September 27, 2003
Who'da Thunk It?
It might surprise you to know that Howard Dean is not a true antiwar candidate. In
fact, it might surprise you to know that your own favorite blogger, maha, wants to stay the course in Iraq and spend
more money and blood on it to keep the nonsense going.
Sure as hell surprised me.
But I spent a chunk of today (wasted) on an argument with some Kucinich supporters
who believe their man is the ONLY Democratic candidate who is opposed to maintaining Bush's status quo in Iraq. And if
you aren't with Kucinich, you're a pro-war, bloodthirsty Bush dupe. So there.
I am now sufficiently pissed off to blog about why Dennis Kucinich should drop
out of the presidential race now.
Until last Thursday's debate I hadn't focused much on Kucinich. By reputation
I know he's supposed to be the most "progressive" candidate in the field. I knew he was against the Iraq war, which
is fine by me. But his opening remarks in Thursday's debate bothered me a lot.
SEIB: Turning on Iraq to Congressman Kucinich and Reverend Sharpton, you've
both been outspoken critics of the war and have said, in fact, you'd bring the troops home. But the fact is that as of now
the troops are there, the United States is committed.
Would you vote--will you vote yes or no on the $87 billion? And if the answer is
no, what's the message you would send to the troops who are there today?
KUCINICH: The message is now I will not vote for the $87 billion. I think
we should support the troops and I think we best support them by bringing them home.
Our troops are at peril there, because of this administration's policy. And I think
that the American people deserve to know where every candidate on this stage stands on this issue, because we were each provided
with a document--a security document that more or less advised us to stay the course, don't cut and run, commit up to 150,000
troops for five years at a cost of up to $245 billion.
A matter of fact, General Clark was one of the authors of that document that was
released in July.
So I think the American people deserve to know that a candidate--and I'm the candidate
who led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush administration's march toward war, I say bring the
troops home unequivocally. Bring them home and stop this commitment for $87 billion, which is only going to get us in deeper.
After a while, we're going to be sacrificing our education, our health care, our
housing and the future of this nation.
First, I've been googling since Thursday to find out what this "security
document" is Kucinich is talking about, and I can't find it anywhere. Kucinich supporters have grasped at this alleged report
as proof that Wesley Clark wants to spend $245 billion dollars for more warfare in Iraq, which is certainly
at odds with the General's public statements.
General Clark wasn't given a chance to rebut Kucinich's claim. In the absense of
context, it isn't unreasonable to assume that this "security document," if it exists at all, was an estimate of what the war
will cost if it continues as it has. We're already up to $166 billion ($79 billion original appropriation plus the infamous $87 billion recently requested). One of these days it'll add up to real money.
It bothered me also that Kucinich glibly brushed off the $87 billion -- no more
money to Iraq, just bring the troops home. Kucinich apparently plans to beam them back to North America next week with
his Start Trek transporter.
It's morally cheap to be against the $87 billion. Of course, no one wants
to spend the $87 billion. This is money that would never have had to be spent if we hadn't gone ahead with the dadblamed invasion.
As several candidates said last Thursday, we must demand accountability for that money -- Congress must know exactly what
the Bushies intend to do with every dollar. Perhaps a lesser appropriation will do. But to say no money at all is
As I've ranted before, our troops are in Iraq without adequate food, water, and shelter. Soldiers have died because there aren't enough kevlar vests to go around. Just today we learned of a new attempt by the Bushies to save money by risking soldiers' lives:
Even as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made headlines this week by announcing
that up to 20,000 fresh troops may be called to Iraq, President Bush and members of the congressional leadership were quietly
abandoning a plan to protect troop-transport airliners from missile attack by terrorists or Saddam loyalists.
The measure, first advanced by the Pentagon, would have begun an ambitious program
to equip the commercial airliners that are used for troop transport with advanced technology to protect them from the shoulder-fired
missiles. Confused by disarray in the administration's plans to protect airliners from missile attack, the House of Representatives
slashed the original $25 million request to $3 million. Congressional officials say the Bush administration did nothing to
win approval of the full measure -- despite recent missile attacks on U.S. military craft flying near the Baghdad airport.
[Paul J. Caffera, "Bush Abandons Troop Protection Plan," Salon, September 27, 2003]
But according to Dennis Kucinich, our troops should just put up with these little
hardships until we can bring them home, which in spite of the Congressman's best hopes will not be next week.
When I press them on the matter of how the troops will be brought home,
the Kucinichistas tell me brightly that the Congressman has an original plan to turn Iraq over to the UN. Wow, I'm
amazed nobody else ever though of that (sarcasm alert).
Still, the UN is not likely to march peacekeepers into Baghdad anytime this year.
Perhaps not even next year. But we don't have to spend any more money to support the troops. They can just make do without
kevlar vests and bottled water and other little frills.
(Am I still pissed off? You betcha.)
Face it, Kucinich was just plain demagoging this issue. The other candidates gave
reasonable, thoughtful answers to the $87 billion question. For the record, I thought the best answer came from Carol Mosley
MOSELEY BRAUN: I stand with the mothers of the young men and women
who are in the desert in Iraq and who right now are in the shooting gallery without even sufficient supplies to sustain themselves.
And so, it is absolutely, I think, critical that we not cut and run, that we provide
our troops with what they need and that we just not blow up that country and leave it blown up; we have a responsibility.
Following in on that responsibility means we will have to vote some money. The estimates
vary as to what that is.
Almost a year ago, I called on this president not to go into Iraq and I called on
the Congress not to give him the authority to go into Iraq, and at the same time asked the question, "Mr. President, how much
is this going to cost?" He didn't answer the question then, he's not answering the question now.
But I believe that it's going to be important for us to come up with the money to
make certain that our young men and women and our reputation as leaders in the world is not permanently destroyed by the folly
of preemptive war.
You say she doesn't want to cut and run? In Kucinich World, that makes Mosley Braun
a war monger. For shame.
(Keep in mind also that, as all us armchair military experts know from reading Civil
War novels, retreats are very dangerous to troops unless they are done correctly. A haphazard retreat exposes troops to more
dangers than if they are just holding a line.)
Another Kucinich moment of brilliance, from the debates -- "I'm disappointed that
my fellow colleagues here haven't continued to make the connection between the rising deficit and the war in Iraq. Because
unless we commit ourselves to get out of Iraq--get the U.N. in and get the U.S. out--we're going to see rising deficits."
Is he serious? Does he think no one but he is making the connection between the Iraq
War and the deficit? Again, that's just plain demagoguery.
Now he says he sees the error of his ways and is pro-choice. Yeah, I've heard that
one before. 'Scuse me if I don't entirely trust you, Congressman.
Face it, folks. Dennis is a flake and needs to go away before he damages the cause
Oh, and how did the Kucinichistas come to the conclusion that Howard Dean
is not a true antiwar candidate? From this article in Salon, published February 19, 2003.
It's Thursday, Feb. 6, the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation
to the United Nations of evidence of Iraq's noncompliance with Resolution 1441. Edwards calls it "a powerful case." Kerry says it's "compelling." Lieberman, of course, is already in his fatigues.
Dean isn't sold. It doesn't indicate that Iraq is an imminent threat, he says.
From Washington come the barbs -- The New Republic calls it proof he's "not serious."
ABC News' "The Note" wonders if he's backed himself into a corner. Dean has opposed the pending war because he didn't think
President Bush had made his case. If he doesn't support military action now, the thinking goes, then he's just contradicting
himself. Or, at the very least, he's been put in an untenable and -- for the moment, at least inside war-ready Washington,
unpopular -- position.
He gets a deluge of phone calls from reporters asking him to clarify his position.
Which is -- "as I've said about eight times today," he says, annoyed -- that Saddam must be disarmed, but with a multilateral
force under the auspices of the United Nations. If the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the
U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn't, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice.
"Dean is stirring up antiwar people," a senior advisor to one of his Democratic opponents
says. "They are against all war, not just against war without U.N. support. When we do go to war, and Dean says he's with
our troops and president in time of national crisis, the antiwar activists he's cultivated will turn on him quickly."
Dean says that's fine, and denies that there's any inconsistency. "I think people
are madly trying to find one," he says. "It's part of the game." [Jake Tapper, "On the Campaign Trail With the Un-Bush," Salon, February 19, 2003]
I repeat, Kucinich supporters whip out
this very article to "prove" Dean is flip-flopping on the war. A tad short on critical thinking skills, it seems.
August 5, 2003
Earth to Lieberman: Get Lost
Please note that The Mahablog is firmly committed to supporting whatever the Democrats nominate next year,
be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, because the goal is to beat Bush. I am not endorsing any candidate. However, I do
wish Joe Lieberman would quit already.
