Round Two- Warrantless Wiretapping

Really, this is about fighting terrorism:

The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists.

“The Democrats’ irrational opposition to strong national security policies that help keep our nation secure should be of great concern to the American people,” Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement after the bill passed 232-191.

“To always have reasons why you just can’t vote ‘yes,’ I think speaks volumes when it comes to which party is better able and more willing to take on the terrorists and defeat them,” Boehner said.


After the House voted 253-168 to set rules on tough interrogations and military tribunal proceedings, Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was even more critical than Boehner.

“Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists,” Hastert said in a statement. “So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan. “

This isn’t about fighting terrorism, coddling terrorists, or keeping America safe. It is about power, and it is little more than using the fear of terrorism to keep the party in power entrenched in Washington. That the legislation is flawed, wrong, and likely to be overturned is immaterial- it is the motivation behind the legislation that is so disgusting.

Apparently they just weren’t getting enough bang for the buck out of gay-bashing this election cycle.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Apparently not.

[T]hese days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters’ only threat. Men with gavels are, too.

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.

But hey, at least we closed down Saddam’s old torture center Abu Ghraib. Eventually.


The Military Commissions Act of 2006 passed, 65-34:

The Senate today passed a bill, backed by the White House, that sets the rules for interrogating and prosecuting detainees in the war on terrorism, allowing the CIA to continue a formerly secret program to extract information from key suspected terrorists and establishing special military tribunals to try them.

The bill, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, passed by a vote of 65 to 34 after senators rejected four amendments supported mostly by Democrats.

The bill is nearly identical to a bill passed yesterday by the House, which will vote on adopting the Senate language Friday.

That was the whole ball of wax. And in case you are still buying the spin that this is about terrorism, let Red State set you straight:

When the chips are down, Democrats will unite against the rigorous prosecution of the Global War on Terror. I’m afraid in this fight, there is no such thing as a “good” Democrat, and this is serious food for thought going into November.

They don’t even pretend or wink when they write this shit anymore.

At any rate, it is over until there is a change in Washington. I don’t know how much damage has been done, but I speculate a great deal. Hopefully I will be as wrong about the possible damage as I have been about the Republican Party these last few years.

The Do Nothing Party

Once again, Democrats rise to the occasion:

The Senate today rejected an amendment to a bill creating a new system for interrogating and trying terror suspects that would have guaranteed such suspects access to the courts to challenge their imprisonment.

Go to Election GuideMore Politics NewsThe vote was 51 to 48 against the amendment, which was offered by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. The action set the stage for final passage of the bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the House of Representatives.

The bill’s ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. Any changes in the Senate bill, however, would have made it impossible for Republican leaders to meet their goal of sending the bill to the White House before adjourning on Friday to hit the campaign trail.

While I can hardly be as angry as the Democrats as I am at the Republicans about this bill, as it is the GOP who crafted, pushed, and, eventually, will pass this flawed bill, I can reserve a fair amount of disgust for the feckless cowards that is the modern Democratic party. If you really believe that “We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation,” as Sen. Pat Leahy is quoted, then sitting by and allowing it to pass and not filibustering the bill makes you complicit inthe passage. If the bill is as bad as you say it is, and I think it is, get off your ass and do something about it.

Or at least have the decency to tell the netroots to find somebody worthwhile to send their money to, because you have proven you simply are unwilling or incapable of getting the job done.


A Metaphor

This pretty much says it all about the War in Iraq:

$75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country’s security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed “the rain forest.”

“This is the most essential civil security project in the country — and it’s a failure,” said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. “The Baghdad police academy is a disaster.”

Bowen’s office plans to release a 21-page report Thursday detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Even in a $21 billion reconstruction effort that has been marred by cases of corruption and fraud, failures in training and housing Iraq’s security forces are particularly significant because of their effect on what the U.S. military has called its primary mission here: to prepare Iraqi police and soldiers so that Americans can depart.

When it comes to the war in Iraq, I still think that I was right to support it, given the information I was using to base my decision. Others can disagree. In fact, I will go so far to say that were things to play out the same way again today, given the same information, the same state the country was in post 9/11, I would probably do the same exact thing.

On the other hand, if I knew then what I know now- that much of the information I was basing my decision to support the war was flawed, that this administration was wholly unprepared and wholly unserious about succeeding, there is no chance in hell I would have supported the war. I trusted people I shouldn’t have, supported people who don’t and didn’t deserve my support, and as such, we are in the mess we are in.

