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Barack Obama's Elitist Summer Abroad




more Colbert Report:
Jim Webb Interview

A Time to Fight is Jim Webb's latest book.


 

Comments

OMG! Somebody call calligraph! The Nation is imperiled by another Jim Webb - another Democrat! Webb referred to the US occupation (!!) of Iraq. Arrest him and throw him in jail!

OMG! Somebody call calligraph! The Nation is imperiled by another Jim Webb - another military-hating, treasonous Democrat! Webb referred to the US occupation (!!) of Iraq. Arrest him and throw him in jail!

OMG! Somebody call calligraph! The Nation is imperiled by former Secretary of the Navy, Vietnam War combat veteran Jim Webb - another military-hating, treasonous Democrat! Webb referred to the US occupation (!!) of Iraq. Arrest him and throw him in jail!

i'm always trying to figure this left/right thing out, tim. maybe you could help me. wouldn't calling it an occupation be a good talking point for right wingers? like "yeah, it's an occupation. we WON the war.".

signed, just don't get it.

Jonathan: Occupation implies imperialism, which alienates the libertarians in the republican party, and most independants too. Occupation also implies future soldier support of the country, which most americans disagree with at this point.

Jonathan,

As the link I included (after messing it up) indicates, our resident "classical conservative" thinks that even referring to the US role in Iraq as an occupation, because Iraqis who want us to leave do so, is "the definition of treason". No matter that a majority of Iraqis - Sunni, Shia, and Kurds - (a) think that the US intends to keep permanent bases in Iraq, and (b) approve of the government endorsing a timeline for US withdrawal.

I suppose there are those who exult in saying we" won the war" – personally, I was never in any doubt that the US military would prevail over the Saddam's military. My prediction was within a month - pretty much on schedule. A wealthy first-world nation of 300 million with the largest military budget in the world - by far - defeats a much poorer nation of 27 million that spends about 1% as much on its military ... not a terribly big surprise there! Then again, it isn't very surprising that most Iraqis think we're occupiers and about half think that killing our troops is justified.

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That segment was complete genius.

hmmm. thanks. so, if the bad guys for the right ("the iraquis who want us to leave") refer to it as "occupation", and the other bad guys for the right (the "enlightened left") refer to it as a war, what are the "wingnuts" supposed to call it? a buisiness proposition? a police action? the hand of justice? those are some pretty truthful choices, actually. well, maybe not that last one. as a determinist i don't believe in justice. :)jk

but "occupation" is fair enough. i can't see any reasonable person objecting to that one.

now somebody please write in and say "it doesn't matter what we call it! it's a human tragedy of major proportions and it must be stopped!" or something like that. geez, where were you in '91? anybody could have seen how it was going to go down. for those of you who haven't been briefed: iran is next. get used to it.

i'm starting to sound like jo ann. except i have hope. my hopes are pinned on the compressed air car. :(

btw, barak obama is about half a mile down the road from me right now, continuing his "elitist summer vacation". we staged ANOTHER bulldozer terror attack for him this afternoon. had ta mention it.

Tim - I think you flatter calligraph by calling him a classical conservative. I would call him a neocon. Maybe I've missed something, though.

Jonathan - Why are Iraqis who want us to leave bad guys?
I think the enlightened left started by calling it an invasion... Wingnuts call it a war on terror because then it never has to stop...how are you going to beat terror?
I don't understand the reference to '91 - anyone could see how what was going to come down? That Bush's son was going to come back? Iran is very scary - I know we are supposedly fighting a proxy war with Iran there so - what happens if we do get out of Iraq? Will we fight a proxy war in Afghanistan?

I can't believe you aren't going to see Obama. Should be very exciting. Or, maybe it's too dangerous.

Anyway - I'm really sorry Webb decided to pull himself out of the running for VP. I know a lot of people here don't like him but I do.

for those of you who haven't been briefed: iran is next. get used to it.

i'm starting to sound like jo ann

Ha!

As much as I love being summoned like Candyman - or Biggie Smalls - there really isn't much here. I think you only get excited over these non-events if you're the type of smug left-winger who actually watches Colbert, Stewart, and Olbermann every day (or, like some sad people I know, Tivo every episode).

Democrats have been mis-labeling the Iraq conflict since the beginning. Par for the course - Democrats wanted us to pull out ever since they voted to send us there (oh snap!). But our troops stayed and kept working and the situation got better. So for the past year Democrats have been childishly trying to find ways to claim the surge didn't work, so they don't have to admit their idea of cutting and running was both wrong and foolish. Now they want to co-opt the success of the surge and use it to frame 'withdraw after success' as their timeline. Hilarious.

The Iraqi government has repeatedly stated that they want to plan withdrawal of our troops once the gains of the surge have been realized as stable and long-term. We are working with them on such a plan. That, folks, is not an occupation. It's a partnership between sovereign nations. Drag your heels on that realization, just as you have all along. Makes you look really mature.

Tim - I think you flatter calligraph by calling him a classical conservative. I would call him a neocon

I'm sure you would. You're brainwashed. Now go watch Colbert, like a good girl.

calligraph/syngas - You don't like Colbert? You're right - I'm being brainwashed by a parody. So - please enlighten me. What blogs should I be reading? What radio stations? What newspapers? What TV shows? What books? What lectures? I have some guesses what you will name but I wouldn't want to stereotype you.

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Obama declares accountability off the table:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSrWjY5S0zI

What is truly hilarious is the reframing of reality that calligraph is willing to present as Democrats "co-opt[ing] the success of the surge". Calligraphy presents an amazingly blatant attempt to co-opt Obama's success and ignore the Bush administration's embarrassment and clumsy attempt to alter that reality. After Maliki did indeed show just a bit of independence that a leader of a sovereign nation might exhibit - in basically endorsing Obama's timetable - the Bush administration - which never endorses timetables - attempted to lie and say Maliki was mistranslated or misinterpreted. Unfortunately, Der Spiegel's audiotape shows the Bushies to be liars - yawn, what else is new?

Calligraph,

You'll be dragging your heels to resist reality on Iraq for the rest of your life, I expect, just as you refuse to face reality in so many other ways. For example, your characterization of Democrats as "antimilitary" is belied by Webb and by the fact that combat veterans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are equally distributed between both parties - just as they are throughout all of American society.

In Iraq, the reality is that "the surge" produced nothing of permanence - the level of violent death is today what it was in 2006, the political problems are unsolved. The surge just facilitated the completion of ethnic segregation (cleansing) in Baghdad and surrounding areas - the Sunni presence is now largely depleted. In the longer view, when the US occupation of Iraq is over, an Iran-friendly regime will be in place. In fact, the result will not be all that dissimilar to the result that might have come about if the US hadn't saved its megalomaniacal ally, Saddam Hussein, back in the 1980's when he launched his misguided war against Iran. The US propped Saddam up enough to force a stalemate because American feared exactly what the neoconservatives have managed to bring to pass.

@calligraph

I have to say, you've done a rather good job of framing the debate. Arguing it the way you are, you've improved your chances of a rhetorical victory quite a bit.

Let's reframe it a little and see how that plays out.

The Iraq conflict was initially predicted to cost anywhere from $50-200 Billion. The actual cost as of March 19th was already $600 Billion. Estimates of the full direct costs of being in Iraq will top $1 Trillion and maybe even $2 Trillion. This of course does not take into account indirect costs, which at the very least are greater than 0, and so hard to calculate, I'll let it slide.

Let's also not forget that our main motivation for initially invading Iraq was to disarm Iraq, especially to remove the WMD. We all know how that went.

O.K., so the war was at LEAST 3x as expensive as advertised ($600 Million /$200 Million) and perhaps as high as 40x ($2 Trillion / $50 Billion). And our original rationale is shot to pieces in the absence of WMD. But at least the consequences of the Iraq conflict were bearable? You judge. At least 151,000 civilian casualties caused indirectly by the conflict not to mention the military casualties.

NOW, with proper context we can get back to calligraph's claim. "The Surge® is a success! We've stopped Iraq's slide into chaos and have opened up political space for their government. Denying it is brainwashed lunacy!" Well, talk about low expectations. In order to consider the Iraq conflict a success, we need merely spend many fold more than initially predicted, cause at least 151,000 deaths worth of civilian collateral damage (not to mention the military casualties on all sides), and belatedly realize that we massively underestimated the effort required for a reasonable outcome and make corrections. So, The Surge® was a good idea, no? Well, let's not forget that a chief concern as early as 2002 was that troop numbers were insufficient. Not only that, The Surge® is only partly responsible for the decrease in violence in Iraq. The U.S.'s payments to the "Sons of Iraq" or "Concerned Local Citizens" is at least partly responsible (Link Link). Let's not even mention that successful ethnic cleansing and segregation between Shia and Sunnis may also help explain the decrease in violence.

