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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Holiday Spirit

The Douchebag of Liberty just got a little douchebaggier:

Don't mess with columnist Bob Novak when he's on his way to a Maryland basketball game. Novak, the enigmatic center of the CIA leak scandal, was headed to Hawaii Saturday morning to watch his beloved Terrapins play in the Maui Invitational tournament when he tangled with a fellow traveler.

According to our unofficial mascot on the flight, Novak was boarding an American flight to Chicago when he cut in front of another passenger while entering first class. The guy protested and laid a hand on Novak -- who responded by socking him and threatening to knock his teeth out.

Not mild-mannered Bob? We reached Novak in Maui, just minutes into yesterday's game.

"Some guy pushed me and I pushed him back," he said, shouting into the phone from the stands. "That's all there was to it." Both offending parties were scolded by airline staff and huffed to their respective seats.

And did you learn something from this experience, Bob?

"No, nothing."

If you don't learn from causing the first indictment inside the White House in 130 years, you're not going to learn from this.

My question is, why did he punch the guy when he could have simply summoned him to the grave with his powers of darkness?


Turkey Break

Tomorrow's a travel day for me, and I'll probably have to spend some time with the family unit over the holidays instead of blogging non-stop. Isn't it enough that I'm in the next room by the computer? Apparently not.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, even my lovely trolls.


Fighting, Anti-Failure Dems

If you accept the premise that Democrats are soft on defense, don't support the troops, and want Al Qaeda to win, why is it that the vast majority of Iraq War veterans running for Congress are Democrats?

Driven by the unique relevance their experience has to current events and inspired by Paul Hackett’s near victory in an against-all-odds race in Ohio, soldiers back from the Middle East are scrambling to get their names on congressional ballots for 2006.

(David) Ashe is running again for the House in Virginia, and Hackett is taking a shot at the Senate. Andrew Duck is running for Congress in Maryland, Tim Dunn in North Carolina, and Patrick Murphy and Brian Lentz in Pennsylvania: Iraq vets all. Tim Walz, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, is running in Minnesota, and two veterans who played crucial roles in the Iraq War stateside are running in Pennsylvania and New York.

Another similarity is this: Ashe, Duck, Dunn, Murphy, Lentz, and the others are, like Hackett, Democrats. In total, 10 Democratic vets are running, or considering a run, for Congress. (A few more may declare in the coming weeks.) The Republicans, by contrast, can only commit to two. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the organ of the Party establishment responsible for recruiting and running candidates, explains the phenomenon by citing the failures of Republicans in Washington. "We have a Republican-controlled Congress that has failed to provide for troops returning from Iraq, and failed to provide on promises on health care and services for families," says spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg. "[The vets] are naturally running in an opposite way."

There's a reason Americans generally like to elect war veterans to Congress: they'd like someone who's been there to be charged with the ultimate responsibility of committing troops. And this crop of candidates have seen the mismanagement of the current war policy from the White House and intend to do something about it. I loved this quote:

Most take a page out of Hackett’s play book, running on a pro-troops, anti-Bush platform but hedging on the war itself. ("I’m not anti-war, I’m anti-failure," is how one candidate put it.)

It's going to be hard for Republicans acknowledge that Democrats don't share the same goals in the war on terror when you have so many front-line soldiers on the other side. Not that they won't try it, but it'll be hard to make that case.

Meanwhile, after screaming "coward" and "cut & run" and stamping their little feet about staying the course and ginning up deceitful votes, we now learn that, of course, the White House is going to draw down troops. I mean, there's an election year coming up!

WASHINGTON--Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call'' in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points'' during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic'' scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.

Despite an intensified congressional debate about a withdrawal timetable after last week's call by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for a quick pullout, administration officials say that military and political factors heavily constrain how fast U.S. forces should leave. They cite a continuing need to assist Iraq's fledgling security forces, ensure establishment of a permanent government, suppress the insurgency and reduce the potential for civil war.

A phased timetable for withdrawal from Iraq contingent on political and security concerns. Now where have I heard that before?

What concerns me is that the whole idea is precipitated by the upcoming elections, which means that progress will take a back seat to political expediency. We'll be out whether we're ready or not. And Iraq will go up in smoke.



