mm194: Friedman: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

November 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s apparently petroleum week here at L-HC. The previous post tackled the subject of researchers innovating to produce practical biomass (as opposed to the wrong-headed impractical but politically potent corn) ethanol as a petroleum substitute. Now, a look at U.S. oil policy itself.

It’s just downright amazing how much smarter Thomas L. Friedman has become since the NYTimes no longer charges to read him on line. 😉

Today, he tells some truths, and challenges the presidential candidates to do the same, regarding our treasonable dependence on OPEC petroleum.

thomaslfriedman

In the wake of 9/11, some of us pleaded for a “patriot tax” on gasoline of $1 or more a gallon to diminish the transfers of wealth we were making to the very countries who were indirectly financing the ideologies of intolerance that were killing Americans and in order to spur innovation in energy efficiency by U.S. manufacturers.

But no, George Bush and Dick Cheney had a better idea. And the Democrats went along for the ride. They were all going to let the market work and not let our government shape that market — like OPEC does.

So, we all understand by now why George III and his evil puppeteer took the horrible course they’ve chosen, and taken us along for this devastating six-year and counting ride.

But Friedman has a legitimate point: why have the “loyal opposition” not pushed for a tax at the pump?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – New York Times

One has to love the proposed debate Friedman sketches for us.

His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security. It’s called win-win-win-win-win for America. My opponent’s strategy is sit back, let the market work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.” If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.

And one has to admit that none of the serious candidates (i.e., candidates one can take seriously — sorry Dennis!) possess the steel to conduct such a debate. Not in Iowa, where present policy is just fine by the corn farmers. Not in New Hampshire where taxes are probably synonymous with Satan.

President Bush squandered a historic opportunity to put America on a radically different energy course after 9/11. But considering how few Democrats or Republicans are ready to tell the people the truth on this issue, maybe we have the president we deserve. I refuse to believe that, but I’m starting to doubt myself.

The war, $100/barrel oil — it’s all so wrong. January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough, but if our petroleum policy stays hostage to the oil guys, the domestic automobile manufacturers and the corn farmers, all of whom are perfectly satisfied with the status quo, we’ll remain in desperate straits.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm156: There’s a war on, folks, and this must be a military weekend…

September 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So, yesterday’s post on Predator (not the Governator’s flick, the UCAV, silly!) was not impelled by news, but rather by the (semi-) creative gestation process.

Then, today, while strolling through Digg (which this MUDGE must admit has somehow elevated itself over what was happening a few weeks ago — could it be that school is back in session and people are a bit more serious-minded?) found a couple of Navy related stories.

Now, MUDGE and the U.S. Navy go way back. No, never served. Yes, as one interested in the history of technology, and therefore military history, and technology in general, and the Navy has long embodied applied technology at its most dramatic.

This interest apparently was infectious, and this draft evader (in thought if not in deed) was bemused to have spawned MUDGElet No. 2, mentioned before in this space, a proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and distinguished former lieutenant in the Navy’s surface warfare community.

Parents: be careful what you read, and what books and magazines you leave around for your kids to find!

Just kidding. I couldn’t be prouder of our children, and their spouses, and No. 2’s spouse happens to be proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (tough as it is for men, extraordinarily so for women), and distinguished former lieutenant in the Navy’s surface warfare community.

So, two stories. One odd in and of itself; one an intriguing window into the state of the generation of young women and men just a year or so younger than MUDGElet No. 3.

Odd:

navyswas

CORONADO, Calif. – The Navy will spend as much as $600,000 to modify a 40-year-old barracks complex that resembles a swastika from the air, a gaffe that went largely unnoticed before satellite images became easily accessible on the Internet.

The Navy said officials noted the buildings’ shape after the groundbreaking in 1967 but decided against changing it at the time because it wasn’t obvious from the ground. Aerial photos made available on such services as Windows Live and Google Earth in recent years have since revealed the buildings’ shape to a wide audience.

Typical government decision-making: no one can see our error, so let’s ignore it.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Navy to alter swastika-shaped barracks – Peculiar Postings – MSNBC.com

Don’t get MUDGE started about swastikas. I don’t hold Indians responsible for an ancient religious symbol.

As a boomer, born three years after the full panoply of horror was daylighted in a way that the world could not longer ignore, I manifestly do hold Nazi Germany responsible for every murderous, dreadful and inhuman act performed under that forever tainted symbol, and the successor generations of Germans get less benefit of the doubt from this curmudgeon than from many.

Not the Navy’s best building. If there wasn’t a war on, I’d vote for demolishing the place, just because.

Intriguing:

Military recruiting in this age of volunteer soldiering, rather than my generation’s drafted, has not previously been a problem for the Pentagon. Oh, they keep needing to seed the ground, with education benefits, and with retention bonuses (MUDGElet No. 2 reported that he passed on a $50,000 re-up bribe to resign to go onto grad school).

But, now there’s a war on. And, while the Navy isn’t on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and taking the casualties that the Army and Marines (yes, a branch of the Navy) are taking, recruiting today’s 17-24 year-olds is a challenge.

This story comes, quite indirectly, courtesy of Salon.com’s excellent technology blogger known as The Machinist.

Noah Shachtman, the master of Wired’s Danger Room blog, and Entropic Memes both have cool posts about a presentation put together by some Navy experts regarding the difficulty of recruiting “millennials,” Americans aged 17 to 24, to the armed forces. In the words of the presentation, the kids are not alright: They’re “coddled,” “narcissistic praise junkies” who “demand respect” though they lack experience, and who are so comfortable with technology that talking to them is like “dealing with a somewhat alien life force.”

navyrecruit

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

Navy recruiters! Of course you’re having trouble recruiting, and it has nothing to do with the fact that the generation you are focusing on doesn’t speak your language.

Of course “the millennials” speak your language. If all else were equal, the signing bonuses, and education rewards should work for that generation as well as it has for its predecessor’s.

The problem is, Navy, that there’s a war on. Soldiers are dying, or are taking combat injuries that the hospitals aren’t dealing with effectively.

Is there any wonder that the volunteers aren’t breaking down the doors of the Navy recruiters’ offices?

Even “millennials” watch the news.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm150: Islam, the Marxism of Our Time

September 23, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Sept. 11, 2001 was Pearl Harbor for this generation of the people of the U.S.

And, while Pearl Harbor shocked that generation into the realization that the world they lived in was suddenly at war, in reality that war had begun almost every else many years before.

In fact, John Keegan, the outstanding military historian, begins his eminently readable history of World War II with the Versailles Peace Conference that ended World War I, because the errors of omission and commission committed there at the end of the first Great War set into motion the geopolitical forces that led inexorably to the second.

Indeed, Margaret MacMillan’s excellent history of that conference, Paris 1919, illustrates that we reap today, 88 years later, in the Middle East and Balkans, just to name two of the most egregious examples, the bitter harvest of many of the often well-intentioned but ill-chosen decisions made there.

Thus, our War on Terrorism, declared after the tragedy of the Twin Towers, was similar to our declaration of war against Japan on Dec. 8, 1941: We came very, very late to an undeclared war that, at a minimum, could be traced back to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, or even the Balfour Declaration of 1917, or even way back, to take the extraordinarily long view, to the Crusades.

Western culture has shared the planet with Islam for 1,300 turbulent years (as if the preceding 5 billion were any less so!).

One might posit that Western Europe learned imperialism from the example set by Islamic culture. It is a fact that the enslaving of sub-Saharan African people by Europeans was learned from, aided and abetted by Arabic traders, who had begun the horrifying practice centuries before Henry the Navigator set his fearless explorers loose.

All this as introduction to some interesting reading encountered this week.

cityjournal

Islam, the Marxism of Our Time by Theodore Dalrymple

Some troubling signs in Europe

17 September 2007

From an Islamist point of view, the news from Europe looks good. The Times of London, relying on a police report, recently observed that the Deobandis, a fundamentalist sect, now run nearly half of the 1,350 mosques in Britain and train the vast majority of the Muslim clerics who get their training in the country. The man who might become the sect’s spiritual leader in Britain, Riyadh ul Haq, believes that friendship with a Christian or a Jew makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion.” At least no one could accuse him of a shallow multiculturalism.

