Saturday, September 15, 2007

No Comment

Greenspan - Now He Tells Us

From A. Greenspan's book to be published Monday.

Greenspan on Pres. Clinton:
Greenspan, who had an eight-year alliance with Clinton and Democratic Treasury secretaries in the 1990s, praises Clinton's mind and his tough anti-deficit policies, calling the former president's 1993 economic plan "an act of political courage."

Greenspan on Bush:
But he expresses deep disappointment with Bush. "My biggest frustration remained the president's unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending," Greenspan writes. "Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency.
Greenspan on the Republican congress:
"House Speaker Hastert and House majority leader Tom DeLay seemed readily inclined to loosen the federal purse strings any time it might help add a few more seats to the Republican majority," he writes.

Wouldn't it have been nice if Greenspan was a bit more forthcoming when it mattered.

He also writes:
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Why Depend on Saudi Arabia for Oil?

Thanks to Watson for giving me the idea for this post.

The USA imports more than 55% of its oil. Much of that oil comes from our "ally" Saudi Arabia. You remember, the country that 15 of the 19 World Trade Center and Pentagon attackers came from? The conservative WorldNetDaily claims that Saudi oil imports fund American mosques (implying subversion of the US).
Some of the largest mosques and Islamic centers in America are funded by the royal government of Saudi Arabia, which gets most of its revenues from oil exports. And America is its biggest customer.

It's too bad that the USA is so dependent on an ally that supports terrorism (and Sunni insurgents in Iraq). Actually, I personally have no evidence that Saudi Arabia funds terrorism although they are the home of Wahhabism and Osama bin Laden. However, you do have to question what was said on those 28 blacked out (censored) pages about Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 Commission's report. Surely, our oil-based relationship doesn't have anything to do with the Bush family (here)and their business interests (think Saudi investment in the Carlisle group).

So we continue to import oil into the US from our ally Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia uses many of those oil dollars to purchase USA debt to help prop us up financially. It's a wonderful arrangement.

Yet here in our own hemisphere there is a non-muslim country that has 4 times more recoverable oil reserves than does Saudi Arabi. Which country is that you ask? It's Venezuela, sworn enemy of the Bush administration. What would Venezuela do with all those oil dollars? Well, Chavez is adamant that he would not purchase US debt with them. He claims he would invest in South America. Oddly enough, the very heavy crude oil (almost tar-like) that is found in Venezuela currently can currently only be refined in Venezuela or the USA.

So now you have to ask, why is Chavez such an enemy of the USA? Why did the Bush administration support a coup against Chavez? A coup that only lasted for two days. What are the diplomatic attempts to make chavez a stronger ally of the USA. I don't know alot about Hugo Chavez but here are two articles I've read about him so far, one by Greg Palast and another by Franklin Foer published in the Atlantic Monthly. There is also a good interview concerning Chavez and Venezuela with Tariq Ali here.

How the Iraqi Army Was Really Disbanded

In a video letter to the editor to the NYT, film maker Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight) explains how the Iraqi Army actually was disbanded. If you have a relatively high speed internet connection you have to watch this 10 min. video letter.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hi-Def TV a Problem for Politicians?

Andrew Sullivan says watching the President speak on Hi-Def TV is very different from watching him on regular TV.
He seemed almost broken to me. His voice raspy, his eyes watery, his affect exhausted, his facial expression almost bewildered.
He had a good deal more to say about Bush's speech. Not much of it good.
And the way he framed his case was still divorced from the reality we see in front of our nose: that Iraq is not, as he still seems to believe, full of ordinary people longing for democracy and somehow stymied solely by "extremists" or al Qaeda or Iran, but a country full of groups of people who cannot trust one another, who are still living in the wake of unimaginable totalitarian trauma, who have murdered and tortured and butchered each other in pursuit of religious and ethnic pride and honor for centuries. This is what Bush cannot recognize: there is no Iraq. There are no Iraqis.
Of course there are no Iraqis. Anyone that has ever watched "Lawrence of Arabia" can understand why.

O.J. Simpson Arrested and Released

He was only conducting a "sting operation" to get his stuff back.

Middle Saranac Lake, NY - The Beach

This is a little known beach, at least to tourists. It's a big beach (over 800 steps long). Nice sand, shallow water, good for kids. No facilities and no life guards. It belongs to the taxpayers of NY state. The water level is extremely low due to the lack of rain this summer.

Middle Saranac Lake, NY - The Walk In

You will find the parking lot for the trail to Middle Saranac Lake on Rt. 3 8.2 miles from the Town Hall in Saranac Lake going toward Tupper Lake. It's the same parking lot used when hiking up Ampersand Mt. The walk into Middle Saranac Lake is short and flat...about 800 steps, 15 min. tops.

36 Nation Coalition?

It's not true that there are 36 nations helping the USA in Iraq. But a number of mighty nations have provided some armed forces. This from Marty Kaplan (found via Drudge Report):
Moldova is in (12 troops), but Tonga is out. Bosnia & Herzegovina contributed as many as 37 soldiers in theater, but Slovakia and Hungary have pulled out. El Salvador has stayed, but Nicaragua has gone. Australia, yes; New Zealand, not so much. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, you betcha; Denmark and Norway, gone. Mongolia is in, but Ukraine is out. It appears that Kazahkstan's 29 troops, and Armenia's 46, are hanging in there, but Thailand has left the building.

UPDATE: List of countries with troops in Iraq here and what is wrong with it (like many things in the Bush administration it is flat out wrong or dishonest). I wonder if Canada knows that they still have troops on the ground in Iraq?

Iceland has a single soldier in Iraq.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bush Speech

Before I go to bed I need to make a couple of comments about "The Decider's" speech. Yes I did watch it while I finished up my book "Great Feuds in Science".

1. Bush is a coward for hiding behind Gen. Petraeus

2. Bush is liar for claiming there are 36 countries helping the US fight the Iraq War.

3. Bush is disgraceful for wanting to keep us in this war simply for his "legacy".

A conservative once told me he didn't like Bill Clinton because Clinton had no honor. Does Bush have any honor?

FOX News Poll - Gen. Petraeus Report Truthful?

Based on what you know, was Gen. Petraeus's report truthful and objective or was it slanted toward the policies of the Bush Administration?

35% Truthful

40% Slanted

25% Don't know

Fox News Poll (pdf)

Will Bush Propose a Long-Term Security Pact With Iraq?

An hour ago Chris Matthews reported that President Bush plans to propose a US Security Pact with Iraq. This would mean a very long-term US presence in Iraq a la South Korea. If Bush does propose such a security pact it will be very interesting to see the reaction of the Arab world, let alone the Congress of the USA.

It's becoming more and more clear that Bush has never planned to leave Iraq. It's becoming a bit clearer that the main reason is oil and not democracy.

Saranac Lake Union Depot

Union Depot was built in 1904 by the Delaware and Hudson railroad. There were 18-20 scheduled passenger trains between the years 1912 - 1940. The station was closed in 1965 and restored by Historic Saranac Lake in 1997 - 98. Tourist trains operated by Adirondack Scenic Railroad currently leave from this station to Lake Placid.

The Story of Intelligent Design

Here is another great program from the BBC.

Part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Gary From Bloomingdale, WNBZ and Kathy Griffin

Our moral majority friend, "Gary from Bloomingdale", is once again up in arms on this mornings WNBZ "talk of the town" call-in program. It's along his usual line about how "the left is ruining this country". This is a direct insult to me because I am a member of the "evil commie left" and I would argue, at least in my case, that I am not trying to ruin our country.

The issue this morning is comedian Kathy Griffin's speech at the Emmy Award Broadcast. Here is what she said:

"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award," Griffin said in her speech. "I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy for best reality show and add: "This award is my god now!"
Now I can certainly understand how this would offend a devout Christian, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of "devout Christians" that I have met over the years (although I've met an innumerable number of good people).