So, far from being a brilliant strategy that the stubborn libruls refuse to acknowledge, The Surge® is merely a tacit admission of monumental incompetence in the planning and initial execution of a conflict that was initiated on false premises and waged in a way inconsistent with initial promises. Moreover, The Surge® is only partly responsible for an outcome that should have been obtained to begin with. No, the surge is at best, salvaging a less undesirable outcome at great cost (Iraq has exacted huge costs terms of both money as well as hindered our efforts in Afghanistan and at home). And the evidence suggests that the magnitude of the improvements due solely to the increase of troop levels is arguably smaller than most politicians are comfortable admitting (Democrats included). And in this context, you have the gall to suggest that we're in the midst of success? Who in their right minds would have advocated this silly adventure given current hind-sight? No, the costs far outweigh the benefits in my mind as well as in the minds of most Americans. At best I would call the The Surge® a mitigation of failure. Your standards for success are low indeed if you call it success. Perhaps you have confounded "success" with "pyrrhic victory"?

Oops. I somehow got a link wrong. The antepenultimate sentence should have been:

Who in their right minds would have advocated this silly adventure given current hind-sight? No, the costs far outweigh the benefits in my mind as well as in the minds of most Americans.

jill, to answer your questions (so polite! are you sure you're an internet entity and not one of those, what do you call them, "real people"?) first, i was trying to make the point by implication that "bad guy" is a relative term. the iraqis that want the u.s. out are "bad guys" for the political right wing in america, as tim correctly implied. i might try to make a case that they're "bad guys" by any definition, since they have dedicated their lives to killing people for nebulous and questionable religious and nationalistic reasons, but that argument would fall under an avalanche of evidence that this is a purely human, as opposed to iraqi insurgent, endeavor. then i'd be forced to admit my low opinion of humans in general, making me a simple misanthrope and therefore unqualified to argue for what might be best for humans. i fear i am already dangerously close to this and may have to enter a jo ann-style self imposed exile.

anyway, you're right of course. i had forgotten to mention the "war on terror", which is the right's real line of ideological defence. and, as you rightly imply, this provides justification for endless bad behaviour.

my reference to '91 was just that i think anyone could have seen that the first iraq war was unfinished buisiness. as far as bush jr. "coming back" (an unintentional vampire reference?) i was advised of this probability as far back as '91 by at least 3 or 4 friends of mine, none of them exceptional or exceptionally crazy, though one was a former president of the jerusalem chapter of mensa. point being, this too was predictable without prophetic abilities.

about a proxy war in afghanistan- we're already in afghanistan (and when i say "we", i mean i strongly suspect israels covert involvement), fighting directly, by proxy, and anything else they can think of. next step iran, as i said.

and obama- i'm not aware of any invitations to the general public to "go see him". maybe i would. i certainly wouldn't take into account the "danger" you mentioned, which i guess means being attacked by a bulldozer or something.

i'm surprised norm hasn't called these last two bulldozer attacks by the name i keep trying to exise from my mind- "rachel corrie's revenge". there you go, norm, a freebie. as far as i know, no one else has mentioned this connection, as obvious as it may seem.

A wealthy first-world nation of 300 million with the largest military budget in the world - by far - defeats a much poorer nation of 27 million that spends about 1% as much on its military ... not a terribly big surprise there!

Wait a minute, wait a minute, Tim. Are you suggesting our victory is the result of something other than our Inherent American Superiority to act and do as we please?

But our troops stayed and kept working and the situation got better.

True, calligraph, our troops have a remarkable job--the bigger the Bush administration's horrendous failures, the more impressed I am. Our leadership had no post invasion planning, send them there understaffed, under funded, under equipped, did not bother to secure the arms depots, at the same time left tens of thousands of young men sitting around unemployed and with nothing to do, let an insurgency develop, nearly plunged the country into all our civil war, has left some 27 billion in funds lost, stolen, or unaccounted for, and has an abysmally poor record taking care of our soldiers when they come home.

