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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
a Word: Integrity
A question one must ask oneself is this: If President Gerald Ford, REPUBLICAN from Michigan, who dies yesterday at the age of 93, doesn't pardon the disgraced Richard M. Nixon inn 1975, what would have been the aftermath?
You can speculate that there would have been a lengthy trial with dozens, of not hundreds of witnesses parading back and forth from some courtroom somewhere; you could wonder how the House and Senate hearings, after the fact, of course, might have gone because we all know that both houses would have wanted their own moment to examine Nixon's Presidency of Paranoia. In any respect, one could certainly realize that the months following Nixon's resignation would have consisted of nothing but confusion and turmoil. Is it possible that many more would have gone to prison for their parts in the aftermath of a presidential investigation? You bet. Was it in the best interests of the nation? Only a different time-line would be able to tell.
President Ford also accomplished what three (really four) other presidents couldn't: He removed our troops from Vietnam. Today, all one has to do is look at the confusion and the anarchy which surrounded "the last helicopter out" scenario which followed the US withdrawal from the rooftops of the old US Embassy in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to worry about us pulling our troops out of Iraq too soon. But the truth is that President Ford realized that there was no winning in Vietnam in 1975, only death, death and more death. President Ford realized that our troops weren't there to win, but to keep a status quo that would only result in more loss of American lives that he must have considered to be unacceptable. He was right.
One wonders what a 2006 version of Gerald Ford would do in today's Vietnam, Iraq.
Conversely, one has to look at the Bush (43) presidency and ask similar questions: What would Vietnam have turned into had George W. Bush inherited it with a majority in both houses of congress? We know Bush's penchant for calling himself "A war president", but what would have happened of he was given the chance to become Nixon's successor? Would a President George W. Bush have the courage to end a bad war that was none of his doing? If he had a Vice President like he has today in Dick Cheney, would he have been able to remove troops knowing that their involvement meant more money and power to for war profiteers? Could George W. Bush have ordered the removal of all US troops from Vietnam?
I doubt it.
"a man of highest integrity,"
-President Jimmy Carter, Ford's opponent and replacement, regarding and in respect of President Ford
"Gerald Ford brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility,"
-President Bill and Senator Hillary Clinton
I believe that a man with the integrity of Gerald Ford would end today's debacle in Iraq. In much the same manner, I believe that if George W. Bush had been president in 1975, the war in Vietnam would have escalated. I believe that war would have been spun even worse than LBJ or Richard Nixon could have spun it. American lives, like today, would have taken a back seat to war profits and, by its end the death toll would have been well in excess of 150,000 American troops and countless Vietnamese lives.
Today we look at getting out of Iraq so they can start a healing process that would include rebuilding their infrastructure and the lives of her citizens. It won't happen under a Bush (43) presidency, or any of the other REPUBLICANS who follow the Bush "Stay the Course" philosophy.
As a fifteen year old in a time where we all worried that the draft was coming back, I can say that I was happy that Vietnam ended when it did. As the father of a fourteen year old boy, I can say that I wish we has a Gerald Ford as president today.
"With his quiet integrity, common sense and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency,"
-President George W. Bush, today, eulogizing President Ford
"In that troubled era, America needed strength, wisdom, and good judgment, and those qualities came to us in the person of Gerald R. Ford. When he left office, he had restored public trust in the presidency, and the nation once again looked to the future with confidence and faith."
-Cheney, Ford's former Chief of Staff
Ironic words from the men who have destroyed that public trust and confidence. With almost everything they do, Bush and Cheney have done everything in their power to achieve exactly the opposite.
Integrity seems to be the one word which everyone, Republican or Democrat, uses in their description of Jerry Ford, the man and the politician. It would be a nice word to hear used, with real conviction, in Washington, DC again today.
The current debate about a US invasion of Iran and or Syria has taken a bit of the luster off the Christmas season. GW Bush, who campaigned for President as a uniter and not a divider has divided us during the season of peace with discussion of yet another optional war. Ironically, one of the GOP rationales for invading Iraq was that the Saddam Hussein regime threatened its neighbors with military force.
Is the American population really capable of breaking its word and doing exactly what it said it was trying to prevent?
This is an instance that calls for reasoned dialog and discussion at the grass roots level. American peace activists should seek out people who are concerned about our security and prone to support the administration and talk to them. There is no need to rehash past mistakes or to call people names or reproach them. Remind them that they supported the Administration for principled and worthy reasons and remind them of the promises they made to the rest of us when they advocated military action.
And particularly remind them of their promises to bring peace and prosperity to the Persian Gulf region. Challenge them as to whether a wider war and invasion of Iran supports their goal and whether it is a feasible response to events.
My experience is that this sort of reasoned and non-threatening dialogue has changed many minds. Bush is currently seeking to shore up his support among conservative Democrats and security minded moderates.
His political offensive is weak and so far ineffective. The President's December 20 press conference was a disaster. Its time of day and the day on which he chose to speak guaranteed low public exposure to his remarks. It was all but invisible.
If the President was using the press conference to communicate with the American people, and there is no reason to think otherwise, he failed. This is a stark contrast with the media savvy and effectiveness that Bush has displayed in the past.
Clearly, the strains of the office are affecting his judgment and he is losing even his undisputed qualities of strength.
If Bush is losing his media savvy what does he have left? Clearly his political judgment, strategic thinking, and administrative abilities are questionable if not downright mediocre.
If we on the left can avoid shrill invective and talk calmly and persuasively to moderates and conservatives instead, we can certainly isolate Bush further. The effect of isolating Bush will be to change the political dynamics. Such a change in the political dynamics will make congressional oversight for war operations stronger.
Isolating Bush will assist in moving resources away from war related activities and toward other national goals in the appropriations process.
Isolating Bush will help us reverse the infringements of the Constitution and erosion of American liberty that have been enacted at the Administration's behest.
Isolating Bush will help reverse the Administration's policies of torture and mistreatment of men interned by the military in war zones.
Isolating Bush will strengthen the elements of the GOP that oppose the war.
Isolating Bush will strengthen the moderates in both parties and advance the national healing that is necessary after the divisiveness and polarity fostered by the divide and conquer governing strategy of the Bush Administration.
Most of all, isolating Bush will bring people who are willing to work for peace with justice- replacing than those calling for sacrifice toward false victory- to the forefront.
With the final word on Al Franken and Michael Moore, Billie M. Spaight writes:
All I said was that their sarcasm would do well against the neocons. I like both Al Franken and Michael Moore. I read MAD all the time. In some earlier version of Madman we were asked for ideas to counterpunch the neocons. Franken and Moore are witty. I don't know where the disconnect happened but my response was taken out of the context it was in.
In response to, "In other words, NO MORE LOBBYING. A bribe is a bribe is a bribe, no matter what you call it. The elimination of lobbyists is the only way to make government fair to all," Robert Chapman writes:
While I can empathize and respect the sense of outrage with the 109th and other Congresses that leads to the sort of sentiment stated above, I cannot entertain it as a serious proposal. The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to petition the Congress, lobbying is the professional and organized petitioning of the Congress.
The malodor that the Abramoff and other scandals has brought to Congress is overwhelming. But it is still important to remember how singular and corrupt Abramoff and DeLay are.
-DeLay tinkered with the post-Watergate financial reforms until he was able to lawfully solicit and control vast sums of money.
-DeLay distributed this money to members of the GOP House caucus to encourage their loyalty.
-DeLay bought the votes of his caucus members to consolidate his personal power and advance his allies.
-DeLay's protestations of conservative purity should be anathema to any principled conservative.
If the conservative movement is unable to denounce the corrupt and self-serving DeLay, they deserve nothing but ridicule and contempt.
Mrs. Pelosi, the incoming Speaker of the House has advocated the institution of an Ethics Committee that would be independent of Congress and that would have the power to promulgate and enforce a code of ethics for the Members.
The importance of this undertaking is hard to overstate.
Just as DeLay was able to cloak his corruption with the cloak of lawfulness by simply changing the law, the House of Representatives as a whole has suffered because it has often confounded ethical impropriety with partisanship.
The new ethics committee should have powerful work groups to examine both lobbying and campaign finance. The ethics committee should deliberate in a transparent and publicly accessible way and take testimony from members of the public advocates of public ethics, and yes, even lobbyists to devise ethical, fair and morally upright ways for the House to do the people's business.
I suggest that lobbyists be included in the discussions because the complexity of business and technology require that experts from the field under consideration be available to advise the members of Congress in their deliberations. Legislation written without this sort of expert testimony will very likely be faulty.
Thanks to Mrs. Pelosi, we may soon have a forum for an informed and serious debate on Congressional ethics.
We should take advantage of this opportunity and make this an opportunity to set forth a historically significant canon of legislative ethics.
Take the money out of Lobbying - making it legalized bribery - and I'm with you, Robert. -NG
In response to, "Such comments suggest that the two people in charge of this country are not living in denial but detachment. They must realize that Iraq is a mess perhaps beyond remedy. But that doesn't seem to affect them. How can that be?" Rhian writes:
All they're doing is the old bait and switch. Throw some American kids into harms way for trumped up reason in Iraq, and while everyone is diverted, sign secret agreements and treaties to create the North American Union, subverting the United States of America.
Try to turn port operations over to as many foreigners as possible. Buck all attempts by anyone to enforce border security. You know, stuff like that.
Bush and Cheney are not at all detached. They are determined to yank Constitutional law and rights establish the NWO.
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