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March 23, 2007

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But it's not going to pass the Senate, no way, no how. So it will never get to Bush's desk to sign, and everyone knows it.

Which makes the steps of the dance a little different.

zmulls: I think we just face the same questions. If it fails in the Senate, and that's because of a filibuster, then the question will be: are the Republicans willing to let the appropriations bill come to a vote, or will they stall forever? And for us: if they refuse to yield, do we blink, and pass a different bill?

Still a game of chicken.

Of course you're right, hil, but it's just politics, and thus 'right' doesn't necessarily enter in. It's in Bush's political interest to blame the Democrats for refusing to fund the troops, and that's why he makes a veto threat in advance, tries to act like his decision is a done deal and thus Congress is playing games, etc.

The Dems are doing what the people elected them to do, in my book. Bush is free to do what he feels the people elected him to do, which is to say, veto. That's how the system works. The Democrats would be far worse off, from a political perspective, if they refused to do what they were elected to do just because they know Bush won't cooperate. It's the United States Congress, not the President's Bill-Writing Staff.

The Democrats would be far worse off, from a political perspective, if they refused to do what they were elected to do

Er, I elected them to clean up corruption and for Paygo.

You see how that’s working out for me :(

"(I direct my annoyance instead at those Representatives who insisted on a price for their votes.) "

In some circles that would fall under prostitution.

I have mixed feelings about what to do next. Right now every Republican except 2) and those Dems who voted against the bill have decided not to fund the troops. At least by the criteria set by the Republicans in 2004. I am sure the bill, if one is ever agreed upon by both the House and Senate, will be vetoed if it has any restrictions, including readiness demands.

On the one hand, I would like to see the Dems not bend. But on the other, by giving in they can show that they support the troops whereas the Republicans and bush wanted to play polictics with money for the troops.

At this point, I don't see either side in a win it all situation.

Besides, even if Bush did sign it, as was pointed out in another thread, he would use his signing statement to say he viewed this as advisory and not binding.

But on the other, by giving in they can show that they support the troops whereas the Republicans and bush wanted to play polictics with money for the troops.

I don't think giving in makes you look at all like the better man, in a political context. In fact, it makes it look like you were the one playing games, because obviously the objections weren't as important to you as the other guy's were.

"Supporting the troops," regrettably, has become nothing but a meaningless catch-phrase at this point. Jim Webb, no troop-hater he, says it best when he points out that fighting the war for the troops' sake is getting matters exactly backwards.

john miller: Besides, even if Bush did sign it, as was pointed out in another thread, he would use his signing statement to say he viewed this as advisory and not binding.

He has that (d) option for most of the strings that let him do what he wants anyway. But it makes him justify it and puts him on record. That let’s the Democrats say, “See – we supported the troops by trying to make sure they were rested and ready and had everything they needed but Bush sent them anyway.”

It’s actually not a bad tightrope walk politically. If Democrats manage to get us out of there by fall 08 that puts them into the sweet spot for the election (assuming the Sunni haven’t been cleansed and Turkey doesn’t invade when the Kurds declare independence). If it’s still dragging on then they have one of these (d) certifications to point to for every time Bush invoked it.

But someone will blink. If we hit the end of April and nothing has passed you’ll start to hear stories about troops running out of food and ammunition (the supply chain is actually a lot longer than that and it would really be months, but the stories will be there). There will be stories about the plight of military families on the home front because the paychecks aren’t hitting the banks. If you think the outcry over Walter Reed was bad you haven’t seen anything yet

I agree with OCSteve about signing statements. I think he's been able to get away with them because he uses them on hidden things, so that you have to pay attention to notice that he just doesn't seem to think he needs to obey laws he doesn't like. This would be a lot more visible.

I also think that if we pull out, Iraq will get a lot worse, and we will be blamed. We should do it anyways, I think, because I don't see how our staying in will do more than delay Iraq's getting worse, at an enormous cost to us, Iraq, and the troops. (It's not as though our being in Iraq is free of badness for the Iraqis, after all.) But that will be politically very hard.

I think the Democrats know this, and I give them credit for going ahead anyways.

CharleyCarp: With Gilchrist voting with the majority. OCS, you going to call him?

From the older thread – but I thought it worth bringing up here because I just reread the (form) letter he (staffer) sent me after my last outburst. First of all, why do Congressmen feel the need to respond to email with snail-mail – 6 weeks later. What are all those staffers doing if they have a 6 week backlog? And hello – the Inter tubes, hit “Reply”…

Anyway – it is a good letter and a good outline of his position. I know it is in response to my first em and not my follow up because it is a bit defensive. But it is pretty good for a form letter.

I should try to find time to scan it and get it posted somewhere – maybe TOC.

I agree, I think this needed to pass. And if Bush decides to veto it, Democrats should come back with either the exact same bill, minus the pork, or better yet a tougher bill, minus the pork.

Minus the pork because who's going to say, all else being equal, "I changed my mind on giving our troops some light at the end of tunnel because there weren't enough sweeteners in this one."

By "tougher" I particularly mean (1) real, binding readiness requirements, and (2) a tighter timetable. (1) should be and can be made to be politically suicidal to vote against -- especially if antiwar people do a good job pushing that. The "slow bleed" label on Murtha was libel; the "slow bleed" label should be stuck to *Bush* for *not* sending over combat-ready units. That could and should be our job on the outside. For one thing, we should expand "readiness" to encompass "ready to care for the wounded once they're back at Walter Reed" and ring Bush and the GOP like a damned bell on that every chance we get.

(2) could be done by ratcheting everything up a month -- not enough to lose votes, but enough to make Bush wish he'd signed the dang thing the first time around.

Call it a "Sibylline Books" strategy: The Cumaean Sibyl offered to Tarquin nine books of these prophecies; and as the king declined to purchase them, owing to the exorbitant price she demanded, she burned three and offered the remaining six to Tarquin at the same stiff price, which he again refused, whereupon she burned three more and repeated her offer. Tarquin then relented and purchased the last three at the full original price and had them preserved in a vault beneath the Capitoline temple of Jupiter.

OCSteve - your congressman is apparently Benedict Arnold, in Bizarro World (they even have a picture of good old Benedict up).

From Bush's statement:
Yet, today, a narrow majority in the House of Representatives advocated its responsibility

Surely that's supposed to be 'abdicated'?

Ignorant jerk.

The flaw in Thomas' scenarios, which appeal to me greatly, is the Senate. Where we can't even get all the Democrats to sign onto a withdrawal timeline tied to funding.

Jim Webb says he's not inclined to vote for the Senate version; I wish I thought that were just talk, but he's not much on 'just talk.' He's said since his campaign began that he wouldn't vote to defund as a way of ending the war, but I'm afraid a lot of his supporters didn't believe him, or thought he'd change his mind faced with Bush's intransigence.

Nell: I think Bush actually said 'abdicated.'

The Democrats haven't secretly subjected him to some strange neurological procedure that causes him to become unable to sign his name whenever he sees a certain word, and then malevolently put that very word into the bill's title.

LOL

Thanks, I needed that.

Why do I get the feeling that you wish the Democrats could do that? I sure do! And then, a word that makes him squawk like a chicken every time a member of the press says it! And then...well, maybe I had better stop there.

Hey, OCSteve: chin up on the corruption. Domestic spending, even stuffed into a bill where it does not belong, does not equal pork, much less corruption.

What have Dems done that is corrupt? (or failed to do?)

So the highly paid staff in the WH press office are sloppily allowing him look ignorant. I used to get just these kinds of things in letters from George Allen's office, too.

It was just such a sloppy staffer who originally named me Mr. Hilzoy Bole, whence my name ;)

At the risk of sounding like a concern troll: isn't anyone here struck by the fact that the surge appears to be *working*? Or at least going a lot better than Jim Henley, Matt Yglesias and Spencer Ackerman predicted?

Some recent positive developments:

The passage of the oil law.

The decline in sectarian murders.

Most strikingly, we've seen Sadr's political party abandon its boycott of the national government and his militia permitting US troops into Sadr city.

When I brought this up at Unfogged, the folks there pointed out that the violence in Iraq has always been cyclical and that a seasonal dip was to be expected (I think I first read about this phenomenon on Jim Henley's site; Justin Logan has since written about it at Tapped.) But it's not just insurgent attacks that have declined; it's sectarian murders, too -- and this is a new (and hopeful) thing.

Anyway, I wouldn't be a good concern troll if I didn't end this comment with a declaration of my lefty bona fides. So, you know, I wish the US had never invaded, etc.

It was just such a sloppy staffer who originally named me Mr. Hilzoy Bole, whence my name ;)

While we're on the subject: on the origin of yours truly's online name.

Considering his prolific use of signing statements, why is that an invalid option for Bush if worst comes to worst?

If the surge does work, and I hope it does, there is no legitimate reason to stay deployed when all is calm and quiet in Iraq.

Nell, Webb's position on defunding the war has been a disappointment for a lot of folks I know who volunteered for his campaign. But then there are other positions that have come as a pleasant surprise. He's turned out to be a lot more progressive than most of us thought originally. I just read this article and was still surprised to see him bringing up issues like the high incarceration rate.

One thing about Sibylline Books or other versions of "chicken" is that Webb and others would have to decide whether to blink too.

Another thing about Webb in particular is that I wonder if he might come to buy a 'special circumstances' rationale to defund this particular war and president (mistake, criminal idiot, respectively) and not have to feel like he's setting some kind of precedent for the ages. Ie, "When in the course of human events an unscrupulous cretin starts an unnecessary war, then we may and should set aside reasonable guidelines about how Congress should deal with a competent CinC and..." etc. etc. I'll have my people talk with his people.

Ugh: your congressman is apparently Benedict Arnold, in Bizarro World (they even have a picture of good old Benedict up).

I was really harsh on him at first. Now I am supportive. Let the Bizarro World guys come after me. I am as much amendment #2 as they are. Piss on ‘em.

Nell: Ignorant jerk.

If you correct all my grammar, I am equally ignorant. Worse, I never went to Yale.

Nell: What have Dems done that is corrupt? (or failed to do?)

A whole post in itself… Chairmanships etc. Fox in the henhouse.

trilobite, I was just going to say that it's passages like that that tell you hilzoy is a philosopher.

Actually, I was thinking of The Manchurian Candidate...

Hey, OCSteve: chin up on the corruption. Domestic spending, even stuffed into a bill where it does not belong, does not equal pork, much less corruption.

What have Dems done that is corrupt? (or failed to do?)

That is pretty funny. And the best part is that most of you all probably agree with this sentiment. You know, most of the disgust that the Republican base had with their party was with the pork and corruption, not to mention the creepy homo stuff that so disturbed the guys at AmericaBlog, (gosh, I hope Avarosis is comforted by the fact that Mark Foley missed his dad's funeral, even though Foley has not yet been convicted of any crime), and that is why the last election was won by the Democrats, because Republicans were persuaded that their representatives were corrupt and creepy. The assertion that Justices Alito and Roberts were going to make it illegal for women to attend colleges, per Senator Kennedy, did not make that much difference because frankly, even though Kennedy is the exemplar of corrupt and creepy, the Democrats embrace him because he hates guys like Justice Roberts.

And protestations that Democrats in 1975 did not positively wanted America to be defeated? Look now, the same darn thing - Democrats want the Iraqi government to lose to Al Qaeda so they can win the presidential election. And America HAS TO LOSE BEFORE THE ELECTION, Democrats demand this! Why am I not surprised?

[email protected] wrote:

And protestations that Democrats in 1975 did not positively wanted America to be defeated? Look now, the same darn thing - Democrats want the Iraqi government to lose to Al Qaeda so they can win the presidential election. And America HAS TO LOSE BEFORE THE ELECTION, Democrats demand this!

Aptly named. So, why aren't you posting your lies somewhere that people might actually believe them?

How the heck is al-Qaeda going to defeat the Iraqi government? There's about 40 levels of stupid bound up in that single post.

[email protected], was that really DaveC? if someone is using davec's handle, I hope the kitty could do something.

DaveC: "Democrats want the Iraqi government to lose to Al Qaeda so they can win the presidential election."

I'm sorry; this is not just false, but offensive. Really offensive.

Democrats do not want to lose the war. But recognizing that it has been lost without our help is a different thing entirely.

Lj: Good thought. I checked. If it's someone pretending to be DaveeC, that person is using not just his pseudonym, but also his IP address.

Yes, DaveC, we're all praying for an al-Qaeda victory (it'll fit in so well with our gay agenda), and Mark Foley was just doing what those homosexuals do, and we woulda won Vietnam if we hadn't been stabbed in the back, and last year's election had nothing to do with the Iraq war, which real Americans are all still gung-ho for. Thanks for your insight. Now maybe you'll give us another extended break until your next outburst.

DaveC has made comments like that before. We just pretend it's an aberration and decide to ignore it and move on. I think the election affected him badly.

OCSteve:Let the Bizarro World guys come after me. I am as much amendment #2 as they are. Piss on ‘em.

Heh.

If the Democrats believe that the war is lost, why don’t they pass something to end the war now?

Takes time to remove troops and materiel from Iraq, Dana. Can't be done in a eyeblink, as you'd know if you thought about it. Also, while the Iraqis who know the war is lost are leaving their country at the rate of about 50 000 a month, obviously, the US owes it to all the Iraqis who want to go to get them out of there. And that can't be done in an eyeblink, either.

Finally, as you'd realize if you thought about it for more than a minute, if Bush's surge is really going to work - and you and Sharon have both claimed that it will and it is, right? - then it must be given a chance to show either that it is working, before the logistics of moving the troops and materiel out of Iraq begin to be the first priority of the US military.

But at least, at last, unless Bush proves intransigent till January 2009, for the US military who have been faced with the prospect of war without victory and without end, there is light at the end of the tunnel: the Democratic House of Representatives have done what they were elected to do.

My goodness, I am sleepy. (It was a horrendous trip back from Belgium, thank you very much.)

Kindly ignore the above comment: It was meant for another blog.

What have Dems done that is corrupt? (or failed to do?)

That is pretty funny. And the best part is that most of you all probably agree with this sentiment.

Followed by: an exposition of the disgust of the GOP base with their representatives and the revelation that Teddy Kennedy is creepy.
I think that the question was directed more at the present, and more at the behavior of the Democrats. Didn't see any real response.

Nell: What have Dems done that is corrupt? (or failed to do?)

A whole post in itself… Chairmanships etc. Fox in the henhouse.

Funny how you can't quite bring yourself to actually say anything. Either
1)It's just too painful to talk about or
2)There isn't anything for you to say- but you don't want to back down, so your satisfying yourself with lame suggestions and meaningless meanderings.
Put up or shut up. What have the Dems done since taking over Congress that is corrupt?

