Put the Bush Foreign Policy into Receivership

Two very good pieces suggesting what can be done to restrain Bush and Cheney: Putting the Bush Foreign Policy into Receivership I and Putting the Bush Foreign Policy into Receivership II. This is the kind of thinking we need to be doing — it’s much more important than strategizing the 2008 election or betting on the 2008 nomination horserace. Bush and Cheney still have the power to bring on disasters which will make our present situation in the Middle East seem wonderful in comparison.

Iraq – Where From Here?

I ask everyone to go read this diary at DailyKos about a family in Iraq, and the local reaction to the sense that American troops will be leaving. Daily Kos: A Sobering, Agonizing Reality.

My family in Baghdad – it’s bad. They can’t go out and go to get food. We call and they are in their house because they can’t go out. They have separated Baghdad and put Sunnis in one area and Shi’ia in another. And they have people there to keep them apart. But now with your report, they are going to leave and the Shi’ia are going to come over there. I talked to one family member and he told me ‘they are going to kill us when the Americans leave’. They don’t want electricity and food and jobs anymore. They just want to be safe. It’s the only thing they want. And now the Americans are going to leave.

Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend’s in-laws get slaughtered. Literally slaughtered. Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle. No more Americans, and those people are GONE.

We all need to come fully to grips with the situation Bush has caused. It isn’t a TV show that ends in an hour with everything neatly wrapped up. It’s people’s lives.
Yes, it’s a terrible situation. We should not have invaded Iraq and the people involved need to be tried for war crimes. But what do we do now?
We started a war, and the war continues. If we “just leave” it gets worse. If we stay it gets worse. But we all have to stop thinking that it can be made to just go away, and start thinking about where we go from here.
Here is a fact – the Geneva Conventions require an occupation force to provide for the security of the occupied region. That’s international law, too, just like invading was against the law. Bush and everyone involved in the invasion and aftermath should be tried for their part in it – but from now on the US government STILL has the legal – and moral – responsibility to bring security to the people of Iraq. THAT is what our conversation needs to be now about because that is the most serious need today.
WE invaded – America, not just Bush. We said, “Not in our name!”, but it was done – in our name. Citizens in a democracy share responsibility for what that country does. We, the people of the United States, finally lived up to our responsibility to get rid of the Republican majority in the Congress. But that takes us only part of the way back home. It is still our responsibility to impeach Bush and then fulfill our obligation to find a way to protect the people of Iraq.

Expose Right-Wing Radicals

Kevin Drum said something smart:

Most people — including a lot of rank-and file Republicans, I think — simply don’t realize just how radical the modern, Texified GOP is. But with majority control Democrats now have the institutional power to expose this at every turn, and Republicans have far less ability to hide it. If they’re smart, Dems will use this newfound power at every opportunity.

Bill Scher New Commonweal Fellow

Bill Scher Is Now a Commonweal Institute Fellow (Commonweal Institute Blog)

Bill Scher, the Executive Editor of the popular political blog LiberalOasis.com and a regular commentator on Air America, has accepted our invitation to become a Commonweal Institute Fellow. With his professional background in media strategy, Bill has been outspoken about the need for political activists to redeem the word “liberal”. Read his new book, Wait! Don’t Move To Canada!: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy To Win Back America (Rodale, 2006), about why this will be critical if we (liberals, progressives, moderates, and independents) intend to take back the country from the conservative political machine. Expect him to expound on his ideas here. Welcome, Bill!

America’s Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.
One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don’t need it, and actually hurts you and your family.
By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party’s agenda and vision gets implemented – despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.
Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands – because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is “premium” and another is $5 a gallon – is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

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WSJ Says You Are “Imbeciles”

In The Blog Mob, Assistant Features Editor Joseph Rago doesn’t like democracy — not one bit. He thinks what you read should be controlled by gatekeeper “journalists.” Himself, namely.
He says blogs are mostly awful, appalling, boring. He says “The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both.” So at least we know what he is afraid we will discover if blogs write about him and the rest of the WSJ editorial page.
I suspect the online WSJ needs traffic and is “trolling for hits.” Accommodate them – go read it.

