Since we're once again discussing our misadventure in Iraq, it's a good time to post this MSNBC documentary about how the Bushies lied their way into war:
Not everyone lost their minds, you know.
It's tempting to talk about it that way now, isn't it? Especially if you favored the war, or at least, didn't oppose it. It's tempting to talk about it as if everybody in the world agreed that "we" needed to do something to "them" and this was the answer "we" all agreed upon.
It's tempting because it absolves those who were wrong of the failure to listen to those who were right. It's tempting because it lets us all off the hook, for not doing more to stop it. No matter what we did, it wasn't enough, because we didn't stop it.
But oh, God, we tried, didn't we? We wrote and we called and we marched in the streets, and if "we" attacked Iraq then "we" are at least going to give ourselves the credit of remembering that "we" were never "we" at all, never even once. We attacked Iraq, and we tried to stop it, and not everybody lost their minds.
Had I been a member of the Senate, I would have voted against the resolution that authorized the President to use unilateral force against Iraq - unlike others in that body now seeking the presidency.
I do not believe the President should have been given a green light to drive our nation into conflict without the case having first been made to Congress and the American people for why this war is necessary, and without a requirement that we at least try first to work through the United Nations.
That the President was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who were worried about political positioning for the presidential election.
To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.
Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming "Mission accomplished" certainly doesn't make it so.
“I think there always are things you can see in retrospect that you’d want to do better,” he said. “[No one] aside from those of us who’ve stayed in the streets against these wars can say truthfully I told you so.”
Watching the events in Iraq this week, watching something completely inevitable happen exactly the way it was always going to happen, all I could think was that the people who had tried to stop it saw this coming, now we talk about them as if they didn't exist.
I hate to be unoriginal, but I do not mind piling on in a good cause. It's looking an awful lot like the aughties right now, which is a flashback to a bad trip, man. It's the political equivalent of eating the brown acid at Woodstock or being at the front at Altamont, man. The MSM is all revved up about a terrorist/jihadist group in Iraq and they're calling upon "experts" for commentary and unwisdom. That's right, the same bunch of poltroons who got *everything* wrong about Iraq the first time around are back on the teevee machine and the op-ed pages.
It's bad enough that they're chatting up McCain and the man who Charlie Pierce calls Huckleberry Butchmeup and I call Little Lindsey. But they're trotting out Paul Wolfowitz and his comb, Bill Kristol, L Paul Bremer, Ken Pollack and, most hilariously, Athenae's old friend Doug Feith. All of whom said that Iraq had WMD's and that the Iraqi people would greet our boys like the French, Belgians, and Dutch at the end of WWII, the big one. They were wrong, wrong, wronger, and wrongest. Not sure if that's a word but it applies to all of them, especially Bremer whose depth of knowledge is as thin as a, uh, Bremner wafer and just as tasteless. Actually, Bremner wafers are bland whereas the man who likes to be called Jerry is toxic. The only good thing about Bremer's re-emergence is that I get to use that biscuity, crackery pun again. I coulda lived without making it...
Tony Blair has strongly rejected claims that the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq was to blame for the current crisis gripping the country, pointing the finger instead firmly at the Maliki government and the war in Syria.
In a passionate essay published on his website, the former prime minister said it was a "bizarre" reading of the situation to argue that the US-British invasion of Iraq had allowed the growth of Sunni jihadist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), whose fighters have swept through towns and cities north and west of Baghdad over the past week.
"We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that 'we' have caused this. We haven't. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not: and whether action or inaction is the best policy. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it.
"We have to put aside the differences of the past and act now to save the future," says Blair, adding that force may be necessary. "Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force."
The only thing that's less bad about Blair's bizarre bizarre comment than the bad right wing company that he keeps is the fact that he doesn't blame President Obama. According to Senator Walnuts, the President should have waved his magic wand and made Maliki be nice to other sects and keep our troops there. They wanted us out and it's their country, not ours. You got that Senator?
Back to Tony Blair. His continued malakatude on Iraq grieves me. I remember when he became Labour leader and led his fractious party back into government in 1997. He was a hero for a few years there as well as one of the most talented politicians around. But like so many other liberal interventionists (i.e. Christopher Hitchens), he drew the wrong lessons from the humanitarian disasters in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. Iraq was obviously the wrong place to put those ideas into action and the Bush-Cheney-Rummy team were clearly the wrong allies. Pick your cliches: if you lie down with garbage you smell like it, or if you lie down with fleas, you get them. Either is depressingly applicable here.
I wish the public Blair sounded more like the private Blair as depicted in Andrew Rawnsley's superb account of the Blair government's second and third terms, The End of the Party. That Blair is frazzled and depressed by the fiasco in Iraq. It's a pity he kept a stiff upper lip in public but he did, so he's gone from popular to pariah at home.
Back to the American war/fear/scaremongers. Their advice on Iraq should come with a warning label complete with a skull and crossbones and say: Always wrong but never sorry.
Romney said the terror enveloping Iraq is "a result of inaction" by President Barack Obama. He said the White House should have acted decisively against the insurgents "when Assad was on his heels" in Syria.
And while the Iraqi leadership deserves "much of the blame," a relatively small presence of American troops in Iraq would have been a wise choice to keep the fighting at bay, the former Massachusetts governor said.
"This administration has repeatedly underestimated the threat," Romney said, widening his criticism to Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State, calling her tenure a "monumental bust."
Secretary of State John Bolton would have sewed that shit UP.
Forget that it wasn't Obama that decided to stick our natlonal dick in this bees' nest in the first place. Forget that it wasn't Obama who said that we should disband the Iraqi army and let everybody keep their guns.
I have yet to see anyone ask any of these Monday morning quarterbacking goddamn nutmeats if they don't think this would have happened anyway, no matter who was in charge, no matter what we did, because:
Days after Iraq's second-largest city fell to al-Qaida-inspired fighters, some Iraqis are already returning to Mosul, lured back by insurgents offering cheap gas and food, restoring power and water and removing traffic barricades
If your government can't keep the lights on, if your government can't get the water running, if your government can't keep you from getting shot on your way to the store for a pack of smokes, if your government can't perform basic functions, you very quickly lose patience with that government.
You go looking for a new one. And sometimes you end up with something better, and sometimes you end up with just another pack of jackals, and sometimes you wish you had your old government back, and sometimes you realize the old boss is the same as the new boss. But you're always just looking for the basics. A safe, relatively happy life.
This isn't mysterious. This isn't some major unanticipated problem. And if Obama underestimated anything, it was the stupidity of his political opponents, who would go on TV and act like human nature wasn't human nature, and was instead all his fault.
Louisiana's 1st Congressional District has long been a hotbed of wingnut malakatude: from dim bulb Bob Livingston to David Vitter to Bobby Jindal to the current member, Steve Scalise. Scalise is a genuinely nasty piece of work who publicly fumed when PBJ decided to run for the seat when Vitter moved his diaper bag to the Senate in 2004. Scalise thought he was next in line; plus he actually lived in the district whereas PBJ was a carpetbagger from Red Stick. But at that time, Jindal was the chosen one, so Scalise eventually shut his yap and stayed in the lege until PBJ was elected Governor in 2007. Since then, Scalise has been a rabid right winger and a worthy stylistic successor to Bitter Vitter as one of the nastiest members of the House. And nowadays, that's saying a lot.
Scalise is obviously qualified to be a member of the malakatude hall of fame as I've disliked him since his days in the Louisiana Lege but here's the reason he's this week's honoree:
"He was back in his old stomping grounds and it was great to see him," said Scalise, the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).
Cheney was a member of the RSC when he served in the House, though he observed to Scalise that the group was a lot smaller when he was there. Democrats were in the majority then, and the House GOP caucus included a sizeable number of moderates who are an endangered species in the current GOP congressional membership.
"He was very well received," Scalise said. "He carries a lot of credibility having served in the House, as defense secretary and then as vice president for President George W. Bush."
He "carries" a lot of credibility? Carries? Really? First of all, that's an awkward way to put it, but how on God's green earth does Cheney have any credibility whatsoever? Let's see, he was one of the primary architects of the Bush administration's lying its way into the Irag War. He keeps telling us that waterboarding and other forms of "enhanced interrogation" are swell and needed to fight the so called war on so called terror. (If it existed, it would be a war on terrorism, you cannot fight an emotion, which is what terror is.) In short, if Cheney ever "carried" any credibility, he dropped it a long time ago with his assurances that the Iraqis had WMD and that the war was not about oil. Yeah, right.
I know I'm preaching to choir but what Dick Cheney really is, is the sanest sounding lunatic in American political history. (Sorry for the double is, y'all.) I gotta give him credit for saying nutty things in a monotone so people won't notice the tin foil hat and the way his nose grows with every lie. Ths is probably a mixed metaphor since Cheney was Gepetto to W's Pinocchio but you know what I mean. Guess that makes Dick's pal Rummy the boss of Donkey Island or whatever the hell it was called in the Disney flick.
