July 2007


Yesterday I published a funny post about the reasons NOT to impeach, but I think it is more important to look at all the reasons why congress SHOULD impeach Cheney and Bush.

Here is one person’s opinion:

King George W.: James Madison’s Nightmareby Robert Scheer[posted online on July 18, 2007]

George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the “foreign entanglements” that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the US Constitution.

With the “war on terror,” Bush has asserted the right of the president to wage war anywhere and for any length of time, at his whim, because the “terrorists” will always provide a convenient shadowy target.  Just the “continual warfare” that Madison warned of in justifying the primary role of Congress in initiating and continuing to finance a war–the very issue now at stake in Bush’s battle with Congress.

In his Political Observations, written years before he served as fourth president of the United States, Madison went on to underscore the dangers of an imperial presidency bloated by war fever. “In war,” Madison wrote in 1795, at a time when the young republic still faced its share of dangerous enemies, “the discretionary power of the Executive is extended … and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.”

How remarkably prescient of Madison to anticipate the specter of our current King George imperiously undermining Congress’ attempts to end the Iraq war. When the prime author of the US Constitution explained why that document grants Congress–not the president–the exclusive power to declare and fund wars, Madison wrote, “A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments.”

Because “[n]o nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” Madison urged that the constitutional separation of powers he had codified be respected. “The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war…the power of raising armies,” he wrote. “The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.”

That last sentence perfectly describes the threat of what President Dwight Eisenhower, 165 years later, would describe as the “military-industrial complex,” a permanent war economy feeding off a permanent state of insecurity. The collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the military profiteers and their handsomely rewarded cheerleaders in the government of a raison d’être for the massive war economy supposedly created in response to it. Fortunately for them, Bush found in the 9/11 attack an excuse to make war even more profitable and longer lasting. The Iraq war, which the president’s
9/11 Commission concluded never had anything to do with the terrorist
assault, nonetheless has transferred many hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars into the military economy. And when Congress seeks to exercise its power to control the budget, this president asserts that this will not govern his conduct of the war.

There never was a congressional declaration of war to cover the invasion of Iraq. Instead, President Bush acted under his claimed power as commander in chief, which the Supreme Court has held does allow him to respond to a “state of war” against the United States. That proviso was clearly a reference to surprise attacks or sudden emergencies.

The problem is that the “state of war” in question here was an Al-Qaida attack on the US that had nothing whatsoever to do with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Perhaps to spare Congress the embarrassment of formally declaring war against a nation that had not attacked America, Bush settled for a loosely worded resolution supporting his use of military power if Iraq failed to comply with UN mandates. This was justified by the White House as a means of strengthening the United Nations in holding Iraq accountable for its WMD arsenal, but as most of the world looked on in dismay, Bush invaded Iraq after U.N. inspectors on the ground discovered that Iraq had no WMD.

Bush betrayed Congress, which in turn betrayed the American people–just
as Madison feared when he wrote: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other.”

 

Mad Magazine– Reasons Not to Impeach & Convict President Bush


mad magazine Reasons Not to Impeach & Convict President Bush

  • It won’t bring Anna Nicole back to life, so why bother?
  • Chuck Norris is a loyal Bush supporter, and we all know what happens when Chuck Norris gets angry.
  • Because “President Cheney” is one of the signs of the apocalypse.
  • The only basis for impeachment is found in the Constitution, which was invalidated in 2002.
  • Impeachment hearings could preempt the reality shows America loves so much.
  • If Bush is removed, Air America hosts will lose their #1 topic, and the whole network will become irrelevant.
  • Hey, lay off the guy! Unless you’re poor, black, elderly, gay, female, middle class, or a veteran, what’s he ever done to you?
  • The last time we impeached a President, his poll number actually went up and his wife was elected to the Senate. Is that something we really want to see happen with this crowd?
  • An impeachment would be extremely divisive — and America must stand united, especially during times of illegal wars based on lies.
  • He did not allow Sanjaya to win American Idol under his watch.
  • If he’s impeached, the terrorists win— or haven’t you been paying attention for the last six years?

(Thanks to Blue Dragon & his mom for sending it to me.)

