asks why, after leading world opinion to respond to Darfur, Bush is now hedging by trying to stop the Darfur Accountability Act, and by using Rice and Zoellick to downplay the catastrophe:
So why is Mr. Bush so reluctant to do a bit more and save perhaps several hundred thousand more lives? I sense that there are three reasons.
More Kristof, and other pundits, after the jump, including:
Kristof's three reasons:
First, Mr. Bush doesn't see any neat solution, and he's mindful that his father went into Somalia for humanitarian reasons and ended up with a mess.
Second, Mr. Bush is very proud - justly - that he helped secure peace in a separate war between northern and southern Sudan. That peace is very fragile, and he is concerned that pressuring Sudan on Darfur might disrupt that peace while doing little more than emboldening the Darfur rebels (some of them cutthroats who aren't negotiating seriously).
Third, Sudan's leaders have increased their cooperation with the C.I.A. As The Los Angeles Times reported, the C.I.A. recently flew Sudan's intelligence chief to Washington for consultations about the war on terror, and the White House doesn't want to jeopardize that channel.
All three concerns are legitimate. But when historians look back on his presidency, they are going to focus on Mr. Bush's fiddling as hundreds of thousands of people were killed, raped or mutilated in Darfur - and if the situation worsens, the final toll could reach a million dead.
Failing to stop genocide...
Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, cites a repeat of history as Bush emulates Clinton's inadequate response to Bosnian genocide in the current catastrophe in Darfur:
In 1993 the Clinton administration sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe to urge NATO to intervene against the Serb forces committing atrocities in Bosnia. America's European allies said no, and Christopher did not insist. Last month the Bush administration sent Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Europe, where they raised the possibility of NATO help for a tiny African Union (A.U.) peacekeeping force deployed in Darfur. Without a larger and more capable force to protect civilians, the killing there will continue. But European countries were skeptical about a NATO role beyond, possibly, help with logistics. (France said that NATO should not be "the gendarme of the world.")
Jeb's minions try to force 13-year into motherhood
Thankfully, a Florida state judge ruled in her favor; Persimmon has the details, but not before Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen blasted the Florida Department of Children and Families for trying to stop the girl in foster care from getting an abortion:
The sadists running the Department of Children & Families are trying to stop a 13-year-old girl under foster care from getting an abortion.
They say that she's too immature to decide whether or not she should have the baby.
The logic is diabolically cockeyed. If the girl isn't mature enough to make a sensible choice about her pregnancy, how can she possibly be mature enough to care for a newborn infant?
The Florida 13-year old, known only as "L.G.", may soon become the Culture War's next Schiavo. Is Florida making a media driven industry to compete with tourism?
The girl was residing in a group home in St. Petersburg when she became pregnant 14 weeks ago. She got the news during a medical examination.
Her attorneys say L.G. immediately told her caseworker "that she wished to terminate the pregnancy."
The procedure had been scheduled for last Tuesday, but then the morality police from Tallahassee arrived. That very morning, the Department of Children & Families lawyers filed an emergency motion with Palm Beach Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez.
He signed a temporary order blocking the abortion and ordered a competency examination for L.G.
She is represented by lawyers from Palm Beach Legal Aid and the American Civil Liberties Union. They say that L.G. has never been found to be incompetent or institutionalized for mental problems.
They say she should be allowed to make up her own mind about the pregnancy. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the state constitution offers a shield of privacy in such cases.
It's not as if the Floriday DC&F can maintain that IT will ensure a bright future for unwanted children of children:
The Department of Children & Families insists that it's forbidden by law to let any person under its supervision undergo an abortion or sterilization procedure. Apparently this is to ensure that the agency will never run out of clients.
Forcing children in state custody to have babies against their will guarantees that there will be a whole new generation of abused, abandoned and neglected kids for taxpayers to support. It's quite a clever plan.
Unfortunately, the Department of Children & Families can't keep up with the thousands of cases that it's already got -- cases such as L.G.'s.
In a way, she's one of the lucky ones; she only got pregnant. Others in state care have been tortured, raped, killed or, in the case of Rilya Wilson, vaporized into thin air.
Expect the agency to appeal yesterday's court decision and to try to accomplish the forced motherhood by tying the case up long enough until it's too late for an abortion, just as they did two years ago in the case of a severely retarded pregnant woman. My only hope is this time around a media circus will be precluded out of considerations of L.G.'s age.
Start with raising caps
Richard Cohen thinks Americans are suckers if they buy Bush's pitch on Social Security, without a major hike in the salary cap for SS taxes:
Whatever the merits of personal investment accounts, they would do nothing to alter the dismal math of Social Security projections. But raising the cap would. Why $90,000? Why not $140,000? Better yet, why not raise it to $140,000 and then raise it to confiscatory levels on obscene payments such as Michael Eisner's $575.6 million back in 1998 or -- brace yourself -- the $105,000 Moonves got for using his own home in New York rather than a hotel or the $43,000 Freston got for spending time in his place in Los Angeles. (Moonves is based in L.A.; Freston is based in New York.) Somewhere, ladies and gentlemen, is a CEO who's angling to be paid for sleeping with his wife. It's just a matter of time. Get mad, people. Get mad.
Another bad appointment
Here's another dubious Bush nomination, Marine Corps General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who deserves some close scrutiny, provided in today's Washington Post by Michael O'Hanlon.
The problem is that Pace voiced support for the war plan--if you can call it that--in Iraq, which whether you supported ousting Saddam or not, obviously was a disaster:
Because the United States was unprepared for the job of reestablishing order after Saddam Hussein's fall, chaos ensued, Iraqi goodwill toward the United States was largely squandered, and the insurgency established a momentum it might not otherwise have been able to gain. This happened despite ample warnings beforehand from members of Congress, retired military officers, State Department experts and numerous independent scholars.
And Pace's role?
Pace clearly leaned toward the Rumsfeld-Franks view, as is clear from his April 6, 2003, appearance on "Meet the Press" and other times. Pace also acknowledged that he had seen the war plan on several occasions and supported it -- this at a time when no institution in the U.S. government other than the uniformed military was in a strong position to play the role of checking and balancing Rumsfeld.
Congress needs to air the issue before approving Pace's nomination. Whether he supported the war plan for reasons of political convenience, excessive deference to the country's civilian leadership or just because he made a mistake in judgment, he needs to be held accountable -- and pushed to do better next time.
Lessons of Vietnam
The LA Times' Robert Scheer reflects on the 30th anniversary of the end of the "American War" in Vietnam:
If then-President Ford had not possessed the courage and wisdom to order the end of the U.S. occupation of Vietnam, we probably would still be embroiled in combating a never-ending insurgency.
Instead, the United States is now the biggest marketplace for exports from Vietnam, which began abandoning a failed centralized economy two decades ago in favor of Chinese-style capitalist market reforms. In defeat, the U.S. was able to economically exploit Vietnam without spending U.S. dollars and lives on a hopeless occupation.
Insightful points, but I think the frequent comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam have limited value. A hasty withdrawl before a Shiite/Kurd majority can hold the Sunni insurgents at bay would consign the majority--again--to a brutal reprisal.
Return of Air America to Chicago not all good
Eric Zorn points out the dark lining to othewise good news:
It's good news for lefties because local talk radio is now dominated by conservative voices. WLS-AM 890 has gradually sloughed off or muted its liberal hosts, while WIND-AM 560 is now a full-time outlet for syndicated right-wing programming.
It will be refreshing to hear steady chatter from Bush administration critics for a change, instead of the defenders and apologists who now dominate the dial. Even though my listening tastes run toward balanced debate and an illuminating clash of ideas and philosophies, I'll take our side's agitprop over theirs any day.
But it's bad news for lefties because AM 850--now oldies rock station WAIT--is a weak, daytime-only station based in Crystal Lake. It sends out a 2,500-watt signal (compared with WIND's 5,000 watts and WLS' 50,000 watts) that reaches the west and northwest Cook County suburbs and into downtown, but is weak in much of Lake and DuPage Counties and southwest Cook County. [...]
It looks to me like a recipe for failure. Inevitably weak ratings will tell advertisers and programmers that there's no market for left-wing talk, dooming us to decades of smug, hectoring conservatives.
"I don't believe that," said network co-founder and major investor Sheldon Drobny of Highland Park. I asked him if 850 AM is the proper station at the proper time for Air America in Chicago. "We'll do fine. The socioeconomic profile of our target audience is excellent. And it's either this or no broadcast at all."
I hope Zorn's concerns don't bear out, but I'm not very optimistic.
From the Detroit Free Press's Mike Thompson: