(Drexel Students: Volunteer to help at the debate here.)
As some of you have already heard, Drexel University will host the next Democratic Presidential debate on October 30th, 2007. NBC News and MSNBC will be covering the event, and we will post more details as we learn them
If you, as a Drexel student, are interested in being a part of this important event, the best way to get involved is to attend our meeting next Thursday, October 4th, at 7pm on the third floor of Ross Commons.
Below is the full text of the announcement that President Papdakis sent out to the Drexel community announcing the event. (Click "There's More...")
It is my pleasure to inform you of an important national event that will take place on our campus. NBC News has chosen Drexel as the Philadelphia venue for the next televised Democratic debate.
The University will welcome the eight Democratic presidential candidates, the NBC News and MSNBC News crews, and the Democratic National Committee on October 30, 2007.
This event is an excellent expression of Drexel's mission of education, public service and civic engagement. An invitation has also been extended to the Republican National Committee to host one of its debates.
More information about the debate will be posted on Drexel's Web site as it becomes available. I would like thank everyone at Drexel in advance who will work to make this event a success.
(Originally posted Friday, September 28th. It's being kept at the top of the page because its the most important thing we have going on.)
Update 10/09/07: Our YouTube video got Viacom'ed, so we're hosting it on DailyMotion instead.
The other day I was watching the Daily Show's election night coverage of the 2000 presidential election, from "Indecision 2000." As I was sitting back, about to relive both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, I was suprised when Stephen Colbert made a prediction that pretty much summed up these last seven and a half years.
Check out the video:
Stewart: Stephen, are you seeing parallels with tonights election? A country flush with prosperity, two young, energetic candidates perhaps ready to lead us back to Camelot?
Colbert:No, I'm getting more of a 'Nam vibe. You know, unwinnable wars, inescabable downward spiral, chaos in the streets. That sort of thing."
I'd say that was a pretty good prediction, considering at this point Florida hadn't even been called for Bush yet. The only question left is:
"Stephen Colbert: Great American? Or greatest American?"
Here's the original, before we got Sumner-Redstone'ed. (Fuck you Sumner!)
Welcome back to school everybody! As Sean mentioned in the email, we're going to hit the ground running this year. We have three events in the first two weeks that you should know about.
First, Wednesday Sept. 26th, from 12-2 in the quad, is Activities Unlimited. We'll be registering voters and meeting interested students at our table, so come by and say hi.
Second, we'll be registering voters from 4:30 to 6:30 on Wednesday, Oct 3rd (rescheduled!), outside of the dining hall. If you need to register to vote, want to help out, or just want to meet us and say hi, come one out.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is our first meeting of the year.
Thursday October 4th, at 7 pm on the 3rd floor of Ross Commons
There will be free pizza and soda, because we know what you jerks really want.
I would like to welcome all the new members of the Drexel Democrats, and I thought that a good way to do that would be a brief history of the most influential thing we ever did. With a pitch like that, how could you not read this post? Click "There's More..." for the story.
It all goes back to the fall of 2004. Brad Levinson, now graduated, formed the organization in advance of the 2004 presidential elections, and we all worked diligently for a Kerry victory. Alas, it was not to be, but by 2005 we had stopped crying and got back to business. For those of you who don't remember those dark times, Bush had just been reelected by a very thin margin in a very long and divisive campaign. To make things worse, the media dutifully repeated Bush's claims to a mandate, and a stockpile of political capital.
In February 2005, Bush launched his ambitious campaign to destroy social security. There was an extensive propaganda campaign to convince people that social security was financially unsound, and that they only way to protect American's retirement was to privatize it. Democrats were uncharacteristically united in their opposition, and held the line against Bush's charge. Bush bit off a little more than he could chew, however, when he messed with the Drexel Democrats.
Now, a little context for what comes next. Bush and the republicans had been very determined to try to convince Americans that Bush's privatization was not designed to end social security, but to make it stronger. Despite the obvious harmful impact of the proposal, republicans claimed dutifully that they were trying to save social security, not destroy it. Keep that in mind.
On February 22nd, 2005, the junior Republican senator from PA, and all around Bush lackey Rick Santorum came to Drexel to hold a town-hall meeting to promote Bush's social security privatization. In anticipation of Santorum's visit, the Drexel Democrats organized a protest outside of the Creese Student Union Center, where Santorum was to speak. We were not protesting his right to speak, just vocally expressing our disagreement with his support for social security privatization. We marshalled about 40-50 members of the Drexel Democrats, the Penn Democrats, and local DFA members (many senior citizens), and at 8 am on a cold morning in Philly we exercised our first amendment rights.
When Santorum's limo pulled up, around 9 am or so, we all began shouting
"Hey hey, ho ho, Rick Santorum's got to go! "Hey hey, ho ho, Rick Santorum's got to go!
There were also about 6 or 7 college republicans there, supporting Santorum. They were outmanned and outgunned, but they valiently (and stupidly) tried to co-opt our chant, and began shouting in unison
"Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security's got to go! "Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security's got to go!
Notice the difference. Almost immediately, all of our guys stopped shouting, and let the republicans shout that. Remember, republicans had been trying very hard to convince people that they didn't want to end social security.
CNN, local ABC, CBS, and NBC were all there covering the event. Their cameras caught the republicans chanting their true desires, and it took off. CNN featured it as the "political play of the week." Furthermore, the vocal opposition from young and old alike made a strong narrative against privatization. The New York Times, Washington Post, US News and World Report, The American Prospect, Newsweek, and of course the liberalblogosphere all wrote about the vocal opposition that Santorum faced at Drexel, and used it to point out why some GOP politicians were reluctant to get on board with privatization.
That was the high watermark of Bush and the GOP. After losing the fight over social security (mostly due to the Drexel Democrats, natch), they fell further with Terri Schaivo, Hurricane Katrina, and the ongoing war in Iraq. And that's how the Drexel Democrats changed history (with help from an own-goal by the Drexel Republicans).
Yes, oversold, but whatever.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the boneheaded Drexel College Republicans from 2005. If anyone can find better video that's still around, let me know.
If you turned on the news for more than two minutes in the last two days, you probably heard that Hitler had been resurrected and was receiving an honorary degreee from Columbia.
Reality, as it were, is much less sensational. The president of Iran addressed the UN and then spoke at Columbia, answering questions from both the university president and from students. I watched most of it, and it was pretty interesting.
The news coverage was atrocious, however. Norah O'Donnell was in typical form, regurgitating dishonest right-wing talking points over and over. I can't even tell you how many times I heard that Ahmadinejad wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map." Click "There's More.." for my brief breakdown.
Glenn Greenwald has a great summary of this whole fake fiasco. Seriously, go read it. Don't even bother reading my crap, go read Greenwald. Why are you still here?
On Sunday CBS aired a 60 Minutes interview (pre-taped in Iran) of Ahmadinejad by "reporter" Scott Pelley. Pelley was an embarressment, and managed to make Ahmadinejad look reasonable by comparison. Pelley is apparently a fan of Stephen Colbert, but lacks the sophistication to realize that Colbert is joking. I would need an entire post to dismantle Pelley's piss poor reporting, so I'll point you to the much more capable EzraKleininstead (and Greenwald).
I repeatedly heard that Ahmadinejad has called for the "destruction of Israel." I would like somebody to point me to where he said that, because as far as I can tell, it's an inflammatory description of his belief that there should be no Israeli nation. The difference of course, is that while he (like many middle-easterners) believes that Israel has no right to exist where it does, "destruction" has violent connotations that Ahmadinejad has denied. In the talk today, he said that what he wanted Israel to do is allow all of the inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories (Christian, Jew, and Muslim) to have a vote in a representative government. The problem with that of course is that the Muslims so outnumber the Jews that it would effectively end Israel as a Jewish state. This is very different from calling for the physical destruction of Israel.
The questions from Columbia were interesting, and Ahmadinejad certainly ducked and dodged a few. One question aout the horrible persecution of gays in Iran prompted the ridiculous response that there are no gays in Iran. It would be comical if people weren't actually being murdered by a repressive society.
Ezra Klein has what I think is the best "last word" about this topic. Bottom line is that the incompetence of the US government and the desire (yes, desire) for war with Iran by America's neo-cons and bed-wetting right wingers is allowing the two-bit figurehead of a repressive society play the US like a fiddle on the world stage. It's worth remembering that Ahmadinejad has little actual power in Iran, including no control over the armed forces.
So that's where we stand. That screenshot from Fox News is disturbing on so many levels. The right wingers are desparate for war with Iran while Bush is still in office, a war that I for one would like to avoid.
As always, please add to the discussion in the comments.
On Hardball today, Chris Matthews had Ed Schultz and Ron Christie on to yell at each other about whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, should be "allowed" to speak at Columbia University while he is in NYC to address the UN. Christie, who is a former Cheney staffer and apparently the guy that news shows call to defend any absurd right-wing position, was just outraged that Columbia had invited such a meanie to speak, and was apoplectic about how untoward it was. Ed Shultz did a pretty good job of pointing out the obvious: Universities are places for the free exchange of ideas, no matter how unpopular those ideas are. Click "There's More..." and I'll explain why this got my panties in such a bunch.
There are a number of reasons that the bruhaha disturbs me. First, the right-wing scaremongering about Iran is pretty troubling, and the idea that they engage in such demagoguery and then refuse to let Ahmadinejad speak in the US is absurd. If the man is such a fire-breathing monster, surely he will win no converts at Columbia.
My knowledge about Ahmadinejad is limited to second or third hand sources. I speak only english, and as we saw with Iraq, one should be skeptical when dealing with administration scaremongering. The Columbia event is a Q&A forum; wouldn't it be great to have American citizens actually asking Ahmadinejad about all those inflammatory statements that he is always credited with? Does he actually support violent action against Israel, and if not would he be willing to denounce it? There are dozens of great questions that should be asked. The idea, that Christie was promoting that his MERE PRESENCE at Columbia is some kind of endorsement of his views, or inappropriate is absurd, anti-intellectual, and dangerous. He should be ashamed, even as a right wing shill.
Juan Cole is a respected professor of Mideast Studies at the University of Michagan, and he maintains the blog Informed Comment. He has written quite a bit about the demagoguing of Ahmadinejad. Many of those famous inflammatory statements, Ahmadinejad apparently just didn't say. I'm sure that you've heard somewhere (or likely, many places) that Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." The problem? He didn't. It was a mistranslation by a western wire service of Ahmadinejad calling for regime change in Israel. He has denied bening anti-semitic, and he has said it is wrong to kill Jews. I'm not saying he's a great guy, but I am saying we should be very wary of warmongering and demagoguery from our domestic media and politicians.
Juan Cole has asked his readers to keep tabs on media outlets that repeat the tale about "wipe Israel off the map.":
I renew my call to readers to write protest letters to newspapers and other media every time they hear it alleged that Ahmadinejad (or "Iran"!) has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." There is no such idiom in Persian and it is not what he said, and the mistranslation gives entirely the wrong impression. Wars can start over bad translations.
Right-wingers call Ahmadinejad the "Hitler of Iran." I think that's pretty offensive, and ignorant. As Cole points out, "there 20,000 Jews in Iran with a member of parliament in Tehran." I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Ahmadinejad's specific policy positions regarding Israel, but I would like to have him asked about that in an American academic setting.
The second reason that Christie's hissy fit strikes me as stupid is the fact that universities are ideally held to be places of enlightenment, where ideas are exchanged and debated, free from external pressures. Obnoxious groups routinely air their views at universities around the country, as well they should. If assholes weren't free to speak at universities, how would Ann Coulter and the rest of Christie's crew earn a living?
I should add that a couple months ago, one of these obnoxious groups did speak at Columbia. Jim Gilchrist, the founder of "The Minutemen"; those racist beer-belly's that sit at the border in lawn chairs to take pot-shots at mexican's, spoke to an audience of students and community members about hs group and his idealogy. About 40 students disrupted his speech and stormed the stage, forcing an end to the discussion. The students claimed that this was how they exercised their own "free speech," but they were wrong. They were stifling Gilchrists speech, not exercising their own. I feel that it is incumbent on me to denounce that act when I call for Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia. So I denounce it.
Ron Christie is an ignorant asshole willing to tow any line. We didn't get stuck in Iraq because we asked too many questions, debated too much, or knew too much. Let's not let these assholes make that same mistake again.
This past Monday all the Republican presidential candidates (except the three that might actually win, and McCain) showed up to the "Values Voter Debate," a circus put on by every religious right group that I've ever heard of, and some that I haven't.
It wasn't broadcast on TV, but it was streamed on the internet. So here is my highlight reel, a summary of some of the choicer parts that made it online. There's probably sillier stuff that isn't online, but I can't find it.
Via Skeptico, I learn that the Arecibo Observatory in Peurto Rico is facing closure because the National Science Foundation (NSF) can't come up with the money. From the Washington Post:
"The National Science Foundation, which has long funded the dish, has told the Cornell University-operated facility that it will have to close if it cannot find outside sources for half of its already reduced $8 million budget in the next three years -- an ultimatum that has sent ripples of despair through the scientific community. "
4 Million dollars? Are you fucking kidding me? Oh, and another thing:
"And it is the only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth -- a disaster that could cause as many as a billion deaths and that experts say is preventable with enough warning."
Yeah, that sounds about right. On Meet The Press this morning, Timmeh said that Petraeus had testified that the Iraq war costs $300 million dollars per day. Think about that for a second. The NSF is considering closing the "only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth" for want of $4 million dollars, which is how much we spend in 19 fucking minutes in Iraq. Talk about priorities.
Skeptico laments how the Bush administration has given away $2 Billion dollars for faith-based shenanigans, but I'm even more pissed off over the 19 minutes.
I'm not an astronomer, and I'm not knowledgeable about the competing projects that the NSF is debating funding, but shutting down Arecibo (Didn't they see Goldeneye?) for want of $4 million dollars, when we spend that every 19 minutes in Iraq seems like pretty fucked up priorities to me. The blame falls on congress too. More money for the sciences, less for stupid fucking wars.
You can call your representatives and request that they earmark funding, but I'd suggest calling and asking them to boost NSF funding and stop the fucking war in Iraq.
19 minutes. Are you fucking kidding me.
I apologize for the language, but 1) this is a college dems blog, so deal, 2) nobody really reads it anyway, and 3) this certainly warrants it.
I thought that it was about time that I started a regular feature that I would abandon in a few weeks, so here comes Sunday Potpourri. It's for when I'm too lazy to write a full post on something, so instead I'll just highlight a half dozen or so interesting things from this week that you may have missed. Of course you'll only have missed them if you don't read many blogs, but this blog is targeted at Drexel students who may not read many political blogs. I believe that blog reading is so essential being an informed voter, and I think that if more Americans were informed voters, we'd all be better off.
So here is the first in what will no doubt be a short series of Sunday Potpourri blogging. Click "There's More..." and follow me below the jump.
Kevin Drum describes an interesting piece of work done by Michael Greenstone of MIT (available here). Briefly, Greenstone analyzes the market prices of Iragi bonds, backed by the central government of Iraq. Without going into the finer details, the less confidence that the market has in the Iraqi government, the more risky the bonds, and the higher the yield that the market demands. The graph depicts pretty unequivically that faith in Iraqi government has fallen during the surge, provoked by its inability to reconcil warring factions this summer. This work dovetails nicely with my interest in Intrade, and whether markets are efficient aggregators of information. Justin Wolfers at our neighbor, UPenn, has done some very interesting work regarding predictive markets that I highly recommend reading.
Wes Clark, late presidential candidate from 2004 and former supreme allied commander of NATO, has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. I don't know enough (read: any) inside politics to know the full significance of this, but I've always been impressed with Clark. He's virtually the only liberal that I've ever seen on Fox News that I like. He has the bona fides to tell BillO to stfu, and Bill can't do anything except whine about George Soros. This seems to me like a nice catch for Clinton, as Clark has a pretty big following among progressives online, which is where Sen. Clinton is weakest. I'm still an Obama guy, but this does make a difference to me. If nothing else, it signals that Sen. Clinton is smart enough to listen to better people than the ones who counseled here to vote for the Iraq authorization.
This week Fox News and right-wingers did what they always do when faced with a difficult reality: they attack MoveOn.org. This time they were worried about the fact that the surge has produced mixed and dissappointing military progress, and no steps towards political reconciliation, which was the whole point of the surge. So instead of acknowledging that they were full of shit in January when they said that September was an important deadline, they attack MoveOn.org for its ad about Gen. Petraeus. It's exactly like in 2006 when Kerry made a joke about Bush right before the midterm election, and Fox News went apeshit and said he was making fun of the troops in Iraq. Most Americans are smarter than that (but 26% apparently aren't).
Speaking of Petraeus and the surge, the National Security Network, which is a part of the Council on Foreign Relations (and Wes Clark is on their advisory board), has released a breakdown of each of the 18 political benchmarks set by the Whitehouse for the surge. It's not pretty, and even the ones where the Whitehouse claims progress are not promising. For instance, benchmark (ii) called for "Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification." The Whitehouse calls the progress satisfactorybecause legislation has been drafted, it just needs to make it through the Parliment. Except that this has happened before, and Parliment has "thwarted" it in the past. There is no indication that this time will be any different.
Alan Greenspan, that former God among men, has released his book that contains a few interesting nuggets. From the Telegraph:
"Denouncing the tax cuts brought in by Bush, Greenspan says in his memoirs, which we serialise in The Daily Telegraph this week, that the Republicans deserved to lose the last Congressional elections in November because they abandoned fiscal discipline and hugely swelled the US budget deficit."
Of course, compare that to this piece from 2005, when Greenspan was still defending the Bush tax cuts:
"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday defended his support of tax cuts in 2001 after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) suggested that he bears some blame for helping create the federal budget deficits that followed those cuts."
I'm still waiting for him to apologize to Sen. Clinton. This looks like more legacy polishing from Bush era characters.
Greenspan also said
“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows. The Iraq war is largely about oil.”
At least he's right about that.
How did everyone like the potpourri? Worth trying to continue? On an unrelated note, I hate actual potpourri. It seems to me that it was a good idea in an era before running water, when people defecated in a bowl under their beds during the night. In modern times, not so much.
One of the more frustrating things about politics for is me the sheer mendacity of right-wing shills. As a college student, I am appalled with some of the bullshit that flies around in political discourse, because so much of it would get a college student expelled for academic dishonesty. Sean Hannity is one of the worst shit slingers, but Sean is so stupid that it's sometimes hard to tell if he knows that he's wrong (and lying to his audience).
I get the sense from some right-wing shills, like Tucker Carlson or Bill O'Reilly, that they are actually intelligent people who are willing to be dishonest to "win" an argument. With Hannity, he just isn't smart enough to figure out when he is being lied to by other shills. Click "There's More..." and follow me below the jump.
