Morning Must Reads: February 25

In the news: rebuilding Ukraine; protests sweep Venezuela; Uganda's anti-homosexuality laws; Eurozone continues to lag behind U.S. and China; the longest-serving lawmaker in the history of Congress retires; House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to release long-awaited tax reform proposal

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  • “As parliamentary officials struggled with the monumental task of rebuilding the collapsed Ukrainian government, the new speaker, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said on Tuesday that the new administration would not be in place before Thursday…With a manhunt underway for Mr. Yanukovych, the country’s most pressing problem is largely out of lawmakers’ control: a fast-approaching economic disaster that they cannot solve without international assistance.” [NYT]
  • “The biggest protests since the death of the longtime leader Hugo Chávez nearly a year ago are sweeping Venezuela, rapidly expanding from the student protests that began this month on a campus in this western city into a much broader array of people across the country.” [NYT]
  • “President Yoweri Museveni, who made anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda much tougher Monday, told CNN in an exclusive interview that sexual behavior is a matter of choice and gay people are ‘disgusting.'” [CNN]
    • “The evangelical organization that describes itself as a Christian mafia has been the hidden hand behind Uganda’s anti-gay bill, along with Rick Warren, the gay-bashing pastor who presided at Obama’s first inauguration.” [Daily Beast]
  • “The euro-area economy will continue to lag behind its main competitors, the U.S. and China, this year and next as high levels of unemployment and debt hinder the currency bloc’s recovery.” [Bloomberg]
  • “Ending a carer that is among the most singular in congressional history, U.S. Rep. John Dingell—who helped pass, if not author, many of the most iconic legislative achievements of the last 60 years—will early next year, concluding a term of service to metro Detroit, Michigan and the nation unprecedented in its length and remarkable in its scope.” [Detroit Free Press]
    • Don’t Whitewash the Legacy of Rep. John Dingell, D-NRA [New Republic]
  • “The long-awaited simplification of the tax code being drafted by House Republicans would slash the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent and impose a surtax on some of the nation’s wealthiest households. Under the proposal, set for release Wednesday, the vast majority of taxpayers would see little change in the ultimate size of their tax bills…” [WashPost]
    • “From moderates to conservatives, senior Republican aides to rank-and-file legislative hands, there are serious concerns about Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s plans to unveil politically sensitive plans to restructure the Tax Code just a touch more than eight months before Election Day.” [Politico]
  • “After a series of defeats on Capitol Hill, the Republican Party’s tea-party wing has shifted its attention to congressional primaries, setting up a major test of how much the movement’s clout has been weakened.” [WSJ]
    • Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is crushing challenger Matt Bevin. [Hill]
  • How Covert Agents Inflitrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations [Intercept]
    • Spy Chief James Clapper: We Can’t Stop Another Snowden [Daily Beast]
  • American Aqueduct: The Great California Water Saga [Atlantic]
478 comments
WolfBard
WolfBard

So yeah, I get home and settle in for a nice evening after a night of constantly being woken up (on-call is fun), and then I start to hear water running, and it really doesn't register that when my neighbors run a shower or their laundry, I don't hear it quite so loud, and from the hall-wards direction-ish...  Water pipe broke, all my towels have been used up keeping it from my living room carpet, but I won't need the towels anyhow.  No, water's off for the foreseeable future.


I blame Obama.  Or the fish-people.  Might be the fish-people.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

And of course it wasn't just Bush being an idiot. Rumsfeld who screwed up the war in Iraq was lending a hand as well.


Gates's assessment directly contradicts that of George W. Bush and leading officials of his administration, such as Gates's predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, who have consistently denied that the campaign in Iraq was in any way a distraction from Afghanistan. Rumsfeld, who in one of his less-noted but most catastrophic decisions rejected international peacekeeping troops beyond Kabul in 2002, has never acknowledged his failures to complete the task in Afghanistan. On the contrary, even as the Taliban began regrouping in 2005-06, Rumsfeld was giving speeches extolling the transformation of Afghanistan under America's "modest footprint." In October of 2006, after my colleagues at Newsweek and I authored a feature story about the return of the Taliban called "The Rise of Jihadistan," Rumsfeld directed his aide, Matt Latimer, to issue a public rebuttal to it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

My my what have we here.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/defense/gates-bush-screwed-up-the-war-on-terror-20140108


Most of the fallout from Robert Gates's astonishingly frank and often bitter memoir has landed squarely on the stalwarts of the Obama administration, including the president himself, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But, based on the excerpts released so far, the former Defense secretary appears to reserve his fiercest criticism for Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, even though it is fairly implicit.