According to Le Figaro, 70 percent of Muslims in France intend to keep the fast during Ramadan, up from 60 percent in 1989. Better still, from the Islamist point of view, non-practicing Muslims feel increasing social pressure to comply with the fast, whether they want to or not. The tide is thus running in the Islamists’ favor.

The writer’s analogy: that fundamentalist Islam has become the refuge for the young and disaffected in Western culture, in the way that superficial Marxism was for previous generations.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Islam, the Marxism of Our Time by Theodore Dalrymple

All this suggests that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our times. Had Fritz G. and Daniel S. grown up a generation earlier, they would have become members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang rather than Islamic extremists. The dictatorship of the proletariat, it seems, has given way before the establishment of the Caliphate as the transcendent answer to some German youths’ personal angst.

This is good news indeed for Islamists, but not so good for the rest of us.

A blogger I had not before encountered, but added to the blogroll2 thanks to this submission, a psychiatrist calling herself Dr. Sanity, responded to the City Journal article, by indicting the current state of Western culture that is providing safe harbor for Islamic fanaticism.

Dr. Sanity: Islam and Marxism: A marriage made in Allah’s socialist paradise

In an article from City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes a compelling case that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our time.

I want to take Dalrymple’s analysis one step further. Islam is not simply the alternative that today’s angst-ridden, alienated youth turn to because Marxism is waning in intellectual circles; it’s extremism and violence resonates harmonically with the socialist revolutionaries of the 20th century; and they have appropriated the jihad as an essential component of their political and intellectual strategy to revive Marxism in the 21st century.

Let us take a look at the strategy and how it has evolved to include the Islamic fanatics.

Multiculturalism and political correctness are two of the fundamental pseudo-intellectual, quasi-religious tenets that have been widely disseminated by intellectuals unable to abandon socialism even after its crushing failures in the 20th century. Along with a third component, radical environmentalism, they make up three key foundations of leftist dogma that have been slowly, but relentlessly, absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last decade or so–but primarily since the end of the Cold War.

All three have been incorporated into most K-12 curricula as well as the academic curricula in Western university and colleges. In combination, they are the toxic by-products of postmodern relativism.

Dr. Sanity includes a useful map (MUDGE loves maps) of the evolution of the Marxist/Islamist union.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Dr. Sanity: ISLAM AND MARXISM – A MARRIAGE MADE IN ALLAH’S SOCIALIST PARADISE

A bracing analysis. Thanks, Dr. Sanity!

Finally, since there’s a war on, we turn to this look at a less than formal effort to reach the “Arab Street” with a more balanced view of U.S. policy:

At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate

nytimes

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

WASHINGTON — Walid Jawad was tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq.

So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of what the State Department called its Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?

Among those who responded was a man named Radad, evidently a Sunni Muslim, who wrote that many of the dead in Iraq were just Shiites and describing them in derogatory terms. But others who answered Mr. Jawad said that they, too, wondered why only Palestinian dead were “martyrs.”

The discussion tacked back and forth for four days, one of many such conversations prompted by scores of postings the State Department has made on about 70 Web sites since it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November.

The postings, are an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world.

Imagine! The George III-marginalized State Department actually figuring out how to used that new-fangled Internet thingy, and blogging in a potentially useful way!. The mind bloggles. Sort of a micro version of Radio Free Europe; one has to wonder whether the effort is worth the expenditure, however tiny.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate – New York Times

So, what do we learn from today’s trifecta of stories related to Islamic culture and its transactions with the West?

We’re at war, people.

Not the war that the simplistic Bush administration (as in naively incompetent, for which there is no excuse nearly seven years in) would have you believe.

We’re at war with Islam (as the Western world has been for 1,300 years); and with our own university-grown pestilences of “multiculturalism, political correctness, and radical environmentalism,” as Dr. Sanity reminds us. And there’s no moral high ground in war.

And I don’t believe that we’re winning.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Non-commercial Note!: the links to Amazon.com used above are for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.


mm142: U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

September 15, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Got to tell you, like most of us, I have long since developed war fatigue. And I’m nowhere near the front. All I seem to be able to do is wring my hands and whimper, “Get our soldiers out of this!”

But, I have a soft spot for technology, and this is a technology story, about Iraq. But of course, wars are fought by women and men. And this is even more a story about a creative and determined man who took on as his mission to sell a particular technology to the command structure.

