Monday, July 25, 2005

What Bush Doesn't Know

The last paragraph in this article says it all. A missed opportunity to stop the insanity, and work with the rest of the world. We should have been totally united in our response. Instead, we played right into the hands of those who want to harm us. Bush and Company blew it!
Frank


July 25, 2005
What Bush Doesn't Know
By BOB HERBERT

I remember the arrogance that accompanied the "shock and awe" bombing campaign that kicked off the war in Iraq more than two years ago. The war was supposed to be quick and easy, a cakewalk. The enemy, we were told, would fold like a dinner napkin. And then, in the neoconservative fantasies of some of the crazier folks in the Bush crowd, the military would gear up for an invasion of Iran.

In one of the great deceptions in the history of American government, President Bush insisted to a nation traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks that the invasion of Iraq was crucial to the success of the so-called war on terror.

"Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror," said Mr. Bush in a speech in the fall of 2002 that was designed to drum up support for the invasion. "To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror."

In the speech, delivered in Cincinnati, Mr. Bush said of Iraq: "It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

I've always urged politicians to be careful what they wish for. The president got the war he wanted so badly. But he never understood an essential fact that Georges Clemenceau learned nearly a century ago - that "it is easier to make war than to make peace."

So where are we, now that the real world has intervened? The military is spinning its wheels in the tragic and expensive quagmire of Iraq and there is no end to the conflict in sight. A front-page story in The Times on Sunday said the insurgents "just keep getting stronger and stronger."

As for the fight against terror, the news runs the gamut from bad to horrible. The Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik in Egypt was traumatized by a series of early-morning terrorist blasts on Saturday. London is trembling from the terror attacks on its public transportation system that have claimed dozens of lives.

Here in New York, where the police have begun random searches of the backpacks and packages of subway riders, there is an odd feeling of resignation mixed with periodic bouts of dread, as transit riders struggle with the belief that some kind of attack is bound to happen here.

Interviews over the past few days have shown that subway riders in New York almost instinctively understand what the president does not - that the war in Iraq is not making us safer here at home.

"No, in fact I think it makes us less safe here," said Edmond Lee, a salesman who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "We went over there with no real plan. No real thinking about what we'd be able to do."

He said he was concerned that "what happened in the London Underground might happen here."

Memories of the destruction of the World Trade Center are still etched, as if with acid, in the minds of New Yorkers. Very few people are dovish when it comes to the war on terror. But Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is another matter.

"Our soldiers being over there make it worse here," said Michael Springfield, a 32-year-old engineer from Brooklyn.

One of the people encountered in the subway was Andy Dommen, a musician from Germany who was pushing a shopping cart filled with luggage. He made the fundamental distinction between Iraq and Al Qaeda and said the war in Iraq was a distraction that "was taking the public eye off" other important problems, namely the fight against terror.

"Messing up other countries," said Mr. Dommen, "doesn't make the world or America safer."

There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism. What was required in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was an intense, laserlike focus by America and its allies on Al Qaeda-type terrorism.

Instead, the Bush crowd saw its long dreamed of opportunity to impose its will on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the great tragedy of Sept. 11. Many thousands have paid a fearful price for that bit of ideological madness.


E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Brains....Turd Blossom

Here's a short biography of the man Bush calls "Turd Blossom" (an appropriate nickname). He helped in the right-wing take over of both the Presidency, and Congress. He is currently aiding in trying to take over the
Judicial branch of government. It is apparent that his main objective is to win at any cost.
Frank


The brains

He masterminded George Bush's transformation from boozing brat to national leader, and has been called the most powerful adviser in the White House. Now Karl Rove is in charge of the $150m campaign to re-elect Bush. Who is the man the president calls his 'boy genius'? By Julian Borger

Julian Borger
Tuesday March 9, 2004

Guardian

In the autumn election season of 1970, a cherubic, bespectacled teenager turned up at the Chicago campaign headquarters of Alan Dixon, a Democrat running for state treasurer in Illinois. No one paid the newcomer much attention when he arrived, or when he left soon afterwards. Nor did anyone in the office make the connection between the mystery volunteer and 1,000 invitations on campaign stationery that began circulating in Chicago's red-light district and soup kitchens, promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing" for all-comers at Dixon's headquarters.

As political dirty tricks go, it was minor league. Hundreds of the city's heavy drinkers and homeless turned up at a smart Dixon reception looking for free booze. Dixon was embarrassed but the plot failed to stop his momentum: he was elected state treasurer and went on to become a senator. But the teenager who stole his letterheads, Karl Rove, has gone even further.

