Saturday, December 30, 2006
After first attempting to deny the scale of last month’s defeat, the apologists have settled on a story line that sounds just like Marxist explanations for the failure of the Soviet Union. What happened, you see, was that the noble ideals of the Republican revolution of 1994 were undermined by Washington’s corrupting ways. And the recent defeat was a good thing, because it will force a return to the true conservative path.
But the truth is that the movement that took power in 1994 — a movement that had little to do with true conservatism — was always based on a lie.
The lie is right there in “The Freedom Revolution,” the book that Dick Armey, who had just become the House majority leader, published in 1995. He declares that most government programs don’t do anything “to help American families with the needs of everyday life,” and that “very few American families would notice their disappearance.” He goes on to assert that “there is no reason we cannot, by the time our children come of age, reduce the federal government by half as a percentage of gross domestic product.”
Right. Somehow, I think more than a few families would notice the disappearance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and those three programs alone account for a majority of nondefense, noninterest spending. The truth is that the government delivers services and security that people want. Yes, there’s some waste — just as there is in any large organization. But there are no big programs that are easy to cut.
As long as people like Mr. Armey, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were out of power, they could run on promises to eliminate vast government waste that existed only in the public’s imagination — all those welfare queens driving Cadillacs. But once in power, they couldn’t deliver.
That’s why government by the radical right has been an utter failure even on its own terms: the government hasn’t shrunk. Federal outlays other than interest payments and defense spending are a higher percentage of G.D.P. today than they were when Mr. Armey wrote his book: 14.8 percent in fiscal 2006, compared with 13.8 percent in fiscal 1995.
Unable to make good on its promises, the G.O.P., like other failed revolutionary movements, tried to maintain its grip by exploiting its position of power. Friends were rewarded with patronage: Jack Abramoff began building his web of corruption almost as soon as Republicans took control. Adversaries were harassed with smear campaigns and witch hunts: Congress spent six years and many millions of dollars investigating a failed land deal, and Bill Clinton was impeached over a consensual affair.
But it wasn’t enough. Without 9/11, the Republican revolution would probably have petered out quietly, with the loss of Congress in 2002 and the White House in 2004. Instead, the atrocity created a window of opportunity: four extra years gained by drowning out unfavorable news with terror alerts, starting a gratuitous war, and accusing Democrats of being weak on national security.
Yet the Bush administration failed to convert this electoral success into progress on a right-wing domestic agenda. The collapse of the push to privatize Social Security recapitulated the failure of the Republican revolution as a whole. Once the administration was forced to get specific about the details, it became obvious that private accounts couldn’t produce something for nothing, and the public’s support vanished.
In the end, Republicans didn’t shrink the government. But they did degrade it. Baghdad and New Orleans are the arrival destinations of a movement based on deep contempt for governance.
Is that the end for the radical right? Probably not. As a long-suffering civil servant once told me, bad policy ideas are like cockroaches: you can flush them down the toilet, but they keep coming back. Many of the ideas that failed in the Bush years had previously failed in the Reagan years. So there’s no reason to assume they’re gone for good.
Indeed, it appears that loss of power and the ensuing lack of accountability is liberating right-wingers to lie yet again: since last month’s election, I’ve noticed a number of Social Security privatizers propounding the same free-lunch falsehoods that the Bush administration had to abandon in the face of demands that it present an actual plan.
Still, the Republican revolution of 1994 is over. And not a moment too soon.
Didn't think so.
One thing about this that I find sickening and always have: Saddam Hussein the mass-murderer was propped up and aided by the very people who now claim to be horrified by it. He was a creation of the Republican Administrations of the United States of America. Reagan and Bush 41, specifically, with scads of help from people like Rumsfeld and Cheney.
They were for Saddam Hussein before they were against him.
In fact, they had NO PROBLEM with his gassing the Kurds and being a mass murderer when he was actually DOING it, because he was dancing to their tune at the time, and that's all that they really cared about.
His crime was not gassing the Kurds and being a mass murderer: his crime was that he stopped obeying the Bushes.
And that's sickening.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Allstate to stop insuring homeowners in coastal areas.
Allstate Corp., one of Maryland's largest insurers, will stop writing homeowners' policies in coastal areas of the state, citing warnings by scientists that a warmer Atlantic Ocean will lead to more strong hurricanes hitting the Northeast.
The company will no longer offer new property insurance beginning in February in all or part of 11 counties mostly along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Existing customers won't be affected; a spokeswoman said Allstate intends to renew those policies even in coastal areas. It will continue to write new policies in Baltimore and Baltimore County.
"We have been looking at hurricane and storm projections, and we're going to see a lot more severe storms further north on the coastline," said Allstate spokeswoman Debbie Pickford. "We are working to minimize our risk."
Hammered by losses from storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, insurance companies are raising rates, dropping coverages and refusing to accept new customers in certain areas.
This has been happening for years in states such as Florida, where homeowners saw rates multiply or lost insurance altogether after Andrew flattened much of South Florida in 1992. Now the trend is edging north.
Allstate also decided recently to let thousands of homeowner policies lapse in the Carolinas, New York and Texas, and to no longer write new policies in parts of Virginia and all of Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey.
But why would you believe scientists and insurance companies when RUSH LIMBAUGH says it isn't so?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The debate over sending more U.S. troops to Iraq intensified yesterday as President Bush signaled that he will listen but not necessarily defer to balky military officers, while Gen. John P. Abizaid, his top Middle East commander and a leading skeptic of a so-called surge, announced his retirement. - Washington Post
I'M certainly resting easier, now.
However, they still don't know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
"We're not winning, we're not losing," - Bush, yesterday.
"Absolutely, we're winning." - Bush, just before the November elections.
Is he saying that sometime in the last month and a half, we STOPPED winning?
Or was he just full of shit the first time?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
This particular brainchild, however, has the support of (ready?) a whole ELEVEN PERCENT of the American People.
I do believe that Jack the Ripper would enjoy wider support.
And is UNANIMOUSLY opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
So whatcha think? You think Bush is actually going to ignore the overwhelming wishes of both the citizens and his own military command? In a desperate attempt to save himself a little face, at the expense of a few thousand more lives?
NOBODY could be THAT foolish and morally bankrupt, COULD they?
Unfortunately, one person COULD be that foolish and morally bankrupt.
And he's in the White House.
Monday, December 18, 2006
"Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come." - Robert Gates, Defense Secretary.
Which means that George W. Bush placed the United States in the way of CALAMITY by choosing to invade Iraq.
Potential gain: ZERO.
Potential loss: EVERYTHING.
And the idiot apparently STILL thinks that was a smart gamble.
Powell, in a sharp break with the Bush administration, offered a grim picture of the war. He said the United States is losing in Iraq and should seek to turn the situation around by making plans to hand over responsibility to Iraqis by mid-2007. - Boston Globe
Of course, what the hell does HE know? He's just the only one in the Bush administration who actually has a rat's ass worth of experience when it comes to conducting a war. Why listen to him? A bunch a fat chickenhawks who have a lot of theories on paper MUST know more about it.
The Bushites have begun to resemble those people in the asylum swearing that everybody else is crazy.
They seem to be the ONLY ones left who don't get it.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Got this from Sharon.
Craigslist meets the capitalists.
Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist, caused lots of head-scratching Thursday as he tried to explain to a bunch of Wall Street types why his company is not interested in “monetizing” his ridiculously popular Web operation. Appearing at the UBS global media conference in New York, Mr. Buckmaster took questions from the bemused audience, which apparently could not get its collective mind around the notion that Craigslist exists to help Web users find jobs, cars, apartments and dates — and not so much to make money.
Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a “a culture clash of near-epic proportions.” She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). “That definitely is not part of the equation,” he said, according to MediaPost. “It’s not part of the goal.”
“I think a lot of people are catching their breath right now,” Mr. Schachter said in response.
