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Your Thoughts, Please, on the "Surge"

Am seeking thoughtful thoughts, observations, analysis, even factual data-points and random empiricisms on the escalation of the war, or the surge, or the "new strategy" that is, of course, a tactical adjustment in what amounts to a stay-the-course policy. You heard the speech or read about it, you've probably seen some of the official reaction (strangely muted and wonkish, I thought, from Obama, compared to the much more visceral "My heart fell" reaction by Sen. Feinstein and the very direct approach of John Edwards, who says let's start getting out now), and now is your chance, as a citizen, as a human being, to offer your opinion, with the full knowledge that the president will ignore it in any case.

[As you know, I soar like a mighty raptor above the partisan fray, so please judge my modest thoughts here as nothing more or less than objective fact and incontrovertible truth. It's clear that the president is going to do what he wants to do even if that means, in essence, an executive annulment of the recent election, and a back of the hand to Baker-Hamilton, the Dems, the moderate GOPers, the Joint Chiefs, and the many brigades of retired generals who think this thing has been an epic fiasco. There was a retired general last night on the radio program "The World" who spoke for many, I'm guessing, when he said that when you're in a hole the best thing to do is stop digging.]

Here are some questions for those who understand the nuances of this plan: Won't the insurgents and death squads go where the troops aren't? Isn't the truly conservative position the one that assumes that people are not inert figures in this drama but responsive, adaptive actors? We can pacify a neighborhood with soldiers stationed at every corner of every intersection, but at some point won't those soldiers have to leave, allowing the return of chaos, as has happened again and again? Why would we suppose that, in the meantime, peace will effloresce? Pulling back to look at a regional picture, how has this war helped to contain Iran?

A basic piece of advice I give to my kids all the time is, solve your own problems. There's a corollary: Don't put yourself in a position in which you're vulnerable to the mistakes and shenanigans and general lunacy of others. Control your own destiny. The president's plan in Iraq depends so much on Iraqi cooperation, on an Iraqi desire for democracy, on an Iraqi willingness to forge a unity government rather than what we've seen so far, a sectarian government. It depends on Maliki.

Do you like our odds?

[3 p.m. bulletin from the Hill: Attended some of the raucous Senate Foreign Affairs committee hearing, during which senators of both parties read the riot act to Secretary Rice -- "expressing outright hostility, disagreement and/or overwhelming concern with the president's proposal," in the concluding and very accurate words of Chairman Biden. Rice, however, didn't let herself get caught up in any major verbal combat; she kept her cool. She's gone over to the House for more testimony.

The last senator to have a shot at her, Webb of Virginia, began his questioning by asking her to pass along to the president "my best regards."

He then asked a question about whether the Administration believes, under the 2002 resolution authorizing force in Iraq, that it has the legal right to attack Iran. Rice said she's been told that the problem with Iranian weapons in Iraq can be handled in Iraq, but that she'd give a more complete, written response later. Biden later said that the 2002 vote clearly prohibited the President from attacking Iran, and warned that, if there was an attack on Iran, "That will generate a Constitutional confrontation...I will attempt to make it a confrontation."]

More reaction from folks of all political stripes:

BarbinMD on dailykos: "[W]hat is never addressed is how the issue of Muqtada al-Sadr will be resolved. Apparently the leader of the 60,000 strong militia, the man who controls 30 seats in Parliment, 5 of the Iraq ministries and Prime Minister Maliki, will meekly lay down his arms because...well, because our committment is not open-ended, versus in October when is was not unlimited."

Andrew Sullivan: "The premise of the speech, and of the strategy, is that there is a national democratic government in Baghdad, defending itself against Jihadist attacks. The task, in the president's mind, is therefore to send more troops to defend such a government. But the reality facing us each day is a starkly different one from the scenario assumed by the president. The government of which Bush speaks, to put it bluntly, does not exist. The reality illumined by the lynching of Saddam is that the Maliki government is a front for Shiite factions and dependent for its future on Shiite death squads. U.S. support for the government is not, therefore, a defense of democracy in a unified country, whatever our intentions. It is putting the lives of American soldiers in defense of the Shiite side in an increasingly brutal civil war."

Clifford May on National Review (along with many other conservative takes on the speech): "Are 20,000 troops enough to get the job done? Can Iraqis shoulder the considerable burdens this plan requires of them? Can Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stand and deliver? I'm hopeful, but that's not as good as confident."

Kevin Drum: "Almost to the letter, it's the same stuff we've been trying for the past three years, except with about 10% more troops than before. Does Bush really think the American public is going to find any of this very convincing?"

Joe Lieberman (via Weekly Standard): "Success is attainable in Iraq, and tonight the President has offered a comprehensive program to chart a new course in both winning the military struggle to establish order and in achieving the political and economic objectives to build a more promising future for Iraqis....Tonight, the President did not take the easy path, but he took the correct and courageous course."

Hugh Hewitt: "President Bush was at his best tonight: serious, detailed, and above all, resolute."

Boodler bc at 10thCircle: "9:18: Is it me, or does President Bush look like even he doesn't believe this stuff?"

Howard Fineman: "George W. Bush spoke with all the confidence of a perp in a police lineup. I first interviewed the guy in 1987 and began covering his political rise in 1993, and I have never seen him, in public or private, look less convincing, less sure of himself, less cocky. With his knitted brow and stricken features, he looked, well, scared. Not surprising since what he was doing in the White House library was announcing the escalation of an unpopular war."

And this from a humor/observations blog way back on Dec. 14: "I would suggest that any discussion of a surge of forces into Baghdad should be put in terms that would make sense to the soldier being asked to go there and risk his or her life, and to the soldiers already there. No abstract talk, please."

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 11, 2007; 7:56 AM ET
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I took notes on the speech, and documented my reactions here.

Boodlers, apologies for the repost.


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

No apologies necessary, I already added it to the kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

" terms that would make sense to the soldier being asked to go there and risk his or her life, and to the soldiers already there..."

For this, I would wonder what McCain, Powell, and the many unnamed philosopher-warriors think and know.

One irony in our system is the civilian yoking of the military. I wouldn't want to live under any other system. But, the civilian yoking risks politization.

Telling also is that the policy-making class does not have very many sons and daughters serving in line and combat positions.

So Webb's voice is important here, and McCain's. I believe they might differ on surge and size. But let's listen carefully to them.

(This is not to say that soldiers are unitelligent dupes of our system.)

Posted by: College Parkian | January 11, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Do we know which troglodyte decided surge was a good word for this? It's not such a great choice, as it causes us to remember the last time the Administration was responsible for handling a surge...the storm surge into New Orleans. You'd think they'd want to distance themselves from that, not remind us of the inept response and beaucratic snafus.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 11, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I posted this at the end of the last kit, but it's more appropriate here.
I watched Bush last night, and I have just one comment. He said a lot about "holding the Iraqi gov't accountable to benchmarks, yakkity-yack." I'm kinda curious how he intends to do this: what, withdraw support from them? set up a different gov't? It was a lot of "what" but no "how," except send in more troops. It was a lot of other stuff too, but I'm not allowed to write that.
Oh, and his tie was terrible too (IMO)
I wonder which speech Hugh was watching, or is his perception of reality really that skewed.

Posted by: Tangent | January 11, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

It appears that from Woodward State of Denial, we would need to put ALL of the US forces in Bagdad to secure it according to the Bosnia/Kosovo experience. 20,000 is a magnitude of order too SMALL to secure the capital... In light of the fundamental planning and execution disasters in the first three years or the war, it is improbable that these extra troops will provide any more security and will be just 20,000 more targets of opportunity for enemy fire. The WH culture of genuflection and suppression of conflicting ideas, coupled with Rumsfield's mismanagement of the military has put this country in greater peril than ever, and will reshape the ME in ways I loath to consider.

Posted by: LEONARD KLISS | January 11, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I love your articule,but ho ho's,cheesy poofs and yinglings.....I think I would feel a "surge" coming on about 4 am

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 11, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Maybe bush actually meant to say


scourge n. A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.

you know how he F**** up his words

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 11, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

President Bush continues to argue how we must establish a "democracy" in Iraq and yet we are losing our democracy and freedoms here at home. Sending more troops to Iraq is just going to put more of our men in harm's way, once again reaffirming our inability to win a war that's not even ours to begin with. Our objectives in Iraq were to take Hussein out of power and eliminate if any - weapons of mass destruction so that we may have a safer future for our children, or as Bush puts it "our most precious resource". Yet, last time I checked - Hussein was dead and there were no WMDs. Why continue losing our "most precious resource" when it was our goal to protect them in the first place. Pack it up, bring our men home - we do not need another Vietnam.

Posted by: Brad | January 11, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I truly dislike Bush for sending so many of our kids to their death. I truly abhor Bush's ignoring our overwhelming election results in November. I am really angry that Bush would do as he pleases in spite of everybody's misgivings about Iraq. Bush will surely continue to do as he please until someone stops him. As for the House...they are gutless wonders who don't deserve the power we gave them during the last election. Gil in Tex

Posted by: gil hernandez | January 11, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

One rumor I've heard is that the military, as an attempt to expand, is going to drop even more standards for military personnel overseas. For instance, the "poor credit = bad security risk" thing, which is allowing a nephew of mine to stay safe in the Navy nowhere near a war zone. Has anyone else heard this?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 11, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

It's good for Mayor Fenty that he released his "200 goals in 100 days" today. Compared to Bush's plan, it almost looks achievable.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I have a (potentially very) long discourse on this topic swirling in my head and dying to get out, but alas, I have some actual work this morning I have to do (doing annual performance evaluations on my team) that I can't ignore (unlike, say, most of my other work), so I probably won't get to it until this afternoon. But (speaking perhaps, in the voice of my alter ego, the Mighty Favog) I can give you the really, really abridged (and expurgated) version now: the man is deranged.

Back later, dudes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 11, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Thank you so much, everyone, for your wonderful posts. I remember after my father died (and I was the same age as their eldest daughter, 17), my aunt took me shopping for something to wear to the funeral. Also, my best friends from high school kept track of all the food that people brought by. So I'm going up there to help out with some of those tasks. Someone said all you can do is be there, and that's just what I'm going to do.

I can't get the image out of my head, though, of how it mother told me exactly how last night. So I'm going to try to distract myself with work today (my mom's on a plane headed up there right now, I'm joining her this weekend.)

Posted by: PLS | January 11, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I keep thinking of Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre of Archibald Cox and wishing there were some way to get the effect of the 3 million telegrams to congress calling for Nixons' impeachment.Impeachment now seems the only way to stop this insanity.

Posted by: dan maceda | January 11, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey, thanks for the linkage, Joel.


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"the decisive ideological struggle of our time"

I am so very tired of hearing this phrase. Why is this so? The vast majority of humans on this great green earth have no horse in this race.

Fearless Leader's liberry-side chat resounded with me like a bunch of Hannity Snow'Reilly talking points, and will be repeated as such ad nauseum. Our country was founded on isolationist principles, but has been drawn into conflicts before. Some may argue that because of 9-11, blah blah blah. The evidence for any connection between Iraq and that date doen't exist. Bush started this war because he wanted to, and he tried to fight it on the cheap. Now, we are being asked to send more young people to lose life and limbs in order to help him dig the hole deeper. I don't get it.

Posted by: Gomer | January 11, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Bush showed an enormous amount of unusual mia culpa last night, which made me feel better but doesn't change certain things. A serious misunderstanding of Iraqi culture (and implicitly Sunni/Shi'ite culture) is what drives the presidents decisions.

You have a vastly uneducated population with a majority religious faction that has been brutal oppressed by a minority for decades in Iraq and CENTURIES elsewhere (a social phenomenon older than Babylon). Further compounding the problem is the perceived arrogance (real or not) of Sunni worldwide by Shi'ite.

Now throw in 14 centuries of monotheistic dogma and hate and you can begin to get a sense of the identity of the Iraqi psyche. This is not to say these feelings are universal, but they are wide spread enough to be credible, and radical elements are always the loudest in politics (just look domestically for examples).

At this point, the security is so grim that people are taking defense in their own hands. That may mean keeping guns in the house, but more likely it means joining an insurgent group or a militia -- a "cover your own" strategy -- and you can't really blame them. The lack of security strategy after Baghdad fell dictated this.

Finally, there is Maliki. He could be completely well intentioned -- that's still up for debate -- but it doesn't matter. He is not capable of implementing his will or the wishes of the American president. He lacks backbone and I say that with regard to Moqtada. Without his sponsor's backing, Maliki can get nothing accomplished

The scenario as I see it is this: We (as a nation) messed up going to Iraq. Catastrophically so. Regardless of why, the point is that now Iraq will be run by vengeful Shi'ites with Iranian anti-American backing.

If the global war on terror is a long and different war, and this is the main front, we have suffered a serious strategic loss. We must retreat, regroup and attack on the flanks. We are down 14-3 -- a no-huddle hail-mary pass isn't going to save us.

Posted by: Christian Bongiorno | January 11, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Even if someone came up with a most wonderful strategy, it would be administered by the Bush people. It will fail for that reason alone.

The President's stated motives are not credible. He cannot be trusted. As well, his people are so ethnocentric they literally cannot understand the thinking of people in the entire reagion. (I suspect many non-Americans view "freedom" as "power" which in a sense, it is. This may lead many to believe that peace and freedom are simply incompatable.)

Our troops CANNOT SPEAK ARABIC. Our troops are not administrators, nor are they even experienced cops. They are soldiers.

The war and occupation have been conducted with the most awesome amount of corruption and stolen funds in recent history. What has been done about this; what will be done?

Our "alliances" in the region are flawed. What do we have in common with the Saudis? We are hamstringed by Turkey even dealing with the Kurds. Our continued support of Israel despite their excesses is likely damaging our interests.

A very large portion of our news media are spinners and tools. Most of them operate under a set of horribly flawed unstated assumptions even at their best.

We are in a no-win situation, the Democrats have been handed a hot potato, a white elephant, they will be doomed by this travesty as well. I dare say a majority of Americans would like to see the entire administration in prison.

The administration is dead set on literally bankrupting this country. Our currency weakens day by day. This is Bin Laden's stated goal. And the Bush administration is working so steadfastly towards that result it is almost as if they are working for Osama.

Posted by: Jumper | January 11, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I have two differect approaches to this--the speech itself, and the comments made by Lawrence Wright, author of "The Looming Tower" at last night's "Copyright Texas" library event. I shall attempt to keep them separate.

Last night I heard Bush's speech on NPR radio while driving home from downtown, and learned this morning, by watching NBC's morning show, that Bush delivered his address from the White House library (oh, Mrs. Millard Fillmore!), apparently in an attempt to look learned. So Bush is still tinkering not only with troop levels, but with Hollywood-type backdrops, it seems.

Bush utterly lost me at the second paragraph of his speech when he talked about the elections in Iraq: "When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together..." Subsequent analysis of the election has shown that the Iraqis voted along sectarian lines in this "democratic" exercise, purple fingers notwithstanding. So Bush starting off with a false premise of voting for a unified Iraq so early in his talk is not good.

Last night, the NYT had put today's op-eds up early, including one by David Brooks, who began in his lede by really slamming the Democrats for failing to have a plan, one even remotely serious. Well, David, since a good number of Dems voted against waging the war in the first plan, I think that WAS their plan--not to get engaged in war based on dubious evidence.

Next, Brooks slams Biden for his studiousness: "Joe Biden, who has the most intellectually serious framework for dealing with Iraq, was busy yesterday, at the crucial decision-making moment, conducting preliminary fact-finding hearings, complete with forays into Iraqi history."

History matters, David. Before our troops ever set up their tents in Iraq, the British, the French, the Saracens, the Crusaders, the Mongols, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians also passed this way. There have been the successive rules of the Byzantines, the Sassanids, the Umayyads, the Saljuks, the Ottomans, the British, the Hashemites.

The United States can put in 20,000 more troops in Baghad, a city of 4 million or more. This handful of troops [there are more angles to this story than squares in a Rubik's cube], based on extensions of tours by those serving there and accelerations of tours by those who have come home, will be a drop in the bucket in terms of effectiveness--in the numbers game. (And weren't Mudge's wartime wishes the other day so Old School--based on conventional nation-state warfare, rather than insurgencies and guerrilla warfare tactics?)

A bolstered police or military state imposed top-down by us will probably be able to physically push and bully the citizens around for two more years--even in Baghdad where Shiites and Sunnis live in segregated enclaves, but will we ever change their thinking or religious affiliations and allegiances?

Last night author Lawrence Wright really took a swing at Democratic House Rep Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, now the new head of the House Intelligence Committee, for not knowing the difference between Shia and Sunni. But, really, isn't it just as important to know about the Sufis, the Alawites, the Takfirs and the Wahhabis?

I am reminded of a paragraph from George Grant's 1991 book, "The Blood on the Moon: The Roots of the Middle East Crisis." His title is taken from passages with "blood on the moon' in them from both the Koran and the book of Joel in the Bible. On page 42, Grant writes: "At the State Department in Washington [and the Pentagon and White House, too, without doubt] talk of strategic initiatives or troop movements or diplomatic maneuvers is likely to attractg keen interest. On the other hand, talk of the spiritual and historical forces that invigorates those strategic initiatives or motivates those troop movements or dominates those diplomatic maneuvers [did you see Robin Wright's article about Ryan Crocker in today's Washington Post?] is likely to cause the the eyes to glaze over."

Bush, posing in front of stacks of books in the White House library and originally opposed to nation building, proposing to send in 20,150 more troops and billions of tax dollars for reconstruction and social programs in Iraq is like applying a small Bandaid to a mammoth, self-inflicted, gaping, suppurating wound without knowing one iota about medicine.

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think "BarbinMD" nailed it. What makes "success" or "victory" in Iraq such aquestionable goal is the fact that the government we're supporting is propped up by sectarian militias. It's because the supporters of the "surge" still embrace this delusion of a monolithic enemy that makes the plan even more suspect. I'm sorry, I'd have more faith if George I were doing the job. I just don't think George II knows what he is doing.

Posted by: CowTown | January 11, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

One would think the after the first Gulf war that the military would be training at least some of their troops to speak Arabic!!!

We know or have known for some time that the middle east is the major trouble spot.Would it not make sense to have our troops properly trained and equiped.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 11, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I didn't watch the speech; I can't stand to listen to him, much less watch him. Content aside, his manner prevents me from believing anything he says.

This plan appears detached from reality, though that comes as no surprise. "Deranged", in a bubble, oblivious -- all these are good descriptions of our chief executive's apparent state of mind. I particularly agree with Joel that part of the problem with this "plan" is its foolhardy reliance on the actions and will of the Iraqis. I tell the Boy all the time that you can't control anyone else's actions. You can only control your reactions to their behavior, and your original actions. Even in professional life or event planning, it isn't a good idea to take an important chunk of your content and say, "I'll give this to x, who will be responsible for its success, but has no real accountability to me and may not have my same goals or desire to act." What a terrible way to run a war.


I'm still catching up on the previous Boodle, but apparently condolences are in order for PLS's friend. I am sorry. If you're going up to help, remember to take basics like toilet paper and tissues -- having extras of those basics helped us tremendously when my father died.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Rice, Gates, Pace:

Running to the Hill...Thanks everyone for the comments.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

If Bush has any incremental chance of salvaging his legacy, he should think long and hard about pulling out of Iraq now. Even those with nothing more than common sense will provide some favorable applause. Afterall, lack of common sense got us into this war,

Posted by: Hootathought | January 11, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

One of the problems of having a closed-minded evangelical Christian as president is that anyone else with like closed-mindedness feels confident in pressing their beliefs on others. One of the reasons we have no Arabic-speaking troops or civilian employees is that many were fired for being gay.

The trouble with having any kind of religious fundamentalist as your country's headman is that as long as he believes he does God's work, he is right and anyone else is wrong.

Posted by: Gomer | January 11, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The closest I got to military service was a civilian contractor for the Navy. Still, I seemed to have gotten all the main parts of the deal correct, in that Saddam was bluffing, had no WMD, and we would have to occupy the place for ten years. I hope I'm wrong on the last one, but I doubt it.

I gained the following lessons from my experience with the groundhog insurgency. As strange as it may seem, I see no major differences between their insurgency and the Iraqi insurgency, except the groundhogs are cuter.

1) They are more patient than us. We have other things to do, they don't.

2) They know the land and move through it invisibly. Turn your head and they're gone.

3) When you think you know how many there are, there are twice as many as that.

4) If you establish and maintain a constant physical presence in a given area they will move to the outskirts. This *will* minimize damage to the area you control, but as soon as you leave they'll be back in a flash.

5) If you can't kill them all you'll never be rid of them.

Fortunately the groundhogs are easy to distinguish from, say, deer. Sunnis and Shia, decent citizens and insurgents are not so easy to identify.

Mr. Bush will not ever bring home the troops. He doesn't have enough troops to maintain control over a large enough space to make a difference - the insurgents will at best go to the outskirts and wait if necessary. But he'll be able to maintain his fantasy world in retirement that *he* didn't lose because he stayed.

I just hope he has the decency to go away and keeps his mouth shut at that point.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Steve Bennett
Express-News Book Editor

As President Bush laid out his course of action for Iraq on Wednesday, an Al-Qaida expert reminded an audience of San Antonio library supporters that coalition forces had essentially destroyed the terror group in the months after 9-11.

"They conceded that 80 to 85 percent of their members were dead," said Lawrence Wright, author of "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11," a finalist for the National Book Award. "They were unable to do anything. Until Iraq."

San Antonio Express-News book Editor Steve Bennett covered the literary gathering last night downtown of five Texas authors and began as his lede the reply Wright gave to my question (summarized here--I mentioning Sierra Leone and Niger) "Where (or in what state) is al Qaeda now?"

Bennett, no doubt under deadline, operating with column-inch restraints, and wanting to mention the other four writers, wrote an extremely selective or narrow excerpt of Wright's reply.

Wright felt that we have hobbled and constrained bin Laden. But he also mentioned the many locations where al Qaeda curently operates, including in soouthern China and Somalia. He compared al Qaeda to the many-headed Hydra (or would a better analogy be Lucy in the chocolate factory, or Mickey Mouse and the multuplying brooms in Disney's "Sorcerer's Apprentice"?).

A man behind me asked the next question and it also was directed to Wright. "What should we do in terms of national security?"

First, Wright mentioned that the American intelligence community has done a poor job of policing al Qaeda. His book covers the fierce rivalry of FBI's John O'Neill and CIA's Mike Scheuer in the early days of tracking bin Laden's movements, for example. Wright said that if you were to take the elevator to the 7th floor of the (I missed it) building--presumably FBI, on page 207 of his book he covers this issue--you'd find a bunch of "Irish [or] Italian Catholic guys" who have a lot of experience with the IRA and Mafia, but little or no experience with the Middle East.

We are truly handicapped by an absence of people who understand the enemy, Wright maintained. The government employs so few Arabic speakers. We send personnel to nine weeks of language training in Arabic, and after that they may be able to order breakfast in their newly learned language, but are hardly capable of understanding an interrogation, he explained.

Wright tersely said that, second, we need allies in the war on terror and that al Qaeda has isolated us in the fight because we have, essentially, followed their script. Third, we must help to solve the Israel and Palestinian conflict, he said.

Hands down, the funniest author during his remarks last night was John Taliaferro, who also read from his book "The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898." I was most impressed by his enite body of work, but I'll save the humor story for later.

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

i used to summarize our prospects in iraq as, at the end of the day, we'll have spend half a trillion to a trillion dollars (in addition to the lives of our soldiers!) to create an ally for iran. bad investment, imo.

and that was going along with the idea of the stated goal of creating a democracy in iraq. now it's much worse. we may spend that much or more just to see the whole region destabilize and go to radical fundamentalists, who will train more people to fly airplanes into buildings.

arbusto can say that things have not turned out the way that he thought, but they have turned out exactly the way certain "old european allies" said they would. and the administration is responsible for its ignorance and arrogance. blaming everything now on iraqis is also disingenuous.

and it's not ethical to pull out when we know that chaos would ensue. we made this mess, and we have to clean it up. and if we leave too soon, we will have to go back.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 11, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I'll tell you what would stop the "surge" and the war also, dead in its tracks: resignation of the general officer corps.. en masse!!

Posted by: RICHARD CAHALL | January 11, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

reposting from previous

Raysmom, If you had PERL I could send you a program that would do just what you need in seconds (or less). Or I could send you an executable file...

PLS, so sorry to here about your mom and her friends loss. You know all your imaginary friends are here for you.

bc, my goodness. I have a really cool drinking game for arbusto speeches that has not failed me yet: I start drinking as soon as I get home. Alternating Becks and shots of Blorph (AKA Jim Beam). By the time the speech starts I've passed out. Wake up when it's over and watch a good movie.

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Our Genius Political leaders and even our so called military experts obviously don't spend much time learning from history. They should study up on what happened during W.W.II when the Germans tried to occupy and control countries that they had overrun. France had it's Underground, Russia had it's partisians and many of the Nations that ended up in the Eastern Bloc such as Poland and Ukraine also had guerrillas. Based on our present Administrations definitions they would be called terrorists or insurgents. It should also be noted that we gave support to many of these insurgents with military resources. But I digress. My point is that As large as the German troop concentrations were in some of these occupied countries were they were still unsuccessfull in keeping them suppressed. Even using harsh methods of punishing anyone who offered support to these "terrorists". The Germans weren't hindered by notions of conventions, Geneva or otherwise when dealing with these insurgents. Their methods ran the gamut from torture of individuals to wholesale slaughter of villages and yet it still did nothing to halt these terrorists. Results were quite the opposite, more of the citizenry rose up. The harder the Germans pushed against them the harder the guerrillas fought back. Numbers of troops won't change anything in Iraq, just as it didn't do the Nazis any good so it will result in failure for us. Send in a million troops and you will just have to keep them there ad infinitum. My guess is that that is exactly what Bush and his cohorts really want.

Posted by: Fred Mannheim | January 11, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

A liar is a liar, no matter how many times he pretends to tell the truth.

Posted by: candide | January 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

After hearing all this talk about President Bush wanting a "serge" in Iraq, I can't help but wonder what the heck Bronson Pinchot could do to help.

Serge: I see you look at this piece.
Axel : Yeah, I was wondering how much something like this went for.
Serge: One hundred-thirty thousand dollar.
Axel : Get the f**k outta here!
Serge: No, I can not. It's serious.


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

A liar is a liar, no matter how many times he pretends to tell the truth.

Posted by: candide | January 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Error, you had me laughing with the groundhog insurgency. It's amazing how well the analogy works, though. My backyard is a Green Zone, diligently patrolled by the DooleyDogs. Anyone infiltrating the Green Zone, be it a groundhog, possum, racoon, bunny, or other woodland critter, risks an untimely demise. But just beyond the perimeter fence is Wilderness.

Posted by: Dooley | January 11, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The problem Joel is that we too often imagine that the "insurgents" are a clearly identifiable force of individuals who are going to react in the ways that our "experts" within the defense and intelligence communities have gamed out. The unhappy truth is that there really are no experts on this subject. What our troops are likely to find is that the enemy is invisible and can strike at will at any time and place. In fact, at any given time in Iraq, American troops are engaging in face-to-face conversations with people one day and the very next day those same individuals may be sniping at them from some hidden corner or rooftop. The enemy isn't some transparently hostile, masked, heavily armed individual as so often imagined and caricatured in our popular media. He (or she) are the very people we see on our television screens every night reacting to all of the mayhem around them; reacting to the loss of a son, or daughter, or father or mother. And to them, they don't ask questions that have to do with deep religious, ideological or political motives. They want blood for blood and the most visible agent is the one who will be the object of their thirst for revenge or justice. That agent can be an American troop, an Iraqi government official or--dependent upon who has been harmed--a sunni or shia citizen who has done nothing to them. The ones who suffer from their understandable desire for revenge are rarely those who actually did it. One thing is certain: The people who are dying every day in Iraq are not likely to be part of any group that had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.

Posted by: Jaxas | January 11, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Loomis, I think you've misinterpreted what I wrote the other day. I'm a fairly close student of what is now being called "4th generation" warfare, aka "asymetric" warfare, which includes counterinsurgency and guerrilla (or anti-guerrila) tactics and strategy, and why I touted Gen. Petraeus and Col. H.R. McMaster as the only two guys in the whole damn war who knew what they were doing.

(The "father" and guru of 4th generation warfare --and the most modern and revolutionary thinker on warfare since Sun Tzu -- is the late and legendary Air Force Col. John Boyd, author of the now legendary if controversial briefing, "Patterns of Conflict," aka "Boyd's last briefing" which doesn't even exist as a book but rather which was originally a massive 197-slide PowerPoint presentation, believe it or not. See . Boyd also created what's known as the OODa Loop, which would take too much time and space to explain, but anyone can Google it or Boyd or "Patterns of Conflict"; as they say on X Files, "it's all out there.")

What I said the other day was basically, if there's going to be an Army over there, then we needed to do more fighting, not standing around being targets. Failing that (and especially if the war can't be won under ANY circumstances, which is what I believe) then that Army needs to get the hell oput of Dodge.)

No, I'm not a devotee of the "Old School" tactics, by a country mile. But simply as an amateur military historian, I sometimes just try to explain things (which I think you've miscontrued as "advocating" them) as they were or are.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks for this. The negative reactions of Hagel and Brownback, a classic representative of Bush's "base" who is visiting Iraq right now and took time to issue a statement opposing the "surge," are I think extremely significant. Republicans are, I think, terrified of what is happening now and what can happen next. The GOP leaders of the Senate and House, McConnell and Boehner, tried to be good soldiers last night, but even their statement of support for Bush felt strained to me. And others aren't pretending. This may be Bush's biggest practical problem; if a significant portion of the Republicans in Congress conclude that it will be suicidal for them to stick with Bush on Iraq, then we will have a real donnybrook.

