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Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The "Act"
Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28) (the “Act”)

The following are excerpts from the "Act's" report, released today. it's the first of two such reports on Iraq, its failures and successes (something you need to look for through the rose colored glasses available only at the White House: $29.95 or free with your utter and total subscription to the Bushco view of the World).

THE REPORT (from its preamble): This is the first of two reports to be submitted consistent with the Act and has been prepared in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Defense; Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq; the United States Ambassador to Iraq; and the Commander of United States Central Command
MADMAN: This report will not show Iraq and this administration's policies and decisions in a good light, even through the Bushco rose colored glasses mentioned above. Although the Bushies have been spinning this report as a "mixed bag" of good and bad news, we all know that the "bad" is evident and the "good" is nothing short of "ugly".

THE REPORT: Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28) states that the President is to submit to Congress two reports assessing the status of each of the 18 benchmarks contained in the Act and declaring whether, in the President’s judgment, satisfactory progress is being achieved with respect to those 18 benchmarks.
MADMAN: The report is prepared by the White House and members of the President's staff. It uses those inside of the President's inner circle as sources and, as noted in the preamble, those who have "consulted" in its preparation, for the most part, have been appointed by the President himself. Note also that the "judgment" of this report's conclusions are made by none other than President Bush himself (with whoever actually read the report and told him what it said).
There can be no doubt that this is, in no way, an objective report. Taking that into consideration, one must realize that even the news presented as "good" is, more than likely, no better than questionable.

MADMAN: The first section of the report is titled "Current U.S. Strategy: New Way Forward". Now, normally one might find a section like this at the end of a report such as this. However, the report, even with the Bushco spin, reflects so poorly on the existing strategy and policies of the Bush administration (although they appear to be presented more in the third person vernacular than in the first person - another way of their attempting to shift blame) that they felt it necessary to insert a caveat on the very first page before ever discussing the report's findings in the first place.

THE REPORT: Current U.S. strategy -- the New Way Forward -- recognizes that the fulfillment of commitments by both the U.S. and Iraqi Governments will be necessary to achieving our common goal: a democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror.
MADMAN: If the "Current US Strategy -- the New Way Forward" is what's presented in this report, one has to wonder what the past strategy was referred to by the Bushies. Was it "A Stagnant Way Backwards" perhaps? Maybe it was called "Stealing Middle Class Money and Losing Lives." Whatever it was called, one has to be bewildered as to exactly what were the goals prior to this "New Way Forward".
haven't we also wanted to create a (small "d") democratic Iraq? haven't we always wanted them to "govern, sustain and defend themselves?" And weren't they always an ally in "the war on terror". If the answer to any of these questions are "No", then someone has, as Ricky Ricardo might have said, some splainin' to do.

THE REPORT: The building of a strong strategic partnership with the Iraqi Government will be an important part of the effort to achieve this end state, which remains a long-term goal, and requires the application of all elements of national power, including especially diplomatic, economic, and political power.(1)
MADMAN: Notice the footnote (1) at the end of this sentence.
THE REPORT: Here's what it refers to: Over 2007 and into 2008, we are focusing on the following core objectives:
1. Defeat al-Qaeda and its supporters and ensure that no terrorist safe haven exists in Iraq.
2. Support Iraqi efforts to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and regain control over the capital.
3. Ensure the territorial integrity of Iraq and counter/limit destructive Iranian and Syrian activity
4. Help safeguard democracy in Iraq by encouraging strong democratic institutions and preventing the return of the forces of tyranny.
5. Foster the conditions for Iraqi national reconciliation but with the Iraqi Government clearly
6. Continue to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and accelerate the transition of security responsibility the Iraqi Government
7. Encourage an expanding Iraqi economy, including by helping Iraq maintain and expand its export support Iraqi development.
8. Promote support for Iraq from its neighbors, the region, and the international community.
MADMAN: In other words, as the Bushies are want to say, none of this has been done to date and it's precisely why Iraq is in the shape it is. Make no mistake about it, this falls on the backs of the Bushies. It's a strategy which is inflexible in a place where flexibility and improvisation are essential. It's a strategy which puts our soldiers at danger as a common enemy to all sides. It's a strategy charging our troops with rhetoric instead of real goals and the tools necessary to accomplish those goals. It's nothing but a strategy of failure and it was all developed by president Bush and his inner circle.

THE REPORT: In response to the upsurge in sectarian violence in 2006, it was necessary for Coalition Forces to temporarily play a greater role
MADMAN: According the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word "Temporarily" means "during a limited time ". Our troops have been in Iraq for what anyone in the right mind has to consider beyond a "limited time". The way President Bush and this report use the word "temporarily", the word "permanently" is now a synonym of it rather than it's antonym.

THE REPORT: "Continue, Continuing, etc."
MADMAN: It's scary to read this report and to "continue" to see the word "continue" in various forms, as the Bushie "word of choice". How can we change what's going on in Iraq; how can we stay true to the Iraq Study Group's reports and suggestions if we "continue" on the same tract we have been traveling down? By using this word and aver of two times on each page the Bush administration is stating their belief that things are going exactly the way they either expected them to, or want them to go, and it's unacceptable.

THE REPORT: "Change"
MADMAN: The word "Change" is used a mere five times in this report. Each time "change" was used, it was done so to explain how well the Bushies have done in Iraq or as a future empty promise of things yet to come.
-We see little change in Iran’s policy
-Changes are being considered
-Iraqi parliamentarians and political parties are considering changes to the electoral laws
-The most important change in 2007... (past tense, as in a change that has already taken place)
-These changes... (again, past tense)
MADMAN: No where does this report state where a change is needed and what that change might be in a coherent and sensible way.

