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Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

WORDS AND DEEDS....Andrew Sullivan is perplexed by President Bush's admittedly incomprehensible approach to the Iraq war:

We were told by the president that the Iraq war was the critical battle in the war on terror, an effort of enormous stakes that we couldn't possibly lose. And then he went to war with half the troops necessary to win, with no plan for the aftermath, and refused to budge even when this became obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain.

This is followed by a long string of "He says [blank]" accompanied by evidence that Bush rather obviously doesn't believe [blank].

But it's not just the Iraq war and it's not just Bush. It's the entire Republican leadership. For example, they claim to be worried about nuclear terrorism, but they pay virtually no serious attention to counterproliferation issues and have routinely opposed proposals for tighter port security.

They claim to be concerned about the future financial impact of Social Security deficits, but for short-term electoral reasons they have blithely passed tax cuts and a Medicare prescription bill that do far more damage to our future finances than Social Security ever will.

They claim that democracy promotion is the cornerstone of their foreign policy, but they've budgeted only a pittance for programs that might genuinely encourage democracy, and have applied serious public pressure only to regimes that are already administration bte-noirs for other reasons.

I could go on, but I'll spare you. The obvious conclusion is that they didn't think Iraq was the central front on the war on terror back in 2002. They don't think nuclear terrorism is really that big a deal. They aren't worried about long term finances. And they don't really care very much about democracy promotion. They just say these things because they're convenient.

It's this simple: these guys say a lot of stuff they don't believe. Their words are largely meaningless. There's no paradox, and there's really not much point in trying to make it more complicated.

Kevin Drum 1:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (89)

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Comments

The only thing these guys are interested in is playing politics and literally destroying liberalism.

The reality is, they know that their base hates the concept of sacrifice. So you're never going to get any serious answers, because they're not interested in them.

Posted by: Karmakin on June 1, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

And then he went to war with half the troops necessary to win, with no plan for the aftermath,

What? Actually things are going pretty good in Iraq. As Rep. Steve King pointed out in Newsmax, Iraq is less violent than our nation's capital Washington, D.C. so things can't be going that badly in Iraq.

"Despite media coverage purporting to show that escalating violence in Iraq has the country spiraling out of control, civilian death statistics complied by Rep. Steve King, R-IA, indicate that Iraq actually has a lower civilian violent death rate than Washington, D.C."

"Using Pentagon statistics cross-checked with independent research, King said he came up with an annualized Iraqi civilian death rate of 27.51 per 100,000. While that number sounds high - astonishingly, the Iowa Republican discovered that it's significantly lower than a number of major American cities, including the nation's capital. "It's 45 violent deaths per 100,000 in Washington, D.C.," King told Crowley."

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

You are en fuego, Kevin. Keep it up.

Posted by: brewmn on June 1, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's very simple, Andy. George Bush is a liar and you are a fool. Oh yeah, and he really hates fags. You make Dennis Miller look profound.

Posted by: Pechorin on June 1, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing they care about is concentrating wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

That's it.

The social conservativism is a means to end. Its all about the money.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on June 1, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Al:

Who you gonna believe, your own lyin' eyes or some partisan hack from Iowa?

Posted by: brewmn on June 1, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, yup... Bush bad, Republicans bad, yadda yadda

Until Democrats build some self-generated traction, the public will continue to shrug their shoulders and say "whaddya gonna do?".

Lets get the circus going. Might be sound-bite time. "Had enough?" was offered by, of all people, Newt. BC2K had "They do not lead -- we will." However futile that turned out to be, it was damn catchy.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 1, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The paradox is Democratic politicians voted for the wars Bush wanted, while decrying his policies.

Posted by: Powerpuff on June 1, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Al, Al, Al.

Look around before making claims. The DC vs. Iraq comparison, though too stupid to actually require a rebuttal, received one anyway from Steve Benen.

Take a look.

Posted by: jhupp on June 1, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

More lies. Next thing you know, Kevin will say that borrowing half a trillion each year from China is a BAD thing! HA! It is just Bush's brilliant plan to bankrupt the commies!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 1, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

They are ruining the nation. It's not incompetance, its deliberate.

Bush has only two constituencies: Primarily the Uber Rich and secondarily the Uber rightwing fundementalist.

He's consistently shoveled money at the former, and paid lip service to the latter. The public interest, and running wars and all that, is way down on the list.

Its all about concentrating wealth and power to a very few select people and control the masses with extreme religiosity.

Posted by: Bubbles on June 1, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

This post should be the centerpiece for Campaign 2006.

Posted by: reino on June 1, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

As Rep. Steve King pointed out in Newsmax, Iraq is less violent than our nation's capital Washington, D.C. so things can't be going that badly in Iraq.

As Kieran Healy pointed out in Crooked Timber, if Iraq is as violent as DC, Rep. King should be fine spending a few days wandering around Bagdhad with a camcorder, taking in the sights, enjoying the restaurants, concerts and taxi rides.

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's just amazing that a man as perspicacious as Kevin Drum finds "President Bush's approach to the war in Iraq, incomprehensible

It's really, really simple, Kevin.

Immediately after 9/11 President Bush declared war on those who had brought war to us (the terrorists) and to thos nation states who harbor or support them.

And, as we all now know well, Saddam was a VERY active supporter of terrorists -- including Al Queda.

In a span of three weeks, we overthrew the government of Saddam and in the aftermath we've been rebuilding Iraq and fighting rearguard actions by Al Quaeda and Sunni Baathists who aren't happy with the results.

Is that simple enough for you, Kevin?

Our President took the fight to the enemy, and we've not had a succesful attack on our soil, since.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 1, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

And just one more data point of Bush administration seriousness about the "war on terror:" Yesterday, the administration cut funding for security in New York and Washington, DC by 40%.

Maybe Bush is hoping for another catastrophic attack before the mid-term elections. Although rational people might think allowing another attack or two would undermine Bush's "Only we can keep you safe!" demagoging, the mouth-breathers that make up his base (like, you, Al) would say that such attacks PROVE that Bush is doing a good job.

Posted by: Derelict on June 1, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Is that troll Al or parody Al?

Posted by: mr hostess on June 1, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: dumb as dirt

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

There are issues that Bush and company politic about, and issues that are action issues.

Iraq is a politics issues, as is national security, the war on terror, immigration, gay rights, etc.

These are issues where action is not necessary. They are there to either motivate the base, or divide the country.

But taxes . . . now that is an action issue -- tax rates, estate taxes, interest and dividends -- those are the issues that demand legislation. They bring in money for the donors, money for the base, money, money, money.

Let's talk gays, let's talk Iraq, Iran and North Korea, let's talk about immigration . . . let's talk, talk, talk.

But when it comes down to action . . .

Posted by: Dicksknee on June 1, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Said it before and say it again.

EVERYTHING with this administration is image and spin. ALL of the effort goes into just doing anything to afford an opportunity for those elements -- make sure the setting is photogenic and that the president cannot be "shot" at bad angles. Make sure that at every angle there is signage with a short brief phrase emphasizing a positive point. Base all of this on a firm belief that most people get theiir news from TV and remember only the image and the first 10-15 seconds of any story.

Policy is for losers. Anybody who opposes us on issues of fact and policy is an enemy and our response will immediately be not to argue the facts but to discredit the opponent through any means possible.

Planning for contingencies is for idiots because our cause is so pure and just and clear that we KNOW what will happen -- roses at our feet, democracy sweeping the Middle East, nations bowing before our mighty armies.

Oops!

Posted by: dweb on June 1, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

**Iraq is less violent than our nation's capital Washington, D.C.**

Al, if you choke to death in a fire, would you claim you didn't die from burning? The sorry state in D.C. proves nothing about Iraq.

And while D.C. may have more officially-defined crime, Iraq is head over heels more violent.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 1, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin-

Please do go on. I think you could compile a really useful list of blatant hypocrisies, lies, and self-contradictions made by Bush and other key people on the right in the last six years. We could all probably do something similar off the top of our head, but I think you could do an especially good job of it, and it would be useful as a long-term tool to have it all in one place (especially when commenters have made their additions). Even apart from the upcoming elections, clear hypocrisy and lies are a very strong tools for convincing Bush supporters that he's done bad things. Not everyone, apparently, believes torture is bad, but almost everyone believes that large-scale lying by our President is bad.

Posted by: Thimy on June 1, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Our only problem is that we've been lectured too for decades by holier than thou conservatives. Thus, naturally, when they take power, we expect them to, well, have a belief system. You know: small govt, low taxes, pay as you go, etc, plus bringing big business management skills to govt.

They act like people without a belief system. They act like people with only one goal: to hold onto power so they and their friends can make lots of money (and continue to hold onto power).

I have finally concluded that this is the truth. The lectures of yesteryear were a coverup for the fact they have no belief system. It's just political opportunism and greed.

Posted by: camille roy on June 1, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

As I've said here, all of this has taken place because of the fundamental lack of respect in American political discourse.

If no one from either party respects the voters, why would they bother to tell them difficult and unpleasant truths? A sign of disrespect isn't just that rival partisans dehumanize each other, but they patronize their own supporters. They tell them exactly what they want to hear and never tell them a serious problem could be of their own creation.

The end result is that our 'leaders' begin to drink their own Kool-Aid and think their side does have the exclusive set of solutions, that they can do no wrong, or that the other side is 100 % wrong and harmful, even demons. So it gets even worse.

What does everyone think of this idea? I think it's a pretty accurate description.

Posted by: tacitean on June 1, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

For further evidence of Bush's mendacity, indolence and recklesness, onsider this op-ed in today's New York Times from retired Marine Col. Thomas X. Hammes:

"Next, the administration deeply cut financing for democratization efforts, many of them undertaken by nongovernmental groups. The proposed budget for fiscal 2007 asks for a paltry $63 million. This token sum in a war that costs some $200 million a day may simply reflect a belief that the security situation prevents such efforts from being effective. But democratization has always been one of the administration's cherished goals, and cutting spending there sends the wrong message.

