Sesame Street – Put Down the Duckie

November 29, 2007 at 10:53 pm | Posted in Sesame Street | 3 Comments

I’m on a Sesame Street kick right now. My daughter is 19 months old and getting into some of the good old classic stuff. I wrote about some of my favorites from the old days, but I just gotta say, I love “Put Down the Duckie” from 1986. What a great piece of music.

Now that’s awesome music!

This Should End Giuliani’s Run At President

November 28, 2007 at 9:11 pm | Posted in rudy giuliani | 1 Comment

Getting taxpayers to pay for your sex trips usually doesn’t play well to the electorate.

Goodbye. Good riddance.

Why This Dismal Annapolis Meeting Will Fail (UPDATED)

November 27, 2007 at 11:50 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

I noted in a previous post that Condoleezza Rice is a bumbling ignorant fool when it comes to the Middle East. She is attempting to somehow wrap up a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians before the end of her boss’s term. This is solely a selfish move, as she is more concerned about her legacy (war war war) than about peace. She has had ample opportunities to force her ideologically driven boss to make the right decisions, but every time, she failed. Well she finally convinced him to throw her a bone, and, as you’ll see, that’s what he did, throw her a bone.

President Bush, who’s largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he’s hosting in Annapolis, Md.

He won’t remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn’t planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.

Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.

He’s not going to really participate, get into the nitty gritty details. This may be a good thing, seeing how terrible a leader and diplomat he is.

It’s not only that he won’t really participate, but that he has completely ignored the REAL parties at conflict in the Middle East. Like, for example, orthodox Jews, who are none too happy about making peace with Palestinians. In fact, they, along with their counterparts in Palestine, Hamas, are counter-rallying against this meeting.

In a show of defiance against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip Tuesday and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel, saying “the only dialogue with the enemy with be with rifles and rockets.”

The demonstration that filled Gaza City’s wide central avenue came a day after thousands of Israelis, also opposed to fresh negotiations to create a Palestinian state, marched from the Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence near this city’s center.

Among them were leaders of at least one party that is part of Olmert’s governing coalition, a sign of the political tremors likely to follow the inauguration of the first Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly seven years.

Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists — the term used to describe those who deny the other’s right to a state nearly six-decades after Israel’s founding — have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.

But the hawks on both sides hold particular power at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation, ill with prostate cancer, and still criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided.

The biggest problem, of course, is that no one bothered to invite Iran to this meeting. Why not? Because the Bush administration is ideologically driven, rather than peace-driven. If the Bush administration truly cared about peace in the Middle East, they would be visiting Tehran, not rattling their sabers at Tehran.

More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests — Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions — that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks.

Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East.

“Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it’s not present,” said former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s in everyone’s calculation and motivation . . . [plus] the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. . . . The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers.”

And that there is the key to why this meeting will not accomplish anything. Think back to when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got Israel and two of her neighbors to sign peace treaties. Jimmy Carter focused on Egypt and Israel, and Bill Clinton focused on Jordan and Israel. In order for there to be peace between two nations, BOTH nations must be there for conferences that might spell out actions. Iran is nowhere to be found because no one invited Iran. That spells major trouble.

That also sends a signal to Iran that the United States considers Iran’s regime’s days numbered, not worthy enough to consider inviting to a meeting about peace. Think about that for a while.

(UPDATE)

I just have to add these great comics on this meeting:


(Courtesy of Ann Telnaes)


(Courtesy of Mike Luckovich)

Bush and His Buddies, Putin and Musharraf

November 26, 2007 at 4:48 pm | Posted in George W Bush, Musharraf, Putin | Leave a comment


(courtesy of Mike Luckovich)

The Bumbling Condoleezza Rice in Non-Action

November 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Bumiller is writing a biography about Condoleezza Rice and released an excerpt to the New York Times highlighting an aspect of Ms. Rice’s…well, non-action over the last seven years on peace between Israel and Palestinians. Ms. Bumiller perfectly highlights that Ms. Rice was at the forefront of all the bad decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also points out that Ms. Rice pushed Israel to not be so harsh on the Palestinians just before the war in Iraq. After all, we can’t have our coalition be severely hampered by a sideshow.

Then we get to the best part. This is where Ms. Rice shows how inept, how ignorant, and how much of a bumbling fool she really is in regards to the Middle East.

When Ms. Rice became secretary of state in the second term, she told Mr. Bush in a long conversation at Camp David the weekend after the 2004 election that her priority would have to be progress in the Middle East. It was a turning point in more ways than one; Mr. Arafat died a few days later. Although Ms. Rice said in an interview that she had set no conditions when she took the job, her aides said that she had known that her relationship with the president would give her far greater influence to push an agenda, including peacemaking in the Middle East, than Mr. Powell’s.

You’d think that would be enough, but, well…

Accordingly, Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.

If one paid close attention to what was happening in Israel/Palestine from 2001-2006, one would have surmised that Israel was purposefully pushing Palestinians toward radicalism. For instance, a suicide bomber would blow himself and ten people up in Haifa. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would claim responsibility. What was Israel’s reaction? Why, they would bomb a Fatah police station! What? Huh? Now, why the hell would they do that, when Fatah was trying to rein in groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Why would Israel purposefully undermine the very organization that could lead Palestinians toward moderation and possibly peace? See, bombing a Fatah police station sends a particular message to Palestinians. The message is: Israelis don’t really want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis.

Enter the bumbling Ms. Rice. She continued this foolish stupid policy, completely ignored Arafat and Fatah, and tried to get Abbas elected and in power. But then when Abbas did win, she offered him nothing. This sent another message to Palestinians. The same one: Israel and the West don’t want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis and the West. See, by raising up Abbas, and then short-shrifting him, Ms. Rice set up the following event:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’

She and the Israelis under Sharon set the stage for Hamas to win and then she is surprised that they won. Either she is acting or she is a complete bumbling ignorant fool. I’m going with the latter.

It then gets even worse. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in a brazen attack, kills several Israeli soldiers and captures two. This set off a wild summer in 2006. What did Ms. Rice do that summer?

Ms. Rice’s credibility was further damaged when she delayed calling for a cease-fire as Israel plunged into a two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza that summer. By the end of 2006, with the peace efforts in shambles and the administration’s time running out, Ms. Rice began to pick up the pieces.

Ms. Bumiller, as a biographer, is being kind to Ms. Rice. She does not mention Ms. Rice’s most unfortunate words:

But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

RICE: And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.

The birth pangs of a new Middle East?

This is how ignorant and lame Ms. Rice is on the Middle East. Not only was she wrong about Hamas, not only was she wrong about Hezbollah, but both have increased their positions of strength and influence since she got “involved.” Israel lost its aura of invincibility by “losing” to a ragtag group of terrorists. Oh and Israel still has yet to get back its two soldiers.

Just keep all this in mind when Ms. Rice attempts any future “talks on peace” in the Middle East. She is more worried right now about her “legacy” than actually about making peace in the Middle East.

If she truly would want to make peace in the Middle East, her first visit as of right now, should be to Tehran.

An Amazing Article on Why Americans Hate the Media

November 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Media | Leave a comment

This was written by James Fallows back in February 1996, but it an amazing piece. I won’t highlight any of it, but rather recommend that you read it in full.

Iraq, a Long Hard Slog

November 25, 2007 at 2:13 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

Ambassador Ryan Corker, November 2007: “We are seeing encouraging signs of movement,” he said, but added, “This is going to be a long, hard slog.”

Donald Rumsfeld, October 2003: “It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.”

Anything change since 2003? Still a long hard slog, eh?

A Step in the Right Direction in Australia

November 24, 2007 at 5:37 am | Posted in Australia, Cheney, corruption, David Hicks, Gitmo, Torture | 2 Comments

Looks like Howard will lose in Australia. This is a good sign, a step in the right direction for Australia and the world. Too long have Bush supporters held many nations hostage.


(courtesy of AFP: Torsten Blackwood)

Why is Australia important? Because of David Hicks. Who is he? He was an Australian caught in Afghanistan, sent to Guantanamo Bay, tortured, and then, magically, released to Australia this April with a gag order that he not speak until AFTER THE ELECTION, which just took place. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in April:

So Cheney goes to Australia and meets with John Howard who tells him that the Hicks case is killing him in Australia, and he may lose the next election because of it. Hicks’s case is then railroaded to the front of the Gitmo kangaro court line, and put through a “legal” process almost ludicrously inept, with two of Hicks’ three lawyers thrown out on one day, then an abrupt plea-bargain, with a transparently insincere confession. Hicks is then given a mere nine months in jail in Australia, before being set free. Who negotiated the plea-bargain? Hicks’ lawyer. Who did he negotiate with? Not the prosecutors, as would be normal, but Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official. Who is Susan J. Crawford? She served as Dick Cheney’s Inspector General while he was Defense Secretary….

It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn’t a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.

Thankfully though, the Australian newspapers brought up this deal over the past month, just before Howard’s attempt to get reelected without an actual accounting of what happened to this poor pawn.

Cheney, Howard ‘did deal on Hicks’

US Vice-President Dick Cheney agreed to a deal with Prime Minister John Howard to release former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, a US media report says.

The report, published in Harper’s Magazine, cites an unnamed US military officer saying that a military staffer was present when Mr Cheney interfered directly to seal Hicks’s plea bargain deal.

“He [Mr Cheney] did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with [Australian Prime Minister] Howard,” the unnamed source is quoted as saying.

“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America.

“And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”

After five years of detention in Guantanamo Bay, a deal was sealed for 32-year-old Hicks to serve a nine-month prison sentence in Australia, subject to him pleading guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorism.

Hicks agreed to the deal in March and is now due for release from Adelaide’s Yatala Prison at the end of the year.

After the deal was announced, Mr Howard denied any involvement in the plea bargain.

“We didn’t impose the sentence, the sentence was imposed by the military commission and the plea bargain was worked out between the military prosecution and Mr Hicks’ lawyers,” Mr Howard said in March.

Mr Howard also rejected claims by Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown in March that the Prime Minister wanted Hicks not be released until after the election.

Howard and Cheney in ‘iron curtain’ deal

We haven’t heard much about ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks since he returned to Australia — thanks largely to the gag order imposed on him until the election is safely out of the way.

Until now, the strategy has worked a treat. Hicks has been out of sight and out of voters’ minds.

Whether the issue still has any traction could be tested with the allegation in Harper’s magazine that US Vice President Dick Cheney orchestrated Hicks’ early release — for John Howard. The piece quotes a US military officer, according to news.com.au:

“One of our staffers was present when Vice-President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks’ plea bargain deal,” the unnamed officer told Harper’s magazine…
“He did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with Howard.
“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America. And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”
In a sense, news of a possible interference is hardly a shock. When Cheney visited Australia in February, Howard was very keen to see Hicks’ trial brought forward, and applied pressure to the VP accordingly, noting “I have asked that within the constraints of the separation of powers in the United States system between the executive and the judicial process, the trial be brought on as soon as humanely possible with no further delay.”

Those constraints melted away with surprising ease due to the unusual plea deal orchestrated by Cheney protege and US military convening authority at Guantanamo, Susan Crawford. With the stroke of a pen (literally), and apparently without consulting the prosecution, she wiped out Hicks’ charges (as reported by Crikey at the time).

But Cheney distanced himself from the Hicks process during his Australian visit. “We can’t interfere with that process,” he said. “It’s a judicial process. We can’t influence it. That would be a violation of the procedure.”

He then added. “But I do expect that in the not too distant future that … will get resolved. I can assure you we will be doing everything we can to deal with these matters in as expeditious manner as possible.”

The Harper’s allegations are not a good look for Cheney, who has a reputation for getting employees (or former staffers) to do his political dirty work.

For Howard however, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, speaking as it does of his pulling power with the US. Either that or he offered something in exchange for Hicks’ expedient return. But what?

This is a good step for Australia. We now wait for the gag order to be released, and Mr. David Hicks to speak. We cannot rely on him however, as he is not a willing player. He was probably tortured. But how much more does he really want to be in the spotlight? Probably not at all.

US Accepted Musharraf’s Emergency Rule Decree

November 24, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Diplomacy, Musharraf, Pakistan | Leave a comment

Not that anyone is really surprised, but our “we believe in democracy” president new in advance that Musharraf was going to declare martial law, and stayed silent, giving Musharraf the green light.

Looks like democracy is not the end all be all after all

Michael Gordon Toes the Military Line Again

November 23, 2007 at 7:43 am | Posted in Iraq, Michael Gordon, Military | Leave a comment

He’s back at the New York Times, toeing the line of the military, ensuring the propaganda continues, raising those fears once again. Do it this way, or the whole thing falls to pieces, the military says. Michael Gordon, uncritically passes it along to Americans for consumption. There is no critical analysis from Mr. Gordon, because he is sold on the propaganda. Could it be even possible in his eyes that the military might not know what the hell they are doing? After all, MOST of the problems we are facing are directly attributable to MILITARY DECISIONS! How does Mr. Gordon know that they are suddenly telling the truth, or even that they know what they are talking about? What possibly changed? Mr. Gordon will never tell you because he’s drunk his kool-aid and wishes you to drink also.

With violence in Iraq on the decline and a quarter of American combat brigades scheduled to leave by July, commanders plan to give the remaining brigades an expanded role in training and supporting Iraqi forces, according to officials involved in a confidential military review of the next phase of the American troop deployment.

The plan, not yet in final form, is intended to transfer more of the security burden in Iraq to the Iraqis without giving up the gains that the Americans have made in recent months in pacifying the most violent areas and weakening the Sunni insurgency.

The approach is strikingly different from the plans advocated by many United States politicians, including some Democratic presidential contenders, who have called for a rapid withdrawal of American combat brigades from Iraq — the very units that American commanders see as playing a central role in the transition toward Iraqi control.

Note there the insidious nature of Mr. Gordon’s writing, and the thinking of the military. Their aim is to directly undercut whatever a Democrat has as his or her plan when winning the White House next fall. The VERY UNITS that the military wishes to use to transition control to Iraqis will be the ones that Democrats wish to bring home next summer. Very insidious. Does Mr. Gordon ask the military commanders why they chose those particular units to carry the biggest load? Of course not. Because Mr. Gordon is playing a political game here, and he is not letting you know he is playing a political game. He’s pretending to be a non-player, when in fact, he is playing one of the most important parts. He is the Messenger. He ensures you only get the message the military wants you to hear. No criticism. The military couldn’t possibly be wrong. We can’t have the people at home hold the feet of military leaders to the fire to ensure only the most correct decisions are made, because, well, in the eyes of the military, they don’t make mistakes, so they can somehow be trusted to tell the truth.

This approach differs from proposals by some counterinsurgency experts, like Lt. Col. John Nagl, that the Army establish a permanent corps of highly trained advisers and use it as the principal means to train Iraqi and foreign forces elsewhere.

It is also radically different from that advocated by some foreign policy specialists, who have urged the United States to quickly withdraw combat brigades while leaving behind a limited number of trainers. Such a strategy was outlined by the Iraq Study Group, a panel led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Representative Lee H. Hamilton, and a variant of this approach has been embraced by Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The military really did not like the Iraq Study Group plan, and will do all it can to undermine it and destroy it. They seem to not like Senator Obama either. We can expect more attacks against him from Mr. Gordon.

Rudy Giuliani and 9/11

November 20, 2007 at 8:15 pm | Posted in 9/11, rudy giuliani | 2 Comments

Two peas in a pod

Mitt Romney Involved in Anti-Mitt Push Polls?

