Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 15, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE FAILURE OF CONSERVATISM....One of the favorite games in conservative pundit-land these days is to weep sadly over the shocking discovery that George Bush has turned out not to be a real conservative. This is hardly a surprise. After all, even conservatives mostly acknowledge that Bush's tenure has been a disaster, and the only way to avoid the conclusion that conservatism itself is at fault is to throw Bush overboard instead.

In the Washington Monthly's cover story this month, "Why Conservatives Can't Govern," Alan Wolfe argues that this is a crock:

Conservative dissidents seem to have done an admirable job of persuading each other of the truth of their claims. Of course, many of these dissidents extolled the president's conservative leadership when he was riding high in the polls. But the real flaw in their argument is akin to that of Trotskyites who, when confronted with the failures of communism in Cuba, China and the Soviet Union, would claim that real communism had never been tried. If leaders consistently depart in disastrous ways from their underlying political ideology, there comes a point where one has to stop just blaming the leaders and start questioning the ideology.

....If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

Of course, it goes beyond this. As Wolfe points out, Americans like big government that actually solves real-life problems, and that puts a firm ceiling on just how conservative you can be and still get elected. George Bush, who got reelected by the smallest margin in the past century despite a decent economy and the tailwind of 9/11, has shown almost precisely where that limit is.

It's true that Bush has been almost uniquely incompetent among modern presidents. But the real failure of the Bush years is a fundamental failure of ideology. For the first time since 1932, conservatives have controlled every branch of government. They had a chance to show they had a real governing ideology, and it turned out they didn't.

So: Are George Bush and Tom DeLay and Bill Frist real conservatives? Of course they are. They've failed because of that, not despite it.

For other takes on this theme, see my review of Bruce Bartlett's Impostor here and Jon Chait's takedown of conservative apostacy here.

Kevin Drum 2:07 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (202)

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Comments

So: Are George Bush and Tom DeLay and Bill Frist real conservatives?

The more interesting question is whether "conservative" is a label with any analytic value.

Posted by: dj moonbat on June 15, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

There is a Republican party that can win the mid-terms in 2006 and the White House in 2008. But this Republican party isn't it.

Posted by: Acer on June 15, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Who says saboteurs don't know how to run factories?

Posted by: Ross Best on June 15, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

There is a Republican party that can win the mid-terms in 2006 and the White House in 2008. But this Republican party isn't it.

Don't forget that there's also a Democratic party that's able to lose both those elections, and this one has shown a remarkable talent for doing just that kind of thing.

Posted by: phleabo on June 15, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Digby's been flogging this idea for months.

Posted by: Rat on June 15, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

There is a Republican party, and a Republican leader, that could win this election. But todays Republican party is not that party, and George Bush is not that leader.

Or rather, this George Bush is not. There is another George Bush who could win: the George Bush who wasn't afraid to work with Ted Kennedy to pass an omnibus education bill, the George Bush who came to office vowing to slay the poisonous tone in Washington in the name of working people. But this is not that George Bush.

There is a Republican party that could play to traditional Republican strengths. It could attack the budget deficit and tax code for the huge mess that it. It could insist on the primacy of the Constitution, and the vital necessity of preserving the social programs that so many people rely on.

There is an ideal form of Republican party that could do this: the Republican party that once was, the Republican party that might be. But the Republican party that is cannot, nor certainly can its present leader. Mr. Bush cannot attack the federal tax code as illegitimatenot he has done so much to worsen the problems within it. Nor can he present himself as the man to stare down any assaults on the constitution, having done so much to undermine it threw warrantless spying programs, and the sick attempt to scapegoat gays for political gain.

Posted by: Acer on June 15, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

As awful as the Bush presidency has been, it will have its positive effects. (Ill wind and all that.) Imagine that Kerry had been elected. Today, we would be suffering through a vast chorus of right wing blame attempting to pin the loss of Iraq on John K. The waters would be so muddied that lessons could not clearly be drawn and we all know, for the American electorate to get it, the lessons must be very very simple. As it is, the policy failures of the right have been so starkly illuminated, even the Americans can understand. Of course the right will still cast their blame, but it wont stick. The many absurd ideas of the right have been bedeviling this country for a half century. At last we can put them behind us and step forward into a progressive 21st.

Posted by: James of DC on June 15, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - Thank you!

Spot on.

Posted by: craigie on June 15, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

James of DC >"...the right will still cast their blame, but it wont stick. The many absurd ideas of the right have been bedeviling this country for a half century. At last we can put them behind us and step forward into a progressive 21st."

We HAVE been blessed by their failure(s)

Time to look ahead & move forward with a positive attitude

"There's this peculiar asymmetry in time which is that you can know
everything you want about the past and you can't change a bit of it
and you can know absolutely nothing about the future but what you
do changes everything." - Stewart Brand

Posted by: daCascadian on June 15, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

This must have been Ralph Nader's cunning plan all along.

Posted by: craigie on June 15, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

That Conservative platform in full:

1. Tax cuts for my friends
2. Government subsidies for my friends
3. Massive incompetence at any actual governmental function, including military planning
4. Arbitrary wars for fun and profit
5. Confusing yourself with your country
6. Expanding the police state
7. Putting religious crackpots in charge of the government
er...
That's it

Party of Ideas, indeed!

Posted by: craigie on June 15, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

We have had 2 stolen elections and no righteous outrage. What does that say?

In 2004, as we closed to the election, I could not believe that GW maintained his credibility.

Despite his low poll now, I cannot believe that the US does not see right through this man. But they don't.

I have to admit I am in an extreme minority. Most US citizens have sucked up their school-time and present propaganda:

1) The USA is the greatest nation in the world and cannot believe that anyone else would consider their own country to be better;

2) Our President is infallible, more so than the Pope. Why anyone would consider that the US would do anything "wrong" or "hurt" any innocent people is beyond us:

3) The "war on terror" is a real war and only republicans can protect us.

This last, how close to Nazi fascism is that?

But all are lies. And only reinforced by the Dems in seats lying down. No volume, no protest, no core. Weak, weak, weak.

Why?

Because they are political creatures that listen too much ro the daily verbage. There is no political core of belief.

Too sad. Too had. We get the government we deserve.

Posted by: notthere on June 15, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Where are the trolls? Al and American Hawk, DHS doesn't pay you good money to sleep through this stuff, you know.

The real problem with hoping we'll turn around from the fiascos wrought by GOP "conservatives" is that they still control the media (either outright as in Faux News and talk radio, or indirectly via mau-mauing as in the rest of it). They're quite talented at blaming others for the disasters they create, and they can fill all public discourse with their nonsense. Not merely the conservatives themselves, but also their fellow travellers, must be completely discredited before anything positive can happen.

A Dem President and Congress taking office in 2008 will face an endless stream of attacks, lies and betrayals by all the same characters who spent the 90's making war on Clinton. The mere fact that they totally screwed up everything when they had power won't stop them or shame them for a milisecond.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 15, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry. Forgot to say, missed my main point:

The Dems have been far too passive. No wonder the electorate think they are! If the Dems want to win an election they need to have policies that make sense, not appease.

Employment, education, daycare and healthcare all make sense to many.

Dems recent record on fiscaL responsibility should be played on.

Demolish every Repug hypocrisy and broken pledge. I've said it before: "Attack"!

If the Dems don't, then why wouldn't they be seen as wimps?

Posted by: notthere on June 15, 2006 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush, who got reelected by the smallest margin in the past century despite a decent economy and the tailwind of 9/11

George Bush, who ran for two elections, lost the first, and we cannot be sure won the second...

Posted by: Jesurgislac on June 15, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

..The mere fact that they totally screwed up everything when they had power won't stop them or shame them for a milisecond.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 15, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

Just another reason to take the offensive before the election and spike these guns. I really think putting the argument out front is better than fighting a rearguard.

No one is telling the US electorate how f'ed up this administration is. How would they know? Call these guys. Take the offence!

NOW!

Posted by: notthere on June 15, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have done a remarkable job governing considering the rough waters which have defined this new American Century. George W. Bush is not the most pure specimen of what a conservative leader should be, but thanks to the grassroots movement that is the modern conservative movement he will not steer too far off the course of our patriotic destiny.

The American public recognizes this as well, even if occasionally they are misled by the weak-kneed liberal propaganda. I predict a Bush comeback. Better savor your "victories" before the next election continues the conservative march towards a Bold American Future.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK

Extend this to foreign policy and you have yourself a real theory. Beyond the tough guy campaign photo-ops and the settling of a few old grudges they just don't care.

If it wasn't for the nagging media and whining dems they'd be perfectly happy with the situation in Iraq.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 15, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

One key for Democrats is to focus on how much the war in Iraq is costing. Events in Iraq are unpredictable, and, since we all hope for the best there, we can't allow Democratic success to be tied to continued disasters in Iraq. If the GOP gets a bounce every time the news from Iraq is less than awful, that's a tactical problem for Dems. We need to restructure the playing field so that less-bad news from Iraq isn't seen as a partisan good. In order to do that, we need to say: if the news from Iraq is better, all the more reason to get our troops out quickly. And staying there is costing us $6 billion+ a month that we don't have. Bush may be able to kill a few more terrorists and pretend we're winning, but he can't pretend we're not spending money.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 4:27 AM | PERMALINK

The only conservative idea is the fear that your taxes might benefit someone else. "Why should [some undeserving person] get any of my money?"

Their sphincters are clinched so tight in dread of somebody taking something away from them that they cannot accomodate the idea that common goods would benefit us all.

Posted by: bad Jim on June 15, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

The cost of Iraq is the elephant in the room. Many govt programs are being diverted for the war effort, and BushCo is repeating LBJs mistake of fighting a war without asking the nation to pay for it. A war run on credit cards is dead certain to impoverish us. When the Chinese decide to take their trading surplusses elsewhere, or to spend them at home, we are toast.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

One key for Democrats is to focus on how much the war in Iraq is costing.

It is typical in a time of crisis and challenge for a liberal democrat to nitpick over the bill. A bolder American would "suck it in", realizing that the battles we fight today are being fought so that our children won't half to fight them while they are preparing for the next battle. This passing of the baton of boldness from Latvian father to son is the linchpin of our multi-generational strategic destiny for a brighter and bolder America.

In conclusion: typical. nitpick. "suck it in". baton. strategic destiny. Nancy Reagan.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, we liberals spent some time arguing that GWB wasn't a real conservative because he was spending so much money. That was when GWB was popular and we were trying to alienate him from his conservative base. Now that the base has picked up on this theme and GWB is no longer popular, our game is to tie GWB back to conservatism in order to help discredit the entire philosophy.

I'm not saying we shouldn't do this. Or even that it's really intellectually inconsistent. (What we're arguing is that a. conservatives claim to be in favor of small government but b. actually existing conservatism always practices big government and hence c. conservatism is incoherent and doomed.) But I'm just noting the tactical shift.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

This passing of the baton of boldness from Latvian father to son is the linchpin of our multi-generational strategic destiny for a brighter and bolder America.

"Latvian" should read "American". Moderator, please correct.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: I don't get it. Is Nancy Reagan sucking in the baton herself? Or is she strapping on the baton and passing it from father to son, who are sucking it in? And, not to nitpick, but what is her bill for suiting up and wargaming this strategic scenario?

Also, do you or do you not believe that the United States should remain the world's sole strategic dominatrix in the future?

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

It is telling that the troll dont have much to add to this discussion. Only a halfbaked AmHawk post that comes around to their main talking point, that BushCo wins elections. Governing the country isnt important to them.

Just like the old Communist apparatchiks of the 1960s-80s. Holding power is everything. Doing something useful with power is secondary. People in the posts sometimes call the BushCo courtiers "fascists" but the better parallels are with the Old Soviets. Loyalty trumps competence. Lies are standard public discourse. Disloyalty is punished. Hire thugs and trolls. Mess up and blame someone else. Because Americans dont learn history in school the Young Repubs dont realize whom they ape.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

Needless to say, American Hawk, I'm sure American voters will be very excited by the scenario you've outlined here.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 4:50 AM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. Is Nancy Reagan sucking in the baton herself? Or is she strapping on the baton and passing it from father to son, who are sucking it in? And, not to nitpick, but what is her bill for suiting up and wargaming this strategic scenario?

