Friday, April 27, 2007

Lind - On War #1

ON WAR # 1

Can A Government Wage War Without Popular Support?
By William S. Lind
January 28, 2003

Beginning this Tuesday, January 28, 2003, I will offer an "On War" commentary each week until the Iraq business is over and done. I suspect that may be awhile.

Who am I? At present, I am a center director at the Free Congress Foundation. But in 1976 I began the debate over maneuver warfare that became a central part of the military reform movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The U.S. Marine Corps finally adopted maneuver warfare as doctrine in the late `80s (I wrote most of their new tactics manual).

In 1989, I began the debate over Fourth Generation warfare—war waged by non-state entities—which is what paid us a visit on September 11, 2001. The article I co-authored then for the Marine Corps Gazette was formally cited last year by al Quaeda, who said, "This is our doctrine." My Maneuver Warfare Handbook, published in 1985, is now used by military academies all over the world, and I lecture internationally on military strategy, doctrine and tactics.

In this series, I propose to look at what is happening—with Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan and other outposts of the new American imperiumfrom the standpoint of military theory. Hopefully, that will enable us all to make sense out of the bits and pieces we get each day as "news." One of the most important things military theory offers to this end is a framework developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF, who was the greatest military theorist America ever produced. Col. Boyd said that war is fought at three levels: moral, mental and physical. The moral level is the most powerful, the physical level is the least powerful, and the mental level is in between. The American way of war, which is Second Generation warfare—there will be more on the Four Generations of Modern War in future commentaries—is physical: "putting steel on target," as our soldiers like to say.

But how does the coming war with Iraq look at the moral level? Here, the U.S. seems to be leading with its chin. Why? Because the Administration in Washington has yet to come up with a convincing rationale for why the United States should attack Iraq.

The argument that Iraq, a small, poor (it didn't used to be, but it is now), Third World country halfway around the world is a direct threat to the U.S.A. is not credible. Yes, Saddam probably has some chemical and biological weapons. But few tyrants are bent on suicide, and the notion that he would use them to attack the United States, except in self-defense, makes no sense. Nor does it seem likely he would give them to non-state actors like al Quaeda—again, except in self-defense—because non-state forces and Fourth Generation warfare are as much a threat to him as to us.

It is of course true that Saddam is a tyrant (his model, by the way, is obviously Stalin, not Hitler). So what? Mesopotamia has been ruled by tyrants since before history began, and it will be ruled by tyrants long after North America is once again tribal territories. The last President who tried to export democracy on American bayonets was Woodrow Wilson. That's one of the reasons he counts as America's worst President, ever. Very few people, in America or the rest of the world, wish to see us revive the practice.

Most importantly, the real threat we face is the Fourth Generation, non-state players such as al Quaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. They can only benefit from an American war against Iraq—regardless of how it turns out. If we win, the state is further discredited in the Islamic world, and more young men give their allegiance to non-state forces. If Saddam wins, their own governments look even less legitimate, because they failed to stand with him against the hated Crusaders. A recent cartoon showed Osama bin Laden, dressed as Uncle Sam, saying, "I want you to invade Iraq!" Undoubtedly, he does.

So what is the real reason for this war? Oil? Revenge for Saddam surviving the first Gulf War? Israel? The ordinary Americans I know are wondering, because the reasons stated by the Administration don't add up.

Military theory says that, in a democracy, a government cannot successfully wage war unless the war has popular support. In turn, a war cannot obtain popular support if the people do no understand why it is being fought. Today, the people, at home and overseas, do not understand why America wants to go to war with Iraq. That means the Administration is losing this war before the first bomb is dropped.

(MG) Lind appears prescient, from my advantage, with the benefit of hind sight.

(MG) So, why isn't Lind secretary of defense? Clearly, the man has fore sight.

(MG) There are many other voices who saw the same thing coming down.

to prevail over non-state forces

(MG) Below I've summarized William S Lind's latest "On War #215" article.
Lind reviews lessons from Martin Van Crevald's latest book

What a state needs to do to prevail over non-state forces.
Looking at the British Army's success in Northern Ireland,
one of the few cases where the state's armed forces have won.

How did the British do it? ...

First, unlike President Bush in 2001, the British did not declare war, ...
from beginning to end the problem was treated as a criminal one

Note that, in contrast to what we hear from the Bush administration and the U.S. military, van Creveld sees the removal of restrictions on what troops can do as a disadvantage. He understands that in Fourth Generation war, the counter-intuitive is often correct.

Second, much of the day-to-day work was left to the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary).
Its members, locally recruited and assigned lengthy stays at their posts,
knew the area better than anyone else. ...
were often able to discriminate among the various factions
inside theIRA as well as between terrorists and others

Third, never again ... did British troops fire indiscriminately
into marching or rioting crowds

Fourth, and in marked contrast with most other counterinsurgents ...
not once in the entire struggle did the army bring in heavy weapons
such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery,
or aircraft to repulse attacks and inflict retaliation…

Fifth, never once did the British inflict collective punishment
such as curfews, the cutting off of electricity and water, demolishing houses,
destroying entire neighborhoods. . .
As far as humanly possible, the police and the army posed as
the protectors of the population, not its tormentors.
In this way they were able to prevent the uprising from spreading.

Sixth and most important of all, by and large both the RUC and the army
stayed within the framework of the law. . .
From (1972) on, the British refrained from
arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and illegal killings

a British colonel, regiment of paratroopers, who had done several tours of duty in Northern Ireland. What he said can be summed up as follows…

the struggle in Northern Ireland had cost the United Kingdom
three thousand casualties in dead alone. Of the three thousand,
about seventeen hundred were civilians….of the remaining,
a thousand were British soldiers.
No more than three hundred were terrorists,
a ratio of three to one. Speaking very softly, he said:
And that is why we are still there.

When the U.S. armed forces understand and accept this, there will be some hope in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Until then, there is none.

Lind warns of attacking Iran

I've been reading William S. Lind at the defense national institute web site. His weekly posts have informed me of military theory, an immensely important topic to a blogger who blogs of war, to a father who prays his son will never have to fight in war, and to a nephew who lost a beloved uncle in combat battle to a war. Lind's articles are prescient. He just gets stuff right, as did Scott Ritter. The following article comes from a Radar e-zine piece.

