Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PEACE BY AUGUST?....In the middle of a good story about the bipartisan opposition to President Bush's surge plan, the Washington Post tells us that Bush hopes violence in Baghdad can be tamped down soon:

If that happens, the White House hopes the troop buildup then will succeed in bringing enough stability to Baghdad by August that U.S. forces can withdraw to the city outskirts. And officials said it must be sustained. "By the end of the year, Baghdad's got to look significantly different," said a National Security Council official not authorized to speak on the record.

It's absurd to think that Bush's new strategy is going to stabilize Baghdad so quickly and thoroughly that we can get our troops out by August. If that's truly what he thinks, then Bush is either (a) even more deluded than I thought or (b) even more cynical than I thought. Maybe both.

Kevin Drum 7:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (163)

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The Iraq Guard duty is about to enter its historically "quiet" period. The next 1/2 F.U. has been some of the quietest months each of the last few years of the occupation.

Hopefully W, won't claim that the lull is the result of the addition of 2 Brigades (Read Casey's plan for the increases).

Posted by: goalkeeper on January 13, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - maybe those Patriot missile batteries will help tamp down the Scuds the insurgents have been launching.

Posted by: Max Power on January 13, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

The correct answer would be:
(a) even more deluded than I thought.

Posted by: jay boilswater on January 13, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't we long since ventured into "fitness to serve" territory?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

But hey, as LA Times says today, you must never forget the ethical lapses of Bill Clinton!

Posted by: gregor on January 13, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

But hey, as LA Times says today, you must never forget the ethical lapses of Bill Clinton!

Yeah, man, the Blowjob of Mass Destruction. Such, such were the days.

Posted by: Old Hat on January 13, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have heard rumors on other sites that we may get an impeachment resolution by other means. Here is how I understand it: In the Jefferson's Manual there is a provision that allows for any one of the 50 state legislatures to pass a resolution by both houses and - no governor required - take the petition to the U.S. House, where any Representative from any state can take it up.

I'm pretty sure Keith Ellison would, because he sponsored the failed attempt in the Minnesota statehouse last year.

New Mexico and New Jersey are in a race to pass resolutions with New Mexico the most likely. When you hear the name Gerald Ortiz y Pino in the next few weeks and you wonder why it's familiar, you heard it here. He is the NM state legislator who is all over it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

This man is an idiot. Those that voted for him twice should be similarly accused.

Posted by: notthere on January 13, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm puttin' on the tinfoil and expecting an Iranian Gulf of Tonkin well before August ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's absurd to think that Bush's new strategy is going to stabilize Baghdad so quickly and thoroughly that we can get our troops out by August. If that's truly what he thinks, then Bush is either (a) even more deluded than I thought or (b) even more cynical than I thought. Maybe both.

Kevin, it's saying things like this that make it difficult for me to take you seriously. Once again you are CERTAIN something will not happen, but why can't you wait to find out? Liberals attacked conservatives for being certain there were WMDs in Iraq, but they aren't willing to question their own certainty the Surge won't cause Iraq to be stabilized in August. Here's my suggestion. Let conservatives have their Surge and wait till August till you talk about the Surge again. If Iraq isn't stabilized by then, I'll admit you were right that Iraq won't be stabilized in August. How about it?

Posted by: Al on January 13, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Let conservatives have their Surge and wait till August

You sicken me.

The surge is shorthand for "let's get the next three thousand killed a lot sooner and more efficiently, and lose Afghanistan in the process."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Al:

Since we conservatives were so spectacularly wrong on the WMDs, that's *all the more reason* to give us the benefit of the doubt on the Surge.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's absurd to think that Bush's new strategy is going to stabilize Baghdad so quickly and thoroughly that we can get our troops out by August.

I don't think the article says that they're hoping to have troops out by August. The goal is just to have some stability by August so they can start moving troops out of Baghdad sometime after that.

That's how I'm reading it, anyway.

Posted by: Oregonian on January 13, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Iranian Option is already in the pipeline. I think Bush himself hasn't any real understanding of the situation at all (that crap about all the trouble being caused by nonspecific "bad guys" backed by Al Qaida plus a few "extremist" miscreants like Sadr is, sad to say, not far off from the depth of his analysis). Cheney and his psychopathic cabal don't really care what the actual conditions are, save that whatever it is allows them to foment wider war through appropriate propaganda.

Whatever the conditions in Baghdad are this August, neither Bush nor Cheney and his network of war criminals will ever question themselves or loosen their grip on power. Impeachment is coming, whether Pelosi et al want it or not.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 13, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Since Bush is messianic, evangelical and cares not what anyone outside his own coterie thinks, it matters not what he says. Unfortunately Bush's own fuddled alcoholic desires are fed by the evil man occupying the VP Office and by the wicked troll (Henry) from a previous era. Bush is fixed in what he wants to do. I have concluded the man is insane.

Posted by: Robert R Clough - Thorncraft on January 13, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

What it sounds to me like is a way to accomodate what Maliki wants, while at the same time doing the *opposite* of what he wants. Maliki wants us on the outskirts of Baghdad, so his militias can continue ethnically cleansing Sunnis. So in order to get him to agree to a troop buildup, Bush sez the surge will be temporary, contingent on pacifying Baghdad by August. If that happens, then we'll do it your way and pull out to the periphery. But you've gotta promise us that you'll use the ISF fairly, and root out your death squads.

Maliki sez yeah yeah, Bush sez yeah yeah, they shake hands -- and neither believes a word the other says.

We're positioning troops to take the fight to Iran and Syria. Once they're there, there won't be any pullback from Baghdad -- except to position themselves near the borders, in anticipation of the fallout from air/missile strikes ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

If that happens, the White House hopes the troop buildup then will succeed in bringing enough stability to Baghdad by August that U.S. forces can withdraw to the city outskirts.

Followed almost immediately by complete withdrawal, giving a decent interval. It might work, assuming there's a deal with the Shia milia to provide that interval.

Posted by: has407 on January 13, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

God damnit! While everyone is arguing over Iraq, Afghanistan is being lost!

It is time to frame the debate as that - The Republicans want to forfeit the war on terror to sieze oil. Period. Prove otherwise. Republicans?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Is "withdraw to the city outskirts" perhaps code for "mass on the Iranian border"?

Posted by: Wireless Enthusiast on January 13, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing, nothing, nothing conservative about the illegal Bush regime. From the destruction of the environment to the expansion of government to the assault on privacy to the reckless use of force, can anyone show me one thing Bush has done that can be characterized by the term "conservative"? Don't let the likes of Al frame the issues, people! Say it: "radical authoritarianism"!

Posted by: rabbit on January 13, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

has407:

You're usually one of the more sensible analysis here -- but that sounds like a pipe dream, don't you think?

Does anybody genuinely believe that Maliki is going to be capable of rooting out the ethnic cleansers from the ISF? And if he doesn't, does anyone expect that the Sunni reprisals/attacks won't continue?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Globe:

Point well-taken.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

rabbit: can anyone show me one thing Bush has done that can be characterized by the term "conservative"?

The environment is cleaner than it was when Bush took office, in terms of almost every single pollutant.

Environmental groups don't like Bush, so they keep up a chorus of criticism. But, when you look at the actual figures, there is less of almost every water and air pollutant.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 13, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

If that is indeed true (and I question your sources), it wouldn't be ideologically conservative -- at least in the modern understanding of "conservative" as meaning pro-business and anti-regulation.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Cite those sources, Bub.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

A third possibility is that the real plan is less frightening than escalating the war on Iraq, and less deluded than hoping the surge will magically achieve victory by August. Perhaps the real plan is simply to get Dems to stop the surge, thereby voluntarily serving as scapegoats for the inevitable failure. Once Iraq collapses into all-out civil war the rallying cry among the wingnuts will be that things "might have worked out" if Bush had been allowed one last attempt at winning. The result of which will probably be quite similar to what happened when "idealistic" liberals voted for Nader. That worked out well, didn't it?

Be 'sickened' by anything that isn't Nader-esque in its idealism if that makes you feel good, but do please try to remember what happened when idealism siphoned off a bunch of votes for Nader, and put Bush in office.

Or, look at what's happening. Conservatives are abandoning Bush, recognizing that his plan is really no plan at all except to try to save his political skin by postponing the inevitable. He doesn't have the unified support in Congress he used to have. Look at TPM's count of Republicans supporting the surge. Even Bush brown-nosers like those at powerline express doubt about whether Bush's "new leap forward" really makes any sense. Even powerline! Even *Malkin* reporting from Iraq can't help but say " "I will not sugarcoat my skepticism and doubts about decisions being made in Washington"! And look at what the Crunchy Con said on NPR. And Bush's approval ratings are at an all-time low.

So what's it going to be? They're all looking for a way to save face, to blame the Dems rather than taking a hard look at how they disconnected their moral compasses to support the indefensible. You can give them that easy out by short-circuiting the process, or you can let them rip themselves apart as the undeniable becomes increasingly difficult for even the most devotedly partisan to deny.

Blind idealism of the kind that siphoned off votes for Nader, and put Bush in office, may provide a self-righteous way of saying "not my fault" when things go to hell. But how many Americans died needlessly as a result of *that* misguided idealism?

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) --

Just to let you know, YES!, I agree. We are totally forgetting about Afghanistan and the need to win the battle that is actually winnable.

The US is such a single-item news sphere.

Posted by: notthere on January 13, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen / Blue Girl is really *not* somebody you ought to be accusing of blind idealism, bawb ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Dude - My husband and brother are both retired intel officers. I know this issue inside out. I haven't been blindly idealistic since I was eight and my dad went to Viet Nam for the third time.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

bawb:

I just re-read your post and I must confess a confusion as to what exactly you're advocating. *Don't* oppose the surge, even though to defend it is to defend the indefensible?

You actually want the Dems to *sit on their hands* while the surge goes through -- the better to keep the blame pinned on the Republicans? And what about all those extra dead Americans and Iraqis? Concern for them is "blind idealism?"

I dunno about that. But forgive me for saying that *your* kind of concern looks like that of the concern *troll* ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

The bad news is that somehow Public Law 109-293 was passed 9/30/06 by the 109th congress entitled "Iran Freedom Support Act." It starts out: To hold the current regieme in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran."
Found on frwebgate.access.gpo.gov
Congressional record volume 152
legislative history H.R. 6198

Is this some sneaky declaration of war on Iran already?
Are we headed for a constitutional crisis?

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 13, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen / Blue Girl is really *not* somebody you ought to be accusing of blind idealism, bawb ...

But you can't come up with any reasons to support that deflection?

Someone wrote:
Let conservatives have their Surge and wait till August

And someone replied:
You sicken me. The surge is shorthand for "let's get the next three thousand killed a lot sooner and more efficiently, and lose Afghanistan in the process."

The surge make no sense, even to the winger pundits who have a sliver of rationality and decency left. Which is going to get the next three thousand killed more quickly? The sort of blind idealism that insists on handing the wingnuts a face-saving way of blaming the dems? Or refusing to stand in the way of the continued self-destruction of the Bush administration?

The wheels are coming off of that bus and it's careening down a hill with wingnuts *even wingnuts like the powerliners* jumping ship! You can let them continue falling apart, or give them an easy out.

Tell me why giving them an easy out isn't analogous to those who thought that voting for Nader was justifiable *even knowing that it could put Bush in office* as it did. Giving Bush a voluntary scapegoat for the failure in Iraq isn't any more justifiable than that.

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

bawb:

Okay, that clinches it. You're a goddamned concern troll.

You accuse me of *deflection* because I happen to know a little bit about Globe's biograhphy, having posted with her for months, while *you* keep prattling on about ... Ralph Nader?

Go away.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bob/rmck1 -- Sorry, my post was abbreviated, and one of the more benign, of many possible, outcomes I think is likely...

I believe a deal's been cut with the Shia to allow the US to get either out of Iraq, or at least disengage from the sectarian violence to pursue/justify other actions--after the "surge"...

  • The Shia tamp down on their militias to provide a decent interval; we make a show of being "even handed" during that period; after we leave, the Shia can do what they please with the Sunni.
  • After months of continuing conflict, and the US being "even handed", the Shia are painted as the restrained good guys, and the Sunni are pegged as the recalcitrant obstructionists. We give the Shia tacit approval--then under cover of the ISF--to do what they please (again, after we leave).
  • After months of continuing conflict and attempts at reconciliation, the Sunni are painted as proxies for Iran, Syria, al-Queda, etc. (contrasted sharply with Shia restraint :). We give the Shia free reign to do what they will internally, US forces are freed from dealing with that issue, and ratchet up the conflict with Iran and Syria.
There are obviously many variations on those themes; the real question is: Does Bush want to disengage from Iraq, with a suitable excuse; or use it as a platform for going after Iran/Syria? I can see it playing out either way, depending on how cynical/insane/deluded the administration.

Posted by: has407 on January 13, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sickened because advocating a surge is guaranteeing more dead kids, and to do so for political reasons is sickening. How the hell is that idealistic?

More likely your scenario could be described as blind idealism. What exists in the record thus far to indicate these clowns might be right when they have been absolutely wrong up to this point?

Those of us who know what the fuck war is are pretty much against it. But you armchair Generals who have never put any skin in the game tell us how it is.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

bawb:

We're not giving Bush an "easy out" of the anti-surge Dems are standing shounder-to-shoulder with Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, etc. ect. -- not to mention the raft of wingnut punditry who *also* oppose the surge.

We, as Democrats with the majority, *might*, though, get credit with the overwhelmingly anti-surge voters for *stopping* it ...

So we're in a place where politics, policy and morality coincide nicely for a change.

One needn't sneer at your dimestore Machiavellianism for being immoral. It's enough to note that it's politically clueless as well ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Great news! Troop drawdowns begin in August. Surely all Americans will be ecstatic by this news!

Oops! I forgot. You people are liberal, reflexive Bush haters, and can't stand it if Bush's plan succeeds. You guys must be pretty depressed.

Let's tick off Bush's successes, shall we?

- Cut the deficit in half, just like he claimed
- Unemployment at all time lows, sustained
- Surging economic growth while Europe languishes
- No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9-11
-Environment cleaner than when Clinton left office
- Toppled the Taliban and Hussien governments from power
- Changing the face of the Middle East for the better, not just maintaining a fragile, dangerous status quo

Shall I continue? There's no pleasing you guys.

Posted by: egbert on January 13, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, correction: "We give the Shia tacit approval--then under cover of the ISF--to do what they please (again, after we leave)."

Should read: "We give the Shia tacit approval--then under cover of the ISF--to do what they please, with our support, but with a greatly reduced troop level on our part."

Posted by: has407 on January 13, 2007 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

But forgive me for saying that *your* kind of concern looks like that of the concern *troll* ...

Think back to the self-righteous justifications of those who voted for Nader, knowing at the time that it could put Bush in office. The alternative wasn't ideal, but even then it was clear that putting Bush into office would be a huge mistake. That didn't stop the blind idealists from rationalizing votes for Nader. And look what it accomplished. Look at *all* that resulted from that sort of blind idealism.

Now think back to those who pointed out how foolish this sort of blind idealism was at the time. I was one of them. Was I a "concern troll" then for pointing out that siphoning off votes for Nader was an example of the sort of blind idealism that could have disastrous consequences? Then maybe I'm a "concern troll" in the same sense now.

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Taliban is re-emerging as a threat, and all signs point to renewed activity against NATO forces in the spring. Which comes in February in the south. Which borders Pakistan. And haven't they been in the news lately......?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

has407:

Interesting scenario. How would be able to paint the Sunni insurgents as being in bed with Iran, though?

And how would Maliki's government -- the ruling coalition of which *is* in bed with Iran -- react to that?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

If that happens, the White House hopes the troop buildup then will succeed in bringing enough stability to Baghdad by August that U.S. forces can withdraw to the city outskirts. And officials said it must be sustained. "By the end of the year, Baghdad's got to look significantly different," said a National Security Council official not authorized to speak on the record.

If Baghdad looks like Fallujah at the end of August, would that count as "significantly different?"

Furthermore, we need to completely dispense with the euphemistic term "surge" and acknowledge that this if "escalation" pure and simple.

And Iran and Syria are just the modern day Cambodia and Laos.

Plunging our enemies into a kind of civil chaos via an intense aerial bombardment coupled with limited ground action seems like a logical extension of the neocon blueprint for Middle Eastern domination.

Posted by: smedleybutler on January 13, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine the Saudia or Al Queda *shudder* allowing the Shia to have their way with the Sunnis.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 13, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

- No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9-11

When someone says this I like to point out that after the *first* WTC attacks, we had *MORE YEARS* without an attack on American soil under Clinton that Bush has had since 9/11.

So by your reasoning, you'll no doubt conclude that Clinton was doing an even better job than Bush of preventing terrorist attacks on American soil, right?

(Sorry to the "concern about concern troll trolls" if my criticizing a wingnut causes uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. Ignore this post, and go back to finding ways to put idealism over pragmatism.)

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

egbert--the topic changing deflector:
Bush has not cut the deficit by even one thin dime. Get real. The Iraq war will cost 3 trillion dollars and is deficit funded.
Lots of people work in service industry jobs. whoopie.
When Tom Ridge, as outgoing Director of Homeland Security, was asked why there were no attacks since nine-one-one, he knocked on the wood of the desk and said, luck, I guess. He also said they raised terror alert warnings to orange when he thought there was no threat at all.
With the Clear Skies Act, you must be kidding. The environment is worse than ever, in this science-free administration.
You are premature in saying the middle east is changed for the better

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 13, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps what this means is the following.

Whether there is peace by August or not, that is how the administration intends to spin the situation at that time. Then Bush will be able to claim his strategy worked and "prove" all the naysayers wrong. Perhaps in the background of this "surge" the administration is actually working the political channels that need to be worked - but up front they will portray this as a grand military victory shepherded through by the great leader.

Posted by: jman_nyc on January 13, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

bawb:

Rule 1 in debate: Know who you're debating with.

What gives you the tiniest shred of an idea that any of us online now would have be Nader supporters? News flash: Globe and I are diehard Democrats who work in Democratic election campaigns. In '00, I was also involved in a local race, to throw out the machine politicians and get some representation for the Hispanics and college students in my city. It was a total grassroots campaign against the local Democratic machine, so naturally it attracted its share of college political activists.

Many of them were Nader supporters. I argued with them tooth and nail all through that election, because anyone with their eyes the least open could see that all that "compassionate conservatism" crap for what it was -- a blatant lie. And Nader was obfuscating all over the place by trying to paint the two parties as the same. Fucking DUH.

So lecture us no anti-Nader lectures, thanks. They're entirely unnecessary.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Go look at this map and tell me how in the hell Bush can hope to have any kind of success in Iran? Look at the size of the country. They have a modern military that isn't defanged by a decade of sanctions. They won't be pushovers, and it would take more than taking out Ahmidenijad to topple the government of Iran. The president is a figurehead. The real power and influence lies with the Council of Experts, which is 86 (iirc) Mullahs. As long as one Mullah lives, Iran won't fall.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hi,

here is a question I was wondering about some days ago with a buddy of mine in europe.

