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March 30, 2007, 9:35 A.M.

On March 29 the U.S. Senate passed their version of a House bill on spending which contains a provision requiring the President to withdraw troops in 120 days. The bill passed the Senate on a new party line vote of 51-47. Of course, Bush has vowed to veto the bill.

The bill that he will veto is, however, a spending bill authorizing $122 billion gto pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The major difference between the Senate bill and the earlier version passed by the House is that the Senate version is non-binding on the issue of troop withdrawals, while the House version is binding.

It remains to be seen if the bills will come out of conference with the mandatory withdrawal language and I doubt that it will. President Bush does not enjoy the power of line item veto, so he must veto the entire bill, including the spending portion. It would be a lot to ask of Congress that it pass a bill that, when vetoed (not if, but when), will endanger ongoing operations.

Regardless of what eventually happens with this bill, it is significant that both houses of Congress have now voted to end the Iraq invasion and Bush still insists that we “stay the course.” Bush has all the political cover he could ever need, and he still persists in pressing his crusade in Iraq.

Incidentally, both New Hampshire Republican Senators voted against the bill.

March 26, 2007, 7:55 A.M.

Lying to Congress about the use of national security letters and the abuse of the civil rights of U.S. citizens ought to have cost Alberto Gonzales his job instantly. There is no acceptable explanation or reason for the top U.S. law enforcement official allowing criminal wiretaps, eavesdropping, illegal searches and detentions to be carried out against U.S. citizens. Regardless of whether or not he knew of these violations, and no matter how sorry he is, these violations of law occurred on his watch and Gonzales needs to go.

Certainly the politics surrounding the U.S. Attorneys stinks, and it signals a lack of respect and understanding of the office of Attorney General. Based on Gonzo’s e-mails to other Bush administration officials and Justice Department personnel, he knew that he would be a White House shill doing Karl Rove’s political dirty work over at Justice. Add to that the issue of national security letters and lying to Congress and Gonzales crosses the line from Quisling to criminal.

What is equally important is the complete lack of respect shown to Congress by Gonzales and the White House. Documents produced by the White House confirm that the Attorney General of the United States repeatedly lied to Congress about U.S. Attorney firings and about national security letters. That should get him a jail sentence, but instead it wins him the praise of a grateful White House. The fact is that the White House, and Bush in particular, continue to back Gonzales because in their eyes he did nothing wrong. He was simply implementing the grand strategy.

March 25, 2007, 9:35 P.M.

The U.S. Attorney firings were just another example of a press and presumably a population so obsessed with who killed the playboy bunny that they can’t be bothered when real issues surface. Without bloggers, that mess would have also gone quietly into the night. Thank you, Josh Marshall.

If I hear one more person tell me, in response to some criticism or other of Bush, about something Bill Clinton did, I will scream. Bill Clinton was a pig. Big deal. He was also a great President. He was not perfect and he made mistakes and misjudgments. His lies were about infidelity, not about war crimes. The magnitude of difference between Bill Clinton and his successor is so huge as to render any comparison laughable. Bush’s politics-uber-alles policy is a reflection of Rove’s strategy for winning long-term political domination in this country (see my previous article on the Rove doctrine). The cost to our system of government has been immense. In the stroke of a pen, the “Patriot” Act has wiped away years of law and precedent aimed at keeping government out of our affairs, has undermined our rights of privacy and has given the government power formerly only known in totalitarian systems. But we let it happen, and our corporate-controlled bottom line oriented press aided and abetted this tragedy.

This war in Iraq has got to end now. Likewise, this war on our constitutional rights here at home must end also. While you will continue to hear this sentiment expressed on these web pages, you will only hear them in the “mainstream” press when someone decides its good for the bottom line. Not a minute before.

March 25, 2007, 9:15 P.M.

Unless there is a major incident, involving multiple deaths, the mainstream press does not report the cost, in lives, of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even when we do hear of an incident involving U.S. deaths, we are rarely given a glimpse of the big picture. Even the relatively recent revelations about conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital did not touch on the nature, extent and number of U.S. wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that press coverage at U.S. bases (such as Dover Air Force Base) where the bodies of U.S. service personnel are returned to the U.S. is restricted only supports the illusion of a situation that is improving, or that the presence of U.S. troops is actually doing something to further U.S. interests in Iraq. While our government continues to mislead us from the real cost of a senseless, unwinnable war, the press acts as a facilitator or worse, as a co-conspirator.

The deaths of American service personnel should be part of this debate about this war, and that is not the case. I understand that the vast majority of deaths in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, are not U.S. citizens. However, the fact is that U.S. deaths have to be weighed against some measure of success. Of course, this task is made immensely more difficult by the failure of our government to articulate any attainable or even measurable benchmarks for defining success, and in its propensity (with the assistance of a complicit press) to shield the true cost in human lives lost and shattered, of this invasion and occupation.

The Bush administration is obviously intent on leaving this mess for the next President to clean up. The Congress is showing little or no sign of progress toward fixing the situation either. In the meantime, our national prestige plummets, our insecurity rises, and young boys and girls are being killed and maimed.

How can anyone with a brain and a conscience continue to support this fiasco of a government? How can we not see the Bushies for the base, criminal, powerhungry scoundrels that they are? They lied to get us into an invasion and occupation of a foreign country. They manipulated evidence to support their cause and they fiercely attacked anyone who dared to call them on it. All the while, the press danced to the political tune orchestrated by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and their understudy.

March 25, 2007, 8:40 P.M.

Being the mother of a 16 year old boy, I keep a close eye on the casualty count (icasualties.org). I am alarmed by this month’s tally (so far). A review of the U.S. Deaths By Month page on this website reveals that, with the exception of the March 2003 at the onset of the OIF campaign, the months of February/March have been the nadir each year in terms of U.S. casualties. I don’t know why. Every year the month of February or March has the lowest casualty count of the year: Feb 04: 20; Mar 05: 35; Mar 06: 31. Until this year. Today’s total for March 07 is 75 (and rising at the rate of a couple/day, and it rose by 5 just today). What is happening? What has changed?

Dianne Philpot

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