Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE LAST REFUGE OF SCOUNDRELS....A few days ago I remarked that although Democrats would like corruption to be the primary issue in this year's midterm elections, the White House still has something to say about that. Today the New York Times reports that Karl Rove gave a speech in which "he left little doubt that once again as has been the case in both national elections since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that he was intent on making national security the pre-eminent issue in 2006." Here's what Rove said:

The United States faces a ruthless enemy, and we need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity of the moment America finds itself in. President Bush and the Republican Party do. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Democrats.

Let me be as clear as I can be: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree.

Now don't get me wrong here. Corruption is a good issue for Dems if they can bring themselves to stop being so damn timid about it, and it's also possible that Republicans will eventually discover that they've gone to the terrorism well once too often. Maybe.

But I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. Banging away on both corruption and the broader topic of Republican fealty to corporate special interests may help Democrats at the polls this year, but I don't think national security is going away either. Unfortunately, I'm not getting a sense that Dems are spending much time thinking about that.

Kevin Drum 6:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (256)

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Comments

Someone really needs to ask Bush, Cheney, Rove and their various fellating apologists why they are such cowards? On the one hand they go around telling everyone how mighty and powerful the U.S. of A. is and on the other hand they tell we're about to be overrun by screaming Muslim hordes (or would be if Democrats were in charge).

Who was President on 9/11 again?

Posted by: Ugh on January 20, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

They are certainly scoundrels. But if this is the last refuge why is it always their first reaction. I think that it is only the 'last' refuge in the same sense that the war in Iraq was Bush's 'last' option.

Any bets on whether or not there will be an alert this October; or would that be too obvious.

Posted by: NeilS on January 20, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans certainly will use national security. It's what they've got. It's all they've got. What else can they do?

Their serious problem is that, at this point, it's going to take a lot more than mere rhetoric to ratchet up the security issue again. The current poll numbers tell the tale: Americans are NOT supporting the war in Iraq anymore, despite the constant drumbeat from the Republicans that we need to be there to "defeat the terrorists."

My conclusion? The Republicans will have to find some way to wag the dog here, because they can't possibly win without it.

Is it going to be Iran? But how about the huge spike in oil prices right in its wake?

I just don't know what the good prospects are here for the Republicans. But in some secret room in the WH, I'm sure they're brainstorming about it even as we speak.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 20, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well G.W. did let Osama go in Tora Bora,That was a payback for the big favor Osma did for George.Friends for life.

Posted by: scott on January 20, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems lack the fucking balls to take it to the GOP. They just don't have the stomach for the fight I guess. Kiss the fucking republic goodbye.

Posted by: Vinnie on January 20, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not getting the sense that "the Democrats" are "spending much time thinking about" much anything.

Now, they may actually be doing a lot of thinking, and talking, and strategizing, and all. And some of them may even be thinking along the same lines, although there's not much evidence to suggest that ever occurs. But all the thinking and talking isn't going to do much good without some concerted political action, which in turn requires both determined, consistent leadership and some loyal follower-ship.

One of the things that creeps me out most about the Republicans, and their fellow totalitarians of other places and times, is their zombie-like hive-mind behavior. I'm certainly not suggesting we should go there.

But if we're going to have any hope of stopping the Panzer battalion, we're going to need more than an aimlessly milling crowd, however large or well-intentioned.

Posted by: bleh on January 20, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Recent polls have shown that much (or all) of the Republican edge on terrorism in popular perception is gone, though its still their strongest issue since they aren't behind Democrats in popular perception on the issue.

But Democrats need to capitalize on that new strength, and not ignore the issue and let the Republicans swing it there way. Not by compromising values, but by underlining the very differences that have already convinced people the Republicans can't handle terrorism. If Democrats passively allow Republicans to write the narrative on the issue, then the Republicans get something of a free ride, and their best chance to hold on to power.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't we punch them in the goddamn mouth on this and scream that the issue isn't wiretapping terrorists, but abuse of power. They can't make the argument that what they did couldn't have been done without the legally required oversight. That's the issue and powerful dems should be yelling it.

Also, it's time to take some really low blows on these bastards. Dems are like the gentleman who tries to play fair while he gets his ass kicked by the asshole who knows how to fight.

Posted by: Andy on January 20, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and one other point about the use of national security for the Republicans.

It's an effective issue, all right, or at least has been. But it works a whole lot better for the President than for Congresscritters.

And 2006 is all about the Congresscritters.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 20, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Any bets on whether or not there will be an alert this October; or would that be too obvious.

If you train a neural network on the basis of the past data to predict when the next Osama tape will appear, it will predict that if the Republicans are low in the polls in October 2006, out of the blue, one more pronouncement from bin Laden will be all over the airwaves at that time.

Posted by: lib on January 20, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

In dangerous times, we need leaders who aren't afraid to take golf junkets to Scotland.

Posted by: trostky on January 20, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 wrote: The Republicans will have to find some way to wag the dog here, because they can't possibly win without it.

They can just do what they did in 2001: ignore numerous specific warnings of an imminent major Al Qaeda attack, allow it to happen, and then say that their failure to protect Americans from terrorism means that they need to assume complete dictatorial powers to protect Americans from terrorism. The bought-and-paid-for corporate media, and the simpering whimpering Democrats, who after all work for the same corporate masters as Bush and Cheney, will go along with it, and that will be the end of America as a free republic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

The housing bubble will influence the election as well. The tide of foreclosures is already starting in some areas. Have you noticed how many affordable rentals are being offered with all-new appliances? These are renovating flippers on the short end of the housing boom.

The worst bubbles are in blue states, however.

Posted by: troglodyte on January 20, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we ought to focus on the corruption that is associated with the war on terror (no bid contracts, missing funds in Iraq, defense contracter bribes, ineffective homeland security pork-barrel spending in the congressional districts of ranking Republicans) and ask the public whether we are really being defended or just being taken to the cleaner.

Posted by: B on January 20, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think national security is the best reason to vote Democrat. Has the U.S. ever been less secure, more inept, and less respected as a nation? OBL is out there editorializing and that worthless POS Rove rails about SECURITY? where was national security when he ratted out Plame. Bush's brain needs rest.
Come on Fitzgerald . . .

Posted by: Sparko on January 20, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK
Why can't we punch them in the goddamn mouth on this and scream that the issue isn't wiretapping terrorists, but abuse of power.

We can.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think SA is on to something--Bush and his minions probably think that they'll benefit from another terrorist attack, but I don't think as much as after 9/ll, and it could just as likely backfire on them.

Blaming Clinton certainly won't work anymore.

Posted by: Ringo on January 20, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

If I were Howard Dean, my stock response would be:
"Democrats know that we can defend America and protect Americans without breaking the law or trashing the Constitution. If Republicans don't know how do that, it's time to replace them with people who can."

Posted by: Dave Pooser on January 20, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think one very strong strategy is to pick up on Gore's point, as Josh Marshall did, that corruption and insularity go hand in hand with, indeed lead to INCOMPETENCE. Do we really want incompetents in charge of protecting us? Why would they be any better at this than they are at disaster relief, or Medicare policies, or fiscal management and debt reduction, or anything else?

Posted by: Jones on January 20, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

There is no housing bubble: people have to live somewhere, and demand still outstrips supply.

As to corruption, Mr. Abramoff maintained lists that had both Republican and Democratic officeholders. That should be no surprise to anyone -- he was a lobbyist, and it was his job to talk to anyone who could deliver. Ranking Democrats on committees, while not in power, had the ability to get a fair amount of stuff done, so it's no surprise that Abramoff would push some money their way.

Oh, I'm sure the Dems didn't do anything wrong, oh no. But I wouldn't bank my election campaign on that.

Dems could make national security an issue, but the commenters here aren't helping the cause. It's a dangerous world out there, and pious carping about who was president on 9/11, or Tora Bora, isn't going to cut it.

Dems have to address the central issue: how will Democrats in office work to make America safer in a dangerous world? What policies will lead to better security? How will Democrats deal with dangerous countries such as Iran and North Korea?

Again, take shots at the Repubs if it makes you feel better. But Americans, in the main, will vote for a party with a plan, even if flawed (Republicans) over a party with no plan (Dems).

You need a plan that can withstand some fair scrutiny. But I think I'm channeling Kevin Drum ...

Posted by: Steve White on January 20, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove and Georger Bush cannot save us from terroists even if their lives depended on it.

Why are the Democrats so afraid of this being the issue in the elction?

Just deal it with it head on, and tell the truth about how the Republicans have made us less safe. And to top it all, just mention the Jackoff scandal.

Posted by: lib on January 20, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dave, you are, of course, correct, but let's turn back to cmdicely. al gore's speech offered an important pointer to dems in waging a more effective political campaign: it's time to make clear to people that a panic-stricken bush administration, knowing that it hadn't done enough to prevent 9/11, has now elevated the threat of terrorism beyond where it actually belongs.

a little reminder of the 9/11 commission's scorecard on our domestic readiness, a few riffs on a failed department of homeland security, and a reminder that there didn't use to be terrorists in iraq until the bush administration came up with their bright idea all wouldn't hurt either....

Posted by: howard on January 20, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care what anyone says, if you want to see how a good opportunity gets spoiled, watch the Democrats. Honestly, I expect to either break even this year or lose seats in Congress. Things just aren't going to improve unless Joe Biden gets off the air (if he wants to listen to himself talk, why doesn't he just sit in a dark room, alone?), Harry Reid gets tighter control of the caucus, and some real significant ideas get put forward.

Posted by: KC on January 20, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Rove, like the rest of this administration, once again gets it wrong. Dems also want to track Al Qaeda and know who they're calling and why. The only difference is that Dems (and even some Repubs) want to do it LEGALLY. That is, with warrants from FISA, the reason that act was instituted in the first place.

Posted by: zhoward on January 20, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Dave Pooser,

I like that.

Posted by: KC on January 20, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, Dave Pooser you are the man! I wish the Democrats could have thought of that but I guess they are not capable.

Face it folks. Fear will win every time. People will think yeah things are pretty bad now but if we elect the other guy they might get worse. That's what a lot of people I know were saying during the last election. I doubt they've changed their tune all that much. The president spying illegally, republican corruption, etc don't mean a thing to most people when they keep hearing BE AFRAID!!!! BE VERY AFRAID!!!!

Posted by: no-thing on January 20, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

For once, I have to strongly dissent. If President Bush had been focused on bin Laden for the past 4 years, bin Laden would have been captured or killed. Call this for what is - Karl Rove and his minions could care less about national security as long as they have this partisan play to win an election. You say the Democrats are too timid on the corruption angle - and yet you timidly give a pass to Rove's latest horses&*t.

Posted by: pgl on January 20, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, Kevin, but where I live people are very tired of the lack of progress this administration has made in the War on Terror. The administration's efforts are becoming a bad joke. Assume for the sake of argument that the US is attacked again. The odds are better than even that folks will not rally around GWB again. He will take a heckofa political hit.

Don't fear Karl on this issue. Embrace it. Make it our own. Just keep asking the tough questions.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 20, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, just for the record, the idea that people have to live somewhere so there is no housing bubble is about as foolish as one could utter. i mean, seriously: where do you come up with stuff like that? are you truly unaware that housing prices have fallen in the past?

i'm not commenting on housing bubble or not: that's a local issue, anyhow. but yes, housing prices can, do, and have fallen in the past, and there's no reason to think they won't fall again at some moment in the future, whether tomorrow or later.

meanwhile, though, i can't help but notice, it's come to this: even a dyed-in-the-wool bush supporter thinks that the gop "plan" is "flawed."

Now, some of us do not regard failing at Tora Bora, failing in the Department of Homeland Seucrity, failing to actually secure targets in america, and failing in iraq (and, while we're at it, failing with respect to iranian and north korean nuclear weapons) constitutes a "plan" in the first place, but i digress.

The point is that the stink is so bad that even the true believers have to have some distance.

Remember the Hippocratic Oath, Steve: first do no harm. Would that we had a president who understood that.

Posted by: howard on January 20, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'd also go ahead an mention that Bush and Rice read multiple memos warning about Al Queda and Bin Laden and DID NOTHING.

My Pet Goat (Ok, "The Pet Goat").

Diverting money and people from AQ/BinLaden/Afghanistan to Iraq.

And so forth. Yeah, couldashouldawoulda done this in '04, but people still need to be educated about this.

Posted by: Something Polish on January 20, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK
al gore's speech offered an important pointer to dems in waging a more effective political campaign: it's time to make clear to people that a panic-stricken bush administration, knowing that it hadn't done enough to prevent 9/11, has now elevated the threat of terrorism beyond where it actually belongs.

And, frankly, Cheney's own admission that they deliberately attempted to exploit fear of terrorism as a pretext for undoing protections put in place after the abuses of Vietnam and Watergate era have a role to play there, too.

We need leaders who will defend America effectively, not use foreign threats as a cover for pursuing other agendas.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

CNN poll that's online right now:

Has the Bush administration done a good job of putting terrorists 'out of business'?

Yes: 29% 52281 votes
No: 71% 126599 votes

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans will eventually discover that they've gone to the terrorism well once too often.

Nah, that well is never empty for the pissing-themselves-scared Bush lovers (well represented here). A few well-timed terror alerts and they'll be on their knees blubbering for Dear Leader to save them. Pussies.

Posted by: grytpype on January 20, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: What are Democrats supposed to say about national security? We can say that Osama continues to run free--but no one pays attention.
We can say that Iraq is helping to fight terrorism and probably makes it worse--but no one pays attention. We can point out just because Bush claims he is only getting information from people who are in contact with terrorists doesn't make it so and that if that was really the case there is nothing in FISA to stop that--but here we can't even get Kevin to believe it.

Camus

Posted by: Camus on January 20, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have much advice to offer to Democratic candidates. I only know what I want from political candidates, and unlike many other people I am not a mindreader who knows what millions of "undecided" voters want.

But for what it's worth, in 2008, please let's not have a Democratic Presidential candidate who begins every long convoluted unintelligible sentence with "We need a President who ...".

I swear that I once heard John Kerry begin a sentence with "We need a President who understands that we need a President who ...".

Whatever the message is, please state it in short, simple, to-the-point, declarative sentences.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

One word wins the debate....

What is that word????? Thanks for asking as it should be seared into everyones lexicon.

warrentless

As long as everyone uses that modifier in the debate, we frame the debate properly and win.

We are opposed to WARRENTLESS searches. The bushies do not.

Game, Set and Match.

Posted by: Charles Stanton on January 20, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

The national security issue would be a NON issue if the Democratic party had strong leadership for engaging Islam.

No one on either side of the aisle wants to consider cutting bait on Israel.

And that is what is going to happen - later if not sooner.

If we stopped supplying money and arms to the Israelis our problems in the Middle East would vanish.

The problem with my thesis is that nobody in either party will say it - for fear of reprisals from the usual suspects.

There is an elephant in the room who is pretending to be a lampshade. His name is Israel.

If we get the money out of politics, the money men who support Israel first would lose their grip on our legislators.

Addendum.... don't start with the scarlet A crap -- my partner's name is Stein.

Posted by: Tj on January 20, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

For the record - I felt compelled to post over at Angrybear my reaction to Kevin's post. Maybe the 1st time I have dissented with Kevin, but this Karl Rove speech (1st saying let's be civil and then ...) - I would have hoped Kevin could have called Rove on his BS in a way that was not so - what's the word - oh yea, TIMID.

Posted by: pgl on January 20, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely...
...the very differences that have already convinced people the Republicans can't handle terrorism.

But isn't the problem here that if there is no terrorist strike within the US, the repubs can claim their policies are working. Conversely, if there is a terrorist strike, especially by those Al Quedies, the repubs can just as easily claim that the terrorist threat is real and state the need to expand the Patriot Act powers to "rid America of these vermin".

Do you believe there a clear platform from the Dems on how to handle the terrorist situation? Because without a readily understandable option, how do the Dems gain on this issue??

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Tj wrote: If we stopped supplying money and arms to the Israelis our problems in the Middle East would vanish.

If the USA stopped supplying money and arms to Israel, then the USA would no longer have a military ally in the middle of the world's principal oil reserves that has a more powerful military than all the other countries in the region combined.

It's not about Israel. It's about the oil. If there were no oil in the Middle East, the rest of the world would have zero interest in the region and the Israeli-Arab conflict would be just one more obscure ethnic conflict that while horrible for those directly involved is of little or no concern to the great powers of the world.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Let's say the Dems want to:

  • Show they're willing and able to protect the U.S.
  • Show that Bush is not willing and able to protect the U.S.

How could they do that?

How about supporting strong border security and actually reducing illegal immigration?

And, won't discussing why the Bush administration allows almost open borders play into the Culture of Corruption meme?

And, won't it show that the Dems are not themselves as corrupt as the GOP?

Just something for serious Dems to consider.

-- ImmRef

Posted by: TLB on January 20, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Normally the left would be quoting some inane poll right about now showing Americans believe corruption is the number 1 issue and National Security is number 27 on Americas list.


By the way, since The New York Times tipped off the terrorists, there has been a noticeable drop in electronic traffic over terrorist communications. We have the left to thank if we can't stop the next terrorist attack due to their warnings to the terrorists to secure their communications.

Posted by: Patton on January 20, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is right -- the Democrats are not thinking much about national security as a campaign issue. To a large extent this is a matter of longstanding preference. Such passion as there is among Democrats on national security issues is almost all negative: fervent belief that the United States should not be doing certain things. Frankly, most Democrats in politics are just more interested in domestic affairs. That's been true for a while now. The problem with it, politically, is that things have to be going very badly indeed for a party with no positive agenda on a subject the voters care about to win favor against the party in power.

But the other factor is the record of the last Democratic administration on terrorism. Bill Clinton dithered for eight years while al Qaeda grew and prospered. He didn't treat the threat with the seriousness it deserved, and 9/11 was the result.

Many Democrats now act as if they think Americans have forgotten this, or have decided that in the months before 9/11 Bush and his team didn't treat the threat seriously either, or resent administration bungling in Iraq so much that they don't worry about terrorism. None of these things is true. The problem this presents for Democrats ought to be obvious: it is that when a Republican suggests that Democrats don't take national security seriously enough, the record of the last Democratic administration supports the charge. Even if voters are coming round to the view that the Republican administration is a problem, they hesitate before considering that Democrats might be the answer.

It is no good running away from this quandry. It has to be faced squarely. Democrats -- ideally they would be led by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the two top men in the last administration and two men who will never be candidates for national office again -- have to admit in plain language that in the years before 9/11 they got it wrong on terrorism. They had the power to act against al Qaeda and didn't use it. If they had things to do over again they would do them differently -- which is surely the truth -- and if Democrats are to regain power in Washington they cannot seem as if they are willing to repeat the mistakes made by the Clinton/Gore administration in the 1990s.

With that admission made it should be possible for Democrats not named Clinton or Gore to set forth how they would address terrorism now. Naturally in doing this they could explain why certain things the Bush administration is doing are foolish or unnecessary or even illegal -- provided that is not all they have to say. But before they can get to that point they need to show a willingness to admit mistakes and learn from them.

Posted by: Zathras on January 20, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Tj, you may not want the scarlet A, but really: "the money men who support Israel first..."? I don't care what your partner's name is.

Posted by: Alex R on January 20, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

One thing about this coming election, is that Rove's speeches aren't going to be as effective from prison.

Posted by: craigie on January 20, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever the message is, please state it in short, simple, to-the-point, declarative sentences.
(Posted by: SecularAnimist)

Yes, Yes, Yes.... I repeated your thought in this post because it deserves a 2nd reading!

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, since The New York Times tipped off the terrorists, there has been a noticeable drop in electronic traffic over terrorist communications.


Hmmm, doubtful, but there has been a noticeable rise in recorded communications from OBL to the entire world.

Posted by: craigie on January 20, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

isn't it the left that keeps claiming bush is unpatriotic because he took us to war based on lies, a war for oil, a war to help his rich buddies, etc. Sounds like the liberals are the scondrels.

By the way, I hear since the NYT publish their article on NSA wiretaps, Al Queda and related terrorist groups have significantly reduced their electronic communications. WAY TO GO GUYS...IF WE GET HIT AGAIN, IT WILL MOST LIKELY BE BECAUSE THE NYT TOLD THE TERRORISTS TO KEEP QUIET ON UNSECURE LINES AND USE COURIERS, CODES IN E-MAIL ETC

Posted by: Patton on January 20, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK
But isn't the problem here that if there is no terrorist strike within the US, the repubs can claim their policies are working.

They can claim responsibility for the sun rising, too. But recent polling data suggests that the Republican edge in public confidence in handling terror has evaporated.

Conversely, if there is a terrorist strike, especially by those Al Quedies, the repubs can just as easily claim that the terrorist threat is real and state the need to expand the Patriot Act powers to "rid America of these vermin".

And Democrats can claim, if there is another attack, that the President's taking of illegal power outside of the mandatory oversight did not prevent the attack, which calls, therefore, for a different approach, which brings the parts of the government together, and leverages oversight to assure effectiveness, rather than establishing unaccountable and ineffective practices.

Sure, the Republicans will try to spin anything that happens their way. But the evidence is that the ground is no more friendly to that spin, than to the counterspin available to Democrats. The way Democrats lose is by letting Republicans write the narrative. The ground has never been so friendly to Democrats since 9/11 as it is now. What is needed is to know what we want to do, and articulate it forcefully; we need to provide a real alternative to the people who are looking for one, because on issue after issue -- even Iraq and terrorism, which used to be golden Republican issues -- people are looking for an alternative to what the Right has to offer.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Rove's rant might have something to do with the fact that when George Bush took office the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 10678.28. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,667.39. Light, Sweet Crude was trading in the low to mid-30s in early to mid-January 2001, today Light, Sweet Crude closed at $68.48. Add these numbers to the situation in Iraq, bin Laden popping back up, the situation in Iran, and the corruption scandals circling and what else is Rove going to do? He's going to play the card that worked for him in 2004 because it's the only thing that might work. He can't use the economy.

Posted by: idlecrank on January 20, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

if Democrats were spending time thinking about, talking about, and promoting National Security, how would we know? As Republicans are now the party of Reform in the "Bipartisan" Abramhoff scandall, which MSM outlet will report on the Democratic progress?

Posted by: bcinaz on January 20, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

We keep reading these blogger laments about the timidity of Democratic leaders. I always wondered what mass it was that was resisting the effort of ANY Democrat to stand up and speak boldy and bravely about the criminal horror show that our government has become.

Now, by adding together this post, and the post of Zachary Ruth just before it, it becomes clear: the Democrats used to get their spine from the media. With the evaporation of the MSM, the Dems lost their cajones.

Which infers, of course, that they never had any of their own to begin with.

When did this start to happen? 1963? 1968? When was the last time we had a real Democratic/Liberal leader who LED the charge against the prevailing winds as opposed to those who follow the raging winds whipped up by a resourceful and courageous press?

Posted by: cringe on January 20, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

pencarrow, the problem the republicans have is what is their policy against terrorism: it's to fight the war in iraq.

now, the dems have to deal with iraq, but in fact, they can make the very clear point that there is no republican policy against terrorism, along with making the argument i suggested earlier about putting terrorism in the appropriate perspective.

one can't help but note, btw, that patton nows wants us to believe that he/she is in the know about the level of electronic communications in which AQ indulges. too amusing, truly....

Posted by: howard on January 20, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

cringe, broadly speaking, we might say that the answer to your question is robert kennedy, who was murdered for his efforts.

but most dems would say the answer is george mcgovern, and that's why they're timid....

Posted by: howard on January 20, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK
one can't help but note, btw, that patton nows wants us to believe that he/she is in the know about the level of electronic communications in which AQ indulges.

Its frequently observed that bin Laden and Bush are good for each other; that the actions of each reinforce the worldview that the other uses to motivate support. Patton has always been an irrational shill for Bush, here. Of course, the natural assumption has been that this is because Patton is a Republican partisan, but, of course, given the observation mentioned previously, one could consider the possibility Patton is, instead, an al-Qaeda operative, which would justify his/her implicit claim to know about al-Qaeda's covert communication practices.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely writes... What is needed is to know what we want to do, and articulate it forcefully; we need to provide a real alternative to the people who are looking for one...

I would most definitely agree, but by your statement I would also gather that you feel that there is no current articulation of the Dems position that meets your test of providing a "real alternative".

Your solution seems so obvious, yet if my perception is accurate, doesn't seem to be acted upon by the Dem leadership. Why??

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Rove's being intentionally dishonest, FWIW. If the gummint is snooping a known foreign terrorist, they can listen to both sides of the conversation even if they're calling the U.S. It's just like you and I being recorded if we happen to be called by some Mafia guy with a wiretap on him; as long as there's a warrant to snoop him, it's fair game, and no warrant is needed naming us. What would require a warrant is if they then wanted to snoop our calls to others in turn. Similarly, the gummint can record al Qaeda calls in foreign lands ... but they can't then target domestic contacts in turn just because they happened to be talking to a suspected or known al Qaeda agent. That requires a warrant (but FISA provides for emergency taps and for retroactive warrants even there). What's important here is who they decided to wiretap, and why.

Rove's formulation is just wrong.

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 20, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

howard writes... the problem the republicans have is what is their policy against terrorism: it's to fight the war in iraq.

You're right, of course, but seems to me that the Reps also would focus on the why the Patriot Act, the warrantless (I do like that word!) wiretaps, and probably even nominating Alito to the SCOTUS, all keeps the terrorists on the run.

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Hillary has the right idea. Push for the invasion of Iran, use the tried and true triangulation that worked so well with Bill.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 20, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK
I would most definitely agree, but by your statement I would also gather that you feel that there is no current articulation of the Dems position that meets your test of providing a "real alternative".

There are certainly Democrats who have been articulating parts of the right message, the important thing is doing it enough and consistently as the election draws closer, avoiding the temptation to talk about what we want the election to be about to the exclusion of the issues the electorate is most concerned about, and the temptation to not differentiate ourselves on the issues where we have the least clear advantage, going in, over the Republicans.

Yes, we've got to try to direct the debate where we think it should go, but we've also got to respect the electorate and deal with the issues that are salient. And we've got to have the vision, and character, to stand up even where we don't start out with an overwhelming advantage.

If we want Americans to trust Democrats to protect them -- as they seem more and more inclined to -- we need to show them, in the campaign season, that we trust our ideas about how to defend the country, and that we trust Americans to choose between competing visions.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 20, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why did the security alerts magically disappear after the '04 election.

BTW, isn't this the same speech Rove gave circa 2002?

Posted by: gq on January 20, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Their serious problem is that, at this point, it's going to take a lot more than mere rhetoric to ratchet up the security issue again. The current poll numbers tell the tale: Americans are NOT supporting the war in Iraq anymore, despite the constant drumbeat from the Republicans that we need to be there to "defeat the terrorists."

The best defence to the Republican "Piss your pan... umm, sorry, 'National Security'!" type attack is to make clear that the Republicans have been incompetent at such. It was they that were running the show on Sept. 11th, and they haven't gotten any better at it since (in fact, they've managed to muck up pretty much everythign they've tried, from Iraq to getting bin Laden to any actual prosecution of the "terrorists" they did nab). Their track record is horrible. It's time for them to go!

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 20, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Alex R

fuck you

American Jews finance both parties. That is a given. And they have an interest in the future of Israel.

That's all fine and good until we start invading the whole neighborhood to protect Israeli genocide of Palestinians.

You don't have to be a jew hater to see the genocide in Palestine.

as I said

fuck you

We need to get out of the area, and let the Israelis clean up their own mess. They have only a few years before the Palestinians outnumber them.

I don't begrudge people trying to influence government in favor of their favorite cause. But things in the MIddle East are out of control and the American people are being deceived.

Israel is the problem. So is oil.

But the reason we don't have a viable anti war candidate is because of Israel and their supporters. That is way too much influence.

Posted by: TJ on January 20, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Let's say the Dems want to:...Show that Bush is not willing and able to protect the U.S.

Anytime I need proof of that I look out my window at what used to be the World Trade Center. I have the most lovely view of a giant hole in the ground.

Posted by: Stefan on January 20, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely... thanks for your insights!

Any chance you might run for office?

I believe you'd get major support from this blog!!

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pencarrow, I think its because Dem alternatives are not viewed as sexy; why go after loose nukes or guard chemical plants when you can fight a war like Real Men? "Strong" Policy trumps Smart Policy. Smart policy needs better positioning somehow. We need Hollywood.

Posted by: bren on January 20, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the Op-Ed piece in the NYTimes today, by evangelical Charles Marsh, and ponder how much traction Bushco will get playing the terrorism/national security card again.

Considering Evangelical support for the war in Iraq, Marsh comments that "But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine."

At first, according to Marsh, 87% of evengelicals supported GWB, because they had been persuaded that "our president is a real brother in Christ." That figure is down to 68%--though still much higher than national support for the War--but here is Marsh asking his community: "What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance..."

Repentance? Mistaken loyalty? Ignoring Christian moral doctrine? Faustian bargain?? These are powerful images. Dare we hope that Bush's Evangelical base will continue to erode?"

Posted by: PTate in Mn on January 20, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, since The New York Times tipped off the terrorists, there has been a noticeable drop in electronic traffic over terrorist communications.

You're full'o'shite, you know. Yeah, lying for Der Fuhrer often enough gets you an RNC tote-bag and other neato token gifts, but you sell your soul to do it. Welcome to hell, "Patton".

Cheers,


Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 20, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Alex r - I second the fuck you.

does the name Abramoff ring a bell?

He is one of the money men who support Israel first. How does statement make anybody an anti semite?

Abramoff sold influence and put the money into a school for snipers. To kill innocent Palestinians!

Posted by: karen on January 20, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Smart policy needs better positioning somehow. We need Hollywood. (Posted by: bren)

Seems to me the Dems can claim Hollywood already, but it might help if the "stars" stayed out of the political limelight and the industry focused on what they're good at... making films that support the Dem positions.

Posted by: pencarrow on January 20, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not seeing much indication that people are thinking about Iran. We're going to see the 2002 playbook opened again. Are you ready?

Posted by: Marky on January 20, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

I fail to understand that if the Korean War is considered a "police action", how can the our active opposition to terrorism be considered a "war"? Perhaps engaging an opposing army, navy and airforce with dramatic fire-power is "police work", while facing a group of ragamuffins with masks and Russian rifles is war. I just don't get it. Have we more to fear than the pioneers that landed on a new continent, or those that moved west through Indian Country into new lands and challenges? Have we more to fear than our fathers and grandfathers that took on a potent Japan and Germany simultaneously? I don't get it.

Posted by: lugbolt on January 20, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove once again displays mendacity and disingenuous at its worst. Karl Rove is an opportunistic partisan liar, who has no place as one of the President's most influential advisors.

Let me be as clear as I can be: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree.

I would challenge Karl Rove directly to identify any such alleged important Democrats, and the basis for the scurilous charge. The fact is that the claim is false on its face and he knows it or should. I know of no democrats who say its not in our national security interest let alone important ones. Fortunately the laws we have in place have a legal procedure for determing whether the factual predicate exits - whether terrorists are calling. If they are, getting a warrant is not particularly difficult nor is following the law.

Many Democrats believe that if the President is secretly violating the law and failing his duty as President to uphold the Constution, then it is our national interest to hold the President accountable to his sworn duty to faithfully excute the laws of the land and uphold the Constitution.. Some important Rpublicans, such as Karl Rove, disagree and are willing to politicize national security issues to hide it.

Posted by: Catch 22 on January 20, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

I fail to understand that if the Korean War is considered a "police action", how can the our active opposition to terrorism be considered a "war"? Perhaps engaging an opposing army, navy and airforce with dramatic fire-power is "police work", while facing a group of ragamuffins with masks and Russian rifles is war. I just don't get it. Have we more to fear than the pioneers that landed on a new continent, or those that moved west through Indian Country into new lands and challenges? Have we more to fear than our fathers and grandfathers that took on a potent Japan and Germany simultaneously? I don't get it.

Posted by: lugbolt on January 20, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Just a clue:

Voters will go for someone with risky ideas before they'll go for someone with no ideas, incoherent and mutually inconsistent ideas, or worse, outright crazy ideas.

Step one for the Democrats is to back away from the loons.

Have you noticed that Democrats who are actually running for something in the next election seem to be going in a different direction than the loons are?

Posted by: tbrosz on January 20, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Hollywood, I thought this was a great post about missed opportunities in not leveraging top talent to articulate the democratic msg http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/12/29/11117/523

Key quote: "In the end, there is no intersection between Hollywood and the Democratic Party (or none that I have noticed besides that of fundraising). This is a missed opportunity of gargantuan proportions."

Posted by: bren on January 20, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

whoops, also meant to include this quote as well:

"The Democratic Party has a lock on the hearts and minds of Hollywood and Hollywood has a deep understanding of how to create message -- so why not start using us? "

http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/12/29/11117/523

Posted by: Bren on January 20, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Your advice wasn't solicited, tbrosz.

We think you well qualify as a "loon," so why do you think we're interested in your "clues?"

Sure, Republicans know how to use lies and distortions to compete on election day. But we don't aspire to that standard.

Posted by: obscure on January 20, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has nothing more or better to offer than "All Fear, All the Time." They're cowards. They fear and resent anyone who doesn't live in a constant state of terror.

I'd like to see the Democrats take Rove's words and shove them back down his and the GOP's throat.

"Security"? Yeah, let's talk about security.

Let's talk about the security of one's home one's right to travel freely - and the security of one's privacy.

Let's show the smashed security the people on the Gulf Coast suffered after Katrina. The utter failure, incompetence and indifference the GOP showed then and now, with its promises to "rebuild New Orleans" totally forgotten.

Let's show the violated security of people who've been spied on and wiretapped - people like Quakers and scholars, peace groups and book clubs. Not only does the surveillance make a staring lie of GOP claims to "make people safer," it also shows what complete cowards they are, to be so afraid of people who oppose Bush's policies that they have to track their every move.

Let's talk about those new ID cards the Bush Admin wants to force people to get, just so they can cross the Canadian border. Call the damn things what they really are: the first step towards a Soviet-style "internal visa," and the first step towards eliminating freedom of movement.

Make it clear that what really frightens the Bush Admin and the GOP are Americans and American liberties. Make it clear that what the Bush Admin and the GOP really mean by "security" is a police state that monitors Americans' daily lives, while maintaining a cloak of secrecy over its own actions.

Take the "security" issue and fire it right back at them.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 20, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

what's the difference between risky and crazy? just curious

Posted by: Bren on January 20, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, "TJ," a "33-year-old man," writes posts that are almost word-for-word identical in their anti-gay, anti-Semitic messages to "Arsenia Gallegos," a "58-year-old grandma." And they do it in the exact same style! What are the odds?

Minutes later, "Karen Ladik," seconder of TJ, coincidentally shows up.

Who was it who called them sock puppets last night?

Arsenia/wenn/TJ/Karen, you're entertaining, I'll give you that.

Posted by: shortstop on January 20, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Timidity is the ally of tyrants.

Posted by: parrot on January 20, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Kevin Drum channels Marshall Wittman and accuses the Democrats of political misfeasance on national security.

Kevin, it's so played.

Posted by: dick tuck on January 20, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and the Republicans have made us demonstrably less safe, and have put our military in such shape as to be far less effective when actual real threats emerge. The democrats should take this head on. But I fully expect them to blow it.

Posted by: Slideguy on January 20, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK
cringe, broadly speaking, we might say that the answer to your question is robert kennedy, who was murdered for his efforts.

Don't forget LBJ, who, for all of his faults still was a force to be reckoned with.

We face big cultural hurdles. When Howard Dean spoke out forcefully against the Iraq adventure our chicken-coop of a mainstream media went all a-cluckin'.

Dimwits like tbrosz cry "loon." Well, if you have the balls to call a spade a spade, the talking heads probably will try and stick you with "loon."

What Rove & Co. have going for them is that their assault on our Republic is so frontal and brazen that anyone with a vested interest in the status quo will fiercely resist acknowledging the catastrophe-in-progress.

Posted by: obscure on January 20, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry but this sort of crap from Rove is easy to bat down, if the Democrats have the will.

I'm the first to agree the President has the right to eavesdrop on anyone talking or emailing bin Laden, but only with a warrant. Since the wiretapping request can be started immediately with paperwork filed in 72 hours, it's easy to make the point that the Bushies are willfully breaking the law. Rove's argument is clearly a straw man argument, a phony one designed to puff up his position.

My hunch is that most thoughtful Americans are not in lockstep with Bush on this one. (They would be with him if FISA didn't exist and/or there was no 72 hour rule.)

Add in the increase in terror attacks despite the Iraq war and Afghanistan, and all the mis-management, and the failure to protect chemical plants and ports, and there goes Mr. Rove's advantage. If he ever had it.

Mr. Rove is blowing smoke out his rear end hoping to scare Democrats, not just the public. He's truly the Wizard of Oz, a small petty man who probably will go straight to hell when he dies, without passing Go or collecting $200.

Posted by: Fred on January 20, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why.

Didn't bin Laden just dial 911-FUC-BUSH?

Posted by: koreyel on January 20, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

By the way...

Has anybody else noticed that Josh Marshall is getting fat... and I mean SERIOUSLY FAT on this Jack-off thing?

Holy Cow.

If Pigs could fly they'd be Republicans on the lam....

Posted by: koreyel on January 20, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, let's talk security. Lets talk about the busiest seaport in America beign left to the ravages of weather, Katrina you did a heck of a job.

Lets talk about the miles of unguarded coastline that could be easily penetrated with a sailboat. Lets talk about how only a handful of shipping containers get inspected.

These facts make me feel a lot less secure than unfettered phone calls.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 20, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Since 9/11, 34 AQ tapes have been released: 19 from OBL and 15 from al-Zawahiri. That's about one tape every 45 days. We spend hundreds of billions on national security yet we can't trace the chain of custody of these tapes? WTF?

If we can't execute basic blocking-and-tackling investigative work by tracing these AQ tapes back to their terrorist authors in Afghanistan and Pakistan, spying on an activity that occurs every 45 days or so, what makes anyone think Repubs can achieve more complex goals like stabilizing Iraq or uncovering a homeland terrorist strike before it happens? I don't get it.

Riddle me this, Batman. If 2003 is the worst year for significant terrorist attacks since 1982 and then in 2004 the numbers tripled, how can Repubs call Bush's policies on WoT superior? We've damaged AQ so bad that terrorism has gone up? Wuh?

[Cite Cite]

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 20, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

The success of these guys will mean that for the first time in history a democracy will ahve willingly voted to go back to an authoritarian rule.

For if they have the right to wiretap any phone that receives the call from Al Queda, there is nothing to stop them for tapping any phones, since they will easily claim, and the voters will agree, that it violates national security if they disclose the names of those whose phones were tapped.

Posted by: lib on January 20, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, I don't mean to imply these tapes are made every 45 days. They're delivered by courier or mail to Al-Jazeera.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 20, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

the way for the Dems to capitalize on national security is to tie it to the hurricane katrina response. if you, mr and mrs america, think your homeland is secure. take a look at this (roll video). there is not a single plan to evacuate a major U.S. city in case of an attack.

Posted by: pierce on January 20, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Little tidbit it Seattle's Post Intelligencer today on the government gearing up to fight Google, which has resisted cooperating with sub poenas to let investigators trace certain requests on their search engine. It turns out that AOL, Yahoo, and MSN have all been cooperating with the federal government on this snooping, which relates to child pornography.

So what is worse--staged pictures of nude children participating in sexual acts, or children blown up by a weapon of mass destruction being employed against the U.S.A.?

Right now it is possible to pooh-pooh WMD's because we haven't really been reached out and touched by the terrorists since 9/11/2001. That can change when we least expect it and probably will.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 20, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13 wrote: If 2003 is the worst year for significant terrorist attacks since 1982 and then in 2004 the numbers tripled, how can Repubs call Bush's policies on WoT superior?

It's easy. The Republicans say it, and the corporate-owned mass media whose owners want to keep the Republicans in power, and from which virtually all Americans get virtually all of their information, repeat it over and over and over, and the public never hears anything different, so they believe it. See how easy it is?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Michael L. Cook wrote: Right now it is possible to pooh-pooh WMD's because we haven't really been reached out and touched by the terrorists since 9/11/2001.

I don't know of anyone who "pooh-poohs" the possibility of a terrorist WMD attack, possibly even with a genuine WMD, by which I mean an actual nuclear weapon.

But the Bush administration has done nothing whatever to protect America against such an attack. If anything, they've made such an attack more likely. Which would probably suit them just fine, since they'd use such an attack to declare nationwide martial law and suspend the Constitution outright.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: Step one for the Democrats is to back away from the loons.

Well, nearly all Democrats (with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman) are opposed to the loony policies of Bush and Cheney.

OK, so what's the next step?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Corruption and national security are the same issue. If Democrats have a problem, it's the fact that they can't put it together as such.

Posted by: Paul K on January 20, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Wow,

Shortstop is kicking ass, Global Citizen is on shore patrol, and Apollo 13 is knocking them down.

Secular Animist is handling the heavy stuff and pierce is decidedly wrong--there are plans to evacuate cities. They're called a variety of things but what they are designed for are natural disasters, and they go into effect in case of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or other catastrophic events. These are the civil defense plans that communities have to have on file and they are now tied in with the DHS.

Granted, they didn't do New Orleans a damn bit of good, but there you go.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 20, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Catch 22 wrote: I would challenge Karl Rove directly to identify any such alleged important Democrats, and the basis for the scurilous charge. The fact is that the claim is false on its face and he knows it or should.

He knows it is false, and so what? He doesn't care. You would challenge him on it, and so would I. But the talking heads of the corporate-owned mass media won't challenge him on it. Instead, they'll challenge the Democrats to explain why they are "soft on terrorism".

There are two reasons why Bush has got two terms as President.

First, of course, the 2000 and the 2004 elections were stolen. Blatantly stolen. (As the elections of 2006 and 2008 will also be, since the Republicans have pretty much perfected the techniques for stealing elections now.)

Second, the corporate-owned mass media has consistently, blatantly, covered up and shilled for Bush since the very beginning of the 2000 Presidential election campaign, when they launched their reprehensible jihad against Al Gore, one of the finest, most brilliant, most honest, most dedicated public servants ever to serve this country. They repeated this in 2004, aiding and abetting the "swiftboating" of John Kerry by presenting the blatant lies and distortions of the bought-and-paid-for "swiftboat" liars as serious allegations and refusing to report the truth or to challenge their lies.

Bush, Cheney and the employees of the giant mass media corporations ultimately work for the same bosses -- the ultra-rich corporate-feudalist elites.

Rove's "scurrilous charges" will be trumpeted by the mass media to the American public, and innumerable talking heads on the so-called "liberal media" will talk endlessly about the "Democrats' problem with national security" -- just as Kevin Drum so often does. You can count on it.

The reason that some people think they can't trust the Democrats with national security has absolutely nothing to do with what the Democrats have done or would do, or with the Democrats' message or lack of message on that issue, or with what Bush has done or has not done to make America secure. They think that because they are told that, over and over and over again endlessly by a bunch of bought-and-paid-for right-wing corporate shills, including the so-called "sensible liberals" of the bought-and-paid-for corporate-shill DLC and other such Bush-enabling pseudo-Democratic groups.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 20, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Secular wrote, "and the public never hears anything different". Really? Then I guess the incessant whining from the left including Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy and Kerry is all for naught? Then please tell them to shut the F#%@K up.

Posted by: Jay on January 20, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Then I guess the incessant whining from the left including Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy and Kerry is all for naught? Then please tell them to shut the F#%@K up.

Nice try. The incessant noise comes from the right when confronted with their failures.

Simple, but true. When you have all the power, and everything is fucked up, guess what?

It's called accountability.

Two words, Jay, your dumbass: Newt Gingrich.

Go back and read some Newt Gingrich from 1993--it's the most incessant whining noise ever heard in the history of American politics.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 20, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Everything" may be fucked up in your world Pale, (wouldn't surprise me) but all things are good on this end, thanks.

Posted by: Jay on January 20, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why does terrorism have to mean 9/11? Why can't it mean Anthrax? In that case, we have some questions to ask Mr. Rove. There is a very good case that the Anthrax Attacks were organized from the West Wing of the White House. It may finally be time that the body politic is ready to ask those questions, and once properly asked, the question will grow in everyone's mind.

Posted by: Andrew D. Todd on January 20, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Everything" may be fucked up in your world Pale, (wouldn't surprise me) but all things are good on this end, thanks.

Really? Because my stocks took a hit today when the market dropped, the price of oil went up because Iran is moving hard currency out of Europe, and driving through DC was hilarious this afternoon--helicopters everywhere, taking your boy out of the city for the weekend.

But so long as you don't have anybody in Iraq, I'm sure you're sitting there all fat and pink with your cookies and cakes and your liquor and your other assorted poisons, fat dumb and happy and ready to vote Republican all over again.

Woo hoo.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 20, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

If it is just AQ calling people in the States, get warrants. Without warrants, it is illegal. Without warrants, we have no idea how broad it is and who the real targets are. Somebody holding up an anti-Bush sign is not a threat to the republic. But everybody the WH doesn't like is considered a terrorist.

If national security is entrusted to corrupt people who get the contracts by bribing the ruling party, it is national insecurity. Integrity is essential for effective implementation. And that's the connection between corruption and (in)security. Getting tough on security means getting tough on corruption.

Posted by: focus on January 20, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

The well is dry. If anybody were to attack now, people would rally around America, but would hold the President responsible. If we are not attacked people are going to say, why haven't we got Osma. Either way, national security is a loser for Rove. He knows it. He is just trying to scare Democrats off the issue, and Kevin has bought the feint hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 20, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

"War in Iran for October? Naw.....even the dumbest wouldn't believe that Iran was supporting El Quaeda with nuclear weaponry for WMD use in America.....Or would they?....What do you think Dick? George? Let's run this up the stovepipe and see who raises the seat. or whatever the saying is. Pass the pipe this way."

Posted by: murmeister on January 20, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think "FREDs" (formerly republican Democrats) are starting to spread now and Rove is fighting the last electoral war without enough Diebold machines. How many republicans does it take to catch Bin Laden? At least one more than it takes to use him as a tool of graft and a uniquitous boogie man.

If you are serious about science, national defense, saving lives, saving the planet, the Constitution, and church/state separation, you can not be an Abramoff-Bush republican (always lower case). Rove talking about national security is like getting an ethics lecture from DeLay. The hypocrisy of the Abramoff-Bush GOP is so thick it stings the eyes and overwhelms the nose. I blame the media. I do not know of a single deep thinker who seriously watches television news, or listens to republican speeches with a straight face. Of course the truth is "mean" isn't Mr. Rove? Just like when Gannon asked for your bank card and wouldn't cuddle.

Posted by: Sparko on January 20, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: "Step one for the Democrats is to back away from the loons."

SecularAnimist:

Well, nearly all Democrats (with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman) are opposed to the loony policies of Bush and Cheney.

OK, so what's the next step?

Boy, irony so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Got any more about the "ultra-rich corporate-feudalist elites," "suspending the Constitution," "declaring martial law," and "Al Gore, one of the finest, most brilliant, most honest, most dedicated public servants ever to serve this country?"

Posted by: tbrosz on January 20, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Corruption is a good issue for Dems if they can bring themselves to stop being so damn timid about it,

Damn straight.

And you'd be the guy to know about timid, Drum.

Posted by: Lettuce on January 20, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Got Evning Comrades,
I have been issued orders from above to lead all dissenters to a re-education camp. Remember comrades capitalism does not require a democracy. The revolution has been telivised Thanks to the peoples network of Fox news.

Posted by: morg on January 20, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

BINGO!!!
Yes, crying Terroism! is wearing a bit thin, but its still the main issue amer cares about and, as you point out, the dems are hopeless. That's why I'm asking you to support my new political party, The New Democratic Party (NDP). Our main platform is NS and fighting terrorism. Only we will do it better then the repugs, who have shown us nothing but corruption (Halliburton) and incompetence (Iraq).

I give the GOP credit for understanding the politicalproduct that Amer wants to buy. The NDP will offer the same product but smarter, faster, with less cost, and less loss of life.

All kidding aside, I'm serious about a new party because the old party just don't get it.

Posted by: The Fake fake Al on January 20, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

George H.W. Bush armed Saddam and was complicit in training and arming Osama bin Laden. His idiot son failed to do one single thing to prevent the attacks on 9-11-01, despite getting explicit warnings of bin Laden's plans for a "spectacular" attack inside the United States. Then, after failing to catch or kill bin Laden, he launched an unprovoked and unnecessary war in Iraq, which is bankrupting our country and destroying our security. By the way, bin Laden is still at large and is planning another attack that will likely not be thwarted either.

If the Dems cannot capitalize on these cold, hard facts, they deserve to be a minority party. Time for a revolution...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 20, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

But if it's Rove's or Libby's phone call to a reporter outing a CIA operative, President Bush believes that it's in our national security interest to stick our heads in the sand. Makes sense to me.

Posted by: James Finkelstein on January 20, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

All the Democrats need to do to own the "terror" issue is point out that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well - nearly five years after 9/11. That's a horrible record for the Bush Administration. Hammer that home in the press and the republicans are toast. No credibility whatsoever on the issue.

Posted by: jcohen on January 21, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Boo!

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 21, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Let us not despair. Take hope from this examp;e of the President's clear and insightful thinking.

Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill Verbatim Quote
Submitted on 2005-12-13

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't really understand. How is it the new plan going to fix the problem?'

Verbatim response: PRESIDENT BUSH:

'Because the all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.'

Posted by: murmeister on January 21, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Got any more about the "ultra-rich corporate-feudalist elites," "suspending the Constitution," "declaring martial law," and "Al Gore, one of the finest, most brilliant, most honest, most dedicated public servants ever to serve this country?"
Posted by: tbrosz on January 20, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

yes. Both Stalin and Hitler criticized their opponents as insane. The first step was when they lost their jobs. Then some were hospitalized. Then there were the camps. . .

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 21, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Now don't we all feel better know ing that the USA is in such competent hands?

Posted by: murmeister on January 21, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

The well is dry. If anybody were to attack now, people would rally around America, but would hold the President responsible. If we are not attacked people are going to say, why haven't we got Osma. Either way, national security is a loser for Rove. He knows it. He is just trying to scare Democrats off the issue, and Kevin has bought the feint hook, line and sinker.
Posted by: Ron Byers on January 20, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

You haven't been watching Fox News lately, have you?

After Osama's little rock video, they've got probably a good 35% of America convinced that he's getting his marching orders from Ted Kennedy.

If there's another terrorist attack, the people will believe whatever Rupert Murdoch wants them to believe. And he will make quite a tidy sum of cash doing it.

And on Iran: Considering the trouble Iran has gone through, and they're still years away from nukes, even if left alone. And perhaps DECADES away from thermonuclear devices - a crude nuclear device would wreck a few square miles in a city, kill perhaps tens of thousands, but are not even in the same league as a typical American thermonuclear device - which takes decades of testing to perfect. (in theory, it would be possible to produce thermonuclear devices using just brainpower and computer simulations - but no single nation has actually done it without either testing, or spying on those who did test). Given all that - I seriously doubt Iran would trust a nuke to a muhajadeen. Missiles are a much more reliable method of delivery.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 21, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

the key word is failure: bush and republicans have failed in every measurable way starting with national security and the illegal Iraq invasion, and including American values like the rule of law, humane treatment of detainees, due process and fealty to the constitution, the economy, honesty, the environment, international relations, education, social security, healthcare...failure in EVERY measurable way. I would think it would be simple enough for democrats to sell the idea that its long past time for America to again have some success.

'Is there an American making less than $200k per year that can answer yes to the question of whether they're better off today than they were 2 years ago? I'd be surprised if the average Merikan is that dishonest and/or self-delusional to answer yes tp that.

Posted by: gak on January 21, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

I am here to tell you, my fellow countrymen, that there is NOTHING TO FEAR, (except terrorists, muslims, liberals, commies commies commies, atheists, gays, environmentalists, activist judges, the liberal media, trial lawyers, crazy whistleblowers, and tax collectors).

Posted by: Neville Busherman on January 21, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

The only terrorist Washington fears these days is the whistleblower and no expense will be spared until everyone of them is behind bars.

Posted by: murmeister on January 21, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

TINFOIL HAT ALERT:

I'm (rmck1) not usually one to go out on a limb with conspiracy
theories, but I got this in my mailbox from a friend who
posts on the NYT Iraq forum, who sends me this, posted by
a regular there who in turn got it from the cited address.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all. Something smelled very
goddamn fishy about Osama's tape, both the timing and the rhetoric.

But you guys be the judge. Don't stint on the feeback.
And yes, I realize that the conclusion is a logical fallacy
and proves nothing. But Osama's morphing into a Michael
Moore leftist *is* fucking peculiar, especially coupled
with Rove's broadside which dovetails perfectly with it.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

from waynemadsenreport.com

Bogus tape alert! The Bin Laden tape plugging Bill
Blum's book Rogue State is a ridiculous neo-con
forgery intended to tarnish the progressive left.

"January 20, 2006 -- What's not right about the Osama Bin Laden
audio tape. One thing that the Bush administration does well
is manage perceptions of the public. Amid protests over the NSA
wiretapping, the extension of the Patriot Act, and the nomination
of neo-Fascist Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, an audio tape
on Osama Bin Laden is sent to Al Jazzera. On the tape, Bin Laden
suddenly veers from being a traditional right-wing Wahhabi fanatic
to the right of the House of Saud to a leftist progressive. The
tape by Bin Laden was quickly verified as "authentic" by a CIA
that is now firmly in the grasp of neo-cons under Porter Goss.

However, the tape is an obvious fake being used
by the Bush administration to scare Americans into
believing "Al Qaeda" is making plans for another
attack and an attempt to link Bin Laden to Democrats.

The reason the tape is as phony as Niger yellowcake documents
and Saddam's weapons of mass destruction is as plain as day.
Bin Laden quotes from the introduction of a book written by long-
time Washington, DC progressive author and journalist and a friend
of mine, Bill Blum. Bill was once an editor and contributor to
Covert Action Quarterly, a magazine devoted to exposing CIA
operations like the arming, funding, and training of Bin Laden
and his mujaheddin guerrillas during the Afghan-Soviet war.

The Bush perception managers are either incredibly stupid or
are trying to ensnare liberal journalists as aiders and abettors
of Al Qaeda, something that is certainly within their scope. Bin
Laden quotes the following passage from Blum's book, Rogue State:
"If you (Americans) are sincere in your desire for peace and
security, we have answered you. And if Bush decides to carry on
with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to
read the book Rogue State, which states in its introduction: 'If
I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States:
First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and
those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American
interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.'"

Bin Laden might not be so eager to quote Blum if he was aware
of his other work, Killing Hope, an expose of the CIA's covert
wars. In it, Blum defends to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan
as self-defense against the CIA-backed Islamist guerrillas,
including Bin Laden's forces, that were backed by the CIA.
Now, why would Bin Laden plug an author like Blum who backed Bin
Laden's hated enemies, the Soviet Communists and their Afghan allies?
Because the Bin Laden tape and his purported oratory are frauds."

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP doesn't just use national security in the abstract. They use it within particular contexts. In 2002 it was: high public support for Bush after 9/11, jujitsu on the DHS that made the Dems look like they opposed it because of union bosses (a lie, but one that worked in Georgia), and an imminent war with Iraq that united Republicans and divided Democrats. When Republicans ran on national security in 2002, this is what they ran on. And it worked. In 2004 the biggest issue was the Iraq war itself. The public had soured on the war but did not trust Kerry as an alternative. Why? Because it was transparently obvious that his positions on the war had shifted because of nomination politics. Kerry tried to straddle on Iraq and convinced nobody. He was nothing but a vessel for anti-Bush sentiment and, frankly, it's amazing he got as much as 48.1% of the vote. He didn't really stand for any position on Iraq, except bringing in more foreigners (which would have failed anyway). But again, the 2004 election was about context, not abstractions. What was Kerry going to do about Iraq? What did his stated criticisms of Bush's Iraq policy reveal about his vision of US power in the world?

In 2006 the national security issues will be Iraq and Iran. On Iraq Bush is in a very difficult bind. Unlike 2004, he cannot look ahead to some election where Iraqis take charge and put down the insurgency. Bush launched a big PR blitz before the December 2005 election that slightly raised hope for success in Iraq after the elections. His poll numbers jumped a bit (though lower gas prices helped too). But reality has set back in again. Not only has the violence and infighting returned, but the US has lost its leverage on the country. We simply don't have the power to do anything anymore because the Sunni-Shi'ite war there is about so much more than insurgents vs. the government. Unless something radical changes, Iraq will be a disadvantage for Bush and the GOP in 2006, despite the handwringing over withdrawal statements by Murtha and Pelosi's. The US public is simply tired of the war.

Iran is a different matter. The ground situation in Iran is different, and US options are different than in 2002/2003. And Bush has taken a relative back seat to the EU on Iran over the last couple of years. This is where Hillary's comments on Iran are smart. Who knows whether air strikes will be good or bad in the long run. But it behooves Democrats to come out in support of that option NOW. Like JFK's "missile gap", which was BS, it helped gained support for the Democrats. Iran is a genuinely different matter than Iraq or the war against Al Qaeda. The public mindset on Iraq or AQ doesn't automatically translate over to the Iran question. So the Dems should come out in favor of a very hawkish policy on Iran - we must go to the UNSC right now and ask for sanctions and inspections, and barring that we should call for airstrikes to set Iran's policy back. Again, it might not make substantive sense but we're not electing a President right now. We're electing Congressmen and women who don't have to make those decisions. Get every Democrat running to support a vigorous posture against Iran and we will take over the national security issue in 2006.

If we do that, Rove has nothing. Tax cuts? You got to be kidding me. The public isn't clamoring for them. Every other issue - Plan D, Social Security, anti-corruption, gas prices, health care costs, environment - works in the Dems' favor. Use it.

Posted by: Elrod on January 21, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK
But you guys be the judge. Don't stint on the feeback. And yes, I realize that the conclusion is a logical fallacy and proves nothing. But Osama's morphing into a Michael Moore leftist *is* fucking peculiar, especially coupled with Rove's broadside which dovetails perfectly with it.

Its not peculiar at all; al-Qaeda serves the domestic interests of the neocon right, and the neocon right's dominance in the US serves the "domestic" (that is, within the Muslim world that is their primary target for dominance) interests of al-Qaeda. Each needs the other to be ascendent, this has been noted by many people over the last several years. So, when Bush -- and particularly his war in Iraq -- becomes politically popular, ObL pops up and poisons the rhetorical well from which Bush's opposition draws sustenance. 1984-style conspiracy? Conceivable, of course, but unlikely. It is more simply explained by simple self-interest on the part of al-Qaeda.

The Bin Laden tape plugging Bill
Blum's book Rogue State is a ridiculous neo-con
forgery intended to tarnish the progressive left.

The problem with this theory is that it ignores the much more parsimonious explanation that the interest of ObL and the neocon right are virtually identical, and that its a genuine message from ObL.

Bin Laden might not be so eager to quote Blum if he was aware of his other work, Killing Hope, an expose of the CIA's covert wars. In it, Blum defends to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as self-defense against the CIA-backed Islamist guerrillas, including Bin Laden's forces, that were backed by the CIA. Now, why would Bin Laden plug an author like Blum who backed Bin Laden's hated enemies, the Soviet Communists and their Afghan allies?

Because George Bush has given ObL everything he wants from a propaganda standpoint, but is losing domestic popularity. It is critical to ObL's continued success that Bush remain strong and his ineffective flailing about in the Middle East continues, so ObL needs to make statements that reinforce Bush by poisoning the rhetorical positions of Bush's domestic opposition.

Yeah, its not taken in the proper broad context. Like manipulative political speeches -- which is what this is -- ever worry much about doing that.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 21, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think that if the Republicans are going to make their stand on homeland defense and on that issue alone, they may find someday it will rebound on them.

We had some evidence in 2005 that the Republicans (who control both the executive and legislative branches) don't care in the least about homeland security. Their poor response to the Katrina disaster is the best example of that lack of concern.

For the Republicans, homeland defense (or national security, if you prefer) is only a political tool for defeating their political opponents. After they've used it to win an election, they simply re-holster it until they need to campaign again.

It may win them the 2006 and 2008 elections but eventually their neglect in governing as though homeland defense is important will catch up with them. Live by the sword - die by the sword.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 21, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well sure, that's the standard leftie-critical interpretationm and it was, of course, the first thing that popped into my head when I read the transcript: The disgustingly symbiotic relationship between Bush and al Q. "Osama bin Laden wants YOU to invade Iraq!"

There's something about it that troubles me, though. It implies that OBL is sophisticated enough about American domestic politics to realize that what he's proposing will have the precise opposite effect. I don't honestly know if that's true, because at this point I haven't decided quite how sincere Osama is. Certainly if you took the tape at face value, the response he hopes for (with, of course, whopping naivete if this is true) would precisely benefit al Qaeda, not to mention the entire Mideast not under our domination.

What's hard to swallow about the my original reaction isn't the intent, or the fact that both Bush and al Q benefit from each other. It's that Osama's script sounds almost like it came directly out of Karl Rove's politics shop.

First, the citing of a lefty Bible like Rogue State (where would Osama get an Arabic translation of that?) Secondly, the citing of American opinion polls -- precisely the criticism that Cheney and others levelled at Murtha and the Democrats. Third, the military-industrial war conspiracy that positively reeks of Michael Moore. Fourth, the offering of an undefined "truce" before a next round of attacks, implying that if we do what the left has always suggested and just left the Muslim world alone, they'd leave us alone.

It's as if the entire leftist brief on the Mideast has been summarized and put into the mouth of our most implacable enemy. There is just something too goddamned neat and tidy about this.

The tape is also notable for what it doesn't say. Gone are the condemnations of American civilization. Gone is the causitry by which Osama justifies killing Americans when his religion doesn't support killing innocents -- because there are no innocents among American taxpayers. Why would this guy all of a sudden talk up an alliance with us tainted war machine-supporting infidels against Bush?

What you suggest to my mind has its own Occam's Razor problem. It would require me to believe that Osama is this well aware of not only public opinion polls, but European-style leftist opinion about the Mideast. And that he's willing to toss all of this off knowing full well that he's making Karl Rove's case more solidly than any GOPer could. "I'll mouth the views of Bush's opponents that the Republicans have been trashing for months, knowing full well this will only strengthen their hands and our jihad can continue."

I don't know, Chris ... my intuition is seriously balking here. It's hard to accept, on the one hand, that Osama would be naive enough to think he could offer a truce and be taken seriously. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine also that Osama would so weaken the case against Bush's enemies by putting their arguments in his mouth, planning that the result would be the opposite.

Another possibility is that the tape is meant more for domestic Mideast consumption -- aimed at Muslims who have started to become disgusted at Zarqawi's fratricidal campaign in Iraq. Maybe Osama feels he needs to re-establish his peace-loving, I'm-only-defending-my-region bona fides with his co-religionists.

I dunno. Certainly what you say is plausible. But certainly a CIA plant of a fake tape timed perfectly for the start of the '06 election season isn't out of the question, either.

I honestly don't know what to think here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

CORRECTION:

... it's hard to imagine that Osama would so STRENGTHEN the case against Bush's enemies by putting their arguments in his mouth ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

Again, Kevin - how do the dems win on National security? There is no position they can reasonably take that won't be trumped by the republican willingness to use torture, domestic spying, "bunker busting" nukes, carpet bomb Tehran, etc. Seriously, what in the hell do you suggest will make a platform that the dems can run on homeland security and win?

"Not really that safe?" They will just say it would be worse under Dems , and "look, no terrorist attacks here" even though no one has been caught in the US even planning a real attack since 9/11 (unless you count blow torching the brooklyn bridge down) and terrorism has gone up around the world and more americans have died at the hands of terrorists in foreign countries than at any point in our history.

"we'll protect you better?" - how, when you don't want to torture or obey the constitution (our achilles heel in the modern world, apparently).

Kerry already ran on a sensible plan to strengthen the military for its new commitments, how did that work out?

We cannot win on domestic security. We have to stiffen the spines of america, to make them understand their is no such that as 100% prevention of terorism, but nothing they can reasonably achieve can hurt us that bad, and we will retaliate viciously and throughly if they poke their heads up enough to attack us. That their is nothing the enemy can do to us that compares with the harm we can do, and have done, to ourselves. That homeland security has been nothing more than a giant money give away to neocon buddies for the past 5 years, adding 1.5 trillion or more to the national debt, much of it owned by foreign, competitive governments.

If we let their fear mongering stick, by putting out a bunch of bullshit about how "serious" we need to take this, we lose. Osama got lucky to have such an incompetent administration in place on 9/11. It should not have worked, but Condi was certain the "serious" threat was "rogue state" nuclear missiles. Ashcroft was busy trying to figure out how not to enforce laws put on the books during the Clinton Era. The counter terrorism experts of the Clinton administration were not given the time of day by the Bush administration.

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 21, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Let me be as clear as I can be: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why

Then get a warrant..Any strict constructionist should be able to understand that.

Posted by: Stephen on January 21, 2006 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist: The Republicans say it, and the corporate-owned mass media whose owners want to keep the Republicans in power, and from which virtually all Americans get virtually all of their information, repeat it over and over and over, and the public never hears anything different, so they believe it. See how easy it is?

Muy bueno, Batman. That pesky propaganda machine keeps rolling on with the Big Lie and cashing it in. Greed rules in media boardrooms and inside the Beltway.

Over at TPMCafe last summer, former CIA Larry Johnson reminded us why the intelligence challenge could get tougher. The context is a Rovian subject, leaking a CIA asset, Valerie Plame's identity:

...who in their right mind would ever agree to become a spy for the United States? If we won't protect our own officers how can we reassure foreigners that we will safeguard them? Better human intelligence could prevent any number of terror incidents in the future, but we are unlikely to get foreign recruits to supply it if their safety cannot be somewhat assured. If more cases like Mrs. Wilson's occur, assurances of CIA protection will mean nothing to potential spies. [Emphasis added.]

I'm sure Bush's execution of the Iraq War has encouraged foreign recruitment of potential spies. Just for the wrong side, dammit. IIRC, there's also been a mass exodus of experienced spies and translators from the CIA. Porter Goss handiwork no doubt.

The audacity of WH leaker Karl "I've already said too much" Rove pontificating about national security creds reminds me of a TV huckster Kevin Trudeau infomercial for suckers. Buy "The Secret Cure For Terrorism." Of course, it's a scam.

Fat chance the MSM will fact check King Con Karl.

Pale Rider: Go back and read some Newt Gingrich from 1993--it's the most incessant whining noise ever heard in the history of American politics.

Sat near Newt at a Braves game in the '90s. He even whines about baseball. Why isn't Glavine pitching. What was Bobby Cox thinking. Bwah, bwah, bwah. What a kvetch. He could bloody one's ears. Oy!

...and your liquor...

Hold on, PR. We all have a part in keeping the bottle-washing factory flush with bidness. Now let me see if I can get Scarlett to bring me a mint julep. : )


Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 21, 2006 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bob: But you guys be the judge. Don't stint on the feeback.

Let me toss you my CSI tinfoil hat for size. And for shits and giggles.

In Thomas Harris' "Red Dragon", the Tooth Fairy and Hannibal Lecter covertly communicated using a specific book (Joy Of Cooking) and a book code using Biblical chapter and verse citations placed in a personal ad in a tabloid, the Tatler.

Maybe "Rogue State" itself is code. The cover of the book shows a fighter jet dropping bombs. "Rogue" could stand for Bush, and in what "State" did George ascend to power having once flown fighter jets there? Where was he living when he was named president in 2000? Also, Blum has lived in D.C. and LA so these could be target cities in addition to locations in Texas. Friday, a tape was released of al-Zawahiri reciting a jihadist poem "written by Maulai Muhibbulla al-Qandahari, who carried the pen and the sword and was known in the circles of scholars and the training camps and the battlefields of jihad." Perhaps OBL named the book, and via the poem, al-Zawahiri provides the code (the pen and the sword) for when, how, etc., a sleeper cell should carry out attacks. The "circles of scholars" might mean schools, the "training camps" mean military bases, and the "battlefields of jihad" might be oil refineries. God forbid such imagining could be true. : (

I read or heard somewhere in the past 24 hours that OBL was criticized by Muslims for having not offered a truce before the 9/11 attacks and why he included truce verbiage in warnings prior to Madrid and London bombings. I don't believe for a minute OBL is serious about a truce with America but the ploy might be to placate Muslim factions in the ME. That adds some validity to the notion that attacks are in preparation.

I can understand why a fake tape created by a Rovian elf somewhere rings true. These King Cons are capable of anything. However, I think OBL is giving us the middle finger by ripping off rhetoric that incites liberal bashing and to give Dubya a boost. He hopes the Bushies will keep him in business for years to come as they have done so far.


Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 21, 2006 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

I love the way some threads get so interesting about 100 comments in!!! So, yes, let us consider the possibility that OBL's latest tape is a WH plant. Wasn't the last tape released the Friday before the 2004 election?

Coincidence???

I hate to be deeply cynical about my fellow countrymen, but if it was demonstrated that 9/11 and the OBL tapes WERE a Bushco/CIA plot, I estimate that ~25% of Americans, maybe 34%, would find reasons to excuse it: "The Democrats are weak on national security," they would protest or simply, "Duh?"

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, I hear since the NYT publish their article on NSA wiretaps, Al Queda and related terrorist groups have significantly reduced their electronic communications. WAY TO GO GUYS...IF WE GET HIT AGAIN, IT WILL MOST LIKELY BE BECAUSE THE NYT TOLD THE TERRORISTS TO KEEP QUIET ON UNSECURE LINES AND USE COURIERS, CODES IN E-MAIL ETC.


YES, I DO KNOW THESE THINGS...JUST LIKE YOU KNOW ABOUT THE NSA PROGRAM, YET YOU HAVE NO CLEARANCE...HMMM

JUST GO ON A FEW WEBSITES WHERE CAREER INTELIGENCE PEOPLE GATHER. OHH, I FORGOT..YOUR TOO BUSY AT THE CAREER HAMBURGER FLIPPR WEBSITES..AND THE GAY PORN OF COURSE.

Posted by: Patton on January 21, 2006 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

I also wanted to point out the recent Pew Report which finds the Democrats with "a growing advantage on Iraq and domestic concerns."

"Fully 41% believe the Democratic Party can do a better job of handling the nation's top problem, compared with 27% who say the Republican Party. This represents a major shift from a year ago, when the public split about evenly on which party could better address the most important national problem."

"The war in Iraq is viewed as the single most important national problem, though somewhat fewer point to the war than did so a year ago (23% vs. 32% in January 2005). More broadly, about four-in-ten (37%) cite a foreign policy or security concern as the nation's most important problem either the war, terrorism, or another foreign policy issue. That compares with 26% who mention an economic problem, including unemployment and energy prices"

Astonishing to me, given Bushco's performance record, of people who identify security/terrorism as the most important problem facing the nation, 52% state that the Republicans are the party best able to handle the problem. The good news is that the number of people who think the Democrats are the party best able to handle security/terrorism has increased 15%, from 19% to 34%.

Identifying the most important problem facing the nation as secuirty/terrorism has always been a Republican base thing so a 15% increase for the Dems is huge.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

When fighting terrorists becomes the end game, we have lost the bigger war. That war is among ourselves and how we are blinding ourselves to the much greater threats to our long term security. We are lost. The rest of the world no longer looks to the US as having any other vision than spreading democracy and economic globalization that are counterproductive in the modern world. We are spreading despair and not hope. But we still got enough gas to get us down the big road to ruin, so why worry?

We need to be realistic with the OPEC countries -- we need your oil, but only as a means to get the world to something sustainable that will achieve a quality life for everyone. How can we work together to get through this bottleneck? What do you need to ensure your future without nuclear arms? If all the nuclear armed countries need to commit to giving up our nuclear arsenal in exchange for the rest of the world not going nuclear, then what is stopping this dialogue? What do we need to stop this apocalyptic vision that has captured the world in a death spiral?

Posted by: lou on January 21, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

One reader writes: ""Democrats know that we can defend America and protect Americans without breaking the law or trashing the Constitution..."

Yeah, but AMERICANS don't.

Democrats still have the Adlai Stevenson problem, the contempt reflex for people who don't follow politics or policy too closely: some guy yelled at Stevenson during his second campaign against Eisenhower: "Adlai, every thinking American is with you!"

And Stevenson replied, to a big laugh: "Thanks, but we need a majority!"

The political dynamic here isn't difficult: stop counterpunching, and start... punching.

What's the "Democratic plan" for Iraq? Dean defined it as "the idea we can win is wrong..."

NOBODY wins on national security in American elections on that proposition. Change it, or we lose.

What's the Democratic plan for Iran? (crickets chirping)

What's the Democratic plan for hunting down bin Laden and bringing his head to Ground Zero? (embarrassed eye-rolling at such uncivilized honesty)

On issue after issue, each of 'em a vehicle for powerful imagery that moves millions of votes, all Democrats can say is... we're not Bush.

That's not good enough.

Face it, we ARE Biden: we talk down to the voters, and we don't know when to shut up and ACT.

Murtha didn't criticize the President (properly understood) so much as he GAVE him a winning strategy for Iraq, at last: an achieveable objective. Backed by a nearly unanimous progressive movement, Dean should've been on the air saying: "We've told you how American can WIN in Iraq, Mr. President -- draw down our troops, they won't be targets. Violence subsides as we leave.... We could say this is the Democratic plan, but we're patriots: It's the AMERICAN plan, and the President can have it if he's got the brains to use it..."

But, no: Dean (and Pelosi, and Reid) wouldn't know a national security pony to ride if it was stabled in their living room. Instead of defining Murtha as the ONLY way America can win, Democrats eagerly said America can NOT win.

And you WONDER why national security is a loser issue for us?

The Bush "strategy" for Iran has been to call it an evil nation and invade countries on both sides: how's that working out? Is there anybody who thinks they WON'T build nukes as soon as they can? Who thinks Israel won't attack just before Iran is ready?

So -- what's OUR strategy? We gonna tell a nuclear Iran that yeah, WE think Bush is a knucklehead? We gonna blame Bush for Israel's pre-emptive attack on Iran?

Grow up, guys. Americans vote for grownups to defend the country.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 21, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

From an excellent letter to the editor in the State of Iowa:

Freedom is free, but the cost of subjugating other peoples is bankrupting the U.S.

The CIA installed Saddam Hussein as a dictator, and the Iraqi people suffered and died as a result. Conservative politicians like Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. provided billions in aid and weapons, including chemical and biological weapons, to prop up Saddam's dictatorship and the Iraqi, Kurdish and Iranian people paid dearly.

Then, Saddam nationalized the Iraqi oil industry and overnight Saddam went from being the conservative's posterboy to being the bogey man. So the U.S. military slaughtered thousands of Iraqis and ill-conceived sanctions killed millions more to reclaim Iraq's oil wealth for the multi-national oil companies.

The Iraqi people still don't have freedom -- their country is occupied by a foreign military power unable to quell the chaos it has created. Priceless and irreplaceable libraries, archaeological pieces, etc. have been lost forever. Their loved ones have been lost, and there is no way to give back to a little boy or girl their eyes, legs, arms, etc. that have been taken away by U.S. bombs.

Iraq is just one example of hundreds of cases where the CIA and other secretive government operations have underhandedly installed dictators, armed oppressive regimes, aided and trained terrorists like Osama bin Laden, assassinated leaders and thrown elections (foreign and domestic), infiltrated the media and disseminated lies and false propaganda, etc. In fact, such operations are increasing under Bush, and the U.S. government currently aids about 59 foreign dictatorships. Bush has already added $653 billion in new debt since the beginning of fiscal 2002, much of it spent taking away the freedom of Americans at home and countless peoples overseas.

All this corruption depends on one thing -- a mass of ignorant people who will unconditionally support the military and government without regard to the morality or justice of their actions.

They are not being loyal or patriotic -- they are mindlessly dragging this country through the mud. They are not defending or protecting this land -- they are endangering it and will eventually destroy it -- stirring up hatred abroad and undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution at home.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers," and the Constitution says citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and speak out against their government. The neoconservatives apparently don't share those beliefs. Let's remember that in the 1920s and 1930s, had a few more protesters joined those few who assembled outside the Bush family's Union Bank on Wall Street, which was really nothing more than a Nazi front, and financed the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany, there would never have been a Third Reich, and 50 million lives could have been saved.

Jay Miller
Hills, IA

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 21, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

I read the entire Karl Rove speech, at Hugh Hewitt's web site.

If you are interested in politics, Rove's speech is fascinating.

He outlines the themes the GOP will talk about in the 2006 elections - national security will be a big isue - including renewal of the Patriot Act, NSA 'wiretaps', fighting terror. Other themes: growing the economy, judges.

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 21, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

GOPGregory: How much vaseline did it take to prepare you for reading Rove's speech? You can lead a chicken to the zoo, but don't try making him mate with the elephants.

Posted by: lou on January 21, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

ROVE: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why.


mr. rove....then why not get a warrant?

Number of warrant requests submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Court in 2005: 1754

Number that were rejected: 0

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 21, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

pencarrow at 7:43p:But isn't the problem here that if there is no terrorist strike within the US, the repubs can claim their policies are working.

only if you didn't know that al-queda has only attacked inside the u-s twice....

in feb. 93 and on 9-11.....


cheney claims that it isnt an accident that there have been no al-q attacks inside the u-s since 9-11.....

well...

go back 4-years and 4-months before 9-11 and you will find no al-q attacks inside u-s until 9-11..

was that no accident?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 21, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

yeah, I'm sure the GOP will talk about "growing the economy." They've been talking about doing that since 2001, when they vowed to end our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity (again, thanks, The Onion!)

The Bushies like to claim that their policies have produced slow, steady growth--not supercharged growth like the bubble-prone Clinton years!--but that Clinton budget surplus in 2001 has been replaced by a deficit that just keeps growing. In other words, Bushco has been pumping billions and billions into the economy, and the economy still just languishes.

Of course, THEY will probably argue that the economy would be deeply depressed if they hadn't pumped all this extra cash into the system. So, the "up is down, black is white" Bushies will no doubt brag about all their economic stewardship just as they brag about making America safer, and their stooges will believe them, even as the quality of their lives slip and the terrorist threat increases. Critical thinking is not a conservative strong point.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Enough already. My Representative is Norm Dicks, and this district voted 78% Democrat in the last election. Within 30 miles of me there is enough armament to destroy the world several times over, and if that's not enough for you, go across the bridge and add Fort Lewis and McChord AFB. For my entire working life 5% of every year's income has been spent on weapons and troops. If we haven't done enough to "defend" ourselves, we might as well throw in the towel- we'll just have to learn to get along with the rest of the world, like all the other countries.

Kevin's concern that Democrats "don't spend enough time thinking about this" keeps bobbing to the surface here.

Note to Kevin: I started reading the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1965. As a personal matter I've spent my entire life studying war and war machines, including but not limited to Jane's Annual Review of the World Navies, Bernard Fall's Street Without Joy, Belden's Still Time to Die, etc etc etc.

So, my concern is, that Kevin doesn't spend enough time thinking about this.

Kevin seems to think that year after year we'll roar and pound our breasts like a gorilla, build another $200 billion worth of weapons, and then, some magic day in the future, the Peace Fairy will bring us peace, transform our $3 trillion investment (sic) in weapons into productive capacity to support our nation, and we'll all live happily ever after.

Well, it ain't gonna happen that way. If I had to make the call today, I would predict a military dictatorship taking the country from both parties, so the generals and admirals could reduce our military spending to what we need and restore our economy, as the Portugese military did to end the Salazar government and end the Portugese "empire". Who else in the 'mainstream' has the understanding of what needs to be done and the guts to do it?

Somebody needs to be thinking about what comes "next", and if the Democrats won't do it, somebody else will.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 21, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

People like GOPGregory are afraid of their own shadow, they are easy targets for the Greedy Old Party.

Angst is a poor consultant.

Posted by: Renate on January 21, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

You lefties' leaders are weak on the war. Afraid to pound on corruption because people that live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. Shoot themselves in the foot with SCOTUS nominees. Can't really make an issue out of the economy since it is not in bad shape.

Doesn't look like there is much hope of making any gains in th mid-term elections. Since your Democratic leaders don't seem to be able to walk and spit at the same time. I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 21, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

'He [Rove] outlines the themes the GOP will talk about in the 2006 elections - national security will be a big isue - including renewal of the Patriot Act, NSA 'wiretaps', fighting terror. Other themes: growing the economy, judges.'
-- GOP Gregory

Oh, is that what the balloon-headed traitor talked about? Did he discuss what he is going to wear to the gallows when he gets hung for treason? Fighting terror? Dubya has been an absolute failure at that, like everything else he has done in his pathetic pimple-assed life. By the by, Where is Osama????

Growing the economy?!? My achin' ass. He is bankrupting this country and twits like you don't have a fuggin' clue. Bend over and grab your ankles, you bird-witted buffoon. The GOP is reaming your asshole and you think it is like a holiday. You stupid piece of ambulatory sewage!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 21, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

And furthermore-

The Bushies had the intelligence intercepts giving the date of 9/11- but they didn't translate them until 9/12. They were warned that invading Iraq would produce an Islamic republic allied with Iran, and invaded anyway. They had the tools to protect New Orleans and repair the damage, and chose not to use them.

The score so far- Bush lost the WTC. Bush lost Iraq. Bush lost New Orleans. So, who's "weak on national security"?

THAT'S the "fact enema" that needs to be administered to the Republican Party at every opportunity. The medical term for the technique to be employed is the "3H Enema"- high, hot, and hard.

You'd need a college degree to not understand that $3/gallon gas is related to the loss of Iraq. Believe me, the average guy "gets it".

Posted by: serial catowner on January 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

And spare me the B-S about how we didn't get that much oil from Iraq. Almost everyone reading this gets a good rate on their credit cards because the lender thinks they'll pay their bills. World oil markets work the same way.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 21, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Noonan: Democrats Have Lost Their Megaphone
01/20 05:53 PM

an excerpt:

Eleven years ago the Democrats lost control of Congress. Then they lost the presidency. But just as important, maybe more enduringly important, they lost their monopoly on the means of information in America. They lost control of the pipeline. Or rather there are now many pipelines, and many ways to use the information they carry. The other day, Dana Milbank, an important reporter for the Washington Post, the most important newspaper in the capital, wrote a piece deriding Judge Alito. Once such a piece would have been important. Men in the White House would have fretted over its implications. But within hours of filing, Mr. Milbank found his thinking analyzed and dismissed on the Internet; National Review Online called him a "policy bimbo."

Milbanks problem here is that he knows more people will read 'policy bimbo' than read his byline.

It may have been worse for EJ Dionne who the day before wrote a piece on some of the technical legal aspects of the hearings but used them badly.

The Washington Post has to deal with the fact that when their reporters or columnists so sloppy work the paper gets hammered, very publically.

EJ and Dana both so interviews and seminars and they will get asked very hard questions. It's not as much fun for them.

Point of this: The MSM and DNC won't be deciding the main issues and they won't be defining them when they're decided.

Posted by: rdw on January 21, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

One thing all you Wingnuts should note is the almighty US of A is a debtor nation as in worlds biggest that's planet earth. The great war on terror is conducted at the pleasure of the chinese and others that hold our massive debt.If the dollar loses it's status as a reserve currency games over. Than you will see Mexicans crossing the border in the other direction. Our big war machine runs on money and cheap oil.

Posted by: not jenna on January 21, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

The best antidoe to Rove's in-your-face speech: A Patrick Fitzgerald indictment. Take the SOB down.

Posted by: Doofus on January 21, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Other themes: growing the economy, judges.
Posted by: GOPGregory on January 21, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Other themes: growing the economy, judges, brainwashing the gullible.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on January 21, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Rove- "we need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity of the moment ..."

Bush- "I'm really not that concerned about [OBL]."

Posted by: Ignorance Is King on January 21, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

After the response to Katrina, the ongoing problems on the border, and the failure after several years to get protective gear to the troops in Iraq, nobody really believes this administration could keep anyone safe. This administration has one thing and only one thing going for it; the so called liberal media.

Posted by: aline on January 21, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I fear Kevin is right about timidity. And the reason the Dems can't hold the moral high ground is because they are probably just as dirty.

There is a huge contingent out here looking for something to vote FOR. I'm tired of voting the lesser of two evils.

Could Jimmy Carter be the best we could come up with in a century? Don't anybody tell me about the wonderful clinton machine. yuk.

Posted by: karen on January 21, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bush had a defense budget of over $400 billion last year - thats more than the rest of the world combined. And yet he still failed to stop an army of over one million, unarmed,illegal aliens from invading the U.S.

Incompetence and corruption is a greater threat to national security than anything else.

How hard would it be for a few terrorist, perhaps well armed, to hide inside of a hord of one million?

The thing about incompetence is, not only does it get you 911, but it also gets you Katrina, Abu-Grhaib, No WMD at a cost of $2 trillion, a gutted treasury, shattered security alliances world wide, the Health Care Crisis, the Prescription Drug care fiasco, and undermining of every institution that they never created, including the constitution - itself, you know the one they are sworn to protect. This is betrayal.

Their prescription is fear mongering.

Why fear mongering?

Because they know fear well. Everyone of these rascals is a coward. Everyone of them avoided services when they could. Yet none of them hesitated to send boys and girls off to fight for a strategic quagmire on dubious information.

Incompetance, corruption, cowardice, betrayal. 90 years of accumulated moral authority, perceived legitimacy and diplomatic capital, earned by Americans fighting and dying in places like the beaches of Omaha, Tarawa and Incon, that was so instrumental to winning the ideologically based cold war, thrown away with both hands, twice (before and after 911) all in the face of a new ideological war.

The stupidity, the idiocy, the incompetence, the corruption, the cravenness, the cowardness, and the immorality is simply breath taking and mind boggling. A nation that votes for these rascals does not deserve to exist, let alone thrive, let alone prevail.

A vote for Bush is a vote cancelling America's 230 year expirement in liberty and democracy. It is a no vote for the constitution and a no vote for the founding fathers, and a no vote for every man who was foolish enough and sucker enough to fight and die for the children who now run this country.

Posted by: Bubbles on January 21, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

The score so far- Bush lost the WTC. Bush lost Iraq. Bush lost New Orleans. So, who's "weak on national security"?

Ezra Klein made the argument the other day that efficacy is almost beside the point when 'national security' is looked at as a political issue:

the War on Terror isn't about protecting Americans or eradicating al-Qaeda, but about the vicarious thrill of participating, even in a passive, peripheral way, in a global, epochal conflict. And only those who sense the moment's historicity can be considered equal to the task. So Bush may be playing Mr. Magoo on the world stage, but at least he "gets it," and that's far preferable to some small-minded man who won't validate the neocon's clash-of-civilations-style fantasies


"National security" is now little more than metonomy; pollsterspeak for 'will kill brown people, without let or hindrance, at the drop of a hat, on the sketchiest of evidence, or no evidence at all, in order to make you feel better about yourself, and your place in the world."

Explain to me how this speech doesn't get Kerry a 400 electoral vote win in 2004, if he would only have given it.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Sen. Edwards I and bitterly resent the imputation that somehow we aren't taking the terrorist threat seriously enough.

As an earnest of our good intentions, we are taking a Ryder truck full of ammonium nitrate and dragster fuel up to an Islamic center in the greater Buffalo area tomorrow, and reducing it to a smoking hole in the ground.

We can only hope that the Lord Jesus sees fit to have the sanctuary full of heathen at the time.

Many, if not most, of them would not be citizens, but green-card aliens, or more likely, present in the US illegally anyways.

The media are invited along, of course.

And God bless America."

I would have voted Nader, in disgust.

Maybe you would have too.

But Kerry'd be in the White House.

Makes ya proud to be an American.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 21, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

karen: "And the reason the Dems can't hold the moral high ground is because they are probably just as dirty."

Nope, not true. The reasons the Dems can't hold the moral high ground is because they're still not sure what hit them. They are still assimilating events within their 60's-era paradigm. I go on and on when I post on these threads about conservative reasoning errors. But liberals have their own set of reasoning errors--the principle one being "denial". We underestimate "disgust" as a motivating emotion for conservatives.

The Dems tried to do something very admirable--they tried to open up American society and economy to people of color and women, they sought to minimise the influence of the Christian church and they tried to protect America by seeking peace, not war or empire. And they, we, were very successful for a few years. When people objected, we just dismissed them: They were rednecks! Opposition was racist, sexist! Change was inevitable! We ignored the warning signs.

But now Bushco has managed to secure power by appealing to those who opposed all these changes. And all of these issues on which the Dems seems to be so ineffective--the war, corruption, judges, terrorism, the economy/taxes, environmental degradation--are issues on which the Democratic POV has been neutralized by the widely promoted perception that the Dems would be worse than Republicans, are interested only in gays, people of color, feminists, libertines and girly-men on defense (the post Vietnam problem.) We're Blame-America-First elitists who would just raise taxes and spend it on black welfare queens.

When Dems fight back to preserve our gains, we lose because it only confirms the prejudice against us. When we try to be Republican-lite, we lose because we are letting the Repubs set the game rules. If we lash out, the Republicans shriek foul play! When we pull our punches and try to placate the Repubs, they cheat.

Somehow we have to convince a majority of Americans that the Dems can be trusted, are about effective government, personal responsibility/accountability and have the resolve to defend America and our Constitution. But right now, I'm thinking the only way out is through. Basically, Americans have to get so fed up with the corruption, the lack of effective government, the irresponsibility and sleaze of the Republicans that they'll be willing to risk a Democratic government again.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

PTate MN -

Ask yourself why we got Kerry? He was a non starter. He parroted the need for war on Iraq.

We were not given a choice.

The Dems may be fine people, but the leadeship is from the same cloth as the gop.

We must face this before we can solve it. Pretending it isn't so just gives us more of the same./

Posted by: karen on January 21, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Americans ARE fed up with corruption,ineffective leadership and sleaze.

Are you saying Kerry was above all that?

Dems voted Against Bush. They did not vote for Kerry. The party leadership is the same entrenched special interests as the Republicans.

They are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. Who ARE you people - party operatives?

The Democratic party was mute when Clinton killed all those people in Texas. I never believed the story around TWA 800.

Then they offer up Kerry. Awful awful awful Kerry.

Gosh, why don't we win election?

Posted by: Mike on January 21, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13:

> I read or heard somewhere in the past 24 hours that OBL was
> criticized by Muslims for having not offered a truce before
> the 9/11 attacks and why he included truce verbiage in warnings
> prior to Madrid and London bombings. I don't believe for a
> minute OBL is serious about a truce with America but the ploy
> might be to placate Muslim factions in the ME. That adds some
> validity to the notion that attacks are in preparation.

This rings true because the objective situation is that Zarqawi has
lost al Q a great deal of credibility around the region due to his
penchant for blowing up brother Muslims. Right now the nationalist
insurgency in Iraq is waging pitched battles against foreign
jihadis, who everybody has come to agree are a pain in the ass.

If this interpretation were true, however, you'd also have to take
the tape at face value and assume Osama's truce offering is sincere.

> I can understand why a fake tape created by a Rovian elf
> somewhere rings true. These King Cons are capable of
> anything. However, I think OBL is giving us the middle
> finger by ripping off rhetoric that incites liberal bashing
> and to give Dubya a boost. He hopes the Bushies will keep
> him in business for years to come as they have done so far.

As I said, this cynical interpretation of a double gaming pro-Bush
Osama was also my first reaction, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

Here's the evidence for the tape being entirely sincere: Osama is
living in a cave and surrounded by minions; it's doubtful he gets the
news unfiltered. It could well be that he simply overestimates the
power of the American left. After all, he did give an ultimatum
to the Spanish before the election, bombed Madrid and then saw the
government change. He could just be naive about American politics.

Here's the evidence for the tape possibly being a CIA plant: It's
an entirely different-sounding Osama, with an echo in the room. The
CIA vetted the tape, so we only have its word that it's authentic.
The agenda is cribbed point-by-point from a playbook of the American
and European left, starting with the quote from Rogue State, and
these are all points that the Bush war cabinet has attacked Democrats
for allegedly supporting. The timing is alo quite extraordinary.
Finally, an active al Q cell preparing a devastating American attack
is both implausible considering the post 9/11 security overreaction
and is the perfect way to whip up fear that we haven't gone far
enough and support for domestic wiretapping and the Patriot Act.

So here are the three options: Osama wants continued war and is
being duplicitous, both to Americans and his Muslim supporters in
the region. Osama sincerely wants to assuage his brother Muslims
and is simply being naive about an American reaction. The tape
is a CIA forgery designed to discredit the left's case for peace.

I think all three are just about equally plausible.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democratic party was mute when Clinton killed all those people in Texas. I never believed the story around TWA 800."

Mikey, proving yourself insane in a public fourm is probably no way to get people to listen to your worthless ideas. Perhaps you should concentrate on less crazy talk and taking George's dick out of your mouth every once in a while.

Posted by: solar on January 21, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"growing the economy"

Well, they had better change the fertilizer - They seem to have been using Miracle-Gro. Too much nitrogen, not enough potassium and phosphates.
Get a lot of blooms for a short while. However, not enough goes into root development. Plant looks great for a very short time, then starts to diminish - Plus puts too much salt into the soil. Part of the "feel good" method of chemistry and gardening. Smoke and mirrors is so much adored by the Repugs.
It takes time to create great gardens. The "quick fix" feel good approach does not work.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 21, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

It takes time to create great gardens. The "quick fix" feel good approach does not work.
Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 21, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Chancey Gardener.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on January 21, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Karl offers up the important reminder that the adminstration's policies and actions have nothing whatsoever to do with reality, morality or common sense - they can say and do anything they please, and a frighteningly large segment of the population will respond, "sure, fine, whatever".

Yet another slant on Rove's RNC presentation: http://www.hairytruth.blogspot.com

Posted by: truth4achange on January 21, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Corruption is an issue. So is competence. The simple message for the Democrats on national security is that this administration has been incredibly inept.

Posted by: ursus on January 21, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

If you're a con-artist and the con keeps working why change it?

I had a tennis coach who always said never change a winning game plan. This is Rove being smarter than the dems or their consultants.

All along dems pols have made the same mistake about Iraq and GWOT. This is the ONLY issue for now and until we get out of Iraq.

Posted by: meade on January 21, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Jews did it!...you're all Democratic party operatives!...Israel must go!...can't forgive Bush for making Clinton look good!...causy!...gay agenda!...I'm just your average Republican!...homosexual lobby!...Africans breed too much and fags not enough!...I'm not a bigot!...I'm not a bigot! I'm not a bigot!....whiz! grerp! whirr...flop!

Posted by: Random Karen/Mike/TJ/Arsenia/Ashley/wenn Word Generator on January 21, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

(I was an American Studies major, btw.)

> Democrats still have the Adlai Stevenson problem, the contempt
> reflex for people who don't follow politics or policy too closely:
> some guy yelled at Stevenson during his second campaign against
> Eisenhower: "Adlai, every thinking American is with you!"

> And Stevenson replied, to a big laugh:
> "Thanks, but we need a majority!"

And the alternative is to ... pander to the ignorant?

> The political dynamic here isn't difficult:
> stop counterpunching, and start... punching.

If only it were that simple ...

> What's the "Democratic plan" for Iraq? Dean
> defined it as "the idea we can win is wrong..."

The truth often hurts.

> NOBODY wins on national security in American elections
> on that proposition. Change it, or we lose.

Excuse me, but no. The only people who can win in
Iraq are the Iraqis. To assert that Iraq is "ours"
to be "won" is to assert imperalism. If you can't
see this, then you don't understand democracy.

> What's the Democratic plan for Iran? (crickets chirping)

Damn straight there are crickets chirping.

Has it ever occured to you, in moments when you're not puffing
yourself up with rhetorical testosterone, that sabre-rattling
against Iran is deeply counterproductive? Do you know *anything*
about the internal dynamics of Iran, that it has a huge baby boom
youth population born after the Iran/Iraq war who've grown up
under theocracy and who have become quite sick of it? Do you
realize that, due to the liberalizations of the reformer president
Katamei, that Iran is now one of the *most* socially liberal
countries in that region? Have you stopped for a moment to
consider just how they wound up with a hard-liner president at
this moment, when their population is so thirsting for change?

Sabre-rattle at Iran and you only strengthen the
mullahs. Just like, you know, threatening America
with terrorist attacks only strengthens Bush.

> What's the Democratic plan for hunting down bin Laden
> and bringing his head to Ground Zero? (embarrassed
> eye-rolling at such uncivilized honesty)

Honesty, schmonesty. It's overheated jingoistic rhetoric.
Ask John Kerry how far *he* got attempting to run to
Bush's right on terrorism and national security.

Stentorian prosecutor's voice: "We'll hunt them down and kill them."

> On issue after issue, each of 'em a vehicle for
> powerful imagery that moves millions of votes,
> all Democrats can say is... we're not Bush.

We are not the governing party.

> That's not good enough.

It was for the Republicans in '94.

> Face it, we ARE Biden: we talk down to the voters,
> and we don't know when to shut up and ACT.

Oh *please*, Mr. Macho Man. The alternative is
putting our dicks up Bush's ass -- if you'd like a nice
jailhouse trope to match your cost-free pseudo-machismo.

> Murtha didn't criticize the President (properly understood)
> so much as he GAVE him a winning strategy for Iraq, at last:
> an achieveable objective. Backed by a nearly unanimous
> progressive movement, Dean should've been on the air saying:
> "We've told you how American can WIN in Iraq, Mr. President
> -- draw down our troops, they won't be targets. Violence
> subsides as we leave.... We could say this is the Democratic
> plan, but we're patriots: It's the AMERICAN plan, and the
> President can have it if he's got the brains to use it..."

Yeah right, and then Dean would have been attacked for
using Orwellian black-is-white rhetoric -- and properly
so. If you think you can spin Murtha's plan to mean the
black-letter opposite of what it is, then you think that
the key to Rove's genius is a tenuous hold on reality.

Of course Murtha's plan is patriotic and perhaps the correct one
for America; that's not the point. It is in *direct opposition*
to Bush's plan, and it explicitly acknowledges that the war can't
be "won" in terms that the American military can measure. It's
saying this isn't our fight anymore; it's the Iraqi people's.

And that's more than patriotic; that's honoring democracy.

> But, no: Dean (and Pelosi, and Reid) wouldn't know a
> national security pony to ride if it was stabled in their
> living room. Instead of defining Murtha as the ONLY way
> America can win, Democrats eagerly said America can NOT win.

*rolling eyes* You can't define defeat as victory. That's
as fatuous as Nixon's "peace with honor." Dean and Pelosi
are telling painful truths. You have an issue with that,
fine. Personally, I'd rather do the post-Goldwater thing for
a few cycles if the alternative is to match Rove lie-for-lie.

> And you WONDER why national security is a loser issue for us?

No, I don't wonder at all. Limbic-brain reactions are always
more seductive than having to think about something. The whole
history of civilization is a history of the cerebrum gaining
ascendancy over the limbic brain. I'm not much in favor of
going in the opposite direction for short-term political gain.

> The Bush "strategy" for Iran has been to call it an
> evil nation and invade countries on both sides:
> how's that working out? Is there anybody who thinks
> they WON'T build nukes as soon as they can? Who
> thinks Israel won't attack just before Iran is ready?

*raising hand* Umm, with all due respect, Professor, you're full
of shit. Israel has been dropping hints lately so that they can
see what they can see from spy sats, but a Osirak-like pre-emptive
strike is out of the question; the facilities are duplicated, buried
deeper than a bunker-buster could reach and spread throughout the
civilian population, and Iran's air defenses are quite good.

As for Iran getting nukes? Ask me if I really care. The idea of
Iran committing national sucide by nuking Israel (and poisoning
the well of any Palestinian homecoming) or giving some scraggly
Hezbollah freak a present he can kill vast amounts of Muslims
with are just the kind of frothing idiocies you read on NewsMax.

*Pakistan* has fucking nukes, for crying out loud -- and
their freaky Islamists in the military and one of Musharraf's
chin hairs away from a coup are Deobandi and Salafi Sunnis,
and thus much more likely to use them in prosecuting jihad
than the deeply conservative Iranian clerical aristocracy.

> So -- what's OUR strategy? We gonna tell a nuclear Iran
> that yeah, WE think Bush is a knucklehead? We gonna
> blame Bush for Israel's pre-emptive attack on Iran?

Our plan should be to disengage from the region. A national
strategy to develop energy independence wouldn't be a bad start.

> Grow up, guys. Americans vote for grownups to defend the country.

As opposed to, say, grandiose macho-talking teenagers.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Its worth pointing out, that the Republican success is only marginal. Swing 2 or 3% the other direction and they are the party out of sorts with contemporary age.

There are different roles that need to be filled. One thing the Dems miss is a good back-bench leg biter.

You have to have your back-bench barkers.- calling out everything for the public to here be it the Republicans are cowards, incompetence, or have a Neocon agenda to end the American way of life as we know it.

The Backbench Leg biter says all the extremist absurd things, just like repugs have their extremist calling poor black women welfare queens.

They may be absurd, but it gets in the media, the people hear it, its sits in the back of their head.

Imagine if there had been a backbench biter constantly refering to the republicans as a trinity of warmmongering-cowards, Slip-shod-incompetents, and cravenly corrupt mongrals who appear to have a secret plan to create and aristocracy and turn working americans into a permanent subservient class.

You could have had several backbench leg biters spouting these things out for the last five years. Then everytime there is a mess point back to the unholy trinity description of cowardness, incompetence and corruptness.

Think about:
911,
Katrina,
No WMD,
Looting the Treasury,
The decline in wages,
The decline in healthcare,
The prescription drug fiasco,
The cost of education inflation,
2,000 dead for nothing,
3,000 murdered and unevenged.

These guys couldn't pore piss from a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

Next time Rove spouts out about security, point out that 911 happened on Bush's watch, we gave him a trillion dollars to spend on getting Bin Laden and he is still at large.

Before the 1992 election and the 2000 election, the challengers used to say "we can do better..."

I never heard Kerry say that.

Just say it. "We can do better..." the public will believe it if you point it out.

"We can do better. Hell anyone could do better. You, or hardly anyone could hardly do worse. The real question is 'Just which side are the Neocons on?'"

Posted by: bubbles on January 21, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

The republican policy is to suspect EVERYONE of being an alneda supporter, so they have to listen to EVERY phonecall to/from/passing the USA.

