Spare Me

I am getting a little tired of these mid-occupation internecine blame games about Iraq:

Rumsfeld’s War, Powell’s Occupation: Rumsfeld wanted Iraqis in on the action – right from the beginning.

he latest post-hoc conventional wisdom on Iraq is that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld won the war but lost the occupation. There are two problems with this analysis (which comes, most forcefully, from The Weekly Standard). First, it’s not Rumsfeld’s occupation; it’s Colin Powell’s and George Tenet’s. Second, although it’s painfully obvious that much is wrong with this occupation, it’s simple-minded to assume that more troops will fix it. More troops may be needed now, but more of the same will not do the job. Something different is needed – and was, right from the start.

A Rumsfeld occupation would have been different, and still might be. Rumsfeld wanted to put an Iraqi face on everything at the outset – not just on the occupation of Iraq, but on its liberation too. That would have made a world of difference.

It is not the State Department’s occupation. It is our occupation, and the blame, if things are going poorly, does not fall on Rumsfeld or Powell. It falls on Bush/Cheney, and not to get all high and mighty, but this is more important than a blue dress.

Cripes- I am as big a Bush supporter on this issue as you can be, but these idiotic turf wars that keep getting ginned up are stupid and pointless, and as irritating as the Monday morning quarterbacking being done by the Democrats regarding 9/11. Bush is the President, Bush made the ultimate decisions. If you think there is blame to be spread around, it starts and ends with Bush.

It is called accountability. You know, after all, Bush did choose Powell and Rumsfeld.

Like I Said

When I saw yesterday that Kerry was extending an invitation for Al Sharpton to speak at the DNC, the only reason I could think for this was:

In all seriousness, this probably means that the Democrats have some seriously troubling internal polling data regarding the African-American vote.

From the NY Times today:

For weeks, Senator John Kerry savored a Democratic Party that was unified in rallying behind his presidential candidacy. But in recent days, influential black and Hispanic political leaders whom the campaign had counted on for support have been openly complaining that Mr. Kerry’s organization lacks diversity and is failing to appeal directly to minority voters.

Even as Mr. Kerry spoke here on Thursday to the National Conference of Black Mayors – an appearance his community outreach team viewed as critical to building a network of minority support – two influential Latino leaders circulated harsh letters expressing concern about the campaign’s dealings with minorities.

And in interviews over the last week, more than a dozen minority elected officials and political strategists voiced concerns about what they said was the dearth of representation in Mr. Kerry’s inner circle and worried that he was taking black and Hispanic votes for granted.

“The reality is that we’re entering May and the Kerry campaign has no message out there to the Hispanic community nor has there been any inkling of any reach-out effort in any state to the Hispanic electorate, at least with any perceivable sustainable strategy in mind,” Alvaro Cifuentes, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus, said in an e-mail message to party leaders provided by a recipient who insisted on anonymity. “It is no secret that the word of mouth in the Beltway and beyond is not that he does not get it, it is that he does not care.”

That is what I thought. The man can’t even rally his base.

Let Me Repeat

Jeff Goldstein is a genius.

Internet Tax Ban

Good news for the internet:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to restore a ban on taxing Internet connections for four years, stopping short of the permanent ban approved by the House.

The two chambers will try to work out their differences over an issue that pits a U.S. telecommunications industry trying to expand a range of services against state and local governments worried they could lose billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Voting against the ban:

Voting against the Senate bill were Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico; Bob Graham, Florida; and Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey.

Apparently, Kerry did not want his patriotism questioned again, so he declined to vote.

Unfortunately, In Our Name

I don’t know what is in the water today, but first I agree with Kevin Drum, now I find myself at odds with Bill Quick (although not completely). Bill, in reaction to the CBS reports about American soldiers torturing GI’s, states:

This sort of thing may be deplorable, but would anybody want to bet me that Rather won’t try to make the case that forcing a man to stand on a box while lying to him about the effects of some wires he’s holding are precisely equivalent to “torturing beyond imagining and executions without reason?”

