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Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BEYOND REPAIR?....Col. Pete Devlin, a man who has "the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps' best intelligence officers," has concluded in a secret assessment that the situation in Iraq's Anbar province is hopelessly lost:

One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically and that's where wars are won and lost."

....Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.

....Over the past three weeks, Devlin's paper has been widely disseminated in military and intelligence circles. It is provoking intense debate over the key finding that in Anbar, the U.S. effort to clear and hold major cities and the upper Euphrates valley has failed.

In a sense, I'm not sure this is anything new. Anbar has been in chaos since the end of the war, and has been on the edge of being hopelessly lost ever since George Bush dithered and dallied over his response to the 2004 uprising in Fallujah. But a report like this is still ominous since it pretty clearly indicates that as bad as things were two years ago, they're even worse now. And next year? Don't ask.

Kevin Drum 12:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (193)

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Comments

Don't listen to those Marines, Kevin. They're on the ground, in the middle of things, so they can't see the big picture.

I'm sure if you go to the Air Force, they'll tell you how they can bring it all under control.

Posted by: Rosey on September 11, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum >"...And next year? Don't ask."

Does the term "last throes" mean anything to you ?

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist thinks it will change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward

Posted by: daCascadian on September 11, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Col. Pete Devlin, a man who has "the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps' best intelligence officers," has concluded in a secret assessment that the situation in Iraq's Anbar province is hopelessly lost:

Why does this guy want to encourage the terrorists? Dick Cheney should explain to him the importance of never admitting defeat.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 11, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. As even the liberal Washington Post admits, no one interviewed has actually read the report. Shouldn't liberals wait till they actually read the report before they start pretending they know what's in it?

Link

"No one interviewed would quote from the report, citing its classification, and The Washington Post was not shown a copy of it."

Posted by: Al on September 11, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Consider the source! The USMC is a well-known nest of hate-America radicals.

Posted by: Wingnut on September 11, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Looking at an Iraq map, it looks like Anbar province takes up about a third of the country, basically the western half of Iraq, but doesn't include Baghdad, which is in it's own province, I think. That's worse than I thought, since I had the vague impression that the most violent areas were concentrated in the cities and suburban slums. I'd be interested in what the assessment is for the other provinces.

Posted by: Del Capslock on September 11, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Al, perhaps you can help out. Why don't you get your cronies to release the actual report so we can all satisfy ourselves whether the Post got the story wrong.

Until then, or until there is some kind of denial from the Pentagon, this is the best knowledge we have.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on September 11, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why does COl Devlin and the Marine Corps hate America?

Posted by: klyde on September 11, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Al is wrong once again (but you knew that didn't you?).

He says, "As even the liberal Washington Post admits, no one interviewed has actually _read_ the report."

(emphasis added).

Wrong. They wouldn't _quote_ the report. Plenty of the interviewees read it.

From the article:

"said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents."

"One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."

"'I don't know if it is a shock wave, but it's made people uncomfortable,' said a Defense Department official who has _read_ the report." (emphasis added)

"Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar."

Posted by: A_B on September 11, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Al's marching orders seem to be:

-comment early
-do not engage with other commenters.
-use smoke and mirrors wherever possible to introduce doubt as to the veracity of the post. For example use hyperbole (ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK!!) to draw attention to alleged inconsistencies in order to distract from the larger point.

Posted by: Del Capslock on September 11, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

You can't win back militarily what you've lost politically. What this means is that, even if the larger civil war goes away (unlikely), the Sunni insurgency will have a popular base of support far into the future, and therefore cannot be defeated.

Partition, anyone?

Posted by: RT on September 11, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Nice try, Al. But no matter how badly you wish it were otherwise, a person's refusal to *quote* a report isn't an admission (and doesn't imply) that the person hasn't *read* the report.

JWR

Posted by: JWR on September 11, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

drip...

drip....

drip...

Posted by: roto-republican on September 11, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

At first glance, I'm not inclinced to believe claims regarding "al Qaeda in Iraq", given that that was Zarqawi's group, and it's significance vastly overstated as part of the Pentagon's disinformation campaign (to shift the blame for resistence and bombings to non-Iraqis, tie the WoT to the Iraq conflict, etc.)...

Just seems unlikely that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia could become Anbar's "most significant political force"...they're ex-Baathist Sunnis there. It's possible, but seems at least equally likely to be part of some spin operation.

Posted by: luci on September 11, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

The White House isn't concerned about Anbar Province, or even really about Iraq any more. Insofar as this is a problem, it can be solved by managing the media exposure in the US.