Democrats want the Iraqi government to lose to Al Qaeda

Ahh, the "stab in the back". Well, we all knew it was coming. Somebody's got to take the blame for losing the war, and it sure as $%@& isn't going to be the dumb %#[email protected]&!*%&#ers who dreamed it up, didn't plan for it, didn't send enough troops, etc.
No, Bush must be permitted to hand this war off to the Dem president in 2009, to preserve the fiction that the war wasn't lost long ago. One way or another this war must end as it started- an exercise in pure domestic politics, with our troops as pawns.

Meta, but: any idea what happened to DaveC to turn him from one of our resident "reasonable conservatives" into a parrot for every delusional Ann Coulter talking point imaginable? Is it the same person, or just yet another retarded wingnut soiling what was once a good name?

One benefit of this bill: it permits Republicans to declare that they voted for the war before they voted against it.

Takes time to remove troops and materiel from Iraq, Dana. Can't be done in a eyeblink, as you'd know if you thought about it.

Jesurgislac, since you did post this here, I want to point out a little fact:

How long did it take us to get into iraq against strenuous iraqi opposition?

3 weeks.

3 weeks
after how long a time of preparation?

Ordered retreats can take a good deal longer than marching in, if there is opposition. Simply "running away" would probably cost far more casualties than a thoroughly organized "we are going to leave and nobody dies doing it".
The question is, would the Iraqis fighting the US try to kill as many retreating GIs as possible or would they do everything to help them getting out as fast as possible?

@ OCSteve: Which committee chairs are corrupt, or have done or failed to do something that indicates corruption?

Specifically, what's an example among Dem chairs of the 'fox guarding the henhouse'?

I'd put Joe Lieberman at Homeland Security in that category, for saying he won't investigate Katrina corruption -- but then he's not a Democrat any more. And he's sort of backed off of that statement, though I'm not holding my breath waiting for those hearings.

Silvestre Reyes is a lot stupider than I'd like an Intelligence chair to be. I wish Rush Holt had that job, but he hasn't piled up enough seniority.

Is is Murtha you're thinking of? Back when earmarks were easier to come by, he got a contract for a company whose principal employee was his brother (or brother-in-law, I can't remember). That stuff is going to be harder to pull off now, but it's surely not impossible, especially for someone who's been around the track as many times as Murtha.

J Thomas: How long did it take us to get into Iraq against strenuous Iraqi opposition?

Everything I've ever heard about logistics says retreating safely and with all equipment - especially after you've been in place for a while - is far more difficult than advancing.

Added factor: back in March/April 2003, most Iraqi soldiers were more interested in surviving to fight later than in stopping the US invasion. There may have been some personal hatred of Americans, but it's been 4 years since then, and the US occupying forces have killed, maimed, and tortured a lot of Iraqis, and made themselves very personally hated. Some Iraqis may hunker down, wait for the US to leave, and get on with the civil war: a good many. however, will see this as their last chance to take a crack at the enemy that was occupying their country.

Retreating through hostile territory? Plan well. Plan long.

This is the one reason why I think it might be better to wait for another President to withdraw the troops: planning well and long when other people's lives are at stake is something the Bush administration has consistently proved to be completely useless at doing. Especially when they'll already have thought up some way to blame complete or partial disaster on the Democratic Party.

Nell: Which committee chairs are corrupt, or have done or failed to do something that indicates corruption?

Making John Conyers chairman of the Judiciary Committee after he “accepted responsibility” for rules violations.

Putting Alan Mollohan in charge of the House panel that oversees the FBI while his finances are being investigated (now the target of a grand jury investigation).

Putting William Jefferson – alleged to have accepted $100k in bribes and caught red handed with the cash on the Homeland Security Committee.

Pelosi backing Murtha for house Majority Leader.

Pelosi backing Alcee Hastings for head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Carleton Wu: Put up or shut up. What have the Dems done since taking over Congress that is corrupt?

HRC “forgot” to disclose her position on the family charity that allowed her to write off $5 million in taxable income.

Reed opposing the proposal to ban Senators’ spouses from lobbying the Senate (not to mention his questionable land deals.).

Democrats backing off tough reform days after winning.

Pelosi’s “fishy” minimum wage stance.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman vows to keep donations from business man arrested for embezzling retirement funds.

etc.


Their election platform to clean up Congress was second only to the war. I was very hopeful that they were serious.

Note that I am not equating opposing legislation with corruption. It’s just in keeping with my original point. They promised me tough ethics reform and then watered it down.

A whole post in itself…

Then

That is pretty funny. And the best part is that most of you all probably agree with this sentiment.

And finally

Note that I am not equating opposing legislation with corruption.

Nice reverse. Claim that there's all kinds of corruption NOW (ie since the last election), but when called on it say just that you meant that they weren't pursuing reforms with more vigor. All you have since the last election as examples of corruption are:

HRC “forgot” to disclose her position on the family charity that allowed her to write off $5 million in taxable income.