I know Bill well enough and respect him enough to understand that he is responding more to Dan Rather’s dubious complete lack of impartiality, and not dismissing the abhorrent acts alleged to have been committed by our troops. However, this is one issue in which Rather’s comments don’t need to be exaggerated.

Gary Farber (who should be given credit for pointing this out to me- I missed it)points to this website, who has posted the pictures. In order to save her bandwifth, I have copied some of the pictures and posted them here, but by all means, I recommend you go to there to view all the pictures and her commentary. And no, I don’t know who she is or what her politics are, but she is spot on when she states this:

You need to face what is happening in Iraq, and I don’t give a shit if those images are too graphic or shocking for you because this is reality. While you’re sitting on your couches watching American Idol, these kind of war atrocities are happening which violates the Geneva Convention. So much for us being there to liberate the Iraqis. We’re no better than Saddam when we do this kind of crap.

Take a look for yourself (the commentary is hers, not mine):

This Iraqi prisoner had electrical wires wrapped around his arms, his legs, and his testicles. He was told that if he stepped off the box, that he would be electrocuted.

They were forced to do oral sex on each other at gunpoint.

Look at the big, wide smile on the woman’s face as she does a thumbs-up and points at the exposed genitals of the Iraq man with his two other prisoners sitting on the ground with bags over their heads.

This is the body of an Iraqi man who died of beatings at the hands of the American soldiers. This is the “freedom” that we brought to Iraqis like this one. Isn’t freedom so wonderful this way?

Again, there is more of this, and I recommend that you view it. Yes, it is painful to look at- I was initially horrified, and that turned to a deep shame, and then to a seething anger. This is torture, and the people who did this are no better than Saddam and his fascists or ttheir Nazi rolemodels from a half century ago.

Several commenters have noted in previous posts that at least it appears the military is taking this seriously and reacting appropriately. That is scant solace.

Do these soldiers understand how many of their brothers-in-arms they have just executed?

Do they understand how many Improved Explosive Devices they just built?

Do the recognize how many random grenade attacks they have just initiated?

And on a simply human level- Have they no sense of fundamental decency?

I am so ashamed. That is my uniform they are wearing.

*** Update ***

Jim Henley comments– I don’t agree with everything hesays, but your should read it.

Doubts About Kerry

In an eminently reasonable post (insert snarky retort here about how I am even capable of recognizing reasonable rhetoric) about why, although he is in favor of Kerry’s candidacy, he still has some lingering doubts about Kerry’s position, Rick Heller makes a few decent points that I wish many other Democrats would take a look at and consider. However, Heller does make one statement that I must wholly disagree with:

2. John Kerry was a dove during the Cold War, and opposed the military buildup by which President Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union, leading to its collapse. Kerry was probably on the wrong side. But that too is ancient history.

Kerry was on the wrong side, and I don’t even care to debate this issue, as the collapse of the Soviet Union was such a positive event in history that I feel no need to rehash it. I am willing to bet all of the new Eastern European American allies and members of Nato would agree.

Second- this is not ancient history. A complete failure to understand the dynamics of the Cold War and inability to recognize the right side to be on is a thoroughly relevant and important point that must be factored into the current Presidential election.

(via Mark Kleiman)

Now For Something Completely Different

Brace yourselves- Kevin Drum and I agree. Kevin notes that this CPA report on the reconstruction in Iraq states that far less than what should have been spent and has been earmaked has been actually used (less than 5%):

That’s about a billion dollars, the bulk of which has gone to big ticket projects like the electric grid and getting the oil flowing.

The real shame of this is that we’ve insisted that all this money be spent through normal channels. Needless to say, there are good reasons for maintaining oversight over federal funds, but it’s hard not to think that loosening the normal requirements would have been a good idea for at least a piece of this funding.

Think about it: give or take a bit, we have about 200 battalions in Iraq. Each battalion has four to six companies. Give each company captain $20,000 a week to spend on local projects staffed by Iraqis. Total cost: around a billion dollars a year.

Assuming his math is right, I agree wholeheartedly. We trust these battalion commanders with massive combat strength, enough weaponry to level cities, and most of all, we trust them with our most precious asset- our young men and women.

I think we can trust these guys with some cash.