Monthly archives: July, 2007

White House Fears Brits May Leave Iraq

New leadership in Great Britain has brought fresh thinking on Iraq, and the White House is worried.

It appears the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown may take his country in a different direction than his predecessor.  The London Times reports:

A SENIOR Downing Street aide has sounded out Washington on the possibility of an early British military withdrawal from Iraq.

Simon McDonald, the prime minister’s chief foreign policy adviser, left the impression that he was “doing the groundwork” for Gordon Brown, according to one of those he consulted.

While the British have not made any formal statements, discussion of withdrawal of military forces from Iraq within the UK on a level so close to the Prime Minister has the White House worried:

Behind the scenes, however, American officials are picking up what they believe are signals that a change of British policy on Iraq is imminent.

McDonald, a senior diplomat who formerly ran the Iraq desk at the Foreign Office, was in Washington this month to prepare for the summit. He asked a select group of US foreign policy experts what they believed the effect would be of a British pull-out from Iraq.

“The general feeling was that he was doing the groundwork for a Brown conversation,” said a source. Most of the experts felt it was a question of when, not if, Britain would leave.

The British feel they cannot fight two wars, and see Afghanistan  more worth a fight.  Could be an interesting week at Camp David.

G.O.P. Afraid of You(Tube)

Time Magazine is reporting that key G.O.P. presidential candidates are suddenly finding scheduling conflicts and other excuses to back out of the September 17 YouTube debate on CNN.  From Friday’s story in Time:

The Rudy Giuliani campaign has cited scheduling conflicts in saying it will skip the Republican version of this week’s Democratic debate, while Mitt Romney has mocked the seriousness of the questions and also seems likely to withdraw. John McCain, one of two candidates who had agreed to participate (Ron Paul is the other), has also expressed doubts about the Democratic debate’s level of decorum and aides say he may reconsider his commitment. Undeclared candidate Fred Thompson may still not officially be in the race by the event’s Sept. 17 airdate.

The Republicans’ sudden aversion has political observers wondering whether abandoning an opportunity to participate in the fledging format shows a potentially costly reluctance to engage with voters or is simply an exercise in prudent message management.

Are the Republicans afraid of facing real voters?  Skating through the presidential campaign while only answering carefully scripted, carefully crafted and negotiated questions in debates with  pre-screened audiences?

That seems likely, although the Republicans will try to spin this differently.

Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out

Shouting matches. Our top people in Iraq are negotiating via shouting matches.

This from the Telegraph in the UK:

Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general’s moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa’eda.

Apparently President Bush did intervene on at least one occasion. But, instead of telling Gen. Petraeus to watch himself, he warned Prime Minister Maliki to “calm down”.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general’s signature strategy to be scrapped. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias,” said the official. “Bush told Maliki to calm down.”

“Calm Down”

Yes, of course, “calm down.” Doesn’t Maliki have his own Crawford? Can’t he run to a ranch somewhere outside of Baghdad when things get rough? Has the President of the United States not yet advised Maliki to spend most of his term in office somewhere else, out of his office? Why didn’t Maliki think of that sooner? What a fool he’s been? “Calm down.” It’s so simple – the answer to a national crisis.

Maliki should follow the President’s advice. He should calm down. Better yet, he should declare war on a nation he doesn’t like. A small nation whose people he can easily dominate. Maybe he should just go after Qatar. Then, the Iraqi people would worry less about their own problems, and rally around the Iraqi flag as their soldiers march into this new country, welcomed as liberators and freedom fighters. Maliki could create a world-wide coalition to defeat this enemy.

And financing’s not a worry. The United States will just send more money so the Iraqi’s do not suffer an inordinate burden. After all, Maliki would not want to get tagged as the first leader since Saddam to actually require that Iraqi’s pay for their own college education! No, the United States will continue to pour in more money, and now that Saudi Arabia is on our side, Maliki would have nothing to worry about.

That’s the solution: Maliki should attack Qatar, take the Iraqi’s minds off their problems, Uncle Sam can finance it, and we can all, finally, “calm down.”

Obama v. Clinton: The Case of “He Said, She Said”

Oh, no. It was bound to happen. Here we are just taking ourselves a bit too seriously. Yes, it’s an election, but Hillary and Barack are having at it, tearing each other apart. Barack isn’t yet the seasoned campaigner Hillary Clinton is. He’s tremenous, don’t get me wrong, but he his competition caved in more ways than one on his way to the U.S. Senate.

This week was just all about poor manners, and an over-hyped exchange between the two Democratic powerhouses that left both sides looking weak. From the Washington Post:

A debate moment that might have quickly come and gone has erupted into the sharpest battle of the Democratic nominating contest, with Sen. Barack Obama yesterday comparing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s position on meeting with the leaders of hostile states to the adamant refusal of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

“You’ll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs,” Obama challenged reporters on a conference call, stoking a fire ignited four days earlier when both were asked how they would approach countries such as North Korea and Iran if elected president.

Clinton waited a few hours, then shot back. “Whatever happened to the politics of hope?” she said in an interview with CNN, sarcastically referring to the Obama campaign theme.

Yes, Obama pledged to “run a different kind of campaign.” And he did, up to now.

During his run for the Senate against Republican Jack Ryan, the word among campaign insiders is that Barack knew full well of the dirty laundry shared between Jack and former wife Jeri Ryan. To his credit, Barack did not use that information during his campaign. Yes, dirty laundry like this:

The court filings by Jeri Ryan revealed that she claimed that her husband had taken her to sex clubs in New Orleans, New York City, and Paris, where he had begged her to perform sex acts with him in front of other attendees of the clubs. Jeri Ryan described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.

Barack stayed away from that, and really did “run a different kind of campaign,” much to his credit. This time, everybody’s getting dirty. We really don’t want to see that happen again. I hope these two grow up and start acting like adults. We have too many spoiled children running around the White House right now. The Democrats need to step away from all that foolishness.

Should I Believe Gonzales, or the FBI?

It really looks like Gonzales’ world is collapsing around him, like that of so many, “Heck-Of-A-Job,” members of the “W.” Fan Club before him.  The man has no credibility left, and could not possibly inspire any sense of confidence in the office of the Attorney General.  From today’s Washington Post:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday contradicted the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration.

Mueller’s testimony appears to mark the first public confirmation from a Bush administration official that the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program was at issue in an unusual nighttime visit by Gonzales to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who was under sedation and recovering from surgery.

Imagine trying to use a doped-up John Ashcroft to get approval for a program.  Does anyone at all in the White House have any sense of ethics?

Where are all of the Republican’s who care so much about right and wrong?  Why be so silent?

I know, everyone and their grandmother wants to win the White House again, because, really, that’s all that matters.  So, line up behind St. Alberto and be silent.  We know your game.

All the while, we’re one step closer to Bush and Cheney.  The movement to impeach them is growing.

Pat Tillman May Have Been Murdered

Pat Tillman

What a chilling thought.

From the Associated Press:

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Time magazine is reports:

Congressional investigators told the White House on Tuesday that they intend to question several former Bush administration officials about their knowledge of Pat Tillman’s death, escalating their inquiry into the high-profile friendly fire case.

What an absolutely horrid, chilling thought.

No, I never served, and I do not understand what it is like to be over there. I want our young people home. All of them. Alive.

I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea that Pat Tillman may have been murdered.

I’m Kicking John McCain Off My Blog

Google Ads. Gotta love them!

Turning Left has been a low volume blog for the past few months. Now, however, it is really starting to take off. We have over 500 regular readers! We enjoy sharing our views, but the real key is when we all leave our computers, we must act. We must do. This cannot be the end of the story.

I place some Google Ads here to help pay for the site. That’s a no-brainer. But John McCain has been showing up of late! And I don’t want him here.

I know if someone clicks on his ad, they’re taking money from John. Pennies, but a few million pennies here, and a few million pennies there, and, before you know it, you’re talking about real money!

But I don’t want John McCain on my blog. So I’m booting his URL from my Google Adsense account. Not now, not today, never again.

Oh. And Ann Coulter too. Next time she shows up here, she’s history.

No, not the history she creates when she writes or speaks.

History as in gone.  Not here any more.  Somewhere else.

Contempt of Congress for Bush Aides

Just in from The Pittsburgh Channel:

The House Judiciary Committee voted contempt of Congress citations Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and President George W. Bush’s former legal counselor, Harriet Miers.

The 22-17 vote, which would sanction for pair for failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors, advanced the citation to the full House.A senior Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the House itself likely would take up the citations after Congress’ August recess. The official declined to speak on the record because no date had been set for the House vote

The rest of the story is here.

It’s about time.

Don’t Know Who Will Win, But These Dems Sound Like Fun

I don’t know who will win the next presidential election. Don’t waste my time with such trivia. Prefer to work my ass off up to and including election day, and then kick back with some friends, count the votes, and hope like Hell.

But these Democrats sound like fun.

What Republican presidential candidate would open his white-male-conservative-Christian self up to a wide-open debate as the Dems did tonight. From the Associated Press via Yahoo News:

“Wassup?” came the first question, from a voter named Zach, after another, named Chris, opened the CNN-YouTube debate with a barb aimed at the entire eight-candidate field: “Can you as politicians … actually answer questions rather than beat around the bush?”

The answer was a qualified yes. The candidates faced a slew of blunt questions — from earnest to the ridiculous — and, in many cases, responded in kind.

To Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois: Are you black enough? “You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan … in the past, I think I’ve given my credentials,” he replied.

To Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York: Are you feminine enough? “I couldn’t run as anything other than a woman,” she said.

Her answer drew a challenge from former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who said he was the best advocate for women among the contenders. “I have the strongest, boldest ideas,” he said.

Posing a question that few, if any, of the candidates had fielded before, one voter asked whether young women should register with the Selective Service, as do young men in case the draft is reinstated. Clinton, Obama and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said yes.

The debate featured questions submitted to the online video community YouTube and screened by the all-news cable TV network. A talking snowman, two rednecks and a woman speaking from her bathroom were among the odd, Internet-age twists to the oldest forum in politics — a debate.

A Clio, Mich., man named Jered asked about gun control while brandishing an automatic weapon.

“He needs help,” Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware snapped.

When was the last time a presidential candidate was forced to promise to work at minimum wage? That is effectively what happened when a voter asked whether the candidates would serve four years at $5.85 an hour rather than the president’s annual $400,000 salary.

“Sure,” replied Clinton.

Sounds like a blast. One of these guys or gals deserves to win just agreeing to this format. Contrast that with “W” and his staged town hall meetings and noticeable lack of press conferences.

Can’t wait ’till you’re gone, George. George? Sorry. Think I’ll call you, “Prezzy.” Can’t wait ’till you’re gone, Prezzy. This country is long overdue for a President.

Parents Guilty in Underage Drinking Tragedy

It was all too tempting to start this reflection with some quip, making light of the conviction of a Deerfield, Illinois, couple found guilty of allowing their son’s friends to drink in their basement one night last October. How easy it is sitting on this side of the monitor to mock, to ridicule, or to cry self-righteous.

One night last October

That’s when it happened. And I’ll bet everyone involved is crying to go back, to undo what was done, to bring back the two who were lost:

Killed were Daniel Bell of Bannockburn, and a passenger, Ross Trace of Riverwoods, both 18.

That’s the one line in tonight’s story in the Chicago Tribune that resonates more than any other on the page.

With my personal involvement with youth through the years, I’ve heard of too many incidents where young people report that parents buy alcohol sometimes for their parties. Or parents permit drinking in the house because, “they’re going to do it anyway, so they may as well do it here where we can watch them.” The so-called “chaperoned drinking” is the adults’ way of pretending that they actually still have some measure of control in the lives of their children.

Perhaps. The story gives the cold facts:

As the debate continues in courtrooms, at high schools and around kitchen tables across the country on who ultimately bears responsibility for underage drinking, a jury in Lake County weighed in with its own opinion Saturday, finding a Deerfield couple guilty of allowing their son’s friends to drink in their basement one night last October.

Two teenage guests were killed in a car crash shortly after leaving the Deerfield home of Jeffrey and Sara Hutsell. According to testimony given during the five-day trial against the couple last week, the 18-year-old driver had consumed alcohol at the party.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated seven hours before reaching its decision at about 7:40 p.m. They also convicted the Hutsells of one count of endangerment of a child and one count of obstruction of justice for lying to police officers on the night of the accident. The jury acquitted the couple of another obstruction charge for destroying evidence. The Hutsells showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

Perhaps it’s an admission they no longer have control. Or perhaps they just want to be their kids’ friends. I really don’t know. I can’t analyze. I don’t know them. Many were expecting prison time for the couple. “They” should be punished, after all.

We will preach and analyze and throw this headline around for a while. We will yell at our kids, stand on street corners, carry signs, cry, and get angry. We will talk about “those parents” who let kids do those things. We will want to even further tighten our absurdly punitive laws in Illinois even further, put “them” in prison, take away the kids’ driving licenses, do something more to convince ourselves that we’re really in control.

We’re so fucking good at punishment, after all. We must know what we’re doing. Look at all of our prisons. We can’t build them fast enough. And now we’re sending two more away. Good for us!

But in the midst of finger-pointing, in the midst of our tears for two young lives snuffed out “one night last October,” we need to simply pause and let it all sink in:

Killed were Daniel Bell of Bannockburn, and a passenger, Ross Trace of Riverwoods, both 18.

And that can’t be undone, ever. No matter how many people we put in prison. If the possibility of death from driving drunk doesn’t stop people from driving drunk, is more prison time going to do it? Will these convictions stop the next idiot parents from winking at the kids in the basement as they hide their beers, “checking on the party,” and then return upstairs?

No. Parents have been convicted before of such things.

So the real question is, how do we really prevent the next senseless deaths?