My God, they actually understand what the Internet is supposed to be about.
Monday, December 11, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.Maybe it's me, but I think that one obligation that we DO have is to take in any Iraqis that need to leave the hellhole we helped create and take them in. ANY of them. And especially Iraqi Christians, who now - thanks to US - have a government that has made their religion against the law.
The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.
How much you want to bet that the right-wingers will scream bloody murder at the very idea? They are all gung-ho at the idea of somebody ELSE sacrificing an arm or a leg or an eye or a life to "liberate" the Iraqi people (well, the non-Christian Iraqi people), but watch the reaction if you suggest that THEY cough up a few dollars to help one of those "liberated" folks live in their town.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 10 — President Jalal Talabani said Sunday that the American program to train Iraq’s security forces had been a repeated failure and he denounced a plan to increase the number of American advisers working with the Iraqi Army, saying it would subvert the country’s sovereignty....
American commanders have poured more than $12 billion into training and equipping Iraq’s security forces and have tied a withdrawal of American troops to success in these efforts. But Mr. Talabani ridiculed them. “What have they done so far in training the army and the police?” he said. “What they have done is move from failure to failure.”...
American and some Iraqi officials say some Iraqi police and army units are more beholden to Shiite militias than to the government and have helped to drive the cycles of retributive violence by attacking Sunni Arabs. Some Iraqi officials have also said that Sunni Arab officers have abetted the Sunni-led insurgency.
The Americans, Mr. Talabani said, “gathered them from the street regardless of their loyalty to the new Iraq, their capacity, their ability.”
So - the President of Iraq regards American attempts to train Iraqis as throwing money down a toilet - largely because we don't care WHO we train - we'll grab an Iraqi who is hostile to the new Government and say, "Hey, want to be in the army?"
AND he regards increasing our OWN troops as threatening their new soveriegnty.
Ok - so why the hell ARE we there?
So Bush can save a little face?
Using American soldiers' blood to do it?
Saturday, December 09, 2006
An Overdue Visit
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the nation
Friends of Freedom knew it was a special occasion.
Lady Liberty stood taller just off the shore
Her torch shining brighter than a few weeks before
But it wasn't the flame turning her cheeks all rosy
It was thoughts of Snowe, Feingold and Nancy Pelosi
And leaders from every side of the aisle
Who would soon bring the Bill of Rights back into style.
The Amendments had all hurried out of their beds -
Which was no easy task, they were nearly in shreds -
And they rushed to the window on papery feet
As a jolly old man flew right over their street.
"Could it be!?" they inquired as the roof shook and trembled
And they crept toward the mantle, peaceably assembled,
Just as someone emerged from the chimney with flair
In a shiny red suit, with a shock of white hair
And a top hat, and pants all in red, white and blue -
"Wait a minute," the Amendments exclaimed, "Who are you?"
"Don't be frightened my children," he said, "it's no scam.
"You can't have forgotten your old Uncle Sam!"
"Holy crap!" said Free Speech. "Stop right there!" yelled Bear Arms
And Privacy cried "Who shut off the alarms?!"
The Fifth remained silent, but Uncle Sam said
"We've been having some trouble, but Freedom's not dead."
The Amendments were cautious. "It's just been so long
"We've seen Liberty lost, we've seen so much go wrong.
"The President's trying to mangle and warp us,
"The Fourth is in tatters, so's Habeas Corpus!"
The old man sat down - he had had quite a ride -
But he told them "Don't worry, the Law's on our side,
"'Cause the nation's fed up and more people are crying
"For Justice and an end to illegal spying,
"And secret abductions by the CIA,
"And laws that would take women's choices away,
"And Gitmo tribunals and secret detention,
"And other intrusions too numerous to mention - "
"Not so fast," said a grinchity voice from above
And Don Rumsfeld pushed past the Fourteenth with a shove.
He was covered in soot and he looked kind of scary.
It seemed like his Christmas had not been so merry.
The Amendments said they weren't happy to see him:
"You tried to throw all of us in the museum!
"You've done so much the Constitution forbids!"
"And I would have gone on, but for you meddling kids!"
Uncle Sam told him "Rummy, your plans just won't do,
"So we've got a brand new timetable for you!"
And as Rumsfeld retired and crept into the night
The Amendments cried out "Have a good secret flight!"
From the distance they heard him reply with a snort.
"Bye-bye, Rummy!" they answered, "we'll see you in court!"
Uncle Sam rode the chimney up out of the room
And, like Frosty, he said "I'll be back again soon."
But they heard him exclaim "Oh, and just one more thing!
"This year, when the holiday bells start to ring,
"Try to honor religion. Honest faith can't be wrong.
"It's America, can't we all just get along?
"So, on Christian," he cried, "Muslim, Hindu, and Jew!
"On Quaker! On Shaker! And Atheist too!
"On Buddhist! On Taoist! And to show we're not chickens
"We'll file a few lawsuits defending the Wiccans!
"Your belief is your right, so get out there and savor it.
"Uncle Sam's not a preacher, and he doesn't play favorites!"
So this holiday season, whatever you do,
Warmest wishes for Freedom, from the ACLU.
You know, the right-wingers are always calling those of us who live on the coasts - in the Northeast and California - a bunch of liberal latte-sippers, while they're all a bunch of tough guys who fight, fight, fight.
The map above shows who is fight and dying in this war, and where they are from.
What many liberals and progressives don’t seem to understand is that banning Christmas is the linchpin of our entire agenda. As Mr. O’Reilly once astutely noted, the war on Christmas is “part of the secular-progressive agenda to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square” and pave the way for “secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, [and] gay marriage.” When the man is right, he's right.
I for one understand that Christmas is the only thing standing between me and my lifelong dream of euthanizing my relatives, grabbing their inheritance, buying lots of drugs, getting a sex change, and marrying a lesbian. If Nancy Pelosi is as dedicated to her San Francisco values as the conservative media say she is, then she should put ending Christmas and subsidizing my lifestyle at the top of her legislative agenda. After all, if Speaker Pelosi decided to forsake destroying Christmas in favor other policies, it could signal that the right-wing punditocracy has been exaggerating the left’s ambitions to abolish religion from the public square all along. And, really, what are the chances of that?
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Shortly after U.S. forces marched into Baghdad in 2003, The Weekly Standard published a jeering article titled, "The Cassandra Chronicles: The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers." Among those the article mocked was a "war novelist" named James Webb, who is now the senator-elect from Virginia.
The article's title was more revealing than its authors knew. People forget the nature of Cassandra's curse: although nobody would believe her, all her prophecies came true. And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war — a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats — gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.
At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"
Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.
Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been proved wrong, I'd like to offer some praise to those who got it right. Here's a partial honor roll:
Former President George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, explaining in 1998 why they didn't go on to Baghdad in 1991: "Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."
Representative Ike Skelton, September 2002: "I have no doubt that our military would decisively defeat Iraq's forces and remove Saddam. But like the proverbial dog chasing the car down the road, we must consider what we would do after we caught it."
Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."
Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."
Representative John Spratt, October 2002: "The outcome after the conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less certain."
Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."
Senator Russ Feingold, October 2002: "I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. … When the administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has much to do with the troubling phenomenon of many Americans questioning the administration's motives."
Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. … Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."
We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war — or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly — should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
WASHINGTON -- The bipartisan Iraq Study Group yesterday delivered a broad indictment of US strategy in Iraq, recommending that the military mission shift from combat to training local forces and urging the White House to enlist Syria and Iran to help rescue the "grave and deteriorating" situation.
Like Nixon before him, he has become completely isolated, a lone madman insisting that the rest of the world is crazy.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 Before assuming their congressional majority in January, Democrats have shocked lawmakers by announcing a full 5-day work week.
For much of this year, when the legislature wasn't in recess, the work week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon, but U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who will become House majority leader in January, said legislators will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will wrap up about 2 p.m. Friday.
Were you aware that Republican Congress' "work week" was Tuesday evening to Thursday morning? I sure wasn't. Sort of makes the fact that they have messed everything up even MORE infuriating, doesn't it?
The new calendar didn't sit well with everyone, including Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
"Keeping us up here eats away at families," Kingston told the Post. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."
You WORK for American families, you moron. They employ you.
The poor thing - spends his whole congressional life denying health care and decent wages to poor families, and then whines about having to work roughly that same hours - less actually - than all those families that he has legislatively screwed.
Remember when we had a President who was actually respected by the world?
If you wonder why t he world no longer respects us, remember: the voters sent the world a message that preferred NOT to be respected, but would rather have a callow, adolescent moron in charge instead of a grownup.
Admirers Swarm Bill Clinton in Hanoi
By BEN STOCKING
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 6, 2006; 8:09 AM
HANOI, Vietnam -- Former President Clinton was swarmed for autographs, handshakes and photographs on the streets of Hanoi Wednesday by throngs of admirers whose warm welcome contrasted sharply with the restrained reception given President Bush last month.
Clinton, in town to sign an agreement between his foundation and the Vietnamese to get more AIDS drugs to children, left the Hilton Hotel in the center of Hanoi, crossed an intersection buzzing with motorbikes, and strolled toward Hoan Kiem Lake, the spiritual heart of the city.
The United States normalized relations with its former foe under Clinton, who was greeted by adoring crowds when in 2000 he became the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the war ended in 1975.
"It feels great to be back," Clinton said as he set off for his stroll.
The feeling among most Vietnamese was mutual.
"I love you!" a young man shouted, reaching over the crowd for a handshake.
"There are no words to describe how happy I am," squealed 17-year-old Nguyen Thu Hang, jumping up and down and clutching Clinton's freshly signed autograph. "I'm going to frame this and hang it on my bedroom wall!"
Bush didn't emerge from inside tight security to mingle with crowds during his four-day visit to attend the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Outside of official meetings, the president's touring included a visit to Vietnam's stock exchange, where he struck a gong to open a day of trading. He then met with a group of Vietnamese and American businessmen.
Clinton came to Hanoi to sign an agreement with the Vietnamese government under which his Clinton Foundation will increase the amount of pediatric drugs it is providing to Vietnamese children living with HIV and AIDS.
The foundation provided medicine for 400 children in 2006, but plans to triple the number of children it is helping by the end of 2007.
Followed by Secret Service agents and Vietnamese police, Clinton stopped along a half-mile route to chat with his Vietnamese admirers before making his way to an art gallery in Hanoi's Old Quarter and then to the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, who led Vietnam's communist revolution.
After he and Health Minister Tran Thi Trung Chien signed the pediatric AIDS agreement, Clinton took part in a discussion about AIDS with several university students and a young woman living with HIV.
The Vietnamese government estimates that 260,000 Vietnamese people were infected with HIV last year, but public health experts think the actual number is higher. In Vietnam, most infections are linked to intravenous drug use and unprotected sex for money.
The Clinton Foundation's activities are being financed by UNITAID, an organization formed by France and 19 other nations that have earmarked a small portion of their airline tax revenues for HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mary Cheney, the openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and wife Lynne, is pregnant, according to a published report.
Mary Cheney, 37, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, 45, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions, quoting an unnamed source close to the couple.
You'd THINK something like this might help end the insane double standard of the right-wing, but don't expect it. Just watch while they turn cognitive dissonance into an art form.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
His answer: "No, sir."
That's pretty much everybody except for George W. Bush. Reality must not intrude on the boy's bubble.
UPDATE: Think Progress pointed this out:
Just weeks ago, President Bush expressed the opposite position. From 10/25/06:
REPORTER: Are we winning?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Absolutely, we’re winning.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Bush, of course, will probably nominate somebody just as unpalatable. Or at least try. But the poor liitle boy may actually have to nominate someone who isn't an extremist to get the nomination through. The rubber stamp is gone.
