Put the shovel down, that hole is deep enough!

From The Carpetbagger Report:

In late May, John McCain announced his belief that U.S. troops in Iraq “have drawn down to pre-surge levels.” That was clearly not the case. But instead of simply acknowledging the error, the McCain campaign insisted the senator was actually right, just so long as we overlook “the tense of the verb.”


Here we are, two months later, and in a dramatic error, McCain told Katie Couric that it’s “just a matter of history” that Bush’s “surge” policy “began the Anbar awakening.” That, of course, is backwards. But instead of simply acknowledging the error and correcting the record, McCain has decided to parse the meaning of the word “surge.”

Original DVD cover.

[…] McCain appeared in the cheese aisle of a Bethlehem, Pa., grocery store yesterday, to explain why the surge isn’t really the surge, and why his obvious error was actually completely right.

“A surge is really a counterinsurgency strategy, and it’s made up of a number of components,” McCain said. “And this counterinsurgency was initiated to some degree by Colonel McFarland in Anbar province relatively on his own.” A reporter asked, “So when you say ’surge’, then you’re not referring just to the one that President Bush initiated; you’re saying it goes back several months before that?” McCain replied, “Yes, and again, because of my visits to Iraq, I was briefed by Colonel McFarland in December of 2006 where he outlined what was succeeding there in this counterinsurgency strategy which we all know of now as the surge.”


At this point, based on his cheese-aisle spin, McCain is contradicting:

* Gen. Sean MacFarland’s own assessment of what transpired in Anbar province;

* McCain’s own remarks about the start of the surge policy;

* and McCain’s own definition of what a counterinsurgency is.

And where does that leave us? McCain’s argument effectively boils down to this: “The surge is whatever I say it is, on any given day.”

(Video clip of Captain Underpants at above link)

From Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic:

Shawn Brimley tries to bring common sense to bear on this: “The word “surge” has always been used to as shorthand referring to President Bush’s decision to deploy about 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq in early 2007, the first of which did not arrive in Iraq until later in the spring.” McCain is arguing, I guess, that “the surge” doesn’t refer to the manpower boost more formally termed the “surge of forces” by the military. Instead, “surge” is, perhaps, short for “counterinsurgency.”

The main problems here would be that nobody uses “surge” that way (indeed, John McCain has a long history of using the term “surge” the same way as everyone else) and also that the short form of counterinsurgency the abbreviation-mad military uses is “COIN.”

Captain Underpants has canceled all weekend appearances while doctors desperately try to get the knots out of his tongue.


Filed under 2008 election, Chimpy, George W. Bush, humor, Iran, Iraq War, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Karl Rove, Katie Couric, Lindsey Graham, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

32 responses to “Put the shovel down, that hole is deep enough!

  1. The bottom line is that the surge worked and Senator McCain is the only candidate left in the Presidential race who supported it.

    To this day, Obama refuses to admit that it was a success.

    Let’s stick to the salient point here and not diddle about, parsing words. On the issue of the surge, only one Presidential candidate had it right.

  2. nightowl724

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Great job, nonnie!

    …McCain appeared in the cheese aisle of a Bethlehem, Pa., grocery store…

    What was that you were saying the other day about the CU version of a Big Boy being a cheese sandwich? Swiss cheese maybe – full of holes? Or, Limburger – really stinky? How about Velveeta – it melts and oozes with the slightest heat. I know! Aged blue cheese – off white with lots of veins all through it resembling his face.

  3. welcome to the raisin, scottymck,
    i heartily disagree with you. the lessening of violence began 4 months before the surge started due to the sunnis turning against al qaeda. the sunnis were already positioning themselves for when the u.s. left. saying that success was due to the surge is like telling your dog to sit and then praising him for being such a good boy when the dog was already sitting before you told him to sit.
    the salient point here is that we had no business whatsoever being in iraq in the first place, and being there now has not made us one bit safer.

  4. nightowl,
    i just went back to a low-carb diet, and now you have ruined cheese for me! capt u would probably be the cheese that comes in the can. it’s just an amorphous blob. no particular character. that’s how he changes his positions so easily.

  5. Thanks for welcoming me to the raisin!

    You must be looking at completely different death toll numbers than I am. In the months immediately leading up to the real surge in June of 2007, there were three straight months with casualtiies over 100.

    After the month of June, that number fell into the 80’s and has decreased steadily into the 40’s, 30’s 20’s and now the teens.

    My dog never did listen to me!

  6. jlms qkw - jenn

    nonnie – it’s brilliant! you have w and lindsey and joey-poo and even kkkarl! all of mccain’s loves.

