The new American operational commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, “said Sunday that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush’s new war strategy it might take another ‘two or three years’ for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.”
In answer to Nicholas Beaudrot’s question about term-limits for congressional committee chairs I don’t think such limits are optimal policy. They are, however, superior to the leading alternative — strict seniority. The main impact of term limits is to enhance the power of the congressional leadership vis-a-vis committee chairs. That’s because all fairly senior members know that there’s bound to be a reasonable amount of limits-related churn, making the leaders’ views on what your next assignment should be very important.
This, in turn, is an important thing to do because the US government simply has too many veto points — bicameralism, the need for presidential ascent, strong judicial review, and fairly strong federalism make it quite difficult to legislate in the United States. The era of strong committee chairs (and of strong committees) introduced even more veto points into the system, giving special interests extraordinary ability to frustrate popular general-interest legislation. Term limits have led to stronger leadership and weaker committee chairs and that’s a good thing, even if ideally you might achieve that same result some other way.
I was cooking swordfish with a friend last night, and her fish cookbook (James Peterson’s Fish & Shellfish) makes the following observation:
Although grilling and broiling are similar techniques—in some parts of the United States the two words are used interchangeably—grilling is used here to mean cooking over, but not in contact with, the heat source. Broiling is cooking under the heat source.
Here’s the question: Which parts of the United States? Perhaps the southeast which is really the region I don’t know anyone from. Initially, we thought we couldn’t think of any examples of people using “broil” to mean “grill” or vice versa, but Burger King does refer to its burgers as “flame broiled” when I would say they’re grilled.
on the “myth of scarcity.”
In America today, we are encouraged to believe in the myth of scarcity – that there just isn’t enough – of anything. But in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, who the Muslims call Isa, found himself preaching to 5000 (not including the women by the way) at dinner time, and there didn’t appear to be enough food. The disciples said that there were only five barley loaves and two fish. We just have to send them away hungry. We simply don’t have enough. But Jesus took the loaves and the fish and started sharing food. There was enough for everyone. There was more than enough. What was perceived as scarcity was illusory as long as there was sharing, and not hoarding. …
If scarcity is a myth, then poverty is not necessary. America need not have 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. It is a choice. Hunger is a choice. Exclusion of the stranger, the immigrant, or the darker other is a choice.
Teresa Wiltz says Agent Zero’s birthday party got a boost from the unseasonable weather:
The naked painted ladies, part of the evening’s entertainment — and yes, naked naked, save for a thong and a head-to-toe paint job — don’t have to worry about goosebumps ruining the effect of all that . . . paint.
Frankly . . . I’m concerned. The extravaganza seems out of step with Arenas’s chipped-shoulder ideology. Also, if he realizes that being young and rich could lead to tons of fun parties, where’s he going to find the time to take his dogs on the treadmill. It’s a worrying situation. The saving grace is that all these fans seem determined to vote Vince Carter into the All-Star Game, giving Gilbert the snub the Wiz need. If we get really, really lucky somehow the coaches will fail to select him, too. Kidd! Billups! Redd! Can’t deny those guys.
“After years of close association with the Republican Party and hard-nosed opposition to federal land-use regulation, the National Rifle Association is being pressured by its membership to distance itself from President Bush’s energy policies that have opened more public land for oil and gas drilling and limited access to hunters and anglers,” the Washington Post reports.
David Brooks gives us a pretty standard surge narrative:
For over three years, President Bush sided with the light-footprint school. He did so for personal reasons, not military ones. Casey and Abizaid are impressive men, and Bush deferred to their judgment.
But sometimes good men make bad choices, and it is now clear that the light-footprint approach has been a disaster. If the U.S. had committed more troops and established security back in 2003, when, as Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek recently reminded us, the Coalition Provisional Authority had 70 percent approval ratings, history would be different.
So, given all that, would adding troops now help? “Many in and out of the administration think so, hence all the talk about a surge — putting 20,000 more troops into Baghdad, finally occupying the dangerous neighborhoods, finally starting a jobs program, finally forcing national reconciliation.” Brooks actually thinks it’s too late for this. Instead, we should combine a surge with “giving up the dream of national reconciliation and acknowledging that Iraq is in the process of dividing itself” and “using adequate force levels (finally!) to help those who are returning to sectarian homelands. It would mean erecting buffers between populations where possible and establishing order in areas that remain mixed.”
A bunch of questions arise. Is it really plausible that the difference between a stable democratic Iraq and the current mess is whether or not there were 20,000 more troops there in 2006? Note that 20,000 just coincidentally happens to be the number of troops currently logistically available for a surge. The standard “more troops” doctrine has always maintained that the initial occupation force should have included 400,000-500,000 troops, not 20,000 more troops. It’s just too trivial a number to make a real difference (except, of course, to the people who will see their deployments extended, to those who die on extended deployments, to their wives, children, husbands, etc.).
What’s more, almost four years into the war, if Bush is about to implement yet another new strategy and Brooks thinks that strategy is doomed to fail, isn’t it time to just give up on the war? To stop offering further helpful suggestions? Why is Brooks so nanchalant about the wastage of lives looming in what he acknowledges is a doomed military escalation.
Robert Novak writes, “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell…is caustic in private about the proposed ‘surge’ of 30,000 additional U.S. troops. Powell noted that the recent congressional delegation to Iraq headed by Sen. John McCain heard from combat officers that they wanted more troops. ‘The colonels will always say they need more troops,’ the retired general says. ‘That’s why we have generals.’” Novak adds, “Senior Republican senators are trying to get word to the president that any troop surge would be dead on arrival in Congress.”
A Post editorial today states, “Without a surge, Mr. McCain and Mr. Lieberman warn, the war will be lost. This is a serious argument, and the two senators have been principled and even courageous in making it.” Glenn Greenwald has much more.
The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges.
–Wallace Broecker, climate scientist, 1995
The ongoing Arctic warming corresponds to the predictions of the more pessimistic climate models. By extension, the pessimistic scenarios of climate change can be expected to unfold in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
–Louis Fortier, climate scientist, June 2006
We are on the brink of taking the biggest gamble in human history, one that, if we lose, will transform the lives of the next fifty generations….
My focus in this chapter is the question of the century:
Do we humans have the political will to stop the great ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica from melting . . . to stop Hell and High Water?
… On our current emissions path, Earth’s average temperature will probably rise 1.5°C by midcentury. By century’s end we will be more than 3°C warmer than today. The last time Earth was 1°C warmer than today, sea levels were 20 feet higher. That occurred during the Eemian interglacial period about 125,000 years ago, when Greenland appears to have had far less ice.
How fast can the sea level rise? Following the last ice age, the world saw sustained melting that raised sea levels more than a foot a decade. Many scientists believe we could see such a melting rate–a catastrophic melting rate of more than 12 inches every ten years– within this century. Sea levels ultimately could rise much more than 20 feet because Antarctica contains far more landlocked ice than Greenland.
The last time Earth was 2° to 3°C warmer than it is now, some 3 million years ago, sea levels were more than 80 feet higher.
… The answer to the question of the century–Do we humans have the political will to stop the great ice sheets from melting?–is, at best, “Not yet”….