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January 09, 2007

Comments

If I wrote that, I would be offering Joe Klein a deadly insult, and the proper response, on his part, would be to offer me a choice between pistols and swords at dawn.

I think in the blogosphere it's between cheetos and twinkies.

And yes, Joe Klein is an a$$.

Some enterprising soul should establish a Joe Klein Pony Fund.

I'm sure Joe could answer your question with ease.

Don't think that nobody noticed this post was just a pathetic piece of subterfuge attempting to avoid answering Joe's question.

what are you afraid of?

Hilzoy: The "some X think" thing isn't supposed to be an actual argument. It's an attack.

It's just a standard strawman. It's an old conservative tactic that's apparently penetrated the media very thoroughly. "Some say Hilzoy likes to roll bums for drinking money" -- the point isn't to prove you like to roll bums. It's to say you're a nasty person and no one should listen to you, without having to much about with "why".

It's all Klien has. When your argument starts with "They're totally right, but I don't like it, so here's why you should ignore them" you're more or less reduced to insults.

And for the record, I'd imagine you're far more likely to be working at soup kitchen then stealing drinking money off bums. :)

what are you afraid of?

Humouring Serious People™.

(Who have, thus far, been seriously wrong about Iraq.)

That Time's so-called liberal voice has adopted the "some say" and 'objectively pro-terrorist/anti-american' tripes makes me blindingly angry.

That Klein gets to play the wounded party for what I am sure are the scores of angry responses he will deservedly get doesn't help either.

Actually, I'm willing to bet actual money that Joe Klein is trolling for attacks. Virtuous self-pity (viewing yourself as the last defender of Good besieged by the minions of Evil) is more addictive than crack. Combine with a talent for wordsmithing, and now it's a communicable high.

And then, of course, there's all the rules one gets to break if you're on the side of Good and you're losing.

Virtuous self-pity (viewing yourself as the last defender of Good besieged by the minions of Evil) is more addictive than crack.
...
And then, of course, there's all the rules one gets to break if you're on the side of Good and you're losing.

Sounds like GWB and his administration.

Honestly: it's as though he has no conception whatsoever of honor.

Very few do, in my experience.

I'd play his little game, but I get too burned up by the thought that "hope" is somehow relevant.

The issue of the day is that we have no prospect of pacifying Baghdad, and yet he feels the most important issue is to divide the world up into those who "hope" we'll do it anyway and those who don't. Jesus Christ.

he feels the most important issue is to divide the world up into those who "hope" we'll do it anyway and those who don't

he's just positioning himself on the right side, so that, in a few years, when the wingnuts get around to rewriting the history we're living through right now, he won't be on the side that caused the US to lose the war - that'll be Cindy Sheehan, Sean Penn and the foul-mouthed liberals who made our troops betray Bush's Grand Plan.

Actually, I'm willing to bet actual money that Joe Klein is trolling for attacks.

I hadn't, before this, realized that Time had a blog.

Apparently the lesson Joe Klein learned from Vietnam was to never stop clapping, to support the mission even when not provided the resources, so as to avoid both blame and responsibility. Obviously dishonorable.

The obvious lesson from Vietnam was the Powell Doctrine, and I personally believe a mission should be refused if the necessary resources are not provided. It is very much easier to talk about the honour, or lack thereof, of Joe Klein than Powell himself in the runup to the war, or any of the other officers in charge.

I believe, as of now, that Petraeus is an honorable man with an honourable plan that is going to collapse in the field. Why believe me and not Petraeus? Does my lack of hope and perserverance betray a lack of courage and honour, or has Petraeus's honour, and it is real, led him into Balaklava or Stalingrad? Do I dishonour my military by doubting?

Like, I grew up living this question every day.

Bill Arkin talked with 3rd Division soldier this week, on the way to their 3rd tour in Iraq. They apparently have no doubts as to their mission and capabilities. Too many won't be coming back intact.

Why believe me and not Petraeus?

Because you are bob mcmanus, destroyer of worlds!

You know back when this thing started in 2002, and I was calling for full mobilization of ridiculous proportion in line with the Powell Doctrine, there was not a single soul in the world with me. Maybe Shinseki, but I am not sure he wasn't trying to stop the war which wasn't going to be stopped. But I don't remember anyone else.

Is this ego to remind y'all? No it's grief at the loss of resources, young men and honour.

"Some say Hilzoy likes to roll bums for drinking money"

That was a long time ago, when the hilzoy worked at the biker bar, and I don't hold it against her.

Honor is overrated--just finished the Aubrey-Maturin series and Maturin is, at times, a bit too eager to put a bullet or a sword into people. I liked him otherwise.

Klein is presumably thinking of people of my ideological stripe, who see Bush as a war criminal. He reasons that it must be hard to see the Iraq War as a war crime and simultaneously wish for Bush to succeed in stemming the killing, especially when the likely result will be further military adventures in Iran and a perceived vindication for the torturer-in-chief.

Nonetheless, I want the killing in Iraq to cease and so I want the policy to succeed.

Followed by impeachment, war crimes trials, and the proverbial pony, if we're talking about my wishes. But I still want it to stop without that. I do insist on no further adventures, however. Perhaps we can erect a towering statue of Bush in his flight suit as compensation. Or just a big old phallus, next to, but bigger than the Washington Monument.

I also feel it necessary to point out that if the Lancet2 paper is right in all its details (and maybe it isn't, I don't know) then much of the killing in Iraq has been carried out by Americans.

"Honor is overrated"

"...then much of the killing in Iraq has been carried out by Americans."

Honor is not overrated, although it is hard to find the honorable course sometimes, and even harder to ride that course. The Geneva and Hague Conventions were designed to help.

Joking about honor, Bob. But the kind of honor that led to duels was usually just murderous egotism. Hilzoy was kidding about the pistols and swords (I think) and it reminded me of the novels I'd been reading.

I see Klein is still living in that glorious bygone era where pundits could expect credit for offering up banalities like "a thing can be true even if George Bush believes it." Wow! You've been hoping for the best, Joe? Why, that's awfully Serious and Fair and Balanced of you -- too bad the rest of us never thought of that! I'm so glad that Even The Liberal Joe Klein is wise and far-seeing enough to support the President's proven military genius.

It's embarrassing to watch guys like this vanish in a cloud of pompous gasbaggery the first time they encounter a bit of strong criticism. Toughen up, for Chrissakes.

Andrew popping in with his gentle reminder just gots me all inspired tonight.

But you see, if many people or the right sort of people had taken a stand with Bush in 2002 many more resources could have been available, if not in 2002, then in 2003 or 2004. Bush, in his orgasmic flush after 9/11, might have stamped his foot, but he would have more confidence in winning Congress with a war than without one, and I think would have asked for real sacrifice.

I mean the numbers were always plain, and disregarding the disinformation channeled thru Packer, Woodward, Suskind, the WH and Pentagon were not filled with delusional idiots. That is what history will say.

1 soldier for twenty population in counterinsurgency. It's a hearts and minds thing. Now Iraq was, and is, an especially difficult case. So I say 1:5. 5 million Americans. I called for fifty million as a negotiating tactic. Is anyone still around from those days?

What I heard was:"Cakewalk" or "Wars are different now" and "We gots supersoldiers worth 50 ordinary soldiers." Master Sargeant Ken White at old Tacitus would say "Calm, down, the boys are doing fine." as another twelve-yr-girl had her head replaced with a dog's.

What were you saying in 2003, Andrew?

Don't Call Me Swopadamus ...Swopa, duh, on the framing that continues the war:

"As long as the warmongers think they've got an argument between those who "want to win" and those who want to admit defeat, they're going to keep pushing forward.

If we can change the argument to one between people who want to face reality and those who want to cling to fantasies, thereby making a bad situation worse ("One more gallon of gasoline, and I'll have this fire out in no time!"), then the political cost will grow enough that Dubya will have to give in -- or, at least, the public will stand behind the Democrats who take his toys away, instead of feeling guilty about it."

I have said too much already. But I see the good guys losing this debate, which means the war continuing, which means more dead folk. Mostly Iraqi, of course.

