Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five Years Later, War Is Over (If You Want It)

The holiday season has long left a haunting aftertaste in my memory. I first remarked upon it in something I wrote five years ago this week. And half a decade later, it's still there.

It all begins 40 years ago, with a song. This is how I described it in 2006:
This holiday season has been haunted by a melody. John Lennon and Yoko Ono originally released "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" just before Christmas in 1971, at a time when the Vietnam War seemed likely never to end. Re-released in 1972, the record resonated with war-weary Americans who wanted the fighting to end. By then, the My Lai Massacre court martial and the Pentagon Papers had seeped into the public consciousness. Most Americans knew the war had to end, and end soon. Opinion polls showed support for the Vietnam War dropping to about 30% by mid-1971. That lack of support did not translate quickly into government action, though, since Congress wouldn't cut off funding for Vietnam combat operations until December 1974 (three years after "Happy Xmas" debuted).

Hearing the refrain "War is over/If you want it" wafting from the car radio in recent days has produced the same sort of melancholy it did on first hearing 35 years ago. I found myself pleading with John. "I want it," I cried. "I want it over! Tell me how!"

If you don't remember 1971, it's difficult to describe the gestalt of the times. Vietnam was not only a never ending horror, it was a never changing horror. Day after day, the carnage was reduced to recitations of "body counts" -- the number of dead on each side of the conflict, a statistical exercise that was as demeaning as it was deceptive. Into this atmosphere, Lennon's plaintive carol seemed to be a breath of fresh air. It was so simple -- war is over, if you want it. Millions of us wanted it. But the war did not end. It dragged on for years after "Happy Xmas" was released.

Five years ago, I was gripped by a similar melancholy. Another war seemed to be dragging on endlessly, and no matter what people of good will said or thought or did, there was no conclusion to it in sight. It was the war in Iraq, which the United States chose to start and had chosen not to stop. In fact, that year -- 2006 -- during the holiday season the United States decided to send even more troops to the quagmire. It seemed very much like 1971 all over again.

Today, almost unbelievably, that war is over. Far too late, and with far too much blood spilled and far too much money poured into the sand, the United States is no longer fighting a war in Iraq. U.S. troops are out of the country. What happens there now is the business of the Iraqis, not the U.S. government. That is as it should be -- and should have been all along. But even so late, it is welcome. Even five years after my desperate plea of "Tell me how!", I am gratified that no more Iraqi or American lives will be taken in my name and the name of my people. (Yes, there's still a war in Afghanistan, and yes, it's been dragging on far too long, but it seems there may be an end in sight for that one, too.)

Today, that song on the radio seems a little less wistful. The Iraq war is over. Yes, it went on too long and the cost was obscenely dear. But it's over now. It's over because people of good will wanted it to be. John Lennon was right all along.

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

"Commemoration, Not Celebration"

In the hustle and rush of the holidays, perhaps you've missed a little event taking place in Columbia, South Carolina. The city is marking the 150th anniversary of what appears to be the most significant event in that city's (and state's) history: the signing of the "Ordinance of Secession". The festivites include the mayor unveiling a historical marker on the site of the building where the event occurred, and a complete historical re-enactment of South Carolina's declaration that it was willing to destroy the United States in order to protect the institution of slavery.

I'm not sure who is more condescending: the "officials" who "were careful to call the sesquicentennial of secession "a commemoration and not a celebration" or the "Commander" of the state's Sons of Confederate Veterans, who insists, "We've always extended a hand of friendship [to] our black brothers and sisters we know..."

A "commemoration"? What's to commemorate? The men who signed the Ordinance of Secession in South Carolina 150 years ago did nothing worthy of a memorial. What they did was worthy of a hangman's noose. They proclaimed themselves proud enemies of the United States. And their deeds matched their words four months later when they turned cannons on the U.S. Army and fired the first shots of the Civil War. For that, they get a plaque? For that, they get a stage play in their honor?

That's not how Americans traditionally regard their sworn enemies. Even those who were, once, considered loyal Americans. Consider for a moment the monument to the commanders of the patriot forces at the Battle of Saratoga.

It has niches facing the four cardinal points of the compass. Each one commemorates (there's that word again) one of the four commanders of the Continental Army forces that battled the British at Saratoga. Three of the niches contain statues of Generals Gates, Schuyler and Morgan. The fourth commander was Benedict Arnold. His niche is empty.

