Snow Out

Tony Snow is checking out:

President Bush announced Friday that press secretary Tony Snow, who has waged a battle with cancer while manning the White House lectern, will resign and be replaced by his deputy, Dana Perino, on Sept. 14.

“It’s been a joy to watch him spar with you,” Bush told the White House press corps in the briefing room.

Snow, who had said recently that he would leave before the end of Bush’s presidency, said cancer was not the reason he was stepping down. Instead, the father of three said he needs to make more than his White House salary of $168,000. He can earn far more on the speechmaking circuit.

I thought I would say goodbye in a song.

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

The world’s about to be destroyed
There’s no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your
pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

And Now For Something Completely Different

The administration that brought you “with us or against us” and who only sees things in terms of black and white now is crying out for some nuance “freedom ambiguity”:

The White House is pushing back on this story in yesterday’s Washington Post by Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks on the leaked General Accounting Office (GAO) report which apparently shows little progress in Iraq. Here’s the lede:

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The clear implication of the piece is that the administration exaggerated and/or misled the public when it published its own report in mid-July declaring the Iraqis were making “satisfactory progress” in 8 out of the 18 Congressionally mandated benchmarks.

But a Senior Administration Official I spoke with yesterday vigorously disputed that characterization, saying that the GAO is applying a different up-or-down only standard, making it “an apples to oranges comparison.”

SSDD from these guys.

Anyone Who Runs Is A VC

The Instapundit, with another throwaway link (Really, he isn’t endorsing it. He just wants you all to read it and think about it):

THE SWING OF THE PENDULUM: At Captain’s Journal, a look at rules of engagement.

The Captain (who is not military, we are told) passes along stories from WWII in which the ROE were, shall we say, different:

Roads melted, and some people were seen stuck in the melted asphalt, having put their hands out to try to get out, only to get their hands stuck as well. Many were seen on fire, eventually melting in their own fat. Eight square miles of Hamburg were completely burned out that night, killing 45,000 Germans.

Here Richard Rhodes is setting up the discussion at the end of the book in which the reader engages in the ethical choice to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, or commit 200,000 men to a land invasion of Japan, possibly losing many or even a majority of them. This book is a technical, sobering and difficult read, but highly recommended. It is meant only for the serious thinker.

Serious thinkers like, say, the Captain. We are then treated to the much circulated Washington Times editorial (the paper of record for serious thinkers) from earlier this year:

Now that Marcus Luttrell’s book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10″ is a national bestseller, maybe Americans are ready to start discussing the core issue his story brings to light: the inverted morality, even insanity, of the American military’s rules of engagement (ROE).

On a stark mountaintop in Afghanistan in 2005, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell and three Navy SEAL teammates found themselves having just such a discussion. Dropped behind enemy lines to kill or capture a Taliban kingpin who commanded between 150-200 fighters, the SEAL team was unexpectedly discovered in the early stages of a mission whose success, of course, depended on secrecy. Three unarmed Afghan goatherds, one a teenager, had stumbled across the Americans’ position.

This presented the soldiers with an urgent dilemma: What should they do? If they let the Afghans go, they would probably alert the Taliban to the their whereabouts. This would mean a battle in which the Americans were outnumbered by at least 35 to 1. “Little Big Horn in turbans,” as Marcus Luttrell would describe it. If the Americans didn’t let the goatherds go — if they killed them, there being no way to hold them — the Americans would avoid detection and, most likely, leave the area safely. On a treeless mountainscape far from home, four of our bravest patriots came to the ghastly conclusion that the only way to save themselves was forbidden by the rules of engagement. Such an action would set off a media firestorm, and lead to murder charges for all.

It is agonizing to read their tense debate as Mr. Luttrell recounts it, the “lone survivor” of the disastrous mission. Each of the SEALs was aware of “the strictly correct military decision” — namely, that it would be suicide to let the goatherds live. But they were also aware that their own country, for which they were fighting, would ultimately turn on them if they made that decision. It was as if committing suicide had become the only politically correct option. For fighting men ordered behind enemy lines, such rules are not only insane. They’re immoral.

The SEALs sent the goatherds on their way. One hour later, a sizeable Taliban force attacked, beginning a horrendous battle that resulted not only in the deaths of Mr. Luttrell’s three SEAL teammates, but also the deaths of 16 would-be rescuers — eight additional SEALS and eight Army special operations soldiers whose helicopter was shot down by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade.

“Look at me right now in my story,” Mr. Luttrell writes. “Helpless, tortured, shot, blown up, my best buddies all dead, and all because we were afraid of the liberals back home, afraid to do what was necessary to save our own lives. Afraid of American civilian lawyers. I have only one piece of advice for what it’s worth: If you don’t want to get into a war where things go wrong, where the wrong people sometimes get killed, where innocent people sometimes have to die, then stay the hell out of it in the first place.”