By PAUL KRUGMAN
At a reception following the midterm election, President Bush approached Senator-elect James Webb.
"How's your boy?" asked Mr. Bush.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," replied Mr. Webb, whose son, a Marine lance corporal, is risking his life in Mr. Bush's war of choice.
"That's not what I asked you," the president snapped. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," said Mr. Webb.
Good for him. We need people in Washington who are willing to stand up to the bully in chief. Unfortunately, and somewhat mysteriously, they're still in short supply.
You can understand, if not condone, the way the political and media establishment let itself be browbeaten by Mr. Bush in his post-9/11 political prime. What's amazing is the extent to which insiders still cringe before a lame duck with a 60 percent disapproval rating.
Look at what seems to have happened to the Iraq Study Group, whose mission statement says that it would provide an "independent assessment." If press reports are correct, the group did nothing of the sort. Instead, it watered down its conclusions and recommendations, trying to come up with something Mr. Bush wouldn't reject out of hand.
In particular, says Newsweek, the report "will set no timetables or call for any troop reductions." All it will do is "suggest that the president could, not should, begin to withdraw forces in the vaguely defined future."
And all this self-abasement is for naught. Senior Bush aides, Newsweek tells us, are "dismissive, even condescending" toward James Baker, the Bush family consigliere who is the dominant force in the study group, and the report. Of course they are. That's how bullies always treat their hangers-on.
Even now, it seems, the wise men of Washington can't bring themselves to face up to two glaringly obvious truths.
The first is that Americans are fighting and dying in Iraq for no reason.
It's true that terrible things will happen when U.S. forces withdraw. Mr. Bush was attacking a straw man when he mocked those who think we can make a "graceful exit" from Iraq. Everyone I know realizes that the civil war will get even worse after we're gone, and that there will probably be a bloody bout of ethnic cleansing that effectively partitions the country into hostile segments.
But nobody--not even Donald Rumsfeld, it turns out--thinks we're making progress in Iraq. So the same terrible things that would happen if we withdrew soon will still happen if we delay that withdrawal for two, three or more years. The only difference is that we'll sacrifice many more American lives along the way.
The second truth is that the war will go on all the same, unless something or someone forces Mr. Bush to change course.
During his recent trip to Vietnam, Mr. Bush was asked whether there were any lessons from that conflict for Iraq. His response: "We'll succeed unless we quit."
It was a bizarre answer given both the history of the Vietnam War and the facts on the ground in Iraq, but it makes perfect sense given what we know about Mr. Bush's character. He has never been willing to own up to mistakes, however trivial. If he were to accept the failure of his adventure in Iraq, he would be admitting, at least implicitly, to having made the mother of all mistakes.
So Mr. Bush will keep sending other men's children off to fight his war. And he'll always insist that Iraq would have been a great victory if only his successors had shared his steely determination.
Does this mean that we're doomed to at least two more years of bloody futility? Not necessarily. Last month the public delivered a huge vote of no confidence in Mr. Bush and his war. He's still the commander in chief, but the new majority in Congress can put a lot of pressure on him to at least begin a withdrawal.
I'm worried, however, that Democrats may have counted on the Iraq Study Group to provide them with political cover. Now that the study group has apparently wimped out, will the Democrats do the same?
Well, here's a question for those who might be tempted, yet again, to shy away from a confrontation with Mr. Bush over Iraq: How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a bully's ego?
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.
“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”
But what always really pisses me off about these people is that they think the only thing that matters is politics.
Nor did Mr. Rumsfeld seem confident that the administration would readily develop an effective alternative. To limit the political fallout from shifting course, he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.Here is Rumsfeld, talking about the fact that they all know that a policy which has KILLED THOUSANDS is a failure. And what the big concern? The POLITICAL fallout.
“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,” he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ”
They are far more worried about their sorry political lives than they are about the soldiers' and Iraqis' REAL ones.