Robert Kaiser, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, pulls in a wee bit o' Irish history today in one of his reponses during his online chat:,_Dublin

Kaiser teased about a piece he's working on for this coming Sunday's Outlook section. I'm already looking forward to it. He sure gotta alotta mileage out of his Mary Matalin comment during the chat, by the way.

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for clarifying, Mudge.

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Also, bc, belated thanks for your notes from the speech. I'm more edified than I would have been had I watched it myself, and certainly more amused. I just can't seem to find the (often dark) humor which I know to be inherent in Bush's speeches when I'm actually watching or listening to them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

omni, tell me more. Does it find what's in list A but not list B (and vice versa) or something more? If only it could tell me WHY, but alas, that's probably more than I could hope for.

Error, I love the groundhog analogy and may bring it into play when discussing with some of my more conservative friends. There's nothing like an apt analogy to clarify thinking.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"You have a vastly uneducated population"

Excuse me? Iraq, where the finest universities in the region were located before war and then sanctions and then war sapped them, where culture and civilization have been guarded and advanced for millenia, where poetry and philosophy flourished right up until the current invasion started, does *not* have a vastly uneducated population. Yes, there are some rural people who are near-illiterate. Other than that, the Iraqi people are some of the most educated and literate in the world. Much more so that than in North America, and on par with Western Europe. Sheesh.

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Okay, since you asked:

(1) In fairness, this was the first speech I've seen Bush give that had the grim sobriety one would expect of a president in wartime. No swagger, at last. Good, good--but like so much else, only about four or five years too late.

(2) Underneath the better mien and tone, though, not much new here. Except, as Sen. Durbin said in the Dem response, in the one memorable line of the night: 20,000 additional troops are too few to make a difference, and too many to risk. Yes, exactly.

(3) As Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said on PBS last night, and others pointed out also, Bush's plan is predicated on a war in Iraq. But Iraq doesn't have a war; it has multiple wars. And the solution isn't just national; it's regional.

(4) But instead of dialoging with all interested parties, including Iran and Syria, engaging them in the process not as a favor but as a recognition of regional reality, the one BIG news of the speech was that it clearly opened the door to a military attack on Iran. Here's the text:
"Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. . . . I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region."
In other words: listen up, Ahmadinejad: you're next.

Now, that's news. And that's terrifying.

Posted by: J. in Va. | January 11, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The surge is quite probably a ruse to whip up more fear of "terrorism," to "save face" and to flex military muscle against Iran in case they are fools enough to respond with an "incident" that could be used as an excuse to "nuke their nukes" and give Israel a lift. Hence the provocative attack on the Iranian Embassy and the recent buildup of ships in the Gulf. So what if a few thousand more people are killed? The world is over-populated anyway -- according to what passes for the thinking of this administration. War is hell. War is also the game of idiots whose left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Posted by: Los Osos Jean | January 11, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, I sent you that program via e-mail in a zip file. Hope you like it :)

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Yoki is right about the educated masses in Iraq, to a point. But now it seems that some of the more educated and able memebers of the Iraqi populace are doing the same thing I would do under the circumstances: getting out of harm's way and leaving the country to go... anywhere else.

Posted by: Gomer | January 11, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't it a surge in New Orleans that destroyed the city? Just askin'.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 11, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Bush is simply a lying simpleton, and a complete screw-up. He's only done three things right in his entire life: Marry Laura and fathered two beautiful daughters.

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

First, with one bad action/decision after another, which have been documented more than once elswhere, I doubt you could have messed this up any worse if you tried. How to get out? The first thing to do to get out of a hole is not to stop digging, if you are in a fox hole. So you first have to figure out "what kind" of hole we're in and then, how to get out, and when.

What won't work, is an "accelerated" push to train more Iraqi forces. We've been doing that on and off for close to 3 years now, and the Study Group's assumption is that the Iraqis will perform as expected this time, not like the last few times. The Study Group did not provide a "what if they don't" fall back. And my betting would be that they "don't".

Also a surge of 20,000 troops for 6 or 8 months is not going to do it. What probably would do it would be a "surge" of 25 to 30 thousand for at least 2 to 3 years if we are very lucky, 4 to 6 years as a best guess, and more years if we are very unlucky. (There are a number of retired and active duty Generals who have basically stated this or close to it) But we don't have the forces nor the money to do all that, even if we had national support.

So what about just ease out? The aftermath of the secular violance will not be pretty: think multiple Bosnias, or Rhawandas. And it will be more destablizing internationally.

In short, we've screwed things up so badly, we can't there (out of the hole) from here (in the hole).

Posted by: old geeser paper pusher | January 11, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

MY review of the speech:

(blank TV screen)

Bc's review is funny. Sadly, I can visualize him doing all of this.

It occurs to me while reading the excerpts that adding "in my pants" after every major phrase would actually improve the speech.

"We must surge..."
"The decisive ideological struggle of our time..."

Just don't visualize the battle against the insurgency in his pants too carefully, or you'll have a resurgent urge for some purging.

Hmm, wasn't Attila the Hun called "The Scourge of God?" Maybe somebody should tell W. about that, so he's not so keen to be known as the Surge from God.

Loomis, good reminder about the elections. Yeah, in troubled times nobody trusts strangers that don't have ties to you somehow. It's not like it's exactly easy to gladhand people with lots of bombs and shooting going around.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Will the people who voted for Joe Lieberman please wake up now?

Posted by: Pulleez | January 11, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

While warning Maliki that if Iraqi government did not act as it promised, it will loose American support, President Bush did not elaborate on what will be the consequences. Afterall same Bush also said that consequences of failure in Iraq would be catastrophic for US. Thus Bush does not intend to withdraw American troops if Maliki government fails to provide Iraqi troops as promised. In that sense, this is same old 'stay the course'.

It is obvious that history is going to repeat itself even in Democrats' opposition to Iraq war, thereby allowing Republicans to stage a comeback. Afterall Democrats as well American public at large know very well that there is NO acceptable solution to this Iraq war that Bush had voluntarily started with overwhelming support from American public as well Democrats. Once Democrats stymie Bush, this will become Democrats' war to loose with demand for troop withdrawal.

Posted by: suresh sheth | January 11, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Quite apart from going against negative sentiment of the American public and the sensible advice Bush got from the Iraq Study Group - I find that there is still no framework of a solution to root cause of violence in Iraq (apart from the US presence there). The options for Iraq are: (a) divided into independent countries, (b) divided into a federation of states, and (c) be under a national government - of national unity or more likely Shia domination of Iraq. Iraqi leadership, Sunni and Shia violence clearly makes (c) to be the bloodiest of the options - and we keep on backing the Maliki/Shia domination option to the hilt. Why? I know partition will be difficult - does anyone think the unity will be easier? With Bush at helm, the puppet seems to be playing the puppeteer!

Posted by: km | January 11, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

In my view, most people, even Iraqis, just want to live better lives. The real key is economic, not military, and I believe the true path to success is to figure out a way to really help the Iraqis improve their day-to-day lives. Maybe there's not enough money in the world to make that happen, but we already know the military option is a loser.

Second, I have this nagging fear that the Bushies, frustrated at their failure in Iraq, are ramping up for a strike on Iran. Bush just appointed Adm. William J. Fallon as the new chief of Central Command for the Middle East (overseeing the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), and is moving two carrier battle groups to the Persian Gulf. I love the Navy, but they don't do hand-to-hand combat on the streets of Baghdad. Looks to me like we're prepping for an air war.

Posted by: JH in Four Points | January 11, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, and we in THIS country have been told by our government time and again, that we can't afford national health care because of the COST??

I see today, thus far, we could have built 35,000 new schools in America for what has gone down the tubes in Irak.

Bush's rationale is much like Johnson's back in Vietnam: "We will bring peace to this land, even if we have to kill them all."

And we all know how THAT went.


Posted by: USAer | January 11, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with having 100,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq indefinitely? I can think of some reasons, but the ones I hear from critics of the war are not convincing. That Iraq is a meat grinder? Hardly ... more Americans die falling out of bed each year than fighting in Iraq. Besides, our soldiers are volunteers. More to the point, the U.S. had 300,000 troops in Germany for decades during the Cold War, not to mention hundres of thousands in other countries.

So what gives? Is fighting extremist jihadism less important thant containing communism? Are we in such a hurry to declare the capture and justice for Saddam Hussein a failure. Did any realist expect the aftermath of a dictator's demise to be easy? (And don't say the administration did ... that's not the point). I am still really proud of the American effort in Iraq. I hope they constantly learn and do better. But I am so disappointed with the impatience and partisanship in Congress.

Posted by: Kane | January 11, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, thanks for mentioning Byrd's last Briefing. (Does this go down in history like Custer's Last Stand?).

The air-to-air reminds me of Sun Tzu's light troops, I think it was-- create confusion, move in and out quickly.
I think the "brilliance" you speak of is very mainfest.

I like the OODAT loop. Once you have that point in mind, you can think about disrupting enemy communications and response time with a lot of clarity.

Sun Tzu can be ambiguous in translation, and it's basically iron age warfare, not 21st century warfare, too, so about time for an update.

My question is how the OODAT loop can be counter-applied to multiple guerilla cells operating independently to attempt to confuse OUR OODAT loop?

(I'm not a military historian, but anything beats reading about the cotton gin.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The great strength of the "surge" strategy is that if offers an opportunity for Bush to appear as a protagonist and to cast his opponents as naysayers without an alternative. The fatal weakness of the "surge" is that US troops cannot possibly cleanse or secure Iraqi districts and please both sects, avoid major civilian casualties, obtain any intelligence not warped by sectarian bias, or expand the "ink blot" to cover the country. However, it wil buy W time to retire from the WH in 2009 and defer the ultimate debacle. McCain will campaign on a claim that the "surge" was underfunded and under-manned. However, if McCain does win office on this non-hypothesis, he will take a cue from Mr. Groundhog and stuff the topic down a hole. Iraq is NOT the place for any foreign infidels to try to stabilize or rule. Iran is an even worse venue to test neocon nonsense, but they will be sure to convince W to give a trumanesque seal to his legacy by going to the brink. This disaster will make Iraq look like a game of bean bag.

Posted by: John Koch | January 11, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm afraid it has become too tiresome, too pointless, intellectualizing about Bush and his War. Until people take explicit action (or Wall St - does the WH listen to anybody except the AEI?), I am resigned over the fate of our Nation and its warriors.

Instead, I am reading your "The Grand Idea" - makes me pine for the times when our Republic was young, free, & had great leadership. I think I'll take a hike in the woods - thanks.

Posted by: ked | January 11, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

look, bush is a signal that the United States is weak no matter who you are...... he is a loose cannon that cant keep his hands out of his pants...or yours...and shoulder massages oy veh.

no one fears a liar or a manipulator.... what bullies and dictators fear is someone with purpose , resolve and integrity on their side... bush has never even faced a dui by himself....what he wanted has been bought for him his whole life... wastrel son ,impudent riche kidde that thinks others fear him as the son of, if he were to show up stripped of his titles in the local bar his a** would be the color of the linoleum on the barroom floor...

no self serving dictator is thinking twice about this a**hole interrupting their deals Bush, would just ask for a share and say, go ahead just give me my cut.... that is the calibre of the man leading the Executive Branch... he sets the tone of corruption and immorality...

with that tone GONE , both China and Russia would be know, these guys might back up their words with action.... and have the American people behind them _this_time_ you think we need bush to keep America stable thats like saying your toilet paper brand is important... that is his character...a**wipe... impeachment is probably just what this country and world need to recover, followed by a trip to the Hague for the Executive Branch... thanks so much live video cover of executions to be posted on the internet...ha ha ha.... assets to be frozen and those assets liquidated going back to 1990, to pay the families of United States military survivors...and WTC victims...who are coming back with VA benefits cut...

Posted by: hello | January 11, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

*inching quietly towards the bunker and hoping bc left a few tortilla chips*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

help to get rid of this... February 21, 2006 -- The Houses of Bush, Sabah, and Maktoum. The Bush Crime Familys close business dealings with the royal houses of Kuwait the Sabah family and Dubai the Maktoum family either borders on or is treason according to information received from U.S. military and Persian Gulf sources by WMR. The Sabah family and their business cohorts are reportedly skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the shipping of military materiel through Kuwait to U.S. forces in Iraq. Moreover, much of this money is being used to fund the Sunni insurgency in Iraq that is directed against U.S. troops. In 1993, former President George H. W. Bush was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kuwait University and Kuwaits highest honor, the Order of Mubarak the Great. Bush was accompanied on a Kuwait Airways flight by his sons Neil and Marvin and former Secretary of State James Baker III, former chief of staff John Sununu, and Joint Chiefs Operations Director Gen. Thomas Kelly. After the trip, Neil landed lucrative contracts with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Electricity and Water. Marvin secured defense contracts for his clients. Baker nailed down deals for Enron. Marvin Bush, George W. Bushes brother, served on the board of Securacom renamed Stratesec, which had contracts to provide security for Dulles Airport and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Securacom's backers included a number of Kuwaitis through a company called KuwAm Corp Kuwaiti-American Corp.. KuwAm also financially backed Aviation General, formerly Commander Aircraft, which brokered the sale of airplanes to the National Civil Aviation Training Organization NCATO, located in Giza, Egypt, the hometown of lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and the only civilian pilot training school in Egypt. NCATO has a training agreement with Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, the flight school that was investigated by the FBI for possibly training at least one of the 911 hijackers.

Posted by: oh howz about this news flash.. | January 11, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I agree with you. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing you've done over and over and expecting a different result.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Anthony Shadid is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning Arab-American journalist, who stuck it out in Bagdad through the fall of Saddam Hussein. When he says, as he did recently in an op-ed piece, that it will not improve the situation in Iraq if we stay, that is enough for me -- we should declare that our proper role there is over, and get out. We will not honor our 3,000 dead military men and women by ordering more tens of thousands to be funneled into the same Iraq meatgrinder wherein they perished. Nor will we even mitigate the Sunni-Shiite civil war, and the brutal ethnic cleansing debacle. We broke Iraq, and we cannot fix it. Our presence is aggravating, not healing, the Iraqi civil war. It is not just Democrats and so-called flower children who are making this assessment it is also now many Republicans, including Vietnam veteran Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and many others.

Posted by: oldhonky | January 11, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

the question is how to step out of the
existing paradigm so strongly that the world follows suit...

presence of destruction, encircling annoyances....crushing shallow waves.

multiple levels of interpretation destroying paradigms of acceptance....

predictable behaviours entrapped in the fields of perception.

Posted by: or mor e simply | January 11, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it is clearly an escalation of almost giddy arrogance. Has he been snorting coke again?
Imagine: with Afghanistan unraveling; with Iraq an incredible "grave and deteriorating" war zone, this President -- probably with "oversight" notification to a few Senators and a few House members -- escalated the War On Terrorr by attacking Islamists in Somalia.
This President wants to send what some say is the Strategic Conventional Forces Reserve -- five Army Brigades and two Marine Battalions (5 + 2) to Iraq. Many will go unrefreshed and war weary.
Their families at home will suffer greatly, as they wait, moment by moment, for the knock on the door that says: husband; father; brother; son; wife; daughter; mother ... has been blown to bits in enormous IEDs.
I am 70% disabled combat vet from Vietnam. I am proud to have served with John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Al Gore and Bob Smith. Not proud to have served with John McCain and Duncan Hunter, since the latter are pure war-mongers. I have been through 21 years of alcoholism and drug addiction, and two previous marriages above this one. The destruction wrought on human minds and hearts from multiple tours in a combat zone that Iraq IS, and Afghanistan is becomming, is merciless.
I call on all Senators and Congressional Representatives to say "NO WAY" to this proposal.
I urge all of these politicians to DEMAND an "on-the-record" vote on this measure. While it may not do anything to deter this madman, perhaps it can deter ever more of his supporters. I would urge those who oppose this to get off their butts and drivve this to a constitutional show down.
This man knows no limits to his hubris and cruelty.
He is, as some have diagnosed, AD/HD; a "Dry Drunk;" afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; and, a sadist.
He is also a coward who is trying to vicariously do what he should have done in Vietnam: GONE to war.
Had he done that, we, and the world, would not be in this predicament now.
What a coward!

Posted by: Ramparts | January 11, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse


Here is something that I would like to hear more about in the press.

I'm surprised that we are so dismissive of Congress's authority to cut off funding. The criticism seems to be that if Congress were to cut off the funds, our troops would be stranded in Iraq without bullets to defend themselves or resources to catch a ride home. The sounds far fetched to me.

Even though the President is the Commander in Chief, wouldn't the onus be on the President to employ the strategy that is best for our troops with the resources he is given -- even if that means a redeployment?

And can't we rely on him to do so? Many of us are mad about Iraq, and we are mad at Bush for getting us into it. But do we really believe that President Bush would leave our soldiers resourceless and defenseless in Iraq -- sort of a political temper tantrum -- simply because Congress won't let him have his way?

I think Congress has a real opportunity to take action on this and we shouldn't let them off the hook so easily.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Life is about meeting the situations that make us uncomfortable in amanner that allows us to grow rather than avoide...

Having the termerity of purpose to approach a situation without a pat response is the ability to become part of the existent stream which is all....

that being said what you have agreed to feast on is what you know to be agreeable not what is the truth...

truth is knowable in the context of a shared belief system as something that extensds the clompexity of fearsistance to feel shards of darkness lightened/perceived/felt, or in other words what has no place makes one....and moves fear aside as a puuting of obviousness....choice arises from damage repaired..

reaction is damage repeated

see: Ruumi on translated by Coleman Barks

Posted by: Bud Mellman...winking at you | January 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

dan maceda
Right on. I have to wonder how Bush got Gates and the JCS to endorse this. I want to hear what they really said to Bush. Did they, for instance, "review the proposal >>> and who in the HELL did it come from? Keane and Kagan, AEI neocon twits?<<<< and go on the record that it was theoretically doable?" Did the Secretary of Defense and JCS declare the plan very frightening and unlikely to succeed?
Or did he do a Cheney: well, is it more likely to succeed than fail?
So, anyway, the men in the Pentagon, who have all the stars on their shoulders ... are cowards, too.
At some point, someone in the State Department; CIA; Defense Department or other agencies, should resign in protest. Will they?
Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I hate to go off topic :) but did you see this?

Beckham to Play for L.A. Galaxy
The Associated Press • Thursday, January 11, 2007; 11:06 AM

LONDON (AP) -- David Beckham agreed to a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer...

Posted by: TBG | January 11, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I find it extremely amusing that so many people in the press (and the general public for that matter) seem to think that they know more about warfare than the people who serve in the nation's military who have devoted their entire lives to understanding how to fight various conflicts against an ever-changing enemy. The shouting in congress and on the campaign trail that we have heard since the very beginning of this campaign reminds me of all the arm-chair quarterbacks who think that they know better than the players on the field. These are the same people who have convinced themselves and those around them that a war can be won by selectively fighting against the targets that we can see rather than the whole of the potential enemy.

Unfortunately, history has shown us that the only way to effectively win a war is to declare total warfare on the enemy. To do so in an environment where the enemy is an entrenched, non-uniformed guerrilla, is to declare war on the general populous.

Someone earlier had mentioned that the German Wehrmacht ran into similar problems with the underground movements in France, Russia, and other conquered territories. The reason that these underground movements were successful was the backing of outside forces providing them with arms, logistics, and information. The German military could not effectively seal off the territory from aid to it's enemies. American and British planes dropped supplies, smugglers provided support in the dark of night along France's vast coastline, and German Supply lines were often attacked to capture supplies needed to fuel their insurgencies.

To date, we haven't seen any major raids on coalition supply lines, the skies remain in our complete control, and the limited access to waterways means that the only effective method for re-supply for the insurgents is via the neighboring countries. The 'Surge' of troops in Iraq could be used to secure those boarders better, to stem the influx of supplies to an insurgency that would then have to either spend it's resources on raiding US positions for more munitions, or resort to even riskier attempts to smuggle in goods. Every military strategist knows that the way to effectively cripple the enemy is to cut off his supply-line. The only reason that the Mujahideen were able to keep up their guerrilla war against the Soviets and eventually prevail was their supply line via Pakistan. The fact that the Soviets were never able to permanently sever that line of resupply allowed the continued weapon and logistical support from the US and other countries to aid the Mujahideen in whittling down the Soviet resolve to hold on to Afghanistan.

An extra 20,000 troops is certainly a help when it comes to securing the routes in and out of Iraq. But many more are needed to fully secure the country in it's entirety. Ultimately I think that listening to the men in the field, considering their own opinions on how to effectively fight this conflict, is the best thing we can do to move forward. If they ask for more men, give them the aid they ask for.

Posted by: Tallen702 | January 11, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse


It was either LA or NYC for Beckham. Can you imagine Posh having to get by on DC's shopping???


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Questions I have not seen asked:
Why would Petraeus, who is very smart and competitive, take on a job that is certainly doomed to failure (his own COIN manual says that he won't have enough troops to do the job)? Is his plan to get his 4th star and retire? What will happen to McCain's presidential aspirations when this escalation fails and his vocal support for it is still ringing in the Nation's ears? Rice says that diplomats and administrators will get out of the Green Zone and go into the field to work. Who will prevent them from getting killed? What will Iran do as American Forces take their networks in Iraq prisoner? And, how could the Kurds have allowed them to get a foothold in Erbil? Will the Israeli AF use this as an opportunity to launch airstrikes on the Iranian nuclear sites? Lots more questions, but these will do as a start.

Posted by: whoever | January 11, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I am currently here in Southwest Asia and while I missed the speech, I have seen portions of it ad finitum on the ubiquitous tvs showing Fox News in the HQ. The troops were perhaps needed several years -- 2003 or 2004. Even then, not sure if they could have made as much difference as some assume (including me at one time). Basically, just more targets for the bad guys and more troops recycled and a larger support slice to sustain them and so forth and so on. I am now in my 20th month here this time around. Things are not getting any better. I spent 33 years in the Army, retired as a colonel, and did time in Viet-Nam with the 75th Rangers (Echo Company) back in 1968/69. I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I have done for a lot of years. A surge will not make any significant difference in improving rhe situation in Iraq -- diddly squat, in fact. This has been a COIN (Counter-Insurgency) battle for years and only recently was this finally allowed to be acknowledged here in theater. They are still trying to figure this out back at the White House. A surge is simply more of the same with more consequences rippling thorugh the force -- soldiers are already coming back for their third tours here. At some point someone will actually take a hard look at the other conflicts similar to this one and realize that we lose regardless of which direction we move, the only question being as to how to minimize the pain.

Posted by: Don Capps | January 11, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I saw that story on the CNN website, thought it odd that it was the lede story, has soccer become that big in the US that it tops what seemed to me much bigger stories, the speech, Somolia situation which is changing by the mintute etc. Or is it just an attempt to focus on a more positive story?

Posted by: dmd | January 11, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, omni. I'll give it a whirl tonight.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Almost no one, even in the military, believes U.S. forces alone can achieve Bush's latest goal, which is to pacify Iraq and provide security to its people.

His only real hope is that the Maliki government decides, through either force or persuasion, to take most of the Shia militiamen out of the sectarian struggle. The application of real force against Sadr by a leader dependent on him for his position is probably another pipedream.

One possible result might be a militia standdown for some period, allowing Maliki to maintain that he's successfully dealt with them, sparing them for long-term dominance of the country. Meanwhile, Marines will work to eviscerate Sunni extremists and al-Qaeda in Anbar. The latter, of course, risks infuriating Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated states. Iran can sit back and continue knitting close ties with the government.

It's more likely that we'll see some increased, but unsatisfactory, application of Iraqi army forces in Baghdad--in effect, more of the same, except with even more bloodshed and even more American deaths.

None of these courses of actions in the next year is satisfactory, of course. A Shia militia standdown might enable either Bush or the next president to begin American withdrawal, but the long-term resolution of the sectarian war will only be postponed.

The hardheaded question must be asked: What is in the best U.S. interests now, not just for our military men and women on the ground, but also for the nation in the next decade? It seems to me that getting out quickly and beginning to repair relationships with the rest of the world is essential.

This is not a case for American isolation from the region, however. The U.S. can't allow a threat to Israel's existence, or an unfettered Iran that threatens its neighbors. But those might have to be battles we fight in the future, perhaps in other ways.

The fact is that Iraq is now broken, but we don't own it and can't buy it. We can't even glue the pieces together again.

Posted by: kindathinker | January 11, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

C'mon in, Scotty. Plenty of chips left in the Bunker till the StormSurge is over.

Wilbrod, I'm glad I could give you the visual.

Now that he's gone Hollywood I expect a new film project to launch, working title being "Spend it like Beckham."


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Without clearly stating that we are in Iraq for the Israelis, our policy rests on lies. Further, we are threatening Iran for the Israelis, we have no issue with Iran otherwise. The Israeli lobby put Bush in office by manipulating the evangelical vote. It is an ironically flawed process, because by enforcing justice for Palestinians against Israeli crimes in occupied Palestine we could largely defuse anti-US sentiment in the Arab world. The gain in Arab hearts and minds would eliminate any need to making war in the Mideast. Wake up America, the Israeli lobby has this admin by the balls.

Posted by: CK | January 11, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

follower of Jim Talent cluesless1

to what purpose to we owe our presence in Iraq?

and why are you ignoring the fact that the Taliban had a deal for 13 TRILLION DOLLARS in Afghanistan with Argentina to build the Trans Atlantic PipeLine from the Caspian Sea to the mediterranean?

or the fact that BP, SHELL, and Exxon are funding the BushFamilies Cartel...

as in

At any time within the next few days, the Iraqi Council of Ministers is expected to approve a new hydrocarbon law essentially drawn up by the Bush Administration and its UK lackey. The law will give Exxon, BP, Shell and other carbon cronies of the White House unprecedented sweetheart deals, allowing them to pump gargantuan profits from Iraqs nominally state-owned oilfields for decades to come. This law has been in the works since the very beginning of the invasion â€" indeed, since months before the invasion, when the Bush Administration brought in Phillip Carroll, former CEO of both Shell and Fluor, the politically-wired oil servicing firm, to devise contingency plans for divvying up Iraqs oil after the attack. Once the deed was done, Carroll was made head of the American advisory committee overseeing the oil industry of the conquered land, as Joshua Holland of has chronicled in two remarkable reports on the backroom maneuvering over Iraqs oil: Bushs Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraqs Oil and The U.S. Takeover of Iraqi Oil.

this is after the US/Negroponte appointed interim governors have emptied Iraqi Treasuries of the 2.3 BILLION Contained therein...spending it on themselves to build homes out-of-country...

the One Billion that Bush is offering them now, is final payment on their capitualation on their responsibility to the people that they were appointed to serve...

empty the treasury, put a contract for money on the table, apply bribe..

Posted by: and | January 11, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

This "surge" of forces is the right strategy done about 2 or 3 years too late. As a matter of fact, there should have been an overwhelming amount of US forces there at the getgo so that there would be no question who was in charge. The US needs to lock down specific areas in Iraq so that they can efficiently train and arm the Iraqi military and police. Doing so today rather than in the beginning of this war is once again this administrations continual lack of vision and reacting to the environment around them rather than dominating it and using all necessary means AT THE GETGO to get things done. This war began on the "cheap", and now costs have escalated far beyond the imaginable. This should be the "last bullet" we fire before we pull out and give them the Iraqi's the reigns. You cannot force a people to stand up for themselves, nor can you always protect them.

Posted by: Brett | January 11, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Any coffee in that bunker?

bc, loved your post.

Posted by: dmd | January 11, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

We need to reread our AIPAC scripture, Book of Quagmire, verse 9:11, Angry Arabs shall attacketh you and nay you shall not goeth after the responsible parties. Ye shall isteadeth do the bidding of large corporations and the Israeli lobby, for aseth the Israelis are happy so shall ye be happy. And then of courseth an angry God shall later ironically destroyeth Israel and deliver believers unto a comfy place called the Kingdom of Lord!

Posted by: Joe Lieberman | January 11, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Britain, and coal vs. oil...

Interesting that Prince Williams main squeeze, or princess-in-waiting, Kate Middleton, is descended from coal miners from Northumbria (Durham).

Gertrude Bell, "Desert Queen," was from Northumberland and her grandfather, Lowthian Bell, was an absolute expert on Northumbria's coal and iron.

This is my distant great-grandfather's Henry Percy's castle in Northumbria. I descend from the 1st Baron Percy's granddaughter.

Films that have used the family castle as a backdrop, including several in the Harry Potter series:

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Iraq vis a vis the Middle East has nothing to do with patriotism or the attack on the WTC...

there is no Iraq connection there are three or four Saudi connections...

not the least of which is that we, the United States CIA trained al Quearguyz...

to interfere with Russia in Afghanistan, the Taliban chieftan visited Bush at his Crawford TX ranch...if you remember from the Michael Moore movie farenheit what purpose? to see if they would renege on their deal with Argentina...they didnt we invaded....they dropped 13 Trillion Dollars on the floor and filed a case in Houston Texas...made moot by military intervention...

point is all of this crap about winning,

war, patriotism is straight out of a jingoistic playbook...

and the instrument being played is your emotions as in appeal to....

there is no reason to be there, Iraq was in EMBARGO, heck Gore could have made a deal with them using the weight of Saudi/Kuwiati/UAE/Turkish involvement in the region.... given every man woman and child $200,000 and still spent less money to


win what? steal oil w/o calling it that so you dont have to share the profits w/therestofAmerica?


it _is_ that simple.

Posted by: the point is | January 11, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comments bc, I for myself studiously avoided the speech. *Faxing two tylenols to bc*
There is one worrisome line that I found undereported, although Arkin makes a lot of it. "we are going to make certain that we disrupt activities that are endangering and killing our troops and that are destabilizing Iraq" It may means attacks within Iran and/or Iraq apparently. So the Baker report recommends establishing diplomatic relations with both countries and Arbusto goes on with threatening them within a month. Plus ça change plus c'est pareil.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 11, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Joel, Joel, what have you done?

I'm on my way over to the bunker with Margaritas and bean dip.
Please don't put up the barricades yet!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 11, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Daily Mail article on Kate Middleton's coal mining background (not exactly the coal miner's daughter, but put a lot of greats in front...):

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

All we need is faith! Reread your AIPAC scripture, Book of Quagmire, verse 9:11, Angry Arabs shall attacketh you and nay you shall not goeth after the responsible parties. Ye shall isteadeth do the bidding of large corporations and the Israeli lobby, for aseth the Israelis are happy so shall ye be happy. And then of courseth an angry God shall later ironically destroyeth Israel and deliver believers unto a comfy place called the Kingdom of Lord!

Posted by: Senator from Conn. | January 11, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

For you, dmd, I'll make coffee.
Hope you don't mind water from the Bunker recycling system...(I hope I have some clean filters around).

Lieberman, I don't agree but I do like your style.


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JL | January 11, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Lots of coffee in the bunker dmd but it is smoke-free. Not that there is anything wrong with smoking, I did it until about three years ago. But you would feel so much better after a year or two.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 11, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

ck, you are right. We have to look where these whackos are taking this conflict. They are--and I use this lightly--planning another war, this time against Iran.

With the Neocons still holding onto that old chestnut, "we haven't been attacked since 9/11" ... so this is good, we are about to embark on some sort of crazy activity with Iran.

It is high time for the nation rise up and tell the dictator in chief that we need peace not perma-war. The congress needs to get going and create a Gulf of Persia Doctrine and take back the reigns. These clowns are planning for a war and provoking it all at the same time.

I just hope that, if we drop the big one, that Cheney does his Slim Pickens impression. I will gladly provide a hayhat for the ride down.

BTW, you can't just look at Iraq and now Iran in a vacuum. This nation right here has a host of real and mighty problems to address and obligations to its own people.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | January 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Never, ever vote for the candidate that is stupid. Vote for the smarter one no matter your "party". Period. That's the lesson of the day.

Posted by: Brett | January 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Israel to be brutal is not in their best interests...

the United States will be actively involved in the middle east only as long as there is oil there

then Israel will be alone, and surrounded by people that she has interacted with

in a manner that she has a choice in...

making friends might be a good idea, certainly it is cheaper...

Posted by: encouraging | January 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, Margaritas and bean dip sounds great. Scotty, please remind me to leave the Bunker airvent wide open when Mudge shows up.


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Margaritas; I love this quote by Anne Hathaway about her Sunday ritual:

"Going to church with my boyfriend. Sometimes we go out for Mexican afterward, so it's the perfect combination: church and margaritas. Blasphemy!"

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

dmd, if you squeeze over closer to bc I think there will be room for me.

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts.
First, what planet did Lieberman come from.
Second, why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.
Third, why does Bush not simply say he screwed up because of the sheer ignorance of himself and his entire team.
Fourth, what ARE the benchmarks for Iraqi performance and how are they related to a timeline for this new mission.

Posted by: rbe | January 11, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts.
First, what planet did Lieberman come from.
Second, why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.
Third, why does Bush not simply say he screwed up because of the sheer ignorance of himself and his entire team.
Fourth, what ARE the benchmarks for Iraqi performance and how are they related to a timeline for this new mission.

Posted by: rbe | January 11, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts.
First, what planet did Lieberman come from.
Second, why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.
Third, why does Bush not simply say he screwed up because of the sheer ignorance of himself and his entire team.
Fourth, what ARE the benchmarks for Iraqi performance and how are they related to a timeline for this new mission.

Posted by: rbe | January 11, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I give the Israelis credit, they play chess while we play checkers. I'm calling it: Joe Leiberman will be the GOP VP nominee! The damned Israeli lobby is smarter, tougher, and better resourced than any pro American entity.

Posted by: CK | January 11, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts.
First, what planet did Lieberman come from.
Second, why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.
Third, why does Bush not simply say he screwed up because of the sheer ignorance of himself and his entire team.
Fourth, what ARE the benchmarks for Iraqi performance and how are they related to a timeline for this new mission.

Posted by: Bob Edwards | January 11, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts.
First, what planet did Lieberman come from.
Second, why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.
Third, why does Bush not simply say he screwed up because of the sheer ignorance of himself and his entire team.
Fourth, what ARE the benchmarks for Iraqi performance and how are they related to a timeline for this new mission.

Posted by: George W. Bush | January 11, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

situation immediately, and resolutely...

nationalize oil, and conscript those performing non military duties in Iraq...

I mean , it is _all_ about National Security right?

and not about money....

so lets take money out of the equation, by removing the profit from the play....


she is over.

Posted by: actually to end the | January 11, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Off to work,but I will leave you this one word about this whole mess


Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 11, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

You had to post that multiple times?

Posted by: CK | January 11, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Give me a minute, I'll be right there, just don't close the bunker doors without me.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I've made a pot of Cuban "Vieja Ropa" and rice&beans last night. Can I join the bunker if I bring them with me? (the vent will definitely have to be left open)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 11, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse









Posted by: youknuckleheads | January 11, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Hoookay, I've got crab dip and veggies and Chardonney, make sure there's room for me!

Can I bring my DVD of Sense and Sensibility? Anything to stem the tide, now that it's gotten partisan and stupid.

Posted by: Slyness | January 11, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Firstly, Shriek come on I am a Canadian from Ontario - smoke indoors - blasphemy :-) and congratulations to you. Got your coins ready for the bunker?

Maggie after rereading some posts those Margueritas are sounding better.

Yoki I will always squeeze over for you.

Lastly - I have yet to hear anything about DIPLOMACY, please I know the situation is a mess but couldn't there at least be some attempt?

OK I will be quiet now.

Posted by: dmd | January 11, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The big lie is that this is "the decisive ideological struggle of our time." Bin Ladenism will never take over the world. It is the biggest threat to the Islamic World. We can be attacked--severely attacked, but the U.S., or Western Europe are never become part of Bin Laden's Califate. These are wars within wars within Islam. The American people, and it appears the American government are woefully ignorant of what we have gotten ourselves into. We lost the Iraq War the moment we invaded. It will be awful if we leave now; it will be awful if we leave five years from now. Every minute we stay we make recruits for Bin Ladenism, and create more anger directed at us, and more danger for us and our children.

This problem must be solved with great wisdom, knowledge of what we are really dealing with (various currents within Islam), and subtlty. The most brilliant and knowedgable people have to figure out how to protect ourselves and then to help moderates in the Islamic World with an invisible hand when we can, so we can remove ourselves as the target.

I suggest the best way to do this is good intelligence to thwart plots, by making peace where we can to tamp down this general roiling anger in the Islamic world, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians, then to keep out of the way as much as possible. Muslims, themselves, must figure out how to fight Bin Ladenism, how Shias and Sunnis can live peacefully together, how to deal with modernity in a religion that says reinterpretation is no longer allowed. Islam is a rich religion philosophically. All the tools are there to return to religion that can live in peace internally and with neighbors of other religions. A basically Christian country can't tell Muslims what their religion says, or what form of government it must have, particularly a religion that considers government part of religion. If peace starts breaking out through our returning to being an "honest broker," much fuel will for the various fires within Islam will be gone. Our tanks and guns are gasoline on these fires.

Unless we are attacked (and with any Bin Ladenist we are already free to go after them anyway we can--Muslims understand self-defense well), pre-emptive wars are completely self-defeating. And we should start negotiating. The Iranian president is a lunatic, but the mullahs run the country. We can negotiate with Iran. Syria's president is begging us for negotiations, and the retoric of our State Department is as if these proud countries were little children.

Bush's policy has been a policy of disaster from start to finish. Democrats have been cowards (although I'm not sure they understand the nuances much better than the Republicans). Please let us really THINK about how to improve this situation, instead of having some reflexive, politically popular, let's just shoot 'em up foriegn policy. That is going bring us and our children nothing but disaster in the future.

Posted by: AEE | January 11, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, last night was to feature the unveiling of a "new" policy in Iraq. Not quite. What Bush proposed and is in the process of carrying out is a build up of US forces in Baghdad. It appears to be one last effort to quell the sectarian militias that are the source of the present violence there. Number one target will likely be the forces of Moqtadr al Sadr, the mullah thug who leads the large Shia militia there.

I'm trying to look through the fog talk to figure out what is really going on. My guess is this: our principal allies in the region are Sunni countries. Numero uno is Saudi Arabia. Then there are Egypt, Jordan and the Emirates. They are deeply concerned about Iranian ambitions, as is the US, and the possible Shia alliance between Iraq and Iran. They fear a cross-region power block led by Iran and consisting of a Shia theocracy in Iran/Iraq connected through Syria to a Hizbollah dominated Lebanon (the current PM Siniora is a Sunni). The hypothesis, I suppose, is to quell the Baghdad violence, defeat the Sadr Shia forces, and contain the Sunni insurgency in the remaining Anbar province, thereby prompting necessary political agreements among the Iraqi leadership of Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, i.e., keeping Iraq at least neutral in the Iran-Sunni conflict. An assumption is that the defeat of Sadr and the quelling of Sunni violence may reduce the sectarian violence to a point where it can be dealt with by the growing Iraqi Army. That is a risky assumption and relies on Maliki's willingness to cut his ties to Sadr. I also suspect that sending a carrier task force into the Arabian gulf and yesterday's assault on an Iranian consulate in the Kurdish area of Iraq are warning shots fired at the Iranians. Finally, the decision to enlarge the US armed forces over the next several years is an additional reassurance to our allies in the region.

Key questions are:

Can the Maliki government survive the defeat of Sadr and, if not, is the alternate Shia block capable of forming one?
Will the build up of US forces and the defeat of Sadr embolden Iran or will the internal Iranian debate for restraint prevail?
When and under what circumstances will Syria -- a predominately Sunni nation -- draw away from Iran?
Finally, how long can Bush pursue policies that on the surface appear very unpopular with the American people?

In my view we are at the beginning of the end of this whole unhappy mess. If Bush prevails in Iraq, we will reduce our presence there and if he doesn't prevail, public impatience will eliminate our presence. The Democrats, who (Biden excepted) have not put forward a sensible alternative other than withdraw immediately or withdraw less immediately, will continue to control the Congress and will likely win the presidency if Bush fails. So, there we are. We should have a pretty good idea how this will all wind down by next summer/fall.

Posted by: Russell Wylie | January 11, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Too little too late- Everybody I have spoken to don't trust Bush or believe. Its time to get out now. We were lied to from the start- this is mess created by Bush and company. There time is up.

Posted by: dennis T. | January 11, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

why do we accord John McCain special status as a military expert because of his tenure as a POW.

Let's see, because he was a pilot in the Navy and retired a Captain, his father was an Admiral, as was his Grandfather. Growing up in the military, you kind of pick up things.

Posted by: bryan2369 | January 11, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Cannot access the bunker. Save yourselves.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. I'll bring the fresh buns.

Folks, keep it nice, respect everyone. There is room for all opinions here.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm headed to the bunker now. On the way I'll pick up some cachaça, limes and sugar. Mudge is gonna love me...

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree, John McCain is a war criminal, not someone who we should follow anywhere. Dropping napalm on civilians from a carrier does not make you a military thinker, it does save you a seat in hell. I just saw the fool on tv saying he is not smart enough to say what would actully work in Iraq. Of course it was to skirt the question, not to be honest.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Just got back from a meeting. Where is everybody? Hey, welcome new Commentors! *Peering through grey smoke and barbwire coils* And Kane! How'ya doin'?

Posted by: CowTown | January 11, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Howdy, Dolphin Michael! good to hear from you.

Some of these posts are pretty thoughtful, and thanks for the respectful tone. It is highly prized hereabouts.

That said, save a space for me in the bunker. I'll bring the red wine & oatmeal.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes Slyness, do, but the fellas might feel left out. Maybe pick up something Kurosawa too.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Messed up when posters start talking to each other with personal messages, like this is their personal space.

Posted by: bunkerbs | January 11, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

right to left
chinese top to bottom

because it destroys other peoples structures you moron...

expectations, cluesless twit...

especially in writers who if they are capable only of structure and no content

this is torture... so enjoy.

Posted by: why do arabs write | January 11, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I was reading about Col. Boyd... you know, the guy who did an strategy so we WON the Gulf war... in like, 10 days?

He has a lot to say about military strategy. It's too bad he died in 1997.

I recommend anybody frothing at the mouth about how this war is fought take a look at Mudge's link to his excellent powerpoint presentation

But since I had to WRITE something rather than just post it, I analyzed some non-military concepts he introduced in his analysis.

The problem with the COIN manual is that by now the other side probably also has read it. I suspect this maneveur is an attempt to force a political solution in part.

Gosh, politics instead of war. What a no-vel concept.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

>C'mon in, Scotty. Plenty of chips left in the Bunker till the StormSurge is over.

I have two 4 packs of Guinness in the fridge and some Ben & Jerry's...

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"vacancy" sign is still lit, folks. I'll just leave the vent open instead of waiting for A Special Guest.

DM, I don't think that there's anything that anyone could say or do that will change Presidente Arbusto's mind about this. I suspect that he probably never seriously considered (or ever will consider) a troop drawdown or anything that would remotely suggest that George & Rummy's Excellent Iraq Adventure was a mistake from the outset ("WMDs? Don't talk about WMDs. Are you kidding me? *WMDs*? I'm just hoping we can declare victory by just having another election, another election."). Man's got a legacy to consider you know. If he can leave office with this whole thing still unresolved, he can ceremonially wash his hands with bleach on the way out, and blame whatever goes wrong while we're trying to actually get out on the Next Guy. Or Gal ("Don't look at me, everything was fine when *I* left office. Not my fault. Now, I think the library should face Earth.)


Posted by: bc | January 11, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The problem with our effort so far in Iraq has been incompetence of command from the White House and the pentagon. Given the casual insouciance and lack of forethought with which the decision to invade Iraq seems to have been made, it would not be unreasonable to assume the main reason Bush is escalating the effort there is to protect his name and legacy - another decision made with little thought.

However, now that we have stuck our foot in it, the problem with getting out is that a precipitate withdrawal would likely lead to chaos that could endanger the world's energy supply. For better or worse (a sort of cosmic joke) people depend on energy from a very unstable part of the world; its cutoff or interruption would mean real hardship for a billion people or more. Since it will probably take ten years of occupation to stabilize Iraq (based on what has happened with so many other insurgencies), we are going to have to be prepared for a long period of fighting and casualties.

Have a nice decade.

Posted by: Jon Orloff | January 11, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I think many of the people that voted for the President knew what they were getting, but did not think those around him would allow it to go this far. That said, if people knew what they were getting, then evidently it most certainly had to be the other elephant in the room?

Three guesses, and the first two are right.

After the Clinton presidency, some Americans may have seriously felt as if they were losing their country. You think?

Oh, how we suffer when we don't love.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 11, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I somehow missed the remarks that "Kane" made. I am left a bit awed at the leaps of fantasy in comparing the Cold War with the war in Iraq. Very different situations and ones predicated upon entirely different strategies and context. The effort to keep 100K US troops here in the Gulf, a region where we are basically tolerated at best and generally despised, for an "indefinite" period would be staggering. To also offhandedly infer that since the troops are volunteers and that the low rate of casualties is scarcely a "meat grinder" and those deaths that do occur are, therefore, somewhat irrelevant. Thank goodness the casualty rate is low and not the hundreds per week that went on week after week while I was in Viet-Nam. I could say more, but I can tell that it would be a wasted effort -- spend some time here and you would definitely change your tune.

Duty for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is not a stroll in the park. Even in Kuwait it is not all that great since the troops are basically confined to their installations and kept from meeting the locals -- so much for winning hearts and minds of our allies. Life in Iraq on a FOB, to use a polite term, sucks. There are still mortar or rocket attacks. Even when you manage to complete a convoy or a vehicular road march from point A to point B and there is not an IED, the stress is still there. We save a lot of troops that would otherwise have died in previous wars, someting helping keep the death toll down.

Contrary to popular thought, the problem is not the Muslim religion or Muslims. It is always interesting to see that we do not print "Christian gunmen rob bank" or "Atheist murders policeman." Well, one major part of our doing so poorly here is that we seem to lump everyone here into a few big groups of Muslims and do our best to alienate them all. We have been very successful in killing much of the genuine affection -- love might be a good word in some cases -- many once had here towards America. While I shed nary a tear when they hung Saddam -- he has certainly had a major effect on my life -- he may have the last laugh with our being mired in Iraq and all the surges in the world will never erase the folly of invading Iraq in the first place. I am just a dumb ol' infantryman, but this ain't the Cold War and we don't have an Army of over one point something million..... We are feeling the pain of an endless committment and the families of those volunteers are beginning to crack. You guys overlook minor issues such as that when the dirty work is left to us to do.

Posted by: Don Capps | January 11, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Some gratuitous advice for Beckham:

1. Maybe it's just me, but it seems there are two kinds of news that come out of LA: car chases filmed from great heights and celebrity DUIs. Take a cab!

2. If you do take a cab or a limo, try to avoid getting in the one that Britney was just in.

Any room left in the bunker? Yoki, you still taking recipes?

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 11, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

test of format masher for long posts

Posted by: disrupter | January 11, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

So much great debate already posted here, so I'll just give props to JA for using the word "effloresce".

Posted by: Bennie | January 11, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

in case you were wondering "what the heck is omni on about?"

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The "surge" strategy is
not just smoke and mirrors on the domestic front intended to help George save face, although it is that. It is also something liquid and crude. Dick Cheney has promised to keep the Maliki government in power through January 20th, 2009, in exchange for passage of a new Petroleum Law. This new Petroleum Law, drawn up with the help of the consulting firm BearingPoint, will provide extremely preferential access to Iraq's here-to-fore-nationalized oil reserves for US-based oil companies. See the article "Blood and Oil" which appeared in The Independent for a description of the New Petroleum Law. The "surge" is essentially Dick Cheney sending in the Marines, literally and figuratively, to protect the Maliki government long enough to put these new laws on the books. Only in this light does the surge strategy make any sense whatsoever.

"Blood & Oil" link:

Posted by: BTS | January 11, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Beckham? You are a pack of farking idiots.

Posted by: iluvu | January 11, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Iraq has oil.

Posted by: Bert | January 11, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey I-mom!

Sorry about my stupid post. I just can't stand this anymore. I feel for guys and gals engaged in the current occupation in Iraq and those left attempting to hold the fort, so to speak, in Afghanistan.

With Cheney ordering up the "PLANS for IRAN" for Tactical Nukes, that is WAY TOO MUCH. What we don't bother to remember that Cheney was literally paying for plans to attact Iraq as soon as he sat down behind the VP desk and way before 9/11.

In the leaked info for Satcom (I think) it has been said that Cheney personally suggested that we must be ready to attack Iran if there is an attack on this country and even if there is no direct connection between the attack and Iran.

I guess that gives Canada a free pass on attacking us.

Hey we all know that Cheney sometimes mis-aims.

(Extra carriage returns provided for Neocons)

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | January 11, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Don Capps, I don't overlook such issues, personally. Thanks for sharing with those who well may have distorted ideas of just how tough it is over there.

For those who might be curious what it IS like over there, no mumbo-jumbo, I recommend "The Sandbox" in which real soldiers blog how it is over there.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: er | January 11, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

You're all wrong: George W. Bush is brilliant. He alone has taken the Neo-Straussian Exceptionalism that is the philosophical basis of Neoconservatism and expanded the theory in a unique way: He is well on his way to proving you can leave just as great a legacy by screwing up in exceptional ways. Bush broke Iraq, then bought Iraq, but we'll be paying for it for ever and a day. In other words, Joel, is there any room left in the bunker?

Posted by: Rogie D | January 11, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

sweet, and I suppose you rmother dint pay enough attention to your brother right?

old patterns die hard.

Posted by: arent you | January 11, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Bush to save his legacy has decided to put more American lives at risk. History will not be good for GW.

Posted by: fj | January 11, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

SoC, yes of course -- send 'em along. I'll wait 'til we're off the front page to post my email address.

Though at this point in my new slimming diet, transcribing them has become similar to indulging in pood forn.

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Boy, this is rivaling Rovestorm.

I'm no fan of GWB and I didn't vote for him.

All I can say is, God help us get through this mess. It's gonna take divine intervention for anything good to come of it.

Posted by: Slyness | January 11, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Don Capps, best wishes to you and your fellow soldiers. I have two friends here who now expect to be sent back for a new tour.

Those guys are taking it better than we.

They tend to agree with your assessment, and are soldiers through and through. I just pray that you all come home safely.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | January 11, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so what if the Bush administration is simply going to do whatever it wants? What if Bush's speech last night is "the opposite of the truth," yet another spin of lies (see David Brooks' OpEd piece in today's NY Times)? What if there's more truth to Loose Change than the "truths" we were told by this administration?

Now what?

The question we should all be asking ourselves and our loved ones is: What do we as Americans do now to live our lives? Do we buy homes in Canada, fearing An Inconvenient Truth and Children of Men? Do we look out for only ourselves and our families? Because of the way this administration has dismantled our foreign relations, every other democratic nation seems to be comfortable doing so.

Or do we stand together, ask questions, discuss answers, and demand the truth from our government? Gain support from the rest of the free world to help us carry the burden of Iraq...

It is time for the truth...ask Al Gore or Alfonso Cuaron.

Posted by: FFTruth | January 11, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

That's it! I've figured it all out! It's crystal clear, now! Here it is: George II is simply trying to bring along The Apocalypse. He's bringing together the Forces of Chaos in an attempt to invoke the Second Coming! Our brave soldiers won't die, they'll simply disappear in Glorious Rapture!
He's brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant.

Posted by: CowTown | January 11, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Bush's "New Way Forward" was concocted by the ever-scheming Karl Rove with the clear idea that it will allow Bush to shift the blame of his failed venture in Iraq to either the new Congress or the Iraqi government. The plan is not designed to succeed. (According to war hawks, over 30,000 additional troops are needed to do that.) It is a blame-shifting program. If the new Congress refuses to fund the additional 20,000 the president has called for, then Bush will blame Congress. And if Congress does provide the funding, then Bush will blame the Iraqis for "not stepping up."

I opposed the invasion of Iraq (I was among the 20 percent or so in 2003), and I oppose Bush's "New Way Forward" --- But I will change my tune if and when Bush, Rove, Cheney, and all the other pro-invasion crew send their loved ones to fight in Iraq. Let Bush's twins and nieces and nephews sign up and serve, and I will shut up.

Posted by: Just a thought | January 11, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Impeach Bush -- the sooner, the better!

Posted by: Just another thought | January 11, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

iluvu, sure, but we are nice farking idiots.

I always get a little frightened when politicians start worrying more about legacy than they do about running the country.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

My reaction is that I'm somewhat disconcerted. Besides the fact that Bush did look frightened or mad or something other than confident last night. Listening to people who support more troops today, I have continually heard that this is a last try that probably won't work (from NPR and Washington Post radio). Why is it that our troops are disposable in an effort to save the Iraqi people? Why is it that we have to remain confident while they blow us up? I have a brother in the Army. I have issues with him being disposable just for this one last try that has little likelihood of working! I want someone to stand up and scream and yell that it is wrong to do that to our troops.

Posted by: Robin | January 11, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

What do we do though? Rallies have become organized social functions. I have a friend who spent the greater part of 3 years in and out of jail protesting the war in Vietnam. But today, we seem to be complacent with blogging.

Posted by: FFTruth | January 11, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Don Capps, for your thoughtful and informative post.

Posted by: Marion | January 11, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

but hes a scripted idiot..

two new departments that allow him to avoid oversight and send money where he wants to by directly knowing the people he appointed?

you don't come into a presidency and create two whole departments that replace other agencies unless

1. you want to redirect money
2. you don't want those other agencies looking at you

John Negroponte/appointed Director of the National Intelligence Agency, Porter Goss/appointed Director of CIA, Paul Wolfowitz/PNAC Author/appointed President of World Bank, by George Bush/Fraternity President, all went to Yale Class of '60

Michael Chertoff, whitewater prosecutor/Clinton Hassler, big bush donator/Head of Department of Homeland appointment to reward and avoid oversight like Brownie at FEMA

Posted by: look he may be an idiot | January 11, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

1. Anonymous poster at 2:12 p.m. -- do your homework on McCain's military career please.

2. The surge: How would it work? Isn't the essence of successful counterinsurgency patience, persistence and presence? Temporarily increasing the last one doesn't seem like it would help much.

I am stuck with the image of announced crackdowns on speeders by the highway patrol. More patrol cars hit the roads, they're visible, traffic slows -- until most of the troopers go away again.

Are there examples of quick fix solutions causing long-term cultural change? Is good child discipline established in a "surge" of attentive parenting? Did American tolerance of drunk drivers lessen because of a short spurt of awareness messages?

Help me out. I'd truly like to see to see some long-term good coming from the troop infusion, but I can't see how.

Posted by: Drewster | January 11, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I could have sworn the phrase was "plus la change, plus c'est la meme chose," but then again my last French class was about 25 years sgo.

Quick, Raysmom, duck in while they're deciphering the above!


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Any poutine in the bunker?

Posted by: Dooley | January 11, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, I've got the poutine. I'll duck out later for the Cipaille.

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I remember from a Rush song as 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose '. Pareil mean similar, so I think that kinda works too.

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I remember from a Rush song as 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose '. Pareil mean similar, so I think that kinda works too.

They battled through the ages,
But still neither force would yield.
The people were divided,
Every soul a battlefield.
"Cygnus X-1 Book Two: Hemispheres"
All the same, we take our chances,
Laughed at by Time,
Tricked by Circumstances.
Plus ca change,
Plus c'est la meme chose,
The more that things change,
The more they stay the same.
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.
"The Trees"

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

iluvu: it's more the 250mil that he's going to be paid that makes the Galaxy ownership the 'farking idiots,' (although, i guess some of that $$ is endorsement deals.) i wonder how much Ronaldo's going to get...

Posted by: Tangent | January 11, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if GWB ever considered laying out some clear objectives (measurable standards), constraints and timetables, and then letting the military and civilian experts devise a plan to achieve them. That's their specialty. Probably not, because I don't think he has any clear objectives (at least none he would want to reveal), or perhaps he did that and the response was, It can't be done in that time under those constraints. He'll just "know" when the time comes. He says endlessly the US should "win", but that doesn't seem to have any concrete substance that would allow one to determine the objective has been realized and it's time to pack up and leave.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 11, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, can't get there from here. Save yourselves!

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

OK that was weirdly messed up. let me try it again:


A boy alone, so far from home
Endless rooftops from my window
I felt the gloom of empty rooms
On rainy afternoons
Sometimes in confusion
I felt so lost and disillusioned
Innocence gave me confidence
To go up against reality

All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ça change
plus c'est la même chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

Now I've gained some understanding
Of the only world that we see
Things that I once dreamed of
Have become reality
These walls that still surround me
Still contain the same old me
Just one more who's searching for
A world that ought to be

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

much better. I particularly like the last two lines.

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It was lasagne day in the cafeteria today and it has caused a wee bit of flatulence. That being said, is there still room in the bunker? I'll bring pudding pops.

Posted by: jack | January 11, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

More sports news: Barry Bonds reportedly tested positive for amphetamines (sp?) last year:

And the best part is, he initially blamed his teammate.

Posted by: Tangent | January 11, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Barry Bonds is a loser and instead getting 25% of the votes for induction into the baseball hall of fame he should have gotten 100% of the votes for a lifetime ban.

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Reluctantly on-topic. Thank you, Don Capps, for your posts. One extremely troubling aspect of this misadventure has been how few of us citizens are personally affected by it. Most people, and certainly most of the decision-makers, don't have close relatives, friends or acquaintances on the battlefield. The Administration has done nothing to try and personalize the war for the country either; on the contrary, it initially discouraged coffin pictures, casualty reporting, etc. We still haven't, collectively, been asked to sacrifice, unless you consider shopping a sacrifice. Consequently we are all better off to hear from folks who have been in that arena. I know that the messages from persons who have been stationed in the Middle East, or worked for contractors there, may vary greatly according to experience, but that too is valuable. A real dialogue should include a variety of experience and opinions. Perhaps soon the press of reality will require our policy makers to heed such a dialogue, now that the people seem inclined to have it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

make that a forever ban!!!

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

well it's obvious I've gone over my boodle quota for one day with all those mixed up messy posts of mine. time for some blorph and a good movie or two...and who knows, maybe by tomorrow it will be safe to exit the bunker...peace out...achenlater

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different:

"Groucho Marx penguin has happy feet"

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Omni thanks for posting the lyrics strangely appropriate to todays discussion.

Jack - pudding pops - Happy dance!

Don Capps please stick around.

Posted by: dmd | January 11, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"farking idiot" is a very tempting handle. Rush members, although Canadians, were very much of the Anglo persuasion. From North York fer crying out loud.
"Plus ça change plus c'est pareil" is the usual French idiom.
Tartiflette, the poutine for the educated palate (or snob?) would make good bunker food.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 11, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article here out of the BBC about the latest Somalia events.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear Jack, my happy dance and Errors - happy feet post, no similarity.

Not that I don't love your posts.

Posted by: dmd | January 11, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Your welcome dmd. It's just about my only post today that was even remotely sort of on topic (a bit accidentally at that).

And if you all don't hear from me tomorrow it's prolly cause I've been sent to gitmo for that remark about shrubbery.hehe (I probably shouldn't laff)

Posted by: omni | January 11, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

In his fatwas against the US Bin Ladin predicted the Americans will not have the patience to fight for very long. He does. His ilk has beeen waiting for a thousand years and will fight forever, if need be.

Posted by: mhr | January 11, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The ill-response to Katrina showed how vulnerable the United States is from within. Bush with his misguided escalation in Iraq is myopia at its best. At its worst, he has doomed too many brave troops to a possible early demise.

Posted by: Audrey | January 11, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I hate to be on-topic, but it's really annoying to see a posthumous Medal of Honor get a glorified brief in the NY Times.... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

One wonders what the Groucho Marx penguin would think about Duck Soup.

Or Horsefeathers.

Posted by: byoolin | January 11, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

So it only matters that the Iraqi government needs to get it done. What happens if they do not get it done I want to know do the men and woman come home or are we going to send more like we did in Viet Nam.

Posted by: Tom | January 11, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Bush is seeing the present through the lens of the future. He is engaging in a weird form of mental time travel, in which he catches a view of 2007 from the viewpoint of 2032 or 2052, times in which 2007 emerges as a conflict between the forces of good and evil. Evil here, as he described it in last night's speech, consists in our struggle with fanatics who are dedicated to "the destruction of our way of life." Bush believes he sees our present situation in retrospect, that he has a view to which he attaches great certainty. He "knows" he is right, unlike Abraham Lincoln, who, at every stage of the genesis of his policies with respect to the conflict between the north and the south, always agonized over how hard it was to really know what was right, what was God's will. Bush and his circle share in a conviction of rightness, anchored in a vision of the present through the future, and therefore have created around themselves an impenetrable wall that is immune to counterevidence and counterargument. What in the world can we then expect?

Posted by: george atwood | January 11, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Question for Bush:

'How do you 'Win' -or for that matter 'Lose'- somebody else's civil war?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I'll ask it again:

'How do you 'Win' -or for that matter 'Lose'- somebody else's civil war?

(sorry, I forgot my name in the previous post)

Posted by: George Lally | January 11, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

'Salright, George, happens all the time around here.

And that's a very good question.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

You'd think that need to put more troops into harm's way and defy the electorate would make the President's new course a "gutsy" decision. In fact, it seems me is that this course of action is actually the path of least resisitence. It frankly doesn't change much, whereas other choices would mean a major change on the ground. The frightening thing is that a year from now, if things still aren't better, the path of least resistence will be to add even more troops.

Posted by: BB in Portland | January 11, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is that I want my tax dollars back.

Every dang one of them.

This is not representative government in action -- which I'm happy to help pay for, btw, even if it chooses a different path than I would prefer.

Nope. What Bush is trying to pull is an abomination of justice and the Constitution. He's ignored what the public demands because:

a) his head is so firmly implanted in his a$$ that he can't hear or see


b) he's covering his ears and eyes and clicking his heels together saying "stay the course! stay the course! stay the course!"

In either case, he's gotta go.

But then there's "c)":

Hugo Chavez was right and Bush really is the Devil.

Posted by: martooni | January 11, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

To preface, I am a moderate Democrat and generally oppose the war in Iraq. I claim no military experience but have a long and deep interest in military history. That said, I believe we have a moral obligation to finish the job in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I do not believe that a "surge" or anything Bush dreams up will work to accomplish the job. He and his cronies have been using and continue to use faulty strategies and are generally too incompetent to accomplish anything positive in Iraq or, in my humble opinion, anything positive here in the US. They are just plain bad leaders and those who continue to support them are blind to reality.

So what is the job in Iraq and Afghanistan? The same job that we had in Germany, Italy and Japan after WWII. Stablization of the nation, the economy, the government and reconstruction from the damage caused by the war. We cannot pattern these efforts to a European nation with similar values as the US. The effort has to be patterned on a middle eastern nation a target of moderate islamic values. It no longer matters that the US started this war (very different from WWII). We can't pussyfoot around and we can't fight with blinders or handcuffs on. A surge won't solve things. I believe the surge is a political ploy that will allow Bush to keep troops in Iraq so he can pass the problem off to the next administration. That is not leadership; it is cowardice in the face of combat.

So what do we do? We need at least half a milion troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This means a draft. We need to take control of the nation: its economy, its government and its infrastructure and rule it as we did Japan and Germany in 1945. Reconstruction took a very long time in those nations and we as a nation must understand that any commitment to war requires a long term commitment. The current government of Iraq is a joke. Their constitution is a joke. The current police force is a joke. The current government of Afghanistan is a joke. We must go in and stabilize these nations before we can give their people autonomy. And autonomy must be handed off gradually because these nations are hotbeds of extremist thinking and action. Go too fast and you have a nation ripe for extremist intervention. Go too fast and you have identified the worst players to had off control: the loudmouths who will say anything to gain power but then do nothing for the nation.

So what do we do about the "insurgents" and the civil war? What did we do in WWII? We certainly follow the Geneva Convention. Most should be considered partisans and the convention does not grant them the same rights as uniformed military personnel. The rules of engagement must be harsh. If you are nto in a state uniform and you fire a weapon at anyone: US military, Sunni, Shiia, Kurd, , then you are a legitimate target for occupation troops. The same goes if you are found with explosives or any mechanism of warfare. When civilians die during action or occupation, that is war. We as a nation must accept that as a consequence of our action. We do our best to follow military rule of law but civilians die in war.

A lot of my Democratic colleagues will think I am nuts on this issue. I am certainly in the minority of my party and the nation. Even my wife, a moderate Republican who opposes the war, thinks so. But I feel strongly that we have to finish the job and the job is clear...occupy, stablize, autonomize. We have the moral obligation as a nation to fix what we broke and we have a moral obligation to elect leaders who can do so.

Posted by: mattr | January 11, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, Shriek-- beans in the bunker? Well...OK. But none of that "Pull my finger" stuff.

Loomis, you're related to THAT Henry Percy? Hotspur himself? Well, I guess I shoulda known. (Of course, I also shoulda known you're related to everybody anyway, but Hotspur is kinda cool.)

I have this massive 2,000-word rant just about ready to post on the topic, but I think I'm just donna deep-six it and run like hell for the bunker myself. omni, bless you for the liquids. Do we need to send out a rescue mission for Raysmom? Is she like Owen Wilson, trapped behind the lines and being tracked down by some mad Serbian sniper? Can we arrange an airdrop?

Anybody need anything at the 7-11? If not, I'll be in the bunker myself in a minute. I'll give the secret knock on the stormsurge door.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 11, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Here is a frightening scenario as to what may take place in our continuing involvement in Iraq. The increased intervention mobilizes Shia resistance against us, where tens of thousands of Shiite fighters emerge to eject us from Iraq. This does not occur in the form of a polite request to leave, but rather as a vast array of Blackhawk Down situations, where our people are surrounded and killed by overpowering numbers of attackers. Our government will have no way of contending with such an eventuality and it is really hard to imagine what could then occur, except one or another catastrophe for all concerned.

Posted by: george atwood | January 11, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, don't permanently destroy it; post it later on, K?

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I admit to being interested in the stark contrast of this one reply from Robert Kaiser (below, specifically in answer to the question about oil and pipeline contracts) this morning in his online chat about Bush's surge speech and the contents of BTS's link within his 2:27 post here on the Achnblog:

Catonsville, Md.: Is it true that the Bush administration is staying the course because there are so many lucrative contracts in the reconstruction efforts in Iraq (too good to leave)? As well as oil and pipeline contracts. Do they see this with Iran and other M.E. countries?

Robert G. Kaiser: I see no merit whatsoever to this argument.

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Seinfeld fans will recognize "the surge" as The George Costanza Plan, i.e., doing the opposite of what makes sense. It worked for that George, at least for a while, and maybe it will work for George W, too.

If only it were a TV show.

Posted by: Rich A | January 11, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Mudge, Hotspur is a little further down the line. We branched off a few generations before Hotspur.

C'mon! Pare it down or it on up. Do you address "delusional" as you suggested earlier?

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

it seems apparent that mr. bush and his political advisors intend to continue their current disastrously inept policies in iraq until they leave office. they will then be able to claim that iraq was still a nascent democracy when they left. republicans will then blame whatever democrat in office in 2009 has the good sense to get our troops out. the entire bush enterprise from this day forward is about the 2012 elections, when jeb bush will seek his rightful return to the throne.

Posted by: butlerguy | January 11, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, get all the margarita mix etc. you can while you're at 7-11. Sobriety doesn't appeal right now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

mattr, while I disagree with your position, I find it disarmingly logical and practical. In fact, I'll go far as to say you're right. It's just that the American people weren't expecting a long occupation and really don't have the stomach for it. The only support for a long "stabilizing" occupation is from the (now very lonely) neocons. Anti-war liberals and traditional conservatives have no interest in such an undertaking.
Let's also remember that this whole adventure was "sold" to us in 2003 as a brief operation that would take no longer than six months, and would cost about $60 Billion (most of which would be reimbursed by the grateful, and oil rich, Iraquis). We didn't get what was advertised, and now we want our money back.

Posted by: CowTown | January 11, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Quit calling it a ''surge'' as that give some credence to their twisted contorted interpretation of the true definition of escalation. In the meantime always remember the four Ps of MKT 101.. say you do not know them? Well google it.. focus on the one called PROMOTION and there your footing will be solid for analysis based on reason and logic and proven fact. Only if these words ring a bell of value would you procede! Promotion my amigo---some is paid for and some is supposed to be free, yet Mr. Bushs spending of 1.6 BILLION in propaganda changes it somewhat, even if only in the mind. confidentialsources com four Ps/McCarthy/perrault

Posted by: confidentialsources | January 11, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks, I just added this to the kit above and will paste in here for good measure:

3 p.m. bulletin from the Hill: Attended some of the raucous Senate Foreign Affairs committee hearing, during which senators of both parties read the riot act to Secretary Rice -- "expressing outright hostility, disagreement and/or overwhelming concern with the president's proposal," in the concluding and very accurate words of Chairman Biden. Rice, however, didn't let herself get caught up in any major verbal combat; she kept her cool. She's gone over to the House for more testimony.

The last senator to have a shot at her, Webb of Virginia, began his questioning by asking her to pass along to the president "my best regards."

He then asked a question about whether the Administration believes, under the 2002 resolution authorizing force in Iraq, that it has the legal right to attack Iran. Rice said she's been told that the problem with Iranian weapons in Iraq can be handled in Iraq, but that she'd give a more complete, written response later. Biden later said that the 2002 vote clearly prohibited the President from attacking Iran, and warned that, if there was an attack on Iran, "That will generate a Constitutional confrontation...I will attempt to make it a confrontation."

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Good point, CowTown. But let's not forget that the selling job on the war actually started in August of '02, a few months before the midterm election. Strange coincidence that.

Posted by: BB in Portland | January 11, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Joel, it is a good thing for us they gave you all those credentials. You just keep listening and checking in, and we'll keep learning.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

mattr (post at 4:08 p.m.), I have a question for you: Do you have any children?

I have three, all of draft age. I am not saying you are wrong at all but I am going to start studying up on conscientious objector status. Not a one of us supported the invasion of Iraq and we will not support a draft.

Posted by: Marion | January 11, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

There's too little in the plan for it to be true on the face. Nobody could believe we can disarm the Mahdi Army under this plan and barring that it won't "hold the line 'til '09" for Bush to get out of office. But it's possible there's a real strategy change hiding in it.

Chaney and other neocons have made rumblings about picking a side; look at what he said in those terms:

The Government of Iraq will be in charge of the new offensive. The Shi'a government will decide where and when and supply the main forces, we will support.
So, when they go into Sadr City; it's been reported that some of the Shi'a militia are rouge elements that Sadr no longer controls. The Mahdi Army, warned well in advance, suspends death squad activity, stashes their equipment and plays dead. The Iraqi Army goes straight to the rouge elements they want to eliminate because their local intelligence is flawless and gets rid of them. Large piles of arms are seen stacked in the streets and bodies displayed. Sadr City is now "cleared" and can be "held." Now they can move on to the Sunni neighborhoods where they will need our support to do a full scale search and cleanse of active opposition forces followed by establishing Shi'a manned police and army control.
The short term increase in troops isn't enough to win in the earlier context, but it probably is enough to help the Iraqi army disarm the Sunni and prevent re-supply or reinforcement. The Mahdi Army has been doing a block by block ethnic cleansing in Baghdad with retaliation from Sunni insurgents and having to circumvent out forces. Now when they tell the Sunni to leave what choice will they have? In a year all the Sunni will be either exiled or in the refugee camps in Anbar we can use the extra development money to build. They'll be leaving because "They refuse to believe Government assurances of their safety in Baghdad."
Provincial elections and oil revenue sharing can now go forward under terms that are simply dictated to the Sunni. The Government can give Mosul to the Kurds who are more than capable of sending the Sunni who live there running.
In the same context the warning to Syria is "Don't try to help the Sunni's" and the warning to Iran is "Okay, your guys win, but if you try to exploit it too much we'll attack you."
It could be argued that this is just yielding to the inevitable, and will reduce the bloodshed in the long run. A whole lot of very important people would be happy with that.
This strategy gets Bush out of office before the region blows up and allows us to move our forces out to Kurdistan so Republicans can claim victory before '08.
Does that sound more like Chaney and Rove?

Posted by: Roger Tompkins | January 11, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what I just posted made any sense. Just read Milbank in tomorrow's WaPo. He was there. He'll sketch it. The senators were not happy. But no one should expect them to "withhold funding" or any such dramatic act. Ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

It's starting to get all about Iran.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 11, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course it made sense. That Biden felt the need to ask about Iran is, at best, unsettling.

Posted by: bill everything | January 11, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to Iran, even this administration will have to admit its eyes are bigger than its stomach. There's no way we can be simultaneously embroiled on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. It's logistically impossible.

Posted by: BB in Portland | January 11, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, your post made sense. I still have chills going up and down my spine at the thought of Bush, Cheney, and Rove (via their numerous mouthpieces Rice and company) beginning their campaign to attack Iran. Sheesh. Never-ending war is all this paranoid administration wants. What happened to diplomacy? What happened to working with allies? Good God, what is happening to our nation? We have a crew who will not listen to the people, will not listen to the two other branches of government, and will not read and study history.

Posted by: Marion | January 11, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

from an efficiency standpoint, just buying up each citizens share in the Iraqi oilwells woulda been cheaper....

Posted by: actually | January 11, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, sweet of you to be concerned about me, but no need for airdrop (other than headache medicine due to these @#$% spreadsheets). Am in the hands of kindly partisans who are providing temporary shelter.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 11, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

This is what happens when you only speak with those who agree with you and God. Somehow Mr. Bush completely avoids the fact that the leaders of the Iraqi government, the people he is counting on to save his sorry butt, are in fact the main perpetrators of the violence in Baghdad and have been for almost two years. They will gladly use his desperate *plan* to kill off the remaining Sunni's if they can. The Kurds are a non-factor at the moment. The Kurds are husbanding their strength and preparing for a likely border war on three sides of their territory once the Shiites have finished securing Baghdad for themselves. What an unholy mess. What a callous, stupid, dishonest man. What a legacy.

Posted by: Joseph DiPietro | January 11, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's the AP story on that hearing:

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the sense that the Administration really wants to go to war with Iran. Rice said Iran is very bad but that the Administration position is that the Iran should be engaged diplomatically. And that the Iran problem can be dealt with on the ground in Iraq. Clearly the Democrats are suspicious that the Administration will escalate the war in a big way across the border. But in the past, the Administration has signaled its intentions before doing something like that, seems to me.

Webb, by the way, urged Bush to fly to Teheran in a Nixon-to-China move.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 11, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

When all is said and done, noone who actually has counter-terrorism ops experience believes this will work. Heck, let's admit it and stop wasting tax dollars and soldiers just to puff up Bush's ego.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | January 11, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

BB in Portland: "There's no way we can be simultaneously embroiled on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. It's logistically impossible."

But think about the savings in having a direct supply route!

Also, the internal lines of communication. Oh sure, most of the communication may be "Need more ammo".

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 11, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I love Marion's 4:56 post above.

Regarding Iran: I doubt that Bush et al will attack a country they KNOW has WMDs. I just hope I'm right.

I'm more scared right now than I ever was after Sept. 11. We shouldn't have been afraid that terrorists would fly a plane into the White House. The terrorists are IN the White House now.

Posted by: TBG | January 11, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I think going to Teheran would be more of a Cook-to-Hawaii move at this particular point in time.

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 11, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

*ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces stormed an Iranian government representative's office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil early on Thursday and arrested five employees, including diplomats and staff, Iranian officials said.*

You know how it is: the Iranians might force us to go to war with them because they are very bad people and don't have WMD's yet. And, besides, a war with them will be over before the sand settles, just like in Iraq and in Afghanistan,

Posted by: Joseph DiPietro | January 11, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I have no children. I have nephews and nieces, some of whom are draft age and some of whom will be draft age in the coming years. I have friends who have fought in this war and in previous wars. I am concerned about their lives and the lives of your children. I would not throw their lives away in the dishonorable fashion that this administration has done. BTW, I did not enter the military when I was 17 only because I received a better offer at the last minute. I was only one signature away from signing myself up for at least six years and possibly a lot longer had I been eligible for a medical school deferral (in the end I did not go). I may have even made the military a career if my path had gone that way. I felt then and feel today that it is an honorable career path and the service of our young people, voluntary or drafted, should be considered a noble act.

That said, we are in it deep already. Our young people are fighting and dying or coming back with physical and psychological trauma. This administration is wasting lives and military careers by its current actions. There is no indication this administration will pull the soldiers out; their dishonor of our soldiers is to let someone else handle a pull out or resolution in Iraq and Afghanistan. More lives will be thrown away and it may include our families, our friends, ourselves.

I agree with the right of all Americans to conscientious objector status in the face of a draft. 100%! Real war is not something everyone can handle. This is not cowardice; I understand that it takes a lot for most of us to kill a person and that in all modern wars it is a minority of the participants that actually do the fighting. I think any draft should have an option for service to the nation in Americorps or the Peace Corps or some other reasonable mechanism. My guess is that we will still fill the ranks. Young people who do not serve in the military will have a wonderful opportunity to honorably serve the nation in a time of war.

Regarding the will of the people, it is absolutely correct that they will not stand for my solution. We were sold a rotten bill of goods because that was and is the only way this dishonorable administration can make convincing arguments. The well was poisoned years ago and Bush still keeps going to it and forcing us to drink. However, I also see the will of the people as a strong and moral one...made of universal morals that are common to all peoples and not just "American" morals. A strong leader, an honest leader with vision could step up and make clear our real choices in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don't have that type of leader anymore. Given the reality and given a real war plan with real goals, the people of this nation might be willing to make a hard decision. We will all have to sacrifice...some with our lives or the lives of our family and friends... most with short term loss in the form of higher taxes to pay for a war and the stress of real war at the homefront. My parents did it; we should always be willing to do it when we commit to real war.

Last thought...I don't buy this administration's line about what happens if we pull out. This is just more dishonorable smoke and mirrors. We cannot predict what would happen. But a pull out is justified if we cannot accept the hard truths of real war: it cannot be fought on the cheap; lives will be lost or ruined; the defeated will hate us for a generation or more; the economies of the combatant nations will be impacted; agreement on the justification for the war or its continued prosection will never be total; etc.

These are my thoughts, right or wrong. I am glad each of you has your own thoughts on these matters. I support you whether you agree with me or not. Real war requires real debate and there are no easy answers.

Posted by: mattr | January 11, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

mattr, I hope you visit here often (sometimes it's hard to leave). Thanks for your careful and thoughtful words.

You're right: it is important that we ALL sacrifice. I agree with all of you here who point out that our leaders, their families and loved ones are not making sacrifices.

He11, I'm not making any either.

We DO need a good strong leader who will thoughtfully and carefully study and listen (maybe that's the important word) and then get us out of this mess. I don't know who it is, but we may be running out of time to find out.

Posted by: TBG | January 11, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

For a moment earlier today it looked like we might need the bunker, but I think its safe now. But for a few comments, the tone has been wonderful. Joel, you captain a really nice ship.

Or is it a beast?

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Now, now, TBG, there are no terrorists in the White House. They're chowderheads, that's all. Dangerous chowderheads.

Posted by: CowTown | January 11, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

mattr (5:32 post), thank you for your candor and thoughtful comments. My opposition to the invasion of Iraq (and continuing opposition to our military presence there) was (and is) deeply felt and reflects the essence of my beliefs. I cannot support war (nor can my children) but we can and do support service to this nation we love and would gladly serve in the Peace Corps or any other non-combat role.

I just wish our nation's leaders would put as much thought into their actions as you put into your post. How right you are: "Real war requires real debate and there are no easy answers."

Posted by: Marion | January 11, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The surge strategy, indeed the battle in Iraq itself, is a Red Herring, a diversion. The purpose of the speech was to reinforce to the nation the dire threats of Iran/Syria. After warning them to stay out of Iraq, he announced the deployment of the Carrier Group from Seattle to arrive in the region in approximately three weeks; joining two combat fleets already there. An unidentified Pentagon source said today(1/11) that several Patriot Anti-Missile batteries have been sent to the area. Add to this the curious choice of an Admiral from Stratcom, whose expertise is Nuclear Warfare, as the new head of Centcom and any fool would deduce that something is up. Bush has already lost Iraq and the American people as a result; any further weakening of his power base will embolden the Democrats to proceed with Impeachment. He is a desperate man, politically and psychologically. That makes him very dangerous. In a month all the ducks will be in a row for something truly catastrophic; and, with the authority given to him by the Congress in 2002, he's the trigger man.
Jeff Rollins
Valencia, Cal.

Posted by: Lescoeurs | January 11, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Glad to know you're in safe hands, Raysmom. OK, running for the bus, peeps.

The epic tome is done, may post it tonight (or may not) after I re-read it and think about it. 2,450 words. Yikes. Instead of being the Mighty Favog of this here boodle, I may be the Joe Biden.

But then again, the expectation that this stuff is easy and subject to simple answers is pretty much completely wrong, as many of you might admit.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 11, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

The President has completely lost touch with reality (not a new experience for him, unfortunately). There is no effective Iraqi government to support and the proposed escalation of US forces will have no lasting effect.

The Kurds have their own state and they ignore any dictates from Baghdad that do not suit their purposes. Southern Iraq is run by Shiite religious figures busy imposing Islamic law. Anbar province, home of the Sunnis, is a chaotic hellhole. Baghdad is under no ones control. America could put 100,000 troops in Baghdad but the Mahdi Army would still be there when the Americans left.

Bush is going to be responsible for more American and Iraqi deaths, now over 400,000 by objective estimates. He is incapable of admitting that his invasion was a massive mistake, the worst American foregin policy mistake since Vietnam. America will still be in Iraq in force when the next president takes the oath of office. That person will have no choice but to withdraw US forces as quickly as possible because the American people will have voted him/her into office to do exactly that. Die-hard Bush supporters will then blame the new president for losing Iraq, as if there was any other possible outcome.

By then the Shiites will have finished forcing the Sunnis into a small, impoverished section of the country centered on Anbar province, which will be run by Islamic fanatics and al Qaeda. The Kurds will have their own country but Turkey will be poised to invade Kurdistan. Iran will be ascendant and the most powerful country in the region.

Nice work George.

Posted by: Barry Brisco | January 11, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

One Two Three - What are we fightin' for?
Don't ask me I don't give a damn
Next stop is Old Iran

And it's Five Six Seven Open up the pearly gates!
Well there ain't no need to wonder why
Loookee we're all going to die.

Come on all you big strong men
Uncle Sam needs your help again
Got himself in a terrible jam
Way off yonder in Old Iran

Put down your books
Pick up your guns
We're gonna have a whole lot of fun!

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

From Joel's link to AP:

At one point Gates, just three weeks on the job, told lawmakers, "I would confess I'm no expert on Iraq." Later, asked about reaching the right balance between American and Iraqi forces, he told the panel he was "no expert on military matters." [Geez Louise, what're good for 'cept putting together a presidential library in Texas?]

Committee members pressed Gates, who replaced Donald H. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, on an exit strategy for the U.S.

"At the outset of the strategy, it's a mistake to talk about an exit strategy," he said. [This sounds like an odd exchange.]

Gates, in testimony to the committee and earlier at a news conference, said he was requesting increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 troops over the next five years. [Volunteers--you gotta be kiddin' me? Again, we're sendin' 'em where? The writin's on the wall, folks.]

Posted by: Loomis | January 11, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Mr. Bush should be impeached for commiting tragic errors in judgment and for failure to recognize them and to take corrective action. He has lost the confidence and trust of the American people and caused tragedy at home and abroad.

Mr. Bush may be hoping for divine -or, maybe, paternal- intervention to bail him out any minute now but America should not wait much longer before we send Mr. Bush back to Texas. We can't afford two more years of Bush...

Posted by: rita23 | January 11, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

what is most disturbing...

is that Iraq is really only important because it is important to the Military Industrial Complex that defines themselves in terms of _who_is_their_advesary_

the directors of all intelligence agencies are now all military or ex military...

Bushes stake, OIL, UAE/SAUDI/Kuwiat oil based economies...brits ceded Saudis the rights to that oil...blah blah blah

realistically speaking, spending the $800 BILLION domestically would make all of us a lot richer...

middle class is being erased, and yet that is the one thing that made us UNIQUE...

after WWII

factories blue collar workers bringing home union wages w/benefits

white collar jobs from new industries and college GI Bill...

then semiconductors...

turn of the century argrian-> peasant landowners

middle of the century big middle class, distributed wealth

end of the century moving back to Internationally landed -> _using_ cheapest peasant class, avoiding quality of life issues for peasants by moving manufacturing to where it is most profitable, making citizens compete with 3rd world standards for pay...

the inefficiency of having to lie about why we are in Iraq, so that a narrow section of the landed receive payment for their services is somewhat akin to declaring war on IOWA because you dont want to pay for the fricking corn...

not to mention no global warming position, china makes cars that get 34 mpgs on avg and we are still stuck in the mid 20's on mpgs, we could be energy independent and telecommuting to work...which in Washington DC would be extremely feasible, given the number of government workers...

and so on...

we are paying for an OZ show so that a few fat white rich men get fatter and can afford some kinda 14th Century spoon their turkish taffy from...


Posted by: portions of sanity | January 11, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I look forward to your comments. But if you ever want them to be read by really important people, be sure not to use too many fancy words. You know how they hate those.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 11, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, don't forget to do a powerpoint presentation from the epic tome. I sure did enjoy the link to Boyd's last briefing. 'Danks.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Where have all the flowers gone?

Well, since Achenbach said he wants it, here's my two cents worth. Surge is a pretty nice gal, but she doesn't have a lot to say. Surge is a pretty nice gal, but she changes from day to day. I want to tell her I love her a lot, but I gotta get a belly full of wine; Surge is a pretty nice gal, some day I'm gonna need the capital I'm spending on her, but I won't have it.

How do we stop this pilious nonsense?

How could a just & benevolent president possibly not listen to this advice? Note my careful inclusion of Straussian text.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

One last thought on this subject, one that has been brought up at least obliquely by *TheHearts* (btw, you just done bin Amerkin fried in honor of the subject matter!). A man kin really clear and hold a lotta ground by flushin it down the nukuler terlit. How is that for hearin* God's voice and puttin* out a big *or else* to those bad folk who won't follow our game plan. We'll pick up the win with a big home run in the bottom of the ninth and the fans will go crazy. From the spelling and the insanity, you may be guessing I have gotten hold of some confidential documents and you would be....

Posted by: Joseph DiPietro | January 11, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

President he had his war
Nobody knew just a-what it's for
Nobody gave us a rhyme or reason
Never worked out and they call it treason

Looks like we always end up in that rut!
I can't use it.

Try to make it real
Compared to What?

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express "Compared to What" (1973)

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

When do we start singing Kumbaya and roasting marshmallows?

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 11, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, dr -- no need for anyone to go hiding in bunkers.
We have guests, for goodness' sake. *Invited* guests.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 11, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree strongly that there is no way this administration is seriously considering military action against Iran. Without manpower the only option would be to lob over some nukes, and although this administration may be heavily into wishful thinking, it isn't insane.

That said, I get the sense that issues related to Iran are becoming more and more important.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 11, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

*raising the periscope and making a sweep*

Maybe so, Achenfan, maybe so.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 11, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

The surge is pure politics. More U.S. military must die so Bush can avoid having to eat crow by effecting a withdraw of forces during his own presidency. Surge now and paint the Democrats as the party of cut and run later. Political convenience paid for with military sacrifice.

Posted by: Thucydides | January 11, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey, that reminds me of a song:

I got no idea
We we go from here
Maybe that's why we're
Living in bunkers

-- from "Bunkers," on the album "New Clear Days," by The Vapors

Posted by: Achenfan | January 11, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan - I think the invited guests have been quite civilized. Very few gratuitous capitalizations. Reasonably thought out positions. And nobody yet has accused the Washington Post as being nothing but a mouthpiece for them Hollywood liberas.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 11, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

let's see... his grandaddy was a senator, his dad a prez, and he's the prez... nope, there is no such thing as inherited wisdom... $ & power maybe, but not wisdom. back from my hike in the woods, I am glad to hear there is a bunker stocked with tequila, somewhere... anywhere. I'll bring my own, just in case I can't get in.

Posted by: ked | January 11, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

How about we convene Muslim countries to take over for us?

We infidels have trouble getting much respect there. Hefty majorities of Sunnis and Shiites agree that attacking the infidels is okay. Sort of like leaving
U.S. troops indefinitely in Mississippi after the Civil War was mostly good for getting the KKK solidified.

A couple of examples in recent history. The Arab League had peacekeepers in Lebanon in the 1980s before handing the job over to Syria. Britain in 1961 in order to lend the government of newly independent Kuwait some credibility had an interim international contingent of Arab armed foreces. The tricky thing is of course is getting the right balance of Shiites and Sunnis in the interim peacekeeping force, but if we are a bit flexible (there are lots of Pakistani Shiites and we could allow some Iranians?) then we could withdraw more troops than required Muslim replacements? If Syria and Iran and Saudi and Egypt and Turkey and Pakistan and Indonesia and Saudi and Yemen and Algeria and Morocco all had to agree on how to manage a peacekeeping force (deadline tomorrow) it would significantly energize the Middle East and make it less hostile to the U.S.

Posted by: Gary Howell, Cary NC | January 11, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I was worried there for a bit, but it all turned out well. thanks to some very interesting people with very interesting points to make.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The Ideal is the enemy of the Good.

What to do? Security in the Middle East is a vital interest as long as the world economy depends on their oil. The danger of sectarian strife in Iraq is that it could pull in surrounding states in regional war or flow outward into multiple civil wars.

One impulse is to say, let George have his last chance so he and the right can't come back and charge that it was _your_ fault we lost. It will be clear in 3 to 6 months if the Iraqi government is leading or not.

Another part of my brain says, we already know how unlikely that is, and it is morally wrong to sacrifice the lives of another 500 soldiers, whether for Bush's ego or to use them as a counter-argument to the right.

In the end, national interests must have their appropriate priority. Everything Bush has done has damaged those interests. There is still a chance, by following Biden's plan and engaging surrounding states through diplomacy in an effort to stabilize the region, for a tolerable outcome. Bush's idealistic plan at the least delays efforts to pursue stability. But the least effect is not the most likely. More likely the "surge" will stimulate greater sectarian strife, increase perceived threats in surrounding countries, and deplete the will of the US public to support further efforts towards achievable ends.

Bush is a lost cause. The ones we need to hold accountable for their work against our national security interests are his ennablers in the White House, the Congress, and the media, MSM and bloggers both. For too long we have been polite while they trashed us and accused us of supporting the enemy. Now it's time to return the favor and attack!

Posted by: not a kiester-kisser | January 11, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Britain ain't buyin' in:

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Aha! We just KNEW you Canadians were up to no good!


U.S. warns about Canadian spy coins

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer Thu Jan 11, 4:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Money talks, but can it also follow your movements?

In a U.S. government warning high on the creepiness scale, the Defense Department cautioned its American contractors over what it described as a new espionage threat: Canadian coins with tiny radio frequency transmitters hidden inside...

Posted by: TBG | January 11, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The paralells to Viet Nam are striking. However, this situation is worse. In both cases, we started the civil war that destabilized the country. In Viet Nam, we supported Diem and the South against Ho Chi Mihn. In Iraq, we supported Iraqi rebel factions after the first Gulf War, and I suspect even before that.

In Viet Nam we lost, or rather we withdrew and the South fell. If we were to leave, many fear a protracted civil war. I disagree. Many see us as occupiers rather than liberators, especially in the areas where the surge is about to take place. In the Sunni Triangle, we will never be seen as anything other than their tribal chieftan's murderers. You can't recover from that.

Baghdad is worse. If I were still working at DoD, what I am writing would have to be classified, since it reveals publicly a strategic weakness which could be exploited by the enemy - although they likely already know this and will do it anyway. We are about to go into neigborhoods shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi Army and Police to attach the Mahdi Army. There is only one problem with that. The Iraqi Army and Police are heavily infiltrated by the Mahdi Army. The most effective way to kill an enemy is to surround it and butcher it. That is what will happen to our forces if they carry our this strategy. Iraqi forces are likely to hold back, possibly simultaneously on all patrols, and when the Mahdi Army ambushes them, the American forces will draw fire from both sides and it will be killed. Not forced to withdrawl or retreat. That is not the victory the insurgents want. They want to utterly defeat the American forces and we are playing into their hands. We have never lost a war because of utter defeat, although this will soon change.

How do we stop this madness. If the Democrats had any courage, they would immediately impeach the President and Vice President. More than cutting off funding, this will be a sure fire way to end the conflict.

The military can also stop this, particularly the officer corps. The answer is to resign in masse. The alternative is to go into a battle where defeat is certain. The only way to win this battle is not to fight it and the only way to do that is to refuse what is likely the worst order ever given by the commander in chief.

Do I advocate complete withdrawl? No, of course not. I don't even advocate partition. What I do advocate is an admission that we started the Iraqi civil war, which should be followed by the deployment of an Arab force to take over in the Sunni Triangle and Baghdad (primarily Jordan and Syria) with a witdrawl of American forces to Kurdistan and the south. This will stabilize the nation and end the river of American and Iraqi blood.

Posted by: Michael Bindner | January 11, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Flawed analogy, Mr. Howell. The formation of the Ku Klux Klan wasn't a response to troop presence.

With some adjustment, however, the analogy can be made to fit the Iraq situation. The target of the Klan and other white supremacists was not federal troops located in the states of the former Confederacy, but the prospect of other long-time residents of the region gaining political power, black Southerners.

There's a struggle for power among long-time residents going on in Iraq. It's an old story. SOE and OSS agents in the Balkans during World War II often found guerilla groups more keen to attack each other than the Germans. People often hate their neighbors with greater intensity than they hate foreign invaders.

Posted by: Drewster | January 11, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

New York city has perhaps 35,000 police and it is at peace.? Bagdad and an equal number of people at war with one another;a hundred thousand soldiers won't stop the violence in a city of seven million. There are 25 million Iraqis that hate Americans and Bush for the deaths of 650,000 of their own.John Hopkins report.
Americans are target #1.Four major bases in Western Iraq that the US can pull back to and let the Iraqis fight it out.Bush broke it and we can't fix it. It will be up to the winner of the civil war to bring peace.

Posted by: styx | January 11, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting how so much of the developments of the past few years seems to be a response to the decision to disband the Iraqi army, leaving the vacuum that the US and Iraqi military and government have struggled to fill -- spending our blood and money "to improve the security position" so the trash can be collected. OTOH, if the army had been retained, and handed over to Chalabi and that lot, what different sort of chaos would be there now?

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 11, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I do believe it is sometimes good to listen to the new voices. Marion, mttr, and a few others today have made eminent sense. As a newbie myself, I'm exiting the bunker and, well, not throwing open my arms, but sliding in a smile at one or two new posters.

Posted by: Yoki | January 11, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I am loathe to quote the New York Times but today's editorial made a statement with which I totally concur--the 'surge' is a ruse to keep the Iraqi pot boiling for 2 more years so Bush can hand off HIS debacle to a Democratic President, then sit back on his ranch and gleefully watch as the Dems try to untangle us from the tarbaby that is Bush's War. Neocons will then cry that the Dems 'lost Iraq' just as they 'lost China' over 50 years ago. Bush's 'surge' is one of the most cynical acts in U.S. history, totally self-serving--but then he's been doing that for lo these past six painful years. The Worst President in History just got worse.

Posted by: cody mccall | January 11, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

What hath Joel wrought? Wading though this day of opinion and idea interspersed with the "family" of regulars has been mind boggling, and as Joel alluded, will make no difference. The die is cast. And to paraphrase Tennyson: Into the valley of death go another 400 (or 4000 if you are into total body count.) Frankly, the 9 sector Baghdad tactic sounds like the Newspeak version of "divide and conquer" - a sure recipe for high body count.

Posted by: Shiloh, Otter Creek, USA | January 11, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The "new voices" are new to us, and welcome, but I suspect some have been around on other forums for a while -- considering how knowledgeable and well thought-out many of the opinions are. I sure do appreciate the civilized tone, compared to some of the folks attracted to other blogs that feature this topic every day.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 11, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

It's not a surge, nor an escalation. It's just same-old same-old.

US Troops in Iraq Dec 2005: 165,000
UK Troops in Iraq Dec 2005: 10,500
Total US/UK troops in Iraq, Dec 2005: 175,500

Planned US Troops in Iraq May 2007: 153,500
Planned UK Troops in Iraq May 2007: 4,200
Total post-surge US/UK Troops in Iraq: 157,700

IN fact Britain announced its latest pullout, of nearly half its remaining strength there, on the very day Bush announced his surge.

The post-surge strength is less than that which has already failed in the past.

And my figures don't even account for the thousands of other 'Coalition' troops who were there in previous efforts but have since gone home, including the contingents from Spain, Italy, Japan, Holland, Ukraine, Denmark, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Thailand, Hungary, Portugal, and the Phillipines to name a few.

Only three armies are surging in Iraq:
1. The Mahdi Army
2. The growing army of Iraqis of both sects who hate Americans and want them out, now about 90%.
3. The Army of the Dead.

Posted by: OD | January 11, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Iraq is a disaster and the people we elected made it so. We made it so. If you didn't vote for Bush then you should have tried a little harder for Gore and especially Kerry. That Bush got a second term from the American people is something we should all be ashamed of. I didn't try hard enough either.

The Iraq Civil War will last for years, maybe decades. 20,000 more US troops won't make a difference. 200,000 more won't make a difference either to the eventual outcome....except the total number of American dead.

One of the reasons we supposedly went to Iraq was to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here. Well they seem to be doing a pretty good job of that amongst themselves without our help. So why is this a bad thing in terms of the strategic interest of the US? If the Shia with Iranian backing battle the Sunni's with Saudi backing, throw in Al Qaida and Hezbollah and we could have another wonderful Mid-East war like when Iraq and Iran went at it in the '80's Those were the good ol' days.

Take the resources we're thinking of wasting in Iraq and devote to Afghanistan. It's not too late to at least get that one right.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Iraq is a disaster and the people we elected made it so. We made it so. If you didn't vote for Bush then you should have tried a little harder for Gore and especially Kerry. That Bush got a second term from the American people is something we should all be ashamed of. I didn't try hard enough either.

The Iraq Civil War will last for years, maybe decades. 20,000 more US troops won't make a difference. 200,000 more won't make a difference either to the eventual outcome....except the total number of American dead.

One of the reasons we supposedly went to Iraq was to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here. Well they seem to be doing a pretty good job of that amongst themselves without our help. So why is this a bad thing in terms of the strategic interest of the US? If the Shia with Iranian backing battle the Sunni's with Saudi backing, throw in Al Qaida and Hezbollah and we could have another wonderful Mid-East war like when Iraq and Iran went at it in the '80's Those were the good ol' days.

Take the resources we're thinking of wasting in Iraq and devote to Afghanistan. It's not too late to at least get that one right.

Posted by: Bohemia | January 11, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

The accompanying 'money surge' is also a pittance compared to what was wasted and stolen in the original reconstruction plan. $1 billion? Bremer's pal defense minister Hazem Shalaan ran off to Jordan with more than that in one go ($1.2 billion, the entire 2005 defence budget)...and he's just one of 16 former ministers wanted for embezzlement.

Posted by: OD | January 11, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Will history remember President Bush as
'Guantanamo George' the butcher of Babylon.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Will history remember President BUSH as 'Guantanamo George' the BUTCHER OF BABYLON?.

Posted by: Mike Talbot | January 11, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Im just waiting now for Bush to troop surge in many other countries until we have no military to protect our own country.As for the troop surge in Iraq i think Bush real plan is to strech this out for as long as possible so he can leave it to our next president along with other wars he might create before his term is over.Bush is a highly dangerous man.

Posted by: pm | January 11, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

More likely, Mr. Talbot, that history will remember Mr. Bush as the "botcher," rather than the butcher

Posted by: Shiloh, Otter Creek, USA | January 11, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Still reading through all the posts and I agree that the discourse has been very civil considering a hot topic.

My $0.02...

I'm not surprised by Bush's "new way forward" -- it only confirms in my mind that this president (with a little "p" on purpose) is well overdue for a major intervention. I've seen crackheads with more sense of the world around them than this guy.

Here's the 20,000 troop question:

Will it be intervention by impeachment or pitchforks?

Posted by: martooni | January 11, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I might well have fully endorsed Mr. Bush's speech
tonight had he done one more thing: announced a date
certain for US withdrawal. As it is now, his speech
simply tells the insurgents: you got me, my back is
against the wall so I'm going to scrape up the maximum
I can scrape up, 21,000 troops!

What could be a more encouraging statement to the
Jihadi, exposing our upper limits of power, as the
Bush speech tonight?

Basically, Mr. Bush announced that all he can do is
more of the same. And the "more" is not that much more
that the Jihad's willing Shahids can be discouraged.
To add 17,000 intelligence blind, culture and language
deaf American troops-- something the insurgents
gradually got better and better at killing-- can not
but encourage the Jihadi to think that Bush is weakly,
not flexing but twitching, America's last muscle. It
indeed sounds like the proverbial "death rattle" we
hear in the ICU so often as patients expire.

But if Bush had also announced a date certain for
withdrawal he would have: 1) convinced hundreds of
thousands of secular and sectarian Iraqi nationalists
that America is NOT out to take over Iraq so as to
drill forth oil there with which to flood the global
market, thus lowering oil prices; 2) convinced the
Iraqis who are nationalists determined to establish a
vibrant state in Iraq that they have only a little
time to get together and take-over their country
through coalitions for law and order.

At the same time, had he announced the date, the
insurgents would now realize that the efficacy of
Zarkawi's action on the Samarra Mosque has lost its
effect and nationalism prevails over sectarian strife.
They would conclude-- not that the Americans are
defeated-- but that by announcing a date certain for
withdrawal, some time hence, Bush know something the
insurgents missed; I know them well enough to know
that they are obsessed with the idea of being tricked
out of victory by American jujitsu rather than raw
power. And there is also something the Jihadi knew all
along: that second only to those who engage in
violence as the only means available for making money,
other than corruption in government positions, the
Iraqi nationalists are the biggest group of Iraqis--
and the strongest, once united by realization that the
Americans are leaving and that their moment to make or
break has come.

British and Australian military friends expressed
amazement to me as to how poor were the supply,
logistics and billeting of American forces in Iraq.
They had never been properly supplied for this war by
the Pentagon because, from the beginning, Rumsfeld
needed it not just won but won on the cheap. And cheap
made it long and inconclusive. Bush was keeping Rummy
in place, not because they agreed on strategy as Bush
cannot think strategically, but only in order to use
him as scapegoat in November 2006, as indeed he did.
But after he got rid of Rummy and his snowflakes, Bush
had nowhere else to go than where the neocons first
pushed him. As best he could, he finally met their
demand for more troops in Iraq without any critical
strategic analysis of their ideology. On the scene
generals who opposed a bigger American "footprint" in
Iraq were simply dismissed as scapegoats the way Rummy

Most frightening is that hidden in Bush's speech was
the suggestion that Iraq is now up to the Iraqis
because we have bugger fish to fry. Buried in his
speech was the suggestion that the American people
keep an eye on the naval forces we are placing in the
Persian Gulf. Thus, Bush will be ending his
presidential career, it seems, deciding whether to
write off Iraq sometime soon (a secret withdrawal date
come what may) and compensate for total Iraq failure
with a blitzkrieg by air of Iran and Syria. Towards
that end, Sen. Coleman and other neocons made clear,
as Bush once said of binLaden relative to Iraq that,
Iraq is nothing, watch us as we prevail against Iran
and Syria.

Sadr's Mahdi Militia is a loose federation of
Baghdad's criminal elements some long time smugglers
and gangsters, other whose careers began with the
looting of Baghdad while American troops stood by,
much like Dumas' depiction of the criminal society of
Paris in his novel, Hunchback of Notre Dame. Maliki's
recent insistence that the real problem is Sunni
insurgents, not Shia militias, raises the specter of a
regional Shia-Sunni war where the Baghdad Government
speaks as a Shia regime (a choice forced on Malaki by
Bush's reckless welcome to SCIRI's Hakim at the White
House). Meanwhile, the Saudi declaration of support
for Anbar Province Sunni fighters, only highlights
that point: The "elected" rulers of Iraq would rather
go with Iran than be a secular nation with the US.

And, the Israeli threat to use nuclear weapons on Iran
if the US does not massively attack Iran's nuclear
plants with conventional "bunker-busters," also
indicates that Israel sees this American Iraq venture
as the generator of a Shia-Sunni War. This was leaked
by Netanyahu in order to destroy Olmert's premiership.
The latter wanted a negotiated Arab-Israeli solution,
though last Summer Olmert obeyed Bush's demand that he
attack Lebanon last Summer en route to Syria and Iran
in the hope that Bush would fill the begging ball he
came to Wash DC with last March with $10 billion. When
he saw that the war with Hezbollah was costing Israel
more than it could afford, he withdrew from Lebanon,
never moving further East. Bush, in retaliation, then
gave Bibi a green light to try to depose Olmert.

Bush has often been accused of being an ideologue.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Ideology
demands a certain capacity for abstraction, something
Bush proved himself totally incapable of throughout
his education. Consequently, his presidency is marked
by tactical domestic and foreign crisis decisions that
keep falling behind events, showing absolutely no
learning curve. Rove, at least, was more strategic,
though he too made foreign policy into mere domestic
politics (something evaded by American politicians
since the Civil War).

We are now left with indeed little more than tactical
solutions to vexing strategic problems (that Bush had
not one word for the war in Afghanistan, speaking as
if the war on terror had moved exclusively to Anbar
Province, Iraq, bespeaks Bush's total inability to
thing en grand).

Maliki, right after Bush's speech once again warned
Sadr that the Mahdi Army will be disarmed or destroyed
by joint US-Iraqi forces. No doubt this was forced on
him and so may well come to pass. But then SCIRI,
Iran's puppet, will rule Baghdad and the Sunni's fully
fed and supplied by the Arab Sunni nations block west
of Iraq, will continue fighting. Our 4,000 Marines
added to our Anbar Province force and our troops added
to our Baghdad force will only help to destroy any
prospects for Iraqi nationalism; despite the gangster
quality of their forces, both the Sadr Bloc in the
South and the Sunni Bloc in the West are true
nationalists ready to set aside sectarian issues to
bring law and order to the criminal gangs that feed
the economic gang war rather than civil war wrecking
Iraq. Also, Iran holds our troops hostage in Iraq. And
the greatest tragedy in the CIA's total intelligence
incompetence will appear in its current misreading of
Iran's ability and will to rain death upon our troops
in Iraq once we attack Iran.

All in all, our political tactician president has and
will, so long as he is president, miss all strategic
options because the word means nothing to him. Such
criminal negligence can only bring about his
impeachment and more disabling strife in American
politics. I can only wonder how would Gibbons
interpret America's Bush Era "unipolar moment" today
in light of the Bush Presidency; it is not very
different, in my view, from the power usurping mad
Caesars that doomed the Roman Empire.

Posted by: DE Teodoru | January 11, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

btw... did anybody else catch wind of this rumored pairing?

WaPo Online in Talks with John Stewart to Cover 2008 Election:

My two favorite news sources rolled into one...

Quick... somebody pinch me.

Better yet... don't. This may be too good to be true.

Posted by: martooni | January 11, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

The escalation in tensions with Iran is what troubles me the most. Did the U.S. conduct a raid on Kurdish territory in Erbil without alterting Kurdish authorities?

I can see the value in reducing IED exposure to our troops, but if force protection is the overriding objective the last thing that we want to do is to alienate our one strong ally in Iraq. I hope this one was thought out carefully--although I am highly skeptical given this administration's history.

The 20,000 troops I see as almost a secondary storyline.

If the goal is to open a third front in Iran or Syria we are going to need a lot more than 160,000 troops. This move seems to be another case where tactical thinking trumped larger strategic considerations. Not very smart.

Posted by: JP | January 11, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

The guests have been great today, many good points made.

I keep remembering that not quite 30 years ago I had a son planning on going to the Naval Academy, and there was a war in Vietnam.

Today I have a grandson just graduating high school and planning on going to the Naval Academy, and there is a war, getting bigger, in Iraq.

This is not right.

Posted by: nellie | January 11, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree, nellie. My husband's niece's husband is in Iraq right now. Supposedly they don't let him out of the Green Zone - but we'll feel much better when he's back here. I just don't think we needed to fight this war - or given that Saddam is gone, let's get the troops out, give the Iraqi's reconstruction money, and admit that we had no idea what would happen. That's the trouble with war - good intentions go horribly awry.

And let me just point out that there's another comet I am unlikely to see, despite being in the right geographical location for once. I don't have a good view to the western horizon and there are too many city lights - did see a nice shot on TV, though:

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 11, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Lotta interesting comments here today.

Izzat Shiloh?

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

What a horrible time to be unable to post during the day. Lots of great comments, many saying better than I could what a total mess we've made in Iraq and what a perfectly stupid idea this so-called 'surge' is. As others have said, I don't know how much longer we can expect our military to keep this up. I have a friend whose son is, I hope, almost done with his fourth tour of duty in Iraq. Fourth! This is insane, it's an insane war and has been perpetrated by madmen. I think I blame Cheney more than Bush as I firmly believe he is the truly powerful one. Bush is the mouthpiece. Keith Olbermann did a great comment tonight. The last part, a list of Bush's reasons for going to Iraq and mistakes once we got there, is worth reading.

PLS, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's friend's loss. There have been some great suggestions made here for helping. You are in my prayers.

One more week at this awful job, I miss being able to read the boodle in depth rather than the quick scans I have been forced to do. I sneak peaks during work but it's just not the same.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 11, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm very proud of the Boodle today, visitors too. What a good, civil, thoughtful discussion. I have enjoyed reading and learning from everyone today.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 11, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Preaching to the choir, I count the days until Dubya retires to the ranch. Am I naive, however, or can we pat ourselves on the back that we have an African-American woman as Secretary of State and not a big deal is/was made of it (or am I/was I just asleep at the wheel).

I am not asserting that her tenure has, in any way, been successful but reading her wiki biography (see below) (assuming it is accurate), I doubt her third grad teacher in the early '60s thought she had the future Secretary of State in her classroom.

I am trying to figure out a way to explain to my kids how, just forty-some years ago we had apartheid in substantial sections of our country and how, in retrospect, that seems almost incredible to believe. I know racism is still with us but can we say we're trying a bit?

Just trying to raise the controversy level of the kit a little higher.

Posted by: bill everything | January 11, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Yo, Error. And a little under the weather celebrating a birthday.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 11, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Joel wrote: "A basic piece of advice I give to my kids all the time is, solve your own problems. There's a corollary: Don't put yourself in a position in which you're vulnerable to the mistakes and shenanigans and general lunacy of others. Control your own destiny."

As a veteran, I can wholeheartedly agree with you. So, if your kids ever even think of joining the military, your corollary is an important argument against that. Because joining the military literally "puts you in a position in which you're vulnerable to the mistakes and shenanigans and general lunacy of others" as our soldiers in Iraq know quite well. Once you're in, they've got you by the short hairs.

Our soldiers are vulnerable to an administration whose top two skipped serious military service and don't fully appreciate their responsibilities.

Posted by: Tim in Japan | January 11, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Negroponte on Iraq:

"Negroponte said stability in Iraq will depend in part on persuading Iran and Syria "to stop the flow of militants and munitions across their borders." For the first time, he said, "forty to 70 foreign fighters every month come over the Syrian border." Maples said foreign fighters account for less than 10 percent of insurgents and usually are recruited as suicide bombers."

Bush has already indicated he has no desire to talk to Iran and Syria on a diplomatic basis. Can someone who understands our foreign policy better than me tell me what the heck we are doing?

The acronym WTF is all I can take from this.

If I were a neocon there would have been more column breaks. ;-)

Posted by: bill everything | January 11, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

>And a little under the weather celebrating a birthday.
Sorry to hear that, but Happy Birthday.

Same myself this year, mine's just after Xmas. Went to bed at 8:30 that night. I'm working off a gift of Crown Royal to make up for it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 11, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Re: JP's 9:32 comment,

I have a fear that the raid we made in Kurdish territory may be an attempt to create a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident, trying to goad the Iranians into a military response. Maybe the hope was that Iranian guards would shoot at the US troops, or the Iranian army would try to retreive their diplomats. Then we launch airstrikes against Iran--not an invasion, mind, just a "punitive strike". Then, as a result of these border skirmishes, we have to deploy another 50 or 100K troops to the Middle East to "deter Iranian aggression". Where's the obvious place to send these troops to deter Iran? The Iran-Iraq border.

So I wonder if the Iran rhetoric could be a ploy to get the US public to support a big troop increase in Iraq, on the theory that the public would be willing to have a military response to an attack on US forces by Iran.

I don't think this would work--too many people know Bush is a liar-- but I wonder if it's the plan. The whole setup just seems to have so much in common with Gulf of Tonkin, Bay of Pigs, the Suez Incident...

Admittedly, it's late, and paranoid conspiracy theories are starting to run through my head, aided by the giddiness that resulted from finding out today that I have a 4-day weekend instead of 3 days like I had thought.

Posted by: Dooley | January 11, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

To be metaphorical, when the last helicopter leaves Baghdad with emigres clinging on the undersides, as if there was any doubt, the poor schmuck that Bush leaves this quagmire with will have to remind everyone that C. Rice had given proper warning:

"Asked if she has confidence in the Maliki government, Rice said she did, adding: 'I think he knows that his government is on borrowed time.'"


Posted by: bill everything | January 11, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

And now to go dramatically off topic, I spoke with my mom, and reports are that the storm was brutal as it crossed Saskatchewan. 3 died from exposure. In all cases they left their vehicles after getting stuck in the ditches and in each case, were close to homes, the woman and young man, 300 metres, and the other lady, 200 metres. The weather office says it was the worst storm since 1959. So if you find yourself stuck in a ditch in a snowstorm, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE. (sorry, but I felt in honour of our very good behaviour today, if I was going off course, I might as well go whole hog)

And a salute to Costco, and PCS Cory, and though not in the story, Walmart (personal knowledge)for expamples of good corporate citizenship.

Posted by: dr | January 11, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

When the president thumbs his nose at the majority of citizens and forges ahead with losing propositions that will end up costing us more blood, treasure and reputation it's time for the Democrats to take a stand and kick the president's butt. Unless the Democrats want to be seen as complicit appeasers of this fascist and his big-oil dreams they had better DO SOMETHING.

Sept 11, 2001 was a false flag operation conducted by elements of the U.S. government. Bush, Rumsfeld or Cheney gave the go ahead for this false flag operation. It's time this little bit of treasonous behaviour was exposed, prosecuted and taken to justice.

Posted by: Norm Koehler | January 11, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Shiloh! *waving* Good to have you back. Happy belated birthday to both you and EF. I've been having a hard time finding something to laugh about lately so I've polled my family and acquaintences to find out what's really funny to them and to see if there's any gender differences. Cartoon schtick, the Three Stooges, other people's clutziness and poop are all high on the list. The gender differences are interesting. The poll results will follow later.

Posted by: jack | January 11, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Anyone see Olbermann tonight? Howard Fine of Newsweek said, "Wow."

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 11, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

The US must be aggressive in confronting Sadr and his Mahdi Army, as well as other militias. That is the only way to stabilize Bagdad. The more troops the better, but even more would have helped the cause. They also need more time.

I disagree with the term "escalates". Although the number of troops is increasing, it does not necessarily lead to an escalation of the conflict. Escalation is used, in my opinion, as a political term.

Posted by: Tom Wonacott, Boise, Idaho | January 11, 2007 11:20 PM | Report abuse


John Negroponte was an appointee reporting directly to bush...with the rating of highest intelligence officer in the United States

title Director of National Intelligence or das Gestapo for those of you that are history buffs...

Negroponte's main claim to fame was that under Regan he participated in the Daniel Ortega Contra thing and hid the United States involvement in training of the terrorists from the United States media...

if Al Queada were trained by the United States CIA and the WTC pilots were SAUDI as are the Al Quearguyz...if you squint you might see the relationship...

BS Walks and talks and says I dont have my hand down your pants as it moves your left stone three inches...while looking at you soberly...

for more info search on Negroponte Honduras

and then

Negroponte, Wolfowitz, Goss, Bush, Walker, Yale 60...

you are citizens you are allowed to know who is schtupping you.

Posted by: well actually if you are | January 11, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

schtupping is like pulling your nose without your permission..

wink wink nudge nudge...monypythonesque music playing.

Posted by: for the non yiddish | January 11, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

when no one would help Jimmy Carter and he couldn't find a friend in Washington?

And Regan was winning with "there you go again,"

Gates was in charge of making sure that the Iranian Hostage crisis didn't end on Carters watch...

Director of the CIA, non paritsan position right? and my name is moses...


GATES almost went to prison over it...

search on Gates Iran Contragate...

Posted by: remember | January 11, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, if you're still out there...I've seen your posts before, but I'm a mostlylurker, but hey...chardonnay and veggies and a weariness about hyper-partisanship (can't we just call a spade a spade?) spoke to me! Thanks for that.

Posted by: Kim | January 11, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Maggie O'D (11:14 p.m. post) for the link to Keith Olbermann's commentary. "Wow!" is an understatement; that was powerful.

For other readers, here is the link again:

Posted by: Marion | January 12, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

This surge is reminiscent of the gradualism that Lyndon Johnson pursued during Vietnam. It's a halfway measure - a compromise - and also a wish by Bush that he will get lucky this time.

A massive increase in troop levels, followed by a partitioning of Iraq would work (face it folks, Iraq really isn't one country as evidenced by the Sunnis' natural desire to dominate it - sounds like an empire to me). But the government would need a tax increase to fund the war and Bush wouldn't want to burden his rich pals with one, especially as they were so generous in contributing to Republicans.

On the other hand, a troop withdrawal would prevent needless loss of life, but Bush would have to admit that his grand strategic boondoggle was just that - he's too proud and arrogant to swallow that.

We should admit to ourselves that this 'global war on terror' won't end with a withdrawal from Iraq, and it will only make things worse in Afghanistan. But this commander in chief has not been up to the job. America can do much better: Nixon would have subtly tied Al Qaeda up in knots with canny diplomacy and probably would have pitted Sunni against Shiite. F.D. Roosevelt would have been careful to gain public support (Bush cares naught about polls) as he did prior to WW II to prepare the country, and would have slyly coaxed the jihadists into overreacting and making strategic mistakes.

The truth is, the war will go on. We will likely pull out of Iraq, regroup and repair our military, and will be in a better position to take the jihadists on come January 2009. Then (and here I hope that America gets lucky), we might get an administration that sees a need to build a consensus, both domestically and internationally, to contain Islamism before it spreads into a world-wide conflagration.

Posted by: Kevin Blankinship | January 12, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Just a whiny little comment here, not really important. Skip if you're reading for serious content.

Keith Olberman is an enigma to me. Can anyone explain him to my satisfaction? He has a show which is about 50% hard news, 20% fluff/oddities, and 20% celebrity news, for god's sake! But then, there's that last little bit - about once a week he simply speaks truth to power, very eloquently, I might add. And I'm supremely impressed.

Just feel sorry for him that he's forced to do silly sound effects and talk about Brangelina when he's obviously capable of much, much more. Why has he sold himself to the Devil for part of the time, but shows a true, uncorrupted core occasionally? Has this happened before to others, that anyone knows of?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 12, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I didn't watch Olbermann tonight and haven't had time to look at the links - but he reminds me a lot of Tom Snyder, who combined the same snarkiness, humor, quirkiness - and sometimes seriousness. One of the first times I watched Olbermann a few years ago, he was talking about Tom Snyder (who had been diagnosed with cancer, I believe). I'm amazed that MSNBC lets Olbermann do what he does - but I suppose the ratings explain that. He's gotten more serious over time - he had a mouth cancer incident that had him on a stop smoking campaign for awhile - and I think he's really sick of the war and Bush and O'Reilly. And of course he started as a sportscaster...and was briefly on Fox News, I think (it did not end well).

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 1:23 AM | Report abuse

E.J. Dionne's column this morning seems highly appropriate--a letter from a young Army officer to his congressman, noting the importance of winning the trust and cooperation of Iraqi citizens, and of doing something about Shia militants, especially those who are connected to legitimate political parties represented in the Iraqi government.

So could the US attack Shia militias whether the Iraqi government likes it or not?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 12, 2007 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Pleasanter news is that Science magazine electronically published a short paper indicating that the stinky gigantic flowers of the family Rafflesiacea (named after the Raffles who more or less founded Singapore) come from ancestors that presumably had tiny flowers, predecessors of the modern spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), which includes poinsettias, among many other things.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 12, 2007 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Senator Chuck Hagel is beside himself on the Charlie Rose program (*covers one eye* no, he's angry.)and using words like ,dangerous, bog, I'm not saying I was duped.
He said the president threatened Iran and Syria.

What's this I here about the US attacking an Iranian radio station?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 12, 2007 3:47 AM | Report abuse

An interesting (and concise) 5-point take on Bush's speech bu former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinzki

Most of the points are similar to those made in here, but I found the last point:
"The speech reflects a profound misunderstanding of our era. America is acting like a colonial power in Iraq. But the age of colonialism is over. Waging a colonial war in the post-colonial age is self-defeating. That is the fatal flaw of Bush's policy." - most interesting.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 6:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "by"


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

The more I read about this... talk about shock and awe.

Bush's new plea/plan reminds me of the character "Wimpy" from the old Popeye cartoons... "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

I seem to remember that Wimpy never paid up and rarely got to enjoy a hamburger.

For some reason, I doubt Bush will either.

I almost spewed coffee out my nose when I read this:

"...the ferocity of the congressional condemnation dismayed the White House, which had hoped to rebuild an element of bipartisan consensus around Bush's plan."




"Ground Control to Major Tom..."

Is this thing ON?


How freaking stupid do they think we are?

How freaking stupid are they?

This just boggles the mind.

Apparently insanity is contagious and has infected the entire White House staff.

That, or they're all crammed into some undisclosed closet off the West Wing smoking crack with Cheney and giggling their heads off while contemplating who else they can shoot in the face with impunity.

I prefer impeachment, but even this pacifist hippie is thinking pitchforks are an appropriate alternative.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Good morning,friends. A lot of comments, and quite civil considering the subject.

Shiloh, is that our "shiloh"? Sorry you're not feeling well.

Oh, when I read the comments here about President Bush, my thoughts run to how in the early days of his Presidency people were throwing flowers and loving him much. What a difference a day and a war has made. At the beginning he was standing tall, and the people could not get enough. Now that same people have had enough. America was going to do great things and "give" democracy to the yearning masses. We were the guys wearing the White hat, and riding the White horse, but somewhere down the line our horse and our hat got bloody. I suppose one of the important questions,(and there are many important questions) is can we win or do we go home with our tail between our legs and admit defeat, and be done with it all.

I do hope the day is good for all here. Have a nice headache this morning. I suspect it is from the new medications I'm taking. I'm getting to the place where I cannot stand doctors' offices, don't even want to ride by them. Spent most of my day in one yesterday.

Cannot walk this morning, although I would probably feel better if I could.

JA, I'm glad you're on the hill. We need good eyes and ears there.

May God in all His Wisdom forgive our national sins, and bless our country mightly. Not because we deserve it, but because of His unending mercy, grace, and His love for us, a love that is so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 12, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I wasn't one of those people throwing flowers at Bush.
I was even against the first Gulf war, and that was a 10-day war. I was also against Iraq sanctions, thinking that sanctions historically (with Castro, etc.) only serve to solidify a dictator's control rather than topple him.

I remember speaking to a Republican who said she'd rather have her sons stopped for driving while looking muslim and sacrifice essential liberties just to be safe from a 9/11. I wonder how she feels today.
If she's still for throwing troops at Iraq and sacrificing essential liberties just so she can feel safe in her nowheresville today, that's unrealistic thinking. She's safer from terrorists than she is from drunk drivers.

We in the DC area lived through the Pentagon, the snipers, drills, etc. New York had an even worse 9/11 and they voted overwhelmingly AGAINST Bush.

There is a real chasm of reality when it comes to the terrorism threat in America. I hope this chasm just closed listening to Bush's speech last night.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 12, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Shiloh!

Good Morning, Cassandra!


Yup, Olbermann's spot-on. Now if he could only round up a few lawmakers with the ability to do something. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

TBG - I had to laugh at your "Spy coins" post. It would be pretty easy to make an antenna and transmitter small enough to fit into a coin. Unfortunately, the coin would form a metallic "Faraday Cage" and block most of the signal. However the really big challenge would be power. Unless someone has perfected some itty bitty nuclear generators, I don't see how such transmitters would get enough juice to work for very long.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse


Could be piezoelectric generators in those sneaky little coins, ya never know... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I guess PZs might produce a bit of power if you were one of those people who does a lot of coin squeezing. Or maybe one of those little oscillating generators like they have in some watches. Range would still be a problem, and there is still that skin-depth issue. Unless you coupled directly to the coin and used it as a resonator.

Let me crunch some numbers and get back to you....

Posted by: RD Paoduk | January 12, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' RDP a pi and a cosine or two for the crunching*


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Now if you went directional you would pick up your gamma over 4-pi steradian gain factor at the expense of link stability, especially because of the random orientation of the transmitter.....

Nope - I think we still need to go with the itty bitty nuclear generators.

Okay - I'm stopping now before the geek police come and take me away. Again.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

RDP, are they still using that paddy wagon shaped like a slide rule?


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra.

That spy coin thing is interesting, and yeah, I s'pose that would have a short transmission range.

As to how long they could last, if the device used some sort of piezoelectric power system - one that can generate juice from movement or vibration - it could last indefinitely, I'd think. It'd require being in someone's pocket or purse as they moved around in order to operate (outside of using any power storage, anyway), but I can see that as possible, anyway.

Good point about the Faraday cage, RD.

I will not comment on the idea of carrying around a nuke of any kind in my pants.

Even something powered by nuclear decay.

I wonder if these devices are being tossed out as "dummies", to make others think that they *do* in fact work.

On one hand, I could see the idea that if an organization found one of these coins and were convinced that it really did work, one psychological barrier to developing the technology would be down, wouldn't it? "It's not impossible. If they can do it, so can we." Curiously, it might even be *us* doing that.

In a similar vein: during the cold war, didn't the US and Soviet Union plant dummy intelligence to make the other side waste time and resources (ie money) chasing down dead-end technologies?

Interesting stuff, IMO.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Well, crap. Scotty mentioned PZs while I was writing that missive.

Ah, well.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

>I don't see how such transmitters would get enough juice to work for very long.

All they really need is a tiny RFID, no? In fake metal?

Of course once the new passports take effect they won't have to bother with planting coins, they'll just read the one in the guy's pocket.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

bc - I don't know if there were any deliberate efforts at technical dis-information, but I do know that the US sometimes discovered that the Soviets were engaged in some kind of research that seemed blatantly bogus. When this happened there would be a real temptation to devote some resources to figure out if there was more to it than we thought. And I can only assume the inverse was true.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

It's Geek Friday!

RFID is passive. You have to illuminate them with energy to get them to respond - and their response range is tiny.

Interestingly, I have read that there is a whole lot of interest in putting RFIDs on money to foil counterfitting. But they have to get a lot cheaper first.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Please notice how quiet we Canadians are being about the spy coins.

Drat, and consarnitt.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Some Canadian coins are huge RDP, one could put a generator inside it.

The toonie I'm looking at right now is about 27mm in diameter and just over 1mm thick. The bi-metal construction may also help conceal an alteration. We should call the Mythbusters for a definitive answer but I wouldn't poopoo that emitter-in-a-coin story right away.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

For those who like high tech gadgetry and wizardry, local paper reported today that oour local Lackland AFB terror lab (one gizmo to stop video cameras from filming IED attacks--hte footage subsequently used for propaganda purposes) is going away--funds needed instead to replace aging aircraft fleet.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Also note how quiet the non-tech types among are being.

Oh, and good morning, everybody!

Hey, Cassandra! Do what you gotta do to get rid of the headache.

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I've been at Google looking to see if anyone has interviewed James Baker or Lee Hamilton after Bush's speech Wednesday night--and find nada.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

SCC: among us

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

More about the coins,

Posted by: dmd | January 12, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Of course, RFIDs in money would also bring a whole new meaning to the Web sites that track where particular bills have been...



Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

>You have to illuminate them with energy to get them to respond

I know, but you can put an antenna in a restaurant booth or doorway, right? I've read about hacks that allow them to be read from several feet away.

Here's one that claims 450 ft. Not in a coin, but still...

Here's an electronic design article on extending range to 10 meters:

Easy enough to hide an antenna if you have physical control of a location.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This guy is also reporting the spy coins. Bc you might be interested in his tag line, "time for the tinfoil pants department"

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and good morning, Kim! Glad you enjoyed my post. You should join us in the bunker, we do have a good time. Don't be shy about posting, we play nicely with others.

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Re. RFIDs, I know a guy at Treasury. They are indeed interested.

Jogging into Paranoiaville for a second, there are old stories of organizations that intentionally sow misinformation in the various forms of media in order to manipulate opinions, governments, people, etc. Difficult to say whether they're true or not, they might just be fiction to make people *think* that there are organizations like that.

Stopping before I go too far down that road...


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Tinfoil pants are probably more comfortable than a lead thong.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait to see the fashions at the next BPH, then...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

[bc with a shocked look, backs into the bridge of the USS Achenblog, staring at the stern]

"We're going to need a bigger roll of tin foil."


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Whew! For a while there, you were getting way too pointy for me. *a sigh of relief as discussion segues to tinfoil and thongs*

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The Project Runway BPH -- make your own outfit out of a roll of tin foil. Can I be one of the judges?

Posted by: LostInThought | January 12, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Brerzinski says in his five-point op-ed today that neocons surrounding Bush and Joe Lieberman will (or may) be pushing for widening the conflict to Iran and Syria.

Yet, these are interesting grafs in the reporting (and article on A12) by Linzer and Pincus--and harken back to the remarks made by author ("The Looming Tower")Lawrence Wright at San Antonio's literary event Wednesday night:

As they have for several years, the intelligence chiefs said al-Qaeda remains the greatest threat to the U.S. homeland. Negroponte claimed four U.S. successes in 2006 in what Bush has called the global war on terrorism, one being the U.S. military's killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Despite Zarqawi's death in June, violence in Iraq has increased substantially.

[The upsurge in vilence in Iraq is presumably sectarian. Tom Friedman today in the NYT says there are really five conflicts currently being waged in Iraq--Sunnis against Shiites; Sunnis and Shiites against the U.S. "occupiers"; Al Qaeda against the U.S.; Shiite theocratic thugs against ordinary Shiites; and Iran, Syria and all the Arab autocrats against any kind of democratic, Shiite-led Iraq that could be a model for their own people.]

Maples said that al-Qaeda "has consistently recovered from losses of senior leadership," and that its "increasing cooperation with like-minded groups has improved its ability to facilitate, support and direct its objectives." Negroponte said the group's leaders have found a haven in secure locations in Pakistan. [So, are we in the wrong countries?]

Last two grafs from the Linzer and Piece piece:

Negroponte said stability in Iraq will depend in part on persuading Iran and Syria "to stop the flow of militants and munitions across their borders." For the first time, he said, "forty to 70 foreign fighters every month come over the Syrian border." Maples said foreign fighters account for less than 10 percent of insurgents and usually are recruited as suicide bombers [10 percent, while annoying, perhaps, is a pretty small number].

The officials said Iran is providing Shiite militias with sophisticated anti-armor projectiles capable of penetrating U.S. armored vehicles. Negroponte added that Iran, in the past, supported the idea of a Shiite-dominated stable Iraq. But he now believes Tehran *may* be shifting to a more aggressive posture.

[Or are we provoking them, similar to what Zach Taylor did to the Mexicans about 150 years ago along the southern border--riling them to conflict? Did we have a good reason for the military to storm the Iranian embassy in northern Iraq yesterday? We seized a lot of their material including computers. How long will it take linguists to deciude what's on them and if there's any threat whatsoever, while we're engaged in saber rattling?]

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

For those that care, Beckham is being interviewed live on ESPN2 right now.

5 years, $250 mil? That's like Michael Schumacher money. wow.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

>That's like Michael Schumacher money. wow.

Really. And he doesn't risk a whole lot for it. I wonder what Kimi Raikonnen's deal is with Ferrari. It's hard to get used to him in red.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Whatever you do, don't google aluminum foil. There are just not enough hours in the day...

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Looks like we're off the homepage and the irregulars have left the building. That was more like a civilsurge than a stormsurge though.

Posted by: omni | January 12, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I like that Project runway.....even though I have no fashion sense what so ever.....but instead of tin foil....could we make it cellaphane!!!!

Oh but that would leave less for the imagination!!!

I guess we can't have it both ways

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 12, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

EF - Those are interesting articles. And I do know that this story is getting some attention.

I would argue, however, that if one wanted to keep tabs on someone in a controlled environment (which is the only place even a tricked-out RFID would work) it would be far simpler and more reliable to just do it the old fashioned way: hidden cameras.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

haha, dr. that second one was funny.

here's another:
Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie

It warns us to always make our own and not trust those that are sold commercially (I think we all know why this is sound advice).

Posted by: omni | January 12, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Tony Cordesman--remember him, Peter Jennings used him as a war analyst quite frequently in the past--has a fascinating, interactive, pointy-head analysis of Bush's speech, graf by graf, at the NYT this morning. You may want to compare his analysis with bc's blog analysis.

Here's a brief excerpt, from the second graf from Bush's speech, the place where I said yesterday that Bush lost me.

"When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together..."

The elections were anything but a "stunning achievement." The system used virtually ensured that the Iraqis would vote by sect and ethnicity and that the outcome would further divide Sunni Arabs and Shiites, compounding the tensions created by American efforts to make Iraqis draft a new constitution.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Stern warning on aluminum helmets. Remember, the resistive heating in aluminum can be significant. This is especially important when wearing one's helmet in the vicinity of gorvernment installations where the induction caused by ambient RF is most intense. Spontaneous hair combustion, while rare, is of concern. Issues related to the lesser-used "tinfoil thong" are even more ominous.

Do like the professionals - and go with copper foil. Yes, it is more expensive, but in today's world don't you deserve the highest quality mind-control protection available?

That is all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

>hidden cameras

RD, yes I'm sure hidden cameras are still popular, but you need someone to monitor the video (prefereably in real-time) or rely on fancy and unreliable face recognition s/w.

With the RFID you get an alert which could be used to turn on the cameras/mics and get the attention of an operative.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Howdy everyone. RD, whose side are you on anyway? Sounds like you're doing the technical work for the spy coins which are obviously part of the Canuckistani invasion plan. Don't be co-opted by scientific challenge - we need you on our side! Unless, of course, we were planning to surrender already. Or possibly we're planning to pretend we don't know about the invasion, offer covert assistance, then reform the government from within after the invasion succeeds? Oops, I probably let the cat out of the bag again.

Cassandra, I never praised Bush. No flowers. I always believed he was lying to us, from day one, and that's just a beginning. The only good thing I've ever had to say about him is that I don't believe he personally (note I do not include his administration here) is racially prejudiced. I think he doesn't like poor people.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 12, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm working on a column and probably won't have time to post a new kit today, but there's lots of good stuff out there on Iraq and Iran and whether we are going to see not so much an "escalation" as an "expansion" of the war.

Here's William Arkin's take on the Bush speech:

Posted by: Achenbach | January 12, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Potentially-Embarrassing Spy Coin Monment:

"Excuse me - is that an antenna in your pants or are you just happy to see me?"

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Our ice storm is beginning. They've already told folks here at the office to leave very early, so I'll set up at home soon. Have to retrieve the Boy from school first, and I'm trying to let him get in a half day. If you don't hear from me for a few days it means we've lost power. I hope that doesn't happen; when we lose electricity our water goes out too.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 12, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

bc-"We're going to need a bigger roll of tin foil."

What, no dimes?

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

RDP mentioned yesterday that the responses here "have been quite civilized. Very few gratuitous capitalizations. Reasonably thought out positions. And nobody yet has accused the Washington Post as being nothing but a mouthpiece for them Hollywood liberals."

Compare and contrast with the comments on Arkin's blog that JA just linked.

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Remember when we used to use tin foil on our TV's antenna and we used to be our Parent's remote?

I always used to sit in the spot of the room closest to the channel changer....

Here is another funny thing from that forgotten era.

My father was such a sports nut,that he would wear the sofa arm out on the right side of the sofa when the game wasn't going good.All the sofas in our house the right side would be worn down to the wood

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 12, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It's not shaping up to be a good day. My horoscope says "It looks like the afternoon brings a series of thankless tasks." And my Far Side calendar is the "Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full." Ivansmom, can I borrow your ice storm?

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Crud! This inadvertently got posted to Arkin's blog. My mistake.

Sorry, Joel, but Cordesman is brilliant in his analysis and beats Arkin hands down. I remember when, recently, WaPo staff would stay up all night after presidential debates and deconstuct, or fact-check, the preidential aspirants' debate statements. This is what Cordesman has done after Bush's address t the nation on Wednesday, why not the WaPo in this instance?

Cordesman's deft critique of Bush's speech is titled, "Bush's Iraq Plan, Between the Lines." It could just as easily be titled, "Bush's Iraq Plan, Between the Lies."

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

omni, even deeper, follow the link to his take on the study, and down to the bottom update. The name Negroponte comes up.

do do do do,

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I know there are serious issues in the world, but I'm worn out by the intellectual quality of yesterday's discussion. Can we have Fluff Friday? Or is it too early?

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse


If you supply the peanut butter, we've got Fluff aplenty...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

When making your tin foil suits, don't forget the duct tape.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 12, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

If you en-joy, joy, joyed
Your fluff and peanut butter
Your glad you have enough
For another Fluffernutter.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

On the inside or outside, Ivansmom?

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

*pondering the combination of Nutella and Fluff*




Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think I'd have to be seriously opposed to a Project Runway BPH, folks. I can handle the tinfoil hat part OK, but unless they make Reynolds wrap in 48-inch wide sheets I'm afraid I may be SOL.

bc, your reference to lead thongs was truly terrifying. It gave me whole new meanings for "Get the lead out" and "What, have you got lead in your a---" and the answer being, "Why, yes, I do."

To say nothing of contracting lead poisoning the hard way (plus, it's a shorter route to the brain going in that way).

Speaking of the Canuckistani invasion of Murica, how's the planning coming on that anyway, you guys? Still on schedule? You'll give us a heads-up, right, in order to get some hors d'oeuvres and canapes ready. I found this on the Internet about Canadian food preferences: "Time was, indigenous Canadian cuisine consisted of what was readily available prepared as imaginatively or as simply as circumstances allowed. Some of the original Indian recipes were roast polar bear, boiled reindeer, moose meat soup, sweet pickled beaver, squirrel fricassee, fried woodchuck. Stuffed whale breast, steamed muskrat legs, boiled porcupine, boiled caribou hoofs. Baked skunk, dried buffalo meat, baked salmon, roast or boiled corn, and acorn bread."

No reference to poutine, I note.

Oh, and bc, I swear, if you touch that "sweet pickled beaver" line or the "stuffed whale breast," you'll get us all kicked off the boodle toot sweet. So behave yourself.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

We apologize for any concern over the coins. We're just a little, ahem, thrifty and like to be able to track down all our coins.

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 12, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm working on a story. Might be done by Noonish, CST. Depends on what else hits my desk. Could be good. We'll see.

Posted by: CowTown | January 12, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I beleive I have spoken of my vast cookbook collection. I do have an actual recipe for roast skunk. It seems to me that I have one too for beaver, and IIIRC, something about beaver being a very fatty meat, and needing to cook it so that the fat can drain off. Caribou, you can use that in any beef like recipe.

I shall post them later. Yoki, these might NOT be suited to the cook book.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Duct tape will contrast nicely with copper foil as well. I look forward to the moose soup and acorn bread while iced in - though I admit the ingredients for squirrel fricasee are nearer to hand, I don't think I'm there yet. I can't cook our deer, because they watch me at night as I go out & come in. They hang out by the driveway, and I'm beginning to believe it is deliberate. I don't want to know what they think.

Thanks for the Olbermann links. Speaking truth to power indeed; I never watched him as a sportscaster or now but these rants make him my temporary hero.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 12, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

It so hard to believe that I said that in light of what Mudge said.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

byoolin - thanks for correcting the typos!

Since my daughter is allergic to eggs, we do not keep marshmallow fluff in the house. So fluffernutter sandwiches, a staple of my youth, are forbidden. Which is why whenever we go out to a restaurant I order them. Preferably with a nice Shiraz.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Zbigniew Brzezinski's opinion piece referenced on the WaPo home page says he found five flaws with Bush's Iraq plan. Franly, I don't think Zbiggy was trying hard enough.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of peanut butter, remember that gummy, gritty brown goo they used to try to pass off as "peanut butter" in the school cafeteria? 'Course, they don't serve it any more due to allergies...

'Mudge, I would like to take that list, print it up real pretty-like, and substitute it on a restaurant's menu. Just to see the reactions, of course.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

>It seems to me that I have one too for beaver

Beaver? Oh my... I am now compelled to post a link to this article about "Missourians have a healthy appetite for wild game meat."

Found it in my groundhog research. Nice pic of the little fella.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Real Canadian food I was served once in Newfoundland: pickled seal flippers. It looked like a kid's hand on a plate. It is chewy. And doesn't taste good. But it was served as a treat by a friend's mother so I ate it.

Roasting these giant rabbits would give a more satisfying meal.,,25689-2543514,00.html

I hope yellojckt's neurotic rabbits are smaller, that would be dangerous.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I would love to take that list, print it up all pretty-like, and substitute it for a restaurant's menu. Just to see the reactions, of course...

But not at Moosewood. That would just be cruel.

(Hal, don't eat my post this time!)

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Oops! Sorry, Hal.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Shriek the very next section of the page I was working off of ( contained a mention of seal flippers in Newfy recipes.


Raysmom, I think that list printed up as a restaurant menu would be even neater if it contained brief descriptions like upsacale restaurant menus often do: "Fried Woodchuck. Tantalizing medallions of woodchuck are beer-batter fried with fresh herbs, dandilion weeds and poison sumac, and served with maple syrup and tantric yoga curds."

BTW, I was more than happy to go along with your sterling request for this to be Fluffitado Friday (though I might have chosen "Minty Fresh Friday" instead) until a friend e-mailed me the following press release from somebody name PEER. I'm not sure who these people are and how much of the following is propaganda, but if any of it is true, it raises my umbrage factor into the ultraviolet range:

HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON'T SAY -- Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC -- Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is 'no comment.'"

In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.

Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand
Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected
22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item -- the creationist book.

Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on "Interpretation and Education (Director's Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the "history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes."

"As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan," Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the creationist book. "We sincerely hope that the new Director of the Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job."


Anybody able to verify this?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The 11:58 was me, of course.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This plan is insane. If we were going to deploy 100,000 soldiers and do the job we should have done 4 years ago...maybe. But throwing 20,000 soldiers into a civil war is insane. We have no reason to believe this administrations judgement on this issue is any better then it has been. No reason to just blindly go along because they say we can't afford to lose. If we it's so absolutley imperative to our national secirity that we not lose in Iraq why don't we deploy those 100,000 troops? This is nonsense after nonsense.

Posted by: kchses | January 12, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Who????" Dept.:

Ron Paul running for president:

Posted by: Achenbach | January 12, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul's "presidential exploratory committee" will also attempt to find his last name.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 12, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who think you're having a bad day or are complaining about tasks at hand or in the future, please note that tonight I will be attending "High School Musical: The Concert" with my 13 yr old daughter.

Posted by: TBG | January 12, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul the freakishly tall drag queen ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul the freakishly tall drag queen ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you had me at "Fluffitado".
And those recipes sound mighty tasty to me. Tantalizing, in fact. I'll say no more, so you won't have to invoke your Scary Shop Steward Magic Incantations 'gainst me.

Ivansmom, I actually have some metallic tapes, so you don't need to use plain ole duct tape unless you want to.

Love the foil links.

And yes, I'd do the All Foil Project, who would I get to be my model...? hmmmm.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Also... check out this great obit in today's Post. I don't know the guy and never heard of him, but the headline caught my eye and I decided that I wish I had known him...

Posted by: TBG | January 12, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'd tape that debate.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 12, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse


From the GCNP Web site:

"The bookstores throughout Grand Canyon National Park, are operated by the Grand Canyon Association. GCA is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1932 to support the educational goals of the National Park Service at Grand Canyon.

The association provides financial support to Grand Canyon National Park, publishes canyon related books and free park publications, funds research and naturalist programs, and helps support the park's research library and exhibits."

And the book IS on sale, clearly marked as "creationist," at the bookstore's Web site:

But if the GCA is indeed private, kinda tough to tell 'em not to sell it.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

>Ron Paul the freakishly tall drag queen ?

I believe that's Ru Paul. He/she may be a drag queen but there's no reason to hurt his/her rep. by accusing him/her of being a politician.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The comment bot lied to, again.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I saw that obit too, TBG, and I agree.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The Halbot is crazy today. First it tells you that you can't connect; that your comment didn't go through; that you're worthless and should go away.

Then you open the page anew. Refresh. Look again. No comment. Then you refresh AGAIN... your comment! Other worthy comments! Other folks talking about your comment!

Uh oh. There's your comment again. And again.

You really do feel worthless. And silly.

Posted by: TBG | January 12, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

An Escalation in Religious Hostilities

A "religious/civil war" is the elephant in the room not being addressed by the executive branch (Office of the President, Defense Dept., State Dept. etc.). Constantly saying "sectarian violence" doesn't provide the correct context. Recognizing this is a "religious/civil war" means a different strategy is required to control the combatants. Religion is a powerful divider even in the U. S., but alas an unyielding deadly distorter of emotional and rational interests when it is the basis of physical survival or death as is the case of the conflict in Iraq. Religious sectarianism is the primary Iraqi motivation for killing each other and for both sides attacking "the coalition of the willing," who are variously viewed as infidels, secular, non-Muslims. Political and economic considerations are way down the Iraqis list for killing "the Western occupiers."

The underlying assumption of the present escalation strategy has a decidedly flawed Western bias. It is that this is a civil war for political and economic control and that religion (sectarian violence) is a subordinate yet important and ultimately a controllable consideration. It is controllable because as is often stated or implied that this "sectarian violence" will subside if there is pacification of neighborhoods, permanent policing, a creation of jobs and the repairing the infrastructure. It is clearly assumed that these political and economic actions will lead to political stability and thus we can then leave Iraq. These are things we Westerners would want. So do most of the Iraqis but unfortunately the reality is the Sunni and Shia subordinate these interests and engage in a religious war for religious hegemony.

The present escalation, like all past ones, will fail because it doesn't reflect the religious reasons for the conflict and killings. Political and economic considerations have always historically been overwhelmingly constrained and incorporated into the two dominant religious sects of Shia and Sunni. That is, the political and economic activities of Iraq have largely been partitioned historically within sectarian communities and are not open equal opportunities for the great majority of Iraqis. Sunni's have historically controlled the political/economic structure of Iraq. This war is about which religion controls Iraq because it determines at minimum the economic and political control of all of Iraq but most importantly it determines which theocracy rules the future Iraq.

This escalation strategy will lead to more deaths and injuries for all involved. It cannot lead to a politically stable Iraq because it doesn't understand or adequately address the primary source of motivations for the conflict. It is that religion is the dominant defining force in almost all of Iraqis and neither wants to be under the cultural, political, educational, economic, or regional control of the other.

A solution clearly and inevitably involves some tripartite religious/ethnic/regional divisions in Iraq that already exists culturally, educationally, economically, politically, regionally and most importantly religiously. This administration cannot see its way to a more religiously segmentalized, regionally partitioned and greatly weakened Iraq that has less symbolic and political relevance for the larger region because they have the highly unrealistic political goal of a stable unifying government that is Western-like. A unified marginally democratic government is not possible, at present. While a partitioned Iraq will have long range problems along their lines of demarcation it will lead to less conflict and religious based killing in the long run. And in the very long run a weak tripartite coalition built around the present religious/ethnic/regional divisions lends itself to a more democratic Iraq. A "secure and build" strategy in Baghdad neighborhoods or all of Iraq does almost nothing to diminish the religious hate and killing that has been unleashed in Iraq. To act or believe otherwise is to not understand the salience and meaning of the religious divisions in Iraq that have pushed it into a "religious/civil war."

The present escalation strategy is but a sad continuation of a devastating history of fatal misjudgments, flawed thinking, ideological distortions, inept policy, and broad-scale mismanagement by the rampaging culturally blind elephants who charged into Iraq and precipitated a "religious/civil war." There is no light at the end of this tunnel and there are only faint glimmers of hope in the three tunnels not taken.

Richard A. Mathers

Posted by: Richard A Mathers | January 12, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, I feel right at home then, TBG! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Joel, a conservative Republican from Texas running for president????? Boy, he's sure got my vote! Whaddaya think his chances are? That's just what this country needs, something new and different and exciting!! And he's from Texas, too! I can hardly wait! *shoots self in head with large caliber weapon*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

More signs of Groundhog Infiltration into polite society. Now they're riding public transit!

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

EF, they are probably just doing their Groundhog Day shopping in the big smoke - need to look good on the big day!

TBG, I feel for you intense pressure at my house to see the same concert, doesn't watching the DVD repeatedly count?

Busy day here but loving the comments, have to leave in a while but hopefully I can check in tomorrow night.

Have a great weekend all and don't accept any Canadian loonies or toonies.

Posted by: dmd | January 12, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

TBG, sounds like the kind of obit you'd like to be able to write for yourself, doesn't it? BTW, my whining is purely tongue in cheek. And Hal did the same to me too--except when I refreshed, I had to retype my comments. Errol, maybe we could get one of your groundhogs to take his place?

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Lake Jackson, Texas is the birthplace of well-known Tejano singer Selena. Unfortunately, she got shot with and was killed by a caliber weapon--don't recall if it was large or small, one of those female revenge-type killings, with $$$ allegedly involved. She was being billed as the Hispanic equivalent of Madonna.:

Mudge, congrats on winning the Eastern European Famous Personage Spelling Championship. bc and I were ejected during the first round.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran one of the guests on the esecond hour of the Diane Rehm show today.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

How we know that the SpyMoney (TM) was not devised by a Canadian: We hosers spend our loonies and toonies, making it a useful tracking tool for only about ten minutes.

OTOH, A dollar coin in an American pocket will go to only two places in its life: in a bowl on top of a dresser (once, and remain there permanently) or wherever the pocket it is in goes (for the life of the garment).

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul hails from Lake Jackson.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The Tooth Fairy keeps those dollar coins in circulation. I think they all end up at Chuck E. Cheese.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 12, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

You're right byoolin, the merkins don't like the shrapnel. I got a handful os sacagawea dollar as change from an automated ticket selling machine this fall in Atlanta. I got dirty looks from the teller at the lunch counter when I paid her with those. I don't think she had a section for these coins in her cash drawer.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 12, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

>Errol, maybe we could get one of your groundhogs to take his place?

I'll bring it up at the next multi-lateral talks, but I'm guessing it might involve a pay cut. They're mean enough as it is.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

After I first moved here, my wife would laugh at me as I tried to differentiate the ones from the fives and tens. "In America, we can *read*," she'd gloat.

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

LiT, forgive me for laughing, but if any American children receive a loonie from the toothfairy, it should be taken up with toothfairy command. 'Its not a dollar I tell you'

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm likely to be late with this, but Yvonne DeCarlo died the other day. I didn't know she was Canadian.

Posted by: jack | January 12, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I use my dollar coins to make that really impressive bluff in poker....usually works about 50% of the time..........The problem is all my poker buddies know my moves by now......I need to find some new poker players

Anybody here like to play poker?

Off to work


I just like saying that...simple as I am

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 12, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I confess, Loomis: I cut-and-pasted the damn thing. No way I could have done it any other way.

Posted by: Curmdugeon | January 12, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Copper Penny

The Copper Penny was a perfect place to get lost. Nestled in the basement of a quiet Georgetown brownstone, the bar's only entrance was a narrow concrete stairway leading from the sidewalk. Many years ago, the Penny had been a popular gathering place for academics, lobbyists, and mid-level government agency officials. It had long since been abandoned in favor of trendy and insufferably loud establishments that catered to the trendy, and insufferably loud. The Penny's remaining patrons were grateful for the bar's dark quiet, its muted lighting, bowls of peanuts, and simple drink selection. It had become a refuge for those who had grown tired of the endless dash for power and fame. On this night, the bar was almost empty. The canned Sinatra music seemed distant, like in a dream.

A tall, angular man sat at the end of the long bar near the bathroom, where the bar was darkest. Someone just entering the room would scarcely see the man enveloped in the shadow of the bar counter. Only when he bent over the counter to sip his scotch and water could one see his jagged profile in the dim aura. His glass now empty, he sat with his fists resting on the bar, looking expectantly at the bartender with his forlorn eyes.

"Another one, Mr. Rumsfeld?" The bartender stood with his palms on the bar counter; he was not reaching for a bottle.

"S'Ok, I'm not driving," Donald Rumsfeld replied, swaying just slightly, "An, don't look at me like that."

The bartender said nothing in reply. He produced a bottle with a chrome pouring spout, affixed like a bayonet, and he pointed the bottle at Rumsfeld's glass. The amber fluid fell into the glass and swirled among the shrinking ice cubes, causing them to dance about madly. Rumsfeldt nodded his thank, then sipped from the glass with his eyes closed.

"So," the bartender ventured, "any plans?"

"You mean, whaddoyagonnado-now?" answered Rumsfeldt, between sips.

"Yeah, you know, vacation? Teaching job? Work for a think tank?" The bartender was polishing a clean glass absent-mindedly.

"Heh," Rumsfeld, snorted, "maybe I'll write a book."

"Yeah? Like what, a novel?"

"Nah, a 'tell-all,' an 'Expose-A,'" Rumsfeld exaggerated the French pronunciation, "I'll tell'em about all the stuff we made up so we could invade Iraq!"

"Wouldn't that make some people mad," the bartender suggested gently.

"I don't care! Screw'm! I'll tell the world what fools they are! The 'V.P.'," Rumsfeldt muttered, holding up the first and middle finger of each hand to create mocking apostrofies, "Condi, Rove, the whole lot of 'em. Fools! Morons!" Rumsfeldt swayed dangerously, taunting gravity.

Rumsfeld clasped his glass of scotch with both hands and continued to mutter to himself, while the bartender quietly picked up the phone.

Ten minutes later, as tiny ice fragments dawdled in Rumsfeld's empty glass, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Hello, Don," said Karl Rove. His smile was warm and empathetic. Rumsfeld slowly turned his head to view Rove, but he also saw a familiar face farther behind him.

"You remember, John Roberts?" Rove gestured toward the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Rumsfeldt looked warily at Rove, then waved idly at Roberts. "Howya doin'," he mumbled.

Rove glanced around the bar, his hands buried tightly in the pockets of his raincoat. "Listen, uh, let's go somewhere more private, and," his eyes met those of the bartender, "with better scotch."

Rumsfeld was bewildered and a little suspicious, but the liquor he had consumed this far had also made him docile. "Ok," he said, "Lemme get my coat."

"You're already wearing your coat, Don," said Rove, his voice low and cool, "Let's go."

Rove and Roberts each grabbed an arm and walked Rumsfeldt to a silver Lexus that was parked near a fire hydrant. They help him into the front passenger seat. As Rove opened the driver-side door, Roberts was sliding into the back seat. After starting the engine, Rove adjusted the rear-view mirror.

"Hey, John. Could you move over a little? You're blocking my view." Rove said. Roberts complied, sliding quietly on the leather seat to a spot directly behind Rumsfeld.

The car pulled away from the curb and came to a brief stop two blocks later. Rove watched for cross traffic, then patted Rumsfeld's knee. "You Ok, Don?" he asked. Rumsfeldt nodded slowly as if teetering at the abyss of unconsciousness.

Rove tilted his head back to look at Roberts. "Comfy?" He asked, grinning.

"Sure," said Roberts, returning the grin.

Then a curious silver gleam came to his eye.


Posted by: CowTown | January 12, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I decided this was Gloomy Therefore Special Indulgence Friday, and so went nuts for lunch: just got back from the deli across from the Dept. of No Child Left Anywhere with a hot pastrami and swiss on rye, and a nice cuppa chicken noodle soup it couldn't hurt. Yum.

Magnificent heartburn to ensue shortly. Please ignore any groans you hear coming from my cubby. Or sighs of pleasure, for that matter. It ain't what you think.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

TBG, the high school musical sounds like fun. I miss those days. My son was in the junior high band, and I attended all that stuff. Nearly slid out of the sit, but thinking back over it, it is certainly one of my best memories. I hope it will be so for you.

Resting up today.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 12, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Good story, Cow Town. Is there a follow-up installment that ends about as follows:

"Leave the gun. Don't forget the cannoli," Rove muttered, zipping up his fly.

Later, back at the White House in the Oval Office, Don Giorgio turned to his wartime consigliari and asked, "Say, Karl, have you seen Don Rumsfeld since he retired?"

"Oh, him," Rove said, adding several pounds of suasage links to a large pot of spaghetti sauce he was cooking, "Won't see him no more."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Other fools and their money:

The man who won the biggest Powerball jackpot ever says "a team of crooks" has cleaned out his bank accounts by cashing phony checks.

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, you made me think of how many times I have gone to Tim Horton's and paid with a very large handful of coins, I generally throw my change in a compartment in my car, I then us it as my coffee fund. I feel sorry for them when the loonies and toonies are gone and I am down to the smaller coins.

Mostly this is for you, or anyone else if they are interested.

The globe had an online discussion with the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, it was quite interesting and she handle one j*rk with class. The comments are quite civil, more so than usual - considering the topic I was expecting a lot worse.

Posted by: dmd | January 12, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Hahahaha! Mudge, that was great. Actually, I was thinking of having Don's body bob to the surface at the Hyannisport Club near George I's boat slip. But, I like your idea, too. Sausage, mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Posted by: CowTown | January 12, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of No Child Left Anywhere.

Dismal news today about how Texas children's reading ability, as demonstrated in the differences between the state reading test and a national reading test [Is Texas's test too simple?]:

The Texas accountability plan for public schools has long been lauded for pushing students to do better in math and reading. It also served as the blueprint for President Bush's public school overhaul, now 5 years old, known as No Child Left Behind.

But national test scores and a new study tell a less rosy story. ...

While 79 percent of fourth-graders passed the state reading test, 64 percent performed at the basic level on National Assessment of Educational Progress and only 29 percent reached the proficient level on the national test. The results are from 2005 -- the latest year NAEP scores are available. [I wonder how basic the basic level is?]

Gore Vidal consistently, throughout many of his essays, draws attention to the fact kids as well as adults don't know a thing about geography these days. Vidal claims that we stopped teaching it with any seriousness in the late '40s. We have both educators here on the Boodle and parents. I'm wondering if geography is taught in schools today, at what level, and to what degree?

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Eww... gross. Now we're back to the "knowing what you eat" discussion.


Posted by: TBG | January 12, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Our endings aren't mutually exclusive, Cows. You could do both.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. This is as close as I'm going to go to tinfoil fashions.

All I can say is, thank God it doesn't come in my size.

Cowtown, excellent! Am looking forward to the next episode.

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, thanks for the story.

Mudge, that did make me laugh. Though you did miss a chance to make some sort of a joke about how Karl thinks Rumsfeld's career is down the drain for good, or how we won't see him any more because he's flushed with failure.

Something about how Rummy got what he desrved in the end. If you know what I mean.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Other fools and their money:

The man who won the biggest Powerball jackpot ever says "a team of crooks" has cleaned out his bank accounts by cashing phony checks.

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Re: Noah's flood in the canyon

We started the unit on the fossil record and geologic time today in my 8th grade science class. Invariably, there is at least one student each year who asks if they can opt out of this section on religious grounds. When I say no, the kid proceeds to refuse to do any of the associated work, claiming that, "since I don't believe in this stuff, I shouldn't have to learn it." Twisted logic, and I am sure that they don't come up with this stuff on their own. I am left to wonder how many are out there who refuse to see the writing on the radiometrically dated rock wall?

By the way, it gladdens me immensely that the creationist books are being sold in the Grand Canyon's gift shops, whose stated purpose in to further the research and educational opportunities at the park.

Imagine... you are a scientist whose grant for research into the age of the canyon is paid for with funds lifted from the pocket of some religious fundy who buys the book about how the earth is 10,000 years old and was put together Lego-style in a week by the bearded one in flowing white gowns... Makes me feel all warm inside.

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Our daughter earned the privelege of representing our school district in the eighth grade in the Lt. Governor's Writing contest. She is going, with other elementary and middle school students, to luncheon with Lt. Gov. Bauer. Good thing he doesn't have to fly to the affair. He recently was behind the wheel when he had a plane crash, and, fortunately he can still tell the tale.

Posted by: jack | January 12, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double-post. *%#$^#@#@ Trackpad.

Posted by: byoolin | January 12, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

dmd, thanks for that link.

I'm still trapped in my house by icy roads and below freezing temperatures. A snow plow made one pass yesterday, but still very few cars are attempting my street. I don't have to go anywhere (yet), thank goodness - but I hate not having the option! But I do have power and water (have to let the faucets run so the pipes don't freeze).

I knew someone many years ago who worked for Ron Paul in a campaign. That person was married to a friend of mine, who has since passed away, so I've lost touch with him. She was of the liberal persuasion, he was conservative.

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I saw this story the other day - about a kid with a taste for exotic meats - and of course thought about the boodle:

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, we had a dedicated geography class (in 8th grades) in my school system in Pennsylvania upt through my years (mid-60s), so I think Vidal is wrong about the 40's. But overall he's waaaaaaaaay dead correct; I just don't what years it phased out, or even whether it phased out more or less uniformly across the country, or disappeared in pockets, etc.

But yes, it's gone. My own kids couldn't find their a$$es from their elbows on a map.

One of the things I'd blame it on is this relatively (last 20-30 years) "modern trend" in education that poo-poos things like rote memory and drills. I know I'm an old fart about this stuff, but I'm a firm believer in rote memory and drills--that's the only way you can learn some stuff, such as the multiplication tables, list os state capitals, lists of the presidents, names of states, etc. Is it boring? Yeeeessss...but who said education hadda be the Gong Show all the time? Any one of us old codgers who grew up on rote memory drills can run whirlwinds around modern kids on that kinda stuff. Ditto diagramming sentences.

Crap. You got me started on "modern" education, and I hate to go there, because it gets my blood pressure soaring.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse


I can't say with assurance how well geography is taught in school, as I teach science. But I can share anecdotal evidence:

One project we do in my class is a physical map of the earth, showing features such as volcanoes, ocean ridges and trenches, locations of major earthquakes, etc. Even with a map in front of them, my students look at me with blank expressions when I tell the a trench is off the coast of Japan, or an earthquake occurred in the Himalayas, or the ridge is between S. America and Africa (honest!). They don't understand latitude and longitude, have no idea where Iraq is, and cannot find Missouri on a map. It frustrates and saddens me to no end when I realize that these are the people who will be caring for me as I sit in a nursing home, slowly losing whatever marbles I have left.

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, did you catch this in the piece on the meat-eating kid? "even though friends may rib him..."

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Here in Fairfax the memorization of geographic facts is alive and well. Although if I have to hear my son laugh about the name "Djibouti" (Ja-Booty!) once more I might consider moving there.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse


I am in lockstep with you on rote memorization. I have no idea why I know my multiplication tables, as I do not remember memorizing them. But I must have because I know'em! In education courses, we are taught to break up the lesson, as you lose a kid's attention within 15 minutes. So our teachers are taught to bundle information and learning into fun little bite-size chunks that the kids can grasp. So much for raising the bar, right?

I blame the lack of rote memorization, but also the changes that have occurred in television over the past 20-odd years. As technology advances allow, editing in programs has gotten choppier, faster, to keep up with the milisecond attention spans of children. Teachers are expected to do the same. Remember the Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cartoons that used to appear on Saturday mornings? Not there anymore, replaced by flashy crap that serves as little more than commercials for the products based on them. Many of my students don't pay attention unless I am as snazzy as the stuff on the iPod they have smuggled into my classroom.

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse


You must understand that Fairfax County is an anomaly. I feel very fortunate to have lived many of my formative years in Springfield, VA, where I received a phenomenal public education. I live and teach in Texas now, and it ain't no va, if you'll pardon the pun.

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

>list os state capitals, lists of the presidents,

I'm no fan of the education system but I have *never* needed to know all the state capitals or name of every President. Unless you're on a game show, you can look those up if you need them.

Multiplication tables, yes. I think there's some room for compromise on both ends there.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you about attention spans becoming short, Gomer -- so one aspect of education OUGHT to be to help kids increase their attention spans, not cave in to the lack of them. Education isn't entertainment; it's training. That's why (among other reasons) kids used to be REQUIRED to memorize poems, speeches from Shakespeare, the Preamble and Gettysburg Address-- not so much because they needed to know them (although that was good, too), but simply because it trained the mind and developed memory skills. I was in plays in high school and college, and to this day I can still reel off long monologs and dialogues that I had to memorize for roles in Ah, Wilderness, Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Rebel Without a Cause, The Bald Soprano, Alcestis, and a bit from Long Day's Journey Into Night (I understudied the father's part, James Tyrone, and fortunately never had to do it, because I never memorized all of it [it's a hellacious role anyway] and never rehearsed it).

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day..." --how many of us can still recite some of that stuff? I bet most of us old codgers can.

Rote. It's what's for dinner.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, like you I was mostly taught using rote memorization. We were tested on geography by being given blank maps on which we filled in countries, cities, rivers, oceans, etc. Except for the countries that have changed names, I might still be able to do it. Just floors me when someone doesn't know how to find Florida on a map.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 12, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse


I agree on compromise. Many of my colleagues make their students memorize the periodic table of elements. I, on the other hand, do not. An y chemist worth his salt will know it, but every other scientists (or lay person) has access to a copy of the thing and merely needs to know how to read it. But the reading part is often a problem with both kids and adults these days...

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

EF - Point well taken. It is rare that a knowledge of the precise coordinates of Tazmania will prevent nuclear annihilation. Nevertheless, I believe that the searing spot burnt into one's cerebellum by the memorization of geographic facts has its uses. An awareness of the complexity of the world still remains when all else has been forgotten.

And "djibouti" really is fun to say.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

As I get more and more worked up, I notice more and more typos in my posts. Who started this tangent on eduction?


"Out damned spot!"

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Not nearly as fun as Sheik Yerbouti, of course.

*shiny object*

What were we talking about?


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 12, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

As I get more and more worked up, I notice more and more typos in my posts. Who started this tangent on education?


"Out damned spot!"

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

As I get more and more worked up, I notice more and more typos in my posts. Who started this tangent on education?


"Out damned spot!"

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

RD, doesn't the royal family run that country? The family headed by the Sheik, I mean.

Ok, apologies for the Zappa reference.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Error, I think you pretty much missed the point by a mile. The "I can always look it up" answer is bogus. Agreed, you might not "need" to know the state capitals; the point is to develop memory skills. And you can't do that unless someone gives list after list of stuff to memorize. So it might just as well be styate capitals, or vice presidents, or all the cruciferous vegetables in alphabetical order, or the 8, 9, or 10 planets (depending on one's preference) in order, or 17th and 18th century musical composers name Johann, or whatever. No idiot anywhere on the face of the earth needs to know "The boy stood on the burning deck..." or "Ozymandias." And hell, I don't care if instead of Ozymandias kids today memorize Shel Silverstein. The point is the drilling and memorizing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Never ever apologize for a Zappa reference!

As it fluff Friday, can I ask for some advice? Himself has meetings in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of the month and I am tagging along for the fun of it. We are staying some 30 miles outside Jacksonville, at the Sea Turtle Inn.

Anybody know the area? I have only two days, and would like, if it seems possible, to get hook up with a tour to the big swamp, and maybe spend some time in St. Augustine (unless it is more touristy and less historical). If I can't see the swamp, what shall I do with one day?

Posted by: Yoki | January 12, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

>Not nearly as fun as Sheik Yerbouti, of course.

That's another one for my Amazon list. I *was* just listening to "Cosmik Debris though!

I'd like to see kids get more critical reading skills, since that appears to be a real problem in the populace at this point. Also some early light-on-the-math physics so they get a concept of why your head WILL split open if it lands on concrete while you pop a wheelie on that new motocross bike, and what the forces are when your car hits a tree at 70mph.

I *would* like to see more memorization of history though, and overall world geography.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Easy there, Gomer!

I had a geography course (and there was a teacher who taught nothing but geography) in junior high - in the sixties - in Podunk, PA. At home we also had a puzzle of the United States which helped. And in my family, we all love to read, and travel, and have an interest in language and news and the world in general. Not sure if my kid had a separate course in geography - I don't think so. He seems to be able to use Mapquest, at least.

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I vote with Mudge. Memorisation really is just a method of teaching your brain to be flexible, to store quickly and have quick recall. I think the lack shows up when you try give many young people a set of instructions more than 2 steps long.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

>Error, I think you pretty much missed the point by a mile.

Well Mudge, I have a vicious memory for 60's TV (Kurt Russel in Lost In Space anyone? The episode where Gilligan was a radio?) and can still tell you how to bit-address the first 32 bytes of an 8051 microcontroller I worked on 15 years ago and how many memory spaces it had, but I couldn't name more than a few state capitols.

The bartender at my rib joint is only 25 but can tell you every player in the NFL and college and what their stats were for the last N years, where and when they came out in the draft and how much they got.

Your milage may vary.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Gomer asks, "Who started this tangent on education?"

It was Loomis!!!! Get her! Get the torches!!! Burrrrrrnnn her, burnnnnnnn her! Guillotine! Guillotine!

OK, now that I've stirred up some animosity and hatred, and possibly mob violence, my work here is done. It's time for an early exit and run for the bus. Have a good weekend, boodle!

(Oh, BTW, Loomis, run for your life. This crowd can get ugly and turn on you in a heartbeat.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse


Sorry, I just get a little excited when the boodle turns into my area of expertise. I'll bet there was a high value placed on education and the doors it can open in your house growing up, what with US puzzles laying around and all. That is one problem I have with many students- their parents don't seem to value it as much as ours did in the past.


Your post made me think of something, too. In science class, I frequently have lab procedures of 7-8 steps. I give the kids the procedure, we read it together as I demonstrate each step the kids will follow. At the end of this read-through/demo, I ask, "Any questions before you get started on your lab?"

Five hands raise.

"Yes, Johnny."

"What are we supposed to do?"

Whump, whump, whump, whump...(sound of head banging on wall)

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse


How about this connection?

Kurt Russell on Gilligan's Island as the "Jungle Boy"...

I just blew my own mind.

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

>Kurt Russell on Gilligan's Island as the "Jungle Boy"...

VERY nice. Speaking of blowing minds, I'm on my way home.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 12, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I note with some consternation that Scottynuke appears to be living in my future, a couple of minutes and a Boodle refresh ahead of me.

Alas, time's arrow has shown me its tailfeathers, and I am doomed.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhhh, last bell just rang, and I'm off like a shot.

It's been fun, happy long weekend to all!

Posted by: Gomer | January 12, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I've been gone all day and just finished reading all today's boodle. Quite amazing the range of topics.

Here's an idea for the senior prom. (Is there enough room in the bunker?) We all make our tuxes and prom gowns out of tin foil, duct tape, plain and in metallic flavors, and copper foil. All who win prizes will be named to the prom court and the best will be named Queen and King of the Prom! Of course, there will be no outside 'assistance' allowed.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 12, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Toodles, all! *Standing on porch, waving handkerchief* Be safe! Make good choices! And, when in doubt, Surge!

Posted by: CowTown | January 12, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Boodle dead. Poor boodle.

Posted by: CowTown | January 12, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. I remember having to memorize the hundred counties in North Carolina when I was in the seventh grade. IIRC, my younger daughter not only had to learn the counties but also the county seats for all hundred sometime during middle school. Sixth grade, I think. That was less than ten years ago...But Error is right, it's a matter of passion for a subject.

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

My daughter has a dreadful time learning things in school - but try to stump her on Pokemon - go ahead - I double dare ya'.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree that rote memorization is highly underrated, but I only partially agree with Gomer that TV is to blame. More important, I think, is that memorization isn't popular with education schools right now. They had the right idea--memorization is a terrible way to learn certain subjects (most science, for example), and doesn't teach you how to problem-solve.

Unfortunately, they went too far, because memorization is a great way to learn some things. The education "leaders" seem to have a hard time imagining that different subjects might be best served by different teaching strategies.

Not that they've done all that well with problem-solving, either. There's a trend in science teaching now to go with total "discovery learning" where you don't give the students any background information at all, letting them discover the answer completely on their own. Unfortunately, they often don't get that answer, because they don't have the background skills and knowledge that was necessary. Even in experimentation, people tend to fall back on what they know--and if they don't know anything, they're SOL.

Colleges are just starting to get students who spent their entire educational careers with high-stakes standardized testing. My initial observations teaching these students is that they are as bright and eager as ever, and they're pretty good at looking up information (in books or online) to find an answer (but not at evaluating whether or not that answer is correct). However, their observational skills are weak, and their ability to solve problems is non-existent. On lab exercises, I've actually had students turn in labs that required them to interpret the data they had just collected ("What does your data tell you about X?") with the answer "The questions can't be answered because the answere is not written anywhere in the lab." I actually have to tell them in advance now that that is not an acceptible answer.

Posted by: Dooley | January 12, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The presidents plan for Iraq is a sham and only will result in the deaths of more of our soldiers while he "runs out the clock". I believe that he plans this so that he can claim that "if only my successor had my strength and fortitude", America would have achieved "victory" in Iraq. The troop increase is paltry (only a 13% increase) and based on the force ratios necessary to achieve pacification, are totally inadequate to the task. It requires 20 to 40 soldiers per 1000 population to achieve pacification and the troop strength must be maintained for years. This is straight out of counterinsurgency doctrine and has been refined and confirmed through many conflicts over many decades. In the Bush plan about 17000 more troops will be deployed to Baghdad. They will join the 15000 troops already there, so that the total US force in Baghdad will be about 32000 troops. By standard counterinsurgency doctrine, the US would need 40000 troops just to have an adequate force ratio to pacify Sadr city, much less all of Baghdad. The facts are the US doesn't have the ability to sustain for months or years the extra 21500 troops that are being committed to Iraq without causing severe damage to the Army and Marines. The pentagon and our senior generals know that the "surge" cannot be sustained but have chosen to go along with it anyway.
The Bush plan also depends critically on the cooperation of Prime Minister Maliki in dismantalling his own political base and allying himself with politicians who have been his rivals and enemies for decades. If the plan is going to succeed, Maliki will have to allow the US military to destroy the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades in addition to the Sunni insurgency. The Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades are loyal to key political supporters and members of the government of Prime Minister Maliki. I suspect that the troop increase will be used by the Iraqi government to help pacify the Sunni areas of Baghdad while any attempt by US commanders to significantly damage the Shiite militias will be thwarted by the "sovereign government of Iraq". This will only further inflame the Sunni insurgency. The other possibility is worse. If the US military attacks both the Sunni insurgents as well as the Shiite militias then the most likely result is a three sided war with the Sunnis attacking the Shia, the Shia attacking the Sunnis, and both sides attacking the Americans. We do not and will not have the forces to prevail or even "hold our own" in that kind of conflict. This escalation is foolish and reeks of a man desperate to avoid taking responsibility for the mess that he has made in Iraq. The real crime is that our soldiers are being forced to risk their lives and possibly die so that this man, who avoided his war (Vietnam), can avoid taking responsibility for his own actions. How many more of our soldiers must be wounded or die for this terrible mistake?

Posted by: Iraqvet | January 12, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Its downright unfair how all you folks skedaddle out of here on a Friday afternoon. Its not that you leave, its how much joy you do it with that is hard to take.

You could at least begin the evening with a toast and a tipple while facing the west, thinking only of we hardy few still at our desks. Note that I did not say hard at work (in my case). It is Friday after all.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

dr - I'm here sitting in my living room surfing the net on my laptop while the family is watching Discovery Channel. Got a nice bottle of Shiraz. (To be spread over two evenings.)

I just hope I don't incite too much envy with my fast-paced hedonistic lifestyle.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

After working there for a brief moment, a rare Friday after 4 occurence, and I you sipping, Padouk. So long as you raise your glass to the fair west, I'll survive.