Congratulations to Harry Reid and the democratic senators for finally standing up to the republicans.  Enjoy your pajama party!

Senate debating all night on Iraq


WASHINGTON
- Democrats steered the Senate into an attention-grabbing, all-night
session to dramatize opposition to the Iraq war but conceded they were
unlikely to gain the votes needed to advance troop withdrawal
legislation blocked by Republicans.

I had to read this one three times and ask my Army Sgt brother a bunch of questions before I really understood that this is NOT a good thing. Go read the whole article and then come back and I will show you what it really means.

Army orders 5,000 reservists to health ‘muster’

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, June 30, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is ordering 5,000 members of the Individual Ready Reserve to spend a day this summer at one of four U.S. reserve centers to update personal paperwork and take a medical and dental exam.

The one-day “muster” is a test of the Army’s recent efforts to straighten out the IRR system, which comprises about 78,000 soldiers who have left active duty or active Reserve service but still have time left on their contract, officials said.

The minimum military service obligation for enlisted personnel is eight years. Officers serve until they resign their commission.

The muster is a “test run” for a much larger project: bringing every member of the IRR in for a similar one-day program to ensure that the Army has up-to-date records on its members, Gall said in a telephone interview with Stars and Stripes Thursday.

This has nothing to do with records. They can get records on the phone or by mail or email. In fact, they have to have some of the records just to get the people to show up.

“The IRR pool is not in the kind of shape we would like it to be,” Gall said. “We’re trying to assure [ourselves] that we do have soldiers that are ready and willing to serve the country.”

The pilot muster, Gall said, “is the first step in trying to bring the program back in line to where to should have been” in the first place.

The Army allowed its IRR system to go fallow after its last major call-up of the reservists during the Gulf War.

Army regulations call for IRR members to update their records yearly, but many IRR members allowed that obligation to slide, to the point where “we probably haven’t heard from a preponderance of them over the years,” Gall said.

Why do you suppose the reservists let it slide?

The cracks in the IRR system were exposed after January 2004, when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld authorized the Army to tap the IRR to fill out units bound for Iraq.

The call-up has not been smooth sailing, Gall said.

“We have a call rate of four to one,” Gull said.

“That means if [commanders in Iraq] say they need 100 soldiers, we have to send 400 notifications out,” he said.

“That told us we had some problems,” Gull said.

The pilot muster will begin in mid-July and run through August.

IRR members who are ordered to report for this summer’s pilot program will go to one of four Reserve centers: Tacoma, Wash.; Fort Totten, N.Y.; Fort Meade, Md.; or Los Alamitos, Calif.

Do the reservists get to choose the day? What if they are not in the country?

The reservists will be paid $176 after they complete
the one-day process, which includes a medical checkup and dental X-rays, but no treatment for any problems that are diagnosed, Gall said.

The overall IRR muster will take six years, with funds for the project earmarked in the Army’s early budget plans through 2013, Gall said.

Is that for the people who are already in IRR or the ones who will be leaving active duty over the next six years?

I am not surprised that the Bush administration doesn’t care about the troops working in the heat. They don’t care about them at all. They’re sending some soldiers and marines for their fifth deployment. Here are a few examples from today’s news about how they are hurting the troops.

Iraqi Politicians Take August Off As US Soldiers Fight On

from the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday appeared resigned to the fact that the Iraqi parliament is going to take August off, even though it has just eight weeks to show progress on military, political and economic benchmarks prescribed by the United States.

“My understanding is at this juncture they’re going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

“You know, it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August,” he said, sympathetically.

Snow was reminded that U.S. troops will be continuing to fight throughout August in the heat.

“You know, that’s a good point,” Snow said. “And it’s 130 degrees for the Iraqi military.”

Last month, the Iraqi parliament decided to cancel at least the first month of a two-month summer vacation supposed to start on July 1, in order to take up legislation, including a new law governing the oil industry, on which the United States has been pressing for approval.

The White House and other top officials previously had worked to persuade the parliament to remain at work, saying it would send a bad signal if the Iraqi lawmakers went on vacation while U.S. troops were fighting and dying.

Snow said that a scheduled Sept. 15 progress report on by Gen. David Petraeus was important, yet said he also said that was not a deadline. He said progress can be made even if the parliament is not in session.

“You’re assuming that nothing is going on,” Snow said.

“Let’s also see what happens because quite often when parliaments do not meet, they are also continuing meetings on the side. And there will be progress, I’m sure on a number of fronts,” the spokesman said.

The Iraqi parliament’s vacation plans have been repeatedly criticized by U.S. lawmakers. But the U.S. Congress will be on vacation from Aug. 3 to Sept. 4, if it sticks to current plans.

The Congress itself has been criticized for how little it works.

On Thursday, the White House gave Congress a progress report that showed the Iraqi government was making unsatisfactory progress on many political and military milestones. At a news conference, President Bush defended the buildup of U.S. troops as well as his decisions on troop numbers earlier in the conflict.

Bush said that when he asked Gen. Tommy Franks, the Central Command chief during the initial invasion in March 2003, whether he had enough troops, Franks told him he did. Bush said he recalled sitting in a meeting downstairs at the White House asking each commander responsible for different aspects of the operations that led to toppling Saddam Hussein.

“I said to each one of them `Do you have what it takes? Are you satisfied with the strategy?’ And the answer was `Yes,’” Bush said.

Asked whether Bush was trying to blame Franks for the bad course of the war, Snow rose to defend Franks and said historians would have to judge the correctness of U.S. strategic military decisions.

“I think General Franks did a superb job,” Snow said.

I hope something comes of this story:

Reservist Tries to Stop 5th Deployment

BRIAN SKOLOFF

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Army Reserve Sgt. Erik Botta has been sent to Iraq three times and to Afghanistan once. He thinks that’s enough.

Botta wants a court to block the military’s plan to deploy him for a fifth time Sunday, most likely to Iraq. He isn’t against the war _ but he thinks he can serve his country better now by working for a defense contractor and pursuing his education.

“This has nothing to do with protest of the war … I have nothing but respect for the people on the ground,” Botta said Friday, one day after he filed his petition in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach. “But I feel I do need a fair decision and a fair review.”

Botta, 26, of Port St. Lucie, contends in his petition that the Army’s refusal to exempt him from deployment “constitutes unlawful custody.” Botta argues the Army did not consider the length and nature of his previous tours “to assure a sharing of exposure to the hazards of combat.”

He was granted an initial exemption last year, allowing him to pursue an electrical engineering degree at Palm Beach Community College and work as a senior technician on Blackhawk and Seahawk helicopters at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. But now his exemption has been denied.

Botta said he was shocked when he received notice of his latest deployment orders.

“My heart sank through the floor,” he said. “I’ve sacrificed all my time into this new life I have now.”

Botta enlisted in the Army Reserves in October 2000. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, he requested transfer to active duty, which was granted the next month, according to the petition.

Botta was deployed to Afghanistan for about seven months in 2002. He then had three deployments to Iraq _ about a month in 2003, three months in 2004 and 15 days later that year.

Army spokeswoman Maj. Cheryl Phillips noted that Army Reserve units deploy for 12 consecutive months, and that Botta had only accumulated about 10 nonconsecutive months of deployment. She also noted that Botta was under an eight-year service contract.

“The Army leadership acknowledges the hardships and sacrifices of our soldiers and their families and is aggressively pursuing means to lessen their strain,” Phillips wrote in an e-mail Friday. “We evaluate each request for deferment or exemption from mobilization independently to determine if a deployment will cause undue hardship for the soldier or the family.”

She said that out of 649 deployment delays requested by soldiers since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the Army has granted 561 or 87 percent. Of the 5,708 exemptions that have been requested, 2,983 or 54 percent have been granted.

Botta’s previous deployments in Iraq were as a communications specialist with the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and were shorter than most tours because they were “emergency deployments,” said his attorney, Mark Waple.

After his release from active duty on Oct. 30, 2004, Botta has not been required to participate in any training, he said.

Botta now wants a federal judge to stop his deployment. If a resolution is not reached, he said he will follow orders and deploy Sunday to Fort Jackson near Columbia, S.C.

Waple said the Army’s decision to redeploy Botta and to deny his request for exemption is arbitrary and goes against actions in similar cases where academic exemptions were granted.

“We’re just concerned that they’re granting these exemptions in some cases and denying them in others without any real meaningful methodology in making that decision,” Waple said.

Waple also noted that Congress requires the Defense Department to “take into consideration the reservist’s prior military service to be certain that there is uniform exposure among reservists to the hazards of combat and the Department of the Army has failed to do that in Sgt. Botta’s case.”

There was no immediate word as to when the court would take up the case.

But there is some good news:

New GOP bill challenges Bush Iraq policy

WASHINGTON – Two top Republicans cast aside President Bush’s pleas for patience on Iraq Friday and proposed legislation demanding a new strategy by mid-October to restrict the mission of U.S. troops.

Lady Bird Johnson in the wildflowers

LADY BIRD JOHNSON — 1912-2007

Former first lady and conservationist.

tanksIt is very wrong for the Pentagon to operate this way. It is wrong to the soldiers that work for them and to their families. Who is making a profit from this?

Pentagon criticized for armor contracts

By RICHARD LARDNERandANNE FLAHERTY

The Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding contracts for badly needed armored vehicles to companies that failed to deliver them on time, according to a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The June 27 report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, examined 15 contracts worth $2.2 billion awarded since 2000 to Force Protection Inc. and Armor Holdings Inc.

The contracts were issued without the normal competition for government work because the military determined these companies were the only ones capable of supplying the vehicles fast enough to meet the demands of deployed troops.

Yet the inspector general’s report concluded otherwise.

Overall, Force Protection of Ladson, S.C., received 11 contracts from the Army and Marine Corps worth $417 million for a variety of vehicles, including its Buffalo and Cougar mine-resistant trucks.

Force Protection failed to meet all delivery schedules, according to the report, and acquisition officials knew there were other manufacturers that might have supplied some of the vehicles in a more timely fashion. The report does not provide the names of those possible alternative sources.

Mike Aldrich, a Force Protection vice president, acknowledged the delays and said the problems were caused by an inability to get essential manufacturing materials.

The company’s production and delivery schedules have improved greatly in recent months, Aldrich added, noting that 100 of the Buffalo vehicles have been delivered.

“Government reports are largely written by lawyers and look intimidating when you pick them up,” Aldrich said. “But our vehicles perform well in theater and have saved the lives of troops.”

The inspector general’s report agreed that Force Protection’s vehicles have been of substantial value since they arrived.

The report, not yet publicly released, also criticizes the Army’s award of a $266 million contract for crew protection kits to Simula Aerospace and Defense Group, a subsidiary of Armor Holdings of Jacksonville, Fla.

Simula lacked the internal controls necessary to ensure delivery of the kits, which were needed to make military vehicles less vulnerable to roadside bombs and small-arms fire, according to the report.

The Army received kits “with missing and unusable components, which increased installation time and required additional reinspection of kits,” according to the report.

In describing the scope of the problem, the report said that some of the Simula kits delivered to the troops had two left doors, were missing side plates and contained brackets that needed re-welding.

Overall, the problems “resulted in increased risk to the lives of soldiers,” the report states.

Armor Holdings received three other contracts worth $1.5 billion for armored Humvees and armor kits to strengthen older-model vehicles.

Spokesman Michael Fox said the company had not seen the report and had no immediate comment.

The review was requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., in April 2006, after she learned the Pentagon was relying on just a few small companies to supply bomb-resistant vehicles to troops in Iraq.

With improvised explosive devices accounting for the majority of combat deaths and injuries, Slaughter said that strategy needed to be examined.

“It’s been business as usual,” Slaughter said Wednesday after reviewing the report. “The lives of our soldiers took a back seat to who got the contracts.”

Slaughter said the report raises more questions than answers and that she wants to know if the awards were the result of “influence peddling or insider connections.”

In written comments to the inspector general, the Marine Corps defended its acquisition decisions for the vehicles.

The armored vehicle contracts “were executed within the law, spirit and intent of the current acquisition rules and regulations,” according the comments.

In separate written comments, the Army did not object to the report’s findings.

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