Monday, July 21, 2008

New York Times Rejects McCain Rebuttal To Obama Op-Ed

Drudge reports:

An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES -- less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The paper's decision to refuse McCain's direct rebuttal to Obama's 'My Plan for Iraq' has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles.

'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece,' NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley explained in an email late Friday to McCain's staff. 'I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.'

Shipley, who is on vacation this week, explained his decision not to run the editorial.

'The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.'

Shipley continues: 'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.'

Drudge also reprints the McCain piece as it was submitted:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.


Ill Doctrine on "That conversation"...

Friday, July 11, 2008


FISA, Obama, and sloppy "liberal" activism.

By Woodrow Jarvis Hill

Let me be absolutely blunt here. FISA is a farce. Compared to the stuff already in place (see ECHELON), we're already in a Police State (if you'd care to use such a loaded term). This isn't stupid conspiracy talk, this is the reality of having something like the NSA floating around. This is the reality of having a government that, decades ago, in my Mom and Pop's lifetime, decided to wiretap Martin Luther King, among others, in ways that could never go to court, just for leverage.

So, wanna change it? Then you need to change the damned system, not yell at the people having to play their best in the current, highly broken one. Because the reason the Republicans can do what they do isn't just because of a well-ordered leadership. The GOP takeover wasn't just about Rovan tactics, or even Atwater tactics. It was about them building a long-term plan to change the discourse in America, and to provide lots of firepower for the people pushing their goals.
That's the big trick, the one no one talks about because it's not "sexy". The development of organizations like the Heritage Foundation, and the fusion and creation of groups like the Moral Majority, built an infrastructure for Conservatism that was able to work it's way into many aspects of life. And Reagan won based on that structure, as well as his native talents, not just the latter alone. Again, look at how the media covers it -- they go for the "sexy" story, not the deep analysis that's closer to the truth.
These groups were willing to get hands dirty - and I don't just mean in the illegal way. They were, and are, willing to be as active as possible in the political process. Even better, they do so on all levels of government , realizing that the local school board is a distinctly unglamorous job, but it's also one few people want to run fo. Therefore, not only does it possess considerable power, but it's easy to control -- perfect for initial strikes to "Think globally, act locally".
In this wise, the GOP support system is proactive, with deep-laid plans.

Compare that to the so-called netroots, the people loudly whining about FISA and Obama today. They are, without question, highly reactive -- you hardly can get them to move unless they're busy being pissed off at someone. Mind you, there's something to their approach which is good, and I'll address that some other time. What's bad is that they really play "hands-off" with regards to the actual political game. Their lobbying is at a distance, their fund-raising is too specific, and their long-term strategy is as crappy as the average fast-growing high-tech company, with about as much potential for failure.
Where's the planning for structures that'll help Progressives to win local elections -- the elections that serve as stepping stones to high office? Where's the planning to build Progressive majorities in new areas that aren't ones, now? Kos has brilliant ideas about high elective office, but blinders about how day-to-day politicking works. He wants it to be clean, and happy, and ideologically pure. Real politics is never, indeed cannot, be any of that. In fact, much of our current problems stem from the fact that opposing sides aren't even supposed to be friends outside of "the office", these days. Polarization is killing the political system.

Now, compare that to Obama and Howard Dean (and his 50 State Strategy). The reason to support Obama isn't just because he's the Democratic Candidate. It's because, in his wake, he's pushing like mad for people to actually get involved, directly, with their Democracy. How many times do I have to write, in this blog, that this is the marvel, the true power, of his campaign? They both see that the Democratic Party is almost depressingly disorganized, and although I'm used to it, in the face of a determined and organized (if currently demoralized) enemy, you must update tactics and planning to accommodate the new reality. You cannot build a Democratic, or even a Progressive, majority, simply by typing on the Internet.

What few commentators really get is that it's so obvious that Obama is building out parts of a long-term Democratic structure, so obvious that even Karl Rove admits to it. And it's one that will aid the GOP, as well, in smaller doses. TheObama Fellows aren't likely to just go away, after all, nor are people like me who helped in the campaign. For the first time, literally millions of Americans have been active on the Democratic side -- including not a few GOP supporters of Obama. This is how you start the long, laborious process of shifting the internal discussion in America.

But it is long. And it is imperfect. And the FISA vote was imperfection made real. He needs to know we're not happy; I made the calls, like many of you. And I support the FISA group on It's important that diverse voices be part of this discussion, and it's an important one. But it's also important that we learn how to support the people who are supposed to be supporting us.

Democracy is a two-way street. It's never been enough, and is certainly not enough today, to simply vote for the right guy, and then play armchair quarterback. The GOP can get away with much because they know they have multiple, redundant fallback systems of support. Democrats don't. Therein lies so much of the so-called "spineless" attitude we pin on them. It's true, it true. But if you really want change, want to see things move in the direction you support, you've got to play in the game.

And the simple fact is there's a a guy running who's offering to deal you in. Who's offering, in exchange for your support, to give you access, training, support, and people in similar situations, and doing so in ways that the GOP hasn't done. Who even offers his official space to create dissent against his stances, just so we'll have a vibrant, actual ecology of supporters of all points.

And you have a choice. You can continue to stand on your holy high ground, flinging feces at our best chance in years to elevate the discourse of American Politics, just so you can scream "I told you so!", and covering yourself with "But I'll vote for him, no matter how much I scream and yell at him!"

Or you can get dealt in, with Obama or with someone else or even with some organization diametrically opposed. You can figure out how to disagree without being disagreeable, without giving the opposition ammo. You can see what it's like to work this crap day-to-day, and maybe gain an understanding of what Al G means when his "been there done that" ass trashes you even harder than I have:
So, the FISA bill passed. And today began just as any other day. The sun came up. We drank a cup of coffee. Some of us lit a cigarette - or did any number of things that others do not approve of - and we were not locked up for it. To note the obvious, that the sky did not fall, is not akin to saying that a bill inoculating telecommunications companies against civil lawsuits (and retroactively so) for following invasive government orders, was a good thing. It's just to say that it is what it is, and life goes on, and so does the daily struggle to defend our personal and collective freedom on so many fronts.

Only in America do a significant number of people equate expressions of outrage and indignation du jouras somehow being akin to the hard work of political activism or participation. And I hate to say it, but this delusion is worse, much worse, on the left side of the dial where reaction is the standard operating procedure in place of authentic action. I speak, therefore I act is the great American illusion of politics. Sorry, but no. Only when our speech effectively causes others to act does it rise to the level of poetry (which, as Vaneigem wrote, "seldom exists in poems"). Have you ever had to sit through a poetry reading by a particularly bad poet? That's what I feel like when I find myself to trying to listen to what too many people consider activism. They're blathering on and my eyes are drooping as I'm eyeing the wall clock and the exit sign, twirling my cigarette lighter as if a rosary bead necklace.
And if you're struggling with that, take some time off the 'net, go find, say, some good books and online reading on MLK, and study how activism works, and how to pick one's battles against a sea of troubles.
Trust me, there'll be battles aplenty for you to fight when you get back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back from vacation...

And I have a lot to say... But not today.
I've been stewing on a rant about the far-left and the non-issues of FISA-gate, Faith-based-gate, and being-careful-getting-out-of-Iraq-gate.

I may get to that next week. Though it may be counterproductive to bring it up again.
So I may just let it go.

I will quickly say this though... If you voted for Obama, you're getting exactly the man you voted for.
If you wanted a hard-line progressive, you should have voted for Edwards.
If you wanted a far-left liberal, you should have voted for Kucinich.

Obama has always been a left-leaning centrist (the same as Bill Clinton was in the 90s).

Anyway, on to some brighter news for today...

Edwards would 'seriously consider' VP offer

Rebecca Sinderbrand writes for CNN:

John Edwards said Tuesday that if he were asked to accept the vice presidential slot or a cabinet position in a potential Barack Obama administration, he would “seriously consider” whatever the Illinois senator asked him to do.

It has been widely reported that the former North Carolina senator is on Obama’s vice presidential shortlist. On Tuesday, NPR interviewer Guy Raz called the former Democratic presidential candidate’s presence on the list an “open secret,” and asked Edwards whether he’d weigh accepting a vice presidential offer, or might take himself out of consideration as Virginia Senator Jim Webb had done Monday.

“I’m glad to hear that’s an open secret because I didn’t know it,” joked Edwards of his rumored consideration as Obama’s running mate.

“My answer to that is, I’ve run for vice president, I’ve run for president twice. I would do anything that I felt I could do to serve this country but I think it’s a huge presumption for me or anybody else to suggest what Senator Obama may decide,” he said.

(Full Article)