Saturday, January 13, 2007
Knowing Sen. Lieberman the way I do, I know he will work with us, as he has in the past, to get all of the facts about the federal, state and local response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., one of the few Senate Democrats who backed Lieberman in his campaign. "We don't want to waste time just trying to place blame. We want to find constructive ways to prepare the country for all future disasters.
Instead of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, as President Bush plan, Clinton said it is time to start re-deploying U.S. troops out of Iraq.
"That would really demonstrate to the Iraqis that we don't have an open-ended commitment," she said. "We are not going to be here providing protection for their leaders, which we do. We are not going to be here standing by and trying to be called in from time to time as they see fit. That is not in the cards."
Friday, January 12, 2007
Please hire people who know that people from Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States of America if you wish to be an actual news show instead of a hideous joke.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
WASHINGTON - Americans overwhelmingly oppose sending more U.S. forces to Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll that serves as a strong repudiation of President Bush's plan to send another 21,500 troops.
The opposition to boosting troop levels in Iraq reflects growing skepticism that the United States made the right decision in going to war in the first place and that a stable, democratic government can be established there. Just 35 percent think it was right for the United States to go to war, a new low in AP polling and a reversal from two years ago, when two-thirds of Americans thought it was the correct move.
Fully 70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops, and a like number don't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there. The telephone survey of 1,002 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday night, when the president made his speech calling for an increase in troops. News had already surfaced before the polling period that Bush wanted to boost U.S. forces in Iraq.
The Iraq situation continued to be drag on Bush's overall job approval rating, which stood at 32 percent, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling.
HT Pony Boy and Atta J.
If leaving would be a disaster, dicking around for nine months and then leaving would be somewhat more of a disaster.
Which is what the strategy of the perpetual Friedmans has gotten us. Luckily, Chris Matthews says this isn't Bush's last chance, but just his second-to-last-chance. Which, of course, means his actual last chance will miraculously be over in about January of 2009, at which point Bush will leave office the most hated man in America.
New York City would have been the safe choice, logistically and financially. But it would have been a political nightmare and set Dean apart from his Netroots allies and virtually every strategist, presidential candidate and office holder in the party. But Dean aides have said that he was not prepared to risk holding a convention in a city that was not prepared to handle it.
Thanks oh wise men of Washington.
These and other results underscore the depth of the challenge Bush faces in reversing public skepticism on Iraq. While 61 percent of Americans oppose his proposal to send more than 20,000 additional U.S. military forces there, 36 percent support it. Fifty-eight percent continue to say the war was not worth fighting -- essentially unchanged from a month ago -- while 64 percent disapprove of how he's handling the situation.
Barely three in 10 accept Bush's assertion that a troop increase now will end the war more quickly; instead two-thirds think it won't make much difference in the length of the conflict (48 percent) or instead will prolong it (19 percent). Similarly, while 36 percent think the surge will make victory more likely, more than six in 10 say it either won't change the odds of victory (53 percent) or will even make them worse (10 percent).
Intensity of sentiment, as well, is heavily against Bush. Just a quarter of Americans "strongly" support his proposal to send additional forces to Iraq; by contrast twice as many, 52 percent, strongly oppose it.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
But today Matalin says:
This is a different military mission where -- as we clear and we hold and rebuild so the Iraqis are buying in and changing their attitude about the political system.
BLITZER: But what is different? They have tried that at least once or twice before.
MATALIN: No, they have not. It's been done in Tal Afar. General McMaster did it up there. But what was the critical element was, the Iraqis have to hold and help build.
But over a year ago the last honest man wrote:
The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.
We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.
The president believes, Maliki believes, the troops on the ground believe, and most Republicans believe, that security is an essential precondition for a political solution. It's just a disagreement. But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.
So, six months from know we'll "know."
...and then what?
As Washington journalists debate whether to call President Bush's plan to send 20,000 more American troops into Iraq a "surge" or an "escalation," they are letting the White House get away with a much more momentous semantic scam.
The White House would have you believe that Bush tonight will be announcing a new strategy. But from all indications, all Bush will be talking about -- yet again -- is changing tactics.
And, a couple of Friedmans from now, we can have yet another one last chance...
"Conventional wisdom says that presidential candidates who want to be responsible on this are going to hurt themselves with the angry, impassioned activist left," said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank. "But the activist left is out of sync with the American public. Americans don't want to concede this is a total debacle."
