Saturday, May 13, 2006

New Frontier

Cell phones may well supplant radio and record companies as the primary distributor of music.

Using data mining techniques, the National Security Administration will be able to identify terrorist music patterns.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Responding to a request to extend the deadline for seniors to sign up for the Medicare prescription benefit George W. Bush said,

"Deadlines are important. Deadlines help people understand there's finality, and people need to get after it, you know?"

Gee, you wouldn't think that based on his unwillingness to set any deadlines in Iraq.

Taylor Marsh has more on this.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Life. Less Blogging.

Regular readers have probably noted a drop in posts to this weblog. The drop is partly due to circumstance. Life seems to be busy these days. Even more, though, I'm starting to burn out just keeping up with events and the mayhem, destruction, greed and corruption that attend events. So I am dialing back my involvement in affairs for a while, just for the a needed break. In the meantime, I have other things to write about but they aren't time sensitive; I am willing to spend time thinking and editing these pieces before I post them. The end of the semester also means more time finishing paintings for my class, a far more restful, soothing pastime. I can use the break.

I'll continue to post occasionally but in between, readers can find plenty of informed commentary available elsewhere. I especially recommend the J-Walk Blog and The Galloping Beaver.

Getting Real About Iraq

Retired General (and former drug czar now teaching at West Point) Barry McCaffrey has written a memo assessing American progress and prospects in Iraq. His memo is based on briefings with senior commanders and observations made during a fact finding visit to Iraq and Kuwait. McCaffrey reports that US forces are “...awe-inspiring...the toughest soldiers we have ever fielded...”. He speaks well of the Iraqi military and police. He also candidly describes significant challenges and cautions that success in Iraq will require as much as ten years. McCaffrey is optimistic in the long run:

There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task. We should be able to draw down most of our combat forces in 3-5 years. We have few alternatives to the current US strategy which is painfully but gradually succeeding. This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?

Fred Kaplan analyzes the memo at Slate and concludes that Americans will not accept those costs. There will be no long run for America’s interventionist occupation.

The significance of this memo is that it reveals—from an optimistic but realistic insider's perspective—the magnitude of the price, and it's probably way higher than what the vast majority of Americans are willing to pay....

By ...[McCaffrey’s] own formulation, after all, mustering the will, power, and resources will require 10 more years of occupation, $50 billion to $100 billion in economic aid alone, who knows how many more hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending, who knows how many more thousands of casualties—and even then great uncertainty would remain about the Iraqis' ability to hold their nation together.

The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a very dim bulb. Blithe talk of "staying the course" is beside the point. Here is the real choice that Gen. McCaffrey's memo thrusts before President Bush and his top aides: If the goals are worth the costs, then state them clearly; if the goals can't be met by the effort they're willing to put out, then scale back and cut losses. Anything in between is not merely a fantasy but a horrible waste.

McCaffrey’s memo looks like a diligent effort to realistically assess America’s mission in Iraq. While I am always skeptical of generals’ objectivity, McCaffrey bases his conclusions on a lot of first hand information, experience and thought. Unlike BushCheney, McCaffrey is being realistic and frank about what success in Iraq will require.

Like Kaplan, I do not believe that Americans will accept those costs, which far exceed anything BushCheney projected prior to the invasion. Iraq was presented as a low cost effort to defuse an impending threat. Even then many Americans questioned the war. Now that the impending threat has been exposed as a lie and costs have escalated far beyond the original estimates,

Lowballing the cost of the invasion has seriously compromised BushCheney’s ability to sustain a long term effort in Iraq. Americans would have never accepted the building Iraqi democracy rationale that is our current objective now that the “impending threat” has proven false. Nor would the country have accepted the loss of blood and treasure that Iraq has (and will) cost this nation. Now Americans just want out of Iraq without staining our national honor and prestige too greatly.

Spreading the Word (or Something)

BushCheney never fails to amaze my in their politicization of everything. Paid columnists, fake news reports and now, Iraq propaganda from the Department of Agriculture.