Army Col. Said Kill Iraqi Military-Age Males

American Army Colonel Michael Steele will not be allowed to give any more orders that kill innocent Iraq citizens.  One of the more sad and chilling aspects of the American invasion of Iraq, are the actions of soldiers such as Colonel Steele, which lead to reckless and unwarranted bloodshed in an already hell hole of a situation.   It was his orders and style of command that led to senseless and needless deaths of four Iraqi men.  In the end his actions led to his  reprimand last week, a weak response for his actions.

The most horrible part of this war for me is the never-ending scores of innocent citizens in Iraq who are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and meet a cruel end to their lives.  Four such men were on the outskirts of Baghdad when a group of American soldiers under the command of Steele initially captured the men, then released them, and finally shot them in an effort to stage an escape attempt. One of the Iraqi men shot and killed was 70 years old and unarmed.  The military investigation of this awful story goes to the heart of the rules of engagement that all soldiers are to follow on the battlefield.

Steele did not properly order his troops to distinguish combatants from noncombatants, in fact it is asserted that he led those under him to believe it not necessary to make that all important distinction.  Even more depressing and sad is that soldiers under Steele’s command have sworn that he told them to kill all Iraqi military-age males.  What a deplorable attitude.  How do we, as a society, create this type of person?

The character flaw of Colonel Steele, and those like him in the military, has long-term consequences for the path of American foreign policy.   The way that we are viewed in Iraq and throughout the Middle East on the basis of this war is something that Steele and other soldiers like him seem all to easily to forget.  Our ‘footprint’ in Iraq is a sad and shameful one.  I am sure that Steele has some convoluted way to explain the deaths, and might suggest that in war bad things happen.  While war is an unforgiving place, it is also true that some soldiers and in this case commanders, have severe character flaws that make them unfit to serve.

We can at least be assured that this reckless Colonel will not have a future in the United States military.  His role was featured in the book and movie ‘Black Hawk Down” but sadly it is his actions in the Iraq war that will best define him.

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I Will Really Listen Tuesday Night

I recall in the not so distant past that when Presidents found their domestic programs lagging and the economy floundering they sought refuge in foreign affairs.  When the depths of Watergate was strangling the oxygen from the Nixon Administration we watched our most interesting leader travel to Egypt in spite of a bad case of phlebitis.  With pain in his leg, and the Courts closing in, Nixon knew that foreign affairs was his safe port.  The trip provided a few greats pictures (really) with Sadat, but reality would win the day upon Nixon’s return to Washington.

Tuesday night by all accounts, America will see a reversal in that style of handling hard times for an American President.  Bush will address a Democratic Congress for the first time while the nation is mired in the carnage of Iraq.  His poll numbers are about as low as Nixon’s, but Bush has the advantage that many American’s still like him as a person.  So when Bush talks to our country tomorrow night it is reported that he will try to press domestic issues, and stress how a sense of camaraderie in Washington is all we need to move our country ahead.  It is reported that he will try to make the nation see that both Democrats and Republicans can unite for the larger goals of working on issues like immigrations and health care. 

Lord knows this is not only a laudable goal but also one that all Americans yearn for.  I will be listening hard, not so much as a partisan, but as an American.  If there is a way for compromise and consensus on the larger issues then both sides need to ante up and supply leadership for the nation.  If there is a way for Bush to stop the rhetorical bloodletting in Washington by taking the first steps towards a more open and even-handed approach to governance there might still be a chance for his Presidency to be revived.  It most likely will be his last good chance to save his Presidency.  If Democrats can support and work with him they must do so with all their energy. That will be good for President Bush and the Democrats, but it will be better for America.

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Political Junkies New Homepage

Coming To Your Computer January 23, 2007

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“I Don’t Think He Understands The World”

I have been accused of being too rough on President Bush.  I admit to having chided him for being uninformed, mentally lazy, and incurious.  I have laughed at his “reading” activity and his college writing.  But now a United States Senator has echoed what so many of us think and feel about our President.  The Senator has spoken the words I feel.

In a front-page article in Saturday’s New York Times the Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller, commented on the problem that Bush has in understanding the larger issues that confront the Middle East.  In doing so the Senator had a few comments on the President.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Rockefeller said.  “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world.  I don’t think he reads like he says he does.  Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.” 

Those are some very powerful thoughts from a powerful player in the new Senate. 

I, along with most Americans, want and need a President smarter than the average citizen.  Today we do not have that type of person in the White House.  Bush was crafty enough, rich enough, and brazen enough to win the national election.  Winning the White House however,  is far different from knowing the nuances of policy-making to insure a better America. 