Opposition to Republican malfeasance on Iraq has nothing to do with disparaging our soldiers. What they need is real leadership, and someone who appreciates the measure of their sacrifices rather than cutting funds for their medical care, all the while disingenuously claiming a flag pin demonstrates "support" for them.

. So for the past year Democrats have been childishly trying to find ways to claim the surge didn't work, so they don't have to admit their idea of cutting and running was both wrong and foolish. Now they want to co-opt the success of the surge and use it to frame 'withdraw after success' as their timeline. Hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, after months of criticizing Obama as "naive", and casting his Iraq plan as appeasement, the Bush administration is now implementing the very policy that has been Obama's all along. THAT is hilarious, but unsurprising, given their desperation and obvious incompetence.

'The surge worked' is an unthinking sound bite. Violence has gone down--because we are paying the militias to sit out and not fight. That is not a long term strategy, but plainly a policy of desperation whose short-term gains are obvious, while contributing nothing, so far, to the robust political negotiations that were the very raison d'etre of the surge to begin with.

LwPHD:

Clap clap clap

Did all the work so I didn't have to.

PS. Did anyone else see CBS whitewash the Evening news yesterday? Katie couric asked one question, and CBS changed McCain's answer because he was completely wrong about timelines and facts. Who knows why they did it, but it's Journalism at it's finest. (I know it's dailykos, but they link every video, including a breakdown by Olbermann)

Tim - I think you flatter calligraph by calling him a classical conservative.

Hence the scare quotes that I used. Nevertheless, according to calligraph, he opposed the Iraq war to begin with (or maybe that was when he was still calling himself TeafortheTillerman - I don't remember) - so he's not a full-fledged neocon either. Conservatives tend to favor the conservation of cultural norms and liberals seek to change them when they think they are unjust. Classical conservatives and classical liberals come into conflict over issues on this basis. In this country, principled members of both camps are supposed to agree that we are ruled by laws, not by men. Calligraph apparently thinks the rule of men is just peachy when the Leader says he's protecting us. (Of course, if a law that restricts the power of the president is seen as optional when the president invokes precisely the pretext s/he would be expected to invoke if he wanted to break the law, the law is meaningless.) Based on calligraph’s description of opposition to lawbreaking inherent in Bush's wiretapping policy as "tiresome idealism", I conclude that calligraph is a corrupt conservative.

LWPhD - excellent job.

Your standards for success are low indeed if you call it success.

We don't want to fall into the practice of what Bush called the "soft bigotry of low expectations", do we?

jill, to answer your questions (so polite! are you sure you're an internet entity and not one of those, what do you call them, "real people"?)

Ha! I try really hard not to snark here out of respect to Norm. If not for the preview button, though, many things would've gotten away from me :)

What I wanted to point out about Iraqi people wanting us out of Iraq is it's not just the insurgents. Did you ever read Riverbend's blog? Trying to understand the rest of your paragraph - I'm not sure if you're saying that you think some of the insurgents are just citizens or what? (Sorry - interesting writing style - a little obscure for me in this case.) If so, I've gotta assume a lot of the insurgents are young, testerone-driven males who - through our "we broke it and seem incapable of fixing it but someone connected to Bushco is sure making a boatload of money" reconstruction plan - have nothing in their lives now but religion and hate - what else do they have to do? But - I'm not sure if I'm addressing anything relevant to your statements here or I'm preaching to the choir or I missed your point completely...

That's funny knowing about coming back in '91. In '91, I didn't even know Bush had a son...

As far as the bulldozers - I don't think an atheist site is where you would find any kind of karmic statements.

Tim - I did not realize that calligraph was against going into Iraq. Gotta say - I'm surprised. I didn't know he was also called teaforthetillerman (and withdrew that because it was glorifying a Muslim?)

Okay calligraph/Syngas/teaforthetillerman... another question - how would you describe your political position...(I've got my money on libertarian but - hey - surprise me) And, please, don't forget to enlighten me as to great sources of information that will not brainwash me like Colbert and Stewart....I am very curious.

i certainly wouldn't take into account the "danger" you mentioned, which i guess means being attacked by a bulldozer or something.

Ah, Jonathan, so you've become so accustomed to bombs and shit that the little bulldozer story that we living here in the U.S. get all excited about, is nothing more than a blip in your screen..

If so, I've gotta assume a lot of the insurgents are young, testerone-driven males who - through our "we broke it and seem incapable of fixing it but someone connected to Bushco is sure making a boatload of money" reconstruction plan - have nothing in their lives now but religion and hate - what else do they have to do?

It's like those people who live in neighborhoods with a lot of violience and murders and guns and shit. What to do about it? Why is this so?

violience?... what is this anyway? Some kind of interesting dish in a fancy French restaurant?..

"violence.."

Ah, Jonathan, so you've become so accustomed to bombs and shit that the little bulldozer story that we living here in the U.S. get all excited about, is nothing more than a blip in your screen..

i think i can speak for a majority of israelis when i say it's not that we have become numb or indifferent to these attacks, but that we choose not to be intimidated, and realize that continuing with our normal routines is the most effective response. it's one of the few instances i can say without reservation that i take pride in the behaviour of the "man on the street" here. although i should point out that this aspect of the israeli national character hasn't changed since 1948: that we feel we have nowhere to run. it's a pretty powerful reason for "keeping one's chin up"- a british expression, btw, and how we handle these attacks here can be legitimately compared to how the brits survived the v-2's in ww2. i bless you all that you will never need this form of "courage".

Jonathan,

What you described is precisely what I was attempting to get across... to no avail apparently..

Did you ever read Riverbend's blog?

no, jill, i had never heard of it, but of course since YOU recommended it i found it on google and checked it out. really, really interesting and well written, and from a perspective i, at least, don't hear very often- an educated woman cought up in "the madness". thanks for the tip.

one thing, though: the most recent post seems to be from nov. 2007, unless i'm missing something. do you know the story with that?

JoAnn -

It's like those people who live in neighborhoods with a lot of violience and murders and guns and shit. What to do about it? Why is this so?

As a liberal, I'm with the you-give-people-something-to-lose camp: you give them opportunity and hope and pride. Repositioning by the right wing noise machine (rwnm) has tried to paint helping people as government handouts, entitlements, etc., when, from where I sit it is a stablizing, healthy way of being a country. (Do some people take advantage - duh - yeah. Just like all the white collar criminals or the super wealthy not wanting to pay their fair share.) The position offered by the right? They aren't working hard enough - unless you're working two jobs you're not giving it your all, quite whining and suck it up (Foreclosure Phil probably is afraid the finger will come back and be pointed at him.) I swear the right all miss the good old days of Dickens with poorhouses, no unions and a big class schism. Wasn't Scrooge just making an honest dollar?

jonathan - I'm glad you had a chance to look at it. It IS very well written and was very interesting throughout her postings. I don't know if it was real - I never heard anything that said it wasn't but you know the internet. Assuming there is truth in it, she was an example of someone who wanted the U.S. out. (As far as the fact she stopped blogging - as electricity became scarcer, her posts decreased, as she became more depressed, her posts decreased more and then, her family decided to finally leave Iraq and I think she decided then to stop. Again - I don't know how real she was - her writing was incredible.)

Another example of non-insurgents not wanting the U.S. there: http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2008/3/19/2/continued-discussion-about-the-war-in-iraq (I think this was one of Norm's links but I couldn't find it here.)

Something else I found interesting in the earlier days of the war (not even sure how this is relevant to this discussion but worth looking at if you haven't seen it) was the Control Room http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0391024/ and, after seeing that (it won't really make sense otherwise), then an interview with Josh Rushing from the Control Room on Fresh Air http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4133282

As a liberal, I'm with the you-give-people-something-to-lose camp: you give them opportunity and hope and pride. Repositioning by the right wing noise machine (rwnm) has tried to paint helping people as government handouts, entitlements, etc., when, from where I sit it is a stablizing, healthy way of being a country. (Do some people take advantage - duh - yeah. Just like all the white collar criminals or the super wealthy not wanting to pay their fair share.) The position offered by the right? They aren't working hard enough - unless you're working two jobs you're not giving it your all, quite whining and suck it up (Foreclosure Phil probably is afraid the finger will come back and be pointed at him.) I swear the right all miss the good old days of Dickens with poorhouses, no unions and a big class schism. Wasn't Scrooge just making an honest dollar?

We are on the same page JillBryant. As usual, you present intelligence and good research. Thank you.

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