The Iraq Gamble

Right But Poor

William S. Lind



Pre-war position: This arch-conservative commentator may have been the most prescient voice in the American media warning against the military dangers facing us in Iraq. His career began as a protégé of America's greatest military strategist, colonel John Boyd, and he has since achieved his own renown in that field. Prior to the war, Lind warned that invading Iraq would be of inherent benefit to both Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. He predicted, "When American forces capture Baghdad and take down Saddam Hussein, the real war will not end but begin ... as an array of non-state elements begin to fight America and each other." Bottom line: "It won't be pretty." He also pointed out that a basic tenet of military theory is that a democracy cannot win any prolonged war if the people are at all uncertain about the reasons for fighting. At that point, prior to the invasion, more than half of Americans thought Saddam had a hand in 9/11.

Career status: Still writing for a small audience. Lind is a contributor to the American Conservative and websites like,, and No major publications have come calling, so not many people are hearing the urgent warning he's offering now. "I think we're probably going to hit Iran and that situation could be ten times worse than what we've got in Iraq," he tells Radar.

(MG) I've blogged a lot in the past about the folly of attacking Iran. They've got 70,000,000 people. They've got an astute president. They understand US government duplicity, cheney administration war for the sake of enriching the military-industrial-academic-infotainment-neocon-theocon-fundamentalist complex, and the rovian reelection strategy. They have seen the enemy, and it is US.

(MG) And do we dare think for one moment their mullahs have forgotten how Kermit Roosevelt / Winnie Churchill / Ike gave the green light to the CIA to overthrow Mohammed Mossadegh when he was about to nationalize the oil fields and charge British Petroleum more money?

(MG) Have they forgotten how the US egged Saddam on to wage war with Iran (US payback for the embarrassment to the CIA for having missed the rise to political power of the aged Shiite cleric in France, the Ayatollah Khomeini) and how the US played both sides of the Iraq - Iran fence?

(MG) Have they forgotten how inept was the rescue attempt of the American hostages held in Tehran?

(MG) Have they forgotten the willingness of the Reagan administration to trade arms for hostages, despite US federal law PROHIBITING such unauthorized dealings?

(MG) Do the US political leaders understand The Art of War?

Sun-tau said:

"Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way (Tao) to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.

"Therefore, structure it according to [the following] five factors, evaluate it comparatively through estimations, and seek out its true nature. The first is termed the Tao, the second Heaven, the third Earth, the fourth generals, and the fifth the laws [for military organization and discipline].

"The Tao causes the people to be fully in accord with the ruler. [Thus] they will die with him; they will live with him and not fear danger.

"Heaven encompasses yin and yang, cold and heat, and the constraints of the seasons.

"Earth encompasses far or near, difficult or easy, expansive or confined, fatal or tenable terrain."

"The general encompasses wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and strictness.

"The laws [for the military organization and discipline] encompass organization and regulations, the Tao of command, and the managements of logistics.

"There are no generals who have not heard of these five. Those who understand them will be victorious; those who do not understand them will not be victorious.

"Thus when making a comparative evaluation through estimations, seeking out its true nature, ask:

Which ruler has the Tao?

Which general has greater ability?

Who has gained [the advantage of] Heaven and Earth?

Whose laws and orders are more thoroughly implemented?

Whose forces are stronger?

Whose officers and troops are better trained?

Whose rewards and punishments are clearer?

"From these I will know victory and defeat!

"If a general follows my [methods for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be victorious and should be retained. If a general does not follow my [methods for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be defeated, so dismiss him.

"After estimating the advantages in accord with what you have heard, put it into effect with strategic power (shih) supplemented by field tactics that respond to external factors. As for strategic power, [it is] controlling the tactical imbalance of power (ch'uan) in accord with the gains to be realized.

"Warfare is the Way (Tao) of deception. Thus although [you are] capable, display incapability to them. when committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity. when [your objective] is nearby, make it appear as if distant; when far away, create the illusion of being nearby.

"Display profits to entice them. Create disorder [in their forces] and take them.

"If they are substantial, prepare for them; if they are strong, avoid them.

"If they are angry, perturb them; be deferential to foster their arrogance.

"If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.

"If they are united, cause them to be separated.

"Attack where they are unprepared.

"Go forth where they will not expect it.

"These are the ways military strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken of in advance.

"Before the engagement, one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favor. Before the engagement one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will not be victorious has found few factors are in his favor.

"If one who finds that the majority of factors favor him will be victorious while one who has found few factors favor him will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in his favor?

"If I observe it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent."

From The Art of War, Sun-tzu

translated by Ralph D. Sawyer

Puppy Dog Terror Theory

(MG) When Richard Clarke apologized on national TV to the 9-11 widows, and took responsibility for failing their spouses, and failing the nation, I started to tremble. Here was a humane response, someone willing to stop passing the buck. In the New York Daily News Op-ed piece below, Clarke displays writing chops that would make George Orwell proud.

Put Bush's 'puppy dog' terror theory to sleep


Posted Wednesday, April 25th 2007, 4:00 AM

Does the President think terrorists are puppy dogs? He keeps saying that terrorists will "follow us home" like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we "lose" in Iraq.

The puppy dog theory is the corollary to earlier sloganeering that proved the President had never studied logic: "We are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities."

Remarkably, in his attempt to embrace the failed Iraqi adventure even more than the President, Sen. John McCain is now parroting the line. "We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home," he says.

How is this odd terrorist puppy dog behavior supposed to work? The President must believe that terrorists are playing by some odd rules of chivalry. Would this be the "only one slaughter ground at a time" rule of terrorism?

Of course, nothing about our being "over there" in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. Quite the opposite, the evidence is overwhelming that our presence provides motivation for people throughout the Arab world to become anti-American terrorists.

Some 100,000 Iraqis, probably more, have been killed since our invasion. They have parents, children, cousins and fellow tribal clan members who have pledged revenge no matter how long it takes. For many, that revenge is focused on America.

(MG) I'll take issue with 100,000. I don't think it's even in the ball park.

At the same time, investing time, energy and resources in Iraq takes our eye off two far more urgent tasks at hand: one, guarding the homeland against terrorism much better than the pork-dispensing Department of Homeland Security currently does the job; and two, systematically dismantling Al Qaeda all over the world, from Canada to Asia to Africa. On both these fronts, the Bush administration's focus is sorely lacking.

Yet in the fantasyland of illogic in which the President dwells, shaped by slogans devised by spin doctors, America can "win" in Iraq. Then, we are to believe, the terrorists will be so demoralized that they will recant their beliefs and cease their terrorist ways.

(MG) Remember the quote for Ron Suskind's NYT piece, "We make our own reality". There is a reality that is undeniable, to those with eyes to see, ears to hear; those who have no vested interests in perpetuating the fictitious reality they choose to pass off on the proles.

In the real world, by choosing unnecessarily to go into Iraq, Bush not only diverted efforts from delivering a death blow to Al Qaeda, he gave that movement both a second chance and the best recruiting tool possible.

U.S. military raids in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Iraqis are planning attacks in America, perhaps to be carried out by terrorists with European Union passports that require no U.S. visas. But such attacks here over the next several years are likely now no matter what happens next in Iraq - and that is because of what Bush has already done, not because of any future course we choose in Iraq.

But we can be sure that when the next attacks come in the U.S., if Bush is down on the ranch cutting trees, he and whatever few followers he retains by then will blame his successor. You can almost hear them now: If only his successor had left enough U.S. troops in the Iraqi shooting gallery to satisfy the blood lust of the enemy, as Bush did, then they wouldn't have come here.

The truth: If not for this administration's reckless steps to push America into war - and strategic blunder after strategic blunder that has satisfied the blood lust of the enemy - fewer evildoers would follow us home like the dogs that they are.

Clarke served as chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He is now chairman of Good Harbor Consulting.

Begala Smacks Broder

At the Huffington Post Paul Begala slices David Broder of the Washington Post with a scimitar, exposing the man for the sycophant to power that he is. This is brilliant, incisive writing, that makes me stand up and CHEER!

Paul Begala
David Broder Is a Gasbag

... Ann Devroy of the Washington Post ... was everything [Dave] Broder is not: fearless, intellectually honest, scrupulously fair, and suspicious of power.

Broder, of course, is a gasbag. The Hindenburg of pundits. But my respect for Ann knew no bounds, and she thought I was being unfair. In retrospect I was being unfair. To gasbags.

Mr. Broder has been foaming at the mouth these days. A man generally given to soporific prose, Broder has been downright venomous lately. And what has put the Benzedrine in Mr. Broder's Ovaltine? Not the fact that President Bush continues to lie about "progress" in the war in Iraq. Or that Dick Cheney continues to lie about pre-invasion links between al Qaeda and Iraq. Or that the Bush Administration has neglected our wounded warriors, ignored the victims of Katrina, potentially obstructed justice by firing US Attorneys who were pursuing GOP wrongdoing. Not even that the Bush Administration lied to the families of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, cynically using their blood to distract from their own incompetence and dishonesty.

No, none of this raises Dean Broder's hackles.

He reserves his vitriol for Harry Reid.

Why Reid? Because Reid has been one of the few politicians with the courage to speak the plain, unvarnished truth to power
, and the hallmark of Mr. Broder's career has been to suck up to power. Reid calls Bush a liar. Broder can't handle the truth.

(MG) A point I've made repeatedly. NOTHING sets the right-wing noise machine off as badly as a truth teller caught telling the truth, in simple English, that any one competent to read at a fifth grade level can understand. This is THE single thing they most fear. The unvarnished truth, presented in plain spoken fashion.

In a radio interview Monday, Broder blasted Reid, calling him "bumbling," saying he's an embarrassment, and breaking the news that, "at some point down the road the Democrats are gonna have to have a little caucus and decide how much further they want to carry Harry Reid."

Really? And on what did the self-styled dean of the Washington press corps, base this bombshell? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Broder just made it up. That's not journalism, it's bloviating - aka Broderizing. In fact, real reporters on Capitol Hill chased down the Broder charge, actually interviewing Democratic senators and their staffs. They found universal support for Reid.

Lord knows we're all capable of making fools of ourselves on the radio, so when Broder let loose this screamer I bit my tongue. But now he's taken quill in hand and committed his rant against Reid to paper. In his column today, Broder actually tries to equate Reid's courageous truth-telling with Alberto Gonzales's inartful mendacity. In an unfortunate bit of timing for Mr. Broder, his attack on Reid comes on the same day the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll says the American people agree with Reid on the war. 55% of Americans believe victory in Iraq isn't possible. Reid is right. Bush-Broder are wrong.

And so Mr. Broder lashes out at Reid, smearing and sneering at the man he calls "the leading light of Searchlight, Nev."

Mr. Broder has moved with ease from the elite comfort of the University of Chicago to the smug confines of Arlington, Virginia. And so he looks down at a man who rose from among the hard-rock miners and hard-luck hookers of Searchlight, Nevada to be the most consequential senator of his time. While David Broder was thinking great thoughts at his elite university, Harry Reid was working his way through Utah State. While David Broder was pontificating, Harry Reid was working his way through law school as a cop on Capitol Hill.

His arrogant, elitist, condescending attack on Reid is just the latest Broderian baloney. As Eric Alterman points out in What Liberal Media? "Back in 1968 [Broder] felt the anti-war activities of the likes of Robert Kennedy and Gene McCarthy were ' those involved.'" Prof. Alterman further notes that Broder "frequently dressed down" the critics of Ronald Reagan as "quick-lipped liberals" who "pop off in opposition."

Broder heaped scorn on President Clinton, telling Sally Quinn, "He came in here and he trashed the place. And it's not his place." In Broder's mind Washington is Broder's place. The Establishment's place. And the man from Hope with a heart as big as Texas just didn't know his place. Hysterically, he said Clinton's marital infidelity was worse than Watergate.

But at the end of a career of sucking up to warmongers and Republicans, Mr. Broder has found his true hero in George W. Bush. Where others see a mush-mouthed semi-literate, Broder sees FDR: "As a counterpuncher to criticism and as a doubt-free exponent of his own beliefs, the current president is right up there with the inventor of the New Deal."

While others were shocked at Bush's callous disregard for the lives of his fellow Americans during Hurricane Katrina, Broder wrote Katrina, "opens new opportunities for [Bush] to regain his standing with the public."
(Or at least those members of the public who did not drown due to Bush's incompetence and inaction.)

In February of this year, when the Bush collapse was evident for all to see, the visionary Mr. Broder saw something else. "President Bush is poised for a political comeback," he wrote.

When asked recently if Bush was the worst President in history - a view shared by many eminent historians, including Sean Wilentz of Princeton, Broder replied, "I would not venture at this point whether President Bush will leave the country in better or worse shape than he found it. Internationally, the U.S. suffered setbacks during the Carter administration...." Jimmy Carter, of course, started no wars, invaded no countries, and got our hostages out of Iran alive. But this winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is compared to George W. Bush.

Perhaps Broder's bed-wetting tantrum against Reid was spurred by the certain knowledge that while Harry Reid has been telling hard truths, Mr. Broder has been falling hard for transparent lies.

Whereas Reid called for Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal long ago, Broder vouched for Rummy, writing, "Overall, Rumsfeld left me with the impression that he is aware of the risks of war with Iraq, but confident they can be handled."

While Reid has called for investigations into allegations Karl Rove broke the law, Broder vouches for Rove: "Let me disclose my own bias in this matter. I like Karl Rove.... I have eaten quail at his table and admired the splendid Hill Country landscape from the porch of [Rove's] historic cabin...." Mighty cozy in Karl's cabin, isn't it, Mr. Broder?

(MG) When "reporters" and opinion writers cavort with the politicians about whom they are writing, minimally, the perception is one of a potential trending towards bias in favor of the social set. This is stating it, well, mildly.

I doubt very seriously that Harry Reid is bothered by Broder's comments. Reid has faced down Vegas mobsters who planted a bomb in his family car. He's unlikely to be intimidated by George W. Bush's housebroken lap-dog.

My guess is that Give 'Em Hell Harry is going to keep telling them the truth, and Mr. Broder is going to keep thinking it's hell. As George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

America's Amnesia

Iraq Disaster May Cool War Fever
By Ivan Eland
Consortium News

Thursday 19 April 2007

It is difficult to find any silver lining in the very dark cloud over George W. Bush's Iraq War. More than 3,300 American soldiers are dead, many more are maimed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis also have been killed or wounded.

In this guest essay, however, the Independent Institute's Ivan Eland suggests that one positive development might be a public revulsion the next time a trigger-happy leader points the country toward a war not fully justified by the needs of US national security:

America's problems in Afghanistan and Iraq may have one positive effect: They will cause the US public to withhold support for future military interventions that are not absolutely necessary for US security.

(MG) The Greater American Public (GAP) has fully supported only one war in the last 100 years - WW II. In the first world war, the GAP stayed away from the enlistment offices in droves. The European immigrants remembered well the devastation, death and destruction wrought upon that continent over 100's of years of fighting wars allegedly based on religion. Socialist Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the sedition act of 1918. From a disingenuous Supreme Court Ruling came the argument that freedom of speech does not extend to one screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theater. But Debs was handing out anti-war materials on street corners. Rather than screaming "fire" in a crowded theater, Debs was passing along the information that there is a fire going on in the theater, if you enter, you may be burned. The Sedition Act of 1918 was an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917 passed at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, who was concerned any widespread dissent in time of war constituted a real threat to an American victory. This may have been due to "subversive activity" in Russia that resulted in the overthrow of the Russian Czar in 1917, and contributed to the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. The nation's political elites have ALWAYS feared the will of the people.

That's exactly what has happened in the past and there's no reason to believe the current failed adventures will be different.

In the Korean War, for example, after back and forth offensives, the front stabilized at the 38th parallel, where the conflict had begun. With casualties mounting and no clear-cut victory in sight, the war lost much of its support.

President Harry Truman was so unpopular by this time he decided not to seek re-election. During the subsequent eight years of the Eisenhower administration, the war-weary United States directly intervened militarily just once, in Lebanon in 1958.

(MG) Eisenhower, however DID engage the US navy to address the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. Daniel Ellsberg served on one of the ships that was sent en route. At that time, the sailors did NOT know which side the US would be taking. Subsequent diplomacy / politics were used to defuse the crisis. Ellsberg (whom Henry Kissinger once called "The most dangerous man in America" - because he KNEW the truth, and felt the American people should know the truth too - he was a truth teller who had come to oppose his governments policies in the prosecution of the war upon the Vietnamese people and a possessor of unique inside information; indeed truth tellers such as this ARE the most dangerous of all the winter patriots) wrote that he was never any prouder to be an American.

Only after this respite was the country ready to elect another hawkish president: John F. Kennedy, an ardent Cold Warrior. The anti-communist Kennedy supported a reckless attempt to eliminate Castro in 1961, the so-called Bay of Pigs invasion, which helped set the stage for the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy also dramatically increased the number of U.S. advisors in Vietnam, setting another stage.

(MG) Lest we forget, saint JFK was not merely a hawkish president. He was a war mongerer, whose eyes were set on using Vietnam to field test his theories of a more mobile elite armed forces unit that would blend in with the general population, speak their language, train them in guerilla tactics to keep out the despised commies. In a speech from the Senate floor, circa 1954, Kennedy took the REPUBLICANS to task for being soft on national defense. Joe Kennedy had his son, the newly elected president, visit the power elites of America, to assure them that the newly elected president "understood" how important it was to maintain America's power in the world.

After President Johnson escalated the Vietnam War and President Nixon prolonged it, the public got fed up again and pressured Washington to end the war without victory. Like Truman, LBJ was forced to the political sidelines.

(MG) Nixon's slender margin of victory in 1968 was in part owing to his "secret plan" for extracting the US from Vietnam. The plan was so secret, it didn't even exist. But no reporters asked to see it, or to have RMN describe it. What Nixon did differently from LBJ was to withdraw ground troops, and strike ever harder with the hammer of US air power. The satisfied the public, because more troops were coming home alive, and the bombs were not being dropped on them.

During the post-Vietnam administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter - lasting six-and-a-half years - war weariness again reduced the number of military interventions.

(MG) and during this time, Hollywood, that bastion of the despised liberalism, rewrote the Vietnam war, inverting all of its images. A campaign of propaganda so complete, that even the CIA came to believe that the Russians were behind the victory of the North Vietnamese Forces over the US-backed government of South Vietnam troops. What blather, what revisionist history. The lies one tells oneself are the most vicious.

Once again, however, the restraint only lasted so long, with Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, intervening in Libya, Grenada, and Lebanon, where the results were disastrous. This was followed by another hiatus, broken by George H.W. Bush's 1989 invasion of Panama.

(MG) One would have to rate Grenada intervention a "success." In quickly, out quickly, few deaths. A triump for good 'ole yankee ingenuity.

War weariness can even result after U.S. victories. In 1846, during the Mexican War, Generals Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor won great victories against Mexican armies. Yet, even after Mexico City was taken, the war dragged on and the public became restless.

(MG) Because the public ultimately comes to realize the true costs of any war are born by them (the public) and them alone.

The Spanish American War in 1898 also provides parallels to the current conflicts. After the initial taking of Cuba and the smashing of the Spanish fleet by Admiral Dewey in Manila, the United States refused to grant the Philippines its independence. The U.S. military then had to wage a brutal counterinsurgency war, which killed 200,000 Filipinos and resulted in an anti-colonialist backlash in the United States.

This unpleasant experience made subsequent Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, previously a hawk, and William Howard Taft chary of colonialism and direct foreign intervention. The United States fought no major wars again until World War I.

(MG) for the 200,000 dead Filipinos and their relatives, this was more than an unpleasant experience. To Teddy Roo - the anti-colonialist backlash was an unpleasant experience. The American-centric world view, ignoring the devastation, pain, misery, suffering this nations political leaders have inflicted upon the world, because we are inured from it, gives us permission to feel as victims when the world strikes back (or the Viet Cong). strike back. And then we are wounded, and supposed to feel sorry for ourselves.

Despite the U.S. victory in the Great War, the carnage appalled America, resulting in more than 20 years of reduced interventionism during the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover years and the first two terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Then the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

(MG) Given all the so-called "Great War" accomplished, 'twould have been better to have not fought it at all. It merely set the stage for Act II, the "Greatest Generation's" war.

Though U.S. casualties were higher in World War II than World War I, the Second World War didn't produce the usual fatigue. The different outcome resulted from the United States clearly being attacked first and the complete defeat of diabolical despotic regimes: Nazi Germany, Italy, and Imperial Japan.

(MG) The American way of waging war, since the last half of the 20th century involved first firing up the nation, stroking the nation to wargasmic pitch, using techniques all too-familiar. Conflating Saddam with Osama, and Iraq with Al-Queada, lies repeated and amplified by the usual suspect media outlets were the first parts. Painting Saddam and Iraq as responsible for 9/11 was the master stroke. Clearly, the US was attacked first. If the GAP could just be convinced they were attacked by Saddam, AND Saddam could have "the bomb", which, evil despot which he was, he would surely drop upon us, too late for USA when the mushroom cloud provides the smoking gun. Saddam = Hitler. And we the people, we the sheeple, bought into it. The vast majority of us did.

The collapse of the fourth totalitarian regime of the 20th century, the Soviet Union, magnified U.S. hubris.

With no nuclear superpower rival with which to contend, the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush went into overdrive, expanding U.S. alliances and "commitments," acquiring new military bases around the world, and flexing America's military muscle where it was not really necessary.

(MG) What's the point in having the mightiest military in the world if you can't use it once in a while? POWER, true power, to influence people to do what you want them to do, does not come from a gun, but when one's moral example, and the potential THREAT that one might grab its big gun, unless some compromising can be done ... real power lies in statescraft and diplomacy. This has been known by military strategists for ever. And in the 20th and 21st centuries, when the military might of the US is so apparently overwhelming, here our army sits bogged down in Iraq, fighting a lightly armed resistance force consisting of about 20% of that nations population.

(MG) The US military objective was achieved long ago. Evil dictator - deposed; Weapons of mass destruction - accounted for (oops, sorry); Democracy established (January elections of 2004). And yet, this war will forever be branded LOST -- well, it was not lost militarily. It was lost politically, and it was lost politically before it was begun.

When I was back there in cable land news
Someone put for the proposition to me
That you can invade and impose rule on a sovereign nation.
Invade and impose rule on a sovereign nation?
Invade and impose rule on a sovereign nation?
invade and impose rule
on a sovereign nation!

Now, U.S. politicians and the public are beginning to realize that the greatest military in history may not be able to defeat a bunch of rag-tag and loosely organized guerillas and militias in Iraq, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The good news is that these twin failures, however tragic and painful, will likely usher in a new period of U.S. military restraint, the policy championed by America's founders.

The bad news is that proponents of non-interventionism will only have a limited amount of time before the public forgets the pain of unnecessary wars and America's foreign policy elites begin rattling their sabers again.

Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the US General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Bush Blames the Troops

(MG) The Los Angeles Times, then and now owned by the Chicago Tribune, fired Robert Scheer, author of the piece below, for his writings critical of the cheney administration. Probably too because he made so many Chicago Tribune op-ed writers look like irrelevant, opinionated, bloviators by comparison. A REPORTER, as opposed to an opinionator, reports facts and follows those facts to where they lead.

Bush Blames the Troops

By Robert Scheer

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Blame it on the military but make it look like you're supporting the troops. That's been the convenient gambit of failed emperors throughout history as they witnessed their empires decline. Not surprisingly then, it's become the standard rhetorical trick employed by President Bush in shirking responsibility for the Iraq debacle of his making.

Ignoring the fact that we have a system of civilian control over the military, which is why he, the elected president, is designated the commander in chief, Bush hides behind the fiction that the officers in the field are calling the shots when in fact he has put them in an unwinnable situation and refuses to even consider a timetable for getting them out.

He did it again Monday, responding to the prospect that both houses of Congress seem in agreement on setting guidelines for the "progress" that the president continually proclaims is at hand. "I will strongly reject an artificial timetable [for] withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job." This is disingenuous in the extreme, because Bush is the Washington politician who plotted this unnecessary war from the moment the 9/11 attack provided him with an excuse for regime change in a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.

(MG) Actually, the plot to attack Iraq was hatched long before 9/11. September 11, 2001 was the excuse that provided cover to implement the plot.

It was Bush who sent the troops to invade Iraq with the mission of ridding it of weapons of mass destruction, which he should have known Iraq did not have, and to end ties with al-Qaida that, the record shows, he knew never existed. And it was the Bush administration that micro-managed every aspect of the occupation to disastrous consequences ranging from the de-Baathification that isolated the Sunnis to premature elections that put Shiite theocrats in power. The economic reconstruction of Iraq has been a failure for everyone except the U.S. corporations that have ripped off U.S. taxpayers to the tune of many billions of dollars. It is only now, when all of those policies for the economic and political reconstruction of Iraq have come a cropper, that a military surge has been ordered to provide a social order for Iraq that this president's policies have destroyed.

This president has been denied nothing by Congress in the way of financial underwriting for this boondoggle, yet he seeks to cast even the mildest attempt to hold him accountable for the results as unpatriotic. That is all that the Democratic congressional leadership has proposed with its timetable - marks to measure progress on the ground in a war that, as Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye pointed out, has lasted longer than World War II. It is a very limited, nonbinding attempt to hold the president accountable, for it does not ban him from using any portion of the whopping $124 billion in new funds; it requires only that he publicly and specifically defend his claims of progress.

It's a claim of progress that, until now, has not been met with any congressional review, even though it is the obligation of Congress to judge the effectiveness of programs paid for with the funds that Congress alone can appropriate. If the proposed timetable were in place, then it would be more difficult for the president to claim success for his surge, as he did Friday, insisting that "So far, the operation is meeting expectations" and then confusing his audience by conceding that recently "We have seen some of the highest casualty levels of the war."