Back to Steve Scalise. It's not surprising that he's sticking with the scare America shitless neo-con crowd. Paulist isolationism is a poor fit for a Congressman whose head is permanently wedged up the petro-chemical industry's ass. Big oil likes war because it leads to big profits. I also get a kick out of the name of the group he chairs: the Republican Study Committee. When was the last time House Gopers studied anything? All they need to know is where President Obama stands and they're automatically against it. I'm not sure if Scalise has come out against the White House Easter egg hunt but that may be something the RSC is studying.
Since Scalise is fond of the word carry, I'll give CSNY the last word:
Last weekend, one need not have looked further than the Foreign Affairs homepage for a little bit of political humor. There readers will find a lengthy, circumspect article authoritatively titled, “The War of Law: How New International Law Undermines Democratic Sovereignty.”
The piece begins with applause for the Senate’s decision last December to reject the the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, before critiquing a trend sustained by some legal scholars, called legal transnationalism, which favors enshrining articulated international norms of justice in national judiciaries.
The punchline can be found in the byline. The article was coauthored by Jon Kyl, John Fonte, and — prepare to laugh, those in the know — Douglas Feith. Not simply some sort of detached scholar, devoted professional, or principled activist, the latter author would appear to have a direct stake in the outcome of the global debate on legal transnationalism given the clear threat posed to him by potential criminal charges.
Can't imagine why one of the Iraq war's chief architects would have a problem with international law.
Legendarily dickish former spook MIchael Hayden is back in the news. He's been known to insult people and he's at it again:
Who gets “emotional” about torture—or, rather, what is the proper emotional response to a history of torture and lies? On Fox News, on Sunday morning, Chris Wallace asked Michael Hayden, the former director of the C.I.A., about a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sixty-three hundred pages long, that “says the C.I.A. misled the public about the severity and the success of the enhanced interrogation program.” Hayden’s first response was to talk about the feelings of Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the committee, citing an article by David Ignatius: “He said Senator Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ‘ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention and interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.’
”Now, that sentence, that motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.
What's fascinating to me about the stand-off between Senator Feinstein and the CIA is that it is the latter who are "emotional," and, I daresay, hysterical, about the subject of torture and keep making things worse for themselves. Old school spymasters like Allen Dulles and Richard Helms were known for their tact and discretion as opposed to the Hayden-Brennan school that keeps calling out members of the intelligence committee including its chair. It's an indication of the arrogance of the CIA and how much power they gained in the Bush-Cheney years.The pre-Church committee CIA was just as arrogant but at least they had better manners...
Back to Hayden's imbecilic, sexist comment. As far as I can tell, having a vagina doesn't make one more emotional than having testicles. Besides, Michael Hayden is an emotional motherfucker who puts the testy in testicles...
In other intelligence committee related news, I have a new hero. It is the mustachioed Independent Senator from Maine ,Angus King. I've never had a hero named Angus; probably because it's evocative of haggis and bagpipe music. Anyway, Senator King was on Up with Steve Kornacki and went after torture aficionado, Dick Cheney:
“If he doesn’t think that was torture,” he said, “I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through.”
“That’s ridiculous to make that claim,” King went on. “This was torture by anybody’s definition.” Even John McCain agrees it was torture, he added, “and I think he’s in a better position to know that than Vice President Cheney.”
“What they did was bad, but then to misrepresent it the way they did throughout a number of years — that’s what’s really the worse thing.”
As we all know Cheney has always lacked the courage of his convictions. He was a rabid hawk during the Vietnam era but dodged the draft and then bragged about it. His Dickness is the ultimate chicken hawk and would rather shit in his pants on Meet The Press before being waterboarded. Now that I think of it, *that's* something I'd like to see and David Gregory deserves to experience.
That is all.
Rumsfeld and McNamara seem to be very different kinds of people.
They couldn't be more different. But they presided over disastrous wars. That's not OK. You can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you can be really engaged by the tales of what you have done and haven't done. And McNamara realized this. There's no magic slate for any of us; we can't just pull up the acetate and it all goes away.
McNamara at least had some regrets that he was willing to share.
Rumsfeld is also willing to share the fact that he has no regrets, isn't sorry, sees nothing wrong with what he's done. In fact, he's proud of it.
Well, and I'm not sure it matters either way. If he's sorry, then fuck him. If he's not sorry, fuck him. The dead are dead. The wounded are wounded. There aren't degrees here, where if you're sorry you go to a slightly higher level of hell. Nobody cares about their immortal souls but them. To the rest of us, all that matters are the results.
French President Francois Hollande is here on a state visit. To my dismay, non-Fox MSM outlets are trotting out Bush-Cheney era cliches about the French. Yup, they're on about "cheese eating surrender monkeys," "freedom fries" and the rest of that shit. Hardy, har, har. Guess what: THE FRENCH WERE RIGHT ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR.
I had many arguments with people at the time. A real friend tells you the truth instead of what you want to hear. If President Beavis had listened to Jacques Chirac instead of Tony Blair we'd be a helluva lot better off. Hell, Chirac was a center right pol but Bush majored in wishful thinking at Yale so he listened to Vice President Duce and the voices in his head.
Vive La France.
In his letter to Boehner, Reid drew an analogy to Republicans' current objects to the Affordable Care Act to his opposition to the Iraq War.
"I hated the Iraq War. I think I hated it as much as you hate the Affordable Care Act," Reid wrote.
"There were many gut-wrenching nights when I struggled over what I needed to do to end the carnage. In those days, when President Bush was Commander in Chief, I could have taken the steps that you are taking now to block Government funding in order to gain leverage to end the war. I faced a lot of pressure from my own base to take that action. But I did not do that. I felt that it would have been devastating to America."
Am I the only one who read this and thought:
a) His base was demanding that? I don't remember anybody even thinking of that.
b) Shit, why DIDN'T we think of that?
After all, ending the Iraq War had a higher approval rating than defunding Obamacare does. It would also have prevented A LOT OF DEAD PEOPLE, whereas the current government shutdown is about preventing people from getting health insurance. The objective matters. These two things aren't precisely equal. You want to compare hopeless causes, I'm always gonna go with the one that has as its aim keeping more people alive than otherwise.
I mean, would that we had a party that would fight that hard over an illegal war of choice that turned out to be based entirely on bullshit. Would that we actually had a party that stood in genuine and strident opposition to KILLING FOR NO REASON, that was as willing to put its own ass on the line for an outcome not rooted in vanity but in genuine interest in the national welfare.
I know, I know, what the narrative would have been, what the political risks would have been, what the actual risks of a shutdown in the middle of a war would have been. But when I thinik about those risks, about the way Democrats were so scared of being branded cowards if they stood against the war, I can't help but wish they'd been willing to risk as much toward a selfless end as Republicans are toward a selfish one.
I might not have wanted them to do it, knowing that they would have lost, knowing that the people hurt wouldn't have been those who were to blame. But I would have liked it if they'd possessed the will to push that hard and speak that loudly.
Two-thirds of Britons do not care if refusing to intervene militarily in Syria damages the US-UK "special relationship," according to a BBC poll released Monday.
The poll also found 71 percent of Britons felt the House of Commons was right to reject Prime Minister David Cameron's call for military action in Syria last week.
Our "special relationship" can't quite be quantified to most ordinary Britons, not the way, say, a bunch of coffins can.
The government and the rebels have been indiscriminately bombing and shelling cities; conventional explosives are WAY more deadly than air-dispersed chemical agents. Yet we still have this 1916-era mentality about how poison gas is somehow just so ungentlemanly that it deserves a special level of outrage. That's bullshit. Artillery barrages and bombs do terrible, terrible things to human bodies. When you're suffering and/or dying, you don't give a shit whether hot steel, concussion trauma, napalm burns, or poison gas did the trick.
Which is really what my issue with any bombing is about. It's not that we're doing it or not doing it. It's that we seem to have decided we will only do it when X number have died, or X weapon is used, in this one particular case, and it's presented to us as OF COURSE BECAUSE CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
Let's give the people who are pushing for this the absolute best benefit of the doubt and assume they really do mean to aid the Syrian rebels and save civilian lives. This isn't Iraq; there is an actual conflict already underway with implications for US allies and humanitarian concerns at stake. We are not just going in somewhere to kick the shit out of some people we don't like because suck on this, because we need to feel better, because our national magazine columnists have decided this is what "Americans" "need."
But this also isn't Afghanistan; nobody hanging out there attacked America directly. So are we making the case that any use of chemical weapons anywhere is grounds for America attacking?
