Friday, June 16, 2006

Flattering Us With Their Fuss

Have you noticed the schizophrenic attitude the main stream press and right wing bloggers--but I repeat myself--took towards last weekend's YearlyKos convention?

Among the first out of the box was this blurb negatively contrasting the attendance at YearlyKos with other conventions apparently scheduled for Vegas this month.

Then came columns in Time and the New York Times by Ann Marie Cox and Mo Dowd respectively, which were likewise unimpressed.

Yet despite the low attendance numbers, Kos's supposedly poor track-record at backing winning candidates (which is Kos's job, afterall--he's a well-paid campaign consultant, recruiter, manager, and fundraiser), and the silliness of the attendees and panels, this small, irrelevant gathering somehow managed to attract enough attention to get Cox and Dowd off their duffeses to cover it and also attracted the attention of The King of All Cable TV himself.

So which is it? Small and irrelevant or threat to the Republic?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Strategically Nebulous and Morally Obtuse"

"A dumb idea"

"When the country is war-weary, when the violence is still playing out on TV, I don't know why we want to highlight all that"

"This is nothing more or less than really a charade"

These are a sample of statements by Republican members of Congress regarding the upcoming "debate" on the Iraq war Resolution sponsored by the U.S. House of People's Deputies.

...the resolution itself--declaring that the United States will complete the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq and will prevail in the global war on terror--has attracted strong criticism from lawmakers in both parties. Democrats and antiwar Republicans object to the linkage between the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism, while some Republicans have said it sets unrealistic goals.


...GOP leaders are trying to make sure today's debate is on Republican terms. The resolution, "declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror [and] the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary," was introduced with unabashed partisan overtones. The rules of debate will not allow the resolution to be amended, nor will alternative resolutions be allowed on the floor for a vote.

Even with the restrictions imposed on the "debate" for this "resolution", I doubt the "debate" will go according to plan.

The killing (finally) of Zarqawi was indeed a step in the right direction for Iraq's stability and sovereignty, but Bush and his entourage, unknowingly or not, undermined the latter by jetting into Baghdad uninvited by and without the knowledge of, Iraq's new "sovereign" government, a point that a member of the press actually did raise in yesterday's press conference even though Bush dodged the part of the question that contrasted the Iraq government's supposed "sovereign" status with Bush's, how can we put it another way, invasionary five hour tour.

What will the U.S.'s relationship be to an eventual "free", "secure", and "sovereign" Iraq? Will U.S. officials continue to expect or enjoy unfettered access to the country? Will U.S. officials be granted "amnesty" to "invade" the country whenever they want?

And what about American military bases? Will the Iraqi government have a choice about whether permanent bases are established in Iraq?

These are among the many questions House members of good will can raise during this "debate".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Escape from the Green Zone

The NYTimes today:

Only a handful of Mr. Bush's closest aides knew about the six-hour visit before he departed from Washington on Monday night. Mr. Bush seemed intent on pressing home a message that American military commanders and embassy officials have been urging on the new government since it took office three weeks ago: after two previous Iraqi governments since Saddam Hussein became mired in incompetence and corruption, time is running out for Iraq's politicians to develop an effective government and a common front against the insurgents.

Time is running out for Iraq's politicians? Really? In what sense is that true? That if they don't get their stuff together we're leaving?

Mr. Bush also gave Mr. Maliki a renewed assurance that the United States would not abandon the new government as it struggles to curb the spiraling violence, rebuild the country's shattered infrastructure and put Iraqis back to work in a reviving economy.

"I also have a message to the Iraqi people: that when America gives a commitment, America will keep its commitment," he said, to wild cheers from the 300 American soldiers and civilians gathered in the palace hall.

Of course the U.S. can't "abandon" Iraq or refuse to help (i.e. finance) Iraq's eventual reconstruction. But this also casts doubt on the notion that "time is running out for Iraq's politicians" to get things together. If we're unconditionally committed to the country's reconstruction and well-being (as I believe we are and should be) then it isn't clear to me in what sense "time is running" out for this Iraqi government, or the next one, or the next one after that.

Maybe the "time is running out" theme refers to the anarchy and civil war the government's failure to "get things together" will result in, if those things aren't already present and occuring.

Either way, I don't see how "time is running out" on our mission in Iraq, even if "time is running out" for the administration's war architects and for troops on multiple tours of duty without a ready supply of draftees to back them up.

The other thing about this "secret" trip (note to the media: is there another kind?) is this weird stuff about "looking the Iraqi leader in the eye".

Seated beside Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in a meeting that included American officials and 17 members of the Iraqi cabinet, Mr. Bush told the prime minister that he had come "to look you in the eye." He repeated the phrase later at the palace, when he told troops and other Americans he had come "to look at Prime Minister Maliki in the eyes and determine whether or not he is as dedicated to a free Iraq as you are."
Mr. Bush added, "

And I believe he is."

Is this what passes for project assessment and policy review in the White House? Look him in the eye? What if the president hadn't liked his "look" into Maliki's "eyes"? Would he order Maliki thrown out of the Green Zone to be devoured in the Other Iraq, like some sort of reverse Escape from New York flick, and then "decide" that yet another Prime Minister would need to be appointed?

Speaking of Snake Pliskin, doesn't this whole "fly into the Baghdad airport and then into the Green Zone with body armor" remind you of Escape from New York? The hoodlums, terrorists and malcontents are thrown into the city of New York--never to leave--while around the city lies the walls, the water barrier, and bomb-laden bridges designed to keep the bad people in. On the rare occasion when the prison has to be invaded, Commissioner Hauk flies in under the cover of darkness with a mini-army only to beat as fast a retreat as possible when their mission is "accomplished" or foiled?