"The latest administration budget also recommends cutting overall Army and Marine troop strength. If Mr. Bush and his advisers are really committed to sustained support for the 'long war' in Iraq, how do they reconcile that with cutting the budgets for the most engaged forces?

"President Bush and his aides have also repeatedly hinted at significant troop reductions in Iraq this year perhaps to as low as 100,000 from the current 130,000. This is despite the growing violence in Baghdad and the fact that our military leaders in Iraq have consistently said that we can withdraw troops safely only if conditions improve. The administration may simply be talking fewer troops to reassure the electorate before midterms. Unfortunately, American voters are not the only audience. What do the Iraqis think?

"The administration has long stated that the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams groups of 100 or so political, economic, legal and civil-military relations specialists who help distribute aid and advise regional Iraqi officials, which have had success in Afghanistan are critical to our strategy in Iraq. Yet The Washington Post reported in mid-April that only 4 of the proposed 16 teams had even been inaugurated.

"In addition, the Army staffs and units in Iraq, even those training Iraqi security forces, continue to be undermanned. Meanwhile, former colleagues outside the war zone in the Joint Forces Command, the European Command and the Pacific Command tell me their commands remain at full strength. It seems the Pentagon does not consider the Iraq war important enough to shift from its peacetime manning models.

"Last, the administration has repeatedly said efficient and law-abiding Iraqi security forces are central to our strategy, yet has failed to provide them with more than minimal equipment. Three years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, most Iraq troops are still using open-backed trucks and unarmored S.U.V.'s.

"Let's face it: this laundry list of inaction on the part of the Bush administration leaves a prudent Iraqi with no practical choice but to prepare for a United States withdrawal long before the Iraqi central government and security forces are capable of running the nation. For most Iraqis Arab or Kurd, Sunni or Shiite this will mean looking to religious and ethnic militias, criminal gangs and Islamist insurgents for protection. This, in turn, greatly increases the chance of civil war....."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/01/opinion/01hammes.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

No terror attacks on our soil since 9/11.O k .Bill Clinton must be a genius he did not have a terror attack after 93 and he spent 1/10 the money doing so and only a handful of dead americans. Norman Rogers What a Bush!!

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

We were told by the president that the Iraq war was the critical battle in the war on terror, an effort of enormous stakes that we couldn't possibly lose. And then he went to war with half the troops necessary to win, with no plan for the aftermath, and refused to budge even when this became obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain

Duh.

If you were a War Profiteer - how would YOU trick people into starting and fighting a war?

Follow the money.
Always follow the money.
Republican Culture of Corruption.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 1, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Politicians have always been saying things they don't believe. It's the actions that the current administration undertakes that's been the problem. They start something, never finish and expect to be bailed out or ignored with the passage of time. George is probably marking off the days on his calendar until January '09.

Posted by: Cali4nian on June 1, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'm going to recommend you read two posts by Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

She was trying to figure out what [bush] meant by his remarks.

Nothing, I told her. He meant nothing. Bush doesn't really talk to us. When it's advantageous or required, he'll go through the motions of talking to us; but that's all. What it "means" is that he either has to do it, like the State of the Union speech; or he wants something from us, like votes; or he's tossing out a string of words calculated to endear him to some fraction of the citizenry, like "manned missions to Mars" or "Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage." He doesn't care what he's saying, and afterward he doesn't consider himself bound by what he's said.
The implications are unpleasant. Someone who doesn't care that he's lying to you, and doesn't care that you know it, doesn't respect you, and doesn't consider you part of his social or political universe. Look at how many disparate reasons Bush has tendered for cutting taxes for the rich, or going to war with Iraq. The only connection between those statements and his actions is that he believed that saying those things would get him what he wants.
Source
Sometimes you can divine meaning from multiple statements. For instance, Bush said that the strong economy he inherited was a good reason to cut taxes. Later, when the economy slumped, he said that that was a good reason to cut taxes. He's come up with quite a number of other reasons for cutting taxes. What we can divine from this is that (1.) he intended all along to cut taxes; (2.) his desire to cut taxes is independent of the state of the U.S. economy; and (3.) the reasons he gives the general public for his tax cuts are meaningless.
The same goes for his multiple justifications for the war in Iraq. In that case, what we can divine is that he intended all along to go to war with Iraq, and that the reasons he gave us for doing so were essentially meaningless.
Sorry about that. It's how language works. This is like the story about the fellow whose defense is that the other guy's fall from a high window was an accident, not murder; furthermore, the guy wasn't pushed, he jumped; furthermore, he was somewhere else that day; and finally, he was only acting in self-defense. Any one of them might be true, but there's no way they can all be true.
In truth, the only reliable index of Bush's intentions are his actions. That wouldn't be a problem if he were running a private business, but he isn't. He's supposed to tell us what he's up to. Objecting when he fails to do so doesn't make us whiny subservients who can't understand a paternalistic management style. It makes us citizens.
Source bush and his apologists will use any and every excuse to avoid responsibility for their deeds. In the end, the final answer will be to trot out the age-old Dolchstosslegende: the stab in the back caused by not clapping hard enough to save Tinkerbell. Why did we lose Viet-Nam? Those libs weren't clapping hard enough. Why did we lose Iraq? Those libs weren't clapping hard enough. At no point in time will the conservatives ever admit that they screwed up. And their method of withdrawing from bush will be to claim he is too liberal and not conservative enough, as they learn that bush lied to them too. Posted by: Tangurena on June 1, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I have an Idea let's collect money to buy a nice camcorder,We will send anyone on this thread first class to Iraq with cancorder and a nice bulletproof veat that says PRESS and have you find all the nice little stories you are always going on about.I elect AL and American Hawk to be the first two to go.