  7. jeb

    Johnny Mc is saying “I was surge when surge wasn’t cool” (with apologies to Barbara Mandrell.)

  8. jlms qkw - jenn

    and darth approves!

    and does czeckoslovakia border iran or iraq? 😉

  9. jlms qkw - jenn

    scottymck, here’s a story you might want to look at:


  10. scottymck,
    everyone is welcome at the raisin, even those who disagree with the majority of people here. i appreciate that you were respectful in your dissent.
    the number of deaths of american soldiers might be down, but the number of iraqi deaths was actually higher after the surge. you can interpret statistics to say what you want them to say. you can say violence has decreased, but it might be the number of people is what really decreased. there are millions of displaced iraqis, so there are less of them who can be killed in iraq. does that mean success? i don’t think so, but it can be skewed to make it sound like it is.
    i am very sorry that your dog doesn’t listen to you. i am sure he loves you anyway.

  11. jenn,
    do you like the frames i picked out for the pictures? i think czechoslovakia borders either the ussr or burma. i always mix them up. 😉

  12. jeb,
    barbara mandrell will never speak to you again!

  13. jlms qkw - jenn

    nonnie, i do like the frames – they are just right for each picture.

    and i especially like the ‘apple’

  14. 😆 the bomb does look like an apple! that was completely accidental, but it’s brilliant! good thinking, jenn! 😀

  15. Sorry, I don’t turn to sites with political agendas to get my numbers. The actual numbers (which do include car bombs, dailykos) I get from iCasulties.

    The article you cited is all over the place. At times, I am not even sure what the point is. First, the loss of freedoms caused by excess government is decried and in the very next paragraph cries for more government abound.

    The author alleges that we cannot presume that the successes in Iraq wouldn’t have happened reardless of the surge and then goes on to state that the increase in violence in Afghanistan is due to there not being enough troops there.

    C’mon, make up your mind! It’s easy for someone to say they were right when they take both sides.

    The writer states, “In January 2007, we could have done one of two things– max out our troop presence in Iraq or withdraw. No one should presume that only one of those choices would have led to a reduction in violence.” This is an argument one can use for anything in life.

    For instance, one could just as easily write “No one should presume that combat was the reason that 121 soldiers committed suicide.” No … wait a minute … there are actual numbers to support that fact. The real fact is that the number of suicide deaths from soldiers who had seen action in Iraq or Afghanistan was 89. This amounts to approximately 14 per 100,000 activated troops during that period, a number very similar to the national average suicide rate of 12 per 100,000 amongst everyday ordinary citizens in the same age category.

    So, instead lets make the equally preposterous statement, “No one should presume that 22,000 to 24,000 Iraqi civilian deaths wouldn’t have happened, regardless of whether the U.S. was in Iraq or not.”

    People forget why we went to war in the first place. Since you were so kind as to point out a site that would enlighten me, I will return the favor by offering the following site for your perusal: The Iraq War: Remembering the causes.

  16. jeb

    That’s an interesting article scottymck but it does not hold water. We had inspectors in Iraq. The Iraqis were somewhat complying (but of course they could not be trusted to comply completely). The reality is that Sadaam ruled by fear and he was never going to admit publicly to giving up his WMD because he felt that was the basis of his power. Remember too that we contributed to his WMD programs when he fought Iran in the 80s.

    However, this disarmarment effort was supposed to be done under the auspices of the UN. When we went back to the UN, they disagreed with forcing Sadaam to comply by force. Now, I know many say “screw the UN” but we are either going to honor our committments or we’re not. We cannot have it both ways.

    The point is that the US does not do preemptive war. If we do, why go after Iraq? Sure they may have had some WMD capabilites but little to no delivery systems. We knew that their long range missles (SCUDS that went about 900 miles at most) were destroyed. They had no Air Force. The argument that they might give WMDs to Al Qaeda is laughable because the only thing Osama bin-Laden and Sadaam had in common was their absolute hatred of each other. OBL saw Sadaam as a heretic and Sadaam saw OBL as a competiter for regional dominance.

    If we were going to use the logic of imminent danger, North Korea, Pakistan and other countries could have been first. We knew they had a larger WMD capability and the delivery systems to get them where they wanted them.

    Our invasion of Iraq has committed us to a military venture that we cannot disentangle ourselves from. The surge worked to a point because putting more troops in forced down some of the activity that was going on. But we cannot sustain that. The anitmosities that exist there are older than our country and they will wait us out and then they’ll get back to settling scores. Just as we could not ultimately impose our will on Vietnam, we will not do so on Iraq. The best hope would be a regional agreement but as long as we are there with a military presence and an attitude that we are not required to talk with those we don’t want to speak too, there will be no good end to this.

    Sadly we’ve lost the lives and futures of many in our military, we’ve contracted out much of our government functions and those contractors run amok and get richer at the expense of the taxpayer, we’ve endangered our own constitution and we have jeopardized our standing in the world. Moreover, we gave up our progress in trying to quash the origin of our problem in Afghanistan and now that is coming back to haunt us.

    Anyone can rationalize the invasion any way they want but the it was a bad idea. Instead of arguing over how to sustain it, we need to figure out how to fix it.

  17. I agree that there are plenty of reasons not to be in Iraq. The loss of lives and the cost is certainly worth taking a second look at.

    The one positive is that it is drawing out terrorists who continually enter the country to take their pot shots at American troops.

    One could also use the same arguments for any further involvement in Afghanistan. We are just as unlikely to solve the underlying hatred there, as well.

    I have no problem yanking our troops out of every single country in the world and sending them home. Nor do I have a problem with refusing to spend a single U.S. dollar on any form of humanitarian aid to other countries until every single American is taken care of that cannot take care of themselves. Then, and only then, we should be spending excess funds to help other countries.

    Of course, I would not be giving any aid to countries that do not support the United States 100% as allies. If they cannot support us, why the hell should we support them?

  18. Hi, Nonnie!

    I like this better than the Green Acres idea!

  19. i agree with everything jeb said. scottymck, don’t you think that going after bin laden and the people who actually attacked us would have thrown a big pitcher of iced water in the face of saddam if he had any thought whatsoever of attacking us?
    do you remember the speeches about saddam being able to hit england in something like 45 minutes? if that was true, can you explain to me why chimpy sat reading a book to kids for 7 minutes after he knew that a plane had hit the wtc? he used up 7 precious minutes, knowing that england might have been hit in less than an hour? don’t you find something rather strange there?
    as to humanitarian aid, i agree that we need to help everyone here at home. however, good will is always a good thing, and helping those abroad will keep us safer, because people don’t attack their friends. plus, when people are content, they don’t go looking for trouble.

  20. neon vincent!
    i hope you aren’t saying that after you see tonight’s post! 😀

  21. nonnie,”what if” and “we should have” are useless wastes of time.

    If you review the film of Bush reading to the children, you will see that he becomes gravely concerned after learning of the incident. I’m sure he was waiting for more information and could hardly have leapt up, proclaiming to the children, “run for the hills; we’re all going to die!” There certainly wasn’t enough to wrongly conclude that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks.

    You are fooling yourself if you think that giving aid to countries in the Middle East will ever change their opinion of you, infidel. They’ll befriend you for as long it takes until your guard is down. Turn your back, and a knife will surely follow.

    We have no more chance of befriending those people than the Jews do. Keep believing in the impossible, if it helps you sleep at night, though.

  22. c’mon, scotty (may i call you scotty?), are you saying that he couldn’t have stood up, said, ‘sorry, kids, i have president work to do,’ and left the room? (and, by the way, there are many accounts that he had heard of the plane flying into the first tower on his way to the school).
    all that aside, though, let’s get back to the original argument. you said that mccain was right about the surge. even if some might agree with that, how much has he gotten wrong?
    as to giving aid to people in other countries–yes, there are some people we will never win over. they will be discontent no matter what. however, they are the vast minority. most people, no matter where you go in the world, just want to live their lives and raise their children in peace. if we appeal to that vast majority, then the minority will not have enough backing to do anything other than bitch and moan. of course, i do not wear rose-colored glasses, and i understand that there are threats out there. of course, we have to maintain a strong military. however, you have to use it wisely and with restraint. when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. it’s time to put the hammer away for a while and try some other tools in the shed–such as diplomacy.

  23. As I stated before, I have no problem pulling troops out of everywhere. I’m tired of paying to solve the world’s problems. I can barely afford my own.

    Diplomacy hasn’t worked out so well with Iran for the last few years, has it? No matter. Israel will surely launch an attack before the end of the year.

    I just hope we keep our noses out of it for a change. (See, I’m not the big war monger you make me out to be).

  24. i never said you were a warmonger, scotty. however, i think mccain is. i don’t think he has any ideas pertaining to foreign policy other than war.
    as to iran, what diplomacy? we haven’t had diplomats in iran in 30 years.