"Gary from Bloomingdale" goes on to point out how "the left" was outraged when a newspaper in Denmark published a cartoon of Muhammed (PBUH, see I'm being respectful). Michelle Malkin, however, couldn't wait to link to as many websites as possible that were publishing the cartoons. I sympathized with the muslims because it is against the ten commandments to make graven images (a commandment by the way that most Christians do not follow). But to me our Constitution and free speech trumps religion.

So "Gary from Bloomingdale" is outraged. This type of speech is destroying our country. "Gary from Bloomingdale" forgets something important. Free speech is guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. You see the framers were a bit worried that guys like "Gary from Bloomingdale" might try to destroy our country by prohibiting free speech.

Oddly enough, Kathy Griffin's irregligious comments are going to be censored when her speech is aired in a few days.

I'm not sure what the uproar is all about. "South Park" and "Family Guy" (two of my favorite tv shows) have treated both Jesus and Muhammed (PBUH), and just about everyone else, far more irreverently than Kathy Griffin did at her emmy acceptance speech. I guess "Gary from Bloomingdale" doesn't watch those tv shows, which is not surprising since they too are obvious indicators that our country is going to hell in a handbasket.

I guess the more serious question here is this: Did Jesus have anything to do with Kathy Griffin winning an emmy award? Well, as an atheist I have to say that I doubt it, but you can decide for yourself.

The laugh line from "Gary from Bloomingdale" this morning is this: "Listen to Fox News if you want to know what is going on in this country" (seven US polls have shown that people who listen to Fox News get things wrong). In any case, I hardily disagree with "Gary from Bloomingdale". If you want to know what is going on in this country you need to listen to John Stewart's Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who Is An Ass-Kissing Little Chickenshit?

Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM) reportedly thinks Gen. Petraeus is "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and that He (Fallon) "hates people like that".

Adm. Fallon apparently is not afraid to tell "The Decider" what he thinks.
He demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.
Hey, I didn't say Gen. Petraeus is an ass-kisser. This is one of those Fox News instances. I report and you decide. I wonder how long Adm. Fallon will be in command of CENTCOM? Gen. Abizaid and Gen. Casey were both replaced by Bush because they were "surge skeptics".

On another note, Sen. James Webb has asked Sen. Carl Levin to call on Adm. Fallon to testify before the Senate Armed Services Comm. It seems Sen. Webb wants another "more independent" take on the Iraq War.

Want to fact check Gen. Petraeus' testimony? Go here and here.

GOP Leader Boehner - Small Price to Pay

From a CNN Wolf Blitzer interview this afternoon with GOP leader Rep. Boehner.
BLITZER: How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?

BOEHNER: I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

I wish Rep. Boehner would explain exactly what "price" the average American is paying for our success in Iraq. The only price Pres. Bush asked of Americans was to continue to go out and shop at the malls. Oh yeah, also be afraid, be very afraid.

Unfortunately, our soldiers are dying or getting limbs blown off and families are being left without mothers and fathers. Rep. Boehner thinks this is a small price to pay, as long as he doesn't have to pay anything.

Views From Mt. Baker, Saranac Lake, NY

Sept. 12, 2007, 2:30 PM

Looking to the East

The lakes. Lower SL upper right, Moody Pond lower right, Miller Pond and Lake Flower middle

Riverside Dr. and Lake Flower

Lower Saranac Lake is on top, Riverside Dr. middle, Moody Pond Bottom

Anti-Islamic Sentiments vs Hearts and Minds

There are two conservative blogs I've read this morning that honestly believe that we are in a war with Islam (I won't embarrass them by naming them). To win that war we need to kill all anti-American, islamic fundamentalists or islamofascists as they are called in the conservative world.

