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If I Had Infinite Hours in the Day: 20051227

If I had infinite hours in the day...

First, I hereby apologize to every left-winger whom I have spanked over the years for saying something like "you know the neoconservatives are really fascists." They really are fascists: Matthew Yglesias writes: "THE RULE OF LAW. Bill Kristol doesn't really care: 'Now, General Hayden is by all accounts a serious, experienced, nonpolitical military officer. You would think that a statement like this, by a man in his position, would at least slow down the glib assertions of politicians, op--ed writers, and journalists.... Was the president to ignore the evident fact that FISA's procedures and strictures were simply incompatible with dealing with the al Qaeda threat in an expeditious manner? Was the president to ignore the obvious incapacity of any court, operating under any intelligible legal standard, to judge surveillance decisions involving the sweeping of massive numbers of cell phones and emails by high--speed computers in order even to know where to focus resources? Was the president, in the wake of 9/11, and with the threat of imminent new attacks, really supposed to sit on his hands and gamble that Congress might figure out a way to fix FISA, if it could even be fixed? The questions answer themselves.' This is honestly just dumb. The story we're all talking about isn't a story about how, in September and October 2001, the president authorized some kind of illegal program on a temporary emergency basis before getting things sorted out. That would arguably be forgivable, depending on the details of the hypothetical. The story we're talking about is that today, on December 27, 2005, more than four years after 9/11, the president is still authorizing some sort of illegal, secret surveillance program. The administration has had ample time to make his case.... If the program is really so wonderful, there's every reason to assume Congress will approve it. If the White House really has no intention of abusing whatever it is they've implemented, then they have nothing to fear from the implementation of some oversight or safeguards..." Ezra Klein: "THAT'S...NOVEL. This argument, being rapidly replicated across the right but here coming from David Rivkin and Lee Casey, is very odd: 'Although the administration could have sought such warrants, it chose not to for good reasons. The procedures under the surveillance act are streamlined, but nevertheless involve a number of bureaucratic steps. Furthermore, the FISA court is not a rubber stamp and may well decline to issue warrants even when wartime necessity compels surveillance. More to the point, the surveillance act was designed for the intricate "spy versus spy" world of the cold war, where move and countermove could be counted in days and hours, rather than minutes and seconds. It was not drafted to deal with the collection of intelligence involving the enemy's military operations in wartime, when information must be put to immediate use.' Put another way, although the administration could've followed the law, it chose not to because the law is cumbersome and dusty. So, of course, is the Constitution (which was fully ratified in 1790, when they didn't even have e-mail!) and any number of largely uncontroversial statutes. The question here is whether the Bush administration is really prepared to brandish a theory of law that renders legislation optional when it requires procedural steps and was enacted 30 or more years prior..."

Next, I'd ask what the "Iraqi army" that we are training is going to do--besides fight itself: The Mighty Middle: "Peshmerga Don't Need No Stinkin' Training. Knight Ridder is the little engine that could on Iraq news. While the New York Times was getting it wrong on WMD, Knight-Ridder was getting it mostly right. But on this story, let's hope they're wrong: 'KIRKUK, Iraq - Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan. Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq before withdrawing American troops by training and equipping a national army aren't gaining traction. Instead, some troops that are formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable.The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted. "It doesn't matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion," said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. "Kirkuk will be ours"...'"

And last, I would stand dumbstruck like a deer stuck in the headlights at the stupidity of Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell: The Sideshow December 2005 Archive: "Deborah Howell is deep in the right-wing, to the point that any minute I expect to see her writing things like 'Democrat Party'. This week's article could only have been written by someone who is completely in thrall to the right-wing machine. Observe: 'Ann Scott Tyson, a respected military reporter just back from Iraq, wrote in a front-page story Nov. 4 that "newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war." The story said that more than 44 percent of military recruits come from rural areas, most from the South and West. "Many . . . are financially strapped, with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households, according to new Pentagon data based on Zip codes and census estimates of mean household income."' Now, you'd think this one fell into the category of 'not even news'... But in winger-land, this kind of analysis sets all the alarm bells ringing, apparently. [Howell:] 'In looking at the story, I talked to Curt Gilroy, who, as director of accession policy for the secretary of defense, has oversight of all active-duty recruiting; Tim Kane, a Heritage researcher; Betty Maxfield, demographer of the Army; Bruce Orvis, director of the Manpower and Training Program at the Rand Corp.'s Arroyo Center, and Robert Brandewei, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center in Monterey, Calif.' We have noted before that Ms. Howell thinks that right-wing "think tanks" that make up excuses are equivalent to mainstream think tanks (original usage) that do actual research - and that she regards the latter as "liberal".... Howell doesn't tell us, by the way, why she felt the need to research this particular story... the facts presented in the article are pretty uncontroversial..."