Some politics

Representative John Murtha has a plan for Iraq: he wants to link funding for sending more troops to Iraq to the troops being battle ready, properly equiped, having had proper rest and to the elimination of the so-called stop-loss programs:

The Pennyslvania Democrat is leading the charge among members of his party to end the war by limiting funding. That fight, which will probably be waged next month, is expected to overshadow this week’s battle over a nonbinding resolution opposing Bush’s troop buildup.

Part kindly Irish Catholic grandfather and part political pit bull with two Purple Hearts in his pocket, Murtha seems the Democrats’ best chance of using the budget to curtail the war without appearing to be leaving troops in the lurch.

“Many of the roads (in Congress) lead through Murtha,” said Darrell West, a political science professor at Brown University. “So Bush has to deal with him.”

Murtha retains clout among his Democratic colleagues, especially on defense issues, despite losing a post-election challenge to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., to become majority leader. Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, C-Calif, have tapped Murtha to address caucus meetings on the issue of the war and used him to assure the more liberal members of their base that Democrats will do everything they can to bring troops home.

So far, Democrats and Republicans alike are listening closely.

“Do most people have enormous respect for Mr. Murtha? Oh yes,” said Pelosi.

By mid-March, Murtha will unveil legislation that he says would set such stringent rules on combat deployments that Bush would have no choice but to begin bringing troops home.

His legislation would dictate how long troops can stay, the equipment they use and whether any money could be spent to expand military operations into Iran. Murtha says few units could meet the high standards he envisions, meaning Bush’s plan to keep some 160,000 troops in Iraq for months on end would be thwarted.

Under his plan, he says, Democrats would be helping and not hurting troops by making sure they have what they need before being thrown into combat.

“This vote will be the most important vote in changing the direction of the war,” Murtha, D-Pa., told an anti-war group in an interview broadcast on the Internet Thursday.

“The president could veto it, but then he wouldn’t have any money,” he later said.

Murtha, 74, joined the Marine Corps during the Korean war and volunteered to return to active duty in Vietnam, where he earned his two Purple Hearts – awards given to troops wounded or killed in action.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi explains the position very well in this video. The text is here.

Some excerpts:

“Democrats have proposed a different course of action to the President. Over and over again, we have suggested a different plan. One year ago, Senator Harry Reid and I stood with House and Senate Democrats to propose our agenda for Real Security – to project our power and our values to protect the American people.

“Consistent with our Real Security agenda, Democrats have sent the President four letters, starting in July and the most recent one at the end of January, urging him to adopt a strategy for success containing these elements: change of mission; redeployment of troops; building a political consensus; engaging in diplomacy; reform of reconstruction; and a refocus on the war on terror.

“In terms of changing the mission, U.S. forces in Iraq must be transitioned from combat to training of Iraqi forces, real counter terrorism activities, and force protection and logistics. A shift in mission will allow the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to be reduced, diminishing their presence in the daily lives of Iraqis, and minimizing the chances of these troops being caught in the cross-fire between rival Iraqi factions.

“Ending the emphasis on a combat mission will allow the phased redeployment of our forces from Iraq beginning within the next four to six months. Declining troop levels will require fewer bases and none of them will need to be permanent, consistent with legislation introduced and passed by this by House by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and also introduced by Congressman David Price. A smaller military presence in Iraq will also relieve some of the strain on our troops, their families, and our military equipment.

“Success in Iraq requires more than military force. And that really is what this debate is about today. As three-star General Peter Chiarelli, until recently the Commander of the Multinational Corps Iraq, observed in December, and I quote, ‘We need to get out of thinking that this is solely a military conflict where we must simply apply more U.S. or coalition or Iraqi forces against an enemy that we can destroy. All our nation’s strengths — diplomatic, economic, political — must be leveraged to help the Iraqis find their way through this process.’

“Unfortunately there has been no sustained and effective effort to engage Iraqi’s neighbors diplomatically.

“Iraq’s neighbors have the greatest stake in Iraq’s stability and the role it will play in the region. Leaders of those countries are best able to help Iraqi leaders improve security by reducing ethnic tensions. To this end, an international contact group should be established to support a political settlement in Iraq and preserve Iraq’s sovereignty.

“Senator Reid and I also wrote to the President that an international conference should be convened to broaden support for the reconstruction effort that is essential if Iraqis are going to be put to work building their country’s future.

