Archive for January 12th, 2007

by Jay Stevens 

Well. That’s it. It’s official. Brian Schweitzer’s coal-to-gas plan is a bad idea.

How do I know? Other than a general shirking from the price tag – in the billions, which will likely come out of federal taxpayer money – the dubious claim that we can safely tuck any carbon emission byproduct safely underground, and the fact that it simply enables our continuing bad habit of consuming oil, Thomas Friedman endorsed the plan.

Make no mistake, Thomas Friedman is wrong about everything. Can you think of any project or plan that Friedman has endorsed that hasn’t backfired and left thousands — millions — of unhappy, or even dead, people in its wake? Me, neither. Honestly, if I were the Governor and got an interview request from Friedman, I’d have sent his plane to Billings, Ohio.

What’s obvious is that Friedman once again fell for a politician’s manly flexing – this time awed by our Good Guv’s ease in a prop plan tossed by winter winds – and the allure of unfettered corporatism.

In all honesty, I am ambivalent about the plan. On one hand, I recognize it would be good for Montana to be the center of new clean-burning coal technology. I like the jobs and money it brings to the state. On the other hand – well, I’ve already expressed my fears, above.

But seriously, if Thomas Friedman likes your plan…uh oh.

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Escalation

by Jay Stevens 

Shorter George Bush:

We’re losing. I’m sending a small number of troops to delay the shame of withdrawal for the next president. Ultimately, if this plan doesn’t work, it’s the fault of the Iraqis, not me. I’m also doubling the budget for my corporate buddies and war profiteers to give them a revenue boost before the next president sends them packing. I admit the Iraqi parliament is a puppet government. I want to invade Iran and Syria, too. Expect more bloodshed, but again – not my fault. Terrorists are bad, bad people. It’s all good because I really, really meant well. I’m again going to use Joe Lieberman as a front for bipartisanship, but I couldn’t care less what the Democrats say. More US soldiers are going to die. Fellow citizens: you’re stuck with me for two more years, so deal with it.

Shorter Ted Kennedy:

Bush is replicating Vietnam. He’s divorced from the will of the people. Like Vietnam, there’s no end in sight in Iraq. There’s no military solution. Why waste American lives? “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam.” The key to the war is political. Escalation will only make things worse.

Shorter Max Baucus:

My constituents want an end to the war. I want to end the war. You sure pulled the wool over my eyes, didn’t you? Honestly, if I could do it all over… The soldiers are great, they deserve our utmost support. You’ve failed them. They’re in danger, you still have a chance to help them by withdrawing them from harm’s way.

And now I have to quote Senator Baucus in full, because what he says is incredibly personal, and moving:

understand and sympathize with Americans who continue to support this war because they do not want their family and friends to have died in vain. I know what they feel. I struggled with that last summer when my nephew Phillip died in Iraq.

On July 29th, Marine Corporal Phillip Baucus, my brother John’s son, was killed during combat operations in the Al Anbar province. He was just 28 years old.

Phillip was a bright and dedicated young man. He was like a son to me. He had a loving wife and a bright future. His death was devastating.

I know what it’s like to wait on the flight line at Dover Air Force Base. I know what it’s like to greet the body of a fallen soldier and family member. I know what it’s like to pray for a reason, and to become determined not to lose.

I’m not the only Montanan who has grieved. 14 Montanans have lost their lives in Iraq. We grieve for them all.
Those men and women who have lost their lives have served a noble purpose. They have taught us lessons in courage.

We honor that courage by speaking up. We honor that courage by admitting that what we are doing is not working. And we honor that courage by finding a new direction.

Shorter Jon Tester:

What Max said.

Kossak Pericles:

The most important thing about President Bush’s speech was that it had to be given at all. Nearly four years after the invasion, we still haven’t secured the capital. Worse, we had Baghdad more-or-less secure in 2003-2004, and we lost it. You can’t look at a basic fact like that and still believe that we’re winning the war.

General Paul Funk:

“Our heavy-handed, arrogant ways gave up every advantage we had,” he said.

Matt Taibbi:

This whole sales campaign designed to pitch a new troop increase…is one of the more outrageous media deceptions in the history of an Iraq war that has been rife with them. President Bush is going to go on TV this week and tell the American people that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is somehow going to make a difference in the security situation. He is going to be aided in this effort by a legion of knucklehead editorialists who entered the New Year pimping a preposterous new creation story about Iraq, one that argues that the Iraqi-American Eden was spoiled only by arrogant generals and Pentagon officials who tried to secure an occupied country on the cheap.

This absurd interpretation of events, pitched hardest by (among others) Washington’s reigning power-worshipper/professional Crate and Barrel shopper David Brooks, pins the blame for the Iraq mess on such persons as Don Rumsfeld, George Casey and John Abizaid, all of whom sold Bush on a “light footprint” strategy for occupying Iraq. “Casey and Abizaid are impressive men, and Bush deferred to their judgment,” Brooks wrote last week. “But sometimes good men make bad choices, and it is now clear that the light-footprint approach has been a disaster.”

[snip]

According to Brooks and a lot of other people in Washington (our possible next president, John McCain, among them), everything in Iraq would have been OK from the start, if we’d only had enough troops.

Coming to this realization now — three and a half years late, as it were — gives all these people a chance to argue one more time for a troop increase. They’re going to get that increase now, and if history is any guide, they’ll patiently give that troop increase another few years to work. When it doesn’t, bet on it, they will come back once again and say that what they got was not a big enough increase, that what was needed was a full-blown commitment, a “Super-Marshall Plan,” etc. And then we will be in Iraq until 2011 or 2012, just like everyone in Iraq (who’s seen the huge embassy complexes we’re just now breaking ground on) already knows we will be.

[snip]

The soldiers have all been trained to fight and they want to help, want to make a difference — but there’s no offensive mission for them. So what they spend most of their time doing is working to sustain their own presence. More than one soldier commented to me that the mission seemed mainly to be to keep the FOBs [Forward Operation Bases] running.

I wasn’t in Iraq very long, and I wouldn’t presume to say that I know everything or even very much about how the war is being conducted. I’m just bringing this up because this whole debate about troop levels is being conducted under a number of assumptions that I’m not sure aren’t absurd fictions. The argument for more troops assumes that the troops we have there already are actively engaged in making Iraq secure, only there aren’t enough of them.

What I saw was that our troops were mostly engaged in keeping themselves secure — and even that was a very tough job. The Iraq war has gone so wrong that it is no longer an occupation, no longer even a security mission. It’s just a huge mass of isolated soldiers running in place in a walled-off FOB archipelago, trying not to get shot or blown up and occasionally firing back at an enemy over the wall they can’t see. It’s lunacy. Adding more guys to it just means more lunacy. But our government has a high tolerance for that sort of thing, and I wouldn’t bet on it ending anytime soon.

Shane’s Links…

by Shane Mason 

Todays links are brought to you by Shane Mason (me). To take a bit of the burden off Jay, I volunteered to do the links page for him once a week. This ia another part of my plan to save the world, one blog at a time. Since I’ll only be doing the links page once a week, I’ll be including links from the whole week.

My favorite band in the world was inducted into the Rock & Roll hall of fame: REM is from Athens Ga, just a few miles down the road from my home town.

John Edwards is doing a heck-of-a-job getting ahead of the game and looking toward the matchup in November 08. I still haven’t decided, but I am impressed so far.

Ever wondered how good googlefight would be at predicting elections?

The $100 laptop from the One-Laptop-Per-Child project may go on sell to the public. How does the deal work? Buy 2: keep 1 and share 1. Not a bad idea.

An update on Mass. Gov. Patricks first week in office. Looking good so far.

Dr Charles Wheelan makes an argument on why income inequality matters. A bigger pie or a bigger slice? This is an important piece.

Keith Olbermann delivers a fantastic special comment on Bush’s legacy.

V discusses Judy Martz President and War Powers Theory.

PJFinn discusses his Bush appointment theory.

Feral Cat is live blogging at Left in the West from the Media Reform Conference in Memphis. Check it out.

Pogie on the GOP’s understanding of American working families. Jason on Montana GOP legislature’s ‘screw the voters’ attitude. They’re on fire over there this week.

Moorcat is continuing his series on city government, but has fallen ill. Get well and back in the battle.

OK, that concludes my first attempt at sharing links with you. If you want to find more of my writing, I am at Montana Netroots, the Wrongdog’s Lifechest and Left in the West.




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