Saturday, October 9

Pres Debate: Round 2

Presidential Debate Number 2

President Bush did an appreciable job of helping to erase the memory of his horrid performance from last week. He managed to get his talking points out and not be quite as strident and far more personable - which is his strength - particularly within the town hall format of the debate. He may even have managed to come across stronger on "style and demeaner" points than his opponent, Senator Kerry - but on issues of fact, I still think he still fell far short of the mark.

Bush continues to claim, despite the recent comprehensive reports that Saddam Hussein had no stockpiles of WMD's, had not been able to pursue aquiring new weapons while under sanctions, that the sanctions "didn't work", and that simply because Saddam wished he had them - which is frankly reasonable considering the growing threat of Iran - that he and his regime was the greatest imminent threat in the world to the United States.

It's the most rank case of "would'a, could'a, should'a" - with American soldiers, taxpayers and Iraqi civilians paying the highest toll - that I can even imagine.

If "wishes" were votes in Congress, I'm betting we wouldn't be at war right now.

For the most part, not too much new was covered on this debate on the foreign policy front. Lots of stump-speech golden oldies were trotted out for another lap around the electorate.

Bush still claims that direct ("bilateral") talks with North Korean will dismante the six-party talks to put pressure on them to halt their nuclear weapons program. For his part, Kerry after having mentioned that he would have both bilateral and multi-lateral talks in their first debate, failed to respond to Bush with the fact that China - according to news reports - has already attempted at least twice to have North Korean brought into the talks. In short, it seems that the country with the greatest leverage on North Korean seems to feel that can have both multi-lateral and bi-lateral talks, just as Kerry has claimed.

A missed oppurtunity by Kerry.

To his credit Kerry managed to not repeat the erroneous $200 Billion Iraq-War cost, unlike Edwards earlier in the week.

Bush continues to claim that Kerry has changed positions on Iraq, and it is quite disappointing that the news media seems completely taken in by this distortion of fact. On the Senate floor, Kerry stated his reservations about how we should proceed following the use of force authorization on day one, not later. Not when Howard Dean entered the contest, not in response to "political pressure". He said then, as he says now, that we needed to build the kind of coalition that President G.H.W. Bush did during the first Gulf War. A coalition that include Arab nations as well as European. We need the kind of coalition and overwhelming force that President Bill Clinton had when he bombed and invaded Kosovo - without suffering a single American casualty - the type of coalition that G.W.Bush utterly failed to build.

One of Bush's most effective claims IMO is that Kerry's ability to lead our troops and allies has been undercut by his statement that this is the "wrong war", by his statements belittling the 30 nation coalition that does exist, demeaning the contributions of the Iraqi forces and the making light of the political heat that Tony Blair has taken for his support of this war. But that belies the well documented sentiment of most our NATO allies, the Arab world, as well as the growing sentiment among our soldiers (shown by bloggers in the field such as The MY WAR Blog) who now *know* this is the wrong war, that there we're NO WMD's, no connection to Al Qaeda, no burgeoning nuclear program, and that this war has been fought from stem to stern with a faulty, overally idealogical, politically tinged strategy. Kerry did well to counter that six nations have dropped out of the coalition since it's formation - that it's getting weaker, not stronger. Contrary to Bush's claims I feel that Kerry's recognition that this effort was flawed is crucial in building the credibility with our NATO and Arab allies that is desperately needed to counter the anti-American sentiment that is driving the insurgency and growing worldwide terrorism.

Someone who recognizes that the current approach is broken is more likely get it fixed than the person who broke it in the first place and refuses to admit the problems.

One of Bush's strongest arguments for the Iraq War remains that "Democracy spreads freedom and security". This I think is demonstrably true, but only when that democracy has not been undermined and tainted by corruption, double-talk, false-promises and hidden agendas. Cynicism of American motives in this War has become overwhelming, and it's only thru a fresh start with a fresh administration that *some* of that cynicism can be repaired and the semblance of a true and stable democracy fostered in Iraq without continued internal strife and violence.

We don't need more "democracies" like the Shah of Iran, Marcos in Phillipines, or Pinoche in Chile.

