Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

“U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.”

by twit

why does it sound like we just got to Afghanistan?

The men of the 3rd Batallion, 8th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, are discovering in their first two months in Afghanistan that the tactics they learned in nearly six years of combat in Iraq are of little value here — and may even inhibit their ability to fight their Taliban foes.

Their MRAP mine-resistant vehicles, which cost $1 million each, were specially developed to combat the terrible effects of roadside bombs, the single biggest killer of Americans in Iraq. But Iraq is a country of highways and paved roads, and the heavily armored vehicles are cumbersome on Afghanistan’s unpaved roads and rough terrain where roadside bombs are much less of a threat.

… to reach the populace, American forces must find unmapped caravan routes that run through treacherous terrain, routes not designed for their modern military vehicles.

American forces have been in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001 …  and the military is just beginning to notice that the terrain is different?

U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.

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Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

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Iraq comes full circle

by lestro

I remember very well the excitement of the first few weeks of the Iraq war.

It was a crazy time, with news reporters “embedded” and reporting live from the backs of Humvees and Bradleys charging toward the capitol, where the Butcher of Baghdad and his elite republican guard awaited, possibly with their chemical weapons and definitely spoiling for a fight.

I remember shock and I remember awe.

and I will never forget the triumphant images of the American soldiers helping Iraqis pull down the statues of Saddam Hussein. It was a big moment, a triumph and, really, a good day for humanity.  Whether you supported the war or not, there was no way around the joy and excitement that seemed to be pouring out of the Iraqi people actually did, for one day, treat us as liberators.

Of all the images, one of the things I remember specifically was the Iraqis beating the statue of Hussein with their shoes. Men ran up to the statue from all around Baghdad, hopping as they approached the fallen icon and taking off their sandals to beat the visage of Hussein with their shoes.

I remember the anchors and correspondents telling us that this was very significant because in Iraq, hitting something with your shoe was a terrible insult.  It meant you were the lowest of the low,  beneath even the soles of their feet and a tremendous sign of disrespect.

In Iraq, apparently, hitting someone with your shoe is like spitting on them while flipping them off AND calling their dead mother a whore.

It’s nasty stuff.

As you have undoubtedly seen, Baghdad has come full circle. Today, the man who “liberated” Baghdad (and who also plunged its residents into more than five years of terror, warfare and death) visited his catastrophic blunder of a legacy for the last time as Commander-in-Chief.

This morning at a press conference, an Iraqi threw both of his shoes at our president, who had no problem avoiding both shoes, after spending the last eight years dodging questions, prosecutions and the U.S. Constitution.

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Iraqi journalist hurls “a farewell kiss” at George W. Bush

by twit

and Bush manages to duck both of them:

via Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

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Eight years later

by twit

From the NY Times blog The Caucus on October 24, 2008:

A twist on the old Budweiser “Wassup” commercials, using the same guys as the originals, and incorporating Iraq, the economic meltdown and the electrified change atmosphere of this election.

and the original “Wazzup” commercial:

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Attack the tactic? Bad strategy, John.

by lestro

I think I just got to the heart of the problem in the George W. Bush Administration, as well as the would-be sequel of the McCampaign.

It is a delicate, but incredible important distinction between strategies and tactics.

Friday in the debate, during a discussion about the 2003 troop surge in Iraq, Barack Obama said:

They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war.

And so John likes — John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.

You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong.

John McCain, following this eloquent and succinct dressing down of his judgment, put on his most condescending face, flicked his tongue a few times and did exactly what the Karl Rove playbook says to do.

He belittled his opponent, plugged the message and changed the subject:

MCCAIN: I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. But the important — I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq.

With McCain’s storied military career, his dressing down his younger opponent on the difference between a strategy and a tactic carries some weight.

Unfortunately, as Joe Biden pointed out in the immediate spin (which was not countered by the other veep candidate, by the way. hmmm…), McCain was wrong and Obama was right.

A strategy is a big picture goal while a tactic is what you use to help achieve those. In the case of the surge, the strategy was “Clear, hold and build” – the tactic used to try and accomplish it was a temporary increase in troop levels.

In a broader sense, the strategy was to use the military to tamp down violence and create breathing room for the diplomatic operations to take hold and allow us to get out. The tactic that was used to allow the military to tamp down the violence was “the surge”.

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