Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iraq and Roll

I just heard over the Christmas holiday that a relative of my wife is being dragged off to Iraq. By all accounts, this young man is not happy. He was one of those tweeners who could have either, a) ended up in jail or b) entered the military to "get his act together." I'm not sure his act is any better, but he did join the Army and served two tours in Afghanistan, a long ways away from the combat zones. And, he's not in jail.

Now, however, this gung-ho 20-something isn't calling his own shots any more. All the misty talk about education and postings in Hawaii are long gone. Now, he's heading to hell and he has no choice.

As we wait with hope for a New Year, it's depressing to imagine just what POTUS is thinking, but I tend to believe it will involve the lives of many other young men and women just like my wife's relative, who will be put in harms way to protect nothing more than a failed political strategy.

For those of us old enough to remember Viet Nam, there is a good deal of head-shaking going on. We've seen this before, and it ended badly. If I close my eyes, I can see Huey's hovering over the Green it quickly turns red.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Family Retainers

A recent article in the New York Times noted that Speaker Pelosi and others were working hard to help retain freshman Democratic legislators, even though they haven't yet been officially sworn in! This is a wonderful move, and though Rahm Emmanuel is no longer head of the D-triple-C, it has his politically smart impramateur on it. In particular, the Dems will focus on lawmakers who may have squeaked in with narrow victory margins, including Space (replacing disgraced Bob Ney) and Tim Mahoney (took Foley's old FLA seat)

This is a simple and obvious move, but it is something many Democrats came late to. As the Times article noted, the Members have been alerted that "you are already running for Congress, again" and that they'll need to raise upwards of a million dollars just to hold their seats in two years.

Now, I'll be the first to question the two-year terms of House Members, particularly in a day an age when politicking is done mainly via expensive televison advertising, but the fact remains; it's the way the system is today and the new members have to play the game by the current rules of engagement. And that means they'll have to start making those dreaded fundraising calls ASAP.

One other aspect of this "retainment" program is to get these frosh Members some plum committee assignments, so their names can be tied to high-profile lesgislation, and (perhaps more importantly) they can bring home some pork right away. It will give them some real strong bullet points for the TV spots they'll begin running a year from now. Again. Excellent idea. It ignores the conventional wisdom about giving top committee posts to those who have survived and played the game well...but it clearly shows that the Democrats are playing as a team; ignoring individual stats so that they can get to the Super Bowl of American politics; The Presidency in '08.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Iraq Shake and Bake

The Iraq Study Group was just the beginning. At nearly every office, commission and think tank in DC, someone is "rethinking" the situation in Iraq. Georgie Boy promises fresh ideas and a big announcement after Christmas. In perhaps the only smart decision of his abyssmal reign, President Grinch decided not to spoil our collective holidays by giving one more inane speech to the 'murican public. At least not yet. Yes, there is a Santa. And at least his mission will be accomplished.

However, under the surface, the depression remains. Bush is determined to go down swinging; and he'll take us all down with him if it comes to that. With the Right Wing think tanks working overtime to justify sending more troops into harms ways, look for Bush to warm up your January with a Rush To Reinforce. More troops will march off to Iraq, or will be forced to endure another rotation and that, the neocons conclude, will stop the insurgency which is tearing Iraq apart.

Not gonna work. If there was ever a case in which "more is less," this is it. The only solution in Iraq is for the Sunnis and the Shia to get their acts together and set aside decades of religious one-upsmanship. Do I think that will happen? Do you?