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Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ADVICE FROM THE OPPOSITION....A campaign manifesto for the Democratic Party:

These guys are corrupt and incompetent. They have screwed up the Iraq war, turned FEMA into a joke and landed the next generation with a mountain of debt. We're for making the homeland safer, winning back our allies, and taking on the Iranian dictatorship. We're for energy independence, universal healthcare and balancing the budget again.

Um, yeah, sounds good to me. So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

Kevin Drum 1:07 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (94)

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I love Andrew Sullivan [come on, you know what I mean], I read him regularly, and propose that we nominate him for Honorary Democrat status.

Doubt he'll accept, but what the hey...

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Um, yeah, sounds good to me. So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

They are saying it, Kevin. Just veeeerrry quietly.

Posted by: Irony Man on February 8, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

let's see: this is the very same andrew sullivan who accused any of us who didn't think that george bush mutated into some combination of washington, lincoln, and churchill on 9/11 as being a "fifth column," is it not? very, very loudly.

like a large number of other right-wingers with giant microphones.

i get that andrew woke up one day and discovered that he was associating with thugs who hated him because he was gay, and that's made him think twice, and i certainly favor a more aggressive democratic party, too.

but there is a very well-oiled, practiced, smear machine on the right. It coordinates fantastically with the white house. i can see why democrats get gunshy.

i don't approve of it, but i can understand it. and sadly, until the media wakes up from its "politicians disagree on shape of the earth," i think most dems are going to remain gunshy.

what made bill clinton such an exceptional democrat was that he had iron in his belly: he knew the opposition were thugs, and he wasn't going to let the thugs beat him down.

but you only get one clinton per generation: the one we had in the '60s, bobby kennedy, was murdered for his troubles.

still, when you are up against the most fundamentally dishonest presidential adminstration in modern history (at a minimum), supported by a noise machine that is very skilled at propaganda, the climb is quite uphill.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

They should hire Rev. Lowery both for his gentle eloquence as well as the big cajones as the spokesperson for the Democratic Party.

Posted by: lib on February 8, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Howard ...
Heh, northpark comes true!
Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Lucifer on February 8, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

I think this Ward Sutton cartoon sums it up quite well:

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0605,sutton,71959,9.html

http://images.villagevoice.com/issues/0605/sutton-big.jpg

Posted by: Robert on February 8, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

I never will understand why Democrats haven't been playing the utter incompetence card loudly and consistently. That should be first thing they bring up in the morning and the last thing they talk about at night. What is nice about the argument is that is has the added benefit of being 100% true. You don't need to say Bush lied, or Bush is evil, or that we went to war for oil. Just say that whatever the Bushies touch, be it Iraq, FEMA, prescription drug coverage, you name it, they totally F*** it up BIG TIME. The people do believe the Dems are better on all of the domestic issues, so if you get the incompetence meme going, you might even get them to believe the Dems are better on defense issues.

Posted by: Jim on February 8, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

This is just a poor attempt to distract from the meat and potatoes themes that will really work.

Spying/Lying and Corruption. The repubs would like nothing more than for use to get distracted in the policy and idealism meme cloud, so they can crawl out of the spotlight and regroup.

Sullivan as smart as he is is worthless for dem strategy. No repub EVER give free advice to the oppposition.

BTW what's with the Andy luv fest recently? He's at Time who gives shit? Huffington Post/Talking Points is a much better model of group blogging than what traditional media is doing. And value of bloggers is based on their mavenness not on their brand. Andy while pleasant is no maven. At least in the areas he writes about. He is a maven at working the modern jouralism game and finding a nice spot to perch from.

He'd make more money as a consultant/agent to the up and comers than as talent.

Posted by: patience on February 8, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

The village voice cartoon linked above is right on.


Democrats have perfected the art of morphing assured victories into spectaular defeats.

Posted by: lib on February 8, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

If they did say it, how would anyone hear it?

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on February 8, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

'cos you aren't really for taking on the Iranian dictatorship.

And I'm not even sure you are for winning back allies given Dem criticism of working with the Europeans of Iran

And universal healthcare + balancing the budget = tax raising

Posted by: McA on February 8, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well actually a bunch of Democrats say these things as individuals. The Republicans respond in unison and en masse and the Democrats as a whole waffle while some consultant from the DLC whispers in their ear, "Don't get involved, let someone else take a risk."
The Democrat Leadership is scared of losing, they throw a couple of chips in the pot and when they get raised, they fold. To use a old poker quote. "Faint heart never won fair lady."

Posted by: raptor on February 8, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Well, for one, Iran is not a dictatorship. It's a hybrid parliamentary
oligarchy.

One the main questions that Democrats have to ask themselves is just
how much we're willing to play into the shivery (and often misleading
when not out-and-out deceitful) memes of national security.

"Contract with Osama." Do we counter that by a big ol' patriotic push
to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?

Because they're, you know, ten years away from *possibly* acquiring
nuclear weapons?

This is a huge problem and a huge temptation. Hil's already playing
this hawk card to the hilt.

I was in a rather pointless flamewar with Americanist over this
subject on the Iran airstrike thread. But I'm willing to be openminded
and consider suggestions.

What do others think? Do remain purist in our opposition to Bush's
foreign policy aggression -- or do we attempt to co-opt it and ratchet
up the jingoist rhetoric?

I have my own answer, but I'll wait to hear what y'all have to say ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

A Real Democrat would never say they were for making the "homeland" safer -- that's fascist claptrap. Real Democrats are for making the World safer.

And, a Real Democrat would not be jumping on the Iran-is-evil bandwagon. The guy most responsible for screwing up the Persian Gulf is in the White House, not Tehran.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on February 8, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Start the clock....

When will Kevin Drum decide that the Bush Administration isn't serious about Iran, as he did in early 2003 about Iraq?

Funny, just last year North Korea was the most dangerous threat to American security...and they apparently HAVE nuclear weapons and are closer!!!

Ok...benefit of the doubt...define "take on"...

Posted by: justmy2 on February 8, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Funny, just last year North Korea was the most dangerous threat to American security...and they apparently HAVE nuclear weapons and are closer!!!

Posted by: justmy2 on February 8, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is the distraction thing again. Dems used to complain about Iran and North Korea being bigger threats than Iraq. Now they get to Iran, and suddenly Iran falls off the list.

Dems are out to hype and distract to find an excuse for inaction.

Bush is out to take that list, one at a time.

That's the difference.

Posted by: McA on February 8, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

What do you mean, wish "someone on our side" had said that??????

Posted by: peanut on February 8, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Since when is the Democratic Party for universal healthcare?

Once again: "Democrat" and "liberal" are not synonyms. What's good for the Democratic Party is not necessarily what's good for liberals, and vice versa.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on February 8, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

Yah - great idea - don't say anything about a strong, effective defense in the "what we're for" part.

Dumbasses.

Posted by: cdj on February 8, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

McA:

Bush is out to screw up the world, one country at a time ...

What do you recommend "we" do in Iran?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Oops - nevermind - didn't read the whole thing - my apologies.

Posted by: cdj on February 8, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

cdj:

What's a strong, effective defense?

Bobb

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

Last I checked Iran was a democracy, though a fairly illiberal one. We should get used to the idea that Islamic democracies may end up looking a lot more like Iran's, and a lot less like ours. Let's cross our fingers and hope Iraq shakes out a little more liberal, but it is flatly wrong to state that Iran is a "dictatorship", since they do elect leaders of the nation-state, but they also have their ulama, which obviously cannot be elected, and do not fit neatly into the nation-state concept. In other words, they don't agree with the separation of church and state, and I'm not really sure how we can force Islamic democracies to do so, or we would be "dictating" to them.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats not only need to say the things Kevin mentions, they must put forth legisation that shows they actually have an agenda to accomplish those things. Whether the bills gain enough bi-partisan support to pass is secondary to publicly (and repeatedly) staking out a position and sticking with it. Better veterans benefits, better equipment for our troops and, yeah, some coherent energy plan would be good places to start.

Even though they are the opposition party, the Dems need to do more than complain about the latest administration outrage. They must push a better alternative that will embarrass the GOP and force them to respond.

Posted by: DevilDog on February 8, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a very interesting article on Islamic democracy.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Checks and checks...but where's the balance?

Posted by: parrot on February 8, 2006 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

So what would happen if various House and Senate Democrats, on the rare occasions when they actually appear on news shows and whatnot, now started repeating these themes in a similar manner to how Republican leaders chant certain talking points in unison?

Why, it might give people the impression that the Democrats knew what they were talking about, and actually did have an alternative (and maybe even a better one! Imagine that!) to the incumbents and their corrupt, inept ways. Sure, the Republicans would bluster and bloviate, but so what? At some point Democrats need to show some huevos and better yet, some organization. Let the Republicans howl - stick to your message, especially since it actually has a basis in reality, one that people can understand and agree with. That will itself go a long way toward convincing the electorate that a vote for a Democrat can be a vote for accountability, sensibility, and courage.

Once the Democratic party decides it's ready to define itself, then the Republicans won't be able to define it for them.

Posted by: Irony Man on February 8, 2006 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

McA:

Bush is out to screw up the world, one country at a time ...

What do you recommend "we" do in Iran?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Iran is provoking a fight, 'cos it thinks it will survive and patriotism will protect it against its own dissent. And if it doesn't get a fight it'll get a nuke and survive North Korea style by blankmail.

To beat it, break one of its assumptions such as "'cos it thinks it will survive".

Start drawing up plans to bomb it, kill enough key regime figures and blow up enough bridges and secret police for the whole thing to fall apart into warring tribes which will be squeezed under sanctions for years and years.

Iraq has taught one good thing. Sanctions, can paralyze a nuclear program. At least, long enough for regime change in a few years time.

Posted by: Mca on February 8, 2006 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

One of the weakest spots of the GOP leadership is on illegal immigration. Only problem: the Dems are even worse.

If the Dems came out strongly against illegal immigration they would:

1. Increase their homeland security credentials.
2. Support worker rights and increased wages for low-wage earning Americans.
3. Show just how corrupt and anti-American the Bush administration is.
4. Show those who think they aren't patriotic that they're wrong.
5. Get a lot of support from the center and even conservatives.

On the other hand, they'd lose the support of far-left racial power groups, some of which have links to the Mexican government or support that government's agenda.

-- Illegal immigration news

Posted by: TLB on February 8, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

I wish there was a place where we could directly relay some points to the DNC, because I am getting sick of it. Although the last election was encouraging, I will be pissed if this election we don't increase our role in the government at least.

Hey, i have suggestions, but what's the point of just posting it on a message board and letting the enemy read them too?

Posted by: Boorring on February 8, 2006 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK

but what's the point of just posting it on a message board and letting the enemy read them too?

Posted by: Boorring on February 8, 2006 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK

If its good enough for the Dem policy on espionage, its good enough for Dem policy on suggestions.

Posted by: McA on February 8, 2006 at 5:22 AM | PERMALINK

Wes Clark is saying that. See his "Real State of the Union Speech".

Posted by: Judy on February 8, 2006 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

I have some sympathy for Democrats here. They are facing a hostile, GOP-sympathetic media. And Democrats who do speak out get demonized or portrayed as crazy. Look at what happened to Howard Dean.

Republicans, like schoolyard bullies, are cowards at heart. No Republican would be able to handle what is daily heaped upon Democrats by the media.

Posted by: dan on February 8, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

We won't do it, because the Dems have no cahones. Dems are compelled to be "civil," so they can get invited to all the good parties.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 8, 2006 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because "we" don't like them, we'll destroy the democracy in Iran and substitute a dictatorship. That shouldn't be much harder than destroying a dictatorship in Iraq and "building" a democracy. And then, after we spend 300 billion on another war, we'll have lots of money for energy research and healthcare.

Or, you could do the short form- the Persians have lived in their mountain fastness for about 4000 years largely free of subjugation. Do the math.

Posted by: serial catowner on February 8, 2006 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

They aren't saying it because they're being blackmailed. They're useless as is -- either hiding sexual scandal or crimes. Get rid of 'em all and start over.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 8, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

The difficulty is, indeed, in being heard. When a major policy speech from the former vice-president is ignored, what chance that a statement like the above would be deemed newsworthy.

The Democrats could be heard if they could learn to speak with a single voice, but this would require identifying unifying themes, which "taking on the Iranian dictatorship" is not.

Gingrich took over not primarily by "standing for something," by opposing Democratic corruption. The Contract for America consisted of poll-tested bromides that any Republican from Tupelo to Palo Alto could run on successfully.

And to identify said bromides, Gingrich turned to the much-maligned consultants whose business it is to win elections. Most of the blogosphere has never run a campaign for sewer board and would find, if they tried, that it isn't quite as easy as it looks.

Most of the Gingrich contract points were framed more precisely than these, using the precise language that produced 65%+ agreement in polls through every region of the U.S. For example, my guess is that "lower health insurance premiums" would test better than "universal health care," and that "help with college costs" would be more popular than "winning back our allies."

Finally, "balancing the budget" has a nice ring to it, but it's like selling vinegar instead of honey. I say, let's be for tax cuts for all but the super-rich. Why should we be out-promised?

Posted by: Steve High on February 8, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me Dean, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, Murtha ... hell, a whole host of Democrats are saying things like this. The bigger question is why no one can hear them.

Posted by: Thud on February 8, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Right on, Jeffrey Davis. It's good to know not everyone is lost in "Disney USA," what I call the fantasy that our nation is fundamentally different then every other that has existed in history; that "bad people" can never get into power here.

I'm so tired of hearing "I just can't believe the President of my nation could ever do something like that..." I tire of the childish, willful denial.

We all get fed similar fairy-tale patriotism, some of us get over it and grow up, most of us don't, it seems.

Let's not forget the anthrax either. We still don't know ( or care ) who mailed the stuff to two Democratic Senators.

And Wellstone's crash, verrrry mysterious. I'm not saying...... it just makes you stop and wonder.

Or stop speaking up, if you're a Washington Dem.


Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 8, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Dean, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, Murtha ... hell, a whole host of Democrats are saying things like this. "

Saying things like this, but nothing so bold and blunt and direct. Even Dean's language is much tamer.

And Murtha's not saying anything like this at all, He's just saying we need to withdraw from Iraq, and that's about all.

Al Gore came the closest to being this blunt, but no cigar.

If a national Democratic leader were to be blunt, direct, clear and combative, the media *would* cover it.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 8, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Wow in a lot of ways.

First, Andrew Sullivan that snivelling hack wrote that? It's good, hmm.

Two, I'd drop the Iran part. Universal proliferation is a huge issue - but that includes more than Iran, it's Pakistan, old nukes in the former Soviet states, etc. And we can't do anything in Iran - mainly because of the Iraq mess, which Sully championed.

Third, the irony. There is one democrat who routinely talks like that: Dean. And Sullivan is one of the many of rips into him.

But Sullivan highlights how toothless the Democratic leadership is, which brings up another issue. The failures of the last years are a failure of GOP leadership foremost, but they have been abetted by horrendous choices by the Democrats. In a real sense, the country needs a change of leadership in both parties.

And a big yes, on leading with the competence issue. And framed in the "they don't know what they're doing way".

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 8, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I never will understand why Democrats haven't been playing the utter incompetence card loudly and consistently.
They have. You can wonder why they haven't been effective at it, but if you think they haven't been doing it you're a clown.

Seems to me Dean, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, Murtha ... hell, a whole host of Democrats are saying things like this. The bigger question is why no one can hear them.
See, Thud got noticed.

Look at it like this, how many times have you cried "Wolf!"? How many times did you think people were going to pay attention?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, what makes you think people aren't paying attention? because bush and the generic republican party are doing so well in the polls?

mca, i do gotta like your approach to Iran: "draw up bombing plans." boy, no one ever thought of that before. your genius is wasted here.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

what makes you think people aren't paying attention?
Simple, I look at the desires of the left, and the desires of the right; and then I look to see which of those is being met. And I see that Bush is still in office.

because bush and the generic republican party are doing so well in the polls?
Bush is hanging pretty good. linky. They're still doing all voters, so among likely voters bump that 2-3%. Considering the onslaught from the left, and further considering that the right is not standing firmly behind him, that's hanging pretty good.

As for the generic Repub and Dem thing, come on Howard, you've been around long enough to know generic Dems always outpoll Republicans. Your generic Dem would have beaten Bush 10 points in 2004, your actual Dem lost.

But that does raise an interesting topic: the disparity in performance between "generic Dems" and "actual Dems" kind of indicates that Democrats are just not living up to billing. What happens when people's perception of the "generic Dem" falls to the level that they view the "actual Dem"? All rhetorical, naturally.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, if you think that bush is doing pretty well....

and i'm discussing the "generic" congressional vote, where the dems are showing the kinds of numbers that the republicans did in '94. (and actually, of course, dem members of congress did get more votes than republican members of congress, even though there are more republicans, so the generic congressional polling isn't so bad, now is it?)

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan supported Kerry in the last election. He is a free marketeer with libertarian tendencies. That hardly makes him a Bush Republican. His stands on torture, due process, free expression, and the rule of law are principled, erudite, and effective. Some people need to get over their antipathy toward him, and see him for the effective advocate that he is.

Posted by: Wombat on February 8, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

For the money we have pissed down our legs in Iraq, Americans could have universal health care, a cleaner environment and be on our way to energy independence.

Instead, we have an unwinnable occupation of a country that posed no threat whatsoever to the U.S., a degraded environment, mountains of debt for our children and very, very dim future.

Some "march to freedom".

To continue to support the reptile in the White House, you need to be as stupid and short-sighted, as say, conspiracy nut....

