German Politics, Germany, US Politics, USA

Bush in Bild

For those of you, gentle readers, who do not engange in in-depth analysis of Germany’s tabloid newspapers, here’s a transcript of the US President George W. Bush’s interview with Kai Diekmann of BILD here’s the edited German version published by BILD. They met in the Oval office and discussed, among other issues, the rug-choosing dilemma every leader of the free world is facing. At least this one knows how to delegate.

Oh, and there’s a chance the US forces on German soil will have to do more than singing Karaoke in local Irish Pubs soon: Via SFGate, I noticed, that the President is not entirely sure about the state of democracy in Germany…

Zeroing in on the United States‘ ties to Germany and recalling that German troops did not help attack Iraq, Bush admits: „I’ve come to realize that the nature of the German people are such that war is very abhorrent, that Germany is a country now that is — no matter where they sit on the political spectrum, Germans are — just don’t like war…. The point now is how do we work together to achieve important goals. And one such goal is a democracy in Germany [sic].“ (The White House published its transcript with Bush’s glaring error and called attention to it.)

A part of the American blogosphere, on the other hand, was most excited to finally learn hrough the interview that President Bush’s best moment of all was

„when [he] caught a seven and a half pound perch in [his] lake.“

A little fishy, indeed.

I’m starting to wonder if we’re gonna miss him, after January 2009…

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US Politics

Summit politics

Now that’s what I call a real summit for once: a standoff between two of America’s most talented comedians, George W Bush and Stephen Colbert, at the annual White House Correspondents dinner.

Here’s the BBC reporting on Bush’s performance – and here, via throwawayyourtv.com, is Colbert’s performance (25 minutes).

Truly a struggle of giants. I want the GW Bush show on Comedy Central now. Seriously, he’ll probably consider resigning the Presidency if he gets a good enough offer. The comdy thing is really what he should be doing.

And if it happens, remember you read it here first. See, Germans can be funny, too…

Update: Rightwinged.com has a video of Mr Bush’s performance. Perhaps not too surpringly, given the name of the blog, the author believes that Colbert delivered a weak show, based on the impression of relative silence during the performance. I don’t know how the sound was mixed but even if the „room full of liberals“ he cites (Foreign White House Correspondents and the usual American political A-list suspects if they were not on a book promotion tour) was unexpectedly quiet, this was certainly the case because they must have had a hard time believing that someone would indeed dare to beat up the President seated on the Podium right next to him in the way Colbert did.

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US Politics

Repeat with me: Wa-ter-gate.

Two US state legislatures (Illinois and California) have introduced (though not yet passed) resolutions that would apparently force the US congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President Bush based on a little known floor rule (via opednews.com)

„Representative Yarbrough stumbled on a little known and never utlitized rule of the US House of Representatives, Section 603 of Jefferson’s Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature.“

Well, we’ll see. First of all, the state legislatures have to pass the resolutions. The floor rule may have given the opponents a new lever to apply, but politics still do play a role in this. Still, these attempts are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Particularly given the fact that the Bush administration is caught in a negative feedback slope now: Revelations about misconduct reduce its political clout thereby leading to more revelations about misconduct, and so on.

Today’s exaymple? From ThinkProgress via Economist’s View

„[Yesterday, on CBS] 60 Minutes, CIA analyst Tyler Drumheller revealed that in the fall of 2002, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.“

Watch it (quicktime).

By the way, according to the tape, the White House had no comment…

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US Politics

The Tides Have Turned.

Anyone remember the controversy a Bush critical statement by the Dixie Chicks created back in 2003?

Well, those were days. Three years, a misconceived war, a press secretary, and a watergatesque scandal later, Bush bashing has finally gone mainstream again, even in the US. Still it’s not often as beautifully packaged as P!nk’s „Dear Mr President“, which you can listen to via YouTube. And while you’re at it, why not listen to my very own song GW Blues – you can download and play it right here. I wrote the lyrics in March and April 2003, and initially published it on afoe just before the 2004 US presidential elections.

As much as I would have then welcomed the current Presidential approval rates, now they are, in my opinion, possibly dangerous. The President’s severely limited legislative clout could prompt him to foreign policy activism – if in doubt what that could mean, read Seymour Hersh’s piece about „The Iran Plans“ in the New Yorker. I still don’t think the US will attack Iran, simply because it would be such an overt example of acting against one’s own interests. But allowing the President to be a little busier at home would seem like a useful risk reduction strategy. Maybe he should go take that walk with P!nk.

By the way, the latter is always welcome to record a cover version of my song… ;)

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US Politics

Seriously. It’s worse than I thought.

I’ve always said that it’s important not to underestimate the American President. But I’m not sure that is actually possible. His Q&A session at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is a box full of candy for Bush comedy of all kinds. Here’s a question by a first year graduate student about the legal regime private military contractors are operating under in Iraq. At least the President acknowledges it’s an interesting question – though I’m not sure he actually got it. But he’s gonna call his secretary of defense to ask. After all, that’s how he governs… quite right.

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US Politics

9% native American, 11% northern African.

The NY Times about the technology that will be ending affirmative action.

Alan Moldawer’s adopted twins, Matt and Andrew, had always thought of themselves as white. But when it came time for them to apply to college last year, Mr. Moldawer thought it might be worth investigating the origins of their slightly tan-tinted skin, with a new DNA kit that he had heard could determine an individual’s genetic ancestry.

