“Former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), whose ties to lobbyists helped sink his re-election bid, has landed at a new workplace: a Washington lobbying firm,” the AP reports. “Burns will work for his former chief of staff, Leo Giacometto, at the firm Gage, which has lobbied for Montana interests and several national technology companies, often making headlines for its connections to Burns and his staff.” Both Burns and Giacometto are under FBI investigation for earmark improprieties.
Get your GOP Bush Iraq speech talking points right here. These are from the House Armed Services Committee and these come from the House Republican Conference. Suffice it to say that the general plan seems to be to attack attacks on the idea of escalation without defending escalation as such. Call it the Zengerle/Klein strategy.
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came out against the Kennedy bill requiring President Bush to gain new congressional authority before escalating the war in Iraq. “I think it is inappropriate for the Congress to try to micromanage, in effect, the tactics in a military conflict,” McConnell said. “I don’t think Congress has the authority to do it.”
But Congress does have the authority to use “several different policy levers to guide U.S. national security policy as it relates to the deployment of American troops.” Congress has done so many times over the last 35 years.
In November 1993, McConnell supported a move by Congress to place limits on military spending for U.S. troop deployments in Somalia. Section 8151 of Public Law 103-139 “limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994″ and permitted “expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.”
The language passed the Senate as an amendment introduced by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV). McConnell voted for it. He also spoke on the Senate floor about the legislation:
The narrow issue before us tonight is simply how do you leave? We are leaving, we all agree on that. … The only issue here tonight is how we leave and, in my judgment, the Byrd amendment better defines the proper exit for the United States in this most unfortunate experience in Somalia, at least since May. [Congressional Record, S13447, 10/14/93]
It’s one thing for McConnell to support Bush’s escalation plan. It’s another to mislead about what Congress can do to stop it.
“[W]ord around the Pentagon” is that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pushing controversial Lt. Gen. William Boykin out of his Pentagon role overseeing anti-terror special operations. A devout evangelical Christian, Boykin was infamously videotaped “telling a church audience that the god of a Muslim warlord was ‘an idol’ and that ‘my God was a real God.’”
Via an indignant Martin Peretz, a New York Times article about voice recordings of Saddam Hussein discussing his brutal repression of the Kurds in the late 1980s. Remarks Peretz, “Saddam thrills to say, ‘Yes, they will kill thousands.’ And, yes, roughly 180,000 Kurds were killed by chemical warfare. So, please, stop this nonsense about how he didn’t deserve to die.” At the time of the killing, of course, Peretz was using his perch as owner and editor in chief of The New Republic to print articles like the classic April 1987 Laurie Mylroie / Daniel Pipes collaboration “Back Iraq: It’s Time for a U.S. Tilt”.
UPDATE: The theory has been raised in comments that Saddam was a swell dude at the time of publication and only became evil later during 1988′s Anfal campaign. I would recommend a read of chapter one and chapter two of the Human Rights Watch Anfal Report which deals with events before the publication of the Mylroie/Pipes article. The worst was yet to come, but things were pretty damn bad already. Certainly nobody genuinely concerned about the well-being of Kurdish people would have been urging a pro-Iraqi tilt.
At a private breakfast panel, Chrysler’s chief economist Van Jolissaint “launched a fierce attack on ‘quasi-hysterical Europeans’ and their ‘Chicken Little’ attitudes to global warming,” the BBC reports. “In response to a question from the floor,” Jolissaint also said that “global warming was a far-off risk whose magnitude was uncertain.”
John Hollinger, discussing the Derek Fisher trade goes all pinko: “Often when a trade is made commentators will cop out and say, ‘I think this deal will help both teams.’ Usually they’re full of it, but every so often a deal plays out that really does have strong benefits for both sides.” I don’t have a quantitative analysis at my fingertips, but I think it’s rather frequent for trades to benefit both teams, just as market exchanges often do in the non-sports world. Even in a classic unequal deal like the Iverson trade, it’s still the case that Philly’s better off with some cap room, two additional draft picks, and a solid shot at tanking the season than they would have been with an unhappy Answer. Philadelphia moved from a bad, hopeless situation to a bad situation where there’s some hope and Denver obviously improved its team by acquiring Iverson.
Research compiled by ThinkProgress shows that when “surge” was first adopted by the mainstream media in November 2006, the term was specifically defined as a “temporary,” “short-term” increase in U.S. forces. In fact, we now know that the Bush administration and the most prominent advocates of escalation all reject a short-term increase in U.S. forces. Rather, they advocate a long-term increase of forces lasting at least 18 months.
The media, in other words, has continued to use the term “surge” even though its definition has fundamentally changed.
The choice of words is not an academic point. A CBS poll released Monday found that only 18 percent of Americans support an escalation of forces in Iraq. However, when asked whether they support a “short-term troop increase,” the number jumps to 45 percent approval (48 percent disapproval).
Every time the media repeats the word “surge,” they are helping to mislead the American people about the long-term escalation being proposed. Reporters and news organizations have a responsibility to stop using the term to describe President Bush’s policy.
Details below: Read more
Mona Charen gives us some of that good, principled, serious conservative national security policy analysis: “The President also plans to ask for a larger army – a little late and so necessary! It will be interesting to see how the Democrats in Congress handle that one. All that talk of supporting the troops. . .”
For better or for worse, expanding the end strength of the Army has been a longstanding Democratic Party policy proposal. It was, for example, part of John Kerry platform. Did Charen or anyone else at NRO ever suggest that George W. Bush’s longstanding opposition to this idea impugned his patriotism or level of support for our troops?
NBC News reports that President Bush will announce an escalation of 21,500 troops — 17,500 to Baghdad and 4,000 to Anbar province. The cost of the new strategy will be $6.8 billion.
UPDATE: Reuters reports, “The first wave of troops are expected to arrive in five days, with others coming in additional waves. Under the plan, the Iraqi government will deploy additional Iraqi troops to Baghdad with a first brigade deploying February 1 and two more by February 15.”