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Tilting at Windmills

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September 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DEMS AND TERROR....I've been noodling around with an idea lately that I want to share. I'm not really prepared to defend it in a lot of detail, but it's worth getting some feedback about, so I'm going to try it out on you guys in its current hazy state.

Here's the proposition: after several years of vacillation and uncertainty over Iraq and national security, Democrats have recently achieved a fairly considerable consensus on how to move forward. I don't want to overstate this: obviously there are still plenty of differences among major players in the party. But if you take out, say, the Chomsky wing on the left and the Lieberman wing on the right, there's a surprising amount that the rest of us agree on.

Domestically, we nearly all agree that we should spend more on things like port security and chemical plant security. We mostly agree on strengthening cooperation between the FBI and the CIA, but we oppose large-scale infringements of civil liberties like the NSA program as both wrong and unnecessary. We oppose torture and we oppose rendition. We support a far more serious energy policy for both environmental and national security reasons.

On the overseas front, we largely agree that, in the long term, we can only eliminate militant jihadism if we eliminate support for jihadists among the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East. This requires genuine support for democracy, serious economic and trade programs aimed at the Middle East, and a public diplomacy program vastly superior to the laughable efforts currently underway. We support a far more active role for the United States in negotiating a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. We support a hardnosed dedication to diplomacy and negotiation, Richard Holbrooke style. We recognize that the moral high ground isn't just a nice thing to have, it's crucial to winning support for our policies and that means a renewed dedication to taking seriously international institutions such as arms control regimes and the United Nations. Military action, when absolutely necessary, should be as sharp and pointed as possible, oriented toward counterinsurgency, not invasion and regime change.

What else? Nearly everyone in Democratic circles agrees that the war in Iraq was a mistake, though there's still a fair amount of disagreement about what to do about this now. On Iran, I think most Democrats believe, along with Fareed Zakaria, that we need to take a deep breath and put aside the current Republican hysteria on the subject. Bombers and cruise missiles aren't going to solve our problems here.

Again: I'm not trying to sound too Pollyannaish. There are still disagreements. Still, five years after 9/11 I think Democrats finally have about as much of a consensus as any out-of-power political party is ever likely to have on a subject as complex and intractable as foreign policy in an age of radical jihadism.

So here's my proposition: At this point, it strikes me that our problem is less about agreeing on policy than it is about agreeing on marketing. We have enough consensus on policy that we can move forward if we only have the courage of our convictions about this stuff. We need to talk about our approach out loud, we need to believe that people aren't too scared or stupid to make sense of it, and we need to be clear that we think Republicans are taking a hysterical approach to national security that's both partisan and foolish. For some reason, though, most Democrats seem unwilling to risk saying this with any serious conviction, relying instead mostly on generic attacks on George Bush. Or so it appears to me.

So how about some feedback on this? I think our consensus on policy is somewhere around 70%, which is good enough for now. Am I being too optimistic? Is that enough in any case, or are there still some disagreements so serious that no marketing is possible until they're resolved? And can we win elections by aggressively selling this approach to jihadism? Or are we still afraid of being called appeasers?

Discussion, please.

Kevin Drum 1:11 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (212)

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Comments

Kevin- with all due respect, I'm a little underwhelmed for a few reasons:

1. There's still no larger narrative there- just lots of policies

2. Saying Iraq was a mistake doesn't tell us what TO DO NOW- this is no small matter- what's the Dem proposal- simply leave?

3. Yes, the GOP is overstating the case with Iran, but what do the Dems suggest if Iran doesn't respond to sanctions

4. How specifically will the Dems support democracy and human rights?

J.S.

http://voicesofreason.info

Posted by: J.S. on September 6, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

J.S.: Good questions. But consider this just an outline, not a white paper.

As for the larger narrative, that's the whole point. If we largely agree on policy (an open question), what's the best way to sell it to the public?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 6, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty good Kevin I but if politics is about how societies deal with fear we are deeply screwed.

But anyway you done good.

Posted by: keith G on September 6, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, Kevin, and yes, this is a marketing issue. I especially like labeling the Republicans as "hysterical". That word strikes the perfect tone right now, in light of recent speeches by the Vulcans and Bush. Joe Six-Pack is finally starting to get the message that these people might be coming unhinged, and he will be receptive to that word because he does not have to identify himself with it. He knows HE is not hysterical, but some of the people he voted are certainly starting to appear that way. And dadgummit, it might just be time to give those darn Democrats another shot.

Posted by: Scott Coughlin on September 6, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

At this point, it strikes me that our problem is less about agreeing on policy than it is about agreeing on marketing.

Marketing? That means a media campaign for your cut and run strategy on the War on Islamofascism. This is EXACTLY what Bin Laden said he would do to get America to cut and run in the War on Islamofascism.

Link

"Bush: Secondly, along with his campaign of terror, the enemy has a propaganda strategy."

"Osama bin Laden laid out this strategy in a letter to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, that coalition forces uncovered in Afghanistan in 2002."

"In it, bin Laden says that Al Qaida intends to launch, in his words, a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government."

"Bin Laden says that, by delivering these messages, Al Qaida aims at creating pressure from the American people on the American government to stop their campaign against Afghanistan."

"Bin Laden and his allies are absolutely convinced they can succeed in forcing America to retreat and causing our economic collapse. They believe our nation is weak and decadent and lacking in patience and resolve, and they're wrong."

Liberals, being the useful idiots they are, are doing Bin Laden's media campaign for him. I hope you libs are proud of yourselves.

Posted by: Al on September 6, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats will be attacked as appeasers / Commie lovers, unAmerican, gay-loving...(fill in the Rovian spin words) and it will appear in the papers because it will be 'news'. The extraordinarily hateful and mendacious will be done by the assistants while the more generic attacks will be executed by the president directly.

Only if the Democrats attack, attack, attack in a unified front can they win the news hole and get a more meaningful 'fact-check' to replace the 'balance' of the NYT, WaPo and AP.

Posted by: M on September 6, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

I've vastly underimpressed.
Just two points of example in what sounds like a rehash of GOP propaganda.

The illegal domestic electronic surveillance of Americans is sure to light up so many false positives that circumventing privacy isn't even necessarily the worst part of it m: sumbitch won't hunt because it's too friggin' inefficient!

Going on point to specialize in counterinsurgency ! Lord love a duck. What do you think has caused all the insoluble problems ?

Posted by: opit on September 6, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

George W. Bush has done more to market and further Osama Bin Laden's agenda than Bin Laden ever hoped for in his wildest, most fantasy-fueled dreams. All due respect.

Posted by: Scott Coughlin on September 6, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats: Standing tall for Little Ideas!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on September 6, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Matt Yglesias had a fine article a year or so in TAP saying much the same thing -- for all the breast-beating about the lack of a liberal foreign policy vision (and hair-splitting about "enlightened nationalism" versus "progressive internationalism" versus whatever), everyone within shouting distance of the center-left has just about the same set of principles.

Regarding the marketing dilemma, here's the crux of it, from a post of mine in May of last year:

... the national-security choice for ordinary Americans in the post-September 11th era is... "Who's going to keep me from getting blown up by terrorists?" And that's the question Dubya makes sure to answer clearly (... "defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home").

Yes, it's bullshit, but at least he's answering the core question in a way that phrases like "liberal internationalism" never will.
So, my advice to my fellow Democrats is this: Stop trying to articulate a progressive foreign policy vision. Instead, tell Americans why Dubya's foreign policy is going to get them blown up, and what we need to do to prevent that.

Isn't that still what it comes down to?

Posted by: Swopa on September 6, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Marketing-wise -- make energy policy and not the war on terror the center of the debate.

In the spirit of this post, playing a PR person, I still don't see americans supporting dems on issues of defense. Brooks made a good point on Jim Lehr the other week, to the effect of -- "Republicans may have made some mistakes but we're still the guys taking it to the enemy; we may get it wrong sometimes but you know in your heart of hearts that we're the guys you really trust on defense..." I think a lot of people really believe that.

Therefore, recast the debate --and isn't this what we really think? Iraq, terrorism, global-warming, high-gas prices, environmental collapse -- all are a function of the fact that this country is not taking either the sensible nor the extravagant steps needed to secure its future with a sustainable energy policy. This should be the center of debate, not 'terror'.

What do you think?

Posted by: paul on September 6, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I would make a few changes to your input analysis.

There needs to be a de-emphasis of Democracy promotion (particularly by Military means) in the region. This has led to extreme instability in the short term. Democrats need to take a different tack on this and it will be difficult to promote this via "Talking Points", but it can be done with some thought.

I suggest reading this article by Flynt Leverett:

http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=11859

and viewing his speeech on CPSAN today as well via The Washington Note.

A return to an updated "Realism" based Foreign Policy is a must. If the Democrats do not position themselves accordingly, even if they win power, it will be difficult to make sufficient changes in actual policy. This includes getting off the AIPAC bandwagon, since we saw where this has led in the recent Lebanon disaster. Hillary is a disaster waiting to happen in this respect.

A clear difference needs to be articulated vis-a-vis the BuschCo Doctrine and not just a "we can do it better" approach a la Kerry in '04.

Forceful, Strong, Direct but definitely a DIFFERENT policy.

Posted by: Young Turk on September 6, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I think we have a chance to kill two birds with one stone: we need to tie our opposition to the theocratic tendencies in the Republican party to our opposition to jihadism, Likudism, and other religious extremist movements internationally. Part of what makes US public diplomacy efforts so pathetic and bewildering right now is that we are attempting to persuade Arab and Muslim people that they should resist the siren song of those who claim to know what laws God wants them to obey, and instead to choose laws for themselves, but we ourselves are ruled by people who justify their actions by claiming to know what laws God wants us to obey. We won't win the war on terror unless we're credible in opposing religious extremism. The Democrats can have that credibility, the Republicans can't.

I think we need to learn from the early Cold War period, but not from Truman or Kennan (or at least not exclusively): we need to learn from the dramatic comeback the GOP made in the late 1940's on the issue of anti-communism. The GOP (and Nixon in particular) became masters at distinguishing between communists and fellow travelers, on the one hand, and patriotic and responsible trade unionists, on the other. They didn't attack the labor movement directly, but they successfully wedged the leadership and membership of most unions away from the radical activists and organizers who were the driving force behind growth. This successful wedge strategy, based largely by making it clear that there were patriotic, non-communist labor union members and leaders, and that the GOP knew and appreciated this and wasn't criticizing them, paid huge short and long term dividends. In the short term the GOP came back from the wilderness to win 7 out of 10 presidential elections between 1950 and 1990. In the long run, the labor movement stagnated until it was weak enough for aggressive businesses and conservative politicians to break it.

So, the marketing strategy I think we need to adopt would say that we're in a fight against religious extremism, not against religion. We ourselves are religious people, but we're not so proud and arrogant as the Bin Ladens and Dobsons so as to imagine that we and we alone know God's will. We believe that all people - here and around the world - should live by the laws they choose for themselves, not by the laws the extremists claim to know that God wants us to live by. And frankly, if we're going to win, we'll need religious people of all faiths to join us in the fight against extremists of all faiths, and we'll need to make sure everyone around the world knows that wherever you are, and whatever your faith, if stand up against extremism the United States will have your back.

I think that would be pretty good grand narrative, and one that the party as a whole could get behind, especially as it allows us to talk about religion in a way that we're pretty much all comfortable with, even those of us who profess no religion at all.

Posted by: Rich C on September 6, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Two points:

1. I think the majority position, even within the Democratic ranks, regarding the NSA program isn't that it is an unnecessary curtailment of civil liberties in and of itself, but rather that the Bush approach of ignoring Congress and the Judiciary in implementing the program is an unnecessary curtailment of civil liberties and a blatent power grab by the Executive Branch in violation of the Constitution.

2. Any criticism of the Democrats for failing to say what should be done in Iraq is misguided for a couple of reasons. First, the Senate resolution that called for a redeployment of US forces within the region to allow the Iraqis to deal with their own probems, but with a US force nearby is one proposal. More importantly however, and the real crux of the problem Iraq poses, is that there are NO good solutions. That is the real crime of Bush's utter and complete incompetence. He has placed this country in a genuine no win situation.

Just staying the course, which, despite the PR blitz to the contrary, is essentially what Bush is doing, isn't working. Just think, in the last two years, there have been a couple of elections in Iraq, a Constitution has been adopted, and a couple hundred thousand Iraqi troops trained - and things are much worse than they were two years ago. It bears repeating: supposedly we will stand down when they stand up, yet even though the size of the American force has held steady and the number of Iraqi troops has gone from zero to almost 200.000, the violence has increased. It's mind-boggling.

Other alternatives don't sound too appetizing either. Our withdrawal could lead to a very bloody and very destablizing civil war. It could give the message we are cutting and running and the terrorists will proclaim victory. We really are screwed, and all because George Bush is utterly and completely unqualified to run a bingo game, let alone the United States.

Posted by: Jim on September 6, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin. Democrats need to speak out and claim the serious national security approach they have agreed on. I'm so tired of pants-wetting Republicans continually trying to demean this great nation by goading it into a quivering, hysterical fear of terrorism.

Posted by: McCord on September 6, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

The more the Democrats vacillate on Iraq, the more they appear to endorse Bush's stay the course strategy, which should more correctly be viewed as stay and die. If the Democrats, the supposed opposition party, cared one whit about those troops, they would actually start speaking out with one voice in making sure those troops were out of that meatgrinder as quickly and as rapidly as possible. But since they are practically quaking in their shoes that they will be accused of being soft on the war on terror, that prospect looks to be exceedingly slim.

Posted by: Erroll on September 6, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Domestically, we nearly all agree that we should spend more on things like port security and chemical plant security."

Are you actually naiive enough to believe that Democrats are actually serious about those issues? They use it as a way to attack Republicans, nothing more. When in power, they will do nothing in that regard. You are confusing talking points with conviction.

(The other points of agreement you mention are, in varying degrees, subject to the same problems.)

Posted by: Point C on September 6, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

I think we need to focus on all the repair work that needs doing before we recover some of our lost advantages in the world. For the election, it's only enough to say of the Republitics "These guys are losing everywhere in every way, and we've got to get their hands off the controls."

And, yes, then use that 60%-70% agreement. For example, a timetable is great mainly because it is the only thing that will cool the growing number of Iraqis who want us out. If Bush had put one in place a year ago, even if it was over the next, say, five years , I doubt there'd be as much resistance as we see today. But failure to give a timetable is tantamount to "f-you, we're going when we're going."