That's as it should be. After Saratoga, Arnold sulked over his perceived slights at the hands of the Continental Congress. So he sold out America. He sided with the Crown, tried to betray his former command at West Point, and ended up hightailing it to England, where he collected his 30 pieces of silver. For that, he is erased from any "commemoration" of the Revolutionary War. As well he should be.

Perhaps South Carolina (and the other states that joined its treason) will erect a plaque to Benedict Arnold, too. It's only fitting.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Coup

The Royalists are becoming either more bold, or more reckless. They are exposing more and more of their utter contempt for American values and ideals, and seem to be daring anyone to call them on it. Now, the Boy King and his minions are displaying what I had long considered to be their trump card -- the one they would keep hidden until after the results of the 2008 elections are known. They are using the military to intimidate the opposition. And, of course, it's working.

Just ask

The Royalists are also using the military to plant news stories with cozy media outlets, particularly sympathetic bloggers. And they've even gone so far as to sic a top aide to General Petraeus (one Col. Steven Boylan) on a blogger who has challenged their arrogance, Glenn Greenwald. In a particularly vitriolic email, the Petraeus flack accuses Greenwald of bad journalism, bad lawyering and bad faith. Of course, none of those accusations holds up under scrutiny, and Greenwald concludes:

"Everyone can decide for themselves if that sounds more like an apolitical, professional military officer or an overwrought right-wing blogger throwing around all sorts of angry, politically charged invective."

Greenwald further notes that the offending email is part of an increasingly obvious campaign by the military to prop up the Royalist cause and to besmirch any opponent to their Grand Glorious War in Iraq. (He has links in the post.) Then he delivers the coup degrace:

"The linchpin of a republic under civilian rule -- as well as faith in the armed services by a cross-section of Americans -- is an apolitical military. Like all other branches of the government intended to be apolitical, this linchpin is eroding under this administration, and that ought to be of far greater concern to Boylan and Petraeus than hurling petty insults."

What Greenwald doesn't say -- and what perhaps many anti-Royalists are afraid to say -- is this: the United States is no longer "a republic under civilian rule". We have not been a republic since December 12, 2000, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that military power will be employed to keep the current regime in power (with or without a certain cretin named Bush at its head).

It is especially bold for a career militry man to pick a political fight with a blogger. It says, to me at any rate, that the thin veneer of civil government that masked all the previous misdeeds of this government has finally cracked, and we are getting our first look at what lies beneath. And, taken in that context, the recent conduct of the Iraq War may fall into place.

Let's review: when the Clown-in-Chief ordered the invasion of Iraq, there was no thought that Iraqis would be anything but grateful for their "liberation". The almost immediate civilian armed opposition to U.S. occupation was dismissed as the work of "dead-enders" and, even long afterward, was characterized as in its "last throes". Then, suddenly, it's an insurgency, a well-oiled terrorist machine financed abroad (guess where ) that must be crushed with a "surge" of troops. "Counter-insurgency" is the new buzzword, and the new mission (one never envisioned by the Congressional authorization of the Iraq War). What change occured in the fall of 2006 that might spur this sudden interest in fighting insurgents?

The evidence is there for anyone who really wants to see it. The Army isn't fighting the insurgency in Iraq to protect the government there. It's fighting insurgents in Iraq for practice. The Pentagon apparently feels it needs some hardened front line troops who know how to root out and kill anti-government militants, in both urban and rural setttings. The Bushites may not have had a clue about would happen once they unleashed their pet theories on Iraq, but I think they have a pretty good idea what they can expect when they bring those theories back home.

Sometime on or before January 20, 2009, we'll all find out what the "surge" was really about.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

End of Days?

A small radical minority has seized control of the United States government and, through felonious and corrupt machinations, all but ended democracy in this country.

That is not hyperbole or "unhinged" left-wing screeching. It is a reasonable conclusion, based on the evidence that is just now starting to emerge. The question now facing Americans is this: are we willing to turn out the pretenders and usurpers? Or will we sheepishly allow the New Royals to continue their reign of terror?

