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Friday, August 26, 2005

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Jim Russell

Damn, thats a good post MT. I take back all the bad things I was thinking about you due to other posts of yours that didn't totally agree with me. :)

Where do I vote?

Jay Byrd

"Getting partisanly positional"? I don't think you comprehend the material or the facts behind it. It's about removing the disastrous Bush administration from the White House and Republicans who enable it from the Congress, so as to change policy on numerous fronts; it's entirely pragmatic, based on the principle that people shouldn't be dying and suffering and starving for the gain of others or needlessly -- the principle of actually affecting people's lives rather than feeling all holy about one's adherence to abstract principles that are frankly hypocritical, like getting all squishy about freedom for people we drop bombs on and riddle with bullets. I don't care a whit about "partisanship", which I think is a fake concept based on treating politics like a team sport, and people who buy into the myth don't understand the political process or how to actually achieve change. And your take on "an institution called Congress" might have held water in times past, but it's a complete fairy tale today where people like Tom DeLay hold the reins, moderate Republican voices have been silenced, and Democrats aren't even physically allowed into the debate. I for one am able to recognize that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are far better than Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, while at the same time recognizing that they are pathetically ineffective as an opposition party and their "stay the course" language helps enable Bush's policies, and I'd much rather see progressives in their place even if those progressives called themselves Republicans -- but I've yet to encounter such a beast. I favor Democrats over Republicans because the structure of our winner-take-all election system works against third parties -- there are mathematical theorems to that effect -- and has led to a very polarized two-party system in terms of their platforms and constituencies. There's strength in numbers and we're stuck with two groups, for the most part. Reducing the pragmatics of party politics to "pettiness" or "partisanship" is inept analysis.

Speaking of how to achieve change, I just saw a remarkable 60 second political ad on CNN, with Cindy Sheehan facing the camera squarely and addressing President Bush, asking her questions and stating plainly and clearly that he lied. You can see it yourself at FamiliesForPeace.com, and I urge you to do so.

Trey Howell

When Donald Rumsfeld mentions in passing that Communism was "in vogue" during World War II, it's an excellent opportunity for us to remind the public that Rumsfeld and his neoconservative ilk are the very descendants of that fad.

Here's the Godfather of Neoconservatism, Irving Kristol (father of Bill Kristol, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century), wistfully remembering his Trotskyist days at City College:

http://www.pbs.org/arguing/nyintellectuals_krystol_2.html

The neoconservatives kept Trotsky's theory of constant global revolution, combined it with Leo Strauss' contention that the unwashed masses must be led by deception, and have applied it directly to American foreign policy since 2001.

Anthony Nassar

Only 3 years ago, conservative Beltwayers were nearly peeing themselves over the virile Rumsfeld (no, I do not jest; see http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/articles/031103ta_talk_macfarquhar; see also James Wolcott's August 23 posting review [http://jameswolcott.com/], reviewing Michael Ledeen's vaporings about W's manly manliness). No, it won't make me happy to see him get his comeuppance, not at this price, though I do find him despicable.

I'm sorry to be so scattershot, but c'mon, Leo Strauss is no more properly identified with the idea that the unwashed masses must be deceived for their own good than is Walter Lippmann. Not that I want to demonize liberal elites or anything, but c'mon, it was acceptable recently for liberal elites in Europe to say, outright, that the public was not entitled to vote on EU membership, as they were too, well, stupid:
http://frankfuredi.com/articles/Populist-20050613.shtml

GoatBoy

Trey nailed in one terse sentence the basic philosophy of Jim Henson's Kissinger Babies(r). Well done. This should be said often and loudly.

Yeager

From Mr. Navarro's website; note the second sentence is very effective example of the need for proofreading:

"An effective interview or interrogation can be measured by two standards - was the interviewer able to access all of the information needed and did the interview subject suffered any trauma during the process. Those who excel in interviews are able to accomplish both, with the ideal being that the subject truthfully reveals all information requested and very possibly even feels good about the process of having done so."

Reminds me of Bush's "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," gaffe.

richard lo cicero

I agree with the comments upthread that Gen. Clark may be onto something and that is why I'm backing him for President. But the real question is what the strategy should be now. Some find the "Politics before Policy" meme to be amoral. Alas it is the only reasonable way to go. Someone suggested Congress could get the Bush Crime Family to change course. Does anyone really think this Congress would challenge Bush and support a rational plan like Prof. Cole's? No, if Bush keeps tanking they will cut and run and blame the "Liberals" just as they did over Vietnam.

That is why it is so important that the political blame for this is fairly apportioned to the administration that lied to make it possible and then conducted the war with incompetence, corruption, and tax cuts and fat contracts for its friends. Yes, many Dems in the Senate will suffer collateral damage, particularly on their Presidential ambitions - hear that Hil? - but do you really care?

On a slightly different note it is interesting to see what has galvanised the antiwar position and driven Bush's numbers to new lows. It wasn't A.N.S.W.R. and it wasn't the policy wonks. But it was a Gold StarMother who wanted to know why her son had to die. And since no one can tell her it hit a nerve. The Bush machine created an astroturf mirror image run out of a Sacramento PR firm that does GOP flackery. And they found a mom in Idaho with four sons in Iraq.Sound familiar? Remember back in 1971 when a 26 year old asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who wanted to ask the last man to die for a mistake? Then Chuck Colson went out to find a veteran to challenge him. Sounds like old times . . .

Jay Byrd

I find the claim that politics before policy is amoral to be phony morality -- morality on paper, while real things are happening to real people in the real world. I had the same experience with Nader voters, who claimed that somehow marking their ballot on a spot that couldn't possibly have any real effect was "principled", whereas my marking my ballot on a spot that could possibly have a real effect was "unprincipled", because the man whose name was next to their spot favored policies better than those of the man whose name was next to my spot -- even though what policies their guy favored were completely irrelevant because there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that the guy could actually win. It's a self-serving form of "principle", one that makes the person pursuing it feel good about themselves and superior to those terrible "unprincipled" folks, but doing no more than that. While they were busy admiring themselves for their fine "principles", I was busy worrying about Bush putting a John Roberts on the court.

"Yes, many Dems in the Senate will suffer collateral damage, particularly on their Presidential ambitions - hear that Hil?"

Absolutely, which puts the lie to this "partisan" rot. The grassroots are disgusted with the weak non-opposition Dems, and the "stay the course" Dems and the anti-American-baiting DLC thugs should go down along with Bush and gang.

On Clark and Cole and Congress, I recommend this diary by someone on the ground in Iraq, who might have some insights that we don't; he likes what Clark has to say:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/26/84950/3172

He also addresses Cole's plan in the comments:

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2005/8/26/84950/3172/3

Anyone who wants to champion Cole's plan should take his comments into consideration.

Rob Grocholski

Great Post today Mr. Cooper! Rummy, El Salvador, WWII, ragin' hot man!...and everybody else on this thread musta had a double shot of whup ass in their morning cup ' joe. Fun stuff friends.

Jim Rockford

Hmmm ... so I guess at bottom people here really DO love Stalin. Not a surprise. MOST of the Left has at it's core (apologies to HL Mencken) the sneaking suspicion that somewhere, someone, is living their own life the way they see fit. Essentially, this is what captialism IS. It's Harlan Sanders, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Apple Computer, Microsoft, Thomas Edison, and Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at Any Speed." Individual freedom, initiative, mobility, second, third, fourth chances (Fitzgerald was dead wrong), and reform and renewal and self-criticism. Communism gave us Chernobyl, some monumental aerospace achievements (the slave-labor equivalent of the Pyramids or Willy Braun's V-2) and endless brutality and viciousness. Political purges sent most of the Soviet Aerospace designers to Siberia at one point or another.

I will take the ability for ordinary people to live their own lives, start their own businesses, own their own homes, have legal rights within a Constitution, subject to checks and balances, reform and renewal (such as Ralph Nader), however imperfectly, over your Stalins, your Mao's, your Pol Pots, your hereditary Dictatorships such as the Kims, the Husseins, the Assads, and so on.

Leftists commenting here have pretty much proved my point: the tag that the Left is unpatriotic IS accurate because they express, consistently, a desire for a Dictator-King (not much different from Pinochet) rather than imperfect capitalism/democracy. Since the Democratic Party is infected with too many leftists, the tag of disloyalty and lack of patriotism seems accurate.