I will confess, a while ago, post Iraq invasion but way before Lieberman/Lamont (I think), I sent Klein an email about his appearances on CNN, cause he couldn't decide whether to look at the monitor or the interviewer, and it made him look shifty. I don't really recall him being that odious back then, but he's really taken a plunge. Or maybe I've gotten more militant about it all?

Donald J: I think I differ from the people who actually did kill other people over matters of honor on several counts: first, on some questions of what calls one's honor into question, and second, on whether killing is itself an honorable response.

I don't think I differ much about the seriousness of the kind of calumny that Klein is engaging here (except insofar as one reason why honor mattered then -- the fact that one had to be seen to maintain it -- is less true now.)

I mean: as far as I'm concerned, things people say about me divide pretty neatly into two groups.

(1) Normal criticism, which I try to take seriously in the sense of wondering whether it's true, and mind insofar as the person who makes it matters to me. But if on reflection I think it's not true, and I don't know or care about the person who makes it, I just think: well, did I expect everyone to like me? No. -- and go on my way.

(2) Things that, if true, would mean that I am a fundamentally loathsome person -- that I fall beneath some minimal level of decency that only scumbags fall below. In this category are claims that I am a thief, an apologist for totalitarianism (Walter Duranty, anyone?), a child molester, etc. This is not normal criticism: if someone says: hey, you're a child molester (and that person isn't kidding, etc.), that's wholly and completely different from saying: you don't write very well, or: you can be sort of a jerk sometimes.

If we lose, as I suspect we will, then the following things will happen, I think: Iraq will fall into unchecked civil war, lots more people will die, the region might go up in flames, and our own national interests will be badly damaged. The idea that I might prefer this to George Bush being able to claim credit for a successful policy (even if he smirks while doing it) is, as far as I can tell, the idea that I am a wholly unprincipled sociopath, a person who wants to be right more than she wants a lot of innocent people to regain the ability to (a) live at all, and (b) live basically normal lives.

That Joe Klein can go around saying this stuff without, apparently, noticing the kind of thing he's saying, and that it is exactly like me saying: oh, you only care about dead and maimed people insofar as they provide good copy -- well, I don't understand it.

But I see the good guys losing this debate, which means the war continuing, which means more dead folk. Mostly Iraqi, of course.

Unfortunately, the issue is not going to be decided by a debate. Even if you thought the good guys were winning the debate, would it change what President Surge intends to do?

Only two things will prevent escalation. Either the Democrats go crazy and cut off funds (at best, a lukewarm version of this will happen, and even then I don't know if its actually possible to cut off funds for only part of a war), or the Republicans go crazy and give Bush the message (ain't gonna happen, yet -- but they have got to be getting nervous as 2008 approaches).

President Crazy will engage in his usual brinksmanship falsely labeled as resolve. He'll get his escalation for a little while because no one really knows how to stop him.

Way too many folks seem OK with letting President Truman Wannabe diddle along and so long as he only kills a dozen or so Americans every week.

The week following tomorrow's speech rolling out the latest war product should tell a lot.

Hilzoy,

This is just modern day McCarthyism: making an accusation and making it nasty enough that the smear remains, while keeping it vague enough so that those who make the smear don't have to back it up with specifics.

Glenn Reynolds did it when he claimed that you can find apologists for Castro in pretty much every newsroom or when Christopher Hitchens states there "are quite obviously people close to the leadership of today's Democratic Party who do not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq."

It's a particularly mendacious form of character assassination.

Virtuous self-pity (viewing yourself as the last defender of Good besieged by the minions of Evil) is more addictive than crack.

Hell I think that was Liberman's platform in 2006.

"He'll get his escalation for a little while because no one really knows how to stop him."

Preview of the Battle of Baghdad

What I don't get is the military. I want to think the best of Petraeus and Odierno, but the above is really the only way we will "take" Baghdad. Airstrikes, artillery in civilian neighborhoods. Fallujah.

After what has gone before, I couldn't do it. I could not demand that Iraqi women & children pay the price of Bush's mistakes, at my hand. I would consider it...dishonorable.