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Saddam was a VERY active supporter of terrorists -- including Al Queda."

Wrong. Saddam did not support or collaborate with al Qaeda in any way. In addition, bin Ladin condemned the Baathist government of Iraq.

Moron.

Posted by: Joel on June 1, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I see a pretty consistent method behind the madness. These folks and their supporters want to bankrupt the federal government because they don't believe in it. They want to deflate any hope or confidence in the federal governemnt because they don't believe in it. I have never bought into the incompetence line. They look like they'e failing because nothing works and no positive change happens because we're duped into playing along s if their goals are worthy but their goals are to marginalize the federal government every way possible. Katrina was a logical end point of their plans. They know there will be lots of collateral damage but heh, this is war.

Posted by: kck on June 1, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, another good post.

Considering that it is a poorly publicized fact that George W. Bush wanted to invade Iraq before he was even elected, why are we still acting astonished when the invasion and occupation of a deeply divided and unwelcoming country continues to go poorly?

The invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism or spreading democracy or any other high-minded fluff that the neo-cons like to spread around. It had everything to do with an infantile, emotionally retarded, spoiled rich kid trying to prove he was more macho than his daddy.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 1, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: Our President took the fight to the enemy, and we've not had a succesful attack on our soil, since.

To say you're using specious reasoning is an understatement. We also haven't had an attack since President Bush stood at ground zero and used a megaphone, so by your logic we just need Bush to stand on top of rubble and shout jingoistic slogans and we'll be safe. You're "argument" is the same one as can be used to "prove" that voodoo works: action A occurred before action B, thus action A caused action B. If sympathetic magic is your idea of sound foreign policy... well, keep voting republican.

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

As Kieran Healy pointed out in Crooked Timber, if Iraq is as violent as DC, Rep. King should be fine spending a few days wandering around Bagdhad with a camcorder, taking in the sights, enjoying the restaurants, concerts and taxi rides.

*sigh*....From the Carpetbagger Report:

1) The King report uses 2002 data for Washington, D.C., finding a violent casualty rate of 45.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That number is badly outdated. Using the most recent 2004 data, the violent casualty rate in D.C. is 35.8 deaths per 100,000. There were 198 homicides total in D.C. for the entire year.

2) According to Pentagon's own data released today, there have been 94 violent casualties per day in Iraq between February and May of 2006. (see p.33). That translates into 34,310 deaths per year in Iraq. For an Iraqi population of about 26.7 million, plus another 150,000 coalition forces, the violent casualty rate in Iraq is 128 deaths per 100,000.

Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

What was I thinking sending AL and American Hawk would only require one ticket.Sorry

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton said he did not have sexual relations with that woman.

Posted by: American Fuck on June 1, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Kevin, on so many levels.

Posted by: Moe is me on June 1, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"The obvious conclusion is that they didn't think Iraq was the central front on the war on terror back in 2002."

The obvious conclusion is that the administration itself doesn't believe there is any such thing as a 'war on terror' except as a tool to obtain votes from nervous hawks and undecideds. It's worked for them pretty well so far so there won't be any let up on the rhetoric (or any real muscle put into salvaging Afghanistan or Iraq).

Posted by: michael farris on June 1, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Our President took the fight to the enemy, and we've not had a succesful attack on our soil, since.

To follow up on cyntax above, Norman appears to be using Homer Simpson logic:

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks about this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Andrew Sullivan:

I need to spend thousands of words to avoid saying the obvious: Conservative Republicans are not doing a good job and it looks like Conservative Republican Philsophy is not very good at solving today's problems.

Even Shorter Andrew Sullivan:

No matter how many times they pull away the football, I will run for it EVERY TIME.

Posted by: Alderaan on June 1, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Tax cut were not passed for "short-term electoral reasons".
They were passed to further enrich his class.

Posted by: nyccynic on June 1, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Andy Sullivan: I'm really not that smart, am I?

