Our Nation’s Financial Editors, Counting Fingers Edition

A letter to the Wall Street Journal regarding their editorial “The Iraq Panic” in the 27 June edition:

In a way, it’s indicative of the poor calculation and misplaced faith you have for the administration’s adventures that you say that “Six months after they repudiated the insurgency in a historic election…” We are currently at the end of June, the sixth month of the year. The elections were at the end of January, the first month of the year. 6-1=5. Call it “pessimism” if you like, but one would hope that a paper based on tracking the financial status of the nation would be a little more accurate when it came to simple subtraction.

Gay Insurance

At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte comments on a “reeducation” camp that parents send their gay kids to that’s been finagling “therapy” payments out of insurers.

Which leads me to wonder if there’s a market out there (or an already existing program!) of neo-natal “gay insurance” that crazy parents can take out against the possibility that their child might be homosexual. If it turns out to be the case, the product pays off and gives you the money you can use to send your kids to camp. That might be the only option if insurers catch onto the therapy scam.

Longer Than World War II

open interactive graphic in separate window / roll over event markers to see the dates they represent / multi-day battles are referenced by the first day of operations / send corrections and additions to the timelines to the address at left

On December 7, 1941, forces of the Japanese Empire attacked the United States of America at Pearl Harbor. Congress declared war on Japan the following day, beginning our part in the war that had been going on in Asia and Europe for years. US, British, and other forces drove the Nazis out of North Africa and Western Europe while the Soviets invaded from the east, and together they broke the last redoubts of the Nazis in Germany by May of 1945. In the Pacific, American, Anzac and allied forces pushed the Japanese out of Southeast Asia, China, the Philippines, Borneo, the Aleutians, and many deadly Pacific islands. The Japanese, defeated in war and facing the new threat of atomic weapons, surrendered on August 14, 1945. U.S. involvement in World War II lasted for 1,346 days.

We passed that point in the global war on terror in the middle of May. By Independence Day, September 11, 2001 will be 1,392 days in the past. At the end of September 1941 — fifty days after V-J Day — there was no opposition to American forces in the Pacific apart from isolated soldiers who hadn’t received word that the war had ended. The war in Europe had been over for four months already.

The people who orchestrated and bankrolled four hijackings and attacks on New York City and the Pentagon on 9/11, though, are still at large. Porter Goss, the head of the CIA, told TIME magazine last week that he has “an excellent idea” of where Osama bin Laden is. When asked if al-Qaeda could hit us again, he replied “Yes, it could.” But he also said “In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links.”

Why hasn’t the Bush administration been able to catch Osama bin Laden? Al-Qaeda never had the kind of forces that Germany or Japan did. Afghanistan and even Iraq were nowhere near as powerful as America’s adversaries in World War II.

The Germans and Japanese were technically on a par with the United States, although they were outmatched in industrial capacity. Both nations produced their own planes, destroyers, and submarines. German rocket engineers were considered so desirable that the Soviet and Western Allies raced each other to snap them up.

Both powers had military forces consisting of millions of troops. The Germans had huge numbers of tanks and other armored vehicles. Japanese forces famously resisted US Marines retaking Pacific islands to virtually the last man, and employed specially-designed flying suicide bombs against Navy ships in the last year of the war. As military adversaries, these countries were truly powerful, and the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt committed all of the resources of the United States to eliminating the threat, asking the American people to make great sacrifices in order to win the war.

In our present conflict, we’ve got 130,000+ troops in Iraq, where bin Laden never was. We’ve captured Saddam Hussein, who wasn’t involved in 9/11 and didn’t pose a threat to the United States because we’d had him bottled up for over a decade. In occupied Iraq, our soldiers keep getting killed and wounded (a daily average of 2 dead and 6 too wounded to return to duty since the elections in January). Thousands of civilians have died from both the actions of insurgents and US forces. The government of Afghanistan doesn’t have enough control over the country to prevent the return to opium poppy production. The Taliban is resurgent. In New York last week, conventioneering College Republicans who “support” the war in Iraq said that they felt they could do more on the political front than by defending their country in the armed services, despite the Army’s having failed to meet recruiting goals for the past several months. And even though the director of the Central Intelligence Agency says he knows where the guy who was behind the 9/11 attack is, he claims the administration still can’t “wrap up the war”.