In one devastating passage of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Gates writes that the optional war that Bush chose to launch in 2003—the invasion of Iraq—seriously undermined the conduct of the necessary war in Afghanistan, the conclusion of which still bedevils U.S. foreign policy today:

President Bush always detested the notion, but our later challenges in Afghanistan—especially the return of the Taliban in force by the time I reported for duty—were, I believe, significantly compounded by the invasion of Iraq. Resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan. U.S. goals in Afghanistan—a properly sized, competent Afghan national army and police, a working democracy with at least a minimally effective and less corrupt central government—were embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive compared with the meager human and financial resources committed to the task, at least before 2009.

In a single paragraph Gates effectively sums up and validates the chief criticisms of the Bush administration's conduct of the so-called war on terror: 1) that Iraq was a serious diversion from the ongoing stabilization of Afghanistan, where the actual culprits of 9/11 were hiding out; and 2) that the effort to destroy al-Qaida and round up Osama bin Laden and his leadership team was seriously underfunded and suffered from far too little attention, especially by the time the Taliban began to regroup in a major way in the mid-2000s.

collioure
collioure

Still waiting to hear what our objectives were in Afghanistan, Mantis = cop out. 

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

"...[And]  how did we drift into Afghanistan? And why did we put a drug dealer in power who alienated the population against us?"


...who won't fudging leave??

sacredh
sacredh

Well, it's movietime. Nurse. The caption got me. "Your pain is her pleasure".

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

But some of Rumsfeld's own aides in the field, including Jim Dobbins—who today is Obama's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan—were saying at the time that Afghanistan was being neglected. Dobbins, Bush's former special envoy to Kabul who also led the Clinton administration's rebuilding efforts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, and Somalia, told me in an interview in 2006 that Afghanistan was the "most under-resourced nation-building effort in history." In its 2003 budget proposal, the administration included no civilian aid money for Afghanistan at all. Mitch Daniels, then Bush's budget director, later quietly slashed a congressional proposal for agricultural and educational assistance to Afghanistan from $150 million to $40 million. According to a study done later by the U.S. Institute of Peace, aid in the early years of the occupation amounted to just $67 a year per Afghan, far less than previous nation-building exercises such as Bosnia ($249) and East Timor ($256).

At the same time, worried U.S. military officials were beginning to realize that the Taliban's gradual resurgence could be traced to the abrupt diversion of so many resources to Iraq, including Predator aerial vehicles, in a critical period beginning in 2002. In February and March of 2002, the Arabic-speaking Fifth Special Forces Group—the teams that were mostly credited with toppling the Taliban in the swift war that began Oct. 7, 2001 and ended by December of that year—were largely pulled out to be redeployed in the Mideast. They were replaced by less experienced teams such as the Seventh Group, whose focus was Latin America.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure Ahole. I have things to do and clients to deal with. Our objective in Afghanistan was to establish a stable alternative to the Taliban which we couldn't do because we put a corrupt drug dealer in power.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@nflfoghorn Notice Curly completely ignored who put said drug dealer in power in the first place or the effect that drug dealer and his policies had on making the Taliban a viable alternative to the people of Afghanistan.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@sacredh That's how king cakes work at Party Graw.  You have to dig to find the little guy. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mantisdragon91  Sort of OT, but I've been wondering if you've read Rachel Maddow's book, Drift, subtitled "The Unmooring of American Military Power." She writes about how we've come to be okay with being at perpetual war, and with how presidents, starting with LBJ in Vietnam, have used the military for political purposes. It's a really good, if infuriating, read. And she goes quite in depth on Reagan's abuses.

WolfBard
WolfBard

@kbanginmotown @WolfBard Doesn't look like it.  The place is well-heated.  The building's coming up on seven years old now and I think everything's still the original.  I'm just glad how all our units are made with tile floors at the entryway.  I had a levy of towels up with only a little getting through to the living room.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91Actually many of them were in Saudi Arabia. But some of them escaped to Pakistan from Afghanistan due to Bush's rush to strip the country of special force troops.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Sue_N @mantisdragon91I haven't. In a past life I was involved with importing reptiles and amphibians from Panama and  Nicaragua and got an earful about our involvement in both countries.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91Interestingly the facts disagree with you yet again. What good is it driving them out of Afghanistan if they can merely set up next door and return when our back was turned which they did under Bush.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91It could have been done in 2002-2004, it can't be done now. As Robert Gates and other people clearly lay out we missed our window of opportunity because of that idiot Bush who you continually cover for.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91Read the link above and STFU. Only an idiot starts a war of choice while fighting a war of necessity. And only a bigger idiot ignores that obvious fact and blames the guy cleaning up his messes.