So we’ll take a look.

latimes

Greg Harbin saw a way to streamline airstrikes. The solution — and his cause — was the Rover, a device that would one day save his life.

By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 13, 2007

In the summer of 2003, an Air Force pilot named Greg Harbin was doing desk duty at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

Day in and day out, Harbin sat in front of five computer screens, scanning photographs and video sent by unmanned planes flying 1,200 miles away, over Iraq and Afghanistan.

His job was to take that information, along with reports from ground troops, and identify fresh targets — Taliban fighters or Iraqi insurgents.

But one thing puzzled him.

When regular units called for an attack by a Predator drone, the request went to Harbin, and then, if approved by a general, to “pilots” in Nevada, who fired the missile by remote control. The process often took as long as 45 minutes.

By contrast, special operations forces could call in attacks by unmanned Predator aircraft in less than a minute.

The difference, Harbin learned, was that a handful of special ops units were equipped with a device called the Rover, which gave them the same view as the pilots in Nevada. This greatly simplified communications.

Why don’t all American fighting units have the Rover? he asked himself. Then he put the question to his boss, Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan, commander of the Air Force in the Middle East. Buchanan’s reply: Why indeed.

There’s a lot that’s intriguing about this story. The Predator UCAV, symbolic of technology (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) that will one day make human aircraft pilots sitting inside their aircraft an obsolete and quaint artifact of the first century of aviation.

Then there’s the Rover technology.

The Rover, or the Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver, was born in 2002, shortly after the Afghanistan war began.

Christopher Manuel, an Army Special Forces chief warrant officer, had long wanted ground units to see, in real time, the video footage shot by Predators. After serving in Afghanistan, he traveled to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to make his case. Engineers quickly developed a prototype of the Rover system.

Over the next year, it was used exclusively by special operations forces. Harbin’s mission to widen access to the technology began with the 82nd Airborne, the first conventional forces to use the system. His next stop was Mosul, Iraq, and the 101st Airborne Division, which happened to be his brother Eric’s unit.

And then there’s Greg Harbin’s unique story. Take a look at the complete article, along with its embedded video.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Los Angeles Times: U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

There’s so much to like here. The Katrina angle.

The life-saving angle (his own!)

The technological evangelist angle (your humble correspondent likes to believe he maintains that role for the technology he represents in his place of employment).

“I am not the guy who invented it. I am not the guy who built it. I am not the only one who believes in it,” Harbin said. “My role was to get it out there.”

But, mainly, it’s about how one person, among millions, has used his creativity, initiative and will to make a difference. It’s Archimedes’ lever.

In the light of Harbin’s example, how much more tragic is it that, as of this writing, 3,781 soldiers have died in Iraq.

Once again, even worse than the trillions Bush has mortgaged and squandered, the human capital lost is even more irreplaceable.

Can’t get that bumper sticker out of my thoughts:

January 20, 2009

Bush’s last day

Congress, do the American people, especially its courageous women and men combatants, have to wait that long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm141: More false optimism on the Iraq war

September 13, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So it’s MUDGE‘s hometown paper, the oh so conservative Chicago Tribune.

So, Steve Chapman, also of Reason magazine, is on its editorial board.

So, it’s not your father’s (or grandfather’s or great-great-great-grandfather’s Tribune.

chitrib

Petraeus the latest general with rose-colored glasses

Steve Chapman

September 13, 2007

Gen. David Petraeus says the Iraq war is going well, and I believe him. I believe him the way I believe the coach of a perennial football doormat who, every August, assures fans he expects a winning season. Coaches don’t get paid to admit they’re bound to lose, and generals who are tasked with military missions don’t get paid to announce that they can’t get the job done.

Petraeus is, by all accounts, an experienced, capable and intelligent commander. So when he says that “the security situation in Iraq is improving,” the natural impulse is to trust his battle-seasoned judgment. The Bush administration encourages this notion by suggesting that the opinions of military commanders are the only sound guide to policy.

But if high-ranking military officers are a good barometer of the future, I have a question: Where are the generals who told Americans when things were about to get worse in Iraq, as they have over and over? Which of them warned that insurgent attacks would steadily proliferate in 2005, after elections that were supposed to quell violence? What guy with stars on his shoulders forecast that Iraqi civilian deaths would double over the course of 2006?

Who told us that last year’s military strategy of “clear and hold” would fail — as even the administration admitted afterward that it had? Who predicted that the average number of Americans killed each month this year would be 34 percent higher than last year?

Not the top brass, which has consistently taken an optimistic public stance since the beginning. In November 2003, Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said achieving victory would require hard work but said “it will be done.” In November 2004, Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler said we had “broken the back of the insurgency.” In March 2006, Abizaid assured us, “We are winning.” Three years ago, Petraeus himself said that “18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress.”

But of course, there’s been no progress, except for Halliburton, and maybe the outfit that supplies the Pentagon with body bags and the guys who furnish Walter Reed with prosthetics. Their business is, I’m sure, over the top.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

More false optimism on the Iraq war — chicagotribune.com

This week’s championship level performances by Petraeus and Crocker fooled very few — except for 535 of our finest citizens who were elected to represent the 300million of us who count on them to get to the truth.

If confident predictions by generals could be taken as gospel, this war would have been over long ago. But the totality of evidence gives no more reason to think we will do any better in the future than in the past. Given the choice, it’s better to have commanders who believe they can overcome any adversity than commanders who are easily discouraged. But sometimes, as we have learned repeatedly in Iraq, optimism is just another word for self-delusion.

Steve Chapman, from his right-of-center point of view, has no trouble seeing through the cock-eyed optimism.

It’s not just the knee-jerk peace-niks who want our young people home. Establishment type Tribune writers want that too.

Saw a bumper sticker the other day:

January 20, 2009

Bush’s last day

Congress, do the American people, especially its courageous women and men combatants, have to wait that long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm138: Tired and Disgusted, Stop the Lies!

September 11, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Poking around this evening, looking for some perspective on this day in recent history, as well as the 2nd day of the Congressional hearings on the Iraq war.

Faithful reader may recall seeing our anticipatory post the other day.

Found this fiery analysis:

smirkingchimp

by Timothy Gatto | Sep 11 2007 – 3:26pm |

Today is September 11th, 2007, and we have finally heard from “The General” on the situation in Iraq. Let me be the first to thank him, before yesterday I thought we were just treading water, now thankfully, I know that the forces of “good” and the soldiers of “Christ” are actually winning this confrontation with the forces of evil. I am so glad that I took time from my busy day to hear his report. I can now hold my head high, for now I understand, thanks to General Petraeus, where we are headed in our “Global War on Terrorism”; we are “turning the corner” and with that statement, I would just like to comment on this fact. The truth is, we have turned the corner so many times, we are precisely at the point at which we took up this journey, the corner is familiar and I realize that beyond this corner is another, and beyond that another


The other shoe fell, and we did not learn anything new.

The time for “listening” is rapidly coming to a close. The American People have been listening to this administration and we have heard nothing except misinformation and propaganda. The very same lies that the government told during the Vietnam War are being told today. The same results that we achieved in Vietnam will no doubt be echoed in Iraq. The very idea that you can win an “occupation” of another nation is the question here, not the question of whether or not we can defeat an “insurgency”. The fact remains that if we don’t ask the right questions, or if we don’t face the truth about what we are really doing in Iraq, we can’t possibly expect a favorable outcome, especially if we can’t even decide what it is that we seek.

Check out the balance of Gatto’s argument:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Tired and Disgusted, Stop the Lies! – The Smirking Chimp

What grabbed me was this challenge:

Americans can accept that we have no voice as to what is being done in our name, or we can stop blindly accepting authority and stand for what we believe. We can link arms and stand our ground, or be swept away like so many in history before us. We can argue about the correct way to demonstrate and oppose what our government is doing until our voices are permanently silenced, or we can put away the semantics of dissent and do whatever it takes to get the truth to the American people.

I looked back on a story we clipped from mid-July, a story from the Fox News watching heart of this country:

“I don’t know that you can win,” she said of the chances of victory in Iraq. “But if you can’t accomplish what you need to accomplish, get them out of there. There’s been enough. One is too many.”