The “weak links” Porter Goss mentioned, in my opinion, are right at the top of the chain of command. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Rice, and everyone involved in dropping the ball on the pursuit of Osama bin Laden deserve nothing less than contempt for their execution of the war on terror.

The United States is a far more powerful nation than it was at the end of the Great Depression when World War II began. Yet this administration has not managed to neutralize the only foreign threat that has carried out attacks on our soil in more than 60 years, and it’s failed to capture the top people responsible for those attacks. Instead, it’s lost sight of the objective, bungled the planning even for the war it wanted to fight in Iraq, and consistently failed to tell the American people the truth about the war’s progress or to level with them about its costs, both human and monetary.

In mid-September, the length of George W. Bush’s war on terror will pass the length of the American Civil War.

[UPDATE 2005/06/26 12:47] Driftglass has a related post today about wartime production and serious prosecution of goals.

[UPDATE 2005/06/26 14:49] Everyone seems very cranked up this weekend. Tom Tomorrow tells the tale once again of how Democratic “hard” Zbigniew Brzezinski convinced President Jimmy Carter that funding Afghan insurgents could be used to induce a Soviet invasion, and “giving to the USSR its Vietnam war” (Brzezinski’s quote), a move the former National Security Advisor credited in an interview with the “collapse of the Soviet empire.” Of course, that interview was done three years before 9/11, so Zbig could blater on about how there’s no threat from “stirred-up Moslems.” Brzezinski’s “brilliant” strategy is precisely the kind of idiotic claptrap that passes for critical thinking among the Democratic hawk circles, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from the motives of the people who brought us Iran-contra and other grand debacles, Democrat and Republican. But at the very least, maybe Carter can take the mantle of The Guy Who Brought Down the Soviet Union out of Reagan’s clutches.

Reporting for Duty

Per Atrios and First Draft:

Senator Smith:

Yesterday, President Bush’s senior political advisor Karl Rove accused liberals of wanting to put American “troops in greater danger.” He said liberals wanted to “offer therapy” to the people who attacked the country on 9/11.

Do you agree with those kinds of statements? Do you believe that a person at the right hand of the President should be calling millions of Americans traitors? As a constituent of yours, I expect you to make it clear that this kind of demonization of American citizens by senior White House staff will not be tolerated. As a member of the president’s party and someone who campaigned for him last year, you should stand up publicly for the rights of all Oregonians, on the right and the left, and ask for a public apology from Mr. Rove, or failing that, his resignation.


Darrel Plant

Of course, I’ve never gotten a response for my letter about an apology to Franco-Americans.

Heat and Kitchens

From Steve Gilliard, a link to some guy in New Mexico who just seems, well, wishy-washy, repeating all of the canards about how progressives are wimpy and without any will to blow shit up then complaining when they call him names back. This was my comment there:

Of course there’s room for dissent. But if you say something stupid in a public place (i.e. on the Internet), you should at least have the ability to take valid criticism without whining about it.

Keeping troops in Iraq under the current administration means an indefinite period of what’s been going on there for the past two years. The Bush administration has shown that it’s pathologically incapable of telling the public the truth about their rationale for going to war, the current state of affairs, and the conditions upon which we might ever withdraw. That makes their methods suspect. Unless you agree with the way that they’ve executed the Iraq conflict — and I certainly hope you’re smarter than that — why would you trust them from here on out? Because they tell you they’ll do better? Seriously, Condi Rice? Don Rumsfeld? Dick Cheney? George W. Bush? Do you believe them?

Yeah, I support the use of military force where it’s appropriate, but I don’t think ensuring “that our basic values take hold around the world” is something that can come from the barrel of a gun. Certainly not in a nation that our own leaders falsely claimed was a threat to international security (something just about everyone else in the world knew was a sham) just so they could depose Saddam and look good. What basic values does killing 100,000 civilians in a couple of years on false pretenses enforce?

In case you haven’t noticed, Iraq’s in the middle of a civil war already. It’s just that we’re in the middle of it. And despite the fact that the insurgents are killing dozens of people a day, coalition forces are killing twice that many, on the average, with incursions into places like Fallujah. We’ve already turned Iraq into a Leaving Iraq would hardly “create even more instability in the region”. Invading it did that. Leaving it might just give it a chance to settle down.

More importantly, by leaving, we open up the possibility of other countries actually helping with reconstruction. Nobody wants to go in there now because the US is in charge. Nobody else in the world wants to be there under US leadership, because the current US leadership is what created the mess in the first place.

You’ve got a lot of jingoistic views of progressives/liberals for someone who claims to be dissenting “from” them. The real problem in 2004 was that the Democrats did have a foreign policy. It was the same as Bush’s. Most of them went along for the ride into Iraq without looking at the realities of whether Iraq had the capabilities for WMD production (many progressives doubted that was likely, certainly nuclear factories would have shown up on our extensive overflights during the ’90s); whether the claims of drones capable of targeting the US were feasible (even the US hasn’t been able to build drones that can be piloted 10,000 miles); and whether thousands of Iraqis and many Americans would be killed in the urban warfare that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz kept saying would be unnecessary.

That’s not an anti-war position. That’s an anti-stupid-war position. Sure, there are people on the left who are totally against any military intervention, just as there are people on the right who want to drop nukes on everybody and you can make those straw man arguments that the sissy peaceniks are picking on poor Erik, but face reality. Would you trust Bush and his cronies running your country? Oh, yeah, they already are. Well then, how about if he sent 130,000 guys (and gals!) with guns, some independent contractors (with guns, natch), and planes and tanks and very little accountability to run your country? How’s that grab ya?

The Daily Show Meets Shockwave 3D

I don’t know who did the game for Comedy Central, but they deserve a round of applause for maintaining SW3D visibility. From CC’s “Daily Show Newsletter”:

====== New Daily Show Game ===========


You’re a roving fake news reporter on the go — but you’re not the only van on the highway! Choose your correspondent and get the scoop before some other contrived news entity gets there. Play NewsHunter 2: Beat the Press!

Gordon Smith, the Other White Senator, Pt. 2

As of 8:59 a.m. EDT – June 16, 2005, the supporter list for Senate Resolution 36, apologizing for not passing federal anti-lynching legislation, has the names of 92 of 100 senators on it. Gordon Smith is finally there as a supporter.

The overwhelming majority of the senators on the support list are also designated as co-sponsors, a designation they apparently can get by “signing an oversized copy of the resolution that will be presented to the Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America exhibit, or otherwise communicating their support to our office.”

There are only 6 of the 92 supporters who are not co-sponsors. Gordon Smith (as of Monday morning) is one of them.

Gordon Smith, the Other White Senator

Did you know that Sen. Gordon Smith is one of the few names not on the list of co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 39 “Senate Apologizes to Lynching Victims, Families for Failure to Act”?

I just called the Senator’s DC office [(202) 224-3753], and talked to a young lady who seemed to recognize the resolution number and told me that senators sometimes vote for resolutions that they don’t sponsor. I suggested that the list of people who haven’t sponsored the resolution is getting pretty short, and that it looked kind of bad for a state where the KKK was active in government in the 1920s. She told me that she’d pass my concerns on to the senator, but didn’t offer to take my name or address.

And I never have heard back about my letter asking for an apology to Franco-Americans, either.

At the time I write this, Oregon is the only state that isn’t represented by two Republican senators where both senators haven’t signed on as sponsors.

Rube Goldberg Meets Guantanamo Bay

As we all know from The New York Times (June 4, 2005):

A military inquiry has found that guards or interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba kicked, stepped on and splashed urine on the Koran, in some cases intentionally but in others by accident, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The splashing of urine was among the cases described as inadvertent, and was said to have occurred when a guard urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into a detainee’s cell. The detainee was provided with a fresh uniform and a new Quran, and the guard was reprimanded and assigned to guard duty that kept him from contact with detainees for the remainder of his time at Guantanamo, according to the military inquiry.

Several commentators have described the incidents with disbelief, invoking the name of late, great inventive cartoonist Rube Goldberg to describe how urine could pass through an air vent in quantity large enough to enter the cell.

For those unfamiliar with Goldberg and his “Weekly Invention” strip, here’s how it might have gone down (click on the image to open a large version of the graphic):

Koran Abuse at Guantanamo Bay