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November 23, 2006


As it's an open thread, let me also point you to this recipe for a turkey stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken -- in other words, a turphucken: "The battle rages on around my house: Some people love a slow, moist turphucken, some crave a fast turphucken. One thing for sure, everyone loves a hot turphucken."

And, with more seriousness, let me re-post Miss Laura's comment from the end of a thread yesterday and open it for discussion here as well, because I'd really be interested in hearing your feelings and memories on this:

...the November 22 thing is interesting to me. I remember several years in late elementary and middle school when my teachers would tell us how everyone old enough would remember exactly where they were when they heard the news, and that we had to ask our parents. I dutifully asked, and neither of my parents really remembered. Not only that, they clearly thought that the claim that they would remember was kind of odd, and possibly some kind of expression of conservatism on the part of my teachers. So I have always associated discussions of that memory with a conservative impulse. This discussion here is therefore giving me some things to think about.

I do think I'll always remember the morning of one particular September 11. Do you remember details of one particular November 22?

I asked both my parents the same question as part of a class exercise. Both of my parents went into a discussion of times like these with the assasination hitting the number one slot. Both remembered the finest details of the events. First RFK, then they talk about Bobby K, then Martin Luther King. (I remember Bobby and Martin Luther King made my parents cry. And made all the cartoons and children's programing go away. I knew that something HUGE had happened-I was born in 1961). My parents reminisced about these events frequently and I heard both their stories about where they were. We repeated this discussion not to long ago around a camp fire and added more current events. The next event that my folks and family say gave them a moment of pause, was when the Shuttle blew up in the sky. I remember I was tending to my new born son, doing a work out while listening to Michael Jackson's thriller. We all shared memories of that event. The next event that made that mark for me and them was 911. Not everyone in my family could remember the shuttle but most of us, had vivid memories about that moment.

Interestingly, my parents think of these events at different times of the year, and at my house, these stories are part of the folklore. Incidentally, I also clearly remember exactly where I was when the O.J verdict came in. I worked in a hospital and the racial tension in this hospital was tremendous in the days leading up to the verdict. I understood the nature of the split and felt "karma, and that there are always consequences". So what I did do, as I worked part-time in a domestic violence shelter at the time, was that I handed out purple ribbons. I said to my colleagues "maybe we disagree on whether or not he killed her, but we can all agree that he was violent toward her in their marriage." Everybody seemed willing to get on that boat and we shook hands.

I would be interested to hear from others on this topic, too. My family is very politically active and perhaps these discussion were why we all are informed and active. My sons 19 and 21 are the same way. I am proud to say that both voted in the november election and both (despite long hair down to his waist) can tell you who our senators are, their opinions on national issues and can name most of the key players.)

My family talks politics and everything else except religion. That's a no-no cos we've got a couple of christian jihadists amongst us. Other than that, it's open season.

At work, I have loud, political shout-outs with my rightwing boss. We've been doing this for years. My co-workers are amazed that we can sit and holler on each other for 45 minutes and then get back to work like nothing happened. Eh, it's called fighting from the neck up. But I never, ever, discuss politics with the rest of my co-workers. They only know how to fight in a personal way. I politely decline to engage them and then walk away.

Usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas my family doesn't discuss politics, the military, businessm or the world. Those things don't come up. We live in our own world for a week. We are happy to be together again no matter where we have come from.

This Thanksgiving my whole family is playing charades. Putting on the bright face, the happy pose.

I didn't even go home. Instead I revisited my grandmom for the 2nd time in a month. She is suddenly in a declining state. And the main reason is that my brother, her first grandchild, has gone back to another land of make believe, Iraq.

I have spoken before here about Donald Rumsfeld. Some took offense that I might be defending him, but I only spoke of what I knew to be true. Donald Rumsfeld will do as he is asked and try to do it the best he can. That is why he has been in Government so much, and has been a success everywhere he has been. This I don't know from personal contact with him, but from people close to me who have had personal contact.

And now it appears that he is no longer welcome in the Bush Administration, and not only that but was brutally "sacked" by the supposed paragon of loyality, President Bush.

Read here:
A Bad Omen in Rumsfeld's Firing
By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, November 23, 2006; Page A39


"... But the day after the election he had seemed devastated -- the familiar confident grin gone and his voice breaking. According to administration officials, only three or four people knew he would be fired -- and Rumsfeld was not one of them. His fellow presidential appointees, including some who did not applaud Rumsfeld's performance in office, were taken aback by his treatment."

"In the two weeks since the election, I have asked a wide assortment of Republican notables their opinion of the Rumsfeld sacking. Only one went on the record: Rep. Duncan Hunter, the House Armed Services Committee chairman. A rare undeviating supporter of Rumsfeld, Hunter told me that "it was a mistake for him to resign." The others, less supportive of Rumsfeld, said they were "appalled" -- the most common descriptive word -- by the president's performance."

"It is hard to find anyone in the Bush administration who endorses the way Rumsfeld was handled. His friend and comrade, Vice President Cheney, is reported to be profoundly disturbed. But even before the election, Cheney appeared melancholy. A high-ranking administration official who visited the vice president then reported him to be nothing like the upbeat Cheney of earlier years in this administration."

Now don't mistake what I am saying as sympathy for Mr Rumsfeld. He picked his hat, and wore it proudly.
What I am saying parallels Mr Novak's thoughts that things are bad indeed in the Bush Administration, who talk so much of loyality and personal relationships, and yet suddenly have aborted Mr Rumsfeld, "cut and run" from Mr Rumsfeld, axed Mr Rumsfeld, and yet the Bush Administration still runs the country.

All this talk of investigation, of Democratic oversight, or court action will do nothing to bring us up out of the quicksand we are mired in.

I spoke earlier of possible military plans for bringing Iraq to an end. Now the Pentagon has had its basic 3 plan outline leaked, the problems with each and compromises that could be made, all of which parallel what I spoke of. The Baker plan is still outstanding and not fleshed out, and I don't speak of it. If Bush is acting like this with Donald Rumsfeld, his standard bearer for Iraq, can we expect a sensible followthrough on these forthcoming plans. President Bush could decide to "hang tough" for two more years. The other terrible choice would be to just leave, and let the area explode in death and violence that would threaten all the Gulf, the MidEast, and the world. What we need is somehow to delicately thread through all the myriad possiblities and pick the best path. Is the Bush Administration capable of doing that? Do they have the slightest modicum of credit amongst the players in that area, in the UN, in the world. Who can trust them? Who can trust President Bush?

I don't know what to expect.


Jodi, you may be interested in this New Yorker piece: "Downfall: How Donald Rumsfeld Reformed the Army and Lost Iraq." I haven't finished it so I won't say much other than that it rings true -- it doesn't demonize him, but rather shows how he did a reasonably good job transforming the army in a sensible way. Unfortunately, in the decades post-vietnam no one had planned to again engage a prolonged insurgency and occupation, and Rumsfeld's new army was not meant to accomodate that, and thus has failed to act in a prepared way. It noted that much of what the troops today need to know to work effectively in Iraq hasn't even been taught for 20 or 30 years. No one was planning to do this kind of operation.

After writing this morning that my family doesn't discuss politics, I was surprised how much political talk emerged today. Maybe I just never really paid attention in other years. Everyone was very happy to say goodbye to Nancy Johnson (who was the Representative for one side of the family) and upset about Lieberman's behavior. It turns out one relative, years ago, was a campaign manager for a Senate campaign, and some other smaller campaigns -- I had no idea.


yes that is a good article.
I agree with most of it but, if you note carefully, there is always seemingly disconnections of command and control. Who gave Breamer what marching orders? Who gave the 3ID theirs? And what were those orders and what circumstances did they cover. Tank commanders don't make good Museum policemen. The 4ID couldn't get through Turkey. Why? Because of Powell poor diplomacy? Because it was cheaper not to deploy them by rerouting, (which was done eventually) since things went so well?

Another example, the Army Chief of Staff said that 300,000 men at least would be needed for the occupation. Not the battle. There were tables that supported that. He was pilloried.
Why? Because Rumsfeld wished to test a theory? Or was it because Bush wanted a tax break while he went to war on a second front?

Did Bush tell Rumsfeld that he wanted to be able to argue for a Tax Cut, and to arrange matters for that, with a cheaper force? Or did Rumsfeld say after hearing his boss's desires, "Yes sir, I think we can manage that." If you know anything about corporate "jocks," and I do, it is that they will figure out what their boss wants, "really wants," and try their best to provide it. Now if the boss says, "hey I want to know the downside and the possible problems," then they will be forthcoming, but usually it is "don't tell me anything that will ruin my day." I expect that Bush is like that. IN FACT I WILL SAY I KNOW HE IS LIKE THAT.

I don't know for sure though. :) Maybe Rumsfeld's book (when Cheney retires) will tell us.

I do know that the Senators and Representatives as well as certain elements of the Navy resisted the efforts to cut down the BIG NAVY - CARRIER GROUPS- premise and of course the NEW FIGHTER concepts.
The new service was envisioned to have more men, more flexibility, more MEFs, more Special Forces, more helicopters, etc. However that would take money from the Defense Budget that normally went to shipyards building carriers, or to companies building newer, faster, more complex and expensive airplanes, and it never got off the ground because of those constraints.

None of that, the old BIG WAR spending, was really changed. We went to war as Rumsfeld said "with the army we had."
Now it appears that it was a big mistake.
But the constraints were there all along. People just tried to ignore them for political reasons.

emptypockets, I look at technology with an eye as to what is going to make it. Some of the technology I see can have a military application. The constraint of funding where a lot of money goes to build a new carrier hits me sometime. I might say and decide that this is a really good idea, and quite reasonable in price, and my bosses might agree with me, BUT the money will go to a shipyard, or an aviation company, or to some other "advanced" system that isn't worth a damn, because that is where the votes are. Look at the F22 for example. It has had some cutbacks, but I expect that in the next administration it will go forward again, because of all the money that will got to districts and states.

The big ticket item's spending will starve simple procurements like kelvar vests, or beefed up humvees. Not enough money for the men when you are building big things.

Politics play a big part. The Tax cut, the size of the military, the reluctance to consider a snafu, and plan accordingly.

3,000+ have died.
30,000 wounded.

And no stop in sight.

Mr Rumsfelds book will be interesting.

Re the comment posting EP quoted above:

``So I have always associated discussions of that memory with a conservative impulse.''

Now that over forty years have gone by, my memories of 22 Nov, 1963, have faded a bit. But I do remember that I was in study hall when the news came in, and I do recall sitting for hours waiting for the bundles of the afternoon paper to arrive so that I could go out on my route to deliver the same. But I don't see why remembering that is somehow the product of a conservative impulse. Can anyone say what the connection might be?

I can tell why I associated this with a conservative impulse: My teachers tended to be conservative by my standards (which is to say, conservative Dems), so on a basic level anything vaguely political they said got associated in my mind with conservatism. But in this specific case, I have slightly better reasoning in that their invocations of Kennedy and his assassination were explicitly tied to a particular kind of patriotism (fighter jets flying over the assembled students standing outside my school on the 25th anniversary of his death, for instance) and an expressed regret for the counterculture of the 1960s that was seen to have taken over in his absence.

Of course, my initial comment was prompted by the fact that mimikatz was saying "everyone remembers this," thereby causing me to re-assess my adolescent judgment. And I followed up tonight, asking about it at a table of 6 people in their 50s besides my parents. They all remembered - in fact, one of them was standing outside her father's business in Dallas, waiting to watch the president go by. Instead, she saw the motorcade whizzing by at top speed and, not knowing what was wrong, went in, listened to the radio, and ended up going and waiting outside the hospital until his death was announced. So clearly this is just one of those blips where my parents' idiosyncracies (they tend not to be big Events people) and my perception of the world back when I was 12 produced an odd conclusion on my part.

I remember September 11 very, very clearly, though when I tell my experience of the day it comes out as a comic story. Related to the JFK question, my father still does not get how big a deal 9/11 was to most people. It's like this tremendous blind spot he has.

I'm relieved that I was able to duck the whole issue by not being invited this year to my GOP cousins' place for Thanksgiving. Always have dreaded encounters with this guy and his family. Perhaps after November 7, he did too. For some reason everyone "had other plans". There is a God, after all. I'm smiling and at peace, spared yet another pointless, painful encounter, for another year.

Well, I was old enough to vote for JFK (which I did) so I certainly remember all the details surrounding his murder. I had a morning class (was in grad school) then a meeting at the Foreign Student Office where I worked part time -- the meeting was about whether I would organize a conference at the U of Wisconsin over New Years -- great pay, so I accepted, and four years later I would discover that the sponsor, the National Student Association, was actually a little CIA cold war project. Anyhow, I dropped the NSA (CIA) guy off at his next appointment, and could not understand why everyone was telling me to turn on my car radio. Next stop, I had an appointment to have my snow tires put on, and a grease and oil job before a later class and then off to work. It was when I pulled into the neighborhood garage and the mecanics were standing around a table radio crying -- that I finally got the word. Had no TV so had to go visiting to watch the funeral and all.

In those days I was "invested" in Kennedy, but have since rethought much, and generally downgraded his presidency. On the matters that concerned me in those times -- Civil Rights and other domestic matters, Lyndon really did "finish up" the New Deal, in large measure because he was a better arm twisting pol, who knew how to get a tough vote out of some stubborn old senate bull. I don't think for all his grace and culture, JFK had it in him to get things like Civil Rights, Voter Rights, Medicare, Medicade and expansion of Social Security done -- and it was critical that they be done.

JFK was also careless. We now know about his womanizing, and with someone other than a President or potential president, I don't think that matters all that much -- but JFK had millions of people invested in him and if some of it had gone public -- Goldwater would have won. One of his women in the months before his murder turned out to be an E. German Spy who was also sleeping around on the hill -- she was quickly packed up and sent home, but apparently some in the press were after the story. This was not just sex, it was profound carelessness.

As to politics over the festival dinner table -- yes -- do it -- particularly if there are children around. This is the kind of setting where kids really learn about politics, through the empassioned discourse of all the disagreeing aunts and uncles and all the rest. I remember in the midst of World War II my Republican State Committeewoman Aunt decided she thought Stalin was really a good guy, because of all the bleeding and dying the Russians were doing on the Eastern Front. My Dad lit into her sharply -- he who had Trot and Socialist Connections -- and let loose with enough anti-Stalinism that as my mom would later say -- would make the turkey-bird poop. Of course I remember debates about FDR and John L. Lewis -- obviously too young to participate, but my cousins and I all learned a lot. (of Interest, they all grew up to be good Democrats.) Thanksgiving is all about the state of the community and the country -- and to avoid politics is to actually avoid expressing how you see that question.

I have the feeling the culture is trying to substitute shopping and football for the necessity of talking about the state of things, and I think that is weak minded.

Speaking of which, we went around the dinner table this year, as in all years offering a reason for gratitude. God bless my father who raised his glass, with tears in his eyes, and asked us to be grateful that the dems had won the house and senate. The entire dinner table erupted in cheers. My 19 year old, my 21 year old sitting with them. The spirit of politics and discourse alive and well in our homes. I think we need to learn to speak to one and another in polite and respectful ways and even though my family leans democrat, (with no exceptions) there are plenty of arguements to be hand within the party philosophy. We work at having discourse that balances thought, and avoids personal attack. This is an art and I am very thankful my children are learning how to do it.

happy thanksgiving everyone...

jodi, regarding the continuation of usa military in iraq, it is no exaggeration to say bushs war in iraq has created a huge trap for the usa.. maybe bush thought that by getting rid of rumsfield, he was getting rid of one of the fellows responsible for putting him and the usa in the huge trap it is in... more likely karl rove needed to show the admin were taking a hit for the election results and he was the most likely figure to take it... on the other hand perhaps the military leadership is not going to have it any other way and have finally had some impact on a 'steadfast in the face of insanity' (not cut and run) administration...

My mother’s rules concerning religion and politics:

1. Never discuss religion at a social gathering (say Thanksgiving) with anyone of a different religion.

2. Never discuss religion with anyone proselytizing at your front door. Shoo them away politely.

3. Always think anyone of a different religion (not her religion) is foolish and misguided.

4. Never, ever, discuss politics, except for my father, who didn’t observe any rule at any time.


I agree about Rove or someone deciding to go to the High Altar (Press) and commit a human sacrifice (Mr Donald Rumsfeld) to separate the Bush Administration from all past mistakes, and miscues.

I suppose after the sacrificial cut was made, and the blood drained from the body into the sacred press bowl, the then lifeless hulk was thrown down the stairs to the masses for them to devour as a blessing from on high.

As for the military they have a plan. Baker will have a plan. But it is up to President Bush to decide. Heaven help us all.

2. Never discuss religion with anyone proselytizing at your front door. Shoo them away politely.

When I was growing up, there used to be Witnesses who canvassed our block. On Sunday morning. Since my family left for our church a little earlier than most of the churchgoers on the block, they tended to catch us just as we were headed out to the car. For several weeks they were undeterred by our purposeful forward motion, or the fact that we were obviously dressed up to go somewhere, or Dad's clerical collar.

Finally one Sunday he sent us kids ahead to the car, and engaged the Witness ladies in some quiet but intensely Congregationalist, Evangelical, and Reformed discussion, the gist of which I later found out was, "Where would you suppose my family and I are going, with me dressed like this?" and so forth, until Mom came out of the house and motivated him to the car.

It was many months before the block was canvassed again—a fact which caused my father's stature among the neighbors to wax like the harvest moon—and never again on Sunday morning that I can recall.

Politics we talk in the family, though carefully as the removes pile up. Religion not so much, and much less than you might think for a family in which there's generally at least a cleric and several deacons in every generation.


the Witnesses won't come back if you say you are Catholic and really wish to "witness" that religion to them. They will run like (my grandmom's saying) scalded dogs.

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