What’s it going to take to galvanize this country to make the changes that must be made?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm134: The DC Establishment versus American public opinion – Glenn Greenwald

September 9, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

As we post Sunday afternoon, the week upcoming seems to have the potential to be a watershed in U.S.A. politics, perhaps even history.

For this is the week that General Petraeus testifies to Congress regarding the state of the surge.

Here’s an interesting take on what should be obvious by now: the perception of the executive and legislative branches regarding the conduct of the war has never been more antithetical to what U.S. citizens believe.

greenwald

The DC Establishment versus American public opinion

The Washington Establishment has spent the last several months glorifying Gen. David Petraeus, imposing the consensus that The Surge is Succeeding, and most importantly of all, ensuring that President Bush will not be compelled to withdraw troops from Iraq for the remainder of his presidency. The P.R. campaign to persuade the country that the Surge is Succeeding has been as intense and potent as any P.R. campaign since the one that justified the invasion itself. While this campaign has worked wonders with our gullible media stars and Democratic Congressional leadership, it has failed completely with the American people.

Ever since the Surge was announced (and allowed) back in January, Conventional Beltway Media Wisdom continuously insisted that September was going to be the Dramatic Month of Reckoning, when droves of fair-minded and election-fearing Republicans finally abandoned the President and compelled an end to the war. But the opposite has occurred.

The newly elected Democratic Congress, elected to make changes, instead drank the Kool-Aid:

Democratic Congressional leaders — due either to illusory fears of political repercussions and/or a desire that the war continue — seem more supportive than ever of the ongoing occupation (or at least more unwilling than ever to stop it). They are going to do nothing to mandate meaningful troop withdrawal. Most Republicans are hiding behind the shiny badges of Gen. Petraeus and his typically sunny claims about Progress in Iraq, and they, too, are as unified as ever that we cannot end our occupation.

The American people have been paying attention all these months, while Washington has been living in its own insulated bubble.

But what is notable about all of this, if not surprising as well, is that the overwhelming majority of the American people now harbor such intense distrust towards our political and media elite that they are virtually immune to any of these tactics. Several polls over the past month have revealed that most Americans do not trust Gen. Petraeus to give an accurate report about Iraq. And a newly released, comprehensive Washington Post-ABC News poll today starkly illustrates just how wide the gap is between American public opinion and the behavior of our political establishment.

In fact,

More significantly still, overwhelming numbers of Americans understand what the D.C. Establishment refuses to accept: namely, that even if there are marginal and isolated security improvements, there is still no point in continuing to stay in Iraq. Large majorities want the number of U.S. troops in Iraq decreased (58-39%); believe overwhelmingly that a decrease should begin “right away,” rather than by the end of the year or next year (62-33%); and favor legislation now to compel troop withdrawal by the spring (55-41%).

Okay, go ahead and read, including Greenwald’s update, which notes that he was writing about this dichotomy between government and its citizens in May:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Glenn Greenwald – Political Blogs and Opinions – Salon

We’re being beat up on all fronts (the economy, real estate, our mortgages, our kids’ toys).

But, despite all of the distractions (and a paranoid person might start to wonder…), the public seems to be more intelligent than its “leaders.”

In one sense, it is quite unhealthy in a democracy for such a large majority of Americans to so distrust the political and media establishment that they even believe in advance that war reports from our leading General will be nothing more than self-serving and misleading propaganda. But in another, more important sense, when a democracy’s political establishment becomes as rotted and deceitful and corrupt as ours has become — enabling the most unpopular President in modern American history to continue what is so blatantly a senseless war for years and years, in complete defiance of what Americans want — the one encouraging sign is that a majority realizes how corrupt our establishment is and has stopped believing anything they say.

General P, Monday most of us real people will be holding our fingers in our ears and saying “la la la.”

We’ve seen through the propaganda.

People, call your Senators! Email your Representatives!

Let’s get real.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

__________________________________________

Football is back!

What does that have to do with this post?

Nothing, of course. This is a serious post regarding a critically serious issue.

Everything. Because MUDGE finds himself seriously distracted during football season.

Especially during the weekend, when the college and professional games are played.

But, we’ll rally. So to speak. We may discuss football in a future post.

Or maybe not. Not an expert by any means. Just a fan of the game. And, by fan, I’m not implying anything about fantasy football. Which has nothing to do with being a fan, and everything to do with gaming, or gambling, neither of which this writer is into whatsoever.

Unless we’re talking poker. Also a future post?

It’s really it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm127: Sunni Rule Again in Iraq? – Early Warning

September 4, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The always dead-on military analyst, William Arkin of the Washington Post has this to say regarding George III’s sudden visit to Iraq on Monday.

arkinearlywarning
Posted at 08:17 AM ET, 09/ 4/2007

President Bush’s surprise eight-hour visit to Iraq yesterday will be read by many Iraqis, and by many others in the Islamic world, as part of a great conspiracy. The conspiracy’s goal? To create an American-Sunni alliance, restore the Sunni minority to power and suppress the Shiite majority.

No one doubts that the intended audience of Bush’s photo op was Congress and the American public. But, as has been typical of Washington’s initiatives in Iraq from Day One, perceptions of the visit — by the Iraqi people and by our potential adversaries — was ignored.

Interesting isn’t it how the president stayed out of Baghdad, in favor of a Sunni stronghold?

For weeks, the administration and the military have been pointing to Anbar as a success. Local Sunni tribal leaders have broken with al-Qaeda in Iraq, the argument goes, throwing in their lot with the United States. The U.S. has responded by arming and training Sunni militias and freelancers. Oh, if the rest of the country could just follow suit, the United States could leave a safe and stable country. (Put aside for a moment what happened to the Iraqi Army and police force in this process. At this point, the United States is clearly ready to accept progress from whatever quarter it can get it.)

So, the U.S. didn’t have a quarrel with all Sunnis, just the one? What an unsettling symbolic visit for anyone who cares about Iraq’s future as a democracy, and for long-term stability in the region. Read on:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Sunni Rule Again in Iraq? – Early Warning

And whether we civilians are thinking on it or not, the endgame seems to be war with Iran.

Anyone else find this disturbing?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm126: Iraq = Vietnam – Compare with Care

September 3, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

We and the world tackled this topic last weekend, but the NYTimes had something useful to say last Friday:

nytimes

AS the nations of Europe leapt to arms in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson’s mind turned to President James Madison and the war with England in 1812.

“Madison and I are the only two Princeton men who have become president,” Wilson observed ominously in a letter, noting that tensions with Great Britain over its naval blockage of Germany recalled earlier disputes with England about freedom of the seas. “The circumstances of the War of 1812 and now run parallel. I sincerely hope they will not go further.”

His fears were unfounded. Great Britain became an ally in World War I, Wilson’s alma mater notwithstanding. But his knack for reading — or misreading — historical parallels hardly stands out in the annals of American presidents and public officials.

President Bush sent historians scurrying toward their keyboards last week when he defended the United States occupation of Iraq by arguing that the pullout from Vietnam had led to the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge in neighboring Cambodia. His speech was rhetorical jujitsu, an attempt to throw back at his critics their favorite historical analogy — Vietnam — for the Iraq war. His argument aroused considerable skepticism from historians and political scientists, who note that the United States’ military action in Vietnam was among the factors that destabilized Cambodia. But Mr. Bush’s statement also revived a perennial question. Whenever a public officials starts to say “the lesson of,” is that a cue to stop listening?

The Times references some interesting parallels: the Cuban missile crisis of 1963 (Kennedy denied his advisors’ attempts to justify bombing Cuba by comparing the crisis to the pre-WWII Munich appeasement) is their most interesting example of attempts to find historical parallels where none exist. Take a look:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

War – History – Iraq – Vietnam – Korea – War of 1812 – New York Times

It’s common to attempt to understand complex situations by making associations to (hopefully) understood events of the past.

But those historic events themselves were of course complex, in the case of Vietnam/Cambodia probably still incompletely understood (after all, who ended with command of the battlefields?) and should resist a simplified reduction. However,

“People alight on the likeness with an event in the past, and it helps them to understand something when they can associate it with something familiar,” Professor May said in an interview.

The key of course is whether the comparison is apt. Just can’t give the Bush administration credit for considered reflection, unless the reflection is about how to award more spoils to their Halliburtons.

Wisdomquotes.com tells me that George Bernard Shaw said, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” Even that concept seems beyond the capability of the intellectually bankrupt administration of our very own George III.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm124: Michael Vick: Crimes Worse Than The Iraq War | TPM Cafe

September 1, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

This post was almost going to be MUDGE’s classical music trifecta (I, II) but this terrific post from Talking Points Memo (highly recommended, and an inexplicably late addition to the blogroll) jumped up to the top of MUDGE’s consideration.

tpm

By M.J. Rosenberg | bio

Michael Gerson, the former White House speechwriter, wrote in his Washington Post column yesterday that he and his fellow neocons worried that this was going to be the summer in which opposition to the Iraq war overwhelmed the Bush administration.

It sure looked that way in the spring when Democrats were mobilizing and popular support for the war and Bush dropped to levels reminiscent of LBJ and Vietnam after the Tet offensive.

But now the ship of state has been righted. The President’s popularity has risen a bit. More Americans think the war is succeeding. And the Democrats have lost their zeal about ending it.

section break

As I keep asking: where is the outrage?

This is a country where millions of people can hardly stop weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth about Michael Vick and those poor animals he tortured and killed.

How many dogs did Vick kill anyway. 25, 50, a hundred. I don’t know. But 3739 Americans have been killed in Iraq and maybe 600,000 Iraqis — not to mention the US destruction of a whole country and society.

Isn’t the above what many of us have been thinking, but haven’t been able to articulate nearly so well?

The rest of the post is terrific, and some of the replies and comments are thoughtful also. Please take a look.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Michael Vick: Crimes Worse Than The Iraq War | TPMCafe

So, there’s another element of the Michael Vick story, one that was very clearly articulated by one of MUDGE’s absolute hands down favorite writers, Gregg Easterbrook, writing as ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Next, I feel sympathy for Vick because there is racial animus in the current turn of events. If Vick really is guilty of cruelty to animals and associating with lowlife gamblers, these things leave him open to a kind of condemnation that has nothing to do with race. But don’t you just sense there are loads of people who are happy to have the chance to condemn the first African-American quarterback who was drafted first overall — via an accusation that has nothing to do with race? That there might be racial animus against Vick is not an excuse; he is responsible for his actions regardless of what others do or think. But suppose everything about the Michael Vick controversy was exactly the same except Vick was a white quarterback from an upper-middle-class family in Winnetka, Ill., Newport Beach, Calif., or Coral Gables, Fla. Can you say with a straight face that the public reaction and government action would the same?

Next, I feel sympathy for Vick because he tripped into a “summer scandal.” Starting around mid-July, legislatures recess, business executives and heads of state go on holiday, Hollywood airheads fly their private jets to Sag Harbor, N.Y., to relax in 10,000-square-foot mansions while complaining about greenhouse gas emissions: The news world slows down. Every summer, there is a scandal that is magnified beyond its inherent importance, owing to lack of other news. The Michael Vick accusations are this year’s summer scandal. His indictment came in late July. Had it come in October or March, far less attention might have been paid.

Note that Easterbrook’s second point above (actually about the fourth in his original post) emphasizes the seasonal factor that M. J. Rosenberg picks up on.

TMQ is always wonderful, in Easterbrook’s fulsome way about much more than professional football. During the season, I relish his columns even more (most years up until the last few) than watching MUDGE’s home town team, the Bears. Finish his Vick reflections and hurry back!

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

ESPN Page 2 – Easterbrook: Sympathy for Vick

WIWICWLT! But I can’t, and I’m grateful for your readership despite the inelegance and worse.

Let’s summarize our reasons for outrage: The ongoing tragedy of Iraq should have us storming the bastions to get our representative government to make changes now to literally stop the hemorrhaging. Not happening, in or out of Washington.

And the fact that so many U.S. citizens who aren’t up to the task of activating themselves and their friends and neighbors to get behind ending Bush and the neocons’ military misadventure are happy enough to feel outrage over a wealthy young man’s mistreatment of some dogs.

And, aren’t most of those most upset reacting for only slightly submerged racial reasons? Now, that’s outrageous!

To quote M. J. Rosenberg:

I’ll tell you. If we were sending dogs over to fight this war, and they were dying and being maimed like our soldiers, this war would have ended before it started.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE