Thursday, November 30, 2006

Get over it, already.

Get over it, already.

Conservatives are having a screaming fit over the testy exchange between President Bush and Virginia Sen.-elect Jim Webb yesterday.

Apparently it didn't start off testy, with the President asking Sen.-elect Webb how his son (now serving in Iraq) was doing. Webb responded that he'd like them all out of Iraq. The 'them' obviously referred to both his son and all the other armed forces members in Iraq.

Now at that point, it would have been easy for the President to just say something about how he'd like that too, once the job is done or some similar answer that would have made his point that he disagrees with Jim Webb on when and how, without being discourteous.

But he didn't do that. He pushed the issue, saying, "I didn't ask you that, I asked you about your son."

Aside from the fact that I'm sure that Sen. Webb, like the parents of most of the kids in Iraq, prays every night that his son will return home intact, for the President to push like this almost invites a sharp response. What is Sen. Webb supposed to say? Is he supposed to say that his son is having a good time dodging bullets, IED's and other hazards as he fights in George Bush's war? And that's what it is-- it's not as if you or I asked Sen. Webb how his son was doing. His son is in the situation he is in because George Bush wanted this war. Wanted it, pushed for it, and started it. So now Lance Cpl. Jimmy Webb and thousands of others are out there every day risking death because our incompetent President not only started a war in which he didn't understand what he was getting this country into, but then didn't have a plan that went very far beyond getting rid of Saddam Hussein. For George Bush to ask Jim Webb how his son is doing would be like O.J. Simpson to ask his former in-laws how their other kids are doing.

But at that, Webb's response was not so bad-- he said, 'That's between me and my boy.' Later it has been reported, though not from any authoritative source that Webb said that he would have liked to slug the President, but he did not do so. To be honest, considering what the President had just asked him, Webb's response was mild. I suspect that a lot of people whose kids have been sent to fight in this stupid, unnecessary and tragic war feel much the same way he does.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You don't just talk peace with your friends-- the President finally getting that message.

President Bush, now that the Iraq study group has reported back, is under pressure to open talks with Syria and Iran over the future of Iraq. It is clear that he has to bend to some kind of reality if he expects to get any kind of continued support for his Iraq policy from the new Congress, and even Chuck Hagel, one of the leading spokesmen for his own party on the issue, said over the weekend that we should begin withdrawing from Iraq.

He should begin dialogue with Iran and Syria as soon as possible. Both countries have at least as much influence in Iraq right now as we do (though with no direct exposure and without firing a shot themselves), and any long term solution in Iraq will have to take into account both Syria and Iran. Neither country has an interest in Iraq as an anarchist hotbed of terrorism with the inevitable increase in refugees (which have already become a problem, especially for Iran).

So why now? Many of us have been saying for a long time that we should talk to ALL of Iraq's neighbors if we hope to have a chance to stabilize the situation, not just those like Kuwait and Turkey that the President enjoys talking to. Further, John Kerry in 2004 said that he favored a summit or other type of talks with all the nations in the region or involved in Iraq (including Syria and Iran), and that is in effect what the President is now getting around to saying. But conservatives were still holding onto the pipe dream that they could 'win' in Iraq. And the price of course is that we will enter into any such talks in a weaker position than we were in two years ago while Iran in particular will be much strengthened given the strong position its Badr militia holds by virtue of their infiltration of the Iraqi police and army, as well as the fruits that Iranian intransigence has already brought them in the face of our weakness.

Of course this could have happened two years earlier (or 1,500 American deaths earlier, or $200 billion earlier, if you prefer) if we had elected John Kerry, but it's good that the President at least is being forced to acknowlege this and open discussions with the Iranians and Syrians over the future of Iraq now.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

DNA clears man after police lab refused to conduct tests.

In a story out of Chicago today, DNA has cleared a man who obtained the test after a police lab's refusal to carry it out.

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Authorities are reviewing the conviction of a man imprisoned for a 1992 rape after he was cleared by DNA tests that the original lab analyst refused to conduct.

Marlon Pendleton's lawyers received the results of the new tests Wednesday and filed a motion seeking to vacate his conviction. Prosecutors were reviewing the case and Pendleton's conviction in another rape, said John Gorman, spokesman for State's Attorney Richard Devine.

A hearing was set for next Thursday.

"It was no surprise to me," Pendleton, 49, told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday in an interview at the Dixon Correctional Center. "I always knew I was innocent."

Pendleton demanded DNA testing after his arrest, but police lab analyst Pamela Fish said there wasn't enough genetic material to test the evidence. Pendleton was convicted based on the victim's identification.

The expert who conducted the new tests, Brian Wraxall of Serological Research Institute, said Wednesday he was surprised at Fish's report "because I found a reasonable amount of DNA."

Fish's work has been challenged in the past, most notably in the cases of four men later cleared by DNA evidence of the 1986 rape and murder of medical student Lori Roscetti.

Now it this case it does appear to largely be the misdeed of a rogue analyst who no longer works for police department.

However, this is disturbing-- if you were accused of a crime which you did not commit you would scream out that all evidence be examined. The idea that a lab analyst was apparently too lazy to carry out the test is disturbing, to say the least.

And it dovetails with another theme that we have seen sometimes in the past-- investigators, who whether for reasons of workload or for other reasons, have failed to follow up on leads in cases-- leads which have sometimes been the ones they should have followed up on. Sometimes in these cases the person who has been prosecuted and sent to prison was not even the person who was guilty and they have later been exhonerated.

If funding is the issue here, then we should fully fund investigations. If it is something else-- like failure to uphold the duty to get it right, then people who are responsible for these cases must themselves be held liable for the consequences of the dereliction of their duty (in civil court if no place else.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Darfur situation worsening. We should arm families targetted for 'ethnic cleansing.'

Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator from the United Nations, said that he sees a growing humanitarian problem in Darfur, a region in western Sudan, where gangs of raiders have slaughtered people, burned villages to the ground and forced the survivors into crowded refugee camps without enough food or shelter. Egeland said this week that the number of people in need of assistance has increased from 1 million in 2004 to four million today. It appears that (unfortunately) a peace accord reached in May has failed to end the fighting and more importantly failed to end the suffering and death of people in the camps.

