trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don’t appear to be looking for reinforcements,” the Associated Press reports. “They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea” and Baghdad “is embroiled in civil warfare…that no number of American troops can stop.”
at his Crawford ranch. White House advisers say Bush will deliver his Iraq speech “sometime between New Year’s and his State of the Union address on Jan. 23.” “Two defense officials” said yesterday “that some sort of troop increase appears likely,” but the size and nature of the escalation “still has to be worked out.”
I don’t know when Scott Stanzel started working as a White House spokesman, but his rejoinder to Joe Biden‘s anti-escalation views doesn’t make much sense: “I would hope that Senator Biden would wait to hear what the president has to say before announcing what he’s opposed to.” So while the Decider dithers none of us are allowed to offer our opinions about what he should do? I suppose it would be convenient for the White House message team if things worked that way. I think Gary Schmitt from PNAC is insightful on the psychodynamics here:
“No president wants to be remembered as the guy who lost a war,” he said. “Who knows whether this is a day late and a dollar short, but it is a striking example of presidential will trying to bend the system to what he wants.”
Roughly speaking, the fixed point of the president’s thinking is an unwillingness to admit that the venture has failed. For a long time the best way to do that was to simply deny that there was a problem. Political strategy for the midterms, however, dictated that the president had to acknowledge the public’s concerns about the war and concede that things weren’t going well. At that point, simply staying the course doesn’t work anymore. But de-escalating would be an admission of failure, so the only option is to choose escalation. Thus, the idea of an escalation starts getting pushed and we start reading things int he paper like “Top military officials have said that they are open to sending more U.S. troops to Iraq if there is a specific strategic mission for them.” Consider the process here. It’s not that the president has some policy initiative in mind whose operational requirements dictate a surge in force levels. Rather, locked in the prison of his own denial he came to the conclusion that he should back an escalation, prompting the current search for a mission.
“Gale Norton is back providing oversight of energy development issues on public lands in the American West, this time as a key legal advisor for a major global oil company. Months after she resigned her cabinet post as President Bush’s Interior Secretary — and then seemed to disappear from public view — the Coloradan apparently has accepted an offer to serve as counsel for Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Shell, one of the world’s largest producers of oil, was also one of the companies that Norton’s Interior Department routinely engaged on matters of drilling in sensitive ecological settings.”
As promised previously. I really don’t see why the Clippers would seriously consider doing this. When Sacramento traded for Ron-Ron that was a risk. Trading for him at this point is a long-odds gamble I’d only want to take for a giant upside payoff. Artest, meanwhile, isn’t that much better than Maggette. He’s a worse scorer from either a volume or an efficiency perspective and a worse rebounder. Obviously, he’s a better defender but the point is just that even in the unlikely case that Artest in LA experience did work out it’s still not an unambiguous upgrade. Chris Sheridan says that Maggette “just like every other key player on the Clippers — has had a precipitous drop in production this season while waiting for another deal to go down.” But where’s the precipitous drop? If by “precipitous drop in production” Sheridan means “small reduction in playing time” I’ll agree. Maggette’s points-per-40 are down (22.6 versus 24.1) but his rebounds-per-40 are up (8.5 versus 7.1).
The Clippers’ woes this season have no particular relationship to Maggette. Other West teams have improved (often because of returns of players who were MIA with injury for most of last year), Elton Brand has returned to his previous standard of excellent basketball rather than to the extraordinary heights to which he soared last season, and Sam Cassell has been playing substantially fewer minutes.
Interesting Washington Post op-ed page today. Bob Dole says Gerald Ford was great. David Broder agrees as does George Will. Robert Novak says he wasn’t right-wing enough. It’s a good thing they give this stuff away for free on the internet, because if I’d paid money for a newspaper and then wound up with a subscription to Pravda I’d be pretty upset.
“Global warming denier” was ranked as the second most politically incorrect phrase in 2006 by Global Language Monitor, a non-profit that studies word usage. According to the announcement of the rankings, some people even compare global warming deniers to Holocaust deniers.
Yet Climate Progress doesn’t view the term as “politically incorrect” — not when we have an administration that tries to stop its scientists from using the words “Kyoto” and “climate change.” So we will keep using the term as long as the Deniers keep up their despicable disinformation campaign.
Josh Trevino is none too happy with my Ethiopia commentary. Trevino knows a good deal more about Africa than I do and has some experience with recent American policymaking on that continent. Thus, even though I disagree with the general thrust of his commentary, let me recommend his Christmas afternoon post on the war which confirms the basic point that these events are tied to deliberate American policies. He also usefully spells out the basic strategic thinking here. His take on Ethiopia’s July intervention:
In an interview in July 2004, the former president said he “very strongly” disagreed with the justifications the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq. “I don’t think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly,” Ford said, “I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.” The interview “took place for a future book project, though he said his comments could be published at any time after his death.”
In an unrelated Ethiopia news story, an interesting New York Times feature looks at the problem of malnourished children, especially in Africa, and especially in Ethiopia where there are some relatively new and pretty promising programs in place to try and deal with the problem. As the article observes:
Yet almost half of Ethiopia’s children are malnourished, and most do not die. Some suffer a different fate. Robbed of vital nutrients as children, they grow up stunted and sickly, weaklings in a land that still runs on manual labor. Some become intellectually stunted adults, shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points, unable to learn or even to concentrate, inclined to drop out of school early.
The result, obviously, is a kind of trap of impoverishment. Poor, badly governed states have a lot of children who suffer from these problems. The next generation grows up to be relatively lacking in human capital as a consequence of childhood malnourishment. And that, in turn, helps continue the country down a path of being poor and badly governed. Obviously, delivering food to hungry people is something rich countries are pretty well-positioned to do, and rich countries (especially the United States) do, in fact, provide a pretty large amount of food aid. But generous provision can cause problems of its own, distorting and undermining local markets in food production and distribution, when what you’d like to achieve is to put the country on a sustainable path where it no longer needs that kind of aid.