Well, let the killing begin, because we have a lot of anti-American sentiment out there among Islamic nations. Take our ally Pakistan for example. A recent poll, conducted for Terror Free Tomorrow by D3 Systems of Vienna, Virginia, asked, face to face, 1044 Pakistanis who they supported. They answered:

  1. Osama bin Laden 46%
  2. Pervez Musharraf 38%
  3. George Bush 9%

Asked their opinion on the real purpose of the U.S.-led war on terror, 66 percent of poll respondents said they believe the United States is acting against Islam or has anti-Muslim motivation. Others refused to answer the question or said they did not know.
Those 66% of Pakistanis are right. From what I can tell the grassroots conservatives of America do have anti-Islam motivations in the so-called war on terror. Only 4% of Pakistanis think the USA has a good motivation in the WOT.
Seventy-four percent said they oppose U.S. military action against al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Pakistan. I wonder what the populace of our allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia think of the USA?
I understand that for many conservatives this poll doesn't matter. Afterall, these are just a bunch of "rag headed religious fundamentalists". In my mind it matters a great deal. Followers of Islam make up 21% of the worlds population. That's 1.5 billion people. Is that how many we have to kill? Apparently the precise number of muslims in the USA isn't known but it's probably around 2 million. That is one whole heck of a lot of killing that needs to be done.

What are the beliefs of Islam? I like two websites that can help answer this question. The first is Religious Tolerance. This website addresses all types of religions. Go here for their take on Islam. The second, and more detailed, is Islam 101. If you don't have the time or inclination to educate yourself about the Islamic religion then just read this.

War. What Is It Good For?

Sgt. Mora and daughter Jordan.

I imagine there will be much discussion and wringing of hands over the recommendations that Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker have made to President Bush. While everyone will be analyzing the possible conditions in Iraq a year from now, soldiers are still dying.

Not much was made of the Op Ed, written by seven soldiers, and published in the NYT. It now appears that two of those soldiers, Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance Gray, died Monday. Another was shot in the head, but apparently survived, before the Op Ed was published.
Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

If you haven't read this intelligent assessment of the situation in Iraq, I encourage you to click on the link and read it. The Op Ed did not receive near the attention of the Op Ed published by Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack arguing that the surge is working (O'Hanlon and Pollack are still alive). "Use common sense" is a phrase that is often muttered by conservatives. Here is some common sense written by seven (now five) grunts on the ground. Who knows more about the actual situation on the ground than a sergeant?

I'm not known to be overly emotional. But as I write this my eyes are actually misting up. How many of those seven courageous sergeants (now five) are going to come out of this senseless war alive?

Sgt. Mora was coming home to Texas in November and was on his second tour in Iraq. He leaves a wife and a five year old daughter. Sgt. Gray also leaves a wife and a daughter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Will Success in Iraq Make America Safer?

Gen. Petraeus answers Sen. Warner's question "I don't know". If the answer isn't a resounding YES, then what are we doing in Iraq?

Sen. James Inhofe, arguably the dumbest man in the Senate, says that "Iraq is a huge success story".

UPDATE: Gen. Petraeus gets a second chance.


For all you researchers out there that use mice. Did you know there are many, many other uses for mice, probably frogs too. This from Pharyngula:
A mouse can be skinned, cut in two, and placed over an arrow wound to help the healing process; if a mouse is beaten into pieces and mixed with old wine, the concoction will cause hair to grow on the eyelids; if skinned, steeped in oil, and rubbed with salt, the mouse will cure pains in the lungs; sodden mice can prevent children from urinating too much; mice that are burned and converted to powder are fine for cleaning the teeth; mouse dung, prepared in various manners, is useful for treating sciatica, headache, migraine, the tetters, scabs, red bunches on the head, gout, wounds, spitting of blood, colick, constipation, stones, producing abortions, putting on weight, and increasing lactation in women.

Who knew?

More from Edward Topsell here (on cats).

Petraeus Reports to Joint Senate Committees

Gen. Petraeus is now appearing before the joint Senate Committees (Armed Services and Foreign Relations. This should be interesting because between the two Senate committees there are five presidential candidates on those committees: H. Clinton, B. Obama, J. McCain, J. Biden, and C. Dodd.