If the scandal over the sacking of eight (or more) U.S. Attorneys has done nothing else, it has allowed some more perceptive observers to begin connecting dots and to start getting a glimpse of what has really happened to America since November of 2000. The always-astute Digby is keeping a watchful eye on the pattern that's emerging:

"Across the board, no matter what the issue, the Republicans actively sought to deny the Democrats anything they could call a victory. And the closer the Dems were to getting one, the more [Karl] Rove and his boys liked it. It made them look powerful to have the Democrats so frustrated and angry. But it also ensured that elections would stay close and intense ---- good for the base, keeps them involved, spending money and churning the culture war. (Even better for the Big Money boys to do their thing under the radar.)

"Still, Karl knew that wouldn't be enough. He needed to control the legal machinery to ensure that all these close elections he was engineering would fall his way. So he planted political operatives in the Justice Department and kept a close eye on anything that could affect elections."


"Rove is not a stupid man. He knows that the GOP base is extreme and that when the great middle gets a clear look at them they recoil in horror. (See Circus, Schiavo.) He correctly deduced that to keep Republicans in power he had to permanently rig the system. So he did. And if it hadn't been for the war it might just have worked. The key to Rove's success was to keep elections close enough [so] they could steal them."

Electoral theft is but one advantage of putting the levers of justice in the hands of rabid Royalists. The Department of Justice is also an integral part of the national security establishment. It houses the FBI, of course. But more importantly, it monitors the domestic espionage activities of other agencies like the NSA. (This role has become much more clear since details of the shameful - and shameless-- "hospital putsch" episode came to light.) The department is also routinely churning out legal-sounding justifications for the regime's routine use of torture. In addition, it is the Justice Department that is staging terrorist show trials (not always successfully).

The perversion of the Justice Department is not an aberration. The same process has been underway at every other government office since January 20, 2001. The regime has seeded its loyalists throughout the federal apparatus. Their job is simple --make sure government works (when it works at all) only to benefit the King and his minions. Fortunes -- literal and political -- are being amassed in all Cabinet departments and at every alphabet soup agency. The fix is in for the next 19 months. And without concerted efforts by the anti-Royalists in Congress and true American patriots everywhere, nothing will change before January 20, 2009.

The question then arises: will it change even then? The system has been rigged so the Royalists can steal another close presidential election next year. That would allow them to pension off the current Boy King and install another usurper in his place - King John or King Rudy or King Fred. And business will proceed as usual. But sometimes, elections are not close and cannot be stolen without tipping the public off to the theft (see "2006 elections"). If the Royalists are routed at the polls in 2008, wll they give up all they have gained? Will they simply fold their circus tents and retreat to their ranches and ski lodges to count their booty?

I suspect not. The Royalists are not particularly bright , but they are clever and determined. If it appears likely they wll be unable to get away with thievery (again) in 2008, they may have a backup plan. The Dark Lord himself may have let a bit of that plan slip when he addressed cadets at West Point on May 26th. In his commencement speech, he told the new generation of military leaders:

"As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away. These are men who glorify murder and suicide. Their cruelty is not rebuked by human suffering, only fed by it. They have given themselves to an ideology that rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society. The terrorists are defined entirely by their hatreds, and they hate nothing more than the country you have volunteered to defend."

Commentators have noted that Cheney's derision of the Constitution (in particular) and the Geneva Convention seems to be at odds with his charge that the cadets defend "every belief" they consider "worth fighting for", including freedom and tolerance. But I think they miss the point. In the first place, Cheney is not celebrating the notions of freedom and tolerance, only pointing out that "the enemy" rejects them.

More importantly, however, Cheney is explicitly telling the West Pointers that the Constitutioonly applies to those with "delicate sensitivities". There's nothing in that old piece of parchment for real men of "upright character and conduct". No, the Constitution is for sissies, and he is assuring the Army of Tomorrow it need not concern itself with the niceties contained therein.

It would be an odd thing for the second-highest elected official of the Unitd States to say, if he considered the defense of our cherished political liberties to be the paramount mission of the military. The fact is, Cheney cares not a whit about political liberties, only political power, concentrated in his hands and those of like-minded Royalists. And his message at West Point was a clear signal to the military: their main charge is not protecting Americans or their liberties, it is to protect the regime. And it was met with obedient cheers from the cadets and those who trained them.

