Thursday, March 22, 2007

Unprepared and incompetent

Accountability is hell for this worst-of-all administrations.

The U.S. government was unprepared for the extensive nation-building required after it invaded Iraq, and at each juncture where it could have adjusted its efforts, it failed even to understand the problems it faced, according to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

In a stinging, wide-ranging assessment of U.S. reconstruction efforts, Stuart W. Bowen Jr. said that in the days after the invasion, the Defense Department had no strategy for restoring either government institutions or infrastructure. And in the years since, other agencies joined the effort without an overall plan and without a structure in place to organize and execute a task of such magnitude.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Purge scandal

The thing that is most striking about this U.S. Attorney Purge scandal is how it had nothing to do with “Democratic attacks” or “liberal media hype” as many conservatives are wont to allege. Instead, it was essentially a case of Republicans shooting themselves in the foot in their feverish rush to take partisan advantage of a juicy little nugget that had been slipped into the Patriot Act.
No president had ever before had the unrestricted power to appoint U.S. Attorneys without having to worry about making sure they will pass muster with the Senate. So in an excercise that has now come back to bite them in the ass, the Bush Justice Department set out to rank all 93 Bush-appointed U.S. Attorneys based on their loyalty and fealty to the Bush administration. Those who had shown too much independence by pursuing corruption investigations of Republicans or who failed to use their office to hound and harass local Democrats in their districts were marked for eventual ouster.
This presented immediate problems because they knew it wouldn’t look good if they cam right out and said they were firing the attorneys for political reasons. So they tried to claim it was for performance reasons only to have the affected attorneys object because of the stain that would place on their careers. Most weren’t willing to take that kind of a fall for the administration and they fought back. Democrats only got involved after the fight spilled over to a larger audience. Now the whole thing has erupted into a major scandal with Bush threatening to ignore Congressional supoenas for his top aides and a mysterious 18-day gap appearing in the flood of e-mails that the Justice Department was forced to turn over.
In the meantime, Alberto Gone-zales is toast just waiting to be cut loose once his replacement is found. Bush’s assurances that the attorney general has his full support reminds me of how the President lied when he said Donald Rumsfeld would remain his Secretary of Defense at the same time that they were flying Robert Gates to D.C. to be sworn in.

Four years and counting...

Some folks inherit
star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war.
And when you ask them,
"How much should we give?"
They only answer "More! More! More!"

Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival

We are asking our soldiers to fight and fight and fight in a “war” that has no end. The Bush administration never had a clear objective in mind beyond toppling Saddam Hussein and securing the Iraqi oil fields. Now they don’t know how to get us out of this quagmire and they are not sure that they want to.
There are some obvious political benefits for a Republican administration during wartime. They have an open checkbook for as much military spending as their hearts’ desire and they have a built-in excuse to ignore domestic issues like healthcare and the environment. The war also helps to overshadow and cover up a stagnant and flagging economy weighed down by the massive deficits that are being piled up due to the administration’s fiscal irresponsibility (i.e. cutting taxes when the funds are needed elsewhere).
The war helped cover up the many faults and weaknesses of the Bush presidency during the first term and helped him to squeak by for a second term.
But the 2006 midterms showed that the public’s patience is finally spent. Bush’s anemic approval ratings are dragging down his party and threatening to undermine Republican electoral hopes in 2008. Yet, for some reason Bush and company cannot bring themselves to admit error or to change course in any way in Iraq. When public sentiment clearly demanded an orderly withdrawal, Bush pressed ahead with a surge of more troops. And as before, there is no plan to ever allow the “surge” to recede. Bush will continue to demand “More! More! More!” from our soldiers until he is finally out of office. His legacy to our nation will be a thoroughly spent and exhausted military operation in the midst of a festering crisis.