Lieberman is still telling his fellow Dems that they had better support the war in Iraq or they
will look soft on terrorism. At a press conference last week he said,
"But by their words, some in my party threaten to send a message that they don't know a just war when they
see it and, more broadly, are not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom."
Um, Joe? Read a newspaper now and then, OK? We're way past the "just war" argument. We're into the "stupid
war" argument. And by now anybody with a brain has figured out that Iraq, security, and freedom are
not words that should be shoveled into the same sentence without a lot of qualifiers to kill the odor.
William Saletan has a muddled opinion piece in Slate
in which he seems to say that Lieberman the Messenger doesn't fit Lieberman the Message, and this is why his campaign
is in trouble. I disagree; Joe's problem is that he is super-glued to a message that is increasingly out of sync with reality.
Last fall, the Senator calculated that the President was unbeatable on the war issue. In October he and the
other loser ... I mean, candidate ... Dick Gephardt stood in the Rose Garden next to Bush and pledged complete support
for Shrub's warmongering goals [link
]. Lieberman introduced the war resolution
to the Senate.
Other Democrats voted for the resolution, of course (go here
for vote breakdown). But most did so with enough parsimoniousness to give themselves future wiggle room. John Kerry,
for example, made public statements in opposition to Bush's war aims but voted for the resolution. Now he is saying he was
"misled" by Bush. As if.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry yesterday said President
Bush "circumvented" the process laid out in the congressional resolution authorizing action against Iraq, which Mr. Kerry
supported in the Senate last year.
Mr. Kerry, of Massachusetts, said the president promised to build the
international coalition, work through the United Nations and go to war as a last resort.
I can't believe the Senator was surprised that Bush bargained in
bad faith. I doubt even Kerry's supporters believe that. But Republicans will be challenged to knock Kerry off this
stated position without making Their Boy Bush look bad. It would be admitting Kerry should have known Bush was a
snake before getting in bed with him.
Joe Lieberman should have known that as well as anyone after Florida 2000.
But let's look at bigger issues here. Most of the Dems seem to believe that because the public (the segment
contacted by pollsters, anyway) supports the Iraq War now, the public will still support the Iraq War in
November 2004. And it ain't necessarily so.
The electorate can be fickle. Jimmy Carter won election in 1976 partly on a
promise to reduce military spending. Ronald Reagon won election in 1980 (partly) by accusing Carter of reducing military spending.
Simply put, in 1976, post-Vietnam America wanted the military to go away. In1980, Iranian-crisis America wanted the military
to come back.
Richard Nixon was re-elected by one of the biggest landslides in history in 1972. He resigned in 1974, and by then most
Americans were relieved to see him go.
For that matter, historians tell us that Lincoln appeared to be heading for defeat in 1864 until Sherman took Atlanta
right before the election.
In other words, as our boy Rummy says, stuff happens.
Postwar Iraq is a disaster, and it's a disaster of such magnitude that it will take political statesmanship of the highest
order to make things right. In other words, it's way beyond the capability of the Bushies to unscrew this pooch.
Our soldiers are suffering terribly because of Bushie incompetence. Iraq has become a breeding ground for anti-American
terrorism because of Bushie incompetence. The Taliban is taking back Afghanistan because of Bushie incompetence. Al Qaeda
is regrouping because of Bushie incompetence. The United States remains vulnerable to terrorism because of Bushie incompetence.
Face it, Joe. Not only is/was Iraq not a "just war"; it ain't doin' beans for security or freedom, either. That
is what the American public needs to understand. And if history is our guide, sooner or later, they will.
If what passes for news media in America were doing its job, of course, the public would be catching on already.
For example, Julian Borger reported in yesterday's Guardian that
US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice
the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other
non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media.
Since May 1, when President George Bush declared the end of major combat operations,
52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage.
But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112.
The other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American
wounded, 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began.
Unofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since
the president's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded
have lost limbs. [Borger, "The Unreported Cost of War," The Guardian, August 4, 2003]
Sooner or later. By next September, the GOP may be sorry
about the decision to tie its convention to the September 11 anniversary. Joe Lieberman should already be sorry he tied his
political career to Iraq.
Joe Conason is urging General Wesley Clark to get into the presidential race.
I think Conason makes sense: "I can hardly wait to hear Clark's retort, if and when Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich or some
other conservative chicken-hawk attacks his patriotism." [Link]
I almost hate to see Clark enter the race. The Republicans will shred his military record and trash his
reputation. The Naderites and leftist fringe will hate him because he has a military record. But I'd still like to see him
on the ticket.