It's gobbledygook, and the Democratic leaders of Congress have finally decided to call the president on it. "The longer we continue down the president's path, the further we will be from responsibly ending this war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Not content any longer to take Bush at his word, the leaders in both the House and Senate finally posted some specific benchmarks of progress, accompanied by a nonbinding suggestion of an end to U.S. troop involvement in this quagmire within a year's time if genuine progress is not made. Even that minimum restraint on the president's ambition was accompanied with the caveat that sufficient troops would remain in Iraq to protect U.S. installations, train the Iraqi army and fight terrorists.

The proposal was the softest the Democrats could offer without totally repudiating the will of the voters who brought them to power in the last election. If the president vetoes this authorization bill, then the onus is on him for delaying funding for the troops and showing contempt for the judgment of the voters, who will have another chance in less than two years to hold the president's party responsible. But that will not restore life to the 85 U.S. soldiers killed so far in April alone, or prevent even greater sacrifices to Bush's folly.

- - - - post script re: Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer

Pre-war position:
As a liberal columnist for the LA Times, Scheer argued relentlessly against the war, focusing on the dishonesty of the administration's efforts to "frighten the American people into supporting" it and seeking to bypass rational discussion and analysis by making Saddam into a cartoonish "super-villain"—the kind of guy who sacrifices military strategy to give toddlers liver cancer. His work constituted perhaps the most full-throated anti-war voice on the editorial page of a major American newspaper.

Career status: In the toilet. Fired from the Times in 2005 after a 12-year tenure, his column was handed over to the well-fed and well-connected pro-war conservative, Jonah Goldberg. Scheer wrote afterwards, "The publisher Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq."

Cindy Sheehan - American Patriot

Number 3,291
By Cindy Sheehan

t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few - the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill. And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

- Major General Smedley Butler, "War Is a Racket"

I met the aunt of Number 3291 today. I was sitting in seat 11E and a flight attendant gave me a note from a woman in seat 33C: "My nephew was killed in Iraq yesterday. I would like to meet you."

Seat belt light or not, I headed back toward the rear of the airplane. We held each other and she said: "What can I do? My brother was in the Army and he initially supported the effort. Yesterday, he made a sign with a picture of his son saying: 'Murdered by George Bush.'" I prayed for the Universe to give the families strength yesterday, as I do every day our soldiers are killed, as I pray for the Iraqis and their families, who are also murdered unnecessarily. I don't often get to meet the people I pray for in such a timely manner.

Four of our brave and abused troops were killed in King George's escalation of the conflict in Iraq. Ten over the Easter weekend while George was hiding out at his ranch in Crawford. George Bush and his bloody gang of war bandits have caused so much pain and heartache in the world without so much as a blink of the eye. Number 3291's aunt recounted how she heard her sister "screaming for her son," on the other end of the phone. Number 3291's family is just beginning to realize the true meaning of broken heart and betrayals.

Number 3291 has a name: Brian. The only thing I know for sure about Brian was that he was in the Army, he was probably blown up by an IED (which could have been avoided with an IED detector in his vehicle), and he has a loving aunt named Sheryl. His family lives in North Carolina, and that's where his body will be returned - under the cover of darkness to hide the shame of the Bush regime.

Brian will never be a number to his family or friends. To the few people in this country who still, incredibly, support this horror and his war, Brian's sacrifice will be noted as "freedom isn't free," or "he volunteered." To the antiwar movement, Brian will be commemorated in a candlelight vigil when the 4000th troop is killed in Iraq. To the man sitting next to me in seat 11D, Brian is a nonentity because he has no opinion on the occupation one way or the other, because he has "no time to worry about it." Trust me, though, that's all Brian's mom did for the entire time he was in Iraq, and there are 160,000 moms who lie awake at night worried about their child, and Iraqi moms who never know when the last "I love you," is the last one forever.

To me, Brian represents a failure. I have been struggling with all my energy and resources to ensure that Brian's mom never had to fall on the floor screaming in agony, or that Aunt Sheryl would never have to take a sad and lonely trip across the country to be with her family in this terrible occasion for mourning. Every death since Casey's has hit me with a fresh assault of suffering. How can my wounds heal, when so many new ones are being opened up on a daily basis in three countries that are being devastated by the Bush doctrine of inflicting immeasurable damage, with his war for profit being masqueraded as a war on terror?

The antiwar movement is failing in many areas. First of all, like the man sitting next to me, there are too many apathetic people in this country. How can anyone still be so indifferent to so much death and destruction? Even the people who are still confused and support the war have an opinion. The antiwar movement is also failing in its lack of influence on the policymakers. When such pro-occupation entities as MoveOn are being hailed as the "antiwar left" and our Congressional leaders are listening to them and using their corrupt polls as tools to hammer theoretically antiwar reps into voting for a bill that would extend our troop presence in Iraq indefinitely, then the true antiwar movement has not been effective in getting our message out.

Another goal that the antiwar movement should have would be to move the overwhelming majority of Americans who are against the occupation of Iraq off their couches and into the streets. The leaders of our country are in the obscenely deep pockets of the war machine and are exceedingly comfortable there. Only a massive electoral revolt will be able to pick the pockets of the war profiteers and force our elected officials to represent us, not the wealthy.

Brian's family, my family, 3293 other families, our military families who are financially and emotionally strapped by the constant deployments and getting ready for deployments are sacrificing too much on the altar of greed. The Iraqi people who did not ask for Bush's help are sacrificing horribly on this imperial altar. The rest of this nation is not sacrificing the way that so many others have. I am working so you don't have to.

But if we, as a nation, want to end the farce of false patriotism to justify wars for profit and empire, we will have to sacrifice until it hurts. In this cleansing act will come redemption, because then we can be assured that all of the children of the world are safe and sound. If we don't work to end the absolute stranglehold of violence we are clutched in, then we deserve what we get.

Our movement has to move toward peace ... at all costs.

Please go to The Camp Casey Peace Institute for info on things we can do to end this occupation!


Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute.

Maureen Dowd - irrelvant harpy

Writing with his usual insights, Bob Somersby, author and editorial staff of the Daily Howler deconstructs the writings of Maureen Dowd, to skillfully and convincingly make his point. The woman is has to go. She's a disgrace to the national discourse.

Try to believe what the columnist said. Here are the first three grafs of her Saturday column. Try to believe that she actually made the ludicrous statement we highlight:
DOWD (4/21/07): Whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman president or a black president, it's definitely not ready for a metrosexual in chief.