According to Egeland, part of the problem is that the aid workers are confined to towns by the lawless situation, and cannot even reach the camps.

Now I do not support a military intervention in Darfur. I believe that it would rapidly become a landlocked version of Somalia (remember we went in there to feed hungry people too), and given the long simmering civil insurrection in neighboring regions of Sudan, it is hard to imagine that such a mission wouldn't simply degenerate into another Iraq.

What I do support, as I blogged on earlier this year is that we provide a limited supply of arms to those most in danger of being attacked:

But the other thing we must do is this: provide each family who may be subject to ethnic cleansing with at least an old rifle and a few rounds. True some of these weapons could and most certainly would end up being used by combatants (I wasn't born yesterday, I know that many of them would), but that is why I suggested an old rifle with limited ammunition. Not a particularly useful military weapon, but adequate for individual or home defense.

And that leads to the real reason why this would be the best option to end genocide. Genocide is a very labor intensive job, with people having to go find, capture and either murder, or transport victims for murder someplace else. If there was a chance that each household was armed, then it would simply not be worth it for a small rag-tag army (or even a repressive government fighting a civil war) to risk losing fighters in ones, twos and threes in order to drag the people in homes out and murder them. In fact, I believe that this idea (lightly arming victims or potential victims) would probably stop pretty much all genocides for the same reason. Both that reason, and also the reason that it would make genocide much less attractive for a rebel army or for a government even if they could do it without suffering any casualties, if they knew for a fact that their victims (who are their 'enemies') would start getting free weapons as soon as they started in with the butchering.

I know that this is a radical solution, but until the murdering militias have a tougher fight on their hands than what amounts to shooting fish in a barrel, they have no incentive at all to stop attacking. And I'm not saying that we should arm these people to the extent that they would be able to mount a very effective counter-offensive, just make it difficult and somewhat costly for the militia to attack them.

Given that the militias have ignored all threats, pleas, promises, condemnations and anything else verbal that has been thrown at them and simply continue to loot, plunder and murder, I believe it is time that we send more than just food and words. Not American troops though.

The Chair of the Intelligence Committee requires Trustworthiness. So let's find someone who is.

Every now and then, despite my Democratic leanings, I have to admit that I don't feel comfortable about something and that the far right has a point.

And this is one of those occasions.

Apparently in the new Congress, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is slated to become the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

This concerns me.

Part of the reason is Hastings' past. In 1989 he was removed from office as a Federal judge by the United States Congress for taking a $150,000 bribe to go light on the sentences given to two convicted mobsters.

Part of the reason is Hastings' present. According to his most recent financial disclosure statement (which you can view right here), he lists debts of at least $1,000,000 (though maybe as high as $5,000,000) to lawyer Terrance Anderson for legal fees, along with other debts which total in excess of a million dollars to other creditors (all lawyers). In contrast, Hastings lists total assets of no more $15,000.

And part of the reason is the position. I'd have no specific problem if Hastings was in line to chair almost any other committee in the House, but as chair of the Intelligence Committee he will be looking at our most secret intelligence about Iraq, al-Qaeda, North Korea, China, Iran and you name whoever else.

So let me be blunt. I am worried that given Congressman Hastings past, his present, and the nature of what he will be given access to that there is a real risk that people who have a lot of money and would love to have access to this information (you can figure out who that might be) may try to buy it from Congressman Hastings, and I worry that he will give it to them if the price is high enough. And because this could endanger everyone from our men and women in the field to everyone in America, I believe it would be a grave mistake to allow this man to serve in this position.

I also want to address (since if I don't it will be addressed for me) the whole issue of race. Hastings is supported by the Congressional black caucus (a group which I've always admired for their unwavering support of progressive values even when others in the Democratic party have sometimes been wishy washy when the winds were blowing the other way.) I am happy to see, for example, John Conyers as the incoming chair of the Judiciary committee (and no, I don't think he will follow through with his threat to impeach the President but I think you will see a very thorough investigation of how we got into Iraq, which we need badly.) I think that Charlie Rangel will be the best chair that the Ways and Means committee has perhaps ever had. And my objection to Hastings has nothing to do with the fact that he is black, but rather with the fact that his combination of past corruption, current desperate financial situation and access to what he will have access to if he becomes the chair is a dangerous mix.

I'd also like to point out to any Republicans who might think this means that I am less than elated that Democrats took over Congress, that I'd much rather be worried about this threat to our intelligence, as serious as it is, than worried that our own national leadership is taking the intel and twisting it intentionally to fit their own warmongering agenda, as happened in Iraq and now will be virtually impossible for them to do in Iran. And whatever Mr. Hasting's ethical problems, they pale compared to the ethical lapses that we saw from the Speaker on down in the Republican run Congress.

If Hastings does become chair then I hope that the FBI loudly proclaims that they may conduct a sting operation to make sure that no one (not just Mr. Hastings) who has access to this level of intelligence will sell it for any amount of money. At least then he might think twice before he accepts an offer.

As I said, every now and again I disagree with the party heirarchy and this is one of those times. This should be above politics, in fact. However, as a Democrat I would only caution that the leadership in the house might be advised to consider the devastating political consequences this could cause if nothing else gets through-- if, given the information that we already have on his past and present, Mr. Hastings accedes to this position anyway, and if Mr. Hastings does one day become desperate enough to be tempted to sell intelligence secrets, and if those secrets are used to help a 9/11 scale attack succeed against the U.S.-- a hypothetical situation to be sure, but not an implausible one-- imagine the scale of the political fallout it would cause.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seat belts on school buses: a no-brainer that has never been done.

We've seen yet another story of a school bus involved in a horrific accident today, this time in Alabama. Three students were killed and more than thirty were taken to the hospital after the bus plunged thirty feet over an embankment, possibly after having been struck or cut very close to by a car driven by another student.

All of which begs the question of why this bus, like most school buses was not equipped with seat belts.

It seems to me that this should be a no-brainer and I wondered about that when I was a kid (I never had to ride a bus to school but went on them on field trips; my parents had always insisted that I buckle up, and it was on a school bus that I first encountered the experience of not having a seat belt.) Yet now, thirty plus years later, we still see this kind of story in the news (periodically-- this seems to happen once or twice every year.)