Posted by: Peter on January 21, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

bubbles:

I agree with that. As much as I took Americanist apart for frothing pseudo-macho "we're more hardline than Bush" jingoism -- a think a few "B1" Bob Dornans on the left wouldn't be a bad idea at all. You notice the GOP never seems to run away from their bombthrowing back benchers. Every time one of *us* opens our mouths that way, Joe "The Human Foreskin" Lieberman calls a press conference to piously denounce them for not supporting the president. Somebody needs to vomit strenuously in that guy's lap.

Howard Dean took off like a rocket sled in the primaries because he filled that role for awhile.

And one of his constant refrains on the stump was "We can do better than *thaaat*!"

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Karen: "Ask yourself why we got Kerry? He was a non starter. He parroted the need for war on Iraq."

Actually, just before I posted my comments I deleted an observation that Howard Dean has been the only Democrat saying what needs to be said. For this he is savaged by conservatives and regarded as unelectable by Dems. It wasn't just the leadership that wussed out with Kerry.

But Kerry wasn't a non-starter! Although I would have preferred Dean, I'll defend Kerry. Assuming the election was honest (and that's a big assumption), he lost by only, what?, 60,000 votes in Ohio against an unscrupulous incumbent who wrapped himself in the flag, lied straight-faced to hand-picked audiences and played the war president/fear card over and over.

And why would Democratic leaders and voters wuss out with Kerry?? Because Dems are still clinging to their--our--old paradigm of how the world should work, which is what I said above. They think they can have everything the way it was, only they'll graft on an approach to the use of military force that is even more aggressive than the Repubs. Democrats as a tribe are wonks who think the game is about articulating the right policies.

But the last election came down to issues of character and trustworthiness. Kerry was damaged by his hesitation in responding to the Swift Boat attack, the incredibly bad decision to gloss over his opposition to the Vietnam war, and the ease with which Republicans can stir up fundamentalist concerns over guns, gays and abortion. Democrats don't think in terms of virtue, morality, honor or character so we are unskilled at defending ourselves against character assassination. The Republicans are exactly the opposite. They understand that it doesn't matter what your policies are as long as the electorate believes you to be sincere.

And what this suggests to me is that we need to hammer away at Bush's character. We need to do just as bubbles says, repeat over and over, ""We can do better. Hell anyone could do better. You, or hardly anyone could hardly do worse. The real question is 'Just which side are the Neocons on?'" Dean said that, which is one of the reasons I loved him.

I also agree with rmck1 that "Our plan should be to disengage from the region. A national strategy to develop energy independence wouldn't be a bad start."

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bubbles always has something to contribute to every argument. It is always well-thought-out, properly couched, and relevant. Thanks for your contributions, Bubbles.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 21, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:

I also agree strongly with that analysis. If the Democrats have one major near-universal systemic (and tragic) flaw, it's that we *are* policy wonks who think political debate can be won with reason and the right policies alone. My response to Americanist was redolent of that kind of Adlai Stephensonism, I realise.

But -- that being said -- the answer isn't to try to do the Kerry thing and out-macho Bush on killing the terrorists. It not only has its tactical hazards (Dems look like me-too-ers without their own ideas), it's also plain wrong on the merits, if the idea it to get a proper perspective on who and what al Qaeda is, and the objective nature of their threat to us.

I completely agree, PTate, that Kerry's signal mistake was to run screaming away from his leadership of the VVAW and adopt the opposite narrative of "Reporting For Duty." That virtually guaranteed that there'd be something the Swift Boaters to trash him just for being an uppity ROTC lieutenant in a grunt's war.

Had he taken the mantle of Reluctant Warrior instead, he could have reconciled his notorious and deeply destructive ambivalence about his IWR vote much more easily, because it would have fit into a cohesive narrative rather than appear as wanting to have it both ways. Kerry got sucked into the Americanist trap of trying to beat Rove at his own game, which never works.

Also, your point about the Dems running on policy when the American people are focused on character issues is dead-on. *That's* the limbic-brain, emotional level that the Dems need to learn how to engage, the moral righteousness that Dean captured so well in lines like "you can't trust Republicans with your money!" Had Kerry been willing to take Bush on directly on his perceived strength-points -- his character and core beliefs -- he could have done to Bush what Rove did to Kerry with the Swift Boat vets.

We *do* need to learn how to moralize in politics and not to shirk from ad-hom characterizations of our opponents as if we're somehow above this.

*That's* the game we can play on Rove's turf -- and kick his flatulent ass.

Policy wise -- we are Democrats. We're not going to win by becoming Republican Lite -- even on national security.

Howard Dean taught us *that* bit of wisdom, as well.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: "We're not going to win by becoming Republican Lite -- even on national security."

I totally agree.

*sigh*

It gets so hard because we actually do have the right policies....

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Before the 1992 election and the 2000 election, the challengers used to say "we can do better..."

I never heard Kerry say that.

Just say it. "We can do better..." the public will believe it if you point it out."

It's kinda hard to believe it when you folks purport to be Democrats. Kerry's campaign theme was "we can do better". He said it over and over again, in those exact words, including in his acceptance speech.

Kerry wasn't a terrible candidate- he did, after all get 59 million votes and lost the presidency by a statistical handful in Ohio (if we can accept the official election results).

The difference in the election was the Scum Boat bastards. I am convinced that Kerry would have won the election if he had found one of the lying SOBs, and with cameras rolling, kicked the living shit out of him. Kind of an Ali "what is my name?" moment.

Posted by: solar on January 21, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Corruption and security can be tied together --
Dept of Homeland Security was full of corrupt cronys and look what happen when Karina hit--

Iraq , Karina , Prescription Drug plan -- Repubicans might have some interesting ideas but they dont' know how to govern.

btw I said last two weeks of election that Kerry should have come out and said
"George Bush hasn't captured the man behind 911 3 years later -- he doesn't deserve to be reelected"


If Kerry has made it a referendum on Bush captured Bin Laden and then that tape came out it would have put Kerry over the top instead of Bin Laden.

Posted by: smartone on January 21, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

That's* the game we can play on Rove's turf -- and kick his flatulent ass.

Dream on. You are 0 - 4 versus Rove.

Policy wise -- we are Democrats. We're not going to win by becoming Republican Lite -- even on national security.

Howard Dean taught us *that* bit of wisdom, as well.

Is that the same Howard Dean who could do on better than 3rd in a Democratic primary? He's the guy you want to learn from?

Posted by: rdw on January 21, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

The difference in the election was the Scum Boat bastards. I am convinced that Kerry would have won the election if he had found one of the lying SOBs, and with cameras rolling, kicked the living shit out of him.

His 'friends' in the MSM advised him not to respond. They promised not to cover it. Liberals need better friends.

Posted by: rdw on January 21, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

solar: "The difference in the election was the Scum Boat bastards. I am convinced that Kerry would have won the election if he had found one of the lying SOBs, and with cameras rolling, kicked the living shit out of him"

Ah, now THAT would have been a marvelous sight! And there is absolutely no doubt that John Kerry would have been a better president than George Bush. George Bush is going to go down as one of the worst leaders in all history.

But, I am even more astonished than you that I don't remember Kerry saying "we can do better"! I remember Dean saying it. I remember admiring Kerry for his public service and dedication to America. I admired him for being a genuine war hero. I remember my anger at the deceit and viciousness of Bushco's character assassination, the whole flip-flop slander. I remember smug GWB prancing around confabulating, twisting, deceiving. I wonder why I don't remember Kerry saying we could do better (and no snark is intended in my self-reflection.)

Posted by: PTate in Mn on January 21, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

ptate,

Every candidate says they can do better. Kerry sucked and he would have been a rotten President. The man isn't capable of making a decision. He invented flip-flopping. BTW: you have to agree having the delegates at the RNC carry flip-flops on their hands was a terrific device. How could you not laugh at that!

He is the most incoherent man ever to win a parties nomination. George was far from a great candidate with a weak economy and a difficult war and Kerry still could not beat him. You missed your shot.

Check this out:

WASHINGTON - Riding high as a maverick anti-corruption populist, a surging Sen. John McCain trounces Sen. Hillary Clinton in a 2008 presidential poll released yesterday.
McCain tops Clinton 52% to 36% in a head-to-head race for the White House in 2008, according to a new Diageo/Hotline Poll.

It's one of the biggest margins seen in recent polls that ask registered voters to pick between Clinton (D-N.Y.) and McCain (R-Ariz.).

I'd prefer George Allen but big John is conservative enough and he gets us past the 2010 census. As you know there will be another 7 or so electoral votes transferred to Red States in time for the 2012 election. From that point on it will be nearly impossible to nominate anyone from a Northern State unless they are conservative.

The fact is the entire country has moved right. You will be minority until you move over too.

Posted by: rdw on January 21, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

I am so flipping sick of everyone just assuming that hillary will be the 2008 nominee. Not if I, or any number of Democratic voters have anything to say about it. Move off that meme. The only people who want Hillary as our nominee are republicans and their media whores.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 21, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

From another thread, but consudering that the li'l fucker is in the house:

rdw:

You know, this thread is dead so it'd be an exercise in futility to
rebut you point-by-point. But I can't avoid making a couple of
observations.

First of all, you're an absolutely shameless historical revisionist.
You take it as a matter of proven fact that the Vietnam War could have
been won, and that journalism was somehow just as corrupt before the
age of infotainment. And you call people "Communists" as if they were
actually, you know, proven to be Communists.

Your disregard for a history that you should know better than I, being
slightly older, is absolutely shameless. You remind me of a Holocaust
revisionist: "Only about a million Jews died in the camps; the Jews
hyped this up into 6 million to get support for Israel."

You really do remind of of exactly the sort of lower-middle-class
person who allowed the Nazis to get into power. Not a hardcore party
ideologue, just somebody who took what the party ideologues said as
received wisdom because it made them feel better about themselves.

One of the great ironies of the Nazis is that they thought, following
Hegel, that they were acting in the name of a higher truth latent in
history. But in reality, they were shameless relativists; an even more
influential philosopher for the Nazis was Nietsczhe, the theorist of
the Ubermensch who was also the father of moral relativism.

You, like the Nazis, boil history down to losers and winners.
Objective truth to you is meaningless. If it fits your narrative and
makes your side look powerful, it's significant. If it doesn't, it's
irrelevant. You have exactly zero place on which to stand to evaluate
your interpretation of things outside of this larger ideological
structure. Absolutely nothing is beneath you; the very notion of
"lying" is meaningless to you, because it's not possible anymore to
lie, as all things are just warring assertions. This is the meaning of
"fair and balanced" journalism -- warring sides, the loudest of which
wins. That which side gets to be the loudest is stage-managed escapes
your attention.

You are the face of latent fascism in American, Wooten. A face that
becomes more manifest every year.

And, to be perfectly honest, you terrify me.

+Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 21, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Dems are saying different things than the "loons". Why would Dems repeat things the Republicans say?

Does Georgie Boy really believe Al Qaeda is calling Americans? I wonder what evidence of that he might have. Who would AQ be calling, their broker? If they have sleeper cells here, and they could have, AQ would be stupid to call them and give away the position.

What's the deal here?

Posted by: MarkH on January 21, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH:"If they have sleeper cells here, and they could have, AQ would be stupid to call them and give away the position."

Can you imagine the confusion when the CIA intercepts an OBL call to the sleeper cell in the WH??? What to do?? What to do???

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Additional info and graphs at Betty the Crow News(BTC)

Terrorism increases to record levels in 2005

Terrorism hit record levels in 2005, according to data from the RAND Corporation available through the Department of Homeland Security-funded Terrorism Knowledge Base .

You're doing a heck of a job, Georgie.

The sum of "international" and "domestic" terrorist attacks in 2005 was 3991, up 51% from the previous year's figure of 2639. The number of deaths that resulted from those attacks was 6872, which is 36% higher than the 5066 that occurred in 2004.

A heck of a job.

In contrast, in the last year of the Clinton presidency (2000), there were 1138 attacks and 776 deaths. Since then, after five years of Bush's macho 84 billion-dollar-a-year War on Terror, attacks have increased by 250% and deaths by a whopping 550%.

Posted by: ned on January 21, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: "The fact is the entire country has moved right."

The pendulum swings back and forth. In the 60s and 70s the pendulum swung left, and since the 80s it has been swinging right. But as the dismal, disruptive and predictable consequences of radical conservative policies become more obvious--the declining standard of living, the social inequality, the fiscal irresponsibility, the corruption, the loss of international standing, the warmongering, the incompetence, the cronism--the pendulum will swing back.

It seems entirely possible that a Republican will win in 2008, and the prospect doesn't fill me with terror. Bush heads the most radically conservative, most profoundly incompentent administration in US history. Unless his corporate sponsors can groom and slip another fascist stooge past the voters, the next Republican president will necessarily be more liberal than Bushco.

Whether it is a Republican or Democrat, whoever follows GWB is going to have a terrible mess to clean up and the only solutions will be found by going left.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 21, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, since you're obviously illiterate, I will try and help you out:

Even using the phrase "pandering to the ignorant" is PRECISELY the attitude that costs us elections. (In other words -- read this slowly -- you proved my point in attempting to refute it.)

Most Americans aren't "ignorant" in the sense you mean the term -- they simply don't follow this stuff in great detail, but they do make informed decisions. Telling them they're ignorant unless they agree with ill-considered positions guarantees somebody in the exchange is stooopid: and it ain't THEM.

The rest of your post is proof that you really do have a reading comprehension problem: Murtha's (accurate) assertion that American troops skew the dynamic in Iraq, because WE are the targets, so we should get out IN ORDER TO WIN, is precisely the same as observing that it is up to the Iraqis now... with the exception that we support guys who win free elections. We're not gonna ABANDON them, we are gonna support 'em with air strikes and intelligence and we're gonna LEAN on 'em, to cut a political deal with the Sunni minority. That way, the Shia majority gets to win the war AND the peace: what the fuck do you think victory LOOKS like, Bob?

By turning that sensible plan into the political catastrophe of "we can't win in Iraq", and THEN going on to assert that anybody who doesn't know this is "ignorant", you've pretty much established that Democrats who buy into your "analysis" are too fucking stupid to win an American election.

Likewise, when I observed that on every significant national security issue -- Iran, al Qaeda -- Democrats have NO alternative except to bitch, you ... agreed, with the not particularly helpful observation: so what?

MOST VOTERS WILL NOT TRUST DEMOCRATS TO PROTECT AMERICA. Every single Presidential election since 19 frigging 60 shows this pattern: haven't you ever noticed? In elections where national security is not a dominant issue (1976, 1992, 1996, even 2000), Democrats can get a majority of votes cast. In elections where it IS (1964 being the original exception), e.g., '68, '72, 1980, 1984, 1988 (as gravy), Democrats... lose.

You didn't "take me apart" -- and THAT, is the macho bullshit. Literate folks understand that you didn't even know what I wrote -- and yet you bragged about refuting it.

Fuck off.

.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 21, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should WELCOME the introduction of the security issue into the campaign. Osama, as the tape shows, is still at large. Instead of catching him, we have spun our wheels in a costly and increasingly pointless war in Iraq.

Let's talk about that.

The Iraq War hasn't made the country safer. And the attacks in London and elsewhere show that terrorism is a common thread elsewhere.

Democrats can turn security to their advantage, and make it a second prong along with the Abramoff-wiretapping scandals.

There's a LONG list of things Democrats can run on. We just need more Al Gores, willing to speak up about them.

Posted by: scatcat on January 22, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

PTate: Wasn't the last tape released the Friday before the 2004 election? ...Coincidence???

Shock! Someone in the MSM noticed the coincidence, too. Jan. 19, 2006, two mentions:

The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wire tapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant. And up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows. -- CNN Jack Cafferty [Cite]
I just find it ironic. The last time we heard from [Osama], right before the elections. This time, it's right before the hearings on wiretapping Americans' telephones without getting a court order or a warrant. Coincidence? I don't know. Maybe. -- CNN Jack Cafferty [ Cite ]

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 22, 2006 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

PTate

We're not alone in moving right. Much has been going on in Old Europe the MSM has not been covering. Check this out:


THE CONSEQUENCES OF VAN GOGH (CTD) [Andrew Stuttaford]

Via the Brussels Journal:

From 1 March onwards people who want to settle in the Netherlands (e.g. to join family members or to marry someone living there) will have to pass a preliminary test at the Dutch embassy in their country of origin. In this so-called integration test the immigrants have to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language and the geography, history and political system of the Netherlands. The fee for taking the test is 350 euros. Those who do not pass are not allowed to enter the Netherlands. Those who do pass have only taken the first hurdle. After their arrival in the Netherlands they will have to pass a second more difficult exam. The exams are part of a bill proposed by Rita Verdonk, the Minister for lntegration. The Dutch House of Representatives approved the bill on Thursday. The Dutch Senate had done so last month.

Americal liberals would be horrified if they knew about it. Since the MSM will not be covering it, as it hasn't covered any of the significant changes in Euro practices, libs will be typically ignorant.

Denmark has always been a bit outside the EU mainstream. Exceptionally tolerant but never to the point of being pussies. The very public butchering of Theo Van Gogh denied them the ability to further ignore their Demograhic time bomb. Eventually their Islamic minority will be a majority and that will end Dutch tolerance. The Dutch are no longer ignoring the fact they either change or write their culture off.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Canada Federal Election - 1 Day until Election Day
PTate,

A Conservative victory is certain as projected by the latest poll updates. The Liberals have slipped 3 points giving the Conservatives a 12 point lead nationally. Current seat projections give the Tories a minority government with a maximum of 147 seats, 8 seats short from a majority.

I am not suggesting this is a u-turn in Canadian politics but it is a dramatic downfall for the liberals and it does matter. For example Harper has been running on rebuilding the military. They are unable to assist in rescue operations outside Canada and in fact cannot reach remote parts of Canada. Add in pulling out of Kyoto and tax cuts and we have a decided shift.

Merkel won in Germany by running to the right of Schroeder and that will also make a difference. The EU like Canada is just starting to deal with the fact they are now isolated militarily from the US. They must protect themselves. Hence Chirac's talk last week of using their nuclear capabilties. They have little else.

Condi Rice's announcement last week of a dramatic realignment of the State Dept out of the EU and into Asia and the Middle East might be a bigger blow to the EU than GWB reducing our Germany forces by 90%.

The Europeans have been operating under the illusion they've discovered peace via diplomacy. To follow Speilbergs thinking, they've been able to talk their way out of everything because they're so sophisticated. That's nonsense. They're going to find out how well that works without the 60-yr protection of the US security blanket. Because that blanket is gone and it's not coming back.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> Bob, since you're obviously illiterate, I will try and help you out:

Riiigghhhhtt ... you overarching point is that Democrats have
a superiority complex, and you start out with a broad-brush ad
hominem attack against a "reading comprehension problem" that
no one on this blog save a troll would ever accuse me of.

Thank you for proving *my* point -- that you're a smug
consultant wannabe with your nose up the DLC's ass.

Not that the Democratic Party has any shortage of *those* ...

> Even using the phrase "pandering to the ignorant" is PRECISELY
> the attitude that costs us elections. (In other words -- read
> this slowly -- you proved my point in attempting to refute it.)

The Bush war cabinet has grossly exaggerated the threat posed by both
al Qaeda and the situation in the Mideast. Do you want to pander to
those fears -- or do you want to deconstruct them? Frankly, I care
more about America than I do about winning elections. I'd rather
argue for reason than try to out-fearmonger Bush -- even if it loses
us elections in the short term. Democrats frankly don't deserve
to win unless they get on the right side of what is objective truth.

And that will, in the long term, build us the kind of trust we need
to be taken seriously on ALL issues, including national security.

Besides which, in purely tactical terms -- ask John Kerry
how successful he was in trying to out-fearmonger Bush.

You ducked that question the first time around.

> Most Americans aren't "ignorant" in the sense you mean the
> term -- they simply don't follow this stuff in great detail, but
> they do make informed decisions. Telling them they're ignorant
> unless they agree with ill-considered positions guarantees
> somebody in the exchange is stooopid: and it ain't THEM.

I didn't accuse any sector of the population of being ignorant
(speaking of, you know, reading comprehension problems). I asked
you, rhetorically, whether you wanted to pander to the kind of
ignorance-based fears that Bush uses when he hypes the terrorist
threat. Do you want to see al Qaeda for what it is -- or do you
have no problem with Bush using a grotesquely overinflated fear-
based image of al Qaeda's capabilities to shred the Constitution?

Whose side, exactly, are you on here, "Americanist"?

> The rest of your post is proof that you really do have a
> reading comprehension problem: Murtha's (accurate) assertion
> that American troops skew the dynamic in Iraq, because WE are
> the targets, so we should get out IN ORDER TO WIN, is precisely
> the same as observing that it is up to the Iraqis now...

I will grant you this (and you'd have an easier time promoting a
dialogue if you dropped the faux self-righteous Liebermanisms):
Dean should have been affirmative rather than negative. He should
have said that it was up to the Iraqis to win it, not us, instead
of simply calling the idea of Americans winning dead wrong. Not
that he was wrong; he wasn't. Only that he should have given the
full context of what precisely it means that Americans can't win.

> with the exception that we support guys who win free elections.

In case you haven't considered it, our plans in Iraq were never
to support democracy qua democracy. Our plans were to foster
a US-friendly government so we could build a series of forward
military bases to deter the next-generation threat, which is China
-- and also, of course, to free up Iraq's oil (in dollars, not
Saddam's euros) for the world market. Read the PNAC documents.

The problem with uncorking a powder keg like Iraq is that the
people's democratic aspirations may well conflict with our long-
term strategic goals. For instance, a Shi'ite theocracy in the
south aligned with Iran and a Kurdistan in the north which threatens
Turkey, Iran and Syria by goading the aspirations of their own Kurds.

On a blackboard, the best thing for Iraq (and for us) would be
a federated national system with a pluralist constitution that
protects the rights of minorities and women and distributes oil
revenue across the population. But that's looking less and less
likely as an outcome. The likely outcome is regional fragmentation.

And if that becomes the case -- how do we spin it as a "win" for
America? It's democracy in action -- but also the recipe for
a long-term civil war, with disenfrancised Sunnis who were the
technical and professional backbone of the country under Saddam
shut out of power and thus ever more willing to take up arms.

How much blood and treasure do we spend to prevent this outcome?
How much do we override the aspirations of the majority of Iraqis
who may very well want this (how, after all, do you administer a
national system with three distinct kinds of family law?), and how
can we pretend that we're doing this in the interest of democracy?

Start looking at this in any depth, and the idea of the Americans
"winning" in Iraq *and* fostering genuine democracy begins to look
like a contradiction in terms. I applaud Dean for honestly, if
painfully. alluding to these extreme and irresolvable contradictions.

> We're not gonna ABANDON them, we are
> gonna support 'em with air strikes

Have you been following this in the press? Do you have
any idea how little it appeals to Air Force commanders
to give the authority to call in air strikes to the ISF
so they can prosecute tribal and sectarian grudges?

> and intelligence

We don't have the intelligence. Iraqis do.

> and we're gonna LEAN on 'em, to cut a
> political deal with the Sunni minority.

You know, your language here (the gonnas, the 'ems and suchlike)
really betrays how much your view appears to be based on gusts of
enthusiasm rather than careful analysis. Lean, shmean -- at the
end of the day it's up to the Iraqis. That's democracy. If they
don't amend the constitution to make it a pluralist document, the
show is over and civil war virtually guaranteed. The leader of the
Shi'ite bloc said last week that he wasn't very keen on doing that.

> That way, the Shia majority gets to win the war AND the
> peace: what the fuck do you think victory LOOKS like, Bob?

Certainly not like your pale Joe Bidenisms. It would be a great
outcome, but it's the last thing from guaranteed. We can do all
we can to advocate for it, but we absolutely cannot make it happen.

And if we can't make it happen -- in the interest of our overriding
values as Americans we have to be prepared to accept the verdict of
democracy and disengage from the region. It's their battle, not ours.

> By turning that sensible plan into the political
> catastrophe of "we can't win in Iraq",

You have a problem with the truth, Americanist?

> and THEN going on to assert that anybody who doesn't
> know this is "ignorant", you've pretty much established
> that Democrats who buy into your "analysis" are too
> fucking stupid to win an American election.

You really do appear to have a contempt
for thinking clearly about this.

> Likewise, when I observed that on every significant
> national security issue -- Iran, al Qaeda -- Democrats
> have NO alternative except to bitch, you ... agreed,
> with the not particularly helpful observation: so what?

You have any cogent criticism of my thumbnail on Iran? You share
the Bush war cabinet's view of al Qaeda? If so, it'd be nice to
hear your thoughts on the subject. Otherwise, you're just huffing.

> MOST VOTERS WILL NOT TRUST DEMOCRATS TO PROTECT AMERICA.
> Every single Presidential election since 19 frigging
> 60 shows this pattern: haven't you ever noticed?

In the election, John Kennedy hyped a nonexistent "missile gap."
In office, he authorized a comic-opera invasion of Cuba and
almost got us into World War III. Likewise the Truman Democrats,
terrified of being called weak on Communism, launched the Red
scare (beginning with HUAC) that culminated with Joe McCarthy.

> In elections where national security is not a
> dominant issue (1976, 1992, 1996, even 2000), Democrats
> can get a majority of votes cast. In elections where it
> IS (1964 being the original exception), e.g., '68, '72,

The Vietnam war had nothing to do with national security.

> 1980, 1984, 1988 (as gravy),

Nor did the Iranian hostage crisis.
Mondale and Dukakis were terrible nominees.

> Democrats... lose.

Correlation doesn't prove causation.

> You didn't "take me apart" -- and THAT, is the macho bullshit.

You've got plenty to answer for, starting with the fundamental
truth of your assumptions about national security. If you think
it's essential to buy into the Rovian "terrorism" psychodrama to
win elections, then you and I have little to discuss. In fact, I'd
suggest taking your ideas over to the DNC or DLC blogs instead of
talking to progresives about them who are decidely to the left of
the Party. I'm sure you wouldn't like to be thought of as a troll.

> Literate folks understand that you didn't even know what
> I wrote -- and yet you bragged about refuting it.

Most folks posting on *this* blog would conclude,
rather, that you're just another DLC stooge.

> Fuck off.

Heh :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

You have no imagination or originality. The fascist/nazi comparions are getting as old as the hills. They're boring and politicaly moronic. You immediately label yourself as a lefty whacko. Either you can offer a counterpoint or not. It's obvious the name calling is in fact intellectual surrender.

I stated 3 facts you cannot refute.

1) Alger Hiss WAS a spy. We know this.

2) The Rosenbergs WERE guilty. We know this.

3) Hollywood WAS loaded with communists. We know this. They were too inpet to rise to the level of Lenin's "Useful Idiots" but they were there.


I futher agreed McCarty was a loser of a human being. He's just not the giant figure you wish him to be. Clooney picked the wrong guy to demonize. It's very old news. He should have used J Edgar to show government spying run amok. But then the Kennedys would get muddied. Can't have that.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

There's an old saying that covers your nonsense, "You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts".

The Vietnam war had nothing to do with national security.

That's ALL it was about.

> 1980, 1984, 1988 (as gravy),

Nor did the Iranian hostage crisis.
Mondale and Dukakis were terrible nominees.

> Democrats... lose.

Nor did the Iranian hostage crisis.
Mondale and Dukakis were terrible nominees

The Iranian hostage crises and reminder of feckless Jimmy Carter remain a disaster for the Democratic party. You are the party of the French. You get pushed about because ALL you will do is talk. You are viewed as weak on National Security because you are week and there's no better example than the 444 days.

Mondale and Dukakis were weak but no weaked than Gore and Kerry.

Correlation doesn't prove causation.

Yes it does. It's the only reason we use correlation.

Bob you just have to adjust to a changing world. GWB is everything you suggest. Yet as dumb as he is he's beaten infinitely smarter Democrats in 4 straight elections. Liberalism is going the way of socialism. Look at what has happened since 1980 to the Judiciary, Executative, legislature, the wide contempt for University Faculties and the MSM, the rise in esteem and grandeur of our soldiers, the replacement of welfare rights with mandatory sentencing and 3 strikes as an issue.

It's been impossible to make Iraq into Vietnam or John Ashcroft into J Edgar. It's impossible to mount a peace protest on a campus. GWB has removed 90% of our troops from Old Europe and is now removing the State Dept. The MSM doesn't even cover it. He's pulled out of Kyoto and the ABM treaty and benefitted politically. GWB is about to appoint his 2nd very conservative justice and there's nothing to stop him.

The trend is continuing.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

rdw: "...Since the MSM will not be covering it, as it hasn't covered any of the significant changes in Euro practices, libs will be typically ignorant.

Denmark has always been a bit outside the EU mainstream. Exceptionally tolerant but never to the point of being pussies. The very public butchering of Theo Van Gogh denied them the ability to further ignore their Demograhic time bomb.

Speaking of ignorant, you speak of Denmark, but your discussion is about the Netherlands. The Danes who live in Denmark are not the Dutch who live in the Netherlands, though both countries are facing the same demographic time bomb. It is a common mistake, like confusing Vienna and Venice.

Why do you imagine an American liberal would object to a European country restricting immigration and worrying about the lack of assimilation & hostility of home-grown Muslims? It seems to me to be a very legitimate security issue for them. The liberals will take a very different approach, however, than the conservatives. A liberal approach will involve screening, police action, education and immigration standards as opposed to the standard conservative approach of slaughtering the infidel.

And as for the US removing the security blanket that has swaddled Europe since 1945, does it occur to conservatives that the EU will replace the US with their own defense? In 15 years, we'll be facing an EU military equal to our own. They have the technology, the wealth and the population, and now they have the motive.

You list all of GWB's "accomplishments," and I have to wonder what makes you so enthusiastic about the transformation of the world's first liberal democracy into a fascist state. You hate democracy?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 22, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

You know, I was busy googling Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs
just to factually nail your ass -- but this is just
too fucking comical not to get to immediately ...

> "Correlation doesn't prove causation."

> Yes it does. It's the only reason we use correlation.

Well of *course* you'd say this, Wooten.

After all -- YOU GOT AN A IN SOCIOLOGY !!!

What a fucking ignorant *boob* you are.

Confusing correlation with causation is a logical fallacy.

I forget Aristotle's Latin term for it. I'm sure
someone in the peanut gallery can help us out here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

That correlation doesn't equal causation is one of the first rules they teach students in any decent stats methods class. A correlation is just an mathematical index of covariation: When variable A changes, does variable B change systematically with it? But you can't say whether the change in variable A causes the change in variable B or whether B causes the change in A. Sometimes, the observed relationship is just an illusion and sometimes the changes in A and B are caused by a third variable--like the example of a negative correlation between the number of field mice in an English village and the number of unmarried women (As the number of unmarried women rises, the number of mice decreases.) So are the mice chasing away the unmarried women? Are the women eating the mice??

Both are related to the number of cats in the village. More unmarried women, more cats, fewer field mice.

The reason we use correlation is because sometimes we don't have another choice, and you CAN identify interesting relationships--like the positive correlation between being smart and being liberal. Another is the correlation between anxiety about death and voting conservative.

But scientists use the experimental method to investigate causation.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 22, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

The rest is too stoopid to bother with on a nice day (with new strings on my D-28, no less), but just grok for a moment on Bob's, er, brilliance:

"The Bush war cabinet has grossly exaggerated the threat posed by both al Qaeda and the situation in the Mideast. Do you want to pander to those fears -- or do you want to deconstruct them?"

Two numbers and a word: 9-11. Nukes.

And, yo, Bob: I want to DEFEAT them. I wouldn't know deconstruction from the Desiderata -- and the DLC has never liked me. (Ask 'em.)


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Bob said to rdw:

What a fucking ignorant *boob* you are.

Confusing correlation with causation is a logical fallacy.

Are you expecting rdw to know anything?

rdw consistenly shows himself to be the most ignorant poster on the entire blog. Just when you think it can't get any worse, he plumbs the depths of insanity and posts something stupider than the previous stupid thing that he said.

Imagine him posting something ridiculous, then wheeling himself around his rumpus room in a rolling chair while his superhero cape flutters behind him, ultimately getting tangled up in the wheels. rdw hollers, "I'm the man! I'm the man!" and then his bullet-shaped head is violently snapped back and he goes over backwards.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 22, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

And as for the US removing the security blanket that has swaddled Europe since 1945, does it occur to conservatives that the EU will replace the US with their own defense? In 15 years, we'll be facing an EU military equal to our own. They have the technology, the wealth and the population, and now they have the motive.

You are out of your mind. The EU has neither the will nore the means to rebuild their defenses. They've been underfunded for over three decades and now only spend somewhere near 1.75% on defense or less than 1/2 USA levels. Further The EU is far from a United States of Europe. Their militaries arer still separate. The 50% they do spend isn't spent nearly as effectively. It's also a fact they have very little experience. Aside from those in the coalition less than 98% of EU troops have seen any hostile action. We have a preview of EU military capabilities in Kosovo/Bosnia.

Even if they had the will to increase spending, and they do not, they lack the means to increase military spending. Their welfare state demands are increasing at such a rate a drop in military is far more likely.

It's silly to pretend the EU will ever be a military force aside from their nuclear power. They have technology but the gap between the USA and EU is wide and getting wider and technology is all they have. sometime in the next decade their polulation will actually start to shrink. It will be interesting to see how well their Islamic recruits accept the EUs position if/when it is contrary to the Islamic position.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is absolutely right on this one. The Dems made thre same mistake in 2002 and 2004, thinking they could neutralize national security and focus on domestic issues. Karl Rove isn't that stupid.

This is why it is such a shame that the Democrats haven't laid the ground by having a record of attacking the Republicans hard for their national security outrages - i.e. lying us into a war that distracted us from al-Qaeda, failing to kill bin Laden at Tora Bora, leaking the fact that we had broken the Iranian code, starting an unnecessary war based on lies that severely overstretched our military resources and demonstarted our weakness to the world, while recruiting, training and arming thousands of new terrorists, not to mention turning a secular enemy of Iran into a fellow Shiite fundamnetalist satellite.

If only the pussified Democrats had been hammering those points home for the last 4 years, there would be a realignment in Congress in 2006 instead of the likely small turnover of seats.

Oh well we can always get another country, right?

Posted by: The Fool on January 22, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> The rest is too stoopid to bother with on a nice day

Right. Which is a nice way of attempting to save
face while abdicating the argument. I sketched
out my views of Iraq, Iran and the so-called GWOT.

You have no rational response, just jingoist catchphrases.

> (with new strings on my D-28, no less),

Ahh, but the *real* question is -- do you know more than three chords?

In the key of E major, that is.

> but just grok for a moment on Bob's, er, brilliance:

> "The Bush war cabinet has grossly exaggerated the threat posed
> by both al Qaeda and the situation in the Mideast. Do you want
> to pander to those fears -- or do you want to deconstruct them?"

> Two numbers and a word: 9-11. Nukes.

One name: Karl Rove.

Once again, for the third time -- please explain how well your
approach here worked for John "We will hunt down the terrorists
and kill them" Kerry. He ran to the right of Bush on the GWOT.

And he lost. You have an explanation for that? I do.

> And, yo, Bob: I want to DEFEAT them.

Then you're a fucking idiot, bro. Defeat *what*? "Terrorism" is
a tactic of assymetrical warfare, not an enemy. You're going to
delegitimate a radical religious ideology that mounts a scathing
critique of the godless decadent consumerist West by -- what --
turning Iraq into a godless, decadent and consumerist country?

You have no clue. There will *always* be Osamas who burn with a
sense of injustice at our piddling in their sand. Now that we're
in Iraq we can do what we can to help them on their feet, but
building Iraq into a pluralist democracy -- worthwhile as it might
be on its own terms -- is the very *last* thing that will quell
the fires of Osama's kind of rage at us. Iraq will be fighting
Islamic jihad as long as it lacks a Saddam to crush Islamists.

You can't "defeat" an enemy that has no infrastructure to crush.
You can't demonstrate to Muslims that Osama's way leads to a
dead end the way the West proved that Communism led to a dead
end. Religious ideology doesn't address material conditions.

This is why you deal with al Qaeda as a *law enforcement issue*.

> I wouldn't know deconstruction from the Desiderata --

I wasn't making a coy reference to Derrida (speaking of D words);
I meant it in the general sense of analysis. You know, breaking
the situation down. Looking at it in depth instead of superficially.
Getting beyond the blind fear at vastly unlikely scenarios like
terrorists dragging old Soviet suitcase nukes through Port Authority.

> and the DLC has never liked me. (Ask 'em.)

Are you one of those mongos who likes to be "contrarian" by posting
on blogs of varying ideologies and being a pain in the ass on each
one? What do you -- argue the Howard Dean brief on the DLC blog? :)

Because here, you're just carrying Lieberman's water.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

You list all of GWB's "accomplishments," and I have to wonder what makes you so enthusiastic about the transformation of the world's first liberal democracy into a fascist state. You hate democracy?


I love Democracy which is why I celebrate the spread of it in the middle east and the approachment with India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, etc. The problem with Old Europe style democracy is it hasn't been able to grow away from socialism in the Post-WWII due in part to it's dependency on the USA for Cold War protections.

Somehow the Western Europeans started to think their relative peace has been due to their diplomatic brilliance. Their 'soft' power. The fact is as long as there are thugs in the world soft power is the power of saps. As the same time anti-Americanism has ascended and for all practical purposes the USA and Old Europe have become competitors and often enemies. That's their mistake.

It would be nice to think we can trust Western Europe but it's been proven we cannot. A true leader sees the world as it is not as they want it to be. The USA is clearly better off developing distance from Old Europe and embracing those countries with the same vested interests such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, Brazil, etc.

The Asian - Pacific partnershp is a perfect example. The USA, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia is a shrewed grouping designed to replace Kyoto and the UN and create effective ways for the major nations to cooperate on environmental and aid issues. Kyoto is in the process of collapse. This will be how the world will cooperate on pollution issues in the future.

It's been rather amazing how quickly, decisively and permanently GWB has changed US foreign policy. We didn't just remove 90% of our troops from Germany. We cancelled leases and returned major bases to the Germans. We no longer have rights to those bases. In this environment the Germans would not offer them back nor would the US Congress approve new leases. Condi Rice will undoubtedly reduce her Western European staff by 1/2 or 2/3 and once the State Dept opens offices in India, China and elsewhere its doubtful they'd close them down.

Nation have permanent interests not permanent friends. This move is at least a decade overdue.

It has the additional advantage of weakening global liberalism. We now have the prospect of watching Canada and Western Europe try to rebuild military strength. It's not going to happen

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

I have two words for you:

Latin America.

That's SEVEN countries now that have gone Leftist -- with a goodly chance for Peru and Mexico next.

All nicely stiff-arming the IMF model of economic slaver-uh, I mean free market economics.

Power to the people, you dumb-ass bougeoisie :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

bob,

We've had this conversation before. Lula is the lefty from Brazil except he hasn't been lefty at all. He's been extremely moderate and is now leading the fight among South American nations for free trade. Some lefty.

Chile just elected a lefty leader as well but the country is already on the irreversal path toward a free market economy and low taxes (by S.A. standards). It's a crime what Chavez is doing to Venezuela but that's what lefties do. love the fact he's offering citizens in MA and CN aid to buy fuel. These are the two richest states in America. Yet Venezuela has a poverty rate above 45% with a huge percentage without running water or sewage. Hugo cares about his people does he?

I am only vaguely familiar with Bolivia but can see what a tradegy that will be. If I understand correctly he intends to nationalize the natural gas industry AND try to attract investment. One can only feel sorry for the people. What we know of South America is that a large part of it will remain 3rd world for a great many decades. I ignored South America for a reason. They simply have no roll on the world stage aside from Chavez doing his clown act. Mexico and Venezuela have effectively broken relations while Lula clearly sees Hugo as a major threat. Brazil isn't sitting on an ocean of oil. They can't afford his nonsense and they are steering a different path.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

That's a trade agreement *within* Latin America and not a free trade pact with the world, if I understand this correctly.

But no matter. Lula was a former labor leader and all of these countries share a European mixed-economy model for economic and social development. They're not all attempting to be autarkies because all of them aren't sitting on a ton of oil, like Venezuela. Truthfully, countries with huge oil reserves tend to shaft the development of their human capital (Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, etc) and aren't necessarily the best thing for social development. I do worry a bit about Chavez and hope he makes the right long-term decisions.

But none of Old Europe have hard-Leftist command economies, either. What they do have is a large public sector.

That's the model that *all* of these Latin American leftist countries are seeking to emulate in the name of social justice.

And I think they are to be applauded for it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, as noted, you're just dumb. (You don't even do insults well.)

Google "Tariq Ramadan", NRO, and the Washington Post. When you've learned something, perhaps you can graduate to conversation.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> Bob, as noted, you're just dumb.

And as you have amply demonstrated, you have no cogent rebuttal.

> (You don't even do insults well.)

Wooten makes my blood boil to the point
of rousing a good set of insults.

You're just a mincing ... I dunno ... nothing of any importance.

> Google "Tariq Ramadan", NRO, and the Washington Post.

That's okay. I don't do google wars. I'm sure if they
were relevant, you could either synopsize or quote.

> When you've learned something, perhaps
> you can graduate to conversation.

Perhaps you could learn a couple more
chords and a time signature other than 4/4.

The world awaits with baited breath.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

So what exactly is your point? Ramadan (and I've read about him elsewhere) is a controversial Islamic scholar who believes that Islam can be intergrated with Western societies, but who also hews to a strict interpretation and refuses to condemn some of the harsher aspects of Shariah law.

The French seem to think that the two are incompatible, as does the EU Court. Blair, however, invited him to join a task force after the London bombings, to help provide his government with understanding of why Muslims turn to violence.

So ... what? You think this guy's going to be the Islamic Martin Luther? Or do you think, to the contrary, that he's a wolf in sheep's clothing, attempting to sugar-coat a rapproachment that's not strictly possible? Either interpretation seems possible.

What this guy has to do with Salafism, Deobandism, the doctrine of tikfir or the writings of the Islamic revolutionary Sayyid Qutb (who influenced both Osama and Khomenei) is anybody's guess here ...

The idea of an Islamic Reformation is compelling to Westerners -- but it won't happen all of a sudden. Islam, unlike the medieval Catholic Church, is not a monolithic entity.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

Very clever way of hipping me to your credentials. So you've been published in both the WaPo and the National Review. Kudos.

Which is why it's even *more* suprising that you think there's a military solution to Osama-ism.

Don't get me wrong, I think a guy like Ramadan should play a critical role, especially in Europe, where there are countries that are much more hard-core assimilationist than America. I think it's a tragedy that he was banned in France, and I have no doubt that these charges of terrorism support are trumped up.

But as much as these ideas might help other Muslims struggling with issues of identity and allegiance in Western countries, this isn't going to change the threat from the ideology that sustains al Qaeda.

And once again -- why in god's name do you believe there's a military solution to it?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

In the spirit of charity (and cuz I may make a similar error at any time), I will pass over your confusion of 'bated breath' with ... God knows.

The point is that either we are, or are not, at war with Islam itself. If we ARE, that's damned important to know.

If we are NOT (as I think we're not), it's important to be able to say what is the Islam with which we are not at war. (Bush can't do this, God know why: I'd argue for making Jamil Diab a household name throughout the Middle East.)

Ramadan's notion of the "House of Witness" is a stark departure from the 'us vs. them' ideology that is typical of much of Islam, and ALL the Muslim bad guys. So that's useful right there.

Guys like al-Qutb were reactionaries (and I would argue, closet cases): recognizing that Islam's future is DIFFERENT is the key to working something out with Iran, etc.

But of course, Bob would rather preen that actually engage.

One thing progressives -- like Bob -- oughta get over is the compulsion to signify to people all the time (to use an old African-Americanism).

How we got into Iraq is now a secondary ,if not a tertiary story: how we get OUT is the important one.

And winning is better than losing.

Al-Qaeda and Iran are genuine threats to US, here, in this country (the former more than the latter, so far, thank God.)

So kindly help the rest of us progressives figure out how to defend against, rather than to "deconstruct" 'em.

Fair enough?

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

But none of Old Europe have hard-Leftist command economies, either. What they do have is a large public sector.

That's the model that *all* of these Latin American leftist countries are seeking to emulate in the name of social justice.

And I think they are to be applauded for it.


It's a fair debate for there are trade-offs between anglo-saxon calitalism and the nanny-state capitalism of Western Europe. Among the problems with S.A. and it's history of flirting with leftist ideologies is that bribery is so rampant and it's citizens are not familiar with innovation and business excellence. In the long run the much faster growth of the US system versus the French-German system will doom them to 2nd rate economic status as it already has diplomatic and military status.

As a conservative my recommendation would be to focus on high growth and wealth creation 1st and then wealth distrubition. It's much easier to redistribute wealth if there's wealth to redistribute. If a single innovation or invention has come out of South America I've never heard of it. Why is that?

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

That's a trade agreement *within* Latin America and not a free trade pact with the world, if I understand this correctly.

I am not sure what you are getting at. GWb and Lula have had several productive trade talks covering global, regional and direct trade. Most recently GWb and Lula agreed on an approach to the EU at the recent Hong Kong talks for lowering farm subsidies in the US and EU to assist 3rd world farmers. As expected the EU was the holdout, France specifically. If I remember correctly the goal was substantial reductions by 2011 and France agreed to less subtantial by 2013. Movement but very slow. Brazil is part of a free trade group called mercasur with Argentina, Uraguay and Paraguay. Rumors are a deal will be made with BRAZIL by the end of 2006 but it might not be a full free trade. 1st on the US list in S.A. is Panama and 2nd is the bloc of Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. There are two possibilities. One is direct agreements with each and the 2nd is they form a free trade group and then an agreement between them and the USA.

Panama will either get a diect agreement or fold into CAFTA. GWB already passed CAFTA and an agreement with Chile.

None of these are hugely important economically to the US but will be very positive for these countries and will help diplomatically.

Posted by: rdw on January 22, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

The South American countries that have become Leftist in the last decade already tried free-market, IMF-subsidzed capitalist development.

The question that *you* need to answer is why they're running from it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> In the spirit of charity (and cuz I may make a similar
> error at any time), I will pass over your confusion
> of 'bated breath' with ... God knows.

I had actually never seen the expression written. I wouldn't
know what "bated" means out of that context. Okay, I suppose
it's an archaic elision of abated, come to think of it. The
root is at least congruent with the sense in that expression.

Of course, that might be a folk etymology, but ...

> The point is that either we are, or are not, at war with
> Islam itself. If we ARE, that's damned important to know.

Oh please. The only people who truly have occasion to wonder
whether we're at war with 2 billion people are the kind of folks who
like to curl up at night with Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes and Samuel
Huntington for some good shudders. That "clash of civilizations"
jazz is strictly a preocupation of the cultural right.

> If we are NOT (as I think we're not), it's important to be
> able to say what is the Islam with which we are not at war.
> (Bush can't do this, God know why: I'd argue for making
> Jamil Diab a household name throughout the Middle East.)

Helpful hint: We're not at war with an ideology. We're at
war with a tiny thanatophilic criminal cult. While guys like
Ramadan might be useful for Muslims struggling with issues
of assimilation, only a very few turn to nihilistic violence.
You need to look beyond docrine to understand why they do.

Islamic doctrine doesn't adequately illuminate the psychology
of Mohammad Atta. Why do hundreds of thousands -- millions --
of Muslim men hear the same sermons and don't turn to violence?

> Ramadan's notion of the "House of Witness" is a stark departure
> from the 'us vs. them' ideology that is typical of much of Islam,
> and ALL the Muslim bad guys. So that's useful right there.

Except that there's something sort of grotesquely arrogant about
making a fetish of this guy because we in the West like what he says.
He's just one Islamic scholar -- but it's Muslims who are going to
turn this guy into a broad-based voice for their religion, not us.

WE have really nothing to say about THEIR religion.

We can encourage him, of course. Calling him a "terrorist
sympathizer" and revoking his visas is boneheaded
idiocy, naturally. But Muslims aren't going to follow
this guy's teachings just because *we* like them.

> Guys like al-Qutb were reactionaries (and I would argue,
> closet cases): recognizing that Islam's future is DIFFERENT
> is the key to working something out with Iran, etc.

Al Qutb was influenced by Sartre and Fanon and some of the other
touchstones of the 60s radical left. Transcending alienation
through the moment of revolutionary action is a big part of his
doctrine -- as well as reviving the odious idea of tikfir -- the
righteous killing of Muslims and destabilizing of Muslim regimes.

> But of course, Bob would rather preen that actually engage.

Anything you say, bro.

> One thing progressives -- like Bob -- oughta get
> over is the compulsion to signify to people all
> the time (to use an old African-Americanism).

Something about cooking utensils and dense pigment comes to mind.

> How we got into Iraq is now a secondary, if not a
> tertiary story: how we get OUT is the important one.

No, it's not. It was an egregious abuse of power that has stained
Bush permanently regardless of the outcome in Iraq. To expect the
left to "get over it" is both unrealistic in practical terms and
immoral. The Fitzgerald investigation is still ongoing, there
are still hearings pending on how the intelligence got twisted.

> And winning is better than losing.

The Iraqis will never win until we let go of the idea that we can win.

The logic of democracy and self-determination may well force an
outcome in Iraq that will be worse than Saddam. If we don't know
how to walk away from that and let the Iraqis iron it out, then we
would have learned nothing from the past 60 years of insurgencies.

> Al-Qaeda and Iran are genuine threats to US, here, in this
> country (the former more than the latter, so far, thank God.)

Al Qaeda is a threat, but it needs to be properly evaluated. It is
best keeping it out of the heated rhetoric of an election campaign,
although that's too much to expect of Rove, obviously. But dealing
with it should be a clearheaded, bipartisan effort. Heh, fat chance.

Your view of an Iranian threat is vastly overstated. The key to
understanding Iran is to realize first how deeply conservative
and self-preservationist the power structure is, and secondly the
inevitable demographic ascendancy of the generation who grew up
after the Revolution and are deeply disenchanted with it. The new
president's tendency to flirt with fire-breathing rhetoric (and
apocalyptic Shi'ite eschatology) is kept in check by the Guardian
Council. To think that Iran plans to nuke Israel or give nukes to
Hezbollah is paranoia. What we need to do is play a waiting game
for a decade or so until the new generation comes into power.

Then we'll see some changes that will be truly startling.
Iran is destined to become the most socially progressive
country in the Mideast. We destabilize it at our peril.

> So kindly help the rest of us progressives figure out
> how to defend against, rather than to "deconstruct" 'em.

What do you have against trying to understand our putative enemies?

> Fair enough?

My position on defending American from al Qaeda is clear:

It is an international law enforcement problem. You need good
relations with the countries in the region to prosecute it.

On this point, John Kerry and I are in total agreement.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 22, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

In the beginning, I decided to join the campaign to impeach your "smirking chimp", my "dum'ass botch". As evidence for that, you'll soon be invited to click on a hyperlink.

Before doing so, however, I would like you to read through the rest of this text. In case, you'd like to know, the U.R.L for your blog, specifically, "Political Animal", is found at the third hyperlink on the list below ... ah, please remember, no clicking until AFTER reading the entire text.

Perusing your blog, I believe I arrived at what is a reasonable inference. That is, both you and your readers would welcome news that indicates the campaign to impeach the president is increasing in both vigor and breadth. Ah, you'll find that evidence by clicking on the second enclosed hyperlink.