The results, designating the boys 9 percent Native American and 11 percent northern African, arrived too late for the admissions process. But Mr. Moldawer, a business executive in Silver Spring, Md., says they could be useful in obtaining financial aid.

Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights.

One Christian is using the test to claim Jewish genetic ancestry and to demand Israeli citizenship, and Americans of every shade are staking a DNA claim to Indian scholarships, health services and casino money.

„This is not just somebody’s desire to go find out whether their grandfather is Polish,“ said Troy Duster, a sociologist at New York University who has studied the social impact of the tests. „It’s about access to money and power.“

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US Politics

Repeat with me: Wa-ter-gate!

Wow, suddenly those demanding the impeachment of President Bush don’t sound too crazy anymore. Political power sometimes is such an elusive thing. So President Bush admitted to declassifying the NIE report so it could be used by his political operatived for political and PR reasons. Yesterday, he claimed to have done it so the American people could know „the truth“ about his reasons for proposing to invade Iraq.

Well, if I were him, I’d stop using the word ‚truth‘ for a lot of reasons. But that’s not the real point: the real point is – did he, on any level, authorize to blow CIA agent Valerie Plame’s cover to threaten her husband to stop arguing that the administration was not ‚truthful‘ about Iraq seeking to buy Uranium in Niger? If that were the case, I’m really not sure how, and when, his presidency would end. And for that matter, the vice presidency of Dick Cheney.

it also looks like the American so-called mainstream media is no longer that scared by the administration. Here’s an example, an MSNBC segment about the affair and the recent developments, posted on the „bradblog„.

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US Politics

Iran is not Iraq?

Last week, in an interview with the BBC, Condoleeza Rice was still adamant, insisting on geographical facts, making it clear that „Iran is not Iraq.“ On the other hand, reality based arguments have too often been denied their factual power by the Bush administration to simply believe her in this case. Seymour Hersh, for one, doesn’t believe that the ’n‘ makes the difference. He writes in the New Yorker –

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was ‚absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb‘ if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do ‚what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,‘ and ‚that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.‘

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that ‚a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.‘ He added, ‚I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‚What are they smoking?“

Good question, what are they smoking?

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compulsory reading, US Politics

Israel, the AIPAC, and US foreign policy

In today’s IHT, Daniel Levy, who was an advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, discusses a recent paper entitled „The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy“ by John J. Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen M. Walt (John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University). The context Levy provides is interesting – his emphasis is on a growing rift between an increasingly inward looking Israel and an continously expansive AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) – Levy’s article is entitled „America: So pro-Israel that it hurts„.

If I remember correctly, AIPAC’s influence on American foreign policy is as mythical as it has been cyclical. As Levy notes, the recently increasing debate about the AIPAC’s influence on and the assumed natural alignement of Israeli and US interests in the Middle East could, in light of a growing rift between Israeli policy and the AIPAC, possible precede realignments in American foreign policy. If he’s right, the honest broker might be looking for a come-back. He would certainly be welcomed.

„A recent study entitled „The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy“ should serve as a wake-up call on both sides of the ocean. It is authored by two respected academics – John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government …

The tone of the report is harsh. It is jarring even for a self-critical Israeli. It lacks finesse and nuance when it looks at the alphabet soup of the world of American-Jewish organizations and at how the „Lobby“ interacts with both the Israeli establishment and the wider right-wing echo chamber.

Yet the case built by Mearsheimer and Walt is a potent one: Identification of American with Israeli interests can be principally explained by the impact of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington in limiting the parameters of public debate, rather than by the fact that Israel is a vital strategic asset or has a uniquely compelling moral case for support (beyond, as the authors point out, the right to exist, which in any case is not in jeopardy).

The study is at its most devastating when it describes how the lobby „stifles debate by intimidation“ and at its most current when it details how America’s interests (and ultimately Israel’s, too) are ill-served by the lobby’s agenda.

The signs that Israel and the pro-Israel lobby are not on the same page are mounting. For Israel, the withdrawal from Gaza and future evacuations in the West Bank are acts of strategic national importance; for the pro-Israel lobby, they are an occasion for confusion and foot-shuffling. For Israel, the election of Hamas raises complex and difficult challenges; for the lobby it is a public-relations home run and an occasion for legislative muscle-flexing.

The lobby’s influence, write Mearsheimer and Walt, „has discouraged Israel from seizing opportunities…that would have saved Israeli lives and shrunk the ranks of Palestinian extremists….

„Using American power to achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would help advance the broader goals of fighting extremism and promoting democracy in the Middle East.“

This is not about appeasement; it’s about smart, if difficult, policy choices that also address Israeli needs and security.

In short, if Israel is indeed entering a new era of national sanity and de-occupation, then the role of the pro-Israel lobby in U.S.-Israel relations will have to be rethought, and either reformed from within or challenged from without.“

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oddly enough, US Politics

Collective Intelligence and the smoking gun

It seems the days of secrecy as state of the art strategy are over. Not that I’d think the US government would release anything they know to be important on the web, but the fact that they’re releasing Iraqi official documents of which they largely don’t know the content is probably rather illustrative of the problems intelligence agencies have with respect to uncovering Arabic secrets.

Iraq papers go on Web; bloggers go all out – Americas – International Herald Tribune

Under pressure from congressional Republicans, the director of national intelligence has begun a yearlong process of posting on the Web 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by U.S. troops. Less than two weeks into the project, and with only 600 out of possibly a million documents and video and audio files posted, some conservative bloggers are already asserting that the material undermines the official view.

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