Why not? Is there any good reason not to put them there? Granted, a 'you must wear it' rule might be hard to enforce, especially among kids who are used to not wearing it (bus drivers have a tough enough job already-- though it could be argued that having kids in seat belts would cut down on the amount of hanky-panky that goes on back there) but it certainly could be enforced on field trips where there are teachers present in the bus, and even in a daily routine, they would be available to students who wanted to put them on, which is an improvement over 100% of the students being thrown around in the bus in an accident, as is the case now.

For that matter, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on whether people who don't wear seat belts as adults often rode buses to school when they were kids? I bet the results of such a study would be interesting. As a parent, yes, as a matter of fact, I have heard from my kids when I make them put on their seat belts, 'well we didn't have to when we got on the bus to go on our field trip,' which makes it that much harder for me to get them to put it on in the car (though they do-- rule number one in my car is that all passengers will wear seat belts; but will they when they are teens, and the idea that it's not necessary was first planted in their minds courtesy of the school district?) And as a parent I really wonder about this-- if a police officer pulls me over and my kid doesn't have a seat belt on then it's a stiff fine, payable to the state of Arizona. But if my kid gets on a school bus without seat belts then the state is forcing them do what they fine me for if I let them do.

Greyhounds and other interstate buses have seatbelts, so it's not like you can't build a bus with them.

I'm frankly sick of reading (or in some cases watching video) of kids thrown around inside of school buses. There need to be seat belts on school buses. NOW.

Monday, November 20, 2006

File this post under, 'drafts.'

There has been a lot of talk about the draft going on in the blogosphere for the past couple of days.

The origin of it is New York Democratic congressman Charlie Rangel, who has offered draft legislation now for several sessions of Congress.

Rangel's motive is that he sees a disproportionate number of poor people in today's military, people for whom the military is probably the only option they have to escape a life of poverty. He also sees very few of his colleagues on capitol hill with kids in the military. So Rangel's idea is simple. If everyone in Congress had to stand a chance of their own sons and daughters winding up dodging snipers in Baghdad, they would not be so quick to vote for war.

Of course, Republicans, devoid of any ideas that appeal to most people under thirty, were quick to find a target and bash Rangel and hold out the specter of a draft (well, what else would you say to them if you had the GOP's record on everything that young people are concerned about from privacy issues to college financial aid? A good scare might be about all the GOP has to offer them anymore).

What this has done though is stir up debate about a draft and that may not be a bad thing (though a draft itself most certainly would be a terrible idea.)

For example, here is one problem that will make conservatives uncomfortable and which is related to a draft: They will have to figure out what to do when they implement a draft and millions of young people come forward and confess to being openly gay in order to dodge the draft. If they send them anyway then they have shown their whole argument about keeping gay people out of the military as affecting combat readiness, to be a farce. If they don't, then the draft itself will be a farce since it will have a hole in it big enough to drive a truck through.

Another problem that this has brought up again and related to education is legislation which was passed in 1980 to deny people who did not register for the draft college financial aid for the rest of their lives. This was done to punish anti-draft activists, but in fact there were very few of them. What it has caught up, in large numbers, are thirty-something men, who were often in a drug induced haze during high school and didn't bother to register because they didn't give a darn about anything. So now fifteen or twenty years down the road, they are paying child support to three women, working at a dead end, low wage job, and finally decide to get their act together and bam, they are blocked by this law. Sooner or later we as the state end up helping pay for their kids because dad isn't sending enough money, because dad doesn't make any money.

And Rangel does make the point about 'shared sacrifice,' especially pointedly to his congressional colleagues. OK, so what about those Congressmen and other members of the elite?

They've got kids, yes. But they are in the words of a song, 'privileged sons.' Rangel feels that the true costs of war, whether the costs in lives that is being borne by the young men and women now in uniform, or the costs on dollars that have been passed on to future generations to pay for while today's greed-crazed fat cats wallow in a sea of tax cuts while the country borrows mightily to pay for their party--have been hidden. He says that those costs have simply not been shared. And he is right about that. In order to sell a failing war policy, the Bush administration has made sure that none of the costs of war will come home in any way at all for most people, especially most wealthy people. Of course the costs will come home-- we can't wish them away, but by then the Bush administration will be out of office and the chances are their successors will be blamed for high taxes and budget cuts as their taxes go to pay for the debts that are now being run up and government is squeezed dry on the other side of the ledger.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Universities becoming more exclusionary.

According to today's Washington Post, universities are now looking for kids with 'a passion,' in other words eschewing the traditional 'well-rounded' education for a kid who has excelled in a particular field of study.

Of course it will be too late for kids who are seniors this year to suddenly shift gears and go in a radically different direction, but in fact I see it as a symptom of a far greater problem.

Colleges have become far too exclusionary. Note I did not say 'exclusive,' (though they are often that as well) but 'exclusionary.'

And I'm not just talking about Ivy league schools, or those which have traditionally been very exclusive. Even state universities are becoming very picky about which students they will take. And certainly ability to pay is a factor here as well-- recall the post I wrote last year about Paige Laurie, the Wal-Mart heiress who hired a student who had to leave the University of Southern California because she couldn't afford to stay, to write all her papers for her.

When combined with skyrocketing tuition costs and the cuts in financial aid made by the Bush administration, for a child (and a high school student is a child) to be able to get into most colleges, (s)he must excel academically, be able to afford it (this already excludes millions of kids) and now must in effect be already an adult. Already have decided what (s)he wants to do with life and then do it, and already be good at it before applying to college.

And that is unrealistic. When I was seventeen, I was sure I wanted to be a chemist. A lot of struggling and at least one major lab explosion later, I had changed my major (though I did in fact double-major and finish earning a degree in chemistry, mostly as a career back-up). However, even that is unusual-- most seventeen year olds aren't sure yet what they want to be. What this achieves is in effect either guaranteeing many students a lifetime of misery if they stick with their course of study in spite of the likelihood that their early decision will be the wrong one, or more likely that they will simply fail because they in the end don't have an interest in or aptitude for what they are supposed to be studying.

The root of the problem is actually quite simple. With an increasing population, combined with less and less state funding for higher education, there are simply less places for students.

Now, it is true that the students in question can take the first two years of their study at a community college. But then they may very well reach the end of the line--there is no guarantee of admission to a university even then (though Arizona is much ahead of the rest of the country due to the AGEC), and even if they do get in, scholarships and financial assistance for people not entering as freshmen may be very limited.

Further there are severe societal consequences that have resulted. The shortage of doctors (especially in rural communities and inner cities) is directly related to the limiting number of spaces in medical schools. Many high tech companies and other companies have justified moving their operations overseas, especially to countries like India because of a shortage of Americans who have the qualifications. Now, this may be only an excuse for something they are doing for economic reasons, but it is also true that this shortage does exist and certainly is a contributing factor (and of course when they move their operations, other employees of the company also lose their jobs.) As another measure, every year America produces about 100,000 new engineers. China produces eight times as many-- partly because they are opening new universities at about the rate of a 50,000 student university every two weeks.

We should not only fund universities fully, but we should greatly increase both student aid and the number of places for students. Community colleges can be a part of this, but we should do a better job then of helping community college students who want to go to a four year university get there.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush administration: Solving 'hunger' with a dictionary.

The Bush administration has ended hunger.

Well, not that the twelve million Americans who, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) experienced involuntary hunger because of an inability to obtain food during 2005 have now been 'cured,' but they have ended hunger by redefining it.

Hunger is now 'Food Insecurity.'

If they are embarrassed that some Americans (including millions of children) are hungry, then they shouldn't get rid of the embarrassment by hiding behind some banal bureaucratic label. They should get rid of the embarrassment by giving FOOD to the people in question.

This is not about an 'entitlement.' It is true that there are many things in life which are in fact privileges and that people have assumed is a basic right. But having an adequate supply of food is a basic right. Considering what we spend on farm subsidies, and what we spend to hand out food in other countries, we should have no problem at least giving every hungry person in America a loaf of bread every day.

Maybe if you want to eat better than that, then it is your responsibility to provide it. It's not the government's responsibility to buy you steak and ale. But I believe that society as a whole, operating through a government of and by the people, should provide at least a loaf of bread. There absolutely should never be a person who goes to sleep hungry in America.

And if you aren't willing to do that, then at least admit you aren't and call hunger, 'hunger.'

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rush needs to apologize (again).

Today, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Democrats should elect outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox as majority whip in order to

"appeal to the 10% of the Hispanics and Mexicans who live in this country." He went on..."Don't call them illegal immigrants, call them 'nonvoting Democrats.'"

This is a very racist and bigotted statement. To begin with Hispanic residents (which he differentiated from 'Mexicans' in his statement) can be from a wide range of backgrounds but if they are American Hispanics then they all live here. Many of them have ancestors who were here before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (like some of my neighbors when I lived in New Mexico.)

Further this statement implies that the only Hispanics and Mexicans here are illegal immigrants. That is false and a viscious lie that propagates a mistaken stereotype.

It may have been an off-the-cuff remark but clearly it shows that Rush considers 'Hispanics and Mexicans' to be less deserving of being called an 'American' than other people.

I found that statement to be offensive, and I'm not even Hispanic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

J.D. concedes (finally).

Well, it looks like something I said late last week was right.

Congressman J.D. Hayworth, whose race in the fifth district against Harry Mitchell was called fairly early in the evening by the networks, insisted that he wouldn't concede until all the votes were counted.

Now I am happy about J.D.'s new found conviction for making sure that every vote is counted, but I also knew that Democrats here in Arizona have outhustled Republicans this year, including on absentee ballots. So I knew the networks were making the right call.

And sure enough, after several days of counting what J.D. thought were mostly his votes, Mitchell's lead had grown from 5,900 votes on election night to 6,600 votes by today. So he finally conceded.

So the new Congress will begin without one of its most loud and obdurate partisans. With the regular angry, and increasingly nasty and vitriolic attacks on Democrats that J.D. unleashed during his twelve years in Congress as a member of the majority party, one can only imagine how he would go after them in a Congress run by Democrats.

On second thought, I don't have to imagine that. Because it won't happen.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Good Decision by Russ Feingold

I'd like to congratulate Russ Feingold. He made the right decision.

One of my pet peeves (as readers of my blog know by now) is the Presidentitis that seems to affect Democratic Senators.

This week, Democrats (against long odds) succeeded in taking control of the Senate. In 2008, there are 21 Republican seats up for election (vs. 13 Democratically held seats). Several of the GOP seats are held by freshmen who have not yet established themselves. This could be a good year to consolidate control, if our side doesn't muff it up.

But some Senators seem to be hellbent on doing exactly that. Pursuing a quixotic goal of becoming President (which no sitting Senator has actually done in nearly half a century, though in that time dozens have tried, failed and hurt themselves and their party by doing so,) we now have Senators Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Kerry and Obama. Kerry and Biden are both slated to stand for election to the Senate in 2008. In Kerry's case, it is unlikely that Republicans would elect a Senator to replace him in Massachusetts, but in Biden's case if he gives up his seat then his all-but-certain successor is Republican representative Mike Castle. Certainly Kerry and Biden have the right to do as they please (including just plain retire, if they want to) but I'll be the first one to say up front that I am less likely to vote for a Senator who is giving up his Senate seat in order to run. And it's not even because I am miffed about it, it's because it is an early indication that that Senator is not likely to be a team player, and we've seen the past six years the harm that can result from a President who refuses to play by anyone's rules except those he creates.

Now granted, I'm less likely to vote for a Senator anyway. Senators don't project leadership in the same way that a Governor does. Senators live in Washington, while Governors live in their states everyday, and they deal with more ordinary problems (and perhaps a few crises) that Senators just don't have to worry about.

And we have at least two very qualified Governors who are likely to run, Bill Richardson of New Mexico (who in fact has a stellar resume) and Tom Vilsack of Iowa. And to be honest they begin the campaign ranked 1-2 on my list (presently in that order).

But here is the good news. A few days ago, it was seven Senators running for President. Now it is six. Russ Feingold made the right decision to stay in the Senate from Wisconsin.

He is a team player. Now lets see how many other Senators make the right call and stay in the Senate.

Ten years of FAUX news

FOX News is ten years old today. The 'Fair and Balanced' channel as they like to call themselves began broadcasting just shortly after the 1996 election.