On the domestic side, Bush continues to spin - painting Kerry as a typical "tax and spend" liberal. It's tired and lame rhetoric, which was used against Bill Clinton and failed then just as it deserves to fail now. Bill Clinton balanced the budget with a even-handed, yet progressive tax policy that increased revenues while bolstering the economy. Every Republican in Congress voted against it as a economy killer - but they were wrong. It's already been proven that this strategy works, whereas Bush's supply-side trickle-down theories have contined to produce a weak economy, lost jobs, an increasing income gap and a spiralling deficit.

Kerry proposes to do what has already been proven, not repeat what has continued to fail.

Kerry did well responding with passion to the stem-cell research issue on facts and presentation - but less well being empathetic on the partial-birth abortion issue. Here Bush was clearly effective in speaking to his base, who like him are quite emotional and commited to the issue - however Kerry's more nuanced position happens to be consistent the position of the Supreme Court who just recently struck down Bush's abortion-ban as unconstitutional as it failed to take into consideration the health and life of the mother. Time and time again, the hardcore "Pro-Lifers" show themselves to be completely indifferent to the life and health of pregnant women. They attempt to ban a proceedure whose primary purpose is to preserve life -- the life of the mother -- when the child's life has already been compromised and can not be saved. Apparently they and President Bush would prefer two deaths rather than one - simply to make a so-called "moral" point. The issue is devisive, but it's clear that if Bush ultimately had his way, and is able to adjust the Supreme Court accordingly, the women's right to abortion would evaporate and far more women (and children) would die and be at far greater health risks during pregnancy complications or illegal back-alley procedures.

Overall I thought that Senator Edwards has done a better job of defending Kerry's Senate record than Kerry himself has done. Bush again claimed that Kerry has voted to raise taxes over 90's times, to which Kerry didn't respond - but independant sources indicate that this double-counts some votes and even counts votes against Republican tax-cuts - leaving taxes the same as they were before - as tax *inceases*. During the Vice-Presidential debate Edwards pointed out that Kerry has voted in favor of tax cuts over 600 times. He pointed out that in contrast to Kerry being "anti-defense" - that he has voted for the largest increases in the defense and inteligence budgets in decades, and that then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was the one who recommended the defunding of dozens of weapons systems in 1991, not John Kerry - who has voted in favor 16 or the 19 Defense appropriation bills that have come before him.

Neither Kerry or Edwards has mentioned that the $7 Billion post trade-center intelligence cut that was supported by Kerry was in response to a scandal by a CIA subsidiary that was attempting to hoard funds for a Sattelite they never intended to launch. Kerry simply wanted the money back that was essentially being stolen by this agency. Another missed oppurtunity.

However last night, John Kerry finally gave the answer to the $87 Billion vote question that he needed to give. Bush has hammered him on this being a "flip-flop", regardless of his original statements to the Senate on this issue. Kerry at first responded with his stump-speech talking point "I made a mistake in how I talked about he vote...etc", but then went on to point out that his vote was a protest against the lack of adequate troop supplies in the bill, against the [$7.6 Billion] slush-fund for companies like Halliburton, and finally the fiscal irresponsibility of spending money on this war [without using our strongest allies, or utilizing the normal sources of additional support for reconstruction costs such as the World Bank ] with no plan to *pay* for what we we're spending.

In his response to the final question of the evening he correctly pointed out that we are the ones waging this war and *we* should pay for it, not our children.

IMO Advantage Kerry, but I suspect the media will continue to call it a "draw".

In next week's final debate, Kerry will need to *step up his game* or suffer the consequences.

Vyan

Friday, October 8

The Truth vs Cheney and Moore

I had not seen F9/11 in the theaters, my first time was after webought a copy and watched it immediately after the Cheney/Edwards debate. I've read the 9/11 Commission report and I do think Moore was a bit rough on the Saudi's.

