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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When the wrong people are in charge --

Leadership roles can be too easily bestowed on people that fail at the job. We have seen the awful consequences of this time and time again in recent years.

Bamboozlement -- We are seeing it now in the leader chosen by the Republican party to be its nominee. And it does not look good for the faithful. John McCain misspoke abut Iran and Al Qaeda, more than once. McCain had been making the same exact misstatement before minder, Senator Joe Lieberman whispered the correction in his ear. According to Glenn Greenwald's current piece at, there is an explanation and it is not good news for those planning to vote for the Republican Senator in November. To quote:

There are only two plausible possibilities which could account for McCain's false statements: (1) he was engaged in the standard tactic of war advocates -- perpetrated ever since 9/11 -- of just asserting that disparate (and even warring) Muslim factions are allies with one another in the Endless War without there being any evidence that this is so (Saddam loves Al Qaeda which loves Hezbollah which loves the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which loves Iran which loves the Taliban which loves Hamas which loves Osama bin Laden, etc. etc.), or (2) McCain is just completely ignorant of the most elementary facts about the region and the war in which the media has decreed him to be a Great Expert.

[Or]. . . McCain wasn't "misspeaking," but rather, deliberately repeating -- whether from ignorance or an intent to mislead -- a long-standing, now-discredited claim that neocons have been making for years.

Ineptitude -- The Department of Homeland Security, a huge and unwieldy bureaucracy, is led by a former U.S. attorney and Appeals Court Judge from New York, Michael Chertoff. Managing a staff of career prosecutors does not give one the kind of experience needed to head DHS. Chertoff's handling of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was not widely hailed. Secretary Chertoff, one of the Three Mikes (also, DNI Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden) the Bush administration, has much the same leadership style as the other two. It can be characterized as, "Just leave it up to us; we are the professionals." Congressional oversight is barely tolerated and the administration is the only entity that defines what is lawful. Firedoglake reports on an illustrative DHS data mining story that is about ineptitude at best and lawbreaking at worst (3/19/08). To quote:

The Department of Homeland Security just sent a report to Congress about its data mining activities. This is the third such report as required under Section 806 of the Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007.

Under the Act, DHS was compelled to go back and report on its data mining activities in 2006 and a previous report for data mining activities in 2007.

. . . Sigh. None of this actually surprised anyone here, did it?

DHS promises to go back and do the privacy assessments and to be good little boys and girls in future, but basically, this is Congress catching them red handed.

Conflicts of interest -- California Representative Jane Harmon has not always done well as a guardian of her constituents' civil liberties at the same time as she was representing them regarding national intelligence. After the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress, Harman lost what would have been the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee under Speaker Pelosi. I speculate that it was because of certain issues that might be illustrated by this story from TPM Muckraker. Representative Harman worked very hard to quash the New York Times revelation of the TSP, the administration's illegal wiretapping program, then did a flip-flop. "Key Dem Urged NYT Reporter against Running Warrantless Wiretapping Story," was written by Paul Kiel - March 19, 2008. To quote:

Harman did say in an appearance on Meet The Press in 2006, after the story broke, that she "deplored" the leak that led to the Times story. But she said that the president's public confirmation of the program's existence after the Times story had allowed her to consult with "constitutional experts, the former general counsel of the CIA, some of the excellent staff on the House Intelligence Committee." She continued: "then I learned, although I’m a trained lawyer, about some of the serious legal issues that I have been raising ever since."

Breaking public trust through factual inaccuracies -- Being one of the nation's leading news magazines for many decades implies that we can trust their owners and editors to tell us the truth. One of the most trusted of all has been Time, but now that may be unwarranted. The headline reads, "Time magazine invents facts to claim that Americans support Bush's domestic spying abuses" 3/17/08. The article is by Glenn Greenwald at To quote:

No matter how corrupt and sloppy the establishment press becomes, they always find a way to go lower. Time Magazine has just published what it purports to be a news article by Massimo Calabresi claiming that "nobody cares" about the countless abuses of spying powers by the Bush administration; that "Americans are ready to trade diminished privacy, and protection from search and seizure, in exchange for the promise of increased protection of their physical security"; and that the case against unchecked government surveillance powers "hasn't convinced the people." Not a single fact -- not one -- is cited to support these sweeping, false opinions.

Leadership roles should be bestowed on people who exhibit the opposite qualities to the above illustrations.We all will then see the positive consequences of leaders who are straightforward and honest, bright and capable, ethical and law-abiding, and appropriately open and transparent.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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