You cannot be a patriotic American if you fundamentally believe we should be ruled by a Stalin. [Stalin made a "deal" with Hitler not to buy time but because he genuinely thought Hitler was his "friend" and when Operation Barbarossa began Stalin did not believe it for days thinking there was no way his "friend" could betray him. The various feelers to Western Governments to "contain" Hitler were not serious, as later access to Soviet Archives after 1991 showed.]

Jay -- no one is going to do squat about Global Warming. It will simply cost too much and cause too much pain in people's lives. Simply cheaper to live with it. Unless you want to sign on for global WAR with China, India, most of the developing world. Americans are not going to live in mud huts so Chinese and Indians can burn coal like crazy. This is reality.

I read Wes Clark's stuff. Sigh. Too bad the idiots at the Dem Party have basically neutered him. Clark was a serious military man at one point and should know better.

Only ONE area is of massive concern, and one area of minor concern.

The Shia will have federal autonomy. This is political reality and would have been the case REGARDLESS after Saddam and his sons left the scene. The minor concern is what to do about Sadr? (who's militia murdered Casey Sheehan, note his Mom won't condemn that or hold any animosity towards them). Sadr is the worst of the Shia bunch, politically he needs to be killed. Simple as that. Have the US military backed by the Sistani forces do it (and as many of his followers as possible). In addition to Casey Sheehan, Sadr is responsible for killing a reformist Mullah, Koieh, and Stephen Vincent (for reporting on Sadr's shakedown protection racket). This is doable and will have the benefit of strengthening moderate Shias (by killing the thugs).

The Major problem is the Sunni tribal chiefs who have not adjusted to reality. Saddam is gone and they will NOT rule Iraq any more. Period. The question is how to deal with them. Force ala Sherman's burning out of property, coupled with the offer of a deal given that they turn in the jihadis, will do the trick.

This has nothing to do with warmed over rhetoric because Iraq is not Vietnam. There is no superpower constraining our actions in Iraq like Vietnam. The opposition consists of OSAMA BIN LADEN, with lesser forces being comprised of Sadr and Sunni Tribal Chiefs, ex-Baathist, and common criminals. A far cry from the highly trained, motivated, and proficient NVA. There is no MASSIVE supply train from China supplying the enemy. There is no threat of a MILLION Chinese infantrymen entering the War ala Vietnam (constrained by fears of Korea). There is a HUGE split between criminals fighting for pay ala the IED teams, the Jihadis looking for Taliban 2.0, the Sunni Tribal Chiefs and Baathists hoping to hold out for a bigger payoff to stop fighting, and Sadr's power grab. These are all REAL differences that are easily exploitable, which simply did not exist with the NVA and Ho Chi Minh. Lastly, the Al-Guardian article shows that major portions of the Sunnis have seen what's on offer from Jihadis and don't want it.

Michael Yon has done quite simply the best reporting on the War. You can see his stunning account of the action in Anbar province here:

http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/2005/08/gates-of-fire.html

Basically, the article shows what the US needs in Iraq is:

1. Iraqi forces to HOLD what the US Army and Marines take. US Forces can take anything, but don't have enough men to hold them. Iraqi forces can and are being built up to hold these areas but we need more of them. If they are not Sunni but Shia, so what? At least they are Iraqi and the political sense of make a deal NOW rather than hold out would be a good pressure point on the Iraqis.

2. Dump the M-16/M-4 which are too underpowered. They just don't work. CSM Prosser shot the guy many times and he was still alive. He had to charge in and grapple with the guy.

[Note too the tremendous training of the experienced soldiers. They did NOT shoot the Farmer but held fire, and in the rush of combat grappled when all else failed, but securing the prisoner took him alive. Combat is a skill, not just folks rushing around].

3. Stop the useless and politically motivated (here Rummy should get criticism) "catch and release" program that terrified Iraqi judges have for terrorists. Another Yon dispatch tells how a captured IED emplacer tells his mother he'll be out before nightfall. Terrorists stop killing people when they sit in custody. If it has to be US custody so be it. Better that than PC.

