Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, July 11th, 2006.


The Crickets, They Chirp

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blogging

Glenn Greenwald tells us the nice doggie has issued another threat to lynch U.S. Supreme Court justices. You can read the threat on Glenn’s site; I’m not linking to The Imperial Rabid One. In case you missed it, here’s a screen capture of an earlier lynch threat.

To paraphrase the Confederate Yankee:

When a rightie blogger threatens to assassinate five Supreme Court justices, what response do we get from prominent rightie blogs?

*crickets*

Not one post.

Nothing from Jeff Goldstein or Michelle Malkin; silence from Patterico, the Ace, Rick Moran, and Instapundit. Typical.

Update: The excuses so far:

Riehl World View, on the nice doggie:

I’m not going to condemn that from Misha because I don’t see it as anything other than hyperbole and it’s Misha’s blog and a matter of free individual speech.

Riehl World View, on Debbie Frisch:

No public servant, military man or woman, public school teacher, or even corporate employee would be able to make such remarks without some serious consequences.

I see the quibble about public servants. Do we know what the nice doggie does for a living? He might be a corporate employee, for all we know.

Sister Toljah, on the nice doggie:

Apparently Mr. Greenwald thinks the monolith right (we all speak with one voice, you know) should spend their time scouring the rightie blogosphere and punditocracy for offensive comments and in turn post the obligatory condemnation,

Sister Toljah, on Debbie Frisch:

I wish I could say I was amazed at the lack of significant liberal condemnation (with a couple of exceptions) from the higher ups on the left hand side of the blogosphere over Frisch’s harassment of Goldstein but, sadly, I’m not.

Toljah makes reference to Goldstein’s denial-of-service blackout that coincided with the Frisch flap. She seems to think the DOS “attack” is part of some kind of plot and not the result of (I suspect) Goldstein’s failure to secure adequate server space and bandwidth to accommodate traffic spikes. I’m certainly not aware of any leftie conspiracy to shut down Goldstein’s site. He’s not worth that much effort, frankly.

Update update: See Skippy.

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Number Crunchola

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Budget, Bush Administration, economy

There’s been a lot of whoop-dee-doo in the news today about the budget deficit not being as bad as predicted. Andrew Taylor writes for the Associated Press:

President Bush touted new deficit figures Tuesday showing considerable improvement upon earlier administration predictions, saying it shows the wisdom of his tax cuts.

Bush himself announced the figures — a task that for the most part has been left to lower-ranking administration officials in the past. The new figures show the deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30 will be $296 billion — much better than the $423 billion that Bush predicted in February and a slight improvement over 2005.

This is from President Bush’s announcement:

Here are some hard numbers: Our original projection for this year’s budget deficit was $423 billion. That was a projection. That’s what we thought was going to happen. That’s what we sent up to the Congress, here’s what we think. Today’s report from OMB tells us that this year’s deficit will actually come in at about $296 billion. (Applause.)

That’s what happens when you implement pro-growth economic policies. We faced difficult economic times. We cut the taxes on the American people because we strongly believe that the American people should lead us out of recession. Our small businesses flourished, people invested, tax revenue is up, and we’re way ahead of cutting the deficit — federal deficit in half by 2009.

As a matter of fact, we’re a year ahead of fulfilling a pledge that I told the Congress and the American people. I said to the American people, give this plan a chance to work. We worked with Congress to implement this plan. I said, we can cut the federal deficit in half by 2008 — or 2009. We’re now a full year ahead of schedule. Our policies are working, and I thank the members of Congress for standing with us.

Bush and his budget team are slackers. If they’d projected a $600 million deficit, today that deficit would be cut in half already.

Joel Havemann writes in today’s Los Angeles Times:

This will be the third year in a row that the administration put forth relatively gloomy deficit forecasts early on, only to announce months later that things had turned out better than expected. To some skeptics, it’s beginning to look like an economic version of the old “expectations” game. …

… Early in 2004, it projected a deficit of $521 billion for the fiscal year that was then 4 months old. It used that figure as the benchmark for its promise to cut the deficit in half within five years. That made its task easier: The high estimate, when reduced by reality, gave the administration a head start on its pledge.

See? I don’t know why the President is messing around with these wimpy little incremental steps.

Brad DeLong writes,

[The] Bush forecast of six months ago was deliberately high balled by $60 billion or so—precisely so that the administration could claim now that recent news on the deficit has been very good. As nonpartisan budget analyst Stan Collender wrote half a year ago, “The Bush administration held a conference call … to say that the 2006 deficit would be $400 billion or more … [This administration] has a well-established history of overstating the deficit early in the year and then taking credit when it turns out to be lower than projected, even if it has done nothing to make that happen.”

Paul Krugman has written extensively about the Bush Administration creative number crunching. For example, he wrote in July 2003:

The numbers tell the tale. In its first budget, released in April 2001, the administration projected a budget surplus of $334 billion for this year. More tellingly, in its second budget, released in February 2002 — that is, after the administration knew about the recession and Sept. 11 — it projected a deficit of only $80 billion this year, and an almost balanced budget next year. Just six months ago, it was projecting deficits of about $300 billion this year and next.

There’s no mystery about why the administration’s budget projections have borne so little resemblance to reality: realistic budget numbers would have undermined the case for tax cuts. So budget analysts were pressured to high-ball estimates of future revenues and low-ball estimates of future expenditures. Any resemblance to the way the threat from Iraq was exaggerated is no coincidence at all.

And just as some people argue that the war was justified even though it was sold on false pretenses, some say that the biggest budget deficit in history is justified even though the administration got us here with cooked numbers.

In another departure from reality, today the President credited his 2001 tax cuts for today’s budget reduction. To which Professor DeLong says,

This afternoon, the Bush administration will claim that because of its supply-side policies, the 2006 budget deficit will be about $300 billion, much lower than the $423 billion the Bush administration forecast last February. It will claim that its 2003 tax cuts have more than paid for themselves. It will claim that the tax cuts have accelerated economic growth enough to produce a net gain in revenue.

Does it think that reporters won’t ask the obvious questions—like, didn’t you guys say back in February that your forecasts already included the effects of the 2003 tax cuts on revenue? Do you really think your audience is too stupid to realize that revisions in the forecast since February come from things that have happened since February and not from things that happened three years ago? Didn’t Republicans like Dick Cheney claim that the 2001 tax cut wouldn’t create a deficit, that the 1993 tax increase wouldn’t reduce the deficit and that the 1981 tax cut wouldn’t increase the deficit? Shouldn’t people who are zero for 3 be less sure of themselves?

Finally, Professor DeLong provides another clue why righties cannot govern:

How did the Republican Party ever get into the business of claiming that tax cuts in America today don’t just expand the economy enough to make back some of the revenue lost, but expand it enough to make back all? It’s not because any group of reality-based Republican economists believed it. In his 1998 book “Principles of Economics,” Mankiw derided Ronald Reagan’s early-’80s supply-side experiment as “fad economics” peddled by “snake oil salesm[e]n … trying to sell a miracle cure.” It’s because a Republican journal of ideas called the Public Interest thought it would be a politically convenient claim to make. As its editor Irving Kristol later explained, his “own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems” arose because “the task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority — so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

OK, so let’s see if I can get this straight — Kristol wanted to create a conservative majority, and to achieve this he and other movement righties pushed the not conservative (in any traditional sense of the word) notion that deficits don’t matter. In other words, the plan was to convert people to conservatism by selling them on an unconservative policy. I assume they think this conservative majority would be good for America, even if they have to wreck the economy to create the majority.

And they call us moonbats.

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More Stuff

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Bush Administration

Couple o’ must reads — Taylor Marsh on “The Swiftboating of John Murtha” at Huffington Post, and Dan Froomkin, “The Undoing Begins,” at washingtonpost.com.

Update: One more, “The 9/11 Faith Movement” by Terry Allen.

Update update: Another one more — this is hysterical — via LunkHead at Kos Diaries, a Fetus Person mistakes an Onion article for actual news.

Update update update:
From another post on the Fetus Person site linked above — Quote of the Week —

To many liberals, freedom of speech means they can say anything.