Hannity's schtick is waving the flag and calling liberals and Democrats any of a number of variations of "America hater." He has a show on Fox News called "Hannity's America," a title that practically makes me gag when I see it on the cable guide. On this show Hannity has a couple recurring segments that I've been unfortunate enough to watch on the intertubes. The first is called "The Clinton Files" where he rehashes all the fake, made up controversies from the 90's. Perhaps he's just nostalgic for a president that he could attack. It's just as stupid as you would imagine, as Hannity investigates whether Bill and Hillary are the two most powerful people on earth, and how they use their awesome power to murder and silence critics, advance the liberal agenda, and be just all around bad people. I imagine that the script is written in all capital letters.
The second recurring segment is even more ludicrous. It was called "Enemy of the State," until somebody told Hannity that it made him look like a huge fascist. Now it's called "Enemy of the Week." Hannity uses this segment to call out unamerican subversives, with all the wit and truthfulness that you would expect. It's pretty much exactly what a satire of Hannity's show would look like, except that he thought of it first. Recipients of this "award" include popular right-wing targets Michael Moore, Barbara Streisand, and Jane Fonda. My favorite was Sean Penn, who was the "Enemy of the State" for, well, expressing an opinion and calling Hannity a name (idiot, I think). Hannity responds maturely by calling Penn names.
But enough about Hannity's shitty shows. Lets get to the heart of what makes him a right-wing jerk-off. Hannity doesn't come up with his stuff by himself. He relies on the tried and true right-wing information network to generate material for him. The RNC makes something up, it goes up on Drudge, and voila, Hannity's got something to talk about. After the smear hits the airwaves it's debunked, and responsible people explain how the GOP twisted the facts. But Hannity's like a pitbull, and he never lets go to a smear once he sinks his teeth into it.
Hannity is so stupid, in fact, that he doesn't even know he's lying sometimes. For instance, I remember during the 2004 election, the RNC put out a press release saying that John Kerry "voted for higher taxes 350 times." So Hannity dutifully parroted this attack ad nauseum, except, he didn't get the full memo. You see, "voting for higher taxes" included a number of things besides raising taxes. In fact, everytime Kerry voted against some bullshit GOP tax cut, that counted. But Hannity didn't understand or recognize the distinction, and would constantly say that Kerry "voted to raise taxes 350 times." He probably didn't even realize, or he did and he didn't care.
There are countless other examples of Hannity simulatenously playing the village idiot and right-wing shill. Check out Media Matters for more (they have 750 listed), and feel free to put your favorite in the comments.
I find Hannity quite tiresome, and I don't know why anyone would listen to what he has to say. If I were a right-winger, I wouldn't listen to him because I'd be worried that I'd repeat what he said and get called out for being an idiot. I can't possibly imagine why people listen to him. But then again, I'm not this guy.
Here's an event to check out this Sunday, featuring a progressive former candidate for City Council, and one of the few Ward Leaders that takes a democratic (small “d”) approach to conducting Democratic ward business. It’s hosted by the WPhilly chapter of a citywide organization that pursues a long-term strategy of voter education at the ward and division level.
Click "There's More..." for all the info.
The Democratic Party: From the Outside In
Interested in how Philadelphia politics “work?” How “the people” elect candidates in the City of Brotherly Love? What you can do to help replace “organized money” with “organized people?” Come hear people-focused ward leader Carol Jenkins and former City Council primary candidate Marc Stier discuss their experiences in Democratic Party politics leading up to last spring’s election.
Sunday Sept. 16th @7 pm Abbraccio’s Restaurant 47th St. south of Baltimore Av.
Carol Jenkins - Ward Leader, 27th Ward Marc Stier - City Council Candidate (formerly)
ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: CHANGE THE CITY FROM YOUR NEIGHORHOOD! Sponsored by Neighborhood Networks, West Philly Chapter More info: Adriel.firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.phillynn.org/WestPhiladelphiaWardGroup
Earlier this week we were treated to the much bally-hooed report from General Petreaus and Amb. Crocker on The Surge (or the New Way Forward, or Clear and Hold, or The Way Ahead, or Stand up/Stand down, I forget which one). There are so many aspects of this episode to discuss, from the truthiness and misleading statistics, to the media manipulation and, yes, propaganda, that I can't even begin to address all of them. I will try, however, to address the overall context of the surge report and point you to richer discussions of the varying aspects.
To talk about the surge, one must go back to the winter of 2006. If you remember, the democrats won congress, the ISG had concluded that Bush needed to change course, and even little Tommy Friedman was saying that we had to be either in for ten years or out in ten months (of course, even when Bush ignored Tommy's conditions, Tommy supported the surge, and doesn't seem to remember writing that column). So from this bubbling well of discontent, the surge was born. Bush had the genius idea of sending 30,000 more troops to Iraq to bring about security, thereby allowing political reconciliation to take place. Now, 8 months after Bush announced the surge, the security gains are both mixed and dubious, and the political reconciliation is non-existent. On top of that, the additional troops have significantly strained the military, and chickenhawks still haven't stood up to help out. Click "There's More..." and follow me below the jump.
So Gen. Petraeus's testimony went pretty much exactly as predicted. There were a couple interesting off-script moments, including when Petraeus couldn't say whether the war in Iraq was making America safer, but for the most part no big suprises. Now, Bush is going to be giving a prime time address tonight, and he is expected to announce plans to withdraw 30,000 troops by July 2008.
All that I can say is youguysgotpunked. This has been Bush's plan all along. It's known many different names, and supposedly different tactics, but the strategy has always been to keep 100,000 plus troops in Iraq for the rest of the Bush presidency. On a political level, I've long suspected that Bush and the GOP have wanted to have a democratic president in office when we finally get out of Iraq, so that any ensuing clusterfucking is all our fault. Trying to set up a stab-in-the-back narrative like Vietnam seems to be the plan to resuscitate the corpse of the GOP. For Bush, I think that he is clinging to the hope that leaving troops in Iraq long enough will find a pony, and that this will validate him to history as a great leader. So many psychological issues there.
So the plan is to kick the can down the road, six to nine months at a time. It's never the right time to look back. It's never the right time to question the strategy. It's only ever time to support the president in a time of war.
Chris Dodd is exactly right. Bush's plan to withdraw the surge troops by next summer leaves us exactly where we were at the end of last year. As he says,
"Moving us in 10 months to where we were 10 months ago is not progress. It is the very definition of status quo."
I was driving home from RI the other day, and Monster Hospital by Metric came on my iPod. The lyrics reminded me of the Iraq war (whatever their actual intent).
I fought the war I fought the war but the war won I fought the war I fought thewar I fought the war But the war won't stop for the love of God
The fight over the war has already been lost. No matter what happens now, 3776 americans have been killed, 27,186 have been wounded, countless tens (or hundreds) of thousands of Iraqi's have been killed, and we've spent $451 Billion dollars so far (and counting).
All that the Republicans need to do to win the fight is to keep fighting it. So they do, and we stay in Iraq. When we leave, Iraqi's will continue to die. I fought the war but the war won.
I watched the Fox News Republican Presidential debate from New Hampshire tonight, but I had to wait a couple hours to readjust to reality before I blogged about it. It really is a surreal experience watching these guys. I got the sense that McCain is almost embarrassed by his party, but he made his bed and has to sleep in it.
So here is my list, in no particular order, of things that suprised me, interested me, pissed me off, and made me laugh. I'll probably add to this as I remember more stuff. Click "There's more..." and follow me below the jump.
A couple of awkward moments that I enjoyed quite a bit, including some kid in a diner calling out Rudy's "Family Values." Rudy handled it pretty well though. The other, and possibly more damaging, moment was when the father of an Iraq vet called out Mitt Romney for saying his sons were serving their country by working on his campaign. The father said that Romney didn't understand how deeply he had offended veterans and families with the comment. It was pretty harsh, and powerful I thought. Romney didn't do a good job handling it, he praised service, apologized, but was clearly rattled.
There were some pretty heated exchanges between Ron Paul and the field over foreign policy. Romney wisely didn't accuse him of "forgetting about 9/11," but I was struck by the level of contempt and disrespect they were showing Paul. They have clearly grown tired of having him in the debates. They were laughing at him when he answered questions seriously, and the moderators asked very nasty and pointed questions (Chris Wallace to Paul: "So you would allow Al Qaeda to dictate American foreign policy?") I don't agree with Paul about much, but his voice on Iraq is welcome in these debates.
The more I see Rudy in these things, the less I think he can't win. He's a much smoother politician than I've given him credit for. It was apparent that he intentionally stayed away from 9/11 this time, probably getting the message that he was laying it on a bit thick. He emphasized his record in NY instead, but he's quite the serial exagerator. He said that he cut taxes and raised revenues in NY, and that it demonstrates supply side economics. He neglected to mention that he was mayor during the freaking tech boom of the 90's, and so of course revenues rose! Wall Street was making money hand over fist. His claims about his cutting taxes, reducing crime, and just about everything else are similarly misleading. Perhaps this would make a few good posts in the future, as these claims are worthy of more detailed scrutiny.
Duncan Hunter mentioned orange glazed chicken again. This guy is a buffoon. He made the same stupid "if you make it over my border fence we put you in the olympics" joke that he's made in every debate (I think, maybe just most) so far. People smiled politely. President Hunter; Not in a million years.
Huckabee looked good, but nothing struck me as a great moment. He took some flack for the Fair Tax, but handled all the questions pretty well. My subjective sense was that he was getting more time than in the previous debates, almost as much as Rudy/Romney.
Carl Cameron is the Fox News political corresspondent, and the guy is a huge douche. This is the man that was assigned to follow the Kerry campaign in 2004, and decided to just make shit up. He was stationed in some diner in NH to do the "man-on-the-street" thing, but it was so much weaker than a typical town forum format, or the youtube debates that I actually liked. It was pretty stupid.
On a related note, I'm so sick of that retail politics bullshit from Iowa and New Hampshire. It's such a silly conceit that they think they can judge candidates better because they get to shake their hands. It's 2000-effing-7. Learn to read newspapers and use the intertubes. It just makes for so much silly pandering, and it's a pain in the neck listening to politicians wax poetic about the "salt-of-the-earth" types in every podunk diner in Iowa and New Hampshire.
I think that's enough for tonight. As always, thoughts, opinions, questions in the comments. Tell me why I'm wrong and/or an idiot.
[UPDATE] A couple points I missed last night. First, I completely neglected to mention the exchange between Paul and Huckabee over Iraq. I wasn't that blown away by Huckabee's response, but some republicans were. The view that I've seen developing on the intertubes is that McCain and Huckabee were the "winners," for whatever thats worth.
Second, regarding Giuliani and supply side taxes, there is quite the discussion today about the supply side wacko's and I should note that supply side economics has some justification at a municipal level. My reaction to Rudy's claims were based on my impression that as a presidential candidate he was endorsing supply side economics. In addition, so many of his positive results in NYC were due in large part to national trends beyond his control, and its worth pointing out when he is claiming too much credit. McCain, on the other hand, explicitly said that cutting federal taxes raises revenues.
Also regarding McCain, I was perhaps too charitable saying that he was embarrassed by his party. He's just as embarrassing as the rest of them, but perhaps I've been conditioned by the media to think that somehow, deep down, he's better than that.
TPM has compiled a highlight reel of the debates for anyone interested. Oh, and I incorrectly said that Hunter was flogging Orange glazed chicken again. It was honey glazed chicken this time, and I apologize for the error.