Friday, September 28, 2007

Phony Soldiers . . .

Media Matters (via Matthew Yglesias) has a clip of a spittle-flecked, hysterical, rage-filled rant of Rush Limbaugh against a Republican (and military veteran) caller who favors leaving Iraq. The clip closes with Limbaugh calling those in the military who oppose the war "phony soldiers."

As I've said before, the War Party has nothing left to offer. Imagine Limbaugh a year from now with a Giuliani/Santorum (farfetched, I know) badly trailing an Edwards/Webb (again, farfetched). His head will probably explode on the air.

UPDATE: In the comments, Glen Dean suggests that I've been snookered by Media Matters and that Limbaugh and his caller weren't calling all antiwar soldiers "phony." The point of my post rested upon Limbaugh's frothing lunacy more than as a comment on the "phony soldiers" controversy. But I went back and listened to the clip again, and tried to read his raving self defense tirade from Friday. While it is likely that he was making a reference to a fake soldier that ABC News had done a story on a few days ago, Limbaugh and his caller are so careless with their words that they convey the impression that they believe that the only real soldiers are those that support the war. I haven't heard or read much of Limbaugh for the last few years, but from what I have, he doesn't believe that it is possible to honorably oppose the Iraq War. For this reason, and others, I have to agree with Daniel Larison who commented that Limbaugh is "disgrace."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saint Petraeus

In the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich delivers a thumpin' to Saint Petraeus. The crowd at should read it and discover that substance is preferable to clever rhymes:
David Petraeus is a political general. Yet in presenting his recent assessment of the Iraq War and in describing the "way forward," Petraeus demonstrated that he is a political general of the worst kind—one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington’s bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.
Further down, Bacevich elaborates on of the most shameful aspects of Bush's war, and the Saint's role in it:
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to sustained bipartisan applause, President Bush committed the United States to an open-ended global war on terror. Having made that fundamental decision, the president and Congress sent American soldiers off to fight that war while urging the American people to distract themselves with other pursuits. . .

The result, six years later, is a massive and growing gap between the resources required to sustain that global war, in Iraq and elsewhere, and the resources actually available to do so. President Bush, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving as enablers, has papered over that gap by sending soldiers back for a third or fourth combat tour and, most recently, by extending the length of those tours. In a country with a population that exceeds 300 million, one-half of one percent of our fellow citizens bear the burden of this global war. . .

The president has made no serious effort to mobilize the wherewithal that his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan require. The Congress, liberal Democrats voting aye, has made itself complicit in this shameful policy by obligingly appropriating whatever sums of money the president has requested, all, of course, in the name of "supporting the troops."

Petraeus has now given this charade a further lease on life. In effect, he is allowing the president and the Congress to continue dodging the main issue, which comes down to this: if the civilian leadership wants to wage a global war on terror and if that war entails pacifying Iraq, then let’s get serious about providing what’s needed to complete the mission—starting with lots more soldiers. Rather than curtailing the ostensibly successful surge, Petraeus should broaden and deepen it. That means sending more troops to Iraq, not bringing them home. And that probably implies doubling or tripling the size of the United States Army on a crash basis.

If the civilian leadership is unwilling to provide what’s needed, then all of the talk about waging a global war on terror—talk heard not only from the president but from most of those jockeying to replace him—amounts to so much hot air. Critics who think the concept of the global war on terror is fundamentally flawed will see this as a positive development. Once we recognize the global war on terror for the fraudulent enterprise that it has become, then we can get serious about designing a strategy to address the threat that we actually face, which is not terrorism but violent Islamic radicalism. The antidote to Islamic radicalism, if there is one, won’t involve invading and occupying places like Iraq.

This defines Petraeus’s failure. Instead of obliging the president and the Congress to confront this fundamental contradiction—are we or are we not at war?—he chose instead to let them off the hook.
. . .

Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Infantile Nation

Pat Buchanan has a good column on the Ahmadinejad hysteria of the last few days:

It would be an obscenity, we are told, if Ahmadinejad were allowed to place a wreath at Ground Zero. This is a public relations stunt that should never be permitted.

That the Iranian president has PR in mind is undoubtedly true. Much of what national leaders do is symbolic. But that wreath-laying would have said something else, as well.

It would have said that, to Iran, these Americans were victims who deserve to be honored and mourned and, by extension, the men who killed them were murderers. Bin Laden celebrates 9-11. So do all America-haters. By laying a wreath at Ground Zero, the president of Iran would be saying that in the war between al-Qaida and the United States, he and his country side with the United States.

How would we have been hurt by letting him send this message?

For what it's worth, I have no objection to allowing him to place a wreath (though I hadn't previously considered PJB's angle), but I wouldn't have invited Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia because he has little of value to say. But the level of hysteria coming from rightwingers is amazing. Remember how only a few days ago the issue was the ad. From what I see of Townhall, National Review, Pajamas and other such sites, the range of emotion varies from rage to hysteria to completely bonkers; and these people have the nerve to label their opponents as "Unhinged" and "deranged!"

This can only get worse. This crowd must continually change the subject to keep from having to defend the disastrous policies (particularly: "Hey, let's invade____!") that they have urged upon America.

UPDATE: Can this be the subject for the next round of outrage? Katie Couric had the audacity to state a couple of banal and obvious truths about the Iraq War: " Speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday evening, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric stated, 'Everyone in this room would agree that people in this country were misled in terms of the rationale of this war,' adding that it is 'pretty much accepted' that the war in Iraq was a mistake." How dare she say that?!?!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Way it Always Begins . . .

I've read about half of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and believe me the critics are right. It has nothing but page after page of bilious Jew-hatred. Sure, the antisemitism is subtle, as when Mearsheimer and Walt say that they "believe the history of the Jewish people and the norm of national self-determination provide ample justification for a Jewish state."

Michael Gerson and Ronald Bailey are correct in noting that "these academics may not follow their claims all the way to anti-Semitism. But this is the way it begins. This is the way it always begins."

Perhaps I'm a bit excitable, but the other night I heard raucous crowds and saw lights in the evening and grew worried that a Mearsheimer/Walt inspired pogrom was occurring. Fortunately, news reports later confirmed that it was a UT football game. But what about the next time? What about the next time?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink . . .

Stephen Green took note of my criticism and responded. I'll just add that there is no possible way for me to convince him that the a government (even one that supports terrorists) doesn't face exactly the same set of incentives, challenges and problems as a band of cave dwelling terrorists; so I won't bother to try.

Concerning al Qaeda and 9/11, he makes a good points about them not having been able to hit the U.S. since that day and about us having killed lots of terrorists. I don't pretend to understand their thinking so I can't say if they were delusional enough to believe that they could get away with flying planes into skyscrapers on a regular basis.

But they achieved mass murder and induced the United States into what appears to be two failed occupations--a track record hardly compatible with the term "disaster."

What separates Green and myself, I'm guessing, is our diverging views of the Iraq War. If you think that Iraq was wisely conceived competently fought, then the notion that 9/11 was a disaster for al Qaeda makes much more sense.

Now I think I'll have a drink.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Booze Blogging

Perhaps Stephen Green should stop killing brain cells with booze. He argues against a statement by Jimmy Carter (about the unlikelyness of an Iranian missile attack on Israel) by stating:
But let's do remind him that it was just six years ago when al Qaeda launched four missiles, of the passenger jet variety, straight into the financial and military hearts of the United States. It might be helpful if Carter would remember that Afghanistan, from whence the 9/11 attackers came, is even further from New York than Israel is from Iran. And let's also remind Mr. Carter that that mission was specifically suicidal in nature. Maybe also Jimmy needs a refresher that the 9/11 attacks haven't worked out so well for al Qaeda. Finally, give the ex-President a moment to ask himself if he really thinks Ahmadinejad is any more sane than Osama bin Laden.

