Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Iran, Iran, Iran.....

It's striking how everything is now about Iran. I expect that we will strike Iran by June at the latest.

This post by Josh is a must read.

To answer the question posed by Josh, think Gulf of
Tonkin incident
. I'm expecting to hear any day now that a US ship has been attacked by Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tampa

Flew into Tampa last night and apparently brought the cold with me.

There were hard frost warnings issued, but it never materialized. When I woke up this morning it was 41 and supposed to reach the lower 60's today.

I was unhappy about this until I saw it was 11 degrees in Saint Louis.

I leave Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully, it will warm up before I go.

The Devil is always in the details

While the country is focused on Iraq, Bush marches on remaking every aspect of Government. The goal is to remove any objectivity that pros and scientist bring, and replace it with politics.

From the New York Times,
In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Are we going to attack Iranians inside Iraq very soon?

It's clear that Bush is itching for a fight with Iran, and his desperately trying to provoke them into a confrontation.

Now this from the AP,

President Bush has authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions are necessary to counter Iranian agents deemed a threat to American troops or the public at large, the White House said Friday.
_____

The aggressive new policy came in response to intelligence that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and is providing bombs _ known as improvised explosive devices _ and other equipment to anti-U.S. insurgents.

"The president and his national security team over the last several months have continued to receive information that Iranians were supplying IED equipment and or training that was being used to harm American soldiers," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

No doubt from the same reliable sources who informed up on the location of the WMD and Saddam's nuclear program.

Of course, no change is policy is necessary to 'protect our troops'. We've not been standing by and allowing Iranians to blow up Americans with IEDs. It's absurd and transparent.

This stinks worse than last weeks fish.

Has Bush authorized the attack of Iranians inside Iraq perhaps today or this week?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ensuring the GOP "owns" Iraq

I rarely link to Kos, but this is an interesting read.

Daily Kos: Ensuring the GOP "owns" Iraq

The Democratic Response to the SOU

If you didn't see this last night, here is the video. It's very good.

Hagel: "There Is No Plan"

Good Stuff,
I don't think we've ever had a coherent strategy. In fact, I would even challenge the administration today to show us the plan that the president talked about the other night. There is no plan. I happen to know that Pentagon planners were on their way to Central Com over the weekend -- they haven't even Team B'ed this plan.... There is no strategy. This is a ping-pong game with American lives.... We'd better be damned sure what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more lives into that grinder.... and I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don't hide any more, none of us."
Follow the link for the full Transcript and video.

Update. Here is the video.

Obama Fires Back

For those of you who have not discovered it yet, Greg Sargent has a new blog hosted by Josh Marshall at TPM.

Today, Greg brings us the memo Obama has sent out blasting Fox news for their recent attempt to 'swift boat' him.

Here is the text:
In the past week, many of you have read a now thoroughly-debunked story by Insight Magazine, owned by the Washington Times, which cites unnamed sources close to a political campaign that claim Senator Obama was enrolled for “at least four years” in an Indonesian “Madrassa”. The article says the “sources” believe the Madrassa was “espousing Wahhabism,” a form of radical Islam.

Insight Magazine published these allegations without a single named source, and without doing any independent reporting to confirm or deny the allegations. Fox News quickly parroted the charges, and Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy went so far as to ask, “Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised — spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father — as a Muslim and was educated in a Madrassa?”

All of the claims about Senator Obama raised in the Insight Magazine piece were thoroughly debunked by CNN, which, instead of relying on unnamed sources, sent a reporter to Obama’s former school in Jakarta to check the facts.

If Doocy or the staff at Fox and Friends had taken [time] to check their facts, or simply made a call to his office, they would have learned that Senator Obama was not educated in a Madrassa, was not raised as a Muslim, and was not raised by his father – an atheist Obama met once in his life before he died.

Later in the day, Fox News host John Gibson again discussed the Insight Magazine story without any attempt to independently confirm the charges.