These are real efforts, not stupid PC stuff designed to placate Lefties who know nothing, and are not interested in learning anything, about Military Affairs. Rummy deserves praise for his political courage in taking on the Pentagon Procurement machine, and the criticism he does deserve is the exact opposite of the Press. He's been too willing to indulge the PC fantasies of Dems, Leftists, and the Press on how the world works instead of the actual brutal realities. Simply put the solution to Iraq is using force mixed with politics to split off Sunni Tribal Chiefs and Baathists and killing Sadr and the bin Laden Jihadis with whom no compromise is possible.

reg

"Hmmm ... so I guess at bottom people here really DO love Stalin."

I really appreciate it when Rockford puts one of those right at the top...saves me from any temptation to read further and, thus, a lot of time.

Michael Turner

Anyone here who detected Rockford's signature hyperbole, and started speed-scrolling? I sure hope so.

Jay Byrd responds: ""Getting partisanly positional"? I don't think you comprehend the material or the facts behind it. It's about removing the disastrous Bush administration from the White House and Republicans who enable it from the Congress, so as to change policy on numerous fronts; it's entirely pragmatic, based on the principle that people shouldn't be dying and suffering and starving for the gain of others or needlessly ...."

Removing the Bush administration? It's self-removing in 2008. But 2008 is a long way off. Do you think you have a strategy for getting that administration out any sooner? For that matter, the mid-term elections -- your deadline for getting a majority in the House or the Senate or both -- are a long way off.

Your key word is "Now!" but you seem to be committing to some kind of Long March that won't make a whole lot of difference to Iraqis for the time being. In Iraq NOW, even two months is a political lifetime.

Weseley Clark isn't saying "Out Now!" He's saying IF this administration can't offer a better course, the Out Now position is justified. That's qualitatively different from saying it's justified, period. If he was happy to see the current administration hang itself with its current Iraq policy, he would've just kept his mouth shut, figuring he could stick it to them later, saying it was the GOP that "lost Iraq."

Jey Byrd: "I find the claim that politics before policy is amoral to be phony morality -- morality on paper, while real things are happening to real people in the real world."

I WAS talking about real things happening to real people in the real world -- people half a world away, in the Middle East, not in America. But also us, inevitably. There will be blowback for failure, it could even feed incipient American fascism. See below on Global Great Depression II.

Jay Byrd: "[Nader voters indulged in] a self-serving form of "principle", one that makes the person pursuing it feel good about themselves and superior to those terrible "unprincipled" folks, but doing no more than that. While they were busy admiring themselves for their fine "principles", I was busy worrying about Bush putting a John Roberts on the court."

John Roberts might not be a great pick, but in this context, I didn't start worrying about him much until evidence started to surface that he provided background support to this administration's legal policies on torture of "enemy combatant" detainees. If in fact he was supportive of those policies, he's been party to the continuing debacle. If a Congress focused on cleaning up BushCo's Iraq mess elects to delay or block his confirmation using any such support as part of the argument, as part of pressuring the White House for a more sensible Iraq policy, it's all to the good, in my view.

Oil rising above $90/bbl -- one projected "shock" price level -- could cause the U.S. property bubble to deflate with a bang rather than a slow hiss. That's a bigger bubble than the stock bubble whose collapse helped create the property bubble. (Another scenario: oil shock inflates that bubble even more, meaning worse fallout in the end, since the property markets in question tend to be upscale residences in urban cores, not out at the ends of long commutes.) An Iraq that's still unstable in a year -- or worse, an Iraq that's become the detonator cap for a regional civil war -- could push things to that point very fast. That's a major global recession, or even Global Greater Depression II. Let's not forget that Great Depression I was a global depression -- most of the Japanese small farmers in my home state of California trace their ancestry back to a Depression-era Japan where a great many people were on the edge of starvation -- no soup kitchens there -- and where fascism might not have gained such a hold had there not been such a serious depression.

Getting politicians that you like better elected here, in the long run, yeah, that sounds nice. But the stakes are higher than that. If worse comes to worst (or even second worst, or maybe the even third-worst case), nobody's going to care a whole lot about your personal portfolio of domestic-politics litmus test results. You'll be seen as having been as narrowly self-rightous and counterproductive as any die-hard Naderite, fiddling while Rome burns. At least by people like me, who care about real things happening to real people in the real world, a world that's a whole lot bigger than America.