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 8, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Bashing Democrats is fine, but don't ignore the media's complicity. They have developed (or at least helped perpetuate) a narrative that Republicans are strong, moral and competent, and that Democrats are weak, amoral and would rather have issues dither in committees than address problems. what's frustrating about the current situation is that the incompetence and utterly amoral nature of the Republican Party is in plain sight. Hell, these military-loving, swaggering, blustery "heroes" can't win a war against a third rate dictatorship even after the current commander in chief's father destroyed the country's army. Yet somehow these guys are still competent and tough in the media's eyes.

Unless and until the media changes its frame, the only way for Democrats to become the majority party again is for this administration to fuck up everyhing so bad that even the networks can't ignore it anymore (heard anything lately about Katrina?). Unfortunately, by then it may be too late for Democrats to once again put this coutrny on a sustainable path.

Posted by: brewmn on February 8, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

Actually, Tim Kaine said something like that.

However, half of your party seriously wants to lose in Iraq, really wants a "nanny state", hates corporations in principle (all of them), and holds America (not just Bush) responsible for all the ills of the world. You might call this the Dean/Moore/Sheehan wing of the Democratic party.

That's where the money for the Democratic party comes from. they call Joe Lieberman a traitor or a shill for the Republicans, and they loathe Sen Clinton's mild approval of people of religious faith. The other half is running scared of these guys. For the left half of the Democratic Party, the primary goal (in two meanings) is to preserve the wealth of the teachers' unions and other public employee unions. The things that you mentioned are sort of secondary.

Posted by: contentious on February 8, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

and i'm discussing the "generic" congressional vote, where the dems are showing the kinds of numbers that the republicans did in '94.
Ah, more like combined voting. I was referring to the "Generic Dem" they always use. Apologies.

But Tradesports has Repubs holding the House at 75% (trending up, but that is because it is recovering from a fall right after the Abramoff revelation) and holding the Senate at 86% (mostly holding, but trending up slightly over time) *. Hardly looks like a '94 style takeover to me.

and actually, of course, dem members of congress did get more votes than republican members of congress
I'm not saying this isn't accurate, but while this is definitely true in the Senate; given proportional representation in the House, this basically cannot be true there with the lead in seats. Since I don't know the difference in votes between the 2 houses, however, I ain't arguing.

* At this range from an election, I like using the betting lines, they typically outperform the hell out of polls this early.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

and that Democrats are weak, amoral and would rather have issues dither in committees than address problems
Hey yo, it doesn't take the media to do this, it only took watching the Alito hearings. Unless your complaint is that the media doesn't cover up the weak, amoral, committee dithering the Dems do.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

let's see: this is the very same andrew sullivan who accused any of us who didn't think that george bush mutated into some combination of washington, lincoln, and churchill on 9/11 as being a "fifth column," is it not? very, very loudly.

Yeah, the same one. And though he's ever the self-absorbed blowhard, he has gone through an interesting evolution over the last year or two. He got so fed up with Bush's chronic incompetence and crookedness that he endorsed Kerry. He's also been a faithful civil libertarian, consistently critical of Rumsfeld's Abu Ghraib / Guantanamo stonewalling, Bush's wiretapping schemes, and so on. All of which suggests to me that, unlike a lot of self-described "conservatives", he's more interested in principles than the electoral fortunes of the GOP or his own kneejerk reactions. He can change his mind. (Contrast with Bainbridge, who every week bitches about at least one egregious Bush fuck-up, but invariably returns to "But I still don't like Kerry, and I still hate Ted Kennedy, so I'll endorse a watermelon for office, as long as it's Republican".) I have the same complaints about Sullivan that any leftie holds, but I gotta admit, not a day goes by that I don't visit his blog.

Anyway, I think it's worth noting that the quote that Sullivan references comes from none other than Dick Durbin. Wasn't so long ago that Durbin demonstrated precisely the kind of pussy behavior that people associate with "Democrat", now: He made a rather mild (and apt) analogy between the Abu Ghraib images, and those we associate with totalitarian regimes. When the inevitable GOP mau-mauing began, instead of sticking to his guns, he apologized. Pathetic.

Posted by: sglover on February 8, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, for the record: i expect the republicans to hold the house and senate too, but with reduced majorities. this is the best possible result from a democratic standpoint: the various chickens will be continuing to come home to roost over '07 and '08. if the dems controlled a house in congress, they would be equally tarred.

as for the congressional votes, yes, think of it this way: the range of sizes of districts is quite enormous. in the red states where there are realtively few voters, congressional districts can be won with rather small numbers of absolute votes, whereas in new york or california, it takes lots of votes to win a congressional district.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

sglover, durbin backed off because richie daley undercut him.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

One quick comment on Sullivan that drives me nuts. Sullivan did endorse Kerry in the last election - but only after pounding the daylights out of anyone who questioned his little Iraq adventure.

And yes, he does take some admirable stances on torture and incompetence.

And yes, he does come up with good phrases now and then.

But I really question his abilities to think. You know, say this is true, and thus this is true and that means X. Because from his days from the New Republic on, it's a bit like Casablanca. Over and over again, he's shocked just shocked that something's happening.

For example, on torture. He just seemed genuinely stunned that it happened under the administration. And you had to ask where the heck had he been?

What seems to happen is a combination of a few things. One, he mostly looks at what people say, not what they do. Two, he never really does reality checks - as Kevin does routinely. Third, he just goes nuts on certain issues and attacks everyone wildly who doesn't share that particular obsession.

Put that together, you get someone who's just wrong a lot of the time.

BTW - a lot of his former colleagues really dislike after he lit into them once too often.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 8, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

Because they have been compromised by the same greed and corruption that afflicts many, a lot, most American politicians. It is depressing that people who are for civil rights, social democracy, and fair play in the market place expect the Democratic Party to represent their views and oppose the Republican platform of war and the return to strong man provincialism, because these good people are trapped in two party politics and cannot recognize the Democratic Party will not deliver. The Democrats in Congress have not only failed the fundamental requirement of an opposition party by not providing a competing platform, but have facilitated the Republicans' march to war and fixing economic advantage to wealthy corporations.

Posted by: Hostile on February 8, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

sglover, durbin backed off because richie daley undercut him.

I don't mean to flame you, but c'mon.... Durbin's either got the courage of his convictions, or he doesn't. If you turn to jelly because somebody "undercuts" you, what the hell do you stand for? "He was a real leader, a courageous advocate of all things that drew no criticism".

Posted by: sglover on February 8, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Howard, the House is proportional. All districts have the same number of people. Yes the size must vary greatly, but not the number of people voting in a given district, that is equal. There are exceptions since districts are fully within a state. At any given time, smaller or larger states (hence red or blue) will gain an advantage (Wyoming likely has a permanent advantage since they will get 1 Rep regardless). But overall this difference is minimal, and not nearly as significant as the number of seats the Repubs hold over the Dems.

Your example is fully functional in the Senate, but not in the House.

Anyway, it's typical for the party holding the presidency to lose seats mid-term, especially 2nd term presidents. A pickup of seats by Dems is to be expected (although the Repubs beat that in '02). Unless the Dems are able to pick up a significant number of seats, I think it would indicate continuing poor performance at the polls. And the numbers from Tradesports don't make it look good for significant numbers.

I just don't see any indications that the Dems are taking any real hold on the goings on. And mind, I think that's a shame; if there's one thing the Repubs are demonstrating a real need for, it's some viable opposition.

At any rate, since you're not expecting the Dems to take control, should I take it to be hyperbole when you said the dems are showing the kinds of numbers that the republicans did in '94?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

But I really question his abilities to think. You know, say this is true, and thus this is true and that means X. Because from his days from the New Republic on, it's a bit like Casablanca. Over and over again, he's shocked just shocked that something's happening.

Well, he definitely seems to go off on various hobbyhorses. For my money, the best example was his hysteria over Pim Fortuyn's murder: Sullivan went on and on about how the Euros were under-reacting, and displaying yet again their deep liberal self-loathing and yearning for cultural suicide. Amidst all the hyperventilating he never seemed to get around to acknowledging that the Dutch police had rounded up suspects within days.

Yeah, Sullivan's got some cognitive issues, but even with that he's not as blindered as most of the rightist pundits. He's not a shill -- that alone sets him far apart from a Kristol or a Noonan or a Barnes.

Posted by: sglover on February 8, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

May I take your comments about "taking on the Iranian dictatorship" to mean that you think the US should use all necessary military force to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons program?

It would surely be wonderful if the Democratic Party took a position like that, but that would mean admitting that Joe Lieberman is right and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are wrong, and frankly, I don't see the Democrats doing that.

Posted by: DBL on February 8, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Dems don't need to have spine, nope. The economy is about to enter the Twilight Zone because (a) the housing bubble has burst, (b) GDP will fall off a cliff as a result since ain't no money left in the home owner ATM. This alone accounted for 600 billion of spending by consumers in the past five years.

Couple this with the massive twin deficits and as Dandy Don Merideth sang every monday night - turn out the lights, the party's over. Big recession, depression, take your pick. Get out of debt friends, Al, tbrosz.

Folks won't care about Dem spine. It will be obvious to everyone that Bush has been destroying America economically. Folks won't care who takes power, as long as Bush is gone.

Posted by: JimBobRay on February 8, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Umm, because every time one of us says it, "sensible" democrats like Kevin Drum, Joe Lieberman, Joe Klein, etc., kick them in the nads?

Posted by: Mysticdog on February 8, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

For the money we have pissed down our legs in Iraq, Americans could have universal health care, a cleaner environment and be on our way to energy independence.

You might want to look at the numbers. If we spent per capita on universal health care what Canada does, the price of the war in Iraq (if you accept the $1 trillion figure) would pay for about one year of it. Maybe about year and a half, since you could subtract the Medicare/Medicaid budget. But then there's next year, and the year after that...

Posted by: tbrosz on February 8, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

DBL:

Why do you think a military option against Iran is viable?

Why can't Israel take care of whatever existential threat Iran represents to it?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

D response to the SOTU that we never heard:
1. W has no credibility on oil.
2. W has no credibility on science.
3. W has no credibility on bipartisanship.

Posted by: anonyous on February 8, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Sullivan is a gifted writer, and I keep hoping he has a David Brock moment before long. But his plea for "happy warriors" is a fundamental misunderstanding of liberal politics today. You can't be happy when you're simply trying to keep the ship of state afloat. We're all in a reactionary mode for that reason. The wholesale looting in Baghdad and Washington will necessarily constrain positive proposals for a long time to come. As a nation, we're about to become much poorer. Democrats, once in power, will be forced to confront a shrinking economic pie and make difficult choices. This is not cause for joy but for sobriety and pause.

Republicans, of course, are not constrained at all, and will simply continue to loot at their pleasure. Our nation may fully deserve Republican misrule, and the alternative - Democratic spinach - will likely doom any political renaissance. Democrats can pretend to have a Hubert Humphrey make-over, but it will be entirely fake since America is now on the downward arc of empire.

Posted by: walt on February 8, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz:

You know, I don't consider you a troll, Tom -- but that's a bad-faith argument. Surely you know better to talk about percentage of GDP when we legendarily spend 20+% of our GDP on healthcare when the European / Commonwealth mixed economies spend less than half of that (not even citing Cuba, which spends about 2% GDP on healthcare and has a lower infant mortality rate than we do).

If you factored out all the money that private industry spends on health insurance (you know -- what sunk those Ford plants?) -- our rate of spending on healtcare would collapse like a stone with single-payer.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

Um, plenty of people on my side have been saying things like that (details different because some of the things Andrew refers to hadn't occurred yet) back before Andrew Sullivan realized that, yes, the Christian Right masters of the Republican Party really do hate him and every other gay person simply for being gay, and no amount of praise for Bush's policy in Iraq and elsewhere was going to change that.

I don't know about your side, but then, I'm not sure what "side" that is.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK
If we spent per capita on universal health care what Canada does, the price of the war in Iraq (if you accept the $1 trillion figure) would pay for about one year of it.

This assumes, idiotically, that we would continue paying for our current healthcare system plus add on the per-capita expense of the Canadian healthcare system.

That's ridiculous. If we payed for healthcare what Canada does, we would save money compared to the status quo spending on healthcare, whether you measure the same per capita, or per GDP.

So talking about what the war on Iraq would pay for in those terms is ridiculous. Since the net cost compared to the status quo would be negative, one average second worth of Iraq war spending would pay for all the additional costs, for eternity, with more money left over than when you started.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

You might call this the Dean/Moore/Sheehan wing of the Democratic party.

More accurately, you would call this a straw man.

Posted by: Gregory on February 8, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Jim: "I never will understand why Democrats haven't been playing the utter incompetence card

I totally agree, and yet I was pondering the nature of Bushco incompetence as I drove to work this morning.

Incompetence is when someone agrees with a goal but his efforts to achieve it fall short, are clumsy, ineffective or amateurish. Here is an example of incompetence: a plumber is hired to stop the leak that is about to wash out your kitchen ceiling. You think he is going to try to fix the leak. He says he is going to fix the leak. He goes to work. When he finishes, he leaves a gigantic hole in your ceiling, the tub is badly caulked and the upstairs shower is still leaking. He tried to accomplish what you want him to accomplish, but his skills are inadequate for the task.

But the case with Bushco is different. The analogy is that you hire a plumber to fix the leak in your ceiling. You think he is going to try to fix the leak. He says he is going to fix the leak. He goes to work. He removes the tiles and shower stall, caps the pipes, turns off the water from the street and permanently seals the door to the bathroom. You no longer have a shower or running water in your house.

"WTF!" you shout at the plumber, "You destroyed my shower! I don't have running water any more!!"

"Why are you complaining?" the plumber argues back, irritably, "you don't have a leak anymore! What's your problem?!??" And he is right. The leak IS gone.

Like the radical plumber who views your problem as having running water, the Republican world view is profoundly wrong, blind to what can be accomplished. So their actions seem astonishingly "incompetent" to us--from fiscal policy to military action in Iraq--but it is not due to incompetence, but a kind of insanity.

Our side is complaining, but we not are heard when we object: If we claim they are incompetent, they respond that the leak is gone! If we accuse them of being crazy, they get defensive. The asylum has many inmates, and they don't see themselves as crazy. The leak is gone, after all. I fear that nothing will change until until enough inmates notice the lack of running water.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 8, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Why would a Republican pick a running mate from Mississippi?" Barbour said, in his most definitive statement to date about his political future. "If a Republican doesn't carry Mississippi, he won't carry five states."

If Republican economic policies and social policies are so great, why hasn't the arguably most Republican state in the nation, Mississippi, a state with one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation if not the lowest, lead the way during the last five years with an economic boom, social stability, and educational success?

Republicans probably control Mississippi like no other geographic area in the nation.

Conservative economic, social, and educational policies have free reign like in no other area of the nation.

Yet, Mississippi is a sinkhole of economic dispair and disrepair, mired in low academic performance, and with a crime rate far worse than many blue states, including Michigan which has Detroit, which city conservatives love to rant about being a pit of criminal activity.

Conservative public policy is a joke and Mississippi is the proof.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 8, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans probably control Mississippi like no other geographic area in the nation.
Facts are thin around here, aren't they? Mississippi ranks 10th.

These ten states, starting with highest support, were: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.
But wait, there's more
Solid red states are Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming, which have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 ... Other strong red states include Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, none of which have voted Democratic since 1976.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, you're usually better informed. House districts are not all the same size. that's because each state is entitled to at least one member, and the total is capped at 435.

i spent a few minutes looking for a handy chart, but i didn't find one yet and i don't have time to keep searching, but trust me on this: house districts have to be proportionally sized within a given state.

they are not proportionately sized in the United States as a whole.

in fact, now that i think about it, here's an easy way: wyoming has 500,000 population and 1 representative. california has 33M people and 53 representatives, not 66.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Mississippi ranks 10th.

I guess Haley Barbour is a liar then about Mississippi's tightness with the GOP.

You also seem to have a knack for mixing apples and oranges in order to find contradiction, typical of your strawman mentality: "support" and "control" are not equivalent concepts.

I know that's hard for you to understand, but if you consult several dictionaries and a little history, perhaps in time you will come to comprehend the difference between the two words.

The fact that a former head of the GOP is the governor of the state speaks volumes more than your inane apple=orange factoids.

In any event, Mississippi is clearly in GOP control and has just as clearly implemented conservative economic and taxation policies which haven't produced the economic boom that conservatives insist such policies will inevitably produce.

And they hadn't before Katrina struck either, so you don't get to overuse that excuse anymore either.

Facts are thin around here . . .

Your facts, whether thin or fat, are certainly irrelevant.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 8, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
Alabama, population 4.4M, 7 Reps, 635K per rep
Arkansas, population 2.7M, 4 Reps, 668K per rep
California, population 33.8M, 53 Reps, 639K per rep
Colorado, population 4.3M, 7 Reps, 614K per rep

Populations are 2000 census, Rep numbers are 2004, so these aren't hard numbers. And since I built that from multiple sources it is not complete. Of the ones I've listed, however, the largest variance from the mean was Arkansas with 5% more people per Reps than the mean. And that gets adjusted all the time to keep it as equal as possible.

Yes, the number in a House district varies, but it doesn't vary any more than needs be; and the variance is typically small.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
Here's what you wanted US Census 2000: Congressional Apportionment. From which I quote:

The fundamental reason for conducting the decennial census of the United States is to apportion the members of the House of Representatives among the 50 states
If you check their tables, they'll give you the change in the number of each states number of reps. There's an Excel version, you can do all the division yourself.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, you're usually better with numbers than this.

first off, go here:

http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/tab01.pdf

but just to help you, there are 7 states with 1 reprsentative (and it's the states with the minimum 1 that really help skew things):

alaska: 628
Delaware: 785
Montana: 905
North Dakota: 643
South Dakota: 756
Vermont: 609
Wyoming: 495

see the problem?

some of the other small numbers also skew - as i was looking down the chart, for instance, i notice that West Virginia (1.8M) and Utah (2.2M) both have 3 reps.

the mean as of 2000 was 295M americans, 435 members, or 678K per rep.

yet as you see, the smallest states range from 495 to 905.

now the bigger the count gets, the more it normalizes: california, for instance, has 640K per district (these are all means, of course); new york is 655K; Florida 641K.

but still, on a national basis, the variation from the mean isn't "small."

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

I don't personally know if the US military has the means to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons program, but Gen. Wesley Clark and Edward Luttwak seem to think so. The estimates I've read are that it would take anywhere from 1 to 14 days of sustained bombing and special forces raids.

Obviously, this type of military action would have unpleasant side effects (such as riots throughout the Moslem world and burning of Western embassies - oh wait, that's already happening. But I'm sure they'll think of something else unpleasant to do to us.) Query whether those side effects would be worse if Israel did it herself or if the US did it.

Posted by: DBL on February 8, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, i see we essentially exchanged the same data, but you're still having a problem with the basic premise.

every state is entitled to at least 1 representative. if wyoming went down to 3 people in population, they'd have 2 senators and 1 representative.

if we divided the representatives pro rata acorss the country, some states wouldn't get any, which would violate the constitution.

as long as every state gets a minimum of 1 and as long as there is a cap on the total number, there are going to be significant variations from the mean.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
First, back to your
they are not proportionately sized in the United States as a whole.
They are proportionally sized, with the 1 per state minimum exception. If you read that site, they explain it all in detail. Representatives are apportioned as evenly as possible between the States (with the 1 minimum, it's the law).

Yes they vary. You want to pick on Wyoming, they're about 25% off the mean, they have 2.3% of the representatives in the House. Our total error is .6%. Oddly enough, CA is also overrepresented, by 1.7%; with 12% of the representatives in the House, that total error is .2% to help balance out Wyoming's .6%. I could go on. But the errors in representation are as small as possible.

Further, look at your list:
- Vermont is blue, Wyoming is red, both make out better than average.
- Wyoming is red and makes out good, Montana is red and makes out poorly.
So the small errors that we are looking at are also balanced between red and blue states (and it won't be exactly balanced, no).

You're moaning about errors that are miniscule, and balanced between parties.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK


John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is one of two Americans who have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Last year, Democrats and a few Republicans refused to confirm Bolton to the U.N. post, forcing President Bush to resort to a recess appointment.

Bolton and Kenneth R. Timmerman were formally nominated by Sweden's former deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark, for playing a major role in exposing Iran's secret plans to develop nuclear weapons.

They documented Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealed Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a press release said.

Posted by: Sloppy Liberal on February 8, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006286

Look at this Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen.

Nominate him and you get the South Park libertarian vote, my vote, and Dems likely will win the presidency against any Republican.

Posted by: Matt on February 8, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, you seem to have gotten confused over the course of this discussion.

first, i pointed out to you that the reps aren't proportionally represented because of the 1 per state minimum. you now agree.

second, the reason we got into this was the question of how it would be possible for the outnumbered dems to have received more votes in the house if all the districts more or less had the same number. But they don't more or less have the same number, as you now also concede: the range appears to be 500,000 - 900,000, although most are clustered in the 650,000 area.

finally, even if they all had the same number, it wouldn't change. Conduct a simple thought experiment. Suppose, for the sake of simplicity, all the dems wons 65-35 while all the republicans won 51-49. assume, for further simplicity, that all the districts had 650K and they all voted.

in that scenario, the dems would have approximately 160M votes, the republicans approcimately 125M votes, even though the republicans have more seats.

so, in reality, the factors are: a.) closeness of the voting; b.) level of turnout; c.) size of district.

i'm not moaning about anything here: i'm simply explaining why it is that you can have fewer seats and more votes, even in the house.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: So why isn't someone on our side saying something like this?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, says it better. Maybe you don't consider him to be "on your side".

As for the "Iranian dictatorship", George W. Bush has been threatening to attack Iran since 2001. Why wouldn't they want nuclear weapons?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 8, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

howard wrote: conspiracy nut, you seem to have gotten confused over the course of this discussion.

conspiracy nut started out confused. He's a stupid, ignorant dumbass who is incapable of doing anything but posting idiotic, inane, deliberately offensive bullshit just to get attention.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 8, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
I buy a & b, but not c (for the House). And I've explained it.

But you're on your own looking up the total number of votes for Dems and total number for Repubs in the House. As I said at the beginning, I don't know (and don't particularly care). I'd be surprised if you find more votes for Dems, let me know if it happens.

My sole point is that House districts are apportioned as evenly as possible (on a nationwide basis), and they're pretty damn even (on a party basis).

On to the details
you now agree
Back at 11:05, near the beginning of this, I pointed out Wyoming's permanent advantage due to low population. It's not a matter of agreeing now.

But they don't more or less have the same number, as you now also concede
I do not concede that. The raw number of people represented per Rep is only one part of the question. The remainder of the question is how much representation those people have in the House. Put another way, that lone WY Rep is a voice in the wilderness compared to the army of CA Reps. It is at best disingenious to claim the WY voters have substantially more impact.

Further, since your claim is between Dem and Repub, you'll notice that both the minimum and maximum number of voters per Rep occur in red states. So WY is robbing from MT, not Dems.

One other thing occurs to me that kind of figures in here. TX has Democratic districts, surely CA has Republican districts. Both parties get some representation (in any case, both parties have an opportunity at representation.) Any Repub in VT get represented by a socialist (literally, Bernie Sanders), and any Dems in WY get represented by a Repub. It may be that the 'party out of power' in a given 1 Rep state gets the worst deal of anybody. I know I'd be thinking that if I lived in VT.

And any of you moonbats, I'm not pounding Bernie; at least he has the stones to admit he's socialist.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 8, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, who knows? maybe you thought we were talking about the "influence" of an individual voter, but i didn't. (that is an intersting area of discussion, as is the influence this has on electoral votes and presidential elections, but neither of those was the topic i thought we were addressing.)

i thought all we were talking about was how it would be possible for dems to have fewer seats and more votes, which i think you've now accepted (or, who knows, maybe you always did and it just wasn't clear to me).

because from that perspective, we are talking about congressional seats ranging from 500,000 - 900,000, although clustering around 650,000. maybe, in your mind, that means that they all more or less have the same number of voters? 'cause it doesn't to me....

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

secularanimist, i know i'm in a minority, but when it comes to numbers, i find conspiracy nut a very rational commenter.

politics, not so much.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Explaining it all: one commentor suggests the Democrats nominate de facto Republican Phil Bredesen for President; less than an hour later, another commentor points out that Dennis Kucinich, who is about as far left as an elected official is allowed to go in this country, has been saying all along what Kevin wants the Dems to say.

Will Rogers still understood it best: "I am a member of no organized political party - I am a Democrat!"

Posted by: dr sardonicus on February 8, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

DBL:

> I don't personally know if the US military has the means to
> eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons program, but Gen. Wesley Clark
> and Edward Luttwak seem to think so. The estimates I've read
> are that it would take anywhere from 1 to 14 days of sustained
> bombing and special forces raids.

With no casus belli, it'd be a tough sell to the world community.
Congress would absolutely never authorize it in advance -- even with
the Republican majority. You'd have to see some trumped up bit of
"evidence" that Iran was facilitating specific acts of terrorism.

Bush doen't have Colin Powell anymore
to sell something like this to the UN.

You just can't bomb a country silly because it's over five years
out from developing nuclear weapons. Clark knows this; he was
hardly writing as an advocate, just making a military evaluation.

> Obviously, this type of military action
> would have unpleasant side effects (such
> as riots throughout the Moslem

Muslim. They haven't been Moslems since Rudyard Kipling's day.

> world and burning of Western embassies - oh wait,
> that's already happening. But I'm sure they'll
> think of something else unpleasant to do to us.)

This is of course the completely bogus "reasoning," asserted
many times by Rumsfeld and Bush, that attemps to minimize the
Islamic blowback from the Iraq invasion by noting that Osama
attacked us before we invaded Iraq. "They already hate us."
Do you think that they can't hate us more? Do you really think
that because things are bad now, that they can't get worse?

> Query whether those side effects would be worse
> if Israel did it herself or if the US did it.

One thing that possibly can't get any worse is how much
Israel's Muslim neighbors already hate Israel; since an Iranian
nuke threatens her, it's Israel's responsibility how to deal
with it. While North Korea is fielding ballistic missiles with
greater and greater range, making a strike on Alaska or Northern
California increasingly possible, Iran is -- at the very best
-- decades out from an ICBM capability. So a nuclear Iran
is less an existential threat to us than North Korea.

And while Iran's current regime is a little nuts, it would surely
be more likely that they'd have a different president by the time
their nuke weapon comes online (if it does) than if we bombed them
now, set back the reformist trend and juiced up their Islamism.

Also consider Iraq. The largest power bloc are conservative Shi'a
(SCIRI) aligned with Iran. Consider Sestani's moderating influence.

Consider what 14-days of airstrikes against the seat of their
religion might do to our relations with Shi'ites in that country.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 9, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, this type of military action would have unpleasant side effects (such as riots throughout the Moslem world and burning of Western embassies - oh wait, that's already happening. But I'm sure they'll think of something else unpleasant to do to us.) Query whether those side effects would be worse if Israel did it herself or if the US did it.

I think you left out the direct retaliation Iran would visit on the US, particularly the US forces in Iraq, of which there are large numbers, and in range of lots of Iranian weapon systems. (Also, a lot of Iraqi groups have a lot longer -- and more consistent -- history of support and good relations with the Iranian government than the U.S.)

The US position in Iraq all almost completely precludes a controllable, limited war with Iran in the style of Desert Fox, even if the US had reasonable capability to identify and target the Iranian nuclear facilities well enough to disable them all in that kind of attack. Any war with Iran poses extraordinary risk of becoming an uncontrollable conflict that involves the US forces in Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

While North Korea is fielding ballistic missiles with greater and greater range, making a strike on Alaska or Northern California increasingly possible, Iran is -- at the very best -- decades out from an ICBM capability.

Iran is pretty much exactly as far from ICBM capability as North Korea, as they cooperate on missile design and testing. North Korea is just closer to the US than Iran, and therefore needs shorter ranged missiles to threaten the US. Iran's and North Korea's ballistic missiles are the same missiles with different names.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

maybe, in your mind, that means that they all more or less have the same number of voters? 'cause it doesn't to me
Proportions, Howard. Very few voters are involved in the extremes. Parts of it is the same problem as individual voter influence (if I can explain it), and parts of it are red/blue balance.

WY makes up a small fraction of our population, half million out of two hundred and some. Less than 1/4 percent of our population is in WY. So, all things being equal, less than 1/4 percent of our voters are in WY. If all those votes suddenly swung from pure Republican to pure Democrat, you get less than a 1/2 percent shift in outcome numbers. The Repubs hold a 3.4% advantage in seats in the House (from memory). It would take 7 WYs, swinging from all R to all D, to make that up. The net influence of WY, no matter how you look at it, is miniscule. (and we're still talking the House here)

You keep looking only at that 500K to 900K swing, which looks big; convert that to dollars and the difference would make me very happy. But that difference in dollars wouldn't impress Bill Gates. You must put that 400K swing in the context of the problem at hand, which is the population of the United States.

And remember still that we have MT, which is washing out the effect of WY. We also have some blue states making out big, and some blue states making out poorly.

You are correct that voter turnout and margin of victory may make it so that Dems got more votes than Repubs in the House, but your concern over the difference in size of House districts is unwarranted.

politics, not so much
I bring the same logic and clear thinking to politics as I do to mathematics, trust me.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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