In other news, last night's PBS NewsHour had an interesting segment from an embryonic political party that, if nothing else, has the insight to point out the obvious: The American political system is profoundly broken. Check out the Unity Party.

Posted by: sglover on June 1, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, next you'll be saying that used car salesmen can't be trusted when they say a car was only used by a granny to go back and forth to church.

Occam's razor in action--once you accept that Republicans will lie about ANYTHING, no matter how serious or consequential (or stupid) these lies prove to be, the last 10 years suddenly make sense.

Posted by: theorajones on June 1, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have an Idea let's collect money to buy a nice camcorder,We will send anyone on this thread first class to Iraq with cancorder and a nice bulletproof veat that says PRESS and have you find all the nice little stories you are always going on about.I elect AL and American Hawk to be the first two to go.

Good luck to them. More reporters have been killed in the three years we've been in Iraq than in the ten years we were in Viet Nam or during WWII. But hey that's not cause Iraq is dangerous or anything; it's cause the reporters are staying their safe hotel rooms and shooting themselves so they can avoid reporting all the good news out there.

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

That's it I know anyone over the age of 35 can run for President,But dammit there needs to be at least an IQ test before being able to run for office.That would have kept G.W. in Texas where inbreeding is legal.

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I believe it would actually be "btes-noirs."

Posted by: Adam Kotsko on June 1, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"It's this simple: these guys say a lot of stuff they don't believe."

Imho it's even more scandalous: these guys really don't believe anything they say in public.

Posted by: Gray on June 1, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: *sigh*....

was that sigh directed at me ?

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Newsmax Myth Persist?

Its sad how resiliently these wingnuts cling to their ridiculous myths. Stefan does a good job of addressing the ridiculous myth that Iraq has fewer violent deaths than DC, but it bears emphasising that the comparison is even more silly than these liberal sites have demonstrated.

First of course, King's numbers dont even follow the Pentagon data he alleges they do. It is inexplicable how he came up with a number that was only a small fraction of what the Pentagon data suggests. But perhaps even more importantly the Pentagon describes its figures as highly "inconclusive" and is only a vague survey of Coalition responses to reports of violence. The methodology guarantees that it represents only a small fraction of the total violent deaths in Iraq. It is NOT even close to a comprehensive survey of all violent deaths from the war let alone due to all violent causes nor is it intended as such.

That King trumpets his figure as a legitmate comparison demonstrates fairly conclusivly that either King is an ignorant rube or a mendacious liar or both. The fact that so many rightwingers are so quick to trumpet this obviously false comparison reflects how far removed from reality they cleary have become.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 1, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

To follow up on cyntax above, Norman appears to be using Homer Simpson logic...

Yaaaay! Troll killing + Homer Simpson reference = Doublewhammygoodness. Nice one Stefan.

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

One thing no one mentions about the president is how simply vain he must be. Bush always has a picture of what he should be, of what the world should be, in him. There is always a role to fill. In this way, he is not original at all, only an imitation of past grandeur. And let's face it, America's vanity was also hurt with 9/11, which is why we followed him. We wanted to believe the grandeur was real. It's not.

Posted by: Moe is me on June 1, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Lol. Check the trackbacks from Sullivan.

The War is Over, and We Won
By Karl Zinsmeister

Your editor returned to Iraq in April and May of 2005 for another embedded period of reporting. I could immediately see improvements compared to my earlier extended tours during 2003 and 2004. The Iraqi security forces, for example, are vastly more competent, and in some cases quite inspiring. Baghdad is now choked with traffic. Cell phones have spread like wildfire. And satellite TV dishes sprout from even the most humble mud hovels in the countryside.

Many of the soldiers I spent time with during this spring had also been deployed during the initial invasion back in 2003. Almost universally they talked to me about how much change they could see in the country. They noted progress in the attitudes of the people, in the condition of important infrastructure, in security.

I observed many examples of this myself. Take the two very different Baghdad neighborhoods of Haifa Street and Sadr City. The first is an upper-end commercial district in the heart of downtown. The second is one of Baghdads worst slums, on the citys north edge.

I spent lots of time walking both neighborhoods this springsomething that would not have been possible a year earlier, when both were active war zones, where tanks poured shells into buildings on a regular basis. Today, the primary work of our soldiers in each area is rebuilding sewers, paving roads, getting buildings repaired and secured, supplying schools and hospitals, getting trash picked up, managing traffic, and encouraging honest local governance.

Posted by: Mario on June 1, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

The best response I've seen to clowns like Norman Rogers is from the author of Belgravia Dispatch, who is not at all in the "out of Iraq now" camp. He's another guy who honestly thought the war was necessary, but has been dismayed by the outcome. He says:

BTW, I've got a new policy in these parts. I won't waste a second refuting any blogger who declares the Sunni insurgency "fundamentally finished" anymore. Because time is too tight, and playing with the kiddies in the sandbox arguing such prima facie bullshit isn't in the cards anymore. Those who believe that are simply abject cretins, and must be allowed to go their merry ways, thinking things are swell and hunky-dory. Life is too short, and we're done suffering fools over here.

I think Sullivan's idiotic statement falls whithin the scope of this sentiment, too.

Posted by: sglover on June 1, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

A protest sign someone recently displayed.

"wOULD SOMEBODY GIVE GEORGE A BLOW JOB SO WE CAN IMPEACH HIM."

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 1, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK
The obvious conclusion is that they didn't think Iraq was the central front on the war on terror back in 2002. They don't think nuclear terrorism is really that big a deal. They aren't worried about long term finances. And they don't really care very much about democracy promotion. They just say these things because they're convenient.

It's this simple: these guys say a lot of stuff they don't believe. Their words are largely meaningless. There's no paradox, and there's really not much point in trying to make it more complicated.

There is an even more simple explanation: partisanship + incompetence = disaster. Its not that they dont believe what they say, they actually sort of do. But as Bush himself said, he isnt analytical and doesnt put much thought into it. Its not that they are lying, so much as they quick to leap to politically convenient responses and dont really put any effort into figuring out how to fix the real underlying problems. With a Bush CEO style Presidency they apparently believe that good politics automatically makes good policy and that if they believe what they want it will somehow magically come to be and if it doesnt they will blame someone else.

In this administration its not just deficits that dont matter to them, but competence, real policy and carry through.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 1, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

cleek: was that sigh directed at me ?

No, sorry, at "Al."

Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

That King trumpets his figure as a legitmate comparison demonstrates fairly conclusivly that either King is an ignorant rube or a mendacious liar or both. The fact that so many rightwingers are so quick to trumpet this obviously false comparison reflects how far removed from reality they cleary have become.

As Catch22 notes this is both a pernicious and persistent meme, but one that is truly worth going after. King's data and method are not spelled out on the Newsmax site. There is only a mention of Pentagon data and "independent research." Whose research and from where? Iraq the Bodycount verifies their data from at least two independent news sources before adding any figures and their body count by day for year three is 36 dead. Is anyone going to argue that any city in the US has more than 36 people a day dying from violent deaths?

That anyone would bother to cite something as obviously falacious as King's "report" is a breathtaking demonstration of idiocy.

Al I salute you!

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

To get an idea of the version of reality fed to Bush and how he could possibly not see what Mr. Sullivan says anybody can see look no futher than this article from less than a year ago by Bush's newly minted chief domestic policy advisor:


The War is Over, and We Won
By Karl Zinsmeister, June 20, 2005

http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleID.18615/article_detail.asp

"But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war."

Nor is the fact that Bush places yet another political hack whose deeds include fraudulently posting an edited article about him as the unedited original any more surprising.

http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/05/karl-zinsmeister-should-lose-his-white.html


Partisanship + Incompetence = Complete disaster.

Whether or not they believe what they are saying or not, I cant say nor is it really relevant to the ultimate outcome.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 1, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone seen a site with a good list of the Bush initiatives that say one thing, but the result is or would be opposite?

Clear skies - Dirtier Air
Mission Accomplish - Not
Bush was going to lower the deficit - Increased
Bring honor and integrity to the White House - Right
Bush was going to reduce terrorisms - it has increased
Save Social Security by destroying it
etc

Posted by: Robert on June 1, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

There are two movie lines that come to my mind frequently when discussing politicians.

The first from Blazing Saddles, "Gentlemen, we've got to save our phony baloney jobs."

And the second from Used Cars, when Rudy (Kurt Russell) realizes he's a perfect candidate for office because he "wants to tell the people what they want to hear."

Boy, howdy.

No one better than the Republican'ts lately to tell the people what they want to hear in order to save their phony baloney jobs.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 1, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

The rapture will happen before any of these problems come home to roost, so why bother letting any of them get your knickers in a twist?

Posted by: marcel on June 1, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Moe is me: "Bush always has a picture of what he should be, of what the world should be...."

Good point! Bush is a salesman, and the image is everything. Over on BagnewsNotes we have had several discussions about this recently. One conversation occured after Bush admitted that he made "mistakes" in Iraq, namely people misinterpreted his tough talk: "Saying bring it on. Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. But I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, wanted dead or alive. That kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned from that.

And on May 24, he stated at a Philadelphia Congressional Dinner that "The enemy cannot defeat us on the battlefield, but what they can do is put horrible images on our TV screens."

In other words, it doesn't matter what Bushco DOES as long as the marketing campaign, the words and images, sells the product. This is like saying that the only thing the US did wrong at Abu Ghraib was let soldiers bring in cameras.

Posted by: PTate in MN on June 1, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Kevin observes once again that Andrew Sullivan is an idiot. Gee, five years into his term he just discovers that Bush says just about anything - but doesn't do much of anything?

Please Kevin all this time thinking about what Beinert or Sullivan might think, might make you feel intellectually superior, but it doesn't help understand the world one iota. They're paid hacks. Peretz and now Time fund Sullivan, and Beinert just Peretz.