If you read the press here, yu get the impression, that your army is already stretched out and the surge will render it so thin, that you can read the New York times through it.

Question 1: Is this really the case or is there still some reserver you can draw on in accute crisis?

Question 2: If it is stretched to thin, are you not worried, that someone like China might take advantage of the situation (Like give Taiwan a good doing-over), knowing that you simply do not have the personel anymore to ram through your non-Iraq related interessts?

Just wondering if that is discussed at all....

Posted by: gringo on January 13, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bob - we have to put a Nancy Kassebaum footnote on my pedigree.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sickened because advocating a surge is guaranteeing more dead kids, and to do so for political reasons is sickening. How the hell is that idealistic? More likely your scenario could be described as blind idealism. What exists in the record thus far to indicate these clowns might be right when they have been absolutely wrong up to this point?

Sorry if I was unclear, but I'm not arguing that they're right. The parts about the wheels coming off the bus, failure being inevitable, etc., were supposed to make that clear.

They're wrong. They're slowly being wrenched around to having to admit they're wrong.

A surge will mean more dead (American) kids. Are you thinking that *opposing* the surge necessarily means *fewer* dead (American) kids?

The best way to save American lives is to take governmental control away from Bush and Bush's followers. The best way to keep Bush and Bush followers in power is to offer them a voluntary scapegoat.

That's why the Nader analogy works here. Voting for Nader did make sense in some short-sighted idealistic fashion. (Let Bush be president but send a message to the Democrats, woohoo!) Even I could see that was foolish. But *in the long run* it meant more dead American kids.

Here's a scenario: if Bush can't get support for this absurd "surge", he says that there's really no choice then but to withdraw from Iraq. Suddenly he has a whole bunch of troops ready to be redeployed, and political cover from being able to say "if only I'd been allowed to continue" (a theme that I'd be willing to bet the MLM will happily play up, would you disagree?).

Where does he send those troops? Home? Or maybe Iran? How many more American troops die in that scenario, than in one in which Bush isn't given the political cover for a massive troop shift from Iraq to Iran?

The best way to prevent American kids from dying in Iraq, Iran, etc., is not to give the Bush administration political cover of any kind.


Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Globe:

Exactly. The only way you'd be able to "win" in Iran is to -- as they used to say in '79 -- make Islamic atomic. Iraq pummeled the crap out of them and they fought a much-better armed opponent to a stalemate.

All we'd be able to do would be to launch airstrikes and cruise missiles. And not just the Council of Experts (who actually keep watch over the Grand Ayatollah and appoint the next one), there's the Expediency Council (which reconciles laws passed in parliament with religious law) and the Guardian Council (who, among other things, make foreign policy decisions in consultation with the Grand Ayatollah), the business elite (who have tremendous back-channel power), parliament, the ministries, etc. Political power in Iran is incredibly diffuse, which is what makes it an exceedingly conservative society. When I hear wingnut bloviation about the "mad mullahs," it just makes me laff ...

And, of course, if we *did* decide to go the airstrike route, it would unite Iranians behind the government (a real irony that, considering how much the average citizen despises the religious regime) and fire up all that heavy-duty Shi'ite cult of martyrdom, which is the basis of the sect's self-identity ...

Yeah, smooth fucking move *that* would be ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

are you not worried, that someone like China might take advantage of the situation (Like give Taiwan a good doing-over)

Yes.

Just wondering if that is discussed at all....

I think there might be seven of us having the conversation.

It seems that China is taken for granted among those who prefer to ignore the real reality for a neocon wetdream alternative version, because they have no aircraft carriers and are therefore no real military threat to us. But they are a very real threat to anyone in the neighborhood they feel like flexing toward.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

We get it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

gringo -

Welcome to the boards. I'll field your questions.

1. The American army is not stretched thin. We only have about 130K troops in Iraq, which we have wisely supplemented with contractors and allied nation's forces. So the troop presence is actually much larger and more impressive than the liberals like to make out.

End strength of the American military is actually around 1.4M personnel, so you can see we only have a small fraction of our troops in Iraq.

2. As stated above, we are not stretched thin. No country would dare test us, because we still have loads of active duty and reserve troops around the world. Not to mention the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Our military in terms of technology and fighting capability is 50 years ahead of any other nation.

Thanks for your questions.

Posted by: egbert on January 13, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Go look at this map and tell me how in the hell Bush can hope to have any kind of success in Iran? Look at the size of the country. They have a modern military that isn't defanged by a decade of sanctions. They won't be pushovers, and it would take more than taking out Ahmidenijad to topple the government of Iran. The president is a figurehead. The real power and influence lies with the Council of Experts, which is 86 (iirc) Mullahs. As long as one Mullah lives, Iran won't fall.

So could we at least agree that any scenario that lets Bush get us into a full-scale war with Iran is a scenario in which *many more* American kids die than from Bush's small increase of 10% or so in a "mini-surge" in Iraq?

If we can agree on that, then that's a start.

Could we also agree that the stopping the surge by withholding funding, for example, is not something that occurs in a vacuum? That it has political ramifications *very relevant* to whether Bush will have the resources and political cover he'd need to get us into a full-scale war with Iran?

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bob/rmck1: Interesting scenario. How would be able to paint the Sunni insurgents as being in bed with Iran, though? And how would Maliki's government -- the ruling coalition of which *is* in bed with Iran -- react to that?

As to the first, we already see plenty of spin on that score, especially from the administration... insurgents = terrorists = Iran/Syria/whoever. That, like the purported Iraq/al-Qaeda ties, is difficult to counter. (You, me, and the wall may know different, but I wouldn't bet on it having much impact.)

As to the second, all it requires is that Maliki., Iran, etc. bide their time, be patient, and tone it down until we're gone--what's 12-14 months in the grand scheme of things?

Would Maliki et. al. cut such a deal knowing that the ultimate outcome may be a US-Iran conflict? Hard to tell, but if I were him (or Iran), I'd say... yeah... whatever it takes in the short term, because the US won't be here for the long haul.

Posted by: has407 on January 13, 2007 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

2. As stated above, we are not stretched thin. No country would dare test us,

A country like, say, North Korea, just to pick a random example, would never in a million years *dare* call Bush's bluff, take plutonium out of IAEA-sealed storage under Bush's nose, take it in plain sight to the only reactor in North Korea capable of refining it, then cart the weaponized plutonium off to other sites to build it into bombs, then build those bombs, and brag about having built those bombs, etc.

HTH

BTW all of that happened while Bush was president, but I doubt you'll have any trouble blaming Clinton and Carter ...

Posted by: bawb on January 13, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

egbert sounds like a self-styled blogmeister. Note he cites no sources--like I said
he throws out loosely tied bait for us from his resevoir of false information. Good night. I can't take it any more.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 13, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ike Skelton and Peter Schoomaker say that egbert is full of shit.

WASHINGTON - Up to two-thirds of the Army's combat brigades are not ready for wartime missions, largely because they are hampered by equipment shortfalls, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday, citing unclassified documents.

In a letter to President Bush, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said that "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready" for combat. The figures, he said, represent an unacceptable risk to the nation.

At a news conference, other leading Democrats said that those strategic reserve forces are critically short of personnel and equipment.

"They're the units that could be called upon or would be called upon to go to war in North Korea, Iran, or any other country or region," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine who has called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, said much has been asked of the Army during the nearly five years the U.S. has been at war.

"I have testified to the facts about our readiness and I remain concerned about the serious demands we face," said Schoomaker, adding that the Army needs more than $17 billion in 2007 and up to $13 billion a year until two or three years after the war ends.

Besides you putz, if the military wasn't stretched thin, there would be no need to raise recruiting ages, recall ready reserves, or use a back-door draft with stop-loss policies.

If the military is not stretched thin, why do we need to increase the size of the Army and Marines by 92,000 troops over five years?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Well now. That's interesting.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

...Let's tick off Bush's successes, shall we?

- Cut the deficit in half, just like he claimed
- Unemployment at all time lows, sustained
- Surging economic growth while Europe languishes
- No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9-11
-Environment cleaner than when Clinton left office
- Toppled the Taliban and Hussien governments from power
- Changing the face of the Middle East for the better, not just maintaining a fragile, dangerous status quo

Shall I continue? There's no pleasing you guys.
Posted by: egbert

OK. Let's do that.

Actually, you moron, the deficit is still building, only at approximately half the rate. No thanks to any initiative or direction from the administration!

Unemployment, as you probably know, doesn't count those either under-employed, or those that take themselves off the roll. We'll see how that actually comes out, but let's just point out that 1,800,000 jobs were needed this last year to maintain employment where it was, so I can hardly call the job gain stunning.

See a recent The Economist. When you take population growth into account, US growth per capita hardly exceeds Europe.

No, but attacks elsewhere. Terrorists, by definition, will and should pick the easy targets. Thank god that George has decided that US troops should be picked on in Iraq rather than US citizens anywhere else!! (That's sarcasm!)

Actually, the environment gets more polluted every single day. You may not have noticed, but, even within the US, there are a number of states who have passed regulations because they disagree with Bush, let alone the rest of the world. If you disagree, please cite your sources for a cleaner environment.

Toppled, yes. But won any war, yet? Definitely no! Worse than that, they have proverbially stirred up the hornets nest and have no answers since their reason for doing so lie beyond any realistic policy.