  25. Oops, I forgot to address your first question. Yes, you may certainly call me “Scotty.” I’ve been called far worse things by other commenters and it sure is less condescending than “sweetheart.”

  26. nonnie,

    OMG! You mean that we are imposing economic sanctions on a country and nobody has ever even talked with someone over there. Man, I new we were bastards, but not just plain mean!

    I realize that you never called me a warmonger; I just felt I needed to express the sentiment and should have chosen a better way to put it.

  27. scotty, sweetheart 😆 (c’mon, you knew i was gonna do that, didn’t you?)
    of course, there are always talks done behind the scenes. sanctions are negative. they piss people off, especially everyday iranians who tend to be very open to western ideas. we see how well sanctions have worked so far. why not try something new? you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. what’s wrong with talking to them? how would anything be worse than they are now? i am not talking about sending them chocolates and flowers. what i mean is treating them with a little bit of respect. quite often, when you give respect, you get respect back.

  28. So, you are saying “we have tried the stick, where’s the carrot?” What would the carrot be?

    Recent polls suggest that Obama got a big boost from his Obamamania European tour. When asked yesterday, if he had any changes in his policies as a result of the tour, he talked around the issue but basically said “no.” He talks of sitting down with Iran and having tough talks. It doesn’t souns as if there will be any carrots at those meetings. One thing is for sure, the Middle East along with the rest of the world sure wants him elected.

  29. jeb

    Scotty, if you look at a problem from one end of the prism, you will only have one view. The Iranians are very nervous. We have troops on their western border (Iraq) and their eastern border (Afghanistan). Gee, I wonder how we would react in that situation? Am I giving a pass to the mullahs? Hell no, they’re a bunch of totalitarian bastards who use religion to impose their will. But there are other considerations here. One, they offered to help us with the Taliban and Afghanistan back in 2001-2002 (the Taliban and al-Qaeda are Sunnis with tacit Saudi support and the Iranians are Shia). We told them to stuff it. Another thing to remember is that over half of the population of Iran was not born when the revolution occurred in 79. They don’t harbor the resentments of the older generation which mistrusts us because of our support for the Shah and Savak. At the end of the 90s there were signs that the Iranian regime was having to relax some of its grip because the younger generation was getting tired of the crap they dish out and was looking wistfully toward the west and what they thought we have to offer. However, once Bush got in and slapped their hand away and declared them an integral part of the Axis of Evil, the mullahs were elated. The moderates were out and we got the ones we have to deal with now. Is that anti-American? No, it’s just fact.

    As for aid, there are many forms of aid. I know that there is corruption and bloated bureaucracy involved in large aid programs but there are also tangible benefits. Aid gives us exposure to people on the ground and when they see us helping through programs such as the Peace Corps, they get a different view of Americans than what their regime feeds them. Another form of aid is cultural exchanges and libraries. I remember reading a story about FW DeKlerk in 1989 shortly after he became president of South Africa. Afrikanner society is very insular. His predecessor, PW Botha, rarely left South Africa so he had a very closed perception that informed his view of the world and their response to apartheid. The article pointed out how DeKlerk – as a young man – went on a US sponsored exchange program to America. This helped him see a different view of the world and in the article he said that the months he spent in America helped open his eyes to full democracy. Would he have loosened the grip of the South African government and released Mandela if he had not taken that trip? We don’t know, but it seems that his experiences certainly gave him a different view than his predecessors who thumbed their noses at the world.

  30. how lucky am i to have smart guys like jeb here to say what i want to say, but who say it so much better than i ever could. jeb brought up exactly what i was thinking, scotty. how much safer did it make us when cowboy chimpy came out with guns blazing declaring his axis of evil? is that what we should consider diplomacy in the chimpy regime?
    it’s like when someone insults one of your family members. you can insult your family member as much as you want, but when an outside party does it, it is an entirely different story. most iranians want to be westernized. they are not happy with their leadership. however, when chimpy calls their country evil, they become defensive and rally around their own. it’s just human nature. treat the people with a bit more kindness, and they will change the leadership by themselves. it might take a while, but it will happen.

  31. Jeb and Nonnie (darling),

    Excellent points one and all. I don’t agree with being aggressive or sucking up. I prefer to leave that wacko part of the world to their own devices.

    As I’ve said before, we wouldn’t be in the mix if many different Presidents didn’t interject this country on behalf of Israel. That’s a lot of campaign money to ignore, however.

    If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is there to see it, who gives a crap?

  32. talapoku

    In your opinion, what’s the best movie ever created?