Bush / GOP

Et tu, Voinovich?

7 Republican Senators sent a letter to the Senate leadership of both parties, demanding a real debate on their anti-surge resolution, free of the toxic back room arguments that lead to this week's 49-47 vote against debate.  The first six names were no surprise, but Steve Clemons, who broke this story, was surprised to see Voinovich's signature - another indicator that support for the President is unraveling.  The full letter is below.

February 7, 2007

The Honorable Harry Reid, Majority Leader

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader

The Honorable Richard Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader

The Honorable Trent Lott, Assistant Republican Leader

United States Senate -- Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, Senator Durbin and Senator Lott:

The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time. It urgently deserves the attention of the full Senate and a full debate on the Senate floor without delay.

We respectfully advise you, our leaders, that we intend to take S. Con. Res 7 and offer it, where possible under the Standing Rules of the Senate, to bills coming before the Senate.

On January 10,2007, the President stated, with respect to his Iraq strategy, "if Members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change we will adjust." In a conscientious, respectful way, we offered our resolution consistent with the President's statement.

We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concepts brought forward by other Senators. Monday's procedural vote should not be interpreted as any lessening of our resolve to go forward advocating the concepts of S. Con. Res. 7.

We will explore all of our options under the Senate procedures and practices to ensure a full and open debate on the Senate floor. The current stalemate is unacceptable to us and to the people of this country.


Olympia Snowe

John Warner

Chuck Hagel

Susan Collins

Norm Coleman

Gordon Smith

George Voinovich

Read more from the WAPO

Pentagon Ready for Surge to Fail

Sidney Blumenthal has a piece in Salon today in which he reveals that Pentagon planners are already secretly planning for what they consider the eventuality of the Bush-McCain surge plan's failure.  That brings them in-line with mainstream political opinion:

The profoundly pessimistic thinking that permeates the senior military and the intelligence community, however, is forbidden in the sanitized atmosphere of mind-cure boosterism that surrounds Bush. "He's tried this two times -- it's failed twice," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Jan. 24 about the "surge" tactic. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.'" She repeated his words: "'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is."

Blumenthal also ponders why Senate Republicans would tie themselves to the current Iraq policy by preventing debate and votes on measures that would rebuke the President.  He makes a convincing arguement that stifling debate in the Senate is part of a conservative penchant to cover-up that goes back to Nixon, and can be seen even more clearly in the Scooter Libby case:

...the trial of Scooter Libby continues to clarify the degree to which the administration covered up its disinformation campaign that led the country into war with another disinformation campaign to cover up the role of the vice president as the prime mover of the smear campaign against former ambassador Joseph Wilson for committing the unforgivable act of revealing the truth. For the Senate Republicans, Scooter Libby is not an object lesson. The lesson they take away, if any, is not the necessity of open government but once again the need to burn the tapes.

Libby's effort to prevent his grand jury tapes from being entered into evidence in his trial resembled nothing so much as Nixon trying to suppress his tapes. Both in the end revealed their respective coverups. Cheney learned from Nixon to burn the tapes at least figuratively; now, his chief of staff, Cheney's Cheney, has tried to protect Cheney by literally and futilely suppressing the tapes. Cheney finds himself back at the beginning. For him, life has come full circle. From the entire history of deception, from the Nixon to the Libby tapes, the Republicans have learned nothing.

GOP Senators Scrambling to Block Anti-Surge Resolutions

In an effort to save face for the White House, Republican leaders in the Senate are trying to peel away Republican support for the anti-surge non-binding reolutions proposed by Joe Biden, Carl Levin and John Warner, among others. 

The new effort by President Bush’s allies, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is aimed at blocking two nonbinding resolutions directly critical of the White House that had appeared to be gaining broad support among Democrats and even some Republicans.

Republicans skeptical of the troop buildup said some of their colleagues had begun to suggest that opponents of the White House plan ran the risk of undermining Lt. Gen. David L. Petraeus, the new military commander in Iraq, as well as Mr. Bush.

“There is a lot of pressure on people who could be with us not to be with us,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, the co-author of one resolution along with Senators John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska.

As an alternative to that measure and another broadly backed by Democrats, Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham, along with Senator Joeseph I. Leiberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, are trying to enlist support for a resolution that would set benchmarks for the Iraqi government and describe the troop increase as a final chance for the United States to restore security in Baghdad.

The senators have been joined in their effort by the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.

Surge Sends Troops Into Harms Way Without Proper Equipment

Following up on an armor shortage story we blogged on last week, Army and Marine Corp leaders are testifying before the House Armed Service Committee, and their quotes (from the WAPO) are shocking:

"The response would be slower than we might like, we would not have all of the equipment sets that ordinarily would be the case, and there is certainly risk associated with that" 

-Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James Conway

"my concerns [regarding readiness[ are increased over what they were in June."

"To meet combatant commanders' immediate wartime needs, we pooled equipment from across the force to equip soldiers deploying in harm's way.  This practice, which we are continuing today, increases risk for our next-to-deploy units and limits our ability to respond to emerging strategic contingencies."

-Army Chief of Staff Peter J. Schoomaker

The Bush Administration seems perpetually doomed to repeat its mistakes, and VoteVets new ad speaks to the consequences of this most recent reckless decision:

President Bush Expands Executive Power...Again

Repudiated by voters, President Bush turned to an executive order to increase his control of federal agencies and the actions they take.  Particularly targeting the EPA and OSHA, the President's directive will require all agencies to submit important guidance documents to a Bush political appointee, prior to publication.  That means the Bush Administration practice of having hacks protect favored industries is now codified:

Peter L. Strauss, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the executive order “achieves a major increase in White House control over domestic government.”

“Having lost control of Congress,” Mr. Strauss said, “the president is doing what he can to increase his control of the executive branch.”

Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said: “The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests.”

MN-SEN: Al Franken Leaves Air America

Al Franken announced today that he intends to leave Air America Radio and will give "serious consideration" to running for US Senate in his home state of Minnesota.  He thanked his 1.5 million listeners and expressed optimism for the future of Air America, following its purchase by the Green brothers, Mark, former NYC Public Advocate, and Stephen, a leading real estate developer. 

Al promised to make a decision on challenging Republican Norm Coleman soon, and hinted that he might announce on or before his final show on February 14th.

You can hear Al make the non-announcement announcement here.

Brownback Rips-Off Fake Tocqueville Line

Nowhere in Alexis de Tocqueville's classic portrait of early American civic life Democracy in America does the line "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great" appear.  But that doesn't stop politicians from quoting it, begining with Eisenhower and running all the way through current Republican candidate Sam Brownback.  Thanks to Tyler Hudson for pointing this out.  Read more on the history of this Franco-forgery here, and look at the third paragraph of the letter on the Brownback for President website for the uncredited lift.

Not Much Energy in This Energy Plan

That is the early consensus on the energy policy elements of the President's State of the Union speech.  No specifics to cap carbon and reverse with global warming, modest increases in fuel standards, but no plan to deal with the 80% of emissions that don't come from passenger vehicles, and no specifics on how to balance the economics and environmental impact of alternative fuels. 

And much of what the President proposed is duplicitous:

  • 20% reduction in gas usage in 10 years, actually means 20% less then projected levels, not 20% less than usage today.  That means gasoline consumption would actually increase slightly - not as ambitious as it sounded in the SOTU.
  • Bush's fuel economy standard increases would actually lead to more gas guzzling vehicles being sold, by moving from fleet average standards to individual vehicle standards. 
  • When the President talks about alternative energy, he is really playing to coal producers who want to start producing liquid coal as a fuel - liquid coal that releases twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as gasoline.

The lesson, as NDN has argued, is that what the President, and so many conservatives in his mold, are good at is politics, not governing.  Real leadership on energy and tackling the catastrophic threat of global warming will come from progressive thinkers, regardless of party, who are ready to move beyond the cynical half-measures of the current Administration.

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