The attack on John Murtha's character in the wake of his call for US redeployment in Iraq has blown up in the GOP's face so quickly that even the President had to walk the rhetoric back. Now we learn that the Marine Col. that Mean Jean Schmidt quoted when she called Murtha a coward is disputing the remarks:

Three days after Rep. Jean Schmidt was booed off the House floor for saying that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do," the Ohioan she quoted disputed the comments.

Danny Bubp, a freshman state representative who is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, told The Enquirer that he never mentioned Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., by name when talking with Schmidt, and he would never call a fellow Marine a coward.

"The unfortunate thing about all of that is that her choice of words on the floor of the House - I don't know, she's a freshman, she had one minute.

"Unfortunately, they came out wrong," said Bubp, R-West Union.

"I could just imagine how nervous she must have been on the floor with everyone watching," Bubp said. "I don't want to be interjected into this. I wish she never used my name."

For his part, Murtha downplayed the statement on Meet the Press, saying that "This is a new member, and sometimes they give her something to say that ... they get out of hand. I try not to take this stuff personal."

Good for him. I just think it's amusing how fast everyone started running away from the attempted Swift-Boating, almost as soon as it began. As I said earlier, the guy's unassailable.

We also learned today that Murtha waited five months for a reply to a letter he sent to the Bush Administration about bipartisan solutions on Iraq. In the end, he received a curt reply from a Pentagon underling. So this should have come as no surprise to the White House. That is, if they bothered to listen to anyone who didn't agree in lockstep with them.


Turning Away From New Orleans

We're three months removed from Hurricane Katrina, and in the 24 hour-news cycle, 3 months might as well be a century ago. But to turn away from this epochal tragedy is unconscionable. Yesterday we learned that over 6,000 people are still missing, 4 times that of the 1,306 confirmed dead in the Gulf Coast region. That unbelievably high number may have as much to do with the complete lack of organization in the area than anything else. Many returning to their homes are finding dead people in the attics (they stopped looking for the dead within a scant few weeks).

What aid is getting to the victims is being mismanaged by that familiar bugaboo, FEMA. We know that they're about to expel any refugee living in a hotel by December 1. What we don't know is that this is probably because they blew all the money beforehand:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's evolving efforts to shelter Hurricane Katrina victims continue to waste huge amounts of taxpayer dollars and could soon leave many evacuees short of money and facing eviction, according to renter advocates and housing industry officials.

Apartment owners say they also are encountering problems collecting rents because FEMA hands money directly to storm victims, instead of using housing vouchers or payments to landlords as HUD does for some low-income renters. Some families that left their homes with only what they could carry have used FEMA's cash for food, clothing and transportation.

"We felt if we did the right thing, FEMA would step up and provide housing assistance for all these folks. Here we are four weeks later, and a lot of these folks simply do not have rent money to pay," said Kirk H. Tate, a member of Houston's Katrina housing task force and a partner at Orion Real Estate Services Inc., which manages 12,000 apartments in the city.

The warnings come as a wide range of players in the nation's housing and lodging industries express mounting exasperation with FEMA's shifting efforts to cope with the evacuee crisis. Although the administration has proposed cruise ships, trailers, President Bush's nascent "urban homesteading" initiative, hotels and now apartment grants, they say FEMA is ignoring advice from experts inside and outside the government.

"The normal FEMA programs just aren't working. They may be good for 1,500, 2,000 people, but when you're talking a half a million, they do not work," said Douglas S. Culkin, executive vice president of the National Apartment Association.

Culkin said 1 million rental units are vacant in the southeastern United States at half the rate of FEMA's $1,770-a-month hotel program. He called the current spending rate of $250 million a month "a horrendous waste of tax dollars."

We have agencies that aren't equipped to deal with this effort. We have no commission impaneled by the President to manage the problem at the macro level. And so the relief that is desperately needed is becoming bogged down in the typical internecine squabbles:

Less than three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, relief legislation remains dormant in Washington and despair is growing among state and local officials here who fear that Congress and the Bush administration are losing interest in their plight.

As evidence, the officials cite an array of stalled bills and policy changes. These are crucial, the officials say, to rebuilding the city and persuading some of its hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents to return. They include measures to finance long-term hurricane protection, revive small businesses and compensate the uninsured.

"There is a real concern that we will lose the nation's attention the longer this takes," said Representative Bobby Jindal, a Republican from Metairie, just west of New Orleans. "People are making decisions now about whether to come back. And every day that passes, it will be a little harder to get things done."

Officials from both parties say the bottlenecks have occurred in large part because of a leadership vacuum in Washington, where President George W. Bush and Congress have been preoccupied for weeks with Iraq, deficit reduction, the CIA leak investigation and the Supreme Court.

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, said recently on CNN, "We feel like we are citizens of the United States who are nearly forgotten."

Among all the typical stories that dot the media landscape, this above all is the one that cannot be forgotten. This is a major American city razed to the ground. Lots of areas still have no power. Without any housing, businesses can't hire workers and reopen their shops. Half a million people are displaced all over the country. If ever there was an urgent emergency, this is it. And it grows worse by the day.

I'd like to put together some sort of action item, but it's hard to know what to do. Clearly citizens need to get this to the top of the legislative agenda when Congress comes home for recess over the next few weeks. We need a new Tennessee Valley Authority to rebuild the region and bring the population back. We need leadership to oversee this reconstruction, not ad hoc committees and programs. This seems crystal clear to me, but its being bogged down and underfunded. This is horrific. If we cannot care for our own citizens, it's time to get out of the government and civil society business. You cannot give up the Gulf Coast as some kind of consequence of social Darwinism.

UPDATE: I'm glad that FEMA has pushed back the deadline for removing evacuees from hotels by five weeks. I'm not glad that this was in response to public pressure and there's really no money for it because it was squandered. Recently it was reported that Fannie Mae offered 1,500 rent-free housing units and FEMA replied that they weren't needed. There's a chasm of leadership at the top of this reconstruction effort.


Huge Grains of Salt

I don't think I buy this:

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

A source said last night: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush.

"He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

"There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do - and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."

A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious".

Now THAT I could believe. I could totally see Bush saying, "We're trying to win hearts and minds, right? Let's get rid of Al Jazeera and we can do that! Heh heh heh!" But that he'd ACTUALLY want to bomb Qatar strains logic. Anyway, why would he want to bomb the Al Jazeera HQ when he can simply bomb the Baghdad offices and call it an accident?

BAGHDAD - Al-Jazeera correspondent Tarek Ayoub was killed on Tuesday during a U.S. air raid on Baghdad, the Arab satellite television channel said.

The Qatar-based network said Ayoub, a Jordanian national, died in hospital after he was wounded in a bomb strike on Jazeera's office near the Information Ministry.

"We regret to inform you that our cameraman and correspondent Tarek Ayoub was killed this morning during the U.S. missile strike on our Baghdad office," Jazeera said in a statement read out during its news bulletin.

Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent Majed Abdel Hadi called the U.S. missile strike and Ayoub's death a "crime."

"I will not be objective about this because we have been dragged into this conflict," he said, visibly upset. "We were targeted because the Americans don't want the world to see the crimes they are committing against the Iraqi people."

U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was investigating reports of Ayoub's death.

"Central Command has repeatedly warned media representatives that Baghdad would be a dangerous place to be if the coalition engaged the Iraqi regime in combat," it said in a statement.

I mean, that achieves the same goal of silencing opposition press.


Monday, November 21, 2005

"Really, I'm Stupid," says the ultimate insider

I couldn't bring myself to watch it, but I am reading the transcript of Bob Woodward's appearance on Larry King Live tonight. Of course, Larry King is the last refuge of the true scoundrel, the place where you know you can be safe, where the questions are as soft as a bedsheet fresh out of the dryer. Despite this, Woodward couldn't help but make a complete ass out of himself, right from the very first question:

 KING: OK, Robert, what were you not telling us that night? (about denying "having a bombshell" to report on the Plame case -ed.)

WOODWARD: Well, first of all, I was telling you the exact truth, that I did not have a bombshell or any story for the next day's paper.
I did know that, back over two years ago, at the end of a very long interview, substantive interview, for my book, "Plan of Attack," a
source had, when I asked about Joe Wilson, told me that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst.

At that point, and on your show, I didn't know what that meant at all, because it was such a casual, off-hand remark.

We're actually supposed to believe that (a) the disclosure of Wilson's wife was an off-hand remark, yet Woodward remembers exactly what was said to him, (b) he DIDN'T KNOW what that disclosure meant, right up until "your show" on October 2005, despite the fact that by that time this was the biggest story in Washington for two years. Everyone's trying to figure out who leaked Plame's name to the press, someone told Woodward, he remembers it, and he DOESN'T KNOW what that meant?

