We goofed Iraq ==> bomb Iran

Operation Comeback, by Joshua Muravchik

How to Cut and Run, by General Bill Odom

Third and Final Act, by William S. Lind

Falling Away With You, by Muse

Joshua Muravchik, a self-declared neoconservative, declares that he knows how to save neoconservatism from its utter failure over the past six years. His strategy? Admit mistakes, utilize public diplomacy, bomb Iran, and convince Joe Lieberman to partner a(nother) neocon for a presidential run in 2008.

The mistakes he lists are puzzling. First, he prefaces his admonitions of guilt with the obligatory "the War on Terra is important," and it requires "sacrifice" on the level of the Cold War. The only things the American people have sacrificed so far in the GWOT are their civil liberties - in that respect, it kind of is like the Cold War (COINTELPRO, etc) minus, of course, the tens of thousands of American casualties in Korea and Vietnam. Did I mention how ironic it is for a neoconservative so worshipful of democracy abroad to be so unconcerned about the dangers to it posed at home? It's almost as if what actually mattered was the perception of democracy...

Anyways, the mistakes listed are "they didn't greet us as liberators - whoops!" and "OK I guess it's important to have boots on the ground after all." The first mistake doesn't shake his fundamental belief that inside the soul of every human being there is a democrat just bursting to break out. As for the second, how ironic that Muravchik believes (or maybe he's just exercising some "public diplomacy") that it was for smaller defense budgets that neoconservatives fought for their bloated Star Wars and national missile defense ("We may have seized on a technological fix to spare ourselves the hard slog of fighting for higher defense budgets..."). But I suppose history is just another casualty of the War on Terror.

Muravchik also believes that America should fight the information war. This is common sense, although he approaches it from the "America is encircled by enemies - if only they had the truth" perspective rather than acknowledging that their perception of truth is as valid as ours. You aren't going to convert anyone away from their anti-Americanism by lecturing them.

Finally, the meat of Muravchik's idea of "saving" neoconservatism - bombing Iran. He doesn't address the contradictions between his admittance of mistakes in Iraq due to too few troops on the ground, and his idea of using pure air power to attack Iran. Instead, the rational is "imagine if they had nukes!" which relies on falsely conflating Iran with al Qaeda, and also necessitates bombing Iran every couple years until they are a flourishing democracy (because outside attackers are in a superb position to encourage democratic reform).

Enter Bill Lind (stage Right, but not as Right as Muravchik). Whereas Muravchik's worries about the counterattacks from the press and from the Democratic Party, Lind worries about the counterattacks from... Iran. "Unbeatable militaries are like unsinkable ships. They are unsinkable until someone or something sinks them." The irony is that the American Army has already been beaten once (Vietnam, not counting Gulf War I, which was also failure to achieve the political objective). Lind points out that the American Army is a sitting duck in Iraq, with its supply lines exposed. That means, if we bomb Iran, we see a LOT more of this.

Enter General Odom (stage center-right), who, by using that age-old tactic of common sense, realizes a) the United States is in a strategically untenable position for the reasons that Lind laid out, and b) the United States has common interests with Iran. We both want a stable Iraq, we both dislike al Qaeda and the Taliban (Iran helped us out in Afghanistan originally), and we both want to pump more oil.

There you have it - America's strategic interests conflicts with neoconservative ideology. Even when it is laid out in plain English, neoconservatives seem too blinded by their ideology to allow for any "Plan B." Because while Muravchik might admit to mistakes, that doesn't mean he, or neoconservatives in general, will ever learn from them.

Enter Muse:

so i'll love whatever you become
and forget the reckless things we've done
i think our lives have just begun
i think our lives have just begun

all of the love we threw away
all of the hopes we cherished fade
making the same mistakes again
making the same mistakes again

all of the love we've left behind
watching the flash backs intertwine
memories i will never find
memories i will never find

Kerry shouldn't botch his jokes, Bush shouldn't botch his wars

So the Revs are coming to DC for the Eastern Conference Championship at exactly the time when I am flying back to Boston for a doctor's appointment (the kind that can't be moved, period).

A tad frustrating.

In real news, Senator Kerry said:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry apparently meant to say "you get us stuck in Iraq," which would have meant that the references to being lazy and uncurious would refer to Bush rather than American military personnel. The missing "us" opened Kerry up to more attacks of "you don't support the troops! (Let's forget for a moment that Kerry is a veteran and Tony Snow, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh and Bush are not.)" But perhaps Kerry's slip was Freudian - let's look at whether what he actually said is true.

Question: Would Steven Green had been admitted in the Army ten years ago?

Answer: Probably not.

The U.S. Army has had to lower recruiting standards because fewer people want to serve their country by dying in Iraq for an unrealistic goal, while going without body armor and having their veterans benefits cut to boot. Consequently, the Army lowers its standards until it gets the numbers. Common sense.

Another casualty in this war - the American military. Right now, it's the 44,780th non-mortal casualty.

BTW - Kerry's fighting back:
"I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium or doughy (talk-show host) Rush Limbaugh."
My take: Kerry shouldn't botch his jokes, and Bush shouldn't botch his wars.

Revs beat Chicago in MLS playoffs

Here are the highlights.

What a game. Revolution started out a goal behind due to the 1-0 first leg defeat in Chicago. They were also missing Shalrie Joseph (BS suspension) and Clint Dempsey (sprained ankle). They then dug themselves a bigger hole by letting Nate Jaqua slip in and score in the 18th minute to make it 2-0 for Chicago in the aggregate goals.

Jose Manuel Abundis was taken down by Dasan Robinson in the penalty box (Robinson fell down and grabbed Abundis' ankle with his hand, no call), and Twellman missed a sitter but made up for it by scoring in the 41th off a cross from Joey Franchino, who burned Jaqua, got to the byline (who the hell thought Franchino could burn anyone and get to the byline) and slipped a ball to Twellman who knocked it in.

Halftime, Abundis came off an Noonan came on to replace him. Pat Noonan had hernia surgery two weeks ago. Fifteen minutes into the half, Jay Heaps sent in a long cross, Twellman nodded it down, Dorman laid it off for Franchino who hit it first time, Chris Armas blocked it and Pat Noonan slotted in the rebound.

There were chances for the rest of the game for both teams, but both goalkeepers, Matt Reis for the Revs and Matt Pickens for Chicago, were on their game. Larentowicz was subbed off for Khano Smith's speed, Ralston was injured and was subbed off for Cancela, then Dorman and Franchino also both got injured, but the Revs were out of subs so they hobbled around gamely. Twellman then moved back to defensive midfield to give them cover. The Revs pride themselves on character and this game showed why.

In extra time, both teams were too exhausted to do anything. Khano Smith and Pepe Cancela had a couple chances but Pickens came up with great saves. On to penalty kicks!
Matt Reis saved two out of three penalty kicks he faced this year. The third one was I believe against the Crew, where the ball took a skip on the turf and bounced over Reis' hand - otherwise it would have been 3-3. In the 2004 playoffs, Reis saved two penalties in a single game. Advantage, Revs.

Reis saved Thiago's opening PK. Then, Cancela buried his penalty. When Cancela didn't chip his penalty to the keeper's left like he has every single other penalty I've seen him take, I knew the Revs had practiced this and would win it.

Reis then saved Ivan Guerrero's (of "Shalrie Joseph tried to keeeel me!" fame) penalty. Reis turns around to the Fort, raises his arms, then turns around to Guerrero and says "REPORT THAT."

Joey Franchino is hardly my favorite player on the team but his heart and character really shown through last night. He showed why Nicol made him club captain. He sums it up:

There was kind of a sense that we knew we would do it. I don’t know how to explain it but everyone knew it. We just kept going and going and we knew it was going to come. Even when we hit the post, we never let down. That’s the way this team is: never say die.

And Stevie Nicol:

“I’ve been saying all along the players got balls, and they showed them tonight."
After the game, Jay Heaps and some other Revs players tore down a banner that had been hanging on the stadium and ran around the field with it. It said "FREE SHALRIE."

Shalrie Joseph suspended for Revs

Andrew Hush and Frank Dell'Appa express themselves with far more civility than I am wont to do at this point in time.

The quality of play in MLS has risen consistently over the years, but the quality of the league's administration is still Mickey Mouse.

Revolution top ten goals from 2006 (regular season)


Halloween is coming, so the GOP decided to get an early start with this ad. It's a tacky one-minute long "terrists gonna gitcha!" type ad.

Olbermann smacked it down in a special comment (10:30 long).

Let's revisit something from 2004, way back when.

Instructions. For Questions 1 and 2, assume you are a violent extremist. In other words, there is some issue (it doesn't really matter what) for which you are willing to take up arms and kill people, even innocent people.

Question 1: What is the first and biggest obstacle between you and victory?

...The first and biggest obstacle to your victory is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists...

Question 2: In radicalizing your sympathizers, who is your best ally?

...In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead...

Perversely, this means that you are the best ally of the extremists on the other side. That doesn't mean you love or even talk to each other -- they are, after all, vile and despicable demons. But at this stage in the process your interests align. (Emphasis added.)

From "Terrorist Strategy 101", by Doug Muder.

Being Thomas Friedman

This is too funny to ignore.

Unrelated - it seems that blogger hates Firefox, but likes IE. This annoys me.

MLS Playoffs

Revs traveled to Chicago today and lost 1-0. They play the return leg of the home-and-home series on Saturday at 7pm. The series is decided by total goals, so essentially halftime is a week long.

Shalrie Joseph played his first game in over a month. He was out while his nerves and tendons regrew in his hand - he was in the wrong place at the wrong time in a nightclub "altercation" as he was pushed from behind, landed with his hand on some broken glass, and then had someone step on his hand. He was still wearing a big cast. Medically it was probably a stupid decision on his part to play, as he was risking permanent loss of feeling in that hand, but Shalrie knows European clubs like Celtic are watching him.

What hurts more than the Chicago goal (which is Andy Dorman's fault for ducking out of the way of Justin Mapp's free kick) is Clint Dempsey spraining his ankle. Bad news. My guess for a Deuceless Revolution lineup is:


My hope would be:

Six minute video of the 101st in Iraq, from the Guardian.

We can train as many Iraqi Army units as we want - the question is "who are they loyal to?"

A genius ad.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Many have complained that the DNC has not run enough advertisement nationalizing this election, and that we're not pushing the brand "Democrats" hard enough. Well, check out this ad. Couldn't find a link on democrats.org, but it does say "paid for by the Democratic National Committee."

Short, to the point, and bandwagons on that incredibly annoying "Head On" ad.

Hattip to Sam the Eagle.

"Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us"

Go read Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us, over at No Quarter.

We are losing/have lost the information war between us (USA, the West, etc) and Al Qaeda. The same crew that could convince millions of poor Americans to support tax cuts for rich people can't convince the Middle East that it's better to become rich than a martyr. The society that can convince people to pay $800 for a flippin bag can't convince Jordanians that blowing up civilians is bad (do as I say, not as I do!).

...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

Machiavelli has an excuse for being wrong - he has been dead for five hundred years. The current neo-cons have no such excuse (much as I might wish otherwise). I mean, in the age of super-empowered individuals, when Bill Gates is richer than Kuwait, how can it NOT matter if millions of people hate you? The central failure of the "better to be feared than loved" maxim is that individuals and non-state actors don't have to fear anything because that are unaccountable to state power. Example A: Where's Osama? Hiding, yes, but alive and still able to communicate. Small states feared big states back in Machiavelli's time because small states could be crushed by big states. States can not go into hiding. Individuals, as bin Laden and Zawahiri, or Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, can. When you combine unaccountability with super-empowerment AND the plummeting cost of destructive power (the 9/11 attacks cost at most $500,000; the Oklahoma City truck bomb was probably cheaper), clearly public diplomacy and opinion formation will matter more than conventional force.

A college kid gets this and the most powerful elected official in the world does not.

Perhaps its a sign that Frank Zappa's "Dumb All Over" started playing (on shuffle) just as I was finishing up this post.

When it rains it pours

Haven't blogged about football lately. Over the weekend, Chelsea visited Reading and won 1-0 on an own goal. The real story though happened in the first minute and the last minute.

After 16 seconds, Reading forward Stephen Hunt smashed his knee into Chelsea keeper Petr Cech's head. Here's the video. Reading manager Steve Coppell says there was no intent. Maybe he's right. But it's clear that Hunt made no attempt to avoid any collision.

Cech had surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull.

So Carlo Cudicini came on to replace Cech and played for the whole game, up until he was taken out by Reading forward Ibrahim Sonko. Here's the video. Sonko makes no attempt at the ball. Cudicini was unconscious before he hit the ground. The thing that really bugs me about this one is that the ref doesn't immediately stop the game when Cudicini hits the deck and stops moving.

Somehow, some football pundits are blaming Cudicini for not preemptively taking out Sonko:

The clash with Ibrahima Sonko that led to Cech's replacement, Carlo Cudicini, being carried off was more straightforward. Twenty years ago, it would never have happened. Then, goalkeepers operated on the Julius Caesar principle. They came, they saw, they took everyone out, including sometimes their own defenders. The Italian is not the biggest of goalkeepers and nor is he the best at coming for crosses. Sonko's was a totally legitimate challenge and Cudicini was not as strong as he might have been.

Because we all know that English boxing football twenty years ago was great, right?

The good news is that Cudicini only suffered a concussion, and should be back in training in a few weeks.

John Terry finished the game in goal, with Didier Drogba playing a decent central defender.

Now the 3rd string keeper, Hilario, will face Barcelona today. Before these injuries, he would have been lucky to face Yeovil Town in the FA Cup, and now he gets to face Ronaldihno, Eto'o, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Messi, and the champions of Europe. I don't envy him... but I'd rather be in his shoes than those of Cudicini or Cech.

Update: One nil to the Blues.

Iraq: Botched vs Doomed?

More evidence for botched: apparently a significant number of high-level decision makers don't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

"Therefore I say: 'Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.'"

Sun Tzu, Art of War.

"Such people are called 'mad bandits'. What can they expect if not defeat?"

Li Ch'√ľan, commentary on Art of War.

Madame President

Just got back from a talk by the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She talked about building Liberia back up to a normal society after 20 years of civil war.

She opened the talk by drawing comparisons between the United States founders and Liberia's founders in 1847. Americans fled religious persecution in Europe, Liberians fled American slavery (when she said slavery the word cracked like a whip). Both sets of founders disregarded indigenous peoples. 'Both sets of founders' beliefs were flawed, but we admire them for their courage.' (Paraphrasing).

Basic points - elementary and vocational education, leading to job opportunities for the thousands of former child-soldiers who have no employable skills, financial controls on corporations so they don't loot Liberia like they have since 1980, empowering women (EJS's primary constituency is market women), and building up the country's security forces to ensure basic security once the UN peacekeepers leave.

After the talk she took open questions from the audience (imagine that). One question was from a member of the Georgetown faculty, saying that she was a member of the Peace Corps in the 1970s in Liberia in Lofa County, and asking whether the Peace Corps was coming back. The President said that the machinery is already in motion for the Peace Corps to come back to Liberia, and that she has requested lots and lots of teachers.

President Johnson-Sirleaf is an excellent public speaker. All seats were taken (Gaston Hall probably seats about 400 people). She speaks slowly, so you're able to concentrate on what she's saying, and her voice has a very hard edge, although surprisingly she mispronounced a few words (although she did go to Harvard, not Brown). She exudes an aura of authority. When compared to our president... it's clear why her nickname is the "Iron Lady" and our Presidents' is "Shrub".

Making fun of other people

Sure it's not mature or "constructive" but who cares, it's funny.

Lightbulb jokes, and Bill Maher.

"So many of our kids these days are fat drug addicts it's almost as if Rush Limbaugh had puppies."
- Bill Maher

"How many NeoCons does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Only liberals believe it’s dark."
- Moi.

The Daddy Party will keep you safe! Unless you're a Democrat...

DHS released the numbers (pdf) of who's getting how much 2006 funding for, among other things, port security. Interesting to see some of the numbers:

Apparently, Boston, one of the nation's busiest ports and one of the few that has giant LNG tanks right next to heavily populated areas, is lower on the priorities list than:

Green Bay, WI (Republican Rep running for Governor); Mount Vernon, IN (GOP Rep, 1 GOP Senator); Portland, ME (Dem Rep, but 2 GOP Senators); Portsmouth, NH (GOP Rep and 2 GOP Senators); Mobile, AL (GOP Rep and 2 GOP Senators); St. Paul, MN (GOP Rep running for Senate, GOP Senator).

"Republicans are playing pork barrel politics with homeland security. There is no other way to explain why Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo in Huntsville, Alabama, was classified as "critical infrastructure" by DHS, while the Port of Boston is under-funded."

Rep Stephen Lynch, at Ed Markey's website.

leet art skillz

This Penny Arcade comic reminded me of Bush's foreign policy in Iraq. Just change Gabe to Bush and Tycho to "Rest of the World."


Following up on what was unacceptable back in September - it's still unacceptable, but now, worse.

Notice to the world

MR. RUSSERT: Knowing what you know today, knowing what you know today, that Saddam did not have the weapons of destruction that our intelligence agencies thought he had, if you knew that today, would you still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, yeah, I mean, I think...

MR. RUSSERT: You still would?

SEN. TALENT: ...it was the—I think it was the only possible strategic choice. Look, Saddam had been an organic threat in the region for a long time. He represented a threat to us. That threat is now gone. Tim, look at what’s not happening.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, isn’t it an important question: if, if, if the CIA said to you, “Saddam does not have weapons of biological, chemical, or a nuclear program,” you would still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, he wanted them.

Meet the Press, October 8, 2006.

Notice to the President Bush - I want some nukes. Invade me. I dare you. Just like you are going to invade North Korea for pursuing nukes. Or is that not your only criteria for invasion? Figures why you want to strike Iran...

A Republican Senator thinks invading Iraq was the "only strategic choice." I wonder why Americans have stopped trusting the Daddy Party on national security and terrorism anymore.

David Brooks iz dum

This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.

The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear.

Then she had sex with the girl, which was interrupted when the girl’s mother called. Then she made the girl masturbate in front of her and taught her some new techniques.

The first predator, of course, is Mark Foley, the Florida congressman. The second predator is a character in Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues.”


By the rules of expressive individualism, Ensler’s characters did nothing wrong... But there’s another and older code, and people seem to be returning to this older code to judge Mark Foley.
David Brooks - A Tear in our Fabric.

Apparently the Vagina Monologues was part of a tear in the fabric of our society. And how hypocritical is it for people to judge fictional characters by one standard, and judge actual people by a totally different standard!
Man, once somebody finds a Republican Congressman that has sex with horses, David Brooks is really going to call out the liberals on their hypocrisy for Equus.

More thoughts on Foley

As I was walking to the grocery store today, I had a brilliant thought.

Who are basically the only people left supporting President Bush and the Republican leadership? (other than elites with a stake in the game)?

1) Republicans who don't pay attention to the news/think the news is liberally biased;
2) Hard-Right Christians who think Bush is sent by god, etc etc.
(note - not scientific, but this is a blog, I can bloviate all I want.)

Now this Mark Foley sex scandal will hit both these groups hard. The first group will be hit because GAY SEX!!!!!111 is front page on all the newspapers and the broadcast news, and the second group will be hit because there ain't nothin hard-Right Christians hate more than t3h GAY SEX.

Thoughts on the Foley debacle

Background - Congressman Mark Foley, R-Florida, resigned because a bunch of "inappropriate" emails and IMs he sent 16 year old male Congressional pages turned up in public. Foley headed the House Caucus on missing and exploited children.

Man, nothing like a Congressional sex scandal to bring all the reporters out of hibernation at CNN.

Where were these guys last week when Congress voted away the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments? Where was Paul Begala's "law firm of Smith & Wesson" and his "12-gauge" when his party lay down and let the government torture?

Ohhh, but bring gay sex into the picture and people go nuts. Nobody got this angry when Abramoff bought the government, or when Bush joked about how he lied to get us into Iraq, or when the New York Times revealed that the NSA spies on Americans without a warrant, or when we learned that Americans had tortured people to death. And if/when we strike Iran on some trumped-up charge of WMD or whatever, I am betting that Begala won't mention his lawfirm of Smith & Wesson then either. Because, although we might kill innocent people in the most painful, sadistic and barbaric ways, at least it's not GAY SEX.

Iraq - doomed, or botched?

I happen to think botched. Bob Woodward gives me some ammo. Watch his CBS interview over at CrooksandLiars.

"That's two and a half years after the invasion of Iraq. They [Rice and Rumsfeld] cannot agree on the definition of the strategy."