Negative campaigning works. Job #1: The Captain is plainly disordered, and we've got to get his hands off the wheel. Yeah, we've got fixes (we do), but nothing is going to better as long as it stays the same in Washington.


Posted by: jim p on September 6, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

I definitely agree with the outline. I think Democrats who are unwilling to talk about foreign policy are at are real disadvantage. Hackett shows how one can be against the war and still look strong.

I'd like to see buzzwords like 4GW and Asynchronous Warfare. Using the Rovian strategy of going for an opponent's strength, we really need to point out it is Bush and Chenney who are stuck with a pre-9/11 mentality. We really need to push hard that this isn't about states! We were not attacked on 9/11 by a state, but by an independent al Queda. But Republicans can't see it, so they keep leading us on these wild goose-chases.

Posted by: Mark on September 6, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Scott Coughlin --
all due respect but no respect due to Al.

Kevin --
There are 2 absolute problems in your outline:

1) I don't see there is any consensus to get down and serious in seeking an outcome to the Palestinian problem. I've seen no clue that Dems would actually act in an even-handed way to a solution any more than most Repubs.

2) An exit strategy to Iraq is a real conundrum. Bush has dragged the US unwittingly into a genuine quagmire from which there are no easy exits (at least none I can see), only very hard decisions to be made and sold. THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO STAND UP! The Kurds are already separating -- raised their own flag -- and being cornered by the Turks and Iranians.

Marketing is how you promote actual policies. What you've proposed is what we wouldn't do and some things we would undo, along with what we wish hadn't been done. The Repubs run both houses and the executive so the initiative does lie with them.

I would concentrate on those things they least like talking about right now.

Immigration: Dems are fairly united and the Repubs very split.

Their disregard for healthcare costs and disasters like the drug plan, the doughnut hole which many are running into right now.

Incompetence and lack of taking responsibility. Katrina and Iraq. Plenty of examples of heartrending disconnect, human tragedy, waste, fraud, cronyism, and dishonesty. No oversight (responsible behavior) from either Repub house.

The economy for most (75%) of the nation versus the fat cats and Republican gift-givers. Promised reform for K Street and corruption which NEVER HAPPENNED!!!

"Two more years of all this?"

Posted by: notthere on September 6, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

No, Jim, there are already 100 Iraqis being killed on average in Iraq. How many more do you think have to be killed in order for it to be considered a civil war? Cutting and running sounds right out of the neoconservative playbook. Would you prefer that the troops instead keep getting blown up and picked apart by the resistance fighters? That strategy, as I mentioned earlier, should rightly be titled stay and die. Do you actually believe that if and when the United States were to actually leave Iraq that it would somehow be a victory for the terrorists? As Congressman Murtha has repeatedly tried to point out, only 7 per cent of those who are fighting the U.S. and coalition forces are considered terrorists. Again, that number is 7, not seventy. The overwhelming majority of those who are fighting against the United States are the resistance fighters, who are not going to rest until the occupying force is driven from their homeland. It has to be the height of arrogance for someone to suggest that the United States should continue to occupy another country that was never considered to be even a remote threat to the United States. The United States should withdraw those troops as rapidly and as quickly as possible. If not,then they will continue to get blown up and picked apart by the freedom fighters who long to rid themselves of a military which has heaped humiliation and beatings and killings upon the citizens of Iraq.

Posted by: Erroll on September 6, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Whoever stays the course when they arrive at a cliff, is bound for a fall.

I'm so deep...

Posted by: AkaDad on September 6, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this the proposed Yglesias book?

Posted by: Jeff Littlejohn on September 6, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone

2 parter. First to respond to some of the issues raised by J.S.:


"2. Saying Iraq was a mistake doesn't tell us what TO DO NOW- this is no small matter- what's the Dem proposal- simply leave?"

Almost all programs/strategies for personal or organizational recovery have one essential requirement: admitting that one has a problem. If you think everything is fine you will never improve. OK, as Kevin writes, the vast majority of Dems agree that Iraq was a mistake. This is very important because it shows they realize that we have a problem.

Now, to be fair, the question you pose, "simply leave?" is a tough but fair one. The answer, also, unfortunately will be tough: Yes. Most objective observers (on both sides I am guessing) have concluded that we can not win. Once that determination is made leaving becomes the only option. The number of coaltion forces and Iraqis killed per month has now become a statistical function; we can predict the numbers within a variance of a few people. Once we know that we can not win, how we can justify these predictable and inevitable deaths?

Will things get worse in the short term when we pull out (in whatever fashion)? Sure. But what can we do about that? A guest on the Imus in the Morning Show related the opinion of a street-smart businessman who had spent time in Iraq. According to his friend (paraprased) "The place is gonna fall apart when we leave, whether it is in 10 weeks or 10 years, and a guy twice as bad as Hussein is gonna take over because he will be the only person who can pull the place together". When I heard these comments it sent a chill down my spine because I knew they were true.

"3. Yes, the GOP is overstating the case with Iran, but what do the Dems suggest if Iran doesn't respond to sanctions"

Luckily this is an easy one: measured diplomacy. Aside from the saber rattlers, no one thinks Iran will be anywhere close to nukes within the next 2 years. More than enough time to let a mature foreign policy team take over.


Part 2. Why do the current crop of Dems find it so hard to deal with Karl Rove and his minions? Do they buy the 'genius' bit? For those of you who are old enough, just imagine what a Dem pol like Lyndon Johnson would have done to Rove and his childish bag of dirty tricks--there would be nothing left but the smoking ashes!

Posted by: James M. on September 6, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Erroll:

Have you been paying attention to who those "freedom fighters" have actually been blowing up for the past few months? Hint: Mostly not Americans.

Posted by: billw on September 6, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats will be attacked as appeasers or warmongers no matter what. We have to realize that and deal with it. One Rove strategy is to go after opponents strengths. That's what Dems have to do. Right now, the GOP only has one "strength" and that's security.

I think the narrative should be: The GOP has been so DAMN INCOMPETENT that we are just as safe as if they hadn't done anything (Taliban coming back, Iraq a mess, the middle east more precarious, N. Korea, etc.). What's worse, we lack the support and trust of allies we need. They screwed us--and screwed us bad. Here's our plan...

Perhaps some grandstanding by shutting down the Senate to get port security settled at the same time Bush is giving one of his propoganda speeches where he compares critics to nazi sympathizers/appeasers. (Remember when the GOP got all hot and bothered when Durbin said our torture chambers sounded like Stalinesque gulags?) Seriously, if Bush wants to play politics with security, why not answer in kind--but with more than empty rhetoric. Dems can spin it as: If you elect us, we won't have to shut down the Senate to get things done. Stay with the GOP and you get speeches comparing 60% of Americans to nazi appeasers. (Isn't nazi germany pre-9/11?)

Posted by: gq on September 6, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Luckily this is an easy one: measured diplomacy."

That is an easy one. I guess. But what's it actually mean? What will a "mature" foreign policy team actually do while Iran is building those nukes?

Posted by: billw on September 6, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

sure great, but i personally think you left out the marquee issue which is and should be "prosecute, prosecute, prosecute." Everyone loves good TV for crying out loud.

Posted by: ashes on September 6, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

The underlying theme to all this is "Get Real."

I suspect that's a message that a lot of voters are willing to listen to. After six years of fantasy, it would be nice to hear reality. But it's also a quick way to puncture any of the administration's vague rhetoric.

So, for instance...

Republican: Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. We cannot lose there.

Dem: Get real. We not only _can_ lose there, we _are_ losing there, and it's time to be honest about why so we _don't_ lose there.

Republican: Conservation isn't a policy. It may be a sign of personal virtue, but it's not a serious plan.

Democrat: Get real. Every dollar we spend on gas is another dollar that goes into the pockets of Iran and Saudia Arabia. Plus it contributes to global warming. But put that aside for the moment. Why do you think Iran can bankroll Hezbollah? Gas money.

Republican: We're fighting terrorists there, so we don't have to fight them here.

Democrat: It's time to get real. We'll have to fight them everywhere until we can convince them that modernity is a better path than jihad. In the short term, that means securing our ports. In the long term, it means drying up the madrassas. But either way, the idea that the Iraq war is making us safer is a dangerous fantasy.

And on and on...

This administration has thrived on an elaborate, simplistic illusion for six years. The media supports it. But voters are souring. All we have to do is stand up and call the fantasy for what it is.

Posted by: Butty on September 6, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, idiots crazy Dems, keep at these 2 items for your MARKETING campaign:

1. Emphasize the Paleostinians. They have about 10% support among the American public. I know that drives you fucking moonbatty.

2. Keep calling the jihadis(head-cutters) "freedom fighers". That will get you about 15% support too. I know that also must drive you fucking looney.

Posted by: Donkey_Courage on September 6, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see us reduce regulation and support traditional American moral values. And I don't like paying taxes either. So I see some problems with the Dems.

Posted by: apple on September 6, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

Snarky snark snark snark - fuck Bush - snark snark snark - fuck all conservatives - snark snarky snarky snark - fuck all Christians - snark snark snark snark - fuck Israel

Yup that's the typical post on this board. Keep it up lib-tards. That's SURE gonna win you many elections to come!

Posted by: Donkey_Courage on September 6, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Rightwhingers certainly like to say "fuck" alot; Most likely because they ain't getting any.

Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Butty,

We aren't losing in Iraq. We got rid of Saddam and prevented the WMDs from getting into terrorist's hands. (That second part was really, really easy!) There is no win or lose left, all that is left is helping the Iraqi's rebuild their country.

Not only is the above true, I think it is the correct way to frame it.

Cut-n-run from what, exactly? Yes, they have begun a civil war, but it isn't like we've chosen sides. Ask the American people who they think we should fight, kill and die for: Shiite, Sunni or Kurd?

Posted by: Mark on September 6, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Rightwhingers certainly like to say "fuck" alot; Most likely because they ain't getting any.
Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

That's only because it's one of the 7 words you understand. Maybe I'm being generous with saying it's 7.

Posted by: Donkey_Courage on September 6, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with most of your outline Kevin. From a marketing perspective, I would try to offer an alternative to both the way this Administration has sold their war against terrorism, and the way in which they've actually carried it out. Because they are totally opposite.

Some examples:
Finding OBL and sweeping up Al-Qaeda was actually considered by the Admin. to more difficult than regime change in Iraq.

Infiltrating and gathering viable intelligence on Al-Qaeda is hard work. Breaking an Afghani taxi driver's knee caps is relatively easy.

Finding terrorism cells in the U.S. is tough; tapping everyone's phones is not.

See where this is going? Whenever the administration was tasked with a difficult job they took the easy way out and failed. They have spent the last five years selling their actions as tough when they are actually cowardly and counterproductive. The vast majority of Americans would favor the full force of this country being used against our enemies if we could be sure that the sacrifices on both sides would lead to a better situation.

The Democratic position should be to seek out the core problems that put our safety in question and to attack them with everything we have, whether that be military, economic or diplomatic force.

Posted by: enozinho on September 6, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

This requires genuine support for democracy...

Jeez, didn't you guys learn anything from Iraq?

It's this sort of political correctness that got us into Iraq. "The Iraqi people are just like us, and if we just get rid of the dictator Saddam they will take to the Anglo-American culture our country was built on like ducks to water."

Posted by: Myron on September 6, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

You can't put too fine a point on the NSA program issue.

It's not that we disagree with the program.

We disagree with how it's been implemented: sans warrants or judicial oversight.

Yes, if bin Laden is calling someone in the US - I want authorities to know about it, and know why. And I also want a judge to know about it.

Anything less is UnAmerican.

But anyway, my point is, Kevin, you've GOT to make that clear. Because the righties out there will say that if you oppose the NSA program, you are also prone to beheading kittens with a nail file.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 6, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

"Measured diplomacy" means giving Iran lots of good reasons not to build nukes. They will certainly go for them now because they have noticed a certain phenomenon:

"Axis of Evil" country with no nukes, Iraq: invaded and leadership deposed.

"Axis of Evil" country with nukes, North Korea: Not invaded and corrupt leader still enjoying French wines and scantilly clad "Happy" girl troupe!

Anyway, diplomacy means lining up your friends, using carrots and sticks wisely and establishing and using back channels to talk to countries you don't have normalized relations with. This is what real diplomats do and we have seen precious little of that from the current crew.

I mean, come on folks, if you think we have problems now just imagine a post-Iran invasion world. At the very least I've read that Iran has 2-3000 plus spies embedded in Iraq and I'll bet you those guys would get real busy....!


Posted by: James M. on September 6, 2006 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Domestically, we nearly all agree that we should spend more on things like port security and chemical plant security."

Are you actually naiive enough to believe that Democrats are actually serious about those issues? They use it as a way to attack Republicans, nothing more. When in power, they will do nothing in that regard. You are confusing talking points with conviction.

(The other points of agreement you mention are, in varying degrees, subject to the same problems.)

Pont C: You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Ditto for you, Al, GOP and the Gang of Trolls. Your boys don't give fuck-all about real security unless it's abyproduct of stuffing money into the pockets of their money men. The record is STUFFED with examples of Democratic initiatives to fund exactly these areas and more.
Rep. Obey THREE YEARS AGO, as part of a BIPARTISAN group, expressed strong concern that port security was being neglected and needed to be funded, and Bush told him that he had a dollar figure in mind for port security and basically didn't give a shit what the investigaors had come up with.
And there's more where that came from, jerk.
http://tinyurl.com/j8x9n

Posted by: secularhuman on September 6, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

More on MARKETING:

Don't say "we oppose torture and rendition".

Say instead - "We support the harshest punishments for proven terrorists. We support due process for unproven terrorists - until they are proven terrorists."

I agree with the others - linkage with energy policy, and security - Material Security, Economic Security, and Ecological/Environmental Security.

Rich C also said some very smart things about tying the battle against religious islamic militant fundamentalism with judaic militant fundamentalism and christian militant fundamentalism.
Gore said it best: We want to build a bridge to the future, not the past.

But the bottom line is - the only way Dems will convince me they're serious if they make this their primary campaigh slogan:

"Elect us, and we WILL IMPEACH the traitorous, war-profiteering scum, and then we will prosecute the War on militant religious fundamentalism with the seriousness it deserves."

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 6, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

It's pretty simple really.

1.
Principle: Terrorism is the result of demonstrable failure of leadership to utilize diplomacy and can only be solved by cross-societal engagement and police enforcement.

Personal Narrative: You refuse to talk with people they start using violence to get your attention, the more you ignore the more they invest increasing the power of their violent acts.

2.

Principle: All attempts to address terrorism as a military issue world wide have always been and continue to be utter and complete failures in every measurable dimension.

Personal Narrative: When someone feels they have nothing to lose the threat of death will not sway them. Permit a person a stake in changing their situation and they will have a reason to value thier lives.

3.

Our Constitution is the crown jewel of American society and the rights it ascribes to citizens is the true wealth of the nation. To curtail any aspect of this legacy is profoundly unAmerican and profoundly dangerous to the security of the nation and the world.

Personal Narrative: Speaks for itself. Easily translatable to specific instances NSA, torture, detention, tribunals, etc.

4.

As to solutions to Iraq and proposition of engagements with Iran and others:

The endless warmongering of the current crop of Republicans is a colossal failure and was only possible because of their complete and ruthless control of both the legislative agenda and the national diaglogue. We can not begin meaningfully discussing solutions until the Republicans are forced into a position to meaningfully share power. This means we must control one or both legislative branches of government to prevent the mindless continuation of this disastorous approach to foreign policy.

Any other approach to address these problems is doomed to failure because the Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated to the Democrats and the public their complete unwillingness to listen to or deal rationally with person outside of their own political operational bunkers and their closest circle of finanacial backers.

Personal Narrative: To quote the Ariel Sharon, the Democrats can find no viable partner within the current leadership of the Republican party in either the legislative or executive branches of government and so must persue as primary policy legislative regime change in order to foster the Republican party to select better more productive representation for itself. Once this process is compelte we can return to the real business of the nation and begin to solve the many international disasters fostered and created by the current administration.

Posted by: patience on September 6, 2006 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

the only way Dems will convince me they're serious

Democrats don't really need to market themselves to us do they? Not at this point anyway. This is about convincing people who have seen the failures of this administration to take a second look at Democrats.

Six years of opposing this administration can cause myopia. Most people are not opposed to overthrowing dictators if they think it will work. Democrats need to convince the public that they will do whatever it takes, even ugly things, if the end result is positive.

If Democrats are committed to solving our problems with their eyes open, informing the public about their intentions, and preparing the public for what the ramifications of those actions are likely to be, Americans are much more likely to come to the right conclusions and influence those policies to better ends.

Posted by: enozinho on September 6, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
your domestic policy agenda looks like just more foriegn policy to me (only domestically implemented).

Where is talk of necessary tax increases (and/or tax reform), of balancing the budget? Of health insurance? Of the coming corporate pensions crisis? Of stronger anti-trust enforcement? Of balancing the power of workers and corporations? Of reinvigoring worker safety enforcement. Has nothing happened this last 5 years that needs to be set right?

Posted by: reason on September 6, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

We need a policy that fits on a bumper sticker!

How about

Truth, Justice and the American Way

or, negatively,

6 years of failure is enough

More constructively,

Give Intelligence a Chance, for a Change

or less so,

Only an Idiot would Stay this Course

Posted by: bad Jim on September 6, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

How about, for showing a little attitude,

Terrorists are Pussies

I refute feminist objections by recalling one morning when I went into the kitchen to make coffee, wearing only jeans, and a lovely little adorable kitten ran straight up my bare back using only its claws. AAAAARGH!

Posted by: bad Jim on September 6, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with your approach, Kevin, is that the Republicans have 'Fear! Hitler! Fear!' in their toolbox. As much as most people are pig-sick of it, fear-hitler-fear is still

Look at the rhetorical buildup: I caught one of Hannity's radio guests today predicting unspecified doom if the Democrats take control of the House. How do you deal with that? What worse will happen? Will Speaker Pelosi lead to 3000 dead from a terrorist attack? That's already happened. 3000 Americans dead in a war which kills thousands of innocents? That's already happened. The public image of the US in the toilet? That's already happened.

Seriously, when you're dealing with people who shit themselves in thunderstorms, rational policy goes only so far.

Posted by: ahem on September 6, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin's column sounds a lot more reasonable than the leading Democratic politicians. Those geniuses seem to think that firing Rumsfeld constitutes an alternative policy on Iraq. Kevin has laid out a reasonable set of principles. I don't think they'll work as well as Bush's approach, but I could be wrong. At the very least Kevin's policies are a basis for serious debate.

If Dems had been offering plausible alternatives all along, their suggestions might have led to superior foreign policy. Unfortunately, they have mostly thrown stones at Bush, which doesn't lead anywhere.

Kevin Drum for Democratic Leader of the Senate!

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 6, 2006 at 4:43 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,
Since Rumsfeld's policies are as effective at controlling terrorism as using an M-80 to get rid of a fire ant infestation, simply getting rid of him would be an improvement.

Posted by: joe on September 6, 2006 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals, being the useful idiots they are, are doing Bin Laden's media campaign for him. I hope you libs are proud of yourselves.

Al, why do you hate democracy so much. You know, there are plenty of one-party states to which you could happily emigrate -- places where you could draw your talking points directly from Dear leaders ass and would never be forced to read the topic you felt obliged to respond to. Oh wait; you do that now.

Posted by: Kenji on September 6, 2006 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I agree with most of what you say.

You, and most Democrats, take a very pragmatic view of homeland security and terrorism. See the threat, build a response. But one of the clear, underlying themes of the Republican response to 9/11 has been panic-induced opportunism and self-dealing that has led to billions of wasted tax dollars and no measurable improvement in our national security.

Tom Davis's Government Reform Committee, the GAO and many other mainstream, independent political organizations have come to the conclusion that much of our $40 billion annual Homeland Security budget is simply wasted.

Waste and abuse needs to be addressed because it explains a lot about the Republicans' cohesion on the terrorism issue. They have applied old-style Chicago machine politics to security issues on a national scale.

Virtually no Republican pocket has gone unlined, whether it be in the rush to interview and hire 40,000 TSA baggage handlers at plush resorts or in the thousands of purchased and as yet unused emergency trailers for displaced Katrina victims. A 1/2 billion dollar, non-competed trailer contract went to a company with a long history of contributions to Republican campaigns, and their trailers sit unused and deteriorating in parking lots hundreds of miles away from the devastation.

This corruption issue undermines Republicans on a number of fronts -- their posturing as patriots and supporters of our troops; their hypocrical claims of integrity on budget issues; their arrogant presumption of administrative expertise.

Opposing corruption is directly related to national security but it does not form the core of national security policy. Many of your recommendations address this. But if you want to give a Democratic national security policy some sizzle, don't forget to address corruption.

Also, don't forget the UN and NGOs. UNICEF is a potential ally in addressing the horrible quality of teenage religious indoctrination at these madrassas. What the Islamic fundamentalists are doing to their youth at these "schools" is unconscionable. But we need to pay our dues to have any influence at the UN, which means Bolton and people like him have to go. We need to stop treating the UN as a backwater diplomatic assignment where we park troublesome yet loyal party hacks. Put some real talent in Turtle Bay.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this summarize as:

1. No plan on Iraq

2. Screw over Israel to appease the Arabs

3. Stop getting upset and learn to love the Iranian Bomb?

Posted by: Mike Fridman on September 6, 2006 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

You need to be concise - The average American's attention span is about ten syllables. Hence, the success of Republican soundbites (e.g. Mission accomplished, cut and run, stand down when they stand up). Your current post was an example of liberal's inability to be concise.

Come up with a ten syllable sound bite for what our policy should be, and then we move forward.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 6, 2006 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

How about this?

"No Iraq Plan, Screw Israel, Live with Iran Bomb"

It's 10 syllables...

Posted by: Mike Fridman on September 6, 2006 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

Agree with your point about the similarities in Democratic positions but think our fearless leaders in congress will not risk actually saying anything. Thus we languish and lose, justifiably, the trust of the people. We need new leaders.

Posted by: Lee on September 6, 2006 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

Fridman, Deflator, etc.,

Maybe it's because Republicans have over-simplified national and homeland security into 10-second sound bites that they have so many failures to point to.

Talk about the bigotry of soft expectations. Give the American people credit for seeing beyond military solutions to every security problem.

You can enter a house by blowing a hole through the door with a howitzer, or you can try knocking on the door. You guys are part of the "howitzer first" crowd, and the limitations of this approach are painfully evident in places like Iraq.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

1 : criticising Bush et al is sufficent since it's very easy given situation to convince people that change in and of itself will be a welcome improvement. This is the smart strategy since ...

2 : the concensus you speak of Kevin is an illusion that, as things stand now, will fall apart once pressure is applied. Constant reiteration of Bush flaws and mistakes will keep pressure on GOP and off Dems.

Of course that will not hold true once presidential race begins in earnest. McCain will win if Dems cannot sound 'viable' viz foreign policy. A hollow concensus between factions on the left spells trouble.

Posted by: sherman's marche on September 6, 2006 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

Hysterical is the wrong word, marketing-wise. It implies that we think conservatives are overly alarmed about the very real and formidable threat of terrorism. That is substantively wrong. What we're concerned about is that the Bush administration and conservatives have taken a very stupid and unserious (to use a word from your previous post) approach to terrorism. They are trying to defuse mines with jackhammers, and then accusing the bomb experts of being wusses and appeasers when we tell them that they don't know what they're doing. Might without wisdom is a mighty dangerous thing. Can't Democrats get this across?

Posted by: womanhattan.com on September 6, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I can agree with well over the 70% threshhold you mention. For domestic policy the percent would be even higher.

My question is: Is the swath a land that includes Iraq, Iran and all the -stans ready for modernity. Or is the West (capitalism) rushing folks that have tribal loyalties into the future too fast?

Posted by: Chief on September 6, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Americans are in a constant state of pissing down their legs at the slightest provocation. Bottled water on an airplane results in fighter squadrons scrambled, fire trucks assembled on the tarmac and the FBI and CIA assembled en masse with guns drawn to take down the offender. Doze off and mumble something about Mohammed in your sleep and suddenly you're duct taped to your seat, bloodied and bruised. In this enviroment the policy that works best is "BOO!" Bush has "BOO!" down pat. Democrats want to move beyond "BOO!" and do something substantive about terrorism. As long as America's shoes are full of piss it's not going to happen.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 6, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

I don't recall who said it, maybe in the Bush I v. Clinton in '91 (Cueball & Begala?):

"It's the economy, stupid."

Hammer incessantly and I mean even maybe a new definition of incessant, on the economy and the cost of health care for the next 26 months and the Dems will have the White House & Congress.

Now that the King has been shown to have no clothes, that is all the grass root citizen talks about. "What if I get sick?" What if I lose my job?" Make it a class war, the few CEOs who make tens of millions in bonuses v. the 100s of thousands who lose their pensions or get laid off in a cost cutting move.

I'm here. I'm on the ground surrounded by these folks. An honest marketing campaign will absolutely work. Will require beaucoup dollars.

Oh, and don't bad-mouth Walmart too much. It is the only place these folks have to go to stretch their few dollars. Bashing Walmart might be counter productive.

Posted by: Chief on September 6, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

With all due respect, the Democrats that I know are against illegal immigration, not for it. And I know Democrats who will vote Repub. if the Democrats embrace immigration, which the middle class pays for and the upper class benefits from.

I think economics should be a big factor... the middle class is a sinking ship, the super rich get tax breaks and many pay no taxes at all. This is obviously unfair and I think would resonate.

Finally... don't forget the Medicare debacle. Many seniors/disabled were forced into RX drug programs that are totally beyond comprehension and common sense and that cost a HUGE amount since the legislation was written by the drug companies (AARP helped pass this since they get many millions of dollars from it selling a drug plan). This is an issue that is DEFINITELY a winner for Dems. Bush lied about the cost, passed a plan that is rubbish.

Obviously foreign policy is critical-- I agree it should be stressed that Bush has made the foreign policy blunder of the century and forced us into a situation which is bad no matter which way you look at it. He has strengthened Iran. There is no democracy in Iraq, there is a bloodbath with our troops in the middle.

Posted by: Clem on September 6, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

It is "marketing" (i.e., getting the message out). Not how often the Republicans say "the Democrrats have no plan" usually within 60 seconds of saying our plan won't work. Santorum did that several times to Bob Casey on Meet the Press and notice how many times Tim Russert called Santorum on this nonsense - ZERO.

Posted by: pgl on September 6, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

How can you talk about what to do about the war on terror and not even mention ENERGY INDEPENDENCE? WTF? This should be front and center!! Every day we're funding terrorists at the pump...this needs to stop...imagine how this message could resonate with every American regardless of their political inclination.

Posted by: patrick Lacglobal.netne on September 6, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Just read what Butty wrote.

That is pretty good marketing.

Posted by: Clem on September 6, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

If Dems had been offering plausible alternatives all along

check out Bush's new strategy. note that it, and all other revisions before it, slowly approaches what Dems have been suggesting all along.

Posted by: cleek on September 6, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

As long as you are running against Republicans you wil be called an appeaser regardless of your policies.

Posted by: fromer on September 6, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

While the Democrats can talk about how much more effective they'll be on terrorism and jihadism, there are darned few chances for them to show it while not in power. We'll probably get more indication of how they'll approach things if, as looks probable, they recapture the House. The trouble is, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked.

Port security is very tough. It is less a matter of scanning arriving containers than obtaining the cooperation of authorities in the ports of origin - something the current administration is already working on, with some success.

It will take over a year to pull out of Iraq, once the decision to leave has been made. A complete handover will take time and the security situation has to be conducive to a safe withdrawal. There is no guarantee that the violence will abate once we announce we are leaving and the nobody wants to be the last man killed in an abandoned cause. Even as we withdraw our people, we'll still need to continue our air and reconnaissance support to whatever Iraqi forces we leave in place.

As we withdraw, the military leadership will want to bring the troops home, rather than simply redeploy them somewhere in the region. They will correctly assume that keeping large numbers of troops in Kuwait will serve no purpose, since, having just withdrawn, there is almost nothing that will induce us to go back into Iraq. There is little reason to insert large numbers of conventional troops into Afghanistan, unless we intend to subdue the Hindu Kush, which is hardly a good idea. Engagement elsewhere is unlikely, unless it is to Darfur and that will have only a minor affect on terrorism. We are unlikely to go back into Somalia. And wherever we "redeploy" to in the region, we'll remain the target of terrorists, though without the ability to strike back. Besides, by now the opponents of the Iraq campaign have now poisoned the well against the use of military forces anywhere. (It'll just create more terrorists, won't it? We lost in Iraq, didn't we?)

As Kevin correctly points out, that leaves diplomacy and "support for democratic movements," whatever that means (covert agents? Backchannel money?). With regard to Iran, diplomacy probably means some version of what we are already doing.

With regard to Israel, our policy would remain almost exactly the same as it is now. We will still support their military. We will still support a two state solution. We will still consider Hezbollah a dangerous, terrorist organization.

None of this smells like success, much less victory. Hard to market the idea of abandoning the Iraqi situation and (apparently) going back to same old, same old. Come to think of it, though, intervention in Darfur might serve the trick of diverting attention for a while, but won't affect jihadism much.

It will be a tough sell.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Marketing your ideas for abandoning Iraq?

The Democrats are devoid of reason when they don't believe their own ideas and want to sell them to America. Sounds like P.T. Barnum is wanting suckers to vote Democrat.

Posted by: Orwell on September 6, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Amusing that "marketing" will solve what to do with the policy vacuum in the Democratic Party. Casey was pitiful on MTP last Sunday. Once you break the tie to Lieberman, you are unmoored from reality. For example, what could the President do in the Israeli-Palestinian situation with negotiation that Clinton didn't do ? Once Arafat walked away from the 2000 proposals, negotiation was over. Only Chamberlain would think otherwise, and that is what you want; Israel as Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Posted by: Mike K on September 6, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I agree we need to "market" -- that is expose to the public -- our plans for dealing with the terrorist threat. We need to be much more forthright about what we mean when we say withdraw troops -- pull many of not most of them out of Iraq and redeploy them to peripheral countries; we need to respond to the announcement that Pakistan has signed an agreement with the Taliban!!! to leave each other alone; we need to focus on cleaning up Afghanistan, perhaps even deploying some of those Iraqi troops THERE to confront the Taliban and Al Qaeda, especially now that Pakistan is abdicating its role in confronting them.

We then need to spell out how we would convene an international conference to begin addressing the rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure, with more focus on small potatoes stuff instead of rebuilding oil infrastructure.

Finally, we need to make it VERY CLEAR to the American people that we see the terror threat quite clearly as a threat against us here at home and begin the process of hardening our defenses of our ports, chemical plants, dams, and other vital national infrastructure using some of the billions of dollars diverted to Iraq now. And as we pull our pecuniary resources home we need to engage Iran in proposals for sharing "nucular " technology that will obviate their need to develop nuclear weapons. I like the idea of knocking on the door rather than blowing a hole in the wall with a howitzer. I feel that the conflict with Iran is an example of that, much as Iraq was.

Ahmadinedjad is just as full of bluster as Bush when talking to his base, but given a real possibility of diplomacy and negotiation absent neocon threats of nuclear bombing, he might just reach real compromise and avoid the necessity for yet more bloodshed.

Posted by: marvc on September 6, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Assertive leadership; strategic restraint.

Need a meme to flip the "any opposition to military action is appeasement" theme - strategic restraint does this by making clear that when restraint is exercised, it is for strategic reasons, not knee-jerk pacifism. On the other hand, it sets up a reciprocal comparison to ask how "maximum force all the time" is strategic, by insisting that advocates stipulate exceptions - when is force NOT appropriate? If that question can't be answered coherently by hawks, they have no strategy, just an ideology.

Posted by: Wordsmith on September 6, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't heard anything "new" from the Democrats on Iraq

admitting your own ignorance is the first step in learning something new.

Posted by: cleek on September 6, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I'm drawn toward politicians that express honesty, rationality, pragmatism, intelligence, and a strong sense of an American community. Assholes that say what you want to hear? Not so much.

Honesty and an open dialogue concerning the problems we face. It could be the theme if we had 250 decent politicians.

Of course Democrats don't have a great plan on how to deal with Iraq. They also have no plan on how to escape a train wreck in process.

Iran? No miracle solution there either. The bullet was fired at the foot several years ago when we decided to forgo low level diplomatic ties for belligerent threats in the state of the union.

Israel? Some one smarter needs to start calling the shots over there or there is little we can do to help them. tough love

Military action? What's wrong with the Powell doctrine and agressive support of UN / AU peace keeping missions?

4. How specifically will the Dems support democracy and human rights?

I'd sugesst that trade agreements, military agreements, and aid agreements should be contingent on continual improvement on these fronts. We should be vocal at the UN and work diplomatically to get other countries to exert pressure also. No giant exceptions should be made to appease multinational corporations or Uzbek dictators. As the rest of the world pays a lot more attention to international news, hypocrisy won't cut it.

It's pretty old school, but "hold elections or feel the boot on your neck" hasn't worked too well so far.

-----------
BTW, am I the only one who is annoyed by FZ's reactive punditry. He'll tell you what we shouldn't do after it's painfully obvious, but in a slight vacuum he's drawn toward broad stroke idiocy like Bush's Iraqi adventure and Reagan's war on central america.

Cable News also seems to use him for the "colored man of Islam" perspective when he's no more in tune with the muslim street than Oprah Winfrey is with rappers.

Posted by: B on September 6, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that this is a solid outline; a brainstorm. I hope to see you develop it into a compelling narrative.
America's Least Wanted

Posted by: budpaul on September 6, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Swopa. Broad Middle East policy is beside the point -- American voters want someone to address THEIR security concerns. The only thing I'd add to his post is that we should make an issue out of how the GOP uses fear as an electoral weapon.

Posted by: AndrewBW on September 6, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

First, you propose "transitioning the U.S. mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection." That is what we are now doing, and have been doing for several years.

If by "for several years" Bolten means "the last month of 2005 and the first 8 months of 2006", this is accurate. The US transition to a "clear and hold" counterinsurgency strategy was announced by Bush on Nov. 30, 2005. This was after, not before, Murtha's call for the US to begin withdrawing from Iraq.

Our military has had substantial success in building the Iraqi Army -- and increasingly we have seen the Iraqi Army take the lead in fighting the enemies of a free Iraq.

Any casual perusal of the headlines reveals this to be empty propaganda. The Iraqi Army is a hollow shell; its only components which do function effectively and retain loyalty and motivation are themselves Shiite militias.

Your recommendation that we focus on counter-terrorism training and operations -- which is the most demanding task facing our troops -- tracks not only with our policy but also our understanding, as well as the understanding of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, that Iraq is a central front in the war against terror.

This is a meaningless statement; the part before "tracks" bears no relationship to the part after. Iraq "is a central front in the war against terror" in the same sense that Stalingrad was a central front in the German war against the USSR. It was a dumb place for the Germans to pick as a central front.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pursuing a national reconciliation project. It is an undertaking that (a) was devised by the Iraqis; (b) has the support of the United States, our coalition partners and the United Nations; and (c) is now being implemented.

And (d) no one has ever heard of, including 99% of Iraqis.

Our strategy calls for redeploying troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground allow, when the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defending their nation

I.e., never.

and when our military commanders believe the time is right.

Translation: when it will not unfavorably impact Republican reelection campaigns.

The President is being guided by a commitment to victory

And by a tiny man with wings who stands on his right shoulder, not by the foulmouthed little guy with the pitchfork on his left.

Secretary Rumsfeld is an honorable and able public servant. Under his leadership, the United States Armed Forces and our allies have overthrown two brutal tyrannies and liberated more than 50 million people.

And subsequently abandoned them to anarchy, civil war, theocracies and opium cultivation.

We appreciate your stated interest in working with the Administration on policies that honor the sacrifice of our troops and promote our national security, which we believe can be accomplished only through victory in this central front in the War on Terror.

Avast! He blows! The White Whale! I'll have him yet, the monster! Glub...blub...blub...

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all ears.

try being a little more Google

Posted by: cleek on September 6, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

It is definitely a marketing question. But it is not simply a matter of all of us agreeing that in the future we need to do X,Y, and Z.

The REAL problem is figuring out the best way to break through the Republican propaganda that at one time had 70% of Americans believing the demonstrable untruth that Saddam did 9/11.

This is the real problem because no matter what we agree upon and what makes sense, if the Republicans are able to reshape reality on tv, then it doesn't matter what we think or what the truth is.

This means our marketing strategy has to include the fundamental notion of ACCOUNTABILITY. We have to condemn the Republicans for having lied to the country and having gotten us into this mess.

This maes clear the real problem for the Democrats. We may all agree that we have to do X, Y, and Z in the future, but there is less agreement on what happened in the past and who should be held accountable for what.

But holding the Republicans accountable is indispensable for 2 reasons:

1) An accountability message has the right fire power to break through the Republican propaganda stranglehold. Arguments that we would have managed the war better or that we would cooperate with the UN better just don't have that force.

2) The accountability strategy is sustainable. By breaking the Republican spell, it will prevent them from simply reshaping reality again in their favor.

Posted by: The Fool on September 6, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

I think the unifying theme here is:

COMMON SENSE

If it was good enough for Thomas Paine, it's good enough for the Democrats.

You don't even have to rework Paine's arguments very much:

- It is ridiculous for the United States to take responsibility for the formation and management of goverments halfway across the globe. Acting as the world's nanny will continue to drag America into unnecessary wars, and keep it from the international commerce at which America excels.

- America is no longer a "British nation"; it is a nation of immigrants from all over the world. Legal immigration should be expanded and encouraged to maintain this tradition and cut down on illegal immigration.

- Terrorism is a problem, and its not going away any time soon. We need to invest more in border and port security, counter-terrorism intelligence efforts, and special forces. Securing our borders will also cut down on illegal immigration.

- That government is best which governs least. Individual freedom is a cornerstone of this country and should not be subordinated to temporary panics.

- At the same time, government is a necessary evil for the functioning of our society and economy: Our society could not function without an effective legal system (including tort law), law enforcement and first responders, public roads and mass transit, etc. Therefore, federal, state, and local governments should not be neglected or starved.

- Oil is a finite resource, and our dependence on it forces us to make nice with many of the despicable regimes that control much of the world's oil supplies. Our consumption of oil is also creating an environmental disaster by cooking the planet. To reduce our dependence on foreign oil and improve the environment that we all must live in, we must (a) conserve energy whenever possible, and (b) find dependable alternative sources of energy as soon as possible.

- There is no reason for the US to spend more on its military than the rest of the world combined. Expensive, unnecessary and ineffective weapons systems such as the Osprey and SDI should be abandoned. Furthermore, the men and women of our armed forces are the lifeblood of our national defense, and we should invest in them, including increased pay, increased health benefits, and better personal equipment.

- We are a community, and each of us has an obligation to help make our community better. At age 18, every person should be required to spend two years in national service -- either the military, americorps, or the peace corp. (this is a personal issue...probably not something the dems would want to adopt at this point).

- No one should have to pay excessive taxes, but everyone should pay their fair share, esp. because we don't want to saddle our children and grandchildren with a massive national debt. We should return to the tax system that was in place in 2000.

- Our healthcare system is broken. It is incredibly frustrating and expensive for most Americans who have health insurance, in part because millions of Americans don't have any insurance at all, driving up the costs for everyone else. And who benefits? Not the doctors or nurses -- mostly just the insurance companies. We need to fix our health care system by adopting a single payer system.

Posted by: RP on September 6, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

One thing about the Mid East: instead of insisting on "democracy," which is problematic at best, why not work for a "market-based solution." A big cause of jihadism is the desperation born in young men who have no viable--or visable--economic future. Go the China route: put capitalism first, let the democracy come as it may, preferably from within.

Plus, wouldn't you just love to rub "market-based solution" into the faces of the Reptilicans? How could they oppose it? Talk about triangulation and stealing thunder.

If I'm not mistaken, it's worked in Norther Ireland. What happened to the IRA, anyway? They all got jobs and don't have time to fool around. So there's the "idle hands are the devil's workshop" line, too. Steal religion AND capitalism.

Posted by: klaus on September 6, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

What's not among your points of agreement:
how many American troops are to remain in Iraq?
what is their mission to be?
Aren't these questions those of greatest importance?

Posted by: Gapfinder on September 6, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

"No Iraq Plan, Screw Israel, Live with Iran Bomb"

How about: "No Iraq plan, Screw up Middle East, Live with North Korean Bomb" as a summary of the Bush administration policies..

Posted by: Stephen on September 6, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

McCord wrote:
I'm so tired of pants-wetting Republicans continually trying to demean this great nation by goading it into a quivering, hysterical fear of terrorism.

I'll bet you were the one wetting your pants on September 11th. So sad the left has forgotton the lessons of that day. Fortunately for America, they aren't in power. And won't be for many, many years.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 6, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

How can anyone at this point (even the most obtuse neocon) still believe promoting democracy can help eliminate 'jihadism'? The whole notion was ridiculous on its face from the very beginning. Jihadists can be elected just as easily (or more probably much more easily) in a religiously intolerant society.

It seems more likely that bolstering the secular and religiously tolerant states in the M.E. economically would have made sense. It is the secular and tolerant nature of a society not anything to do with democracy, especially some ersatz form of democracy imposed from without, that would have quelled the spread of jihadism.

Abandon the stupid rhetoric about democracy promotion. Talk about bolstering the secular and tolerant economically.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 6, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

A big part of Democrats' problem is that we allow Republicans to characterize the fight against terrorism as a "war" on terrorism.

When you call this a war you think of countries and armies. But terrorists operate across borders, providing no fixed targets. They cultivate hearts and minds by showing up with bags of money for people whose houses have been blown up by American warplanes; by providing free health care; by helping to restore order in devastated areas.

By allowing this to be called a war we play right into Republican hands. If you have a war you need soldiers. If you don't support the soldiers then you are an appeaser without a serious plan for national security.

What we are really engaged in is more like defeating a large, multifaceted crime syndicate. We err by thinking terrorists are all of one mind. In fact they are fueled by many often conflicting beliefs that hardly rise to a definable ideology. Most terrorists don't have a clue about running countries -- they mainly want to run their rackets and disrupt or kill whoever gets in their way.

Instead of using war-related language we should be using crime-related language like "fighting" and "weeding out," "disrupting," "dismantling," "prosecuting."

We fight international crime by working closely with Interpol and other crime fighting agencies. We cultivate informant networks, engage in sweeps and confiscations. We tap phones, track money flows, tail suspects, study surveillance.

Bush has tried hard to turn the struggle against terrorism into a war by equating the invasion of Iraq with the fight against al Qaeda. But we know how badly he was mistaken and what this has cost us.

When it comes to terrorism, semantics matters. Properly characterizing the fight against terrorism will convince voters that Democrats have a better approach.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK


Democrats '06: WE TOLD YOU SO


Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 6, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

"...along with this campaign of terror, the enemy has a propaganda strategy. Osama bin Laden laid out this strategy in a letter to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, that coalition forces uncovered in Afghanistan in 2002. In it, bin Laden says that al Qaeda intends to "launch," in his words, "a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government." This media campaign, bin Laden says, will send the American people a number of messages, including "that their government will bring them more losses in finances and casualties." And he goes on to say that "they are being sacrificed to serve the big investors, especially the Jews." Bin Laden says that by delivering these messages, al Qaeda "aims at creating pressure from the American people on the American government to stop their campaign against Afghanistan."

September 06, 2006


"Dear Senator Reid:
Thank you for your September 4 letter to the President. I am responding on his behalf.

A useful discussion of what we need to do in Iraq requires an accurate and fair-minded description of our current policy: As the President has explained, our goal is an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself. In order to achieve this goal, we are pursuing a strategy along three main tracks -- political, economic, and security. Along each of these tracks, we are constantly adjusting our tactics to meet conditions on the ground. We have witnessed both successes and setbacks along the way, which is the story of every war that has been waged and won.

Your letter recites four elements of a proposed new direction in Iraq. Three of those elements reflect well-established Administration policy; the fourth is dangerously misguided."

a letter from Chief of Staff Bolton to Sen. Reid.


Many on the still seem to think that if only we could begin to "understand" them, or become less offensive, or find them jobs, they will stop their violence. Proving time and time again, they JUST DON'T GET IT.

Also, it appears that after five years, the Dems have finally coalesced around a plan that has already been developed and implemented. Well done.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a narrative:

A convoy pulls into a town square. There is a mob there, and they are angry, because they don't like foriegners running their country, but nearly all of them are unarmed. One person, from the back of the crowd, fires a shot at the soldiers, hoping to provoke them into opening fire and killing lots of unarmed citizens.

The best response to this is to take your time, find the one shooter, put your laser sight on his forehead and kill him with one shot. This will make the desired impression on everyone else.

They will think that A) he had it coming, B) These Americans are not to be fucked with, and C) I'm glad it wasn't me.

Our troops are not trained or equipped for this kind of mission. This needs to be our mindset for dealing with terrorists.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I think the policy consensus is there and that if we are trying to decide if we are ready to market two months out from the election we're off to a weak start.

Of the points Kevin lists, the one that is likely to have the most traction in middle America is the idea that Republicans have been careless stewards of our military forces. This is believable because it is true and could be an historical pivot point past which Americans will see Republican elites as profligate and self serving on a gross scale on a whole range of issues whereas many outstanding Republicans of previous generations could not be. Republicans as sacrificing American security to the Iraqi Welfare State. That could win back some Reagan Dems and then some.

Posted by: Trypticon on September 6, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Of the points Kevin lists, the one that is likely to have the most traction in middle America is the idea that Republicans have been careless stewards of our military forces. This is believable because it is true and could be an historical pivot point past which Americans will see Republican elites.......blah blah blah" - trypticon


Trypticon, you and Osama have the same strategy.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I have nothing to offer but strawmen and my own brand of stupidity.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Osama's strategy was to draw America into a military quagmire in the Middle East, slowly bleeding us dry--George W. Bush followed it perfectly.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Osama bin Laden laid out this strategy in a letter to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, that coalition forces uncovered in Afghanistan in 2002. In it, bin Laden says that al Qaeda intends to "launch," in his words, "a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government." This media campaign, bin Laden says, will send the American people a number of messages, including "that their government will bring them more losses in finances and casualties."


Actually, this was Osama's strategy laid out in his own words. And the Democrats followed

HOOK, LINE and SINKER!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Marketing in politics is about simple concepts and catchy labels.

Democrats should be characterizing the administration as 'radical', 'corrupt', and 'inept' and should be calling themselves 'progressives' and 'reformers'.

Tells you nothing about policies but then, elections aren't about policy.

Posted by: ursus on September 6, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Osama bin Laden wanted to draw American forces into a "holy war" in the Middle East, which George W. Bush and Republicans swallowed HOOK, LINE and SINKER!!!!!!!!!!

We're screwed.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I think Dems have a lot more intellectual substance than they do message cred..Problem is the Democratic leadership is so lame--particulary Reid and Pelosi--that when they open their mouths it's already too late. Why do these guys always push Jack Reed and Levin forward, when Biden is much better.
Also, Bob Casey was soooo lame on MTP Sunday!! Sad...

Posted by: bruce on September 6, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

mhr, you are basically saying you jumped ship to be with the winners. But, boy did you choose wrong.

Posted by: Kenji on September 6, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

marvc wrote:

"[W]e need to make it VERY CLEAR to the American people that we see the terror threat quite clearly as a threat against us here at home and begin the process of hardening our defenses of our ports, chemical plants, dams, and other vital national infrastructure using some of the billions of dollars diverted to Iraq now."
__________________

Well, the threat will continue to extend beyond our shores, primarily against our armed forces, embassies and businesses. Those attacks might increase, once again, after we pull out of Iraq.

One should caution against taking an entirely defensive posture. A "bunker mentality" will almost always result in only an illusion of safety. There is no way we can protect all of our infrastructure and high value targets from attack, if attack is the goal. The key to success will continue to be an active defense overseas, presumably limited to covert activity with the usual sources, drug pushers, criminals and the like, coupled with overt connections through the remaining non-jihadist governments. (If they'll still cooperate with us.)

As far as the money for homeland defense goes, the windfall from Iraq cannot be as much as you might expect. Not only will the Services have to reconstitute (Are we going to do insurgency stuff or not?), but we will still need to support the Iraqi government, for as long as it survives. Certainly, no one is suggesting that we pull another Vietnam abandonment scenario.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Stop pretending the goddamned war is about establishing democracy or fighting terrorism. Even conservatives are willing to admit the real reason:

"We're not in the Middle East to bring sweetness and light to the world. We're there to get something we and our friends in Europe depend on. Namely, oil."

--Midge Dector, on the Warren Olney show, Los Angeles, May 21, 2004

Posted by: Reprobate on September 6, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

70% of a minority sounds about right.

You'll go far trying to get at least 70% of your minority party to vote your way.

Jimmah Carter would be proud of your ambition.

Posted by: Birkel on September 6, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

How about his for a simple, one-line rebuttal of George Bush's approach to the "war on terror:"

Armies are not trained or equipped to fight crime.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

How about:

When it comes to terrorism, we need to be strong.

But we also need to be smart.

Posted by: bgno64 on September 6, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Certainly, no one is suggesting that we pull another Vietnam abandonment scenario.

Umm...as in providing the South Vietnamese government with billions of dollars in military aid every year, training and equipping their army with the finest and most massive arsenal in the region? I think that is precisely the "abandonment scenario" which the Bush administration is proposing. And, if the Iraqi government collapses, it will be for the same reason the South Vietnamese government did: it does not have any real political constituency. Those who voted in the elections voted for politicians representing their own ethnic or religious subgroup, and, without massive US support to prop up the artificial central government, the population will desert it and turn to its own ethnic and religious sub-groups -- particularly since the central government is unable to provide them with any of the basic rights of citizens (safety, the rule of law, guarantees of property rights, social welfare), while their ethnic/religious militias and tribal politicians can.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK
Or are we still afraid of being called appeasers?
As long as the pro-Israel lobby continues to have any power in Washington, any group that fails to advocate the mass murder of Arabs and Muslims will be accused by the pro-Israel lobby as "appeasers." That is why they support the genocidal maniacs currently in the whitehouse: the bush administration is happy to murder uppity darkies who sit on our oil.

As for the eternal lust for "Democrat Plans," my plan is to lighten the wagon by throwing the republicans to the wolves. I see no need to save their corrupt, immoral and incompetent lives at the risk of American lives. They've put republicans first and America Last. Now is the time to reverse that and throw those organized criminals out. There is no need to produce some plan to enable them, nor to rescue them. The republicans have chosen to be addicts to their own corruption and they should no more be saved from the consequences of their own evil than the mafia should be saved from the consequences of their own evil deeds.

Posted by: Peter on September 6, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Trypticon, you and Osama have the same strategy. - Jay

You mean kidnapping you and sawing your head off? Probably wouldn't work - it'd just keep repeating press releases from Condoleezza Rice's office.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

crissy wrote:

"How can anyone at this point (even the most obtuse neocon) still believe promoting democracy can help eliminate 'jihadism'? The whole notion was ridiculous on its face from the very beginning. Jihadists can be elected just as easily (or more probably much more easily) in a religiously intolerant society."
_____________

But, isn't that true anywhere, including here? The presumption is that what is promoted will be an actual democracy, one that allows dissent and the peaceful transfer of power. While specific circumstances might lead to a choice we might not like at a particular time, a democratic form of government allows for correction through the ballot box rather than by coup.

Surely no one is suggesting that Islam is incompatible with actual democracy, are they?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

If Thomas1 had been in charge of US military strategy during WWII, he would've started by invading Uruguay. True, they didn't attack us, but it was a dictatorship, and apparently there were a lot of Germans there.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

gop and terrorists agree...americans should remain..

scared...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 6, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans:
Cut and ran in Afghanistan (dead or alive)

Barely showed up in New Orleans (I don't think anybody anticipated the breech of the levees)

Incompetence in Iraq (Mission Accomplished)

Social Security - incompetence

immigration - incompetence

energy - incompetence

etc, etc.

Posted by: crooked pinky on September 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

bgno64:

I like your concept, but the use of "smart" suggests the army is dumb. I think a better term is "focused." A big part of the problem with using armies to fight terrorism is that the killing and destruction become indiscriminate, which creates hate and resentment precisely where we need to build trust and cooperation.

So how about this:

"To fight terrorism abroad America needs to be strong and focused. Armies are neither trained nor equipped to fight crime. We need to deploy experienced teams of international crime fighters who will work with police forces around the globe to root out crime and corruption in its many forms before it has a chance to mushroom into full-fledged terrorist movements.

We can only accomplish this mission if host countries trust America enough to allow us to work shoulder to shoulder with them, within their borders. Building trust is therefore an essential part of our mission to combat terror and disrupt terror networks before they have a chance to harm us."

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

The presumption is that what is promoted will be an actual democracy, one that allows dissent and the peaceful transfer of power. - Trashhauler

And yet the presumption does not seem to have any connection to what actually, uh, happens.

For three years, we have been trying to drive it through your six-foot-thick reinforced concrete skulls that blowing the shit out of Iraq, zooming around it in Hummers shooting at "badguys" (whatever the fuck that is), strewing around nine billion dollars in unmarked bills, and then holding a couple of elections where everyone can vote for a candidate of his/her own ethnicity or religious faction does not constitute "promoting democracy". The country is now a flaming wreck, with 8 hours of electricity a day and pregnant women being hauled out of their cars and slaughtered by masked gunmen, and US troops unable to figure out who's a friend, who's an enemy, and what a "badguy" even looks like anymore. And still, with your face being held against the brick wall, you refuse to admit that it is a brick wall.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

gapfinder wrote:

"What's not among your points of agreement:
how many American troops are to remain in Iraq?
what is their mission to be?
Aren't these questions those of greatest importance?"
___________________

These are important questions, gapfinder, but that's part of the problem with the "We don't need a plan" approach.

Assuming we don't plan to just abandon the Iraqis, we will still leave:

1. Advisors.
2. Some air units, primarily recce, especially drones.
3. Some security troops to protect our own bases.
4. Logistical support troops.
4. Medical personnel.

Their mission will be to support the existing Iraqi government for as long as it survives.

In short, we will initially only withdraw the bulk of our fighters, the ones who can actually go out and touch the enemy. The rest will come out when the situation subsequently deteriorates and they need to be evacuated.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Nope -- I would have started by invading French Algiers just like we did even though they didn't attack us either.

Whatever, crazy cap'n.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Their mission will be to support the existing Iraqi government for as long as it survives. In short, we will initially only withdraw the bulk of our fighters, the ones who can actually go out and touch the enemy. The rest will come out when the situation subsequently deteriorates and they need to be evacuated. - Trashhauler

This is an accurate description of reality. I withdraw my critique.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all for the Rove strategy of attacking them right at their perceived strength. They're the party that's tough on terror? Not by a longshot. They're screwing it up like everything else.
- No Bin Laden
- A failing Afghanistan
- And they created a new terrorist haven in Iraq (not to mention a civil war)
They've failed miserably and the American people need to be told so. There's a chink in their armor and the Dems need to exploit it mercilessly.

Posted by: Bern on September 6, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

You want to know one more thing that is really dumb about George Bush's invasion of Iraq?

If Iran really is the threat Bush is making them out to be, we would have had no stronger opponent of Iran than Saddam Hussein, as brutal and corrupt as he was.

America even teamed with Saddam 20+ years ago to oppose Iran. We gave them their initial chemical weapons technology. There is even that famous picture of Donald Rumsfield shaking hands with Saddam in 1983.

If containing Iran has been the Administration's long-term strategy, what state of mind was George Bush in when he decided to invade Iraq?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe wrote:

"Umm...as in providing the South Vietnamese government with billions of dollars in military aid every year, training and equipping their army with the finest and most massive arsenal in the region? I think that is precisely the "abandonment scenario" which the Bush administration is proposing. And, if the Iraqi government collapses, it will be for the same reason the South Vietnamese government did: it does not have any real political constituency."
_________________

I'm talking about the endgame, brooksfoe. The South Vietnamese fell to a conventional blitzkrieg invasion and were denied any airpower or subsequent resupply of ammunition and spares. No lack of constituency pushed in the gates of our embassy. It was a North Vietnamese regular army tank and the crew didn't care whose constituency they rolled over.

Do you mean to say, your idea of withdrawing from Iraq means complete abandonment after a certain date, with no further support in the pipeline?

Many governments have fallen, despite having constituency aplenty. I don't believe the Democrats would want to advertise that as their plan, however.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Many governments have fallen, despite having constituency aplenty.

Name one.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

thank god there are no tools like Thomas1 in our party. invading algiers in response to pearl harbor - genius! Thomas1 = Rummy?

mind your drool, mister secretary.

Posted by: benjoya on September 6, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

No lack of constituency pushed in the gates of our embassy. It was a North Vietnamese regular army tank

A., you're mixing your synecdoches -- you're thinking of the Presidential Palace, not the Embassy. B., in fact, a lack of constituency did push in the gates of the Palace. The South Vietnamese, while they put up effective resistance in a few places, did not, overall, fight very hard. They had no confidence in their government's survival, because it wasn't really theirs - it was a paper government that had been installed and bankrolled by the US right from the start, in '54. The North Vietnamese, in contrast, fought for their government with a tenacity and endurance which strain the imagination. It was their government.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats stand for JUSTICE.