As opposed to, freedom of speech means we should shut up?

Is there some way we can vote this blogger out of the gene pool?

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Another Terrorist Attack

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Terrorism

For real. In India. Kashmir militants are suspected.

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Homebodies

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entertainment and popular culture, Europe

Here’s something I didn’t know, written by a Brit:

… we don’t really know America or Americans. This is because, overwhelmingly, the Americans we meet have passports; over 80% of US citizens, however, do not, and so have never travelled outside their own continent.

80 percent? Is it that high? Possibly. I would have guessed more than half, maybe 55 to 60 percent. On the other hand, my impression of Europeans is that they zip off to other countries as casually as a New Yorker goes to the malls in New Jersey.

This may help to explain the other unfathomable mystery of the US: why they developed their own national participative sports, American football and baseball.

Association football has, of course, been growing in popularity in the US. But think what an impact it would have if football were the national sport and the US fielded a really strong side for the World Cup. It could do more to end US isolationism than a thousand politicians. …

I think he’s right. I also think our isolationism and ignorance of the rest of the world is going to be our undoing. Or part of our undoing, anyway.

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Barbarians Online

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Bush Administration, conservatism, Iraq War, Terrorism

Like sharks to chum, so righties to beheading videos. They’ve got a new one, and they’ve dropped poor Debbie Frisch in mid-flame because, you know, why waste time baiting the psychologically miswired when you’ve got severed heads?

I’m not going to link to the rightie sites “discussing” the video — they aren’t that hard to find, if you really want to go there — but here’s a New York Times story about it. The video shows the the mutilated bodies of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. Just the description of the video is sickening enough.

Of course I didn’t watch the video, but I inadvertently saw some “stills” posted on a rightie site, which is why I’m not linking to any of them. The last thing these sickos need is encouragement. However, I’m going to quote this from the Jawa Report anyway —

This video shows the true face of the enemies we fight. However you feel about the war in Iraq, this should enrage you. They are ruthless barbarians who boast about killing those they have taken hostage.

We show you these images so that you will understand what it is we are up against. The video and images should enrage you. If you do not have righteouss anger after seeing this, you are beyond hope. Update: Or, as reminded by Jason in the comments, they ought to at least give you clarity and resolve to defeat them.

Update: John at Powerline laments that POTUS has not followed Putin’s example, and ordered the killing of the AQ scum who did this. However, I have received several e-mails from officers serving in Iraq who wanted the video.

One Air Force officer told me he was about to do a brief and wanted to show it to his men. So, if POTUS hasn’t directly ordered revenge, I have a feeling the military is about to take it upon themselves to find and kill the AQ bastards who did this.

Vengeance may not always be swift, but it is always sweet.

I say vengeance is self-indulgent. To act out of vengeance is to abandon your own purposes. Instead, you’re letting your emotions jerk you around, like a puppet on strings, and the script for your theatrics is being written by your enemies. Disciplined people, wise people, don’t indulge in vengeance. They don’t take the bait.

Further, “resolve” born of rage rarely goes hand in hand with “clarity.” Enraged people are not thinking people. Enraged people aren’t weighing the consequences of their actions. They aren’t in control of themselves.

Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate about the U.S. Army’s new field manual on counterinsurgency (here in .pdf format). According to the field manual, getting vengeance for anything is about the last thing we need to be doing in Iraq now.

From first page to last, the authors stress that these kinds of wars are “protracted by nature.” They require “firm political will and extreme patience,” “considerable expenditure of time and resources,” and a very large deployment of troops ready to greet “hand shakes or hand grenades” without mistaking one for the other.

“Successful … operations require Soldiers and Marines at every echelon to possess the following,” the authors write. (Emphasis added.) They then list a daunting set of traits: “A clear, nuanced, and empathetic appreciation of the essential nature of the conflict. … An understanding of the motivation, strengths, and weaknesses of the insurgent,” as well as rudimentary knowledge of the local culture, behavioral norms, and leadership structures. In addition, there must be “adaptive, self-aware, and intelligent leaders.”