The Saudi Royal family are our friends and are in a difficult position with much of there populace who support radical islamics. I personally doubt that Bush Co. used Sadam as a bait and switch simply to protect the Saudi Royals and their investments - I mean, the War does accomplish that and in the end that is probably good for America as the Saudi Royals do stand as a bulwark against a complete revolution inSaudi Arabia similar to the one which took place in Iran while the Shah was away. It's this type of democratic bulwark against terrorism that Bush Co. is trying to create in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(The problem is that it's clearly not working for Saudi Arabia so why should it work for Iraq? We are occupiers, just as Israel (the only other Arab democracy) are occupying the West Bank of Gaza - and it's pretty clear how that's helped the peace process isn't it?)

In begining section of the film, Moore is clearly speculating and he says so. He says that during the seven sad minutes - "Maybe he was thinking...?"

Well, maybe he thinking about his dogs and how he was really gonna do some real stump chopping when he got back to Crawford. Speculation of this type is often pointless, but unavoidable really. We do need to ask these questions, we're always going to wonder - but we have to admit even to ourselves when the answers don't come back the way we might like.

I don't think we invaded Iraq as a smoke screen to protect the Saudi royals, no matter how much money they've spent and continue to spend in America.

Then the movie switches gears and moves into the second half: Iraq.

The fact that the movie dramatically switches from 9/11 to Iraq isn'tMoore's fault. It's Bush's. Yesterday's announcement shows thatBush, Rumsfield, Cheney, Powell and Rice were all *completely* wrongabout WMD's.

Just as many, including myself, predicted over a year ago. Sadam gotrid of them because he's too smart to be caught red handed.

The second half of F/911 is better and I'm just starting to go overthe additional footage on the DVD. When I saw the scene where they talked about "Ali Baba having a hard-on" - I thought the guy was dead and it was just gallows humor, but a full viewing of the footage shows that this was the morning after a "raid" to capture possible insurgents and that guy was a detainee in the custody of U.S. Forces.

He was alive and awake.

Yes, he had a hard-on for whatever reason - and several soldiers reached down and touched him to "confirm it". In the muslim culture it is deeply humiliating to undergo this type of sexual contact with other males.

What all of us who watched that movie witnessed was sexual abuse.

And people wonder how Abu Ghraib happened?

At the end, the portions concerning the woman who lost her son in Iraq was heartwrenching - and that bitch (my opinion) who came up and claimed "This is STAGED" is just typical of the stupid knee-jerk cynicism we're fighting against.

Just like the Purple Heart band-aids.

For those who feel that the film was "disingenous" and that you're gonna vote for Bush because your outraged that Michael Moore got 6 or 7% wrong - or you got the impession that Saudi were flown out of the U.S. during the "No Fly" period (Moore never stated this in the film and in fact they left after the ban on air traffic had been lifted and Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke had received a clearance from the FBI) how about this disingenuousness from Dick Cheney...

"And I never met you before today, Mr Edwards..." He did.

"I never said there was connection between Sadam and 9/11..." He did.

"You should go to factcheck dot COM! and see that the Halliburton hasbeen cleared..." They have not been cleared.

Edwards for his part was wrong on a couple points during the debate. He again stated the incorrect $200 billion figure for moneys spent on the war on Iraq. Ironically, he stuck to that figure in a very "resolute" fashion even when corrected by Cheney.

Just go look at FactCheck.ORG! (Bwaa hahah)

But one thing is *not* wrong about was his and Kerry's position onthe authorization to use force in Iraq.

When voting for the resolution Kerry stated on the Senate Floor :(Oct. 9, 2002) Let there be no doubt or confusion about where westand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him(Saddam) by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as thePresident has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. waragainst Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateraleffort has not proven possible under any circumstances

When did the President promise to "exhaust all options"?

He did it in the resolution itself, which was written by the White House andwas unamended by Congress:Please note Section 2 on "Diplomatic Efforts", Section 3(b).1on "Presidential Determination" and Section 3 on "Reports toCongress".

-------------------------------------------------

107th CONGRESS
2d Session

H. J. RES. 114
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OCTOBER 2, 2002

Mr. HASTERT (for himself and Mr. GEPHARDT) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations

JOINT RESOLUTION
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677';

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,' and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688';

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge' posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,' while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable';

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq'.

SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS.

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

(1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

(2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection

(a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or

(B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

(c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.

(a) The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).

(b) To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.

(c) To the extent that the information required by section 3 of Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1.

Vyan