Over the past week, Rove, now aged 53, has been in his White House office overseeing George Bush's $150m re-election strategy. The Bush camp was content to keep its powder dry while the Democrats were selecting their candidate, but now that John Kerry has been officially chosen, Republican campaigning proper has begun.

Steering it, and constantly at Bush's shoulder, is the president's "political adviser", Rove. The nerdy political brawler with only a secondary school education is now the man the president likes to call his "boy genius" - a testament to Rove's role in orchestrating Bush's rise from a feckless, hard-drinking politician's brat to Texas governor to president in barely a decade. And unlike other electoral svengalis who have gone before him, Rove has carried his power intact from the campaign bus to the White House.

"I think it's an enormous position of power, and it's hard to overstate. I think he's unique in the modern presidency," says Lou Dubose, a Texan journalist and Rove biographer. Rove's office is tight-lipped about the extent of his duties, but the few un-vetted memoirs to have escaped from this highly disciplined administration have all portrayed him as the single most powerful figure in it, with the (possible) exceptions of the president and vice-president.

"Karl is enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political adviser post near the Oval Office," John DiIulio, a former presidential adviser, wrote in a notoriously frank email to a journalist from Esquire magazine, after resigning in 2001. "Little happens on any issue without Karl's OK, and often he supplies such policy substance as the administration puts out."

Earlier this year, for instance, Paul O'Neill, Bush's former treasury secretary, gave an account of a pivotal cabinet meeting in late 2002 to discuss a second round of deep tax cuts, at which the president apparently had second thoughts about focusing so much of the benefits on the wealthy. "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?" Bush asks, according to O'Neill's account. Rove brings the president back in line, urging him to "stick to principle". Rove won the day, and O'Neill was forced out of the cabinet.

By his own account, Rove's sights are set even further into the future than Bush's re-election. He has spoken about strategic shifts of power that happen every so often in American history. The precedent he often refers to was set over a century ago by William McKinley, another Republican with brilliant advisers, who narrowly defeated a populist Democrat (William Jennings Bryan) in 1896 and established a Republican hegemony that lasted more than three decades.

The Republicans now control the presidency, the senate, and the house of representatives. Rove's task now is to consolidate that dominance of the White House and Capitol Hill and then use it to recast the Washington's third source of power, the supreme court, from its current cautious conservatism to a more red-blooded Republicanism.

To achieve that, Rove has to win the November elections for the Republicans. They have all the advantages of incumbency, but there is disillusion in the air over unemployment and the Iraq war, and a newly united Democratic party behind Kerry is making inroads in the polls. On the other hand, the Republicans have Rove, to whom no other campaign strategist comes close.

Rove prepared for the harder edges of US politics by surviving his youth. Born on Christmas Day 1950 in Denver, Colorado, he grew up in or near the Rockies, where his father worked as a geologist. On his 19th birthday, his father walked out on him. Soon afterwards, he found out that he was not his father after all, the news dropped into a dinner-table conversation by his aunt and uncle. Twelve years later, alone in Reno, his mother committed suicide.

At high school in Utah, Rove was known as a nerd and a motor-mouth, unpopular but irrepressibly opinionated. While his peers were fixated on girls he became obsessed with school politics, campaigning for student positions in a precocious jacket and tie. Although his parents were apolitical, he was a vocal Nixon supporter from the age of nine.

Like Dick Cheney, he avoided the Vietnam draft with a college deferment, but gave up his education to work on Republican campaigns, and never got a degree. He launched his political career by wresting control of the College Republicans, a radical group in the Nixon era. It was an unpleasant business. In an interesting precursor to the Florida battle 17 years later, Rove took on his opponent, Robert Edgeworth, principally on procedural grounds - challenging the credentials of every single Edgeworth delegate to the1973 College Republican convention and putting forward a rival delegate.

The aggressive tactics won the 22-year-old Rove a walk-on role in the Watergate saga that was consuming the nation. A report was published in the Washington Post on August 10, 1973, titled "[Republican party] Probes Official as Teacher of Tricks", gave an account, based on tape recordings, of how Rove and a colleague had been touring the country giving young Republicans political combat training, in which they recalled their feats of derring-do, such as Rove's Chicago heist at the Dixon headquarters.

At the time, Rove claimed the tape had been doctored to exclude a warning to the audience not to try to emulate any of his past misdeeds. Others present simply remember a caution not to get caught. The publicity forced the intervention of the Republican National Committee and its chairman, a former Texas congressman clinging on to his political career: George Herbert Walker Bush. After considering the case, Bush Sr took action. He drove Edgeworth out of the party on suspicion of having leaked the tapes, and hired Rove, bringing him to Washington.

The incident marked the genesis of the Rove-Bush axis and it was in Washington that Rove met the younger Bush. He fell, politically speaking, in love. "Huge amounts of charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma - you know, wow," Rove recalled years later. In 1977, Rove was sent to Texas, in theory to run a political action committee, but according to one Texan political consultant who knew him at the time, "It was really to baby-sit Bush back when Bush was drinking".

While doing that, Rove discovered his true calling. He set up a "direct mail" operation, Rove + Company [sic], pinpointing potential Republican voters and sending them fundraising or voter registration letters written specifically to appeal to the target audience.

At this time, he married Valerie Wainright, a wealthy Houston woman from the Bush social circle, but the marriage could not withstand his consuming preoccupation with politics.(He married his second wife, Darby, in 1986.)

Rove was in Texas at a turning point in its political history. The Democrats' hegemony, inherited from the civil war era, was crumbling, as the party moved to the left and Republican northerners moved into the state's city suburbs. Election by election, post by post, the Republicans began to take over the state, and Rove was there to help them.

The 1986 governor's race was a prime example. The contest between Rove's Republican client, Bill Clements, and the Democratic incumbent, Mark White, was neck and neck, when Rove announced he had found an electronic listening device in his office, and cried foul. The furore swung the election to Clements and to this day Texan Democrats are convinced Rove concocted the whole episode.

Eight years later, another Democrat, Anne Richards, occupied the governor's mansion, but Rove was promoting another Republican candidate, George W Bush. Governor Richards' advisers laughed openly at the challenge, but they were in for a shock. "We did not believe that Bush would be as disciplined as he was. He was extremely disciplined," recalls George Shipley, who was then Richards' campaign adviser. "Karl gave him 10 index cards and said, 'This is what you are going to say. Don't confuse yourself with the issues.' It's the model for the presidency."

In its last days, the 1994 campaign also turned nasty. Texan voters began receiving calls from "pollsters" asking questions such as: "Would you be more or less likely to vote for Governor Richards if you knew her staff is dominated by lesbians?" In the business, it is called "push-polling" and Shipley has no doubt who was behind it."Rove has used this kind of dirty tricks in every campaign he's ever run."

Only circumstantial evidence links Rove to the push-polling. In fact, his fingerprints have not been found on any dirty tricks since his College Republican days. Ray Sullivan, a political consultant who worked for Rove on a string of campaigns, argues that Rove is the target of "revisionist history" that portrays every low blow in every campaign to his orchestration. "He can be tough," Sullivan says, but insists he was always fair. "Politics in Texas is a contact sport. It is rough and tumble but those who cut corners and don't back up claims with facts don't last very long and Karl has lasted longer than anyone."

Last year, however, Rove's taste for personal politics entangled him in an extraordinary spy scandal. He is reported to have made calls to Washington journalists last July identifying a CIA undercover agent, Valerie Plame, who was married to Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had called into question the administration's claims about Iraq's alleged nuclear programme. Rove allegedly told the journalists that Plame was "fair game" because her husband had gone public with his criticism.

A grand jury is now investigating the leak of Plame's name, a federal felony. Rove has denied being its source, and Wilson believes now he may have tried to push the story only after her name had already been published. Rove has yet to appear before the grand jury, but he has retained an expensive Washington lawyer.

It is a dangerous moment for Rove, but he has escaped from a litany of political scandals unscathed, and even enhanced. Bush's other nickname for the Boy Genius is "Turd Blossom" - a Texanism for a flower that blooms from cattle excrement. This year, there should be ample opportunity for him to earn the title.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Answer Tips enabled....double click on any word

About Me

My photo

Native of the Philadelphia "Kensington and Alleganey" northeast area. I spent 4 years in the Air Force (Titan-II missles in Tuscon Arizona). I Am currently retired, and among other adventures I spent 28 years working for AT&T in Telecommunications. I've lived in Florida for 33 years....20 years in Hollywood Fla., and 13 years North Florida. I've been married 42 years, and am a proud father of three adult offspring. All of them contributing to society in a very useful and creative manner.