In presidential politics, it's all but impossible to put the man into manicure. Be sensitive, but not soft. Effete is never effective. Not much has changed since George H. W. Bush drove his New Hampshire campaign off the road by requesting ''a splash'' more coffee at a truck stop.

John Kerry sank himself by windsurfing in spandex and
ordering a cheese steak in Philly with Swiss instead of Cheez Whiz.
Try to grasp what this columnist seems to have said. According to the barely sane Maureen Dowd, John Kerry lost the 2004 White House campaign because he requested Swiss cheese —instead of Cheez Whiz —when he ordered a cheese steak in Philly. Similarly, George Bush the Elder supposedly “drove his New Hampshire campaign off the road by requesting ‘a splash’ more coffee.”)

Yes —that actually is what Dowd said. The fact that she could make such foolish remarks points to a national problem.

Make no mistake, Kerry was damaged by silly stories during Campaign 04. (Below, we’ll take note of Dowd’s flip-flop about his disturbing wind-surfing.) But no —Kerry didn’t lose the 04 campaign because he once asked for Swiss cheese on a steak. Only a fool could think such a thing. And only a fool would make this claim in the manner Dowd does in her column —without the slightest sign of understanding how bizarre such a thought really is.

Kerry lost —because he asked for Swiss cheese! In paragraph 2, the scribe said that!

But then, Dowd has long been a public fool —one of your “press corps’” leading idiots. Just a guess: It has been years since Dowd made a sincere statement in a Times column; for her, as for so many in her sad cohort, our politics really is “fun,” “entertainment” and “sport,” as Margaret Carlson told Imus. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/16/03. Scroll down to “Howler history.”) Is Maureen Dowd ever sincere in the various weird things she says? Can she even recall what sincerity is? Her columns are endlessly loaded with nonsense —with cat-like quips which define her throw-back style, and her gross insincerity.

No, Kerry didn’t lose in 2004 because he asked for Swiss on a cheese steak. But then, George H. W. Bush didn’t “drive his New Hampshire campaign off the road by requesting ‘a splash’ more coffee at a truck stop,” as Dowd claimed in Saturday’s paragraph 2. As we’ll show you below, it isn’t clear that Bush even made this iconic remark —it may be another of Dowd’s invented “quotations.” And Bush ended up winning that 1988 New Hampshire primary —and then the nomination, and then the White House. Indeed, Bush’s stop at that New Hampshire truck stop was often cited, in 1988, as the moment when he salvaged a failing campaign! But so what? Today, Dowd reinvents this apocryphal incident, in service to her endless hiss-spitting at Edwards. But then, Dowd has long self-displayed as an empty-souled fool. If we care a fig about our discourse, it’s time for her to go.

Below, we hash a few aspects of Dowd’s newest column. But readers, let’s get one thing straight. If you think your country’s discourse matters, it’s time for this crackpot to go.

ANTOINETTE’S LATEST PRONOUNCEMENT: How foolish is the latest pronouncement from our press corps’ number-one Antoinette? In Saturday’s column, Dowd pretends to be deeply disturbed by the price of John Edwards’ haircuts. (And make-up.) But uh-oh! She has her facts wrong, as she constantly does, and her logic doesn’t make much sense either. How dare he spend so much for a haircut? For Dowd, it leads her back to her dad in the blessed ’50s —and to her crazy brothers:
DOWD: Speaking of roots, my dad, a police detective who was in charge of Senate security, got haircuts at the Senate barbershop for 50 cents. He cut my three brothers' hair and did the same for anyone else in the neighborhood who wanted a free clip job. Even now, Mr. Edwards could get his hair cut at the Senate barbershop for $21 or the Chapel Hill Barber Shop near his campaign headquarters for $16.

So it's hard for me to understand how a guy could spend $400 without getting Bergdorf Blonde highlights. (The tabloids claim that Brad and Jen used to get matching streaks.) And don't campaign donors get snippy about sponsoring tonsorial treats?
It’s hard to know how any of this leads back to the habits of Maureen Dowd’s dad. Meanwhile, Dowd herself has written columns about what perfect crackpots her brothers are, so it’s hard to see why we’re now supposed to emulate their hoary upbringing.

But then, the foolishness is never far off when you read a column by Dowd. One part of that passage is pure Dowdism: Edwards could have gotten his cut at the Senate shop, she says —except for the fact he was in California! Of course, there are cheaper ways to get a haircut there than the one Edwards actually chose. Which leads us ahead to Dowd’s great pronouncement —her Current Great Thought on the world:
DOWD (continuing directly): Someone who aspires to talk credibly about the two Americas can't lavish on his locks what working families may spend on electricity in a year. You can't sell earnestness while indulging in decadence.
Get that? According to Dowd, Edwards can’t “talk credibly” about working-class or poverty issues if he’s spending too much for his haircut. Plainly, this is the basic idea Dowd presents in this latest column.

Of course, according to this brand of “logic,” Bobby Kennedy couldn’t “talk credibly” about poverty in Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta. After all, he lived in a big, fancy house —a Virginia mansion which had its own name —and he was frequently spotted on fancy sailboats. And FDR couldn’t “talk credibly” about Social Security from his grand manse in Hyde Park. What actually happened in California? Getting his hair cut on the fly, Edwards called a dude who traveled to him —and charged a very high price. From this point of utter trivia, the press corps’ leading Antoinette is prepared to draw a vast, sweeping judgment. As she continues, she helps us see how fake this guy actually is. Be sure you’re seated before you read this. It also helps if you’ve been drugged:
DOWD (continuing directly): Mr. Edwards, the son of a mill worker, moved from a $5.2 million, six-bedroom Federal mansion in Georgetown to a 28,000-square-foot behemoth in North Carolina with a basketball court, a squash court, two stages and a swimming pool.

His 25-year-old daughter, Cate, a former editorial assistant for Vanity Fair, co-founded Urbanista, an online Rolodex that dispenses advice for ''hip'' girls in Manhattan, offering to be a ''bestie'' (a best friend) and answer questions like ''Where should I go to get my Marc Jacobs shoes reheeled?'' and ''Does anyone know the best place to get a really great haircut?'' One salon the site recommends is Warren-Tricomi, where Edward Tricomi says haircuts range from $121 to $300.
Did you follow the reasoning here? John Edwards lives in a very big house! And his daughter co-founded a web site!

Pathetic, isn’t it? Now we’re trashing a major pol as a big faker/phony —based on something completely innocuous which his daughter (allegedly) did. But then, there’s nothing so stupid this cohort won’t say it, if it can be used to advance their grand theories. On Christmas Eve 1999, for example, the Post’s Al Kamen declared Gore a big phony because of the photographic process used on his family’s Christmas card! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99.) Here at THE HOWLER, we received that card; it looked very much like the Christmas cards which other smiling families send out. So let’s repeat: There’s nothing so stupid these people won’t say. That’s why it’s time for their most foolish prophet to pack her pink satchel and go.

Should Edwards have paid big bucks for a haircut? Politically, no —he should not have. Given the state of our modern “press corps,” this kind of coverage was sure to follow. But only a fool could actually think that a man who lives in a big house (or who pays big bucks for a cut-on-the-run) is therefore unable to “speak credibly” about his nation’s alleged economic inequities. Dowd, of course, doesn’t care about that sort of thing (link below); like other people who care about nothing, she often seems eager to make the claim that no one else cares about anything either. But the notion that Edwards can’t “speak credibly” about such issues because of a web site his daughter(allegedly) co-founded? Only a fool could produce such mean thoughts. And that’s why these losers must go.

BRIEF INTERLUDE: Remember; when people like Dowd pursue such nonsense, they tend to do so very selectively. Have you ever seen work done on John McCain’s money? On the house he lives in with his (rich) second wife? Have you ever seen a column about how much Bush’s suits cost? Do you think a columnist couldn’t invent a story-line to justify that kind of nonsense?

THE SAINT AND THE SAPPHIRE: And then, of course, as we’ve long shown you, the facts will always get ground into dust when losers like Dowd seek to pimp their Grand Visions. Such “journalists” always reshape their facts. Consider this piece of High Dowdism:
DOWD: Following his star turn primping his hair for two minutes on a YouTube video to the tune of ''I Feel Pretty,'' Mr. Edwards this week had to pay back the $800 charged to his campaign for two shearings at Torrenueva Hair Designs in Beverly Hills. He seems intent on proving that he is a Breck Girl —and a Material Boy.

He did not pony up for the pricey bills from Designworks Salon in Dubuque, Iowa, or the Pink Sapphire spa in Manchester, which offers services for men that include the ''Touch of Youth'' facial, as well as trips ''into the intriguing world of makeup.'' The Edwards campaign calls makeup a legitimate expense.
Yes, she had to include her standard gender-based jibes about Edwards “feeling pretty” and being “the Breck Girl.” But consider the way Dowd hissed/spat about the Pink Sapphire —the “pricey” Manchester spa.

How insincere is Dowd’s outraged passage about this deeply-troubling spa? Start with this: Edwards didn’t get that “Touch of Youth” facial —the facial Dowd lovingly puts in her column. And while we’re at it, how about Dowd’s logic in the last part of that passage? In fact, we’d assume that every campaign considers makeup for TV appearances “a legitimate campaign expense” —and that, of course, is what Edwards purchased. Does anyone go on TV without makeup? This brings us to the newspaper story which appeared in New Hampshire this Wednesday, and then was quickly deep-sixed.

Wednesday morning, the Manchester Union-Leader–one of the country’s most conservative newspapers–rolled its eyes at the “Pink Sapphire” part of this developing story. In a front-page news report, John Whitson quoted Ariana Franggos, the Manchester woman who did Edwards’ makeup. Whitson then made an obvious point:
WHITSON (4/18/07): Franggos said she thinks being damned for something every politician does: apply makeup before surrendering to the scrutiny of TV cameras.

In fact, it's unlikely a national candidate has participated in a debate or formal interview au natural since Richard Nixon's infamous meltdown while pitted against John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Duh! Presumably, every politician has makeup applied before he or she does a TV interview. If the candidate is being interviewed from a remote location, he must hire a makeup person himself. And yes, such people do pretty much get paid. Did Edwards pay big crazy money to Franggos (“pricey bills”)? Sorry. Here’s the start of Whitson’s report:
WHITSON (pgh 1): Reports that a local day spa for women did John Edwards' makeup for $225 are, like the candidate's hair, greatly overblown.

Ariana Franggos, co-owner of Pink Sapphire on Elm Street, said yesterday she's applied makeup for the Democratic Presidential candidate several times in recent months before television appearances, and $225 covers about three sessions.

Franggos, who has run the makeup boutique and day spa for three years, said she's carved out a niche for herself through contacts at WMUR-TV. After applying makeup for employees there, she said, word got out and political hopefuls have come calling.
No one has challenged this information, which means that Franggos charged Edwards $75 per session —sessions for which she presumably had to travel to Edwards’ location. No, that isn’t a high, shocking rate —and Edwards isn’t the only “political hopeful” who has paid such “pricey bills” from Franggos. Uh-oh! Guess who else has been made up by Franggos? Omigod! It’s just too perfect! Our greatest living saint, John McCain!
WHITSON (continuing directly): Both sides of the aisle are welcome.

"I literally don't talk politics," she said. "I just go in and do their makeup."

Franggos made John McCain look pretty and hid the flaws on Dennis Kucinich. "I'm definitely not picky about it," she said, referring to political party.
Omigod! The dragon-lady from the pricey Pink Sapphire made McCain “look pretty” too! And she even did Dennis Kucinich! Maybe he needs to shut up now too!

Let’s repeat —Whitson’s report graced the Union-Leader’s front page Wednesday morning. In it, he rolled his eyes at the way the “Pink Sapphire and its $225 services were lumped into the mix” when the AP wrote its initial report about Edwards’ troubling haircuts. But Whitson’s debunking report was ignored in DC; it wasn’t picked up by the Hotline, for example, and Nexis records no other citations anywhere in the national press. Result? Three days later, Dowd was still describing the pretty-boy services Edwards didn’t purchase from the Pink Sapphire. And she forgot to say that McCain and Kucinich had used the spa’s makeup work too.

But then, they always reinvent and select their facts to produce their pleasing, dumb-as-rocks stories. Dowd has done this for year after year. If you doubt that, let’s revisit her work in 1988, when she was still a Times reporter.

This takes us back to that truck stop visit by Candidate Bush in 1988 —the one Dowd described in paragraph 2 of Saturday’s column. According to Dowd’s hiss/spitting account, Bush the Elder “drove his New Hampshire campaign off the road by requesting ‘a splash’ more coffee at a truck stop.” This claim is just completely bogus, like so much of the tripe Dowd writes. But then, Dowd has long been just this side of delusional. Unless you think our lives are a joke, it’s time for this big kook to go.