Such is life. This story highlights what is so frustrating about having to live with this decision- the construction of a viable Iraqi police force, not based on sectarian rivalries and long-festering hatreds and with a motivation that goes beyond settling Hussein-era scores is one of the most important things that needs to be done in the reconstruction. I know that, you know that, and the administration knows it. You would think we would approach the situation with a degree of seriousness and with a fully committed desire to succeed. You would think, at the very least, the Police Acadamy would have a solid PHYSICAL foundation.

But, like everything else with this administration, we blew it. We did things piecemeal, didn’t provide the oversight, and things are deemed to be going ok just so long as they are not damaging the domestic political considerations and just so long as they don’t interfere with the mantra to ‘stay the course.’ Throw in a few chants about the media being biased, and we will get through this ‘rough patch.’ Really- everything is going peachy in Iraq- we just aren’t hearing enough media stories about our valorous troops.

So really, this is the perfect metaphor. While the Iraqi police recruits are laboring under a torrent of shit and piss, so too do I and the rest of the former administration supporters have to daily struggle to find an umbrella to shield us from the crap trickling down from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

*** Update ***

I really don’t understand what is so controversial about this statement:

When it comes to the war in Iraq, I still think that I was right to support it, given the information I was using to base my decision. Others can disagree. In fact, I will go so far to say that were things to play out the same way again today, given the same information, the same state the country was in post 9/11, I would probably do the same exact thing.

As noted in the comments section, General Custer would probably say the same thing. I was believing people I shouldn’t have believed, trusting information I shouldn’t have, and I made my decision based on that. I don’t know why people think that if I had a do over, absent the knowledge and experiences of the past few years, I would behave differently. Given the information I was working on, given the person I was at the time, my decision made sense. That I wasn’t looking in the right places and ignoring other relevant information is immaterial. In fact, as someoneelse noted, the statement is so uncontroversial as to be boring.

*** Update ***

How we got here.

Ignorance Is Bliss

Some times you can even pick up interesting bits from Michelle Malkin. For instance, here she points to another one of those liberals-are-from-the-neocortex-conservatives-are-from-the-limbic-system sociology studies:

The liberals and conservatives in this study are not radically different species, at least when it comes to sleep and dreaming. People of both political persuasions share a common substrate of basic human sleep and dream experience.

* Conservatives sleep more soundly, with fewer dreams. Liberals have more restless sleep and a more active dream life. Conservatives sleep somewhat longer, with better sleep quality; they recall fewer dreams, but report more lucid dreams (especially conservative men). Liberals (particularly liberal women) have worse sleep quality, recall a greater number and variety of dreams, and have more dreams of homosexuality.
* Liberals and conservatives report a roughly equal proportion of bad dreams and nightmares. This is different from my earlier study (using dreams gathered from 1996-2000), when the conservatives had many more nightmarish dreams than the liberals. In the present study (using dreams gathered post-September 11, 2001 to the end of 2004), the conservative frequency of negative dreams is somewhat less, while the liberal frequency is much higher. It appears liberals have become more upset and troubled in their dreams, while conservatives have become less so in theirs.
* The dreams of liberals are more bizarre than the dreams of conservatives. This is consistent with my earlier findings. Liberals have more dreams with unusual, distorted, fantastic elements than conservatives, whose dreams are more likely to portray normal characters, settings, and activities.

This ties in very well with another study that we brought up some time back:

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

Well, let’s put that idea to the test. Our current president has exactly the sort of unshakable, immune to nuance self-certainty that Dr. Block describes as an insecure defense mechanism. And god knows the president shows plenty of of indicators that he may not be the most emotionally secure person in the world:

After a few speeches, he asked her – coming up the driveway on the way home from one – how his delivery was going over. Terrible, said the forthright wife. George W. drove his Pontiac Bonneville right into the garage wall.

And yep, wouldn’t you know it, he sleeps like a baby.

Maybe this seems a bit unfair. In fact it probably is. Both studies have enough limitations that you should probably take them for entertainment value only. But if Michelle wants to wade into the field of political psychology then I say great, the more the merrier.


Michael Van Der Gallen has noticed the explosion of negative ads in America these days.

The reason is actually fairly simple. Negative ads make voters disgusted with politics in general. They raise the target’s negative ratings, but usually at the expense of raising the ad buyer’s negatives as well. Endangered incumbents love negative ads specifically because high voter enthusiasm and high turnout usually favor the challenger, so the more people you keep at home on election day the better your chances at keeping your seat.

The numbers add up just like you would expect them to. The GOP, essentially the incumbent party across the board, faces a tidal wave realignment election that could rival 1994 if they do not find some way to stem the bleeding. Neither stupid nor squeamish about bare-knuckle politics, the GOP did exactly what the numbers say they should do.

Does it work? Read Michael’s post. Moderate voter observes politicians throwing mud, throws up his hands and (if he was a US citizen) probably stays home. This isn’t rocket science.