The Guardian reports, “Iraq is facing a hidden healthcare and social crisis over the soaring number of amputations, largely of lower limbs, necessitated by the daily explosions and violence gripping the country.” Similarly, the level of amputations “performed by military surgeons on US troops in Iraq are twice as high as those recorded in previous wars.”
So as we redeploy our troops from Iraq, I will not let down my guard against terrorism. I will devote the resources we need to fight it and fight it smartly. I will order specialized units to engage in narrow and targeted operations against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region.
They will also provide security for U.S. troops and personnel and train and equip Iraqi security services to keep order and promote stability in the country, but only to the extent we believe such training is actually working. I would also consider, as I have said before, leaving some forces in the Kurdish area to protect the fragile but real democracy and relative peace and security that has developed there.
Nick focuses on the fact that this plan to bring the troops home from Iraq seems to involve leaving a lot of troops in Iraq. That sort of thing, though, has gotten a lot of blog coverage (the proviso that training must be “actually working” seems like a step in the right direction). Now I’m curious as to which “other terrorist organizations in the region” she thinks our troops need to be fighting. Hamas? Hezbollah? Or is that just a throwaway line to cover all the semantic bases?
What John Quiggin said. Obviously, it may turn out to be the case that some details of Scott Beauchamp’s story don’t check out, and equally obviously no political issue of consequence turns on whether or not his tale of fraternity-style pranks is 100 percent accurate. What does have significance is this genre of right-wing press criticism. Basically, a story comes out that conservative bloggers don’t like, someone — without evidence — proclaims it bogus. Then all kinds of people who may or may not know what they’re talking about put forward theories about why X or Y must be false. Then those theories are all uncritically endorsed by key conservative bloggers.
Then if it turns out that any of the dozens of claims made by the blog swarm end up vindicated, the horde proclaims “advantage: blogosphere” and decides that all war-related news reporting it doesn’t approve of must be made up. It’s as if you had a guy batting .134 who hit a home run once, years ago, and fancies himself a slugger.
Doyle McManus, card-carrying member of your liberal media. doing some “news analysis” for The Los Angeles Times. points out that if you vote for Democrats, terrorists will kill your children:
Although fireworks erupted last week among the leading Democratic candidates, those differences are narrow compared with the chasm between the two parties’ worldviews, one focused on battling the threat of radical Islam, the other on ending the war.
The point, of course, is that ending the war in Iraq isn’t something contrary to improving the country’s ability to reduce its vulnerability to terrorism, nor is it something other than improving the country’s ability to reduce its vulnerability to terrorism, rather, it’s a constitutive part of improving the country’s ability to reduce its vulnerability to terrorism. If someone had given me a bunch of money to start a Democratic-oriented national security think tank and an LA Times writer had called me up to discuss this issue, that’s the point I would have made. Instead, the powers that be decided that Kurt Campbell should start a think tank instead:
Foreign policy is playing a role in this campaign unlike any election since the Cold War,” said Kurt Campbell, a former Clinton administration official who heads a new centrist think tank in Washington, the Center for New American Security. “The debate so far has made the two parties’ positions appear polarized, more than they need to be…. The election may well be decided on foreign policy and national security, but it’s all about just two issues: Iraq and the war on terror.”
The New York Times reports today, “A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases.” While President Bush has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants, he has never disclosed that the administration may have “records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans.”
On Fox News Sunday this morning, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) refused to defend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against accusations that he may have perjured himself before Congress. “It’s very damaging…we badly need an attorney general who is above any question,” said Gingrich. He continued:
Both the president and country are better served if the attorney general is a figure of competence. Sadly, the current attorney general is not seen as any of those things. I think it’s a liability for the president. More importantly, it’s a liability for the United States of America.
Later in the show, host Chris Wallace revealed that no conservative would willingly defend Gonzales on Fox. “By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales,” said Wallace. “We had no takers.” Watch it:
The efforts of right-wingers to distance themselves from Gonzales have reached a fever pitch in the wake of his disastrous Senate testimony last week.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), appearing on ABC’s This Week, said “of course” Gonzales has a credibility problem. On MSNBC’s Hardball on Friday, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), the ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, squirmed when asked by host Chris Matthews if he thought Gonzales “is a good attorney general?” Cannon refused to answer the question, offering instead, “He’s a good guy.”
National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg, a reliable partisan defender of the Bush administration, admitted on Thursday that the evidence against Gonzales is compelling. “I think Gonzales has long, long, long outserved whatever usefulness he might once have had,” wrote Goldberg. “And — hey — maybe he actually did perjure himself.”
The Washington Post reports that William R. Steiger, a Bush appointee, blocked a 2006 surgeon general’s report that “described the link between poverty and poor health” because “the report did not promote the administration’s policy accomplishments.” Steiger — who has no “background or expertise in medicine or public health” — is “a specialist in education and scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties President Bush and Vice President Cheney.”
Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics notes:
I’m beginning to think Bill Richardson possesses some sort of Jedi-mind trick capability, which would explain not only why he’s been able to convince vicious dictators to do his bidding but also why he continues to rise in the polls despite some sub par debate performances and an incoherent appearance on Meet the Press that might have derailed other candidates.
Richardson’s latest knee-slapper was his assertion yesterday that Iowa is one of the Top 10 states in the country at risk of a terrorist attack.
And, indeed, everyone I know in DC medialand, no matter how liberal or how conservative, views Richardson as ridiculous. And I think it turns out that Richardson is a pretty problematic candidate in a bunch of ways. That said, I don’t think he’s using Jedi mind tricks to build support for his candidacy, I think he’s using the fact that he’s promising to actually end the war in Iraq without “residual forces.”
The Clinton/Obama/Edwards troika have all, though to various extents, softened their backing for the residuum over the past couple of months, but they could still all go further in this direction — to where Richardson is, for example — and at a minimum I hope Richardson keeps gaining support until one of them does. It’s obvious that the first instinct of the three other candidates’ political consultants was that Democratic primary voters don’t really care about the war and can be easily bought off with some Bush-bashing applause lines and misleading rhetoric.
David Ignatius assures us that the real question in Iraq is “How to extricate ourselves in a way that minimizes the damage to the United States, its allies and Iraq?” That is a good question. Ignatius’ not-so-good answer is that “A good start would be for Washington partisans to take deep breaths and lower the volume, so that the process of talking and fighting that must accompany a gradual U.S. withdrawal can work.”
In short, we’re supposed to believe that the Bush administration is eager to commence a sensible withdrawal plan but the main obstacle standing in their way is congressional Democrats’ stubborn insistance that Bush . . . commence a withdrawal plan from Iraq. Brilliant. Sure. Have we really not yet figured out that George W. Bush wants to stay in Iraq in full force through the end of his term and is also a kinda stubborn guy?
This offset business has given me my 15 minutes of fame. I was extensively quoted in a recent article on the subject, “Are green-minded folks getting their money’s worth?” But first, here’s a supporting view from the piece:
A spokesman for the Sierra Club says the group does not suggest members buy carbon offsets.
“I think it’s wonderful that people are thinking about their carbon footprint,” says Josh Dorner. “But the carbon-offsets market is completely unregulated, so it’s questionable whether it is really doing anything to reduce global warming. So what we recommend is that people take other steps in their life, such as driving a smaller car or unplugging appliances when they are not in use, that are verifiably productive.”
Here’s the part I’m quoted in: