They Ought to be Hospitalized

(Quicktime, 3.7MB / 2:39)

Michael Scheuer — former CIA bin Laden chief and author of Imperial Hubris — appeared with CNN’s Tom Foreman (who looks and sounds like he’s been studying Glenn Beck for some reason) and Barbara Starr on Saturday’s “This Week at War” for a chat about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

FOREMAN: How do we have a face-saving way to get out when we have so many intelligence reports saying that if we step out of Iraq, step out of Afghanistan precipitously, that they will become breeding grounds for troubles that will come visit us?

SCHEUER: Well, they’re there now, sir. It is not a question of if it will happen. It is happening now. Whether we stay or whether we go from those two countries, they’re going to come after us in the United States.

FOREMAN: Isn’t that a huge argument for at least not running away from it?

SCHEUER: We shouldn’t run away from it, but we should be realistic. We have lots of aircraft carriers and lots of submarines. We don’t have a lot of troops. The idea that anyone thought they could control Afghanistan which is the size of Texas with 30,000 troops, a person of that description ought to be hospitalized.

Or impeached.

Red-Baiting at Blue Oregon

This kind of tactic only works if you’re actually worried about being called a socialist:

Oh man, Kari!

But what do we do with all these Green/Socialist trolls? Donate to the DLC?

If you’re not worried about someone calling you an “impotent commie loser”, getting called a socialist doesn’t hold any fear, particularly if it’s reasonably accurate.

Let’s see now…who else likes to call people socialists?

Astonishing! The enemy of democracy was Oregon’s Gordon Smith. Here is Wallsten’s fuller account of this pathetic man’s demagoguery:

WALLSTEN: Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) accused Kerry of advocating socialism within the United States and appeasement overseas.

“It’s not John Kerry’s fault that he looks French,” Smith told reporters on the conference call arranged by the Bush campaign.

“But it is his fault that he wants to pursue policies that have us act like the French. He advocates all kinds of additional socialism at home, appeasement abroad, and what that means is weakness for the future.”

Some Republicans have referred jokingly to Kerry’s ability to speak French and his physical appearance, but rarely has the reference found its way onto the campaign trail.

Astonishing—that empty, thigh-rubbing men like Smith would make such a joke of your democracy. Wallsten wanted voters to know how kooky and crackpot the campaign has become. But other scribes, at our greatest newspapers, slumber and snore as the clowning continues. Indeed, as thigh-rubbing men like Smith pimp and clown, they have our magnificent “press corps” to help them.

Bonehead Question of the Week

Who would ever have thought to ask this question? Someone red-baiter at Blue Oregon, that’s who.

Do you want to live in a country where we impeach presidents when they make bad decisions?

Yeah, if the decision is bad enough and you think that they will continue making bad decisions. That’s what impeachment’s for: to keep untrustworthy officers of the state from misusing the power the people have entrusted to them. Whether they make the decision out of malice or stupidity, if there is sufficient reason to assume that they will continue to make bad decisions, then you take their hands off the wheel.

One Week

Over at Jack Bog’s Blog, Sen. Ron Wyden gets kudos for opposing the confirmation of John Rizzo as CIA general counsel because of his legal authorization for “interrogation techniques that stop just short of inflicting pain equal to that accompanying organ failure or even death”.

Of course, Rizzo’s still acting general counsel. He was nominated to the general counsel spot in March but he’s been serving as acting counsel since last year. It’s the seconf time he’s been acting general counsel since 2001. According to the International Herald Tribune: “Rizzo has been acting general counsel off and on for most of the past six years, serving without Senate confirmation.”

I mean, I’m glad he’s not getting confirmed but if he’s going to continue in his position as acting general counsel, I’m not sure that the hold (which got Wyden mentioned in The New Yorker as well) impresses me all that much.

I was intrigued by this comment in the comments there from someone calling themself Tenskwatawa, however:

And the retro-spin being ground out is that Wyden opposed it from the start, whereas I sat ten feet in front of him, Feb. 25, 2003, 3 weeks preliminary and he was selling Iraq invasion, telling ‘town hall’ Oregon City, that definitely, definitely, definitely [quote], “we KNOW Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, VX, nerve gas …,” where I butted in, “there are NO WMD’s in Iraq.” To his face. And Wyden glared at me, blinked, da-blink da-blink [what’s up with his eyelids, anyway?], and continued, “… and we have got to go in and get them out.”

Here’s a piece of an Los Angeles Times article mentioning that meeting and another in Medford (via

In Oregon, Smith heard worries about war during a series of town hall meetings he conducted with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last week. At one in Medford, more than half the audience stood up when asked how many had “deep questions” about going to war. At a gathering in Oregon City, a man challenged the wisdom of a preemptive attack on Iraq, asking: “Who appointed us policemen of the world?”

The date in the commenter’s story is off by at least a couple of days (the Times article was published on the 24th), but I wouldn’t mind knowing whether Wyden was actively opposing the war at those meetings. Certainly there’s nothing in his news releases that would indicate a pushback against the war. More research needed.

Here’s one result of a quick LexisNexis search for wyden iraq:

The Oregonian – 9/25/2002 – 436 words
Here is how members of the Northwest delegation stand on President Bush’s request for a resolution against Iraq: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.: Says administration should proceed deliberately to deal with threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but also should anticipate consequences for war on terrorism and containment of conflict if…

$3 for anyone who wants it. So, in 2002, Wyden — a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — thought that Saddam Hussein posed a threat. It’d be interesting to find out what kind of threat the senator thought he posed. And why. I’m not sure that I’m seeing this as opposition.

The Yes Democrats

In a bizarre turn of events, bloggers and commenters at places like Blue Oregon and the unofficial Lane County Bus Project have taken to lecturing the unwashed masses who show up in corporeal form at events like Sen. Ron Wyden’s Town Hall on Iraq for a lack of civility.

We’ve reached a point where the worm has turned so many times it practically Gordian. Politicians –especially crooked ones — have accused the media of being anti-American for telling more or less the truth for so long that they’ve actually begun to believe it of themselves and now flog the flag at every opportunity.

When bloggers arrived on the scene with the growth of the World Wide Web, and TV, newspaper, and radio commentators began to feel their privileged position of authority threatened by political bloggers, they began accusing them of using foul language, for a lack of civility, and for not being “serious” enough. While it’s true that there is a certain amount of profanity, invective, humor, and misinformation on blogs — as science fiction author Ted Sturgeon famously said: “ninety percent of everything is crud” — the professional commentators seemed to feel that absolved them from addressing actual issues brought up by bloggers or examining possible flaws in their own clan’s output. That battle’s still going on.

The blogger world has had its own successes. People who saw an opportunity and were in the right place at the right time to become a part of the mainstream political establishment. Now it’s their turn to join in the choruses of politicians and commentators telling actual voters to just sit down and shut up. “Everything is fine. Your concerns will be addressed at the time of our choosing (should they be addressed at all). If your concerns have not been addressed, please try again at some other time. But civilly, no matter how much we ignore you or talk down to you.” So while the right-leaning blogs have been telling the “Bush-hating” left to just STFU for as long as they’ve existed, more and more of those calls are coming from people who label themselves progressive Democrats but seem to form what I like to think of as the “squishy center”.

The Wyden meeting in Portland was set up with check-ins for people to ask questions (no more than two minutes) and for Wyden to respond. And that’s probably about as good a way to run things as you can ask for.

But it doesn’t allow for a true dialogue. It doesn’t allow for follow-up or challenging a portion of the respondent’s answer (and some of Wyden’s answers were pretty bone-headed). You may think it anti-social for an audience to boo a response they disagree with, but the corrolary is that they shouldn’t applaud or cheer with remarks they agree with. Unless outbursts of positive enthusiasm are deemed unacceptable in a meeting, outbursts of disdain should be allowed. You may not like them, but that’s simple fairness.

Unless your intention is that legislators should live in a world where they hear only the music of angels applauding their glorious achievements and that they should be coccooned away from mass criticism (i.e. jeering and booing) to protect their fragile minds.

Ahistorical Note

After a couple of years of talking to people about impeachment, it seems as if I’ve heard just about all of the ideas and considerations people new to the conversation seem to be discovering as if they were flowers blossoming from a fresh cow pattie.

One commenter at Blue Oregon linked to a Washington Post op/ed by Michael Tomasky — who’s been keeping a seat warm at The American Prospect for several years — with makes the alarming claim that impeachment is “The Dumbest Move the Dems Could Make”.

Then again, Tomasky may not be the person you want to turn to for advice. Here he is from March 2003, just a few days after the invasion of Iraq (my emphasis):

This may sound self-evident, but it feels like it needs saying because I’m picking up, as I browse some of the liberal Web sites and follow the protest actions, a certain “Aha!” mentality with regard to the alleged “quagmire” that now looms. The mentality is understandable on one level. To a considerable extent the hawks’ credibility hangs heavily on a smashing and quick success. No reputation is more on the line than that of Donald Rumsfeld, who has spent the better part of the last year and a half pooh-poohing the career brass in the Pentagon and its quaint 20th-century ways. Seeing Rumsfeld and all his allies taken down a notch is a tempting thing to hope for, to say nothing of the more important fact that a quick success in Iraq will go some distance toward greasing the skids for Iran, North Korea or wherever they decide should come next.

But it’s wrong to think this way, and not merely for the obvious reason that such a view amounts to hoping for more death and agony. First of all, the use of the word “quagmire” after five days is preposterous. Vietnam became a quagmire after about three and a half years. This war, even with the Iraqis displaying a stiffer upper lip than we’d been led to believe they would — and even with the prospect of house-to-house combat in Baghdad — is very unlikely to take more than three and a half months. (If it somehow should, I’d venture that George W. Bush will be in deep political trouble.) Besides which, one should not have opposed the Vietnam War because it became a quagmire. One should have opposed the 1965 escalation, if not the 1961 mini-escalation in the number of “advisers,” on principle. Now, as then, concerns about a “quagmire” reflect a response to circumstances — is the war going poorly or well? — rather than an expression of principled belief.

So there will not, in all likelihood, be a quagmire.

And that was from a guy who was against the invasion, supposedly.

People were predicting a quagmire at the time not because things were briefly bogged down on the drive to Baghdad. They were predicting a quagmire in the long term because we were invading a country of 25 million people with no plan to get out.

Moreover, people did oppose the Vietnam war on principle before it became a quagmire (in Tomasky’s opinion that would have been about 1968). People protested the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964. There were protests throughout the Johnson/Humphrey portion of the war (“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”) Martin Luther King spoke out against the war in 1967 on moral and ethical grounds as well as on the right of a people to self-determination.

So I’m not particularly impressed by Tomasky’s prognostication or his historical knowledge.

Tomasky’s view of impeachment doesn’t take into account information that would be exposed at the hearings or trial. He’s presenting the case as if the vote would be taken immediately, without any case being made against Bush and Cheney that would build pressure on reluctant legislators to remove them from office.

So forgive me if I don’t share the commenter’s appreciation of the quality of Tomasky’s judgment.

Stan Ridgway in Portland Tonight

Stan Ridgway

Stan Ridgway, the poet laureate of broken dreams and thwarted ambition, a guy whose voice you’d remember if you ever heard it in songs like “Mexican Radio”, “Don’t Box Me In”, “Camouflage”, “Drive, She Said”, or “I Wanna Be a Boss”, ends his 2007 summer tour tonight in Portland at Mississippi Studios on (natch) N. Mississippi. Doors open at 7pm.

We’re All Bozos On This Bus, The President Is Driving Us, This Bus Is Off to War

A couple of excerpts from comments (not mine) from a post decrying the outbursts at Sen. Wyden’s and Rep. DeFazio’s public meetings in Eugene, from the unofficial Lane County Bus Project blog:

DeFazio doesn’t deserve the mob style from dems. maybe to be greeted with flowers for the battle he is waging though. the mob has formed of pure disgust of bush and cheney and the current direction of the country — a very well found disgust. taking back and enshrining the precedents that they have stepped on might well take decades if even possible. But defazio is doing this and doing it well. no civil disobedience necessary. and possibly a better process to allow those people to really feel like they are being heard.

One better process would be action on the concerns expressed and acknowledgment that they might have a valid viewpoint after being derided for five years since the Iraq war machine got started up. Endless repeating of lines about how impeachment would take vital time away from stopping the war are as ludicrous as the reiterations that Iraq has been turning around for the last four years. If there’s a plan to get Bush to end the war before the end of his term, let’s hear what it is and get a chance to evaluate it, just as we should have expected Bush to give us a plan for “victory” in Iraq that wasn’t just hunder down and wait until it was someone else’s problem.

The immaturity of citizens who are out of control, who can’t or won’t maintain control of their emotions and behavior, who are so grandiose and so righteous that they shout down anyone who opposes or frustrates them should not be tolerated in a public forum. They simply damage a righteous cause and forfeit the right of dissent and public speech.

Yes, please, let us restrict any dissent in our public forums. After all, that is what President Bush has done so successfully in his “public” meetings over the past few years. It’s worked well for him.

The Fable of the Liberal Bubble

Time to stomp on this myth and the concern trolls who promote it.

It is time to get real about this–how many of you Blue Oregonians know a registered Republican? Or someone registered outside a major party?

When I read comments like this and people saying that people need to get out of their “liberal comfort zone” I wonder how much right-wing mythology these folks have bought into.

Even in Multnomah County a quarter of the voters in 2004 voted for George W. Bush. Just under half of the registered voters in the county at the time were Democrats. About 20% were registered Republicans. Another 24% or so were registered independent.

If one out of every five voters in the county — the most Democratic county in the state by far — is a Republican and one out of every four voters in the county voted for Bush, if you know ten random people who vote from around the county then you are likely to know a couple who voted for Bush and are Republicans. Neighbors, co-workers, etc. This idea that Democrats live in some sort of hermetic dome encapsulated in the hometown of Lars Larsen, where Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have had devoted radio audiences for years is just bizarre.

That’s just Multnomah County. The odds are even higher in the rest of the state.

Oh, and what about people’s families? One of the quintessential stories of the ’60s was the “generation gap”: long screaming matches over the dining room table about the Vietnam War and Nixon. Are all those parents dead already? Did all the kids from that generation turn into hippies? (The answer is “no”). Do the people who push this myth think liberals don’t have siblings or uncles or cousins or some other family member whose politics don’t agree with theirs? There’s a long tradition of jokes about households where spouses cancel out their votes, and I’ve known at least a couple of those couples personally.

47% of the voters in the state voted for Bush in 2004. If you’ve got family in the rest of the state, there’s an awfully good chance (if they voted) that some of them voted Republican. And if you’ve got family who voted in the rest of the country — since he presumably won the election with more than 50% — the odds are even higher.

Why is it that the “realists” always think it’s other people who live in a bubble and not the other way around?

The Cure

Fred Thompson’s been assumed to be waiting in the wings for the right moment to enter the GOP presidential race, but he had an interview with John King of CNN where he didn’t look so good and in just about 900 words (including King’s questions) he used the words “Cure”, “cure”, and “curable”. I think Thompson’s got a lot on his mind right now. I wish him the best, but hope he decides not to risk his health by running.

FRED THOMPSON, FMR. SENATOR: … We’re going to make a statement shortly that’ll cure all of that

THOMPSON: … Hasn’t happened yet, but I think a federal court very well likely will go in that direction, and a constitutional amendment would cure that.

THOMPSON: Well, if I have critics in Washington it’s not going to come as a surprise to me. I’ll have more by the end of this campaign. Proof’s in the pudding. I think that’s curable.

Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript.