Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cheney and the Secrecy Thing

I don't know why I haven't thought of it before.

It's simple, really.

When Cheney and Bush came to office one of the first moves they made was to decree by executive fiat that presidential records would no longer be available to historians and scholars after the end of a president's term in office - unless the president himself or his surviving heirs allow it.

Then there's Cheney's refusal to let anyone know exactly who he meets in the course of his daily duties, particularly the energy-sector cronies alongside whom he built his personal fortune and who crafted the nation's current policies on oil, and on energy in general.

The lofty reason for re-thinking the idea that the people are entitled to know what their elected officials are doing was this: "if I can't meet in secret with anyone I want, whenever I want, with the secret agenda I want, then the advice I would receive would be tainted by partisanship."

Cheney: 1
History: 0

The vice president has also famously claimed executive privilege as a reason for not complying with the Senate when it has requested - or subpoenaed - records.

But now it's a doozy. The vice president does not want historians or anyone else poring over his papers. The law clearly requires all executive-branch documents to be archived by the National Archives for posterity (if not for use at trial). Cheney's excuse - his rationale - his paranoid justification -is that - get this - he's not a part of the executive branch at all!

He's not in the cabinet, doesn't work for the president. Turns out, he is just the humble president of the Senate... not an executive branch official at all.

So naturally, the National Archives can't get their grubby, secrecy-thwarting, democracy-loving, dirty little hands on his noodling doodles.

Love to read his notes, wouldn't you?

But here's the simple redux: Why would someone be almost pathologically averse to being known, and to having his deeds known, not just by today's prying eyes, but the eyes of history?

The answer:

Because he's a crook.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Life, Pro - and Con -. Those Darn White House E-Mails

Mitt Romney and the anti-choice Right wingers have a problem, even if they don't realize it. Their problem is that their rhetoric about the protection of human life from its very inception butts up against common practices taking place nationwide - in Red states as well as Blue.

The problem is this: if destroying any human life at any stage of gestation is tantamount to murder, than any doctor or nurse who performs an abortion is a de facto murderer. He or she should obviously be arrested, tried, and, if found guilty, sentenced to an appropriate sentence for premeditated murder (In the pro-life state of Texas, national superstar in the game of executing its prisoners, the death penalty is a favored punishment. So much for pro-life).

Now, most Americans can wrap their brains around that idea; that if abortion law were reversed, performing one would once again be a crime. Fine.

But what about other human lives, the ones discarded by fertility clinics? It is common knowledge that when a woman seeks in vitro fertilization, multiple eggs are fertilized and frozen. One or more are implanted in the woman's uterus, and away goes the process of life. Leftover embryos are kept for a period of time and then discarded.

Put another way, hundreds of thousands of frozen babies are murdered each year.

Now, I don't have numbers to back me up, but common sense tells me that, while there are whole states or even regions of the U.S. where abortion is completely unavailable, fertility clinics abound in even the staunchest anti-choice environs.

The Republican problem is that, as their intolerance for abortion brings the nation closer and closer to illegalizing abortion once again, lots of other people who destroy human embryos in the process of fertility treatment must needs be redefined as murderers. Even keeping the embryos frozen could be seen as some type of kidnapping; should social service agencies therefore be tasked to investigate fertility clinics to ensure that babies (very tiny, frozen ones) are not abused, neglected?

If destroying an embryo or fetus is murder, then we're going to need lots and lots of jail space for all the fertility specialists and scientists, and childless women and couples will just have to do without babies. Who in his right mind would provide them with one?

Another word on the White House Email Scandal:

When I said, "keep an eye on those e-mails because they will be incendiary," or words to that effect, I underestimated Karl Rove's willingness to brazenly defy the law and stare down anyone who suggests consequences for breaking long-established rules and laws, including those protecting presidential records from destruction.

I should have known that a group of people who would lie about nonexistent threats to get us into a war from which we can never be extricated, then lie about those lies, then lie further about almost anything and everything, would do anything they felt like doing.

The Bush administration is a cadre of criminals. This is a fact, whether they ever get their due. From lying about WMDs and Saddam's involvement in 9-11, to outing a secret agent, to running secret prisons and torture facilities, to domestic warrantless spying... where will it end?

It will only end when the administration ends.

Will there be justice?

Anyone's guess. But if the missing ingredient is courage from the Left, I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

To Trust or Not To Trust: General David Petraeus

General Petraeus stood out early in the Iraq war because he seemed to understand the need for cooperation with locals, understanding of their customs, and the creation of meaningful programs which improve the lives of the citizens in his area of operation. Schools, sewage-treatment plants, that sort of thing. Medicine, dental care. You know, the stuff we used to export a lot of before we started exporting Bush-style Democracy in its unalloyed, pro-Halliburton, pro-mercenary, corporate form.

I liked him then and I think I still do.

But whether or not he can fix the mess made by the Bush administration's incompetence, their arrogance, and their stubborn, ideologically-based refusal to listen to experts from not only the reality-based community but from within their own party, remains to be seen.

As I said, I think General Petraeus may be, if not a good guy, at least a not-so-bad guy. Only time will tell.

But listen. He is starting to backtrack on his claims that we will know whether the escalation of the occupation is a success by September. Is this a genuine statement, that he needs more time? Or is he part of the "fifty years in Iraq" crowd, throwing meaningless sound bites out there for the mollification of those of us foolishly hoping to save lots of people from lots of death and suffering, and hoping to not bankrupt our nation fiscally and morally.

Petraeus has demonstrated that he has respect for the people he is (ahem) "liberating."

Is that enough?

Is Bush + Cheney + Rumsefeld - Petraeus a zero-sum game?