Earlier this month, Government Accountability Office chief David Walker testified that he could not “get comfortable” with General David Petraeus’ methodology for determining sectarian violence. Petraeus’ methodology has remained unknown throughout his testimony to Congress and the pursuing debate on Iraq. But today, through a Freedom of Information Act request, TPMmuckraker’s Spencer Ackerman has finally brought it to light. Check out Spencer’s rundown here and the actual documents here.
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At 9 pm ET on Saturday, Fox News will air a one hour special about the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, who recently argued in Congressional testimony that President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq is working. The program, titled “American Commander: Gen. David Petraeus” and hosted by Jon Scott, will look at Petraeus’ “life and times”:
Today’s conflicts require that a modern American General be a student of history. In this one hour FOX News special, join veteran correspondent and anchor Jon Scott as we take an in-depth look at the life and times of General David Petraeus from his childhood in Cornwall, New York to his historic mission in Iraq.
Fox has gone all-out in aggressively boosting Petraeus and his Bush-friendly testimony. As Media Matters has noted, when Petraeus testified to the House on September 10, Fox featured seven pro-escalation analysts who gave favorable reactions to Petraeus’ testimony and only one critic. Watch a 90 second condensed version of Fox’s unbalanced coverage here:
Later that evening, Fox News Washington Bureau chief Brit Hume hosted an exclusive hour-long interview with Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. In the interview, which Fox labeled “A briefing for America,” Hume gave Petraeus roughly 16 uninterrupted minutes to make his case, turning the Fox News “interview” into a powerpoint presentation on national TV.
Petraeus also sat down for an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace on September 12.
President Bush has said, “People listen to Petraeus, not to me.” And Fox News is doing its part to make sure of that.
President Bush on the future of Iraq, 5/24/07:
[Bush] talked about a transition to “a different configuration” in Iraq after the surge of U.S. troops is completed this summer. When pressed on whether he was talking about a post-surge Plan B, Bush answered: “Actually, I would call that a plan recommended by Baker-Hamilton, so that would be a Plan B-H.” [...]
Yes, that same Baker-Hamilton plan now seems to be official White House policy.
President Bush on the future of Iraq, 9/19/07:
In an interview with a group of columnists that I attended Wednesday, [Bush] dismissed the notion of establishing the 2006 recommendations of the Iraq Study Group as official U.S. policy. [...]
“My attitude is, I accept what [U.S. Iraq commander] Gen. [David] Petraeus recommended, not what they recommend,” he said, referring to Members of Congress pushing the ISG approach, which includes moving U.S. troops from a combat role to one of “overwatch.”
Michael Hirsch on Bush and Blackwater:
Imagine a universe where a man can gun down women and children anytime he pleases, knowing he will never be brought to justice. A place where morality is null and void, and arbitrary killing is the rule. A place that has been imagined hitherto only in nightmarish dystopian fiction, like “1984,” or in fevered passages from Dostoevsky—or which existed during the Holocaust and Stalinist purges and the Dark Ages. Well, that universe exists today. It is called Iraq. And the man who made it possible is George W. Bush.
Again, note the staggering fact that the allegedly sovereign government of Iraq has been allowing this state of affairs to persist for years and has already backed down from efforts to do otherwise. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the fundamentally imperial nature of the enterprise.
In his press conference yesterday, President Bush inartfully gave the impression that Saddam Hussein had killed former South African President Nelson Mandela, saying “Somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, ‘Now, where’s Mandela?’ Well,
Apparently, Bush’s awkward phrasing led enough people to worry about the former president’s well-being that the Nelson Mandela Foundation needed to “reassure” people that he is still alive. “It’s out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive,” Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the foundation, told Reuters.
Matt Stoller thinks he disagrees with me about health care but really we’re more-or-less on the same page. I think these mandate-and-subsidize plans are badly flawed compromises. Democrats tend to embrace them because they think they’re more practical than even more ambitious schemes. But there’s really nothing especially practical about them. Their best elements — and you see this especially in John Edwards’ plan — tend to be efforts to trick congress into putting the country on a slippery-slope to a single-payer health care system. But the idea that you could pull a fast one on AHIP like that is silly. With all due respect to the cleverness of left-of-center wonks, nobody’s that clever.
Under the circumstances, the plans will either fail or else, as Matt says, “the best parts of the plan get removed in a compromise” and you wind up with something that’s not really worth passing. I would much rather see people trying to build support, directly, over the long run for single-payer health care and the marginalization of private sector insurance.
Incremental interim measures should be genuine increments — steps in the right direction — not efforts to square the interests sound health care policy with the financial interests of major insurance companies. John Kerry’s 2004 plan, which involved having the government step in to cope with super-catastrophic medical expenses, was good in this regard — a quite small measure that might have passed, but which created the sort of thing that could have been scaled up (or, in this case, down in terms of the threshold) over and over again, just as SCHIP expansion is a well Democrats can keep returning to until all children are covered, and then there can be efforts at expansion to parents, to college students, etc., etc., etc.
In his new autobiography, former Mexican President Vincente Fox notes that President Bush seems to be afraid of horses, once turning down an offer to ride Fox’s horse. “He demurred, backing away from the big palomino. A horse lover can always tell when others don’t share our passion,” Fox said. In fact, Bush’s equestrian incompetence has been observed for years, as Laura Bush jokingly said in 2005:
George didn’t know much about ranches when we bought the place. Andover and Yale don’t have a real strong ranching program. But I’m proud of George. He’s learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What’s worse, it was a male horse.
Fox also called Bush a “windshield cowboy,” or “a cowboy who prefers to drive.”
Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that a scheduled speech to the Wichita Chamber of Commerce by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was canceled after “too many people objected.” The Chamber of Commerce has now confirmed that former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow will be the replacement. Snow will also speak two days later at the College of the Ozarks, a private, Christian liberal-arts college.
Krugman on health care:
The smear-and-fear campaign has already started. The Democratic plans all bear a strong resemblance to the health care plan that Mitt Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts, differing mainly in offering Americans additional choices. But that didn’t stop Mr. Romney from denouncing the Clinton plan as “European-style socialized medicine.” And Fred Thompson claims that the Clinton plan denies choice — which it actually offers in abundance — and relies on “punishment” instead.
There’s a problem here, though. Neither Krugman nor I actually believes that “European-style” constitutes a “smear” in the health care context. Nor do we believe that “European-style” health care is something people should be afraid of. But the Democrats, Clinton included, have assiduously attempted to differentiate their approaches to universal health insurance from “European-style” health care plans. This, though, puts liberals in an awkward position. Like in the famous Seinfeld episode, we need to angrily denounce insinuations that the Democrats are “European-style” but always with the caveat not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it seems to me that if we’re doomed to have a debate about European-style socialized medicine, we might as well propose European-style socialized medicine.