Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

In the News: Broken Pottery and Sunk Costs

Found on the Internets …

A series of tubes filled with enormous amounts of material


Fareed Zakaria: Who lost Iraq? The Iraqis did, with an assist from George W. Bush

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force – what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” – the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves – to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy and purge Sunnis in general – might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.


How Iraq Turns Into Vietnam Before Our Very Eyes

And what happened to The Future Of Iraq Project which, whatever you might think of its ambition and the assumptions on which it was built, one of which is the now self-evident proposition that we pretty much suck at nation-building, at least was an attempt to construct a future beyond candy-and-flowers, and which at least had as its fundamental principle that, having wrecked Iraq, we had something of an obligation to fix it for the Iraqis? Donald Rumsfeld happened to it. Dick Cheney happened to it. The utter incompetence of the administration of C-Plus Augustus happened to it.[…]

Who-Lost-Iraq? sadly will become an issue in the midterm elections that are upcoming in the fall, and that it will do so before the country has been honest with itself in answering the question, “Why Iraq At All?”


Sunk Cost

A sunk cost is a cost that an entity has incurred, and which it can no longer recover by any means. Sunk costs should not be considered when making the decision to continue investing in an ongoing project, since you cannot recover the cost.

Sweep up the shards, shed some tears … and move on.


More news …


Missouri Lawmaker: If You Want Medicaid Expansion, You Should Move Somewhere Else

Missouri is one of more than 20 states that have refused to accept generous federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs, one of the key policies that the health reform law implemented to help increase the number of insured Americans. The states that have accepted the optional expansion are seeing historic drops in their uninsurance rates, as well as a host of other benefits like stable funding for hospitals in rural areas. Meanwhile, the states that have refused are preventing millions of impoverished Americans from accessing affordable insurance.

… struggling Americans who are living in poverty simply don’t have the resources to uproot their lives and try their luck in another state. “It’s impossible to understand what it is to move when you have nothing,” Jennifer Laurent, the executive director of a homeless shelter in Texarkana, on the border of Texas and Arkansas, explained in a recent interview with the New York Times. “To risk everything – losing your bed, your sense of community – for an uncertain benefit? There’s no way you want to risk that.”


Iowa Senate Hopeful ‘Appalled’ Her Husband Called Janet Napolitano A ‘Traitorous Skank’

Iowa’s Republican Senate nominee Joni Ernst told a local news outlet she’s “appalled” that her husband once called former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank” on Facebook.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Democrats took a screenshot of Gail Ernst’s written comments, which had been up since April 2013, and seized on them. That prompted him to delete that and other inflammatory posts and apologize for them before Ernst denounced them.

[Her husband] also called Hillary Clinton a “hag” in a May 2013 post on Facebook.

Ernst: “I am shocked … shocked … that there is misogyny in the Republican Party!!!”


How about a palate cleanser?

Ruby Dee: An Actress Who Marched On Washington And Onto The Screen

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in the early 1920s in Cleveland, actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee most identified with the part of New York City where she was raised.

“I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It’s in me so deep,” Dee told NPR’s Tell Me More in 2007.[…]

It was during her time at the American Negro Theater that she also met Ossie Davis, the man who would become her husband.

She and Davis would become lifelong partners on screen and off. During the civil rights era in the 1960s, they marched for the rights of African-Americans, alongside Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Both were emcees for the March on Washington in 1963 and were associated with nearly every civil rights group, from the NAACP to the Black Panthers.

“I never thought about myself as an activist when we were coming along,” she said. “I love the people I love. I didn’t care whether they could be a Democrat, Republican, communist … anything but a racist.”



Editor’s Note: Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.


  1. Statement by the Press Secretary on Iraq

    The United States strongly condemns the recent attacks in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  We offer our condolences to the families of those killed and underscore our commitment to assist the Iraqi people as they confront the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq and the region.  ISIL’s recent actions in Mosul and surrounding areas demonstrate once again that these extremists seek nothing but death and destruction.  The United States will stand with Iraqi leaders across the political spectrum as they forge the national unity necessary to succeed in the fight against ISIL.  We will work with Congress to support the new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, which will provide flexibility and resources to help Iraq respond to emerging needs as the terrorist threat from ISIL continues to evolve.  Under the Strategic Framework Agreement, we will also continue to provide, and as required increase, assistance to the Government of Iraq to help build Iraq’s capacity to effectively and sustainably stop ISIL’s efforts to wreak havoc in Iraq and the region.

  2. Study: Fox News viewers are awfully conservative, even for Republicans

    A new study by Brookings suggests, not surprisingly, that Fox News viewers tend to be awfully conservative.

    A snippet from a larger graph:

    It is startling to see that only 2% think that the country is on the right track … and 0% approve of the job that President Obama is doing. But a closer look shows that the echo chamber that the Republican propaganda network is building is dangerous: those viewers do not reflect even the non-Fox Republicans and certainly not Independents. It is no surprise that Fox News viewers think that Barack Obama stole the election in 2008; quite literally no one they know approves of him.

  3. Anarchy in the GOP: The End of Authority in the Republican Party

    Even as the once-regimented party descends into chaos, the ordinarily fractious Democratic Party has achieved unprecedented order and unity.

    In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell only avoided Cantor’s fate by attaching himself to his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul, whose upstart Senate candidacy McConnell had opposed. Like Boehner, McConnell is treated with striking disrespect in his own caucus. Last summer, after a deal to permit votes on several, long-delayed judicial nominees, McConnell admitted to Senate Republicans that it had been negotiated behind his back. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, Tennessee’s Bob Corker interrupted McConnell’s protestations of ignorance by yelling “bullshit.” As Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen have noted in Politico, “Most young conservatives [in Congress] … get more mileage from snubbing their leaders” than supporting them.[…]

    The bigger reason the parties have switched cultures has to do with their perception of the future. Grassroots Democrats certainly get frustrated with their leaders, who they consider too cautious and too beholden to Wall Street. And were an unusually compelling candidate like Elizabeth Warren to run, many would rally behind her against the Clintonite establishment. But these anti-authoritarian impulses are held in check by a greater optimism about the direction of the country. Over the last few years, a younger, more tolerant, Democratic-leaning generation has helped elect the country’s first African-American president, helped make gay marriage mainstream and may soon help elect America’s first female president. As a result, although Democrats may be upset that Obama can’t pass immigration reform, they’re inclined to believe that because of demographic change, another Democratic president will soon get another chance.

  4. The Fix Isn’t In – Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement

    [Movement Conservatism is] an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.

    By rejecting Mr. Cantor, the Republican base showed that it has gotten wise to the electoral bait and switch, and, by his fall, Mr. Cantor showed that the support network can no longer guarantee job security. For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more.[…]

    Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows that lip service to extremism isn’t enough; the base needs to believe that you really mean it.

    In the long run – which probably begins in 2016 – this will be bad news for the G.O.P., because the party is moving right on social issues at a time when the country at large is moving left. (Think about how quickly the ground has shifted on gay marriage.) Meanwhile, however, what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.

  5. Pas D’Ennemis A Droite

    [When] challenged by a primary opponent with a credible claim to be “more conservative,” Republican candidates are immediately faced with the dilemma that they can’t do the obvious thing and say the challenger is “too conservative.” That’s just not part of the lexicon. […]

    David Frum is the only Republican voice calling for an end to this “pas d’ennimis a droite” (the conservative version of the old Popular Front slogan of “pas d’ennemis a gauche”) habit:

    At some point, Republican leaders must recognize that they have a fight on their hands whether they like it or not. If they refuse to join that fight, they will be devoured anyway. If they surrender, they condemn the whole conservative project in America to the destructive leadership of fanatics (and the cynics who make their living by duping fanatics).

    Sure, there are narrow paths to Republican victory in 2014 and 2016 … But it’s very strange that virtually all Republicans want to squeeze the elephant through them instead of just telling their ideologues they’re out of the national mainstream.

  6. Strummerson

    “IRAQ, we broke it, you bought it.”

    Why are we obligated to a 25 year occupation, or a 50 year one, that is likely inexorably counter-productive, because they think it’s a good idea.

    Why don’t we calculate how much 5 more years of military commitment would cost, then devote that money to funding Iraqi teachers and activists instead.  I’d vote for that.

  7. Rashaverak

    Mesopotamia was a kingdom long ago, then it became part of various Empires (e.g., Alexandrian, Roman (briefly), then part of the Islamic Caliphate, then part of the Ottoman Empire, and then a British Protectorate when the victorious Allies of World War I carved up the Ottoman Empire.  The borders had nothing to do with ethnicity or religion, and the country was a mix of Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and an Assyrian/Chaldean Christian minority which itself was divided into several religious factions.  The boundaries made as much sense as those of the African Colonies drawn up at the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885.

    A Hashemite King who was a client of the British held the country together until he was deposed by the Baathists.  Saddam Hussein climbed to the top of the Baathist ladder and kept the country together by ruling with an iron fist and by running a police state.  With Bush’s intervention (C-Plus Augustus in the Charles Pierce piece quoted above,… the Baathist power structure and the Iraqi Army were disbanded.  The result was, unfortunately for the Iraqi people, probably inevitable.

    The Sunni/Shiite feud goes back to the 7th Century over who was the rightful heir of Mohammed.  So much blood has been spilled over the centuries that it makes me wonder whether people will ever be able to learn to live together and to cooperate with each other.  The Shiites, after centuries of oppression, want to run the show as they see fit.  The Sunni fundamentalists who are running ISIS are convinced of the religious righteousness of their own cause.

    Iraq reminds me of Yugoslavia… a country that was cobbled together out of different ethnic and religious groups with centuries of grievances and doctrinal differences that was held together by a dictatorship… in that case, the Tito dictatorship.  Remove the dictatorship, and the centuries-old passions start the cauldron bubbling once again.

    I feel very bad for the Iraqi people, and regret all of the bloodshed, but I think they need to sort this out among themselves.  I certainly do not think that we should act unilaterally.  The only kind of further intervention that I would be inclined to support would be one under the authority of the Security Council and with wide participation by other countries to prevent genocide.  But I wonder whether even that is a wise approach.  I certainly do not want to see another Rwanda, but at the same time I do not want to see good money thrown after bad, and more American lives lost and shattered, with some kind of never-ending commitment.

    Perhaps it is time for the Overlords’ ships to appear in the sky and to enforce a global peace.  We as a species do not yet seem capable of getting there on our own.

  8. Shep Smith: The Same People Who Were Wrong About Iraq Now Want Us To Go Back

    “Are we about to be drawn back into a conflict in Iraq?” Smith asked. “The same people who 12 years ago told us this will be quick, this will be easy, this will be inexpensive, they will see us as liberators, it’s the right thing to do, are now telling us: It’s the right thing to do. What’s the endgame? Who’s thought this through?”

    Later in the broadcast, Smith, who’s earned a reputation for occasionally bucking his employer’s conservative orthodoxy, told fellow Fox News host Chris Wallace he still hasn’t forgotten “being bamboozled” by the Bush administration before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

    “Well, I remember it. I think it would be wrong for us to just sit around and listen and not ask big questions,” Smith said.

    Maybe he was “bamboozled” but most of the courtier press were simply advancing the propaganda as their corporate media bosses expected them to.  

  9. President Obama refuses to take sides in the Sunni/Shia conflict

    Iran is 90% Shia, which puts them at odds with one of their closest neighbors – Saudi Arabia – which is 95% Sunni. Saddam Hussein was Sunni and brutally abused the Shia when he was in power. After the United States invaded Iraq (which is 63% Shia), the Bush administration purged all Sunni’s from both political office and the military. Now its payback time for the Shiite government of Prime Minister Maliki, who is excluding and abusing the Sunni. The ISIL, which is the terrorist group that is gaining ground in Iraq, is a Sunni Muslim organization (as is al Qaeda and the Taliban)… In Syria, only 13% of the population is Shia. But their president – Bashar al-Assad – is an Alawite, a Shia sect.[…]

    Both domestically and abroad, President Obama constantly comes under pressure to take sides in this Sunni/Shia conflict. Due to their long association with Saudi Arabia, many of the “hawks” in our government would like that support to go to the Sunnis (against Assad in Syria and Iran). And yet now we are faced with calls from some of the same people to align ourselves with Iran to support the Shia government of Maliki against a Sunni terrorist group.

  10. All Of Obama’s Options On Iraq Are Terrible

    The current explosion of violence in Iraq, as militant extremists march toward Baghdad, has Iraqis fleeing in droves and everyone in the region worried about what happens next. In this context, the political class in the United States is one of both barely contained horror at the sight of the Iraqi government on the ropes and a search for what to do next. President Obama on Friday told reporters that Iraq needs “additional support” to help beat back the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – but the U.S. will not be sending troops back into combat. Instead, Obama said, he has asked his team to provide him with a set of other options.

    The list, from the article:

    1. Do nothing

    2. Pressure al-Maliki to reform his government

    3. Back the Kurds

    4. Increase military aid to the Iraqi government

    5. Launch airstrikes against ISIS

    6. Cooperate with Iran’s cooperating with Iraq

    7. Reinvade Iraq

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