Bush 43 will go down in history as a very shaky figure in our national story. He will be labeled as an anti-intellectual.  He may want us to think he is a man of letters…oh hell…I can’t even believe I am writing this.  If he were a reader he would not torture the English language in the way he does.  He would grasp the finer points in law and policy and understand the culture of other lands.

Lets face it, Senator Rockefeller called it correctly.

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David Blaska Nails Progressive Dane

If you live in Dane County, care about Madison politics, or talk with others who do, I am certain you have heard about the antics of Progressive Dane.  This tunnel vision group hijacked the local Democratic Party meeting recently and used their votes to swing city council endorsements for the upcoming spring elections.  They may feel pretty good right now, but a smack down is coming from the voters. 

This past week I voiced my view about the coup on this blog. The local blog world was ripe with posts, and I felt this was one of the better ones about the event.  

This afternoon while reading the Isthmus at a coffee shop I was delighted to spot this piece by David Blaska that hit the ball out of the ballpark.

(For my blog readers with a copy of the Isthmus please see page 8.)

As a proud liberal and Democrat I am most troubled with the lack of pragmatism and reality that surrounds Progressive Dane.  Blaska sums it up best by writing that the political group “demands totalitarian adherence to its one-size fits all approach.”  The method that this group chose in forcing itself into the Democratic meeting is proof positive that brash tactics are all they have to offer.  As Blaska notes the Democratic Party must drive this meddlesome group out of the party. 

There must be some Maoists in the city that PD can link up with……

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President Bush’s Trigger Finger

The United States Constitution was designed to provide limits on the federal government.  During the time of the writing of the famed document, and the ratification process, the citizens of the various states were deeply involved in the national debate that was raging.  Countless newspapers and tracts enlarged the discussion over what role any new federal government should have, and how much power each branch of the new system should be allowed to exercise.  The debate was hot, robust, and virtuous.

Yesterday Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, felt worried enough about the true power of the Presidency, and the trigger finger of President Bush, that he made a public statement about our Constitutional system.  “I’d like to be clear.  The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization,” Reid said. 

It was a direct statement to the heart of the matter.  President Bush has staunch neo-conservative thinkers that surround him, and encourage him to view the world as a slate that he can draw a new international order upon.   Bush is simple-minded enough to think that he can actually achieve this as evidenced by the debacle in Iraq.  Even when confronted with the glaring mistakes of his policy he has decided to do more of the same, while calling it a new strategy. 

With the saber rattling that is taking place once again by the Bush Administration over Iran the Senate Majority Leader decided a bold tough line in the sand had to be drawn.  The Founders of the nation, far from perfect, understood the reality of placing too much power in the executive branch of government.  The set of checks and balances that were designed serve a purpose and need to be respected and followed.  (I know, I know…why should President Bush start to adhere to the Constitution now?)

The President DOES NOT have the right to start a war, and DOES NEED to have an Act of Congress for such a policy.  The mindset of the Bush Administration has always been to have a powerful and far-reaching executive branch.  This is the time for Congress to rein in this idea, and force a Constitutional crisis, if need be.

Our nation needs to come alive with the hunger to better understand the powers that the President has, and does not have, and also ones that the Congress has the duty to uphold.  I think it mighty sad that far too many people graduate from high school with out any idea about what I am even talking about, and so that is why a national discussion needs to take place now.  It will do no good to have a national debate about what we should have known after Bush has started a military campaign in Iran.  And I firmly believe that Bush has every intention of not leaving office with Iran still building their nuclear bomb.

Senator Reid understands.  Do you?

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Freedom To Marry


The Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time

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Thank You Art Buchwald

Most of us, myself included, write words that seem never to take flight.  They may make a point, and even provoke, but they always lack the style we dream about. 

That was never the case for Art Buchwald.  He wrote with a flair that made the reader smile and chuckle even when the remarks might have been aimed at our favorite politician.  Buchwald, the longtime columnist died today at the age of 81.  His syndicated writings of satire and punch started with the Washington Post in 1962. 

His approach to his topics was much like his style of living; have fun with everything.  In his final years after suffering a stroke and feeling the effects of kidney problems he declined dialysis, but was still able to spend most of last summer at Martha’s Vineyard where we was able to be close to friends and wonderful conversations.

Buchwald will be missed because in this day and age of rancor in our politics he was able to make us know that it all can be reduced to a smile and a chuckle.  That is the proof that he was a gifted writer. He added a dash of spice to our politics.  Thanks Art!

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