So take a look at the poll they had up last week for Cavuto's show:

(vote for one, listed in order):

1. Lenny Dykstra: Dems destroy already shaky housing market.

2. Bob Froehlich: All about earnings not the election! Dow 13K by Tax Day!

3. Gary B. Smith: It's all about the election! S&P down 20% in 2007

4. Tobin Smith: Britney has to go back to work! Viacom (VIA) up 25%.

5. Scott Bleier: Microsoft's (MSFT) Zune is no iPod; stock down 20% by May.

I guess this poll fits the FOX definition of 'balanced' is because you can always vote for one of those last two choices.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This Veteran's Day-- support the troops. Change the mission.

Today is Veterans Day.

The Eleventh of November. Because the guns fell silent across the Western Front on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, ending World War I on November 11, 1918.

And so today we again find ourselves in a war.

And we should support the troops. And I mean that in the purest sense. Somehow Republicans have co-opted the term to mean 'support the President's foreign policy.'

But it does not mean that.

Where the mission is clear and the objective is made clear then absolutely we should support its completion, whether we agreed with the initial decision to go into a war-- any war-- or not. And we were told in March of 2003 that the mission was to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. So, even opponents of the war came together to support it once the bombs started falling.

And Saddam Hussein was deposed. And captured. And tried. And convicted. And sentenced to hang. All of the places where there were thought to be weapons of mass destruction were exhaustively searched. Even the soil was tested. Nothing, other than a handful of old and apparently long forgotten mustard gas shells left over from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's that we didn't even find for years.

So then the mission became to fight 'terrorists.' Never mind how this war pushed the war in Afghanistan (where the terrorists who were behind the 9/11 attacks are in hiding to this very day) onto the back burner. Never mind how we have seven times as many troops fighting in Iraq as we have in and around Afghanistan. Never mind how the whole argument about 'fighting them there' is bogus-- as we've seen in the Bali, Istanbul, Madrid and London bombings having terrorists in Iraq is not an all exclusive to having terrorists elsewhere, and it is hard to understand why a terror strike that originates in some cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan and reaches fruition in New York or Washington or Chicago or Los Angeles involves Iraq. The mission became 'fighting terrorists' apparently since the first justification didn't bear fruit.

But then that also didn't hold water. It became clear that while there were a few hundred al-Qaeda members in Iraq, most of the people we were fighting were home-grown Iraqi insurgents. Patriots who fought an invading and occupying force just as we would protect our homeland from an invader. Anyone who finds this at all surprising hasn't read thousands of years of history.

So then the justification changed again, to establishing a democratic government in Iraq. Only when we got one, it was composed of religious fundamentalists, who wanted to impose Afghan or Iranian style sharia in the country. So we helped them gain the cloak of legitimacy by ensuring that they got elected. And they have responded by leading anti-American demonstrations and burning American flags in Baghdad. When al-Qaeda in Iraq leader al-Zarqawi was killed in an American airstrike, the phone numbers of several elected members of the Iraqi parliament were found on his cell phone. Well, Iraq may be a 'democracy,' but don't think of it as a success.

So then when the 'democracy' turned out to be run by the same bad guys just in politicians' clothing, the 'mission' changed yet again. To 'making Iraq stable.'

Unfortunately, Iraq won't be stable in its present form (unless a brutal strongman comes along and holds it together by fear and force.) It is really three countries (I've been saying that for a long time, but unlike a year ago when I was one of the only people saying it, most thinking people-- both in and out of the United States-- have reached much the same conclusion.) Most of its boundaries were drawn arbitrarily with little regard for ethnic, religious or tribal boundaries by British and French colonialists when they hacked up the Ottoman empire among the spoils of World War I. Trying to hold the three regions of Iraq-- Sunni, Shia and Kurd-- together puts us in the position of a Gorbachev or a Milosevic. Gorbachev couldn't bring himself to be a Stalin (who simply exterminated anyone who opposed him) and Milosevic didn't have the power to be a Tito (who was also ruthless to anyone who opposed him.) Lacking a Stalin, Tito-- or a Saddam-- Iraq is no more going to be held together than the former Soviet Union or Yugoslavia were as multi-national states. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And they still can't today. We have to begin any plan for Iraq by recognizing that stark reality.

I could support a mission in Iraq which was realistic enough to recognize that the best we can do is help smooth a transition to three separate states, and then sets out to do that. But lacking that, we have no realistic mission we can achieve there, so the best way to support the troops is not to 'support the President's foreign policy,' but rather to oppose the President's foreign policy. Losing more Americans while fighting against the inevitable is stupid, and we should not be afraid to say so.

Gulf War Vets linked to higher incidence of Lou Gehrig's disease

Today (Veteran's day) a story came out on a series of studies which strongly hint that there is a correlation between Gulf War service (or service generally) and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

The risk of a Gulf War veteran developing Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) later on is 50% higher than for other people, say researchers from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), USA. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease, which is often fatal - the patient's nerve cells progressively breakdown, he/she loses muscle control, and eventually becomes paralyzed.

Four of five studies showed this correlation, while one did not. What can we do to support the veterans?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Don't let this story die. Push for a more definitive study to establish the parameters of the situation and figure out what can be done about it.

2. Support more funding for the Veteran's Administration, especially health care funding so that veterans who develop this disease or other diseases will have the resources available to fight it without going broke.

3. Support funding for stem cell research. ALS is one of the diseases that a number of researchers have said may some day be cured by treatments developed from stem cells.

No (again) on John Bolton.

Just a day after announcing the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush once again raised questions about whether he 'gets it' by insisting that he will push forward with confirmation hearings prior to the new Senate taking over for U.N. ambassador John Bolton.

Bolton, who was appointed last year in a one year 'recess appointment' after the President was unable to get the Senate to agree on him then, won't be confirmed. And Democrats won't even have to filibuster this nomination because Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who lost Tuesday and is on his way out, has said that he won't support Bolton's nomination in committee, so that it won't even be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

The reason why not only Democrats, but some thinking Republicans don't support Bolton is the same reason why they didn't support Rumsfeld. It is because Rumsfeld and Bolton have both come to personify the attitude that the Bush administration has taken towards the rest of the world, a 'do it our way or no way' attitude. Quite bluntly put, most of the world perceives the U.S. as an arrogant and immature bully, at least when it comes to foreign policy.