Presidential candidate Tom Vilsack, Chair of the DLC:
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack called Tuesday for Congress to block funding for additional troops in Iraq.
Marshall's specifically talking about a "rapid withdrawal," but Vilsack is sounding pretty shrill about the whole thing.
All this stuff just provides an extra layer of complexity and bureaucracy. Even if you aren't cutting private insurers out of the game, there's a way to go from A to B in a straight line. Just sign everyone up for a goddamn health plan - or let them choose from a menu - and pay for it out of taxes. Poor people will pay less because, you know, they pay less in taxes. Rich people will pay more. Same result, it just cuts out all the dancing on the way there.
The official said Bush intends to hand control of the country to Iraqi forces by November.
The official cautioned that the November date for Iraq control does not mean U.S. troops would withdraw by then.
Nov. 30, less than two months ago:
AMMAN, Jordan - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.
"I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11.
There you go.
If Klein really was confidently prescient about our impending folly, then he was quiet and timid during a time when he could've played a leading role legitimizing anti-war opinion and diverting the country's disastrous trajectory. How different would the atmosphere have been if the talk shows could've booked Joe Klein, rather than Janeane Garofalo, to argue against the invasion? That Klein remained circumspect during the moment when his judgment could have mattered is all the worse, and it discredits him from associating with those who stood tall, said no, and paid a public price for their courage.
No disrespect intended towards Janeane (from either me or I presume Ezra), but it's important to remember that during the runup to the war Janeane Garofalo was the most prominent anti-war voice. I've talked to her about it and she's the first one to say how absurd it was.
Joe Klein isn't the only one. There were pundits at the time who I respect a hell of a lot more than Klein (easy when going from zero respect to positive) who were hedging their bits a bit too much about Iraq at the time. Hell, even I probably was a bit and I was some anonymous dude on the internets. That was a truly absurd and awful time in our country, and few other than crazy bloggers felt the ability to speak up.
Still, Joe Klein didn't. A Slate article suggesting that maybe Al Gore might have a few good points doesn't qualify as expressing opposition to the war. Awhile back I researched as much as I could (don't claim it's comprehensive) all of Joe Klein's available writings and pronouncements on Iraq, and this was the most solid anti-war expression I could find:
MR. KLEIN: I think from a diplomatic and global political standpoint at this point, the administration is going to have to show its cards. It's going to have to show exactly what we know about what's going on in there, the way Adlai Stevenson did at the United Nations in 1962 before the Cuban missile crisis, or else we don't have a case. We may go ahead and do it in any case, but it's going to hurt us long term, big time, in the rest of the world. So now is the time to do that or not. And I still think that, you know, the sequencing of this is all wrong. We've got a lot of other things that we should be doing in this war against terror before we go after this guy.
That's hardly a full-throated denunciation of the war.
Klein's the one who is trying to argue he opposed the war. Maybe in his heart of hearts he did, but he didn't choose to use whatever platforms he had (that quote is from Meet the Press, about as prominent a platform as you get).
I don't really understand why Klein likes to refer to critics who do little more than repeat his own words back to him as "insane." (listen at 37:20) I guess that's the dignified civil discourse we're supposed to get from our elite pundits from their elite perches.
Many people were disappointments in 2002-2003. Not all of them. But too many. Klein was a coward then, and he's dishonest about that fact now. Very sad.
Let's recap: Klein is arguing that Paul Krugman is a lazy fool because he attributes the surge strategy to Frederick Kagan and the neocons. This week, in Time magazine, Michael Duffy, their main political reporter and a guy who presumably does "talk to key players" and "read the doctrines," reported that the surge "belongs to the neocons and in particular to Frederick Kagan," and made it clear that Kagan sought out Jack Keane to add credibility to his proposal. A far cry from Klein's claim that military intellectuals "are the motivating force behind Bush's new policy."
So only one of two interpretations can be true here: Either Joe Klein is wrong on the facts, or Michael Duffy is. In either case, Time magazine is paying someone to misinform their readership. Since Klein is so quick to throw out challenges -- and yes, I'll happily cop to hoping Petraeus calms Iraq and saves thousands of live -- merely asking that question shows how deep Klein's personal animus towards liberals goes, and how unreliable an adjudicator he actually is -- here's a question for him: Are you misrepresenting the facts in order to blast liberals, or is your magazine's cover story a heap of lies? I, by the way, am a subscriber, and so would really like to know.
Here's a possible answer, and it's something you see again and again in today's pundits. It's not enough for them to be getting six-figure salaries to spout their opinions; to be feted at cocktail parties; invited on TV chat shows; sucked up to by star-struck underlings; and constantly told by colleagues how incisive and witty their latest effort was. No, they also need to feel that they are brave and heroic in holding their opinions, too.
To look into the mirror and see a brave and heroic pundit staring back, of course, you need to flatter yourself into believing that you're challenging entrenched ideas and the people who hold them in some way, even if you aren't. This impression can be created in several ways. One is to simply dream up a whole class of people, claim they hold "extreme" opinions based on nothing at all, and set yourself up as a lonely warrior against them -- preferably while standing shoulder to shoulder with other lonely heroes of moderation like John McCain and Joe Lieberman. That's David Broder's preferred approach. Another way is to dream up a whole series of nefarious but nonexistent motives driving colleagues' opinions, so that you can deprive those colleagues of credit for those opinions, and position yourself as, again, braver and more heroic than they are -- even though you agree with them. That is Klein's approach -- and I submit that at bottom it's all about vanity.
Klein issued a challenge in his post that has already been deftly parried by Boo Man. So here's a challenge for Klein: Back up your arguments with facts and evidence. Produce one example of someone whose comments betray the fact that they're tacitly rooting for American failure. Quote this person. Explain why this person's quotes should be interpreted that way. If you manage to get that far, then maybe consider finding a second example, and even a third. That doesn't sound all that hard, does it?
Of course Klein had a chance to be truly heroic back in the Fall of '02 and Spring of '03. He could've used his prominent soapbox to be one of the few major pundits to stand against the war. While he claims now to have been opposed to it, his public record doesn't really reflect that. Sure he had some misgivings and made the shockingly bold suggestion that Al Gore may not be entirely insane, but he didn't really come out against the war.
There were few heroes with access our mainstream media then and Klein missed his chance to be one.
Mr. Klein, I acknowledge that you made those remarks while discussing your misgivings and doubts. But, when you conclude that the war is the right decision then you are not an opponent of the war. And, therefore, your post today is dishonest and you are a liar.
Now, let me address your challenge. I am a great admirer of General Petraeus. I have a high regard for his competence and his abilities. I do not hope that he fails in his mission of stabilizing Baghdad. But you are asking the wrong question. Think about it like this. Imagine you are at a Georgetown cocktail frankfurter party. Maybe it's at Sally Quinn's house. And imagine that Bill Bennett knocks back eight scotch and sodas as he regales you with talk of his recent hot streak at the Atlantic City poker tables. And now imagine that Bill Bennett, ruddy and ribald, stumbles to his car and turns the ignition. Here's my question? Do you really want Bill Bennett to wrap his Jaguar around a telephone pole and die?
As for me, it's easy--I'll be rooting for Bill Bennett's success in getting home safely because, in spite of the overpowering arrogance and stupidity that led to his decision to drive, we owe some peace and stability to the Washingtonians and the region. For the record, I'll be outraged that Bennett is ignoring the law and the reality on the ground in DC. I'll think he is putting more young American lives at risk. I am fairly certain that Bennett will wallow amongst our worst pundits for getting into this mess. But I hope events prove me wrong. I don't even care if Bennett thinks he deserves credit for the "victory" and smirks at the cops. I just don't want him do die.
One minor correction: Bennett was a slot-and-video-poker junkie, not (mostly) a table player by accounts.
- Senator John Edwards released the following statement today in response to Senator Lindsey Graham's comments on Meet the Press yesterday, where Sen. Graham said: "Well, I hope we will hold the generals accountable for their work product. I respect General Casey and Abizaid, but the strategy they've come up with for the last two years has not worked. Iraq is not more stable than it was when they took over two years ago."
Edwards said, "Senator McCain is the leading advocate for escalating the war in Iraq against the advice of our military leaders, what I call the McCain Doctrine. Now, one of his top allies is attacking those generals and blaming them for the terrible situation in Iraq. That's outrageous. The failed Iraq policy lies squarely on the shoulders of the people who make that policy - the president and his Cabinet - and Senators McCain and Graham know that. Senator McCain should ask Senator Graham to apologize to the men and women of our armed forces who have done nothing but heroically serve their country while trying to carry out a broken policy set in Washington."
He continued, "Instead of scapegoating our military leaders, Senator McCain and Senator Graham should start listening to them. Escalating the war in Iraq sends exactly the wrong signal to the Iraqis and the rest of the world about what our intentions are there. We need to make it clear that we intend to leave Iraq and turn over the responsibility of Iraq to the Iraqi people. The best way to do that is by actually starting to leave."
But one thing is clear. And that is that official Washington -- or a lot of it -- doesn't get that democracy matters. The constitution gives the president great power and latitude in the exercise of his war powers. But not exclusive power. The president is not a king. Anybody who knows anything about the US constitution knows that it was designed specifically so that the president's need to get the Congress to finance his wars would be an effective break on the vast power he holds as commander-in-chief.
Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray:
Washington, D.C.: I am somewhat surprised at the debate about the surge. In October, The Post's own polling showed that 19% of voters favored an immediate withdrawal. Yesterday, CNN reported that more than 50% want an immediate or by year's end withdrawal. Still, the politicians debate more or less, not sooner or later. Why won't the politicians follow the polls when it comes to leaving Iraq?
Shailagh Murray: Would you want a department store manager or orthodontist running the Pentagon? I don't think so. The reason that many politicians are squeamish about hard and fast goals of any kind in Iraq is that there is no simple response or solution -- it would have emerged by now. A withdrawal by year's end carries enormous, very serious implications.
There you go.
The fact that I've been opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate just makes it all the more aggravating. But it's possible to have been against the war and to hope for the best in Iraq. I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans who now oppose the war are praying for a turn for the better in Iraq. Listening to the leftists, though, it's easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure.
Which leftists, Joe? He does not say, unsurprisingly. Still, I can't support or refute his assertion that he was "opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate" because his link is fucked up. However, we do have this from... 2003!
This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it--it's--it--it probably is.
That's some opposition. Asshole.
Monday, January 08, 2007
I wish I was making this up.
...look, this is what "bipartisanship" and "Unity08" and all the rest of that bullshit is about:
Shut the fuck up and let me do whatever the fuck I want.
It always has been and always will be.
A unity government may stop Iraq's slide into an all-out civil war and give Iraqis one last chance to reach a political compromise. Some of the most contentious issues that Iraqis would need to address revolve around the meaning of just governance, the nature of federalism and the creation of an Iraqi national identity.
There is no guarantee that any course of action adopted by the Bush administration at this point could stop Iraq's slide into full-scale civil war and save the country from partition. But the U.S. must try: Iraq holds enormous strategic importance for the United States, and its fragmentation would further erode American global stature. What's more, Turkey, Iran and Syria will not tolerate a partition plan that would lead to a Kurdish state for fear of the repercussions among their own restive Kurdish minorities. Indeed, they are likely to interfere militarily in Iraq to abort such a development.
Because of that, and because of the heavy human and material cost that would be exacted in the event of a war that leads to partition, the U.S. ought to make a last-ditch effort to bring Iraqis to the table to hold their country together.
To preserve Iraq's unity, the U.S. military needs to secure Baghdad — a precondition for any attempt to revive the political process. The administration also needs to engage Iraq's neighbors in an effort to quell the fighting in Iraq and reintegrate the country into the Arab world.
The Bush administration has reached a critical juncture in its mission in Iraq. Whether it begins withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or opts for a temporary troop surge, the administration owes Iraqis a final chance to work things out. The stakes in Iraq are too high for the U.S. to simply cut and run.
...and then what?
Whether it's military or civilian carnage, our beloved press has decided that these are images our beautiful minds shouldn't be bothered with. It's an absurd position to have, especially given the existence of this thing called the internet which allows news agencies to make these things public without having people see them without warning. I don't really agree with the idea that such things are inappropriate for the pages of a newspaper or a nightly news broadcast, but there's a tiny argument in support of it. What isn't defensible is the notion that these things should simply be suppressed and locked away.
I use naughty words in my daily life. I know few people who don't. I've been in few situations when the doors were closed when people don't use foul language, and that includes pundits, journalists, members of Congress, and, as we know, the Vice President.
It's definitely the case that there are moments when more dignity and decorum are appropriate, but quite frequently I find that, as with the bogus "civility" concept, placing arbitrary limitations on appropriate language often helps to paint a deceptive picture of reality.