Randy Paul

What Reg said.

Nothing like one of Rockford's sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeping generalizations to make me scroll quickly.

Michael Turner

Funny about Rockford, you can usually tell by the second sentence that it's time to put your browser on speed-scroll. On this comment section alone, we've had this:

"Marc -- With all due respect you're letting emotions rule you instead of facing the rather sordid reveleations out of the Cold War. The Communist Parties in France, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere were wholly run subsidiaries of the KGB."

Time for a hold-onto-your-hats *whoosh*! He followed that one with an entry leading off with a start-your-scroll-engines ONE SENTENCE flag:

"Hmmm ... so I guess at bottom people here really DO love Stalin."

Admittedly, the mouth-foam sometimes doesn't dripping until the third sentence, as in this, from the previous comment section:

"Marc -- I agree that the ultimate solution is a political matter. But with all due respect I believe you do not understand the military situation on the ground in Iraq and take the various media reports as an accurate picture. [See? Sorta reasonable-sounding, right? Then ...] This is like taking in a matinee of Miss Saigon on Broadway and thinking that you now understand the Vietnam War."

How 'bout that? Nobody in the media has a single clue. Nobody. Not one clue. Not one of 'em.

This one's pretty good too:

"I think the anti-War Left is simply incapable of proceeding with any solution for Iraq because they cannot comprehend the problem. [Not bad so far, but then ...] (Bush chose Iraq IMHO largely because he lacked the political will to solve comprehensively Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, therefore post Afghanistan SOMEONE was going to get dealt with and Saddam chose himself thinking it was 1991 all over again....."

Ya gotta love that "IMHO". What does the 'H' stand for, I wonder? The only disorder I can find under 'H' in the DSM-IV is "Hallucinogen Dependency".

With enough political will, Bush would have invaded Iran, Pakistan (an at-least-nominal GWOT ally), and Saudi Arabia (even with all those personal friends of his in the royal family.) Yeah. Right. And Saddam chose himself. Painted a bulls-eye on his chest. He *wanted* to get Iraq invaded again. Um ... yeah. Sure, Jim. (Funny how my tranquilizer dart-gun is never at hand when Rockford shows up in the neighborhood.)

rosedog

Geeze, whatta great couple of threads!

Rockford, I must say I genuinely admire you for continuing to come back in the face of much...er....disagreement. Your presence makes for far better drama.

Michael Turner… About the DSM IV (You actually have a DSM IV???), you didn’t look quite far enough. How ‘bout: Histrionic Personality Disorder?

(Either that or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder AKA Flashbacks)

I think you and Jay Byrd aren’t as far apart as you both think. Again, the political and the practical can’t be entirely separated. I fully believe that we have to keep pressure up on this White House or BushCo will run even further amok than what we’re seeing now. Among other things, these people WANT to find a way to take out Iran. They really, really, really do. Possibly by proxy.

I sure like a lot of what Wes Clark has to say. To my layperson's eyes, some of it seems overly optimistic in terms of what could be accomplished in such a chaotic situation. Yet most all of it seems worth a try---and is so much more inherently respectful of the human and cultural complexity involved.

One wonders how the Iraqis would view these various proposals. It is, after all, their country.

Marc Cooper

Id love to respond to the comments but presently Im out searching for Olivia Newton John's boyfriend.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

In case anyone isn't tired of the Rockford Files there are more episodes airing on Little Green Soccerballs, aka Harry's Place

http://tinyurl.com/bdorf

Or, rather, repeats of the same episodes we've seen here.

"the death of the left"

"WHEN not IF Paris gets nuked"

"WHEN not IF London gets nuked"

"George Galloway... pan-Arabist anti-Semite... the face of the left"

He has, however, found a very receptive audience there among the mixture of "Decent Leftists" and Little Green Footballers that constitute the core of HP posters.


Hey Jim, as a peace offering here's some wanking material for you.

Hot Dresden porn
http://www.louisbeam.com/dresden.htm

I know you'll love this, since you're always speaking about the firebombing of Dresden with the same degree of love and affection that most men reserve for a lover.


And if that's not enough for ya, there's lots of hot action pics from Afghanistan and Iraq here.

http://www.nowthatsfuckedup.com/bbs/forum23.html


Traitorous, Islamo-fascist appeasing analysis of the above forum at the following links.

http://justworldnews.org/archives/001398.html

http://www.antiwar.com/blog/index.php?id=P2315

jim hitchcock

"Id love to respond to the comments but presently Im out searching for Olivia Newton John's boyfriend."

Some people would do ANYTHING for an ONJ greatest hits recording.

Michael Turner

"... the political and the practical can't be entirely separated."

(Warning: Michael Turner comment of Rockfordesque length just ahead. Feel free to slip your scroll bar into overdrive.)

No, they can't, I agree. You always have to think in terms of what's politically possible. I guess what grates on me is the lack of creativity in a slogans like "End the War on Iraq" or "Out Now!", which reads to me like "possibilities foreclosed." As if the debate were over. It's not -- only about 1/3rd of Americans think that getting out now will solve much of anything. Slightly less than a third think that a reduced presence is not unreasonable, but that a complete withdrawal is too risky. "Stay the course" is still a pretty strong current. If you could draw a solid following for a workable policy from all three groups, you might have a solid majority. It's worth a try.

"I fully believe that we have to keep pressure up on this White House ...."

I guess I'm favoring suction over pressure. BushCo's oxygen supply is running pretty low these days as it is. Let's suck it ALL out. It was one thing when the paleocons objected early. They could be written off. And it was only a minor ding when many of their pet neo-cons started backing off. They were never more than enabler-ideologues anyway. Now, though, you have mainstream hitherto-loyal Republicans starting to question. What if a public debate over what to do started, across party lines, and no major administration representatives were even invited?

I think we'd be better off with a short but intense period in public discourse that makes no reference to the White House whatsoever, as if they didn't matter. After all, with enough popular will for a workable solution, and a solid majority in Congress that's part of framing that solution and putting it on the table, the White House won't matter. They can't finance a one-billion-dollar-a-week war the way the Reaganauts financed the Contras. Bush & Co need Congress to sign off on defense appropriations bills, or there's no Middle East ball game for them. The sooner they have to face the prospect of being told No, by a branch of the government that can enforce it, the better.

" ... or BushCo will run even further amok than what we're seeing now. Among other things, these people WANT to find a way to take out Iran. They really, really, really do. Possibly by proxy."

I'm hard put to guess who the proxy would be. However much this administration might want to take out Iran, it's just not doable. Iran has several times the population of Iraq, and voter sentiment there has recently turned more conservative (probably thanks, in part, to having U.S. troops on their borders.) That's not even to speak of voter sentiment *here*, for any new adventure.

Current U.S. policy in Iraq allows the duplicitous (and very Iran-connected) Chalabi a high seat in government even after all the hideous treachery and mendacity he's displayed. It allows for treating Sistani with great respect even though he was on the opposite side from the one we supported in the Iran-Iraq war. And, in general, U.S. war-fighting policy in Iraq does rather little to reduce the influence of Iranian-sponsored militias aligned with Sistani. To me this shows that the White House knows very well who holds the regional trump cards.

Iran may end up being a Syria-like partner in a solution modeled on the Taif Accords. Officially it would still be a pariah state in our foreign policy, denounced for its role in sponsoring terror, for edging toward a nuclear deterrent, blah blah blah (insert your favorite Iran gripe here). But it can still be a major stabilizing influence on a situation that might otherwise spill over and ignite regional chaos. And that will matter more, as stability comes to matter more. And the Iranians know it.

Should it come to that, the people who run Iran won't mind in the least being badmouthed on a regular basis by the U.S. They are quite used to it. Indeed, it even works for them: rehashing that rhetoric domestically serves important internal propaganda purposes. Dubya did the Mullahs a great favor when he grouped Iran into the Axis of Evil. They must have known then that it didn't prefigure any realistic military assault, so they probably began wondering if it meant they'd have a useful role in some big move, starting soon. (Is it my hindsight imagination, or did they start lending a hand in prevent Gulf oil smuggling past the U.N. embargo, during the run-up to the war -- smuggling that was at the time a major source of hard cash for Ba'athist coffers? And didn't they do this while staying relatively mute on the subject of the invasion?)

