Faced with incontrovertible facts of increasing costs ($6 billion a month), soldier deaths day after day(2,100), growing disenchantment in Congress (the Senate is demanding periodic reports on how the war is faring), the failure of the Iraqi security forces to protect the country,all signs of a coming defeat, [Bush] keeps on keeping on with pledges of total victory. He won’t set "artificial deadlines" for withdrawal. "No war has ever been won on a timetable - and neither will this one," the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq says.
"These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington," Bush said in his followup address.
You self-employed? Pay quarterly estimated taxes? When you put ink in your pen to sign off on the 1/15/06 payment, remember this:
The U.S. military is paying Iraqi newspapers to publish "good news" stories. A defense contractor, the Lincoln Group, translates the stories into Arabic and then works to get them placed, sometimes with their staffers posing as reporters. The stories appear in the Iraqi press with no indication of their origins.
Oh, and before you let that Lincoln Group reference fade away, catch this:
Billmon wrote a fascinating post on the Lincoln Group last summer, focusing on what seems to be their primary business -- chanelling money to Republican hacks, and doing research on the opposition -- including looking for dirt? -- for both businesses and "select" politicians.
See? Your taxes going to Swiftboater types. The corruption of defense contracts is like a disease we can't seem to get rid of. Unless we pay attention, another chance to nail the bastards is going to pass us by.
First, remember that "co-conspirator #1" in the charges against Duke is Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who owns ADCS Inc....
Also, it's pretty stunning to see members of Congress admit to good-old-fashioned bribes. Not campaign contributions or overseas junkets, but old-tried-and-true lump sum cash payments.
But bribes are a means to an end. So pay attention to the context. This is a defense contracting scandal. Defense contracting scandals get you into the Department of Defense, particularly in a case like this in which the contracts are top-secret military spending programs over which there is little or no oversight.
Okay. This defense contract disease is kind of like obesity: if we'd just lose some weight, fight the worst greed, that would help. What we need to do is elect people -- from members of Congress to president -- who fight this stuff, not feed it, for god's sake.
Update: More on the Lincoln Group via Talking Points Memo.
Think Progress deconstructs the "National Strategy" and Bush's speech and comes up with... "we create our own reality."
Capital Hill Blue has a Pentagon official who says the speech was a "con-job. He will be attempting to sell a strategy that is not achievable and one that is not backed by the professionals who tell him otherwise.”
Not as much as you and I did, evidently. Or did they? Greg Sargent doesn't let them off the hook:
In a recent Washington Post op-ed that will likely serve as a template for many future Democratic mea/culpas, John Edwards wrote: “I was wrong,” adding, “The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate.” But Edwards and every other Dem should have known that some of the intelligence was questionable – even before the war. In the six months leading up to the invasion, there was already a great deal of evidence in plain view, for anyone who cared to see it, that Bush and company were manipulating intelligence to sell Congress and the nation a bill of goods. But even as this evidence mushroomed, many Democrats all but ignored it, or at least didn’t let it dent their support for Bush’s invasion.
To be sure, squadrons of "patriots" were prepared to shout down anyone who expressed doubts. But that doesn't really excuse the wimpishness of the people we count on to be genuine patriots.
But, as Sargent points out, that doesn't mean they should shut up now, as some of their opponents suggest:
Does acknowledging this Democratic failure in any way invalidate the Democrats’ current critique of Bush for cooking the intelligence and lying to spur the nation into war? Not at all.
The larger and more important story -- and by far the larger moral failing, of course -- remains that, as Steve Clemons recently put it, “Bush and Cheney wanted to go to war and punished and beat up all those who stood in their way.” And thanks to Murray Waas,Douglas Jehl, the Los Angeles Times and others, we’re learning that the scope of deception was far more extensive than anyone could possibly have imagined. What’s more, Bush and Cheney, who of course bear primary responsibility for the Iraq fiasco, have provoked the current Democratic assault with their own double-barreled blast of lies about what the Democrats knew, and when.
Still, it’s crucial that at this moment of national introspection, Democrats reckon honestly with their own conduct during the lead-up to what has become a foreign-policy disaster of monumental proportions. It would give their current critique of the administration’s pre-war conduct maximum credibility, which is exactly what it needs and deserves.
I think that introspection is leading to some splits within both parties. Dave Sirota has been cataloguing the efforts of the Old Guard in the Democratic Party to sideline internal opposition from new Democrats and Progressives. He asks:
Is the DNC's primary commission quietly working to further insulate the Democratic Party establishment from outside forces?
...We need to be on the lookout for those who are trying to use the current primary process negotiations and the desire to shift the primary process to actually make the process more insular, and less conducive to insurgent forces. What am I talking about? Well, just look at the states the DNC is considering moving up ahead of New Hampshire – they are Nevada and Colorado.
...We need reforms that aren't going to further empower the party big wigs to anoint a nominee – we need reforms that are going to open up the process to populist insurgents that will kick the establishment into gear and finally start winning elections again.
He's right, of course. Except I'd kick 'em further.