And Bolton as U.N. ambassador, a man who has publically questioned even the existence of the U.N. only reinforces this perception. Toss in the fact that Bolton claimed a few years ago that Fidel Castro was working on biological weapons when there has been exactly zero evidence that this is true. This is not just a small matter for the rest of the world-- it is rightly or wrongly perceived internationally as yet another example of the U.S. administration trying to scare people with bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction. After Iraq, we have no credibility at all on the issue, which is why we are not finding anyone interested in taking more than symbolic action against Iran.

In 1986, a bomb exploded at a West Berlin discotheque frequented by American soldiers. Ronald Reagan claimed that it was an act of terror sponsored by Libya and bombed Tripoli in response. It later turned out that Syrian, not Libyan agents had been behind the bombing. The reason why the U.S. was able to survive this particular botched intelligence call was because at the time, despite some of the excesses of the Reagan administration, we were still working with, not dictating to, other countries, especially those who we considered our allies. Overall the U.S., while not popular in some parts of the world, was nevertheless respected and listened to. That was still the case when President Bush's father put together the Gulf War coalition in 1990 and when President Clinton worked with NATO allies to end the civil wars in Bosnia nad Kosovo. But it is not the case today, and the way the Bush administration clearly has treated the rest of the world, opponents, neutrals and allies alike as subordinates to the U.S. has in effect made us a pariah in the world. Rebuilding the reputation and credibility of America will take a long time, probably at least a generation of full international cooperation. And unfortunately we don't have that time before we will need full international cooperation from other countries in the war on terrorism. In such an environment, to continue to send John Bolton to the U.N., an organization he openly despises and questions even the justification for the existence of, would be rubbing salt in an already open wound with the world.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The three guys I'm most happy to see gone

All day long I've been listening to the right wing spin machine, saying that the reason Republicans lost is that they weren't conservative enough. Saying that it was the moderates like Lincoln Chaffee who lost, and that real conservatives did just fine. They also touted the success of a bunch of conservative ballot propositions to make their point.


Sure there were moderates like Chaffee who lost but some of Congress' most conservative and most partisan members who were among the casualties. I had planned on listing three here but I've bumped one of them down to the 'not so honorable mention' category to make room for one guy who may not have been a congressman, but who I'm very happy to see go,

3. Donald Rumsfeld

Yes, today the President announced the departure of the Secretary of Defense. I actually think this move was literally years overdue, but late is better than never. And let's be honest. If there is one single individual among the many in the Bush administration who is the most responsible for the mess we are in right now in Iraq, it is Don Rumsfeld. And the reason is his conservatism. Fiscal conservatism in particular. Don Rumsfeld developed the 'Rumsfeld doctrine,' in which he believed that wars could be fought with fewer, lighter, cheaper more mobile units than traditionally used in warfare. Now I'm not knocking him for pushing this idea forward. As Defense Secretary, suggesting innovations in warfare is a part of his job. However with Rumsfeld it became an obsession. I blogged a couple of days ago on the report out this past week about how Rumsfeld and the President ignored a 1999 simulation of a war in Iraq which showed that at least 400,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. Then in the run up to the war, General Eric Shinseki (who unlike Rumsefeld had apparently read the report) pushed that number back at Rumsfeld and said that 400,000 would be needed to prevent an insurgency, and Rumsfeld made an example of Shinseki and sent a chilling message to anyone in the military who would dare question him by forcing Shinseki out of the army. Later General Casey sweet talked Rumsfeld into upping the occupation force from in the neighborhood of 100,000 to 150,000; but as we've seen Eric Shinseki and the 1999 report were in fact right. Since then, Rumsfeld has presided over one incompetent decision after another, from authorizing interrogation procedures which resulted in Abu Graib, to his repeated failures to provide troops with adequate body and vehicle armor, to his insistence for a long time that things were going according to plan (though more recently he has acknowleged that things have not gone according to plan, but has not articulated exactly what the plan is. Do you know what the plan is in Iraq? I sure don't, and it's not from a lack of paying attention to what Don Rumsfeld is saying.) Once the election was in, I think there was little doubt that Rumsfeld had to go. It was Rumsfeld who has caught more fire over Iraq than anyone in the administration except perhaps (and only 'perhaps') the President himself. The flak was earned, but I will commend President Bush (I don't write that very often) for seeing that having a lightning rod like Don Rumsfeld sitting there would probably have hindered his ability to work with the new Congress. Don Rumsfeld did achieve one thing-- he became the longest serving Secretary of Defense in history. And the guy he overtook in that regard? Bob McNamara. How ironic.

2. Rick Santorum

Ah, yes. Anyone who claims that conservative Republicans rode out the wave obviously isn't thinking about Rick Santorum, who is as of this moment (until the new Senate is sworn in) likely the most conservative Republican in the Senate. If not the most, then certainly in anyone's top three. Further, Santorum, now the number 3 Republican in the Senate, would have (as a young Senator) have had a very good chance of becoming a majority or minority leader had he remained in the Senate. In fact, had he won his race this year, it would have held the majority for the GOP and Santorum might very well have made a run at Mitch McConnell from the right for the job of majority leader (some conservatives don't like McConnell after all since he stood up against amending the constitution of the United States to ban flag burning last year, almost the only Republican to do so; Santorum in contrast was one of the leaders of the fight to get flag burning banned.) Santorum also spoke out in favor of privatizing Social Security and compared gay people to people who sleep with animals (his infamous 'man on dog' comment.) Santorum was more than just a conservative, he was a conservative activist, which helped his rise in the Republican leadership, working hard to push other Republicans into supporting his positions. Santorum was an unrepentant partisan as well, refusing to compromise with Democrats on anything and instead forcing bill after bill after bill through by twisting the arms of enough Republicans in the Senate to get a majority. One almost wonders how Santorum would have handled being in the minority. Well, we will never know that, as we will never know whether the people who kept pushing him to run for President (now THAT would be my worst nightmare) would have succeeded. And that is a good thing. Rick Santorum's Presidential candidacy for 2008 has been stillborn. And yes, I would like to personally thank Elizabeth B. for working to get rid of Santorum.

1. J.D. Hayworth

Yes, we failed to kick out scandal plagued Rick Renzi up here, but until redistricting in 2002, I had the "privilege" of being 'represented' by one of Congress' most partisan jerks, J.D. Hayworth (a.k.a. J.D. Blowhard.) Hayworth is a great public speaker, except that what he is speaking about is usually pretty much limited to one of the following topics: 1. Bashing Bill Clinton. 2. Bashing Democrats. 3. Bashing the media. 4. Bashing illegal immigrants. 5. Bashing liberals. 6. Bashing environmentalists. 7. Bashing gay people. 8. Bashing anyone who doesn't agree with his far right viewpoints. Well, you get the theme here-- and that's pretty much J.D.'s whole repertoire of speeches. The word, 'demogogue' doesn't quite capture the essense of J.D. Maybe more like 'enraged demogogue.'

In fact, Hayworth, whose actual list of achievements in Congress is almost non-existent, did have a stroke of 'genius' about a year ago. It was not long after the John Murtha announcement when Congress was engaged in a serious bipartisan debate on the future of Iraq. Hayworth, who doesn't like anything that smacks of 'bipartisan,' suggested to fellow Republican Duncan Hunter that they offer a bill on which house members could vote 'yes' or 'no' on supporting the President or immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Of course Murtha was not advocating a 'drop your guns and run' approach as the bill in effect said, but what it did was end all meaningful debate on the topic. That's normal for Hayworth.

Let me quote from the editorial that the Arizona Republic ran in deciding not to endorse Hayworth for the first time since he was elected in 1994.

The biggest problem in Congress is extreme partisanship, and Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., is among Capitol Hill's worst offenders.

Hayworth always has been an enthusiast for rough-and-tumble politics.

And there's a place for that. The outraged-partisan routine works pretty well on Sean Hannity's radio show or the Fox News Channel, where Hayworth often does yeoman's work blasting anybody who doesn't agree with him. It works poorly, though, in discussions or debates - forums in which even small measures of civility can go a long way.

And that scalding approach doesn't help get anything done.

It is high time to hit this matter squarely: J. D. Hayworth is a bully. He may not yet have reached the point where you can't take him anywhere, but you certainly can't take him to a calm, civil discussion.

The Arizona Republic has recommended Hayworth's election each of the past six times he has run for Congress. In those editorials, we noted his characteristic bluster and needlessly confrontational attitude but also praised his strong work ethic and dedication to serving his district's constituents.

Not this time. This time, we're going to recommend his opponent, Harry Mitchell...

During this past term, Hayworth has devolved from a windy and sometimes cartoonish politician into an angry demagogue who has shamelessly and divisively exploited the immigration issue, arguably the No. 1 concern of Arizonans. Hayworth and Joe Eule, his chief of staff, rushed out a quickie border-security book, Whatever It Takes, and the congressman transformed himself into Mr. Tough Guy on illegal immigration, reliably appearing on the cable-TV news shows as a spokesman for the fire-breathing hardliners.

Meanwhile, other Republicans in Arizona's House delegation - most notably Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe - have been positively statesmanlike as they pursued a comprehensive approach to dealing with this complex problem. Hayworth and like-minded allies did manage to monkey-wrench this year's hope for realistic immigration reform. Some accomplishment.

As wrongheaded as Hayworth's "enforcement first" mantra is, Americans still can disagree on public-policy strategies toward immigration and other topics. It is Hayworth's increasingly combative demeanor and high-octane partisanship that is more troubling...

Hayworth's bombastic rhetoric and obnoxious behavior have gotten him into his toughest political fight yet.

In a meeting last week with The Republic's Editorial Board, Hayworth repeatedly positioned himself like a smirking hawk, inches from the face of his "prey," Mitchell, while the Democrat responded to questions. For that overbearing attempt at intimidation, Hayworth deserves a sound rap on the knuckles.

Not that this surprises me, having (as I said) once had Hayworth 'representing' me. And he ran a hideously negative campaign against Mitchell this year but I think voters have learned by now what J.D. is all about.

And I'm sure that J.D. (a former sportscaster) will be offered a job pretty soon as a talk show host where he can compete for the right wing kook audience with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

And one other thing that I should say about J.D. It speaks volumes about the man. This race was not that close. Mitchell won by four percent. True there are a number of absentee ballots and provisionals to be counted, but there is absolutely no way they will change the outcome of this race. The networks called it not that long after Arizona closed, and Mitchell, after waiting overnight and into the morning for a call that was not forthcoming went ahead and claimed his victory today. J.D. Hayworth still hasn't conceded. And he probably won't concede. Because that would be civil.

I would like to personally thank the folks in district 5 (and I know a number of you) for working hard to get rid of J.D. (especially I'd like to thank Larry King for stepping aside and letting Harry Mitchell run unopposed in the primary when it became clear that there was a chance to actually win this race.)

Not so honorable mention

Here are a few others I won't miss: Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), who last year tried his hardest to pin 9/11 on the Democrats; Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), the scourge of the environment; Sen. George Allen (R-VA), another former next Republican nominee for President, who was a leading proponent of the war (apparently because he figured that 'macaca' can go instead of his son); Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), who wrote the prescription drug bill-- and yes, thank God she lost in a campaign in which that was an issue.); Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) who was so fiscally conservative that he opposed spending Federal money to build a monument to the flight 93 heroes who died in a field in Shanksville, PA, after 9/11.

Let me Finish with the ballot propositions, so we can bury that little bit of spin in a deep grave. In South Dakota, there was a measure on the ballot to ban all abortions except to save the life of the mother. It lost, and in one of the most Republican states in the country. And in losing it negates the law that the South Dakota legislature passed last year trying to do the same thing. California and Oregon voters rejected a parental notification measure. Gay marriage? Bans on it did win in some places, but in contrast to 2004 when it won easily everywhere it was tried, this year it was a close contest in several states. Further, here in Arizona the 'defense of marriage' constitutional amendment lost. The proposed amendment not only banned gay marriage (which is already illegal in Arizona) but prevented the alternative, civil unions laws. So voters here decided they don't want to amend the state constitution for the sole purpose of making life harder on some other people. And we've heard about nothing but the Missouri stem cell research bill for a long time. It is a good bet that no one in Missouri was not pretty well acquainted with all sides of the debate when they stepped into the voting booth. And it won. And, seven states had minimum wage hikes on the ballot and it won in all seven, in almost all of them quite handily. And in three states there were taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) initiatives on the ballot, which would limit the ability of state and local governments to levy and collect taxes, but in all three the measures lost. Yes, there were some conservative propositions that won (especially anti-immigrant ones) but anyone who tries to claim that the propositions were a victory for conservatism is full of crap.

The New Congress

With yesterday's victory, Democrats now control both houses of Congress (pending a recount in Virginia, which will almost certainly not overturn Webb's 8000 vote margin of victory.) Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker of the House, one of the three people who ultimately have to sit down and come together (the other being Senate majority leader Harry Reid and the President.) This is the first time a woman has become one of our national leaders in the purest sense of the word, 'leader'. She won't be the last, but it is no longer true that three guys get together in a room to work these things out if there is an absolute deadlock.

Republicans tried to claim that Democrats have no agenda, except maybe to 'cut and run' in Iraq.

We will see that that isn't true. You will see a new course in Iraq which includes a gradual withdrawal, but one which is designed to extricate us and still leave an Iraq which is not ruled by anarchy. I and a lot of other people have been talking for over a year about the inevitability of partitioning the country (which is itself an unnatural creation drawn on a map by British and French colonialists after World War I) into its three natural components. That is not yet part of the agenda but I suspect you will see more discussion of it as the path that is the most rational to take in order to lead to regional stability. Despite the hystrionics, Democrats won't cut off funding for the war, but they may launch an investigation into how we were led into it and how we got it wrong (absolutely necessary to do this-- especially with the various calls we've heard about the so-called 'need' to do something military about Iran.)

It is no secret about what the first thing on the agenda in Nancy Pelosi's house will be: Real ethics reform. Corruption in Congress was a major theme in yesterday's election with Democrats filling the seats previously held by Tom DeLay, Mark Foley and Bob Ney. Curt Weldon and Bob Sherwood lost in Pennsylvania as did (Senator) Conrad Burns in Montana. We are likely to see an end to free travel on private jets and other forms of legalized bribery given to members of Congress by lobbyists.

Harry Reid had an idea of tying Congressional pay raises to increases in the minimum wage (indexing them both to the same cost of living numbers), and you may see that brought back up-- though it may be less of a priority since every minimum wage hike that has recently been on the ballot in any state has passed convincingly so there is something to be said in favor of taking it to the voters-- who lately seem to know a lot better than Congress.

Once Congress itself is in order, the Speaker will likely put health care back on the table (where it hasn't been for years, despite double digit increases in costs.) Eventually Democrats realize that the lack of a national health care plan is hurting the United States and costing our employers lots of money, but it will take some time to get there. But expect it to start pretty soon.

Another campaign issue was how we'd gone from the biggest surplus in history to an enormous deficit. And the reason is no mystery-- GOP tax cuts. Hey, I got enough to buy a tank or two of gas. And frankly I'd rather have a balanced budget which would mean a stronger country. Letting the deficit busting Bush tax cuts expire naturally, which they will if Congress does nothing to extend them would go a long way towards returning us to the black again.

We are likely to see money restored to the budget in terms of social programs-- everything from the National Parks to student loans, that the GOP has cut back on over the years.

And I'd love to point out that the reason why Speaker Pelosi and whoever becomes Majority Leader will be much more powerful that previous Democrats in that position (and the minority less powerful) is because she will inherit the rules that Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay put in over the years to ensure that they could rule with a small majority. So now they are Pelosi's rules. So if you ever hear a Republican complaining about 1000 page bills being delivered at 2 A.M. for a 6 A.M. vote or voting on the House floor being held open until the magical moment when a proposition is passed and then voting suddenly being closed, just remember that is a tool that Tom DeLay invented, Dennis Hastert used, and Nancy Pelosi now has-- and don't forget to remind the gopster of that fact.

On the Senate side, the biggest issue is an end to hard right judges being put by Bush into the courts. Maybe some moderates, but no more of the Roberts or the Alitos (or the other hard right judges we've seen nominated). And Republicans can rest assured--- Democrats won't filibuster any nominations. That is because they can just bottle them up in committee, the same tactic that the GOP used to bottle up many of Clinton's nominations. And just in the nick of time, with Justice Stevens' 86-year old heart having trouble.

The other issue that is key in the Senate is the ratification of treaties. In the past, free trade agreements have been ratified without bothering to tie them to environmental, labor or human rights standards. Likely you will see more of that now.

It is true that Harry Reid has less power than Nancy Pelosi. Partly this is because he only has a one seat majority (and new Senators like Webb, Tester and Casey are likely to join old Senators like Baucus, Lieberman and Ben Nelson in forming a bloc of centrist Democrats), but it is also because of Senate rules. However the rules mandate a two seat majority on every committee, and with spending bills originating in the house it seems likely that both the Senate and the House will be able to produce a unified budget to send to the President. He could veto it, but with all the President's chips in Iraq right now it seems unlikely that he will as long as full funding for the war is included in the budget.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nation-building: The Republican model

After achieving regime change, the Bush administration and the GOP dreamed of replacing the ousted governments with governments more like ours.

And they have succeeded. At least in replacing them with governments more like our GOP run government today is:

Haiti, Iraq rank 1-2 as the world's most corrupt countries.

Well what did you expect? Crap begets more crap.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Iraq problems anticipated, except by Bush and Rumsfeld

It turns out that a war exercise in 1999 simulating an invasion of Iraq foresaw a range of problems that have in fact popped up. And that report was the first one to recommend that 400,000 troops be used as an occupying force (and even that number was considered only what would give the transition in Iraq a chance to work, still not a sure thing), a recommendation which was repeated directly to Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush by general Eric Shinseki prior to the Iraq war. Of course as we know Rumsfeld effectively silenced any further recommendations on the matter by drumming Shinseki out of the army for daring to make such a recommendation contrary to the 'Rumsfeld doctrine' of cheap, light forces being used for occupation.

From the report:

"A change in regimes does not guarantee stability," the 1999 seminar briefings said. "A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability."

"Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic -- especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments."

"Iran's anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq," the briefings read. "The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad

Over the past year or so we have seen Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld assert that the situation in Iraq has not gone as expected.

No, it has not gone as THEY expected. It has gone exactly as the military analysts who modeled it in 1999 expected.
Flag Counter