, Sneering, Blimp-Sized Ego Can Win A Presidency, Say Hello to Fred-In-Chief

Did you know that former Tennessee senator and now a former Law & Order cast member (he played Branch, the latest lead D.A. whose character seemed to parallel Thompson's inflated sense of self-worth), not only wants Scooter Libby pardoned for his key role in PlameGate**?

No, Fred's such a pal he helped lead fundraising for the Libby defense fund so that Libby, formerly Cheney's #2 man, already a millionaire many times over, would not have to spend a cent of his own money (considerable fortune) defending the charges.

Apparently Thompson sees nothing improper about loudly defending a man convicted of a quite-near-treasonous act. You can read more about Thompson and Libby here.

[PlameGate refers to the deliberate outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame as "payback" because Joe Wilson, her husband, not only found that the documents proclaiming Iraq bought nuclear equipment like tubes were faked, he told the press what he had already told Bush and Cheney. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of and sentenced for his role in the matter while Bush and Cheney walked.]

Estimate of Iraq Surge "Success" As Easy As Nailing Jelly To a Tree

Just since Sunday night, I've noticed that the message regarding Iraq and Bush's surge/escalation varies with more frequency than President Bush butchers the word nuclear into nukular.

First, it was abundantly clear that Bush refused to heed any of the warnings of military experts who insisted it was foolhardy to go into Iraq with anything less than 400,000 troops which is why we rolled into Baghdad with substantially less than half that number. But that's OK, Bush insisted, because he was listening to his men on the ground (defined as talking to people who talk to people who talk to other people who then talk to neocons in Washington) and if they said they needed more warm bodies in Iraq, he'd provide them. Except he didn't.

Second, when he planned this surge, he said it was for a very limited time period and would require, at most, about 15,000 American soldiers. Except that he started it before he had authorization and, rather than the slight "bump" in numbers, Bush will have more than 200,000 troops in Iraq before Christmas when we've had far less than half that number operating there for sometime.

Third, he's added the warm bodies, but these troops can't get the equipment they need -and the Republican Pentagon is responsible for that; they get the money, use it on everything but the soldiers, and then point to the Democrats as to blame for "bankrupting" our fighting men and women. These troops also don't have any better orders than they've had for a long time. Troops without a concrete mission aren't all that useful to anyone concerned.

Fourth, tied to the previous two, commanders are saying we don't have sufficient numbers of troops on the ground even without the surge. Shall we assume Bush isn't listening now that he's told us all the military has to do is ask and they shall receive?

Fifth, CentCom has doubled its air attacks on Iraq which isn't good for land-based soldiers OR civilians. "Friendly fire" deaths are up dramatically. Also, security on the ground AND air is so bad, concludes Great Britain information sources, that all British and American troops should be removed immediately. [Sadly, the Iraqis have no choice but to stay there.]

Sixth, the deadline date established to determine when a full and accurate analysis of whether Bush's "surge" is working keeps getting pushed back. John McCain, for example, said a couple of months would in NO WAY be enough to tell whether the Bush plan is working and then, practically in the same breath, when asked how long was needed to evaluate the surge's success, kept a straight face as Manic Depressive McCain replied, "A couple of months." Some estimates insist we won't know until around the beginning of 2009 whether the surge worked, which just happens to coincide with the time Bush will leave the White House (unless we can indict him first).

An Aside: "But He Didn't Look Black!"

The Times' obit article on Steve Gilliard I referenced earlier has a bit near the bottom that I was rather surprised to read: specifically, that almost no one knew he was black/African American.

Uh, I've been working online since '87, long before the Internet was available to almost everyone, and even before the subscription-only online services (then CompuServe, AOL which started its life as an Apple service, GEnie, Delphi, and Prodigy) became big deals. Although others seem to engage in the practice, I don't think I've ever been able to distinguish caucasian v. negroid v. Asian, etc. in text alone.

What I have seen - but thankfully, I've usually successfully avoided - is that people can make such assumptions about others online that, once they actually meet someone face-to-face, they seem to suffer culture shock.

I've always seen online as the great equalizer (except that many poorer or less technology-minded people often miss out) in which you can work and play very effectively without getting hung up by issues of race, ability vs. "dis"ability, gender, creed, sexual orientation, religion, along with a host of others. In these twenty some years, I've met some truly extraordinary people who, without I believe any exception (oops, wait, there was ONE ---eeeeeh!) have never disappointed me once I got to meet them.

Today, we're incredibly fortunate with the great diversity of people who blog or otherwise maintance a regular Web-based presence. What was so extraordinary about Steve isn't that he was black (anymore than I would like to be remembered as only caucasian/WASP), but his commitment to dessimination of important information to the public.

Elsewhere, someone took the politically correct route by calling Steve a "person of color". Yes, he was a person of color, but I believe that to call him a person of conscience is far more apt.

Good Night And Thank You, Steve Gilliard

It is with great sorrow that I report Steve Gilliard has died, details available in a New York Times article today.

Steve was one of the early proponents and innovators in political blogging, starting with The Daily Kos and then on his own, "The News Blog." I know several readers who visit here were regular visitors at Steve's blog. I also visited regularly.

Is The Search For Stem Cells With The Superior Qualities of Embryonic Stem Cells May Be Very Close

Researchers reported this week that they think they may be much closer to finding a good way to take very ordinary cells and morph them into the far more valuable embryonic stem cells that happen to work the best for treatment of various medical crises.

Obviously, the radical right fundamentalist extremists do not want ANY embryonic stem cells used (unless, of course, such cells would help cure their own health problems) because using such cells for anything more than creating a Bush-voter-load of snowflake babies is an abomination against God. Despite how many Republicans, including fundamentalist GOPers and the likes of Nancy Reagan believe very strongly that stem cell research and use is critically important, Bush and Congress and Washington as a whole ignores them. Indeed, they ignore these intelligent folks much as they ignore any other majority (like the number who want us out of Iraq, who don't want war with Iran, those who think Bush and Cheney are incredibly corrupt).


Republican Leaders: Pray For Another Terrorist Attack On U.S. So We Can Win

I noticed some people - including at least a few Republicans I spoke with - were quite taken aback when the head of the Arkansas state GOP said the other day that (to paraphrase):

What we need in America is another September 11th, another horrific terrorist attack
on our home soil, because that is what the GOP needs to win all the seats it wants
in the 2008 presidential election.

Excuse me? Really? We need another 9-11-01?

Unbelievably, this Arkansas ass is hardly the first rightwinger to state something like this. There are an endless number of examples, almost all of which come from the far red right.

For example, Newt Gingrich (who remains an undeclared contender for the GOP race for President) said last summer that America needed to do whatever it could to help Israel turn the war they were waging on Lebanon (one often called a proxy war fought by Israel for America to put the fear of God into other Arab/Muslim heavy countries like Iran and Syria.

Specifically, Gingrich said (and I am not engaging in hyperbole) that it was in the very BEST interests of the GOP to help Israel morph the Lebanon situation into World War III SINCE Americans would flock to embrace Bush's war-as-the-answer-to-everything doctine as they did after 9-11. He said this publicly and repeatedly. Virtually none of the press called him on that, or demanded to know why taxpayer money and U.S. soldiers' lives were completely and utterly expendable so long as Republicans not only retained power, but they also got MORE power.

Only George W. Bush Could Work So Hard To ReStart The Cold War

With all the press the last few days about how Bush - who once infamously informed us that he had looked into former KGB superspy and now Russian president Vladimir Putin's heart and discerned it was "good" - is feuding with Putey-put (Bush's nickname for him), my biggest question is why it took the American press so damned long to notice.

For several years now, Putin has been warning the U.S. that he would not be the same lapdog for Bush as was Not-So-Great Britain's Tony Blair had been, which may explain why Blair is out but Putin's enjoying better-than-ever popularity in his own part of the world. Putin was against U.S. involvement in Iraq and has stated fervently that Russia would not just sit back and watch Bush go after Iran. On top of that, Russia was forced to write off HUGE amounts of money owed Russia from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

But let's be clear about one thing. Despite all the talk since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the cold war did not magically end that day. It couldn't, not with the massive amounts of profit the military industrial complex has made and will still make. If anything, the cold war has morphed into a much larger entity, one whose face isn't always Eastern European. We also perhaps have never seen a president like Bush so horrifically eager to wage war for ego alone (but his friends, of course, profit wildly from his ego).

Let me also point you to Words of Power, a blog I just happened upon, and their specific piece about the Cold War's thaw.

What Punishment/Reward Will Scooter Libby Get?

Tuesday is I. Lewis Libby's sentencing day for his role in PlameGate.

What do you think he'll get, if anything?


What Bush Calls Progress in Iraq, Others Call Non-Stop Funeral Dirges; Tortured Lives of Interrogators

While last week already seemed to shape up into a terrific nightmare in Iraq, this weekend saw at least 14 U.S. soldiers die in bombs and insurgency and other carnage in Baghdad and elsewhere.

But look at this as well:

Interrogators must constantly straddle the border between coercion and torture during questioning.

More Than 60% Of Americans Say We Should Never Have Gone Into Iraq; 63% Wants Troop Withdrawal Before 2008

Republicans and even some Democrats insist they know what American citizens - and the critical demographic subset of America called Norman Rockwell-painted Ma and Pa U.S. voter - most want from their elected officials and others who run Washington. Yet opinion polls demonstrate the lawmakers and especially the White House (currently run into the ground by Edgar BergenKarl Rove and his "front man", Charlie McCarthy George W. Bush) seem to have no genuine clue re: "the will of the people." Check this out:

[...] there’s a strange paradox here. The decibel level of the fin-de-Bush rage is a bit of a red herring. In truth, there is some consensus among Americans about the issues that are dividing both parties. The same May poll that found the country so wildly off-track showed agreement on much else. Sixty-one percent believe that we should have stayed out of Iraq, and 63 percent believe we should withdraw by 2008. Majorities above 60 percent also buy broad provisions of the immigration bill — including the 66 percent of Republicans (versus 72 percent of Democrats) who support its creation of a guest-worker program.

What these figures suggest is that change is on its way, no matter how gridlocked Washington may look now. However much the G.O.P. base hollers, America is not going to round up and deport 12 million illegal immigrants, or build a multibillion-dollar fence on the Mexican border — despite Lou Dobbs’s hoax blaming immigrants for a nonexistent rise in leprosy. A new president unburdened by a disastrous war may well fashion the immigration compromise that is likely to elude Mr. Bush.

Frank Rich: "Failed Presidents Ain't What They Used To Be"

Finally! Someone has found a way to make the American public better appreciate Richard M. Nixon: by comparing him to the far, far, F-A-R more corrupt, destructive, and treasonous George W. Bush (the 2nd). Read all of Frank Rich here, but let me start you:

A few weeks ago I did something I never expected to do in my life. I shed a tear for Richard Milhous Nixon.

That’s in no small measure a tribute to Frank Langella, who should win a Tony Award for his star Broadway turn in “Frost/Nixon” next Sunday while everyone else is paying final respects to Tony Soprano. “Frost/Nixon,” a fictionalized treatment of the disgraced former president’s 1977 television interviews with David Frost, does not whitewash Nixon’s record. But Mr. Langella unearths humanity and pathos in the old scoundrel eking out his exile in San Clemente. For anyone who ever hated Nixon, this achievement is so shocking that it’s hard to resist a thought experiment the moment you’ve left the theater: will it someday be possible to feel a pang of sympathy for George W. Bush?

Perhaps not. It’s hard to pity someone who, to me anyway, is too slight to hate. Unlike Nixon, President Bush is less an overreaching Machiavelli than an epic blunderer surrounded by Machiavellis. He lacks the crucial element of acute self-awareness that gave Nixon his tragic depth. Nixon came from nothing, loathed himself and was all too keenly aware when he was up to dirty tricks. Mr. Bush has a charmed biography, is full of himself and is far too blinded by self-righteousness to even fleetingly recognize the havoc he’s inflicted at home and abroad. Though historians may judge him a worse president than Nixon — some already have — at the personal level his is not a grand Shakespearean failure. It would be a waste of Frank Langella’s talent to play George W. Bush (though not, necessarily, of Matthew McConaughey’s).

This is in part why persistent cries for impeachment have gone nowhere in the Democratic Party hierarchy. Arguably the most accurate gut check on what the country feels about Mr. Bush was a January Newsweek poll finding that a sizable American majority just wished that his “presidency was over.” This flat-lining administration inspires contempt and dismay more than the deep-seated, long-term revulsion whipped up by Nixon; voters just can’t wait for Mr. Bush to leave Washington so that someone, anyone, can turn the page and start rectifying the damage. Yet if he lacks Nixon’s larger-than-life villainy, he will nonetheless leave Americans feeling much the way they did after Nixon fled: in a state of anger about the state of the nation.

The rage is already omnipresent, and it’s bipartisan. The last New York Times/CBS News poll found that a whopping 72 percent of Americans felt their country was “seriously off on the wrong track,” the highest figure since that question was first asked, in 1983. Equally revealing (and bipartisan) is the hypertension of the parties’ two angry bases. Democrats and Republicans alike are engaged in internecine battles that seem to be escalating in vitriol by the hour.

On the Democratic side, the left is furious at the new Congress’s failure to instantly fulfill its November mandate to end the war in Iraq. After it sent Mr. Bush a war-spending bill stripped of troop-withdrawal deadlines 10 days ago, the cries of betrayal were shrill, and not just from bloggers. John Edwards, once one of the more bellicose Democratic cheerleaders for the war (“I believe that the risk of inaction is far greater than the risk of action,” he thundered on the Senate floor in September 2002), is now equally bellicose toward his former colleagues. He chastises them for not sending the president the same withdrawal bill he vetoed “again and again” so that Mr. Bush would be forced to realize “he has no choice” but to end the war. It’s not exactly clear how a legislative Groundhog Day could accomplish this feat when the president’s obstinacy knows no bounds and the Democrats’ lack of a veto-proof Congressional majority poses no threat to his truculence.

Among Republicans the right’s revolt against the Bush-endorsed immigration bill is also in temper-tantrum territory, moving from rational debate about complex policy questions to plain old nativism, reminiscent of the 19th-century Know-Nothings. Even the G.O.P. base’s traditional gripes — knee-jerk wailing about the “tragedy” of Mary Cheney’s baby — can’t be heard above the din.

“White America is in flight” is how Pat Buchanan sounds the immigration alarm. “All they have to do is go to Bank of Amigo and pay the fine with a credit card” is how Rush Limbaugh mocks the bill’s punitive measures for illegal immigrants. Bill O’Reilly, while “reluctantly” supporting Mr. Bush’s plan, illustrates how immigration is “drastically” altering the country by pointing out that America is “now one-third minority.” (Do Jews make the cut?) The rupture is so deep that National Review, a fierce opponent of the bill, is challenging its usual conservative ally, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, to a debate that sounds more like “Fight Club.”

What the angriest proselytizers on the left and right have in common is a conviction that their political parties will commit hara-kiri if they don’t adhere to their bases’ strict ideological orders. “If Democrats do not stick to their guns on Iraq,” a blogger at TalkLeft.com warns, there will be “serious political consequences in 2008.” In an echo of his ideological opposite, Mr. Limbaugh labels the immigration bill the “Comprehensive Destroy the Republican Party Act.”
For the rest.

Jack Murtha: American Military Leaders Have Lost His Confidence

Mind you, while the right loves to treat any criticism of its leaders with CentCom and elsewhere among the Pentagonians as "speaking ill of our soldiers", this is just not the case. Americans as a whole and Democrats specifically have made it abundantly clear that, by and large, they see Bush and the Pentagon having let down our soldiers, rather than the reverse. From Matt at Think Progress:

lOn ABC’s This Week today, host George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) about whether Congress would “move again to get a timetable for withdrawal in September if the benchmarks aren’t met, even if General Petraeus…comes to Congress in September and says he needs more time.” “He has an awful lot of credibility,” he added.

Murtha quickly disputed Stephanopoulos’s premise. “George, let me tell you, I’ve lost a lot of confidence in many of the military leaders. Because they say what the White house wants them to say,” said Murtha. Asked if he included Petraeus in his lack of confidence, Murtha added, “I’m waiting to see what he has to say. But I am absolutely convinced there has been this overly optimistic picture of what’s going on in Iraq, while the figures show the opposite.” [...]

Unfortunately, Murtha is right. Petraeus, and other military officers, have a history of supporting the administration line, despite the facts on the ground.
In April, while Congress was preparing to vote on its Iraq timeline legislation, the administration brought Petraeus back to the United States from Iraq for a rare visit, which Murtha slammed as “purely a political move.” Petraeus has allowed himself to be used as a “political prop” to support the White House’s war czar nominee. He has also echoed Bush’s line that al Qaeda, not sectarian civil war, is the greatest threat in Iraq — an assessment that contradicts the intelligence. l