Phone messages from crazy people

I was out this morning getting my oil changed — and learning that it will cost almost $2,000 to fix my car from its recent run-in with a low post.  When I got home, I found an interesting message on my answering machine.

It’s the recorded voice of Dennis Kucinich begging me to “Press 1 now” on my phone to be added to the “growing list” of people calling for George Bush’s impeachment.  I don’t know how to tell Kucinich this, but George Bush is leaving office, with or without impeachment, in six months.

Impeachment is, in any event, a dumb idea.  Even though Clinton used the White House as his own private cat house, committed perjury himself, and encouraged others to lie as well, I thought the impeachment against him was vindictive politics that would backfire.  I think the same holds true in this tit-for-tat attempt to dislodge Bush, or just to humiliate him, with the end of his presidency drawing near.

It’s also unusually stupid — and this is saying a lot even for Kucinich — considering the potential fall-out here.  Clinton’s crimes were his own.  In this case, however, any Democrat calling for impeachment should consider the number of Congress people (Democrats included) who had possession of precisely the same information as George Bush, and who were as gung-ho for war as he was.  Any attack on Bush is necessarily going to create a wide-ranging defense that attacks a whole bunch of Congress people as well.  (You know, thinking about it, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?)

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

After seeing the insanity unfold before his eyes, a visiting law professor felt compelled to say this:

“I am really astonished at the mood in this room,” commented one witness, George Mason University School of Law professor Jeremy Rabkin.

“The tone of these deliberations is slightly demented,” Rabkin said. “You should all remind yourselves that the rest of the country is not necessarily in this same bubble in which people think it is reasonable to describe the president as if he were Caligula.”

Where was he?  A netroots (or do I mean nutroots?) convention?  A Truthers’ gathering?  A San Francisco party?  A Berkeley tree sit-in?

Nope.  None of the above.

Our professor was sitting at House Judiciary Committee hearing, listening to Democratic Congresspeople and their friends vent their spleen at President Bush.  It wasn’t an impeachment — the Dems aren’t that stupid — but it was almost worse, because it had the trappings of a kangaroo court with the President being tried in absentia:

Leading the way was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the former Democratic presidential candidate who has brought repeated impeachment resolutions on the House floor against Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Kucinich got a rock star welcome of whistles, hoots and clapping as he walked into the hearing room, holding hands with his wife, from hundreds of anti-war, anti-Bush people crammed into the room and lining the hallways outside. T-shirts reading “Arrest Bush” and “Veterans for Impeachment” illustrated the sentiments of many.

“The decision before us is whether to demand accountability for one of the gravest injustices imaginable,” Kucinich testified, avoiding use of the “I” word.

[snip]

“To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing,” said committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., pointing out the less incendiary title of the event, “executive power and its constitutional limitations.”

Still, Conyers, a vocal opponent of Bush, noted that his panel had pursued many issues that Kucinich and others regard as impeachable offenses: manipulating intelligence about Iraq; misusing authority with regard to torture, detention and rendition; politicizing the Justice Department and retaliating against critics, as in the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame.

[snip]

“The rules of the House prevent me or any witness from utilizing familiar terms,” Kucinich said. “But we can put two and two together in our minds.”

Former Los Angeles County Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, known for his prosecution of Charles Manson in 1970, acknowledged that “I am forbidden from accusing him of a crime, or even any dishonorable conduct” under House rules. But he could still encourage people to read his book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., was less circumspect in asserting that Bush was “the worst president that our nation has ever suffered.”

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., concluded that “this is the most impeachable administration in the history of America because of the way that it has clearly violated the law.”

Unsurprisingly, the only sane words in this gravitas-free mad house that emanated from an actual elected figure were those voiced by a Republican:

“It seems that we are hosting an anger management class,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the committee’s senior Republican. “This hearing will not cause us to impeach the president; it will only serve to impeach Congress’s credibility.”

Why am I not surprised?

Yesterday, Drudge had a headline that said something along the lines of:  “98% of historians judge Bush’s presidency a failure.”  I didn’t bother to check out the article.  It didn’t matter to me whether someone polled 10 historians or 1000.  I still knew with pretty good certainty a few underlying facts:  if they’re historians for poll purposes, that means they’re university professors; and if they’re university professors, that means they’re in the Liberal Arts department; and if they’re in the Liberal Arts department, it means that they’re at least moderate Dems and, more likely, far Left Dems.  Polling them is as useful as walking into MoveOn.org headquarters and asking precisely the same questions.

This morning, W”B”S sent me a link to an IBD editorial that makes the same point I instinctively make, as well as more substantive points about the impossibility of asking “historians” to make a rational call about current events when the dust hasn’t even settled yet. With regard to the latter, IBD has this to say:

The professors’ political bias has blinded them to reality. They formed their opinions around an axis of nonsense: Bush’s invasion of Iraq, his “tax breaks for the rich,” and the alienation of many nations around the world. Let’s take their arguments one at a time.

• It’s far too early to deem the Iraq invasion a failure. In terms of military achievement, it ranks as one of the greatest in modern history. In a matter of weeks a dangerous dictator was toppled, his regime ousted, his military routed and an oppressed people freed.

Since then, thousands of terrorists have been denied their chance to strike America because the U.S. military has eliminated them.

The cleanup has been messy. But unless the U.S. loses its resolve, a stable, U.S.-friendly representative government is likely to emerge in a strongly anti-American region dominated by despotic regimes.

• “Tax breaks for the rich” is the big lie come alive. Under the Bush tax cuts, 25 million Americans at the bottom half of the income scale have been wiped off the federal income tax rolls.

And the rich? The federal tax burden of the top 1% of earners has gone from 19% under Jimmy Carter (in 1980) to 39.4%. Meanwhile, the bottom 50% paid 3.1% of taxes in 2005. In 1995, they paid 4.6%.

• Since Bush has been in office, pro-Americans have been elected to lead Germany (Angela Merkel), France (Nicolas Sarkozy), Italy (Silvio Berlusconi) and Canada (Stephen Harper). Both Britain and Australia remain close to the U.S. though both are under governments less pro-American than their predecessors. Who’s been alienated? Iran, which has been at war with the U.S. for nearly 20 years?

History professors need to stick to teaching history. They seem to be seeing the unfolding of events through a cloudy lens.

We’re winning, if only Congress would realize it

Michael Yon, who appropriately boasts that he is probably the most experienced reporter in Iraq, reminds us that Congress must stop obsessing about the past in Iraq and must approach Iraq as a winnable situation. He begins by detailing the enormous strides — both practical and “hearts and mind” stuff — that Americans have accomplished in Iraq:

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about “GoArmy.com.”

The problem as he sees it (and I agree, as I’ve said before), isn’t what’s on the ground in Iraq, it’s what’s going on in Congress. There, the Democrats are determined to destroy George Bush, even if it means taking the whole US down with him, and the Republicans are desperate to pander to anyone with a shrill complaint. The result, of course, is that they’re legislating as if it’s 2005, not 2008:

Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier’s money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are “rented” is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington’s men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.

Equally misguided were some senators’ attempts to use Gen. Petraeus’s statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers’ achievements as “merely” military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni “awakening” was not primarily a military event any more than it was “bribery.” It was a political event with enormous military benefits.

The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big “kinetic” military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.

The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.

We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can’t do it from inside a jet or a tank.

As for me, I’ve sent this article to my Senators and my Representative. They’re all radical Democrats, so I doubt it will change their rigid, hate-filled little minds one bit, but it can’t hurt and there’s a smidgen of a chance that it might open their minds to the facts on the ground.

By the way, if you want a sense of how far the “lose at any cost” Left is willing to go, check out this American Thinker post about the attacks on General Petraeus for wearing tacky medals.  And Representative Jackie Speier, armed with an almost complete absence of useful information, didn’t even wait until her new seat was warmed up to leap into the lunatic anti-War sphere.  It must be interesting living in a factual vacuum.  I wonder if, eventually, your head explodes.

Post Traumatic Bush Derangement Syndrome

It’s becoming increasingly clear that John McCain is going to have to cope with something I call PT-BDS — or Post Traumatic Bush Derangement Syndrome. Let me explain and, as is so often the case with my explanations, let me start with a personal anecdote.

I’m visiting with the in-laws right now (hence the sporadic blogging). It’s quite a nice visit. We’re in a lovely American city, the children had a rapturous reunion with their cousins, and I’ve had a stimulating time with my in-laws, all of whom have moved right, just as I have. Indeed, poor Mr. Bookworm is the only hold-out. He feels that the family is betraying decades of committed liberalism (not the mention the New York Times), and is putting up a heavy rearguard action to defend his belief that “Bush is the worst president ever” (or, BITWPE).

Things got difficult for him though when talk rolled around to the upcoming elections. He conceded that he thought Obama would be a disaster and that he couldn’t vote for him. He also admitted that he hated Hillary and wouldn’t vote for her. But, he said, he couldn’t vote Republican. Why not, we all asked? Because, he said, “Bush is the worst president ever.” Had you been in the kitchen at that moment, you would have heard nine adults say in perfect harmony and synchronization: “But Bush isn’t running for President.”

Mr. Bookworm acknowledged this fact, just as he acknowledged that McCain is an entirely different personality from Mr. Bush.  In my conversations with him, Mr. Bookworm has also admitted that McCain is not a Bush crony, and that he agrees with a lot of McCain’s politics. Still, Mr. Bookworm just can’t get passed the “BITWPE” problem.

It would be easy enough to say that Mr. Bookworm is just stubborn, which he is, if it weren’t for the fact that my mother is exactly the same. She agrees that there is a war of civilizations going on, and that the Democrats are ignoring it. She agrees that Obama is scary and Hillary awful. She agrees that illegal immigration is a problem. She recognizes that identity politics and political correctness are divisive and are weakening America. But she can’t vote Republican. Why not? She can’t stand Bush’s smirk. Point out to her that Bush and Cheney are not running for office, and she tells you she doesn’t care. She just can’t vote for Bush.

PTBDS has potentially far-reaching effects, effects that go beyond my neurotic, retro-Progressive family members.  In writing about the “country in the wrong direction” poll that just came out with a devastating 81% unhappiness rate (although Democrats were overpolled and Republicans unpolled), Rick Moran pointed out the problem this poll poses for McCain and the Republicans:

This is not good news for John McCain and the GOP. People who think the country is headed in the wrong direction rarely vote for the incumbent party. However, in this case, the Democrats may have something to worry about as well. Approval ratings for Congress are worse than they are for the incumbent Republican president. But people tend to punish the party of the president during general elections than they do the party in control of Congress which is more common in off year contests.

McCain’s challenge is to distance himself just enough from Bush that he stands on his own two feet while not alienating Mr. Bush’s core 30% support among Republicans. It is a balancing act that many in the past have failed to do (see Al Gore) but will be necessary if McCain wishes to avl\d a backlash against the party of Bush among the general public.

In a normal world, one could deal with the revulsion felt towards the incumbent administration during an economic downturn simply by pointing out the obvious,which is that no one from the Bush administration is running for President.  However, in this election, conservative Democrats — who ought to be a swing vote — dislike the man with such fervor, they can’t be reasoned with.  For them, Bush and the Republican party have become fused into a single entity, making it impossible for them to view any Republican candidate objectively.  They’ve been so deeply traumatized by the Bush presidency that even the letter “R” after someone’s name causes frightening flashbacks, with avoidance the only option.

I just hope that all of these PTBDS sufferers are able to overcome their phobias and realize that, if as I believe is the case, Obama becomes the Democratic candidate, their Post-Traumatic Obama suffering will dwarf anything George Bush sent their way.

Liberals and Iraq

While I worked on an appellate brief last night, Mr. Bookworm watched Frontline’s Bush’s War. I was not surprised to learn that it characterized the Bush administration as not only profoundly stupid, but also deviously Machiavellian, with Bush in charge, except that he’s so stupid that he is actually manipulated by the evil Cheney.  At least, that’s what Mr. Bookworm told me.  The bottom line, as my very upset husband said, was that the “worst presidency in history” used all its fatal flaws to get us into Iraq.

I didn’t feel like debating the merits. First, I hadn’t watched the show. Second, it was impossible for me to amass all the necessary facts. I would have also gotten stuck in the morass of conceding that the Bush administration definitely made mistakes.  This concession would have led into an extended discussion about the fact that, in all wars, the good, winning side makes devastatingly bad mistakes because in war you use the information you have, not the information you will have when the dust clears.

Instead, I put the matter differently: “Accepting everything as true, what would you do now? For good or bad, we’re in Iraq now.” Interestingly, Mr. Bookworm refused to engage, falling back on harping on the evils of the Bush administration and its bad decision making. “Yes,” I said. “But that’s the past. We’re in Iraq now. Bush and his whole team are leaving office in January 2009. What would you do?” The only answer I got back was “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Mr. Bookworm’s preference for wallowing in the past and his unwillingness to deal with present realities is hardly surprising. In his world — the New York Times, the New Yorker, NPR, PBS — only the past gets discussed. To the extent that there is an Iraq plan, it can be summarized in one phrase: “Get out.” Of course, smart liberals, and my husband is very smart, know that “Get out” is neither an operational plan, nor a good one.