Justice for every person killed on 9/11. That means hunting down and capturing or killing Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Mullah Omar.

Justice for every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. That means either giving them the troop strength they need to complete the mission (not bloody likely,) or getting the fuck out. Anything but the status quo, which is the very definition of injustice.

Justice in the middle east. That means making a real, honest effort in Israel/Palestine.
It means calling out the House of Saud, not to mention Mubarak, and lumping them with Assad and Ahmadinejad. They're all crooked, they're all repressive - they're all toxic.
It means pointing out to the Arab world - "THESE are the pricks you're really angry with. Yeah, we've been propping them up, but the Republicans are gone now. We've realized how unjust that is. Here's some aid."

Justice at home - it means, first and foremost, a real energy policy. Biofuels grown by American farmers have a real future.
Second, immigration. Secure the borders, but put up as many processing centers as you do fences. You want to move here and wash dishes? Great. Let's do a background check and a health exam. Thanks, welcome to the United States. Make sure to pay your taxes or you don't get to stay.
Third, campaign finance reform. (although I suppose the first two don't get done without the third one.)
New Orleans - fucking rebuild it! What the fuck!? Do we need to subcontract Hizbollah?

Justice in government - no more Medals of Freedom for incompetent hacks like George Tenet or Brownie.

"Justice." Keep saying it. It sounds good.

Posted by: Cazart on September 6, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've been saying since Hurricane Katrina that the marketing of a Democratic campaign should come down to three words: "honesty, competence and accountability." Building a campaign around policy is doomed to failure - see Clinton, he didn't get elected for being a policy wonk - because the counter-campaign will turn on blowing up some nuance of policy that can be repackaged as appeasement (see Kerry's minor debate comment that he wouldn't invade another country without consulting first with other nations).

This mid-term is not about the Democratic Party, i.e. it is not that voters want Dems per se but they are tired of the GOP. Why? Because they are not longer trusted, they are incompetent in implementing policy and they are not accountable for their actions. Is a relatively policy-free platform vacuous? Of course it is, but policy and marketing should never be confused. Remember, a negative campaign is never about the candidate, its about the opponent and a viscious negative campaign is how one beats a relatively unpopular party. When pressed, of course, one then falls back to a set of policies which are meaningful but in no way overly specific. In other words, Dems take off your pointy hats and put on your boxing gloves.

Posted by: Wieland on September 6, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm unimpressed with the list of policies, and the conclusion is wrong, too. There is still a major disagreement about what to do in Iraq among many Democrats. Most Democrats have not come out and supported quick redeployment.

In addition, it's not just about marketing. Even if all Democrats agreed to set a timetable for redeployment, a lot of center-right people would continue to view that as evidence of national security weakness (though they're conflicted too). You've got to connect redeployment with other security benefits.

For example, call for a major defense initiative that actually calls on regular Americans to contribute to homeland defense--citizen's brigades and volunteer groups to help protect our vulnerable ports and national assets. That would be a muscular response that capitalizes on what so many Democrats have said about Bush--that he hasn't asked us to sacrifice. Why don't we ask people to sacrifice?

Another example: use some of the appropriations being spent on the war for strengthening our homeland security, increasing investment in Afghanistan, and increasing pro-democracy initiatives elsewhere.

Posted by: polthereal on September 6, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Great post. It is marketing and the Democrats have got become more aggressive. Hang in there.

Posted by: Tim Malone on September 6, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

We should rename the "stay the course" strategy as the "continue to lose" strategy. We should blast GOPers every chance we get for following the "continue to lose" strategy, ask them why they support the "continue to lose" strategy, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Posted by: karog on September 6, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

The US military will still be in Iraq during the 2012 election, even if the Democrats take back Congress and the WH with this nice Kerry-milquetoast platform. Palestinians and Southern Lebanese will still be under the jackboot of Israel and oil prices will still be pushing ever higher record prices. Amercian median wages will still be falling, but Democrats will be able to obtain good high paying jobs on K Street, so it is a pretty good bet this platform will win out.

Posted by: Hostile on September 6, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Re the 'democracy abroad' policy

I think that it is a mistake to put so much emphasis on supporting democracy in the mid-east and other areas. It would be more practical and more effective to use trade actions and funding to support human rights and legal infrastructures in these nations.

Posted by: richard on September 6, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 11:56 AM:

If containing Iran has been the Administration's long-term strategy, what state of mind was George Bush in when he decided to invade Iraq?

"There's (black) gold in them thar hills! Heh-heh.."

All in all, Kev's laid out a good statement of position, along with a few others here in this thread. I'd like to add my two cents' worth re: marketing - there has to be somebody to state all this publicly and repeatedly; I know Howard Dean got slammed for speaking his mind about the constituency of the 'Publican party, but he's still the person who needs to be on point telling people why there needs to be a change in direction...and tying the multiple failures of Dubya's administration to their Republican enablers in Congress.

Posted by: grape_crush on September 6, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe wrote:

"(Quoting me) 'Many governments have fallen, despite having constituency aplenty.'

Name one."
________________

Carthage. France (any number of times). Chile.
Cuba. Apartheid South Africa. Angola. The friggin' Holy Roman Empire (which, of course, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.)

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

New Orleans - fucking rebuild it! What the fuck!? Do we need to subcontract Hizbollah?

Awesome.

"Justice." Keep saying it. It sounds good.
Posted by: Cazart on September 6, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Best post of the thread.

I wish Howard Dean could read this.

Though, given the corporate money, and support of Israel that permeates the Dems, "Justice" is sadly, too much to hope for out of them.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 6, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

karog on September 6, 2006 at 12:28 PM:

We should rename the "stay the course" strategy as the "continue to lose" strategy.

Not that I'm much for bumper sticker rhetoric, but I'm kinda fond of "stay and pay" as a comeback...as in using the lives of our troops to pay for a few handfuls of Iraqi dust.

Hostile on September 6, 2006 at 12:30 PM:

..oil prices will still be pushing ever higher record prices..

Actually, gas prices are down about 50 cents from a month or two ago...And over a summer holiday travel weekend!

I wonder how long after elections that will last.

Posted by: grape_crush on September 6, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"The US military will still be in Iraq during the 2012 election, even if the Democrats take back Congress and the WH with this nice Kerry-milquetoast platform. Palestinians and Southern Lebanese will still be under the jackboot of Israel and oil prices will still be pushing ever higher record prices. Amercian median wages will still be falling, but Democrats will be able to obtain good high paying jobs on K Street, so it is a pretty good bet this platform will win out." - hostile


This whine session rivals that of my kids when the don't get what they want.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Palestinians and Southern Lebanese will still be under the jackboot of Israel...blah blah blah" - hostile

Poor little Islamo fascists.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK
A big part of Democrats' problem is that we allow Republicans to characterize the fight against terrorism as a "war" on terrorism.

But the government is actually doing is actually a war. Its just not "against terrorism".

Posted by: cmdicely on September 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"But the government is actually doing is actually a war. Its just not "against terrorism"." - cm

What is being done now is actually more of a police action conducted by the military, leading and supporting the Iraqi forces in stopping sectarian violence. We are no longer engaged large military maneuvers as "war" implies.

Our attempt to "civilize" Iraq and pave the way for representational governance is the smartest way to fight terrorism, even brain dead Harry Reid said as much in this weeks letter to the President.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think that we need to focus more on the roots of terrorism. In 2000, many world leaders signed into action an agreement called the Millenium Development Goals, which would eliminate extreme poverty and the gaps between rich and poor countries. If the goals outlined in this agreement were at all payed attention to, the problems that we have now with terrorism would not exist.
We need to put more pressure on leaders to get these issues into motion.

Posted by: stephanie on September 6, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

".........the problems that we have now with terrorism would not exist" - stephanie

This is not a class struggle. This is an ideological battle that shifting financial paradigms WILL NOT RESOLVE.

Again, the left does not get it.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Batista's Cuba did not have popular support. Chile's Allende did. Neither Apartheid S. Africa or its colony Angola had popular support. These regimes' constituencies, with the exception of Allende's Chile, were large multi-national organizations who did not represent any popular majority, which is why they could not be sustained. Allende's popular support could only have been overthrown with military dictatorship supported by a hegemon, but it also could not be sustained due to its unpopularity with the majority.

That is why Mr. Drum's proposed Democratic Party foreign policy platform will also fail - it does not recognize the legitimacy of nationals to choose their governments. If they did, Iran would become an ally to the US, rather than a coveted oil producing acquisition, and the Palestinian state would be in all territory not covered by the 1947 UN Partition, which is anathema to the AIPAC lobby machine.

grape_crush, many Americans will be fooled into thinking the lower gas prices actually mean long term lower prices, like the $2/gallon meme being propagated first on Fox News and now on all news broadcasts.

Posted by: Hostile on September 6, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think that in order for Democrats to get some traction on this issue, or even for Republicans to avoid being sunk this fall with it, there has to be an honest debate, and it has to include the real reasons why Bush pulled the trigger on Iraq. Irag is about who controls the oil resources of the Strategic Ellipse, and the only way democracy enters the picture is that is is a convenient way of the U.S. pulling the strings behind the scenes. However, if Democrats are mouthing the same lies for the same reasons, then they have nothing to say to me and many others. More and more U.S. soldiers will die, our Treasury will continue to climb further into the red, and our credibility and respect will plunge further into the mud. And we will have done nothing to deal with terrorism except treating the symptoms. And if the patient is that sick, he will die regardless.

Posted by: retrogrouch on September 6, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

On PBS last night I watched a Wide Angle documentary "Back to School".

It was afterworded with an interview with a Clinton administration offical appealing for the money to meet the millenium goal of sending every child on earth through primary school. We could pay for a year of that with what we spend on Iraq every two weeks.

The pitch: 1 year of Iraq war = 25 years of primary education for every child on earth.

Now Iran being a bigger country: 1 year of Iran war = 50? years of education?

Which do you think would prevent more terrorism?

(well kind of a stupid question as the Iraq war aparrantly increases terrorism, but a good campaign ad none the less)

Posted by: jefff on September 6, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"If they did, Iran would become an ally to the US, rather than a coveted oil producing acquisition,.........." - hostile

How much of reality do you suppose hostile occupies?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

What is being done now is actually more of a police action conducted by the military, leading and supporting the Iraqi forces in stopping sectarian violence. We are no longer engaged large military maneuvers as "war" implies.

135 thousand troops occupying a foreign county doesn't qualify as a "large military manuever" ?

Our attempt to "civilize" Iraq and pave the way for representational governance is the smartest way to fight terrorism,

Everyone agrees that democracy is a good thing.

The real question is: What is the best way to pave the way for representational government ?
Invasion and nation building has never worked very well.


Posted by: Stephen on September 6, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The pitch: 1 year of Iraq war = 25 years of primary education for every child on earth.

Now Iran being a bigger country: 1 year of Iran war = 50? years of education?" - jeffffffffff

How much of reality do you suppose jefffffy occupies?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps if Jay actually was interested in reaching a solution for Iraq through honest debate, his blatherings would mean something. But he is yet another fucking troll asshole who really should be on patrol in Baghdad instead of attacking his fellow citizens.

Fuck you, Jay.

Posted by: retrogrouch on September 6, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Jay wrote: "This is not a class struggle. This is an ideological battle that shifting financial paradigms WILL NOT RESOLVE."

As usual you are 100% wrong. That's because you cannot think for yourself. You can only think what Rush Limbaugh tells you to think and you can only say what Fox News tells you to say.

Jay wrote: "Again, the left does not get it."

Again, you are a neo-brownshirt mental slave mindlessly regurgitating scripted right-wing extremist propaganda. And we all "get" that.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Are we fighting a war in Iraq? I know that's what the President calls it, but is that what it truly is?

We are no longer trying to topple a government. We are not trying to root out Iraqi WMD programs. The various Iraqi factions present no viable threat to the US (except to the troops we choose to place in harm's way). We claim not to want territorial and economic gains. So why are we still at war?

Is America at war to pacify the Iraqi people? Are we at war to build a new Iraqi democratic government? Are we at war to re-build Iraq's economic and social infrastructure? Is this why America fights wars?

In other countries we call it "Foreign and domestic assistance" and it's run by experts in the State Department and AID -- the diplomats, financiers, economists and educators -- not the bullets and explosions guys.

As far as I see it, we call it a war to validate the ongoing choice of the GOP to use the military as a force for Iraqi social change, economic development and crime fighting. Totally inappropriate personnel and tools for the job.

Didn't your father ever tell you that if you wanted to get a job done right you needed to use the right tools?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK
Actually, gas prices are down about 50 cents from a month or two ago
In what part of the country? We've only seen gas drop a nickel here in Denver.

The main reason for the run-up in gas prices was the bush administration playing chicken with Iran and threatening to attack.

Last time Iran shut off their oil production was in 1979, and world oil prices only doubled because Saudi was able to pick up most of the lost production. Today, KSA is balls to the wall pumping oil and there is no slack at all in world oil production. So $200/barrel oil isn't out of line with the first week's consequences of attacking Iran. If Iran fights back at all, you can expect $1000/barrel oil within a couple weeks. That will probably drive gasolene to the $30-$40/gallon price point.

Posted by: Peter on September 6, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's not just an emerging Democratic consensus, it's the emerging American consensus. Republican ideas simply do not appeal to enough Americans to carry the day for very long. We live in a liberal society. We are not reality-haters. We aren't (most of us) bigots. We don't hate the French.

Soon enough, it'll be back to the John Birch society for these Federalist Society jerks. And their most-deserved contempt and obscurity.

The table is set. The missing ingredient -- what you're sensing but not hitting explicitly -- is the power of a single charismatic leader who can give physical embodiment to our movement. I know it seems like a magic bullet -- too facile -- but it is what we need, and when we get it the sky's the limit.

Myself, I look forward to the following question being asked in a Congressional hearing:
"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Republican Party?"

That'll be the day...

Posted by: Jim Pharo on September 6, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"As usual you are 100% wrong" - secular

as usual, you just say shit without any justification. Prove me wrong.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Fuck you, Jay." - retro something

Fine demonstration of the tolerance of diverse opinion that the left claims.

