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August 04, 2006


ladies and gentlemen, this is not 1972 and we are not McGovernites. Nor is the country in the mood to accept the analogy.

The Republicans are going to have to find out the hard way.

One more important point. Once the Iraq War becomes the issue (finally), it'll be a lot harder to trick us into a Syria becomes regional war. Which is another reason Joe's Republican friends are desperately wishing he'll win on Tuesday.

more on the local angle from the Globe :

But from what I saw in Connecticut this week, if Ned Lamont prevails in Tuesday's Democratic primary, the larger story will tell of a smart, supple, wealthy challenger who adroitly tapped the deep ambivalence toward Lieberman -- and of an incumbent who had forgotten how to wage an effective campaign

I suspect Hillary played a very important role in pulling together that letter -- and she reinforced it yesterday with her demand Rumsfeld resign. And I suspect she has done one other Leadership like thing -- lay down the way Lamont will be treated when he wins next week. I suspect she has made Schumer and all the others swallow much of their Joe Passion, and agree that if Lamont wins, Lamont gets DSCC support, the national endorsements, and huge respect at least on the surface. She sent Bill to make an appearance for old times sake -- but she has cleared the deck for a different Democratic Senator come November.

Yesterday on Kos there was a fascinating post making the case that Hillary will not run in 2008 -- rather, she will become Senate Majority Leader in 2009. (Reid apparently thinks one more congress is all he wants as leader.) That has long made sense to me. The poster made the point that her negatives are simply too high to be elected president -- so why go that direction.

I have a much more positive take on the idea, much of it the result of reading Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" a couple years back -- a thousand page description in detail of the job description for a Senate Majority Leader. Back then it struck me Hillary would be a great Majority leader -- her assets fit the job, and her unpopularity in red states matters not at all.

Go back to the early days of B Clinton's term, and Hillary was the Policy Wonk -- and she still is. She wants to debate policy, solve problems, get things done. Hillary Care Version 2.0 for instance. She can work across the aisle, put together voting coalitions, accomodate Senators on this and that, and in the end produce. Moreover, there is that pot of money she is sitting on even after she is re-elected. Well -- the essential for someone to get elected Majority Leader is to pass around the money for other elections. She has a pretty big heap, and she can grow it. She can also send Bill in to help candidates and state parties raise money.

I suspect many Democrats across the spectrum are comfortable with this, and will see it as a cloud lifted. We won't have to re-hash Whitewater, Gennifer Flowers, Cattle Futures, Monica or any of the rest of it. Hillary can focus on the Senate, and electing more Democrats to the Senate in 2008. Then she can take up LBJ's old job. If you haven't read Caro's Master of the Senate -- do read.

excellent post, Sara.

But will Ned Lamont and the Democrats in general provide any resistance to the Israel Lobby and the neocons' drive toward wider Middle East war? I'd be eager to read the opinions of folks here on Billmon's prediction of future spinelessness. His picture looks all too likely to me.

Democrats -- always mired in the last war....

That Billmon post Jan linked to is really depressing. Basically, he says that the neocons and allies are trying to convert the ME situation into an existential war for Israel that the Dems can't possibly oppose, and so they will support the coming war with Iran in the end with all the alacrity with which they supported the war with Iraq that created the need (if there is any) for war with Iran in the first place. Only the generals who oppose war with Iran (and maybe a faction in the CIA) stand between us and WWIII.

I'd like to think that there are a few others who understand the stakes, and that the fundamental isolationism of the majority of the American people would save us from that. If he's right, I guess it's stupid to worry any more about global warming.

janinsanfran, complaints about spineless Democrats are especially tiresome the week we kick out a spineless democrat that no one thought could be beat.

Understand that Lieberman was a neocon defense of the next war, not just fighting the last one. Defeating him (hopefully by a big enough margin to prevent him from running, as his support collapses) is a positive step.

I think Billmon has periodic bouts of depression (who wouldn't with neocons in charge) and after he quit blogging with a GBCW editorial in the LA Times, I continue to read him but certainly don't hang on every word he writes.

As to the ME, I don't think US policy is sustainable. But that's for another day.


I'll second your recommendation for Caro's book. I've been listening to it for the last month or so whenever I cook. Even my mostly apolitical non-American husband is very fascinated by it. He came in last night in the middle of Johnson's post-heart attack period, and was all, "What happened with Lady Bird? He likes her now?" So I had to catch him up.


That was what I was talking about with my Bolton post a week or so ago. (And, unfortunately, my wildarsed guess that they'd try to use the Israeli offensive to get Bolton through turned out to be totally correct, as Chuck Schumer will attest to.) That's why we need to be very alert for Republicans (like Hagel) who won't go down that path. There will be some Republicans (particularly Hagel) who will have more leverage to oppose any Iran warmongering, because Bush is bringing them down. And that may be all that saves us (as I suspect it has so far with the Bolton vote).

Dem, I seem to be suffering bouts of depression right along with Billmon. Tell me why, if our policy toward the ME is unsustainable, which I also believe, it is somehow going to go in a good direction under the Dems? Nixon to China? I don;t believe that. Repudiation of the neocons? Does anyone but political junkies really understand it on that level?

Sorry to be so dark and down. Here's a ray of hope regarding a possible path to peace from a reporter in Damascus, via Kevin Drum's site.

Why our ME policy will be better under the Dems:

  • The Neocons won't be in charge
  • We will establish relations with the bad guys, which will at least let us intervene in cases like this Lebanese mess
  • Our energy policy will be one of alternatives rather than ongoing addiction to our Saudi masters
  • We have a shot at rebuilding our credibility at least with the Europeans because of our acknowledgement that the war was wrong

That's just for starters. We're the party of Clinton and Carter. They may not have succeeded in real peace. But by the time President Gore gets into office, the weakened position of Israel may mean peace will be possible (and by that, trolls, I mean simply that we need to be brokering a peace between equals, not that Israel needs to be weak).

When the Hillary-for-prez stories started appearing, my first thought was, Why would she take the risk, when 1) she can be Senator for life, and 2) the kind of work a Senator does -- grinding, behind-the-scenes stuff -- is far more to her liking than the ceremonial, showmanly nature of the presidency? And, as Majority Leader, she'd have the insurance that Daschle -- and even Reid to some extent -- did not: certainty she'd never undermine her re-election.

It's fascinating to read the fatalism suddenly creeping into formerly-friendly Lieberman coverage: there's almost a presumption Ned will win and win comfortably (something my black-Irish soul won't count on till c. 11PM Tuesday), and also a very strong strain of "the party'll dump him/his indie bid has a good chance of crashing" -- all of which might lead Joe to abandon the whole thing after the primary. Combine this with the recent (long overdue) Dem aggression against Iraq policy, and what we may be seeing is How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the War -- something the polls (and our own DemfromCT) have been telling them a long time, but inertia -- and the whole Al From/Marshall Wittman prescription for the Dem future -- have kept them from embracing.

I feel we may be in a historic moment akin to when the Goldwater right truly took over the GOP in the late 70s -- not so much on an ideological level (Lamont and his soul-mates are way more centrist than Reagan-era GOP folk) as in the way the party is now ready to assert itself as having a truly better vision for the country, not just assorted tidbits to get us through the next election cycle.

EW: The neocons will still be in charge until Bush leaves office in January, 2009, even if the Dems take Congress. None of the things you enumerate can happen until then. I agree we will try talking to those you refer to as "the bad guys", but the GOP will be carping all the way, just like they did under Clinton. Will anyone listen? That is the question, I suppose. You know Michigan and I don't. Are the Dems as a whole really ready for better mileage and alternative fuels?

I'd certainly rather you were right.

Thanks, demtom. Re Wittman, see Rolling Stone.

Re Bush as prez for another year, see Hagel.

Bottom line is that with a Dem congress that can subpoena, and a handful of responsible Rs, the rules are different.

Also, Mimikatz, the "iraq study group" chaired by James Baker may influence a change of course away from neocon hell. Lee Hamilton and other so-called 'realists' in the ISG may also influence the terrain away from Cheney and the nutcases he works with.

It's always darkest before the dawn.

Did you all notice that point yesterday by Sen. John Warner at the Armed Services hearings -- the resolution to use force in Iraq does not extend beyond Iraq, and taking one side or another with our assets in a Civil War would require the President return to Congress. Biden was agreeing with him -- making me think they have drawn some sort of line in the sand.

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that the notion of "Peace Process" as it began under Carter and continued with fits and starts through Clinton is a used up idea vis a vis the Middle East. At the core it assumes if parties to a dispute negotiate, beginning with small confidence building agreements, that eventually you get to a master solution. I'd like to see a return to the Madrid idea -- which was the Congress of Vienna Idea somewhat modernized, which was simply an "imposed peace" in the wake of all the wars of the Napolanic era. Probably some elements of the "Peace Process" negotiations would remain on the table, but rather than just bi-lateral treaties, you would have a master settlement for the region and perhaps some sort of regional authority through which disputes could be resolved short of war. This President could never execute something like that -- certainly the ability and skill to do something major ought to be a criteria laid down for who gets the nomination in 2008. The idea of a "grand bargin" is not all that different from what the Saudi's tried to propose several years ago.

re the ME, getting to 2008 is perhaps the best we can hope for.

re iraq, anyone notice Mr. The Next Six Months Are Crucial throws in the towel?

But the administration now has to admit what anyone — including myself — who believed in the importance of getting Iraq right has to admit: Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, it is not happening, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives.

Since the Bush team never gave us a Plan A for Iraq, it at least owes us a Plan B. It’s not easy. Here are my first thoughts about a Plan B and some of the implications.

Finally, the war in Iraq has so divided us at home and abroad that leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. All these problems are connected. We need to deal with Iran and Syria, but from a position of strength — and that requires a broad coalition.

The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq, the harder it will be to build such a coalition, and the stronger the enemies of freedom will become.

Going into Lebanon full force and stating that they were trying to eliminate Hezbollah as an effective force has run up against that fact that Hezbollah can take on the IDF in a defensive war and still fire hundreds of missiles into Northern Israel daily. There is nothing the IDF can really do about it except bloody high-casualty infantry war. A month ago the IDF was the regional superpower. Now Hezbollah is effectively handing the Israelis their heads on a plate.

Someone, I forget who or where, said that when Bush first sat down with the Israeli PM Bush told him that the U.S. would back their military efforts to get rid of Hezbollah to the hilt. Since the U.S. has generally had the function of stepping in and stopping the IDF pretty early into most wars, this is a change in policy.

The statement was connected to a discussion attributing Bush's foreign policy entirely to his fundamentalist reading of the Bible. Bush isn't a conservative. He is a religious fanatic who has used Rove's skills (especially getting the religious right to get out and vote for him) and his father's conservative credentials to get elected - well at least get into the White House.

Right now I get the impression that Olmert really wishes Bush 41 were in office and would make the IDF stop fighting so that the Israelis could get out of the hole they have dug for themselves and still save face.

Considering Bush 43's known fundamentalism and his method of basing decisions on intuition then refusing to change no matter what I think I'll buy the idea that our foreigh policy in the Middle East is based on an End Times reading of the Bible. If so, then the question is whether Olmert and the Israelis will go along with an expansion of the war to Syria.

Personally I doubt it. I'm reasonably sure they don't read Revelation and certainly don't read the fundamentalist fantasies into it, and the fact that the Hezbollah have forced them to reenter Southern Lebanon with ground forces and no politically face-saving to withdraw from the quagmire will cause them to limit any expansion of the war there to merely special operations that can be denied.

It's not like Bush has a record of military and foreign policy accomplishments that he can claim as successes in order to convince the Israelis to do something as stupid as expanding the war into Syria or other parts of the Middle East. Besides, we cannot possibly be so unlucky as to have TWO idiots in power as stupid as Bush is and have them reinforce each other -- Can we?

Barring that unlikely event, I think Billmon needs to go meditate and clear his mind for a bit. Since he said he is a financial analyst is real life (off-line), I am sure that the stress of his job has just gotten to him. Can't be the politics, since everything there is going so well (unless you are Joe Lieberman.)

Right? Anyway, I hope so.

Well, Israel and the American Jewish Community really ought to read the script out of Revelations, because it has a pretty nasty outcome from their perspective. It comes down to those Jews who will not convert get destroyed in the great war of Armageddon. From a classic foreign policy perspective, where one does the exercise of evaluating national interests and their compatability before one pronounces policy, the Armageddon script fits neither Israel nor the US's interests -- and it is high time people openly argue this. Neither mainstream American Jewish leaders and organizations, nor mainstream Christian sources have any truck with this kind of thinking -- the Catholics don't even include Revelations in their version of the New Testiment.

A few years back, around the turn of the Century, I ran across an odd story about efforts to breed a pure red calf so as to fulfill one of the Hebrew prophecies, imported into the script for Armageddon followed by some, but not all of the Christian Fundamentalists. I haven't looked it up, but the sacrifice of the red calf must preceed the restoration of the Temple. And that has to preceed the great battle. Anyhoooo....

One of Senator Lott's cousins apparently has a gravy train all about breeding this pure red calf. He is linked up with a Rabbi from Brooklyn, and together they managed to get US Department of Ag funds sent to the Mississippi Dept of Ag to work on this breeding project. The problem apparently is that they do get red calves, but as they begin to grow, they develop small but observable white markings, making them useless for speeding up End Times. Anyhow, literally thousands of dollars in Ag money has been, is being spent on this effort, and on shipping calves to Israel -- only to develop white markings as they grow.

As of 2001-2002 the line item was still in the Department of Agriculture's budget -- with Senator Lott and Brownback and a few others being staunch supporters of keeping the breeding and calf shipping project going. I mentioned this to an ACLU attorney back then, suggesting that it was a great Church-State case to litigate -- and if litigated, Publicized. I simply don't believe the vast majority of Christians or Jews in the US want to spend tax dollars on the genetics of colored cows as a means of speeding up End Times. The response I got was that it was small change in the Ag Budget -- and it seemed to keep the Fundi's happy, so no great deal.

Well so now we have a President who makes Foreign Policy on these wierd prophetic beliefs???? Maybe it is time to take another look at the purpose behind the Mississippi Farmer Lott Calf breeding project.

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