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November 18, 2005

Comments

Thanks for explanation Hilzoy. I thought for a moment there I had suddenly lapsed into presenile dementia.

As for Charles, asking for an articulable plan and presenting a proposed solution is not defeatist, it's realistic. And since we just met, let me ask you the same question I've asked every other war blogger I know. I've yet to receive a direct answer.

If you would be so kind as to tell me what exactly would constitute a total victory. Heck even a partial victory. How do we know when we've "won." It only takes a handful of guys - one cell - to wreak terrible havoc. Do you believe we can kill every terrorist on the planet?

Because if we can't do that, how then can we acheive total victory, which I take to mean complete safety from terrorism.

To John Miller: Let me add my thanks to your son for his service to our country. Although I clearly dispute the premise of the war, I appreciate his sacrifice and hope and pray for his safety.


To John Miller, my prayers (such as they are) and thanks to your son.

To the issue of the vote: strangely, I find myself in agreement with both sides here. On the one hand, Republican rewording and mislabelling is despicable -- surely if they're going to put forth a resolution based on Murtha's text, they've got the balls to either put it up as is and call it a Democratic resolution, or modify it and call it their own? -- and should be decried, especially by fellow Republicans and/or conservatives. On the other, the Democatic Party's intransigence on the war issue -- and I think it really is intransigence nowadays, admittedly born of political cowardice and calculation and a leadership that thinks it's still 1995 -- is getting tiresome. I think it's definitely time for Congressional Democrats to make a stand and damn the consequences... in large part, I confess, because IMO the act of them taking a stand will make for better consequences. Plus, y'know, it's the right thing to do.

Of course, that would imply some kind of Democratic Party unity, which is about as pie-in-the-sky an idea as the notion that all that's lacking in the war effort is "will" or that somehow ceaseless attacking liberals will magically make Iraqis safer. So YMMV.

To the original post: "beneath you" doesn't even begin to describe my feelings but, alas, will have to do. For shame, Charles. For shame.

Here is the video of Rep. Schmidt calling Rep. Murtha a coward on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Another heroic Republican supports our troops.

Christ. I never thought one party would get so bad as to make me a de facto partisan for the other one. Ever.

I'm so pissed off I didn't close my tag!

Charles - the NEBV view of how to proceed would gain much more traction if it wasn't tied to attacks on liberals and silence on the Bush administration. It's clear that you and Tacitus understand that the current policy is not going to lead to victory (regardless of how you define it). You'd both gain enormous credibility in my eyes and those of many war skeptics if you placed the blame for the current policy on the heads of the people who formulated it and who have failed to make the needed adjustments as the situation demands. Hint: It's not MoveOn.org or DKos.

This may seem like just another partisan shot, but it's not: No matter how many liberals come around to your point of view NOTHING will change until the policy is changed by those who actually control it. Letting them know that otherwise loyal supporters feel the administration needs to make drastic changes is vastly more likely to bring about the needed changes than any amount of criticism of liberals. What liberals think has minimal influence on the administration's policies. What the base thinks is critically important to them.

Anarch--do you mean instransigence or indecisiveness? Or intransigent refusal to take a position.

OT: holy crap. Read the stuff about al-Libbi, especially.

I'm not surprised it happened. I'm surprised we found out, though.

The techniques are controversial among experienced intelligence agency and military interrogators. Many feel that a confession obtained this way is an unreliable tool . . . It is "bad interrogation. I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough," said former CIA officer Bob Baer . . .
"This is the problem with using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear," one source said.

Well, no kidding. Wish somebody had thought of that.

Oh, wait -- EVERYBODY WHO OPPOSES THIS STUFF FOR BETTER THAN THE REASON THAT IT'S POLITICALLY INCONVENIENT DID.

"Loser-Defeatist"?
How about "Pragmatic Realist"?
Face it, Charles; dmbeaster has nailed it, above: your post, impassioned as it is, is a cri de coeur about the wrong war: not the misconceived, misguided and probably actually "unwinnable" conflict presently raging in Iraq, but, as far as can be divined from your comments, some fantasy-based conflation of WWII, Vietnam and some FPS videogame. And bolstering your commentary with airy-fairy "triumph-of-the-will" folderol really adds little to whatever "case" you are trying to make.
FWIW, I highly disagree with Rep. Murtha's call for an "immediate" withdrawal from Iraq: but the hysterical reaction to his comments (of which this post of yours is a typical example) makes me think that he just MAY have a point.
Your bile (in my freely offered opinion) might be better directed toward those personages directly responsible for embroiling the US in a mismanaged war/occupation without (apparently) any sort of "exit strategy" other than "whenever" -i.e. President Bush and his Administration; rather than a respected veteran Congressman, who, however offbase his suggested strategy might be, deserves more from a (presumably) intelligent and thoughtful blogposter than cheap insults and stale propagandaistic cliche.

"FWIW, I highly disagree with Rep. Murtha's call for an "immediate" withdrawal from Iraq:"

In which "immediate" is defined as "in about six months" and to better fight terrorism with strike teams.

"Betrayal" or "coward" do not belong in the same sentence with "Murtha".

I am not sure that the Dolchtossglende or whatever is being prepared. My impression from reading CB and Tacitus is that have no better idea of what is going on inside the sodden diminished syphilitic brain of the chimp than the rest of us. However, I see no strong evidence that withdrawal is planned. On the other hand, Bill Arkin tells me that troops and material are being quietly positioned in North Jordan.

I wish people would quit predicting the behavior and actions of this administration based on some meaning of "rational". Or without looking at their previous activity as an indicator of their perspectives and plans. They lie. You, I, CB, Tacitus don't even have a clue as to what they really want.
They lie.

Murtha has contacts. If the military is being destroyed as he believes, perhaps that is the intention. To so weaken and make vulnerable the nation that the next attack is easy yet devastating. They have not exactly been successful at stopping various nuclear programs; perhaps they don't want to.
A nuclear weapon eliminating a major American city would allow the next step in the plan.

Bush is not going to withdraw from Iraq. Nor are he and his masters going to allow his successor to do so. So conditions will be created that will make a large military presence in Iraq irrevocable. The only way to save lives and the nation/world as we know it is to attack Bush from his right.

For you Dolchstosslegende fans, from an e-mail to Sullivan: ""Why do Democrats get a free pass?....If it takes losing the war and wasting all those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, it is worth it for you. What do you care? You live a privilege life made possible by our military’s sacrifice. And you show your appreciation by stabbing us in the back."

"And you show your appreciation by stabbing us in the back."

It's just like you liberals to claim that's like a Dolchstosslegende! You'll distort anything!

Col. Murtha... doesn't speak for the Democratic Party, unless the Democratic Party authorizes him to in some fashion.

i didn't realize Tacitus' "Dems" meant the entire party. i didn't realize he was being literal with that statement. cause, ya know, if he was being literal, there's a pretty nice list of things the Dems have stood up for lately - knocking down Bush's S.S. "reform", torture, some budget things, Rule 21, etc.. and, Tacitus is a pretty smart guy, he knows all that. so he wouldn't make a statement that could be stomped to bits by anyone who's simply watched the news for the past few months.

so, i think it makes a lot more sense to take his statement as a rhetorical one - my reply to him too, for that matter.

Great post, well-reasoned and well-argued. I was on the fence about Iraq, but your post is pushing me to the hawk side. You are quite right to argue for troop additions, which is necessary to win this war. Had we enough troops in the beginning, this insurgency never would have reached the level it has.

[Murtha] should spend more time in Iraq, talking to the soldiers on the ground, getting firsthand accounts of what's taking place.

Aside from the presumptuousness and hypocrisy of this criticism, ably pointed out by earlier commenters, there's just the plain off-pointness of it. Murtha did just that in August -- in Anbar province, not a Green Zone briefing room -- and what he saw and heard played a big part in bringing him to the conclusion that we have done all we can militarily in Iraq.

Rereading the post title several times, I can't wait until Charles' exciting follow-up post, "And So's His Mother!"

according to TPM, the Roll Call is saying that the Republicans have requested an ethics probe of Murtha. That will be worth a whole series of posts from Charles, I feel certain.

Ah, the stab in the back, now over at Sully's site too.

Remember, people, the Dolcstoss wasn't just designed to smear The Enemy Within, it was also designed to deflect blame from the architects of war. Ludendorff and Hindenburg and the whole rotten bunch of nutball nationalists didn't want conservative militarists to get blamed for screwing up the war and getting 1.7 million German soldiers killed for nothing. Even though these were the people who carried out the war strategy.

No, far better to blame the "Left," the media, the socialists, the unions, the democrats.

Ordinarily I tend to think that the pile-on-Charles effect can get a little harsh and undeserved. In this case, though, I think it's all deserved.

How in the hell do you look at yourself in the mirror after writing something like this?

My hearfelt thanks to your son, john miller. My hopes are that Iraq will come out of this as a single country with the various factions working things out politically. The Kurds seem to have a functioning society locally, and yet not so many years ago they were known principally for guerilla fighters and/or terrorists.

-"Whenever we've stepped away from terrorist attacks, terrorists have become emboldened because, in the past, we have affirmed their perception that the United States is a paper tiger."

Replace the word "terrorist" with the word "communist" and, looking east, think back about 40 years.

-"A defeat in Iraq would be monumentally worse than our bust in Vietnam. We as a country cannot allow defeat to happen and I cannot allow Murtha's words go without challenge."

And "I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

Is it possible that America's victory or failure in Iraq might not be up to us?

Is there any international conflict that the US could be part of that is not amenable to a military solution? For my money, this is the most important issue raised by Murtha.

Is there any international conflict that the US could be part of that is not amenable to a military solution?

As Kierkegaard and crionna noted at Tacitus, this could possibly be the last time a free country attempts to liberate people living under a dictatorship, because the political costs are simply too high. This is what bin Laden has been betting on as Charles pointed out.

This is what bin Laden has been betting on as Charles pointed out.

And if Osama says "Try the soup" we should order the salad.

"Whenever we've stepped away from terrorist attacks, terrorists have become emboldened because, in the past, we have affirmed their perception that the United States is a paper tiger."

Replace the word "terrorist" with the word "communist" and, looking east, think back about 40 years.

The people I know from Poland and Hungary are happy that the US struggled against Communism. A Cuban buddy wishes the US would do more.

Remind me again when that U.S. invasions of Poland and Hungary took place. I don't think we covered that in my school.

Or, less snarkily, one can be in favor of making serious efforts to improve the situation in the Arab world without being supporting whatever idiocies emerge from the Bush Administration.

a free country attempts to liberate people living under a dictatorship, because the political costs are simply too high

That's an interesting point, but to argue the other side, what examples are you thinking that represent a free country liberating people? I don't mean this in a snarky way, but I'm thinking that there are only a few very questionable cases where a free country attempted to liberate people. Later goals may have morphed into that (though were we liberating Germans and Japanese or were we punishing them?) Also, strictly speaking, we didn't go to war to liberate Poland and Hungary, we adopted a strategy that stopped short of war. If you have a specific war or wars in mind, could you post them?

Remind me again when that U.S. invasions of Poland and Hungary took place. I don't think we covered that in my school.

I think the Pershing missles in Europe were a pretty aggressive move by the US. True, it was not an invasion.

DaveC:

Kierkagaard's posts are pretty interesting and provocative. But I note in his predictions for the year 2035 that he also said all social services will be for pay only AND, last but not least, sex will suck.

I would alter that prediction to read that if social services are for pay only, those (if they live long enough) who are required to pay, will sell their sexual services to the highest bidder in order to pay for the social services. So, sex may suck, but it will be plentiful and also for pay only.

Plus, the rest of get what we want: to screw the poor at both ends.

I wonder if Kierkagaard has a prediction for the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- for December 31, 2005?

It's true that the US goes to war specifically for its own self-interest, liberation is secondary. But the occupation afterwards, for instance in Korea, even though the immediate results were not so encouraging, ultimately led to more freedom there (after decades).

DaveC, that's true. But the Cold War, viewed broadly, involved a lot of oscillations in U.S. policies as more hawkish or more dovish sorts found themselves politically ascendant. Eventually, it all worked out. Maybe it would have worked out better, sooner if we had picked a theory and stuck to it, but that really isn't what countries like ours do, and in any case it's somewhat remarkable that we got through it all with as little fighting as we did.

Today, U.S. policy toward Iraq is run pretty much exclusively by people who thought that the major problem with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon was that they were far too dovish. And we're told that our only acceptable choice as citizens is to give these people a blank check. We can say that they haven't handled things perfectly, but to tell them they should change what they're doing is treason (unless, of course, we tell them that what they should be doing is the same thing, only more so!). That's contemptible.

(Actually, I think that "contemptible" is my new favorite word. You're not contemptible, nor is Von or Sebastian or Slarti, but Charles and Josh are (or their rhetoric is; all I know of either of them is their posted rants), and the stunt the Rs pulled in the House today is so deeply, brazenly contemptible that I'm going to have to find a new favorite word, but it's late on Friday and I'm too tired to do it immediately.)

DaveC, the "that's true" was aimed at your previous point about the Pershings, not your last post. I'm typing (thinking?) too slowly.

So, sex may suck, but it will be plentiful and also for pay only.

I'll save my pennies for the chance to have at some of the commenters here, and fortunately their expectations will be low.

Also, Phil:

I share your disgust for Schmidt's comments.

I'm not a particularly politically correct liberal, so I was wondering if women's rights have advanced far enough so that when a lady calls a guy a coward in public, is it permitted yet to invite them outside, holding the door for them, of course, and then knock them unconscious and perhaps kick them in the shortribs?

Or was J. D. Hayworth too busy washing his hair to carry out the tough talk himself?

And is Murtha a gentleman, too, along with his other horrific attributes?

Really, the hard-core of the (the usual exceptions granted) Republican Party will be ungovernable once they are turned out of office. There will be no loyal opposition.

Rabid dogs.

For this reason, the most draconian parts of the Patriot Act will become the only tools available to keep the United States of America as one.

I have the resolve for that. It'll be fun.

Today, U.S. policy toward Iraq is run pretty much exclusively by people who thought that the major problem with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon was that they were far too dovish.

Remember when the Chinese forced down the US fighter plane, and Pres Bush demanded that they return it, and they did - in boxes? Or when Putin so totally did a snow job on Bush. And everybody was saying the Bush admin were pushovers in foreign policy? That was July or August 2001. Things do change.

DaveC: Apparently, I have a problem with geography. I meant west, and was thinking of the rhetorical similarities between some of the things we are hearing toady and during Vietnam.

If allowing AQ to claim victory following a US withdrawal would lessen terrorist attacks or recruitment, would these tangible results be worth the loss of face?

In re the "paper tiger" argument: What might it say about US military power that after almost three years it does not control Baghdad and cannot even guarantee security within the Green Zone?

In re patriotism, being a loser, etc.: When considering the attacks on Murtha, it might be a good idea to note that the Bush admin, and especially the president himself, has violated one of the essential tenets of sound military leadership: personal responsibility. That point when, reflecting the readiness of an individual for such a position of leadership, a commander says, "I am ultimately responsible for the lives of the men under by command." Eisenhower, for example, is famous for penning notes prior to launching an operation – to be issued should the operation not produce a victory – wherein he assumes full responsibility for its failure and the lives of the men he sent to die (many of these were lost but a prescient aide saved a few, the one written before D-Day the best known). Murtha strikes me as one of these types. I have yet to see any behavior on the part of Bush or his administration that even approaches this standard of conduct. Bush refuses to even attend funerals for fear of the possible PR/popular political will implications. This may say something about his abilities as a "war president."

Thanks for the link, Jackmoron, and thanks for the comment DaveC.

For this reason, the most draconian parts of the Patriot Act will become the only tools available to keep the United States of America as one.

I'd like Charles to make a post simply titled "PCP", so I can look at the sidebar and see "John Thullen on PCP" and silently nod my head.

Musicians are what have made this country weak.

(except for Billy Beck)

DaveC
South Koreans are, from what I understand not bowled over with gratitude towards the US. A 2002 survey suggested that 44% of South Koreans held unfavorable views of the US link This is not to say that they should or shouldn't be grateful, but that if your view is based on the gratitude that is felt, South Korea is not a good exemplar
(more links here and here)

DaveL
abhorrent, abominable, base, degenerate, despicable, despisable, detestable, dirty, disgusting, fink, hateful, ignoble, ignominious, odious, pitiable, pitiful, poor, scummy, scurvy, shabby, shameful, sordid, sorry, swinish, unworthy, vile, worthless, or wretched

despicable is nice cause Daffy Duck always used it, though I like shabby because it relates the notion that the rhetoric is simply not up to snuff.

Yes, things do change. But who is this "everyone" who was saying the Bushies were pushovers? I recall a lot of commentary along the lines of "there aren't very many good options," and while it wasn't very satisfying to let the Chinese get away with what they did in the EP-3 incident, there were not, in fact, very many good options.

What changed since then was that 9/11 both sent the lunatic fringe of the Republican foreign policy intelligentsia completely around the bend and gave them pretty much carte blanche to get on their favorite hobbyhorses and ride them until they collapse. They've been doing so ever since. That's what needs to change, preferably yesterday.

And what's so ugly about the R's stunt in the House is that they took an opportunity for real focus, debate, and leadership and tried to make it yet another "you're with us or with the terrists" kind of moment. It will be interesting to see how the politics play out. I'm guessing it will backfire--games that worked when your support was in the 45-55% range don't work when you drop into the 30s--but that's not really the point. The point is that if they'd taken Murtha's resolution in good faith, held hearings, debated what to do, debated and voted on amendments, and finally voted on whatever emerged at the other end of something resembling a legitimate legislative process, they might have emerged with something good for the country. But for this crew, improving things in Iraq would be nice and all, but what's really important is destroying the Democratic Party.

LJ, I like the list, but somehow none of those has quite the right zing. I think I'll stick with "contemptible" for now. But maybe we need to take our inspiration from Charles' "loser-defeatist" and embrace the hyphen. "Wanker-poopyhead" also lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, but perhaps if I sleep on it something will come to me.

I was wondering if women's rights have advanced far enough so that when a lady calls a guy a coward in public, is it permitted yet to invite them outside, holding the door for them, of course, and then knock them unconscious and perhaps kick them in the shortribs?


Oh, for the good old days

Violence and other vices were not confined to the lower rungs of society. Members of Congress carried guns (many for protection), gambled heavily, visited bordellos and were frequently drunk. " 'While the Democrats and Republicans were in a deadly struggle on the floor of the House over questions involving the destinies of the Union," complained Rep. John Kelly of New York, " . . the [drunk congressmen] were in the [congressional] bar-room drinking, or on the sofas of the lobby dozing in their cups,' " according to Brandt.

During congressional sessions, fistfights "more than once ended in duels," Green wrote. A congressman shot a waiter in a Washington hotel. On the floor of the Senate, an assailant threatened Thomas Benton of Missouri at gunpoint.

And tensions were high in Congress among some Northerners and Southerners, such as when Preston Brooks of South Carolina savagely caned Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.

To many people in the mid-19th century, a man who seduced another man's wife was asking for it. Today the killing of Key is remembered chiefly because of the 20-day trial in which Sickles was acquitted of murder to the cheers of a crowded courtroom.


Anarch--do you mean instransigence or indecisiveness? Or intransigent refusal to take a position.

The latter. This is one of those places where it's dead perilous to talk about "Congressional Democrats" as a block because they really, really, really aren't, but it bothers me that a number of Congressional Democrats seem to be dipping their toes in the waters of the anti-war movement, so to speak, without even a commitment to jump right in. This strikes me as a perfect time for them to take a principled stand, to rise up and say (variously) that they were i) deceived, ii) mistaken, iii) incorrect in their assessment of the Bush Administration's competence -- whichever happens to be the case -- and that therefore the very rationale for the continuance of the war should be up for debate. In fact, I don't even feel that the Democrats need to come out against the war in Iraq per se, only against the war as currently chartered: its nominal aims, its strategic valences, its place in the broader picture and, of course, the way it's being conducted. And, of course, the blame for all the mistakes, ambiguities and mendacities lies squarely in the lap of the Bush Administration and their jingoistic Republican enablers.

I said above that I thought the Democratic leadership was living in 1995. That's true to an extant, but what I should have said was that the Democratic Congressmen are living in 2002: they're operating under the delusion that Bush is an immensely popular war-time president and that he is owed a priori deference due to his position. It's not 2002, however, Bush isn't a popular war-time president, he's not owed one goddamn drop of deference due to his appalling (and, IMO, potentially criminal) incompetence and mendacity, and the Democrats need to make this known far and wide instead of carping and cavilling and generally not standing up for themselves.

Latest Update:

It appears that Rove is directing a push back against Murtha in which the House will start an ethics investigation against him.

Imagine that -- the House Delay somehow chooses this moment to finally do an ethics investigation, and somehow Murtha is in the crosshairs.

Deja vu of Wilson -- that sweet wiff of offal in the air. Will Murtha's wife also be attacked?

Which leads to this question. Will Charles, that indepednent thinker, update his title from "Loser-Defeatist" to "Sleazy-Loser-Defeatist," or will he eschew his love of repeating right wing talking points and rely on his own slime?

Powerful but empty rhetoric, Charles.
What does "win" mean?
What will "victory" look like?
What remains to be done and how do you imagine it will be accomplished?

Murtha is right: what we're doing in Iraq is stupid, shameful and counter-productive and extremely destructive--not least to America.

He is--as he has always done--standing up for America and, as a fellow veteran, I salute him.

Oh look, Casey has submitted a withdrawal plan, for cutting and running starting next year:

CNN

I look forward to CB's next imitation of McCarthy soon.

LJ -- I have been thinking the best adjective for Charles' post is, "scurrilous".

O've always had a soft spot for "invidious".

Not necessarily for this occasion, but I am partial to 'ignoble' and 'shameful.' -- All these words are easy to abuse, but all of them also have this implication: that a grown-up aspires to nobility in conduct, and is susceptible to shame and contempt. That someone who acts shamefully is not ashamed just reveals that they are not only willing to do the wrong thing, but lack the whole set of concepts that go with self-respect.

And I've just figured out what it is that bugs me about this 'loser-defeatist' formulation (apart from its application in this case): it (and many current right-wing terms of abuse) sounds so much like one of those Communist epithets from the 30s and 40s (capitalist-roader, right deviationist, wrecker-saboteur, etc.) And the use -- attaching epithets to people on the basis of some perceived deviation from orthodoxy, and using those epithets in place of argument -- is also similar.

And I've just figured out what it is that bugs me about this 'loser-defeatist' formulation (apart from its application in this case): it (and many current right-wing terms of abuse) sounds so much like one of those Communist epithets from the 30s and 40s (capitalist-roader, right deviationist, wrecker-saboteur, etc.) And the use -- attaching epithets to people on the basis of some perceived deviation from orthodoxy, and using those epithets in place of argument -- is also similar.

Careful, Hil - certain members of the right don't appreciate it when meddlesome lib'ruls such as yourself compare GOP talking points to those of the godless communists.

What, are you angling for a position in Durbin's staff, or an internship with AI?
(Or are you one of those terrorist appeasers currently swelling the ranks of the Democratic Party? I bet you're wearing a hijab right now...)

C'mon all you freedom lovers - get out your pom-poms and (banned in TX) teeny-tiny skirt! It's time to will ourselves to victory!!!1

If I may be serious for a moment, beyond vague fever dreams about 'liberal' democracy magically taking seed in Iraq, what exactly constitutes 'victory' in the eyes of CB, and, conversely, when is it apropos to admit defeat?

Oh wait, I forgot - even entertaining a single negative thought re: Iraq provides aid and comfort to the enemy (I <3 ye olde 'dissent=terrorist security blanket' meme. For some reason it always provokes a visual of Linus wearing a keffiyeh and cradling a Kalashnikov.)

Pardon me if I refrain from commenting further. I'll inevitibly make contentious reference to some inflammatory 'ism', thus cementing my loser-defeatist reputation.

Just sign me up for the goddamned pony already.


Gary and Tacitus (never thought I'd write a comment addressing you both),

What's shameful is that the GOP would use the war as a wedge issue like this, with a decorated war hero the fall guy. Do you really think Murtha's motivated by what's good here for his political career? The man is sincere. Maybe he's wrong, but at least his heart is in the right place.

Here's the thing. If the GOP were calling for this vote and they had no idea how it would turn out, then I'd respect it. But that's not the case...they're much too calculated and cynical for that.

I'm sure Murtha can take care of himself, but this crosses the line. Rule 21 was about an investigation of officials, something that had been promised, but never delivered. It won't have the impact of possibly extending the tour of duty of men and women with targets on their backs.

Why you can't see a difference here is alarming to me.

"Or was J. D. Hayworth too busy washing his hair to carry out the tough talk himself?"
...Thullen on Schmidt

It was interesting that the politically "vulnerable" lady from Ohio was chosen to deliver the most scurrilous of slanders.

I remember the delays in results from the last precinct in her recent contest against Hackett, the delays that put her over the top. She was like the undertaker with the dishonored daughter in The Godfather:"Someday I will come and ask a favor."

Of course there is also my theory of Bushco "complicity" politics. That Bush always involves his supporters in illegal activity, because no form of virtuous loyalty can be trusted when the indictments start coming or the bodies falling.

More to my point of why this is shameful...it was bound to lead to repulsive rhetoric by ignorant jerks, like this, by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH):

"Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through."

According to Marshall, Schmidt was forced to return the podium and ask that her comment be striken from the record, but for that plastic pampered freak to call into questions Murtha's courage for even a nonsecond makes me want to vomit.

Oy vey -- thanks Bob, both for correcting my spelling and for not bein a jerk about it.

I see I'm a bit behind most other folks here...just want to add this thought offered by Murtha in an interview with Matthews: "Victory is not a strategy."

Murtha's right...we need an exit strategy.

A brief profile of Colonel Bubp

"Here's the thing. If the GOP were calling for this vote and they had no idea how it would turn out, then I'd respect it. But that's not the case...they're much too calculated and cynical for that."

Oh, heaven forbid one should call a vote and have a good idea how it would turn out! How sinful!

Um, are you nuts? No offense intended, but what on earth is wrong with having a good idea how a vote will turn ou before you call it!?! That's what you bloody do if you're in politics. Only a crazy person would call a vote with no idea how it would turn out! On what bloody planet do they do that?!?!

Edward, I think that when the Republicans put up a bill and label it as a bill of a member of the opposing party, that that's going rather over the line, although it's still just rhetoric, and nothing approaching the simple utter corruption and wrongness of, for instance, threatening to have the President of the Senate, the Vice-President of the United States, blatantly lie in an official ruling on the Senate Rules -- that is an example of a completely illegitimate act.

It's illegitimate because it breaks the Senate Rules, and in the most possible serious manner, by both lying, and about a critical matter of how this nation has done legislative business for centuries.

I gave other examples of illegitimate tactics in my previous link: holding votes open in violation of the rules and tradition; adding provisions in conference committee that not in either house's bill; significantly changing bills in secret in conference committee in ways beyond simply melding the two bills; there are a wide range of innovative ways the Republicans have invented in recent years to act in a completely unilateral manner that either violates Congressional rules, or tradition, or both.

But bloody scheduling votes to make your side look good (and the other side look bad) is the bloody basic tactic of a bleeding partisan democracy!

Simple tactical scheduling of a vote is a time-honored absolutely legitimate tradition that also goes back to almost the earliest days of the Congress. There are simply no grounds for objecting to that as somehow illegitimate, simply because it is inconvenient to us because we're presently in the majority. It's always inconvenient and painful to be in the minority!

That just doesn't provide grounds to object to votes being scheduled because they make us look bad (assuming that's the case).

I'm just sort of speechless at not fully knowing how to respond to that objection. It as if someone bitterly complained that the other party was saying bad things about us Yes, it's annoying, but hardly illegitimate.

Did you object to this normal practice of choosing when and what to schedule votes on, sometimes to embarass the Republicans, when Democrats did it, as per the norm? I kinda think not. (If I'm wrong, though, feel free to mention a few times.)

I suspect you may not, perhaps -- and I apologize if I am speculating in error! -- possibly not be in the habit of reading histories of legislative back-and-forth in Congress over the past couple of centuries, and thus may possible be understandably a bit vague as to what's normal practice for hundreds of years, and what's an illegitimate invention of the past decade or so.

When we Democrats regain the House or Senate, we'll certainly be scheduling votes that attempt to embarass Republicans. And we'll say mean and unpleasant things about them, too. There's nothing the faintest bit "shameful" about that. And I'll jolly well defend our right to do this perfectly adonyne thing. I hope you'll be there with us.

The details of whatever the bill is are besides the point.

Otherwise, you seem to have not answered my question, but seemed to have read some other question, and gone off and talked about it, and John Murtha, which has absolutely nothing whatever to do with anything I've said.

I'd say that starting an ethics investigation without legitimate cause is illegitimate and over the line, by the way.

And if you want to discuss how awful and outrageous Republican attacks on Murtha are, that's fine. I couldn't agree more that they're disgusting. I simply don't confuse my outrage over the slurring of a 37-year-long Marine vet with the notion that disgusting rhetoric is a violation of Congressional custom or rules (so long as it doesn't violate the rules of the floor if delivered there, of course). I try not to blur the lines in my accusations, between, for instance, denouncing disgusting rhetoric, and the far more serious and very different matter of the flagrant violation of Congressional rules and practice.

Edward,

Thanks for the quote. Conflating strategy and victory seems to be in keeping with some of the comments made above re the ghosts of Vietnam and the ". . . but we won all the battles" crowd.

The admin's lack of an exit strategy does not mean they don't have a plan for Iraq: leaving was never part of what victory was suppossed to look like. Having an exit strategy only makes sense if one accepts the vanquish evil/spread freedom rationale for this war. Any consideration of regional power projection, hegemony, competition with China, control of resources and markets, the spoils of the Cold War/maintenance of post-CW unipolar status, etc. knock "exit strategy" out of the equation.

"More to my point of why this is shameful...it was bound to lead to repulsive rhetoric by ignorant jerks...."

I'm not clear what your "this" refers to. If it's much of the Republican rhetoric, sure, I'm with you on that.

When we Democrats regain the House or Senate, we'll certainly be scheduling votes that attempt to embarass Republicans. And we'll say mean and unpleasant things about them, too.

You arent seriously saying that the Dems have been refraining from saying mean and unpleasant things?

If John Murtha had his way, we would all be eating falafel today.

Last comment on this for now:

The House late Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail.

Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt.

Well, you know what? It was a stunt. Of course it was a "stunt." And so was invoking Rule 21 to cause a big public show, and put political pressure on Frist and co. to Do Something about the buried Phase II investigation.

"Stunt" is defined, in this context, as "perfectly legitimate political tactic to get lots of public attention and front page news coverage to help sell our POV and embarass our opponents."

That's a normal part of politics, just like deal-making, and legitimate arm-twisting, and pork, and emotional rhetoric, and alliance-making, and horse-trading, and making promises, and trading favors, and other non-ideal, but legitimate and normal political practices.

(And unlike, say, vote-buying, bribing, using violence, blackmailing, rules-breaking, stealing, law-breaking, and other illegitimate practices.)

And decrying your opponents for their dreadful tactics, regardless of whether you are perfectly correct, or grossly exaggerating to confuse the issue, is part of the norm, too. As is then decrying that. And so the wheel goes round.

But it's rather important not to confuse the public show with what's really right and wrong, and not to confuse what's really right and wrong with what's poltically legitimate and illegitimate.

If John Murtha had his way, we would all be eating falafel today.

Have you no decency, sir? Leave Bill O'Reilly out of this.

All I can say is you cannot call someone a defeatist without questioning their patriotism.

I just did, sparticus. His policies are wrong in my opinion, not unpatriotic. If you disagree with Bush's policies and believe that they will result in our defeat, does that mean you are calling Bush unpatriotic? Of course not.

we would all be eating falafel today

Well, I eat it now at a falafel bar down the street. It's actually pretty good.

"You arent seriously saying that the Dems have been refraining from saying mean and unpleasant things?"

No. I merely meant that we shall continue to taunt you when we're back in control of House or Senate or both. And Republicans will taunt Democrats.

There are important lines in how far taunting should go, and some room for reasonable debate as to where those lines are, of course.

The dumbest thing about all the unprecedented inventions the Republicans have come up with in the last decade for running legislative roughshod over the minority is the notion that, you know, what you invent won't come back to bite you on the ass. Democrats didn't make any of the rules since 1994, but we've watched how they've been played, and, hey, those are now the rules.

Fine.

Since your allowed to judge the patriotism of others, I'll judge yours.

Except I didn't judge his patriotism, BSR.

Your obviously more concerned with making excuses for the Republican party than actually fixing the situation in Iraq. Your more concerned with the future of the Republican party than with the future of this country or the future of our soldiers.

Nonsense and double nonsense. Exactly what excuses have I made? Be specific.

In ten years you'll be blaming your fellow American's on the left for the lose of Iraq, claiming we didn't have the willpower.

That's the ticket. Criticize me for something you think I'll say a decade from now. A Karnak Award for you, post-dated ten years hence.

If John Murtha had his way, we would all be eating falafel today

So let me get this straight DaveC (and I apologize if I've totally misinterpreted the quoted statement): John Murtha, a dedicated combat veteran with a conservative reputation, desires - no, is actively working towards - the takeover of America by swarthy Islamofascists (sic)?

Do you have anything other than conjecture and your own projected ideological prejudices to back up this borderline-slanderous charge?

And why must we bring Lebanese food into the discussion? Have you no decency??!!??

"If John Murtha had his way, we would all be eating falafel today."

Incidentally, this seems extremely goofy. His radical idea, good idea or bad, is to fight the War On Terror more effectively by redeploying, not, you know, surrendering. I find it most useful to debate actual specifics, not engage in wacky and meaningless rhetoric, but that's me.

I'd be happy to have a felafel sandwich, though, if it were in my budget. Yummy.

I had falafel for dinner last night at the Taste of Lebanon, and having read the above I am going to go out of my way to have it again today.

And then I'll go across the street to the Middle Eastern Bakery and pick up some hummus and spinach pies, etc....

bonus question: what neighborhood do I live in?

Surely this unsubstantiated claim can be retired after the last 28 months of experience in Iraq.

Look at what al Qaeda did from 1993 to present, Charley. September 11th happened because bin Laden thought we were a paper tiger. They attack what they perceive as weakness. Why else are they sending suicide bombers to mosques?

I think it will not be long before Murtha's position is that of the majority of republicans in Congress, and a great many people in the Admin too.

I doubt it. The essential point is that troop levels should be dictated by the goals achieved, and that withdrawing troops should not be prioritized over the mission.

ok, that's too easy, what with Google.

The fact that Charles isn't heavily plugging a draft makes me suspect that he thinks this is a stupid idea, too.

I'm not plugging a draft at present, Iron, because we haven't fully explored all of the non-draft means of increasing troop levels for Iraq. I'm not sure I do support a draft anyway because of the political baggage left over from Vietnam.

I find it most useful to debate actual specifics, not engage in wacky and meaningless rhetoric, but that's me.

Yeah, you would probably even agree with people who think that democracy doesn't fix everything

Er, DaveC, I don't see how you could have gleaned a contempt for democracy from Gary's objection to your usage of inflammatory rhetoric.

Do you always utilize such dishonorable debate tactics?

"If you disagree with Bush's policies and believe that they will result in our defeat..." that doesn't make you a defeatist, you know.

Or maybe you don't. Having an alternative strategy for defeating the threat of terrorism (or fighting it as effectively as possible so it becomes the least threat practical, which is probably a more realistic way to describe what the goal is) isn't saying there's no point in fighting terrorism, Charles.

That is, of course, the heart of the whole Iraq debate.

Unlike many here, I think there were some defensible reasons for arguing for overthrowing Saddam, before we did it. (And I think there were defensible reasons for arguing against it, as it was done just then; I've maintained this position that both sides had reasonable arguments, all along.)

And I think there have been defensible reasons to argue various POVs on what should be done in Iraq.

But whether invading Iraq was or was not a better way of fighting the terrorist threat, and otherwise making the world a better place, is the entire argument.

Maybe the pro-war side is/was correct.

But you can't assume that it was as an argument to persuade people that it was.

And thus Murtha isn't a defeatist, unless, of course, we accept that disagreement with your POV is not just wrong, but not legitimate.

And that's why people are upset with you on this one. Not just because of knee-jerk Charles-Bird-Bashing (although that's part of it, of course). But because you are calling Murtha a "defeatist," wrongly, rather than simply disagreeing with him about strategy.

And thus you're implicitly calling everyone who even vaguely agrees with him a practioner of an illegitimate point of view.

And that's why people are upset.

"Except I didn't judge his patriotism, BSR."

Charles, digressing slightly, are you also saying you find being called a "loser-defeatist" unobjectionable? And regardless, here's a suggestion: clarify your position, then, by calling Murtha a "patriotic loser-defeatist," if you think that will help clarify, why don't you? (If you think some might find that confusing, you might want to ponder that for a moment, though probably not.)

Bush will deliver us from evil.

And he will vanquish our mortal enemies.

All praise be to the warrior prophet.

And God, have mercy on those with little faith.

"I'm not sure I do support a draft anyway because of the political baggage left over from Vietnam."

Digressing again, as is my usual wont, I'm puzzling over what this means. The draft as instituted during the Vietnam era was fine? (In which form?) Something happened to make it not fine? It was fine during the Korean War? What are you trying to say here?

Do you always utilize such dishonorable debate tactics?

Actually I was just throwing him a link to what I thought was an intersting post that echoed some of his other points. And the falafel remark was just teasing, by the way. I don't want this to create a situation where all the conservatives will have to preface their remarks by saying how they like kibbeh.

I find it most useful to debate actual specifics, not engage in wacky and meaningless rhetoric, but that's me.

Yeah, you would probably even agree with people who think that democracy doesn't fix everything.

DaveC, what's your definition of "non-sequitur"?

Incidentally, are you disagreeing with Bjoern, agreeing, not understanding him, or what? (And if so, over which points.) (Bjoern's a smart kid, by the way; I don't recall our once linking to each other that wasn't in hearty and approving agreement, going back to 2001.)

As usual, Bjoern has some interesting points. As usual, I can't tell what the heck you are trying to say about them. (Sorry.)

"Murtha is betraying the American soldiers who have been there"

"Except I didn't judge his patriotism, BSR."

You seriously want to argue that by stating he is betraying American soldiers in the field you are not questioning his patriotism? Such Clintonian parsing. Such hypocritical garbage.

Appreciate the civil explanation for your remarks, DaveC. Consider my questioning of your ethics withdrawn.

Let the record also show that I'm willing to fight to the death in defense of middle-eastern cuisine. Slander Shawarmas and Babaghanoush at your own peril, ObWi massive.

;)

"Exactly what excuses have I made? Be specific."

The fact that at every issue, you ignore reality and smear the messenger while ignoring anything this administration does.

From your ridiculas garbage about the UN oil for food scandal, which you dropped now that it's apparent it was crap and some American companies were among the worst offenders. To your tarring of amnesty International with the smear brush. To your rediculas "race card" threads that ignore the Republican Southern stategy and obvious republican tactics that deny large amounts of minority voters the right to vote.

Twisting the intellignce over Iraq didn't budge your support of this administration. Incompetence bordering on negligence in fighting the war didn't. Complete abandonment of any conservative pricibles of limited government or fiscal responsiblity didn't. Bringing shame to our country by making all of us part of a regime that tortures people to death didn't.

At every turn of the above issues you demonized the critics and questioned their motives, earning your own pathetic, childish Karnac award many times over. It took the Miers nomination to make you criticise the administration in any meaningful way.

"Criticize me for something you think I'll say a decade from now."

That's not really required as you already started doing it here in this thread and in previous threads, most notabily your will to victory thread. I'm not predicting the future so much as following the obvious trendline. Like any good German, you have started on your stab in the back propagandizing for all to see.

From your ridiculas garbage about the UN oil for food scandal, which you dropped now that it's apparent it was crap and some American companies were among the worst offenders. To your tarring of amnesty International with the smear brush. To your rediculas "race card" threads that ignore the Republican Southern stategy and obvious republican tactics that deny large amounts of minority voters the right to vote.
Although I'm sure I've missed some relevant posts of Charles, it seems to me that one of these three things is not like the others.

Am I to infer that you consider continuing to NOT do all we can an acceptable state?

It is not acceptable, bob, because there is always room for improvement. More importantly, our job isn't done. There's much more work to do.

Ahhhh, and we're back to the despicable flypaper theory

The flypaper theory was not a Bush administration policy. However, al Qaeda has adopted it and they have picked Iraq as the central front.

I do not claim to have all the answers, but I am certainly not going to be as declarative as Charles is and state all my pronouncements as certainty.

Well, john, I probably wrote with a little certainty than how I actually felt. I pray your son stays safe.

You seriously want to argue that by stating he is betraying American soldiers in the field you are not questioning his patriotism?

So apparently you do believe that Bush is unpatriotic because he has done wrong things in Iraq, BSR. I don't. Both Bush and Murtha are patriots, in my opinion.

So your stance is that America is so weak and ineffective that the only way we can fight terrorism in a country is to conquer it, occupy it, and ruthlessly exterminate all who would fight?

No, anon. Otherwise, we would have already invaded and Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Why "and mercilessly," exactly?

Because I believe Murtha is so outrageously wrong, delenda, on one of the most important issues of the day. The Republicans were right to put Murtha's resolution to a vote.

I agree with Bjorn about this:

And then democracy does arrive, and it becomes clear to everyone that the citizens are idiots and their freely elected representatives crooks Oops.

You don't turn back at this point. You don't say "oh .. let's bring back the dictators then". Because the dictators are far worse. But neither do you pretend that all those beautiful things you promised have actually come true.

but not necessarily this:

Rules for posting:

3. Stick to the topic. Other readers who click to read the comments to a post expect to read something that is more or less related to that post.

Especially, when the comments threaten to turn into a yet another Charles Bird pile-on, I think adding a little discord might be a good thing, which Gary does, but in a much more rational way than I do.

Have you been in Iraq? Unless you have, do not comment on what should or should not be done.

Using your logic, Dave, you should not discuss Abraham Lincoln because you've never met the man.

I just did, sparticus. His policies are wrong in my opinion, not unpatriotic. If you disagree with Bush's policies and believe that they will result in our defeat, does that mean you are calling Bush unpatriotic?

No. Nor would I call him defeatist in that case. I suppose, using the dictionary's definition of the word, it is technically possible to label someone defeatist - aka, accepting or resigned to defeat - without questioning the patriotism of that person. But it would require a very narrow set of circumstances for it to be possible.

Since Senator Murtha is neither accepting nor resigned to defeat, but is advocating a change in policy (in fact meant to avoid a greater defeat), you are misusing the word. In the dictionary definition sense of the word. Your use of the word, and your diary in toto, implies that Senator Murtha is not simply resigned to defeat, but by his actions actually working towards it. Which to me sounds like treason.

So I will give you a shiny pin that it is possible for someone to be a defeatist while remaining patriotic, but I will have to take it away because you have misused the word defeatist.

Charles: the Repubicans did not bring Murtha's resolution (H.J.RES.73) to a vote. They brought an resolution (H.RES.571) that they called the Murtha resolution, despite its having been introduced by Duncan Hunter, to a vote. The Hunter amendment is, and was designed to be, stupid, and almost everyone voted against it, including, if memory serves, Murtha. Here it is (via Steve Clemons):

"RESOLUTION
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

And here is Murtha's quite different resolution. You might or might not agree with it, but unlike the Hunter resolution, it's not completely idiotic:

"RESOLUTION
Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy."

These are not at all the same, and only the Hunter amendment was put to a vote.

Sorry: section 2 of the Murtha amendment should read: "A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region." (I was stripping superfluous numbers out of the text, and cut a line by mistake.)

I'm not plugging a draft at present, Iron, because we haven't fully explored all of the non-draft means of increasing troop levels for Iraq.

Would you care to start exploring some of those "non-draft means of increasing troop levels for Iraq" in a post, rather than simply piling on people like Murtha? In other words, I'd like to see you explaining HOW we can the war, rather than berating those who think the war is no longer winnable.

What Iron lungfish said. We have already lowered our recruiting and disciplinary standards, keeping in people we would normally kick out for problems like substance abuse and major disciplinary problems; upped bonuses, and done all sorts of things. We have sent our elite training battalion to Iraq, leaving our troops to be trained by national guard people. What exactly, short of a draft, remains to be done?

Why "and mercilessly," exactly?

Because I believe Murtha is so outrageously wrong, delenda, on one of the most important issues of the day.

Following up that question: you stated that Murtha's ideas "must be defeated [...] mercilessly."

As I don't follow your answer, I, yearning to help the Republican agenda, ask for your help!

What would be the practical, actual, difference between defeating his ideas mercifully, and defeating them mercilessly?

What are u, in fact, calling for people to actually do? What would we do to defeat his ideas mercifully? What must we do to avoid this, and do as we must, to defeat them mercilessly?! I am eager to help!!! Down with luser-defeatests!

Saying its true is the most important lesson learned from Viet Nam -- that was Murtha's most important point.

Murtha's "truth" is not that we're losing, dm, but that we've already lost. Sorry, I don't accept that because it's very much open to debate. Calling for an immediate withdrawal puts to action Murtha's words that we've already lost and also adds nothing to the debate. By his own actions he has declared defeat. I'm just calling it how I see it.

Charles, your attacks on Murtha poison the well of what needs to be a serious policy debate.

And Murtha hasn't, jack? He didn't call for a debate, he called for direct and drastic action.

And now, you find yourself on the cusp of facing the disaster that Iraq has become.

I disagree with your premise, Carlton, that we are on the cusp of disaster. Seems to me that disaster is much more likely if the Murtha plan is followed.

But we can see that even you are unsure now of the outcome. Or, rather, you can see that Iraq is going so badly that even after defining 'victory' down to some marginal, pathetic goal we will still likely fall short of the finish line... So you've begun to lay the groundwork for your eventual fallback position: you will blame other people.

If we don't root out al Qaeda and if we don't quell the Sunni paramilitarists and if we don't deliver a free, peaceful, non-theocratic representative republic, I will blame other people, and that blame will fall on Bush.

Charles, have you bothered to wonder why Murtha is advocating the positions he does? Does your thinking on the matter begin and end with the conclusion that he is a defeatist, unpatriotic loser?

First, Ron, Murtha has explained why himself. Second, don't mischaracterize me. I said he was wrong, not unpatriotic.

Several have said that I took Murtha's May 2005 quote out-of-context. I didn't have the full Hill article at the time I wrote this, so I wrote an update.

There was a Daily Show segment a couple months ago on a Maine GOP state rep who introduced a gay marriage bill just so he could oppose it. Stupid then, stupid now.

Actually a little more than stupid, since it's an active attempt to deceive the public.

The disconnect between this post and what life is like for soldiers in Iraq (or at least one former soldier) is striking.

Charles:

Murtha's "truth" is not that we're losing, dm, but that we've already lost.

It would be nice if you could write something half-way on point to what I said and half-way truthful concerning what Murtha said. This is not Murtha's point, and others have taken you to task above for repeating this canard. Your own update shows you know you got it wrong -- why pollute your own point with such garbage?

Murtha's point is that continuation of the same policy -- "stay the course" -- is a loser strategy, and since Bush is not going to do anything different, it is time to start getting out. (and another GOP lie is to claim Murtha wants "immediate" pull-out instead of the actual timing he advocates -- why does your party rely so much on deception to make its points?).

You agree with Murtha -- you also think the current policy is flawed, and that something different needs to be done. For some unknown reason, you prefer to advocate for a war that is not actually being fought, and therefore stand behind a war that you agree is a failure in its current incarnation, but will magically morph into something better.

This remains a debate about the current failed leadership and the fact that the ongoing failures are not going to change. You remain hopeful, but based on what? Yours is the Tinker Bell strategy.

Taking that as a given (Bush will not change), what can be done with this mess? Murtha's is the responsible position -- since the only choice is between Bush's ongoing failure or ending it, he has advocated ending it.