What happened to that big tent?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

"In other countries we call it "Foreign and domestic assistance" and it's run by experts in the State Department and AID -- the diplomats, financiers, economists and educators -- not the bullets and explosions guys." - pj

In WWII it was called the Marshall Plan.

Or did you forget that?

Again, the left just can't wrap their small little minds around this can they?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Carthage. France

"Fallen" to hostile armies from other countries. No shit. No hostile army from a foreign country threatens Iraq. Those fighting to dissolve that government, and the forces within the government which threaten to undo it, are all Iraqi.

Chile. A military coup is vanishingly unlikely in Iraq, given that the country's military is a paper thin fiction dominated by different factional militias.

Cuba. Wrong. A constituency of 50,000 millionaires, few of whom actually much liked the government in power. Same as South Vietnam.

Apartheid South Africa. That government did not fall. It negotiated a transition to full democratic rule. The fact that the ANC could never have won a military conflict against the white-rule government is instructive: a government which commands the allegiance of even a substantial part of its population is almost impossible to dislodge without an external invasion.

Angola. Did someone fail to alert you that UNITA lost?

The friggin' Holy Roman Empire (which, of course, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.) This is the weakest example of all. I'm not sure anyone ever had a constituency for the title of Holy Roman Emperor; nobody considered themselves a citizen of that entity, and nominal allegiance to it among feudal nobility was always weak. I believe Napoleon was the last to claim the title, by which time it had exactly zero constituency.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Invasion and nation building has never worked very well" - stephen

It worked really well in WWII.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't read every post, so if this has been repeated bear with me.

Kevin's right: there's enough consensus to move forward with a marketing strategy. That strategy needs to be this: Republican's are selling fear and doing exactly what Al Queda wants. Democrats are selling reality.

The reality is that most deaths in Iraq are now the result of sectarian violence, and the democracy we've created in Iraq has resulted in a government sympathetic to Iran. Bogging us down in Iraq is exactly what Al Queda wants - it's in their play book. Those are the facts on the ground.

Republicans: playing poker.
Democrats: playing chess.

Posted by: ExBrit on September 6, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

A massive program encouraging energy conservation and alternatives is the only long term policy that can alter the current world paradigm. We are the energy junkies; they are the dealers. Right now our country only stands with the help of Chinese financing and foreign energy. We cant make our own shoelaces anymore, much less tie them. America is like a lumbering blind drunk who has stumbled into a dead end alley and is being picked clean by a gang of punks.

We decided to party rather than face up to the realities set forth by Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on September 6, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"We decided to party rather than face up to the realities set forth by Jimmy Carter"

Jimmy Carter is 100% responsible for the problems we now face in Iran.

100%

Carter was the worst leader of any country ever to occupy this planet. Do some homework.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad we don't have a Marshall Plan for Iraq, just more "stay the failing course" by moronic and corrupt Republicans.
Of course, I think this is brilliant, but I'm even more stupid than Bush.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans: selling fear.

Democrats: getting serious about fighting terrorism.

Posted by: ExBrit on September 6, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Here's how the Democrats market it:

Had Enough?

Focus on the Republicans' absolute incompetance at doing ANYTHING.

EVEN if they had good ideas, which they have not shown, they couldn't implement them.

Dems have some good ideas, and we can't afford to NOT let them try for a while.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Jay,

The Marshall Plan emerged from the Truman Doctrine in 1947. By that point WWII, which ended in 1945, was long over.

If you are proposing a $90 billion, broad-based, US-backed economic re-building effort for the entire Middle East in order to combat terrorism, promote economic growth and build alliances, I heartily agree!

But the Marshall Plan was led by Dean Acheson at the State Department, not General Eisenhower.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Too bad we don't have a Marshall Plan for Iraq,....."

250,000+ military/security force
a permanent freely elected representational government
Saddam on trial

What was your plan again? Isolationism? Hide under the bed?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Carter was the worst leader of any country ever to occupy this planet.

Not anymore.

Do some homework.

Would that be the "Rush Limbaugh School of the Certifiably Insane"?

Posted by: ckelly on September 6, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oh wait, Carter wasn't responsible for the overthrow of Iran's elected leader and installment of the Shah--that would be Eisenhower.

Not 100%, not even remotely close.

In other news, dog bites man, and I'm a moronic douchebag.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

"But the Marshall Plan was led by Dean Acheson at the State Department, not General Eisenhower"

And the Marshall plan was enacted and effective because??????????????????

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

That's right, Carter was worse than Hitler and Pol Pot. Can anyone even imagine someone more stupid than me?

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Reading further through the comments, I like Butty's suggestion for Get Real, and think it should be combined with mine.

So the new marketing slogan: Had Enough? Time to Get Real and kick out these incompentant boobs.

Competance, lack thereof, the key to both.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 6, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, thousands of our troops stuck in the middle of a civil war with a weak "government" that hasn't done anything and on the brink of collapse is equal to the Marshall Plan. Am I the only one eating this shit?
Yep.

Posted by: Jay on September 6, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
This is not a class struggle. This is an ideological battle that shifting financial paradigms WILL NOT RESOLVE.

No, its not. Preferences, including ideological preferences, come from somewhere, and one of the big influences on that is the political, social, and economic conditions that people experience. Heck, even the neoconservatives tend to recognize that that in their endorsement of democratization and prosperity acheived through market-based economic reform as the way to solve the problem.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 6, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Jay,

Use the military, if you must (and if they agree), to blow things up and kill people.

But use the State Department, AID, our allies, the UN, the Peace Corps and a host of other groups for institution building, economic development, financing, education and other social projects.

America doesn't need to kill more people or blow things up in Iraq to accomplish the challenges we and Iraq now face.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 6, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Gettysburg Address had 268 words. Great ideas don't require pages of text. Everyone on this blog should remember that.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 6, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

'Carter was the worst leader of any country ever to occupy this planet. Do some homework.
--Jay

As my brother-in-law likes to say about modern conservatives, "If we can't even agree with them about what the facts are, how can we ever agree on matters of opinion?"

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger on September 6, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, come to a thread late and you sure do have to wade through a lot of troll crap and a lot of troll fighting.

Please, people, if you don't feed them, they won't be able to crap so much.

And we could get back to a very useful discussion of marketing ... how to sell the Democrats to the sleeping American electorate that, so far, as only let through its daze the nightmare of fear repeated endlessly by the Rovian nincompoops in charge of this country.

Quit arguing about Jimmy Carter, for Chrissakes.

Get back to the point.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 6, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile on September 6, 2006 at 1:28 PM:

..many Americans will be fooled into thinking the lower gas prices actually mean long term lower prices

No doubt about that. That's why I wonder how long after elections it will last.

Peter on September 6, 2006 at 1:39 PM:

In what part of the country?

Michigan. Around $2.53/gallon over the weekend and trending lower...A guy in my office filled up at $2.42 last week, but that may have been a fluke.

We've only seen gas drop a nickel here in Denver.

I guess it depends on what price you started at; we'd been steady at slightly over $3/gallon for a couple of months. Nice city, by-the-way. Y'all still do the Buskerfest?

Posted by: grape_crush on September 6, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I was very impressed with the effect of the strong personal attacks leveled against Sec. Rumsfeld by Paul Begala and others last weekend as a jumping-off point for a Democratic offensive on national security issues. Begala painted Rumsfeld as a raving loony, utterly out of touch with reality, an old crackpot who ought to be in a padded room.

Such powerful attacks have a strong positive implicit meaning. "Rumsfeld is a spastic and irresponsible lunatic": it's understood that Democrats are sober, realistic and serious.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Jay has won the coveted prize as the stupidest, most ignorant, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking idiotic-propaganda-regurgitating nitwit ever to infest these comment pages with his moronic drivel.

Given the competition from numerous other idiotic and ignorant right-wing nutcases like rdw, that's quite an achievement.

What put him over the top was that little extra touch: that he obviously thinks he's so very clever every time he recites some hoary old stupid right-wing extremist lie that everyone has already heard and debunked a million times.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

karog: We should rename the "stay the course" strategy


how about...

.

stay the curse?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on September 6, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler, yes I am suggesting Islam is incompatible with democracy. And so is Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, whatever religious ism exists. Democratic government cannot exist when influenced by religion of any kind.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 6, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Prof. Chomsky lecture on Just War Theory at the war college on a re-broadcast on C-SPAN Labor Day. He was quite good. I can only guess that Democratic strategists would want to throw his ideas out about how to formulate US foreign policy because they know the average American is much like Jay, who has an inability understanding authoritarian power does not succeed in acheiving democratic goals. The ideas offered by Prof. Chomsky also do not provide the kind of riches the Democratic politicos desire from the industrial-petroleum defense industry, which is why their foreign policy platform will look a lot more like Sen. Leiberman's.

Posted by: Hostile on September 6, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I think there is a great deal of agreement among Democrats on national security and foreign policy; there certainly was in 2004. The trouble is that Democrats lost in 2004, and even as Iraq descends into civil war, not to mention the fact that the threat of terrorism remains widely overstated, it seems likely to be the defining issue of our time (at least internationally).

The real question is what the social engineering crowd (as in HRC) will say now that the Iraq experiment (in liberal democracy) is more or less DOA, and whether Democrats generally will accept what she says. My own view is that the map of the Arab-Muslim world is liable to look quite different a generation from now, with a number of presently pluralistic states breaking up along sectarian lines. This may also be the view of any number of politicians, but you can't really say that aloud yet. I mean - really - what are you going to do, ask people to start breaking up their countries?

In some sense, the neoconservatives are probably right (when one takes their rhetoric about democracy and root causes at face value). The trouble is that there is no appetite for liberal democracy in the Arab world or Central Asia. What can and I think will work are ethnically and religiously centric mini-states, open borders, a centralized bureaucracy (like Brussels) handling trade and currency policy, etc. Some of these mini states would be more and less liberal, but I think that representative government would work in that kind of Muslim world, and probably go a long way toward reducing the threat of radical Islamism over time.

The trouble of course is that getting there could be awful bloody, but if someone - Democrats or Republicans - wanted to be very bold and forward-looking they would start talking about a political process moving toward partition, and organizing a mass (voluntary) relocation along sectarian lines. If the Iraq project could be a model for anything, it could be a model for that kind of (future) humanitarian mission in other parts of the Arab world.

Posted by: Linus on September 6, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with the Chomsky crowd so I can't comment as a 'moderate' Dem, other than to say that I hardly have the patience to envision a Dem response to the past six years that isn't an expression of outrage. Total outrage.

If anyone needs to know how far this country has fallen into the abyss of fevered ignorance, check out the article in Sept. Harper's, 'American Gulag.' The author interviews detainees who have been released and tells their stories. Horrendous mistreatment and torture. And Gitmo is just the tip of the iceberg in the US global prison system. Just today Bush has publicly announced a new plan for military tribunals that allows the inclusion of 'coerced' evidence by the prosecution. The US administration is insane.

Posted by: nepeta on September 6, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe wrote:

"(Quoting me) /The friggin' Holy Roman Empire (which, of course, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.)'

This is the weakest example of all.
_______________


Looks like I'll have to brush up on my ironic style of writing. :)

Brooksfoe, I chose several of various types so as to allow you the maximum opportunity to wax pedantic.

Getting back to the original point, if the Democrats envision a complete abandonment of Iraq after a date certain, then it would not be beneficial to advertise it. It helps to keep the suckers, er, make that voters, thinking that there is still some honor in the world.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Any rational approach to dealing with terrorism needs to begin by rejecting the Republican "big lie" that terrorism primarily orginates in, or is primarily a tool of, "radical Islamic jihadists".

That is simply false, no matter how many times propaganda-regurgitating idiots like Jay, rdw or George W. Bush repeat it.

Nationalism, Not Islam, Motivates Most Suicide Terrorists
by Gary Olson
September 5, 2006
The Morning Call
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Here is today's discussion question: Suicide terrorism is primarily caused by Islamic fundamentalism. True or false? Although it seems counter-intuitive, especially given everything we read and hear in the mainstream media, the correct answer is "false."

In his recent book, DYING TO WIN: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has provided an indispensable public service by collecting data from all 315 suicide terrorist campaigns from 1980 to 2003, involving 462 individuals.

His overall finding: The major objective of 95 percent of suicide attacks is to expel foreign military forces from territory that the terrorists perceive as their homeland. There is little connection with Islamic fundamentalism or any of the world religions. The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism and it's "mainly a response to foreign occupation." The objective is political self-determination. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a secular, clearly anti-religious movement, have committed 76 of the 315 suicide attacks, the most of any group. Their specific goal was an independent homeland in Sri Lanka. Pape, who has also taught at the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Airpower Studies, convincingly demonstrates that "suicide terrorist groups are neither primarily criminal groups dedicated to enriching their top leaders, nor religious cults isolated from the rest of their society. Rather, suicide terrorist organizations often command broad social support within the national communities from which they recruit, because they are seen as pursuing legitimate nationalist goals." Absent these goals, suicide terrorism rarely occurs.

Only 6 percent of the perpetrators have come from the five countries with the world's largest Islamic fundamentalist populations. (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran and Nigeria). He notes, "Prior to America's invasion in March 2003, Iraq had never experienced a suicide bombing in its history." Further, Pape's demographic profiles of individual suicide terrorists reveals they are not uneducated, poor, mentally unstable, lacking in prospects, or young men expecting to spend paradise in the company of 72 virgins. Almost exactly the opposite is true. The data indicates they have higher incomes, intelligence and education, are deeply integrated into their communities, are highly politically conscious and from widely varied religious backgrounds. A significant minority are female.

Obviously, killing innocents is a morally repugnant act, but the evidence also strongly suggests that these individuals are motivated by a deep sense of duty and view their actions as a sacrifice for a nation's common good, its culture and community goals. Reprehensible, of course. But not caused by religious fervor. Although suicide attacks account for only 3 percent of terrorist incidents, they account for 48 percent of all fatalities. Clearly it's the most deadly manifestation of terrorism and there is every reason to suspect it will increase. It works.

Placing tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the Arabian Peninsula between 1990 and 2001 was the pivotal factor accounting for the Sept. 11 attacks. Pape concludes that given the high correlation between foreign military occupation and suicide terrorist movements, the continued and hated presence of American troops in the region will greatly facilitate terrorist organizers in recruiting fresh volunteers.

My own take is that here we get to the nub of the matter. U.S. military might is concentrated in this region for one reason: He who controls the world's energy resources, especially scarce oil resources, controls the world. He also becomes fabulously wealthy. Permanent military bases in Iraq are crucial to realizing their ends. How much easier, and necessary, for U.S. planners to deceive our citizens that Iraq and all the rest is about a "war on terrorism" related to Islamic fundementalism than to reveal the truth about their motives. They're well aware that an enlightened American public would refuse to give our nation's blessing, blood, and treasure to such a nefarious enterprise.

The so-called "war on terror" is fatally flawed because its planners are incapable of addressing the real political goals of those employing terrorism. They can't afford to do so. Precious little time remains to reverse a U.S. course of action that virtually guarantees a significant uptick in deadly attacks on Americans, both here and abroad.

Gary Olson, Ph.D., is chair of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem. His e-mail address is olson@moravian.edu.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Secular Animist. Olson hits the nail on the head...

Posted by: nepeta on September 6, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

crissy wrote:

"Trashhauler, yes I am suggesting Islam is incompatible with democracy. And so is Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, whatever religious ism exists. Democratic government cannot exist when influenced by religion of any kind.
___________________

Okay, crissy, just asking. While I'm at it, what makes any source of philosphical guidance compatible with democratic government? Does your list of forbidden isms include environmentalism, socialism, and fascism?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

This analysis, btw, is hardly new. If everyone remembers, nation building and bringing democracy to the Islamic world was hardly the original reason given for the US invasion of Iraq. Remember WMDs? So, first it was WMD, then democracy, then terrorism - when all along it was a power play in the Great Game. It's just so obvious. And the game continues.

Posted by: nepeta on September 6, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I still like the "Had Enough?" approach. I'm exhausted by the past six years of Bush and Republican rule in America. The fear and warmongering. The uncertainty about the economy. The sense that it's impossible to know whether anyone can be trusted anymore: the media, leaders, neighbors, even co-workers, friends, and family. The rising numbers of dead and wounded in the Middle East. Global warming. Health care costs for everyone except the very rich. And relentlessly crappy service in our service-based economy. Attempts to take away Social Security from those of us who would like to rely on the program we've paid for our whole working lives. I've had enough. Since before World War II, Democrats have ALWAYS done a better job running the government than Republicans--even when they did it badly. But since the Republicans started using racism to advance their money- and power-driven agenda in the late sixties, the Republican Party has devolved into a syndicate of liars, theives, and psychopaths who seem truly to revere death more than life.

I'm tired of it. Exhausted. I've had enough. The Democratic Party needs to take up the fight and show that they can beat the crap out of the Republicans. Stand up. Say enough. And show they can start putting the evil bastards away. Out of office. Out of business. In jail. Off to war crime tribunals where they can be tried and prosecuted. If Democrats would come out and announce that they plan not only to defeat the Republicans, but to impeach, try, and convict as many as are guilty of the crimes we hear about every day, they'd win a landslide the likes of which have never been seen in this country. It would be inspirational and rejuvenating for the country to witness its leaders actually applying the laws that govern us to the leaders that disobey them.

Posted by: NealB on September 6, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"t would be inspirational and rejuvenating for the country to witness its leaders actually applying the laws that govern us to the leaders that disobey them.

It's called "justice." That's what we stand for. So stand up and say it.

Posted by: cazart on September 6, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

if the Democrats envision a complete abandonment of Iraq after a date certain, then it would not be beneficial to advertise it. It helps to keep the suckers, er, make that voters, thinking that there is still some honor in the world. - Trashhauler

Fair enough. The problem is that in the absence of some nugget of concreteness, it's hard for Democrats to define how their approach to Iraq differs from the GOP's. They can't exactly run on "Both we and the GOP will falsely declare that the mission is a success and the Iraqis are capable of taking care of themselves at some point in the near future, and will then abandon them to their fate. But we'll probably do it sooner."

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jay,

Your party was supposedly the "big tent" party, but you managed to kick out everyone who disagree with our Dear Leader, and you've saddled my children with an unpayable debt. For that, you get a kick in the teeth. There is no tolerance anymore for brownshirts like you who are selling our country out defending the indensible. You and your ilk want civil war against those who you demonize? You got it, you slimy ass. Don't ever run into me in person.

Posted by: retrogrouch on September 6, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler wrote: "if the Democrats envision a complete abandonment of Iraq after a date certain, then it would not be beneficial to advertise it."

Complete withdrawal of US troops and an end to the US occupation of Iraq is not the same thing as "complete abandonment of Iraq". For one thing, the US government should pay billions of dollars in reparations to the Iraqi people for the mass destruction and mass murder that directly resulted from the US occupation. These reparations will obviously need to be administered by an open, accountable and transparent process under UN supervision, and not handled (i.e. stolen) by the Bush crime family and its servants.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler, any philosophy that involves the supernatural and is not based on reason. Additionally any philosophy that trumps the rights of individuals with some other power. For instance fascism, which usurps the power of the individual in favor of both church and corporation, much like some republicans.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 6, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Big mistake getting into the "Hey, Dems, let's support democracy abroard." Secure oil, secure bases--these I can see, wrong-headed and bound to lead to disaster, but I can see going for it. But Democracy?--you gotta be out of your mind!

Posted by: Dr Wu -I'm just an ordinary guy on September 6, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jay:

Carter was the worst leader of any country ever to occupy this planet. Do some homework.

My gawd. Someone please tell me that Jay is satirizing wingnuts. No one can truly be this stupid, can they?

Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy wrote:

"Trashhauler, any philosophy that involves the supernatural and is not based on reason. Additionally any philosophy that trumps the rights of individuals with some other power. For instance fascism, which usurps the power of the individual in favor of both church and corporation, much like some republicans."
_______________

Or socialism, with its fascination with coercive, collective solutions to individual problems or environmentalism which often manifests itself in ways that declare mankind to be of secondary importance or even redundant.

Pretty soon, we've got rules for who is qualified to hold public office - no believer in any ism may apply. Anyway, please don't tell my mom she can't vote according to her conscience - she thinks it is enlightened by God's word.

Question is, who gets to decide what beliefs are reasonable and which are mere rationalization? For sure, I don't want the job.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 6, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo wrote: "My gawd. Someone please tell me that Jay is satirizing wingnuts. No one can truly be this stupid, can they?"

My concept of just how stupid people can truly be has been greatly expanded by the comments of the right-wingers who infest this blog.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I'll bite...

Really, T-man, wtf is your point? That Vichy was not a Nazi puppet? That the Nazis did not declare war on the US? That the Nazis were not allied with Japan? That you didn't earlier insist that invading a Vichy colony would be your first response to Pearl Harbor? That the actual first response to Pearl Harbor was to invade a Vichy colony?

Yes, I know T-man is just a useless sock-puppet troll, but I had to ask.

Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Rethuglicans are taking a hysterical approach to national security with the scare the hell out of every american as did Joe McCarthy . Rethuglicans think they have more to forefit than anyone else in this USA. Instill fear into the general population and you have them under control.

Posted by: TOMMY THIS AND TOMMY THAT on September 6, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

[Ok, I promise that this is the last response to T-man's trolling]

t-man said:
I would have started by invading French Algiers just like we did even though they didn't attack us either.

then he said:
I never said my "first response" would have been North Africa

Apparently "started" and "first response" have widely different meanings in t-man's bizarro world.

Posted by: Disputo on September 6, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 wrote: And, before you dispute any of that, remember that you already "promised" that was your last response to me ; )

Well, you know how those "ignore lists" go, don't you, Charlie?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 6, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus,

That fucking Al is just as fucking stupid as ever.

What is it about fucking reality doesn't he get?

Posted by: angryspittle on September 6, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, sure, with benefit of hindsight, Thomas1 says he would've invaded North Africa. But I doubt it. I say he would've gone for Uruguay.

His response to the Haymarket riots, meanwhile, would no doubt have been to declare war on the Kaiser. Obviously, the root cause of all these German immigrant bomb-throwing anarchists was the lack of democracy in central Europe, and the best way to adopt a forward strategy against that problem would have been to invade and democratize Prussia -- in 1886.

Now, let's discuss why this would have been a bad idea.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 6, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler, I think your arguments are silly.

In regards to socialism, social programs, like Medicare and Social Security are chosen by individuals, voters. Not imposed or coerced or forced by some omnipotent State.

In regards to environmentalism, it is about the protection of individual rights from the power and intrusion of corporate entities. It's about the individuals right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, ensure the health of their children. To be free from some other powerful entity's toxins. The individual cannot survive (physically or emotionally) without the environment.

In regards to your mom, if she votes on the basis of her understanding of right and wrong based on religion - well and good (so do I - conincidentally I've never voted republican). If she votes on the basis of who her religion or church tells her to, well that is theocracy and not democracy.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 6, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Just when it seems like Kevin is making some sense again he has to lump Chomsky in with Lie-berman. I guess Kevin gets to keep his the reasonable people are the people in the middle like me credibility.

Kevin, you are a great blogger, but why the gratuitous trashing of Chomsky? Perhaps you could visit MIT and have a chat with him - I'm guessing you'd benefit from it more than he would.

Posted by: kenneth patchen on September 6, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Kevin could benefit from a rectal flushing with coffee grounds.

Posted by: Jay's Fudgepacking Service on September 6, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

A shorter Kevin Drum:
"I've been noodling around.... I'm not really prepared ...[but] I'm going to try...There's still a fair amount of disagreement....Again: I'm not trying....If we only had ...courage...."

Posted by: dick tuck on September 6, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK
The first FULL BLOWN INVASION by United States land forces in WWII was indeed North Africa though Chuckles0Thomas1 at 7:12 PM
Unlike Bush's idiotic attack on Iraq, the attack on North Africa had military objectives and was a value against the Axis powers Your reasoning is stupid, Charlie; you have posted the same crap dozens of times, and it's been stupid each and every time. Posted by: Mike on September 6, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy wrote:

"Trashhauler, I think your arguments are silly.

In regards to socialism, social programs, like Medicare and Social Security are chosen by individuals, voters. Not imposed or coerced or forced by some omnipotent State.

In regards to environmentalism, it is about the protection of individual rights from the power and intrusion of corporate entities."
_______________

That's quite alright, Chrissy, many folks have thought my ideas are silly.

As regards socialism, in point of fact, it often tends to be more coercive in the implementation of programs, because it often prohibits whole classes of people from doing what they would normally be allowed to do. For example, Canada is chronically short of certain medical diagnostic machines, which is would seem a perfect opportunity for an enterprising doctor to fill an need by buying some machines and setting up her own diagnostic practice. But our enterprising doctor cannot do that because it's against the law. Socialism's great failing is the assumption that a monopoly is bad, unless it is a state monopoly, then it is good. (Apparently, we government workers are imbued with special qualities that improve all outcomes.) Once the government has established a monopoly, no matter how well meant, a failed concept becomes extremely hard to acknowledge. More often, it gets reinforced as the government's usual solution will be to simply redouble its efforts. And, as for individual people making the decision, well, don't try to opt out of Social Security. It's not your choice and it never was.

Likewise, environmentalism isn't merely targeted against corporations, but all of us. From restrictions on public access to energy policy, for some there is no trumping "for the good of the environment," no matter how vanishingly small the incremental improvements become.

But, bear in mind, please, I'm not opposed to good amounts of either socialism or environmentalism as means to good ends. It's just that, like any other -ism, either can be taken to such an extreme that it rises to the level of dogma, no longer questioned by its adherents. Just like religion.

I'm glad you agree that it's okay for my mom to base her votes on what religion tells her is right or wrong. Government is not based solely on science, thank Gnu. The logic of science alone can lead to all sorts of horrors. No, government is also a social contract based on mutually held beliefs. To that end, religion is as legitimate a source of enlightenment as any other belief system. At least, so the Constitution allows.

May I suggest that the worst -ism is extremism, no matter what the underlying belief?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

"We recognize that the moral high ground isn't just a nice thing to have, it's crucial to winning support for our policies and that means a renewed dedication to taking seriously international institutions such as arms control regimes and the United Nations." -- Kevin Drum

LOL! I feel so much safer already knowing such clear thinking bubbles through the brains of the Democratic Party!

So the Democrat's answer to national security is disassembling American missile defenses and crawling on our knees to the Russians and begging for forgiveness so the ABM treaty can be restored? Our great good buddies the Russians who have done so much for world security since 9-11? You know with all the aid and support they provided to Saddam and still provide to the Iranians?

And let's not forget taking the U.N. seriously!

Good grief.

Posted by: Brad on September 7, 2006 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

If our politicians, senators and congressmen, are reticent, then we need an articulate and highly respected individual like Wes Clark to speak out on behalf of Democrats and Independents (and a fair share of Republicans). I look forward to supporting Wes Clark in 2008.

Posted by: Sandy Haig on September 7, 2006 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

There is no "Chomsky wing" of the Democratic Party.

If only there were, I would probably still be a Democrat today. But no elected Democrat in D.C., with the very possible exception of Dennis Kucinich, comes even close to Noam Chomsky's p.o.v. (witness even Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold rushing to "stand with Israel" in their latest conflict, and utter nary a word for the Lebanese civilians who were slaughtered).

Again, I repeat, there is no "Chomsky wing" of the Democratic Party.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: patrick Meighan on September 7, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

The one thing that would insure a sustainable Democratic majority in this country would be if we could sieze national security as an issue away from the Republicans and keep it.

In 1960 JFK beat Nixon not just with the graveyard vote but by scaring the country by citing a chimerical "missle gap." Nowadays we have a real, bona fide, no kidding homeland security gap a complelty valid issue we can legitimately use to scare the pants off of middle America and make them realize why they need to have the Democrats in charge. And we can cite Republican-in-good-standing, Tom Kean to make our case as he has repeatedly complained that the President and Congress have left undone some of the most important security recommendations of the 9/11 report. In the last five years, Bush has done virtually nothing to improve port security (although he did try to sell some to Dubai), our chemical plants are unguarded, our nuclear plant security is a joke (Indian Point says that it can withstand a direct hit from an airplane one-fifth the size of the ones that hit the WTC) and, as John Kerry pointed out during one of his debates with President Chimpy McSwine, this admininstration has actually CUT funding to buy up loose uranium from the old Soviet Union. We should be all over this stuff.

And let's toss in a little class warfare while we're at it. Pointing to how our soldier's welfare has been neglected through lack of proper armor, etc. and the previously mentioned homeland security deficiencies, I'd say we have a pretty good case that Repulicans care a lot more about protecting the military-industrial complex than they do actual Americans.

Posted by: Hieronymous Braintree on September 7, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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