Look for somebody to be hung out to dry for leaking this report, and/or for Justice to threaten the WaPo for publishing about it.

And you can be SURE that Cheney and Rummy will be grumbling -- and the entire VRWC Noise Machine will be screaming -- about how the Librul Media is giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy.

The whole thing is kinda Dog Bites Man, actually...

Posted by: bleh on September 11, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

The report was classified, yes? So are you saying that the military has lost the ability to control classified documents? - or that you are reporting hearsay and spinning it as you wish? The first would surprise me greatly - the latter, not at all.

That said, for a military officer to state that we have lost control of Anbar Provence would not be in the least unprofessional or surprising. Just as Eisenhower once had to state that a German counteroffensive had pushed back the allied forces around the Ardennes. But for a professional military officer to state that the situation is "hopeless" or "beyond repair" - nope, don't believe it. Sounds like spin to me.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

So it's a "secret assessment" that Kevin Drum, a blogger, can access?

And in it the author thinks we've lost the war politically.

I'm sure the BDS Dems have displayed doesn't affect that one iota. Nothing to see here, move along.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Get out now. We shouldn't have went in in the first place. We havn't accomplised anything significant there. The situation could not get any worse than already is if we pulled out. Our presence does not help matters only inflames them. Thanks to our president we now have a new Iranian ally in the region. Good policy, great job... bush blows... so does Al

Posted by: dee on September 11, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel,

Why do I never read about the cheerleaders going on vacation to Iraq and Afghanistan?

Posted by: cactus on September 11, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Bush et al are just developing the pretext to finally nuke the Middle East.

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 11, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar

WOW. That sounds an awful lot like Afghanistan.

How many countries can Bush screw up?

Posted by: NaR on September 11, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Why do I never read about the cheerleaders going on vacation to Iraq and Afghanistan?

Didn't someone here a few months ago offer to pay for Birkel's flight to Iraq if he'd agree to go on vacation there? And Birkel refused to take them up on it?

Posted by: D'Oh Jones on September 11, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, the fake Al is really off his meds today...The liberal Washington Post!

I laughed so hard, I almost plotzed!

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 11, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

And the Democrats should be hammering it home that while Iraq burned, Republicans were mindlessly and blindly focuses on trivial shreds of good news as political propaganda to bash Democrats domestically rather than making realistic assessments of the war, adjusting our strategy accordingly, and being honest with the American people.

Democrats should be arguing that you simply can't trust Republicans to be honest even about the most critical issues to national security: the 'War on Terror', homeland security, and the war in Iraq. If we want a chance to win any of these, or at the very least make honest assessments of where to go from here, we need to elect Democrats who will be honest with the American people in place of the GOP approach which markets baldface lies for purely political gain, reality be damned.

Posted by: Augustus on September 11, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, is that the chickenhawk argument again? Or is it the conservative fraidy cat argument?

If your grandmother didn't actually land on Normandy or Okinawa she was just a chickenhawk who was too scared to travel amongst those who would wish to kill her and 'her kind' because they didn't support the Axis. Fuck Rosie the Riveter's chickenshit scaredy cat ass. Right guys?

Grow up. Develop a decent argument; start with a premise and stand firm on it instead of moving the goal posts.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel,

Its not a chickenhawk argument I'm making. What I'm saying is simple - we keep hearing how wonderful things are in Afghanistan and Iraq, but nobody wants to go there for vacation. What gives? Nobody is putting their money where their mouth is.

Posted by: cactus on September 11, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

You stupid Dems need to close one eye and then everything will look just rosy.Try just once trust me and you will agree with all that AL says.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 11, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: "Or is it the conservative fraidy cat argument?"

It's the "conservatives who sit on their fat asses watching Fox News whining about liberals, while demanding that other people's kids should be sent off to die in Iraq to enrich Dick Cheney's cronies and financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex" argument.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

What? Sorry, got lost in all the anonymous sources. What was the point of the article again?

Posted by: billd on September 11, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Actually the chickenhawk argument is quite legitimate because the Iraq war was a pre-emptive one and recommended and cheerled by the able bodied boys of the Weekly Standard and the Corner, etc. even though there was ample evidence even in 2003 to support the advisability of the opposite course of action.

Posted by: gregor on September 11, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Col. Devlin has given up on the possibility of being promoted to General....

Posted by: PetervE on September 11, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Your great grandfather was a pussy for not getting off his old ass and fighting the Nazis. Fucking commie bastard.

