As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Buyer's Remorse

Christmas (oops, I mean "the holidays." I'm waging war on Christmas) is the time for buying massive amounts of things that we don't need, then getting mad at ourselves for doing so and going into debt. Tis the season, they say. I think that's what's going on in the political sphere. Not only has the President dipped to a 49% approval rating, maybe the only incumbent ever to lose ground after re-election, but a WaPo poll shows that more people than ever think Bush's signature issue, going to war with Iraq, was a mistake:

President Bush heads into his second term amid deep and growing public skepticism about the Iraq war, with a solid majority saying for the first time that the war was a mistake and most people believing that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should lose his job, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth fighting" -- an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.

This stuff has just never happened before in American history. Then again, Americans have never been such rabid consumers. During the election, the Republicans succeeded in polarizing the electorate, forcing people into the pigeonholes of "with us" or "against us." Now that we've become "departisanized," as Josh Marshall puts it, the veil behind the curtain can be lifted, and Americans previously impervious to criticisms of the Bush Administration can see it with new eyes.

The more politics has become like professional wrestling, the more partisans of either armed camp end up defending their candidate and their party, against all facts to the contrary. In this space I have been able to acknowledge what Kerry did right or wrong whenever possible. I try not to give in to the cognitive dissonance so common to both sides. And out of the heat of the campaign season, other people are starting to realize how apocalyptic Iraq has become, how on the verge of financial collapse this country is, how out of whack our environmental, health care, and Social Security policies and propositions are from the political mainstream. And based on the poll results, I gather a lot of Americans are saying, "Oh shit, you mean we bought THIS President?"

Sorry guys, you buy it, you own it.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The problem with fighting an insurgency war is that they have less to lose than you do. A swatch of suicide bombers can kill hundreds and destroy military morale. Now we've learned that yesterday's mess hall attack in Mosul followed this pattern. Gen. Richard Myers today indicated that the preliminary investigation showed that a suicide bomber with an IED was repsonsible for the attack, not a series of mortar shells or a rocket. This is probably the first time in Iraq that this has happened, and this is exactly was caused so much disruption in other insurgencies like in Vietnam. This is about the worst thing that can happen. As a cause of an unnecessary, pre-emptive war with a dearth of available troops for the postwar situation, now we cannot even keep military bases safe from terror.

As much as one would like to blame someone for this particular attack, but in actuality there's nobody to blame. It's just another tragic tactic in this war, and it's nearly impossible to defend against one man with explosives and a great deal of will. The only thing there is to blame is this war itself, with its climbing death tolls and civilian casualties, with rising troop deployments and no end to the security instability. This is The Beirut attack on the Marine base in 1983 all over again. Reagan used that as an impetus to get out. Bush won't; don't even think about it. The time to get out passed about 18 months ago. Anyone that thinks the upcoming elections will magically change the situation on the ground is smoking something. Baghdad's fall didn't change anything. Neither did Uday and Qusay's death. Or Saddam's capture. Or the first siege of Fallujah. Or the handover of power to the interim government. Or the second siege of Fallujah. And all of these moments were called turning points at the time. The "everything's fine, nothing to see here" style of warring strategy isn't working; in fact, it gets worse by the month. Now the entire strategy is "it'd be worse if we left." Which is of course true, but not enough of an explanation (and, not the same explanation for war as before; that one's changed about 22 times).

We mourn for those who have died in Bush's war.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bush signed torture orders.

It actually pisses me off that this is coming out now. If it was a couple months earlier, maybe Abu Ghraib would've gotten a mention in this election. Running away from US-sanctioned torture instead of shaming the Administration with this issue was the single worst calculation of the Kerry campaign. How could we not raise the fact that the President signed something like this:

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

It's a sad day in America when we're authorizing techniques that even the FBI knows are wrong. I'm telling you, this country would have voted for the hooded prisoner over Bush, we just didn't have the guts to take the hood out of the closet.

Will Torture get a "-gate" now? I think it'll be too little, too late, with too many exciting developments like the Oscars and who's wearing what at the Inauguration on which to report.