Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/24/10)

August 24, 2010

  • 1) Interesting stuff from BoBo in the New York Times today (here – not necessarily good, mind you, just interesting)…

    …in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

    The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

    Uh, actually the question isn’t “uncomfortable” at all.

    In as much as the surge “worked,” it did so also because of the ethnic cleansing that preceded it and because of the Sunni Awakening, which basically went after al Qaeda operatives in concert with the fine work of our military (and as you might expect, I see no equivalency between this matter and that of Repugs who will never believe Obama is anything but a SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM!!!).

    And if BoBo needs more proof that Iraq can hardly be called a success, I give you this from one of Brooks’ former colleagues (and a highly unlikely source, I know).

    When that country has a government that actually functions and shares power between its perpetually warring (either politically or for real) factions (and can provide more than a few hours of electricity per day for residents of Baghdad), THEN Brooks can crow about how wonderful Mesopotamia supposedly is now.

  • 2) Next, I give you the latest from Tucker Carlson’s scribble page (here, on a bit of a similar theme)…

    Expect to hear a lot about how much the Iraq war cost in the days ahead from Democrats worried about voter wrath against their unprecedented spending excesses.

    The meme is simple: The economy is in a shambles because of Bush’s economic policies and his war in Iraq. As American Thinker’s Randall Hoven points out, that’s the message being peddled by lefties as diverse as former Clinton political strategist James Carville, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and The Nation’s Washington editor, Christopher Hayes.

    I’ll cut to the chase a bit here and tell you that the right-wing argument is that the “stim” costs more than the Iraq war, so Obama is more at fault for our deficit than Dubya.

    Yes, sadly, I’m serious.

    In response, I give you the following (here, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)…

    The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

    In rather stark terms, Paul Krugman (h/t Atrios) tells us here that, if ever there was a time to borrow like crazy and create all kinds of “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, it is right now, with a 10-year Treasury rate of 2.53 percent.

    But of course, if we do that, the invisible bond vigilantes will descend from the planet Klorp in their spaceships, capture our women and children and enslave us in debt forever, so we won’t (and that explanation is only a shade stupider than what passes for conventional wisdom on this subject these days).

  • 3) Finally, this post from Forbes tells us the following (staying with the economy a bit)…

    No matter how many Obama economists say that stimulus has a positive multiplier, it’s simply not true. Stimulus spending does not stimulate. Because it takes resources from growing sectors of the economy and pushes them to shrinking sectors of the economy– it de-stimulates. It taxes and borrows from good business models to support bad business models.

    It’s simple math. Enlarging government means shrinking the private sector. History is clear: The larger the government share of GDP, the higher the unemployment rate.

    Well, for stimulus spending that supposedly did not “stimulate,” the CBO told us last May that it is projected to create a total of 3.7 million jobs (here – and yes, I know this is familiar territory).

    However, the reason I’m highlighting this story is to counter it with this Daily Kos post, which tells us the following…

    Businesses aren’t creating jobs, and they have no intention of doing so unless they see signs that consumers will again resume spending. Consumers won’t be spending as long as they have nothing or too little to spend. It’s a feedback loop. There is only one way to break it. It has to be the government. The government has to create jobs. Infrastructure. Clean energy. Mass transit. There are plenty of social goods for government to fund, and there are plenty of people who are willing and able to be trained and employed. It has to happen. And only the government can do it.

    I also wanted to highlight the Forbes story for this item…

    But before you think that we have slipped into pessimism, we expect growth to accelerate in the year ahead and we expect the unemployment rate to fall further.

    I think the true Repug “base” just tipped its hand here.

    Anyone who thinks that our august captains of industry in this country are merely impartial observers in our electoral process (particularly after the horrific Citizens United ruling, which opened the proverbial floodgates of corporate campaign donations) must also believe that those zany teabaggers are scholars of Constitutional law.

    They have a vested interest in seeing that the Democrats get trounced this fall (and here is the proof). Whether or not that happens (and let’s do all we can to make sure it doesn’t), they will do what is in their best interest regardless.

    And if that means a bit of a hiring uptick which ends up getting much more than offset by further gains in their wealth (which would tie neatly into the story line that even a modest Repug victory in Congress is a “miracle cure” for the economy), well, lah dee dah, lah dee dah….


  • Stephen, We Hadley Knew Ye

    November 18, 2008

    hadley1aWhen I go to read online content that represents an almost total avoidance of reality, I try my luck at the Philadelphia Inquirer first, but inevitably I end up at the Murdoch Street Journal.

    And today, writer William McGurn tells us the following from here…

    I suppose it’s possible that George W. Bush would award Stephen J. Hadley the Medal of Freedom. Certainly the president’s national security adviser has earned it, for work that made possible the success we are now seeing in Iraq. And it would be within the president’s prerogative to see that work acknowledged with this honor before they both leave the White House come Jan. 20.