As for my plan for capturing Osama, you'll find it by clicking on the first listed hyperlink, which immediately follows this colon:

http://hewhoisknownassefton.blogspot.com/2006/01/osama-and-our-president-dumass-botch_20.html

http://hewhoisknownassefton.blogspot.com/2006/01/danger-senator-specter-danger.html

http://www.reachm.com/amstreet/states-writes.htm#DC

toodles
......\
.he who is known as sefton

oh, yes, surely, you've heard about the government "requesting" certain records about internet activity. oh, br'dah! ... cynical and skeptical lil'ole me, I'm smelling a rat in all that. Quite candidly, I have cause to suspect that more than compiling statistics on access to pornographic websites is involved.

oh, yeah, right after Hitler came to power, the German people were assured that, if they were innocent of untoward activity, they would have nothing to worry about ... yeah, right.

Posted by: A Alexander Stella on January 22, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, what the hell, one last one: Bob, you shouldn't assume that folks who waste their time talking to you are as stupid as you are, that we're dumb enough to believe the things you claim we do.

Hell, strive to stretch your short term memory beyond your attention span: as you (finally) figured out, I've spent a fair amount of time, done a good many interviews, and have written for good sized publications about Islam, for example.

You complained that I had asked: "> So kindly help the rest of us progressives figure out
> how to defend against, rather than to "deconstruct" 'em." and replied " What do you have against trying to understand our putative enemies?"

This is how intelligent people make a sensible argument: from facts. See, since you know I've done a fair amount of work on the subj., when I scoff at "deconstruction", only an illiterate (my first observation of you) wouldn't know that I'm not objecting to knowing something about the bad guys. I'm pointing out that your stupidity does not blend well with your arrogance.

(We shall leave aside your inability to make distinctions, which is the primary reason you don't make sene.)


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

The South American countries that have become Leftist in the last decade already tried free-market, IMF-subsidzed capitalist development.

The question that *you* need to answer is why they're running from it.

The IMF is not free market. Conservatives want the IMF abolished for their reliance on big government programs and outdated Keynsian macroeconomic theory. Virtually every country that has relied on the IMF has been harmed and in many cases drastically harmed. They're prescriptions of currency devaluations and tight spending with high taxes is a disaster. They are preaching exactly the wrong medicine.

Again Lula was elected as a lefty but hasn't moved left at all. He is aware Brazil must open up economically to increase trade and become a larger part of the global economy. Lula is well aware of the danger of Chavez. Despite the great oil wealth Venezuela is collecting they are not investing it in education and a modern economy. Lula knows better.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK
The IMF is not free market.

The IMF and World Bank embrace the very same policies supported by "free market" conservatives; its not real market freedom, but then, neither is what is embraced by conservatives.

Conservatives want the IMF abolished for their reliance on big government programs and outdated Keynsian macroeconomic theory.

The IMF tends to favor "austerity" (i.e., shrinking government) measures, supposedly to foster growth and create a better business/investment climate. This is consistent with the approach of "free market" conservatives and not at all a Keynesian approach.

Virtually every country that has relied on the IMF has been harmed and in many cases drastically harmed.

This is certainly true, though, given your misunderstanding of the operational principles of the IMF, has exactly the opposite implications as you seem to want it to have.

They're prescriptions of currency devaluations and tight spending with high taxes is a disaster.

Surely, you're not suggesting that they should engage in either less-tight spending or lower taxes with the same spending -- that they should, in other words, engage in deficit spending to fuel development. That would be positively Keynesian of you.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK
A correlation is just an mathematical index of covariation: When variable A changes, does variable B change systematically with it? But you can't say whether the change in variable A causes the change in variable B or whether B causes the change in A.

Or whether they have a common cause, or if its just an improbable coincidence (mathematically, you can say just how improbable a coincidence it is, but can't ever rule out coincidence.)

Until you can hypothesize a causal mechanism that explains the observed correlation and predicts additional results which are then confirmed, all you've got is an interesting observed correlation.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

The IMF tends to favor "austerity" (i.e., shrinking government) measures, supposedly to foster growth and create a better business/investment climate. This is consistent with the approach of "free market" conservatives and not at all a Keynesian approach.

Free market conservatives are supply-siders. Reduced spending is a good thing and a great thing when it's massively corrupt governments
reducing. However that's NOT true when the spending reductions are designed to lower inflation by killing the economy which is exactly what the IMF does constantly.

REAGAN proved in 1981 that was an obnoxious and unnecessarily painful policy. Inflation is not a function of demand. Killing demand by killing the economy is to spite ones face by cutting ones nose off. It is equally painful and ineffective to cut ones exchange rates. Another IMF favorite. Yes, we find out 2, 3 years out the respective economies are growing faster. Unfortuntely anyone that had any wealth lost 1/2 of it. Witness Agrentina. The competitive devaluations of the late 90's were a disaster.

95% of conservatives would put the IMF out of business tomorrow. They're been a disaster for the global economy. Austerity would be fine if it was done in order to reduce taxes and transfer spending to the private sector into the hands of average citizens and business type who will spend and invest as they see fit.

The good news is many more nations stay away from the IMF and they are starting to change. Better news is that more 3rd world economies are professionally managed. The great disaster of the last century was inflation. Most of the world has a strong focus on creating the low inflation environment needs for a productive economy and they're doing it by managing money supply growth and similar methods rather than the blunt tool of demand growth.

At no point in the last 40 years has global inflation been this low in so many nations. It's one of the reasons trade is taking off and we're seeing true wealth creation on a massive scale.

Credit Reagan for both the American rebirth and this.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Technical point: if you want to credit managing the growth of the money supply for killing inflation, you can't honestly do it by praising Reagan, but Carter, who appointed Paul Volcker and stuck by him when he raised the prime rate to usurious levels.

AND you recognize (if you've got guts) that Carter knew damned well it would probably cost him 1980, even without the hostages, but he stuck it out anyway*.

What Reagan promised in 1980 was that massive tax cuts on the supply-side "theory" would RAISE revenues by accelerating economic growth. It it did not, which is why we promptly went into a recession (1982-1983). It was only after Bob Dole brokered what was then the largest tax increase in American history that we pulled out of the nosedive and Reagan got to claim it was "morning in America".

Reagan didn't kill inflation: Volcker did. Reagan didn't nominate Volcker to the Fed, Carter did. Reagan didn't stick by Volcker when it hurt -- that was Jimmy Carter, who doesn't get credit for it: but he should, because he earned it.

*This kind of self-sacrifice is an important, but unremarked bit of history for Democratic Presidents. Not only Carter, but LBJ did things that were right at great political cost: LBJ famously told Jack Valenti after he signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act that he had given the South to the Republican Party for a generation. (Turned out to be two.) I don't believe anybody can name a similarly courageous and principled Republican act since TR refusing to run in 1908.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Surely, you're not suggesting that they should engage in either less-tight spending or lower taxes with the same spending -- that they should, in other words, engage in deficit spending to fuel development. That would be positively Keynesian of you.

The difference between supply-side and Keynsian demand stimulation is the roll of govt. Keynes would have the Government start a massive building program or defense expansion using the Govt to spend money. In the 30's and 40's that made sense since wealth was so limited. Supply-side stimulation would have been of limited value. People in a depression save their money in matresses. I happen to think in 1990 Keynes
would be a supply-sider. Institute a tax cut to put more money in consumers and investors hands. Cut capital gains to incent more investment.

I do not fear deficits if they are reasonable. The main criticism is they drive interest rates higher. We know from a practive perspective that's nonsense in the real world. We tend to run deficits during recessions which have a far larger effect on interest rates. If you look ata chart since 1980 of deficits and interest rates the pattern is EXACTLY the opposite as suggested by the fear mongerers.

That's not to support deficits either. They serve a purpose. They should not run forever. GWBs deficits were caused by the recession, The collapse of the asset bubble, the accounting scandal, 9/11, Iraq and the tax cuts.

I think everyone agrees our spending has gotten wildly out of control. If I were king I'd put in a spending freeze at the prior year +1% until the deficit disappears.

The interesting campaign issue that I suspect will be a major factor in 2008, if not 2006, will be the deficit as it was in 1991. I look forward to Democrats running on fiscal sanity and both parties agree to set caps.

BTW: Our recent annual deficits never approached Reagans and in 2005 were lower than France and Germany. If not for Katrina would have been substantially lower.

Consider the plight of those two. Their economies are stagnant and the voters have zero appetite for spending cuts. Their deficits have been well over maastract limits for a few years and there's little to suggest they're coming down soon. Now we have Canada, France and Germany hint at higher defense spending whle welfre stat demands are surging with a severely demogrphically unbalanced population.

France AND Germany have been talking about increasing taxes. How nuts it that?

The US will eventually lower it's deficit and actually run a few surpluses.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

The US will eventually lower it's deficit and actually run a few surpluses.

Not with a flaming liberal like Bush in the White House:

During the first five years of President Bush's presidency, nondefense discretionary spending (i.e., spending decided on an annual basis) rose 27.9 percent, far more than the 1.9 percent growth during President Clinton's first five years, according to the libertarian Reason Foundation. And according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the number of congressional "pork barrel" projects under Republican leadership during fiscal 2005 was 13,997, more than 10 times that of 1994.

[snip]

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government's budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government's main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.

Currently the federal government consumes about 20 percent of the GDP, which is another way of saying that about 20 percent of Americans' income, on average, is paid in taxes to the federal government. According to the Government Accountability Office, that is on course to rise to 30 percent by 2040. Most of that 30 percent would be redistributed as payments to other Americans, rather than spent on standard government services like law enforcement, transportation, defense, national parks, orspace exploration.

--excerpt from: The Christian Science Monitor

"Triumph of the Redistributionist Left"

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 23, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Technical point: if you want to credit managing the growth of the money supply for killing inflation, you can't honestly do it by praising Reagan, but Carter, who appointed Paul Volcker and stuck by him when he raised the prime rate to usurious levels.

AND you recognize (if you've got guts) that Carter knew damned well it would probably cost him 1980, even without the hostages, but he stuck it out anyway*.

Actually I do give Jimmy credit for this. But not as much as you. He had no choice but to appoint an inflation hawk and once appointed could not sack him. Especially since everyone knew he had to raise interest rates.


What Reagan promised in 1980 was that massive tax cuts on the supply-side "theory" would RAISE revenues by accelerating economic growth. It it did not, which is why we promptly went into a recession (1982-1983).

You are fraud. We went into the recession because Paul V demaned we do. Interest rates hit over 20%. He crushed the economy and he intended to do so. Reagan didn't take office until 1981 and didn't pass his tax cuts until 1982 and they didn't take effect until later that year. They worked beautifully which is why the theme for the '84 landslide was Morning in America.

It was only after Bob Dole brokered what was then the largest tax increase in American history that we pulled out of the nosedive and Reagan got to claim it was "morning in America".

Total nonsense. The so-called biggest tax increase didn't come close to rolling back the tax cuts.

Reagan didn't kill inflation: Volcker did. Reagan didn't nominate Volcker to the Fed, Carter did. Reagan didn't stick by Volcker when it hurt -- that was Jimmy Carter, who doesn't get credit for it: but he should, because he earned it.

Reagan deserves more credit than Jimmy because although the pain of high interest rates hurt the economy the real damage was down the road. People understood inflation had to be stopped. The political liablilty for Jimmy wasn't economic growth because it takes time for the process to work. Jimmy's economic problem was in letting inflation get so bad before doing something.

It actually annoys me that Carter doesn't get at least some credit for this. I still consider him the worst President of the last century but he did a few things right. I am further annoyed that LBJ and Nixon, spending pigs, don't get more of the blame for the inflation. Nixon ranks right there with Jimmy as pitiful.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

*This kind of self-sacrifice is an important, but unremarked bit of history for Democratic Presidents. Not only Carter, but LBJ did things that were right at great political cost: LBJ famously told Jack Valenti after he signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act that he had given the South to the Republican Party for a generation. (Turned out to be two.) I don't believe anybody can name a similarly courageous and principled Republican act since TR refusing to run in 1908.

I agree with you regarding LBJ and predict he will see the same kind of rebirth as Ike and Harry S in terms of reputation. You can't blame conservatives for his banishment. That is 100% a function of liberal angst over Vietnam.

Liberal academia trashed both Truman and Eisenhower but time and the greatly reduced influence of academia has resulted in a re-evaluation of both as top ten Presidents. What also happened to LBJ ad the Kennedy spin machine. They wanted to give him all of the credit for civil rights and that's total nonsense. JFK did little.

I totally disagree about civil rights costing Dems the south. 1968 and Roe cost the Dems the south. The southern states didn't start voting for the GOP in big numbers until the late 80's and 90's. You didn't lose GA and Texas until 2002. The Democratic party moved dramatically left in 1968 and abandoned the socially conservative, small-govt, low-tax South. Your sneering contempt didn't help.

I do think in another decade or two LBJs star will rightfully rise (well past JFK) based on his passing of both hte civil rights acts. The republicans in congress who gave him more support than his own party will shine a bit more as well.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

PALE RIDER

I largely agree with you. GWB has been a total disaster on the spending side and it will cost him down the road. He'll never reach the level of Reagan in any historical perspective because of this.

But this I disagree.


Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government's budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year.

I don't see how this favors the left. I think it's the opposite. This will crowd out other spending.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

This will crowd out other spending.

Poor rdw. Spending is never crowded out. Spending has to increase because you simply cannot stop spending on entitlements.

See, if either part ever gets serious about cutting entitlements, then you might have a point.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 23, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider.

Hard to argue with you after the last 6 or 7 years but if you remember back to the early 90's spending was 'the' issue. Slick Willie actually did a very credible job early in his administraton on the spending side and he drove that great liberal Robert Reich crazy because Robert expected big bucks to come to his cabinet but it didn't happen. He was quite pissed. later in '94 Newt enforced even more discipline and they also benefitted from the defense cut.

It's possible. It's happened before. This is the example where it's actually better to have a Democrat as President. If GWB were to cut spending he'd be taking food out of the mouth of baby's. A Democrat can do it more easily. Sort of like Nixon going to China.

BTW: Reich is as partisan as they come but he's one of my favorite libs. He represents to me what Clinton could have been. Reich is another guy with a fabulous brain, marvelous quickness and outstanding PR skills. One wonders what Clinton may have accomplished had he been 1/10 as serious as Reich.

My favored scenario of spending is to hold all non-discretonary programs to 1% growth and just watch the deficit disappear. We won't be in Iraq forever either.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, sniker-snack

You'll like this:

Heres my position on the election: Im for rebuilding what was once one of the best military organizations in the Free World, the Canadian Army. Its decline and degradation have reduced Canadas international political influence.

Quick background: I worked with 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Europe on three different major exercises in 1976 and 1977 (in West Germany). I worked with soldiers from 4th CMBG in the planning phases of two exercises and served as a liaison officer during another exercise. In REFORGER 76 the headquarters I served in (Headquarters, 1st Infantry Division Forward) became the headqaurters for a multi-national division. Our operations section controled 4th CMBG, the Germans 29th Panzer Brigade, and the US 1st Inantry Divisions 3rd Brigade. We portrayed the Russians (Orange Force in the scenario).

The Canadians launched a sneaky infantry attack on foot that preceded our armor attack. The ground attack cracked the Blue Force, sent them reeling, and blew open a hole for Canadian and US tanks.

The judges had to stop the exercise. Take a mulligan, Blue Force.

In my opinion, the Canadian brigade was the best brigade in NATO, which probably meant it was the best brigade man for man in the world.

This is from Austin Bay. That's drill was almost 30 years ago. Today NATO is an empty shell.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> Oh, what the hell, one last one:

Indeed -- since you didn't address a single point I made regarding
Iraq, Iran, the GWOT and the nature of the Islamic threat. They're
all on this thread and they all represent a cohesive picture.

You can dispute them if you like. If, that is,
you are interested in having an honest discussion.

> Bob, you shouldn't assume that folks who waste their time
> talking to you are as stupid as you are, that we're dumb
> enough to believe the things you claim we do.

You know ... I've posted on a lot of blogs and fora. I've also
been published in the NYT (speaking of, you know, gratuitously
trumpeting one's credentials in a blog debate). I've never
been attacked before for being either stupid or ignorant.

It might say more about the ego problems of the attacker.

> Hell, strive to stretch your short term memory beyond your
> attention span: as you (finally) figured out, I've spent a
> fair amount of time, done a good many interviews, and have
> written for good sized publications about Islam, for example.

What ... you think the West is going to get a fair picture of Islam
from the National Review? So has Pipes, Lewis and Huntington;
none of that means that these guys are doing anything more than
pandering to the West's shivery imago of The Islamic Threat(tm).

> You complained that I had asked: "So kindly help the
> rest of us progressives figure out how to defend against,
> rather than to "deconstruct" 'em." and replied "What do you
> have against trying to understand our putative enemies?"

> This is how intelligent people make a sensible argument: from facts.

Then why are you arguing from rhetoric? I used the term
"deconstruct," which you initially chose to snicker over (ooh,
ooh, academic leftist buzzword!) when my meaning was clear.

> See, since you know I've done a fair amount of work on the
> subj., when I scoff at "deconstruction", only an illiterate
> (my first observation of you) wouldn't know that I'm
> not objecting to knowing something about the bad guys.

Your great contribution to understanding Islamism in
this debate was to call Sayyid Qutb a "closet case."

*rolling eyes* You really do seem to have masculinity issues, bro.

> I'm pointing out that your stupidity does
> not blend well with your arrogance.

I somehow doubt I'm the egregiously arrogant one here.

> (We shall leave aside your inability to make distinctions,
> which is the primary reason you don't make sene.)

I'm reposting our last thread. This is how little sense I'm making:

Americanist:

> In the spirit of charity (and cuz I may make a similar
> error at any time), I will pass over your confusion
> of 'bated breath' with ... God knows.

I had actually never seen the expression written. I wouldn't
know what "bated" means out of that context. Okay, I suppose
it's an archaic elision of abated, come to think of it. The
root is at least congruent with the sense in that expression.

Of course, that might be a folk etymology, but ...

> The point is that either we are, or are not, at war with
> Islam itself. If we ARE, that's damned important to know.

Oh please. The only people who truly have occasion to wonder
whether we're at war with 2 billion people are the kind of folks who
like to curl up at night with Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes and Samuel
Huntington for some good shudders. That "clash of civilizations"
jazz is strictly a preocupation of the cultural right.

> If we are NOT (as I think we're not), it's important to be
> able to say what is the Islam with which we are not at war.
> (Bush can't do this, God know why: I'd argue for making
> Jamil Diab a household name throughout the Middle East.)

Helpful hint: We're not at war with an ideology. We're at
war with a tiny thanatophilic criminal cult. While guys like
Ramadan might be useful for Muslims struggling with issues
of assimilation, only a very few turn to nihilistic violence.
You need to look beyond docrine to understand why they do.

Islamic doctrine doesn't adequately illuminate the psychology
of Mohammad Atta. Why do hundreds of thousands -- millions --
of Muslim men hear the same sermons and don't turn to violence?

> Ramadan's notion of the "House of Witness" is a stark departure
> from the 'us vs. them' ideology that is typical of much of Islam,
> and ALL the Muslim bad guys. So that's useful right there.

Except that there's something sort of grotesquely arrogant about
making a fetish of this guy because we in the West like what he says.
He's just one Islamic scholar -- but it's Muslims who are going to
turn this guy into a broad-based voice for their religion, not us.

WE have really nothing to say about THEIR religion.

We can encourage him, of course. Calling him a "terrorist
sympathizer" and revoking his visas is boneheaded
idiocy, naturally. But Muslims aren't going to follow
this guy's teachings just because *we* like them.

> Guys like al-Qutb were reactionaries (and I would argue,
> closet cases): recognizing that Islam's future is DIFFERENT
> is the key to working something out with Iran, etc.

Al Qutb was influenced by Sartre and Fanon and some of the other
touchstones of the 60s radical left. Transcending alienation
through the moment of revolutionary action is a big part of his
doctrine -- as well as reviving the odious idea of tikfir -- the
righteous killing of Muslims and destabilizing of Muslim regimes.

> But of course, Bob would rather preen that actually engage.

Anything you say, bro.

> One thing progressives -- like Bob -- oughta get
> over is the compulsion to signify to people all
> the time (to use an old African-Americanism).

Something about cooking utensils and dense pigment comes to mind.

> How we got into Iraq is now a secondary, if not a
> tertiary story: how we get OUT is the important one.

No, it's not. It was an egregious abuse of power that has stained
Bush permanently regardless of the outcome in Iraq. To expect the
left to "get over it" is both unrealistic in practical terms and
immoral. The Fitzgerald investigation is still ongoing, there
are still hearings pending on how the intelligence got twisted.

> And winning is better than losing.

The Iraqis will never win until we let go of the idea that we can win.

The logic of democracy and self-determination may well force an
outcome in Iraq that will be worse than Saddam. If we don't know
how to walk away from that and let the Iraqis iron it out, then we
would have learned nothing from the past 60 years of insurgencies.

> Al-Qaeda and Iran are genuine threats to US, here, in this
> country (the former more than the latter, so far, thank God.)

Al Qaeda is a threat, but it needs to be properly evaluated. It is
best keeping it out of the heated rhetoric of an election campaign,
although that's too much to expect of Rove, obviously. But dealing
with it should be a clearheaded, bipartisan effort. Heh, fat chance.

Your view of an Iranian threat is vastly overstated. The key to
understanding Iran is to realize first how deeply conservative
and self-preservationist the power structure is, and secondly the
inevitable demographic ascendancy of the generation who grew up
after the Revolution and are deeply disenchanted with it. The new
president's tendency to flirt with fire-breathing rhetoric (and
apocalyptic Shi'ite eschatology) is kept in check by the Guardian
Council. To think that Iran plans to nuke Israel or give nukes to
Hezbollah is paranoia. What we need to do is play a waiting game
for a decade or so until the new generation comes into power.

Then we'll see some changes that will be truly startling.
Iran is destined to become the most socially progressive
country in the Mideast. We destabilize it at our peril.

> So kindly help the rest of us progressives figure out
> how to defend against, rather than to "deconstruct" 'em.

What do you have against trying to understand our putative enemies?

> Fair enough?

My position on defending American from al Qaeda is clear:

It is an international law enforcement problem. You need good
relations with the countries in the region to prosecute it.

On this point, John Kerry and I are in total agreement.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I totally disagree about civil rights costing Dems the south..."

Disagree all you want, but all by his lonesome Trent Lott refutes you. He got his start in politics working for a segregationist Democrat, then when he ran for office himself, he changed parties to run as a Republican. Observe how typical Lott's career and politics are of the "New South", and Nixon's Southern Strategy looks like the political genius counterpunch it was.

On your odd view of economics: it was the markets (short term bond, stock), reacting to Reagan's tax cuts, which triggered the recession in 1982-1983. Volcker wasn't RAISING interest rates at the time, he was lowering 'em, so it's inaccurate (if not dishonest) to claim that it was the Fed that forced the Reagan recession.

Besides, Stockman gave the game away when he said at the time that'supply side' theorizing was a Trojan Horse: nobody serious seriously believed that it would increase revenues. The purpose was to explode the deficit to force cuts in social spending, while bringing down top rates on income -- don't take my word, this was Reagan's budget chief, surely the most authoritive available primary source. (And also the one easiest to check. Look at testimony from Donald Regan, et. al, from the time and you'll find magic asterisks everywhere, all approved and most authored by OMB, in Reagan's name.)

Professionals -- folks who actually meet payrolls and make money in the free market, as opposed to theorist knuckleheads like Jude Wanninski -- realized as soon as the Reagan tax cuts passed that the economy would dive, so they all shorted. THAT is what caused the Reagan recession -- and that's why Dole recognized economic reality within the political facts of life, and he raised every tax he could find without doing the most obvious fix, because of course "Kemp-Roth-Reagan" was off the table.

But don't kid yourself that supply-side WORKED on its own economic terms -- the only person even attempting that argument anymore is Steve Moore: 'nuff said.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

Stockman's book The Triumph of Politics outlines this history. It was the first ascendency of, in Grover Norquist's immortal phrase, "starve the beast."

And Reagan himself was too soft-hearted to follow out the logic and push for cuts in middle-class entitlements.

Although I'm curious as to why you say Volcker didn't raise interest rates to beat off stagflation. In 1980, I remember the prime at 21%; nobody denied at the time that this was the monetarist Volcker imposing discipline on a price spiral.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- Bob, you really are a fool. Just for fun, I'll see your odd ad hominem about me:

"Your great contribution to understanding Islamism in this debate was to call Sayyid Qutb a "closet case."

*rolling eyes* You really do seem to have masculinity issues, bro."

And raise you Farag Foda, the Egyptian journalist*. DO check back when you've found out who he was, and why al Qutb's distinctly likely issues are relevant to the rise of Muslim terrorism. Hell, for extra insight, try Bob Wright's book "The Moral Animal".

LOL -- and if you don't want folks to recognize your ignorance, heed Mark Twain: "It is better to keep one's mouth closed and appear stupid, than to open it and remove doubt."


*to spare others the trouble, Foda was a writer in Egypt, a powerful advocate of the separation of church and state who pointed out that most Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt were actually stunningly ignorant of Islam itself. Foda was a devastating satirist, and had considerable visibility attacking the rise of "Islamofascists", as the phrase goes.

But then one day, pretty much pushed beyond endurance over some misogynist nonsense these guys were pushing, Foda noted -- by name -- all of the leaders of radical Islam in Egypt, and pointed out that in their tirades against the decadent West, they had all bragged that they would never, ever, commit any of the easy sensuality typical of the infidel. Foda went on to note that, like their intellectual mentor al Qutb (who famously witnessed a dance at GWU, and was scandalized forever) these guys were all never-married men in their 30s, who -- presumably -- never having had sex with women, had either only had sex with other men, or never had sex at all.

He was murdered in his driveway the next morning. Most observers of radical Islam mark his assassination as a watershed.

But not ol' Bob, who never heard of the guy.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

Thank you for helping to make my overall point. Now please explain to us how this kind of twisted personal psychology (and Mohammed Atta is another case study in it) has to do with Islamic doctrine, and as an important corrolary -- how a progressive scholar like Ramadan can have any effect in the thinking of guys who are off the Islamic map doctrine-wise to begin with?

I only thwacked you for that comment as an amply justifed tit-for-tat. Your masculinity issues hardly rest on that one point; they're illustrated by the comically arrogant way you attempt to browbeat and "pull rank" with your publishing credentials.

Smug appeals to authority are always suspect in these kinds of debates.

Why just ask cmdicely about Nathan, the hyper-pedantic lawyer :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

Oh and a find point. People debate these kind of issues for many reasons, but one of the most important is to share knowledge. This presumes, obviously, that some people are more informed in certain specifics than other people. There's no sin in this, and the more-informed person's task then is to share that knowledge.

When somebody comes across with broad conclusions on a subject and you doubt they have the facts to support it, your object then is to challenge them by presenting the missing (hopefully correct) set of facts. Only if that person clings obstinately to their original presuppositions do you get to honestly call them ignorant or lacking in the brainpower to assimilate the information.

Nothing you sketched out about the Muslim Brotherhood and Qutb was a mystery to me. I am no expert, but I've been reading sources primary and secondary on the Mideast and Islam since before the invasion.

Smug mockery just isn't going to cut it here. When your opponent is obviously attempting to debate and discuss with you in good faith, the only credibility attacking them undercuts is yours.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

find = final

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- nonsense. I called you on saying dumb stuff stupidly. Ya wanna debate, say intelligent stuff, or at least, carry your dumbassitude with more intellectual brio.

Kevin started the thread on the more or less obvious point that most Americans won't trust Democrats to protect the country. I noted that Bob's attitude is a primary reason -- Adlai Stevenson and all that.

So consider it the Bob Rule: the first guy to refer to "deconstruction" in a debate about national security, is the loser.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

A literacy lesson: I wrote "Reagan didn't kill inflation: Volcker did."

Bob wrote: "Although I'm curious as to why you say Volcker didn't raise interest rates to beat off stagflation."

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

On your odd view of economics: it was the markets (short term bond, stock), reacting to Reagan's tax cuts, which triggered the recession in 1982-1983. Volcker wasn't RAISING interest rates at the time, he was lowering 'em, so it's inaccurate (if not dishonest) to claim that it was the Fed that forced the Reagan recession.

bob, you are out of your element here.

1st off the recession started in March of 1981. That's 6 weeks after Reagan took office. It was Carter's recession. Reagan didn't have a change to implement any economic changes let alone the time for them to effect the economy.

2nd Volckner after being appointed 8/79 started to raise interest rates from just under 11% to 17.5% 4/80. Then is was lowered rapidly to 9.5% by 8/80. This did not lower inflation however. So Paul raised interest rates to 19% by 7/81. By then the economy had been in recession for 4 months. Fed Funds remained above 10% until 10/82, just after the recession ended.

Volckner killed economic growth intentionally in order to break the back of inflation. There is no dispute on this.

Marginal Rate tax cuts ALWAYS stimulate economic growth.

The debate in economic circles about supply-side economics is over. Supply-side rules. The great Maynard Keynes remains a revered figure but time has passed him by. That's why you never hear of Keynsian economic anymore unless it's a historical reference. Since Reagan no Presidential candidate has ever run on increasing taxes to fund higher Govt spending and you will never again here of it. Keynsian economics is a dead religion.

Take a look at those countries converting to capitalism and see what kind of tax regime gets adapted. It's a supreme irony the flat tax proposal of Malcolm Forbes is used in Russia before it's used here. A number of their former countries have adapted flat taxes as well and it's working very effectively.

There is clear correlation between low marginal tax rates and economic growth. High Tax states in the developed world are ALL slow growers.

Reagan has a number of great achievements which explain his top ten ranking. Right at the top is his superb management of the economy. He defeated stagflation almost single-handedly and set the USA off on it's best growth ever. We've essentially had a 25-yr boom. That was not only a great economic acheivement it was a great legislative achievment. He was revolutionary.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bob wrote: "Although I'm curious as to why you say Volcker didn't raise interest rates to beat off stagflation."


Stagflation was 3 problems. It was high inflation, low growth and high unemployment (due to the slow growth - a stagnant economy).

At the time Keynsian economic theory was based on hte phillips curve which postulated a trade off between inflation and unemloyment. What low inflation? Keep interest rates high for a slow economy and slow demand. Want low unemployment. Keep interest rates low for high economic growth and high job creation to get to low unemployment.

Stagflation wasn't supposed to happen. The economy was never expected to suffer high inflation and high unemployment at the same time.

The debate in the last 70's was, "which is more critical and then which do we solve 1st"? Reagan had a different idea. He agreed with moneterists and others that high demand did not cause inflation but rather poor monetary policy. He wanted a restrictive monetary police to bring down inflation and an easy fiscal policy, based on supply-side tax cuts, to stimulate growth.

It worked brilliantly. He cut inflation and unemployment by more than half and restored american economic power. Jimmy malaise was over. So was the Phillips curve and Keynsian economics as a planning tool.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Reagan didn't kill inflation: Volcker did."

Paul deserves much of the credit but both Carter and Reagan deserve more. The Fed chair serves at the pleasure of the President. There would have been a political cost to fire him but neither Jimmy or Ronald ever interfered. It's also true there wasn't any rocket science here. Paul did what the entire world was suggesting. The real pain here was the political risk each President had to endure. Paul didn't have any of that.

Also note that Paul didn't raise interest rates to slow the eocnomy per se. He raised them to slow money supply growth. Reagan replaced Paul with Alan in '87 and Alan keeps the same policies. Money supply growth has become too difficult to measure so Greenspan looks at a multitide of inflation date to monitor and price pressures and then adjusts Fed Funds accordingly.

One of Jimmy's legacies is stagflation.

One of Ronnie's legacies is ending stagflation.

Posted by: rdw on January 23, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> LOL -- nonsense.

Put down the jar of Vaseline. It's much
more efficient to type with both hands.

> I called you on saying dumb stuff stupidly.

You called me on *nothing*, bro.

> Ya wanna debate, say intelligent stuff, or at least,
> carry your dumbassitude with more intellectual brio.

All scrotum, no testicle. This is the rhetorical
equivalent of waving an empty sac in my face.

> Kevin started the thread on the more or less obvious
> point that most Americans won't trust Democrats to
> protect the country. I noted that Bob's attitude
> is a primary reason -- Adlai Stevenson and all that.

Dude, you view of Islam is a fucking *joke*, ok? Precisely the
sort of comforting words that would sell in the Natioal Review
because it's what Westerners *want* to hear. You say precisely
nothing of value about what it is that turns these guys into
fanatics to begin with. What are we going to do -- mount a
persecution campaign against unmarried sexually frustrated middle-
aged Muslim males? This relates to Islamic doctrine *how*?

You tell cute anecdotes that are politically and culturally
meaningless, but which reinforce your self-image as a
knowing (and, ahem, sexually savvy) Westerner. PJ O'Rourke
offers more insight into foreign cultures than you do.

And if your view is right -- that radical Islam
is the product of warped personal psychologies
-- then Islam itself has little to do with it.

You have not offered one tiny shred of an argument that would offer an
alterative worldview to the Bush/Rove demonize-the-terrorists agenda.

Of course, to understand one's enemies makes demonization that
much harder, which might help explain why you're so resistant
to finding an explanation that locates radical Muslims in a
matrix of causal factors. Much easier to simply call them 1)
ideological fanatics and/or 2) sexually frustrated closet cases.

There are plenty of journalists out there who write perceptively
about Islam and Muslims, bro. You don't appear to be one of them.

And you have offered no explanation as to why this tactic
failed so miserably when John Kerry tried precisely that.

This is the *fourth* time now I've confronted you with this.

> So consider it the Bob Rule: the first guy
> to refer to "deconstruction" in a debate
> about national security, is the loser.

And what "alternative" have *you* offered? You want to "DEFEAT
them." That's nice. Really? How? ... [crickets chirping]

It's a law enforcement issue, dingbat. Refute that or STFU.

> A literacy lesson: I wrote "Reagan
> didn't kill inflation: Volcker did."

> Bob wrote: "Although I'm curious as to why you say Volcker didn't
> raise interest rates to beat off stagflation."

This is the graph that provoked that comment, directly above:

> On your odd view of economics: it was the markets (short term bond,
> stock), reacting to Reagan's tax cuts, which triggered the recession
> in 1982-1983. Volcker wasn't RAISING interest rates at the time, he
> was lowering 'em, so it's inaccurate (if not dishonest) to claim that
> it was the Fed that forced the Reagan recession.

Seems to me that sky-high interests rates just prior to the
recession would have had an effect, but I'm no economist.

I noticed your earlier quote when
I went back and looked at the thread.

Sorry for not sharing in the narcissism
you revel in regarding your own words.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 23, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

"finding an explanation that locates radical Muslims in a matrix of causal factors..."

And folks wonder why the nation doesn't LEAP to demand that progressives take over our national defense.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> "finding an explanation that locates radical
> Muslims in a matrix of causal factors..."

> And folks wonder why the nation doesn't LEAP to demand
> that progressives take over our national defense.

Why would we want to LEAP at anything? National defense is a
serious topic, more worthy of a bipartisan consensus than any
other aspect of governing. If attempting to file down the GWOT's
demagogic edge is unattractive to you, I suggest to you go play
with the Republicans. We're not interested in your approach.

And yes, I speak for the vast majority of progressives. We saw
Kerry's prosecutorial "hunt them down and kill them" approach get
slaughtered by Republicans who are simply more adept at that game.

You want to start a reverse bidding war, you want to play strip
poker with the other party for brain cells instead of articles of
clothing, go talk to Dick Morris, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton.

I plead shamelessly, pridefully guilty for wanting to understand our
enemies as they understand themselves. I absolutely crave to know
just what switch was flipped in the head, why the vast amount of
young Muslim men growing up in working-class British neighborhoods
go on to trade school or university while a half-dozen snap and bomb
the Underground. I want to know just what exact combination of life
circumstance, environment and doctrine pushes Muslims over the edge
to violent jihad. I'm sick of the neocon/neolib CW that says it's
primarily a matter of a bad environment -- as if improving material
conditions removes the reason to rebel against the West. I'm wary
of the facile comparisons to Communism or Fascism, because these are
materialist ideologies, and religious ideologies answer an entirely
different need. I think examining al Qutb is helpful, because I
do think that alienation is a factor that unites uneducated Gazan
suicide bombers with the holder of an advanced degree like Atta. And
I *do* think that neuroses compelled by Islamic sexual repression is
a contributing factor. I'd like to know the mix in these elements.

I'd also like to know just what kind of a game Osama thinks he's
playing with his recent tape. Is he naive enough to think that his
encouragement of the leftist agenda will find supporters among the
voting public? Or is he a cynical manipulator who is trying to
drive America into the arms of the GOP because the more Bush stumbles
around in the Mideast, the more support grows for his movement?

What I *don't* want to do is to conflate the "Islamic threat" into
some kind of reified abstraction. The Iranian clerical aristocracy
is an entirely different animal than the Salafist Sunni freelancers
who find a home in al Qaeda. The terrorist threat to Israel is not
the same thing as the terrorist threat to the West. I'd like to
tease these apart -- you'd like to lump them together. As George
Bush said during the first debate "Well ... they attacked us."

If that's the level of analysis you're content with, fine. Just
don't try to pretend that because you've published a few interviews
that you offer some kind of helpful understanding of the situation.

It's the easiest thing in the world for Westerners to say that
Islam is in need of a Reformation. It may be that Islam's path of
development leads the opposite way, and countries that have tried
Islamic theocracy (much like Calvinism tried its theocracies) are the
first ones to come out the other side into progressive liberalism.

What is true is that the West can only influence by prodding -- and
that our prodding might serve to impede rather than foster progress.
When Clinton was in the WH, the radical right in this country had a
resurgence. When the GOP House and then Bush came into power and the
conservatives felt less hard pressed, they were able to talk sense
into Operation Rescue and the militia whackos. It may well be that
the sabre-rattling Bush is doing in the name of democracy is having
the inverse effect, pushing the moderates into solidarity with the
whackos, delaying the day when the moderates take them to task.

I don't know if I'm right or not. What I *do* know is that the
Democrats need an alternative vision on foreign policy, not "me, too"
positions the Republicans can (rightfully) attack as pale echos.

If pale echos are more your thing, I'm sure you can find a more
amenable venue for expressing them than on a progressive blog.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

"I speak for the vast majority of progressives..."

Won a lot of elections, have you?

As opposed to, say, "Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton", who have won a few.

LOL -- if you really must seek to impress folks with your brilliance, Bob, you may find it does help to use words properly: using a term like "reified abstraction" indicates you don't actually know what "reification" means.

(For those who don't have good dictionaries -- which, sadly, is most folks -- "reification" means to treat an abstraction like an object, e.g., 'he took his courage in both hands'. It's popular amongst unreconstructed Marxists and academics who confuse verbiage with thinking when they use it as a synonym for alienation.)

And here is a f'r instance of Bob's brilliance:

"It may be that ... countries that have tried
Islamic theocracy ... [will be] the first ones to come out the other side into progressive liberalism...."

It would be hard to come up with a more hallucinatory sentence, don't ya think?

Let's pick a few actual examples (the curse of reification: reality!: Afghanistan under The Students (derailed by the distinctly unreified U.S. military), the Sudan under Hassan al-Turabi (does the word genocide ring a bell, Bob?), Saudi Arabia (the only family business represented at the UN), or -- just for fun, Bob -- what do you know about Yemen, the only Muslim majority state never colonized?

How does the experience of all these ACTUAL countries with your odd notion of "Islamic theocracies" square with your peculiar reification that such "might" lead to "progressive liberalism"?

You're like Jeanne Kirkpatrick's evil twin, only dumber.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 24, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> "I speak for the vast majority of progressives..."

> Won a lot of elections, have you?

No, progressives have not won a lot of national elections.

Which is, you know, fine by me. I already admitted that I'm okay
with doing the post-Goldwater thing for a few more cycles until
the Democrats align themselves thoroughly with truth-telling.

I'm not interested in ways to out-Rove Rove on foreign policy.
Kerry tried that (for the *fifth* time) and he got clobbered.

You have a problem with that, perhaps you should take
it to a diffeent blog. Most people here not only agree
with me, but are a bit further to the left than I am.

> As opposed to, say, "Joe Lieberman and
> Hillary Clinton", who have won a few.

Neither of whom anyone on this blog would call progressives, though
I'm not hardcore enough to doubt that either of them are good
Democrats. Many people on this blog, however, would and have.

> LOL -- if you really must seek to
> impress folks with your brilliance, Bob,

I'm interested in attempting to have a debate in good faith
with a person of knowledge who disagrees with me. And I'm
being met with the attitude and demeanor of a snickering troll.

> you may find it does help to use words properly:
> using a term like "reified abstraction" indicates
> you don't actually know what "reification" means.

Right. Zero engagement in my argument but *plenty* of
trivial and meaningless nitpicking over terminology. Like
the way your eyeballs lit up like a pinball machine when I
used the term "deconstruct," even though I wasn't remotely
invoking Deconstructionism. Ooh ooh, leftist buzzwords!

All the debate savvy of a keyword search routine.

> (For those who don't have good dictionaries
> -- which, sadly, is most folks --

You really *do* have a rather grotesque
superiority complex, don't you.

> "reification" means to treat an abstraction like an
> object, e.g., 'he took his courage in both hands'.

No it doesn't, you snickering pseudo-intellectual imbecile. That's
a garden-variety metaphor. To reify something means, literally, to
turn it to stone. A reified concept is something which has become
so concretized that it no longer submits to analysis -- which
is precisely what you do by wanting to "defeat" the "bad guys."
What do you mean precisely by "defeat"? Who are "the bad guys"?

You have yet to answer those questions. You would rather the
questions remain unanswered -- you think it's easier politically.

> It's popular amongst unreconstructed Marxists
> and academics who confuse verbiage with thinking
> when they use it as a synonym for alienation.)

Weren't you ragging on me the other day for "signifiying?"
I've known and worked with my share of unreconstructed Marxists,
but none who have used reification as a synonym for alienation;
the concepts have nothing to do with each other. You really do
appear to have rather comic-book ideas of the academic left.

"The Global War on Terrorism" is a textbook reification.
Everything it implies is squashed together in a single
frightening abstraction. The component ideas need very much
to be teased apart and examined for what they are. Which is,
ironically enough, what I meant the other day by deconstructed.

> And here is a f'r instance of Bob's brilliance:

> "It may be that ... countries that have tried
> Islamic theocracy ... [will be] the first ones to come
> out the other side into progressive liberalism...."

> It would be hard to come up with a more
> hallucinatory sentence, don't ya think?

Helpful hint: Playing to the peanut gallery is a non-starter. No
one who's watching this debate save for the trolls agrees with you.

That's not my idea; I got it from a long and
fascinating piece by a British journalist about
Iran that was linked here about three weeks ago.

> Let's pick a few actual examples (the curse of reification: reality!:

> Afghanistan under The Students

Taliban Afghanistan hardly qualified as a theocracy; more like
an anarchy. Thugs are thugs; whether they're ripping people off,
blowing up ancient statuary or kneecapping women in soccer stadia
is MOL incidental. Waziristan is in pretty much the same state
atm and you wouldn't exactly call Pakistan a theocracy.

> (derailed by the distinctly unreified U.S. military),

"The US Military" can be quite easily used as a reified
all-purpose response in arguments, usually by winger
trolls but also by the occasional militaristic Democrat.

> the Sudan under Hassan al-Turabi (does
> the word genocide ring a bell, Bob?),

Does the Sudan pretend to be a theocracy? I thought that conflict
was more ethnic (northern Muslim Arabs vs southern black animists
and Christians) than religious, though doubtless layered over with
a patina of religious justification. Never heard anything about
a Sudanese theocracy, though. Truthfully, I haven't been paying
as much attention to the Sudan as I probably should. Genocide
is fucking depressing and the world's inaction quadruply so.

> Saudi Arabia (the only family
> business represented at the UN),

Saudi Arabia is a bifurcated society with a civil administration
by Wahabi clerics for the non-royal majority and a host of
exemptions (starting with their non-Sunnah headdress) for the
princes. Their lack of Islamic purity (and wealthy westernized
decadence) is a large part of Osama's fury at his home country.

> or -- just for fun, Bob -- what do you know about
> Yemen, the only Muslim majority state never colonized?

Aside from the fact that they chew a lot of qat, not much, truthfully.

> How does the experience of all these ACTUAL countries with your
> odd notion of "Islamic theocracies" square with your peculiar
> reification that such "might" lead to "progressive liberalism"?

It's not a reification, first of all. I wasn't cramming a whole host
of concepts into a single signifier. I was referring specifically
to Iran, and I think this might hold for countries with a long
history of civilization -- or it might just hold true for Iran. In
any case, unlike Saudi Arabia, the Revolution generation currently
in power is getting older and the large baby boom cohort born
during and after the Iran/Iraq war has an entirely different view.

It may well be that Iran will wean itself off of Islamism
naturally. This is why I view sabre-rattling against them as
being counterproductive. Iranians are proud people; why unite
them behind a government that most people under 30 despise?

> You're like Jeanne Kirkpatrick's evil twin, only dumber.

You might try actually engaging my ideas.

Or you might continue trolling.

Your call, bro.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 343dfd on January 24, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> "I speak for the vast majority of progressives..."

> Won a lot of elections, have you?

No, progressives have not won a lot of national elections.

Which is, you know, fine by me. I already admitted that I'm okay
with doing the post-Goldwater thing for a few more cycles until
the Democrats align themselves thoroughly with truth-telling.

I'm not interested in ways to out-Rove Rove on foreign policy.
Kerry tried that (for the *fifth* time) and he got clobbered.

You have a problem with that, perhaps you should take
it to a diffeent blog. Most people here not only agree
with me, but are a bit further to the left than I am.

> As opposed to, say, "Joe Lieberman and
> Hillary Clinton", who have won a few.

Neither of whom anyone on this blog would call progressives, though
I'm not hardcore enough to doubt that either of them are good
Democrats. Many people on this blog, however, would and have.

> LOL -- if you really must seek to
> impress folks with your brilliance, Bob,

I'm interested in attempting to have a debate in good faith
with a person of knowledge who disagrees with me. And I'm
being met with the attitude and demeanor of a snickering troll.

> you may find it does help to use words properly:
> using a term like "reified abstraction" indicates
> you don't actually know what "reification" means.

Right. Zero engagement in my argument but *plenty* of
trivial and meaningless nitpicking over terminology. Like
the way your eyeballs lit up like a pinball machine when I
used the term "deconstruct," even though I wasn't remotely
invoking Deconstructionism. Ooh ooh, leftist buzzwords!

All the debate savvy of a keyword search routine.

> (For those who don't have good dictionaries
> -- which, sadly, is most folks --

You really *do* have a rather grotesque
superiority complex, don't you.

> "reification" means to treat an abstraction like an
> object, e.g., 'he took his courage in both hands'.

No it doesn't, you snickering pseudo-intellectual imbecile. That's
a garden-variety metaphor. To reify something means, literally, to
turn it to stone. A reified concept is something which has become
so concretized that it no longer submits to analysis -- which
is precisely what you do by wanting to "defeat" the "bad guys."
What do you mean precisely by "defeat"? Who are "the bad guys"?

You have yet to answer those questions. You would rather the
questions remain unanswered -- you think it's easier politically.

> It's popular amongst unreconstructed Marxists
> and academics who confuse verbiage with thinking
> when they use it as a synonym for alienation.)

Weren't you ragging on me the other day for "signifiying?"
I've known and worked with my share of unreconstructed Marxists,
but none who have used reification as a synonym for alienation;
the concepts have nothing to do with each other. You really do
appear to have rather comic-book ideas of the academic left.

"The Global War on Terrorism" is a textbook reification.
Everything it implies is squashed together in a single
frightening abstraction. The component ideas need very much
to be teased apart and examined for what they are. Which is,
ironically enough, what I meant the other day by deconstructed.

> And here is a f'r instance of Bob's brilliance:

> "It may be that ... countries that have tried
> Islamic theocracy ... [will be] the first ones to come
> out the other side into progressive liberalism...."

> It would be hard to come up with a more
> hallucinatory sentence, don't ya think?

Helpful hint: Playing to the peanut gallery is a non-starter. No
one who's watching this debate save for the trolls agrees with you.

That's not my idea; I got it from a long and
fascinating piece by a British journalist about
Iran that was linked here about three weeks ago.

> Let's pick a few actual examples
> (the curse of reification: reality!:

> Afghanistan under The Students

Taliban Afghanistan hardly qualified as a theocracy; more like
an anarchy. Thugs are thugs; whether they're ripping people off,
blowing up ancient statuary or kneecapping women in soccer stadia
is MOL incidental. Waziristan is in pretty much the same state
atm and you wouldn't exactly call Pakistan a theocracy.

> (derailed by the distinctly unreified U.S. military),

"The US Military" can be quite easily used as a reified
all-purpose response in arguments, usually by winger
trolls but also by the occasional militaristic Democrat.

> the Sudan under Hassan al-Turabi (does
> the word genocide ring a bell, Bob?),

Does the Sudan pretend to be a theocracy? I thought that conflict
was more ethnic (northern Muslim Arabs vs southern black animists
and Christians) than religious, though doubtless layered over with
a patina of religious justification. Never heard anything about
a Sudanese theocracy, though. Truthfully, I haven't been paying
as much attention to the Sudan as I probably should. Genocide
is fucking depressing and the world's inaction quadruply so.

> Saudi Arabia (the only family
> business represented at the UN),

Saudi Arabia is a bifurcated society with a civil administration
by Wahabi clerics for the non-royal majority and a host of
exemptions (starting with their non-Sunnah headdress) for the
princes. Their lack of Islamic purity (and wealthy westernized
decadence) is a large part of Osama's fury at his home country.

> or -- just for fun, Bob -- what do you know about
> Yemen, the only Muslim majority state never colonized?

Aside from the fact that they chew a lot of qat, not much, truthfully.

> How does the experience of all these ACTUAL countries with your
> odd notion of "Islamic theocracies" square with your peculiar
> reification that such "might" lead to "progressive liberalism"?

It's not a reification, first of all. I wasn't cramming a whole host
of concepts into a single signifier. I was referring specifically
to Iran, and I think this might hold for countries with a long
history of civilization -- or it might just hold true for Iran. In
any case, unlike Saudi Arabia, the Revolution generation currently
in power is getting older and the large baby boom cohort born
during and after the Iran/Iraq war has an entirely different view.

It may well be that Iran will wean itself off of Islamism
naturally. This is why I view sabre-rattling against them as
being counterproductive. Iranians are proud people; why unite
them behind a government that most people under 30 despise?

> You're like Jeanne Kirkpatrick's evil twin, only dumber.

You might try actually engaging my ideas.

Or you might continue trolling.

Your call, bro.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 4:56 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> "reification" means to treat an abstraction like an
> object, e.g., 'he took his courage in both hands'.

You know, it occurs to me that this might be true, but if so
it's true in a completely trivial and unused sense. I was an
English major at one time (before being chased into American
Studies by the Deconstructionists) and nobody called the simple
metaphorical concretization of abstractions reification.

A reification is a complex concept that's
been conflated into a simplistic buzz phrase.

"The Islamic threat" is another good one.

Perhaps you'd like to try to, umm, unpack it for us.

Nahhh ... :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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