Because yes, idiot is unfair. They're paid to be stupid and they're pretty good at it.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on June 1, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: Our President took the fight to the enemy, and we've not had a succesful attack on our soil, since.


I missed it, when did we attack Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on June 1, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Immediately after 9/11 President Bush declared war on those who had brought war to us

Remind us, Norman Rogers, what part of the Constitution says the President gets to declare war? Sheesh, what a moron.

Posted by: Gregory on June 1, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

The beauty part of this gag was that Lisa thinks a moment, and then sells Homer her rock.

Posted by: Gregory on June 1, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: dumb as dirt


Hey! No fair!

Posted by: Dirt on June 1, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan is a Deaniac who likes to invade foreign countries.

Posted by: Linus on June 1, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

The great convenience of neocon thinking is that it's based on six or seven big ideas that don't actually fit together but can be given the appearance of fitting together given the right soundbyte formation. Democrats gamely deconstruct this stuff, and are "perplexed" that it doesn't make any sense.

Which amuses the heck out of the neocons, because they knew all along that it was hooey.

It's the political theory version of the exploding cigar, and we Democrats fall for it every time.

Posted by: erica on June 1, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! No fair!

sorry, Dirt. i was thinking of that other dirt: the one that hasn't achieved sentience.

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

There's no paradox ...

I can agree with that.

The "plan" for post-war reconstruction was to let Iraqis develop the plans for post-war reconstruction, and to improvise everything. That was the part of post-WWII reconstruction in Japan and Germany that worked. but in both places it took longer than 3 years.

Had there been an actual plan, it would certainly have been abandoned, as were the State Department plans for Japan.

Did you read Sullivan's endorsement of Kerry for pres. in 2004? He was certain that Kerry would change his position on Iraq upon getting elected.

Posted by: republicrat on June 1, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Where have you been? This has been going on since his initial election campaign, i.e. before he was president.

I'll be kinder- how many times have you written that same blog? Maybe you can go back and check and see if the frequency is increasing.

Posted by: worldserious on June 1, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

The "plan" for post-war reconstruction was to let Iraqis develop the plans for post-war reconstruction, and to improvise everything. That was the part of post-WWII reconstruction in Japan and Germany that worked.

The plan in post-WWII reconstruction in Germany and Japan was not, in any way, to let the Germans and Japanese develop the plans and improvise everything. The Americans were in charge and oversaw all the details.

but in both places it took longer than 3 years.

One reason it worked in Germany and Japan was because it took place after the war -- the German and Japaense governments had surrendered and US combat casualties in Germany and Japan after V-E and V-J Day, respectively, were zero. Reconstruction took place when there was no more fighting.

The Iraq War, by contrast, is still going on, over three years after it started, and we're no closer to winning it now than we were three years ago -- in fact, we're even further away. That's why comparisons to post-war Germany and Japan are grossly facile, inaccurate and misleading -- the correct comparison is to another colonial guerilla/civil war such as Vietnam.

Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Did you read Sullivan's endorsement of Kerry for pres. in 2004? He was certain that Kerry would change his position on Iraq upon getting elected.

Uh, no. But maybe you could remind why I should care what Silly Sully said about Kerry?

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

There is another perspective on the Republican discrepancy between speech and follow-through.

George Bush and his fellow movement conservatives believe most government is a result of decades of bloated social programs and over-taxing, brought upon the country by liberals and Democrats.

Republicans may voice concern about nuclear proliferation, terrorism, the spread of democracy, disaster relief, financial security, etc. etc. Some may actually believe what they say. But they seem to view the policies they implement more as an experiment to see just how little government involvement is needed in order accomplish their stated aims.

If their weakly funded and poorly administered policies fail, true movement conservatives believe it is because government was never intended to do the market's business in the first place. If the market doesn't do it, they reason, then the task has no economic value and is therefore unimportant.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 1, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

As Stephan points out in his handy summary of the Carpetbagger Report, the actual facts show that the violent casualty rate in Iraq is almost 4 times that of Washington, D.C.

Of course, the difference is obviously far greater than that. For one thing, King is comparing a country as a whole with what he apparently considers to be a single dangerous urban area. If he had claimed that the violent casualty rate is the same for the entire U.S. as it is for Iraq, or that the violent casualty rate is the same for metropolitan D.C. and the Sunni triangle, then we might be on the trail of a legitimate comparison.

Then again, maybe not. After all, there's the nagging little fact that Iraq is under military occupation, which is supposed to help suppress violent casualties. D.C., on the other hand, is only under republican party occupation, and the only interesting affect on local crime rates are therefore to be found in bribery and influence peddling.


As Kieran Healy pointed out in Crooked Timber, if Iraq is as violent as DC, Rep. King should be fine spending a few days wandering around Bagdhad with a camcorder, taking in the sights, enjoying the restaurants, concerts and taxi rides.

