Bush Says No To Graceful Exit

The Chimp Speaks:
"I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq," the president said during a joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel's reports that are expected next week. "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there."

For some strange reason there are people in Washington DC that want me to come up with some type of "plan" or "strategy" to withdraw American troops from a regional sectarian conflict. I don't remember exactly why we went there or what we are now trying to do there, but we're totally staying unless we get kicked out.

Iraq doesn't have to be a lost cause, but we need new leadership. It doesn't matter if the Democrats have a plan or not. They aren't in charge. And with Bush in charge, we will continue squandering billions of dollars "training the Iraqi Army" and "restoring the electricity and water". If we haven't gotten that accomplished yet, then we ain't gonna get it done. It's time to go.


Is Now The Time?

Pundits and politicians keep saying that the next six months are critical for the future of Iraq. Their police forces must "stand up so we can stand down". We must see real progress in the rebuilding of the infrastructure. We couldn't possibly leave Iraq right now, but maybe we could start withdrawal in six months...

Unfortunately, we have heard this over the past three years. It's true that we have met milestones for establishing a democracy every now and then: a constitution, elections, the formation of government institutions. But... do they have legitimate power? How easy will it be to overthrow? Will the citizens really care? Or is it more like Afghanistan where we are seeing the Taliban returning to legitimate power without significant outcry from the people...

But let's get back to now. Yes, it is tempting to stick around a little while later to create and meet these symbolic milestones. But what have we purchased with the last six months of sacrifice? What about the last eighteen months? Everybody in the world knows that these democratic institutions won't last if the security situation doesn't improve. It isn't improving. The Marines have announced that we can not win Western Iraq. It's gone. The best we can hope for in the next six months is to win the capability to set foot in 1/3 of the country. That's it. What can we hope to achieve over the next twelve months? Eighteen months?

777 Coalition forces have died since the Iraqi Elections on Dec 12 2005. What have we purchased with those lives? One puppet government. A corrupt police force. A seething quasi civil war. And to be honest, that's what we've purchased with 3100 Coalition lives. And an additional 46,000 wounded. And who knows how many Iraq lives. What will it cost to actually rebuild the infrastructure? To drive out "the enemy"? Another 1,000 Coalition and Iraqi lives? 2,000? 5,000? 10,000? 50,000?

Leaving Iraq was never supposed to be easy. There are always things we could improve, but we have to go sometime. That's why now is the time to tell the people of Iraq that they only have 180 days and then we leave. We have to start issuing Visa's to all of the Iraqi people that have helped us and now want to leave.

And then after six months, we all go. Sure, we will assess the situation. We may have to redeploy back into a few places. But. Now is The Time to say that we're splitting. Leaving will be ugly and messy, but we can't change that. We aren't trying to bring the people of North and South Dakota together. We're trying to smash two armed fundamentalist groups together. It's going to get hella ugly when we leave; it hardly matters if it happens in six months or six years. And that is why NOW is the time to start packing up this war and come back home.


The End of the N Word

Paul Mooney has declared that he will never use the "N-Word" again in response to Michael Richard's meltdown. Yes, that's right. Paul Mooney. The guy who used to breath in oxygen and exhale the N-Word. The guy who would be as rich as Bill Gates if he had been paid for each N-Word he either said or wrote down for Richard Pryor.

But I digress.

This is part of a shared reaction by the nation's black leaders to remove the use of the word from everyday use. The Reverend Jesse Jackson says "This is a gift to our ancestors. Dignity over Degradation."

That's some food for thought. People like Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor, and Dave Chapelle defanged the word by using it in an entirely different context. It was provocative and let us laugh at our perceived stereotypes. But the original meaning lingered long after the laughs faded away. That's what we all saw on that weird, weird video of Michael Richard's meltdown. If Paul Mooney is moving away from this word, that's certainly remarkable.



You may have heard something about the Democrats taking the House and Senate last week. Here are my quick thoughts:

- The Republicans' loss was due to a number of factors that converged to form a "perfect storm". The Republican's compromised governance here and in Iraq was a major factor. Even at the beginning of this year, the polls demonstrated that the public had zero confidence in the Republican leadership. This was part of the national dialogue and was certain to become a major factor during an election year.

- The Democrats effectively used the shared distrust of Republicans to create an underlying national campaign against the incumbent party. The Dems didn't oversell this point by attacking the war and the administration. The Dems didn't run a campaign on "I Told You So" or "Let's Impeach The President".

- The Democrats ran good candidates that could generate support in their states. People like Tester, McCaskill, and Ellsworth are good candidates for their constituents.

- The Democrats will be challenged to reconcile the differences that exist in a "large tent" party. We are witnessing a grandmother from San Francisco ascend to House Speaker... and she is supporting a hawkish grandfather from Pennsylvania to be her direct successor. This is a good start and I think the diversity of the party sets an excellent standard for this nation.

- The Republican base has been provoked. They are going to go after Pelosi and her House. They will be vicious. Vicious. The Democrat's media machine needs to kick into high gear right now and hit back at these attacks on Pelosi's record and character. She is not "ultra liberal" or a "leftist". She's a common sense representative of the people of California, and I doubt that her "values" are very different than other grandmothers her age in California, Maryland, or Kansas. The Dems need to push back against the Republican message about Pelosi's character, and they HAVE to respond appropriately to the impending attacks.

The Democrats have a great opportunity to start rebuilding the infrastructure of this country. It's not the most glorious of jobs, but it is rewarding. I believe this country will respond to the Democrats if they govern with a Populist philosophy by investing in our society.


Place Your Bets

Last update from Tradesports:

Dems take House: 29.1%

Dems take Senate:   83.2%

Lampson takes TX-22:  71.2%

Bell takes TX-GOV:  9.5%


Break On Through With NRO

Anytime I feel a little down at work, I take a trip over to The Corner. It's something I recommend to everybody every now and again...

Today's Best Corner Blogger definitely goes to Kathryn Jean Lopez with her exemplary performance. Let's step through the looking glass, shall we?

Here's K-Lo's thoughts on feminists and the new female Senator from Missourri:

Two more pro-abortion women in the Senate is a bad thing and a step backward at a time when one of liberal feminism's standards are facing some serious cultural challenges.

In other words, liberal women should be seen and not elected.


Maybe she's right. Maybe it's time to listen to somebody who is either not liberal or female. K-Lo will suffice. Three hours later K-Lo explores a serious issue facing non-liberal women today:
I find federal holidays that fall on weekends so confusing. Is Veteran's Day Saturday? Or Monday? On Friday?

This gets even more annoying when it is a church holyday. Sometimes if it falls on Saturday or Monday, the Mass-obligation gets cancelled by the D.C. bureacracy because Catholics can't go to church too often.

Actually, K-Lo, I think I'll stick with liberal women like Claire McCaskill because it seems like they have actually mastered the Roman calendar...

Rumsfeld Out!

Donald Rumsfeld is out.

He's been replaced by King of the Aggies.

I guess Ken Lay was unavailable...


Early Voting : Sexual Gibbs Edition

Shelley Sekula Gibbs was expecting to have problems with the "Write-In" issue, because her supporters would have to write her name on the ballot twice. But has that been an issue in this race? Well, it appears that she received fewer votes for the second election on the ballot.

Here's the breakdown. The Special Election (to replace Tom DeLay until the end of the current term) appeared first on the ballot. She received more votes for this race. The General Election (for the new full term) appeared on one of the next pages on the ballot. It's possible that somebody would write in her name for the first election and then choose another candidate for the real election, but I kinda doubt it.

Harris County:

Special Election - 10579
General Election - 8580
-18 % Difference

Fort Bend County:

Special Election - 14182
General Election - 12914
-8.9 % Difference

Election Night : Local

If Nick Lampson wins TX-22 tonight, I would expect extreme voter outrage over E-Voting machines. Here in Houston, machines were sent to the wrong polling locations which resulted in votes cast for the wrong races or ballot initiatives. The Chronicle has more:
Manvel resident Cynthia Vasquez, in the congressional district of Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, said that during early voting she was given a ballot for the 22nd District, formerly represented by Tom DeLay. She protested but officials insisted the ballot was correct.

"Instead, I got to weigh in on the Nick Lampson/Shelley Sekula-Gibbs race, which was great, but not legitimate," she wrote.

She said she had tried to fix the problem with Brazoria County officials during the past week, but got nowhere.

Fort Bend County had other problems. Its voter information phone bank was not installed properly and did not work until mid-morning, Perez said. His department also has realized it does not own enough electronic voting machines, he said, leaving long lines at many precincts.

Manuel Silva, election judge at Sienna Crossing Elementary school in Sienna Plantation said few people had asked questions about the electronic voting machines by early afternoon.

Debra Walker said she used the write-in option to cast her ballot for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. "Once I figured out you can go backwards (in the alphabet), it made it a whole lot easier.''