Well, I don't know about that. That sounds like some communism.

Also, do you or do you not believe that the United States should remain the world's sole strategic dominatrix in the future?

Only if rightly guided by a suitably magnificent American specimen! What do you guys need, pictures??

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

Acer writes above:

There is a Republican party that could play to traditional Republican strengths. It could attack the budget deficit and tax code for the huge mess that it. It could insist on the primacy of the Constitution, and the vital necessity of preserving the social programs that so many people rely on.


Yes indeed there is such a Republican Party: it is called the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton.

My recollection is not many Rs then or now wish to enlist. But we'd welcome you.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on June 15, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

American Hawk's freudian slip about Latvian fathers and his dominatrix imagery gives new meaning to the term "captive states."

Posted by: Friend of Labor on June 15, 2006 at 4:56 AM | PERMALINK

A good case can be made that the two biggest mistakes of the Bush regime were LEFTIST errors.
1) The ' Leninist' foreign adventure. Lenin wrote the book on ideological imperialism.
2) Deficit funding - uncontrolled in some parts of the pentagon budget. The most un-conservative thing you can do is not balance the books.
I don't want to stretch the analogy too far but Bush still has a long way to go to catch up with the damage a Democrat LBJ did. To say that Americans love big government is to pave the way for more classic fuck-ups like the leftist regimes of LBJ and GWB. You are either a criminal of some sort, Kevin or a completely unqualified imbecile and guilty of criminal negligence to pontificate on politics.
Which is it?
Are you in favour of mass outbreaks of crime because you are a criminal or are you simply insane?
This is the burning issue of the day.

Posted by: professor rat on June 15, 2006 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK

Because if you do need pictures, I can get you some.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

"...dominatrix imagery..."

Secretly, they long for President HRC.

Every dominatrix will tell you that their client lists are weighted heavily toward businessmen, Republicans.

Posted by: Linus on June 15, 2006 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

I'm just at work right now and it's a little difficult to, y'know, access them. My boss is one of these I-done-wrong-but-now-I'm-born-again guys. All right generally, but kind of uptight about us goofing off at work...

Okay, maybe not that uptight.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

AH: I've seen some great images of Latvian fathers and sons alternately sucking in the batons of Raisa Gorbacheva and Nancy Reagan. But be careful with that stuff. The Baltic states are still under 18, and downloading those images is a federal offense.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

OT-- I just awoke to Washington Post radio in DC (Yes. There is one.). I was too sleepy to figure out who the moderator was talking to, but the question, as sarcastically stated, was, "Well, what do you think about Karl Rove being let off the hook in the Plame investigation?"

The guest answered, "Can you believe it? You had all the Democrats in Congress pre-judging Rove, demanding he give up his security clearance! Even Howard Dean was doing that. It's just like Ronald Reagan used to say, "Now, there they go again.""

I have to find a new radio station to wake up to.

I guess we better get used to it. We're going to learn all about how we have pre-judged and abused this upstanding, innocent man. We're vile. We're low-down. We're Democrats.

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Posted by: cxmmc on June 15, 2006 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

What cxmmc said, but with more Latvians.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

cxmmc nailed it!

Posted by: Thlayli on June 15, 2006 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Wolfe is correct. Modern American conservatives think governance simply means looting the U.S. Treasury and giving the money to people who agree with you. Compromise is not in their vocabulary, yet that word is at the core of the American experiment...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 15, 2006 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

Modern American conservatives think governance simply means looting the U.S. Treasury and giving the money to people who agree with you.

Actually, the administration's policy is to give the money to the people who bankroll them. They "agree" with them in the sense that they have a deal to rob the bank and split the proceeds. All that ideology stuff is just carney barking to bring in the rubes.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 15, 2006 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

Damn good vegetarian metaphor. I'm going to rough it up a little and say "... like putting a vegetarian in charge of meatpacking plant".

Posted by: Jonmiller9 on June 15, 2006 at 6:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hard core conservative movement adherents forgive President Bush the budget deficits, the bungled disaster responses,the intrusions by government into our private lives, etc. etc. because:

a) Republicans have yet to assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions. They have a permanent victim's attitude that forgives all their failures ahead of time because they believe reforming an entrenched, liberal government is an overwhelming task that won't be completed for decades. Deficits and policy compromises are necessary evils for the short term in order to keep ahold of the levers of power. Conservatives I am personally acquainted with strongly believe they are a discriminated Christian minority outnumbered in an ongoing uphill battle against the forces of liberalism.

b) National defense trumps all other issues. It's easy to rally the base around the flag during wartime -- pledge the allegiance, support the troops, fight the enemy (he's everywhere!), WIN the war. Furthermore, Republicans are experts at using the military to leverage support for other pet issues like warrantless wiretaps, unnecessary budget programs and earmarks, opposition to campaign finance reform, even conservative judges.

Victimization and patriotism are two of modern conservatism's core beliefs. When you combine this with religious conviction and anti-intellectualism you have a recipe for intolerance. And when all this is combined with cronyism and corruption you have the Bush Administration.

Something else that impresses me about modern conservatism is the shallowness of the talent pool. The Bush administration is calling conservatives up to the bigs from local, single A teams to oversee important agency programs when their only previous experience has been raising campaign funda in Topeka or organizing college Republican rallies in Houston.

The classic example of this for me was that Texas A&M dropout George Deutsch who was put in charge of reviewing studies about global warming by NASA's leading climatologist. This kid was blocking the release of important scientific findings because it undermined the Bush administration's industry-oriented energy and environmental policies. This has been another Bush administration hallmark -- shaping science to the policy. Takes us back to Galileo and the Pope Urban VIII.

Putting incompetents in charge of government programs gives leadership a convenient scapegoat when the overwhelmed movement operative does outrageous things. It deflects attention from the real source of the problem. But this has happened so often in the Bush administration that I think people are finally beginning to connect the dots.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

What Bush is has been apparent from the beginning, so it is disingenuous of the "Conservatives" to act so appalled now. They were glad to go along with him when he was handing out tax cuts and was personally popular. They abandon him only when his incompetent fraudulence doesn't play anymore.

Posted by: bob h on June 15, 2006 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush is a radical fascist, not a conservative, whose only interest is in forming the complete corporate state.

There have been no real conservatives in power in the Republican party since the Dixiecrats and their wretched ilk were displaced by LBJ. The Conservative party is dead, and has been dead for forty years. Its name is as meaningful those of the Republican, or Democratic parties.

Posted by: m on June 15, 2006 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

Although I'm not a Republican or conservative, the Dems are in trouble in November. The one big issue is still Iraq and if the only response from the Democrats is the split, as per yesterday, between Kerry and Clinton, then the party is in trouble.
No matter how wrong you think Bush is, what was it Bill Clinton said--- about how voters would rather have somebody who is wrong but sure of himself and steadfast, than not wrong but all over the place, i.e. the opposition.

Posted by: JohnnyTremaine on June 15, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush is a radical fascist

Nonsense. President Bush is 100% conservative fascist and a virtuous American would not have it any other way.

You are wrong about the death of conservatism, my liberal friend. For you see, inside each and every little American boy and girl beats a throbbing conservative. These young patriots will pass on the aforementioned baton of destiny to their own offspring, as we the vanguard have to them.

You cannot stop the baton, little man. You can only anger it.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

If I remember correctly it was Ronald Reagan who came to Washington saying, "Government is the problem" and ever since then so-called conservatives have felt justified in running to be elected to be in charge of an institution that they don't believe in.

Combine that with the huge opportunities for self-enrichment together with a complete lack of responsibility for the consequences of their actions and you have the FUBAR mess that we have today.

There is no other way to put it: They. Don't. Care.

It's not incompetence in the sense that the word is usually meant. It's not ineptitude. It's a complete distortion of what government is understood to contribute. It's closer to a pathology.

Posted by: JB on June 15, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT, but this is something I've been confused about for a long, long time: How is it that the GOP can be both the "Party of Lincoln" and the home to southern Confederate sympathizers at the same time?

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: Moonlight on June 15, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT, but this is something I've been confused about for a long, long time: How is it that the GOP can be both the "Party of Lincoln" and the home to southern Confederate sympathizers at the same time?

Do we contradict ourselves? We contain multitudes of batons.

Seriously, that information is only divulged to those who reach GOP Thetan Level III. If you think you've got what it takes to reach that level, send me an e-mail. We'll discuss the fee and get you started on the paperwork.

If you want to stay down here with the Latvians, all you need to know is this: we have a very big tent. It's made out of baby seal fur, but we like it.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 15, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Great post, Kevin.

troglodyte wrote: The cost of Iraq is the elephant in the room. Many govt programs are being diverted for the war effort, and BushCo is repeating LBJs mistake of fighting a war without asking the nation to pay for it.

Indeed, and even worse, Bush insists -- still! -- on paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with tax cuts. Talk about unserious on national defense -- Bush is it, baby.

Posted by: Gregory on June 15, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

From where I am here in the middle of June the Democrats seem to be hell bent on self-destruction. Everything is laid out for them. The Republican President is deeply unpopular. The Republican Congress is equally or even more unpopular. The Republicans are proudly corrupt to boot. (Have you read about Denny Hastard's earmarks that built a highway near his land--increasing its value many times--and he is one of the more honest Republican leaders.)

What the Democrats need is Newt Gingrich (or somebody like him) to focus the party on the process of winning. Instead we get Rahm Emmanual. Pathetic.

My guess is the Democratic party is about one or maybe two election cycles away from utter collapse. I suspect it is time for folks to start thinking about a new progressive party. Results oriented, free of inside the beltway domination and probably forged by the netroots.

Can you really believe the party insiders think Hillary has a chance in 2008. Neither can I. They are just jerking off over Hillary because they are paid to jerk off. Do you want to be lead by professional masters of their own domains.

Don't you wish we had a party with a better ideology than "had enough" and a better slogan that "together we can do better." Me too.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 15, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that there is gambling going on here.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on June 15, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

If you want to stay down here with the Latvians, all you need to know is this: we have a very big tent. It's made out of baby seal fur, but we like it.

If I could ask President Bush one question at a Presidential debate, it would be this: If you were alive during the time of the Civil War, would you have supported the Union or the Confederacy?

Think he would give a straight answer?

Posted by: Moonlight on June 15, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

"'Latvian' should read 'American'. Moderator, please correct."


Also, I'd like a peanut butter sandwich and a hot stone massage. Chop chop. That sandwich isn't going to make itself, you know.

Posted by: fat smelly birkel on June 15, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

I hate these guys. Hate, loathe, despise.

But I bet these scum-sucking dogs will still prevail in November. Because Americans have shown themselves to be ignorant fools, so easily played by BushCo. Sure, the polls sound good now, but in the booth these morons will stay the course.

I don't hate America. But I sure hate Americans -- half of 'em, anyway.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on June 15, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Don't you wish we had a party with a better ideology than "had enough" and a better slogan that "together we can do better." Me too.

Perhaps, but the election isnt now, and the issues that will drive the outcome will continue to evolve. The Dems arent running this cycle to take over the Govt. Practically speaking, they mainly can block the ongoing disasters of BushCo. How often has a midterm election turned on motivations other than the positive or negative perception of the party in power?

The money question for Iraq is still key. Frankly, if the Chinese and Japanese and Arab Shieks could be relied upon to fund our war and our consumption and our real estate bubble in perpetuity, the American people would re-elect BushCo and their baton twirlers again and again. The American consumer is pretty stretched, however, and the Foreign Central Banks wont invest in Fannie Mae securities once the mortgages go belly up. No one knows when the tipping point will occur, but many think it has already been passed. HELOC withdrawals have stalled and credit card debt is rising to maintain consumption. It wont be long before we hear a lot about the teeth in the new bankruptcy law.

In my opinion the Dems should keep their powder dry for the next few months. For politicians to engage in elaborate policy squabbles when they dont have power is counterproductive. Leave that to the thinktanks and the bloggers for now.

