Friday, November 18, 2005

How DARE they

I'm as disgusted as I've ever been in my political life. The absolute outrage of the White House calling Rep. John Murtha a coward, in essence, is the most despicable thing I could imagine in political discourse. This is pure McCarthyism. The White House statement said, "Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. (emphasis mine) After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer."

This adminstration is the one full of cowards. Not one veteran among them, save for Donald Rumsfeld, and they continue to question the bravery, the courage, of critics who served in combat, who have fought for our soldiers since some of them were in college or grade school. Murtha became a Marine during the Korean War. He served actively and in the Marine Reserve until 1990, when he retired a colonel. He was 58 years old when he did that.

Since 1974, he's been in the House, and he's charted his own course, supporting Reagan in Central America, Bush Sr. in the first Gulf War, and he supported our efforts in Iraq since we went in. He's been behind our men every step of the way. For him to change his mind about this action, and say we need to leave and redeploy elsewhere in the region, to be on standby in case we're needed in an emergency, but otherwise be out of Iraq, means a lot. He's an experienced officer, an experienced congressman, and no one's coward. The cowards are the ones who are questioning his commitment to our troops, who use the Michael Moore smear, who say he's "surrendering to the terrorists" because he is advocating changing a failed course. It's McCarthyism at its finest, and Scott McClellan should apologize, and then resign if he has any honor.

Furthermore, the President himself should apologize, publicly, for such a statement being issued from his White House towards such a decorated, brave man. I'm insulted, as an American, that our President would allow such a statement to be made about John Murtha.

Let me say it one more time, so it's loud and fricking clear: DISSENT IS NOT UNAMERICAN OR UNPATRIOTIC!

Late update: I want to add Rep. Jean Schmidt to this list for directly calling Murtha a coward, and then not even having the guts to stand by her statement, which was clearly planned out, because the House would have censured her on the spot. How dare she. Oh, and let's add on Karl Rove too, because Newsweek's Howard Fineman has said that Rove is now looking to have an ethics investigation into Murtha because he spoke out. Let's hear it for McCarthyism, shall we?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bob Woodward

I'm not quite sure what to say here, because I'm not quite sure how I feel. Now that Bob Woodward has testified that he was one of the reporters involved in the Plamegate affair, and withheld that information for fear of subpoena and because he's a secret-keeper (look how long Deep Throat stayed secret), it's difficult to classify him now. Is he an access journalist, depending on being ingratiated with power to dig up a story? Why didn't he tell Len Downie, the Post's executive editor, considering that Ben Bradlee knew everything during Watergate? Has he gotten lazy, where he'd rather depend on insiders than digging up the whole story? What's the deal?

Woodward is an icon of journalism, and this revelation seems to have lessened his stature, sadly. He was first on Watergate, the Pelton-Walker spy rings, Iran-Contra, and during the Lewinsky scandal, he wrote some important stories. Now, since Bush came into power, he's become much more of an author of books than a reporter. He is working on his third book on this administration, more than he's ever done before.

I still respect him for all that he's done with his work, but I'm saddened at the way he attacked Pat Fitzgerald (which could be on principle) and how he made these attacks knowing that he had information relevant to the investigation Fitzgerald was conducting. It doesn't make sense. I hope he learns from this and cleans up his act. He's been too good of a reporter to let his career go downward from here.

On a side note, Joe DiGenova and the commentators saying Fitzgerald needs to drop the indictment and that Libby is bolstered by this are dead wrong. Fitzgerald said Libby was the first known official to leak to reporters about Plame, and Libby was indicted on obstruction and perjury charges. Libby still lied completely about his role in this matter, and he's guilty as hell. Case closed.

Chickenhawk patriotism

Let's do some compare and contrast, shall we?

President George W. Bush (Veterans Day): "While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began...The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."

Vice President Dick Cheney (yesterday): "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone. But we're not going to sit back and let them rewrite history."

Now, listen to Senator Chuck Hagel, R-NE (two days ago): "The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."

Hagel also said the administration is dividing the country with its rhetorical attacks on Democrats.

So, what's the difference?

Cheney: Five Vietnam deferments.
Bush: Dubious National Guard service.
Hagel: Vietnam combat veteran.

Which brings us to other prominent critics of this war policy.

John Kerry: Vietnam combat veteran.
Bob Kerrey: Vietnam combat veteran, lost part of a leg.
Max Cleland: Vietnam combat veteran, lost three limbs.
John McCain: Vietnam combat veteran, tortured for five years in Hanoi.

Notice that the critics who the President and Vice-President dare call unpatriotic are the ones who actually fought for this country. It disgusts me that patriotism gets defined in such a narrow-minded way. Patriotism means doing the right thing for your country, and calling out this administration on its awful handling of the war is the right thing for the country.

Back in 2003, I wrote a column (can't find the link) that defended dissenters in the war run-up, even though I was supporting the war. And yes, I'll admit that in 2002, I didn't believe going to Iraq was the right thing, but the administration persuaded me with the continued case they made, a case we know now to be quite misguided, lacking in facts, relying on theory and ideology.

So much has come out in the past few weeks to show that the administration lied (and yeah, I know that isn't a cautious stance) about oil policy, about Iraq, about the veracity of sources, and the list goes on. They are in a corner with the public, and so they are attacking the attackers, and getting help from people like Glenn Reynolds, who wrote, "The president should be attacking their patriotism. Because they're acting unpatriotically," or Bill Kristol, who wrote the "anti-American left" was way off base in their criticism.

Being in a war does not mean we should shut up. Whether we agree, disagree, or aren't sure of how we feel on the war, we all have a right to our opinion, and it is Orwellian to attack the honor, the patriotism, the love of country that critics have. Critics are sometimes the best friends you have, because they are trying to show that there are alternate ways of handling things. The left isn't anti-American, and neither is the right. Each side may have a different sort of love for the country, and different ideas of what America should be, but no one should doubt that any citizen of this great nation hates it unless they shout it from the rooftops that they hate America.

When we get into criticizing patriotism and ignoring the substance of the criticism, we lose all sight of what is really important here. We went into Iraq, we turned it upside down, and somehow, we have to guide them in to a safe landing, but it has to be on their terms, not ours. Ultimately, it's not democracy if we tell them what that is supposed to be. They have to figure it out on their own, much as our own forefathers did. This debate should be over the best policy, not staying a course that has proven to be ill-conceived. What we are doing now is not working. There has got to be a better way, and our Congress and the administration should be working on that, and not sniping about patriotism. Shame on the administration for making this about love of country. Shame on Congress for not being more engaged on this issue.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Veterans Day

Editor's note: This post was lost last night after being posted, so I am attempting a recreation of it. Anyone who read the original, forgive me if it's not the same.

So, on a day where we should be honoring our brave men and women in uniform, we are instead tearing down more civil liberties. The Senate passed an amendment to the defense spending bill that would ban detainees from using habeas corpus, a right the Supreme Court ruled last year the detainees had. Under this amendment, even Jose Padilla, an American citizen, can be held forever without trial, a clear violation of Sixth (correction from Eighth...thanks, Em) Amendment rights. We are seriously conniving at our own destruction. We have let fear create one of the worst curbings of our rights in history. Would any of these own congressmen waive their right to trial? Hell no. But for people we captured in combat, fighting without a nation, or Americans who allegedly consipired to commit terrorist acts, we've just said they don't have rights.

It has become quite evident that those in power in Washington, D.C. have forgotten what it is that makes America great. It is our respect for law, for individual rights, for a fair court process even for the worst of society that earned us respect and admiration worldwide. It is those things that allow us to be the greatest nation on earth. And because a group of fanatics managed to strike us here, on our territory, we have suddenly succumbed to fear. The only time that habeas corpus was suspended in our history was during the Civil War, when Lincoln made a decision that was tough, and only made that decision because our nation's survival was at stake. That is not the case here.

It's quite simple, really. The roles have reversed. The liberals now want government out of our lives, and the conservatives (not all, but most) are all for the government having the ability to poke and prod into anything they want, and want rights stripped from those accused of plotting terrorism. Keep in mind that even traitors such as Aldrich Ames and Ronald Pelton recieved a fair and speedy trial, but yet a terrorist, someone who has less ability to damage our nation than someone with vital information about our innermost secrets, is denied the right to trial.

It's clear to those who look at it in a clearminded way that the terrorists' real victory was not killing 3,000 Americans, but by putting fear into our lawmakers enough that they have slowly but surely began signing away our rights, eating away at the Bill of Rights to allegedly prevent more deaths. Is it really working? Is our safety worth the loss of liberty? I think not. Ben Franklin's adage that those who would trade their liberty for safety deserve neither rings true here. I would rather be free and dead than alive and living in an authoritarian society. That is the sad lesson of Veterans Day this year. The freedoms that our soldiers are fighting to win for Iraqis are the freedoms that our own government is stripping from us. The sacrifices of the soldiers in the Revolution are being lost to the fear of politicians today. How sad. How incredibly tragic. Remember this next year on Election Day.