When News Becomes A Corporate “Product”

In the new corporate-owned America a newspaper owner tells people in the newsroom what to print. They quit – or are fired when they won’t do what the owner wants because they consider it unethical. Journalists write about the story and are sued for libel and “product disparagement.” See Publisher of Santa Barbara paper sues journalist over AJR story
A local barber puts a sign in his shop window supporting the workers, and is threatened with a lawsuit. See Santa Barbara News-Press Owner Threatens Hair Stylist Over Sign

Carnation Revolution?

At this point I’m hoping for a tacit sitdown strike by the military. They almost seem to be a more likely source of resistance than the Democrats. Certainly a more likely source than the media, which is made up of people very much like Bush: “Look good, repeat slogans, be loyal to the program.”
Without the media, mass resistance is unlikely to happen, and in the wake of the Vietnam War mass resistance was publicly discredited and jokified by a well-planned disinformation campaign. Even though the Iraq war now has only about 20% approval, a fair chunk of the 80% disapproving are super-hawks worse than Bush, and the militant anti-war group is very, very small.
Bush’s actions have partially discredited the principle of civilian control of the military. Behind that principle has always been fear of a military coup d’etat, or of free-lance military aggression by loose-cannon generals, but there have also been times when generals have been accused of fighting too timidly . McClellan in the Civil War is the example neocons always use — but WII Germany on the Russian Front is more apropos today. We’re hoping that the military will restrain and neutralize our incompetent Armageddonist Commander in Chief.
The “Carnation Revolution” in Portugal in 1974 is an example of good military men who resisted bad civilians. This event has been forgotten by history because it was successful and almost bloodless, but it deserves much more attention. A fascist dictatorship was brought down by a military mutiny, and nothing bad happened afterwards. (I’m grasping at straws, of course.)
The Democrats have been steadily improving, but not fast enough, and in time of war Congress has almost no leverage over the CinC anyway (as Bush keeps reminding us). The only thing that will work at this point would be strong, forthright attacks on the war, backed by the threat of impeachment — this issue can’t be nickel-and-dimed with quibbles and reasonable responses like Reid’s.
And it can’t be done in a civil way any more, either. The people who brought us this war (including the media people and think-tank spokesmen) have to be removed from their positions of power or influence, and their reputations have to be destroyed. They can’t maintain their credibility if the war is seen for what it is, and their own careers are more important to them than anything that happens to anyone else.
But what are the chances?

The Chiefs of Staff aren’t buying Bush’s lame bullshit

One thing that has to be repeated and repeated, and I think that this is what is motivating the generals: there’s no way that a 10% increase in forces, with no significant change in strategy, can change anything militarily. I don’t know where the slogan “one last push” came from — from the media or from the administration — but the word “last” is a dead giveaway. It cues you to ask “And after that, what?” (To my knowledge, no one in the administration has disavowed the “one last push” meme).
The reason that the increase of forces is so small — and everyone knows this — is that we’ve already committed everything we have. The proposed increases just amount to stretching existing troops farther and pushing them harder, with longer tours and shorter breaks. We have no reserve.
The “surge” is an obvious desperation window-dressing move, and the strategists on the other side have to have figured this out already. That means that if they’ve got anything up their sleeve (and how could they not?) we’ll see it before, during, or immediately after the buildup.
My guess is that either that a.) the Bush people are hunkered down in their bunkers and losing it, b.) they’re buying time so that they can properly set up the “stabbed in the back” accusation, or c.) they’re so committed to spin, misinformation, and politics over policy that they’re doing the only thing that they know how to do.

Ten Years In Prison For Oral Sex

The Georgia Supreme Court just upheld a sentence of Ten Years in Prison for 17-Year-Old Who Had Consensual Oral Sex with 15-Year-Old — even though Georgia later changed the law to a misdemeanor. That’s ten years with no possibility of parole, by the way.