*sigh*....From the Carpetbagger Report:

1) The King report uses 2002 data for Washington, D.C., finding a violent casualty rate of 45.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That number is badly outdated. Using the most recent 2004 data, the violent casualty rate in D.C. is 35.8 deaths per 100,000. There were 198 homicides total in D.C. for the entire year.

2) According to Pentagon's own data released today, there have been 94 violent casualties per day in Iraq between February and May of 2006. (see p.33). That translates into 34,310 deaths per year in Iraq. For an Iraqi population of about 26.7 million, plus another 150,000 coalition forces, the violent casualty rate in Iraq is 128 deaths per 100,000.
Posted by: Stefan on June 1, 2006 at 2:16 PM |

Posted by: keith on June 1, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's why the new term for them is "Repubican'ts"

Posted by: TCinLA on June 1, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: lami on June 1, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

What more can be said. Are they evil or just amoral? what ever it is, I fear we are watching the end of our republic as we knew it. History teaches us that in a revolution, and in a true sense that is what this is, there is no way to predict the outcome... may good people stand up and do the right thing

Posted by: jim on June 1, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

'If their weakly funded and poorly administered policies fail, true movement conservatives believe it is because government was never intended to do the market's business in the first place. If the market doesn't do it, they reason, then the task has no economic value and is therefore unimportant.'
--pj in jesusland

pj,

As I'm sure you know, capitalism is an economic philosophy, not a political one. Nor was it ever intended to tell anyone how to govern. These people are very confused....

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 2, 2006 at 6:44 AM | PERMALINK

For Kevin and the rest of you morons who can't admit to understanding (or are really to stupid to understand) our President's defense policy, Our President's Commencement Address to the graduating class of West Point might help you out.

Then again, you're all most likely beyond help (those tin foil hats turn out to amplify Government signals).

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 2, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

How amusing that Norman Rogers points us to the President's words, when the subject of the thread is that the President's deeds don't match up. What a moron...

Posted by: Gregory on June 2, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Norman Rogers?

We're always looking for good people, Sir.

Posted by: Ringling Bros. on June 2, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks there are any other principles but these driving BushCo:
1. maintaining power at all costs
2. rewarding their friends

is not paying attention.

They. Do. Not. Care.

If they cared about the things they claim to care about, they wouldn't be doing what they have been doing for the last 5+ years.

Posted by: JB (not John Bolton) on June 2, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I can see that you are a divider not a uniter.
To quote Bluto as Flounder was crying over his brother's destroyed Lincoln - "Hey you F--ed up, you trusted us!"
All the Republican party believes in is the concentration of wealth. Period. End of Story. Everything else is B.S.

Posted by: phg on June 2, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Kriz,

The economic tracts by movement economists I have read (e.g. Fair Play by Steven Landsburg) integrate economics and government so thoroughly there is little distinction between them.

Republican "New Ideas" basically revolve around looking at everything from an economic perspective. Nothing has intrinsic value -- everything is valuable to the extent a prie can be put on it.

Conservatives believe that trees are valuable not because the are beautiful or because they play an important role in the ecosystem but because they represent resources that can be converted into cash.

This theme repeats itself over and over again -- with art, music, natural resources, even people . . . everything and everyone has a cash value and nothing except the Conservative Movement itself has intrinsic value.

Capitalism isn't a branch of philosophy -- it's the corruption of philosophy.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 2, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, I'm repeating the quote I posted above, especially for you. Read it s-l-o-w-l-y, and you might understand it this time:

BTW, I've got a new policy in these parts. I won't waste a second refuting any blogger who declares the Sunni insurgency "fundamentally finished" anymore. Because time is too tight, and playing with the kiddies in the sandbox arguing such prima facie bullshit isn't in the cards anymore. Those who believe that are simply abject cretins, and must be allowed to go their merry ways, thinking things are swell and hunky-dory. Life is too short, and we're done suffering fools over here.

Posted by: sglover on June 2, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Republican "New Ideas" basically revolve around looking at everything from an economic perspective. Nothing has intrinsic value -- everything is valuable to the extent a prie can be put on it.

Conservatives believe that trees are valuable not because the are beautiful or because they play an important role in the ecosystem but because they represent resources that can be converted into cash.

This theme repeats itself over and over again -- with art, music, natural resources, even people . . . everything and everyone has a cash value and nothing except the Conservative Movement itself has intrinsic value.

Excellent point. I think a corollary is their concept of "freedom", which as far as I can tell goes no further than maximizing some imagined number (call it "C") of choices. So, if you're talking to a Republican about, say, health care, increasing the number of insurance schemes is at least as important (if not more so) than the actual clinical well-being of the population.

Posted by: sglover on June 2, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

sglover,

Well said.

FYI, freedom, according to Landsburg, can also mean the freedom to discriminate. Anti-discrimination laws reduce choice and are therefore bad.

According to Landsburg (author of "Fair Play"), white landlords should be allowed to exercise racial preferences in selecting people to live in their apartment buildings because this will incentivize non-whites to build more apartment buildings, which is good for the economy.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 3, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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