Sue_N
Sue_N

I'll poff him when he's blatantly offensive, like yesterday with his rape comment, or when, again like yesterday, he horns into a conversation just to be insulting. Otherwise I'm not a fan of just poffing on sight, unless he reaches paulie level.

Which he's rapidly approaching …

outsider
outsider

@mantisdragon91 @outsider@collioure 

And you're right about leaving Afghanistan to fulfill his daddy issues. Bush was the worst president ever. 

Guys like Krathammer and the dumb asses that listen to him aren't worth listening to, themselves.  

fitty_three
fitty_three

@mantisdragon91 

When he gets that low, we should just poff him and warn him not to do it anymore.

I've noted that he's frequently insulting but I guess he's accumulating privileges non of us have, even.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@outsider @mantisdragon91@collioureYou are right of course. Anyone who listens to chicken hawks like Krathaummer isn't deserving of a response. What pissed me off is he listens idiots who never served, while I have friends who served  in the country in 2002-2004 who all say how happy the people were to be rid of the Taliban and how willing they were to fight against them. Of course then we rushed of to Iraq and left those militias unarmed and untrained to face the Taliban on their own. Combine that with the appointment of Karzai and is there any wonder why the average Afghani has no trust or respect for us.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@outsider

I gave up poffing. No one seems to be interested in "Keeping Swampland Green".

I've engaged him on occasion late at night, but @collioure.is just relentlessly obnoxious.

outsider
outsider

@fitty_three @outsider 

I flag him more often than not - but i'm not flagging this one. I want everyone to see that all he does is try to goad Mantis - and that's why we should all be ignoring him and poofing him. 

Not replying to him. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@outsider  

Seems everyone in Swampland has been trying out a new concept:

"Boulder Whispering".

Not. Gonna. Work.

outsider
outsider

@mantisdragon91 @outsider@collioure 

All the more reason not to let this candy ass get to you bud. That's even more reason. He obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. And is looking to fight. Just leave it at that.  You know better. And you've been right about this stuff since you started posting. 


We all know you're right, and more importantly, you do too. Don't lower yourself to his level. He isn't worth it. I promise you.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91We were making progress up until Bush starved the place of resources and men and let Karzai run wild. Suddenly all the progress went down the toilet. Have an issue with how Afghanistan turned out. Take it up with him.

outsider
outsider

@collioure @mantisdragon91 

Mantis, this is an exercise in futility, and you know it. Don't get egged on so easily. He's looking for a fight. No matter what you say, or how you back it up, he'll retreat to his opinion, declare you a moron, and take a victory lap. 

Sh|T man, stop letting the bell make you salivate. 

MementoMori
MementoMori

@nflfoghorn  

"Well he did wax poetic about soccer today.  So there's that."

Well, you have to maintain appearances. Otherwise, folks might wonder why he's staying up past midnight arguing politics in the comments section of an American news site.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91@Sue_NAnd if they had sent the amount of troops requested into Iraq in the first place the war would have ended sooner and my friends would probably still be alive. So at this point an STFU may be in order.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@mantisdragon91 @collioure @Sue_N  Well he did wax poetic about soccer today.  So there's that.

That said, I tend to think this is America's Afghanistan since this is where W turned away from the heart of AQ and went to Iraq for no other reason but to make some $.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Sue_N @mantisdragon91

And this is why I hate the GOP. Not only did they lie us into a war, but they were too cheap to give the generals the manpower or equipment requested. God forbid the rich forgo a tax cut while our troops died.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mantisdragon91 @Sue_N  I remember watching a news report a few years ago about soldiers having to scrounge for metal to make their own body armor. I was horrified. And infuriated. It is inconceivable to me – and criminal – that we would send our troops into a war without properly equipping them.

A friend's nephew died in Iraq, killed by an IED. He was only a couple of weeks from coming home.

My condolences on the loss of your friends.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Sue_N @mantisdragon91Now imagine if you had lost a friend in 9/11 and two in Iraq like I did. Both my friends in Iraq were on their second tours and still with no body armor or properly uparmored Humvees.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mantisdragon91 @Sue_N  This one had me grinding my teeth quite a bit. And I just can't read anything about the Bush Admin without having liquor handy.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mantisdragon91 @Sue_N  You might give it a try. She writes with wit and intelligence, and clearly knows her stuff. And she heaps much blame on Congress for abdicating its responsibility to declare war.