He was “against this bullshit war from the very beginning.” Tonight, Hardball host Chris Matthews argued, “If you want America to be a hegemonic power in the Middle East, you’re out of step with the American people. We’re not going to fight it out with Iran for the next 30 years to see who the big shit — I’m sorry — the big name is on the block.” Watch it:
“The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to cut interest rates on some federal student loans Wednesday, passing the fifth of six bills Democratic leaders have promised to pass in their first 100 hours of making new laws.”
Today on Fox News, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said President Bush’s approach to the war in Iraq, particularly his recent speech, was “Lincolnesque.”
Fox Host Martha MacCallum asked Santorum what he thought of the criticism that President Bush “is just going his own way, not listening to the people, not listening to Congress.” Santorum responded, “Good for him.” Santorum also added that Bush understands, but most people aren’t aware, that we are already at war with Iran. Watch it:
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“Army Chief of Staff General Pete Schoomaker has told a key House panel that the president’s new plan for Iraq stands a ’50/50 chance’ of success, per one Republican and one Democratic source. Schoomaker appeared at a closed-door meeting of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to discuss military readiness.”
I can’t say that I really understand the man’s economic thought, but he had himself some damn good aphorisms. For example, compare Markos’ effort here (“Here’s my take on the whole matter — ‘intellectuals’ who’d rather read books and measure purity are next-to-useless. I prefer people of action, not of elitist academics”) to Marx’s brilliant original eleventh thesis on Feuerbach “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”
“Actor Michael J. Fox, a strong advocate for embryonic stem-cell research, will be attending President Bush’s State of the Union address next week at the invitation of Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin.” Langevin, the victim of an accidental shooting, has been confined to a wheelchair for most of his adult life. Last July, he gave an emotional speech on the House floor questioning why President Bush had vetoed legislation that might allow people with his injury to walk again.
The Sawicky doctrine of war-fighting:
. It should not be enough for some other nation to be an enemy, for it to have nuclear weapons, for it to be a tyranny, for there to be idle U.S. troops not engaged in some other war, for it to abuse its subjects or its neighbors, for it to be universally despised, for the U.N. to vote for its demise. My three exceptions would be 1) self-defense (in the face of an imminent, manifest, tangible threat, or act of aggression), naturally; 2) the threat of genocide, or 3) the near-guarantee of very great benefits at very low cost.
Here’s a question about this. If aggressive war is wrong (which clearly seems to be an underlying theme here), and wars of self-defense are justified, why isn’t it appropriate for a rich and powerful country like the United States to go to war in order to help defend a smaller, less-powerful country against acts of aggression committed by a third country? I’m not saying it’s always a good idea for the US to come to the defense of others, but the Sawicky Doctrine seems to hold that it’s always wrong to do this. Why would you think that?
UPDATE: In comments Max substantially concedes the point, “As long as that is what occurring, I don’t have a problem with that.” Obviously, the concept of defending others is open to abuse, particularly on the level of rhetoric. Then again, the concept of self-defense is likewise oft-abused in that virtually every war is soaked in the rhetoric of self-defense, often on absurdly far-fetched theories, but we still don’t abandon the concept. I should say that Max’s (2) strikes me as too lax in some ways and too strict in others.
The Interior Department inspector general has issued a report that finds “pervasive problems in the government’s program for ensuring that companies pay the royalties they owe on billions of dollars of oil and gas pumped on federal land and in coastal waters.” The report reveals top Interior Dept. officials knew about the problem for years, but refused to do anything about it.
In September 2006 testimony before the House Government Reform committee, Minerals Management Service (MMS) director Johnnie Burton told lawmakers she only learned of the issue last year:
“We are not sure what happened. We did look at it,” said Burton, who chalked up the error to a breakdown in communications at her agency. “What I wanted to know is if that miscommunication was intentional or not.” Burton said she didn’t learn of the error until this year. “I don’t think the ranks realized it was an issue they needed to tell me about,” she said. [AP, 9/14/06]
The IG report reveals a different story:
[I]nvestigators have unearthed a series of e-mail messages by officials working under Ms. Burton in March 2004. [...] Marshall Rose, chief economist for the Minerals Management Service, wrote the agency’s associate director at the time, Thomas Readinger, that the decision had to be made by the “directorate” — Ms. Burton and her top deputies.
Mr. Rose told Mr. Readinger that he believed the leases entitled companies to the incentive regardless of oil price levels, and that he had told his own subordinates that “you and the director were aware of the need to make a decision on this matter.” Mr. Readinger, who retired last year, responded to Mr. Rose a few hours later by writing, “Sounds like we have an answer. Let’s go with it.” According to the report, Mr. Readinger told investigators “he was sure” that he had discussed the issue with Ms. Burton.
When confronted with the emails, Burton claimed she “could not remember being told about the mistake three years ago.”
Tomorrow, the House will take up a bipartisan bill to fix the problem — The Clean Energy Act of 2007. The bill is “aimed at recouping lost royalties and stripping oil and gas companies of other tax incentives,” and would “shift $13 billion into a fund to promote energy efficiency and development of alternative and renewable energy sources.” Learn more about at the bill from our Kick the Oil Habit campaign.
The AP reports, “The Justice Department, easing a Bush administration policy, said Wednesday it has decided to give an independent body authority to monitor the government’s controversial domestic spying program.”
As a result of these orders, any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” [Alberto] Gonzales wrote [in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee], a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
“Accordingly, under these circumstances, the President has determined not to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program when the current authorization expires,” the attorney general wrote.
UPDATE: TPM Muckraker has the full letter.
At least one person in America was convinced by President Bush’s recent Iraq speech to support escalation. Prior to Bush’s address, Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Kit Bond (R-MO) said that he was opposed to an escalation of the war: “I have seen nothing so far that would push me to think a surge is a good idea.”
But today on the Senate floor, Bond said that he now supports Bush’s policy, calling it the “best available option.” Watch it:
On Jan. 11 — one day after Bush’s speech — Bond called escalation a “significant plan that is a much more promising way forward,” and said that the option of sending more troops to Iraq “should be on the table.”
Bond, evidently, was one of the only few convinced by Bush’s speech. ABC News noted that “rather than Bush bolstering public confidence, the national survey, conducted after his address to the nation on his new Iraq strategy, finds that a new high — 57 percent — think the United States is losing the war. Just 29 percent think it’s winning.” Just 36 percent of the American public said they support his plan to send more troops to Iraq.
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