Morning Report 1/30/06
Leaving Us Speechless
- "For those of you watching, we seem to have a mechanical flaw."
Unfortunately, that won't stop him from delivering the constitutionally mandated address Tuesday night.
Considering the state of siege he and his handlers find themselves in, the speech is likely to be much tamer than last year's. Doyle McManus gives an adequate analysis in this morning's Los Angeles Times, if you're interested. But I'd rather focus on the sneak preview the doofus POTUS gave us on January 26. Like this gem:
- I will tell you this, that after five years of war, there is a need to make sure that our troops are balanced properly, that threats are met with capability. And that's why we're transforming our military.
Yeah, as if he were stuffing geese into boxes to make paté, Bush is transforming our troops, one coffin at a time. Since he proclaimed "mission accomplished" on May 1, 2003, 2,096 soldiers have been killed in the Iraq debacle. That's as of 10 a.m. EST on January 27, according to the Pentagon's latest published casualty report.
For some reason, the Defense Department took time out last week from counting corpses to present its Medal for Distinguished Public Service to retired Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, saying that "as a result of his leadership, the United States remained prosperous and free." Those of you in the bottom 95 percent of Americans might want to take another slice of cake while you still can.
Bush himself gave the most ominous warning and, simultaneously, the best advice during his preview of tomorrow night's speech when he said:
- We're going to continue to lead the cause of freedom in the world. The only way to defeat a dark ideology is through the hopeful vision of human liberty.
Is anybody other than government spies listening?
You'd better be when Bush starts talking about his plans to keep picking your pocket. As he warned last week:
- Of course, we'll talk about fiscal policy in my State of the Union, talking about the Congress to be wise about how we spend the people's money and to make the tax cuts permanent.
The thought of those tax cuts for the wealthy becoming permanent just made the dark ideology seem even darker.
But not as immediately threatening as what's going on in the Middle East, where Hamas scored a stunning victory that is sure to mark a major change — one way or another — in what happens during the Israeli-Palestinian death dance.
One of the best sources to help you sort out the newly complicated Middle East is P.R. Kumaraswamy's sober analysis this morning in the excellent Power and Interest News Report. A professor who teaches Israeli politics in New Delhi, Kumaraswamy focuses on the realpolitik aspects the Palestinian election. Here's a passage:
- For one, the international community, including Israel, will have to come to terms with the election results. It is not possible for the outside world to ignore the choice of the Palestinian people.
At the same time, the will of the public also comes with a price. Palestinians who opted for Hamas cannot escape from the consequences of such a choice. Just as the international community will have to recognize the voice of the Palestinians, the latter will have to address the concerns of the wider world.
It is here that the Hamas victory might end up creating more problems for the Palestinians than for what they had bargained. If the outside world, especially Israel and its Western allies, were to accept Hamas as a negotiating partner, then the militant group will have to exhibit political maturity. It will have to move from being a militant group to a more political actor.
For more than a decade, Hamas built its reputation as a hardened opponent of Israel and the peace process. Its suicide attacks largely contributed to its popularity and success. It considers historic Palestine as Islamic property and hence is vehemently opposed to the existence of Israel. Many of the provisions of its charter call for the destruction of Israel. It will not be easy for Hamas to abandon its bloody past and present itself as Israel's negotiating partner. Sudden shifts would be domestically controversial and externally hollow.
Without clear signs of transformation, even the international community will not be able to convince Israel to negotiate with Hamas.
Unfortunately, Bush is completely in thrall to Israeli hard-liners. But not all Israelis — or all Jews — are hard-liners, despite the suppression in the U.S. press of news about Israel's vibrant peace movement. Check out this informative Q&A about Hamas from Jewish Voice for Peace. Here's an excerpt:
- Q: So is Hamas a terrorist group?
A: Yes. But many terrorist groups have become governments or taken leadership positions in governments in the past. That includes groups like the Irgun Z'vai Leumi and the Lochamei Herut Israel (LEHI or Stern Group), terrorist groups from the pre-state Yishuv, or Jewish settlement in Palestine. From the ranks of those groups came two Israeli Prime Ministers, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. Fatah, the party that had been in control of the Palestinian Authority, also had a long history of attacks against Israeli and other civilian and military targets. It is precisely the fact that Hamas has such a great involvement in the violence of the second Palestinian intifada that gives them much more ability than Fatah had to control that violence, if they wish to do so.
If Bush's handlers dare to have him bring up Hamas during his speech tomorrow night, the words will probably resemble these from his preview last week:
- … I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform. And I know you can't be a partner in peace if you have a — if your party has got an armed wing. The elections just took place. We will watch very carefully about the formation of the government. But I will continue to remind people about what I just said, that if your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you're not a partner in peace. And we're interested in peace.
Yeah? Prove it. Meanwhile, he and his handlers have a bigger problem: the mid-term elections in the U.S. later this year. While Saddam's trial collapses in chaos, the Enron trial begins this week, Dick Cheney's aide Scooter Libby is facing charges, and Wampumgate — the biggest D.C. scandal in generations — has yet to fully unfold. The government's spying on us, when we should be spying on our government. What will Bush say about all this? This is what he said during his January 26 preview:
- If there is corruption, I'm not surprised that people say, let's get rid of corruption. If government hadn't been responsive, I'm not the least bit surprised that people said, I want government to be responsive.
The best response would be to handcuff and jail a bevy of congressmen and White House aides. But the Democrats aren't likely to cooperate.
Hold those dark thoughts until tomorrow night.