“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pelosi's Time Has Passed. She Will Not Recover.

Pelosi's judgment questioned over Armenia issue

By Susan Cornwell Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Nancy Pelosi's pledge of a new direction took a detour when she fumbled an Armenian genocide resolution and raised questions about her leadership as the highest ranking member of the U.S. Congress.

Pelosi, 67, speaker of the House of Representatives and next in line to the presidency after the vice president, swore she would push the controversial resolution to a vote, then blinked when some fellow Democrats withdrew their support in the face of furious reaction from Turkey.

President George W. Bush warned the symbolic resolution to affirm the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide would harm Washington's relations with Ankara. But as long as it looked like it would pass, Pelosi stuck to her guns.

When Democratic support started waning last week amid protests from NATO ally Turkey -- which denounced the measure as "insulting" and hinted at halting logistical support for the U.S. war effort in Iraq -- Pelosi wavered.

Critics say she miscalculated.

"It's certainly not her finest moment," said Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"There's been no great harm done, but we do have to find some ways to mend the U.S.-Turkish relationship."

Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed in World War One, but denies they were victims of a systematic genocide.

Pelosi took office amid much fanfare 10 months ago. She proposed "a new direction" for America and vowed to challenge Bush on a host of fronts, including the Iraq war.

Her stumble on the Armenia resolution gave Republican critics more ammunition.

They called the bill another "irresponsible" or "dangerous" foreign policy gambit by Pelosi, who flew to Syria last spring when the White House was not on speaking terms with Damascus.

Pelosi also has tried for months without success to defy Bush's policy on Iraq with legislation forcing a withdrawal of U.S. troops.


Even some of Pelosi's closest allies, like Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, say she misjudged the Armenian resolution.

Murtha, who opposes the measure on the grounds the United States doesn't have any "damn allies" and therefore needs to keep Turkey on its side, counted up to 60 Democratic votes against it and said it would fail if brought up.

Pelosi is one of several Californians in Congress with many Armenian-Americans in their districts. They have pushed similar proposals for years.

"She feels morally committed to this issue," said Murtha. "It's just, is it practical at this point to go forward with it?"

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich offered another excuse for Pelosi's misstep: she had too much on her plate.

This week House Democrats also tried and failed to override Bush's veto on a children's health program. A bill to revise rules for government eavesdropping on terrorism suspects had to be pulled from the floor at the last minute.

"The pace of this institution is not always conducive to a well-thought-out approach, to considering the consequences of a certain type of action," Kucinich said.

Pelosi still has not ruled out calling a full House vote on the Armenian resolution, which the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed on October 10.

Some conservative commentators suggested the genocide measure was part of a hidden Democratic agenda to undermine the Iraq war effort, but other analysts said that was unlikely.

"I think it's more domestic politics, playing to interest groups, than backdoor foreign policy," said George Washington University professor of international affairs Henry Nau.

"If members of Congress are plotting with interest groups to weaken Turkish support of U.S. policy in Iraq and thus undermine American forces in Iraq, the drama thickens beyond my capacity to comprehend," he said.


  1. Speaker Murtha?
    Speaker Rangel?

    Recover from what?
    There has been nothing that would cause her to bow out. Not a scandal, no payoffs or bribes.

    Just fulfillment, or the attempt to fulfill, campaign promises to her constituents.

    That she and her fellow travelers misjudged the Turkish reaction, that's just par for the course.

    If misjudging foreign leaders and their actions was an offense worthy of dismissal, Mr Bush would have been long gone, after looking into Mr Putin's eyes and judging his soul.

    Hope that the Congressional Dems do not bail on Ms Pelosi. Speaker Murtha, now that'd be a nightmare, not a cause for humorous posts and unflattering pictures of her in a headscarf.

  2. Speaker Waxman, or Kucinich?

    Better the incompetent Speaker we have, than breaking in a new one, one that may prove effective.

    The Turks reaction, that was informative, as Mr Murtha noted, we have no allies.
    With democracy flurishing in Poland, now they will be leaving Iraq, as well.

    Democracies do not vote for war.
    The corner stone of the Bush agenda, proved correct, again.

  3. The Poles will be tossing the spanner into the missle defense project now, too.

    Seems the payoff the old Government was happy with, that won't cut it with the new Prime Minister of Poland. He wants more stuff, Patriot missile batteries and the like. Or we can take our techmology and hit the highway.

    Tusk argues Poland has not gotten enough from its close ties with Washington and wants the country's 900-strong detachment in Iraq to come home. He also says Poland should drive a tough bargain in return for hosting a missile defense base.
    Tusk's party also calls for additional security guarantees for Poland such as the U.S. Patriot short-range anti-missile and anti-aircraft system, and suggests Kaczynski has failed to win rewards such as visa-free travel for Poles to the United States.

    Visa-Free travel ...
    a small price to pay, along with some surface to air missile batteries.
    That'll get Putin's attention, aye?

  4. 'Pelosi was born to Italian-American parents in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] The youngest of six children, she was involved with politics from an early age. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., was a U.S. Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore. Her mother, Anunciata, was born in Italy and immigrated to the U.S. in 1911.[2] Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro III, one of her five brothers, also served as Mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971.