Insanity. Just realized today that there aren't enough machines? Voters casting a ballot for the wrong race?

I guess it hardly matters who loses tonight, because they will contest the election results. But I guarantee that the Republicans will mount a vicious, vicious campaign to invalidate the winner.

Is Democracy supposed to be this ugly?


Hitchens Knows What This Election Is All About

Christopher Hitchens knows what this election is about. Brace yourself as we explore the depths of not only this election, but into the heart of the author himself. Prepare yourself for One Thousand Words from the Mind of Christopher Hitchens
IN EVERY election cycle there is a dispute among pundits and between candidates as to precisely what the election is “about”. The results can then be analysed according to how they provide a verdict on this topic, or topics.

There is usually more than one “about” about, and sometimes the “abouts” are related. In the past US presidential contest there was general agreement that the dispute between the candidates was “about” Iraq, but also “about” the relative military qualifications, in the late 1960s, of the two contenders. For a while, though this requires an effort of memory, it was also “about” the right of homosexual couples to marry.

This is about a one thousand word opinion piece, and the search for the perfect filler. We can justify this clever wordplay by tying it into the title. Otherwise, the editor might want to replace it with something... well, something interesting.

The present US midterm election campaign, however, is principally “about” the fact that federal law mandates a vote in November, and thus that there have to be candidates, issues, spending contests and all the rest of it. A mere month or so ago, a shrewd guess might have been that the main quarrel would have been “about” Iraq. Now, the war is only a minor quibble among a slew of issues that this campaign is “about”.

No, Mr. Hitchens. The war is can not be categorized as a minor quibble during this election cycle. The candidate's support of this President's war is THE issue in every race. If the candidate has blindly supported the war, then the voters are questioning whether the candidate can be trusted with any important decision. That's what this election is about, and it is implicitly referenced in nearly every discussion this election season.
A common American expression for a general agreement on a common topic is to say that we are “all on the same page”. Today this homely usage from the schoolroom would reek of a faint indecency. From nowhere, the hidden issue of 2006 turns out to be possible impropriety between a hitherto obscure right-wing congressman and a group of young congressional attendants named for the days when Europe had courts and courtiers.

I can't believe it's taken four paragraphs for Hitchens to get to the real naughty stuff. You want to know how hidden this issue is? I haven't heard one single mention of it today while watching political news coverage. But I can rest assured that Hitchens is on the case...
I write that last sentence and then I wonder what I am going to tell the interviewer from the BBC World Service when he calls me later for our chat about the fate of the world’s most powerful democracy.

How am I to explain, to listeners in New Zealand and Argentina, that a Congress that makes big decisions for the entire world is being selected in this way? This audience is educated enough to have heard a great deal about President Bush, whose policies might be assumed to be an important element in the discussion, but recently the chief executive announced that he did not consider himself to be an issue in the election at all. (This may be an historic first: I shall have to check the political almanacs.) More astonishingly still, candidates from his own party and from the Democratic side appear to concur. They would all much rather talk about something else.

The die was cast with Bush many months ago. The Dems can't just campaign against Bush, because that meme is dead. That's why Dems are attacking the Republican candidates hard and fairly. The accusation lingers in the air: "You support Bush." We all know if our Senators and Representatives have supported Bush over the last few years. We're either mad has Hell to vote them out, or we feel proud to go back in and re-elect them. Even though there is plenty of news about Iraq, it has only served to confirm what we have already known or suspected. That's why it isn't featured so prominently in the news, because we've known for months that Iraq's blown and nobody is really sure what our best option is right now.
I live in the nation’s capital, which isn’t allowed representatives in Congress, so the nearest race that concerns me is in neighbouring Virginia.Here, a rich menu of issues confronts the electorate. The incumbent senator, George Allen, a Republican, was considered until recently to be a safe bet for re-election and a possible standard bearer for his party in two years’ time. Now he is in the deepest of trouble because — let me see if I have this right — he isn't “really” from the South, wears cowboy boots though there are no cowboys in Virginia, made a cryptic remark to a questioner from the Indian sub-continent and reacted oddly to the news of his mother’s hidden Jewish parentage.

A cryptic remark? I've never heard the word 'macaca' before Allen said it, but he obviously used it as a slur against a non-white person in a public place on video. Mr. Hitchens really isn't from America, or he'd realize that Allen hit the holy trifecta of political faux pas. He's lucky to be in contention after that.
These are the issues that the pundits are squabbling over, yet this race is taking place in a state where the military adds $34 billion to the economy annually and employs more than 208,000 Virginians, according to the state commission. Ninety-three residents have been killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention that Democratic challenger James Webb, a Vietnam vet and former Secretary of the Navy, contends that US troops should pull out of Iraq and fight the war from neighbouring countries.

Most reasonable people would predict that US foreign policy would be an important issue in this race. They’d be wrong. Yes, I assure the polite BBC man. If you give me some extra airtime I can indeed explain all this. I can also elucidate the significance of the combat boots worn by Webb: boots apparently worn in solidarity with his son, who’s serving in Iraq. They appear to have turned the tide against non-existent cowboys.

Oh good grief. People are fed up with the war, and we know that some type of change in course is due. Are we going to keep the people that have a record of making bad decisions, or do we change guard and hope that the new people make better decisions? That's what this election is about. The rest of it is just filler from talking heads that desparately need to fill air/web space to justify that weekly paycheck. That's what this article is about, and that's what the BBC guy is looking for. Americans have discussed US foreign policy ad nauseum for five years straight. You would be mistaken to think that foreign policy isn't a major driver in nearly every electoral decision today.
Let us be generous and concede that some pressing Washington questions do also figure in Virginia’s calculations. Allen, for example, is the son of a former coach of the Washington football team, which is named the “Redskins”. (Actually, everybody calls the players “the Skins”.) This fall, the burning question is whether or not the team should change its name to avoid offending the susceptibilities of Native Americans. The only political posters in my neighbourhood have been concerned exclusively with this matter, on which, of course, Allen, until recently a possible future president, is also expected to take a view. The BBC man says he’ll have a word with his editor and call me back.

Somebody's really stretching for word count now, or maybe Hitchens is just a little hung up on Allen. I don't blame the BBC man for backing out of this interview. I bet he can find another wacky Brit with similarly relevant political analysis, somebody like Isabella Blow.
It has been a quarter of a century since I moved to the United States but now it comes back to me how I used to resent the way in which Americans made up their minds. In the first election I was able to follow — the Nixon-Kennedy race in 1960 — there were American nuclear bases in Britain, and great American decisions to be taken about free trade and other matters that affected us all directly. Yet from the American press I learnt that the whole thing hinged on Nixon’s unshaven jowls as exposed in the first televised debate.

These days I spend a good deal of my time defending my adopted country from what I have to call anti-American attitudes, many of them based on what seem to me a mixture of envy and ignorance. But, yes, I tell the BBC man when he finally calls back, there is quite a lot of argument this fall about whether or not American schoolchildren should be exposed to the ideas first promulgated by Charles Darwin in the mid-Victorian epoch. Indeed, the subject has begun to open a split in the Republican Party, as well as between it and its critics. There is a brief silence on the line.

Oy, this poor chap from the BBC. This must be worse than interviewing John Kerry. Equally as patronizing, but at least Kerry would've been sober...

This really is Hitchens at his best. This piece tries to focus on sex (Mark Foley), patronizes the Left (for attacking Allen), ignores the real issue (Iraq); all while delivering a narrative about the author. I know that it's wrong to attack the messenger and not the message, but there's nothing to attack here but the author's amusing (mis)perceptions of American politics.


Tradesports offers the following stats at 9:30 CST this morning:

Dems take the House:  77%

Dems take Senate:  22%

Dems take TX-22 : 65%

Santorum loses:  50.9%


George W. according to George M.

This is why I love the internets:


John Kerry == The Democrat's Bill Frist?

Are you aware that John Kerry recently said that stupid people get stuck in Iraq?

Of course you are, because this is the biggest story in the 2006 election. Or so the GOP desperately hopes...

But was Kerry referring to George Bush or American soldiers? The context of Kerry's speech would indicate that he was talking about Bush, but I suppose somebody might assume he was referring to the troops. But it hardly matters. It's obvious that Bush was and is too stupid to get us out of Iraq. Conservatives are too scared to talk about Bush's logic, because it leads to the obvious conclusion that Bush lives in a world ruled by idealogical steadfastness. And then the story is no longer about Kerry's inarticulate jokes, but we're back to the main story of this election: Bush's apparent lack of ideas for Iraq. And that's obviously much more distressing for the soldiers then any verbal shrapnel from Kerry's mouth.

Yeah, this wasn't Kerry's best moment. Is it as bad as Bill Frist's diagnosis that (blind) Terri Schiavo responded to visual stimuli? No. But hopefully Kerry will spend more time behind the scenes and less time in public.