I have been saying it for years. The Hague Convention demands that invading armies provide security to civilians in large part to force invaders to use large numbers of ground troops, i.e., to increase the domestic costs and make aggression hard. There is no honor left in this war.

JK, like so many others, is willing to cheer on the deaths of hundreds more rather than admit that those awful leftists were right. Pathetic.

I have to admit that on some very deep level I don't get the refusal to admit that people I disagreed with about this or that were quite right, and that whether or not I like them (or even respect them) on the personal level, basic honesty requires acknowledging that they were right and I was wrong. Of course my parents raised us to respect the search for truth, and for wise judgments about what we found, with the idea that truth and wisdom could turn up absolutely anywhere. Someone might have only one idea ever that I'd think of as a good one, but if that one was good, then it justified itself.

JM: I hadn't, before this, realized that Time had a blog.

IIRC it just started up this past week.

hilzoy: If I met the grieving widow of a soldier who died in Iraq... I'd feel something more than: gee, what a great story! Does the thought ever cross your mind?

Horrible as the thought may be, if it were an Iraqi soldier I think answer would be "No".

Ah, I see. Klein is just selling some ads on Time's new blog. Throw some gasoline on the intertubes and watch the clicks and eyeballs roll in. It's not personal, it's just business. Calumny, shmalumny, it's all in a day's work.

Throw some gasoline on the intertubes and watch the clicks and eyeballs roll in.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. Although the fact that it also pisses off the dirty hippies is just gravy.

It's not that the news people explicitly apologize for Castro. It's that they and many liberals/leftists thought that for instance, Reagan was evil, and say that on comments hereabouts, but one the other hand, the Communista aren't that bad. So does that mean, that you Eastern Europe and Nicaragua would be better off Communist? That's the implication I get.

And for what it's worth, there are apaologists for Castro around here tout Cuba's literacy rate, but downplay Cuban librarians actually being thrown in prison. Probably because of the Patriot Act! Librarians all ascared of Georghe Bush is a big problem. Poets thrown in jail in Cuba, not so much.

This reminds me of the thread von had about Somalia, where people were more or les saying that Ethiopia is definitely bad, plus America is bad for supporting them, and maybe the Islamic Courts should be allowed to rule Somalia. In my mind, ICU is Al Qaeda. Maybe you can think of it differently, same way as America=BAD, Communists=not so bad, really.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday that he plans to nationalize the country's electrical and telecommunications companies, his boldest move yet to transform Venezuela into a socialist state.

"All of those sectors that in an area so important and strategic for all of us as is electricity — all of that which was privatized, let it be nationalized," Chavez said in a televised speech after swearing in a new Cabinet.

"C.A. Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (CANTV), let it be nationalized," Chavez said. "The nation should recover its property of strategic sectors."

So that's a big victory for the people of Venezaula, teh public television will rule the airwaves, and people there will unonimously agree that Bush is the idiot, and smells like sulfur, much better than here where actors and musicians are fearful of criticizing the unitary president and Fox News for some reason is still allowed to exist.

I know I, personally, lament daily that Communism did not successfully defeat Reagan. I assume I speak for every liberal not named Joe Klein in saying that.

You know, DaveC, being opposed to US Cuba policy is not the same as being pro-Castro. Some people just think that perhaps after trying a policy for 30 or 40 years with no success it might be worth contemplating other approaches. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised to find that people still supporting Bush disagree with that, so I don't expect them to reevaluate the war strategy before 2050 or so.

Reagan and other anticommunists didn't care about people getting thrown in prison or massacred or otherwise mistreated by their governments or militaries. As long as those governments were anticommunist, it was all fine and dandy. I still haven't figured out why it's okay to deal with communists when they're in China or Vietnam.

Those fearsome Commies in Nicaragua actually did bring working elections to their country. That's a good thing in my book.

And as entertaining as Hugo C. can be, he is getting more thuggish and autocratic. That's a bad thing in my book.

There are not many places where democracy is gaining nowadays. And no, holding elections does not a democracy make.

Poets thrown in jail in Cuba, not so much

Somehow I think you don't feel the same about this poet thrown in jail in Cuba...

bob wrote:
No it's grief at the loss of resources, young men and honour.

. . . I'm certain you didn't consciously mean that you have no regret over the loss of young American *women* in Iraq, but it kind of jumped up and punched me in the face. And I'll also assume that "the loss of hundreds of thousands of Iraq lives" comes under the heading of "loss of honour", OK?

It's not that the news people explicitly apologize for Castro. It's that they and many liberals/leftists thought that for instance, Reagan was evil, and say that on comments hereabouts, but one the other hand, the Communista aren't that bad.

Proof? For once?

Done

Eason Jordan:

I thank you very much for being here tonight. Let me also thank Fidel Castro. In the earliest days of CNN, when CNN was meant to be seen only in the United States, the enterprising Fidel Castro was pirating and watching CNN in Cuba. Fidel was intrigued by CNN. He wanted to meet the person responsible. So Ted Turner, who at that point had never traveled to a Communist country or knowingly met a Communist, [went to Havana]. It was big deal for Ted and during the discussions Castro suggested that CNN be made available to the entire world. In fact it was that seed, that idea that grew into CNN International, which is now seen in every country and territory on the planet.

Castro, Saddam Hussein, CNN thanks you so very much! There is no such thing as foreign, you'll be fined if you say that word in a CNN newsroom.

DaveC:

"On a cold February morning more than three decades ago, Richard Nixon entered Mao Tse-tung's study in Beijing. The conversation that followed was slow and fitful because it went through interpreters. It was as one might expect of two people who were strangers but who had heard a lot about each other. They said how pleased they were to meet and exchanged polite compliments. They talked about mutual acquaintances and briefly about their mutual foe, the Soviet Union. They made some jokes, mainly at the expense of Nixon's companion Henry Kissinger, but they were generally serious. After an hour, and a last exchange of pleasantries, Nixon took his leave."

Cite. -- A Republican, exchanging COMPLIMENTS and PLEASANTRIES with a totalitarian responsible for the deaths of millions?

But wait: there's more:

"PRESIDENT BUSH: So, all in all, we feel very happy about the healthy and stable expansion of China-U.S. relations. I think we would not have achieved such a state of our bilateral relations had it not been for your outstanding leadership.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, thank you."

The head of a Communist country is an outstanding leader? And our President is thanking him?

What's the world coming to?

"OK?" ...DS

Terrific. Thanks for the corrections. Spot on.

hilzoy - Castro is different you see, because, um, well, he's closer! Whereas China and Vietnam are in a completely different hemisphere than the U.S. of A.(and don't mind the fact that the communists in Vietnam killed more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers just a few decades ago, look at all the cheap sh!t we get from them!).

Plus, Castro has a beard.

We all know the real reason the sanctions stay in place for Cuba is because the Miami exile community, with their voting power in Florida, insist upon it.

As an old-syle realist, I have no problem trading with Cuba. Communism is no longer the threat that it once was, and trading with China has resulted (as we hoped) in the rise of a middle class that is beginning to participate in politics.

For that matter, I think we should just deal evenly with Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega, and any other leftist caudillos that rise to power in Latin America. As long as they trade with us, why should we care if they socialize their economies? And if Chavez threatens to nationalize U.S. assets in Venezuela, we could equally threaten to freeze Venezuelan assets in the U.S.

Bob,

In answer to your question, I failed to anticipate the insurgency in Iraq (nor do I recall anyone talking about one at the time, which doesn't mean people weren't, only that I didn't see it), so I looked at Iraq from a strictly conventional military perspective in my assessments. A significant failing on my part, to be sure.

3rdGorchBro: We all know the real reason the sanctions stay in place for Cuba is because the Miami exile community, with their voting power in Florida, insist upon it.

How nice it must be for them to have such power and influence in the US and around the world, and what a shame they choose to use it in such a stupid and petty manner.

Ugh: Castro has a beard.

Castro is gay???

(Yes, stupid joke, I know.)

Thanks Andrew. Sorry if I was offensive and disrespectful.
...
If Joe Klein seems shrill and delkusional, let me suggest this: te 1 billion dollars in new reconstructtion really feels to me like a demand, and I mean demand, put on the President as a condition for Petraeus for taking command. Or a condition, or gentle and humble request. Whatever.

Joe Klein my have sat across a desk from Petraeus and heard Petraeus say:"I can do it." Joe Klein is in the same room, same town, has Petraeus as a source, has to talk to him again.

I am 1500 miles away and don't have to look Petraeus in the eye, and I have difficulty telling Petraeus he is full of it. What do we expect Klein to do?

Another lesson Klein took from Vietnam:"Respect the soldiers."

DaveC,

That's not proof. That's thanking him for letting them open a news bureau.

Ronald Reagan was not even mentioned.

Proof? Still waiting . . .

Andrew, IIRC, I think the document the State Department offered to Rumsfeld, and which he discarded, warned of something like the insurgency happening if the after invasion period was not handled well.

Whether or not competent post invasion management of the situation would have prevented the insurgency from happening we will never know. I do recall that when the Iraqi army was disbanded, there were some dire warnings about what the consequences of that would be.

I do think a lot of people warned about al Qaeda becoming a threat in Iraq if we invaded.

We all know the real reason the sanctions stay in place for Cuba is because the Miami exile community, with their voting power in Florida, insist upon it.

I tend to look askance at this sort of claim, and note that Florida has been a swing state for much less time than the Cuba sanctions have been in place.

And I'm wondering which way you think the Cuban exiles would vote, preferentially, and how many of them do you think bother to?

Just to compare a couple of data points, the D/R split in Miami-Dade for the 1992 general election (presidential vote only) was roughly 52%-48%, with fractional bits going to the odd parties. In 2000 the split was more like 53%-47%; note that the purported Elian Gonzales effect isn't all that noticeable. A more detailed analysis will have to compare Florida's split with that of, perhaps, the rest of the country, or Miami-Dade's split with that of, say, the northern half of the state.

BTW, I do think that if Petraeus had been in charge of the whole effort from the beginning, things mught have turned out differently.

Of all the military leaders that I have heard about, he may well be the best shot we have for any success. And Bob, you might be correct that he demanded (politely requested) the money knowing that this only has a chance of success if we provide the Iraqis somethiong to do that can be positive for them.

I think a major problem in the beginning was how many jobs that could have been done by Iraqis were provided to others.

Bob,

No worries, it was a good question and I saw nothing disrespectful in it. If I sounded defensive, it's because it's pretty embarrassing as a military professional to drop the ball as completely as I did. I can hardly blame that on anyone else (well, I suppose I could, but it wouldn't be accurate).

Andrew: "I can hardly blame that on anyone else (well, I suppose I could, but it wouldn't be accurate)."

I couldn't resist.

As for the Cuba sanctions, I suspect that comes down to our national character: we're stubborn people, as a rule. It took us 20+ years to normalize relations with Vietnam after the war, mainly (IMHO) because we were unhappy about losing (and you can see the ongoing debate over Vietnam still being played out today). Cuba is much the same, I think.

On the other hand, it may merely be inertia. People tend to assume that the Cuban vote is important to win Florida, and that the sanctions are crucial to hold the Cuban vote, so nobody is willing to stand up and say 'Hey, this is kinda silly.'

DaveC, perhaps you were looking for this:

While Fidel Castro, and certainly justified on his record, is widely criticized for a lot of things, there is no question that Castro feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba and, I recognize this might be controversial, but there’s little doubt in my mind that Fidel Castro was sincere when he said, 'Listen, we really want this child back here.'

Plus he had the nerve to actually interview Castro in 1979! I assume that's when the picture was taken.

The content behind those links doesn't actually support your argument, but let's not worry about that right now. What I don't understand is why you seem to regard "failure to attack" as "active support." Why should CNN have to choose between being provincial and pro-Castro? When Americans talk about letting the Islamic Courts Union run Mogadishu do you really interpret that as an endorsement of Ahmed and Aweys? Is your limbic system really that easily engaged?

Seriously. You make it sound as though anything less than a full frontal attack on anyone to whom you object is the same as support. As though it's impossible to coexist with one's enemies, or to methodically undermine them over time.

But in that case why do we do business with China? Who exactly are "the Communistas" and how bad exactly are they? Heck, why not invade Saudi Arabia?

Could be I'm wrong, Slart, and that as Andrew points out it's mostly inertia and a matter of politicians' assumptions. Either way, as I said before, I'm all for trading with Cuba. And my desire to try a real Cuban cigar has absolutely nothing to do with it, I assure you. ;)

Have you people ever dined at Ted Turner's Montana Grill?

There is cigar smoke wafting from the bar and the wait staff shares their tips with the hostess' and the busboys.

Need I say more?

What's next, Che Guevara's Low-Sugar Shack Patisserie? Stalin's Little Taste of the Ukraine? Emman Goldman's Deli and Schniztel Parlour? Trotsky's Taco Take-Out (where you get a free set of ice picks for those hard-to-handle brainstems)? Michael Harrington's Socialist Den of Sushi Thieves? Ho's Hot and Sour Hotwings Hutch? Pol's Party Potluck of Human Fondue? Hillary's Universal Minibrewery, where you can get every beer in the world from one bartender, when all you could really afford was a warm Bud Light? Marshall Tito's House of Cream of Kalishnakov Soup Kitchen? The Bush Appointee Poultry Bar and Bombing Range, with its fine selection of shrapnel-free guinea fowl and periodic eagle tastings? Karl and Mark's Kat Korral with ample parking in the rear? Ben and Jerry's Sandinista Creamery and Swine Garden? Robespierre's Souffle and Chophouse (try the escallopes de veaux de Marie Antoinette) in the newly renovated Bastille? Fidel's Organic Cigar Bar?

Plus, Turner's place specializes in buffalo meat, which I hold as an insult to the honorable memory of Lt. Colonel George Custer, who gave his scalp to insure that highly marbled beef would rule the High Plains.

John,

Wholly OT, but you live somewhere near Colorado Springs, don't you? If so, I'd like to get together before I head east, if you're interested.

The Muhamedens don't come around here waving bells at us!. We don't get Buddhists playing bagpipes in our bathroom. Or Hindus harmonizing in the halls. The Shintuist don't come here shattering sheet glass in the bathhouse and shouting slogans!"

Andrew, click on my name and email me.

We'll synchronize watches. I'll buy, unless you're on per diem. ;)

Weekdays are good for me, but I'm pretty flexible.

Bring Hilzoy too.

Bring Hilzoy too

Would that I could. She's much more interesting than I am. :) But unless she's willing to fly to Colorado, I think we're out of luck on that.

No I'm not. Dull as dishwater.

Apropos of the Castro silliness, courtesy of The Simpsons:

Castro: Comrades, our nation is completely bankrupt! We have no choice but to abandon communism!
All: [sighs]
Castro: I know, I know, I know... but we all knew from day one this mumbo jumbo wouldn't fly! I'll call Washington and tell them they won.
Man: But presidente, America tried to kill you!
Castro: Ah, they're not so bad. They even named a street after me in San Francisco!
Man 2: [whispers in Castro's ear]
Castro: It's full of what?!

Dull as dishwater.

Geez, what does that make me? Dull as plain water?

This makes three of us.

Plus, I can imagine the long silences as you both ponder my hump, crossed eyes and the fact that I wear my Depends on the outside of my pants.

I can never think of anything to say. I leave it all on the table here. Ask Sebastian.

I wear my Depends on the outside of my pants.

Where are you supposed to wear them? The instructions on the box are a little vague.

One important factor in the Cuban emigre influence is organized crime. Castro's revolution took off partly because a lot of Cubans got tired of being Mafia South, and it retains popularity in part because US plans for overthrowing Castro have always sounded to Cubans like putting the Mob back in power. There are of course Cubans who don't like either the Mob or Castro, in both Cuba and the US, but they aren't well-organized or well-connected.