Bush & Co is a disaster. But nobody should write off the entire executive branch just because it's run by the wrong people. You can make the wrong people do the right thing. You can force them to use underutilized human resources. I think those resources are there. Underneath the layers of Bush political appointees, there are layers and layers of ambitious career professionals at the Pentagon and at State. Many of them don't like what's going on, but -- especially after the last election -- they decided to fold their arms, zip their lips, and wait it out. There's talent waiting to be tapped.

I think the trick is in figuring out how to force the White House to dig for that talent, to open it back up again. And I think that's a trick Congress might pull off in time. But members of Congress will be loath go there as long as they have constituencies who are firmly in favor of unrealistic (even dangerous) solutions, or constituencies who are desperately divided on solutions, realistic or otherwise. Legislators prioritize getting reelected, after all. Those with committed constituencies will probably just stand with those constituencies; those with divided constituencies will weave and dodge all around the Iraq issue. At best you'll see a few safe-seat renegades and gadflies, not enough for movement.

To me it's less a matter of trying to grow any particular constituency (much less as a source of "strategic" pressure), but rather of matter of melding existing ones, across party lines. To be honest, I don't hold out any great hope that some Questioning/Listening Majority will emerge. It's asking for the rapid emergence of a large voter base that's become single-issue over the priority of getting to some solution in Iraq, without being too sure what that solution is. Yes, that might be asking too much. However, I do know that you almost never get what you don't ask for. So, way down here at the bottom of a leftie journalist's almost-played-out comment section for a blog entry that only tangentially relates, I'm askin'. What else can I do?

richard lo cicero

Michael Turner I'd love to see a change now but this Congress will not force Bush to do anything and the Pres sure won't do anything but mouth more platitudes. Clark's plan, like Juan Cole, has a limited shelf life and by 2008 will be inoperative. Hell, the likely rejection of the new Constitution means a new round of elections for a new provisional Iraqi Parlement and, thus no reductions next spring unless there is a rout. So by 2006 both may be moot.

Thus the relevance of the second part of Clark's message. We've tried to show a way to extract ourselves and leave something good behind but Bush would not listen and championed plans that were incoherent and ineffective, And I would add the corruption endemic in "Iraqi Freedom" as well. And so as things go to shit and a rapid, possibly if Steve Gilliard is right, fighting withdrawal will be necessary it will be because the GOP can no more fight a war than it can balance a budget and ruin an economy. That is the message to repeat over and over as the war is pinned on those responsible for it. Good Politics can lead to good Policy.

richard lo cicero

Michael Turner I'd love to see a change now but this Congress will not force Bush to do anything and the Pres sure won't do anything but mouth more platitudes. Clark's plan, like Juan Cole, has a limited shelf life and by 2008 will be inoperative. Hell, the likely rejection of the new Constitution means a new round of elections for a new provisional Iraqi Parlement and, thus no reductions next spring unless there is a rout. So by 2006 both may be moot.

Thus the relevance of the second part of Clark's message. We've tried to show a way to extract ourselves and leave something good behind but Bush would not listen and championed plans that were incoherent and ineffective, And I would add the corruption endemic in "Iraqi Freedom" as well. And so as things go to shit and a rapid, possibly if Steve Gilliard is right, fighting withdrawal will be necessary it will be because the GOP can no more fight a war than it can balance a budget and ruin an economy. That is the message to repeat over and over as the war is pinned on those responsible for it. Good Politics can lead to good Policy.

Jay Byrd

"Your key word is "Now!" "

No, my key word was NOT "now", my key word was "withdraw", and I noted that it was broad enough to cover Russ Feingold who, as I noted, is being misrepresented in the media as an "out now" guy. I don't think you're reading me clearly, if at all. The only way to be effective is to follow a broad opposition strategy, broad enough to encompass "out now", Feingold, Clark, etc. And the etc. can include people like Pat Buchanan -- as you said, shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, whereas Marc would rather fulminate against Buchanan and ANSWER than actually change anything. In that way, you and I are, as rosedog says, not that far apart. But the basic strategy must rest upon opposition to the Bush administration, because without that, talk about Republicans in Congress adopting Juan Cole's plan and forcing it onto Bush is a fairy tale founded in a fact-free fantasy. 82% of Republicans still think Bush is doing a swell job, and to the degree that the Republicans in Congress pay attention to the way the wind blows, that's who they're concerned about. But beyond that, as I noted, Congress is not the deliberative body it once was, and there are power conduits that run from the White House to Congress. Illustrative is how and why Trent Lott was replaced by Bill Frist -- something that the silly Democrats actually congratulated themselves on.

"Weseley Clark isn't saying "Out Now!" He's saying IF this administration can't offer a better course, the Out Now position is justified."

Which is like saying that if 1+1 is 2, the Out Now position is justified.

"John Roberts might not be a great pick, but in this context, I didn't start worrying about him much until evidence started to surface that he provided background support to this administration's legal policies on torture of "enemy combatant" detainees."

And perhaps you didn't worry about Bush in 2000 because he was a "compassionate conservative". There were a priori reasons to worry about Roberts because it was the Bush admin who picked him; as I said, I was worried about him back when Bush was on the ballot, before I had ever heard of him. Just as I worried about Prop 13 in 1978, and voted for Prop 8. Year after year I have found my political instincts to have proven accurate; how about yours?

rosedog: "I think you and Jay Byrd aren’t as far apart as you both think."

Perhaps, but I think his "personal portfolio of domestic-politics litmus test" line suggests a wide gulf.

rosedog: "Again, the political and the practical can’t be entirely separated."

Which was my point, which is why I think his principled vs. partisan strategist slam against me was off the mark. I certainly don't think he's unprincipled, and I know I'm not. But he is confused about why people align themselves with political parties; it's not just because they prefer the letter D to the letter R. And I believe that he's very mistaken about what actions will lead to what outcomes. And he believes in fairy tales:

"I think we'd be better off with a short but intense period in public discourse that makes no reference to the White House whatsoever, as if they didn't matter."

Whether or not this is something we would be better off with, it is not something that can occur in the real world. This is quite similar to people talking about how much better off we would be if Nader were preisdent, or how Nader could win if everyone went to the polls and voted for him. These subjunctives are fantasies, and clinging to them can lead to terrible real outcomes. There is no button or lever that you can push to make everyone suddenly be different than they are, or the conditions that mold their behavior to be different than they are. At any point in time, there are only very limited concrete actions that one can take. "things would be better if ..." is not action, it's counterfactual daydreaming.

Michael Turner

I really have nothing more to add, and I really don't want to repeat. But the way I read certain (not all) responses to what I've said, they come down to this: it's already basically over, we can safely assume that the people running this war won't change no matter what the pressures, so now it's time to start reaping whatever political benefits there may be in fixing blame on an administration and its party, even if that means some collateral damage to the other party.

I don't know enough to say that it's wrong. How is it, though, that you know enough to say that it's right?

That's what I don't get about the purist (rather than the strategic) Out Now position -- it's still seems based too much on opinion rather than fact. Whether purist or strategic, it still basically seems to be little more than a bet, in a political arena restricted to America. A bet that you might think you can lose once or twice without losing much; a bet you probably think that you can make again if some new galvanizing figure appears after Cindy Sheehan fades (IF she does); a bet that you probably think you can keep making until 2008 if need be. It's a bet on a message with lots of "shelf life", packed with preservatives -- a message that goes down in a few sweet gulps whenever political appetite for it strikes. But if overconsumption leads to some otherwise-avoidable cataclysmic slaughter, with immiserating economic fallout for a generation or more, you won't be getting any Twinkie Defense from me.

richard lo cicero

That is what I am saying. Events on the ground suggest that things will not hold until 2008 and will probably sour by election day 2006. Thus "Out Now" or "Out by a (quick) Date Certain" will be looking very good. And the blame game will begin once again as we ask that golden oldie: "Who Lost (Iraq)?" And the answer better be Bush and the GOP if we woukd like some sanity in Foreign Policy.

richard lo cicero

That is what I am saying. Events on the ground suggest that things will not hold until 2008 and will probably sour by election day 2006. Thus "Out Now" or "Out by a (quick) Date Certain" will be looking very good. And the blame game will begin once again as we ask that golden oldie: "Who Lost (Iraq)?" And the answer better be Bush and the GOP if we woukd like some sanity in Foreign Policy.

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