Who are the Republican Senators that might not be willing to wait for more substantive progress to be made in Iraq? Sen. Norm Coleman (MN), Sen. Susan Collins (ME), Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE), Sen. Gordon Smith (OR), Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME), Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), Sen. John Warner (VA), and John Sununu (NH).

Sorry, it's not a joint committee meeting. Gen. Petraeus is appearing before the Foreign Relations Comm. this morning and the Armed Services Comm. this afternoon.

Biden points out that there are 1000 attacks a week in Iraq and we are calling that success.

The hearing is being live blogged here at the UK Guardian.

Petraeus/Crocker Report - Bush Wins

Yes, President G.W. Bush has won. He finally has his exit strategy...his personal exit strategy that is. Gen. Petraeus has given G.W. another couple of Friedman Units so Bush can leave the White House as the President who didn't lose the Iraq War. That will be the job of the next President of the United States.

Unfortunately, the losers in all of this are: our soldiers, who will continue to die; the Iraqi people, who will continue to die; and Americans who will continue to not have to make sacrifices for Bush's war. We just have to continue to shop at the malls.

Bush continues to lead a charmed life of no responsibility and no accountability. Bush continues to leave his messes for someone else to clean up. But at least Georgie now has a chance of a possible decent legacy.

Phoney Fred Org

Have you visited yet? That's the anti-Fred Thompson website that spends a lot of time name-calling good ole boy Fred. Those damn commie liberals are at it again!

Well, actually not. It appears that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is behind it. Unfortunately, the website has now been taken down since ole Mitt has been exposed, but I'm sure it will be found in the memory hole somewhere. Mitt decided it would be a good idea to hire consultant Warren Tompkins. That's the same guy Bush used to smear John McCain in South Carolina back in 2000.

UPDATE: Mitt says his campaign had nothing to do with Phoney Fred, but they took down the website. Here is the link to the google cache of Phoney Fred. The funniest thing about the Phoney Fred website is that the Romney campaign made a big deal out of Thompson being a flip-flopper.

Since I mentioned the evil above I need to say that I did not completely support the NYT sponsored ad which refered to Gen. Petraeus as Gen. Betray us (although you can argue the actual text of the ad was accurate). Progressives really should leave tactics of smearing veterans to Republicans. They have already shown what a good job they can do smearing such veterans as John McCain, John Murtha, John Kerry and Max Cleland.

I also thought the disruption of the committee hearings yesterday by members of code pink was counterproductive and that it was right to remove them from the room. But prosecuting protesters for exercising their right of free speech is a bit over the top.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Jim Walsh (R-NY) Has Had It With Iraq

Erin Kelly of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle will report tomorrow on a conversation she had with Rep. Walsh. I guess ole Jim wants to keep his seat.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the article in todays Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Rep. Jim Walsh, in a dramatic break with the White House, returned Monday from a trip to Iraq saying it's time to bring troops home and stop funding the war.

The moderate Republican from Onondaga has struggled for months with conflicting emotions about the war.

"Before I went, I was not prepared to say it's time to start bringing our troops home," Walsh said. "I am prepared to say that now. It's time."

Petraeus/Crocker Report

Stay the course.

How Many Friedman Units and Live Blogging

Today is the day that Gen. Petraeus (PhD) and Amb. Crocker give their report to congress. In fact, it's already started. We already know what they will say. The important question is how many Friedman Units will they ask for? You see, just another six months, to show success in Iraq, is what is always needed.

Luckly, Gen. Petraeus (his parents immigrated from the Netherlands) and Amb. Crocker will head over to Fox News shortly after their report to congress to give another "fair and balanced" report to Fox News listeners. Anyone thing any tough questions will be asked of these guys by Brit Hume?

Let's try a little live blogging, I've never done that before.

One of the first Congressman to speak is liberal, commie Rep. Tom Lantos. Dr. Lantos is a jewish immigrant born in Hungary and a holocaust survivor. He's a member of the congressional progressive caucus and a conservationist.

Now Rep. Duncan Hunter, US born and a patriot, gets to speak. First thing he does is attack Rep. Lantos. Rep. Hunter supports Duty, Honor, Country. Rep. Hunter, a 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, has a reputation for attacking his fellow house members. He is a Southern Baptist Christian.

Next, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (EdD), a Republican from Florida, in spite of her hyhenated name. She was born in Cuba, yet another immigrant that has infiltrated our government. She too chastises the commie liberals who hate our troops because liberals disagree with her. She is a Roman Catholic (or Episcopalian) Christian.

Forty-five minutes into the session and no questions have yet been asked (1:16 PM).

General Petraeus is now speaking or will be when they get the microphone to work. Protesters are being escorted out of the meeting room. General Petraeus has already praised the progress being made in Iraq about three years ago. Gen. Petraeus has just recommended that Congress provide two Friedman Units to the army in Iraq. Violence in Iraq is down by all measures (some disagree). Civilian casualties are still too high says Petraeus. Sectarian deaths down by 80% in Bagdad (but that couldn't have anything to do with ethnic cleansing). The number of high profile attacks are still too high. (The way Gen. Petraeus came up with his numbers is classified).

Gen. Petraeus is still speaking. I wonder when he will get to the level of improvement in the political situation, which is what the "surge" was supposed to allow. Do the Iraqi's think the "surge" has worked? Not so much.

More here.

Petraeus slides can be seen here.

Amb. Crocker now gets to speak his piece. We need substantial US resolve. Victory will only be recognized in retrospect???

He seems to be stretching to find things the government has done to advance Iraqi unity.

Iraq is just like the USA when we were stuggling for States rights and civil rights. It's going to take longer for the Iraqi's to govern effectively due to the conditions in Iraq. (I thought the "surge" was supposed to change that).

Does anyone else chuckle a little when the words "multinational forces in Iraq" are uttered?

Damn, I hate that expression "blood and treasure".

2:30 PM and still not a single question asked or answered. Nice speeches though, although Crocker is a bit boring.

Nine soldiers killed in Iraq today.

Ike Skelton (country lawyer) asks a question. Why should we expect the next 6 months to be any different? Crocker....these are extremely complex's going to take time (many, many Friedman Units). Crocker does not expect we are going to see rapid progress but we need to maintain tactical flexability. There has been progress towards political reconciliation but it's going to take more time (Friedman Units).

Rep. Lantos now, to Gen. Petraeus. Please comment on intermediate course of withdrawal of troops from Iraq (Adm. Fallon (commander of Centcom) favors more rapid and substantial withdrawal than Petraeus). Petraeus recommends a substantial withdrawal (30,000 next summer?). We should not "rush to failure". Petraeus disagrees that anyone has proposed a more rapid withdrawal of troops.

What does Crocker think about increased diplomacy with Iran and Syria concerning Iraq? Long non-answer given. Will Maliki turn to Iran as a more dependable friend? Things are said in the heat of the moment but now Maliki says that Iraq needs the multinational force. Crocker believes Iraqi Arab shia do not like Iranian shia so no worries.

Rep. Lantos seems to be a kind old gentleman (he's 79).

Rep. Duncan Hunter's turn. Petraeus says the Iraqi army is fighting and taking casualties. Disbanded Iraqi army troops are being offered retirement and/or jobs in the new army. Iranians are supplying improved IED's to the Iraqi's.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. All you commie Dems need to distance yourself from What are consequences of withdrawal before conditions are ideal? (and a mess of other questions). Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda. I didn't really hear an answer that I could understand.

Five minute break at 3:15 PM.

Rep. Spratt (D-SC) wants to talk money first. Over 600 billion dollars spent so far. Did the "surge" serve its purpose (to allow political reconciliation)? Why are we seeing reconciliation. Crocker - there is significant pyschic damage to be overcome. We are already seeing signs of reconciliation (Anbar example again). Sunnis joining police and army.

Rep. Berman (D-CA). Is it correct that we should "stay the course", my words but that is his first question. Petraeus says yes. Does US have special obligation to Iraqi refugees? Yes.

Rep. Saxton (R-NJ). Praise Gen. Petraeus first. Let's talk about how many times we met in Iraq. More protesting. Finally a question from Rep. Saxton. The way we leave Iraq will determine how we will be seen by the rest of the world. If we leave too early what will be the result. Crocker - that is a critical question. Crocker don't have a crystal ball. Iraqi's will be killed if we leave like we did in Lebanon. Iranians will emerge ascendent over Iraq. Arab Sunni reaction will occur.

Rep. Smith (R-NJ). Genocide. Will there be potential genocide if we leave Iraq early? Are there better benchmarks? Petraeus - Hard to tell what would happen. Smith - nothing wrong with benchmarks but conditions are not yet in place to meet the benchmarks.

Rep. Ortiz (D-TX). Is there any type of comprehensive diplomatic plan to reach out to other countries in the area? Petraeus and Crocker agree that you cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq. Must make it more difficult for outside fighters to enter Iraq. Must control cyberspace. Crocker - It's an important question. The region can make things better or worse.

Rep. Ackerman (D-NY). 3.5 hrs of testamony and no has mentioned international war on terrorism. If Iraq is part of IWT, how can anyone suggest a drawdown? But Petraeus and Crocker are not making that argument that Iraq is part of the IWT. Can we afford to put a cop in every bad marriage, especially when the parties are not even showing up for counseling? How much more blood should we invest while we wait for reconciliation? Where will Iraq be in another 4 years? (this guy is a real America-hating commie). Petraeus - yes, Iraq is part of the IWT and Al Qaeda is in Iraq which is igniting ethno-sectarian violence. Ackerman - Is Al Qaeda in Iraq a threat to us - Petraeus is not sure. How do we leave. Petraeus - stabilize the situation in each area.

Rep. McHugh (R-NY)[NNY Bush yes man]. Praise Petraeus first. Is Iraq an important part of the global war on terror. Petraeus - defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq would be good. McHugh - Would leaving Iraq for Afghanistan be a plus or minus for the WOT? Petraeus - better question for another general. McHugh - Frustration of Americans towards Iraq government. What can we do to send a message to Maliki and Iraq government? Crocker - We wrestle with that question everyday. Can't say we are going to reduce troops because they would be less inclined to cooperate with each other. Try to understand how things got to be the way they are in Iraq (incompetence). No real answer to the question.

Rep. Manzulo (R-IL). Is massive military present in Iraq hindering our efforts in combating global WOT? Petraeus - AQI is the threat in Iraq. They are still dangerous and lethal. [sounds like if we get rid of AQI, everything will be hunky dory in Iraq]. Petraeus can't really answer the question - ask general McCrystal.

Rep. Taylor (D-MS). Didn't recall seeing any Iraqis at Gen. Petraeus headquarters. Petraeus - they are across the street. Rep. Taylor - do you ever point at a calender and say to an Iraqi we expect you to be an operational force by this date? Petraeus -the transition has been going on and the dates are usually mutually agreed. Taylor -what are the dates? Petraeus - we have dates laying out provincal Iraqi control. Sometimes dates have slipped. Taylor - Please supply the timeline to the comm. (it's classified).

Rep. Faleomavaega (D-Amer. Samoa). Are forces overstretched? Do we have capacity to fight on two fronts? Petraeus - Shares concerns about strains on ground forces. That's why we need to draw down some of our forces. Our ground forces are too small (army too small). Petraeus - cannot answer whether we have capacity to fight on two fronts. Faleomavaega - Gen. Shinseki along with others was vilified for doing his job. Is 160,000 soldiers enough to do what you need to do? Petraeus - never been a commander in history that did not want more forces (then why didn't Bush generals ask for more troops). "I have what we have".

Rep. Bartlett (R-MD). Petraeus gives a hint about how he calculates deaths. Yields time to Davis (R-KY). Davis - Iraqi congress has been more successful than US congress (I wonder why?). Petraeus - we've made mistakes along the way.

