Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The Government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. - Mark Twain

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Slam Dunk
by Lee

Speaking of legacies, it looks like George Tenet is worried about his.

“Ex-CIA Director George Tenet says the way the Bush administration has used his now famous “slam dunk” comment — which he admits saying in reference to making the public case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — is both disingenuous and dishonorable.” … “It’s the most despicable thing that ever happened to me,” Tenet says. “You don’t do this. You don’t throw somebody overboard just because it’s a deflection. Is that honorable? It’s not honorable to me.”

I have a few different thoughts here, some favorable to each side.  First, Tenet is full of shit.  In a book I read recently (I believe it was The One Percent Doctrine) Tenet stated something to that effect that he didn’t specifically recall making that statement, but that he couldn’t say that he wouldn’t have said it.  He seems to have slightly tweaked his story since then.  I don’t doubt for a second that he used the phrase “slam dunk” and meant it in exactly the manner that we all would assume it to mean.

That being said, I almost feel sorry for the poor bastard.  Not only did 9/11 happen on his watch (and, as a Clinton holdover, he was on duty longer than anyone in the Bush administration), but he also presided over the intel on the Iraq goatfuck.  While I think he deserves a good chunk of the blame for everything that has transpired since 9/11, I also do believe that his “slam dunk” comment is being used by the administration to try and insulate Bush from blame. 

“Well, Tenet said it was a slam dunk, and Bush based his decision off that.”

Tenet is being set up as the fall guy for the whole thing, when he’s only partially (albeit a big part) responsible.

Posted by Lee on 04/28/07 at 05:00 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Good Soldier
by Lee

If you haven’t read this devastating op-ed about the failure of leadership on the part of America’s generals, and how this has translated into defeat in Iraq, you need to take a moment and do so.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America’s generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq’s population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America’s generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as “Fiasco” and “Cobra II.” However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise “Desert Crossing” demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America’s generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America’s generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America’s general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that “there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq.” The ISG noted that “on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.” Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America’s generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America’s general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq’s government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America’s generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation’s deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

Our leadership, both political and military, failed us.  Miserably.  And as a result of their failure, the mission is also a failure.  Barring some Hail Mary miracle on the part of Petraeus, Iraq will join Vietnam on America’s list of spectacular military failures.

This is the Bush Legacy™, ladies and gentlemen.  Now, allow me to head off some of the usual responses.  “But Lee, you’re letting your Bush derangement syndrome cloud your judgment.  This op-ed is about the failure of generals, not of Bush.” First, anyone who writes something like this will demonstrate to everyone that you didn’t read the whole article, and are basing your comments solely on the quoted section.  Second, Bush is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.  He’s not a general, he’s the übergeneral.  Ask yourself this:  if Iraq was a success, would any of you be saying, “But Lee.  Bush didn’t win this war, the generals did.” Of course you wouldn’t.  So if Bush is in a position where he would be granted the glory of victory, then he is also in a position to be heaped with the responsibility of defeat.

And defeat is what we’re getting.

Posted by Lee on 04/28/07 at 04:16 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, April 27, 2007

Family Emergency
by Lee

No blogging today.  Chickenfry has to go in for emergency surgery.  Details to come later.  You kids will have to keep yourselves entertained today.

Update: Hi gang.  Here’s what happened.  At 6:30 this morning my cell phone rang.  It was Chickenfry’s mom, in tears, telling me that they were at the emergency room, that Chickenfry’s nosebleeds were back, and she was going to be going in to surgery in a few hours.  I drove to the hospital, which is like 90 minutes from here, and she was laying there all bloody and doped up on morphine and demerol.  Long story short, this was her first time going under the knife—she’s never even been admitted to hospital before—and she was a little freaked out.  I’ve been hospitalized and operated on so many times it’s old hat to me by now.  Anyway, the problem ended up being a weak and damaged artery at the back side of her sinus.  They went up her nostril and used two small little clips to clamp off the artery on either side of the leaking area.  Right now her nose is packed with gauze and she’s happily sleeping it all off under the magical spell of Percocet.  They expect her to be released Monday morning.

As for me, I’m fucking exhausted and I’m hitting the sack.  See you mañana.

P.S.  Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes.  It means a lot to both of us.  You guys rule.

Posted by Lee on 04/27/07 at 07:42 AM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mass Debation
by Lee

I am, as usual, stuck at work.  Make this the official threat to discuss tonight’s mass debation by the Democrats.

Update: In case you’re wondering who the barking moonbats thought won tonight’s debate, here are the results at Kos.  As of this writing Edwards and Obama are neck and neck for first.

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 08:02 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Color Me Torturedd
by Lee

I’m shocked, shocked that with such quality people running our prisons any abuse could occur.

The commander of a major US military prison in Iraq has been arrested for offences including aiding the enemy.

Lt Col William Steele is accused of giving detainees free use of a mobile phone at Camp Cropper and fraternising with the daughter of a detainee.

It is the latest of several scandals involving US jails in Iraq, the worst being the 2003 Abu Ghraib abuse case.

Col Steele is also accused of improper behaviour with his Iraqi interpreter and holding unauthorised information.

There are four overall charges against Col Steele and nine specific alleged offences. He was arrested last month and is being detained in Kuwait, a US military spokeswoman said.

Others offences include dereliction in the performance of his duties, failing to obey an order and wrongfully possessing pornographic videos.

Aiding the enemy.  Hmmm.  Wouldn’t that be enough for Emperor Bush to declare Steele an enemy combatant?  Once so declared, he could be completely stripped of all his Constitutional and human rights, then “coercively interrogated” at will.  You know, since he’s the enemy.

Update: Another take, this one from Sullivan.

I do not know all the facts about the decision by the US military to bring extremely serious charges against an officer, Lt. Col. William H. Steele, who supervised the Camp Cropper detention facility. Camp Cropper was a site where torture and abuse occurred, as it did at almost every U.S. detention camp in Iraq. But Steele, of course, is not being charged with the war-crimes that took place there. He is being charged with treason. My own sources describe him as a man of integrity, a man who actually tried to treat detainees as human beings. Another James Yee? I don’t know. But I’m deeply skeptical of this accusation.

Let’s wait and see.

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 06:26 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

by Lee

Not since the War Between the States has there been an Abe in Washington.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has left for his first visit to the United States since taking office.

He is expected to discuss strengthening bilateral ties and co-operation over North Korea during talks with President George W Bush at Camp David on Friday.

While in Washington Abe is expected to take in a play.  The Secret Service have warned him against wearing a stovepipe hat, and have issued a warning to be on the lookout for anyone named John Weerks Abutha-san.

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 06:12 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Kiss Kiss Clank Clank
by Lee

It seems that the Hindus don’t like the Buddhist.

A court issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on Thursday, saying their kiss at a public function “transgressed all limits of vulgarity,” media reports said.

If kissing a woman “transgressed all limits of vulgarity” they’ve obviously never heard the gerbil story.  They’d never let him out of the airport.

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 12:03 PM in Celebrity Idiots  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Debate 4 Jesus
by Lee

From the You Can’t Make This Shit Up file comes…

After ABC ran a story in January about hundreds of atheists videotaping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, best-selling author Ray Comfort contacted the network and offered to prove God’s existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith. He and Kirk Cameron (co-hosts of an award-winning Christian TV program) challenged the two originators of the “Blasphemy Challenge” to a debate on the existence of God. According to Comfort, he and Cameron (an ex-atheist) are qualified to debate on the subject. Comfort had not only written a book titled “God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists”, but had spoken at Yale on the subject of atheism, and been flown by American Atheists, Inc., to their 2001 annual convention to be a platform speaker.

ABC loved the idea, and will host a debate in New York City on May 5, 2007. Moderated by Martin Bashir, the debate will be streamed LIVE on their website and will also be filmed for “Nightline.”

Anyone want to take bets on who will win this one?

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 11:49 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Two Views
by Lee

Today is the 400th anniversary of the day that English colonists first arrived at Cape Henry, an event which led to the founding of the greatest country on earth.  Or, if you’re a liberal, it was the beginning of the mass genocide of the indigenous peoples by greedy monarchists who raped the land and eventually established the greatest terrorist nation and threat to peace the world has ever known.

Posted by Lee on 04/26/07 at 09:37 AM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

by Lee

Sorry for the light posting lately.  As usual I’m stuck in the middle of an ass-ripper of a project, so I’ll be going nuts for the next couple of weeks trying to meet the deadline.  We are WAY behind schedule.  Ugh.

A few of you have asked me my opinion of NIN’s new album Year Zero.  I have to admit it didn’t exactly blow me away the first time I heard it, but the more I listen to it the more it’s grown on me.  I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately, and with a few exceptions I think it’s a pretty solid release.  I can’t wait to see it performed live.

And, yes, you have to get past Trent’s ever-increasing left-wing political awareness, but that’s just one of the things that you have to get used to being a conservative.  Unless, of course, you want to spend your life listening to Pat Boone and Christian rock music—no thanks.  So I’ll put up with Trent’s paranoid totalitarian fantasies provided it’s part of a great album, and I think he’s pulled it off nicely.

It’s a hell of a lot better than that Marilyn Manson piece of shit, I tell you.

Update: Speaking of which, I’ve got remixes of “The Hand that Feeds” and “Survivalism” that I did in GarageBand.  If there’s any interest in hearing them I’ll post them here.  Just let me know.

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 11:23 PM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

by Lee

I have to say, the more I learn about GOP dark horse Fred Thompson, the more intrigued I become.  Via Reason comes this Red State op-ed by Thompson, which is a response to criticism from NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru over some tort reform votes Thompson made while in the Senate.

Republicans have struggled in recent years, because they have strayed from basic principles. Federalism is one of those principles. It is something we all give lip service to and then proceed to ignore when it serves our purposes. During my eight years in the Senate, I tried to adhere to this principle. For me it was a lodestar. Not only was it what our founding fathers created – a federal government with limited, enumerated powers with respect for other levels of government, it also provided a basis for a proper analysis of most issues: “Is this something government should be doing? If so, at what level of government?”

As I understood it, states were supposed to be laboratories that would compete with each other, conducting civic experiments according to the wishes of their citizens. The model for federal welfare reform was the result of that process. States also allow for of diverse viewpoints that exist across the country. There is no reason that Tennesseans and New Yorkers should have to agree on everything (and they don’t).

Those who are in charge of applying the conservative litmus test should wonder why some of their brethren continue to try to federalize more things – especially at a time of embarrassing federal mismanagement and a growing federal bureaucracy.


Adhering to the principles of Federalism is not easy. As one who was on the short end of a couple of 99-1 votes, I can personally attest to it. Federalism sometimes restrains you from doing things you want to do. You have to leave the job to someone else – who may even choose not to do it at all. However, if conservatives abandon this valued principle that limits the federal government, or if we selectively use it as a tool with which to reward our friends and strike our enemies, then we will be doing a disservice to our country as well as the cause of conservatism.

At Reason, Radley Balko then asks exactly the same follow-up question that entered my mind.

Here’s my question for Fred Thompson: Does this eloquent defense of federalism apply to the drug war, too? Would a President Thompson support ending federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in states that have legalized medical marijuana? What about cities or states that want to decriminalize the drug in general?

Seems to me that if we’re going to separate the principled federalists from the fair-weather federalists, this is the issue that would do it.

Balko offered to post any response from Thompson.  I’d love to read it, should he be up to the challenge.  How nice would it be, though, to have a president who actually gave a shit about the concept of federalism?

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 04:15 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Vote of the Living Dead
by Lee

I talk a lot about the Bush legacy.  It could be any number of things, but I think utterly destroying the Republican Party is one of the likely candidates.

John Canning has impeccable Republican credentials: He was a Pioneer, one of President George W. Bush’s top fundraisers. He’s the head of a leveraged- buyout firm. He’s the deputy board chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Now he has given the maximum campaign contribution, $4,600, to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Canning says he’s fed up with the Republican Party. ``It’s become a party that’s taken Neanderthal positions on things like stem-cell research and global warming,’’ Canning, who was appointed to the Fed post in 2004, said in an interview. ``I no longer find myself on the same page.’’

To Canning, 62, the party once represented individual rights. Then in 2005, the Republican-led Congress intervened in an effort to keep Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, alive against her husband’s wishes. The move was symbolic of Republican positions on social issues that Canning says he found increasingly frustrating.

But wait, there’s more!

One Bush Pioneer who contributed to Obama, Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples Inc. founder Thomas Stemberg, also gave to Romney, a former governor of the state. He didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. Another, Chicago publicist Jayne Carr Thompson, declined to discuss her contribution to Obama except to say, ``He is a great representative of Illinois.’’

To qualify as a Bush Pioneer, fundraisers had to bring in at least $100,000 in donations for the 2004 election. Pioneer Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of New York-based Verizon Communications Inc., contributed this time around to New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Republican Senator John McCain.

Obama also is attracting support from Republicans who aren’t prominent in business. It’s hard to go to one of his events and not meet at least one Republican, either curious about the senator or already converted.

So much for Karl Rove’s permament Republican majority.  Honestly, I hope the party dies.  I really do.  It’s time for the GOP to go the way of the Whigs.  They’re done.  From its ashes I’d like to see emerge a conservative/libertarian party and a fundamentalist Christian party.

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 12:50 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Duranson Duranson
by Lee

I bought the new Marilyn Manson single yesterday from iTunes.  Ugh, it’s awful.  Imagine a slightly heavier version of Duran Duran.  Manson’s last album was a fucking masterpiece, but if this is the direction he’s decided to go then he’s going nowhere but down.

Marilyn Manson - Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand) - Single

If you want to hear the song, click the link above to be taken to it in the iTunes Music Store.

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 10:07 AM in Celebrity Idiots  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Remembering Boris
by Lee

David Boaz has a wonderful retrospective on the life of Boris Yeltsin.  It’s well worth the read.

In a way he personalizes Mikhail Gorbachev’s accidental liberation of the Russian and Soviet people. Gorbachev intended to reform and reinvigorate communism. He brought Yeltsin from the rural region of Sverdlovsk in 1985 to shake up the stagnant party as the Moscow party boss. But Gorbachev set in motion forces that he couldn’t contain. Once people were allowed to criticize the communist system and glimpse an alternative, things moved rapidly–partly because of Yeltsin’s unexpectedly radical leadership.

Two years later Gorbachev and the party hierarchy pushed him out of the Politburo. But he turned around and ran for the Congress of People’s Deputies, won, and then was elected to the Supreme Soviet. He created Russia’s first parliamentary opposition (in the Supreme Soviet) and then won election to the new Russian parliament. Against the continuing opposition of Gorbachev, he was elected to the chairmanship of that body, thus becoming president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.  He stunned politicos by resigning from the Communist Party.

And then in 1991, less than four years after being pushed out of politics by Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin became the first elected leader in a thousand years of Russian history, winning a popular election for president. Six weeks later he hit his high point. When hard-line communists tried to stage a coup, Yeltsin courageously raced to parliament to rally opposition.  He jumped on a tank to address the crowd, creating one of the iconic images of the collapse of communism.

What made me smile was this part.

Yeltsin wasn’t perfect. He was often boorish and apparently had an excessive taste for alcohol. Despite letting the other Soviet republics go, he launched the devastating war in Chechnya. He unconstitutionally dissolved parliament in 1993; when communist lawmakers defied him, he sent tanks to shell parliament.

The day this happened my father happened to be in Moscow on business.  He actually stood on the other side of the river and watched this happen live as we were all watching it live on CNN. 

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 10:00 AM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

El Feto Ha Sido Termina
by Lee

There’s goings-on down South.

Mexico City lawmakers voted to legalize abortion Tuesday, a decision likely to influence policies and health practices across Mexico and other parts of heavily Roman Catholic Latin America.

Pretty fucking sad, isn’t it, when Mexico makes more sense than the US.  Just think, when abortion is successfully outlawed in this country, Mexico will have another economic boom as all of America’s pregnant teenage girls make a run for the border.

Wait, what am I thinking.  There aren’t going to be any teenage girls.  The abstinence-only education programs will make sure that no teenager ever has sex.  My God, the plan is FOOLPROOF!

Posted by Lee on 04/25/07 at 09:28 AM in Abortion  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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