November 20, 2007 at 11:46 am | Posted in American politics, Elections, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | 2 Comments

What the hey?

Former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign furiously denied rumors yesterday that his own supporters were involved in calls placed to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that spread anti-Romney smears under the guise of conducting a poll.

Political strategists and bloggers slung accusations at Romney’s camp yesterday after a scathing article appeared in the National Review titled “Did Mitt Romney Push Poll Himself?” which identified several Romney supporters at Western Wats, a Utah-based firm believed to have made the calls. The practice of using phony polls to plant a negative message is commonly known as push-polling.

“The idea that Mitt Romney or his supporters are spreading negative information about him is preposterous,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told the Herald. “These paranoid delusions aren’t worthy of a serious response.”

The New Hampshire attorney general launched an investigation into the calls, which may violate state election laws requiring all political advertising and phone pitches to identify the candidate being supported.

Jim Kennedy, assistant attorney general in charge of election law enforcement in the Granite State, vowed that subpoenaed phone records and other evidence will unveil the culprits, despite client confidentiality clauses repeatedly cited by Western Wats.

Among the questions asked during the 20-minute calls placed last week were whether the person polled knew Romney received Vietnam-era military deferments while serving in the Mormon missionary in France, that none of his sons served in the military and that the Mormon religion didn’t accept blacks as bishops until the 1970s.

The calls also included flattering questions about the military service of Sen. John McCain, whose camp immediately denied responsibility and filed a complaint with the New Hampshire attorney general Friday, as did Romney’s.

Musharraf’s Supreme Court Clears Musharraf

November 19, 2007 at 5:57 am | Posted in Musharraf, Pakistan | 1 Comment

surprise surprise.

Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon

November 17, 2007 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Dark Side of the Moon, Wizard of Oz | 7 Comments

I don’t know who else has watched this trippy mix of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz, but man, they just fit beautifully. Watch here the whole thing. Amazing!

Part I:

Part II:

Part III (amazing! – Great Gig in the Sky indeed!):

Part IV:

Part V (my favorite):

Part VI:

Part VII:

The Cost of the War in Iraq

November 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Iraq | 2 Comments

I highly recommend this read. Mr. Cowen puts the costs of the war in Iraq in a proper perspective to show that, no in the end, it was not worth the cost.

1. We still have not secured our ports against nuclear terrorism. The $1 trillion we’ve probably spent on the war could have funded the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security 28 times over.

2. The human toll of the war is dreadful: more than 3,800 U.S. soldiers dead and more than 28,000 wounded, plus more than 1,000 private contractors killed and many more injured. It’s harder to know how many Iraqis have died; some estimates claim the war has caused a million or more Iraqi deaths, and even if that’s an overstatement, the toll is still very high. But it’s not just the lives that are gone; we’ve also lost the contributions that these people would have made to their families and to humanity at large.

3. Another major hidden cost: Many of the wounded have severe brain injuries or other traumas and will never return to “normal” life. Furthermore, Washington will find it far much harder to recruit and retain quality troops and National Guardsmen in the future.

4. Don’t forget the small statistics, which are often the most striking. According to John Pike, the head of the research group GlobalSecurity.org, an estimated 250,000 bullets have been fired for every insurgent killed in Iraq. That’s not just a waste of ammunition; it’s also a reflection of how badly the country has been damaged and how indiscriminate some of the fighting has been. Or take another straw in the wind: The cost of a coffin in Baghdad has risen to $50-75, up from just $5-10 before the war, according to the Nation magazine.

5. Above all, governing Iraq has, so far, been a fruitless investment. According to 2006 figures, U.S. war spending came out to $3,749 per Iraqi — almost as much as the per-capita income of Egypt. That staggering sum hasn’t bought a lot of leadership from Iraq, or much of a democratic model for its Arab neighbors.

Barry Bonds is Toast

November 15, 2007 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Barry Bonds | 1 Comment

Well Barry Bonds is indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. Looks like he might not be playing next summer and that his career is basically over. He had a fairly good career, but I think this will really harm his chances to get into the Hall of Fame.

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

November 15, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Posted in American politics, Jon Stewart | 1 Comment

Wow, I had never seen this before:

It is so good of Mr. Stewart to tell it like it is. So sad that Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson didn’t even realize what fakers they are. Mr. Stewart properly showed what the problem with our political discourse is today.

Mitt Romney in France, not Vietnam

November 15, 2007 at 1:14 pm | Posted in American politics, BYU, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Vietnam | 4 Comments

New York Times has a fascinating piece today about Mitt Romney’s time in France. His mission came during the height of the Vietnam war, and of course that war affected his relations with the French, who mostly slammed their doors in Mitt’s face when learning he was American. One of the most fascinating quotes about that time comes from one of his companions, Byron Hansen who said:

Mr. Romney described it as “a very interesting firsthand view of a very volatile setting.” But his friends say the strikes were terrifying and reinforced their respect for authority. “The social system failed. The country came to a stop,” said Byron Hansen, another missionary and now a car dealer in Brigham City, Utah. “It affected me and I am sure it affected Mitt.”

The missionaries had often met with hostility over the Vietnam War. “Are you an American?” was a common greeting, Mr. Romney recalled, followed by, “‘Get out of Vietnam! Bang!’ The door would slam.” But such opposition only hardened their hawkish views. “We felt the French were pretty weak-kneed,” Mr. Hansen said.

Most of the missionaries, though, were also relieved that their service meant a draft deferment. “I am sorry, but no one was excited to go and get killed in Vietnam,” Mr. Hansen said, acknowledging, “In hindsight, it is easy to be for the war when you don’t have to worry about going to Vietnam.”

It is easy to be for the war when you don’t have to worry about going to Vietnam. Indeed it is.

Also fascinating was the steps BYU’s administration took to fight the dastardly scourge of liberalism on BYU’s campus:

Mr. Romney switched to Brigham Young from Stanford to be near his high school girlfriend, now wife, Ann. But the move also continued his isolation from the upheaval of the era. Brigham Young was one of the few places where students had demonstrated in support of the war in the mid-1960s. When Mr. Romney attended, the university president enlisted students to spy on supposedly liberal professors, and the handful of students who displayed peace signs in their windows were told to remove them. Although liberal groups were banned, a chapter of George Wallace’s American Independent Party flourished.

I’ve always wondered about BYU administration folks. I mean, here they send 19 year old wet-behind-the-ears boys and 21-year old girls to save the souls of men, yet they cannot trust these same kids on personal hygiene and political views. How sad.

Even More Evidence the Surge is a Grand Failure

November 15, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

Absolutely nothing on the political front. And to remind everybody, Bush himself said:

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

He said that in January when selling the Glorious Surge. Yet there is absolutely nothing on the political front, and, as the article I linked to at the top shows, the American military is getting frustrated. Frankly, they should have known from the start that it wouldn’t work. But they are too caught up in “patriotism” and the worship of Petraeus and Bush to think rationally before venturing on a bad move.

Americans and Nation Building

November 15, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, Republicans, Revising History | Leave a comment

Mr. Robert Novak writes today about the ineffectual and dismal nation building going on in Iraq. He writes:

This faulty allocation of U.S. funds is part of a broader problem in Iraq: Americans are not good at nation-building. The huge embassy in Baghdad is run by Foreign Service officers on the same model as U.S. missions worldwide whose function is reporting, not managing. Similarly, legal policy in Iraq is handled by assistant U.S. attorneys who focus on arrest and detention.

I’m sorry Mr. Novak, as experienced as you are in Washington, you are still a hyper-partisan who would rather paint everybody bad than the Republicans. It is the Bush administration and the Republicans that are bad at nation building, not Americans. They may be Americans, but they do not represent all of America. And yes, they are indeed terrible at nation-building (heck you should have figured that out back before Bush was elected when he scorned and scorned nation building). But there are Americans who actually are quite good at nation building. They just don’t belong to the Republican party.

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