S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, February 16, 2007

What can leaders do about our current president (OCP)?

Re the Bush administration - The spotlight today is on those leaders who: Challenge, Restrict, Vote, Defect, Audit, Criticize, Go to court, and Indict/try President Bush and the members of his administration. I am not a leader but, as a blogger, I can challenge, criticize, and vote. And I can also give credit. This post celebrates leaders who are behaving in courageous, gutsy, outspoken and firm ways to put the executive branch of our government back on the right track.
Challenged by Clinton and House Democrats - Senator Hillary Clinton has told OCP that he must get permission from Congress to go to war in Iran. And House Democrats are speaking out against OCP's war in Iraq. writes that "Democrats challenge Bush's power to wage war" (2/16/07), from which I quote the story highlights:
  • Democrats expect House to pass measure opposing troop increase Friday
  • Speaker Pelosi says Congress must authorize any invasion of Iran
  • Leading war critic wants to tie deployments to assurance of readiness
  • GOP combat veterans speak out against the Democratic resolution
Restrict/John Murtha- will propose legislation in the future that cleverly ties further funding of the war in Iraq to administration performance standards. Senator Reid is standing firm against the Senate Republicans who remain determined to coopt the Iraq war debate to 1) none at all, or 2) support(?) of the troops. On a more current note, Yahoo! News carried a story headlined, "Democrats step up pressure on Bush troop buildup." To quote,
Democrats stepped up pressure on Thursday for President George W. Bush to halt his Iraq troop buildup, and the president warned Congress against undercutting his military strategy.
Rep. John Murtha, a war critic who chairs the House of Representatives panel that oversees military spending, said he planned to restrict war funding in a way that would effectively stop the 21,500 U.S. troop buildup, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid scheduled a new vote to confront Bush over Iraq.

Vote/Harry Reid - Today and tomorrow will be marked by historic votes in Congress; today, in the House, tomorrow in the Senate. Majority Leader Reid has cleverly decided to let the Senate decide on Saturday whether or not to take up where the House leaves off, or continue to refuse to debate and vote. Yahoo! News reports that "US lawmakers set for historic vote against Bush's Iraq plan." I quote from the story, dated Feb. 16, 2007:
Democratic lawmakers will call a pivotal vote on a resolution repudiating President George W. Bush's decision to deploy more troops to Iraq, setting up a major showdown over US war policy.
The resolution is non-binding, but it would be the first time Congress votes against Bush's Iraq war policy since the March 2003 invasion and could pave the way for binding legislation on the conflict that has killed more than 3,100 US troops.

Defect/Republicans - Senators Hagel and Snowe are urging the Senate to cancel its planned recess and debate an Iraq war resolution. These and other Senate Republicans have had a terrible dilemma with all of this. A few, however, such as Senators Warner and Collins, are attempting to behave in a bipartisan manner. And today's House vote on a resolution against the planned "surge" by OCP, will see a "Broad Swath of GOP Defecting on Iraq Vote" headlines the Washington Post. Quote,
From the moderate suburbs of Delaware to the rural, conservative valleys of eastern Tennessee, House Republican opponents of President Bush's latest Iraq war plan cut across the GOP's ideological and regional spectrum.
Numbering a dozen or more, these House Republicans have emerged as some of the most prominent opponents of the plan to increase troop presence in Iraq. They admit to being a ragtag band, with no scheduled meetings and little political cohesion.

Audit/oversight - Among the most effective examples of leadership is the Congressional Democrats' holding of a wide variety of oversight hearings of the OCP and his administration. These hearings shed light on ineptitude, secrets, lies, mismanagement, etc. From Yahoo! News, for example, we see the headline, "Auditors: Billions squandered in Iraq." Quoting from the article,
About $10 billion has been squandered by the U.S. government on Iraq reconstruction aid because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses, and federal investigators warned Thursday that significantly more taxpayer money is at risk.
The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.

Criticize - For far too long the mainstream media has been too uncritical of OCP, the Republicans, and members of the Bush administration. But that is slowly changing. This opinion piece reflected a bit of what I was thinking as I watched the president's recent news conference. The headline,"A roll of the dice in a war gone awry," comes from The Seattle Times. To quote,
Watching President Bush's press conference earlier this week, our minds wandered. More words. We had heard them before. What drew our attention was the face. It was the face of a man with no confidence in what he was saying.
By sending more soldiers, the U.S. government could "help the Iraqis secure the capital." This, in turn, could provide "political breathing space" for Iraqi politicians to do the work of "reconciliation."
Those were the words. The quivering lip, the just-woke-up manner, the movement of the eyes, were saying something different. Here was a man who knew that the great gamble of his life had not paid off. He knew the people watching him knew it. He was proposing another roll of the dice at odds none too good, but that postponed admitting a major mistake.

Go to court, Indict & Try/Fitzgerald - Last year the current Bush administration was forced to change course several times via court decision, including unfavorable decisions by the Supreme Court. And a number of Congressional Republicans were convicted for lawbreaking. Unfortunately, few in the administration have been held legally accountable. The biggest exception is the "Scooter" Libby perjury trial. NYT headlined, "Libby’s Defense Rests Case in C.I.A. Leak Trial" regarding a story about legal ruling defeats. To quote,
The lawyers defending I. Lewis Libby Jr. against perjury charges rested their case today, but not before suffering a series of defeats in legal rulings by the presiding judge.
The judge, Reggie B. Walton, expressed in the strongest terms yet that he had been misled by the defense team about whether Mr. Libby would take the stand in his own defense.

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