    But how much better it would be all around — for the country, for the recipient, and even for Barack Obama — if Mr. Hadley were to receive this honor from the hands of the 44th president of the United States.

    Of course it would be “better,” wouldn’t it? Why, it would be a tacit endorsement by Obama of the lies and deceptions that precipitated and exacerbated the Iraq fiasco which our president-elect, in his wisdom, opposed from the beginning. And it would a great big cream pie, figuratively speaking, splattered right in Obama’s “mush.”

    Yep, that’s something McGurn and his playmates at Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda factory would truly enjoy. It would provide attack fodder for weeks on end.

    Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, please allow me to point out that Hadley, along with former CIA director George Tenet, allowed references to Saddam Hussein’s supposed efforts to purchase nuclear materials into Dubya’s 2003 State Of The Union address here (a reason at the time for our war of choice in Iraq).

    Also, Hadley once endorsed the idea of naming Paul Wolfowitz as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority to replace Jay Garner here (a Jew in charge of an Arab country – how many levels of stupid). And I should also point out here that Hadley dismissed some of the ideas of departing Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld a couple of years ago, which would not be a big deal were it not for the fact that Rummy listed troop withdrawals as one such idea.

    I’m not going to waste my time belaboring the point once more that the “surge” wouldn’t have been a “success” were it not for the Sunni Awakening and the ethnic cleansing that has resulted from their civil war with the Shiites. I’ll merely conclude by saying that the only “victory” Hadley and his chums offered was a feeble political cover to buy time before the ruling Bushco cabal finally, mercifully, departs the national stage at long last in about two months.

    Update: And in true lapdog fashion, Hadley spouted the party line that his boss didn’t believe there were any security concerns regarding the botched Dubai Ports World deal (remember that one?) here (with more than a little bit of an assist from Little Tommy Friedman).


    Petraeus Splits From Iraq With His Rep Intact

    September 17, 2008

    (Please “mouse over” for photo attribution.)

    As noted here, Gen. David H. Petraeus has left Iraq to assume his duties stateside as commander at USCENTCOMM in Tampa, Florida, overseeing all Middle East operations.

    Based on this prior post, though, I have some questions…

  • Do either Gen. Petraeus or his successor, Gen. Raymond Odierno, have an exit strategy for Iraq prepared for the day when we, at long last, leave the pit of Mesopotamia?
  • Given Petraeus’ quote that “a successful counterinsurgency strategy could take 9-10 years,” about where are we now in that timeframe?
  • Can either Gen. Petraeus or Gen. Odierno provide a status on Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way,” even though the mayor of Mosul defected to the insurgents?
  • Does Gen. Petraeus have a clue as to what happened to the $2.3 billion that we provided to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow ended up in foreign bank accounts (Petraeus oversaw the training program)?
  • Is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (I noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would probably be the better person to answer that, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway)?
  • Can we look forward to another glowing Op-Ed on Iraq from Petraeus timed for just before the election similar to the one he wrote in 2004 (here)?
  • And given the preceding question concerning the September 2004 WaPo editorial which reeked of self-promotion and image enhancement, I would ask that you consider the following from the recent profile of Petraeus in The New Yorker by Steve Coll here…

    Indeed, because of the reductions in Iraq’s violence, General Petraeus has been cast in the Presidential campaign’s emerging narrative as a sort of Mesopotamian oracle, one that must be consulted or honored by the two remaining candidates. In July, Senator Barack Obama went to Iraq and saw the General; he was rewarded, courtesy of Petraeus’s energetic press aides, with an iconic photograph, printed in many dozens of newspapers, which showed the Senator aboard a command helicopter, smiling confidently at the General’s side. A few weeks later, Senator John McCain, while speaking at a nationally televised forum hosted by the evangelist Rick Warren, invoked Petraeus as one of the three wisest people he knew; McCain called the General “one of the great military leaders in American history.” Afterward, on the campaign trail, the Republican Senator attacked Obama for not being as staunch an acolyte of Petraeus as McCain has been.

    And, as noted here, Senator McBush and Holy Joe both basically wanted to turn over the Congressional oversight function of the war to Petraeus (though, as I noted here earlier, I was disturbed by Petraeus’ analysis of a wave of suicide bombings in July of last year; he called the wave a “mini Tet,” which to me showed a blatant disregard for the fact that, at the time of Tet, most of this country still supported the Vietnam War, though support for Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Middle East Adventure basically evaporated long ago).

    Finally, I have to seriously question the timing of Petraeus’ departure; though I do not mean to cast aspersions on Gen. Odierno, I think leaving shortly before the planned “laying down of arms” by the Sunni Awakening councils to the al-Maliki government shows, to some degree, the desire to “beat it out of Dodge” while the getting is good – it would be more logical to have the person whom many regard (rightly or wrongly) as the main reason for the “success” of the “surge” to remain and ensure as smooth a transition as possible (assuming anyone can “ensure” anything in Iraq).


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