If I, who have spent little time around members of Congress, know that many of them tend to swear like sailors, then it's certainly the case that the David Broders of the world know that they do. So when people tut-tut pesky bloggers for their nasty foul mouths when they know perfectly well that just about everyone in the highest corridors of power uses that kind of language they're implicitly claiming political and other elites are somehow superior, more sophisticated and, above all, more polite individuals when of course many of them aren't. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
And, while we're at it, maybe some of those crack NYT or CT press folks could ask The Last Honest Man why he was promising that troop withdrawals would begin by now before the election when he immediately became John McCain's mini-me after the election and started calling for more troops.
Fair enough, though as I've said before why aren't more of the nation's leading conservative lights doing the same? Maybe some could, you know, lead by example?
And, yes, I just wet myself laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion. But if anyone really believed in this war it wouldn't be absurd. How about it, Red State?
"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass might as well have been talking about this week's set of words. While these words do not have as many meanings as the word "set" (the Oxford English Dictionary devotes 26 pages to it), each of this week's hard-working words has many unrelated meanings. And they are not bland, like the word set.
With these words, one could say, we get our money's worth.
malkin (MO-kin, MAL-kin) noun
1. An untidy woman; a slattern.
2. A scarecrow or a grotesque effigy.
3. A mop made of a bundle or rags fastened to a stick.
4. A cat.
5. A hare.
But Mr. Kristol and Mr. Kagan appealed to Mr. Bush’s ego, suggesting that he might yet be able to rescue his signature war. And am I the only person to notice that after all the Oedipal innuendo surrounding the Iraq Study Group — Daddy’s men coming in to fix Junior’s mess, etc. — Mr. Bush turned for advice to two other sons of famous and more successful fathers?
Not that Mr. Bush rejects all advice from elder statesmen. We now know that he has been talking to Henry Kissinger. But Mr. Kissinger is a kindred spirit. In remarks published after his death, Gerald Ford said of his secretary of state, “Henry in his mind never made a mistake, so whatever policies there were that he implemented, in retrospect he would defend.”
Oh, and Senator John McCain, the first major political figure to advocate a surge, is another man who can’t admit mistakes. Mr. McCain now says that he always knew that the conflict was “probably going to be long and hard and tough” — but back in 2002, before the Senate voted on the resolution authorizing the use of force, he declared that a war with Iraq would be “fairly easy.”
Mr. Bush is expected to announce his plan for escalation in the next few days. According to the BBC, the theme of his speech will be “sacrifice.” But sacrifice for what? Not for the national interest, which would be best served by withdrawing before the strain of the war breaks our ground forces. No, Iraq has become a quagmire of the vanities — a place where America is spending blood and treasure to protect the egos of men who won’t admit that they were wrong.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Even so, the debate over tactics has intensified inside the Pentagon. Bush is now trying to sort through wildly conflicting advice. His Joint Chiefs of Staff supports the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group that, rather than sending in a new influx of U.S. troops, American advisory teams embedded with Iraqi forces should be quadrupled so Iraqis can take control more quickly. Some hawks, led by two outside advisers, former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane and military historian Frederick Kagan, are instead urging Bush to "win the battle of Baghdad" himself. They say he can't wait for the Iraqi government, Army or police to secure the country.
Story continues below ? advertisement
U.S. Army officials fret they don't have the forces or equipment for the kind of long deployment (perhaps 18 months or more) that would be required. According to a former senior Army official who would describe the internal discussions only if he was not identified, "Keane told the president: 'Don't you dare let Army and Marine Corps tell you they can't do it.' Soon afterward, Gen. Richard Cody, the vice chief of staff of the Army, called Keane in and gave him the actual figures on readiness, telling him: 'Look, here's the status of these brigades today. It's not doable'." Keane did not respond to several calls asking for comment, but the senior White House aide denies that the Pentagon is resisting any surge plan. "The military leadership is committed to doing what is required to be successful," he says.
I enjoy sports somewhat but I've never really quite understood devoted fandom. Still, something palpable happens to this city when success seems possible.
Three US airmen and two troops have been killed in three separate attacks in Iraq.
While the Quiet Americans laugh as His Irrelevancy jokes:
Lieberman got a hearty laugh at the AEI event when asked to comment on the Reid-Pelosi letter. "Speaking as an independent," he said with a smile, "needless to say, I respectfully disagree."
"Meet the Press" Guests: Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
• "This Week" Guests: Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., David Obey, D-Wis., and Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles.; former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft; former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn.
• "Face the Nation" Guests: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
• "CNN Late Edition" Guests: Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Rubaie; Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss.; House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, presidential candidate.
• "Fox News Sunday" Guests: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
...as phil points out in comments, when the hell did San Francisco become a state?