Monday, December 25, 2006

Recommended Reading...

Huge thanks to the author of this must-read rant on the imaginary war on Christmas: for saving me the trouble of typing and posting it. It's worded almost identical to how I'd word it -- maybe a few more F-bombs (maybe not.)

Give it a read.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Drag Him Forward (Part 2)

Recommendations 9 through 17 continue to discuss successfully dealing with Iran and Syria as well as resolving all of the existing conflicts in the region. We're going to skip ahead at the same speed the study group sped through these many issues.

R18 -- Shift resources from Iraq to Afghanistan
Where have I heard this before? Hmmm.... oh yeah, out of just about every Democrat's mouth immediately prior to being accused of aiding the terrorists, loving Sadam, hating America and being traitors. Hell, we didn't want the resources or focus shifted away from the hunt for Osama in the first place. But I digress. Good luck selling this one to the Bush adminionstration, boys -- George W. Christ has already made it clear that he doesn't spend any time worrying about Osama -- apparantly he thinks we're better off with Osama still on the loose rather than brought to justice for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

R19 -- Bush should set milestones, keep in touch with the Iraqi gov't monitor and encourage their progress in reaching those milestones and keep the Iraqi and American people fully informed as to that progress.
Again... good luck selling them on this one, boys! We've been waiting three years for clearly defined objectives in OUR effort and frankly, we're lucky this cloak-and-dagger adminionstration has let is in on the fact that we even went to war.

R20 -- If the Iraqi gov't shows that it's trying to make progress toward achieving the objectives set forth for them, we'll continue "training, assistance, and support for
Iraq’s security forces, and to continue political, military, and economic support for the Iraqi government"
if they do, we can begin to reduce our military or civilian presence in Iraq.

...or could if we weren't going to continue doing all those things for them.

R21 -- If they don't become more capable, we should reduce our military and civilian presence
...but, as stated above, we can do that only if they DO bcome more capable. So, in a nutshell, we're staying either way.

R22 -- The President should state that we don't want to establish permanent military bases in Iraq, unless the Iraqui government we helped install and who are currently relying on us for just about everything ask us to establish them.
I'm not going to be the only one who reads this one this way. I wonder why they didn't suggest that we enact legislation preventing this or any other administration and this or any future Congress from ever establishing permanent US bases in Iraq, EVEN if we're asked.

R23 -- "The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil."
...And then we should make it clear that we won't purchase, trade for or accept by any other means so much as one drop of it... and then we should begin, in earnest, to develop and switch completely over to technologies that will send fossil fuels the way of the dinosaurs they're made from. This will successfully eliminate any concerns that we have any interest, whatsoever, in that finite commodity. (But, we won't.)

R24 -- Some of the dates we set for achieving milestones in Iraq are unrealistic, so rather than go back and edit this report to suggest more realistic dates, we're adding this recommendation to say that those dates are unrealistic and suggest a different deadline by which Iraq should meet those objectives.
Seriously, that's what recommendation 24 is!! Go read the report for yourself.

R25 -- Oh and the milstones we listed earlier were a good start, but we thought of some more and rather than go back and edit that section...

The next set of recommendations addresses steps the study group believes Iraq needs to take to accomplish political reconciliation, so I'll stop here and pick there, next time.

Io Saturnalia!

Today (Dec. 17) marks the beginning of the week long Saturnalia. So, in the spirit of fine, old-fashioned December holiday spirit, let me extend you a most joyous and heartfelt traditional Saturnalia greeting:

Io Saturnalia! Cast off your toga!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drag Him Forward (Part 1)

Well, mighty Melhicans, I've finally had a chance to read the Iraq Study Group Report and it's time to rip that sucker apart, piece by piece. Unfortunately, as much as I'd desperately love to, I don't have access to any actual White House security cam footage to entertain you with video of the Prez doing just that amid what was surely the biggest tantrum ever thrown in the White House.

Before I get into the 79 recommendations (btw, this will have to be a multi-part series hobbled together as I can snag a moment of free time here and there) I want to share with you my knee jerk reaction to the overall document. Like most of you, I saw a LOT of media coverage of the report prior to getting a chance to read it, myself.

Considering the unanimous media opinion that it was a hard hitting, straight shooting, no holds barred, blunt-object-whack at the Prez, I was expecting it to be one of the (if not THE) most scathing indictment of the President, by anyone, to date. Perhaps my expectations colored my reaction, but I was sorely disappointed. The (to my eye) blatantly purposeful use of passive voice to soft peddle the critique and spoon feed it to the adminionstration made me want to gag. The time for molly coddling this President has long since passed and should never have existed. He's a grown man and sitting President, for criminy sake, not a cranky child who's fretting in public and needs to be gently reminded of his surroundings and manners! Now... on to the recommendations...

R1: Implement the new diplomatic offensive before Jan. 31 of this year
Whether you think implementing it, at all, is good strategy, you have to admit that this recommendation beats the hell out of having Bush show up in Iraq in a Santa suit, dragging an open (but unused) parachute behind him, for a photo-op with the troops.

R2-iii: Secure Iraq's borders
Before this report launches into the group's recommendations, it discusses the many problems with the President's handling of the war, including the rapid decline of support among Americans and the need to turn that red, white and blue frown upside down. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking that spending our hard earned tax dollars and indebting ourselves even more severely to foreign crowns to secure Iraq's borders -- which were secure until we laid them open, while leaving our own borders wide open and unprotected might not be conducive to bolstering public support for Bushie's Botched Folly.

R3: Get the Iraqis, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference together in the same room to discuss coming together to suppot the newly installed Iraqi government that most of them are already trying very hard (and succeeding) to undermine.
Ohhh Kay. Um... if this sounds like a trick to ME... Seriously, while the opposite is normally true, this may be the ONE and ONLY meeting of foreign leaders & diplomats that Bush would HAVE to attend, in person, for anyone to show up.

R4: Establish an Iraq International Support Group
I don't really have a comment on this one, mainly because I just don't see it happening regardless of whether it would be a good or a bad thing. I just wish I'd been there to witness Georgie's reaction when he read this one, because you KNOW what HE thought this meant!! (I feel sorry for the people who have to explain these things to him -- the desire to eff with his mind must be overwhleming.)

R5: "The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria; the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself Other countries—for instance, Germany, Japan and South Korea..."
Take a moment. Re-read the list of nations in the recommendation... really read it... now just ponder on the realities involved in this recommendation for a moment. (I'll wait.) OK, NOW you know why I don't see this support group thing coming together anytime soon. It would be nice if it could come together and could succeed, but... going back to what we're sure Bush thought was meant by "support group," the world isn't a warm fuzzy waiting for an excuse to happen... it's somewhat more complicated than that and some of those complications run pretty damned deep. Our blatant and arrogant lack of respect for those complications is part of what got us into this mess in the first place... it sure as Hell isn't going to get us out of it.

R6: The Secretary of State or the President should lead the U.S.'s diplomatic offensive effort
Whoa... hold up a minute! I thought this report rather established that their leadership is what led us so far down the path to chaos and that these two couldn't lead a snipe hunt expedition (aka "the search for WMDs) without screwing it up, much less anything of international importance.

R7: The UN Secretary General should designate a special envoy to carry out his work in regards to the diplomatic offensive.
Hey, now here's an idea! Maybe we could appoint a special envoy to lead the US effort, made up of people who have at least half a clue what they're doing, instead of putting Condi and/or Bush in charge.

R8: "...develop specific approaches to neighboring countries that take into account the interests, perspectives, and potential contributions..." "The Study Group recognizes that U.S. relationships with Iran and Syria involve difficult issues that must be resolved. Diplomatic talks should be extensive and substantive, and they will require a balancing of interests. The United States has diplomatic, economic, and military disincentives available in approaches to both Iran and Syria. However, the United States should also consider incentives to try to engage them constructively, much as it did successfully with Libya."
If bribing them doesn't win their support, we can always go back to the old standby of punishing those nations who don't see things our way. I'm being snide because I'm a realist. The talks would not consist of balancing interests or bringing these nations to the table, as equals, to fascilitate a cooperative effort toward devising strategies and solutions and a course of action that is equitable to all. It would involve bringing them to our table, as nations of the free world WE lead and selling the strategies, solutions and course of action we devised without their input and fully intend to implement with or without their participation, cooperation or support.


I'll save the other recommendations for future installments, to be posted as I find the time and inclination.

Lest I've made it seem as though I believe otherwise, let me very clear: We DO need a new plan. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.

I'm not sure if this is the plan we need or not -- but I can say with full confidence that it's a damned sight better than the plan we've been working with, to date. (Which seems to consist, primarily, of pretending there's a plan.)

What I want done, TODAY, is for the Bush adminionstration to define "victory" in regards to Iraq by spelling out, clearly, the specific objectives that must be achieved for us to declare "victory" and exactly how we will measure whether those objectives have been achieved. We're paying for this mess -- with what will be multiple generations of our tax dollars, with the ceding of power to foreign debtors, with the lives and limbs of our sons and daughters serving in Iraq, etc. We can't even begin to hope to devise any workable strategy, either on our own or in concert with the other nations of the world, until that question is answered.

THAT is the first reality that must be dealt with -- until it is, we're just talking about stepping forward on a treadmill.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Few Seconds...

Today, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical monolith that charges nearly $1,000 for a 30 day supply of one of its HIV/AIDS medications, is donating $1 to the National AIDS Fund for each person who simply visits their website and "virtually lights a candle."
Please, please take a few seconds to light a candle:

(Thank you to Joe Serra for passing this on to me. After you've lit a candle, please pass this on to another.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cut 'n Rummy

Seems ole Rummy had a few suggestions for God W. Bush about the war in Iraq before cutting and running from a position no longer to be rubber stamped. Most of his suggestions sound a lot like the suggestions Democrats have been shredded for by our old chum Rummy, the George W. Christ adminionstration and the parrots chattering away in the Murdoch echo chamber.

But, one suggestion really caught my attention. Rummy suggested that it might help to put a spin on the war that would lower our expectations. No, seriously, this was one of his suggestions -- I think the idea is that if there's not SUCH a stark dichotomy between the reality and the propoganda, we won't be as apt to notice that it's going as badly as it is. Like if I tell you the gunshot wound I'm about to inflict on you is going to hurt like hell, you won't notice the pain nearly as much as if I'd said "this won't hurt a bit."

There's just one little flaw* in this plan -- it would be impossible to lower our expectations... a lot of us, whose patriotism was called into question for it, expected exactly what has transpired since before the invasion offically began. ...And, for the record: nobody wishes more desperately than we do that we'd been proven wrong.

*The countless other flaws in this plan are not so little.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

In True Democrat Fashion...

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Republican Pledge of Allegiance

Republican Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegience
To the flag
Of the united States of america
Fifty nation states
Under God
With liberty and justice
As each sees fit