Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) tells the New York Times the Bush administration is “building a case against Tehran even as American intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran’s internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East. ‘To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again.‘” Rockefeller had sharp words for President Bush. “I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”
David Brooks offers grades on the first 100 hours of the new congress, including this:
Prescription drugs: D. While they were the opposition, Democrats fulminated that the Republicans were so deep in the pockets of Big Pharma that they wouldn’t even let the government negotiate lower drug prices. But governing is harder than kvetching, and the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the Democratic plan would have a negligible effect on prices for the elderly.
The plan allows the government to negotiate, but doesn’t take the politically difficult step of giving it any leverage to actually lower prices. A symbolic gesture.
I agree with that. But am I to infer from this that Brooks would favor a toothier measure? The de facto price controls the right’s economists have warned us about? I sort of doubt it, but I’d be interested to know.
Jeff Stein, a CQ reporter who used to be an intelligence officer in Vietnam, recounts how back during that war he had a daily routine to see if his spy had new information for him: “I’d drive by a soccer stadium in Danang, the large coastal city where I lived, and I’d look for a particular mark on the wall. If it was there, I’d go to a prearranged place at a set time for a clandestine meeting with a go-between.” Danang wasn’t the capital of South Vietnam, and “The war was raging in the jungles and rice paddies less than 10 miles away, and communist agents were everywhere in the city,” nevertheless “security was good enough that they weren’t likely to risk exposing themselves by kidnapping or killing me.” Even under those conditions, however, the US government never really got a grip on the situation and, of course, the American military effort was doomed to failure.
In Iraq, our intelligence is fantastically worse than that and “according to several well informed intelligence sources, hundreds of CIA operatives have become virtual prisoners in the Green Zone, the sprawling American enclave whose high walls and guards separate the U.S. embassy, military command and related civilian agencies from the raging sectarian violence in Baghdad’s streets.” Stein quotes a former CIA Operations official as saying Agency personnel in Baghdad “spend their days playing cards and watching DVDs” because the insecurity makes it impossible for them to do their jobs. But, obviously, the military can’t provide security without intelligence. Nevertheless, soldiers and spies alike keep being sent to Iraq to, in essence, wander in circles. Except they’re wandering in circles in potentially lethal situations, dying and being gravely injured, inflicting serious wounds on others and destroying their property in attempts to defend themselves — killing and dying for a clearly hopeless mission.
Via Henly who has further remarks.
Catch the audio interview with Betsy Rosenberg of EcoTalk.
Photo by Frecklescorp
One thing I found myself thinking about last week was how quickly lots of liberals — myself included, really — have tended to be willing to accept the notion that John Kerry was some kind of uniquely unappealing candidate for national office in terms of his personal qualities. But of course before Kerry was super-lame, there was Al Gore and he was . . . super lame. And now here I am catching up on my Corner reading and look how personally unappealing Hillary Clinton turns out to be. And Nancy Pelosi, too! It’s no surprise that conservatives try to turn every leading Democrat into not only an ideologically objectionable figure but a personally mock-worthy one as well. It is surprising how willing people are to internalize this stuff.
No matter who it is the Democrats nominate, that person is going to wind up mocked as obviously the wrong the choice; obviously just an absurd person who absurd primary voters picked over dozens of more appealing choices. Even Bill Clinton, you’ll recall, was supposed to be some kind of gross “slick willy” figure.
4th and 1 on the New Orleans four, and the Bears decide to go for it. Naturally, I approve. Neither of the announcers on TV agree with me. Interestingly, both announcers seemed to assert that the fact that this was an NFC Championship game increased the case for kicking the field goal rather than playing for the touchdown. But why would that be? I’m genuinely asking . . . thinking about it the relevant considerations in going for it seem to be simply the score, the time remaining, the yardage to the end zone, and the yardage needed for the first down. Are the playoffs different?
What better way to follow up a Friday evening birthday celebration than by hosting a Saturday night birthday party for your roommates. Then you wake up the next day to one of the great sports Sundays of the year — Sunday NBA on ABC premieres, followed by Conference Championship games.
Nevertheless, the AFC championship is just hours away and I still don’t know what to do. With Pat Riley “on leave” from the Miami Heat, the Colts and the Patriots are now the two most loathsome teams in professional sports. I desperately want them both to lose. If New England wins, we’ll need to hear once again about how quarterback/superhuman Tom Brady “knows how to win the big games.” If Indianapolis wins, the one strike against Peyton Manning’s career will be lifted and his insufferable face will no doubt be smeared across my television screen even more frequently. I’m hoping for injuries. Many, many injuries.
UPDATE: Let me also note that watching a full week of NFC coverage focusing on how nice it would be for those nice football players from New Orleans to win after their city’s gone through so much what with that flood and all has given me a powerful hatred for the Saints — go Grossman go! The Bears just hit N.O. like a category six football storm: Woo!
In October 2006, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for “another 20,000 troops in Iraq.” In January 2007, President Bush accepted the idea and announced he would send 21,500 more soldiers into the middle of Iraq’s civil war. McCain quickly endorsed the strategy.
Since that time, McCain has been slowly back-pedaling from the escalation plan, offering numerous reasons for why the strategy will not succeed. He has argued the Pentagon was “dragging its feet” in implementing the strategy. Now, he is arguing that the escalation is too small.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, McCain said, “I would have liked to have seen more” troops sent to Iraq. He added, “If it had been up to me,” more U.S. troops would be on their way into Baghdad. Watch it:
Full transcript: Read more
Speaking of Sam Brownback, he’s running for president. My guess is that he’s going to prove to be a much stronger primary challenger than he’s currently given credit for — he makes much more sense as a GOP nominee than John McCain or Rudy Giuliani or some such. Also getting in the race is Bill Richardson. Nobody seems excited about his candidacy, but on rough outline a popular governor of a Southwestern state who also has foreign policy experience sounds an awful lot like a solid presidential candidate.
Last weekend on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed congressional opposition to the administration’s escalation plan undermines the troops. Cheney said “you cannot run a war by committee,” and whatever Congress does “would not affect the president’s ability to carry out his policy.”
Today, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said it “is complete nonsense to say we’re undercutting the support of the troops.” Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, said that as a soldier in 1968, he “would have welcomed the Congress of the United States to pay a little attention as to what was going on.” Hagel added: “What are we about? We’re Article 1 of the Constitution. We are co-equal branch of government. Are we not to participate? Are we not to say anything? Are we not to register our sense of where we’re going in this country on foreign policy?”
Transcript: Read more