You advocate for a third position that is never going to happen, and is therefore irrelevant no matter how hard we all wish that there was a third alternative.

Murtha is the realist -- time for you to become one.

There is a place to discuss the meaning and value of the two opposing strategies, call them Murtha and Bush, tho it is probably not here or Congress, and certainly not the MSM. Why does the administration want a large footprint, and not a rapid-response team?

Withdrawing(Murtha) would meant stopping almost all counter-insurgency measures, and intending to allow the Iraqis to fight it among themselves until they got tired enough to negotiate. The Americans would only step in when massive armies were about to clash, or to prevent ethnic cleansing, or external intervention.

But will the militias fight? There is no multi-faction Iraqi army, and small prospect of one in the near future. The militias provide local defense and order, with occasional aggressive excursions on their territorial borders. But would the Peshmurga or Badr Brigade roll out to the Syrian border to wipe out an insurgent stronghold? I think not.

So after a suicide bombing in Najaf, Badr Brigade will ask Americans to eliminate the source, or perhaps just wreak havoc in the closest Sunni neighborhood.

We have a problem.

Murtha got it exactly right. We've already lost this war, because we have no even remotely plausible plan to accomplish our goals of a free and democratic Iraq.

First, note that the people who won the election, are a coalition of the Kurds, who want to be left alone, and the Shiite parties including SCIRI, the Badr corps, and others, who are Islamo-fascists, if that term means *anything*. They're thugs, and puppets of the government of Iran, and given their backers, I suspect their goal is the imposition of an Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq. When we talk about sticking around until they're strong enough to impose their will on the rest of Iraq, well, that's crazy, isn't it? Iran, along with the Saudis, are the two biggest backers of militant Jihadism throughout the world (see Jessica Stern's latest book as a reference).

And those are the folks we're *backing*!

On the other side, the Sunnis are, from what I've read, 80-90% Baathists who want to rule over the whole country, and 10-20% foreign fighters, who I assume are Al Qaeda. The latter are also religious fanatics, while the former are relatively secular, and as we all know by now, they loathe each other. If they each had their way, they'd kill each other, as soon as we're out of the way. If the Baathists weren't fighting to get us out of the country, they'd probably be killing Al Qaeda's forces.

Realistically, to change the outcome of the battles in Iraq today would probably require something like the originally estimated 500,000 troops, for something like 5-10 years. That would require a draft, which is never going to happen.

Just like other places in the Middle East, these folks will live in peace together on their own time frame, not ours. The Shiites and Sunnis will kill each other until they get tired of it, just like the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland did, until *they* got sick of it.

So, Murtha is 100% right to recognize that saying the course is simply a way to have more Americans die on the way to eventual failure.

That failure is a function of poor planning by the Bush administration. But the readers here are correct: the Bushies realize the war is lost. They're looking for scapegoats now.

But the fact is that this war was fought on Bush's terms, with complete Republican control over Congress. It was planned by the Republicans, lost by the Republicans, and now that it is obvious our goals are impossible to achieve, they'll do *anything* they can to pin the blame on the Democrats.

So get ready for at least 12 more months of the big lie from all of the Republicans.

And that's why people are upset with you on this one. Not just because of knee-jerk Charles-Bird-Bashing (although that's part of it, of course). But because you are calling Murtha a "defeatist," wrongly, rather than simply disagreeing with him about strategy.

Are there no policy options that are not defeatist, Gary? Murtha didn't call for a debate about withdrawing troops, he called for an immediate unilateral withdrawal. He's already made up his mind. I know my opinions came off pretty strongly, and I'm not surprised that many reacted equally strongly (or more), but it seems to me--for the reasons stated--that Murtha's prescription will set us and Iraq horrifically backward.

I gave no opinion on the legitimacy of Murtha's position. He's an elected member of Congress, and I'll leave to his constituents to make that decision.

Charles, digressing slightly, are you also saying you find being called a "loser-defeatist" unobjectionable?

No. Several here in this thread have called Bush a defeatist because of the shoddy way he's conducted the war, and for the lousy way he's communicated our strategy. Some may find that objectionable. I don't, not that I agree with that assessment.

These are not at all the same, and only the Hunter amendment was put to a vote.

Thanks, Hil. I agree that Murtha's exact language should have been introduced, and said so in the update.

"Murtha didn't call for a debate about withdrawing troops, he called for an immediate unilateral withdrawal."

I can't tell whether you are misunderstanding the nature of what Murtha called for and what it entails, or whether you are intentionally, out of an unfortunate excess of concision, perhaps, characterizing the nature of what Murtha's bill entails in a significantly erroneous way.

First, when you introduce a bill you are, ipso facto, calling for a debate on that bill before it is voted upon. That's simply an inherent part of the process.

To to say that someone introducing a bill is "not calling for a debate" is only accurate in the sense that "not calling for a debate" means "calling for a debate."

So I'd call that an unfortunate choice of words regarding Murtha's calling for a debate.

"...he called for an immediate unilateral withdrawal."

"Immediate" meaning "by within six months." Is that the usual way you mean "immediate"?

This also seems unfortunately differently-accurate, shall we say, than the way most people use "immediate," which tends to be, I don't know for sure, but probably within at least a week or two. But do feel free to immediately check a dictionary and immediately get back to us on that, in six months, if you prefer.

"...unilateral withdrawal."

I'd agree that his bill (which hasn't been voted upon; why, the Republicans haven't allowed an up or down vote on Murtha's bill! -- isn't that unconstitutional, or something?) might be reasonably characterized as including a withdrawal.

So: "Are there no policy options that are not defeatist, Gary?"

Well, yes, Murtha's. As I recall, Charles, we're fighting the war in Iraq because it is the key part of fighting the War on Terror. It is, as I'm given to understand, non-optional.

Do I have that wrong?

Now, I've already pointed out that agreeing or disagreeing whether fighting in Iraq was The Key Part of the WOT, or merely an, at best, optional part of that War, is the essential debate the country is split over; everything else is commentary.

So, setting that aside, if we stipulate that there is a terrorist threat, and specifically an Islamic extremist terrorist threat, and related cultural/political/economic problems, then debating strategy in fighting that war is not, Charles, in the least defeatist. Is it?

It wasn't "defeatist" of Churchill to oppose a cross-Channel invasion in '42 and '43. It wasn't defeatist of the British Cabinet to oppose a variety of Churchill's plans and desired attacks during both WWI and WWII. It wasn't defeatist of Lloyd George and the Cabinet to over-ride Churchill and withdraw from the Dardanelles during WWI, Charles, was it?

Charles Murtha isn't ventriloquising Cindy Sheehan, Charles. It's hard to give credence to the idea that you don't see that, so I'm going to close my eyes and pretend you didn't. Is there anything here that makes any sense to you?

Lastly: "He's already made up his mind."

I'm not following the nature of your complaint. Are you saying that in some way your mind is less made up than his? Or that you're both wrong to have an opinion? Or what?

Actually, I think Murtha has changed his mind from when he had it made up earlier regarding Iraq.

God forbid if we now live in world in which our leaders already have their minds made up.

However, it is a time-saving device.

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