    Pelosi graduated from Baltimore's Institute of Notre Dame high school and from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University) in Washington, D.C. in 1962. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.[3] She met Paul Pelosi while she was attending Trinity College, and then Georgetown University. They married in a Catholic Church on September 7, 1963. After the couple married they moved to New York, and then to San Francisco in 1969, where his brother Ronald Pelosi was a member of the city's board of supervisors[4] (San Francisco city and county council).

    After moving to San Francisco, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics. She was elected as party chairwoman for Northern California on January 30, 1977. She later joined forces with one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton. And in 1987, after her youngest child became a high school senior, she decided to run for political office.

    Pelosi is an honorary board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.' wiki

    Born to politics in Baltimore, worth about $25 million, if she didn't represent San Francisco her outlook might be quite a bit different. Might be too soon to write her political obit, though at 67 she is 'getting along in years.'

  5. Adm. William Fallon, head of the U.S. Central Command, discussed the security improvements in a conversation last week. He said he focuses on two metrics every day: the number of U.S. combat deaths and the number of violent incidents in the country ...
    "I look at the numbers, and I say the success that General [David] Petraeus and the guys have made is amazing," Fallon said. "But how do we leverage that to get the Iraqi government to take decisions that will provide enduring security? How do we help them take advantage of this?"

    Fallon cautioned that the schedule "is where it ought to be" for a gradual reduction by next summer of the U.S. combat forces that do the fighting. But he said he is exploring with Petraeus and his other commanders "whether there is a way to take more of the support force out" on a quicker timetable.

    Now David Ignatius also says ...

    Officials feel they are on a stable glide path toward a reduced but still substantial troop presence when President Bush leaves office. It's not exactly a military victory, with marching bands and flying flags, but it's not a defeat either.

    Which from a liberal MSMer is quite the admission. A bit off the mark, as well. The GOP could easily spin, by Sunner '08

    "a military victory, with marching bands and flying flags"

    If they had some vision and balls.

  6. Victory Is Within Reach in Iraq
    October 20, 2007; Page A11

    Should we declare victory over al Qaeda in the battle of Iraq?

    The very question would have seemed proof of dementia only a few months ago, yet now some highly respected military officers, including the commander of Special Forces in Iraq, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, reportedly feel it is justified by the facts on the ground.

    Will the rightwing jingoists allow US to accept victory?

    Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, says the Mission is Accomplished, celebrate the troops, fly the flag, have the parades.
    Refreshing, but that the Dems are getting ahead of the curve.

    Pray for the Republic, pray for Ms Pelosi to listen to Ms Jackson Lee.

    Or will Darth Cheney try to throw a spanner in the works, to keep US at war, like it was 1984?

  7. The Bush administration's intentions toward Iran have been the subject of debate in Congress.

    Last month the Senate approved a resolution urging the State Department to label Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.

    Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said he feared the measure could be interpreted as authorizing a military strike in Iran, calling it Cheney's "fondest pipe dream."

    Cheney won't Allow Nukes

  8. Fortunately, or not, Mr Cheney is in no ones chain of command.
    His office has no Constitutional authority to allow or disallow anything, anywhere.

    Unless, of course, there is a tie to be broken, in the Declaration of War vote, in the Senate.

    Unless the Iranians misstep, Team 43 will not get an opportunity to do much of anything, regarding Iran, militarily.

    Especially if the Turks roll south.

  9. It is interesting that Ms Pelosi and the Armenian Genocide Resolution has shown US all just how precarious the US position in Iraq really is.
    With regards resupply.

    If we moved against Iran, what would the Turks do?

    They backstabbed the US last time, they could well do it, again. Especially now that the Islamists are more entrenched in Turkey, now, than they were in 2003.

  10. Is the threat of an independent Kurdistan enough for the Turks to support the Iranians, as the Syrians are supporting the Turks with regards Kurdistan.

    All the Turks would have to do, declare neutrality and close their airspace to US, as they are already threatening to do, over Kurdistan.

    What do the Turks fear more than an independent Kurdistan?

  11. India shoots itself in the foot

    India’s Communist Party, part of Prime Minister Mammohan Singh’s ruling coalition, has killed the very important deal on nuclear technology negotiated over several years between India and the United States.

  12. Turkish Prime Minister breathes fire. Pelosi's timing was sure off, or on, if she was trying to make trouble.

  13. She and Reid are two of the worst ever.
    Maybe the one good thing she'll accomplish is discouraging women from getting ridiculously excessive plastic surgery.
    Disgusting to see that stupid vacant wide eyed look day after day.
    Then there's Harry, the ambulatory corpse of an undertaker.

  14. The Attack on the Philippine Mall

    If Rajah Soliman Group is behind the attacks, that would indicate that the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines has become qualitatively different. It means the existence of a strike force based on Christian converts, some recruited while working as contract workers in Saudi Arabia, and with links to the Communist New People's Army. Such a force could move essentially undetected on Luzon. These dangers have long been understood by Filipino cops but denial and an addiction to shambolic solutions has blinded the Philippine political leadership to them.

    I have little confidence Manila can wake up in time. It's far more probable that they will continue to believe in whatever conspiracy theory suits their political book and jabber away until the next time. Because there will be a next time.
    Check out Charles and Wretch's comments.

  15. Jeeze, LA is burning up with 80-100mph Santa Anas!
    Check out the LA Times.

  16. 9:16 - John McCain on whether or not Bush misjudged Putin:

    I don't know about naive, but I do know when I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, I saw three letters: KGB.

  17. Ever wonder what really caused the outbreak of iconoclasm, the busting up of icons and images, in the Byzantine Empire?

    I may have stumbled across an answer.

    "In seeing the differences between Christianity and Islam, what became obvious even to the rough soldiers rising through the ranks to become commanders, generals, and emperors, was that Muslims followed the biblical prohibition of icons, a prohibition that had been put aside among Christians.

    If God indeed was showing his anger for this blasphemy, while at the same time allowing the expansion of the Muslims who did not venerate or tolerate icons, perhaps God was indirectly pointing to the blasphemy of the Christians. The worship of icons, which even by the admission of the church had veered dangerously close to idolatry was viewed as the problem. In quick succession, edicts forbidding the use of icons were issued. Sadly, many icons were destroyed, the defenders of icons arrested and tortured."

    They blamed the losing of battles to the muzzies on their own use of icons, so gave up the practice, hoping to win favor of the Lord, and hoping to begin winning the battles again, according to this author.

    from 'The Sign of the Cross' by Andreas Andreopoulos

    Dr. Wattenberg has been talking about those fires tonight, Doug.

  18. That Velvet Ant would make a good trout fly, I'd bet.

  19. Barona Casino defies evacuation order
    12:41 a.m.
    Sheriff's Lt. Phil Brust said Barona Casino was told to evacuate as part of a mandatory evacuation order given earlier Sunday night for Wildcat Canyon Road.
    "They said they would 'shelter in place' and did not evacuate," Brust said.

    The casino was not under lockdown and patrons could leave if they chose, he said.

    What's a little wild fire when your luck is running good, or running out?:)

  20. Many, besides just the left, argue that torture does not work. A certain poster here with past connections to interrogations and present connections with the CIA makes that claim.
    I cite such people as examples of the creeping political correctness, and Psychologizing under the influence of the dominate culture and institutions.

    10/19/2007 07:32:00 PM

    Past connections to interrogations, yes. Present or past connections to CIA? No.

    Waterboarding isn't torture, by the way. Unless the admin has decided it is, which I don't believe it has. The USG doesn't undertake torture in any of its agencies nor sanction such, so it's a moot debate, manufactured for your entertainment. Because it's a matter of US Code, you can only fiddle with the definition, as there's a certain amount of unavoidable, cultural subjectivity involved, but you can't get very far with that tack. Good Guy is our schtick, broadly speaking, and we're schtickin' to it. (Jihadists will disagree, but jihadists don't like being leisurely strip searched by female soldiers, either.)

    Trish proposes that every American attend a short, unclassified course on interrogation - taught by those who do it for a living - so that every American would have a better understanding of what it is, and what it is not; what it aims to accomplish and what it aims to avoid; its many, and universal, methods and its inherent limitations. Trish's course would end with videotape of actual (obvious, rather) torture, so that everyone has a vivid image in future discussion of the matter. Better yet, it would end with videotape of a high level detainee abjectly weeping, then agreeing to cooperation, after relatively brief interrogation employing approaches decidedly this side of torture. But as a practical matter that'd never be declassified.

    In any event, she'd make special provision for Doug, who would also attend a full SEAR course, thereby making him acquainted with both ends of the business and leaving him an all round better human being.

  21. I have little confidence Manila can wake up in time. It's far more probable that they will continue to believe in whatever conspiracy theory suits their political book and jabber away until the next time. Because there will be a next time.

    I think I'm the target. I went to the Philippines in 2000, 2004, and this year. The first two times, a major bombing took place while I was there. This time I faked them out by going down to Mindinao, which as you know is totally safe.

  22. Trish,
    We seem to be talking about two different things:
    I object to the assertion,
    "Torture doesn't work."
    Not your argument here, that as a policy position for our side, we don't do it, and there are other effective methods.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts about Wretch's pretzel logic about who volunteers for what, and so forth, and any other of the wringing of hands there about the horrors of waterboarding as such.
    My objection to the flat assertion
    "Torture doesn't work."
    concerns individual cases, where you do not have the luxury of time, and the threat is manifestly imminent.

    IOW, I find it hard to believe that any of us (excluding the genius handwringers at BC) if confronted with an individual situation with an immediate deadline, and with a certain outcome ranging from the death of a loved one to the incineration of a city, would eschew all physical violence, and resort only to some kind of verbal jujitsu, which, given a short enough time window, would boil down to:
    "Please tell me where the bomb is and how I can disarm it!"

    The wringers would argue in the affirmative, I hope you won't.