Rep. Royce (R-CA). Where does AQI draw its support today and how do those fighters get into the country? What could be doing in these countries in order to deter the influx? What is progress being made by Iraqi military units? Petraeus - AQI gets direction, money, expertise from the "outside". Flow of foreign fighters - suicide bombers. Saudi Arabia has made it tougher. Fighters from SA need to take a bus to get to Iraq. Security forces range in quality from exceptionally good to units formed of sectarian militia.

Rep. Abercrombie (D-HI). After comments (long winded). Military strategy is to stay in Iraq long-term. USA will draft Iraq oil protocols. Yields time to Rep. Castor (D-FL).

Rep. Castor. How much longer will we be in Iraq and how much more money will be spent.

NPR signs off on committee coverage and so do I.

US National Debt

The US national debt is now over $9 trillion, about $29,000 for every man, women and child in the US. In 2000 the debt was $5.7 trillion. You can follow the monthly increase in the national debt since Jan. 2001 here (you need to enter the dates).

A significant portion (although less than I thought) of that debt is held by foreign countries. About $1.6 or so trillion. Still that's a lot of money. About 3 times the direct cost of our current wars.

Lots of facts about the national debt can be found here at the Concord Coalition and here at National Debt Clock.

Fool Me.....You Can't Get Fooled Again

The above video is courtesy of Moveon is, next to Hillary Clinton, probably one of the democratic institutions most hated by conservatives. I'm not really sure why. Yes, it's a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, conservatives hate 501c's. But as far as I can tell 501 (c)'s are legal. Also, conservatives have an equal opportunity to form their own 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. People are always complaining that their vote doesn't count. Moveon helps its members influence members of congress and the outcomes of congressional elections at a grassroots level.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Asking the Correct Question

Are we winning? If you have to ask, we probably are not winning because victory is obvious.

If We Leave Iraq - Regional Conflagration

Kevin Drum's latest post at Washington Monthly is worth thinking about. The last argument of those that say we need to stay in Iraq is that there will be a regional conflagration if we leave. These are the chaos hawks...."we've screwed up so bad now we need to stay and take care of our screw-ups".
Having admitted, however, that the odds of a military success in Iraq are almost impossibly long, Chaos Hawks nonetheless insist that the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because if we leave the entire Middle East will become a bloodbath. Sunni and Shiite will engage in mutual genocide, oil fields will go up in flames, fundamentalist parties will take over, and al-Qaeda will have a safe haven bigger than the entire continent of Europe.

What is the evidence that regional conflagration will occur? Where does it come from?
Needless to say, this is nonsense. Israel has fought war after war in the Middle East. Result: no regional conflagration. Iran and Iraq fought one of the bloodiest wars of the second half the 20th century. Result: no regional conflagration. The Soviets fought in Afghanistan and then withdrew. No regional conflagration. The U.S. fought the Gulf War and then left. No regional conflagration. Algeria fought an internal civil war for a decade. No regional conflagration.

Yes the civil war will get worse if we leave. Anyone with a brain could have figured out that in a "free" Iraq the Shia would want to extract revenge from the Sunni. Just like they could have figured out that in a majority population of Shia a "Democratic" Iraq would look like the muslim version of the Vatican.

What Osama bin Laden Wants

I guess that Osama would love the following to happen to the USA:

  1. US military stretched to its limits
  2. Increased number of worldwide terrorist attacks
  3. Increased number of disaffected young muslim men joining terrorist groups
  4. Low international standing of the USA
  5. Loss of moral high ground due to USA torture policy
  6. Loss of freedoms, such as habeas corpus, in the USA

Oddly enough, those are exactly the things that seem to have happened. You really have to ask yourself whose side G.W. Bush is on. But no one asks that question because all of the above things that Osama wants, and has received, are either directly or indirectly the fault of Bill Clinton and the Democrats.

SLU Alumni XC Race 07