In that case, hunker down, Washington DC:
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.
I don't know how you come up with an arithmetic for war that ISN'T monstrous, given that no matter what you do people are going to die, but I don't think this is a workable formula.
"It was a coup and it was the second time in two-and-a-half years that we have seen the military step in. It's a strong indicator of the lack of American leadership and influence since we've urged the military not to do that," McCain said Sunday on CBS's "Face The Nation,"according to Politico. "The place is descending into chaos but so is the entire Middle East because of the total vacuum and lack of American leadership...Whether it be the massacres in Syria; Lebanon is beset by sectarian violence; Jordan is about to collapse under the weight of refugees; Iraq is unraveling; Afghanistan -- we're having grave problems organizing a follow on force in Afghanistan."
So what exactly kind of "American leadership" should have been provided, John McCain?
"Their economy is in terrible shape thanks to their policies but the fact is the United States should not be supporting this coup and it's a tough call."
Well, that clears that right up. What a goddamn choad. I seriously have no patience for these people, who long for some golden age when all America had to do was raise a national eyebrow and everybody behaved. You know, like in the 70s ... I mean the 80s ... I mean the 90s ... I mean god damn it, everybody listen to John McCain!
When exactly did "American leadership" command the kind of instaneous obedience that John McCain is imagining it will here? When were we NOT facepalming all over the state department at the way somebody in that region was behaving? When was this paradise of bending to our will, and how exactly are we supposed to re-enact it now that everybody hates us due to us blowing up large portions of several countries and refusing to admit that that sucked?
If only we'd made the Iraqis build that statue of George W. Bush. That would have solved everything.
Mr. Kerry’s visit to Iraq on Sunday was the first by an American secretary of state since 2009. He came at a time when concerns are growing over Iraq’s role in the crisis in Syria, and when the United States’ influence in Iraq has been dwindling.
The State Department has been sharply reducing its huge presence here, and its diplomats have seemed powerless to affect the course of events on two of Washington’s pressing concerns: Iraqi tolerance for the Iranian weapons shipments to Syria and issuance of arrest warrants for certain Sunni leaders by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
The Obama administration has appeared to be less engaged in Iraq in recent months, as it has sought to “normalize” relations, and the Iraqis have distanced themselves from their former occupiers. And there is a sense among many Iraqi officials that the Americans are no longer willing to marshal the influence they still have.
“The Americans are not using claws or teeth,” Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Mr. Maliki’s former national security adviser, said shortly before Mr. Kerry’s visit.
Well, it worked out so wonderfully last time we tried it. I mean, in all seriousness, are we the assholes for blowing up the country and making grand promises and then not doing anything about them? Absolutely. Would continuing to do so actually change anything? Absolutely not, and while I'm not crazy about the idea that we are just gonna forget all about this war until it takes a big karmic bite out of our ass and we go through another round of "why do they hate us" 20 years from now, you tell me what would be the best alternative here. GTFO is the worst policy, except for all the other ones:
American promises to help shape a stable democracy in Syria have been met with skepticism by some Iraqi officials. In an interview late in 2012, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recalled a visit in September from A. Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. “What she said was that they would educate the Syrians on how to be a democracy,” Mr. Hamoudi said, adding with a hint of sarcasm, “just like what happened in Iraq.”
I never watch “Morning Joe” but Mr. Beale does and I happened to be in the bedroom long enough this morning to catch a truly horrible “both sides did it,” context-free, Iraq War dodge. It featured clips of prominent Democrats (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Carl Levin) calling Saddam Hussein a “brutal, murderous dictator” who needed to be disarmed, followed by clips of those same individuals criticizing Bush’s war later. As if that proved something. As if that meant anything.
As if saying Saddam was a dangerous asshole also meant you wanted to invade his country and kill his people. As if Bush-Cheney-Rummy didn't completely botch things in Iraq and weren't deserving of the criticism.
Holy propaganda, MSNBC! This was the worst journalistic malfeasance since cable news started flogging fear porn at us 24-7 and made the invasion of Iraq a foregone conclusion. It's the kind of thing that was straight out of Karl Rove’s Little Shop of Republican Talking Points; yet another reminder of why MSNBC is not the “liberal” network/Fox News counter detractors claim it to be.
When it was over -- and it lasted all of three minutes, to be honest -- the vapid nitwit Mika Brzezinski nodded her empty head and intoned, “good to remember.”
No, not good! If it's good then why is my blood pressure rising?
Notably absent from this little traipse down revisionist-history lane was any mention of now-President Obama, who was against the war from the beginning (though he wasn't in the Senate at the time of the Iraq War resolution.) Nor was there any mention -- save writing us off as a mere 29% of American surveyed -- of all the rest of us who were against the war from the beginning.
The entire point of the piece was so blatantly obvious: sure it was Bush's war but everyone else is to blame, too! The whole country wanted this! C'mon you know you did!
Little surprise the media would like to marginalize the anti-war movement which they virtually ignored in the first place. That would be very convenient for them, but it's a lie and we all know it. Did you attend one of the February 15, 2003 worldwide anti-war marches, or any of the hundreds of anti-war protests that followed? I did. If you were in the media did you cover them? Did you write about the protestors who were rounded up, en masse, by police? Did you give the four counter-protestors attending as much airtime as you gave the hundreds of protestors? For that matter, did you devote as many column inches/air time/bandwidth to covering the anti-war movement as you did the Tea Party? Now, don't lie. You know you didn't.
The war is what got me involved and paying attention, it’s the reason I started blogging. It’s what woke a lot of us up. I was astonished at the news media’s unabashed war boosterism then, and I’m astonished at its utter lack of accountability now. The media lost all credibility with me in 2002 and it ain't coming back. I lost my faith in you folks. When I criticize the media, which I do a lot, this is why. You will never, ever, ever be trusted again.
It was only 10 years ago. I remember the way we were. Do you?
I remember talk of smoking guns and mushroom clouds, repeated on the nightly news with no questioning or verification, just pointlessly scaring the crap out of people. I remember anyone who dared speak out against war being subjected to vicious verbal attacks. We were labeled terrorist appeasers and anti-American by the jingoistic flag-wavers who took over the microphone and shouted the rest of us down.
Prominent anti-war individuals had their patriotism questioned and their careers ruined. I remember radio stations sponsoring CD crushing parties after Natalie Maines said she was against the war and ashamed George W. Bush was from Texas.
I remember Republicans renaming French fries at the Congressional cafeteria “freedom fries.”
I remember people pouring bottles of French wine down the gutters. I remember Lawrence Lindsey getting fired for daring to estimate the cost of the Iraq War at $200 billion. Donald Rumsfeld said that was “baloney,” and Lindsey got the axe. If only.
Hey, CNN: I remember this:
NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously, I’m not saying this is a communist system, but I think we’re having — after 9/11, there’s a big centralization of power. President Bush is having more and more power. John Ashcroft is having more and more power. Americans are losing their personal rights left and right. I mean, the ACLU is up in arms about all of the stuff that’s going on right now. . . .
CHUNG: Can I be honest with you? I can tell you that when I read this, I have to tell you that I thought it was un-American, unpatriotic. I wanted to say, go back to Czechoslovakia. You know, if you don’t like it here, this a country that gave you so much, gave you the freedom to do what you want.
NAVRATILOVA: And I’m giving it back. This is why I speak out. When I see something that I don’t like, I’m going to speak out because you can do that here. And again, I feel there are too many things happening that are taking our rights away.
CHUNG: But you know what? I think it is, OK, if you believe that, you know, then go ahead and think that at home. But why do you have to spill it out? You know, why do you have to talk about it as a celebrity so that people will write it down and talk about what you said?
NAVRATILOVA: I think athletes have a duty to speak out when there is something that’s not right, when they feel that perhaps social issues are not being paid attention to. As a woman, as a lesbian, as a woman athlete, there is a whole bunch of barriers that I’ve had to jump over, and we shouldn’t have to be jumping over them any more.
CHUNG: Got you. But sometimes, when you hear celebrities saying something, do you ever say to yourself, I don’t care what so and so thinks, you know. Yes, go ahead and say whatever you want to say. But you’re not a politician. You’re not in a position of government power or whatever.
NAVRATILOVA: No. And I just might do that. I may run for office one of these days and really do make a difference. But…
CHUNG: Are you kidding me?
NAVRATILOVA: No, I’m not. One of these days, hopefully. But when you say go back to Czech Republic, why are you sending me back there? I live here. I love this country. I’ve lived here 27 years. I’ve paid taxes here for 27 years. Do I not have a right to speak out? Why is that unpatriotic?
CHUNG: Well, you know the old line, love it or leave it. Love it or leave it!
Yeah, I remember this. We were fed a steady diet of "love it or leave it" from the news media 24/7 in the run-up to the Iraq War.
The media lost all credibility when it clapped and cheered for war. Now, 10 years later, it's determined to dodge any accountability. Morning Joe’s “well, everyone was for the war!” proves it. Joe and Mika: the media's job was not to report on what Americans wanted to hear. It was to report on the truth. You failed us. And we won’t forget.
Yes, it’s true: Democrats did vote for the invasion. But only after the White House, Republican-led Congress, and their media lapdogs created a climate so toxic that opposition was a career-ender. Just ask Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame.
Do I wish Hillary Clinton and John Kerry hadn't voted for the war resolution? You're damn right. And I think that's a big reason Obama won the 2008 nomination. I wish every Democrat had had the spine of Russ Feingold, Edward Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and the rest. They didn't, though, and I understand why.
Back in 2004 the New York Times was forced to examine its own role in the Iraq War propaganda campaign, especially Queen Of All Iraq Judith Miller. In May they wrote,
We consider the story of Iraq's weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight.
And that was the last we heard of that.
I'm feeling like the political history police this week. Today's entry involves a Salon piece by David Sirota about the lack of consequences for Iraq War policy makers and pols. I have bold faced the bit I'd like to to discuss:
To appreciate how little political fallout the Iraq War generated, consider how different the reaction was to American history’s most recent antecedent to the Iraq conflict. A generation ago, a similarly misguided war of choice in Vietnam resulted in such a fervent political backlash that a president was forced to opt against running for reelection, a slate of anti-war legislators was swept into Congress, and pro-Vietnam War icons like William Fulbright and Thomas Dodd were voted out of office. At the same time, the leading voice in the establishment media dared to adversarially report fundamental flaws in the pro-war argument, to the point where it has become a mark of shame to admit you publicly backed the conflict.
J. William Fulbright was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the Vietnam War and he *did* sponsor the Tonkin Gulf resolution but became one of the leading critics of the war. His committee held legendary televised hearings on the war and his book The Arrogance of Power was a scathing critique of cold war politics and Lyndon Johnson's disastrous war. He was defeated for re-election in 1974 in a primary by fellow Democrat Dale Bumpers after the "Vietnamization" of that conflict. He was not swept out of office by anti-war fervor, instead he was old and out of touch with his state; a classic Senatorial tale. If anything, Fulbright's anti-war position helped get him beat.
On to Tom Dodd. I'm not out to defend or praise Chris Dodd's daddy-O. Sirota is at least 75% right. Dodd was a hawk and he *was* partially defeated for that reason but he had been censured by the Senate and was a rather dubious character who had a severe drinking problem. I'll score this one mostly for Sirota.
Here's my main complaint: do some research, dude. It is so easy in the age of the Google to check a basic fact like Fulbright's position on the Vietnam War. It changed quite dramatically after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. In fact, he was one of the Senators that LBJ referred to as a "traitor" for *opposing* the war. He also felt personally betrayed since he and Fulbright had once been allies.
I realize that Sirota is a polemicist making a point. The problem is that his misuse of history caused me to stop reading his piece. All he had to do was to do some very simple research on his computer and he'd have learned something about the Vietnam War era. People change their minds on issues all the time and when it is sincere, it should be praised. In the case of Vietnam, only 2 Senators voted against the Tonkin Gulf resolution and such leading doves as George McGovern and Teddy Kennedy were not among them.They changed their minds and meant it.
Anyway, David, I usually like your stuff but even a mere blogger such as myself does a bit of fact checking from time-to-time. The intewebs makes it easy: it's called a search engine. Use it next time.
I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to U.S. dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.
And yet imagine if you had spoken out, as you are now so bravely doing in an attempt to keep food on your table. Imagine if you had said you know, this guy is kind of an assclown, and we're rushing into war on the basis of his say-so, and who the fuck knows if it's going to work. Imagine that.
I mean, we probably would have gone to war anyway. And you'd have been scorned, of course, and treated like a filthy hippie. AS WAS EVERYBODY ELSE WHO WAS FUCKING RIGHT. You might have been kicked out of the best restaurants and all the good parties. You might have missed some meals. Might have been forced to take a temp job in some congressional district office somewhere.
And now you wouldn't be forced to go around talking about how you knew all along that this was a terrible idea, as if this makes it better that you didn't speak up.
The Iraq counterinsurgency strategy implemented in 2007, two years after Wolfowitz had left the Pentagon, was “impressively successful in a relatively short space of time”, even though the situation “had spiralled out of control and we’d had sectarian war”.
Is there anything these guys are saying that lacks the subtext of PLEASE DON'T STOP GIVING ME WORK? I mean, by all rights, they should be shunned, turned away from in the streets, refused entry to decent homes and not spoken of in polite society. By all rights they should be in chains. Instead they're on this perpetual rehabilitation tour, angling to be hired back in the next Republican administration, hawking their books and behaving like all this stuff just happened with no input from them.
The situation "spiralled out of control." All on its own. And it certainly wasn't Paul Wolfowitz's fault:
Long thought of as one of the chief architects of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, Wolfowitz quibbled with the distinction, asserting that the war "wasn’t conducted according to my plan."
Wolfowitz: Let's be clear. You said it was my word. Look, I think it's not productive to spend a lot of time arguing about what several hundred thousand means. I've said very clearly it was hard to imagine that we would have a number which I thought of as twice what we were planning for winning the war. The difference between 200,000 and 150,000 obviously is not wildly different, but the important point is, our troops, our commanders, will get what they need. They've been asked repeatedly, do you need more? They say, right now at least, we don't want more. What we want more of and what we're working to get it is, foreign troops. I've visited a Polish brigade that's going to take over a whole province of Iraq. An Italian brigade is going to take over another whole province.
Everything was just fine, when everything was just fine. Now that it's universally acknowledged to have been a colossal clusterfuck, it was always going to be that way and nobody listened to you about the right way to do it. Yet I am wracking my brain for the memory of the op-ed piece or blistering speech Paul Wolfowitz gave warning of dire consequences if we didn't listen to his plan instead of the president's.
These people all act like there was nothing they could do. Nothing they could do to stop the war. And maybe they couldn't have stopped it, but they could have done plenty. They chose not to.
(Here's my thought on that in a nutshell: Violent movies and videogames do not make people violent. Violent people are attracted to violent media. Of course, so are many of the rest of us, just for different reasons. I ended up watching The Matrix about 46,000 times--at one point on a three-day loop--for the book, and I shot nobody. If you want to talk about warning signs, don't look at the kid's taste in movies or his literary output--look at those two things in the context of his real-life behavior, which was already disturbing his teachers and classmates. Stephen King? A folksy, personable guy in real life. Quentin Tarantino? Full of energy and enthusiasm. Consequently, no one expects them to go on shooting rampages. The bitter, stalkative kid who won't even speak when spoken to, who also writes about bloody murder sprees? For God's sake, keep an eye on him.)
I would never say we don't need to have a less nihilistic, brutal, violent culture. But we can start working on that by refraining from blowing up so many fucking kids in the world and starving them of food and care here at home. Once we are done with that I will listen to you about shooting hookers in GTA or whatever the hell we think is the problem right now. Once we are done making sure everyone can EAT, we can get on to what disaffected suburban brats are reading these days.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with....at what age did your child....were there any problems with...has your child ever experienced...does your child have....”
At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.
No individual insurance plan, and until the laughably toothless health care reform passed last year which has been called a staggering overreach of government power, few insurance plans AT ALL. The kinds of intensive therapies children need, even with Cadillac insurance, can bankrupt middle class families. Can bankrupt relatively wealthy families. Can, even if there is money to pay for them and doctors to provide them, can quite simply drag a family under with the grinding, every day process of staying level enough with the horizon to buy groceries and go to school.
It is one of the grand ironies of what little mental health assistance exists that when you need it most, that is when you are usually so far beyond the beyond that accessing it seems like going to the moon.
But getting back to Cleolinda's wise words up there, what we're not doing very well right now is creating a nonviolent world for any of us. (I almost wrote "our kids," as if adults have no need of peace and decency.) That violence is not, primarily, on screens or in "the media" or anywhere imaginary, but imaginary violence is all we can seem to bring ourselves to talk about when things like this happen.
It's all we can bring ourselves to try to address, because real violence, real agents of violence, are political, and controversial, and emotional and upsetting and they're going to make dinner conversation awkward and difficult. Everybody agrees that shooting fictional aliens is probably not the most productive use of anyone's time. Almost nobody agrees on the correct number of children that have to be killed in drone strikes so as to properly elevate our national dick, or how much money we spend turning schools into prisons instead of the other way fucking round.
It's like there's a list somewhere, of Things We Can Address, and it's all stuff like why so many kids have ADHD, and how parents aren't hugging their children enough, and where precisely in the schoolyard we should stick the plaque proclaiming GOD IS LOVE because that'll fix everything. It's how many teachers need to be armed, and how many cops need to be at every entrance, and the opinion that perhaps we need fewer cops in schools and OH SHIT RIGHT FEWER HOLES IN THE SCHOOLS' ROOFS WHILE WE'RE AT IT never quite makes it through the World of Warcraft soundtrack blaring on every goddamned Sunday show.
(See, already there you go, asking why I have to put it just that way. Can't I use nicer language?)
We have limited ourselves to addressing matters that don't need addressing, so as to drown out the screaming of the things that do.
“Colin Powell, interestingly enough, said that Obama got us out of Iraq,” McCain told the National Review. “But it was Colin Powell, with his testimony before the U.N. Security Council, that got us into Iraq.”
Um, um, Senator, who was one of the leading cheerleaders for invading Iraq? Look in the mirror, dude.
I was strongly opposed to the war BUT a lot of otherwise decent people-Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden to name a few-went nutty after 9/11 and publicly backed the war whatever their private misgivings. Powell along with his British counterpart Jack Straw opposed the war in internal debates but neither resigned in protest, which in Powell's case could have torpedoed the the whole disastrous enterprise. Unfortunately, other than Cryus Vance quitting after the botched hostage rescue in 1980, we don't have a tradition of principled resignations over policy. Powell is also a soldier and when he lost the debate to the Vulcans, he saluted the flag and supported his Commander-in-Chief. I believe he was wrong to do that, and wish he hadn't BUT at least I understand why.
On the other hand, John McCain enthusiastically beat the drums for war and now it's all Powell's fault? Fuck you, Senator and your little racist running dog Sununu too.
Conrad comes slithering out of his hole to opine that this Rupert Murdoch chap is a bit of a douche:
When the extent of his skullduggery finally oozed out, sluggish and filthy, including the details of the British government's dotage on him, this summer, Murdoch's old possum routine didn't play as convincingly as it had in its many previous auditions, when he purported to be contrite over the shortcomings of errant employees. Bumbling into a parliamentary hearing in London, supported on each arm like a centenarian semi-cadaver, mumbling about humility, trying to represent News Corporation's board as independent when it is public corporate America's most docile board of directors and is composed entirely of hacks, retainers, and ex-employees; scrambling and whimpering and paying millions to victims of his outrages; putting his name on a Journal op-ed piece about education; it's all of a piece and none of it resonates anymore. In bygone days, he somehow carried off sprawling in a black costume on a bed in a glossy magazine and ruminating about being an "ambassador to Joe Six Pack," a champion of the little guy, and a spiritual person contemplating the consolations of Catholicism. At its most imaginative, it was a passably imaginative imposture.
My admiration for his boldness and acumen and our previous 25 years of more than civil relations make it unpleasant, despite his unspeakable assault on me, to have to conclude that he is, in my personal belief, a psychopath.
(BTW, I would yell about HuffPo giving a platform to one of the greatest assholes of our time, but the Sun-Times just gave Jenny McCarthy a column, and I think the argument that media needs more self-respect is over. Self-respect did not win, BTW.)
This piece is like a football game between Nazis and child molesters, where you're primarily rooting for violent injuries. I think my favorite part is when ex-con Conrad basically admits that it was all fine and dandy for Rupert to rape and pillage so long as he did it with his pinky finger properly crooked:
As I have often written before, he is probably the greatest media-owner in history, and his achievements in becoming the tabloid leader in London, in cracking the egregious Luddite print unions there, in breaking the triopoly of American television networks, promoting vertical integration with television outlets and film production, and his pioneering breakthroughs in satellite television worldwide, are Napoleonic in boldness of concept and skill of execution. And no one has been more vocal or consistent than I in saluting them.
I competed with Murdoch, successful and quite cordially, in Britain for 15 years when we had theTelegraph newspapers, and for a time in Australia. Our relations and those of our wives were always quite convivial.
Sure, he broke unions and slashed prices and generally acted like all the world was fuel for his personal bonfire. Sure, the wars Murdoch and his allies championed are still sending boys and girls home in boxes, years after it became clear that those wars would never be won, because his influence was such that it is treason to speak of the drawbacks to blowing up the entirety of the Middle East.
Sure, he poured poison in all our wells, and sure, he dug his claws into all of our backs, and sure, we are meaner and smaller and poorer and sicker than we have ever been in no small part because of the work he did, but he's from such a lovely family, and he's so well-spoken, too.
But when he said mean things about me, when he made fun of me, when he pointed out that I was filthy, then I was offended. and then I was outraged, and then I was compelled to call him a monster. Because that was a bridge too far.
As part of my job, I talked to a young man today who had recently been fired. He is 26 years old. We sent him to Iraq when he was 19 years old. Yes, "we." You and I. Everyone who lives in the United States of America sent him there. And he got broken. Ruined. He has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury that you and I are responsible for. He did not incur those injuries defending our freedoms, or securing weapons of mass destruction, or "fighting them there so we won't have to fight them here," or any of the other reasons we were told that we had to send young men and women to Iraq.
We sent him to go get ruined for the biggest bunch of bullshit I've ever seen in my entire life.
And ruined is exactly what he is. He got fired from a job for some chickenshit reason. That was the longest employment he'd had since returning to the States in 2006. He'd worked there 17 months. He can't remember things on a day-to-day basis. He has problems dealing with what most of us would think are simple situations. He gets very nervous when he hears sudden, loud noises. And his wife has to help him with what you and I would think are simple tasks.
We did this to him. We ruined him. We destroyed his life and the lives of those who care for him and deal with his disabilities on a daily basis.
That's on us. We simply cannot put him back together again, because what was broken is no longer something that can be reassembled. And we did that. We let people send him, and thousands of men and women like him, to a pointless war. We did that because people thought that we needed to look strong, or that there wasn't any appreciable difference between electoral choices, or that we just needed to teach Those People In That Part Of The World a lesson.
But we ruined that man. And his wife. And his parents. And his siblings, cousins, in-laws, and everyone else who has been personally touched by this fucking ridiculously unnecessary problem. Us. We did that. I'm not saying that he's a hero, or a "wounded warrior," or any other stupid platitude we use to refer to the people we ship off to fight our stupid wars.
What I am saying is that if we, as a people, hadn't decided that there wasn't a difference between Bush and Gore, or that we needed to "send a message to the Arab street" after 9/11, or that Saddam Hussein (a secular dictator who imprisoned and killed people we would refer to as "Islamic extremists") was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden (an Islamic fundamentalist who thought Saddam Hussein was an affront to Islam), then this man wouldn't be in the situation he is today. He probably wouldn't be reviewing his investment portfolio, and he might be looking at four years upstate for a stupid felony, but that doesn't matter--we didn't give him those choices, because we took those options from him.
Yes, that's right. We created a society where this bullshit outcome was not only possible for some people, but likely. And that makes me sick. I drove to work today, and I had to stop on the way home, open the door, and puke on the road. Because this shit makes me sick.
I'm sick to fucking death of dealing with the people that we have broken, or given up on, or just never even acknowledged existed in the first fucking place. Not because that work isn't important, but because it never ends. Because we refuse to acknowledge that we are all in this together, and to see that, as the boss so eloquently says, your fate is our fate. That's what makes me despair. And to see that we have a large percentage of the population that has decided that these people--the people who live nearby, that serve you food, or drive you places, or clean your hotel rooms, or pick your orders, or do any of a thousand other tasks that are necessary to the functioning of a society--not that they don't matter, but that they are somehow taking shit that is yours that doesn't belong to them--that just makes me want to go to the liquor store, buy all the whiskey that I can afford, and go outside and drink until I'm dead.
Maybe I'm just a little too drunk to make sense tonight, but that's what I've got to say. Be well, everyone, and take care of your fellow people. That's all you can do that matters worth half a shit in this world.
Ask Osama bin Laden is he is better off now than he was four years ago.
You know it isn’t -- it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.
He -- he was against -- he was against setting a date for withdrawal. Then he said it was right. And then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was tragic to leave Iraq. And then he said it was fine. He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions. Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it, before you were against it.
(APPLAUSE) Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney, here’s a little advice; before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you’d better finish the debate with yourself.
Now -- President Mitt Romney -- President Mitt Romney, three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer. For Mitt Romney an overseas trip was what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas.
You know, it wasn’t -- it wasn’t a goodwill mission. It was a blooper reel.
Folks, Sara Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt -- Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.
At which point the watching party I was at lost its goddamn collective mind.
People are always surprised whenever I tell them my one true political love is John Kerry. I mean, John Kerry? He's boring. He lost. And conventional wisdom is that he lost because he was boring and elite and lacked backbone and what have you, he windsurfed and shit. He's French.
Well, call me a Frog because hot damn, last night he walked out onto the stage and told Mitt Romney his other ride was Mitt's mom and next time if Romney doesn't shape up he might not use the saddle.
And immediately the commentary was WHERE WAS THIS GUY FOUR YEARS AGO, because certainly our noble political punditry couldn't possibly have fallen all over itself to make Kerry unsuitable despite the hockey-playing, liberal-lion-2, war-hero story he had to offer them. Surely they couldn't have missed something.
(And before anybody starts in with me about Edwards, ask yourself if the worst thing he has ever done is still nicer than the nicest thing Dick Cheney has ever done. As long as he wasn't Vice President of Being Responsible With One's Penis, he probably could have muddled through.)
In fact, watching Kerry actually made me remember my biggest disappointment with Obama, his truly dismal record on civil liberties. That was what Kerry ran on in 2004, and the biggest wrong he would have righted if we could have pulled our heads out of our asses and elected him. It was why, all kidding about OMG WHATTA BABE aside, I fell in love with him: He went to war and came home and at the age of 27 walked into the halls of Congress and said stop this, stop this now before it gets any worse.
We all should have listened then, and again in 2004. Maybe we'll listen now.
The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert from their last base through the night and daybreak along an empty highway to the Kuwaiti border.
Honking their horns, the last batch of around 25 American military trucks and tractor trailers carrying Bradley fighting vehicles crossed the border early Sunday morning, their crews waving at fellow troops along the route.
"I just can't wait to call my wife and kids and let them know I am safe," Sgt. First Class Rodolfo Ruiz said as the border came into sight. Soon afterwards, he told his men the mission was over, "Hey guys, you made it."
Nine years. Billions and billions of dollars. Thousands killed and wounded. And lots of columnists who were happy as hell to cheer on a war they or their children would have no part in fighting, just because to do otherwise would make them liberal, or possibly French.
In the coming years we're going to hear lots of very smart people on our televisions tell us very gravely that it all seemed like a good idea at the time, or that if it didn't, we were all as a country understandably traumatized by 9/11 and needed to blow some shit up, or were especially susceptible to lies by those who wanted to blow some shit up.
Never forget that not everybody lost their minds. Never forget that some people stood up. Never forget that some people fought back.
I guess we can all forget it now. I guess it's all okay.
Until the next time.
A thank you to the 457 people who e-mailed this to me. My blood pressure is always so nice and low before I check my inbox.
Rumsfeld is the latest to join a circular firing squad of former Bush administration officials continuing their bureaucratic disputes in published form ---- what former Bush Pentagon official Doug Feith dubbed the "I-was-surrounded-by-idiots school of memoir writing."
In his own book, Feith blamed Colin Powell and the CIA.
Former CIA chief George Tenet wrote a memoir blaming Vice President Dick Cheney and Rice.
Bremer's memoir blames Rumsfeld. Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book blamed Karl Rove. Rove's memoir blamed McClellan.
Bush revealed that he considered replacing Cheney.
Rumsfeld, for his part, fingers Bremer as "reluctant to cede any significant authority" to the Iraqis.
But hey, as long as everybody's responsible, we have no choice but to move forward and look toward winning the future and not account for anything!
Millions across the globe on Thursday paid their respects to those who sacrificed their lives during the First World War.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and several senior government and military officials gathered to remember the fallen.
More than 1.3 million French troops died during the conflict, the largest losses for an individual country with the Allied forces.
And we lost our fucking minds when they refused to sign on to our Great Iraqi Adventure, because they clearly were insufficiently brave.
Joke Line apologizes for being a mealy-mouthed prick, but hey, he didn't really mean it, anyway:
It is appropriate that Obama's speech to the DAV will not be remembered as vividly as George W. Bush's puerile march across the deck of an aircraft carrier, costumed as a combat aviator against a golden sunset, to announce — seven years and tens of thousands of lives prematurely — the "end of combat operations." Obama's announcement was no celebration. It was a somber acknowledgment that amends will be made to those whose lives were shattered and that their courageous service in an unnecessary cause will be honored. A national discussion about America's place in the world, and the military's excessive place in our foreign policy, would also be appropriate in the wake of this disaster, but I'm not holding my breath.
As for myself, I deeply regret that once, on television in the days before the war, I foolishly — spontaneously — said that going ahead with the invasion might be the right thing to do. I was far more skeptical in print. I never wrote in favor of the war and repeatedly raised the problems that would accompany it, but mere skepticism was an insufficient reaction too. The issue then was as clear as it is now. It demanded a clarity that I failed to summon. The essential principle is immutable: we should never go to war unless we have been attacked or are under direct, immediate threat of attack. Never. And never again.
Well, Joke, it didn't really demand clarity. It demanded that you sit at the table with the pot-smoking hippies and listen to them play their digeridoos or whatever and smell their patchouli while the cool kids were over at the other table fucking Dean Wormer's wife and giving everybody wedgies. That's all this was about and that's all this will ever be about so long as our national pundit class is composed entirely of fucking sheltered children who have no idea how anything functions outside their gated mental communities.
If the war had been a glorious success? If in the wake of our freedom bombs people had decided they loved us more than they loved their dead children and built statues of George W. Bush in every public square and Iraq made Orange County look like a ghetto? Then Joke would be apologizing for being insufficiently supportive, having only once weakly approved of going to war, and being even more skeptical in print about what in retrospect was so perfectly obvious. Then he'd be talking about the moral clarity demanded of us in order to kick those hippies right in the face, because this isn't for one second about being right or wrong.
This is Joke apologizing for having been, marginally, kind of, sort of, spontaneously, and only on TV, on the losing side.
Via Balloon Juice's comments.
A senior Iraqi spy has accused the prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, of handing out thousands of guns to tribal leaders in a bid to win votes. The claim was made by Iraqi National Intelligence Service former spokesman, Saad al-Alusi, a week before Iraq's general election, in which allegations of vote buying and exorbitant handouts have become widespread.
Maliki, who faces a bitterly contested final week of campaigning ahead of the7 March poll, has been photographed handing out guns to supporters in southern Iraq, engraved with a personal message from his office. However he denies that the delivery of weapons, along with cash payments, were improper.
Alusi, who was the INIS spokesman until he was asked to move to another ministry eight days ago, said some 8,000 guns were ordered from a Serbian supplier at the end of 2008 for use by intelligence officers. However he claimed Maliki "denied our contract at the last minute and made his own contract of 10,000 pistols, which he has used as election propaganda for himself and his party.
Well, isn't that special? I wonder if some of our wingers will follow al-Maliki's example since they're so enamored of Iraqi "democracy." This could inspire Rick Perry to do likewise in Texas or perhaps it's a way for the faltering candidacy of Kay Bailey Hutchison to get, uh, fired up. After all, vote buying has a long and glorious history in Texas.
The Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War had its star witness last week, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Artful Dodger was nervous but polished. He was also unrepentant despite all the blood that has flowed from his being W's poodle and obeying his master's call to war.
Even if Blair's testimony was unsatisfying and the questioning not tough enough, the U.K. is to be praised for holding public hearings into the fiasco and calling the decision makers to the witness stand. We'd all like to see Bush, Cheney, Rummy and the lot testify under oath or should I say lie?
Here's how ITV News covered Blair's testimony. They also spent some time talking to the protesters; many of whom lost relatives in Iraq:
It's been ignored by the American MSM but there's a serious investigation going on about British entry into the Iraq War. Tony Blair is, quite rightly, taking it in his dimpled chin. The latest shoe to drop involves the contents of a private letter to the Prime Minister from his Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw:
Jack Straw privately warned Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq was legally dubious, questioned what such action would achieve, and challenged US claims about the threat from Saddam Hussein, it was revealed today .
Straw, foreign secretary at the time, gave what now seems prophetic advice in a letter marked "secret and personal", 10 days before Blair met George Bush at the US president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. That was nearly a year before the invasion.
In his letter, about which he is expected to be questioned when he testifies at the Chilcot inquiry this week, Straw warned Blair, then prime minister: "The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few … there is at present no majority inside the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] for any military action against Iraq."
Straw warned of two legal "elephant traps". He said, "regime change per se is no justification for military action", and "the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh [UN] mandate may well be required."
If only Mr. Straw had followed the example of his predecessor, Robin Cook, and resigned from the Cabinet in protest instead of enabling Bush and Blair's mad dash to war. (Cook resigned as leader of the House of Commons in opposition to the war.)
Straw's assessment of the situation was spot on but his judgment about staying in office was errant. British pols resign from the government all the time over policy disputes and/or matters of principle. If only some of our pols would do likewise. Paging Colin Powell...
Two 19-year-olds are the first couple to be married in a civil ceremony in Cook County in 2010.
Janette Diaz of Schererville, Ind., and Jeremy Rodriguez of Chicago said their vows at 9:30 a.m. with County Clerk David Orr presiding. Rodriguez, a U.S. Marine who has already served one tour of duty in Iraq and will be doing a tour in Afghanistan in 2011, leaves Monday for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The couple arrived for their marriage at 6 a.m., well before the office opened at 9 a.m.
According to a military official, detainees at a Wisconsin National Guard camp in Iraq are using Brett Favre as a manner of getting at the guard troops there.
"They know Favre by name," said First Lieutenant Tim Boehnen, who is from New Richmond, Wis.
"One of the big words they know now is shenanigan. They'll constantly talk about 'Favre shenanigans,' 'He's so good for the Vikings,' and 'The Packers have got to really feel bad about that one.' "
According to Boehnen, it started when troops there started decorating their camp in Packers colors.
"We try to allow our troops to have as much fun in the compound as they can while still maintaining our professional manner," explained Boehnen.
"We spend a lot of time painting and making our compound our own and representing us. Obviously, wherever Wisconsinites go, we bring the Packers with us."
Once the decoration job happened, detainees became curious.
"They obviously then started up the conversations, and started talking about Brett Favre. They soon learned about Favre going to the Vikings, and things just started going downhill from there."
Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.
Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
I may have, on occasion, professed that I rather like Rachel Maddow, and I've more than once posted here about her. This one, though, isn't just fangirl squee, trust me.
Maddow knocked it out of the park last night with this Tom Ridge interview. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth your attention. The clip below is one of three, the other two are on her show site. She devoted over half the program to the conversation with Ridge, starting with the topic of whether politics influenced DHS terror alerts, whether Ridge has backtracked on statements to that effect made in his new book, then moving on to Iraq intelligence and the failured FEMA response to Katrina.
It's a remarkable bit of broadcasting, not just for what Ridge says or doesn't say, and not just for Maddow's tenacious questioning. What really struck me as I watched it was that something real was happening here, something we don't see very often. By "real" I obviously don't mean Ridge is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Rather that, as the interview unfolds, there's a palpable sense that we, along with Ridge, really don't know where it's going to end.
Heckuva job, Bushie.
BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces bolstered checkpoints and banned motorcycles from the streets of Baghdad as they prepared Sunday for more violence before this week's withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from the capital and other cities and towns.
Despite the increased checks, a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy in eastern Baghdad wounded six bystanders. It was unclear if anyone in the convoy was injured, police said.
A car bomb also exploded in the parking lot of a police academy in western Baghdad, killing one police officer and wounding six others, police said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Iraq's main Sunni political bloc joined Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in describing the June 30 deadline for the U.S. withdrawal from urban areas as a turning point for the country.
Al-Maliki's government has declared Tuesday National Sovereignty Day and decreed a public holiday.
You mean the kind of reconstruction missions you and your pals Wolfowitz and Perle opposed while you were trying to hand the country over to Ahmed Chalabi?
Like those Blackwater/KBR/Halliburton fellows!
BWAHAHAHAHA. Yes, because the Pentagon planners did such a bang-up job providing for the reconstruction of Iraq after we blowed it all up. Let's get those guys on the case.
President Obama highlighted U.S. accomplishments in Iraq: doing away with Saddam Hussein's regime, helping establish a sovereign government, dealing al-Qaeda in Iraq "a serious blow," and lifting Iraq out of "tyranny and terror." His plan for ending the war is designed to preserve the value of these accomplishments. Rightly, his emphasis is on securing U.S. success, not cutting losses.
His speech effectively repudiated the extreme antiwar rhetoric of recent years. There was no mention of Iraq as a disaster, a fraud or even a blunder. He presumably still thinks the war should not have been fought, but Obama chose not to make this point, accentuating the positive instead.
In setting aside the 16-month exit timetable that he had promised while running for the White House, and on other issues, Obama unapologetically demonstrates that, while campaigners can be simplistic and rigid, responsible officials grapple with complexities and require flexibility. So we should expect that, if necessary at the time, he will extend his new 18-month timetable for ending the U.S. combat mission. He has built substantial flexibility into his new plan: First, he intends to keep a U.S. force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops in Iraq beyond August 2010. And second, he says that U.S. forces will continue to conduct "targeted counter-terrorism missions" even after our "combat mission" ends.
This Iraq speech was cautious. It neither represents nor promises ultimate victory in Iraq. But it does flatly contradict those war critics who damned the U.S. effort as an irredeemable failure. It represents the defeat of the defeatists.
Wow. I think Dougie might have a little crush here on Obama As Excuse For Me To Once Again Blame Hippies For My War Sucking.
And you know, really, I don't think anybody expects of the president of the United States the same phraseology used on the campaign trail. I don't think that was the point. I think Obama's a little past the "How about this shitty war, Cleveland, huh?" stage of his career. I think by virtue of the giant mandate given Obama he's pretty much absolved himself of the need to prove that the war needs to end. There's nothing more to be gained here. It's over. Should we ever again be in the position to get argued into a war by a bunch of stupid bullies, then it's time to pull out the flamethrower again, but for now, in Iraq? Continuing to whale on Doug and the people who fucked this all up is, for the president, inelegant.
For you and I, of course, it's Tuesday. So I note that Doug's employed:
Doug's in some heady company over there. Robert Bork, Meyrav Wurmser, Norman Podhoretz ... The whole wingnut welfare band got back together! You can tell it's a quality place, too, by the way people's bios cite their numerous appearances on Fox News and especially the O'Reilly Factor.
It's like the Next Republican Administration Waiting Room. I gotta get me a fellowship.
You solipsistic asshole. "Bounce back?" Sure, we'd just sort of blowed up their home and killed their leader and told them to loot all they wanted because freedom was untidy, and by the way fuck your libraries, we have oil fields to protect, you can always buy the priceless antiquities of Babylon back on Ebay, you stupid bitches. Sure, we'd just done all that in pursuit of weapons they didn't have and terrorists they didn't harbor, but why on earth would they not want to step right up and work with us? Honestly, I can't figure it out.
This has been a wingnut article of faith for some time, that everything would have been fine if the Iraqis had been properly grateful for the freedom killing we did of them, instead of acting like children throwing an IED tantrum, and you expect this sort of shit from Little Green Fucktards and the Freepi, but you don't expect it out of the mouth of the vice president of the United States. Or maybe you do, which is why in six days he's going to be unemployed.
It's a little too easy and cheap to ask what precisely Gaffney has lost because of this war, not only because I don't believe you have to have friends in a war to give a fuck about whether that war was a mistake, but also because I don't think there's any personal stake that could convince me Gaffney is uttering some kind of profound truth here.
It's a little too easy and cheap to make qualifications for holding an opinion, like you have to be a woman to take a position on reproductive rights or be black to give a shit about racism or be gay to think marriage shouldn't be a way to bludgeon your morality into everybody's world. You don't have to have someone you love in harm's way to say what Gaffney said, so I don't want to go that route; you just have to be a complete and total jackass and that tendency crosses all manner of life circumstances and for the most part political spectra. HAD TO? Really? It's the blithe nature of the statement that chills and sickens me. Had To.
Had to, why? Because, as Chris Matthews so aptly points out (ack, wash off the cooties I got from writing that), Frank Gaffney needed to feel better. Frank Gaffney and all his warblogger friends and all the people who waved their red white and blue pom-poms around and baked an American flag cake and knitted the troops a scarf, they need to feel better about what they were doing. They need to feel good about it now, especially now, as the darkness is starting to settle in and Bush is on his way out and Marley's Ghost comes clanking up the stairs after them. No bit of undigested potato this, the karmic bitchslap's coming and you can hear it in the hopeless desperation in his words: Had To.
Here's the thing, about being sure you're saving the world. What you want is to be right, partly because you think that's the easy way out but mostly because your nightmare is basically what Gaffney's facing: In over his head, in over the heads of two countries, you can't let go of the line tethering you to your idea because your idea's all you've got left and if that's wrong, who are you then? Why did you do what you did, if it wasn't a question of had to? If you had a choice, if you frame everything you do in your entire life as a choice, and take away all the "had to" in your head, would you do anything differently? And if the answer to that question is yes, then you start wondering what on earth you're doing, and feeling bad about how much you lied to yourself and everyone around you, and recognizing that you have been a tremendous douchebag making excuses for yourself. Excuses like Had To.
For Frank Gaffney and a lot of other members of the We Love Fucking Freedom So Have Some Shoved Up Your Ass And Like It Corps, that kind of self-awareness isn't really an option. So they just repeat the excuses louder, until even Chris Matthews, who is the king of going along with whatever the popular storyline is at the moment and making up justifications later, looks at you and says, "I'm going to send you three ghosts, motherfucker, be ready."
Several hundred thousand.
It staggered the senators who were listening. After all, they were being told by the president and his deputies that the war with Iraq would be quick and easy, requiring a relatively small force. A cakewalk, the president's conservative pundit allies were saying. Easy-peasy. Now here was this guy, talking about how hard it would be.
"And so it takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this," Shinseki told the Senate.
For his honesty and sound judgment, the lifelong army officer, the first American of Asian ancestry to become a four-star general, was attacked, marginalized and finally driven into retirement, the subject of mockery during the early days of the war. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Shinseki's numbers were "wildly off the mark." The chairman of the Joint Chiefs called Shinseki's statement a "guestimate."
Four years later, with Iraq in flames, President Bush was finally forced to listen to the man he had his small-minded surrogates deride. In calling for what is now known as the "troop surge" to pacify the country, Bush said, "Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have."
To which anybody paying attention when Shinseki spoke was shaking his head saying, "No kidding, pal."
There's just under one month left before the election.
And I don't know about you, but I'm fucking sick of looking at this. For five-and-a-half years I've been checking that page. Almost 4,200 of our brothers and sisters have had their lives abbreviated by this clusterfuck of a war. It has to end. I know the economy's in the shitter, and McCain is a crazy old coot, and gas costs four bucks a gallon. But let's not forget about this stupid fucking unnecessary war. Hell's not hot enough for the fucks who are responsible for it. This war is a theft, and what's being stolen is not only treasure--it's human lives, too. Hundreds of thousands of them, and surely more to follow.
Those are the stakes.
Also, can I just say? Well done, Democrats. Well done, Obama campaign. Well done, bloggers everywhere. THIS is what I'm talking about when I say you don't skate backwards. More shitstorms like this one, please, from now until November.
Once, years ago, on a sunny afternoon, I almost died.
It was a boating accident, three teenagers miles offshore in a 16-foot Kestrel, a speedy British-built centerboard racing boat. It was an exhilaratingly windy day. The tall redheaded boy at the tiller was an experienced sailor, he knew how to make his boat fly. The other girl was my best friend, a star athlete. Our feet tucked under the hiking strap, we were giddy with the speed, straining to lean back and out as far as we could over the wet chop, getting sprayed with each bounce, laughing our salty asses off. Then the hiking strap snapped.
We flew like watch springs in three separate directions, backwards. Tumbling over and down, then underwater forever. Then up, gasping for air, separated from each other and unable to see over the whitecaps for more than a second at a time. It turned out that the Amazon athlete had lied to everyone for years about knowing how to swim. We were 16, of course we hadn't worn the life jackets.
We all made it. The redhead kid managed somehow to keep the jock from drowning them both in her hysteria, I still don't understand how I was able to swim back to the half-sunken boat, dive underneath the limp sail and through the mess of floating ropes, find the life vests, then swim back against the current to the others. We had to float the six or seven miles back in, it was close to midnight by the time we made it, falling and stumbling ashore, our legs like jelly from being in the water so long. Ironically, all our parents were completely oblivious, each thinking their kid was at one of the other's houses. By the time they found out, we were safe home, loopy and tired, full of teenage bravado.
But in that first slow-motion half hour, out there fighting those waves, nothing had been certain.
And here's the thing. It doesn't matter what you're doing, where you are, flailing and drowning on the open sea, or asleep on your couch. It doesn't matter how old, young, smart, dumb, poor or rich you are, on skid row or behind a huge desk in the corner office. Nothing ever is certain, ever. Merrily fucking merrily, life, and safety, is but a fake out, a total illusion. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He doesn't know how to get back to Kansas either, no matter what he says.
'Regard all dharmas as dreams'.
That also applies to politics and presidential elections. What, you disagree? Don't argue with me, argue with an esteemed poet. In 2007, Adrienne Rich was honored by the organization Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), a New York non-profit that singles out deserving activists working for social justice to receive their annual Risk-Taker Awards:
This campaign? This election? It's today. It's tomorrow. Wherever the edge of your envelope is, it's time to push it. It's time to be a risk taker. No matter what they tell us otherwise, no matter how they try to scare the crap out of us, or lull us into trusting their version of reality, it's time, our time. We have a choice every day to stay scared when they get the best of us, or to keep breathing through it, trusting ourselves in the midst of the uncertainty. Because it's all uncertainty.
That's the other other thing. You already know this, all of you, but the conventions, then the election, and then... we have to keep it up. Even when/if our guy wins, we have to keep it up. We're going to have to fight him, and we are going to have to fight the other guys, and they will never give up. Every cabinet appointment, every agency head, every judge, every anybody, every bill, every vote, every anything. None of it is certain.
"Thank you demons, for coming today. Come again tomorrow then. And from time to time, we will converse."
Rich lays it out for us, the true risks of silence, what it costs to speak, and why we have to pay that cost, have to make that choice to remain fully conscious of the nature of realities both internal and external.
The second poem is one of Rich's own, and by all means, go watch her read it, in the original video here.
For more information on the work of JFREJ, visit their website
He seems to think the Iraqis are sad and mad because we liberated them instead of letting them liberate themselves. It's nice that Tommy Friedman likes this happy rhetoric of liberation, though it's a bit different from the days when he was saying we invaded Iraq so our soldiers could go door to door telling Iraqis to Suck. On. This. I don't know how much our soldiers actually did this, but in any case Little Tommy Friedman can't get himself to understand that maybe Iraqis are sad and mad because we invaded and occupied their country and then hundreds of thousands of people died.
But more than that, we may remember that many Iraqis did, in fact, fight for it. They didn't fight for it in the way Tommy Friedman imagines they should have, which I think involves having a staring contest or something. They fought for it by killing a lot of people and blowing a lot of things up.
I know it's a DFH thing to say, that people who do bad things should at least be understood, if only because you can't fight something you don't get, but come the fuck on. It's not like this is a way of behavior we've never seen before. For Friedman to pretend that this wasn't visible coming about twenty miles down the pike is unconscionably dense, even for a splendid specimen of garden implement like him.
I am really coming to dislike this right-wing meme that Iraqis simply aren't grateful enough for the glorious freedom we gave them. It's been clear since at least 2005 that that was going to be the way we got out of this war and pretended not to be the asshole: blame the people whose country we blew up for not wanting to rebuild it themselves with duct tape and baling wire in their infinite spare time, you know, the vast hours they have to spend twiddling their thumbs, in between trying to find clean water and dodging mortar fire. That's how we're going to excuse what we did, by blaming them for not liking it. "Eh, we tried, but you ungrateful bitches threw it back in our faces and then blew some stuff up like animals. Fuck you. You don't DESERVE the glory of our incoming grenades!"
Moreover, I am getting incoherent about the condescending, patronizing tone of Friedman and his "expert" columnist ilk. It's just beyond the fucking pale to look at suicide bombings and political violence as somehow "other," as something so alien we couldn't possibly, no, we would never. Christian Bale takes his shirt off a lot in Batman Begins (bear with me, here) so I watch it pretty much every time it's on whatever random cable channel is providing background just for the push-up scene, but in talking about how to wreck civilizations: "In Gotham we tried a new kind of weapon: Economics." Sad that I should have to go to a movie about a fucking comic book character for a point that should be made by the likes of our newspaper columnists. Like, say, Tom Friedman. Who is busy pointing out how much better than this we are. We fought for our freedom. We don't do suicide bombings. We don't do political violence. We're different.
Here's a clue for the golf outing set: Just because our people die of poverty and preventable disease (mostly) quietly and out of sight of elite columnists like Friedman doesn't make us a place free of political violence. Poverty is political violence. Substandard health care is political violence. And yes, drive-by shootings and systemic neglect of entire swaths of humanity referred to as "the ghetto" constitute political violence. Just because nobody's waving a flag when they die doesn't make our society any more reasonable or moral.
Walk a mile from Friedman's shiny office. Walk a mile from my house. Open your fucking eyes. We "fought" for this society, and it's full of violence, and most of it begot by the same things that cause violence anywhere. Take hundreds of desperate people, wall them off from their fellow men and women, and tell everybody to forget they exist. Let their sewer pipes rot. Shut off their heat. Ignore the holes in their streets. Skip their housing inspections, and when they call to complain, tell them there's nothing you can do. See how grateful they are for your benevolence then. See how different it looks from fucking Baghdad. We're all people. We're all the same. We do this to each other and then we dare act like we don't understand?
Friedman thinks he's standing on a pedestal here. It's a rickety stack of wooden boxes, half of them rotted, teetering this way and that, and he hears the roar of the storm coming to knock it all over and thinks it's applause. You mentally tone-deaf asshole, Tom. You ought to be ashamed.