“And on the subject of reconstruction, there has been little effective reconstruction in Iraq because of mismanagement and disappearances of funds. That is why we propose, that for in order for the reconstruction of Iraq to attract international support, it must be conducted according to practices which are honest, transparent, and accountable. Reconstruction must be guided by the kind of process set forth in legislation introduced by Congressman Patrick Murphy and the Blue Dog Coalition. The United States should take the lead on accountability in reconstruction.

“Politically there has been no sustained and effective effort to engage rival Iraqi factions. The U.S. must insist that Iraqi leaders make the political compromises needed for broad-based and sustainable political settlement that will produce an inclusive political system in Iraq. A good beginning would be to press Iraqi leaders to amend the constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources. That was promised at the time of the referendum over one year ago. The resulting political consensus will allow Iraqi security forces to challenge the militias on behalf of the nation and to disarm them.

“Proponents of the President’s escalation are equating the war on terror to the war in Iraq. As our esteemed Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Ike Skelton of Missouri, great patriot, has observed, ‘Two conflicts. Two wars. And the two should not be confused. There are those who attempt to fuzz the two conflicts together as ‘the war on terror,’ but the wars are truly separate and distinct.’

“The war in Iraq continues to detract from our ability to fight the war against international terrorism effectively. We need to finish the job started more than five years ago in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and address other conditions around the world in which the appeal of terrorism breeds.

“The longer it takes us to resolve the situation in Iraq, the longer resources and attention will continue to be diverted from the war on terrorism. Our ability to respond to the escalating conflict in Afghanistan and other potential crises in the world is constrained severely by the deterioration in military readiness to levels not seen since the Vietnam era.

“We have the six elements that we talked about: change of mission, redeployment of troops, building of political consensus, engaging in diplomacy, reform of reconstruction, and a refocus on the war on terror.

“By placing so much emphasis on dealing with the problems in Iraq militarily and not enough emphasis on sustained political and diplomatic engagement, the President’s escalation plan repeats past mistakes.

More on Iraq:

We are thinking of sending more troops to Iraq, when Iraqi’s themselves are fleeing?

Unrelenting violence and insecurity in Iraq could cause as many as 1 million Iraqis to flee their homes this year, the world’s migration body said today.

“The numbers of people that are being displaced are increasing every day,” said Jemini Pandya, spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration. “The security situation is not improving. It’s not changing.”

Fun (sort of): Bushisms

Here is a very small sample of what you’ll find there:

“And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I’m sorry it’s the case, and I’ll work hard to try to elevate it.”— Speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007.

Click here to hear audio of Bush’s comments. The Bushism is at 19:21.

“I think that the vice president is a person reflecting a half-glass-full mentality.”—Speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

Click here to hear audio of Bush’s comments. The Bushism is at 4:30.

“The best way to defeat the totalitarian of hate is with an ideology of hope—an ideology of hate—excuse me—with an ideology of hope.”—Fort Benning, Ga., Jan. 11, 2007

Click here to see video of Bush’s comments. The Bushism is at 24:28.

Obama: when I came home from the Springfield Obama even (where he announced), I told Barbara (my wife) that Obama really reminded me of Bill Clinton. Both men are smart and both can connect with people.

Evidently someone else has made the connection, but they have put it in unflattering terms:

I’ve been on the fence about Obama for more than two years now, ever since his breakout performance at the Democratic convention in ’04. When I saw that speech — an iconic piece of inspired nonsense/political showmanship, one that set flashbulbs popping like Michael Jordan’s virtuoso 1988 dunk contest performance — I knew right away that he would be the Democratic presidential nominee someday, perhaps even in the next election cycle.

When I mentioned this to my friends, they told me I was crazy. Obama had had absolutely no national experience at that time; he was a political virgin; there was no way he was ready for prime time. My answer to that was, compared to what? Throw a guy who can speak like that against the list of likely Democratic candidates in 2008 — a sorry collection of human saline drips that included Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd — and Obama could fucking walk to the nomination, even if he chose a page from the Betty Crocker cookbook as his stump speech.

Fast forward two years and that appears to be exactly what Obama has done. The Illinois senator is the ultimate modern media creature — he’s a good-looking, youthful, smooth-talking, buttery-warm personality with an aw-shucks demeanor who exudes a seemingly impenetrable air of Harvard-crafted moral neutrality. If Hillary Clinton even dares to open her mouth within a hundred feet of him at any time during the campaign, she’s going to come off like a pig digging for truffles. Even Edwards — the so-called “slick” candidate from ’04 — sounds like a two-bit suburban Buick dealer next to Obama. You get past the “issues,” and it’s a wipeout.

Here’s the thing about Obama, the reason they call him a “natural” and a “rare talent.” When Hillary Clinton spouts a cliche, it’s four words long, she’s reading it off a teleprompter, and it hits the ear like the fat part of a wooden oar. Even when Hillary announced she was running for president, she sounded like she was ordering coffee. Obama, on the other hand, can close his eyes and the cliches just pour out of his mouth in huge polysyllabic paragraphs, like Rachmaninoff improvisations. In this sense he’s exactly like Bill Clinton, who had the same gift. He is exactly what is meant by the term bullshit artist. My usual instinct when presented with this type of Zelig-esque, Eddie Haskell, non-stick personality is to violently reject it. But over the course of the last few weeks I’ve found myself increasingly amused by the Obama phenomenon. For one thing, he clearly pisses off Hillary to no end. Same with Biden and all of those other windbag jerk-off assholes in that revolting “national security Democrats” clan in the Senate. There is something subtly racist (in Biden’s case, not so subtle) in the way these more entrenched Democrats are riding Obama’s lack of credentials and acting like the ’08 nomination is their birthright, like he hasn’t “waited his turn” or something, paid his dues. As if any of these clowns would wait ten seconds to declare for the White House if they had the same odds that Obama has now.

Here is the difference between me and people like the author Matt Taibbi: what he calls being “BS artist” I call being “electable”. Let’s face it: politicians who aren’t BS artists aren’t going to have a prayer of getting elected.

And, more importantly, Senator Obama is highly intelligent (President of the Harvard Law Review) just as President Clinton is (Rhodes Scholar).

What in the heck is wrong with having the skills to get elected?

Oh yes, Senator Obama is very, very popular. That reminds me of Bill Clinton as well. And that scares the wingnuts silly.

Just who is electable?

Kos puts this article out to show that the Republicans are going to be in hot water in the 2008 Presidential election.
I am posting it for a different reason:

Gallup. 2/9-11. Adults. MoE 3% (no trend lines)
If your party nominated a well-qualified Candidate For WH ’08 who was _, would you vote for that person?

Yes No
Catholic 95% 4%
Black 94 5
Jewish 92 7
A woman 88 11
Hispanic 87 12
Mormon 72 24
Married for third time 67 30
72 years old 57 42
A homosexual 55 43
An atheist 45 53

Comfort- With Would
able Reserv- Not
ations Vote
Black 84% 9% 5%
A woman 78 10 11
Mormon 58 14 24
72 years old 43 15 42
Married for
third time 54 13 30

McCain will be 72 years old in 2008.

Mitt Romney is Mormon.

Rudy Giuliani is married for a third time.

Newt Gingrich is married for a third time.

My point: look at who is the “least electable”. THAT is why I laugh when people blame the secular liberals for all of our ills. Huh? We don’t control anything!!!!


February 16, 2007 Posted by | obama, politics/social | Leave a comment

Sub Zero

Actually, 5 below zero F (-20 C). More snow on the way. 😦
Every time this happens I curse myself for not writing a better thesis.

Workout Notes: 250 fist, 250 fist/free, 500 drill/swim, 1000 in 16:17 (4:06, 8:11, 12:14, so my 250 splits were 4:06, 4:05, 4:03, 4:02), 100 back, 5 x (side/free/side/free), 500 pull (8:11).

This was my fastest 1000 since the year 2000, I think (or maybe early 2001?) Still, way slow by swimmer standards (a strong master’s male swimmer can knock off a 12 minute 1000, and a college swimmer just over 10 minutes). But it is the best that I’ve done for a while.

Political Comment:

From The Nation:

Note to members of the United States House of Representatives on both sides of aisle: Soliders are people. Some volunteered out of patriotism, some out of economic desperation, some because they couldn’t think of what else to do. Some of them are truly heroic, courageous, conscientious and brave. Some are racist and sadistic. Some are both at different times. Some began as kind-hearted and generous and have had their entire personalities change by the cruelties of war. Can we please, please, please stop pretending that we currently have 160,000 saints with guns patrolling the streets in Iraq? Can we please stop justifying the war in terms of it somehow being waged on the solider’s behalf? Can we please acknowledge that our fetishization of our warriors is due to the fact that an ever-shrinking percentage of the population has been asked to sacrifice a single thing to wage this so-called epic struggle for freedom? Please?

Though I agree with what the writer said, one has to remember that the representatives represent their constituents. And, the first time someone says “you know, soliders are human; there are some bad ones, and some that break under the unrelenting stress of combat”, they would get flamed by the press and probably end up losing reelection.

Finally, from the debate on the Iraq war in the House of Representatives:

February 16, 2007 Posted by | politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment