Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Short Attention Span Musing; Raging Cynicism Edition

...Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in an interview with USA Today, after repeatedly ripping into former colleague-turned-accuser Anita Hill (in case you were wondering if he is the type to hold a grudge, the answer is "yep"), he dropped this quote - "We are allowing ourselves to be governed by cynical people. … "

I can't say that I disagree with that sentiment, not at all as a matter of fact, but I think that it would be more accurate to say that "the people that make up the government make it very easy for us to be cynical about them..."

During the interview, and within the new book that he was shilling, he blames racism for the controversy surrounding his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1991.

The NAACP opposed his appointment.

So apparently, Justice Thomas is one of the people that he (and I!) complained about.

Not that I'm cynical.

...Those of us opposed to the war in Iraq should be jumping for joy. Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives is supposed to consider HR3087, a bill that is supposed to "require the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq."

One minor problem - the bill, even if passed, has already been watered down so as to be utterly meaningless.

As introduced, section 2 of the bill included the following section -

(a) Strategy Required- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act , the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, shall develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of the Armed Forces in Iraq.

However, that has been amended ever so slightly -

It is the sense of Congress that--

(1) nothing in this Act shall be construed as a recommendation by Congress that any particular contingency plan be exercised;

Had to make sure the "non-binding" language got in there; wouldn't want to the President or his water-carriers on the Hill to worry about the Congressional Democrats growing a spine.

The original section 2 is still in the bill in section 3, to be sure, but paragraph 4 of the new section 2 provides cover if the President wants to keep forces in Iraq -

(C) describe the possible missions, and the associated projected number of members, of the Armed Forces which would remain in Iraq, including to--

(i) conduct United States military operations to protect vital United States national security interests;

(ii) conduct counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq and affiliated terrorist organizations;

(iii) protect the Armed Forces, United States diplomatic and military facilities, and United States civilians; and

(iv) support and equip Iraqi forces to take full responsibility for their own security.
And the title has been amended, too (emphasis mine) -

Amend the title so as to read: 'A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to submit to Congress reports on the status of planning for the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq and to require the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and appropriate senior officials of the Department of Defense to meet with Congress to brief Congress on the matters contained in the reports.'

In essence, a bill that would have originally required the President and his staff to come up with a plan to deploy U.S. troops out of Iraq, but not require that such redeployment actually occur, is now a bill that requires the President and his staff to discuss a plan for such redeployment, and to then tell Congress about it.

HR3087 may not pass as it is being considered under suspension of the rules and will need a 2/3 majority to pass, but it should give the Republicans a great opportunity to 'patriotically' preen while aligning themselves with the President and it should give the Democrats in Congress a chance to proclaim that they are doing *something* to force the President's hand over the war.

And the members of Congress wonder why their poll numbers are so low at 11% approval.

I wonder how the approval rating got so high.

Not that I'm cynical.

...Later this week, the House will consider HR2740, the MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007. ("MEJA" is "Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.")

If enacted, the bill would expand the laws covering misconduct by private contractors and mandate that the FBI create units tasked to investigate such wrongdoing, a truly necessary Act in light of the recent killing/murders of a large number of Iraqi civilians by private contractors working for Blackwater USA.

The bill was sponsored and cosponsored by a number of Democrats, including AZ's own Raul Grijalva.

So what do the Republicans think of all this?

Well, first, seven Republicans are calling for a postponement of a Congressional inquiry into the matter. Seems they think that the investigation would be better conducted by Bush's State Department.

Did I mention that Blackwater's Chairman, Erik Prince, has given over $250K to the Republicans?

Oh, and the second Republican response to the bill, one that truly illustrates where their priorities lay?

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) is offering an amendment to the bill that goes after contractors that hire undocumented immigrants.

Killing innocent and unarmed Iraqi civilians? That's ok, or at least worthy of nothing more than a wristslap from the State Department.

Hiring Mexicans? That's a *real* crime.

Why would anyone, even Clarence Thomas, think that Rep. Brown-Waite or one of her seven cohorts were one of the "cynical" people in government?

Not that I'm cynical.

Note: AP, via seattlepi.com, coverage of the bill's consideration is here.

...Read a shocking story from the NY Times - a Texas oilman, Oscar Wyatt, was prosecuted and pleaded guilty in a case stemming from the now-infamous "Iraqi oil for food" UN corruption scandal.

From the story -
In an unexpected midtrial reversal, Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr., the Texas oilman accused of corrupting the United Nation’s oil-for-food program, pleaded guilty today to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2001 to gain access to lucrative Iraqi oil contracts.

A Texas oil man? Prosecuted? By a Bush-controlled Justice Department?

What's this? Could the Bushies be growing some integrity and professionalism in the waning days of the his Administration?

A quick check of the FEC's records disabused me of that notion.

Turns out Oscar Wyatt Jr. has given nearly $400K in campaign contributions, almost 75% of which has gone to Democrats or Democratic causes.

Partisan prosecutions??

Now *that* the Bush Justice Department that we've all come to know.

Not that I'm cynical.



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