Wow! Changing for the better? Who would have thought? Please cite any sane person who thinks the Middle East (or the world) is "better"!

I'm not touching anything you smoke or drink.

God. You must be a moronic shill if you believe what you type.

Posted by: notthere on January 13, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, judging by Russia's self-assured behaviour in the last couple of years, I'd say *they* sense the US overplayed its hand.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 13, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

President Bush and his speechwriters seem to be at odds with Gen. Jack Keane, one of the masterminds behind escalation of the Iraq War.

Keane told Tucker Carlson at MSNBC News this week that the U.S. planned in 2007 to secure Baghdad and in 2008 to move on to Anbar Province. Keane was very clear about this. Carlson let it go, as is his wont, apparently not recognizing a scoop when he had one, and the rest of the media, insofar a I know, failed to pick up on it, including MSNBC. Someone, perhaps Carlson, might want to revisit the interview.

Posted by: aj on January 13, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

No problems with readiness, but the budget is so thin, thanks to the necessity to replace equipment that the Air Force is probably going to have to close the Lackland AFB battle lab.

One of the projects in development at the battle lab is an IED sweeper. Defensive gadgets come from battle labs, in case you didn't know.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: We only have about 130K troops in Iraq... End strength of the American military is actually around 1.4M personnel, so you can see we only have a small fraction of our troops in Iraq.

Of which about 30% is deployable, most or all of which are already committed, which includes all forces, and which does not distinguish between the forces available and those most desperately needed in Iraq, specifically Army and Marine units.

Which is why the Kagan/Keane plan requires mobilization of additional Guard/Reserve troops in order to sustain the "surge" beyond 2007.

Posted by: has407 on January 13, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Soviet Canuckastani reminds us that we missed the part where Russia bought us a Coke and we all joined hands and sang Kumbaya.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Deluded and cynical? Bush? Both at the same time?
Say it ain't so!

Posted by: Kenji on January 13, 2007 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bob and Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen): The source of the pollution assertion is the Kausfiles blog. Mickey Kaus is a moderate Democrat.

Bob - you may have a point about the definition of "conservative." I think of conservative as pro-human-being. I believe the the policies I support are good for people. Certainly clean air and water are good for people.

I don't know if you'd a accept a definition of "liberal" as the opposite of the one you offered for "conservative. That is, anti-business and pro-regulation. I think those words do more-or-less describe many of the leading environmental groups. They may dislike Bush because he didn't increase regulations and add extra burdens onto business, even though the environment continued to improve.

Or, put another way, these organzations must keep adding regulations to justify their existence (and to justify donations.) So, Bush's lack of change and his free-market conservation approach are not good for the environmental organizations, even though they're OK for the environment itself.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 13, 2007 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the US *did* have a lot of influence in the region. The US gave Ukraine's Orange Revolution crucial backing (including $$$) and gave some of the mid-Asian "stans" a sniff of breaking from Moscow's grip.

Now? Forget it.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 13, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, I step away to watch the Saints/Eagles (much better game than Colts/Ravens I might add) and a full fledged donnybrook breaks out. Looks like I have been missing out on the fun. First off, I am dying to know what Egbert and a couple of the other participant have been ingesting, its clearly superior to anything I have seen lately. Secondly, I must wholeheartedly support Global on both her Afghanistan and Iran points; especially Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the war that was legal, moral and appropriate. It was also actually capable of being pulled off if prosecuted intelligently; alas, that is pretty much eliminated by Bush being involved. With more troops, for a longer period, and substantial infrastructure creation, we arguably could have produced something very positive. It would not have been easy, but at least possible; which Iraq never was (not to mention that Iraq was illegitimate). You get em Global, I am with you all the way. Lastly, it seem we have gotten off Kevin's point about the absurdity of the "out by August" baloney. The earlier poster who commented that the relative quiet cycle in Iraq is due up was exactly correct; add to that the fact that the Mahdis will simply melt away for awile, or temporarily move their operations elsewhere, and viola you have this "stable period" and Bush will claim he is vindicated. what a bunch of crap. Thats the best case scenario, the flip side is that the Mahdis, many of whom we have now trained and armed, and who are reportedly 60,000 strong fight like hell and its a nightmare where a lot of our troops are slaughtered. Either scenario is ridiculously bad. Kevin is correct, this is a hollow and spurious claim.

Posted by: bmaz on January 13, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'll take - (c), which is both (a) and (b). Bush is delusionally cynical, typical of someone so deeply criminal and sociopathic.

There are many who think Bush is insane, such as here, and here. Count me as another.

It’s also becoming increasingly clear that Bush is gearing up for an attack on Iran, as explained masterfully here. Bush even articulated an imaginary nuclear arms race between Iraq and Iran.

Everyone with any sense and any patriotism and hope for the future of this country, needs to call and write your Senators and Representative and tell them to stop Bush in his tracks and remove him from office by the remedy that the Constitution prescribes for tyrants – impeachment!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 13, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, can you provide data on how much cleaner the environment is now? Otherwise, I am left scratching my head at how the massive reduction in environmental standards and enforcement, the opening of vast areas of wild land to drilling and mining, and the criminal failure to act on global warming could have contributed to a "cleaner" environment.

I do think environmentalism is "conservative" in a non-ideological sense: it conserves. Of course, if conservative means conserving the gouged profits of rapacious capitalists, that's something else again.

Posted by: rabbit on January 13, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Gringo --

glad you got the egbert/admin position on that??

OK. It's not simple, but here we go.

The Regular Army try to rotate 12 months in, 36 out. The Reserves on much the same basis. The National Guard has been operating on 6 month retraining plus 12 month in, supposedly once every 5 years. Marines are meant to do 7 months in and, I think, 3 years out. Short-supply specialists get rotated much more often.

Right now there are about 21 brigades of a force total of 82 in Iraq. You do the math with this increase in force strength.

It is reckoned that there are no fully functional, fully trained and equipped US forces that are not designated; i.e. there is no functional reserve. Further it is reckoned that it would cost $75 billion to return US forces to the functionality they had at the start of the Iraq war due to wear and tear on equipment. It is probably not estimable for the cost of recruiting of both raising bonuses and rewards and the lowering of standards to maintain recruiting as to the deterioration of personnel.

As to the Air Force, that, at present, is not over-stretched in the least. So, in terms of fighting an air war without ground forces, it is extremely capable and could inflict significant damage on any land or sea force within its strike. That is necessarily limited to where they can fly from.

Also for the Navy, not over-stretched but with 3 or 4 of 12 max Carrier Groups already committed to the Persian Gulf and East Africa. However, it has no competitor in the world.

So, overall, there is little possibility of a major power trying to take advantage of this situation. I would argue that there is the opportunity of minor powers to manoeuver and take advantage while it is just not worth the US's trouble to get involved.

E.g. Darfur might be a differant issue if the US wasn't otherwise involved. After all, the US did declare this to be "genocide".

Posted by: notthere on January 13, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Addendum to notthere's surgery on egbert: not only is it that it is only the rate of accumulation of debt that is cut in half, but even that is a crock. The numbers that Bush et. al. have used to make said disingenuous claim do NOT include the Iraq war funding, which has been done "off budget" (Enron style). That alone eviscerates the Bush claim in this regard. We might also want to remember that the GOP led 109th Congress refused to complete their budget alocation duties, and I would hazard a guess that their failure to authorize anything more that the temporary, bare bones, emrgency budget resolutions deceptively lowered the figures for this argument. These people are lying, unamerican cowards. Question their authority always.

Posted by: bmaz on January 13, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting, isn't it, how Bush and Cheney play the same cards over and over again.

Today it's Iran mysteriously furnishing mysterious networks in Iraq with IED's.

The IEDs have become the WMDs Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and eventually Colin Powell foisted off on the world in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Some of you may have short memories, but perhaps others will recall the stories about purported locations of WMDs coming on a regular basis from unnamed Defense Department spokespersons and dutifully relayed by The Washington Times (Bill Gertz), Fox News and others, and then by The Associated Press.

Remember? The WMDs were hidden in the desert. The WMDs were hidden in caves. The WMDs were hidden in Syria. The WMDs were hidden in Iran. The WMDS were in Jordan. And finally, to top it all off, the WMDs were aboard a "ghost" ship that was under surveillance by the U.S. Navy.

Bush, Cheney and McCain appear ready to take us to war with Iran because they "think" the government of Iran "might be" furnishing Iraqi insurgents with IEDs. But you know perfectly well that if the U.S. had the evidence, the hard evidence, that is, of the kind that would stand up in the court of public opinion, these folks would fall all over themselves to take it public.

No evidence for WMDs, just stories. No evidence for Iranian government involvement with IEDs. War anyway.

Question: Will Secretary of State Rice anytime soon go before the United Nations with a powerpoint presentation purporting to show in blurry, shadowy photos secretive Iranian government agents slipping IEDs across the border? And perhaps a photo of a rusty IED with "Made in Iran" stamped on it that was "found" in an abandoned warehouse in Sadr City or perhaps even Fallujah? It's a slam dunk, you know.

Posted by: bill t on January 13, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

bawb:

First, I think we're all in agreement on this blog that full-scale war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster (aside from being yet another unearned gift to al Qaeda and its long-term ambition for Sunni Salafist hegemony over the Mideast). In fact, if Bush had any strategic brains at all, the first thing he should've done on 9/12/01 was to have called up President Mohammed Khatamei after Tehran's candlelight vigil on behalf of our victims and draw him into an alliance against Sunni Salafist/takfiri terrorism -- which menaces Shi'ite Islam just as assuredly as it does the West. But Bush has no strategic brains (not to mention not knowing Shi'ite from Shinola, let alone Sunni), so ...

Could you imagine that? Ahmadinejad might not have won the election ...

But I think you have the American Democratic tactics all wrong. First, our system makes it exceedingly difficult to keep the Executive Branch from getting what it wants in foreign policy. While Kennedy and Kucinich are introducing bills to prevent funding of the surge, they're not going to pass, let alone with veto-proof margins. Bush is going to get his surge no matter what the Dems try to do, so your concern about "political cover" is misplaced.

It's also misplaced because surge opponents are hardly just staunch liberal Dems like the two K's. A substantial number of our new freshmen are antiwar (no matter their stances on other issues) and many Republicans oppose the idea as well. Plus, you yourself make the point that the rightwing blogosphere is abandoning Bush on this -- so how he could paint opposition as purely Democratic is anybody's guess.

There are certain things the Dems can and should do, though. First, pass resolutions in both houses on the surge. Even if they don't pass (which they probably will) -- get the members on record. The hawk wing is becoming ever more marginalized -- we need to help that along. Secondly, threaten to cut off funding when August rolls around if Bush starts making noise about needing more time. At that point, enough will surely be enough.

As for your linkage of an attack on Iran to the surge, I'm not sure I follow. Most observers are starting to believe is that a surge is a pretext to amp up aggression against Iran and Syria. The best way to make an attack against those countries is to stop the surge into Iraq -- if we could.

But we can't, and I think most Dems realize that. Come August, though, it might be a different story -- if we're not already at war with either by then ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

I am going to keep repeating this.

God damnit! While everyone is arguing over Iraq, Afghanistan is being lost!
It is time to frame the debate as that - The Republicans want to forfeit the war on terror to sieze oil. Period. Prove otherwise. Republicans?

A lot.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Canuckastani troops could pay the price in Afghanistan. We've got a few thousand guys there with their arses in the Taliban firing line, and we're nervous that some US troops will be shifted Iraq. Last month at a NATO meeting our PM asked for some more support from the others, including some allies with much larger and experienced armed foces. They declined. I wonder why, eh? Oh... crap.

With regards to deficit trickery, does off-budget spending not show up in some supplementary estimates or annual *debt* figures (I know other factors can muddle a clean year-over-year comparison). But if funds are spent, and no magical revenues are found, then T-bills/bonds must have been issued to pay Halliburton.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 13, 2007 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

The environmental issue is two sided. While we may be holding our own in the conservation arena, we are losing ground rapidly in the climate change arena, and this more than offsets any perceived gains in other areas.

It is undeniable the change is happening when you look at pictures of the polar ice cap, and anyone who has passed general chemistry with a C understands what the loss of sea ice means. It means accelerated loss of sea ice.

A few fanatics in caves can't destroy western civilization (without our help anyway), but CO2 can.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

If Iraq isn't stabilized by then, I'll admit you were right that Iraq won't be stabilized in August.

Another prediction: No you won't.

Posted by: DrBB on January 13, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Soviet Canuckastani:

I know; the NYT article Globe linked to (which wasn't behind the paywall, incidentally) really painted a grim picture of the Candians carrying the brunt of anger from villagers -- who are still trying to decide who they prefer, the foreigners or the Taliban.

That should be a fucking no-brainer at this point. But with no funds for reconstruction/compensation when NATO builds armor-worthy roads through villages and across farmland and through homes -- you can hardly blame the villagers.

We have *no fucking excuse* if we lose substantial portions of southern Afghanistan to the Taliban because we hadn't the resources to get our shit together ...

It truly is exasperating ... especially with Osama and Zawahiri in their cave across the border, snickering at us ... GODDAMMIT ALL !!!!!!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 13, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Wait until the Harper government falls in the upcoming elections and the pressure increases to pull out due to lack of American support.

If Bush proceeds with this escalation and pulls troops from Afghanistan to make up part of the forces, then the dominoes start falling and Afghanistan is lost and then the terrorists will, quite literally have won. That is probably only the second time those words have been used correctly. (I said it earlier today at the new place).

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, AJ, your instructive post on Jack Keane's timetable scored a zero in this forum. Probably because the folks here are less interested in facts than in the sound of their own voices. Pity.

Posted by: plain jim on January 13, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

notthere: Actually, you moron, the deficit is still building, only at approximately half the rate. No thanks to any initiative or direction from the administration!

notthere, you ought to be careful about calling people morons. You have confused the deficit (the yearly budget shortfall) with the National Debt (the accumulated shortfall.) In fact the National Debt is still rising, but the deficit is indeed cut in half, as Bush promised.

Unemployment, as you probably know, doesn't count those either under-employed, or those that take themselves off the roll.

"Discouraged workers" are counted by the dept of Labor Bureeau of Labor Statistics, although they are not counted in the "unemployed." The percentage Discouraged Workers is small - around 0.3%. It has also dropped as the Unemploymebnt rate has dropped.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 13, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Canuckistani - I can't say for sure on your question about the debt/deficit figures; however, they have been issuing these rosy proclamations for awhile now and what i described has invariably been part of their trickery. There are actually several different sets of these figures produced by the government and they selectively pick the rosiest one for the income side and the most austere one for the expenditure side, and they never use the actual "hard" figures you think they are. Paul Krugman has written extensively about this. Without seeing the hard data they have used i cannot say for sure, but I'll hazard a guess that the truth is pretty close along the lines i described above.

Posted by: bmaz on January 13, 2007 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Cutting a deficit in half after squandering a surplus is good news?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 13, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

I am going to keep repeating this.
God damnit! While everyone is arguing over Iraq, Afghanistan is being lost!
It is time to frame the debate as that - The Republicans want to forfeit the war on terror to sieze oil. Period. Prove otherwise. Republicans?

A lot.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen)

Wow. Wow! WOW!

Wow! Angry woman.

Hell, I agree whole heartedly.

Splitting what is achievable from what may not be seems pretty easy.

Why not win one war? Why has it dropped from the horizon?

Why do all the repubnuts ignore this nation? It's a cheaper war to fight and win. It was first on the list. Not now, though.

Posted by: notthere on January 13, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Global, are you inferring that the Bushies are sucking us into a black hole?

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Global, it's not clear that Afghanistan is enough to topple Harper (unless its a huge disaster and we start getting hundreds of casualties). After all, it was the *Liberals* who put them there, and the Conservatives (I can't call them Tories any more) constantly remind the public.

But, apart from our own domestic navel gazing and sibling bitch-fests , I can tell you the Conservatives took a hit when Harper called Israel's attack last year "measured self-defence". Poll numbers tumbled, and his staff suddenly realized there are a lot of Muslim and Christian Lebanese Canuckastanis.

Whoopsie!

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 14, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not inferring. I'm declaring. I'm proclaiming. I'm shouting from the rooftops. They are the biggest fuck-ups in history.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 14, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

art/aj/plain jim:

Having a sock puppet dialogue with yourself which consists of bewailing how much people on this blog like to "hear their own voices" is in really, *really* bad taste.

To say the least ...

I'll give you (small) credit for at least using the same email, though.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

The voice I'm loving to hear atm is Allan Holdsworth's incomparable one on SynthAxe and guitar ...

Wardenclyffe Tower, baby :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

bmaz,

Thanks for you answer. I asked that question because government's can most certainly play silly bugger with "flows" (i.e. surplus/deficits), but at the end of a fiscal year it's somewhat dubious to publish misleading stock (asset/debt) data - I'm sure the Asian central banks would take a dim of view of the US government understating its debt (they own those assets after all!).

As such, off-budget cycle and *unplanned* spending, if not matched by commensurate revenues, would have to increase the debt.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 14, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

further sock-puppet posting will be moderated

Posted by: on January 14, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yep I am with you Global, and notthere too. The thing about Afghanistan is that all the pie in the sky shit they said Iraq would accomplish - "functioning mid-east democracy", "example for the entire region", "stable partner", "harbinger for regional transformation" etc. actually was attainable in Afghanistan, and at a fraction of the cost, and with the world's blessing. That we wasted that, and did so on the predictable hell pit of Iraq (which in spite of the negatives of Sadaam, was stable, secular and a total counterweight to both Iran and al-Qaida) is fucking criminal.

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans want to forfeit the war on terror to sieze oil. Period. Prove otherwise.

Huh? You think they're going to "sieze" oil by losing Afghanistan and prolonging the agony in Iraq and starting a war they don't even begin to have the resources to win with Iran?

You can repeat it a lot, but it really makes no sense.

On the other hand, demanding that Republicans refute a claim that really makes no sense might win a few blog comment debate points.

Posted by: asdf on January 14, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

has407:

So what you're saying then, in essence, is that Iran can't be deterred by our presence in the region?

If so, seems reasonable to me.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Never-ex-liberal --

"notthere, you ought to be careful about calling people morons."

Yes. You are right.So this "conservative" administration is still running a budget deficit after inheriting a budget surplus, and running a war without financing it. Yes, I jumped the gun in terms of "reducing" the deficit, but the US sinks deeper into total debt.

Please put your "conservative" credentials on the line! How would you finance the war? [In line with GW's idea that democrats should say (which they have) how to run this war].

Posted by: notthere on January 14, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

notthere: Please put your "conservative" credentials on the line! How would you finance the war? [In line with GW's idea that democrats should say (which they have) how to run this war].

If I had the power, the first thing I'd do is eliminate all earmarks. They are pretty much legalized bribery.

Bush's tax cuts have led to rapidly improving economy, so that the total dollars of tax collected have risen sharply. That's why the deficit is down, despite war spending, earmarks, etc.

In order to keep the economy booming and keep the taxes collected rising, I would make the tax rate cuts permanent.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 14, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I figure 20,000 more troops is more than enough to keep tabs on journalists and their Iraqi gophers. It should be fairly straight forward to dramatically reduce news stories on violence by August.

The problem with the Bush administration is they're going at this whole totalitarian state thing with half measures.

BTW, why am I being singled out for moderation? Or is the poster above some sort of authority loving troll?

Posted by: sock-puppet on January 14, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

By that logic, why don't we just eliminate all taxes -- because that will shoot government revenues up to infinity :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Don't these guys ever get tired of Laffer-flavoured Kool-Aid? Jesus Murphy.

Posted by: Soviet Canuckastani on January 14, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

*looking at second hand on watch*

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Soviet Canuckastani:

The best economic theories -- like the best phone numbers -- are written on the back of cocktail napkins :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

They are the biggest fuck-ups in history.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen)

Good god, I hope I am on here as record to be against this president and administration. Not only are they the biggest FUps, but they have been the least able in terms of both domestic and international policy. They have acheived NOTHING!

What a record.

In the last 50 years, this is the only totally negative and non-productive US administration. Tell me I'm wrong.

Posted by: notthere on January 14, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Canuckastani - Simple answers for simple questions - NO! Not only do they keep drinking the koolaid, they never make new koolaid; they just drink the same old koolaid that has circulated through their and come out through excretion.

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Oops. Left out the word "system" in last post when describing certain koolaid circulation.

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK
... the deficit is down,... I would make the tax rate cuts permanent. x-liberal at 12:31 AM
I think you need to move to Planet Earth "The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.62 billion per day since September 30, 2005. - GW BUSH RESIDES OVER 4 OF 5 LARGEST DEFICITS IN U.S. HISTORY: 1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion 2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion 3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion 4. 2006 (George W. Bush) $296billion 5. 1992 (George HW Bush) $290 billion"

Here is the increase in National debt each year. Note, there is no fudging these numbers as there is in Bush's deficit numbers
9/29/2006 $574,264,237,491.73

9/30/2005 $553,656,965,393.18

9/30/2004 $595,821,633,586.70

9/30/2003 $554,995,097,146.46

9/30/2002 $420,772,553,397.10

9/30/2001 $133,285,202,313.20

9/30/2000 $17,907,308,271.43

Here is a report on the cost of making Bush's tax cuts permanent
Without offsets, the cost of making the tax cuts permanent would increase the deficit and thereby add to the national debt. The interest payments needed to service this higher level of debt would amount to $492 billion over the next ten years. Thus, the total cost of making the tax cuts permanent, including the related interest costs, would be $3.3 trillion over the ten-year period. (Most of this cost would come from making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent; see the appendix at the end of this paper.)
Are your rightist dim wit? You make the same ignorant mistakes. Here is a book on economics that should help you

Posted by: Mike on January 14, 2007 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

Off topic on executive compensation.

What's the impetus for companies to give CEO's backdated stock options instead of more stock options dated appropriately? Who is helped and who gets screwed?

Posted by: sock-puppet on January 14, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

bill t:

Great post.

Too bad Judy Miller isn't still around to hype it in the Paper of Record.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Bob.rmck1: So what you're saying then, in essence, is that Iran can't be deterred by our presence in the region?

Yes; they've got all the time in the world compared to us. Any deal with Maliki--which if any deal hase been made, I assume is with Tehran's blessing--has to be viewed through that lens.

The only part that is still an unknown is the Saudis... yeah they'd make (and appear to have been making) a fuss if they think the Shia are in control... but really how significant is that? We make nice noises in the interim; after that the Saudis (and whoever) put their weight behind their favorite factions... which at that time won't matter to us, because we'll be gone. Either that or the whole region will be in flames.

Posted by: has407 on January 14, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

sock-puppet:

I dunno exactly ... economics is not my strong suit. But lemme try to reason it out, and if I'm wrong, someone else will doubtless chime in and correct me.

The idea of giving stock options to corporate officers is to reward them for good performance. The idea is, the better the company does under their tenure, the more gains they realize. Conversely, if the company does crap, they may even lose money.

When you backdate stock options, you're giving them already realized value. You may as well just give them a cash bonus.

That's what comes to my economically feeble mind, anyway ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

the White House hopes the troop buildup then will succeed in bringing enough stability to Baghdad by August that U.S. forces can withdraw to the city outskirts.

One of the key concepts in that quote is "enough". It's probably not definable a priori, but surely the criterion is not "perfect" stability. As stable as Basra is now? As stable as Ramadi or Fallujah? As stable as Najaf and Nasiriyah? As stable as Mosul? As stable as Beirut? As stable as Sarajevo? If you back away from the criterion of perfect stability, then it is quite possible that there will be evident improvement in 2 months, and sufficient stability for American soldiers to withdraw to the periphery of Baghdad.

Under Saddam Hussein Baghdad suffered from a stability of oppression, government-associated crime, routine arrest and torture. Like now, reporters could not safely travel anywhere in Baghdad or interview anyone without government protection (though it was called government "escort" and other euphemisms.) It's probably worse than that now for some in Baghdad (Riverben), but it seems to be better for others (Iraq the Model, all those cell phone operators, electricity providors, appliance salesmen, auto dealers and the people who wait in line to buy gasoline every day), if only marginally so. There are a lot of cities that don't have American soldiers in them where the level of violence is not admirable but is deemed sufficiently low that assistance from soldiers is not required. Baghdad may become like them in the time afforded.

If there isn't clear improvement, then Congress will rescind Bush's authority. That's what they are moving toward, and I anticipate that noting but improvement on Gates' anticipated time line will stop them.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 14, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

And the Shia already are in charge, have been for awhile, and the Saudis have made no more than nominal lip service noise. Either way, there is nothing the US presence is going to accomplish at this point; we need to substantially get out of there.

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler:

You left out all those bustling coffin makers.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of cities that don't have American soldiers in them where the level of violence is not admirable but is deemed sufficiently low that assistance from soldiers is not required.

So why are we adding soldiers when the areas with fewer troops are the more stable areas with the lower incidence of violence?

all those cell phone operators

Which are necessary now because the infrastructure is rubble.

people who wait in line to buy gasoline every day

Exactly. What reason is there for a country with such vast oil reserves to be experiencing gas lines? Oh yeah - the infrastructure is rubble.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 14, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Yeah, I know. I'm feeble here too, but a cash bonus with board approval isn't illegal no matter whether they make it based on past stock performance or the temperature in Fairbanks the previous April.

Just reading about Apple (and I don't know most of the facts). However, it seems likely is that shareholders will get screwed significantly more by the federal investigation than they were by any irregularities in stock options.

Posted by: sock-puppet on January 14, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Oops. Didn't close my tag. Sorry.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 14, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

notthere: In the last 50 years, this is the only totally negative and non-productive US administration. Tell me I'm wrong.

On the whole, I rank the Johnson and Nixon administrations lower. Between them they killed million(s?) of Vietanmese and Cambodians, sacrificed 55,000 American, without a commitment to winning the war (i.e., very inconsistent strategies), and in the end failed. They acted contrary to the wishes of Americans expressed in the presidential votes of 1964 and 1968, and illegally bugged American citizens who were clearly innocent. They had some offsetting virtues, but at their worst they were considerably worse than the worst of GWB, and on the whole I think they were worse when everything is considered. Some of their Supreme Court nominees were worse than Bush's (two for Nixon, one for Johnson).

I confess that it is no great thrill to say that GWB was not as bad as Nixon and Johnson.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 14, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler:

Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

Nixon created the EPA and opened relations to China.

End of story.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

glue girl red state: There are a lot of cities that don't have American soldiers in them where the level of violence is not admirable but is deemed sufficiently low that assistance from soldiers is not required.
...
So why are we adding soldiers when the areas with fewer troops are the more stable areas with the lower incidence of violence?
...
all those cell phone operators
...
Which are necessary now because the infrastructure is rubble.
...
people who wait in line to buy gasoline every day
...
Exactly. What reason is there for a country with such vast oil reserves to be experiencing gas lines? Oh yeah - the infrastructure is rubble.

There are cities where American troops have not been deployed because the violence is not so great. Why is that a mystery to you? Are you indirectly saying that the presence of Americian troops is causing the fighting between Shi'ites and Sunnis? But the main question is still what standard of stability is required.

There were few telephone lines permitted under S. H., so the telecommunications infrastructure was not in fact turned to rubble.

The fuel infrastructure is mostly restored; the official fuel price is restricted so that much fuel is stolen or bought and then sold surreptitiously on the black market at market prices. That produces shortages in the official market, and hence the gas lines.

rmck1: You left out all those bustling coffin makers.

So I did, but I think that's one area of the economy where we might want to see a reduction. OTOH, it seems that many people are buried without coffins, so it may be that the coffin industry will not be adversely affected by a reduction in the murder rate. I was thinking that we might be satisfied if the murder rate in Baghdad were to be reduced to what it is in Rio de Janeiro [sp?], New Orleans or Karachi. To reduce the murder rate to what it is in Chicago, IL or New York, NY is probably a non-achievable goal, but I do not think that should be a discouraging thought.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 14, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Bob or perhaps rmck1:

Many thanks for your advice.

I certainly would not want to show "bad taste" in having a modicum of fun on the forum.

With that, I'll leave it to you.

Goodbye and good luck.

Back to your egbert bashing.

Posted by: art on January 14, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Now you didn't really mean to call Global "glue girl" did you? That would not be permitted here.

Posted by: bmaz on January 14, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Is that the world's smallest violin I hear? ... no, wait, it's a synthesizer.

Damn I love The Cardiacs :)

oBo

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

bmaz:

"glue girl," yeah, I noticed that, too :)

As in -- The Huffin' Hussy -- LOL !

oBo

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

I love the smell of Nancy Pelosi in the morning.

Newly in the Minority, G.O.P. Shows Signs of Division
on Iraq and Domestic Policies


By CARL HULSE
Published: January 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 -- After years of rock-solid party discipline and
fealty to President Bush, Congressional Republicans have suddenly
fractured in their new role as members of the minority, with some
prominently deserting the White House on Iraq and others bolting from
their leadership on popular domestic issues.

"We have got a lot of free agents," said Senator John Thune,
Republican of South Dakota, referring to the Republican backlash over
the president's proposal for a troop increase in Iraq.
=-=-=-=-

John Thune called the GOP rank and file "scared spitless."

LOL !

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

We have got a lot of free agents

Does this mean that Lieberman has to retriangulate to the left?

Posted by: B on January 14, 2007 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

B:

It seems like LieberDood is the last Democrat left standing with McCain ...

Hehe ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that "Democrat" should've been in scare quotes ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

Marler,
I don't know about reporters, but when I was vacationing in Iraq in 1990, I certainly could wander freely around without an official (or any minder).

I did have some military-types stop me from taking a picture of a building, but, in turn, were quite happy to pose themselves if I pointed my camera in their direction.


Hecharoonie, they didn't even open my passport at ID stops on the bus trip, they were so unconcerned about tracking foreigners.

Posted by: mcdruid on January 14, 2007 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

Also I wanted to point out to you that your explanation of long gas lines is to admit that there is a fuel shortage. You just wasted a couple dozen perfectly good words in a tautology.

Posted by: mcdruid on January 14, 2007 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

>>When you backdate stock options, you're giving them already realized value. You may as well just give them a cash bonus. - Bob

A cash bonus would disadvantageous tax-wise. Ordinary income vs Bush gutted Capital Gains. Harder to disguise the cash outflows, too.

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 14, 2007 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

Matter of interest: anyone remember some plan to dig a ditch with a barbed wire all the way round Baghdad a year or two ago? Or am I totally imagining this? Was it ever dug? What did it achieve if it was dug?

Posted by: mike g on January 14, 2007 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

x-lib: In fact the National Debt is still rising, but the deficit is indeed cut in half, as Bush promised.


the budget deficit for 2005 was 318-billion..

the budget deficit for 2006 was 256-billion..

256-billion is not half of 318-billion...


bush's biggest budget deficit was 413-billion in 2004

256-billion is not half of 413-billion...

speaking of halfs....

the national debt is now more than 50-percent HIGHER than when bush took the oath..

up more than 3-trillion...

and counting..

Posted by: mr. irony on January 14, 2007 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"the national debt is now more than 50-percent HIGHER than when bush took the oath..

up more than 3-trillion...

and counting.." - Mr Irony


Balance of debt is the key Irony, just FYI.


"Many people believe the government should not incur any debt and should always balance the budget. However, governments' financing expenditures with reasonable levels of debt can be more sensible than balancing the budget each year or even ever. The reasons for this are straightforward. Improperly constructed taxes, like the income tax, tend to discourage productive work, saving and investment more than issuing bonds does, so citizens are better off when the government engages in prudent borrowing. Also, government never needs to pay off or even reduce its total debt because, unlike individuals, the government lives forever.

The total federal government debt held by the public (which is the relevant number to be concerned about) dropped from 42 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1962 to a low of 25 percent in 1975, then rose to a high of 50 percent in 1993, and then dropped back to 33 percent in 2001. Currently, debt as a percent of GDP stands at about 35 percent."

Posted by: Jay on January 14, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

It's just Henry Kissenger trying to negotiatewith the insurgents the same way he negotiated with Hanoi.

Posted by: Boronx on January 14, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert on Meet the Press is asking firm questions of Nat'l Sec. AdvisorSteven Hadley, pointing out inconsistencies with what the president and secretary of state have said. Quoting Senator Bill Nelson's disillusionment with admin. policies and lack of truth-telling-- which Hadley blew past. Russert: Ten days before the election Bush was out saying we are winning the war, then it appeared on tv that his strategy was a political one--he knew we were not winning--an admission by his advisors on tv that Iraq policy was at risk, but Bush was calculating to avoid election loss. Hadley doesn't believe it. Is spinning disinformation. Russert: the suggestion is the admin. is buying time and intends to pass off the Iraq problem to the next president. With questions if we are preparing for conflict with Iran, Hadley says we are being diplomatic--but also says we are disrupting "those operations" and that Iran is behind many distruptive aspects. Hadley, when asked, says Iranians arrested are still in custody; what we are doing is identifying people engaged in activities that are killing our people... Bringing air carriers, etc. to Iraq is to prevent Iran from reacting by war.
On msnbc, another talking point man Ambassador David Sutterfield stated we will know in weeks if progress will be made with the cooperation of the Iraqi government. Bookmark that benchmark.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 14, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

consider wisely:

Your Sunday show blow-by-blows are always good to read ... thanks for that.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 14, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's folly.....you observe the same gambler's thinking in Las Vegas and Atlantic City all the time. Tragically, the president is betting America's blood and treasure on his feckless escalation.

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on January 14, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

On Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Hadley did not want to answer the question if the president had the legal authority to go into Iran. Congressman John Murtha, an opponent of continued occupation in Iraq, and of the administration's early cut and run of attention and resources from Afghanistan, speaking on This Week With George Stepanopoulos, said the president did not have that authority.

P.S. Thanks, Bob.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 14, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

When able to get her points in with the buttinski's on the panel of This Week, Kristin van Heuvel of The Nation: There's no military solution. Bush recklessly widened the war, is sending men and women into the crosshairs of a civil war. We'll have a 'blame and run' and wider war. Bush's speech the other evening was a prelude to what the neocons want to run on. Congress has to assert itself, the War Powers Authorization Act of 2002 must be amended. It is about protecting the troops, being careful and responsible to end this war. Maliki did not want troops. What is knowable is this is a human catastophe. Bush is sending troops where 70% of Iraqis feel having US troops there is worsening the situation, and over 60% of Iraqis approve of attacks on our troops. Asks who will be the anti-McCain--says Chuck Hagel has been very good, and is also addressing the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

Jay Leno had a joke: President Bush woke up this morning and isn't feeling very well. Says something must not be agreeing with him.........like most of the American people!

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 14, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think the surge will work.. at least until after the 08 presidential election of John McCain here's why.

I believe that there are some "back door" negotiations going on with the Iranian's (remember Regan and the Embassy hostages?)to reduce the level of violence in Iraq until John McCain is installed as POTUS.

During the election "The McCain doctrine" Will appear as the Wise Choice insuring his election.

After that the Iranians can do as they please in Iraq Maybe we'll even supply some arms just to sweeten the pot.

McCain has to have been kissing Georgies ass for these long 6 years for a reason.

Posted by: tom on January 14, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Peace by August will allow enough time to build for the replay, Middle Eastern style, of "Guns of August".

Always wisely considered - You must add your thoughts over at HuffPo's Sunday roundup of political "theater".

Speaking of which, how could Go Along, Get Along Meyers show his face on CNN this morning? "Only mistake was not understanding that the Iraqis would not stand up and fight for democracy". Typical K-Stater.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 14, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"If." You gotta love that word - "if."

It is so small, so often overlooked, and so powerful.

"If wishes and buts . . . "

Posted by: Tripp on January 14, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

SURGE? What surge?

Bush, in Wednesday's speech said he would increase troop levels by 20,000, but he didn't mention that he had just finished reducing troop levels by 20,000, from 152,000 in November to 132,000 this month.

Posted by: JoeBob on January 14, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

"...U.S. forces can withdraw to the city outskirts."

But, but, the terrorists will follow them!

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on January 14, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

" U.S. troops can withdraw to the city outskirts"

Another example of white flight and inner schools be damned.

Posted by: stupid git on January 14, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thethirdpaul: Over at Huffington Post, Jane Smiley says Bush's motto is "Try and stop me,"
and our motto should be "stop him now." Saying the White House is now occupied by LBJ,
Rep. Jim McDermott says the US cannot shoot its way to peace in Iraq. Larry Beinhart recommends following the Iraq Study Group Plan. Jane Harmon agrees with Senator Biden and others--forming semi-autonomous regions may turn out to be the "least bad" option. Rep. John Conyers says Bush has a tin ear,there's no shortage of Republicans in Congress voicing opposition or Republican pundits offering critiques, and this war must end. Stephen Schlesinger--Mr. Bush is going to stick to his evangelizing mission and not let himself be undermined by 70% of the American citizenry. David Kwo--along with other terrorist groups, al quaeda is booming there because of us.
Arianna says Bush's addiction to fear-mongering is hard to break, and points to his discredited lines of reasoning, and the old flypaper strategy that he trots out. They sound like us, over here!

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 14, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid: I don't know about reporters, but when I was vacationing in Iraq in 1990, I certainly could wander freely around without an official (or any minder).

That is indeed interesting. When the International Crisis Group conducted their poll in 2002 they went to great lengths to keep their expedition secret, and to interview everyone in secret. They reported this on their website when they reported the results of their interviews.

So where did you go? Mosul? Tikrit? Sadr City?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 14, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

OH, please!

Another of Bush's fucking con games.

If Dems will just let little Bushie have his little surge, he'll withdraw, that's BULLSHIT.

How many times DOES Bush GET to lie?

THIS IS how Bush tries to get his way - his stay the course way, just more and more BS.

Been there, done that, Bush is A *ucking lying, so how many *UCKING times does that SOB get lie?

A surge is not going to work, we know that.

We also know that Bush plays games and that Bush lies.


Posted by: Cheryl on January 14, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was cool that the illustrious John Conyers, who had last year advocated for impeachment, said of Bush's speech on escalating the war--"To kick things off, (Bush)listened to the advice of our military leaders. Remember the president has always maintained he would abide by the advice of his commanders on the ground. For this latest initiative, however, the resignation of a number of those commanders was necessary in order for Bush to get the right advice."
The right advice--haha
How snarky!! I like how Conyers ended with "This war must end."

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 14, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

To 'surge' is to Stay the Course with an engorgement.

Posted by: cld on January 14, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-lib, can you provide data on how much cleaner the environment is now? Otherwise, I am left scratching my head at how the massive reduction in environmental standards and enforcement, the opening of vast areas of wild land to drilling and mining, and the criminal failure to act on global warming could have contributed to a "cleaner" environment."

I find it plausible that some pollution measures are down from eight years ago despite the efforts of Bush and the Republican congress. Most environmental cleanup and regulation takes DECADES to affect the overall statistics. Bush certainly has appointed all sorts of industry employees and general incompetent fools, and the republican legislature was adding loopholes and subsidizing environmentally damaging industries as fast as it could, but they still never took obvious and massivly unpopular actions like outright repealing the clean air and clean water acts, so in the broad sweep of things the federal government has continued to require companies to pollute less and build new infrastructure which is less polluting while older more polluting infrastructure continues to wear out.

One of the republicans big anti-clean air actions was to change the rules about refurbishing older electrical power plants. They doubled the amount of money that could be spent on plant repairs without bringing it up to new emmissions standards. The idea was that congress (in the 70's I think) mandated that all new plants meet new standards, however an obvious loophole would be for a power company to "repair" or "upgrade" an existing plant rather than to build a new one. A fairly simple rule was made to prevent that limiting the amount that could be spent on an existing plant in some period of time so that they could do normal maintenence, but definately not build a new plant under the guise of maintenence. If the company goes over the limit they have to bring the plant up to emmisions spec. So power companies would not have to immediately upgrade or replace all existing plants to emit far less than they had been designed to emit (presumably sometimes retrofitting that would be very expensive) and could run those plants pretty much for thier expected lifetime, but over the next 50 or so years the old plants would wear out and be replaced with newer, less polluting ones or undergo major overhauls including the pollution controls.

Now, of course, the loophole is opened wider. The companies can take an old polluting plant and do much more significant maintenence on it without meeting the current emmission standards.

This particular change isn't actually ever going to make "more" annual pollution from power plants. Instead it will slow the decrease in emissions from powerplants over a period of decades.

Condsider the drilling and mining. It takes years for a new mine or oil field to be exploited once it is opened. The pollution just isn't yet kicking in from this stuff fully... yet.

Posted by: jefff on January 14, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

greatfuckingjesus,

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2149716.ece

The herdsmen had gathered with their animals around large fires at night to ward off mosquitoes. But lit up by the flames, they became latest victims of America's war on terror.

It was their tragedy to be misidentified in a secret operation by special forces attempting to kill three top al-Qa'ida leaders in south-ern Somalia.

Oxfam yesterday confirmed at least 70 nomads in the Afmadow district near the border with Kenya had been killed. The nomads were bombed at night and during the day while searching for water sources. Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Kenya has acknowledged that the onslaught on Islamist fighters failed to kill any of the three prime targets wanted for their alleged role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

The wanted men are Fazul Abdullah Moham-med, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Taha al-Sudani, who were all supposedly sheltered by the Union of Islamic Courts during its short reign in Mogadishu.

The operation, which opened a new front in Washington's anti-terror campaign, seems to have backfired spectacularly in the five days since it was launched. In addition to the scores of Somali civilians killed, the simmering civil war in the failed state has been rekindled. . . .

Posted by: cld on January 14, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps now we see why psycho General Boykin, who also masterminded the Branch Davidian assault, was summarily dumped.

Posted by: cld on January 14, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

egbert says:

- Cut the deficit in half, just like he claimed
- Unemployment at all time lows, sustained
- Surging economic growth while Europe languishes
..

So how is this addressing the issue of succeeding in Iraq? But if you must go off-topic, yes, Bush has done some good things in other areas. But you must also admit that Clinton overall did a better job domestically, and had many more foreign policy successes than Bush. I'll be waiting for your reply to show that you're not a partisan hypocrite.

Posted by: Andy on January 14, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,
I will not speak to 2002, perhaps by that time they were a little more wary of the possibility that Americans were spies - and for good reason.

Recall that at least half of 1990 was a period of peace and prosperity in a country recovering from a long period of war. On the one hand, there was paranoia, restrictions on video cameras, frequent ID checks and a lack of maps. On the other hand, there were first run movies (Batman is the one that I saw), plenty of food, lots of construction, and nightclubs with female "entertainers."

It is quite possible, that had we refrained from punitive sanctions, military overflights and interminable threats, that Iraq would have returned to those days and built on that to become a modern civilization and a model for other Middle Eastern States.

Posted by: mcdruid on January 14, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid: It is quite possible, that had we refrained from punitive sanctions, military overflights and interminable threats, that Iraq would have returned to those days and built on that to become a modern civilization and a model for other Middle Eastern States.

I am frequently in the position of claiming that a possibility for future improvement still exists where others are pessimistic, so I can hardly deny that was possible. How likely is that scenario given the rest of the Baath/Hussein history, and with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds living in refuge up in the mountains?

Anyway, I always look forward to your posts, and they are always informative.


Now you didn't really mean to call Global "glue girl" did you?

Naw, just another miserable typo.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 14, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dems get quite a bit of criticism from right wingers on not having 'an Iraq plan.'
Representative Chris Murphy, Democrat, Conneticut, described it as---
It is like dropping an egg, and asking me what my plans are for putting it back together...",8/27/06 wapo ... pretty cool statement

Posted by: consider wisely tiredly on January 14, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,
Thanks for the compliment. I realize that I have a pretty contrarian point of view at times, and, particularly in this case, I don't buy into the whole conventional wisdom noise. I especially cringe at the characterization of Saddam as a "madman." For the most part, he must have been a hard nosed realist - otherwise he wouldn't have survived, much less thrived, to the extent that he did. Both his attack on Iran and on Kuwait were, arguably, better calculated gambles than Shrub's attacks on Afganistan and on Iraq. Saddam nearly succeeded in both his invasions, and bad luck played a large part in his defeats.

But after 1991, what military option was open to him? His immediate neighbors were either too strong (Turkey, Iran), protected by the US (Saudi, Kuwait), or not worth the game (Syria, Jordan).

The obvious thing would be to gather power diplomatically and economically, which would have entailed increasing trade and working on pan-Arab unity. The former, especially, would lead to the relative weakening of his power, since a richer, more diverse economy would develop alternate power bases and be harder to control monolithically. In this scenario, Iraq would move to a somewhat Saudi-style, elite controlled state. (Except with a higher concentration of power and none of the religious underpinnings.)

Against this is the argument that he would be driven by paranoia, a reflexive tendency towards brute force, and the insecurity of his borders (especially with respect to Iran) to tighten down on his people and establish a strictly controlled police state. But that was not the direction he was moving in the brief peace in 1990 that I encountered. Besides, such a state is difficult or impossible to maintain when your economy is so strongly built on oil exports, foreign labor, and luxury imports.

One thing is very clear over-all, an interminable levying of sanctions was a bad idea. But that is no surprise, I can't think of a single application of government sanctions (at least in the 20th century) that accomplished its desired goals.

Posted by: mcdruid on January 15, 2007 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Bush isn't smart enough to be cynical, so deluded it is.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 15, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Katrina Van Heuvel of The Nation says that Bush's speech was not only defiance of the Iraqi and American people, but saber-rattling, contemptuous, and instead of diplomacy, they made the problem bigger. Tony Snow feels were are protecting our people, not provoking Iran to go to war. Katrina says you heard Bush's speech about aircraft carriers and patriot missles--re: the Iran president: she heard there were secret impeachment proceedings against him. She says we must engage in diplomacy with Iran. Pat Buchanan says if gov't in Baghdad collapses, the Sunni will be at the mercy; the Maliki gov't is taking on the Shia--a war of all against all, Pat says--says Mahdi army is strong. Iranians would resist another hostile government in Iraq. On Capitol Hill, unpopular plan--mood is dismal. McCain doesn't mind it. Dems and growing #'s of republicans--Hagel-- clearly against it,Coleman, Brownback, Smith--General Petreus will have tough questioning at Congress soon. Full scale rebellion could be seen in the republican ranks.
Katrina says President cares more about his legacy than troops or nation, is willing to escalate war into Iran, wants to distract from his other war, in defiance of democracy, of those who voted for change--he has VP who says Congress does not have a role. Denial to deception to full delusion, Katrina says. Scarborough Country is good tonite. I admire Kristina Van Heuvel. So articulate and self-assured, wise. NY Times Anne Korblunt also does well, discussing need for discussions with Iran. What the dems do--they have different ideas. Obama running, Webb giving democratic speech to state of the union address. Big times happening.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 16, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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