Saturday, February 24, 2007

What Are Neo-Cons Loyal To?

In a Slate column, Timothy Noah picks up on a striking 2004 conversation in which George W. Bush asks his father "What's a neocon?"

What makes the question remarkable is George W.'s complete ignorance of the political shorthand being created by people serving in his administration like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Dick Cheney.

But the elder Bush's answer is equally remarkable: "Well," said the former president of the United States, "I'll give it to you in one word: Israel."

There's been some political talk about the neo-cons being more committed to the interests of Israel than the United States. Likewise, talk has circulated about the Iraq War being more about forcing the Palestinians to settle on Israel's terms than about Iraq.

But I don't think that neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, or Robert Kagan are any more loyal to Israel than they are to the United States. What they are loyal to is the right-wing Likud Party in Israel and Likud's determination to use maximum force to maintain Israel's domination over the Palestinians. Taking the Likud stress on never negotiating or settling on anything but Israel's terms, the neo-cons developed a vision of American policy in which the United States combined Israel's will to dominate with America's overwhelming economic and military power. The neo-con idea was to relate to the whole Arab and non-western world the same way that the Israelis treated the Palestinians--with consummate disdain.

Ultimately, the neo-cons aren't about Israel. They're about something much more dangerous and destabilizing--projecting the Likud/Israeli model for treating the Palestinians onto the whole world. They're loyal to a much expanded vision of their own domination.

What's Not on Cheney's Table for Iran

The Dick Cheney Road Show travelled to Sydney, Australia today where the Worst Vice-President since Burr met with the Guinness World Record holder for the only person still supporting the War in Iraq--Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.

Speaking about Iran, Cheney claimed that"all options are still on the table."

Yawn, . . . another lie from the Dick Cheney Delusion and Deception machine.

What Cheney meant was that the U. S. might still go to war with Iran over either its nuclear program or its ties with the government in Iraq. The lie is that there are any other options. Attacking Iran is the only option on the Bush administration's table for Iran. It's just a question of whether and when the Bush administration can find a semi-plausible pretext for launcing an attack.

What's not on the table is any effort by the Bush administration to stop being stupid. Given that we've removed two of Iran's major enemies from power, the Bush administration could have accepted the support offered by the Iranians. The Bush administration could also have woven a web of mutual understanding around the need to support the new Shiite government in Iraq. But Bush has refused to talk with Iran and kept up a drumbeat of insinuated threats to either attack Iranian nuclear facilities or invade. Today, there was a report about the U. S. letting the Israelis use Iraqi air space to attack Iran.

Far from deterring Iran, the Bush administration's pursuit of this idiotic policy has pushed the Iranians into accelerating their nuclear program and building their own system of cooperation with the Shiite political parties and militias inside Iraq. Given that the Iranians are also Shiites, it was inevitable that any Shiite government in Iraq would be closer to Iran than us. However, the Bush administration's thoughtlessly hostile toward Iran has guaranteed that Iran will quickly displace the U. S. in Iraq as soon as American troops leave. If the Bush administration actually does attack Iran, they will be stabilizing the Iranian regime for another generation, creating a creating a crisis in Iraq, and undermining their own influence over the Iraqi government.

Not that such considerations would deter the Bushies.

The Bush administration can't help being dumb because the stupidity of a mindless will to dominate and thoughtless aggression is hard-wired into the neo-conservative mind-set.

Unfortunately, not being stupid will never be on the tale.

Score One for Obama!

Barack Obama just went up in my estimation as a result of his ridicule of Dick Cheney. At a Friday rally in Austin, Obama laughed at Cheney's claim that the British draw-down of troops in Iraq reflects improved conditions in Basra and southeastern Iraq.

" . . . this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes . . . . When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."

That's exactly the right tone to take with the Worst Vice-President Since Aaron Burr--not offended, not surprised, and not willing to take him seriously. After six years of recommending disastrous policies, relentless lying to promote those policies, and non-stop insinuating that his critics are traitors, Dick Cheney has emerged as an even bigger buffoon than George Bush.

Maybe even bigger than Douglas Feith.

Every Democratic leader should take their lead from Obama. Instead of being "outraged" by Cheney's insults and criticisms, they should start treating Cheney like the human dartboard he is.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tom Vilsack Dies From Lack of Oxygen

Tom Vilsack, a popular former governor of Iowa, dropped out as a Democratic presidential candidate today. Vilsack himself cited the inability to raise enough money as his main problem.

"The reality, however, is that the process has become, to a great extent, about money, a lot of money. …So it is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today."

But Vilsack's problem wasn't money; it was oxygen. The Democrats ran several political dwarfs in 1994 and usually run one contender and several dwarfs. For 2008, however, the Democrats have two candidates who enjoy genuine national popularity--Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. With Clinton and Obama sucking away all the media attention, there's no room for anybody like Tom Vilsack to make headway in establishing a national presence, recruiting a strong staff, or raising money. There was just no oxygen in the room for Vilsack. The same is the case for Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and other third tier candidates. John Edwards has already been established as the "alternative candidate" if Clinton or Obama falters. The other guys are just hanging around.

Predictably Unintended Consequences of the Surge

The Arc of the Surge. The surge is about a week old and it looks like sectarian killings are down in Baghdad. That's a good thing and I'm sure that Sunni residents especially are relieved by the lull in death squad activity.

But time has already begun to run out on hopes for success as signs of abuse and recklessnes emerge.

Raping Potential Converts. Earlier in the week, two women accused Iraqi forces of raping them. The account of the Sunni woman in Baghdad who was raped at least four times after being taken into custody is particularly disgusting because the rapes were a sanctioned form of torture. There's little doubt that Sabrine al-Janabi, her male relatives, and the al-Janabi tribe will not be coming over to the American side no matter how many outposts are set up in their neighborhoods.

In fact, the rapes were entirely predictable. The American military has had its own problems with taking out their frustrations on Sunni women, but the Iraqi army and police forces are much less disciplined, much less motivated to fight, and much more interested in the spoils of war. As the Iraqi military presence increases in Baghdad, there will be more rapes, murders, and reports of torture in their wake. The only question is when Sunni and Shiite resistance to the surge will be inflamed by the abuses. Sooner or later, it's going to happen.

Arresting the Government. Today, the American military apologized for arresting Amar al-Hakim, nephew of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Supreme Council or SCIRI is the largest political party in Nouri al-Maliki's coalition government, but the U. S. has put special pressure on them because of their association with the Badr Brigade. The underlying problem is that both SCIRI and Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc are constituent parts of the Iraqi government. Likewise, their militias are also constituent parts of the Iraqi government. In many ways, the American surge strategy constitutes an attempt at purging the Iraqi government of two of it's strongest Shiite components.

If American officials think this is going to make the Iraqi government stronger, they're idiots. Purging SCIRI and al-Sadr would transform the parties and their militias from independent actors in the Iraqi government into government opponents. That would be another sign that the sure has failed.

The Downside of Being an International Pariah

The United States is just catching up with the rest of the world in it's feelings of repugnance for the Bush administration. Having rejected Bush and his war, the American public now is trying on new leadership from the Democrats. That's precisely what happened four years earlier when the rest of the world was repelled by the bullying arrogance of Bush and Cheney and began seeking alternative leadership from France, Russia, and China.

Yesterday, gay, conservative English emigre Andrew Sullivan posted this lament (via TPM) about the long-term effect of the Iraq War on public opinion of the United States in England:

"What's more telling is how unpopular the war is in Britain, and how an entire generation of Brits have now grown up thinking of the United States as a bullying, torturing force for instability in the world. That's not the America I love - but it is the image of America that Bush and Cheney have built for the largest generation of human beings ever to grow up on the planet. In Italy, the government has fallen because there is no longer support for even a minimal presence in Afghanistan, let alone Iraq."

There are many things that are unfortunate about the increasing unpopularity of the U. S. in Europe, Australia, and other parts. Here, I want to focus on the downside in American political debate. Unfortunately, American unpopularity in places like Great Britain will probably lead to further emigration of British right-wingers to the United States. If conservative British intellectuals like do not feel at home in anti-American Britain, they could follow the examples of Sullivan and Niall Ferguson and emigrate to the United States where their smug pronouncements will be lapped up by American right. Just what we need.

Maybe we should limit immigration after all.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tom DeLay's Upcoming Non-Blockbuster

There are few figures in American politics who are more interesting and compelling that former Congressman Tom DeLay. Much more the evil genius of Republican domination between 2000 and 2005 than Karl Rove, Tom DeLay has become a genius in eclipse. Like the great rock producer Phil Spector, DeLay will probably spend the rest of his life trying to recapture the magic.

Today, was pushing DeLay's upcoming autobiography, No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight To Make American Politics Even More Spiteful and Vindictive Than It Already Was. Actually, that's not the case. The subtitle is just One American's Fight. But my version is more truthful. From DeLay's refusal to allow Republicans to negotiate with Bill Clinton to the K Sreet Poject to eliminate Democratic lobbyists to his Texas redistricting initiative, DeLay has sought to advance the cause of the Republican Party by raising the level of hostility and bitterness. And DeLay succeeded. As a result of his efforts, American politics became a lot more divisive and corrupt over the course of DeLay's career.

Another point about DeLay is that he's always been an extremely aggressive Christian. But I have a hard time believing that Jesus would ever have embraced a man as spiteful and vindictive as Tom DeLay.

Speaking Again of Hillary

Dick Morris came out with a ridiculous New York Post column today claiming that "no one dare criticize Hillary Clinton?"

No one?

Ironically enough, today's Arianna Huffington post was entitled "Hillary's Campaign Would Rather Mudsling Than Get Its Facts Right" and Huffington was considerably tougher on Hillary than Dick Morris.

Of course, that might be because Huffington is a better writer.

In fact, it is extremely difficult to find any stories in the mainstream media or liberal/left bloggers that offer even grudging praise of Hillary Clinton. Blogger Matthew Yglesias practically apologized for arguing that Hillary's refusal to apologize for her Iraq vote might be authentic--"If I may say something nice about Hillary Clinton for a minute . . . " If I want to see something positive about Hillary, I basically have to write it myself.

Hillary is unpopular with the mainstream media because she's never been warm and fuzzy with the press and she's unpopular with the left-wing blogosphere because of her early support for the Iraq War. There's no use whining about it. That's the media hand that's been dealt and Hillary will have to live with it.

However, Dick Morris' claim that "no one dare criticize Hillary Clinton" is the opposite of the truth. Needless to say, Morris knows this, but it's his eagerness to lie that makes Dick Morris an authentic right-winger.

Speculating About the Lieberman Switcheroo

Speculation about Joe Lieberman switching parties is heating up again because Lieberman is worried about Senate Democrats moving to cut off funding for the failed war in Iraq. There's a lot of sense to Lieberman switching parties. He's already more prominent as a Republican spokesman for the war than anybody not named John McCain. Switching parties would just make the transition official.

If Lieberman switched to the Republican Party, the Republicans would be likely to regain control with 50 votes plus Dick Cheney as a tie-breaker.

Except that there is also speculation that one of the Republican anti-war senators would declare themselves independent and caucus with the Democrats to prevent the Republicans from becoming the majority party again.

I think that's unlikely. Most of the speculation centers on Susan Collins of Maine (who was one year ahead of me at St. Lawrence University). However, that seems doubtful because Collins would have a very tough time winning re-election as an independent. There's also speculation about Chuck Hagel, but Hagel is much more conservative than Collins and it's difficult to see him caucusing with the Democrats on any issue except Iraq.

At the end of the day, Lieberman will probably switch alone. Still, the Democrats will be able to live quite comfortably with a 50-50 split. With Kentucky's senator Mitch McConnell as majority leader, the Republicans will once again assume responsibility for governing and do very badly at it. Given that the Senate Dems weren't going to get their own legislation through with only 51 votes, it won't kill them to not be governing.

So, go ahead Joe. Switch if you want. The number of Democrats who care gets fewer and fewer every day.

No Whining Nancy

Nancy Pelosi shouldn't have called President Bush to complain about Dick Cheney's comments on Democratic plans validating "the al-Qaeda strategy." Above all, Pelosi's complaints validate Cheney's strategy of saying things that are offensive to Democrats and eliciting an "outraged reaction." Bush and his right-wing supporters view offending liberals as an assertion of their moral superiority in the sense of their willingness to defy conventions, ignore "political correctness," and stick it to their enemies. Rick Perlstein of the New Republic argues that this eagerness to be offensive is one of the reasons why Mitt Romney announced his candidacy at the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. Given that Ford was a raging anti-semite, holding the announcement at the museum was a way to elicit complaints about anti-semitism and therefore please the conservative base.

What Pelosi should have done was hit Cheney back. And hard!

Pelosi should have said that Cheney was lying about a Democrat/al-Qaida link the same way he lied about Saddam Hussein's implication in 9-11, the Saddam Hussein/al-Qaida link, the location of WMD's and other issues.

Pelosi should have said that the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the best thing that ever happened to al-Qaida and quoted Harry Reid in saying that the invasion was the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history.

Pelosi also should have said that the best way to drain away al-Qaeda's support in Iraq is to withdraw American troops.

All those things are true and they all need to be said repeatedly. Pelosi should have taken her shot when she had a chance.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Notes on the Baghdad Gang Rape

The Rape Accusation. Yesterday, Sabrine al-Janabi, a 20 year old married woman from Baghdad, accused members of the Iraqi National Police on al-Jazeera television of gang-raping her. After she was taken into custody as a "terrorist suspect," Sabrine al-Janabi was raped by three officers before an American committee took her into custody and brought her before a judge. She accused a court officer of raping her again after her hearing.

The Guilty Rebuttal. It's the polite journalistic convention to say "alleged rape" in cases like this. However, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's comments today lent enormous credibility to al-Janabi's account. As a result, I'm going to ignore the convention here. Not only did al-Maliki deny that the officers had raped Sabrine al-Janabi, but claimed that there were three warrants for al-Janabi's arrest on "security" matters. In other words, he was accusing al-Janabi of being a terrorist without actually using the literal term. Al-Maliki extended the web of innuendo to Sunni politicians by claiming the accusations were instigated by "certain parties" in order to discredit the military crackdown in Baghdad. Much like abusive police in the U. S., Maliki is pulling out all the stops to smear this woman well before there's been a chance to investigate. These kinds of smears are the mark of someone who knows his side is guilty.

To top off his performance, Prime Minister al-Maliki announced that he was rewarding the officers in question. Here, it was as if al-Maliki was congratulating the police officers for raping the poor woman. It's almost as disgusting as the rape itself.

The Modern vs the Traditional. Sabrine al-Janabi's rape accusations have a profound modernity about them. In traditional Muslim societies like Iraq, a woman's virginity or fidelity is valued as a matter of the honor of the men in her family. When they are raped, women are considered as dishonoring the family and generally cover up the assault to avoid being punished by male relatives. In making her accusations, Sabrine al-Janabi represented herself as an individual woman rather than as a symbol of her family honor and was accusing the Iraqi police of harming her as a person rather than dishonoring her family. This is a bold claim. The articulation of women as persons in their own right rather than as the mothers, wives, or girlfriends, and objects of fantasy is still the subject of a broad cultural conflict in the United States let alone Iraq. If Sabrine al-Janabi's claim to personhood were accepted as a matter of course, that would be a strong sign that she was living in a modern world.

Understanding Bush and the American Right. I've seen a couple of commentaries mentioning that al-Maliki's response out of the Bush administration's playbook of accusing their opponents as aiding the terrorists, punishing critics, and rewarding failure and incompetence (sorry no time to run down the links right now). I think it's the other way around though. Instead of al-Maliki playing out of the Bush playbook, it's the Bush administration that has been reverting back to traditionalism on a variety of fronts. These include adapting the preening machismo of the traditional white South, promoting religion at the expense of science, valuing personal loyalty over competence, and engaging in delaying actions against the efforts of women, African-Americans, gay people, and immigrants to claim a routine status as persons. The Bush administration and the right may use the contemporary media apparatus to pursue their goals and may try to adapt as much of the modern language of individuality as they can, but they're still pursuing an agenda of traditionalism. They're speaking out of the playbook of Nouri al-Maliki, Moqtada al-Sadr, and the global jihadis.

Harry Potter Breakthrough at RSI?

One of the problems of Book VII in the Harry Potter series is determining the nature of the Ravenclaw/Gryffendor horcrux. According to Dumbledore, there were six horcruxes containing parts of Voldemort's soul--his diary, Marvolo's ring, Hufflepuff's cup, Slytherin's locket, the snake Nagini, and an object from either Ravenclaw or Gryfffindor. In order to kill Voldemort, Harry is going to have to destroy all of Voldemort's horcruxes first.

Finding the horcruxes probably won't be that big of a problem. Harry has already shown that he can break into Voldemort's mind. All he has to do is get into Voldemort's head again in order to locate the remaining horcruxes.

My daughter Katy announced a couple of nights ago that the "sorting hat" would be the Ravenclaw/ Gryffindor horcrux. It's a very good idea. The sorting hat has been at Hogwarts since the founding of the school. Likewise, it wouldn't take much exposition to claim that it had originally belonged to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. The question would be how Voldemort would have gotten into postion to turn the sorting hat into a horcrux. So far, Katy hasn't had any more luck in explaining how Voldemort got to the hat than Hillary Clinton has had in explaining away her vote to authorize force in Iraq.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Bitter Pill in Hillary's Throat

William Saletan has a good Slate article criticizing Hillary Clinton's refusal to admit that her 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq was a mistake. Hillary's problem is that she is making the refusal to admit the mistake a matter of principle and using weak arguments to justify her stand. Nobody cares about her concerns about appearing to be a flip-flopper, looking like she's strong on defense, and not looking like a female stereotype. What Americans want to know is if Hillary Clinton can learn from her mistakes in a way that George Bush and Dick Cheney have refused to learn from theirs.

One problem is in locating the nature of Hillary's mistake.

There have been several levels of mistakes on Iraq that connect to Hillary--the Bush administration's incompetence in conducting the war, faith in the Bush administration ability to carry off the war, and trust in the Bush administration's claims concerning WMD and ties with al-Qaeda. I don't have the links here, but I believe that Hillary has admitted to these mistakes without a whole lot of trouble.

Why, then, doesn't Hillary just cop to the mistake of supporting the war resolution in the first place? I believe that she is making the further error of assuming that there was a good chance that the Iraq War could have been successful if the Bush administration had not been such dunces in their management of the conflict. In saying that she made a mistake in supporting the war resolution, Hillary would be admitting that there was no way that the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein could have had a good outcome.

The Bill Clinton administration was convinced that Saddam needed to be overthrown as well and was ready to go to war in 1998 if they had seen either domestic or international support for an invasion. For Hillary to admit that her support for the Bush war resolution was a mistake means that the Clinton administration and she herself had been wrong about invading Iraq in 1998. That seems to be a place that she's willing to go to yet.

I support Hillary Clinton for President and think that she would make a good president for the hard times that lie ahead for the United States as a result of the Bush years. To be President, however, she's going to have to admit that she and her husband's administration were just as badly mistaken about overthrowing Saddam Hussein as the Bush administration. It's a bitter pill, but she won't be president unless she finds a way to swallow it.

Silent Cal the Right-Wing's Pal

Conservative movie critic Michael Medved has a column out on the most underestimated president in American history.

It's not James K. Polk and his war of conquest over Mexico. Not James Buchanan the Confederate sympathizer. And not James Madison the author of the Constitution.

Instead, it's Silent Cal Coolidge whose main claim to greatness according to Medved is that he would not have responded to the Depression with anything like the New Deal.

In nominating Coolidge for most underestimated leader, Medved wants to reclaim an America that was before social security, before government regulation of banks and Wall Street, before federal involvement in constructing highways, school buildings, hospitals and medical schools, before "big government" began protecting the rights of workers, African-Americans, women, and gay people. Medved wants a society that is much more poor, nasty, brutish, and ignorant, than the society that emerged from the New Deal, WWII, and the Great Society.

That's what makes Medved a conservative.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hillary and That Bitter Remnant of the Monstrous Past

Today, Hillary Clinton triangulated the Confederate flag, arguing that the Confederate battle flag should be taken out of the South Carolina state house but not claiming that the flag was a symbol of racism and reaction. Instead, she that Americans should be fighting together under "one flag" during a time of war.

This gives something to liberals, African-Americans, and conservatives.

African-American Democrats and white liberals got half a loaf. Hillary gave them a statement opposing the Confederate flag. However, not saying that the flag was objectionable because it was racist and reactionary is a big concession. From the anti-flag perspective, the brutal racism of the slave system that the Confederates were defending is the only reason to oppose the flag.

Conservative flaggers get a slice they don't deserve when Hillary justifies the removal of the flag through the patriotic language of fighting under one flag. In giving up the Confederate battle flag, conservative South Carolinians wouldn't have to plead guilty for the monstrous behavior of their "glorious" ancestors.

That's triangulation, striking a course that speaks to both sides. In this case though, the triangulation works to the advantage of African-Americans and liberals. If Hillary gets her way, Southern conservatives would make the enormous cultural concession of giving up the Confederate flag. African-Americans and white liberals would not be exchanging anything nearly as important.

And that's why conservatives will reject Hillary's offer.

The Worst Mistake Revisited

Tony Snow responded to Sen. Harry Reid's claim that the Iraq War was the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history by arguing that "it was important to remove Saddam Hussein from power" and noting "that a majority of senators voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq."

Snow would have been better off if he had claimed that starting the War of 1812 was an even bigger mistake than invading Iraq.

At least the Iraqi's haven't burned Washington the way the British did in 1813.

McCain Raises His Bid

Campaigning in South Carolina yesterday, John McCain announced that he believed Roe v Wade should be overturned. In other words, he's raising his bid for conservative votes. Conservatives are suspicious of McCain because of his positions on campaign finance legislation, immigration policy, and gay marriage and McCain's been attempting to overcome these problems by making nice with Jerry Falwell and becoming the chief advocate of President Bush's war policy.

However, McCain has been falling behind Giuliani in the national polls. So, he's upping his bid to conservative votes by making a push on Roe v Wade. It's obviously a calculated move to let conservatives know that he's with them on one of their most important priorities, so calculated here that it's doubtful that conservative voters will be impressed.

In the final analysis, John McCain is going to have to raise his bid a lot higher if he wants conservative votes.

What can he do?

The obvious thing would be for McCain to recant and apologize for his support for McCain/Feingold and any legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to gain citizenship.

But would that be enough?

I don't think so.

Here's a short list of things that right-wing voters would want McCain to do in order to reassure them that he is really conservative.

1. Pledge never to appear on "Meet the Press" (NBC) or Face the Nation (CBS) again. One of the things that conservatives don't like about McCain is that he is much more comfortable with the mainstream media than the conservative attack media.

2. Promise to launch a nuclear attack on Iran immediately upon inauguration. The Bush administration has been playing around with ideas of "bunker busting" nuclear weapons. That's for wimps. Real conservatives want McCain to use those nukes.

3. Promise legislation against "strident" opposition to the war. Newt Gingrich has been calling for changing the First Amendment to the Constitution; neo-con warmonger Frank Gaffney recently argued that Sen. Carl Levin should be hanged for criticizing former Bush Pentagon official Douglas Feith. Conservatives want tough action against war critics.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reid Catches Up with Left

One of the under-appreciated facts about the Iraq War is that the left has been right on the money every step of the way. Most of all, the left has been absolutely correct in its assessment of the Bush administration as delusional and incompetent. The idea that George W. Bush is the "worst president in American history" has been canvassed so much on the left that people have gotten bored with the topic.

Now, there's evidence that the Democrats are catching up. Today, Harry Reid characterized the Iraq War as the "worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country." That's important. The Democrats have been captivated by "the Vietnam Syndrome" for too long. As Reid acknowledged, Iraq is even worse than Vietnam. In fact, the only thing in American history that's gone as disastrously as the Iraq War has been the British occupation of the U. S. during the American Revolution.

Maybe I should send Reid one of our bright yellow "W:Worst President Ever" bumper stickers.

Rush Should Run

A couple of days ago, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter appeared on a comedy promotion for a new Fox news program with Limbaugh as President and Coulter as Vice-President. The promo appears here on YouTube.

RSI thinks they should go for it and run.

The Republicans don't have a viable conservative candidate for 2008 and don't have much chance of winning anyway. Why not nominate Limbaugh and Coulter? They're popular conservatives who can deliver eloquent expressions of right-wing values. Even if they wouldn't have much chance of winning an election, their appearance on the ticket would bolster the morale of discouraged Republican voters. They could also fulfill the Goldwater function of keeping the flame of conservatism burning while the right waits for the next Ronald Reagan to come along.

Why not have some fun when you lose. Limbaugh/Coulter in 2008.

Early Problems for Surge

The Bush administration's surge strategy never had much chance of working and the contours of failure have already begun to emerge. Today, car bombs going off at a marketplace in a Shiite area killed 63 people and wounded more than 120.

As Matthew Yglesias notes, almost all of the recent car bombs have gone off in Shiite areas, indicating that security has decreased for Shiite residents since the Shiite militias have gone underground.

But the failure goes beyond that.

In fact, raids by American and Iraqi troops into Sunni neighborhoods have not put much of a dent into the Sunni insurgent groups which are still operating freely. Indeed, there's at least some chance that Sunni insurgent groups are operating more freely because Sunni insurgents are no longer under pressure from Shiite militia death squads.

Things aren't much better on the Shiite side of the equation. American and Iraqi troops are beginning to move closer to the Shiite slum of Sadr City but have not been able to provide security against insurgent attacks comparable to that of the militias. At the same time, the American and Iraqi troops are viewed as "outside occupiers" in an area that has been largely self-governing since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Troops are facing a hostile Shiite population with mothers beginning to slap away the candy that handed out to children. In this context, American and Iraqi operations in Sadr City have a strong likelihood of stimulating an anti-American Shiite insurgency to match the Sunni insurgency in the Sunni neighborhoods. If American troops accidentally kill innocent women and children, engage in over-zealous raiding, or bomb wedding parties, they could spark a general uprising.

This illustrates the more general weakness of the surge. We don't have enough troops to accomplish the mission. Even with 17,000 more American troops, the U. S. does not have nearly enough troops in Baghdad to suppress the Sunni insurgency. We also don't have enough troops to provide security for Shiite neighborhoods. There is a chance that we can make some kind of step-by-step progress, but it is just as likely that events will lead to big flare ups of violence. We don't have the troops needed to handle those kinds of big flare ups.

This has been the problem with the whole Iraq War. The Bush administration did not commit enough troops to stabilize Iraq when more troops could have helped. Now, the situation has become so chaotic and so inflamed that no amount of American power can get the job.

The nursery rhyme was right. "All the king's horses and all the king's men."