THE REPORT: The "Summary of Achievements and Shortfalls" Section
MADMAN: This section includes yet another caveat well before it lets the reader know what those "Achievements and Shortfalls" are.
THE REPORT: Some of the benchmarks may be leading indicators, giving some sense of future trends; but many are more accurately characterized as lagging indicators, and will only be achieved after the strategy is fully underway and generates improved conditions on the ground.
THE REPORT: Thus, the assessments in this report should be viewed in a larger context
MADMAN: In the same paragraph, the Bush report felt it necessary to explain with (the word "thus") precisely what they meant by what they said in the first part of that very same paragraph. The bottom line is that the Bushies are telling us to "be patient" and "you don't know what we know, and we're not going to tell you", as well as asking us the rhetorical question, "Who are you going to believe... us or your own eyes?" and "Are you stupid or something?"

THE REPORT: Security: The security situation in Iraq remains complex and extremely challenging.
MADMAN: Imagine, if you will, that you're the President of a corporation which continues to lose money, and you've been in charge of this corporation since its inception. You meet with the Board of Directors to explain what your accomplishments are and where you need improvements, all being done in the light of the loss of billions of investors dollars. You explain yourself this way: "The situation of this company is complex and extremely challenging."
Question: How much longer do you think you're going to be the President of this corporation?

THE REPORT: Political Reconciliation: Moving key legislation depends on deal-making among major players in a society deeply divided along sectarian, ethnic, and other lines.
MADMAN: What? Are the Bushies trying to tell us that even after the "purple-finger" election, the "coalition" government, and all of the alliances made over the past four-plus years in Iraq that we still don't have a meaningful way of getting the new leaders of Iraq together to resolve their differences?

THE REPORT: We continue to encourage and press (the Iraqis) to achieve the established (Congressional) benchmarks
MADMAN: Why would they even bother to try? let's lay it out the way it really is, okay? They want us to stay, to police their country and to fight the battles which they simply can't, or won't fight for themselves. Many leaders, including the new foreign minister who said as much himself, don't want us to leave and even say that we MUST stay because, as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "You break it, you bought it - it's the Pottery Barn Rules." President bush is holding the receipt. We stay and we put our children's lives on the line which means that the new Iraqi army and police forces don't have to. As long as the Iraqis can't help themselves, President bush will keep us there; and as long as we're there, the Iraqis won't help themselves.

By now you've all heard about the Bush self-assessed report card on Iraq. The record, for the record, is 8-8-2 (in sport terms): Eight wins, or benchmarks met; eight losses, or benchmarks not met; and two ties, or benchmarks that are "too close to call". If the best you can do in grading your own report card is a .500 record, it's time to change tactics...

... or presidents

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "With jobs slipping away to other nations and with people coming across our border looking for a better life, is it no wonder why our American youth aren't working at those same jobs as I did in the 1970's and 80's?" Sean (Mr. Blue-Sky) writes:

For several years, as a teen in the 70`s, I kept a decent paying job nearly year round at my local car wash. It's easy to do in Houston, Texas where the weather permits. I started when I was 15 working weekends with either a chamois cloth in my hand or a vacuum hose.

I had money for Levis and rock concerts. I can still hear Alex Lifeson`s guitar ringing in my ears. Later I sacked groceries for $2.00 an hour plus tips at Randall's I could make a sweet $150.00 a week just in tips alone. I had it made, and it only took 20 hours a week to do it! It wasn't long though before the days of easy money were gone for a teen.

When my sons were of teenage years they had to be pretty quick on their feet to get a job at the mall because all the faces at the car wash and at the end of the checkout lines in the grocery store belonged to "those who are now doing the jobs Americans won't do." The only way to mow lawns for cash was to push a mower down the street and knock on the doors of the houses that had tall grass. My kids were smart even if they weren't quick.

I'd like to say I don't have a problem with someone crossing the border for a better life but I can't, unless they can at least do it legally. I feel for the man who has to move from his country to feed his family, I do. But It seems to me if we control our borders it may force the Mexican leaders to change the way their country is run. Then families could stay and have the lives they want without taking jobs away from Americans.

The same Randall's store where I sacked groceries as a teen is getting a new store front. The brick is getting replaced and a half dozen Mexicans are up on scaffolds laying the brick. Am I supposed to believe that no self respecting American is willing to climb up there and do that same job? Sure, he may need a little more money but I would be willing to pay another .50 a pound for ground beef so he could have it. I would also be willing to pay a few hundred bucks more a year in taxes to control the border so he could have that opportunity.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

In response to, the report that said al-Qaeda is as strong today as they were prior to 911," Joseph Burgess writes:

Who, independently of the Bush administration says that al Qaeda is as strong today as pre 9-11?
Who, besides the Bush administration says that the principal terrorist activity in Iraq is by al Qaeda?
Who, anywhere, says that all the European terrorist acts are by al Qaeda?
Who stands to gain politically by raising the level of anxiety and fear of terrorism besides the Republicans -- just as they did in 2002 and 2004? How many terrorism alerts have there been in the U.S. since November, 2004. How many were there in the months before the November elections that year. As you indicated -- the Republicans.

BUT your blaming the Bush administration for an alleged regrouping of al Qaeda will help raise many Americans' level of anxiety and increase their fear of terrorism -- and plays right into the hands of the Republicans. You've backed into what the Republicans hope to accomplish.

And Madman responds: I was merely pointing out the Bushco hypocrisy: At the same time they're telling us that he's "A war president who is keeping us safer" they're also playing the "be afraid - be very afraid" card to keep us in line. My these was that IF al-Qaeda is stronger today, they are so for exactly the reasons you've just pointed out (and so well in rhetorical question form, I might add).

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-Noah Greenberg