Tuesday, September 11, 2007

today is not a holiday

I hope we don't ever make the 11th of September into a national holiday. Kind of like Memorial Day, or Labor Day, or MLK's birthday--we don't even remember what we're celebrating, but we'll take the day off all the same.

9/11 was and is a monument to American failure. Osama bin Laden--still a free man--murdered 3,000 Americans, on American soil, and no one lost their jobs, or was reprimanded, for failing. The only thing that happened as a consequence was some bureaucratic handwaving, and the Bushies were handed an ironclad excuse to do anything they pleased, up to and including launching a bullshit war with a country that hadn't attacked us. As Rumsfeld said, there aren't any targets in Afghanistan.

I'm feeling very cynical watching newscasters revel in the misery. Lots of pretend-serious chinstroking and navelgazing. Plenty of masturbatory fake solemnity, but very little honesty, very little clarity. The only people who seem to have a clue are the military families I saw interviewed reacting to Petraeus' "testimony", and the 9/11 survivors & victims' families.*

Why the fuck do we have a half-trillion dollar military if we can't stop 19 guys with knives from destroying our landmarks? Does anybody seriously think the situation has improved since then?

Rather than stuff this post with links (it's depressing enough), how about I just leave you with a Bush press conf. transcript (from whitehouse.gov) which says all that needs to be said about the state America finds itself in--that it can't deal with this petty tyrant properly.

Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --

THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.

And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly. We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore. And if we -- excuse me for a minute -- and if we find a training camp, we'll take care of it. Either we will or our friends will. That's one of the things -- part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary, or training, or a place to hide, or a place to raise money.

And we've got more work to do. See, that's the thing the American people have got to understand, that we've only been at this six months. This is going to be a long struggle. I keep saying that; I don't know whether you all believe me or not. But time will show you that it's going to take a long time to achieve this objective. And I can assure you, I am not going to blink. And I'm not going to get tired. Because I know what is at stake. And history has called us to action, and I am going to seize this moment for the good of the world, for peace in the world and for freedom.

That press conference is dated March 13, 2002.

*The one bright spot has been that non-New Yorkers are getting some New Yorkers' unvarnished opinion of Giuliani, which if you don't know the source of the bad blood between the NY firefighters and Giuliani, see here. The man will never be President because of his feud with the IAFF. The reason that's been getting airtime is because RG will not be speaking at the memorial service this year for the first time, and that's why.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Petraeus/Crocker/Lantos/NYT poll/jackasses

I caught a little of the Petraeus/Crocker hearings on NPR today....Petraeus and Crocker are both completely full of shit. I can only have my intelligence insulted so many times by somebody before I tune them out.

But I did get to hear a snippet from Tom Lantos which I thought was pretty sharp. I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been--I knew there was something unique about Lantos but couldn't recall what it was, and I'm not talking about his very unusual accent. The thing that he said that got my attention was in response to a question about military success in Iraq. Lantos challenged the question--something Democrats never seem to do, but Republicans jump at it every chance they get--by saying the political success is what matters. I can't remember his exact quote, I'll look for a transcript later.

When I sat down to write this post, I was thinking I should look Lantos up on Wikipedia so I could remember what his story is, where he's from with that accent. Turns out he's Hungarian. Also turns out he's the only Holocaust survivor to ever get elected to the House of Reps.

Oh yeah (slaps forehead). That's what it was.....

In the meantime....

CBS News/New York Times Poll. Sept. 4-8, 2007. N=1,035 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?"

Approve Disapprove Unsure

ALL adults 26 71 3
Republicans 52 44 4
Democrats 4 96 0
Independents 23 72 5

8/8-12/07 26 69 5
7/20-22/07 25 69 6
7/9-17/07 25 70 5
6/26-28/07 23 70 7
5/18-23/07 23 72 5

"Do you think removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq, or not?"

Worth It Not Worth It Unsure

9/4-8/07 35 59 6

"Do you think the United States made a mistake getting involved in the current war with Iraq, or not?"

A Mistake Not a Mistake Unsure

9/4-8/07 62 34 4
5/04 50 46 4

"Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"

Right Thing Stayed Out Unsure

9/4-8/07 41 54 5
8/8-12/07 43 51 6
7/20-22/07 42 51 7
5/18-23/07 35 61 4

"How would you say things are going for the U.S. in its efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq? Would you say things are going very well, somewhat well, somewhat badly, or very badly?"

VW SW SB Badly Unsure

9/4-8/07 4 29 32 32 3
8/8-12/07 3 26 29 38 4
7/20-22/07 3 29 31 35 2
7/9-17/07 2 23 29 45 1

"Regardless of how you usually vote, do you think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party is more likely to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq?"

Repub Dem Both (vol.) Neither (vol.) Unsure
9/4-8/07 32 42 1 9 16

"From what you have seen or heard about the situation in Iraq, what should the United States do now? Should the U.S. increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, keep the same number of U.S. troops in Iraq as there are now, decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, or remove all its troops from Iraq?"

Increase Same DecreaseRemove All Unsure
9/4-8/07 11 19 35 30 5

8/8-12/07 13 17 31 30 9
7/20-22/07 12 15 30 36 7
7/9-17/07 12 18 29 34 7

"As you may know, the U.S. has sent more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. From what you have heard or read, would you say this troop increase is making the situation in Iraq better, making it worse, or is it having no impact on the situation in Iraq so far?"

Better Worse No Impact Unsure
9/4-8/07 35 12 45 8
8/8-12/07 29 15 46 10
7/20-22/07 19 20 53 8
7/9-17/07 20 22 51 7

"If you had to choose, who do you think is most likely to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq: the Bush Administration, Congress, or U.S. military commanders in Iraq?"

Admin. Congress Commanders None (vol.) Unsure

9/4-8/07 5 21 68 3 3

"In making its case for the war with Iraq, do you think members of the Bush Administration intentionally misled the public or not?"

Misled Did Not Mislead Unsure

9/4-8/07 60 36 4
12/05 52 44 4

"Right now, is the U.S. involvement in Iraq creating more terrorists who are planning to attack the U.S., eliminating terrorists who were planning to attack the U.S., or is the U.S. involvement in Iraq not affecting the number of terrorists planning to attack the U.S.?"

Creating Eliminating Not Affecting Unsure

9/4-8/07 40 23 27 10
8/8-12/07 46 18 27 9
7/20-22/07 44 18 27 11
6/26-28/07 51 17 24 8

"Do you think Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?"

Yes No Unsure
ALL adults 33 58 9
Republicans 40 51 9
Democrats 27 63 10
Independents 32 60 8

33% of Americans still persist in believing that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. 26% of Americans persist in approving Bush's Iraq policy. The Pollkatz Bush Index is 30.8; RCP has him at 32.7.

When Petraeus and Crocker, or whatever else crawls out from under the rocks to lie and obfuscate on behalf of their masters, say idiotic things about progress this and security that, they are speaking only to that fraction that still upholds the Bush "plan" for the Middle East. They are speaking to roughly a third of America--if the electorate is somewhere around 120M voters, they're speaking to 40M of them. That's it. In their world, the Green Zone is safe, John McCain didn't look like a fucking moron strolling around a Baghdad open air market with a flak jacket, a helmet, 50 Marines, helicopters....In their world, George Bush making surprise visits to Iraq is no big deal (after all, it's how he does it here in the States....).

So we're going to have this silly song and dance out of Petraeus and Crocker, who aren't going to deviate from The Party Line one bit. They're going to keep asking for more Friedman Units and they're going to keep getting them. Nothing changes. The stalemate continues.

Which brings me to another subject that really deserves its own post, but I'm on a roll so here goes....

The Congressional Democrats have been failures so far. It's one thing for them to point to Blue Dog defections to explain losing the spring battle over defunding, but the collapse on the FISA bill right before the August recess was both pathetic and unnecessary. The Blue Dogs didn't monkeywrench that--you guys got outmanuevered by Bush the incompetent. You should have seen it coming, or somebody should figured out how to prevent the fucking vote from happening. You're not in the minority anymore. Stuff you don't want to come up for a vote doesn't get voted on, period, full stop. The fact that it came up at all was a failure of leadership. And then when it passed? That was just a fucking whopping failure.

And that kind of thing is why I've never registered as a Democrat. I'll work for em, but I'll be damned if I'm going to call myself a Democrat until they can actually get their shit together, or find somebody who will.

It gets better.

The traditional Sept/Oct annual budget war between the executive and the legislature is going to be used as a cudgel by Bush against the squeamish Democrats: fund my war or I'll blame you for losing it! Which is perfect nonsense, of course, but it's been awfully effective nonsense....

I'm expecting the Democrats to, as the saying goes, fold with aces. It's the same shit....can't look weak, yadda yadda. Even though the polls are clearly, overwhelmingly on their side. Even though this occupation is hated by 99% of the planet, even though it's bankrupting us, even though it's killing a hundred people a day, they keep falling for the same fucking tricks.

So let's have some more hearings! Strike up the band! Let's have some red white and blue bunting! Order another crate of magnetic ribbon stickers! SUPPORT THOSE TROOPS!!


Sapped by nearly six years of war, the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring.

The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home or already tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no fresh troops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdad this year, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

That presents the Pentagon with several painful choices if the U.S. wants to maintain higher troop levels beyond the spring of 2008:

_Using National Guard units on an accelerated schedule. [that wasn't a problem during Hurricane Katrina, nope, no sir, uh-uh--nb]

_Breaking the military's pledge to keep soldiers in Iraq for no longer than 15 months.

_Breaching a commitment to give soldiers a full year at home before sending them back to war.

But Harry Reid wants to compromise.

Fuck Harry Reid.

That sound you hear is another IED going off, taking with it some 20 year old from some place like Boise, or the Bronx. That sound you hear is the siphon Halliburton hooked up to the Treasury. That sound you hear is a car bomb blowing up yet another mosque, killing dozens, receiving no more attention in the U.S. than page 24B.

It will continue until the followers in Washington start to lead, or are replaced by leaders.