Equally unsurprising is the fact that Barack Obama, a man who is rather strikingly uninformed about foreign affairs given the fact that he has voluntarily plunged into the center of political life during time of war, has exactly the same attitude. He too never looks beyond the liberal media world and, while perfectly ready to spell out the Bush administration’s past failures, is incapable of dealing with the current reality, which is that we’re in war in Iraq. The best he can do is misrepresent John McCain’s statement that American interests are best protected by a continuing American presence in Iraq, just as we have a continuing American presence in former hot spots such as Germany, Japan and Korea.

John Fund highlights only the most recent example of Obama’s almost frightening lack of vision and knowledge when it comes to foreign policy:

This week, Mr. Obama stumbled again after he declared he wants to withdraw from Iraq but “leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy.”

John McCain quickly leaped on the notion of keeping a “strike force” in Iraq and noted it was in direct contradiction to previous Obama statements that he would fully withdraw almost all troops. Mr. McCain had a series of questions: “I think it might be appropriate to describe exactly what that means. Does that mean 100,000 troops? Where are they based? What is their mission?”

Given that the Progressives seem irrevocably tied to the past, whether it’s endlessly rehashing the Vietnam War or Bush’s mistakes in this War, this is not going to be the only time that Obama stumbles and tumbles into a debate with McCain that he can’t win. McCain may be the Old Dude, so old that he actually served in Vietnam, but when it comes to this War McCain resolutely faces the future. He’s actually thought about what’s going on now, and what America needs to do to best protect her troops and her national interests. As Fund says:

Look for an ongoing debate between the two men over just what presence in Iraq Mr. Obama envisions should he win the White House. Present evidence would indicate that both men see a substantial U.S. role in the country, but that Mr. McCain’s stated goal is to achieve victory and Mr. Obama has a far more muddled outcome in mind.

The Presidential campaign is going to prove that, when it comes to the Iraq War, you can run to the past, but you can’t hide there.  Unless Obama comes up with a real plan, recognizing the actual on-the-ground realities in Iraq, I suspect significant numbers of Americans are going to worry that, not only are the Democrats obsessed with the Vietnam War, they’re planning on repeating all of its worst mistakes.

A lyrical look at how progressives need George Bush

Over at the Paragraph Farmer, you can read an almost lyrical article examining the way in which Progressives desperately needed George Bush to give meaning and shape to their lives, and get a sense of the problems they’ll have when, as will inevitably happen in 2009, he leaves the political scene.  Here’s just a sample to whet your appetite:

Anger is the second stage on the continuum of response to trauma, and a textbook expression of that emotion was offered by the two towns in Vermont that voted earlier this month to indict the president on charges of “violating the Constitution.” While Green Mountain State activists high-five each other over pints of “Chunky Monkey” and “Cherry Garcia,” their allies in the mainstream media play a game of guilt by association, because the anger they feel toward President Bush often extends even to things that involve him only peripherally. For example, former newscaster Bree Walker makes her home in California, but bought property in Texas that used to belong to Cindy Sheehan, and promptly professed herself appalled by billboards that welcome people to Crawford by describing it as the “Hometown of President George W. Bush.”

Bushian influence is a pernicious thing to pundits of her ilk. Walker, not a Texas Ranger, now promises to “stand by with gallons of white paint and enough brushes and rollers for every man, woman and child who’ll join us in eradicating what the folks hereabouts may someday come to see as an obscenity and smear on the good name of Crawford.” If the townsfolk don’t rush to her paint brushes, Walker will probably trade Diet Dr. Pepper for a soft drink with no roots in the Lone Star State. As a subheading in Newsweek magazine recently screeched, “Texas produces more carbon emissions than most countries, but the state government and business community don’t seem too concerned.”

Autres temps, autres moeurs

I watched a pretty good movie last night, that was very pro-military; that showed the Iraqi military as being inefficient; and that showed Iraqis as being unbelievably brutal, both in terms of mob violence and in terms of the military’s and the secret police’s capacity for sadistic torture.  Surprisingly, it was made by the BBC.

Okay, now I’ll let you in on a few secrets to explain this weird anomaly, which has the BBC making a pro-military, anti-Iraqi movie.  It’s all in the timing.  The movie was Bravo Two Zero, and it was made in 1999 about an SAS unit that got trapped behind enemy lines during the first Gulf War, in 1991.  In other words, before fanatical Bush Derangement Syndrome took over the world, it was okay to concede that the Iraqis were capable of gross brutality and that Western military service could be carried out by honorable and humane men.

As it’s based on a true story, it’s a worthwhile movie for the Gitmo, waterboarding and Abu Ghraib crowd to watch, if only to get a sense of perspective.