All of the claims about Senator Obama’s faith and education raised in the Insight Magazine story and repeated on Fox News are false. Senator Obama was raised in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother. Obama’s stepfather worked for a U.S. oil company, and sent his stepson to two years of Catholic school, as well as two years of public school. As Obama described it, “Without the money to go to the international school that most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.” [The Audacity of Hope, p. 274]

To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa.

These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems.

This is exactly the sort of response long over due from Dems seeking office.

But Obama needs to go one step further and publicly demand a retraction from Fox and the Mooney magazine, Insight, that began the attempted swift boating.

As Greg suggests, the only way to respond to these smears is to single out the liars by name, and loudly and publicly demand retractions and / or apologies. Make the story about those peddling the smears. We have to make it so uncomfortable and embarrassing for them that they just stop doing it.

Reality vs. SOU

Today's WaPo has a good take-down on Bush's SOU address.

It's an important read from a 'facts' perspective, but what I find most interesting is that the WaPo ran the story at all.

The President's speeches have been famously fact-free from Day 1, but we never saw anything like this article in any major publication. One could only find a critique like this in blogs.

So what changed? Could it be a result of a 28% approval rating?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

28%

of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing, according to the latest CBS News poll.

This is approaching Nixon territory.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A 'house of cards'

A point I've tried to make here repeatedly over the years is that Bush has never really been popular. His numbers were alway buoyed by war and fear.

In a recent post Josh pointed to Bush's polling numbers that show that Bush has not had an approval rating above 50% *in any poll * since May of 2005. That is only 4 months after his second inauguration.

But nothing tell the story better than this graph. By September 11, 2001, Bush's approval rating was at or below 50% in no less than 6 national polls.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A War Bush Wouldn't Pay For

I missed this important column back in December by EJ. I highly recommend it.

Here is the crux,
So here we are: Policymakers and politicians will demand more and more from the volunteers who serve our country, but they can't find the gumption to ask shareholders to pay a bit more tax on their dividends or high earners to pay slightly larger levies on their incomes. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, since 2001 we've offered $2 in tax cuts for every $1 we have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And conservatives wonder why we have deficits. At least the libertarians, who are against both high taxes and an interventionist foreign policy, have their philosophical story (and their numbers) straight.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"It is time to bring the war to a close"

Greg Sargent at TPM Cafe has the letter the Speaker and Majority Leader have sent to Bush on Iraq.

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.

Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.

Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.

In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:

“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”

Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.

Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.

We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.

Sincerely,

Harry Reid
Majority Leader

Nancy Pelosi Speaker

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

'McCain doctrine'

Edwards has waisted no time jumping in on Iraq.

The GOP intend to hang the failed war in Iraq on the Dems. I know this sounds absurd given that this was an all GOP war, but that is the plan.

Literally everyone is opposed to the so-called 'troop surge', including, every member of the joint chiefs. I suspect one reason for this opposition is the fact that it failed when tried 6 months ago when violence in Baghdad increased!

The surge in troops is political, not strategic. McCain doesn't care if it actually happens, and would probably prefer that it not. He just wants to be able to say he had a plan to win so that when we inevitable withdraw occurs, he will be able to claim that he had the plan for victory that was defeated by others, such as the 'Defeatocrats'.

Bush is just desperate for any reason to not withdraw troops while he is Commander in Chief. He 'plan' is to let the next President withdraw. Bush's failure to obtain the support of the General's explains his new found loss of confidence in the once loved Gen Casey.

John Edwards, being nobody's fool, wants to make sure this harebrained 'surge' is appropriately credited as the 'McCain Doctrine'.

From The Arizona Republican,

Edwards, who appeared with his wife, Elizabeth, on ABC's This Week, voted to authorize U.S. military action in Iraq when he was a North Carolina senator.

"I actually believe that this idea of surging troops, and escalating the war, what Senator McCain has been talking about, what I would call now the McCain doctrine it's ..."

"McCain doctrine?" interrupted host George Stephanopoulos.

"McCain doctrine," Edwards responded. "He's been the most prominent spokesperson for this for some time."