Cheney's West Point speech offers a small glimpse of that "backup plan", I fear. The U.S. military has been as thoroughly compromised as every other function of the federal government. It has been bent to the Royalist purpose, and is commanded by members of the Royalist cause. And come January 20, 2009, it can be counted upon to ensure that Royalists maintain their grip on power., no matter what those whose "delicate sensitivities" include a reverence for the Constitution have to say about it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falwell's America

In recent months, there has been an interesting and vigorous debate in Left Blogistan about how best to deal with issues of faith in the context of politics. The indispensible Atrios spent a week batting the issue around, and kept returning to a simple conclusion:

"We believe different stuff. Especially to the extent that people want to keep shoving personal religion out into our political sphere, it's important [to] examine those differences. And if we examine those differences, we're entitled to make decisions based on them. Otherwise, the implication is that someone's religious beliefs say something incredibly important about them, but we're not actually supposed to talk about exactly what that is."

Herein lies the fundamental error in basing political decisions on religious principles: whose religion gets to be the deciding factor in a debate? "We believe different stuff." Some of us adhere to a faith that requires a sacrament of ritual human sacrifice. Some of us adhere to a faith that requires actual sacrifice of live animals. Some of us adhere to no faith at all. When we're trying to determine what national policy on , say, torture should be, whose argument carries the most weight? The person who believes any violence against a human is an abomination? Or the person who believes that the infliction of severe physical pain is an express ticket to paradise?

These are not rhetorical questions. There is an answer, and a simple one. It's found the in First Amendment to the United States Constitution. And the answer is:


The Framers were quite explicit: government shall not adhere to any given religion, nor prevent the American people from freely excercising their religious beliefs. All of the people, and any beliefs. That was a shocking notion in 1787. After all, virtually every government on the planet drew its legitimacy from its claim to providential design. Kings got their crowns from the clergy, not the people they governed. The genius of the First Amendment is that is severes the umbilical between our government and any god.

The notion is still shocking to much of Planet Earth. Try telling the Emir of Kuwait and the President of Iran and the Queen of England that their stations are not endowed upon them by the Almighty -- then duck.

Which brings us, of course, to Jerry Falwell. The airwaves are bloated with eulogies for the late minister. "He had no hate in him," says Paul Weyrich, who has been the radical right wing's bagman for a generation. "He was one of the kindest people I ever met." Weyrich (who coined the term "Moral Majority") admits, "He was controversial. He sort of enjoyed tickling the opposition."

"No hate", you say? When Falwell said, “I do not believe that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew” he wasn't expressing hate? When he said, days after the September 11th attacks, "I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen’", he was "tickling the opposition"? When he bankrolled a scurrilous attack video that accused the President of the United States of murder, he was being kind? (The Carpetbagger Report has a long list of Falwell's less-than-Christian moments that documents his pattern of lies, insults, bigotry and theft.)

More importantly, Falwell saw himself as a "kingmaker." Six weeks before the 2004 election, he made that painfully plain:

"The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election."

A few weeks earlier, he went even further:

"I would gauge my support for George W. Bush right along side Ronald Reagan among one of the most endeared men among evangelical Christians in modern history."

There it is. Falwell saw Bush as the re-incarnation of Reagan, whom he described as his "hero":

"I will remember Mr. Reagan primarily for his relationship with the evangelical Christian values of our Founders."

Falwell was careful not to say Reagan was an "adherent" of those "evangelical Christian values", since the sainted Ronnie was anything but a saint. But Falwell's assertion that "our Founders" held those "evangelical Christian values" deserves some attention.

Falwell, and other conservative religionists, have consistently claimed that the United States is, and always has been, "a Christian nation". They usually base that claim on the fact that most of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were devoutly religious. That means, of course, they were evangelical Christians.

They were not.

This lie is one of the most pervasive in American politics. Among the 56 signatories to the Declaration, more than half were Anglicans -- members of the Church of England, hardly a hotbed of evangelical fervor. More than 40% of them were either Congregationalists or Presbyterians (two very closely related mainline denominations). The rest were Quakers (who do not ascribe to traditional Christian dogma), Catholics or Unitarians (who are not Christians at all, much less evangelicals).

The religious affiliations of delegates to the Constitutional Convention were roughly the same, with a smattering of Methodists, Lutherans and Dutch Reformed Church members sprinkled in. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone among those two august assemblages of Founders whose political and religious beliefs even vaguely resembled Falwell's. Or Reagan's.

Indeed, the leader who most embodies the religious and political convictions of Jerry Falwell might be Oliver Cromwell, who demonstrated his loyalty to his country by killing its king and installing himself as a dictator, imposing his own faith forcibly upon the population (torturing or killing anyone who refused to convert). That's Falwell's kind of leader.

That, in fact, is precisely the kind of leader all religious conservatives crave -- a bold and murderous moralist who will brook no dissent on issues of policy or faith. Their only quibble with Cromwell would be his refusal to wear the crown. For the one trait the unites Falwell, the religious right at large, and the current regime occupying the White House, the Supreme Court and a large minority of the members of Congress, is their undying devotion to the ideal of an American Empire. They have no use for the United States, with its quaint rule of law and enshrinement of individual liberty as sovereign over government power.

As his comments above suggest, Falwell saw George W. Bush as more than a president. He sees him as the embodiment of his vision for an Imperial America, ordained by his God to reign over this country. He didn't see the same sniveling, cowardly gunsel the rest of the world sees. No, he saw another Reagan. Or maybe he saw Bush as a latter-day Charlemagne. No doubt, he saw himself as Bush's Pope Leo, crown in his own hands, poised to grant a divine blessing on the new American Imperium.

Jerry Falwell may be gone, but his vision for America remains very much alive.

Monday, March 05, 2007

An Apple Is Not an Orange

Conservatives are liars. There is little doubt of that anymore (if there ever was). Every once in a while, though, some Royalist will allow a bit of truth to slip out - usually unintentionally, and only when surrounded by like minded zealots. So it is no surprise that the screeching harpy who has launched a thousand Tory wet dreams exposed a bit more of the lordly class's true thinking than she expected when appearing at the latest incarnation of the Nuremburg Rally.

Let's be clear - Ann Coulter is not some marginal verbal bombthrower. She is not the Ward Churchill of the right. She is -- and has been for years -- the bottle-blonde painted face of the Royalist cause. She is a best-selling author, a Time magazine cover girl and the go-to person for the "Today Show" and "Good Morning America". When she speaks, as Andrew Sullivan makes plainly clear, "she truly represents the heart and soul of contemporary conservative activism, especially among the young. " Those would be the same "young" who hooted in laughter and erupted in applause when she used a demeaning slur to describe a presidential candidate.

That she would leap with both feet into the gutter of political discourse is no surprise, of course. Coulter lives in that precinct, feeds in that precinct and makes all of her money there. She, after all, endorsed the assassination of both a sitting Supreme Court justice and a former president. No, the surprise is that Couler revealed so much about herself while spewing her venom. That she would use a derogatory term for a gay man when referring to a long-married father of three (John Edwards) makes it clear Coulter has some serious gender-identity issues.

So do all those "young" contemporary conservative activists her twisted slur aroused so vigorously.

It is only mildly surprising that three Royalist pretenders to the throne of King George would bother denouncing her performance. Of course, they did so with a demeanor of "more in sorrow than in anger". McCain says her words were "inappropriate". Guliani, who spends his spare time in women's clothing, used the same term. Romney, who once boasted of his pro-gay rights credentials, called the vicious attack on Edwards "offensive". All three are skilled, polished and veteran politicans. They know they can't allow the stain of Coulter to reach their hemlines if they have any chance of seeing their ambitions come to fruition.

A few Royalist blogs have followed suit, according to Slate:

" 'Ann Coulter doesn't speak for us,' harrumphed Red State. Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey wrote that 'such offensive language—and the cavalier attitude that lies behind it—is intolerable to us.' Newsbusters' Warner Todd Huston dubbed Coulter 'the H.L. Mencken of our times ... minus the intellect.'"

Huston's attitude toward Coulter could best be described as "praising with faint damnation". It is hardly an insult, after all, to be compared to Mencken and found wanting. But Huston's musings on the Coulter affair don't even focus on her wildly inappropriate behavior. Instead, he tries to ju jitsu the issue into an attack on the Royalist Right's favorite whipping boy, the Mainstream (or Liberal) Media. He compiles a few news clippings from Reuters, the New York Times and (seriously) a college newspaper. Based on this exhaustive research, Huston then draws himself up to his full height and bellows "Bias!"

Why? Because, he assures us, none of those august news organzations has said anything about that awful Bill Maher. And what, pray tell, should they be denouncing? This:

"I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. " After making it clear he wasn't encouraging, or even wishing for, the assassination of the Vice President, Maher added: "I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."

Shame on the Liberal Media, Huston intones, for not working themselves into a lather. The evidence is plain, he concludes: "No MSM reports of Maher wishing the VP were assassinated."

Except, of course, Maher did no such thing. (Perhaps that's why no reputable news organization reported on it, even while state-run media were flogging it incessantly.) Huston is lying, clumsily, in an attempt to cover his latter-day Mencken's tracks. He hails "every upstanding Conservative and GOP candidate [who] was falling all over themselves [sic] in compliance to denounce Coulter's remarks." Another lie. Upstanding conservatives Sean Hannity, Bill Bennett, Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter have done no such thing. Upstanding conservative John Gibson is actually defending Coulter.

But in amongst all these lies, there is a bigger one -- one the Royalist faction uses at every opportunity. It's the lie of proportionality. By comparing Coulter's slur to Maher's comment, Huston is saying that they are equally inappropriate. They are not. Coulter deliberately disparaged a national politician with a bigotry-laced personal assault. Maher used a particularly disturbing "what if" scenario to comment on the results of the regime's policies.

That is not the biggest difference Huston tries to obscure with prevarication. Ann Coulter is a widely-known, widely-quoted, deeply revered celebrity icon of the Royalist cause. Bill Maher is a stand-up comic. Ann Coulter spilled her bile at the most prestigious gathering of Bush worshippers to be staged this year, and did so from the same stage the Imperial Regent himself bestrode. Bill Maher appeared on a late night cable TV comedy show.

They are different, not just in degree, but in kind. Huston, and Coulter, and the whole Royalist movement hope and pray you don't notice that.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

War is Over (If You Want It)

This holiday season has been haunted by a melody. John Lennon and Yoko Ono originally released "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" just before Christmas in 1971, at a time when the Vietnam War seemed likely never to end. Re-released in 1972, the record resonated with war-weary Americans who wanted the fighting to end. By then, the My Lai Massacre court martial and the Pentagon Papers had seeped into the public consciousness. Most Americans knew the war had to end, and end soon. Opinion polls showed support for the Vietnam War dropping to about 30% by mid-1971. That lack of support did not translate quickly into government action, though, since Congress wouldn't cut off funding for Vietnam combat operations until December 1974 (three years after "Happy Xmas" debuted).

Hearing the refrain "War is over/If you want it" wafting from the car radio in recent days has produced the same sort of melancholoy it did on first hearing 35 years ago. I found myself pleading with John. "I want it," I cried. "I want it over! Tell me how!" About one in 10 Americans thinks sending more cannon fodder into Charnel House Iraq is a good idea. Apparently, though, all of the people who think that way work for the Imperial House of Bush. The Boy King is poised to squander more of our lives and treasure on his bid for immortality and empire.

"Tell me how, John. How can I make it be over?"

Yet it occurs to me that the power to put this nightmare to an end is within our collective grasp. If we want it, we can make it be over. Here's how:

Call your U.S. Representative and Senators, particularly any who are newly-elected Democrats. Ask them to support -- or even propose -- repeal of Public Law 107-243. That action would withdraw Congressional authorization for the use of military force in Iraq. The statute, approved in October of 2002, gave approval for the Iraq War. Specifically, it says:

"The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

Despite all the shifting rationales offered by the Usurper for his Grand Babylonian Adventure over the years, he never fails to point out that a bipartisan majority of Congress gave him the green light to attack Iraq. While he takes a rather sweeping view of what Public Law 107-243 empowers him to do, its actual provisions are quite limited. He can use the U.S. military to end the "continuing threat" Iraq posed to "the national security of the United States". He is also empowered to use the U.S. military to "enforce all relevant" U.N. resolutions.

Simply put, both of those objectives have been achieved.

Even if you grant the specious argument that in March 2003, Iraq posed a threat to the national security of the United States, you cannot argue that the Iraq of today poses such a threat. Of course, there are people inside Iraq who would do harm to the U.S. forces occupying the country. But that isn't "Iraq". The "Iraq" referenced in the statute specifically means the government of Iraq, not individual citizens, or even large groups of them. The current government of Iraq, duly recognized by both the U.S. and the U.N., poses absolutely no threat to the "national security of the United States." Not even the most rabid Royalist would make that claim. So the first goal set out by Congress has been met.

The second goal refers specifically to the U.N. Security Council resolutions approved during and after the 1991 Gulf War. (His Imperious Majesty tried to get a new resolution approved in 2003, but it never happened, so there's nothing more recent to enforce.) Since the purported goal of the U.S. invasion was to kill terrorists, "disarm" Iraq of illicit weapons and "free" the Iraqi people, the "relevant" resolutions are those addressing these issues. There are three.

UNSC Resolution 686, adopted in March 1991 requires that Iraq "[p]rovide all information and assistance in identifying Iraqi mines, booby traps and other explosives as well as any chemical and biological weapons and material in Kuwait, in areas of Iraq where forces of Member States cooperating with Kuwait pursuant to resolution 678 (1990) are present temporarily, and in adjacent waters..."

Fifteen years after that war, and nearly four years after the invasion, it is clear there are no more mines, booby traps, explosives, chemical or biological weapons in Kuwait or in the areas of Iraq where occupying forces operate.

UNSC Resolution 687, adopted in April 1991, orders (in section 8) "that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:
(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities;
(b) All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and related major parts, and repair and production facilities..."

As U.N. inspectors made clear in early 2003, and as numerous U.S. military and intelligence surveys conducted since have confirmed, there are no stockpiles of banned weapons in Iraq, and any medium range ballistic missiles have been destroyed or seized by the occupiers.

UNSC Resolution 688 addresses the 1991 post-war Iraqi campaign against independence-minded Kurds in the north and "[d]emands that Iraq, as a contribution to remove the threat to international peace and security in the region, immediately end this repression and express the hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected..."

We are told repeatedly by minions of the Boy King , and by the Decider himself, that Iraq is a "young democracy" today. How many times have we heard of those "three elections" and that "new constitution"? Or about a "government of national unity"? No one -- at least, no one in the Clown-in-Chief's inner circle -- argues that the government of Iraq is committing the kinds of human rights abuses described by the Security Council a decade and a half ago.

By the regime's own account, the objectives put forward in the statute authorizing military action against Iraq have been achieved. Mission accomplished!

Public Law 107-243 is no longer necessary, since its goals have been met. Therefore, it's time for Congress to remove it from the books. There is no rational argument for keeping it. Of course, there was no rational argument for adopting it in the first place, but that's another debate alogether.

Blogger Steve Soto argues Congress should go further and rescind the 2001 measure authorizing use of military force against terrorists. He makes a telling point: not only did King George claim the statute (Public Law 107-40) gave him authority to invade Iraq (which it didn't), he undoubtedly will claim it authorizes the next war he intends to wage -- against Iran or Syria or Venezuela or whatever country he happens to dislike at the moment. Soto writes:

"Why shouldn’t the Democratic leadership force Republicans to side with the president’s unchecked powers to wage war in the aftermath of Bush’s blow-off of the ISG report? Why shouldn’t the new Congress force the president to come to Congress before any hostilities begin with another country? It won’t stop him from doing it, because Scott Ritter says he’ll do it regardless, but rescinding the AUMF is the first step to putting his next war under a bright light for the American people."

In stating the argument this way, Soto actually buys into the regime's claim that the statute, known as the AUMF, did, indeed, grant the authority to invade Iraq. That it didn't is clear from reading the text of the law:

"...the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." Public Law 107-40

Since Iraq had no role in planning, authorizing, committing or aiding in the September 11th attacks (as His Royal Oafishness has admitted), it clearly doesn't fall under the scope of the AUMF. Saudi Arabia might. Egypt might. Pakistan does. Afghanistan surely did (and does). Sudan, too. But Iraq? No way. Iran? Not a chance. Syria? Laughable. Any attempt to cloak aggression against either of the latter two nations in the authorization of Public Law 107-40 would never pass muster before a Congress that is populated by anything but somnambulists.

There are countries that continue to harbor the perpetrators of 9/11 (Pakistan and Afghanistan most notably). If there ever is a real U.S.-led war against the terrorists who attacked the United States, whoever is serving as president can rely on Public law 107-40 to go after them. (This assumes the United States will ever again be a constitutional republic with three operational branches of government -- no sure bet, that.) Repealing it would limit that hypothetical chief executive's options at a time when those options are sorely and urgently needed.

No, it takes only one step -- repeal of the Iraq War resolution -- to end the carnage. The challenge facing the new Democratic Congress is daunting, and that's where you come in. Make the call. Explain the rationale, and press your elected representatives to act.

War is over.
If you want it.