It's kind of easy to forget now, with the major families in probably terminal decline, just how important the Mob was in American politics for decades. Mob connections were crucial in helping make the invasion and occupation of Sicily work in World War II, and got paid off with deals of many kinds. Mob ties got JFK a big chunk of his maybe-victory. The CIA gave prominent attention to the Mob in a lot of its more exotic (not to say stupid) schemes in the '50s through the '70s. These guys are the Cubans so hot to avoid doing anything that might hinder the return of their glory days of running Las Vegas-on-the-Caribbean, with the added advantages of no US regulation.

Bruce,

Are there any good books you'd recommend on the subject? That's an interesting history you recount, and I'd be interested in reading more about it.

Andrew, I've only picked up bits and pieces of it in various contexts. You'll find some in accounts of the Bay of Pigs debacle, tangential mentions in accounts of how RICO and other efforts did in the old Mafia in America, and like that, but if there's a good history of Cuba in the 20th century, I don't know about it.

ThirdGorchBro: Your 10:41am post has given me hope. Thanks!

john miller: I do think that if Petraeus had been in charge of the whole effort from the beginning, things mught have turned out differently.

How likely is it that David Petraeus could have been elected President in 2000, or that (if he had been) he would have chosen to invade Iraq?

Yes, I know, by "in charge of the whole effort" you don't mean the President/Vice President, but if he'd been Tommy Franks or George Casey. I think that blaming the generals in command for the failures of the Iraqi invasion/occupation is a mistake: we know where the blame for the primary failures of the war and the occupation should be laid, and it's not with the people who neither decided to go to war nor were responsible for underfunding and under-resourcing the war so that it was bound to be a failure: and many of the causes of the insurgency lie with bad decisions that weren't even made by the Defense Department.

"In my mind, ICU is Al Qaeda."

But, you know, outside your mind, in the real world, it isn't. Which is not to say the ICU is a good thing, but not every bad thing, or even every bad Islamic thing, is al Qaeda, and it hampers our efforts against al Qaeda to claim otherwise. Saddam wasn't al Qaeda, either; neither are the leaders of Iran.

And neither is "Al Qaeda in Iraq" according to the majority of commenters here, if that's your dfeinition of the real world.

NPR says Al Qaeda is in Somalia

as does CNN

as does the Times Online.

as does USA Today

as does ABC.

So, I'll tend to favor the side that Al Qaeda is not backing rather than the same side that Al Qaeda supports.

From the ABC report:

Last summer, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told ABC News that his government had collected information on the movement of dozens of al Qaeda militants from Pakistan to Somalia, a migration Pakistani officials believe is part of an elaborate al Qaeda operation not only to provide military and financial resources to the UIC but also to establish bases and training facilities in Somalia.

Last October, Yemeni authorities arrested eight foreigners, including three Australians, a British national, a German and a Dane, for running an al Qaeda-sponsored weapons and human smuggling network to Somalia.

That said, I'm not an expert about these matters, just looks bad to me.

Pity we are so occupied in Iraq that we can't don anything about Somalia. Wonder how that happened?

AQI is affiliated with AQ. Who says different?

I wouldn't say that it's wholly or closely controlled by the AQ leadership from caves in Pakistan (or wherever). So it depends on the context, and what someone is saying. If an AQI denier (let's call them) means 'the people using the AQ brand in I are not under Dr. Z's direct supervision' that seems correct to me. And the fact that some Dr. Z advisor(s) run with AQI doesn't necessarily change that.

We apparently have soldiers in Somalia now. That doesn't mean you can call soldiers of either the transitional government, or the Ethiopian Army, "Americans."

DaveC, in case you are drawing the wrong conclusion, I'd like to see AQ defeated utterly, using every means at our disposal: police, diplomatic, and, yes, military. But using each judiciously. The swatting flies with sledgehammers strategy works -- if your goal is getting people in the base fired up, but it is a complete failure if your goal is defeating AQ. The current US government is not showing me that it wants to defeat AQ, but rather that it has other, incompatible objectives. And that it's incompetent and sometimes delusional.

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