A Little Less Competent Than, Say, a Peckerwood Pontius Pilate
From First Draft, a link to Juan Cole comparing Team Bush's twin towers of venality and incompetence...no, not Shrub and Big Time themselves, but their legacy of destruction in Iraq and along the Gulf Coast.
Cole: Bush happened to Iraq just as he happened to New Orleans. He cannot do the hard work of patiently addressing disasters and ameliorating them. He just wants to set people to fighting. Crush the Sadr Movement, perhaps the most popular political movement in Iraq? He's all for it. Risk provoking a wider conflagration in the Middle East by worsening relations with Iran? Sounds like a great idea to him. Bush campaigned on being a 'uniter not a divider' in 2000. In fact, he is the ultimate Divider, and leaves burning buildings, millions of refugees, and hundreds of thousands of cadavers in his wake. He is not Iraq's Brownie. He is Iraq's Katrina itself.
And, I'll say it again, particularly as the scoundrels busily wrap themselves in as many flags as they can get their grubby fingers on--if they can't fix the Gulf Coast, how can anyone POSSIBLY believe they could salvage anything even remotely resembling "success" on the other side of the globe?
It’s not just the apparent recession. Recessions happen. If you tried to build an economy immune to the human emotions that produce boom and bust, you would end up with something that looked like East Germany.
The bigger problem is that the now-finished boom was, for most Americans, nothing of the sort. In 2000, at the end of the previous economic expansion, the median American family made about $61,000, according to the Census Bureau’s inflation-adjusted numbers. In 2007, in what looks to have been the final year of the most recent expansion, the median family, amazingly, seems to have made less -- about $60,500.
This has never happened before, at least not for as long as the government has been keeping records. In every other expansion since World War II, the buying power of most American families grew while the economy did. You can think of this as the most basic test of an economy’s health: does it produce ever-rising living standards for its citizens?
In the second half of the 20th century, the United States passed the test in a way that arguably no other country ever has. It became, as the cliché goes, the richest country on earth. Now, though, most families aren’t getting any richer.
"We have had expansions before where the bottom end didn’t do well," said Lawrence F. Katz, a Harvard economist who studies the job market. "But we’ve never had an expansion in which the middle of income distribution had no wage growth."
And, what a coincidence--we've never had a gang of thugs both this corrupt and this incompetent governing us before! Go figure.
President Bush plans to announce on Thursday that Army units heading to war after Aug. 1 will serve 12-month tours rather than the 15 months that soldiers are currently deployed, senior defense officials said.
Maybe it's this:
The reduced tour length will not apply to any soldiers now serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other war zones, although that could change later if security conditions improve, the officials said Wednesday.
Or maybe it's the whole John Yoo element of this administration...you know, the part that claims laws and regulations are strictly for wussies when we're engaged in the manly art of war...ok, when the troops are so engaged.
Or maybe it's all the stop-loss orders and other heavy-handed tactics that have made a mockery of the term "volunteer" army, and make Big Time's recent remarks all the more galling.
Or maybe it's all that, plus my recollection that prior to Dick and George's manly military exercise, I think the rules WERE 12 month tours. In other words, Shrub's mangnanimous gesture is simply getting back to level ground, as it were.
I tell you--it'd be something to see what sort of tantrum Chimperor George would throw if they told HIM no vacation this summer.
I mean, by his logic, you could look at the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders in August of '69...or take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of Los Angeles residents slept quite comfortably both nights.
The fact is that basic errors of the kind John McCainconsistently makes cost us needless casualties, and that's regardless of your opinion of the war.
Haven't we given the idiots far more than their fair share of time to push their idiot position already? I mean, sheesh: we're five years in, and the best they can cling to is some sort of ridiculous fantasy about "the surge" being what would be the farcical were it not so maddeningly tragic equivalent of "the light at the end of the tunnel" for this generation of chickenhawks.
Meanwhile, as I was reminded by a friend yesterday, real people, with real families, are forced into a living purgatory as they sweat over the possibility of deployment, or multiple deployment...just so Shrub, or St. John, can save a little face (even as they evidently can't or won't do their fundamental homework, no pun intended).
Again, I'll note that this administration can't even fix the New Orleans and United States Gulf Coast, which is a lead pipe cinch/slam dunk in comparision to the disaster on steroids that's their "success" in Iraq. And McCain can only promise more of the same.
Ranging off topic just a bit, the latest high water on Old Man River has been fascinating...and thus far, thankfully, not worrisome...yet. I guess we'll see over the next few weeks how this pans out not only for those of us here in Stick Rouge, but also downriver...
The images above, which I grabbed off a US geological survey website, show earlier low and high water levels from several years ago (and, just for the record, were taken barely a five minute walk from my humble maison). At present, the river is once again right around the high water mark you see above, i.e., even with current estimates, the crest should be well below the levee top. Downriver, there's the possibility that the Bonnet Carre spillway might have to be opened...if you do a google search, you can find photos of a previous opening, which is a pretty spectacular and humbling example of both human engineering efforts and nature's sheer awesome power.
Anyway...it's difficult to describe, but amazing to see large ships during high-water events, particularly from the perspective of River Road at the base of the levee...ships literally loom over you.
Well, here's hoping that this will merely be an interesting few weeks and not anything more serious. And maybe it'll be a quick lesson for those unfamiliar with the term "batture."
Ritual versus reality day on the Hill, with wingnuttia no doubt taking the role of the Furies...geez. Talk about mass delusion and self-deception, all in service of what's gotta be the ultimate in petulance--a refusal to recognize that, as Atrios and others used to note, there's no way to unshit the bed.
Having enabled the ethnic cleansing of a country; pacified warring Sunni tribes through flat-out bribery (with no resulting structural change and no end in sight); and then having claimed credit for a (only fractionally successful) so-called surge leveraged on the back of al-Sadr's cease-fire, here was the NYT yesterday effectively promoting the General as a potential vice-presidential or even presidential candidate! (And not only that, but the article actually cites "loathsome buzz" from liberal bloggers as escalating the wave!)
Geez: the most pressing foreign policy issue, and the debate is strictly at juvenile level. No one wants to admit the obvious--that as bad as Iraq was under Saddam Hussein, well, it's even worse now, both for the Iraqis AND everyone else.
As I noted last week, fate allowed me the privilege of actually meeting Ashley Morris only a few times...but those few times made it clear why so many of his friends have written so eloquently of him. You can link to two wonderful rememberences of Ashley here, and, if you can afford it (despite these uncertain times), please consider a donation to his family.
Over at YRHT there's a post with a picture that reminded me of a less serious moment--he had posted a picture of himself with Kathleen Blanco, and suggested that he had (as I noted in comments over there) an anti-bandwagon effect...I forget if he solicited any additional pictures himself, but I figured if that WAS the case, why not go all out? If I remember, Varg did some as well, and, to be honest, this degenerated to the point where I actually...downloaded a picture of Britney Spears (that's at my home pc, but still...hang my head in shame).
Alas, the effects of a photo are different from the effects of a photoshop.
Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone.
But the operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq’s central government and the American Embassy here. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.