You see, the obvious conclusion is the pendulum has swung too far because of the pussy liberals at home. Clearly we need some new Rules of Engagement, ones that presumably include the right to execute, at will, goatherders.

Hearts and minds, deep thinkers. Hearts and minds.

This Is Odd

This is truly bizarre:

The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.

In the soldier’s hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen’s meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. “Moran on Iraq policy,” read one section, going on to cite some the congressman’s most incendiary statements, such as, “This has been the worst foreign policy fiasco in American history.”

The bio of Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) — “TAU (rhymes with ‘now’)-sher,” the bio helpfully relates — was no less pointed, even if she once supported the war and has taken heat from liberal Bay Area constituents who remain wary of her position. “Our forces are caught in the middle of an escalating sectarian conflict in Iraq, with no end in sight,” the bio quotes.

It has been a while since I was in an Active Duty unit, and I recognize that things have changed, but this is completely different from my experiences. When we had VIP visits, there were several things that were always the same:

1.) We stopped doing things the way we did them, and instead did them the way we are ‘supposed’ to do them.

2.) VIP visits were generally disruptive, a pain in the ass, and meant more work.

3.) No one ever knew who the VIP was. Ever. It was always somebody important from somewhere, but we didn’t know and we generally didn’t care and it generally didn’t matter. Unless it was a General. THEY matter. Generals and Sergeant Majors (or is it Sergeants Major- I forget) are forces to be reckoned with (think Hurricane Katrina in camo).

The idea that soldiers would be given bio sheets of VIPS, thus separating the “sympathetic” VIPs and the “hostile” VIPs is not an experience I ever had, and only reinforces my perception that everything we get from Iraq is being massaged. It probably goes without saying that this is a colossal waste of military manpower when they should be doing more important things.

Its Like Deja Vu All Over Again

This is starting to feel like Groundhog Day:

An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

The report, which will be presented to Congress next week, is among a number of new Iraq assessments — including a national intelligence estimate and a Government Accountability Office report — that await lawmakers when they return from summer recess. But the Jones commission’s assessment is likely to receive particular attention as the work of a highly regarded team that was alone in focusing directly on the worthiness of Iraq’s army and police force.

Expect reports from Washington that the President is “upbeat” and “confident” and “committed to his strategy” and expect further revisions to the benchmarks. Expect attacks from the 28% crowd in the blogosphere trying to pin this on… the media. Operation “DUMP THIS ON THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT” has to continue for another year.

Craig To Resign

According to CNN:

Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.

Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN’s Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign.

However, that move was put on hold, the source said, because top party leaders have received indications that Craig himself is preparing to step down.

In case the dimwitted values voters aren’t completely clear what this means, I will clear this all up:

Family Values- Admit to nailing as many prostitutes as you can from New Orleans to Washington, DC, so long as they are female and the governor of your state can not name a Republican in your place.

Not-Family Values- Denying that you rubbed your foot against another man’s foot in a bathroom stall, a clear indication you have teh gay.

I hope that is clear.

*** Update ***

Captain Ed answers his own questions:

However, if the party wants to start drawing these lines, then one has to wonder why David Vitter isn’t getting the same push. He didn’t plead guilty in court, but unlike Craig, he openly admits he broke the law and solicited prostitutes. Others serving in Congress at the moment have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of more import than disorderly conduct without being forced to resign. If morality and credibility are at issue, why isn’t Vitter being held to that standard? It’s either that Louisiana’s Democratic governor would appoint a Democrat in his place, or that Vitter’s transgressions involved heterosexual sex and therefore are less objectionable.

Craig will depart soon, and these questions will fade away eventually. However, people will wonder whether the GOP decided to argue for standards in public officials, or whether they just found it easy to use Craig without endangering their political balance in the Senate.

I guess someone needs to do the legwork and run down all the members of both houses who have plead guilty to misdemeanors. That could be fun.

The Craig Tapes

The Airport Police have released the audio tape of the Craig arrest aftermath, and Craig sounds panicked, arrogant, and contradicts himself. He sounds desperate, and the way he keeps saying “I don’t do those kinds of things” suggests he can not even internally grapple with who he is.

Most of all, though, I guess what shocked me is how he talked to the cop. I can not imagine a situation in which I would talk to a policeman like that. I would just not say anything at all rather than give them a reason to screw me further or, if I were black, beat and/or shoot me. I sure as hell would not be talking to any cop the way he did.

*** Update ***

And by the way- how many of you pick up pieces of paper off the floor in a bathroom stall in an airport bathroom? I know I don’t. I am too busy trying to make sure as little exposed flesh touches anything in the bathroom as possible.