I recommend www.xanga.com/russwinter for the curious. Im not Mr. Winter, I just read his blog. It is flamboyant, but insider.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Not to harp on the small stuff, but c'mon:

"world-class boeuf bourguignon" to describe a meat entree?!?

Is it any wonder that people refer to liberals as elites? Talk about playing to your stereotype.

Next time, try "world-class burger" or at least "world-class filet mignon".

Posted by: J in Philly on June 15, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Report: $1.4 Billion Went to Fraudulent Aid for Katrina Victims

what is up with this...

Posted by: denny on June 15, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

If leaders consistently depart in disastrous ways from their underlying political ideology, there comes a point where one has to stop just blaming the leaders and start questioning the ideology.

Slightly OT, but this is a brilliant point that I would like to see applied to religious ideology as well: when people have used Christianity as inspiration/justification for human, all-too-human activities ever since Constantine himself, it's time to stop pretending that they are somehow false Christians who just don't get the real message. It's inextricably tied up with the nature of religious belief itself.

Posted by: John Lenin on June 15, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

The more interesting question is whether "conservative" is a label with any analytic value.

It has the same analytic value as 'Milwaukee Brewers'. It is the name of a team, period.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 15, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

troglodyte

Interesting site.

I still think we would be better off spending this summer defining whe people should vote Democratic. We know that the Republicans are on the ropes. Except for the immigration issue Republicans got nothing and we are doing pretty well on that issue. Their base will probably sit on their hands this fall. That said we still have to give people reasons to vote Democratic other than "we are not them." If that is all we do our base will sit on its hands. We will lose because their base is bigger than our base.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 15, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

God, I wish I could edit on this site. Even congressmen get to revise and extend their remarks.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 15, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

The problem I have with that commentary is that substitute the word conservative for progressive and you've almost got an article written for National Review already. On both sides of the aisle, there is a large gap between ideology and political reality, and that gap is filled with lobbyists for big business. It's why Bush is hardly a true conservative just as Clinton was hardly a true progressive. In Washington, these terms just don't mean anything.

Posted by: Quinn on June 15, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Think Harding with a war and you get Bush. Same bluster, same incompetence, same corruption, same Congress.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on June 15, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

There is a conservatism that is distinguishable from today's REpublican party. Think of the moderate section of the Republican party during the Eisenhower years. But that conservatism has no presence in todays' baby-boomer Republican party. If it's legacy remains at all in American politics, it has more of a home among moderate Democrats.

Today's Republicans are essentially of the old Southerner school: low taxes, low wages, corrupt good ol' boy government, lousy public schools, and a whole political and social structure intended to lock in the wealth and position of the currently privileged, while pulling up the ladder of advancement from the majority.

Posted by: vanessa on June 15, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

So, using that logic, he is elgigible to run for POTUS again?

Yep, it's Charlie...

Back on topic, it's worth remembering P.J. O'Rourke's aphorism from many years ago: Republicans preach that government doesn't work, then get elected and prove it.

Posted by: Gregory on June 15, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent comment, vanessa. If howard were here, I'm sure he'd remind us that Bush received a majority of votes in the former Confederacy but lost the rest of the country by more than two million.

Posted by: Gregory on June 15, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

This is the most liberally delusional post yet. Kevin claims that Bush was elected with the smallest margin ever despite a good economy and the tailwind of 9/11. This is in direct opposition to what you moonbats were crying about during the election, that Bush would lose because of the poor economy and the "qaugmire" in Iraq. I don't even think you guys listen to what you say anymore, just throwing shit out in a desperate attempt to regain power.

The left has no vision, no core values, no platform, no brains, no mommentum and certainly no chance to win in '06 or '08.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Greggy, please pull out that electoral map again, you know the one with a lot of red and a little blue all over it. You'll find that there are ZERO blue states, only counties. Pockets of blue in a SEA of red.

And please please please follow the advice of brooksfoe and notthere and tell Americans that international law should dictate when and where our military is used. Pleeeaase.

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

You'll find that there are ZERO blue states, only counties. Pockets of blue in a SEA of red.

Putting aside the fact that it's not 2004 any more, you'd still only have a point if this country was founded on the principle of one acre, one vote.

Posted by: Killjoy on June 15, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

The only conservative idea is the fear that your taxes might benefit someone else. "Why should [some undeserving person] get any of my money?"

Oscar Wilde quipped that Puritanism is the haunting idea that someone, somewhere, is having a good time. To paraphrase him, then, it seems that conservatism is the haunting idea that someone, somewhere, is being helped with "your" money.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Just like the Bilbray election in CA, you guys seem to always find the victory in defeat. Well done. It's a good role for you.

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Bush Tried

He Tried to fix social security -- The democrats blocked him

He tried to save marriage -- The democrats blocked him

He's trying to protect the country -- the democrats are blocking him

He's trying to keep our taxes low -- the democrats are blocking him

The problem isn't PRESIDENT BUSH, It's the senate.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 15, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan, and you're the one who doesn't want to send anymore money to Iraq. Again, do you guys even pay attention to the drivel you spew?

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Per J in Philly: "Next time, try 'world-class burger' or at least 'world-class filet mignon'."

My thought esxactly, except that I would have said "good barbecue."

Posted by: Andrew on June 15, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

boeuf bourguignon? Is Mr. Wolfe trying to sound like an elitist pratt?

How about:

Like letting vegitarians cook your steak

or

Like letting Luddites run your data center

Short, snappy.

Good elevator phrases.

Posted by: SFOtter on June 15, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

pj in Jesusland,

You sure got that right - at least concerning the Levitican half of the GOP. Permanent 'victim mode' with all the perqs and problems that brings with it.

The reason their talent-pool is so shallow is two fold: First, they don't value or reward competence, so those with true competence are likely to seek work elsewhere. Second, and maybe I'm deluding myself but I hope not, I think most people really do have a concience and really do want to be 'productive' and so many people eventually see the shallowness of the Levitican message and bail out.

For example, imagine that a youngster has a deep curiosity about the world and has the smarts to study it. He takes a Levitican course in science and after scratching the surface of the mysteries of the world he is stopped by "God did it." That's the message of creationism - "God did it, so stop your investigation here."

He is then steered to the Bible and expected to make sense and reconcile the convoluted stories within it. How exciting is that for him? How fulfilling? Not very.

Posted by: Tripp on June 15, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush is a radical fascist, not a conservative, whose only interest is in forming the complete corporate state. There have been no real conservatives in power in the Republican party since the Dixiecrats and their wretched ilk were displaced by LBJ.

Actually, I'd disagree. Conservatism has always, deep down, been about consolidating corporate economic and state police power, suppressing dissent, and stealing money for the haves at the expense of the have-nots. It was true when conservatives were 18th and 19th century monarchists and it's true now. If anyone can point me to a real world historical example of a "conservative" government that was authentically small government, respectful of civil liberties, and fiscally prudent, I'd be astonished.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Don't you wish we had a party with a better ideology than "had enough" and a better slogan that "together we can do better."

My idea was "together better we can do" but listen to me did they? They not did.

Posted by: Master Yoda on June 15, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, Eli Rabett, President Harding was never "re-elected".

Because Harding died in office.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

John Galbraith's characterization of conservatism as a quest to wrap greed and selfishnes in a pseudo-intellectual package will always apply.

Posted by: nut on June 15, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't PRESIDENT BUSH, It's the senate

I am happy to see that TruthPolitik shares my belief in the absolute necessity of a Democratic Senate.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 15, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Master Yoda,

Actually, I believe that your syntax might force the Dem spinmeisters their slogans to shorten. Might a good exercise be. Believe in elevator soundbites too I do. People to parse your words carefully forces.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Quinn beat me to the obvious point about Washington. Idealists on both the left and right will inevitably be disappointed and their plans frustrated by the realities of lobbyist-driven politics.

What idealists don't accept is that in the course of human history the occasions on which high-minded ideals have carried the day in politics have been so vanishingly rare as to be essentially nonexistent. Politics are about the distribution of power, pure and simple. Politics can exist without democracy, and the existence of elections only adds a small measure of accountability to a nasty, brutish, corrupt process that would exist anyway.

The other thing to remember is that all politics are tribal. The average person doesn't know or care much about issues unless something affects them personally. The average person simply wants someone from their own tribe (someone who shares their basic attitudes and values) to be in charge.

Posted by: ajl on June 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

He tried to save marriage -- The democrats blocked him

I know, isn't it too bad there's no marriage anymore? I'd been planning to marry a girl someday, but now that marriage is destroyed and there's only gay marriage left I suppose I won't be able to and will have to marrry some guy instead....

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I absolutely agree with Kevin's analysis, but would somebody tell me one good reason why I should vote for Democrats. Don't tell me they aren't Republicans. That isn't a good reason to vote for a Democrat.

I really have come to the conclusion that the followers of both conservative and liberal political philosphies (along with their respecitve Republican and Democratic parties) have lost their tao. The Democratic party stopped being a national party in 1994, and the Republican party stopped trying to be one more recently. Both are waiting to be replaced. By what I don't yet know, but I suspect we will all find out.

Again, give me a reason to vote for a Democrat, any Democrat. By the way to my way of thinking Russ Feingold comes the closest to being a Democrat I would vote for.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 15, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

troglodyte: Actually, I believe that your syntax might force the Dem spinmeisters their slogans to shorten. Might a good exercise be. Believe in elevator soundbites too I do. People to parse your words carefully forces.

Agree more not could I.

Posted by: Master Yoda on June 15, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Eli Rabett:

At least Harding knew how to party.

Posted by: RWB on June 15, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

, but would somebody tell me one good reason why I should vote for Democrats. Don't tell me they aren't Republicans.

Man to EMT trying to bandage bleeding scalp: "Don't just tell me to stop hitting myself over the head with a hammer. Tell me something positive I should do with the hammer."

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 15, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives never had any problem embracing Ronald Reagan's deficits and growth of government spending, because he was popular. Someone should ask them what sins against conservatism Bush has committed that Reagan didn't. Offhand, I can think of two: trying to tamper with the constitution (gay marriage) and nationbuilding (the War in Iraq). And conservatives have generally SUPPORTED both of those.

What being a conservative really means is doing away with as much regulation as possible, shoveling as much money to rich corporations and individuals as possible, and screwing everybody else. Oh, and packing the government with incompetent idealogues who hate the agencies they "work" for. Bush has done all of those successfully. But his poll numbers are horrendous, so they've disowned him. Surprise, surprise.

One quibble, however: I'm a vegetarian who cooks wicked-good meat dishes for my family and my guests. However, if mine were the main meat dishes they were generally exposed to, I'd probably cook meat dishes really badly in the hope of converting them. And that's what conservatives do: They "do" government really badly and then say, See, look how bad goverment is!

Posted by: sullijan on June 15, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK
'When I left college,' he said, 'I did not properly update my rsum. As a result, it may appear misleading to some. However, I was up front with NASA about my undergraduate status when they hired me.'

It may have appeared misleading because George's rsum during college stated that he'd already graduated (!) even though he failed to ever finish his degree. His rsum was already a lie.

Does it seem likely that he simply forgot that he'd never graduated from college when he went to NASA?

Doubtful.

And NASA didn't "hire" l'il lying Georgie: he was appointed to his job by the Bush administration for being a faithful campaign worker. One of the key qualifications for that position at NASA? A strong background in science in order to understand and communicate complex scientific issues to the press. L'il Georgie's science background?

None.

And appealing to the AP stylebook on the use of the word "theory" is not enforcing "pre-existing" policy. Neither is attempting to stop NASA scientists from delivering data on global warming becaue it's politically inconvenient for the White House. But here's the idiot in his own words:

it is not NASA's place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator. I know the particular context of these pieces doesn't lend itself to getting into this particular debate, and that's fine with me. But we, as NASA, must be diligent here, because this is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one half of this debate from NASA. That would mean that we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.

Yes, God forbid NASA not tell young people that the creation story in Genesis is what they should be studying if they want to be astrophysicists. It's clear that our top space agency should be using it's probes and telescopes to prove a Creator; you know, looking for heaven in faraway nebulae or signs of angels playing in the stars.

And if NASA has the temerity to tell us that the moon is ridged and not a smooth disk in contradiction to scripture, then I say we place the entire organization under house arrest until they recant.

Posted by: trex on June 15, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Sullijan the truth speaks. Conservatives with big deficits happy are. As long as the bill during their term of office not come. Read the lips of George-I we did, because he at the table was sitting when came Ronnie's free-lunch bill.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't PRESIDENT BUSH, It's the senate.

Real leaders don't make excuses, they get things done. If Bush can't lead a Republican congress, what can he do ?

Posted by: Stephen on June 15, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik actually does a good job of illustrating what the current GOP is best at: the politics of blame. Bush apologists seek to escape any level of accountablity by having an imagined scape goat for every problem.

The biggest disasters are entirely a creation of the GOP and the Bush administration. The failure to plan for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq has no one to blame but the President. The rise of pork is the work of the GOP majority. The reckless tax cuts, the same. Bush's proposal to destroy Social Security was far to expensive as well as reckless, and it was defeated not just by the Democrats but by bipartisan opposition with the support of the vast majority of Americans. Odd that he decided to come out with his major domestic initiative for the second term only after the campaign, but thats because America didnt want the snake oil he was selling.

The Medicare Modernization Act that was passed through abuse of voting rules, deception and bribery, is aptly described in the linked article: "Caught between the market and the state, Republicans picked the worst features of each. No single human being could have designed a program as unwieldy as this one. It took the combined efforts of every faction in today's conservative movement to produce a public policy so removed from common sense."

As for protecting the nations security, Bush has gotten everything he asked for from Congress - everything. It is his administrations incompetence and its partisan approach to international affairs that have resulted in America becoming less secure and safe.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 15, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Under no circumstances can the fearless leader be blamed for any disaster that is a direct consequence of his decisions.

Posted by: nut on June 15, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Catch22 shorter: BushCo honor and integrity not have.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the "Contract with America" ?

Remember how the Cons were going to close the Department of Education and the Department of Energy ?

Term limits ?

Reduce spending ?

End the influence of special interests ?

Change the tone in Washington ?

Wow, that was some revolution..

Posted by: Stephen on June 15, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

To get back to Kevin's original post, of all people in the world, David Brooks put the whole thing in a nutshell on the Newshour many months ago:

"If you hate government, you can't govern."

Posted by: Grandma on June 15, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

For most "Republicans", conservatism is whatever Rush Limbaugh says it is.

Posted by: Stephen on June 15, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

trex,

The talking points they gave me didn't address any of that. Hold on while I find out what I'm supposed to be saying.

Posted by: Charlie on June 15, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell is "boeuf bourguignon"?

Sounds French you silly surrender monkey.

Posted by: ckelly on June 15, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

bush was never elected by ANY margin either in 2000 or 2004.


Oh, and he aint leavin in 2008

Posted by: marblex on June 15, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama hit this theme during his closing speech at the Take Back America conference yesterday, saying that the reason things were so bad now wasn't because conservative policies hadn't worked the way they were supposed to, but because they had.

Posted by: KCinDC on June 15, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Bush's proposal to destroy Social Security was far to expensive as well as reckless, and it was defeated not just by the Democrats but by bipartisan opposition with the support of the vast majority of Americans. Odd that he decided to come out with his major domestic initiative for the second term only after the campaign, but thats because America didnt want the snake oil he was selling."

Catch22 on June 15, 2006 at 11:02 AM

Don't forget that the Dems/Kerry made the claim that Bush was going to do what he did on Social Security in the 2004 campaign only to have it dismissed as fear mongering without basis by the GOP and the Bush/Cheney campaign. I sometimes think the best strategy for the Dems is to take the predictions they were right about and how those predictions were received by Bush and the GOP and then follow it up with those predictions being true and that the GOP/Bush lied when they claimed otherwise initially. Much of the problem in America is a lack of any long term memory, if you focused on that and trying to show the chain of events that the GOP and Bush have followed to take America to where it is then perhaps the American people might finally start laying the blame where it belongs, on Bush and the GOP.

After all it is the Dems that have the track rcord of accurately foreseeing the future far more so than the GOP, the GOP just has a much louder voice to drown this out with. Take that away and the GOP are in real trouble.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Scotian on June 15, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Your stirring defense of Mr. Deutsch just confirms for me the extent to which conservatives will go to deny & defend the incompetence of fellow movement travelers.

Mr. Deutsch's job was to communicate an understanding of science. Not only did Mr. Deutsch have no background for his job, he chose -- chose -- to inject unproven, personal religious conviction into his professional responsibilities in a manner that undermined the message of NASA's highly qualified scientists.

Given the choice between a NASA scientist with a PhD and a Christian Texas A&M dropout, give me the NASA scientist any day.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"Given the choice between a NASA scientist with a PhD and a Christian Texas A&M dropout, give me the NASA scientist any day."

It doesn't matter what YOU want - Deutsch was the POTUS's choice and the POTUS was his boss - get it?!

Posted by: Charlie on June 15, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

> As Wolfe points out, Americans like big
> government that actually solves real-life
> problems, and that puts a firm ceiling on j
> just how conservative you can be and still get
> elected.

Of course, they also seem to like a bit of authoritarianism (not to say facism) as well. The problem comes in when a dedicated group of radicals (whose personal politics are uncertain) seizes control of the so-called "conservative Republican" party and starts implementing fascism.

I honestly don't see how we can avoid that, since the desire of many American voters for a Big Daddy figure to keep them "safe" seems unquenchable.

Not Really

Posted by: Not Really on June 15, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

"The problem isn't PRESIDENT BUSH, It's the senate.

Real leaders don't make excuses, they get things done. If Bush can't lead a Republican congress, what can he do ?

Posted by: Stephen on June 15, 2006 at 11:02 AM"

Just wanted to point out that Bush did try to do a lot of the things that conservatives wanted. But so far has failed in a lot of them. Perhaps that explains his fall with conservatives. Since the republicans don't have a filibuster proof majority in the senate the democrats can block anything they don't agree with.

Don't equate the Presidents fall in popularity with conservatives with any gain for democrats. Conservatives will still vote for conservative candidates. Actually it could point to a rise in popularity for conservative candidates.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 15, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

amuurrrikkans refuse to accept their inevitable deaths.

objectively viewed, you have a greater chance of having a grand piano fall from a twenty story building on to your head than you do of dying in a "terrorist" (i.e. seemingly unprovoked criminal act of violence against unarmed civilians) attack.

Yet people are willing to surrender all the freedoms hard fought for by their fathers and grandfathers for the illusion of safety.

OK so...you have given up all your freedoms so the govment can protect you from a "terrorist" attack. You walk outside to your mailbox to get your morning paper and BLAM! Smashed to smithereens by a speeding bus.

Get it?

Posted by: marblex on June 15, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Just wanted to point out that Bush did try to do a lot of the things that conservatives wanted.

Like expanding Medicare ?

No Child Left Behind ?

Record spending ?

Maybe those "conservatives" in congress aren't as conservative as you think.

Posted by: Stephen on June 15, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

The reason conservatives can't govern is that their political rhetoric is just a cover for their gangsterism and fascism. Real nice rhetoric. Great sound bytes. Thuggish SOBs.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 15, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Don't equate the Presidents fall in popularity with conservatives with any gain for democrats.

Actually, I agree with this. I'm far less optimistic about this fall than many posters above. I just see nothing to get my hopes up. Many voters are entrenched down party lines - see CA50 results - and will never vote for those evil leeberuls!

Posted by: ckelly on June 15, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie,

Tripp:

I thought that the message of creationism was "God did it, but feel free to explore even if you can't understand it all"?

Huh?

That is my personal faith statement, but my understanding was that creationists did not want "Evolution" studied or taught because it was blasphemous in their belief system.

In other words "feel free to explore in certain areas but not others."

I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday. It said "Oh, Evolve."

Posted by: Tripp on June 15, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

It is true, conservative ideology is a failure. Unfortunately, the electorate is too stupid to notice and too easily fooled/hypnotized by mass media, which is part of the conservative establishment and continues to repeat the conservative talking points.

Posted by: Hostile on June 15, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Inasmuch as the basic tenet of conservatism is to be intensely skeptical of all change, if not to always oppose it, the ideology cannot succeed in the long run.

Liberals should take heart in this simple fact.

Posted by: nut on June 15, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon

Out of curiosity, are there any vegetarian 4-star chefs?

Posted by: Thinker on June 15, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum has already answered your question.

Posted by: Hostile on June 15, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I just went through and read this thread from start to finish.

It starts out like a nice walk.
All of a sudden the trolls arrive en masse and it turns into a walk through a cow pasture.

A couple of thoughts
- Dubya isn't a conservative in the way that conservatives like to think of themselves, but
- Dubya is a conservative in that he provides shitty government like his conservative predecessors.

Also
- boeuf bourguignon is beef stew
- invading Iraq was not "nation building", the correct word is Imperialism

Have a nice day.


Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 15, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

THE OVER YON HILL GANG that I run with , are all in their mid-seventys and are all rouge independents.
We are all of the opinion that GWB and the leaders of the senate , house , various members of both parties
and many people appointed to positions ; are the WILD
FLOWERS OF BOTH PARTIES---BLOOMING IDIOTS
craigie --- notthere ---
You two have your scope zeroed in !
One thing you did not say . GWG has filled churches
with people listening to motivational speakers on how to get rich by giving them their hard earned money or buy my book or c.d. ( ugh-- sorry , it was free for a nominal gift to the poor. )

Posted by: MR. SHORTY on June 15, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Have you ever read NASA's Strategic Plan, or any agency's strategic plan for that matter?

Below I have copied a statement verbatim describing NASA's approved Strategic Goals for the next 10 years. All of NASA's work, day in and day out, is dedicated to supporting of the achievement of these goals.

If declarations of God's role in the creation of the universe do not directly support these goals, NASA is not obligated to make them. So, it's not a question of what you think NASA should be doing or saying about Intelligent Design. Get it?

Mr. Deutsch is entirely within his rights to make declarations about God's role in the creation of the universe on his own time, but not as part of his professional duties as a NASA spokesperson (a job he lied on his resume to get). Deutsch's statements about God fell entirely outside NASA's established strategic plan. In other words, Mr. Deutsch not only failed to fulfill NASA's mission, he was wasting other peoples' time as well.

Mr. Deutsch's case is an example of how putting ideology before professionalism leads to incompetence. You should not defend incompetence unless you are willing to be judged by these standards.

Here you go:

NASA's Mission:

To pioneer the future in space exploration,
scientific discovery, and aeronautics research.

NASAS STRATEGIC GOALS: 2006 THROUGH 2016

Strategic Goal 1: Fly the Shuttle as safely as possible until its retirement, not later than 2010

Strategic Goal 2: Complete the International Space Station in a manner consistent with
NASAs International Partner commitments and the needs of human exploration

Strategic Goal 3: Develop a balanced overall program of science, exploration, and aeronautics
consistent with the redirection of the human spaceflight program to focus on exploration

Strategic Goal 4: Bring a new Crew Exploration Vehicle into service as soon as possible
after Shuttle retirement.

Strategic Goal 5: Encourage the pursuit of appropriate partnerships with the emerging
commercial space sector.

Strategic Goal 6: Establish a lunar return program having the maximum possible utility for
later missions to Mars and other destinations.

Source: 2006 NASA Strategic Plan, pp. 3,4

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you mean 1931, not 1932, since the Democrats retook the House after a few vacancy elections?

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on June 15, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here's my analogy: The conservatives have spent the last 25 years telling us if we jump off the Chrysler Building and flap our arms vigorously, we'll be able to fly. And now that the streets are littered with bloody carcasses, they're telling us the problem is the Chysler Building isn't tall enough. If we'll just leap off the Sears Tower, everything will work out just like they said...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on June 15, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Now go do your homework and learn how adults in presidentially appointed positions are supposed to behave.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

are there any vegetarian 4-star chefs?

I cook a mean "Not Dog"

Posted by: ckelly on June 15, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

They must taste lousy if they ain't got no dog in 'em. The dog gives them their bite!

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 15, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: It is typical in a time of crisis and challenge for a liberal democrat to nitpick over the bill.

Yet it is okay for conservatives to pick over the bill for governmental actions that actually would save lives, instead of causing deaths, in places like the Sudan and America.

Which just goes to show that American Chickenhawk embraces those Republican mottos: IOKIYAR and AGIYAC.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 15, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes Wolfe: Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

An ethical vegetarian would not prepare the flesh of a cow, a pig, a chicken, a fish or the flesh of any animal, to be eaten.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 15, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Having conservatives in complete control of the government for the past 6 years reminds me a joke from the part of the country I grew up in: "It's like making love to a skunk - I don't know if I got all I wanted but I got all I could take!"

At this juncture, I don't know that the American people have had all they could take yet but I think we may find out in 2006 and in 2008. If we Americans haven't had enough by either year, it's pretty clear that we just enjoy misery more than any previous generation. I'm guessing that, by 2012, the conservatives will have developed governmental incompetence to a degree rarely matched in world history. Well, maybe that'll be a point of pride for many of our citizens.

Posted by: Taobhan on June 15, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how conservatives want to pay the bill for Iraqi freedom (ha ha), but don't want to pay the bill for:

1) returning soldiers who are maimed;

2) hazard pay for soldiers serving in Iraq;

3) body armor for soldiers serving in Iraq;

4) vehicle armor for soldiers serving in Iraq;

5) medical care for our veterans;

6) to stop global warming;

7) to provide every American with health care;

8) to ensure a basic retirement safety net for all Americans;

9) to stop our children from dying from AIDs and becoming ill from other STDs;

10) to ensure a job for every American;

11) to stop child sexual abuse and prostitution;

12) to ensure clean water and a pollution-free environment;

13) to ensure worker safety;

14) to cure cancer;

15) to provide more vaccines;

16) provide more police protection;

17) to ensure good nutrition for all Americans;

18) etc, etc, etc.

Why do conservatives love Iraqis more than their fellow Americans?

The only bills they want to pay are, well, none.

Not even their own.

They expect a lobbyist or the taxpayers to pay their bills for sporting events, golfing, sailing, drinking, whoring, and gambling.

Now they are going to jail for it.

Good.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 15, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

At this juncture, I don't know that the American people have had all they could take yet but I think we may find out in 2006 and in 2008. If we Americans haven't had enough by either year, it's pretty clear that we just enjoy misery more than any previous generation.

Yeah, that (Americans want to be miserable), or your analysis is wrong.

Hmmm....which one of those things seems more likely?

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yes or no - do you think it is NASAs place to make a declaration about the existence of the universe WITH THE PURPOSE of discounting intelligent design by a Creator? If you actually think that is the Agency's PURPOSE, then we will simply have to disagree - luckily for me, though, you are not the head of NASA ; )

1) NASA has made no such purposeful declaration.

2) If NASA were to prove conclusively without a single shred of doubt that the universe came into existence via a "Big Bang," it would not preclude the agency of a Creator setting it in motion. The mechanism of universe expansion and who (if anyone) set such a mechanism in place are two different questions.

3) In virtue of being an objective scientific and investigative body, NASA should in no way be constrained from reporting on discoveries that might by some interpretations contradict a given scriptural position, religious tradition, or Bush administration meme.

Attempting to limit NASA's scientific inquiry or prevent the dissemination of the results of that inquiry is the same 16th century logic that was used to justify imprisoning Galileo.

Posted by: trex on June 15, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

The fundamental ethic of the American people and, indeed, the ethic of humanity, is the desire to get something in return for nothing.

It is true that Americans want big government, but only if they think some other Americans are paying for it. It is ironic that it is only government and politicians that can get people to believe this is actually possible.

Posted by: Karl Rove on June 15, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The real flaw is not in the ideology per se. Its ideology itself.

America, and all English speaking countries are founded and have prevailed under the system we call "common law". As Oliver Wendall Holmes stated - the common law is based upon pragmatism: choosing, indiscriminately, from the market place of ideas, the idea best suited, though narrowly taylored, to a specific issue.

Its an ideological patchwork system - not a blanket monolythic ideology. Its not simple its not easy, but it works exceedingly well.

Ideology represents a single solution to all questions, no matter how complex or arcane.

Simply stated, no philosophy maps to all conditions. Therefore all ideologies fail: Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Falangism, Anarchism, you name it, they all fail.

Concerning architecture, Churchill once said: We shape it, and it inturn shapes us" (paraphrased).

The same can be said of the Law. We shape it, and it in turn shapes us: our culture, and our politics.

Common Law, centuries ago, developed a bias towards liberty out of a desire for fair, but inexpensive and efficient justice.

Liberty was justice on the cheap because it doesn't cost much to enforce. Thus, where ever it doesn't affect fairness, liberty often prevails.

Eventually, liberty made the jump from law to culture. And after that, it made the jump from culture to politics, just in time for the war of independence. Without fairness and justice, liberty begets tyranny (paraphrased from Simon Wiesenthal).

Getting back to where I started - America's politics was and is shaped by its culture which inturn was shaped by its legal system, and that legal system is the common law - all of which are inherently un-idiological.

In civics, in governance, in law, in all things, the only ideology is pragmatism couched in fairness, with an eye towards decency and a bias towards liberty.

Pragmatism works, everything else, sooner or later, won't.

Posted by: Bubbles on June 15, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's true: George W. Bush isn't a conservative. But this doesn't mean he's a liberal. He's a reactionary. So are most of those who continue to support him.

Since the Great Backlash began in 1968, Americans have been giving heed to these people, who formerly were a fringe element. They were the people who took out that infamous ad that appeared in Texas newspapers on the morning of JFK's assassination: "Welcome, Mr. Kennedy, to Dallas." Look up that ad sometime, and read it: you'll find many of the same positions advocated by so-called "mainstream conservatives" today. They were personified by Joseph McCarthy, whose reprehensible tactics and absurd assertions held sway for a time but were put down by more responsible voices. (Today, McCarthy would be a regular on the cable-news television circuit, never suffering any real career-threatening disgrace no matter what he said or did. See also Coulter, Ann.)

Reactionaries govern poorly because they lack any serious principle - except, fundamentally, knowing what they hate. They don't know precisely what it is they want to do; they only know what they want to put a stop to. Their only mode is to react (hence the name): to grow angry, to lash out, and plan to strike back. Behaving this way leads to continual contradictions: they say they're for small government (because that was a reaction to some so-called "big government" action they didn't like), but if it will help them they will actually make government larger. They say they're for less regulation, but they're eager to pass many kinds of regulation to govern the lives of citizens they don't like. This is because there is no principle involved; there is only reaction.

As America's position in the world has declined over the last thirty to forty years, reactionary politics have gained popularity because they are the desperate graspings of fearful people. They're looking for something, anything, to restore what they think once was.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on June 15, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

They're looking for something, anything, to restore what they think once was.

Very nice analysis, Alex

Posted by: trex on June 15, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God,

AGIYAC

my usual acronym decoders (acronym attic and acronym finder) didn't have any results for this. Please elaborate.

Posted by: Edo on June 15, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Alek Hidell,

Trying to pick out any substantive claims from your barrage of loony-left rhetoric....ooh, here's one....

As America's position in the world has declined over the last thirty to forty years,

America's military, economic and cultural preeminence in the world is probably greater now than it has been at any time since the Second World War.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Very well done, Alek. It rather succintly sums it up in just a few paragraphs.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yawn

Posted by: craigie on June 15, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Pragmatism works, everything else, sooner or later, won't.

"Pragmatism," by definition, is the study of that which works. The problem with liberalism is that it has not been viewed as pragmatic since the mid-seventies. The problem with conservativism is that it, too, is loosing its ability to make things work.

The reason for this is that - because of globalization - the nation-state is becoming less and less workable. That means that any political viewpoint based upon the nationstate is growing less and less pragmatic.

Posted by: Thinker on June 15, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

> He's a reactionary. So are most of those
> who continue to support him.

I have a hard time seeing the imposition of fascism on the US Constitutional form of government being reactionary. Fascism did not exist in the era of Political Philosophy because it required large numbers of large corporations (corporations were just getting off the ground in the 1700s), majority corporate employment vs. farming, and some form of mass media to allow the Great Leader to persuade large numbers of people at one time (rather than building a movement over a relatively long period of time, ala most religions).

Not Really

Posted by: Not Really on June 15, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Edo:

AGIYAC

I read this as "Anything Goes If You Are Conservative". It certainly is in keeping with IOKIYAR and the way the GOP operates.

Posted by: Scotian on June 15, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

THE FAILURE OF CONSERVATISM....

And yet, somehow, they keep getting elected. Funny, that.

No, wait. I know. It's all the fault of "corporate media."

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

And yet, somehow, they keep getting elected. Funny, that.

Yep, just like people keep following religion. By your logic it must not be failed either.

Whoops!

Posted by: Don P.'s Self-Inflicted Wound on June 15, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, GOP,

"And yet, somehow, they keep getting elected. Funny, that."

Popes keep getting elected, too. Does that mean everything they do or say is correct?

If so, then you must agree with the Pope that capital punishment and the war in Iraq are wrong.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Don P posting as "GOP" wrote: And yet, somehow, they keep getting elected. Funny, that

It is not at all funny that the Republican Party stole the last two presidential elections. It is not the least bit funny. Except to willfully ignorant, malevolently dishonest GOP shills like you, who think it is really funny to acquire political power through lies, theft, intimidation and fraud.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 15, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

And yet, somehow, they keep getting elected. Funny, that.

And yet, somehow, Saddam Hussein kept getting elected. Funny, that.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Popes keep getting elected, too. Does that mean everything they do or say is correct?

I'm afraid they let the cat out of the bag on that one a while ago.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

SA,

Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot my afternoon teleconference with Diebold.

Posted by: Karl Rove on June 15, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

And yet, somehow, Saddam Hussein kept getting elected. Funny, that.

Yes, that's right, Stefan. U.S. elections are so corrupt the results are no more meaningful than the "elections" of Saddam Hussein.

I tell ya, I couldn't make this stuff up.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! youse guys still going nyah nyah raspberry on this thread?

Lets work up some better arguments. There have been earlier posts that have been admirably thoughtful.

GOP -- if you think that the USA is somehow riding at the pinnacle of its global power and influence, just remember that China could sink the dollar in a single week. BushCo gave them that power these last five years. All the neocons peeing in their pants about North Korea have missed the boat.

Please explain why it is good policy to have 40%+ of US treasury bonds in the hands of non-US entities. If you asked your Dear Leader about it, would he even have a clue that it was going on?

http://x44.xanga.com/ef6a9b605043559165478/b34513725.png

Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, that's right, Stefan. U.S. elections are so corrupt the results are no more meaningful than the "elections" of Saddam Hussein.

So, obviously, the mere fact of being "elected," absent a free and fair election, is not proof of the rightness of the elected person's position. It is, as he concedes, possible to be elected through fraud.

Moreover, elections don't have to be "so corrupt" as to render them meaningless -- even a little bit of corrupt, such as a swing of one or two percentage points, can make an election invalid.

Except, of course, for the Pope. He's elected and therefore infallible.....

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

GOP -- if you think that the USA is somehow riding at the pinnacle of its global power and influence, just remember that China could sink the dollar in a single week.

That seems unlikely. But China certainly could do lots of harmful things to the U.S. That doesn't mean it's likely to. China's own economic fortunes are so strongly dependent on the health of the U.S. economy that it's not likely to anything to seriously jeopardize it.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Moreover, elections don't have to be "so corrupt" as to render them meaningless -- even a little bit of corrupt, such as a swing of one or two percentage points, can make an election invalid.

So your comparison of U.S. election results to the "election" of Saddam Hussein was just yet another example of your standard operating procedure of wild exaggeration and ridiculous hyperbole.

Like I said, I couldn't make this stuff up. No one would need to put ridiculous words in the mouths of loony lefties like you to discredit them. You do it to yourselves every day.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I will also take your response as a "no" - thank you for playing.

Super, I'll take your nonsensical response as an " I got my ass handed to me on this issue and I'm desperately trying to pretend otherwise."

Posted by: trex on June 15, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK


"desperate graspings of fearful people."
Alex Hidell

"I just love the smell of fearful people in the morning"
Karl Rove...

"This is indeed the land of the free and the home of the fearful"
George W. Bush

Posted by: Tank Man on June 15, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

AGIYAC = Anything Goes If You Are Conservative

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 15, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: I read this as "Anything Goes If You Are Conservative". It certainly is in keeping with IOKIYAR and the way the GOP operates.

Damn, Scotian, good decoding!

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 15, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, posting as "GOP", wrote sarcastically: U.S. elections are so corrupt the results are no more meaningful than the "elections" of Saddam Hussein.

Since the Republican Party blatantly stole the last two presidential elections, the two "elections" of George W. Bush are in fact no more meaningful and no more legitimate than the elections of his father's former business partner Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 15, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

trex,

Cheney "plays" on serious political blogs just like Republicans "play" at running the government.

Cheney (the blogger) should not to be taken seriously. He uses the pseudonym of someone he believes is powerful to enhance his own pitifully fragile yet grandiose self-image.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 15, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

So your comparison of U.S. election results to the "election" of Saddam Hussein

That could be true, if I'd ever compared U.S. election results to the election of Saddam Hussein. All I wrote was "And yet somehow, Saddam Hussein kept getting elected. Funny, that." The only one who explicitly compared the election of Hussein to elections in the US was Don GOP.

was just yet another example of your standard operating procedure of wild exaggeration and ridiculous hyperbole.

And I thereby get my daily recommended dose of irony....

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

you really do think it is NASAs place to make a declaration about the existence of the universe WITH THE PURPOSE of discounting intelligent design by a Creator

I don't think it's NASA's place to offer the best seafood value in town or write space opera in iambic pentameter, either -- and that is just as immaterial to this discussion as suggesting NASA is making a religious pronouncement when it utilizes the most current science to talk about how the universe functions.

ALL scientific knowledge is potentially in conflict with religious belief, whether it's psychology versus Thetans or disease pathology versus the wrath of an angry God. That was an inevitable consequence of the split between Church and state.

So my answer is "no:" I don't think NASA should give me a pound of coffee if it can't beat my best deal on auto insurance. But it should continue to disseminate the best scientific conclusions arising out of its studies despite possible misgivings by well-meaning religious people.

This whole discussion is a case in point on the obstinacy of the conservative mindset.

Posted by: trex on June 15, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

That could be true, if I'd ever compared U.S. election results to the election of Saddam Hussein.

You did compare U.S. election results to the "election" of Saddam Hussein. You suggested that the election of conservatives in the U.S. is akin to the "election" of Saddam in Iraq. Just the latest example of your penchant for absurdity.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: You did compare U.S. election results to the "election" of Saddam Hussein.

I see GOP is back at his deliberate misrepresentation of other's postings.

Just the latest example of GOP's penchant for mendacity.

Ho hum.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 15, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
I see GOP is back at his deliberate misrepresentation of other's postings.

This phrasing misleadingly suggests that there was a time when this behavior stopped.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Growing up down South helped me learn what being a conservative is really all about. It does have something to do with spending. Conservatives are folks who suffer a free-floating, uncontrollable angst due to the fact they fear their tax money is being spent on people who are too "different" from themselves.

For the most part, it's ok for a fellow conservative to spend money like crazy, huge deficits and all. But if it's being spent by a Clinton or a Carter, then, they just "know" that too much is being spent on worthless people. Even wasteful spending is ok if it's being spent by a conservative on his buddies.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 15, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

All I wrote was "And yet somehow, Saddam Hussein kept getting elected. Funny, that."

That could be true, if I'd ever compared U.S. election results to the election of Saddam Hussein.

It appears then, that the first of these two comments was unrelated to any election in the U.S. -- perhaps you unintentionally omitted quote marks : "elected". But if the comment was inapposite, why did you post it in the first place?


Anyhow, here is a news item, somewhat off-topic:
http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/3972058.html.
Kennedy and Byrd are at least consistent, and Feingold. Kerry, it's hard to say: this is consistent with his claim that the Iraq war was a mistake, inconsistent with his subsequent claim (about a minute later) that it was not a mistake. Clinton voted to table; Feinstein voted to table, but Boxer voted against tabling.

The House votes tonight or tomorrow.

Usually 93-6 is a pretty decisive vote (as in the 95-0 rejection of the Kyoto treaty prior to its being submitted), but Democrats are claiming that the Republican strategy is misleading. Apparently the Democrats are clamoring for some kind of language that puts the troops both in and out of Iraq. Sort of like Murtha's plan to have them out of Iraq but able to return in a big hurry or attack from "over the horizon".

Posted by: republicrat on June 15, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Don P posting as "GOP" wrote to Stefan: You suggested that the election of conservatives in the U.S. is akin to the "election" of Saddam in Iraq.

Stefan can speak for himself, bu I will more than "suggest" that the "election" of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 is "akin" to the "election" of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The Republican Party blatantly stole both of those presidential elections. George W. Bush attained, and retained, the presidency through lies, theft, intimidation, fraud, and the deliberate disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of American citizens who were deprived of their right to vote and to have their vote counted.

George W. Bush is not now and has never been the legitimately elected President of the United States. His "election" and "re-election" and his "presidency" are just as illegitimate as Saddam Hussein's.

Your worship of George W. Bush is very much akin to some Iraqi Baathist thug's worship of Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 15, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

from GOP

That seems unlikely. But China certainly could do lots of harmful things to the U.S. That doesn't mean it's likely to. China's own economic fortunes are so strongly dependent on the health of the U.S. economy that it's not likely to anything to seriously jeopardize it.

Wishful thinking, my friend. If you had used that logic on Saddam Hussein, we would have never invaded Iraq. Saddam had no incentive for attacking the US or helping Al Queda, because we would have retaliated. Of course, he didnt have ties with Al Queda. YOU opened the door to Iraq for the terrorists, GOP.

On the other hand, China need only threaten to stop buying Treasury Bonds, and what will we do? Which government is more vulnerable to consumer sentiment, the USA or China? Will we invade China to force them to buy T-Bonds? I can see BushCo trying to spin that one. We have given a major competitor veto power on our actions.

You are making the mistake of believing that a nation, and a Communist nation at that, will motivate its policy decisions on whether the nation will make or lose money. Wishful thinking indeed. History will record how foolish you have been, GOP. I would wager a few bucks that China has already discretely vetoed Cheney's hoped-for military strike on Iran. The BushCo about-face on Iran policy was too abrupt to be a purely internal decision.


Posted by: troglodyte on June 15, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac on June 15, 2006 at 3:38 AM

Where have you been?

I used to read your comments, but you seemed to disappear right around the time I started posting.

Posted by: republicrat on June 15, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party blatantly stole both of those presidential elections.

That's absurd. Gore would have won in 2000 if he had carried his home state of Tennessee, or if a few thousand of his supporters in FL had not spoiled their ballots. No theft would have depended on a few thousand such butchered ballots. There is no good evidence for Republican theft in 2004, but the increase in Republican turnout over 2000 was greater than the increase in Democratic turnout over 2004.

This claim about theft gets repeated over and over, but no real attempt at theft would leave so much to the voters.

Posted by: republicrat on June 15, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

If conservatism has failed, it is because liberalism has decimated the entire country for half a century before Republicans took control. Trying to repair the damage will take another half century, maybe a century, to repair.

I firmly believe that any political party, i.e. democrats, that strip the God given freedoms from American citizens by suppressing and repressing them for their own gain are nothing more than Godless and morally wrong. They use their "panic tactics" to yoke their victims to themselves! To wit, the welfare state, "The Great Society, "Hillary Care, the list goes on and on.

Posted by: Bill on June 15, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Stefan can speak for himself, bu I will more than "suggest" that the "election" of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 is "akin" to the "election" of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Of course you will. Your lunacy hasn't really been in doubt for a long time now. I think it was your thing about how we must immediately cut fossil fuel use by 90% to even have a hope of avoiding extinction that finally sealed it.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Wishful thinking, my friend. If you had used that logic on Saddam Hussein, we would have never invaded Iraq. Saddam had no incentive for attacking the US or helping Al Queda, because we would have retaliated. Of course, he didnt have ties with Al Queda.

I'm not sure how you think my logic, whatever you misunderstand it to be, goes from doubting that China will seriously harm its own economic interests to opposing the invasion of Iraq, but perhaps you should save that story for a rainy day.

YOU opened the door to Iraq for the terrorists, GOP.

I did? Moi? Golly!

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

You did compare U.S. election results to the "election" of Saddam Hussein. You suggested that the election of conservatives in the U.S. is akin to the "election" of Saddam in Iraq. Just the latest example of your penchant for absurdity.

Er, nope. The only thing I wrote was: And yet, somehow, Saddam Hussein kept getting elected. Funny, that. One sentence, and that's it. I see the word "Saddam" in there, but nothing about the U.S. or conservatives.

Don GOP then followed up on that with Yes, that's right, Stefan. U.S. elections are so corrupt the results are no more meaningful than the "elections" of Saddam Hussein. So it seems as if it was Don GOP, able to leap to tall conclusions in a single bound, who made the comparison of US "elections" (see? I can use scare quotes too!) to the election of Hussein.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Growing up down South helped me learn what being a conservative is really all about. It does have something to do with spending. Conservatives are folks who suffer a free-floating, uncontrollable angst due to the fact they fear their tax money is being spent on people who are too "different" from themselves.

Krugman put it nicely. He said, Europeans look at spending on welfare with the attititude, "There but for the grace of God go I," whereas Americans have the attitude, "Why are we spending money on those people."

Again, race cuts to the heart of it.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 15, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

I'd quit now with the desperate spin, if I were you. It's about time for next ridiculous statement, anyway. I know....Bush is a fascist. Haven't seen that one for a couple of hours now.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

snicker,

Krugman put it nicely. He said, Europeans look at spending on welfare with the attititude, "There but for the grace of God go I," whereas Americans have the attitude, "Why are we spending money on those people."

You've misstated what Krugman actually wrote, and even he admitted that it was a "crude" characterization.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Don GOP: I know....Bush is a fascist.

He is? Golly!

Man, coupled with Don GOP's previous statement that

U.S. elections are so corrupt the results are no more meaningful than the "elections" of Saddam Hussein.

it seems that Don GOP is losing his faith in The Decider.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

even he (Krugman) admitted that it was a "crude" characterization.

How could a statement along the lines of "Americans..., Europeans..." that describes attitudes NOT be crude. Of course it's crude. The question is does it point to a larger truth or not? Ie. It's a rough and ready reduction but does it work?

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 15, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Don GOP,

You're a disgusting piece of shit.

Go fuck yourself.

Posted by: Atheist on June 15, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

How could a statement along the lines of "Americans..., Europeans..." that describes attitudes NOT be crude.

I don't think it could. But you said, "Krugman put it nicely," which certainly doesn't suggest you think the description is crude. And you misstated what he wrote anyway, as I said. Oh well. Attention to nuance and detail tend to get lost when you're just looking for a sledgehammer to bash someone with, especially an entire country.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Stefan!

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I may well agree with Mr. Wolfe's conclusion about how inept these guys are, but I had to stop reading when he claimed that Alexander Hamilton was the biggest conservative in American history. Uh, no. To claim that is to claim that Washington and Lincoln were conservatives -- the "New England Federalism" as Wolfe calls it, which was actually Federalism supported geographically throughout the early nation, was the precursor to liberal Republicanism that was born of Lincoln and died soon thereafter. This is perhaps the least-known fact of American history, but Jefferson, aside from his beautiful writing in the Declaration of Independence, was the conservative, although a type of conservative that believed strongly in freedom of religion and the press. Jefferson as President is another story, but Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists were the precursor to the political movement of states' rights and the maintenance of slavery. Hamilton was a classical and modern liberal who almost single-handedly got the Constitution adopted, instituted the mechanics of the free market, and was fiercely anti-slavery and pro-central government. It's a poor understanding of the origins of this country to suggest otherwise. What we have for government now is 180 degrees away from the theories of Hamilton, Lincoln, Washington, Marshall (the father of judicial review, and the most important jurist in the history of jurisprudence, also declared a conservative by Wolfe), and Franklin. The current Republican party contains all the worst impulses of Jeffersonianism and Jacksonianism without the disdain for central authority, respect for the Constitution, or defense of the bill of rights.

Posted by: Ron on June 15, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

But you said, "Krugman put it nicely," which certainly doesn't suggest you think the description is crude

He made a nice rough and ready reduction which points to a larger truth. You know, Don, it's often smart and sensible to be concerned about semantics. In many other instances, however, it is not. One sign of intelligence is being able to discriminate between the two instances.

Re. your other point. It's called paraphrasing. Please demonstrate where the intent was changed.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 15, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem isn't PRESIDENT BUSH, It's the senate

I am happy to see that TruthPolitik shares my belief in the absolute necessity of a Democratic Senate.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 15, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK"

If we could get the democrats out of the senate them maybe we could have a DEMOCRATIC senate.

Posted by: TruthPoitik on June 15, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have done a remarkable job governing considering the rough waters which have defined this new American Century. George W. Bush is not the most pure specimen of what a conservative leader should be, but thanks to the grassroots movement that is the modern conservative movement he will not steer too far off the course of our patriotic destiny.

The American public recognizes this as well, even if occasionally they are misled by the weak-kneed liberal propaganda. I predict a Bush comeback. Better savor your "victories" before the next election continues the conservative march towards a Bold American Future.
Posted by: American Hawk

I know noone will read this, but I've got to write it. This post is a cut/paste from trotskyite propoganda. The republican are all about turning the USA into the new improved CCCP. And don't give a fuck if you don't agree.

This country died on December 12, 2000.
America is dead.
Long live AmeriKKKa.

Posted by: someOtherClown on June 15, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

snicker,

We both know that your real purpose in citing Krugman's statement at all was not to "point to a larger truth" but to bash Americans (not only are they meanies, they're racist meanies!). That's why you mangled his words and ignored his careful qualification. It has nothing to do with truth and everything to do with your consuming anger and insufferable self-righteousness.

Posted by: GOP on June 15, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

The King of Spenders is a conservative? Not on yer tintype!

The last conservative was Barry Goldwater. Pat Buchanan has his heart in the right place, but unfortunately the Pope got ahold of him young, and as you bend the twig, so grows the tree.

Reagan was the first of the borrow and spend liberals.

Posted by: Myron on June 15, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

200+ comments in and it's late.

I'm sensing these themes: conservatism is a vehicle, George Bush is a figurehead, the media are useful idiots, the masses are pawns, and with these, thugs can achieve totalitarianism.

So that's good. We don't have to fight conservatism, we just have to save democracy.

Posted by: exasperanto on June 16, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

There's something to that. I think subscribing to any ideology is prescription for failure.

His analysis is way off though. His assesment of Bush is just way wrong. The main problems we see in his admin is the rubberstamp he gave to the congress.

I think he puts to much responsibility on Bush (not unfairly, since he should be a check to congress's power). The argument that conservativism is a failure may be right, but not for the reasons suggested. "Conservativism" has its merits and also it flatout flawed aspects, just like "liberalism". I'd say it's not working because it's not supposed to. The theory's are just used to get elected, self interest takes over from there.

Posted by: aaron on June 16, 2006 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Don. You have now both:

he (Krugman) admitted that it was a "crude" characterization.

and

That's why you mangled his words and ignored his careful qualification

so I guess what I'm to make of it is that is was a "carefully qualified crude characterization." Thanks for setting me straight. I think I've got it...

I think.


It has nothing to do with truth and everything to do with your consuming anger and insufferable self-righteousness.

Right... sure. Not quite sure that I see this consuming anger. Perhaps it so consumes my that I can't see it? Ah, well... one sees what one will. Though I am I must admit biased to my own interpretations of my motivations over what you impute to be my motivations.

Glad to know you find me insufferable though.

Cheers

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 16, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Bush a conservative, yeah right. Bush has never been a conservative.

He is a new kind of president, a president shaped by his persistent rebellion to the law of the land, a president bold enough to believe that science is bunk, a born-again evangelical president who believes that world will end within my lifetime, and that the second coming of Christ is near.

He is my kind of president, a president appointed by GOD to do HIS deeds on earth.

Posted by: Mini Al on June 16, 2006 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

speaking of cheney:


New Pentagon Emails On KBR Contracts Contradict Cheney Non-Involvement Claims

Reads one email:

""We anticipate no issue (with the KBR deal) since the action has been coordinated w [sic] VP's office."

(Raw Story)

no one could have anticipated that...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 16, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Examples of Preferential Treatment for Halliburton

US House Committee on Government Reform, Minority Staff


27 June 2005


Despite the magnitude of Halliburton's questioned and unsupported costs, the company has repeatedly received special treatment from Defense Department officials. As the eight examples below illustrate, the objections of career officials have been overruled, the requirements of federal procurement regulations have been waived, and Halliburton has been awarded millions of dollars in unjustified fees.


1. Award of the Iraq Oil Contingency Planning Contract

In the fall of 2002, Michael Mobbs, a political appointee in the office of Douglas Feith, Under Secretary for Policy at the Defense Department, made the decision to award the oil infrastructure work in Iraq to Halliburton. This decision was made in secret without competition from any other companies. White House officials, including the Vice President's chief of staff, were briefed on this decision.(1) The first sole-source contract that Halliburton received relating to reconstruction in Iraq was a $1.9 million task order under the LOGCAP contract to draw up contingency plans for U.S. occupation of the Iraqi oil fields. This contract was awarded in November 2002. At the time this no-bid contract was awarded, Mr. Mobbs knew that the company that received the contingency contract would also be awarded the much larger RIO contract.(2)

A career attorney with the Army Materiel Command objected to this plan on the grounds that it would violate federal procurement law. The attorney observed that the oil planning work had nothing to do with providing meals, laundry, and other logistical support under the LOGCAP contract, and therefore it should be awarded out under a separate contract. These objections were overruled, however, after the intervention of a senior Defense Department lawyer who worked with Mr. Mobbs.(3)

The Government Accountability Office later analyzed the transaction and concluded that it was not "in accordance with legal requirements" because "preparation of the contingency support plan for this mission was beyond the scope of the contract."(4) GAO added that the work "should have been awarded using competitive procedures."(5)


2. Award of the RIO Contract

Despite strenuous objections from the chief contracting official at the Army Corps of Engineers, the Defense Department secretly awarded Halliburton a five-year, no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure in March 2003. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse served as the Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting (PARC) with the Army Corps of Engineers. Ms. Greenhouse objected for several reasons to the award to Halliburton of the RIO contract, which was worth up to $7 billion.

First, Ms. Greenhouse objected to awarding Halliburton a contract for which it developed the specifications. In particular, she was "concerned that the award to KBR conflicted with the usual practice of excluding contractors who prepare cost estimates and courses of action, such as KBR did in its contingency plan, from bidding on the follow-on implementation contract due to the potential for conflicts of interest and overreaching by the contractor."(6)

Second, Ms. Greenhouse objected to awarding Halliburton a so-called "emergency" contract lasting up to five years. Although she agreed that a "compelling emergency" might justify a one-year award, she "could not understand why the emergency conditions would prohibit [the government] from extending the contract the following year or any subsequent years if the prosecution of the war made that necessary."(7)

Ms. Greenhouse also objected to Halliburton's proposed costs, arguing that Halliburton's charges for initial deployment "should be lower" since Halliburton was already deployed, and that the government should not pay for indemnification liability coverage already covered under other contracts.(8)

Finally, Ms. Greenhouse objected to allowing Halliburton access to internal government meetings and information. For example, she attended a meeting at the Pentagon on February 26, 2003, to discuss cost issues before the oil infrastructure contract had been awarded. When Halliburton officials arrived and began participating in the meeting, "she was so disturbed" that she requested that they be told to leave. By that time, she had concluded that the line between Halliburton and government officials "had become so blurred that a perception of a conflict of interest existed."(9)

Despite all of these objections, the Army Corps of Engineers ultimately chose to award the contract to Halliburton in secret after excluding all other potential contractors. The Corps rejected Ms. Greenhouse's specific recommendation for a limited duration arrangement and awarded the contract for a five-year term.


3. Waiver of the Requirement to Provide Cost and Pricing Data

In December 2003, days after Defense Department auditors preliminarily concluded that Halliburton was charging excessive amounts for fuel imports from Kuwait into Iraq, the Department granted Halliburton a special waiver releasing the company from providing certified cost and pricing data from its Kuwaiti fuel subcontractor.

On December 11, 2003, auditors from the Defense Contract Audit Agency held a press conference announcing that their draft audit had found that Halliburton billed for as much as $61 million in excessive costs to import gasoline from Kuwait into Iraq. The auditors indicated that Halliburton "has not demonstrated ... that they did an adequate subcontract pricing evaluation prior to award" of the subcontract to Altanmia.(10)

Rather than cooperate with this audit, however, Department officials took the opposite action. They granted Halliburton a waiver that eliminated Halliburton's responsibility to provide "any cost and pricing data" from its Kuwaiti subcontractor, Altanmia.(11) In the same waiver, the Department unilaterally declared that the company's gasoline prices were "fair and reasonable."(12) The purported rationale for granting the waiver was that Kuwaiti law prohibited the Kuwaiti subcontractor from submitting the information. As the waiver document stated, "it is a violation of Kuwaiti law for contractors to submit cost and pricing data for fuel products."(13) This premise turned out to false, as several independent sources confirmed that no Kuwaiti law prohibits the submission of certified cost and pricing data for fuel products.(14)


4. Award of the RIO 2 Contract

In January 2004, Defense Department officials awarded Halliburton a $1.2 billion follow-on oil infrastructure contract despite receiving a warning from Pentagon auditors not to enter future negotiations with the company without consulting with the auditors.

On December 31, [2003], the Defense Contract Audit Agency issued a "Flash Report," alerting various Defense Department agencies about "significant deficiencies" in Halliburton's cost estimating system.(15) According to the auditors, these deficiencies "could adversely affect the organization's ability to propose subcontract costs in a manner consistent with applicable government contract laws and regulations."(16)

Based on that Flash Report, the auditors then sent a second memo on January 13, 2004, warning that Halliburton could not adequately estimate its costs for work in Iraq.(17) The memo emphasized that Halliburton's systemic deficiencies "bring into question [Halliburton's] ability to consistently produce well-supported proposals that are acceptable as a basis for negotiation of fair and reasonable prices."(18) It also stated:

We recommend that you contact us to ascertain the status of [Halliburton's] estimating system prior to entering into future negotiations.(19)


On January 16, 2004, just three days after this memo was sent, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton a new $1.2 billion contract to restore and operate the oil infrastructure in the southern half of Iraq.(20) In response to questions about why the Corps disregarded the auditor warnings, an Army spokesman stated: "We have our own internal audit process [and we] haven't turned up any serious wrongdoing or major problems."(21)


5. Waiver of the Requirement to Withhold Partial Payments

Beginning in March 2004, the Defense Department granted Halliburton a series of waivers from a federal procurement rule requiring the Defense Department to withhold 15% of payments to Halliburton until the company submitted adequate cost estimates for its work in Iraq.

On August 16, 2004, the Defense Contract Audit Agency issued a memo to the Army Field Support Command, which administers Halliburton's LOGCAP troop support contract. In the memo, the auditor agency "strongly encourages" the Army to withhold 15% of Halliburton's payments because of "significant unsupported costs" and "numerous, systemic issues" with Halliburton's cost proposals.(22) Under these circumstances, the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires the Defense Department to protect the interests of the taxpayer by withholding 15% of reimbursements until disagreements are resolved.(23)
In the memo, the DCAA auditors reported that "[t]o date, KBR has not provided basic supporting data for the significant task order proposals."(24) The auditors wrote, "We do not believe the quality of KBR's proposals has improved. [E]ach successive update continues to be significantly deficient."(25) They also stated:

It is clear to us KBR will not provide an adequate proposal until there is a consequence. Therefore, we strongly encourage you not to extend the implementation of this clause any further and only allow payment of the 85 percent as specified in the clause.(26)


Other government auditors, including the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, agreed with this recommendation.(27)

Despite these multiple auditor entreaties, the Defense Department approved a final waiver of the 15% withholding provision on February 2, 2005. According to the Defense Department, the decision was made because "the additional financial strain" on Halliburton "could severely impact the level and responsiveness of the services provided to our forces."(28)


6. Redaction of Audit Findings

At Halliburton's request, and despite the urging of Army officials for a "sanity check," the Defense Department concealed the magnitude of Halliburton's questioned and unsupported costs in audit reports submitted in October 2004 to U.N. officials charged with overseeing the expenditure of Iraqi funds. Under the RIO contract, the Defense Department paid Halliburton with a mix of U.S. and Iraqi funds. Of the $2.5 billion Halliburton was ultimately paid, $1.6 billion came from Iraqi oil proceeds held in the U.S.-controlled Development Fund for Iraq, the successor to the Oil for Food program run by the United Nations.(29) The U.N. Security Council transferred control of these Iraqi funds to the United States through Resolution 1483, which directed the United States to use Iraqi funds "in a transparent manner" for the benefit of the Iraqi people.(30) This resolution also created the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) to monitor U.S. compliance with the resolution.(31)

When the IAMB requested copies of DCAA's audits of Halliburton's RIO contract, the Defense Department redacted every mention of every questioned and unsupported charge from every audit turned over to the international auditors. In total, references to excessive charges were blacked out over 460 times.(32) After examining the redacted audits, the chair of the IAMB reported that "it was impossible to determine the extent of alleged overcharges because the figures had been redacted."33

These extensive redactions were proposed by Halliburton and accepted by the Defense Department without modification. According to a letter Halliburton sent to the Army Corps of Engineers, Halliburton officials proposed redacting not just proprietary business information, but all portions of the audits they "believe are factually incorrect or misleading."34

When career officials at the Army recommended that the Department conduct a "sanity check" of Halliburton's redactions, this advice was rejected.(35) Instead, the Defense Department General Counsel's office warned that any Defense Department official who disclosed any part of the audits without the express permission of Halliburton would face criminal penalties under the Trade Secrets Act.(36) The ostensible rationale for these legal conclusions was that Defense Department officials were incapable of "second-guessing" Halliburton's assertion of what information in the audits was a trade secret.(37)


7. Award of Fees for Questioned Meal Charges

In April 2005, Defense Department officials dismissed auditor findings that Halliburton had submitted $200 million in questioned charges for dining facility services, deciding instead to retroactively change the formula for Halliburton's billing and increase the company's profit margin.

On April 5, 2005, the U.S. Army Field Support Command announced that Halliburton would receive $145 million out of $200 million (72.5%) of the costs DCAA questioned for meal services in Iraq.(38) In making this determination, the Defense Department "sustained" only 27.5% of DCAA's recommendations. The historical level is between 60% and 70%.

Nothing in the Army's press release found any fault with the auditors' conclusions that Halliburton had billed for meals it never served. Instead, the officials developed a new formula for calculating the number of meals for which Halliburton could charge. Rather than paying for one meal each time a person ate, the Department agreed to pay for 1.3 meals.(39)

At the same time, the Department increased the company's fee for the food services work. Although not mentioned anywhere in the Army's press release, Department officials agreed to increase the company's fee from 1% to 3%, generating an extra $26 million for Halliburton.(40)


8. Award of New Contracts

The favoritism shown Halliburton appears to be continuing. Despite the auditor findings of over $1.4 billion in questioned and unsupported costs in Iraq, Halliburton has recently received two new contract awards.

The first new contract is a contract with the Defense Department to build additional prison facilities for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the Defense Department, this contract, which was announced on June 18, 2005, is worth up to $500 million.(41)

Three days later, on June 21, 2005, the Department announced that Halliburton had also been awarded a new contract to provide a "logistics services" similar to LOGCAP to support U.S. forces deployed to Europe. According to the announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers, this contract is worth up to $1.25 billion.(42)

[See also: Bush administration distorts science to shield Halliburton from pollution laws]


Footnotes

(1) Briefing by Michael Mobbs, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, for Staff, House Government Reform Committee (June 8, 2003). See also Letter from Rep. Henry A. Waxman to Vice President Richard B. Cheney (June 13, 2004) (online at www.democrats.reform. house.gov/Documents/20040623114026- 70050.pdf) (describing June 8, 2004, briefing).

(2) U.S. General Accounting Office, Rebuilding Iraq: Fiscal Year 2003 Contract Award Procedures and Management Challenges (GAO-04-605) (June 2004) (concluding that "DOD recognized as early as November 2002 that the contractor, given its role in preparing a contingency support plan, would be in the best position to execute the plan").

(3) Briefing by Michael Mobbs, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, for Staff, House Government Reform Committee (June 8, 2003).

(4) U.S. General Accounting Office, Rebuilding Iraq: Fiscal Year 2003 Contract Award Procedures and Management Challenges (GAO-04-605) (June 2004).

(5) Id.

(6) Letter from Michael D. Kohn, Stephen M. Kohn, and David K. Colapinto, Counsel to Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, to the Honorable Les Brownlee, Acting Secretary of the Army (Oct. 21, 2004).

(7) Id.

(8) Id.

(9) Id.

(10) DOD News Briefing, Defense Contract Audit Agency (Dec. 11, 2003).

(11) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waiver for Submission of Cost and Pricing Data (Dec. 19, 2003).

(12) Id.

(13) Id.

(14) See, e.g., Library of Congress, Kuwaiti Fuel Laws (Jan. 15, 2004) (concluding that "initial research did not reveal the existence of any law prohibiting companies from releasing cost and pricing data for fuel products in Kuwait"); see also Telephone conversation between Samad Al-Blouki and Minority Staff, Committee on Government Reform (Jan. 20, 2004) and Telephone conversation between Samad Al-Blouki and Minority Staff, Committee on Government Reform (Jan. 14, 2004) (former managing director of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in Europe confirmed that there is no Kuwaiti law prohibiting the submission of certified cost and pricing data for fuel products).

(15) Defense Contract Audit Agency, Flash Report on Estimating System Deficiency Found in the Proposal for Contract No. DAAA09-02-D-0007, Task Order No. 59 (Audit Report No. 3311-2004K24020001) (Dec. 31, 2003).

(16) Id.

(17) Defense Contract Audit Agency, Status of Brown & Root Services (BRS) Estimating System Internal Controls (Jan. 13, 2004).

(18) Id.

(19) Id.

(20) U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, News Release: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Awards Contracts for Repair of Iraq's Oil Infrastructure (Jan. 16, 2004) (including, but not limited to, "extinguishing oil well fires; environmental assessments and cleanup at oil sites; oil infrastructure condition assessments; engineering design and construction necessary to restore the infrastructure to a safe operating condition; oilfield, pipeline and refinery maintenance; procurement and importation of fuel products; distribution of fuel products within Iraq; technical assistance in marketing and sale/export; and technical assistance and consulting services to the Iraqi oil companies").

(21) Halliburton Contract Questions Dog White House, Chicago Tribune (Feb. 1, 2004).

(22) Memorandum from Defense Contract Audit Agency to U.S. Army Field Support Command (Aug. 16, 2004).

(23) Federal Acquisition Regulation, 48 C.F.R. ง 52.216-26.

(24) Id. [sic, see note 22]

(25) Id.

(26) Id.

(27) Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Task Order 0044 of the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program III Contract (Report No. 05-003) (Nov. 23, 2004).

(28) Letter from Benjamin S, Griffin, Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command, to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Mar. 6, 2005).

(29) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Frequently Asked Questions: Engineer Support to Operation Iraqi Freedom (Oct. 7, 2004) (online at www.hq.usace.army.mil/ CEPA/Iraq/March03-table.htm).

(30) U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483 (May 22, 2003).

(31) Id.

(32) See Letter from Rep. Henry A. Waxman to Rep. Christopher Shays (June 20, 2005) (online at www.democrats.reform.house.gov/ Documents/20050620110738-07899.pdf) (describing redactions process).

(33) U.N. Board Cites U.S. Contractor in Iraq, Washington Post (Dec. 15, 2004).

(34) Letter from Michael K. Morrow, Contracts Manager, KBR, to Gordon A. Sumner, Contracting Officer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Sept. 28, 2004).

(35) Meeting between Colonel Emmett DuBose, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and J. Joseph Tyler, Chief of the Program Management Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Majority and Minority Staff, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations (June 15, 2005).

(36) Id.

(37) Id.

(38) U.S. Army Field Support Command, News Release: Army Field Support Command Agrees to Pay for Dining Facility Services (Apr. 5, 2005).

(39) Army, Halliburton Settle Bill Dispute, Wall Street Journal (Apr. 6, 2005).

(40) Id.

(41) Halliburton Is Given New Prison Contract, Associated Press (June 19, 2005).

(42) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Press Release: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Awards Logistics Support Contract to Provide Services in U.S. Army Europe's Area of Operations (June 21, 2005).


###


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Posted by: thisspaceavailable's stunt double on June 16, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

do you have any questions

No questions, it's clear both from the FOIA memos and from the DOCUMENTED evidence I provided that Cheney assisted Halliburton in getting an (illegal) no-bid contract that they then used to rip off the American taxpayer and do a terrible disservice to the troops and the Iraqis.

Posted by: thisspaceavailable's stunt double on June 16, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Saying "Next?" as if you'd changed the reality or truth of the situation by just making assertions that have already been refuted is just kind of kooky.

Posted by: thisspaceavailble's stunt double on June 16, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

if the contract was top-secret and announced only after the fact, I'm sure you can name the other U.S. company ready, willing, and able to do the work then?

Bechtel, to name just one.

Rivals Say Halliburton Dominates Iraq Oil Work By Neela Banerjee New York Times

Friday 08 August 2003

The Bechtel Group, one of the world's biggest engineering and construction companies, has dropped out of the running for a contract to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry, as other competitors have begun to conclude that the bidding process favors the one company already working in Iraq, Halliburton.

After the United States Army Corps of Engineers quietly selected Halliburton in the spring to perform early repairs of the Iraqi oil business in the aftermath of the war, other companies and members of Congress protested that the work should have been awarded through competitive bidding.

Furthermore, the work could have been more cheaply with more oversight and presumably with less gouging had it been parceled out to smaller companies through a competitive bidding process. Halliburton is the only company in the world that repairs oilfield infrastructure? No. It's the only company in the world that serves food to troops in mess halls? No. It's the only company that can haul fuel from one place to another? No. Etc, etc.

Not only that, the Iraqi firms who were managing some of these very industries in the first place asked for reconstruction work and were ignored. Even when Halliburton was ripping off the soldiers and the Iraqis for fuel the locals were still shut out of the process when they showed they could truck it in more cheaply.

Weird. It's almost like the fix was in.

Posted by: thisspaceavailable's stunt double on June 16, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK


"We anticipate no issue (with the KBR deal) since the action has been coordinated w [sic] VP's office."

so cheney...you defense is...

it depends on what the definition of

"coordinated with the VP's office" means?

too bad dead enders dont do irony

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 17, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

cheney: It's not clear that the Vice-President unduly influenced the awarding of said contracts

as oppsoed to no influence at all?

its not even football season but cheney is moving those goal posts...

(by the way....nice job thisspaceavailable's stunt double!)

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 17, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

by the way....nice job thisspaceavailable's stunt double!

Thank you, the pleasure was mine, sir.

If you'd like me to fill in for you in the future, please just let me know.

Posted by: thisspaceavailable's stunt double on June 17, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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