That is to say, she forgot to mention all of her charitable donations. Where is the corruption here, other than via pathetic innuendo using scare quotes? Tell me how she was going to benefit from this.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman vows to keep donations from business man arrested for embezzling retirement funds.

Congress? Hello?
(And this isn't corruption either- politicians aren't responsible for the actions of people who give them money. Is there evidence of quid pro quo, or just innuendo?)

Democrats backing off tough reform days after winning.

Read your own friggin link. Dems are delivering what they promised ("Their initial proposals, laid out earlier this year, would prohibit members from accepting meals, gifts or travel from lobbyists, require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with lawmakers and bar former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists from entering the floor of the chambers or Congressional gymnasiums....Some Democrats say their election is a mandate for more sweeping changes..."). The question now is whether there is support to go even further.
What have they "backed off" of? What did they promise to you that they are now saying they won't deliver? Again, specifics would be nice, as opposed to crap about foxes and henhouses.

OCS: It's one thing to expect serious reform, and I'd argue that there has been. That doesn't mean it couldn't and shouldn't go further.

But it's another thing to expect a party that's been out of power for twelve years to ditch its most experienced leaders on the basis of ethical violations, especially quite small ones. Or to refuse to give a member of the House any committee assignment at all.

And it's pretty uncharitable to regard anything less than an across-the-board zeal for total reform as being 'soft on corruption.'

What you take from that NYTimes cite is an example of what I'm talking about. It's not a story of Dems meeting and making a decision to back off of ethics reform. It's a story put together by a reporter who got quotes from individual Senate Democrats within days of the election, Senators who had for the most part not expected to take a majority. The Senate is very different from the House in being a collection of powerful individuals; even with a bigger majority than we now have, the Senate majority leader doesn't have anywhere near the power that the Speaker of the House does. So different Senators, completely unsurprisingly, had different ideas of what the reform priorities should be.

To your specifics:

Mollohan: I agree completely. Not good.

Hastings: Pelosi didn't back Hastings for Intel Committee; she decides the committee assignments, and she made Reyes the chair.

Conyers: I have no idea what you're talking about here; maybe you could point me to more info. Sounds like something pretty small to me, nowhere near enough to counterbalance his long and distinguished experience on the Judiciary Committee. He's an outstanding chair.

Who should Pelosi have backed for Majority Leader? Given the way money has come to dominate elections, and the practices that took root during the last twelve years, no one with the seniority to win that position is going to meet your standards.

Jefferson: If you're going to seat a Congressman, he has to get some committee assignment. As long as FEMA's in the DHS, a rep from Louisiana sitting on that committee seems perfectly appropriate to me.

Reid (note: Reed's another Dem Senator, from Rhode Island) -- 1) his opposition was not to the rule itself, only to making the no-spouses provision retroactive, and 2) that rule ended up going through (reinforcing my point about the Senate). Harry Reid is not a poster child for campaign and lobbying reform; like most politicians who have been at it as long as he has, he's got baggage. But the qualities of the crusader are distinctly not those desired (by any party) in a Senate majority or minority leader. The current minority leader is one of the biggest enthusiasts of lobby-money-for-campaigns in the Senate, indeed anywhere in American politics.

Pelosi: 1) The practice of exempting American Samoa from minimum wage laws is of long standing, dating at least from the last increase, under a Republican Congress. 2) This creates a vicious circle, because the gap between the Samoan minimum wage and the national norm grows and grows, so that an adjustment to the national minimum becomes a huge jolt to its economy. 3) Despite that, Pelosi immediately did the right thing when the injustice was pointed out. I'm not seeing the corruption here.

Tennessee: We're talking about Congress here; you're reaching. State parties have enormous autonomy, so reform at that level is up to Tennessee Dems. If there were any Democratic Senators from Tenn., they'd be able to weigh in on the side of righteousness, but there aren't. House members have much less effect, particularly first-termers. It would take something much more egregious than this to get Reps to weigh in in public.

Shorter Nell: Have a sense of proportion.
(Also, please keep in mind that rank-and-file Democrats are your allies in wanting to see Congress do better in this area.)

@Carleton: You're responding to OCSteve and DaveC as if they were the same person, and making the same points. They're not.

Carleton:
That is pretty funny. And the best part is that most of you all probably agree with this sentiment.

That is not even my statement for starters. I know all us crazy rightwingers sound alike, but still I think I’ll let DaveC defend that if he so desires.

I gave specific examples - feel free to disagree but don’t claim I didn’t give specifics please.

Do you disagree that Alan Mollohan in charge of the House panel that oversees the FBI while his finances are being investigated is an example of fox in the henhouse?

Are you OK with naming Jefferson and Conyers to those committees because their acts of corruption occurred before January? Were you OK with Pelosi backing Murtha and Hastings?

You are OK with Pelosi and Starkist? Nothing bothers you about that?

You were fine with Bill Frist not disclosing his position with the family foundation? She didn’t do anything illegal, but it’s a tax shelter at best. They wrote off $5 million in personal income tax while the charity distributed only $1.25 million. At a minimum that doesn’t look good for a champion of high taxes…

I personally have a real issue with Senators’ spouses working as lobbyist. From the article I linked:
A USA TODAY investigation in October of the ties between lobbyists and the lawmakers who make spending decisions in Congress found, in 2005 alone, $750 million in special projects pushed by lobbyists with relatives on committees that wrote the bills.

Reed was against including the provision to eliminate that.

On deliverables – they did a lot and I’ll give them credit where credit is due. But I personally liked Obama’s independent Congressional ethics commission concept, and they haven’t put much focus on campaign finance reform which lies at the heart of a lot of corruption IMO. So yeah – I want more.

Given the way that they ran on the issue, and they ate the GOP’s lunch because of corruption – I don’t want them to have even a perception of any funny business.

I don’t think you and I are going to have any productive dialog today. I’m done with this.

Nell: Shorter Nell: Have a sense of proportion.

I’ll try to take that sound advice. I admit I’m probably over the top here. Likely it’s because I expect more due to my personal struggle with my own party.

Everything I've ever heard about logistics says retreating safely and with all equipment - especially after you've been in place for a while - is far more difficult than advancing.

Jesurgislac, we certainly don't need to take "all equipment" with us. A whole lot of that stuff is worn out and we'll need hundreds of billions to replace it anyway.

But you're basicly saying we have no exit strategy and it will take us a year or longer to make one.

Your point that iraqis are likely to fight us much more effectively now than they did 4 years ago is unfortunately correct. Without an army, without coordination, without big supply depots, without WMDs.

So Hartmut wants us to *stay* in iraq continuing to make it worse until we're ready to do the whole retreat under fire with no casualties! I think if we'd waited to invade until we could do the whole invasion with no casualties we'd be a lot better off now, but we're stuck with what we've got.

Retreating through hostile territory? Plan well. Plan long.

Sure. That's why we have those contingency planners in the Pentagon, right? They've been planning for 4 years how to redeploy out of iraq, in case we need to. Every now and then we hear rumors about how they're planning to attack iran or attack cuba or whatever, and the answer is always the same, we have contingency plans for every possible circumstance just in case, and having the plans is no indication whatsoever that we intend to use them. So of course they've been keeping their redeployment plans up to date. Any rational military planner would. So I can rest your mind on that score, the long hard planning has been done and is continually updated. They just don't talk about it because it would hurt morale if people heard they were considering it. But regardless of the Bush administration, our military isn't utterly incompetent and they *do* have an exit strategy planned out, ready to go. If they don't then we need court-martials starting with the JCS.

planning well and long when other people's lives are at stake is something the Bush administration has consistently proved to be completely useless at doing. Especially when they'll already have thought up some way to blame complete or partial disaster on the Democratic Party.

Our redeployment plans don't require any inpout from the Bush administration. They only require that our military do what it does best -- plan carefully and train and then follow the plans. It requires no input whatsoever from civilians. Presumably our competent military planners thought ahead and when Cheney or Rumsfeld asked them if they were making any plans for redeployment, then instead of saying "We make plans for every contingent, sir" they said "No, sir, not under any circumstances". They'd know that telling the civilians about their exit strategy would only cause trouble. and they'd be ordered to stop doing it.

The plans are certainly ready, reviewed by the best minds our military has available. And 3 weeks is not too short to carry them out. A nimble retreat under fire is far better than a hesitant one.

A lot of the redeployment would have to go by road. It will be much safer than using the roads during the continuing occupation. Far better patrolled. And we can completely deny those roads to iraqis for a little while, during the redeployment, when we just couldn't do that indefinitely. (Why did the iraqi cross the road? Because it was too far to go around.) We can destroy any large groups we see that get too close, and small groups likewise. Like the difference between the invasion and the occupation -- we could do things in the invasion that we simply couldn't do during a long-term occupation where we were trying to pretend things were OK.

So there's every reason to think our military can get out of there within about 6 weeks once the politics is cleared away. Call it 3 weeks to handle last-minute details and make sure everybody's on the same page, and 2 to 3 weeks to actually redeploy. But they can't tell us anything about it until the politicians give them permission.

J Thomas: But you're basicly saying we have no exit strategy and it will take us a year or longer to make one.

There isn't an exit strategy, no. And my guess is, it will take about a year before Bush is ready to admit he's been backed into a corner and needs to have an exit strategy. If he ever does. The "exit strategy" will probably mostly consist of "Karl, how do I blame this on the Democrats?"

Our redeployment plans don't require any inpout from the Bush administration. They only require that our military do what it does best -- plan carefully and train and then follow the plans. It requires no input whatsoever from civilians.

May not need it, but if Bush is still President, will certainly get it. Just as the invasion did.

Jesurgislac, we certainly don't need to take "all equipment" with us. A whole lot of that stuff is worn out and we'll need hundreds of billions to replace it anyway.

this article by a former military officer suggests otherwise. Certainly not all equipment - but whatever's still usuable that's left is a gift to the civil war. So, it's got to be either removed or destroyed.

It will be much safer than using the roads during the continuing occupation. Far better patrolled. And we can completely deny those roads to iraqis for a little while, during the redeployment, when we just couldn't do that indefinitely

There is a problem with this that is a problem with any retreat: who patrols the roads for the patrollers?

Seriously, JT, I hope you're right that the US military can get the troops out of Iraq in 3 weeks, 6 at the outside, and either remove or destroy all military equipment. But, where the Bush administration is concerned - after the mess they made of the invasion, which failed entirely to achieve its claimed objective (then) - to locate/secure/destroy stockpiled WMD. (No, there were no WMD. There were stockpiled explosives, however, which were located by invading forces, and abandoned for looters because there were not enough personnel to secure or destroy them.)

Jes: Welcome back. I missed you (really).

OCS: I have nothing good to say about Jefferson and Mollohan. Nothing at all. Hell, I sent $500 to Jefferson's opponent, for all the good that did.

About HRC: I don't care for her, but I don't see how failing to list her work for a charity counts as corruption. I mean: it is possible to forget to put stuff down. I would feel very differently if I could see how, exactly, this omission might benefit her. I mean: it's not as though the fact that she does charity work is something she'd have a reason to conceal, or the charity somehow gets favors from the government, or engages in shady transactions.

Backing off tough reforms: the NYT article you cite is from just after the election. It cites three things. Two concern things the democrats did not promise to do: an independent ethics watchdog, and campaign finance reform.

In the case of campaign finance reform, I think a lot of the problem is that there's genuine uncertainty, not just among Democrats but among, well, everyone, about how to proceed: which changes to law would actually do some good without having bad side effects. One reason for this is that it's genuinely hard to see how to plug the great huge loopholes in the system (527s, etc.) without hurting free speech.

What you need is some way of distinguishing groups that are really just campaign organizations in disguise from groups like, say, the NRA or the Sierra Club, which are honest-to-God groups of citizens concerned about a political issue who might well want to support the candidate who is best on that issue, since no one wants to restrict the speech of the second type of group. And it's really, really hard to see how to craft a legal distinction between them that would actually keep the first type of group from having access to basically unlimited soft money.

Anyways: as I said, the first two things were never what Democrats promised. They promised to reform Congress. And while they did get cold feet round about the time of that article, the bills they finally passed were a lot tougher than this article indicates.

About Starkist and American Samoa: it's worth noting that Pelosi supported versions of the same bill that exempted Am. Samoa for years before Starkist was acquired by Del Monte, which is based in San Francisco. (Apparently, Starkist used to be headquartered in Kentucky and then Pittsburgh. Who knew?) Moreover, she did change her position on that (cite.)

About the TN story (the Democrats in Congress don't seem to me to have much to do with that, but what the heck): it was new to me, but Google reveals that the TN Dem. party's position was that they would return the money if Stokes is found guilty, which does not seem to me an unreasonable position to take.

End of procrastinationresearch.

And I missed Jes too ;)

End of procrastinationresearch.

Maybe I’m just cranky today. I don’t know.

Bah. Time to find something for dinner and turn this thing off.

darn: 'procrastination' was supposed to be struck through.

html: full of mysteries.

But at least I know more about Starkist's corporate history than I used to!

"A whole lot of that stuff is worn out and we'll need hundreds of billions to replace it anyway."

this article by a former military officer suggests otherwise.

In 2004 he was saying that a whole lot was worn out and it would cost only billions to replace it, not hundreds of billions.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-11-28-military-gear_x.htm
This link from last november considers the wear-and-tear to cost about $2 billion a month, with total repair costs still only $23 billion a year. Note that units going to iraq typically leave their heavy equipment at home and use the equipment someone else left them in iraq. This cuts transportation costs and results in the iraq equipment getting most of the damage and not as much of the maintenance.

http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=6235&sequence=0
This 2005 CBO study estimated the total value of army and marine heavy equipment in iraq at less than $30 billion, and the cost of repairs at only around $20 billion. Assuming they're basicly right, then I was way off estimating hundreds of billions of replacement cost. In fact, the replacement cost is around what we spend in iraq in a couple of months. In terms of money, we'd do better to get out of iraq 2 months quicker without any of that equipment and buy replacements all new. But of course it would take a long time for the replacements to be ready and we'd have to get along without them in the meantime. The extreme course naturally is not really appropriate.

That is not even my statement for starters.

My apologies. Really, I should've known better, that didn't sound like you at all. I usually clip stuff out into notepad and type up responses there, I accidentally mixed them up in notepad. But still, I should've realized it, that's really not like you.

I think the rest of the stuff (HRC, Sunkist) have been adequately explained already.

I was not talking about staying until a plan is ready to retreat completely without casualties. the question would be what is more costly - planning thoroughly and losing people during the planning time but few during the actuall retreat or "running away" without a plan immediately and losing lots of people and equipment as a result? That's a question of estimates and one that should be answered by real experts. I still consider it at least possible that a retreat would actually get inofficial help by Iraqis that simply want the US out.
Concerning plans by the Pentagon: Given the experience of the past I would not be surprised, if there were no up-to-date plans for a lot of things that should have them ready. Remember that Rummy threatened a number of people with firing, if they dared to make plans for certain things (i.e. about everything that assumed that any of Rummy's plans could possibly not work 100%). I doubt that Gates had the time yet (don't know about the will) to achieve a total reversal on that.
I am pretty sure that the Pentagon has plans for attack on almost anyone on Earth in some drawers but have doubts about contingency plans (even if no Rummy is in charge).

Hartmut, it's possible that you're right we don't have an adequate withdrawal plan in place.

If so, that's absolutely inexcusible. Courtmartials all round and a treason trial for Rummy.

Utterly inexcusible and absolute proof that this administration does not support the troops. We should get public information about it if it's true, and trumpet it to the public.

Hartmut: I was not talking about staying until a plan is ready to retreat completely without casualties. the question would be what is more costly - planning thoroughly and losing people during the planning time but few during the actuall retreat or "running away" without a plan immediately and losing lots of people and equipment as a result

And the latter, it occurs to me, might be regarded by the Bush administration as the better option, since they could spin it as "We wouldn't have lost all those people and all that equipment if the evil Democrats in Congress hadn't FORCED us to run away"...

And the latter, it occurs to me, might be regarded by the Bush administration as the better option, since they could spin it as "We wouldn't have lost all those people and all that equipment if the evil Democrats in Congress hadn't FORCED us to run away"...

Sure, but how much could they depend on the military to testify in their favor after that? Would the generals tell the truth as they saw it at that point?

"We could have won if the Democrats hadn't forced us to pull out. We could have pulled out in good order if the Bush administration hadn't forced us to take take casualties for their political gain."


Sure, but how much could they depend on the military to testify in their favor after that? Would the generals tell the truth as they saw it at that point?

Depends how many of them know that if the neocons fall from power, they are liable to be put on trial for war crimes.

It also depends what the party affiliation of the generals is, and how certain they are that any future career they hope to have will be dependent on not breaking the custom of a serving officer never openly criticising the government. In the military, whistleblowers are regarded as scum: and for these hypothetical generals to hypothetically speak out against the Bush administration, would be whistleblowing of the highest order.

Hartmut, it's possible that you're right we don't have an adequate withdrawal plan in place.

We should get public information about it if it's true, and trumpet it to the public.

I asked my senator to check on it. Possibly he might.


It also depends what the party affiliation of the generals is, and how certain they are that any future career they hope to have will be dependent on not breaking the custom of a serving officer never openly criticising the government.

After a botched withdrawal, if they can't blame it on the civilians they'll get the blame themselves. And when it really isn't their fault....

I should say that i never meant this to get into a your-country my-country thing. If the UK had been ruled for six years by the same kind of fascist government as the Republican Party, our legal system would doubtless be looking on as powerlessly as yours is: not least because while Blair would be prosecuted for as blatantly breaking the law as Bush has, in the UK, he wouldn't break the law because MI5/6 would wiretap "suspected terrorists" anyway, and file the results under the 50-year rule to avoid any embarrassment. (There was a period in the early 1980s when my dad's home phone was probably being wiretapped by MI5, due to perfectly legal anti-government activities that he had been involved in for decades: his children - we were all under 16 - thought that this was very amusing and used to ring our friends and make loud, excited conversation about plans to blow up Parliament. My dad said he presumed the security forces had enough sense to realize they were listening to children, and took care to organize his perfectly legal anti-government activities via his work phone, which was never tapped. Neither was he arrested. Nor were we, for that matter.)

Good God, I thought I was more awake than that! J Thomas, please ignore above comment: I stupidly posted it on the wrong thread.

(Also, please note I don't necessarily disagree with you: I just think you may be being too optimistic.)

Jes, you clearly need some cerebrocalisthentic warm-up. :-)

Sod that. Give me a Westmalle Tripel. Danke.

Good God, I thought I was more awake than that! J Thomas, please ignore above comment: I stupidly posted it on the wrong thread.

Jesurgislac, no problem. You said your comment that I started responding to was posted to the wrong blog. ;)

"What you need is some way of distinguishing groups that are really just campaign organizations in disguise from groups like, say, the NRA or the Sierra Club, which are honest-to-God groups of citizens concerned about a political issue who might well want to support the candidate who is best on that issue, since no one wants to restrict the speech of the second type of group."

Nah, what we need to do is recognize that campaign organizations have First amendment rights. And that letting incumbant officeholders regulate how people go about trying to persuade the voters to unseat them is the Mother of All Conflicts of Interest.

The First amendment starts with the five most beautiful words in the Constitution, and the five most absolute, and here we are deciding whose freedom of speech can be legitimately curtailed. Here's my answer:

Nobody's.

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