Meanwhile, a single high-profile infraction can undo 100 successes. “Lose moral legitimacy, lose the war,” the authors warn, pointedly noting that the French lost Algeria in part because their commanders condoned torture.

The authors note mistakes the U.S. has made already:

  • “The More Force Used, the Less Effective It Is.”
  • “An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if the collateral damage or the creation of blood feuds leads to the recruitment of fifty more.”
  • “Only attack insurgents when they get in the way. Try not to be distracted or forced into a series of reactive moves by a desire to kill or capture them. Provoking combat usually plays into the enemy’s hands.”
  • “A defection is better than a surrender, a surrender better than a capture, and a capture better than a kill.”
  • Kaplan observes, “as a nation we may simply be ill-suited to fight these kinds of wars.” He’s probably right. But even if most of us could countenance such an effort, most of us are not in charge. The righties are. And righties are way ill-suited to fight these kinds of wars. You can see that today in the calls for vengeance on the rightie blogosphere. The hell with the mission; to hell with the consequences; they want blood.

    Back to the new video — according to Edward Wong of the New York Times, “A message with the video says the soldiers were killed out of revenge for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl in March, a crime in which at least six American soldiers are suspects.”

    “We present this as revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade,” says a message in Arabic on a title card at the start of the nearly five-minute video. Militants had learned of the crime early on and “decided to take revenge for their sister’s honor,” the message says, according to a translation by the SITE Institute, which tracks jihadist Internet postings.

    However, this explanation may be bogus:

    It is questionable whether the soldiers were actually killed out of revenge. Iraqis around Mahmudiya, where the rape and murders took place, believed at the time that the girl and the other three victims were killed by other Iraqis in sectarian violence, according to the mayor of Mahmudiya and American military officials. The mayor said the possible involvement of American soldiers only became apparent on June 30, when the American military announced it had opened an investigation into the crime.

    So, the “revenge” motive may have been post hoc. Still, we’ve had no end to revenge killings already. We’re already well into the “retaliations for retaliations” cycle, which I’m sure is a major cause of the escalation of violence.

    The 2004 attack of Fallujah was, by many accounts, ordered by the White House in retaliation for the murder and mutilation of four civilian contractors. This order was given against the counsel of the commanders on the ground. The results are not, um, encouraging.

    On a practical level it’s ill advised to be Sonny Corleone (“They hit us so — we hit ’em back.”) if you don’t have the muscle to settle all the family business at once. (Remember what happened to Sonny?) And we don’t have that kind of muscle in Iraq.

    Another rightie argues that “I strongly believe we must know and understand who we are fighting against.” OK, but we’d better understand ourselves as well. Whether you thought the invasion was a good idea or not, from the beginning the effort in Iraq has been pulled in at least two directions. War supporters talk about nation building, unified governments, democracy, and security, and that’s fine. But, time and time again, our actions — Abu Ghraib comes to mind — say that we want something else entirely.

    I’ve believed all along that, on a subconscious level, Iraq is a proxy war. It stands in for the war many of us, including me, desired after the 9/11 attacks. If only we’d been attacked by a nation-state instead of an international movement, we could have bombed the bleepers to hell and been done with it. But we couldn’t have that war, because we weren’t attacked by a nation-state. Most of us understood that, and we realized that counterterrorism and national security policies should be crafted to deal with the enemies we have instead of the enemy we wished we had.

    But then there are righties. They blame us lefties because Iraq is less than the resounding triumph they wished for, but the fact is they and their Dear Leader have been working at cross purposes all along; their desires get in the way of their goals; their ids override their superegos. They haven’t yet come to grips with the fact that the enemies we face are not the same ones John Wayne took on in Sands of Iwo Jima.

    (One of the rightie bloggers worked up over the new video has this blurb in his blog masthead: “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” — H.L. Mencken. Observes Steve M., “I have to say I really enjoy being lectured on the savagery of people who slit throats by a blogger whose motto invokes the desirability of slitting throats.”)

    I’m sure the righties want me to look at the video so that I will be “understand” and feel as they feel. But like I tell the “controlled detonation” theorists who drop by here from time to time — I saw the WTC towers fall with my own eyes. I don’t need to look at the video, thanks.

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