Ignore for a moment, that he confuses the motivations of a terrorist organization with those of a government. Can one really argue that the "9/11 attacks haven't worked out so well for al Qaeda?" What would be the basis for that? Sure, they lost their caves in Afghanistan, but bin Laden managed to find refuge in Pakistan. On the plus side for bin Laden, the attacks killed thousands of infidels and induced the United States into two wars. I assume that bin Laden thanks Allah every day for the invasion of Iraq, which has drawn the U.S. military into a quagmire and discredited America around the world.

Actors Are Cattle

Glenn Reynolds has a post up quoting James Caan saying, "nobody should give a shit about an actor's opinion on politics." I fully agree with Caan and I wish that Reynolds did as well. The only time I ever hear about what Sean Penn or Rosie O'Donnell has to say about politics is when I read about it at a rightwing blog like Instapundit, or Pajamas, or Townhall. A good recent example is an "Ask Dr. Helen (the 'Instawife') column at Pajamas about a Sally Field outburst at an awards show. Maybe Reynolds and his allies will take Caan's advice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Connect the Dots . . .

John Hindraker can't understand why "why voters haven't seemed to be repelled by the Dems' wacky left wing" represented by

So I'll help him out. No normal person cares about Moveon's "betray us" ad or about any of the other things that rightwingers are frothing about these days. I have seen no evidence that the public is shifting towards supporting the war or are showing any great faith in Saint Petraeus.

UPDATE Paul Krugman on Saint Petraeus:

To a remarkable extent, punditry has taken a pass on whether Gen. Petraeus’s picture of the situation in Iraq is accurate. Instead, it was all about the theatrics – about how impressive he looked, how well or poorly his Congressional inquisitors performed. And the judgment you got if you were watching most of the talking heads was that it was a big win for the administration – especially because the famous MoveOn ad was supposed to have created a scandal, and a problem for the Democrats.

. . .

But here’s the thing: new polls by CBS and Gallup show that the Petraeus testimony had basically no effect on public opinion: Americans continue to hate the war, and want out. The whole story about how the hearing had changed everything was a pure figment of the inside-the-Beltway imagination.

What I found striking about the whole thing was the contempt the pundit consensus showed for the public – it was, more or less, “Oh, people just can’t resist a man in uniform.” But it turns out that they can; it’s the punditocracy that can’t.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ledeen Among the Rednecks

Andrew Sullivan correctly pegs the poseur Michael Ledeen:

Flyover Country [Michael Ledeen]

Barbara and I went to Indianapolis for a Toby Keith concert, where we partied with something like 25,000 happy rednecks, most of them young, most of them wearing boots and cowboy hats (and cheering Keith's great song "I Should Have Been a Cowboy"). It's a great show, and he's a wonderful performer, not least because of his deeply moving patriotic songs like "American Soldier," "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," and " The Taliban," etc.

It's great to get out of the Washington culture of narcissism and spend some time with the rednecks, a.k.a. real Americans . . .

Which, after a week of disgusting anti-Americanism in Washington, nicely summed up our feelings.

You ought to try it. Does wonders for the spirit.

What a stupid jerk. The only things missing are references to chawin' terbacky and goin' to a NASCAR race. If a lefty were to write about "happy rednecks" in flyover country in such a condescending fashion, he would be eaten alive by the usual rightwing suspects.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Lobby

I purchased a copy of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Walt and Mearsheimer, largely out of spite after reading (as much as I could stand) a review in the cretinous "Pajamas Media" by Lee Smith, who argues:
The key difference between most anti-Semitic tracts of the pre-Holocaust period and The Israel Lobby is Israel itself; after all, Zionism, arises under the same auspices as the Protocols – the international system of state sovereignty. Theodor Herzl believed that once the Jews had a state of their own and the Jews could take their place among nations, the Jewish problem would go away and Jews would become like everyone else. However, as The Israel Lobby shows, the irrational obsession with Israel as the root of all problems in the Middle East and US policy there, the willful misrepresentation of Israeli policies, and holding the Jewish state to standards in war and peace that not even the United States cares to observe, never mind, say, the Islamic Republic of Iran – Herzl on this count at least was wrong. A Jewish state has done nothing to curtail anti-Semitism.

I won't get around to reading the book right away, but I await the reviews that most likely appear in The American Conservatve, The New York Review of Books and perhaps a few other publications that will be illuminating rather than hysterical.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This has to be the lamest thing ever . . .

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Duncan Against the War Party

Metro Pulse--Knoxville's weekly paper--has an article about Jimmy Duncan; and how he keeps winning in a conservative district while continuing to cast high profile votes against the Bush administration on the war in Iraq and related issues:

This bit of political analysis can be put to the real-world test at Barnes' Barber Shop in the heart of Knoxville's Burlington neighborhood. It's one of only two of the dozen businesses that remain open along the south side of Martin Luther King Drive in its 3900 block. The rest are shuttered and dismal. But the Barnes' shop is a working, wondrous anachronism. It boasts four old-time barber chairs, real wood paneling, lots of mirrors, photos and clippings on the walls, semi-cathouse wallpaper, ceramic tile floors and real people, the kind only Burlington Boys lay claim to. It's where Duncan had his first haircut, almost 60 years ago, and most of his haircuts since.

The Iraq War issue hasn't come up in his barber shop visits says Roy Berrier, who's been with the shop for 47 years and who has cut Duncan's hair countless times.

"We never did discuss it, but he knew how I felt," Berrier says. "I could have told him, 'I'm on your side. We've got no business over there. We're not going to win nothing,' but I didn't have to. He knew that."

How odd that my fellow Knoxville Blogger who links to about 50 million things a day--Glenn Reyolds--hasn't linked to this yet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Making Sense of the American Right . . .

Paul Gottfried has a thing or two to learn about self-promotion. On and on he goes at Taki's Top Drawer about his new book with nary a link to the publishers webpage or Amazon, or even mention of the title:
Unless I’m mistaken, the liberal-neocon establishment will black out my new book, on the conservative movement, with the same dogged malice it brought to bear against my previous five works, including a tome published in a prestigious series by Princeton. It is therefore important that I advertise my book on this website—and not only to help boost my sales. Unless my book receives public attention, the future, publicized histories of the postwar conservative movement may be exclusively those of Heritage, AEI and other neoconservative disseminators of opinion. My book differs from the histories of such foundations and it does so by providing information of a kind that these sources will not likely provide. . But, to repeat my point, my work will not get read unless you buy and discuss it.

So allow me. It is Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, published by Palgrave Macmillan and it sounds interesting. It has been several years since I read Gottfried's The Conservative Movement and a lot has changed since then. The new book should prove to be good reading.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Elites . . .

The September 10 issue of The American Conservative is out with my review of Elites for Peace: The Senate and the Vietnam War, 1964-1968 from the University of Tennessee Press. Here is a brief excerpt:
Vietnam wasn't America's only unpopular war in the 20th century, but it was the one that nearly tore the country apart when it inspired massive street protests in the late 1960s. In Elites For Peace, Gary Stone turns attention away from campus protesters and rioters and focuses instead on opposition coming from the corridors of power. At the center of Stone's narrative is Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, a man of contrasts. He was a signer of the segregationist "Southern Manifesto" who became a darling of the liberal intelligentsia. He started his career as an advocate of executive power, but became a harsh critic of the war policy of two presidents.

The rest of the issue looks good and features an appreciation of Lawrence of Arabia at 45 by Steve Sailer, a column by Daniel Larison on Barack Obama's Bushian foreign policy and an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty on the campaign of the Man from Hope, Mike Huckabee.