Two reports were released last week: The Baker-Hamilton Commission report on how to save the world; and the report of the House Ethics Committee on the Mark Foley disaster.
Baker-Hamilton had two main features: (1) It recommended things which everyone else had already recommended like getting the Iraqis to take greater military and political responsibility for their own future and (2) recommended things which are not going to happen, like asking the Iranians to play nicely with its neighbors.
For those who have forgotten that Iraq is but a battleground in the worldwide war on terror, let me quote a BBC program based upon a book by the great British historian Hew Strachan on an enemy's rationale for invading New York City:
"The East Coast is the heart of the US," the enemy is quoted as saying, "and this is where she is most vulnerable. By hitting her here we can force America to negotiate."
According to the program, "The scheme was driven by [the enemy's] resentment of American's power … He believed in a militarist state and increasingly hated what the West stood for: 'Service to Mammon, greed, self indulgence, land grabbing, lying, treachery, and not least, murder,' he said."
"[The enemy] thought capitalism was vulnerable; that a strong enough attack on its international systems of trade, credit and insurance could bring the system crumbling down."
Reads like a passage from the Baker-Hamilton report on why Osama bin Laden hates us, doesn't it?
It is not. The program was about World War I (which, as we've discussed before was known, at the time, as "The Great War" because it wasn't until World War II that we decided we needed to number our World Wars) and was quoting a plan to attack the US which had been presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1903.
The current enemy has the same goals as Kaiser Wilhelm had over 100 years ago: The destruction of America because of a poisonous distaste for what we bring to the world.
Anyone who thinks the answer to Iraq is putting the Humvees in reverse and declaring victory is wrong. There are people on the Earth who want to kill us (and I don't mean some vague, diaphanous "us." I mean you. And me.)
Trying to deal with the people who want to kill us in any manner but overwhelming force will result in this war being fought, again, in New York plus Kansas City, and Atlanta, and Los Angeles and every city and town in between.
The report of the House Ethics Committee on the Mark Foley business was at least as disturbing as Baker-Hamilton.
The official name of the Ethics Committee is "The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct."
The report - which was issued by the only Committee in the House which has an equal number of Republicans and Democrats - said, in essence, that mistakes were made but no House rules were violated meaning a Member who preyed on teenaged boys met an acceptable standard of official conduct.
The committee completed its work without actually hearing from former Congressman Foley, on the grounds that he was no longer a Member of Congress and therefore was outside the Committee's jurisdiction.
As an example of the comprehensive nature of the investigation, on page 28 of the official report the Committee recounts an incident (reported by "a number of witnesses") that one night Foley showed up at the page dorm one night and had to be turned away by the Capitol police.
From the report:
[The Committee] heard no testimony from any person who actually witnessed this event, nor [did it] obtain any other direct evidence reflecting any such appearance by Rep. Foley at the page dorm."
A year or so ago, the House of Reps dragged a group of professional baseball players into a highly publicized hearing, put them under oath, and demanded they tell the world whether or not they had ever used performance enhancing drugs.
The House had no problem issuing subpoenas to the baseball players (none of whom had ever been a Member of the House), but couldn't quite justify issuing a subpoena to a man whose behavior was so creepy that a woman assigned to the page dorm tried to keep Foley in her sight whenever he was around because "the Committee lost jurisdiction over Rep. Foley upon his resignation."
Both of these reports lead to the same conclusion: The Republic is in trouble.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to both the Baker-Hamilton report and the House Ethics Committee report; a nice Mullfoto from the Willard Hotel last week and an odd Catchy Caption of the Day.