Isn't that grounds to revoke his press pass? I mean, are you kidding me? In the pantheon of lame excuses, that ranks just below "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

In the very next sentence, there's this:

  KING: But should you -- you later apologized. Should you have told your editor?

WOODWARD: Yes. I have a great relationship with Len Downie, the editor of the "Post," and I was trying to avoid being subpoenaed.

Yet he claimed initially to have told Walter Pincus, a writer at the Post, about the "off-handed, casual" remark. If you're trying to avoid being subpoenaed, why would you mention it to Pincus?

This was an hourlong show, if I continued to do this line-by-line we'd have a Rime of the Ancient Mariner-length blog post. Suffice to say that Bob Woodward is full of shit. If anything else leaps out at me I'll post it.


Another Country Heard From

I know it's hard to keep track of the Republican scandals without a scorecard, but there was a very important development today in the Jack Abramoff case. Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Tom DeLay and an associate to lobbyist Abramoff, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to bribe public officials, in what was clearly a plea bargain:

Scanlon, 35, is the second person to face criminal charges in connection with the Justice Department-led probe of the 46- year-old Abramoff. In October, a federal grand jury indicted the White House's former chief procurement officer, David Safavian, once an Abramoff associate, for obstruction and making false statements.

Beyond the potential legal concerns, Scanlon's cooperation with authorities may spell political jeopardy for Republicans leading into next year's elections, especially if he helps draw other lawmakers into the investigation. "He knows where all the bodies are buried,'' said a congressional aide who worked with Scanlon.

One of those bodies has apparently already been named in the indictment report:

The Justice Department on Nov. 18 charged Scanlon with conspiring with "Lobbyist A'' -- identified by a person close to the investigation as Abramoff -- to defraud Indian-tribe clients and corrupt federal officials. Those officials included a lawmaker identified only as "Representative #1.''

(Ohio Rep. Bob) Ney, chairman of the House Committee on Administration, who took an Abramoff-sponsored trip to Scotland in 2002, said earlier this month that prosecutors had subpoenaed records. A spokesman for Ney, 51, said the lawmaker hasn't been told he's a target.

They don't put "Representative #1" in an indictment unless he's open to being charged later. It's the same as Karl "Official A" Rove in the Libby investigation.

Scanlon is extremely well-connected, clearly knows every GOP official in Washington, and has apparently been cooperating with the investigation since June. The prosecutors probably have a voluminous amount of material from those discussions.

The Abramoff story involves multiple investigations and examples of wrongdoing, and apparently Scanlon was there all along. The main case is that Abramoff would convince Indian tribes (for whom he was a lobbyist) to hire Scanlon as a consultant, and Scanlon would charge ridiculous fees, half of which he would kick back to Abramoff. Abramoff also put major money into financing campaigns against allowing Indian casino gambling in Georgia, to note one example, deriding it as "sinful and ungodly," when in actuality he was protecting the interests of the Indian casino for which he was already working.

And if you didn't know it from those schemes, these guys are class acts:

What came next was laid out by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has released transcripts of hundreds of e-mails and documents during five committee hearings in the last 18 months. The e-mails are laced with derogatory references by the two men toward their tribal clients. In one December 2001 e- mail, for example, Abramoff referred to their Saginaw Chippewa clients as "troglodytes.''

"What's a troglodyte?'' Scanlon asked. "A lower form of existence, basically,'' Abramoff replied.

The very money structure of how Republicans and lobbyists worked in a symbiotic way, passing cash for access, influencing policy in untold ways, ripping off whoever they could to get the job done, is all at stake in this investigation. The name Michael Scanlon will be an important one when you look back on this chapter of American politics.


Following in Saddam's Footsteps

Saddam used white phosphorus against the Kurds, and at the time, we called it a chemical weapon.


We were calling it chemical warfare then. Incredibly, when it became clear that the US military used WP in Falluja, Col. Venable denied that it was a chemical weapon. He claimed that it wasn't outlawed or illegal.

So to recap, when Saddam uses WP, it's a chemical weapon. When we use it, it's a munition and it's not illegal.

Anyone who still wonders why we appear to be losing our moral standing in the world needs to reread the above sentence.


Throwing Another Curve

The Los Angeles Times has taken a lot of heat in the liberal blogosphere lately, particularly its editorial section, which fired longtime columnist Robert Scheer and replaced his weekly column with that of Jonah Goldberg (because they wanted to get rid of all the rabid partisans... right?). But their news reporting has been consistently solid for years, particularly the international section. And Sunday's very long story about "Curveball" and how the US government used his inane and incoherent ramblings and based war policy upon them is an important tale indeed.

The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.

"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.

A lot of this Curveball stuff has been out there for a while. The Times adds far more information and insight than anybody else has. It's extremely long, but I urge you to read the entire article. Curveball was the source on mobile weapons labs, biological programs and germ warfare. All of it was false, fabricated by a crazy person who just wanted to get out of the country. We never talked to him, just took the German intelligence reports, which they labeled as dubious, and re-purposed them into all kinds of prewar speeches. We still haven't talked to him. None of the commissions charged with examining prewar intelligence failures have EVER spoken with Curveball or the German intelligence agents who received all of his information. The LA Times has done more background work in this one article than the entire US government oversight apparatus has in two years.

Of course, those commissions (the Silberman-Robb commission, the Senate Intelligence Report) really didn't want to get to the bottom of anything. Neither report was allowed to look at the exaggeration of intelligence by the White House. That was Phase II, the phase that never happened until Democrats shut down the Senate in an attempt to kickstart the investigation.

I don't want to fall all over the LA Times for telling this story. The Washington Post allowed Bob Graham to write a scathing editorial yesterday, also concerning prewar intelligence and the dishonesty therein. Graham puts to rest the notion that Democrats in Congress "saw the same intelligence" as the White House:

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.

The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.

So other papers are on this case. In addition, I agree with Josh Marshall's brilliant assessment:

This is one of those media questions for which there is no real way to provide a concrete answer. But it is at least worth asking: How many of the stories coming out now under the very broad heading of botched or manipulated intelligence could have been reported and written at more or less any time over the last two years? I suspect the answer is, the great majority of them.

They're getting written now because the president's poor poll numbers make him a readier target.

That is a shocking thing, when the disclosure of truth is predicated on poll numbers. Facts should never depend on political expediency. But such is journalism in the 21st century. The LA Times has actually been out in front, bucking this trend for some time. For that they deserve our thanks.


Timetables Will Only Embolden the Enemy

So why are the leaders of Iraq demanding one?

Iraqi leaders, meeting at a reconciliation conference in Cairo, urged an end to violence in the country and demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq.

In a final statement, read by Arab League chief Amre Moussa, host of the three-day summit, they called for "the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces.'' No date was specified.

"The Iraqi people look forward to the day when the foreign forces leave Iraq, when it's armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and get rid of terrorism,'' the leaders said in the statement. The session was broadcast live from the Egyptian capital by al-Jazeera.

Don't you think Iraqis might have a better sense of how to best run their own country than The Boy In the Plastic Bubble?

I also agree with Jack Murtha (and he repeated this on his Meet the Press appearance yesterday) that the Iraqis have no reason to stand up and fight as long as we're doing the fighting (and the dying) for them. It kind of shows a contempt for the Iraqi people, situated at the cradle of civilization and at it for thousands of years, that they are irretrievably hurtling toward chaos the moment we leave. Maybe if they don't view themselves as crushed under the boot of an occupier, they will move to diplomacy and end the violence. I don't know realistically if you can solve intractable issues of religion through diplomacy, however.

Ultimately, as others have said, the realist would look at Iraq and say either we lose and our Army is broken, or we just lose. I've long stated that we've probably passed the "good solution" milepost in Iraq. All further solutions will be bad for somebody. But with Iraqis in the lead, at least there will be a chance, and no rallying cry for the insurgency of "Remove the occupying infidels!"


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Drat, Foiled Again

This time it was a door that got him:

President George W Bush tried to make a quick exit from a news conference in Beijing on Sunday - only to find himself thwarted by locked doors.

The president strode away from reporters looking annoyed after one said he appeared "off his game".

President Bush tugged at both handles on the double doors before admitting: "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work."

That's not Photoshopped.

What is it about Presidents named Bush and East Asia that makes us all want to hide behind the couch in shame?