You have inspired me to fill my evening with similar beverage, likley a merlot (the shiraz is all gone) while watching mrdr's Christmas dvd.

To think I could have been on the road to Saskatchewan this evening, which if you are talking hedonistic lifestyles, well, Saskatchewan is THE place.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

The DA in the Duke lacrosse rape case is bailing out:

Posted by: Slyness | January 12, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Consider yourself toasted. Although my wife thinks me a bit odd. But that's nothing too unusual.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Regarding geography...

I picked up a wall-sized world map this year while Christmas shopping for Little Bean. I even managed to hang it up on her bedroom wall without putting myself or a hammer through it.

What's really cool is that we're using it and she's really getting into it.

We started by putting a thumbtack where we live -- N.E. Ohio -- and then we started putting thumbtacks in all the places our family and friends live (the ones she knows, anyway).

The thumbtack for her Grandma's house is right next to ours. The thumbtack for where I grew up is about a half inch to the right. Then there are the tacks for my sister in Orlando, my cousin in Los Angeles, her cousins in Baltimore...

Then we had to find Lima, Peru, where my Dad and brother are currently working building power plants. That brought up the whole concept of North and South America, air vs. land travel, how long it takes to get from point A to point B... and to see it register on her face, when she "got" it, that we can't just hop in the car to go see Grandpa unless we plan on driving for a week or two... was just so cool.

We're currently working on our Eurasian tour... all the places I've lived in or visited, the places that come up in her TV shows (like where the Koala Brothers live), anything mentioned on the news or whatever...

I'm not a geography buff and have many other interests I find much more interesting, but this is turning out to be one of the best $4.99 investments of my life.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I know what you mean, martooni.

Bought a globe a couple of years ago, and it's been a really valuable tool for talking about geography, earth science, geometry, all kinds of stuff.

Spent a bit more than $4.99, though. I think you're getting a *lot* of value for that fiver.


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

martooni - that is such a cool idea. And I think a great way to get "Little Bean" to start thinking about the world. Be sure to put a big tack around DC for us.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I can't decide who I love more, Keith Olbermann or Charlie Pierce. Here' a bit from Pierce's latest rant:

"OK, I'm convinced.

Impeach him. Quickly.

I know all the good political reasons for not doing it, and I agree with every one of them. They are all sound and sensible. None of them matter a damn. He's going to start up with Syria and Iran. The Congress -- just now stumbling around the bedroom looking for its glasses and wondering where it tossed its pants on that night back in '02 when it was drunk -- is scared to death."

The rest of it can be had about a third of the way down the page at:

I just read "Moving the Chains," Pierce's new book about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. It's very good, but then I'm a Patriots fan as well as a lover of Pierce.

I love looking at maps and globes. I have a pretty good grasp of where things are but I am rather foggy on places like Indonesia and Okinawa. They always seem to have moved from where I left them the last time I checked. I have a well thumbed Atlas that I refer to often.

You have no idea how glad I am that it's Friday night.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 12, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

bc... I feel your pain on the globe cost. I looked into buying one, but couldn't find a good old plain one that simply spins. The few that I found were full of electronic gadgetry to make them talk and spin and light up and wirelessly connect to your PC. Cool stuff, but I wasn't about to blow $150 for a ball with a map glued to it.

rd... shouldn't that be an "imaginary" big tack?

Actually, I need to watch my mouth about DC when she's around. I know many of you call DC home, but in my house -- especially when the president is making a televised speech -- "Washington" is usually preceded by "Fording".

I can see it now... She's participating in a geography "bee" and the question is "Where is the seat of the U.S. government?". "Oh, that's easy... Fording Washington D.C."

I would be proud, but Mrs. Martooni would probably kill me. Repeatedly.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey - if anyone wants some free nicely-made electronic maps try the link below. (American tax dollars at work.) The PDF format, while large, is nice because they can be enlarged a lot. These maps have made their way into many a school project.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

You make me laugh more times than you know!

The map on the wall and your teaching in conjunction with it sound wonderful.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, you're in fine form today.
I'd been wondering when we were going to see the next installment in your Rove/Roberts saga -- the brilliant "Copper Penny" was well worth the wait.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 12, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

We are mentally bracing ourselves for a Mt. St. Helen's type of environment tomorrow as 20 Oil Mop men pull out their big, long hoses and attempt to extinguish the mulch blaze in earnest. If the smoke and ash get to be too much, there are two Red Cross shelters that we can use, but no pets allowed.

Oranges are freezing in Sanger, Calif., in the southeastern San Joaquin Valley. Ice storms across Oklahoma, as Ivansmom reports. We're next--could have frozen sleet or possibly snow in south Texas anytime between Monday and Wednesday.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad, Loomis, but trust me... it takes lots of work to simultaneously make the covers of "Attic Follies", "What Not To Do", and "Foot In Mouth Daily".

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Must get din-din on the table, but wanted to let you know, since you're here now, how much I enjoyed your Christmas back home and down under report, especially the passage about the kangaroos. Very interesting reading.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

we need to send Shaddout Mapes to the WhiteHouse with the Gom Jabbur to see if Bush is worthy...

Posted by: I think | January 12, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

If I may be so bold, I think you come by humor naturally. I live for your pokes at Fording Washington.

Posted by: Loomis | January 12, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Regarding that pesky mulch fire...

If our Canadian friends could spare Bob and Doug MacKenzie for the weekend and a vat or two of Molsons or Labatts, that fire would be out in no time.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, Curmudgeon, greenwithenvy, pj and all you other football fans out there, whatcher picks for this weekend's NFL playoff games?

I'll start:
Typically in this round of the NFL playoffs the home teams have a huge advantage. The best division winners are playing at home and have had a bye week to rest and recover from any nagging injuries, while the visiting teams have had to play a knock-down drag out last weekend in the Wild Card rounds.

Colts at Ravens - (A Karma Bowl) any team with P. Manning, M. Harrison, and all the other offensive weapons that the Colts have always has a chance. However, the Colts don't do well outdoors, and it's likely to rain making for sloppy conditions(though it won't be terribly cold). The home team Ravens are well rested, have a great defense, and a huge heart. I think the Colts defense had a fluke game against KC last week. Note: two of best clutch NFL kickers in this game, Viniteri and Stover. Pick: Ravens

Iggles at Saints: My heart says Saints, my brain says Iggles. The Iggles are teh hottness right now, and helmed by very experienced guys. The Saints are good, and can score in bunches when things go their way, but this is a new experience for these guys. Pick: Iggles

Seahawks at Bears: The Bears' defense is rested and hungry, and HC Lovie Smith just might try to confuse the 'hawks by putting the ball in much-maligned QB Rex Grossman's hands. If it does not work, the Bears defense may still be able to put the whole thing on their backs and take it home. The Seahawks did not impress in their win last week, and haven't looked really good since September (just before they were clobbered by these same Bears 37-6 on Oct. 1)

Patriots at Chargers: The best game of the weekend should be the last. Belichick vs. General Marty. The Patriots inventiveness and tenacity against the Chargers' speed and skill. I won't be at all surprised if the Pats win, but they are sore, tired, and have to play on the opposite coast, which is tough under any circumstances, much less having to face a rested speed/strength team under good conditions on their home field. I hope the Pats win (and if they do it will be because they outthunk Marty), but...Pick: Chargers


Posted by: bc | January 12, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Loomis!
Glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by: Dreamer | January 12, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Faxing Bob and Doug to Loomis. Make that 3 faxes. They come with a lot of baggage.

As promised earlier and right in time for football, the recipe, though it's not really a recipe, more of a how to. You never know when stuff like this comes in handy.

Baked Skunk
"Baked skunk is delicious and these little animals with the white stripes down their back are useful after all. In order to have baked skunk for Sunday dinner you must first obtain the skunk. This isn't easy. The method recommended by northern trappers is the old time box trap. You can make one of these traps to take to your summer cabin and have meat and protection at the same time. Once you get the skunk in the box trap, the really delicate work begins. Attach a long pole to the box trap, and take the skunk to...(deleted for sensitive viewers) him carefully and make sure you remove the scent sack under the tail as it might taint the meat. After the skunk is cut up and quartered, you put the meat in a pan and sprinkle salt pepper along with some onions and you can bake the skunk meat till tender. Invite your mother-in-law, and you no doubt know some politicians whom you could invite for dinner too. GOOD LUCK!!!!"

Quoted verbatim. Dear me, this calls for a drink.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Faxing Bob and Doug to Loomis. Make that 3 faxes. They come with a lot of baggage.

As promised earlier and right in time for football, the recipe, though it's not really a recipe, more of a how to. You never know when stuff like this comes in handy.

Baked Skunk
"Baked skunk is delicious and these little animals with the white stripes down their back are useful after all. In order to have baked skunk for Sunday dinner you must first obtain the skunk. This isn't easy. The method recommended by northern trappers is the old time box trap. You can make one of these traps to take to your summer cabin and have meat and protection at the same time. Once you get the skunk in the box trap, the really delicate work begins. Attach a long pole to the box trap, and take the skunk to...(deleted for sensitive viewers) him carefully and make sure you remove the scent sack under the tail as it might taint the meat. After the skunk is cut up and quartered, you put the meat in a pan and sprinkle salt pepper along with some onions and you can bake the skunk meat till tender. Invite your mother-in-law, and you no doubt know some politicians whom you could invite for dinner too. GOOD LUCK!!!!"

Quoted verbatim. Dear me, this calls for a drink.

Posted by: dr | January 12, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

bc might appreciate this:

On the way home from work tonight, I discovered that our 6-cylinder Ford Windstar will blow the doors off a 4-cylinder Honda Civic.

Classic red light scene.

Long-haired furry me in the Windstar, jamming to Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild", wishing I had a stereo this nice in Stella the Old Bus (and that she was running).

Short-haired c0cky teen in a hopped up Honda with all the trimmings pulls up next to me.

He's revving his engine.

I slip the Ford into neutral and rev mine.

We look at each other (old bull faces young bull).

Light turns green and we're off.

He's shifting like crazy while I check to make sure my coffee isn't falling out of the very convenient cup holder next to the ashtray as I simply shift back into drive and floor it. I never knew a minivan could burn rubber, and apparently neither did he.

I actually had time to light a cigarette when I got to the next light before he showed up.

The look on that kid's face was priceless.

Engine displacement beats fancy ground effects, neon lighting and "sport" tuning anyday.

And this new breed of "motor heads"... well... their stereos have more horsepower than their engines, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

dr, if it helps any, my wife and I went out to dinner at our favorite local Chinese restaurant, Szechuan Gardens, had two Mai-Tais each (foir a wonderful little buzz), split an order of spring rolls, an order of Cho-Cho, and then for the main course split an order of General Tso's chicken with fried rice. So consider yourself toasted with a Mai-Tai, if it helps any. (I'm sure you rather have had some.)

Martooni, go right ahead and cuss out "fording Washington." Most of us locals live outside the city limits anyway, and even if we didn't we'd understand that your are referring to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and sometimes the Capitol building. We don't take it personally. In fact, we're often at the forefront of cussing certain people and institutions.

bc, my picks are the same as yours. You are also aware -- as other boodlers may not be -- that I co-write a football column every week, so here's my portion of the column for this week:

The Old Curmudgeon

Last Week: 3-1

Season: 53-38

I'm the only one who picked Dallas last week. Dallas, whom I hate (now whom I hate even more). Dallas, whose Tony Romo, Boy Wonder, juggled the snap on a ''gimme" field goal that would have given me (and them, but who cares about them) a 4-0 and brought me to within one point of [one of my co-writers] atop our leader board.

But (channeling John Belushi) nooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Romo has to juggle it. And then try to run it in (which was actually a good idea, under the circumstances). But. Who. Gets. Tackled. On. The. Two. Yard. Line.

On the other hand, how 'bout my Iggles? Of course, they looked lousy for the first few minutes, and the very thing I predicted might happen in this space -- the Iggles showing up flat -- looked like it was going to happen. They kicked that field goal with bupkis on the clock, which was too close for my comfort. But at least they advance.

OK, here's where it is supposed to get really tough, though in actuality not. Far as I'm concerned (and as far as the Vegas bookies are concerned), these are not quite ''gimmees," but close. And I'm taking the gimmee in three out of the four.

Indianapolis at Baltimore: The Colts have lost whatever magic luster they had last year. I'm going with the favorite, Balmer.

Philadelphia at New Orleans: OK, this is the cruncher. The Saints are 4- or 5-point faves, and most likely will win. But I've been touting my Iggles all year, and I can't abandon them now. Yes, the Saints were the NFL's number one offense leader (at 391.5 yards a game); but number 2, and only 10 yards behind (at 381.5), was Philly. On defense, Saints ranked 11th, Philly 15th, a hair over 7 yards per game behind. So, yeah, I'm already down 2 points behind the Kid and the Cat [my other two co-writers], and 5 on El Supremo, so I might as well sink or swim for the whole year with Philly. I got the Saturday Night Fever. Go, Iggles, go.

Seattle at Chicago: Like Kid Guacamole [co-writer no. 2, aka Kid Vegas] opines (see below), this is practically a scrimmage game. The Seahawks don't even belong here (YA HEAR THAT, ROMO, YOU TURKEY?). Da Bearz.

New England at San Diego: The Kid has finally learned a thing or two from the Old Curmudgeon (also see below) and now echoes my mantra, ''Never pick against Tom Brady." And indeed, this is the hardest pick on the list. Vegas says the Chargers by 4 or 5. I've already picked my one upset, in Philly (be still, my heart). Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Chargers win.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... you almost make me wish I followed sports.


Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

When son of D was about three years old, he climbed behind the steering wheel in the car, grabbed the wheel with both hands, and let out a string of highly imaginative curses. He thought that's how you're supposed to drive.

Posted by: Dooley | January 12, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

LOL'n at Dooley...

At my house, those curses are what *start* the car.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I've been gone all day and just finished reading all today's boodle. Quite amazing the range of topics.

Here's an idea for the senior prom. (Is there enough room in the bunker?) We all make our tuxes and prom gowns out of tin foil, duct tape, plain and in metallic flavors, and copper foil. All who win prizes will be named to the prom court and the best will be named Queen and King of the Prom! Of course, there will be no outside 'assistance' allowed.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 12, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, starting up Stella the Old Bus is a lot like foreplay.

Lots of begging.

Lots of pleading.

Many promises.

A little cajoling.

Maybe a tickle or two.

Not that I'm complaining, but it hasn't worked for the last two weeks and it's very frustrating.

And it's not working on Stella either.

Posted by: martooni | January 12, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Wait! Where did that 9:03 come from? It appeared at 5:something when I actually wrote it. If I could transliterate the Twilight Zone music, you'd have it here.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 12, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching "Rio Grande" on AMC. This is the third flick of the great John Ford's cavalry trilogy, the one with John Wayne versus his estranged wife, the luminous Maureen O'Hara, squabbling over their son, Trooper Jeff Yorke. Unfortunately they weren't able to round up anybody for the supporting cast, only Ben Jonson, Victor McLaglen, Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish and the Sons of the Pioneers (many of whom appeared in one or both of the previous two trilogy flicks). For trivia buffs, this is the film where the phrase "Git 'er done" was widely popularized. And every time I hear comedian Larry the Cable Guy (who I don't hear very often, cuz I'm not a fan of redneck humor) use that as his signature catchphrase, I think, you SOB, you stole that from a 1950 John Wayne movie. I'm actually not a very big John Wayne fan, but I love a lot of the supporting cast: McLaglen is always fun, and I like Ben Jonson and Harry Carey Jr. (who acted in no less than 10 John Wayne movies) a lot. O'Hara, once voted one of the five most beautiful women in the world (and no argument from me) starred in five films with Wayne. (When she retired from movies in 1973, she and her husband, a retired Air Force general started and ran a small island-hopping seaplane line in the Caribbean. Ya just gotta love that. And when her husband died, she took over, becoming the first woman CEO of an airline in history. How cool.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Maureen O'Hara is one of my all time favorite screen beauties.

Look, I told you I had redhead issues.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, I think the boodle just blorphed. Hope we're not going time travelling again - that always makes me queasy, and I'm already out of sorts with cabin fever.

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking - I hope the weather isn't causing you too much inconvenience. Since I have family in Orting, Puyallup, Sumner and Olympia, I keep a close eye on that area.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 12, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Two of the playoff games *really* interest me: The Irsays vs. The Poes and The Patsies vs. Sandy Eggo. Coincidentally each of them is the 4:30 game. The Philly/Saints game is a small step below that and the Chicago game is interesting mostly because you have no idea what Grossman is going to do. He could end up with a QB rating in the teens and the Bears still win by double digits.

In the Indy/Baltimore game, I'd really like to see Peyton Manning win the whole thing. But this team isn't as good as the one last year and the offensive injuries are too much, so, reluctantly, I have to go with the Ravens.

In the New England/San Diego game, it isn't the players but SD's coach one worries about. Will Schottenheimer figure out a way to win this time? He's got a great team and I think their offense (go Tomlinson!) should be able to work against New England's defense. So I'll go with Sandy Eggo.

Eagles/New Orleans: Whoever decided to sign Garcia to the Eagles deserves a big, big bonus this year. Maybe an equal share of the playoff money. Without him they'd be figuring out tee times with the Redskins. Maybe I'm just really down on the NFC East this year, but I'm going with the Saints in this one. The Eagles played a good game last week and that last drive to win against the Giants was really sweet. That might carry over tomorrow. It has happened before. But I'll stick with the Saints.

Chicago/somebodyorother. Oh, yeah. Seattle. Weather looks kinda crappy. With Grossman in the saddle, we'll see how badly Chicago can win. Not *wants* to win, but can win. Losing badly at home to a lousy Green Bay in the final regular season game was inexcusable. So I suppose this would be my upset pick, but I'll go with the Bears will win this one.

So I'm taking all four home teams. Talk about going out on a limb, eh? I'm sure the facts will prove me wrong somewhere, 'cause I'm lousy at making predictions, but I'll enjoy watching the games. This is my favorite weekend for watching football.

Posted by: pj | January 12, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot to add "Sorry, Mudge" for not taking the Eagles.

Posted by: pj | January 12, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

That's *sniff sniff* OK, pj. I don't *sniff* mind. I'm used to *sniff* disappointment, and having *sniff* my heart cruelly *sniff* broken. It'll *sniff* heal...eventually.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 12, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

RD, thanks. No, for me it hasn't been too bad. Yet. Yesterday it looked like a Christmas card, with the snow-covered trees against a blue sky, and today was sunny too. My husband drove down the hill to the store for bread - he said the roads are a little tricky, but not too bad. I'm lucky in that I can work from home, so I didn't get caught in the horrible commutes. Olympia has been really cold. Looks like the arctic cold is headed east - hope everyone stays safe. The Weather Channel was showing a feed from Tulsa a few hours ago, when the sleet was starting.

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 12, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Glad you are taking my slight well, Mudge. That's good to see.

Posted by: pj | January 12, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

>Maureen O'Hara is one of my all time favorite screen beauties.

Captain Blood, w/ Errol Flynn

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 13, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Been working all night and then drove to Baltimore for the game.

Da Bears vs Seahawks.It was a flippin miricle the seattle made it to this game.They haven't looked good all year,or since september as BC pointed out.Da Bears look hot and cold,but they have a great D and very good special teams.I will take Da Bears by least

The Aints vs Iggles
Philly seems to have peaked at the right time.They won in Dallas,washington,places tough to play filled with crowd noise,they are experienced and again have a Great D.The saints are a very potent offense,bush,McCallister, and Brees is having a career year.I don't know how healthy there recieving corps are but they did have a week rest I am still going to pick the Eagles in overtime by 3

San Diego vs New England
Chargers Offense and Defense are both great.They are playing at home on the west coast.If they get off to a fast start they will blow NE away,but Brady and the boys throw the ball well and are running much better.Their D is suspect.I want San diego to lose so I can go to my first AFC Championship,but I don't think they will.
SD in a close one

Finally Colts vs Ravens
As my brother calls it Hate game #6.
The colts run the spread fast,no huddle and Manning is probably the best Quarterback now that Farve is on the way out.3 top recievers and they haven't lost a beat without the edge.But they stumbled down the end of the year,they usually don't play well outdoors in the cold.It won't be cold,but wet most passing games skip a beat in rain.The Ravens Defense has been compared to the 2000 Defense that won the superbowl,It is close,but this defense is quicker although smaller,but they are better sackers and are around the ball alot.If they can get Manning to move his feet it is going to be a long game.They have been exposed by good passing teams,if the QB has time.But it think Rex Ryan(yea buddy ryan's son) will have Manning running all over the place.
The biggest pickup by the ravens was Mcnair,an experienced veteran that can a shot and get back up.They can score points this year,the have good possesion recievers and a Big Back in Jamal Lewis,who usually gets better as the game goes along.I think it will be a Great game,Loud and nasty crowd.I am looking forward to it.I am a little nervous.But I am taking the ravens.

Everyone look for me in the upper deck.I will be wearing PURPLE and hopefully I will still have my voice at the end of the game.

The PLAYOFFS....I am as giddy as a school girl..

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 13, 2007 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Not to change the subject, but I know this is a subject near and dear to many of the Boodle and Kit Man himself:

Federal Way Schools Restrict Gore Film

btw... "Kit Man", if you need a cape or other superhero accessories, let me know. Super Dang Hippie knows where you can get a really good deal on custom logo-ized spandex duds.

Posted by: martooni | January 13, 2007 3:34 AM | Report abuse

Of course, "Super Dang Hippie" is just a friend of mine. We may both have long hair and abundant facial fur. We may be of the exact same height and build. But we're definitely *not* the same person.


On a side note, has anyone else noticed that telephone booths are getting harder and harder to find these days?

Not asking for myself, btw.

Posted by: martooni | January 13, 2007 3:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking I need to re-read and meditate on that passage by a famous Buddhist monk who's name I can't remember -- the one about "when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, just go to the bathroom".

Posted by: martooni | January 13, 2007 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Operation Together Forward was *70,000* security forces. Why will this escalation work now??


The plan was announced on 14 June 2006 by the then-recently installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and intended to increase security conditions in Baghdad through instituting major new measures. Operation Together Forward was planned as an operation to be led primarily by Iraqis but with Coalition support and would put about 70,000 security forces on the streets of Baghdad.


On 24 July 2006, it was announced that Prime Minister Maliki was heading to Washington, D.C. for talks about the security situation with President George W. Bush. The White House also publicly admitted for the first time that the Operation had been a failure, and that a new security strategy for Baghdad would be designed.

On 1 August it was announced that the U.S. would redeploy 3,700 troops from Mosul to Baghdad to bolster security in the capital. On the same day, 70 Iraqis (including 20 soldiers) were killed in Baghdad violence and bombings.


The Iraq Study Group, in its December 2006 report cited Operation Together Forward II (i.e. the second phase of the Operation), writing:
In a major effort to quell the violence in Iraq, U.S. military forces joined with Iraqi forces to establish security in Baghdad with an operation called Operation Together Forward II, which began in August 2006. Under Operation Together Forward II, U.S. forces are working with members of the Iraqi Army and police to "clear, hold, and build" in Baghdad, moving neighborhood by neighborhood. There are roughly 15,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad. This operation--and the security of Baghdad--is crucial to security in Iraq more generally... The results of Operation Together Forward II are disheartening. Violence in Baghdad--already at high levels--jumped more than 43 percent between the summer and October 2006. U.S. forces continue to suffer high casualties.


So, why will 20,000 troops work wonders where 15,000 (plus thousands of Iraqi forces) troops resulted in ABJECT FAILURE and THOUSANDS OF DEATHS?!?!?!

Posted by: Jerry T. | January 13, 2007 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It's "slid out the seat", that sentence in my last post, TBG. I hope you enjoyed the performance.

All my folks are here this morning, still sleeping. I had a feeling they would show up, and it's good. I'm drinking coffee, and trying to read the boodle. So much to read. I confess, I'm skimming through.

Ivansmom, there were many loving the President in the early days, and the numbers show that to be the case. Not everyone fell in that category. I've always felt that the President had too much blood on his hand before he became President. At some point, doesn't one become bothered by so much blood?

Also, Ivansmom, I saw in the news where the prosecutor of the Duke lacrosse case has stepped aside, giving the case to the state. I knew from the beginning the case wasn't going anywhere, but I never expected this many twists and turns. If in fact the woman was raped, it would take God and courage to stand up and go through what one needed to go through. So many women don't want to face that and go through it. If in fact she is lying, then we were going to see all this tap dancing. I find it mind boggling that she has delivered a child since the beginning of this case. Just wondering, Ivansmom, if we will in fact find out the truth of this fiasco? Will the truth be uncovered, and not only uncovered, but told?

Have a good weekend, my friends. Give God some of your time, show your family that you love them, and try to get some rest. I hope I will be able to go to church tomorrow, and take this crowd with me. They can help lift my spirits or I won't have time to think about how bad I feel when I'm with them. I know it's the medicine, it's quite strong.

I'm going to sit out on the porch, look at God's world with these eyes that God has given me, and thank Him in my heart, soul, body, and mind for all His many gifts and blessings. And I will say a prayer for you, my friends at the Achenblog. As always it is my hope that you will come to know that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 13, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra, God's blessings be upon you!

We are in the mountains this weekend, for the first time since Thanksgiving, and were relieved to find everything okay. There was snow here earlier in the week but now the temperature is in the forties and it's quite pleasant. Hubby installed shelves and rods in the closets last night, the main task of the weekend, so today we can play!

The Duke lacrosse rape case has always made me wonder. It's a lose/lose/lose situation for everybody involved. The young woman obviously has serious problems and the Duke guys...well, exactly who is the victim here? God have mercy on the baby born in the middle of this mess. I hope it will be resolved soon.

Posted by: Slyness | January 13, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Surely it is not true tha the United States is opening military recruiting stations in the Phillipines and Mexico. I have heard it is true. What I do know that is true that a couple of weeks ago if you went to yahoo hot jobs in Maine the highest promoted job was for, and I quote, an International Police Officer paying about $118K.

Posted by: confidentialsources | January 13, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

On a lighter note: I've posted my latest column as a new kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 13, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

martooni, that minivan story made me laugh. You had one huge advantage in that event - torque. Obviously, the larger displacement v6 makes a lot of torque (and 4 cyl Hondas - while fine cars - are notably torqueless), and the automatic transmission in your Windstar (well, the torque converter, actually) provides a bit of an artificial torque boost to the wheels under accel from a stop to 45 mph or so. Remind me to tell you a story about racing a hotrodded minivan at a magazine event some years ago. My favortye moment was I overheard the publisher of the mag - who'd entered a car of his own, a turbocharged Mustang - muttering to himself as he thrashed under the hood of his car, trying to get more speed out of it, "I can't believe we're getting beat by a %#*@)^ing MINIVAN at our own event!" Didn't win, but finished 2nd overall in a field of 35 cars or so. Well, seconnd favorite moment was doing a smoky burnout going down the track with it. Much appreciative laughter and impressed hooting from the crowd.

Mudge, I had a decent season with my picks at 163-93, though I'm usually in the 170s. I'm especially proud of Week 5, the only perfect week I've ever had.

greenwithenvy, I'm purple with envy. Have a great time at the PLAYOFF game. I'm a 'skins fan, but I'm totally good with the Ravens, not a hater.


Posted by: bc | January 13, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Very cool, greenwithenvy! I hope you have a great time at the game.

Posted by: pj | January 13, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: des | January 15, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

hi everyone,
i have no experience in politics or military strategy. what i do have experience in is the sadness, the worry and the trauma of seeing a loved on go off to a war you know is bullcrap. my brother just got back from Iraq last february. he is due to leave to afghanistan in march. they say "a year and a half", but what hurts is knowing it may not be that much. It could be over very soon. I could never see my big brother again. A year and a half of thinking each day like that until he comes back. Watching the news seeing all this BS from our BS presiden. it sickens me knowing my loving fun older brother life is at risk for something no one believes in.

just one question though, how can bush say we need to establish a democracy in iraq for the iraqi people to decide on things when here in america the american people don't want this war yet we are "surging" forward"? sounds like he is contradicting himself yet again.

Posted by: des | January 15, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

hi everyone,
i have no experience in politics or military strategy. what i do have experience in is the sadness, the worry and the trauma of seeing a loved on go off to a war you know is bullcrap. my brother just got back from Iraq last february. he is due to leave to afghanistan in march. they say "a year and a half", but what hurts is knowing it may not be that much. It could be over very soon. I could never see my big brother again. A year and a half of thinking each day like that until he comes back. Watching the news seeing all this BS from our BS presiden. it sickens me knowing my loving fun older brother life is at risk for something no one believes in.

just one question though, how can bush say we need to establish a democracy in iraq for the iraqi people to decide on things when here in america the american people don't want this war yet we are "surging" forward"? sounds like he is contradicting himself yet again.

Posted by: des | January 15, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

hi everyone,
i have no experience in politics or military strategy. what i do have experience in is the sadness, the worry and the trauma of seeing a loved on go off to a war you know is bullcrap. my brother just got back from Iraq last february. he is due to leave to afghanistan in march. they say "a year and a half", but what hurts is knowing it may not be that much. It could be over very soon. I could never see my big brother again. A year and a half of thinking each day like that until he comes back. Watching the news seeing all this BS from our BS presiden. it sickens me knowing my loving fun older brother life is at risk for something no one believes in.

just one question though, how can bush say we need to establish a democracy in iraq for the iraqi people to decide on things when here in america the american people don't want this war yet we are "surging" forward"? sounds like he is contradicting himself yet again.

Posted by: des | January 15, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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