Bush Playing The Clock (With Bob Kerrey’s Approval)

When the first plans in Iraq failed, Bush responded with the first surge, which many considered to be simply staying the course. Most military experts didn’t believe it would work, but it helped stall for time. Bush’s strategy appears to be to run out the clock and leave it to the next President to figure out what to do. With any luck, the next President will even get the blame for the mess that is left behind.

The first surge appears to be failing to work, but Bush still plans to stay the course, and is reportedly planning yet another surge:

The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.

The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there.

The actions could boost the number of combat soldiers from 52,500 in early January to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year if the Pentagon overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades.

Meanwhile, Bob Kerrey has created a lot of talk in the blogosphere following his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in support of remaining in Iraq. Responses include those at The Carpetbagger Report, Liberty Street, Think Progress, and Taylor Marsh. Most of Kerrey’s op-ed is a rehash of pro-war arguments which have been discussed repeatedly in the past. There’s one slightly new twist:

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn’t have lasted a week.

The problem is not that they oppose democracy (even if they do) but that the incompetently managed invasion left the country in chaos. Radical groups would have taken advantage of the situation regardless if we planned to set up another dictatorship or a democracy given this opportunity. If the goal really was to promote democracy, this was the wrong way to do it. People working for democracy in non-democratic societies have complained since the war that many people look at Iraq and no longer see democracy as anything desirable.

One problem is that there is a grain of truth to the arguments regarding predictions of problems if we leave Iraq. However, supporters of remaining have provided no evidence that remaining longer will do any good. We will have problems if we leave this year. We will have problems if we leave Iraq in two years, five years, or twenty years. The difference will be that there will be more lives lost, more money wasted, and more hatred of America the longer we stay.

A Republican View of Conservative Blogs

This makes for an excellent follow up on my recent post on the weaknesses of conservatives on line. There’s at least one Republican who doesn’t take them seriously:

“I really don’t pay much attention to blogs,” he said. “You can say anything on those blogs without any attribution and get away with it.”

Liberal blogs have been influential, the Georgia lawmaker acknowledged. But he dismissed their conservative counterparts, saying, “I don’t pay any attention to them.”

John Linder, member of the House GOP Steering Committee

Edwards Criticized For Charging Big Bucks To Speak on Poverty

The San Francisco Chronicle finds yet another reason to question John Edwards on poverty:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who as a Democratic presidential candidate recently proposed an educational policy that urged “every financial barrier” be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself — as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.

The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus’ Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.

That amount — which comes to about $31 a person in the audience — included Edwards’ travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.

The earnings — though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate — could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate — who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina — chose to speak on “Poverty, the great moral issue facing America,” as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.

That could cause both parents and students to note some irony here: UC Davis — like the rest of the public University of California system — will get hit this year by a 7 percent tuition increase that likely hits many of the kids his speeches are aimed at helping.

Edwards certainly has the right to charge what the market will bear in order to give a speech. However, as with the $400 haircut, this raises more questions as to his political judgement. A slick talking lawyer like John Edwards can talk his way out of a lot of jams, but, as we saw in 2004, he is out of his league in running for national political office.

NYC Emergency Management Director Criticizes Giuliani’s Efforts Against Terrorism

It is amazing that any one could take Rudy Giuliani seriously after repeating the Bush line in the last debate that the terrorists attacked us because they hate us for our freedoms, totally ignoring all the geopolitical factors which led to the conflict. Anyone who looks at terrorism in such a simplistic way is not fit to manage our national security, as we’ve seen under George Bush. Rudy Giuliani, like George Bush, has tried to cover his incompetence by taking credit for accomplishments post 9/11 which he does not deserve. There have already been reports about Giuliani’s failings, including criticism by the firefighters. The New York Times reports criticism from Jerome M. Hauer, New York City’s first emergency management director:

In recent days, Mr. Hauer has challenged Mr. Giuliani’s recollection that he had little role as mayor in placing the city’s emergency command center at the ill-fated World Trade Center.

Mr. Hauer has also disputed the claim by the Giuliani campaign that the mayor’s wife, Judith Giuliani, had coordinated a help center for families after the attack.

And he has contradicted Mr. Giuliani’s assertions that the city’s emergency response was well coordinated that day, a point he made most notably to the authors of “Grand Illusion,” a book that depicts Mr. Giuliani’s antiterrorism efforts as deeply flawed.

Republicans Suppress the Vote Under Guise of Defending Election Integrity

Talk on the blogosphere of voting irregularities typically centers around unsubstantiated claims of tampering with the voting machines and debunked claims about the meaning of raw exit poll date, often allowing the real problems to remain ignored. There’s absolutely no evidence that Republicans steal elections on election day. They are far smarter as instead they rig the system to enhance their chances, using tactics which aren’t subject to recount. McClatchy has looked at how Republicans curb voting in Democratic areas.

As has been seen with Republican misdirection in so many areas, they practice voter suppression under the guise of protecting the integrity of elections. Justice Department civil rights lawyer Hans von Spakovsky advocated changes to the election law which he claimed would reduce fraud, sometimes under the pseudonym of Publius in legal journals. Very little actual fraud of the type von Spakovsky campaigned against was ever proven, but this didn’t matter as long as changes could be advocated which benefited the Republicans:

“Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration’s pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,” charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him.

He and other former career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots.