Yet another trio from the seemingly endless scandals and screwups that make up the Bush Administration.
First up is the yet another military officer embracing the politicization of the armed services. The DOD and FBI issued a 251 page report that found that Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein's acted improperly to help secure a $50 million contract to Strategic Message Solutions (SMS) for a giant video screen for a Thunderbirds exhibition, despite the fact that SMS's bid was almost twice that of its competitor.
Then we have news of a successor to the scandal-ridden Alphonso Jackson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Stephen Preston, former chief of the Small Business Administration, has been tapped to be the one to help steer HUD through the huge mess left by his predecessor. Preston's background in housing? None, to speak of. Preston came to SBA from the private sector where he worked in the financial services industry, which makes him the logical choice in the Bizarro World of BushCo to help Americans get through the sub-prime lending mess. As Olbermann says, "Henhouse unguarded, chickens slaughters, let’s put the wolf in charge."
And finally comes the news that the DOD's very own think tank, the National Defense University, has issued a highly critical study that says some of the stuff that we in the reality-based community have been saying for a while (hmm....we were right, and all those cheerleaders for staying in Iraq were...what's that word? Oh yeah, WRONG)
The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted "manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers" from "all other efforts in the war on terror" and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.
"Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there (in Iraq) were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East," the report continued.
The only problem? The writer of the study, Joseph Collins, who was part of the humanitarian mission post-invasion, wants it both ways. Sure we've screwed up massively and there's considerable doubt of "winning" this combat, we still can't leave:
"Despite impressive progress in security, the outcome of the war is in doubt," said the report. "Strong majorities of both Iraqis and Americans favor some sort of U.S. withdrawal. Intelligence analysts, however, remind us that the only thing worse than an Iraq with an American army may be an Iraq after a rapid withdrawal of that army."
"For many analysts (including this one), Iraq remains a 'must win,' but for many others, despite obvious progress under General David Petraeus and the surge, it now looks like a 'can't win.'"
The vagueness of the concept of what is "winning" notwithstanding, the question must be posed to Bush and his coattail rider, John McCain: What do you do now?