Today's Blogs

Surge, May I Have Another?

Bloggers anticipate the president’s speech tonight on a military “surge” in Iraq. They also think Hugo Chávez is up to his old socialist tricks, and can’t quite see the point of Dolce & Gabbana’s “knife” ad.

Surge, may I have another? Twenty-thousand additional troops will be sent to Iraq for “clear-and-hold” operations to secure the most dangerous areas of the country (especially Baghdad), according to advance reports concerning the speech the president will deliver tonight. De-escalationist Democrats in Congress who oppose this policy shift will do nothing to stop it. But bloggers are as skeptical as most Americans are about its chances for success in the war zone.

The Moderate Voice’sJoe Gandelman adopts a wait-and-see attitude: “Basically, the Democrats have little to lose: polls show Americans lopsidedly against the ‘surge’ idea. Even if Bush delivers a boffo speech, it’s unlikely his numbers and the idea for a troop escalation will surge. … Just stating ‘this is a strategy that will bring us victory’ or ‘we can’t afford to lose in Iraq’ won’t be enough anymore.”

Conservative Andrew Sullivan thinks the anticipated figure of 20,000 additional troops is less than halfway there: “[A] real surge means a minimum of 50,000 more competent, professional soldiers deployed for the indefinite future. …  Anything less than 50,000 means more of the same. We also need the best speech of the president’s life, if he is to persuade the American people to send young troops to rescue Iraq from the grotesque incompetence of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, and the pathologies of Muslim sectarianism.”

Liberal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal tweaksTime’s Joe Klein for writing on Swampland that while anti-surge Democrats are right on the tactics, they’re hopelessly wrong on politics—it’s the military commanders angling for a troop buildup. Drum responds: “The question at hand is whether a surge now would improve our counterinsurgency prospects, and there’s been a ton of reporting in the past month that suggests that both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military commanders on the ground in Iraq don’t think so. Klein knows this perfectly well, just as he knows that the ‘motivating force’ behind the surge almost certainly … comes from George Bush and Dick Cheney, who are casting around for something—anything—to fend off calls for withdrawal …”

Lefty Matthew Yglesias addresses the report by Fred Kagan and Jack Keane of the American Enterprise Institute and notices a gap between their troop-addition estimate and the president’s: “A Kagan-Keane sized escalation won’t be mounted because the Joint Chiefs say it’s logistically impossible. But according to Kagan and Keane success requires ‘a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so. Any other option is likely to fail.’ …  [D]oes Bush have some actual reason to believe that the number of additional troops required for the Iraq mission to succeed just so happens to be the exact number of troops who it’s logistically possible to send? That’s be a hell of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?”

Read more about the surge option and Bush’s speech. On Slate, Bruce Reed discusses the troop surge, which John Dickerson says Democrats won’t oppose.

Can you hear me now, comrade? Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who was just sworn in to his third term, has vowed to nationalize the country’s leading telephone and electricity companies. This comes on the heels of Chávez’s threat to shut down a dissident TV network and to abolish legislative checks on his power.

“Scatbug” at Hugo Chavez Watch sees grim days ahead for Venezuela: “Legislating by decree. ‘nothing and no one can prevent it.’ All that’s missing (for now) is a pledge to re-educate those who don’t have their minds right.”

Paila Master of The Devil’s Excrement says the telecom market’s changed, but “expropriating the expropriators” still looks the same: “CANTV is no longer the monopoly it was in 1990 and, if and when, it is run by the state it will become inefficient and badly managed and the two competitors it has will simply clobber the company in the market place, rendering CANTV worthless in the hands of the Government.”

At Reading the World,free-marketeer Russell Redenbaugh points out other alarming facts about state seizure of communications: “[W]ith the prospect of Chavez owning the entire phone line system … Chavez will be able to listen in on any phone call he wants, especially with all the great electronic help he’s getting from Cuba’s communist electronic warfare experts who are now in Caracas. Worse yet, he’ll be able to cut off electricity to any dissident or group, effectively ending any possible power to dissemimate news via electronic media. The only way to get any serious news out of Venezuela now will be to fly into Venezuela. If you can get a visa.”

Read more about Venezuela’s telecom nationalization.

Murder chic: Dolce & Gabbana is getting flak for these ads of rapier-wielding and wounded models, which the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority has called irresponsible and distasteful. No rise in stab-happy pretty people as of yet, though.

“[P]erhaps it was bad luck that the first ad ran opposite an article on knife-related crime,” speakethGawker. “Beyond the stagey stabs, it’s typical D&G melodrama all the way, ‘taking inspiration from the paintings of Delacroix and David.’”

In the comments section of Sweet Media, “leynafaye” writes: “We should be so lucky that images of knife-wielding women are the worst propaganda put out there by the fashion industry. While I agree they’re a bit distasteful … I’m more concerned with images of skeletal-pre-adolescent-over-sexed women and the ridiculously priced clothes they gravitate to.”

Read more about the Dolce & Gabbana knife ad.