There, I've said it.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, is that the chickenhawk argument again? Or is it the conservative fraidy cat argument?

It's neither you chickenshit dumbass, it's the argument from empirical observation; if Iraq is as safe as you imply with your casual dismission of this officer's report who's actually BEEN there, people would G0 there.

Instead, people are LEAVlNG there, including over a million Iraqis

Y0U are the apotheosis of the chickenshit argument, being too chickenshit to go there yourself and proving you don't really believe it is safe OR a success.

Posted by: oy on September 11, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Col. Pete Devlin, a man who has "the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps' best intelligence officers,

...which won't prevent him for being smeared by the Bush Cultists.

That the Bush Cultists don't hesitate to piss on honorable soldiers and public servants the minute they utter something embarrassing to the Administration is yet another reason Americans can't trust the GOP with national security. One only hopes our rank and file service members get the message that their blood is just nothing compared to Republican politcal ambition.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Augustus,

Re; "we need to elect Democrats who will be honest with the American people..."

First, for perspective, I'm not a Republican.

Second, honesty is hardly a characteristic I associate with the Democrats. To me, they seem to be willing to do anything or say anything to get their way. They don't think of themselves as anti-American because they don't see the rest of us as Americans. We are simply the opposition and therefore fair targets for their aggression. They ask why I refuse to vote for what they perceive to be my "best interests". Let's see - why would I possibly want to vote against the party of lying, thieving, arrogant self-serving bastards?

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

oy,

It's called reading comprehension. Find where I said anything about the safety of Iraq. I double dog dare you.

Blithering idiot, I crap both bigger and smarter stuff than you.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: "Your great grandfather was a pussy for not getting off his old ass and fighting the Nazis. Fucking commie bastard."

You are pathetic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel, have you had any head injuries lately? Any dramatic changes in caffeine intake? How about other substances you commonly ingest?

I'm totally serious. When I called you a Tourette's-stricken dingo on crack the other day, it was because you now sound like one. Get yourself checked out. The diagnosis will probably only be "completely loses grip as his revered administration goes down in flames," but better safe than sorry, right?

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

What? You don't like your little rhetorical flourishes turned back against you as applied to a different war?

Develop an argument. This Lefty clap trap so many of you offer is tedious and only fun in that you're all so serious about being completely unserious. I mock you. My very breath is drawn so that I can utter a loud "Feh!" in your general direction.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Nov. 19, 2004 (Wash Times)

The top Marine officer in Iraq declared yesterday that victory in the battle of Fallujah has "broken the back" of the Iraqi insurgency, while another commander in the war on terror said Osama bin Laden is all but cut off from his terrorist operatives.
The twin statements declare success on the two main war fronts Iraq and Afghanistan where the U.S. military is fighting a deadly insurgency and trying to create lasting democracies.
Lt. Gen. John Sattler, who commands the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that 11 days after invading Fallujah, the one-time insurgent stronghold is secure, but not yet safe. His ground troops were carrying out a "search-and-clear phase," he said.

Posted by: HBinBoston on September 11, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

I fart toward you. But not really at you.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel whined: "So all those jack asses back in the late 1960s who were protesting Viet Nam but hadn't actually served should've ceded their moral authority?"

No, the protesters were acting righteously in accordance with their strongly-held values and beliefs regarding the Vietnam War.

However, the jackasses like Dick Cheney who were enthusiastically in favor of drafting young, mostly low-income, mostly African-American men and sending them off to die in Vietnam in an immoral, illegal and unwinnable war while the jackasses like Dick Cheney had "other priorities" ceded their "moral authority".

You know, the jackasses whose boots you love to lick.

When you aren't too busy whining about "liberals".

Which is pretty much the complete definition of the modern American conservative, like you for example: someone who does nothing but whine, whine, whine, whine, whine about "liberals".

If there's anything worse than a brain-dead, brainwashed, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slave of scripted right-wing extremist propaganda, it's a brain-dead, brainwashed, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slave of scripted right-wing extremist propaganda who whines all the time.

Like you.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Eventually someone of relative importance will come to the realization that the only hope for peace in Iraq, and Afghanistan is partition, which will mean living with Sunni thugs in charge of Sunnistan, Shiite thugs in charge of Shiatan, and Pashtun thugs in charge of Pashtunistan.

Posted by: Linus on September 11, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Let them have it.

Posted by: Matt on September 11, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel whined: "You don't like your little rhetorical flourishes turned back against you as applied to a different war?"

You flatter yourself by imagining that your inane stupidity constitutes "turning back rhetorical flourishes".

But that's not surprising. Self-flattery is one of the definitive characteristics of know-nothing, brainwashed, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slaves like you.

Along with the constant whining.

Birkel whined: "My very breath is drawn so that I can utter a loud 'Feh!' in your general direction."

I hear you. That's the sound of whining, coming from a know-nothing, brainwashed, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking whiner.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Feh!

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

If things keep collapsing in Afghanistan, we won't be worrying about Anbar, or the rest of Iraq.

Bush's concept of "Stay the Course" appears to be that he wants to wreck everything he touches.

Posted by: freelunch on September 11, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Randy - I would go a sterp further and say that honesty is not a characteristic I would associate with politicians - of any political stripe.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 11, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel whined: "The chickenhawk argument cannot be applied to liberals who protest against a war in spite of the fact that the warriors, who have served, support the effort."

You really are a dumbass.

To be a "chickenhawk" someone has to be a hawk, which means they have to support, advocate or otherwise be in favor of war, or of a particular war.

People who oppose war and protest against war are not "hawks". You can call them "chicken" if you want, but it's absurd to call them "hawks", whether "chicken" or otherwise.

You are just being plain old stupid at this point.

For whatever reason, it seems that the right-wingers who infest these comment pages are growing rapidly more stupid every day. It's really noticeable. You are a good example.

Birkel whined: "So SecularAnimist's great grandfather really was a pansy ass who ceded all moral authority to those who volunteered to fight while Rosie the Riveter was a chickenhawk for not storming Okinawa's beaches."

My great grandfather was dead long before World War II, long before any Nazis existed, and if I recall correctly, he was in fact dead before World War I.

My father and both of his brothers served in combat in World War II. Their father, my grandfather, was a career military officer.

I was draft age in the Vietnam War. I protested that war which I regarded as corrupt, based on lies (like the Iraq War), immoral and illegal. I would have gone to Canada or prison rather than go to Vietnam. As it happened, the draft had gone to a lottery system by the time I turned 18, and I got a high number so I was not drafted.

Today, over 30 years later, I am a pacifist and I will not take part in any war, regardless of whether anyone thinks it is "just" or not. If necessary I will give my life for nonviolence.

But in the case of the Iraq war, it is clearly a corrupt, illegal and immoral war of unprovoked aggression, based on the repeated, deliberate and sickening lies told by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the other career war-profiteering gangsters who make up the Bush Administration, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, and it does not remotely rise to the level of discussing whether it is a "just war" or not. It is a crime against humanity, conducted by a criminal gang masquerading as "conservative" politicians, for the private financial benefit of themselves and their cronies and financial backers.

No one should serve in Iraq. All of the US military personnel serving in Iraq are morally and legally obligated to lay down their weapons and refuse to obey illegal orders, beginning with the order to deploy there.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

On the subject of who does or does not have a right to speak about war, I think only veterans. For or against - only veterans. I think we can safely assume that civilians lack expertise in military matters. I will allow that there may be exceptions (e.g., State Department officials, Law Enforcement and Intelligence officers, members of Congress, etc., and even those who have actually seen war though not in uniform). But definitely not devotees of political parties - these can be assumed to lack credibility as well as expertise.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel whined: "I know better than to argue with fools."

That's good, since "fools" are much smarter than you are.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and the posters sound overjoyed that things are going badly in Anbar. There's not one word of pity for men, women and children being killed. It makes them happy to hear about these murders, simply because this report is bad news for President Bush.

When I was a liberal, liberals cared abou the well-being of victims as individuals. Now, they care about victims as means of making our President look bad.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal wrote: "Kevin and the posters sound overjoyed that things are going badly in Anbar."

No, they don't. No one "sounds overjoyed" about it at all. That's fake, phony, scripted, Republican bullshit.

ex-liberal wrote: "When I was a liberal, liberals cared abou the well-being of victims as individuals. "

You were never a "liberal". You are a lying sack of shit.

You are just an ignorant dumbass who has nothing better to do than regurgitate scripted right-wing extremist lies on a blog.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

You libs got it all wrong - again. What about those bright spots Fallujah and Ramadi. Like to ignore them I guess.

Posted by: Paul the Cynic on September 11, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Semper fi.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 11, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Blithering idiot, I crap both bigger and smarter stuff than you.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK


I take this to mean you're full of crap.

Posted by: BongCrosby on September 11, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Poke a yokel with a sharp stick, stiff from a visit to Niagra, and then the spittle will drool down the chin of the omimpotent, who write like animals. Zookeepers are not usually held in high esteem, you know better, but they feed the animals, not the trolls, who live under bridges, some have said, and clean the cages. Cleaning up can be fun to watch, but seething is believing, and arguing is not best left to fools, who can repeat the mantra but not live up to its expectations.


Posted by: Will on September 11, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and the posters sound overjoyed that things are going badly in Anbar.

Well, "ex-liberal" seems to pride him/her/itself on dishonesty -- withness the inherent lie in the choice of handle -- but he/she/it has outdone him/her/itself.

"ex-liberal," point to one single post in this thread that supports your statement. We'll wait. Put up or shut up.

By the by, you just know that when the dishonest Bush apologists pull out the "Bush's criticis celebrate that things are going badly" bullshit, that they got nothin'. I guess the RNC blast-fax hasn't arrived.

Pathetic.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel - lighten up - it's only a blog ...

If you really need to vent here's my number...

1-800-MARINES

Posted by: Xmarine on September 11, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. What a dumb ad-hom flamewar over a diversionary issue. It's not whether you served or didn't serve. The issue is Devlin's assessment. Can anyone really criticize what we've heard about it on the merits?

Linus:

I think a three-way partition would doom Iraq to civil war for the forseeable future. The Sunnis will be left with a sandbox and a couple of date groves. They absolutely will not stand for it. They're about ready to walk out of the government over that very issue. If the Shia in alliance with the Kurds rams through this new piece of legislation to endorse a framework for "federalism" -- mark my words, they *will* walk out of the government.

Thank goodness for a few Shi'ite secular parties (and al-Sadr's faction) chiming in to stop this. It would truly spell the beginning of the end of Iraq.

And we all remember when that happened to Yugoslavia.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Al, AKA "The Al-bot": "Shouldn't liberals wait till they actually read the report before they start pretending they know what's in it?"

Why? That never seemed to stop you.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 11, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Randy;

I think I am qualified to speak about war, even though I never put on a uniform myself. My father retired from the USN a three-war veteran. My brother retired from the USA in April with the rank of Lt. Colonel, and he served in every pissing contest hot-zone from Grenada to the current Mess in Mesopotamia. My husband won the cold war for you, and retired from the USAF with the rank of Major. He refused to serve this chickenhawk president, and resigned his commission the day this president Bush was sworn in.

He aggonized over the decision for the entire time the Supreme Court deliberated. He predicted before the brain-damaged bastard ever took office that "he will get a lot of young men killed, and a lot of middle aged men like me will be responsible for their lives." (Prescient, huh?) I finally said "look, you have done your twenty, plus some. Resign your commission. I have never known you not to stand up, especially when everyone around you was looking for the closest chair. So do it now."

I can comment because - literally - since the day I was born, I have been a military dependent, and will remain so until the day I die. I did my part. I sacrificed too. So did our children. And I was never prouder of my husband than the day he took his uniform off.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 11, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't someone here a few months ago offer to pay for Birkel's flight to Iraq if he'd agree to go on vacation there? And Birkel refused to take them up on it?

yeah, that was Stefan. He offered to pay for Birkel's airfare to Iraq if Birkel would come back with pics proving he'd been there. Needless to say Birkel didnt' seem too interested in the offer.

Posted by: Arminius on September 11, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone really criticize what we've heard about it on the merits?

Of course not, Bob, hence all the handwaving from our Bush apologists.

Of course, like i said, I'm sure some GOP stooge will be along with a blast-fax impugning the good Colonel's credibility, or patriotism, or both.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

Eloquent and moving.

Will:

"Seething is believing." Very nice :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Who lost Anbar?

a) Michael Moore. He's fat and slovenly.

b) Jack Murtha. He didn't deserve his Purple Hearts.

c) The LIBERAL Washington Post.

Posted by: walt on September 11, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I hear the argument that the Sunni will walk out if the Kurds and Shia vote to have partion.

So what. The Kurds can defend themselves, and the Shia outnumber the rest three to one with Iran as a back up. Who is going to back up the Sunni?

This is a question of the Sunni willing to live within an Iraq, or be pushed out by themselves. They do ot have the oil, their only support is the Saudis and Al Qeda. It is not our job to protect them.

I think a little more civil war is what the Sunni want, and so they should get a little more civil war.


Posted by: Matt on September 11, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

walt:

You forgot Cindy Sheehan :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

This is an automatic response from Koreyel's
mail client:

Sorry I can't comment on this post today:
I am in mourning....

Posted by: koreyel on September 11, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, reality (I don't get to make mine up as I go along) calls, and a colloquium requires my attendance. Back later.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 11, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen,

I agree that you should have a say - and so would my wife and daughters. Military spouses and families do know the score - at least some of it. And I know lots of veterans who oppose this war in particular and often war in general. What I really can't stand are those who's stand on a war is determined by their political objectives. Those who would write off the mission and the soldier's sacrifice as meaningless simply to advance a personal agenda - or to win a debate.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel you are a pussy ass chickenhawk, and that's the end of the argument not the beginning...

Sorry I couldn't be more articulate, I'm just a dumb ass ex-grunt.

Posted by: elmo on September 11, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

> Those who would write off the mission
> and the soldier's sacrifice as meaningless
> simply to advance a personal agenda - or
> to win a debate.

So the sunk cost fallacy now requires us to continue killing our soldiers forever after the first casualty?

George W. Bush and his supporters took upon themselves the decision to start a war (and please don't respond with any nonsense about the "GWOT", a phrase even Tommy Franks says he doesn't understand). By doing so they took upon themselves the moral responsibility for the soldiers' deaths. I think Abraham Lincoln, FDR, even Truman can sleep in their graves bearing that responsbility. That GW and his supporters cannot is not reason for them to continue killing more of our soldiers, nor for calling those who hold them to account traitors.

Not Really

Posted by: Not Really on September 11, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Q: Why hasn't Bush caught bin Laden yet?
A: Because bin Laden is not in Iraq.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 11, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

elmo,

Fuck off. There, you feel better?

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

dee wrote:

"Get out now. We shouldn't have went in in the first place. We havn't accomplised anything significant there. The situation could not get any worse than already is if we pulled out. Our presence does not help matters only inflames them. Thanks to our president we now have a new Iranian ally in the region. Good policy, great job... bush blows... so does Al."
________________

Dee, things can always get worse. And turning away is often what makes them worse.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 11, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not Really,

Your thought about sunk costs is valid. War is often a matter of cost/benefit analysis. But your need to mention the President and imply some sort of guilt leads me to believe that you are precisely the type I referred to in my previous post.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79:

Why do you think it's important to pursue an ad hominem argument from another thread?

Do you really think any commenter's service has the slightest bearing on the issue under discussion -- namely Devlin's classified report?

If so, my man, you're just another Republican blowin' smoke.

Heh, where have we seen *that* movie before :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

So what if they have their own flag?

Until they have their own beer, and a football team, they're not a real country.

Posted by: Zappa on September 11, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: "I think I am qualified to speak about war, even though I never put on a uniform myself. My father retired from the USN a three-war veteran. My brother retired from the USA in April with the rank of Lt. Colonel, and he served in every pissing contest hot-zone from Grenada to the current Mess in Mesopotamia. My husband won the cold war for you, and retired from the USAF with the rank of Major. ..."

Thank you.

I lost my father in Vietnam. He was a promising and unabashedly patriotic Marine serving as chief operations officer with the 2nd Marine Reconnaisance Brigade, and was considered by his peers as an expert in the art of counter-insurgency warfare. I have often wondered what he would have thought of the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and South Asia.

What The Al-Bot and myriad other Bush apologists know about the contigencies and realities of war would fit inside a geltab, with ample room left over.

Such ignorant and servile fascist bootlickers deserve nothing but our contempt, for they betray the very principles upon which our country was founded and for which our family members fought and died to defend.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 11, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I have blood in my BM, Mommy. Can I stay home from school?

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Zappa:

Don't forget an airline, too :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

What I fear in a partition is that the economic disenfranchisement (Anbar and Baghdad having no resources to speak of to develop) will simply drive that many more Sunnis to take up arms with the preexisting insurgency, to fight for what they believe (both rightly and wrongly) to be "their" country.

Joe Biden has proposed a two part plan whereby the Sunni's be alotted some of the oil revenue proportionate with their population in Iraq.


http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=12006

Posted by: ExBrit on September 11, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote:
Do you really think any commenter's service has the slightest bearing on the issue under discussion -- namely Devlin's classified report?

The relevance of my comment to Jason is with regard to his earlier commentary (2:15ish) and leveraging of the term 'chickenhawk'.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 11, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, maybe it's time for W to make the US military commander in Anbar province a 5 star general because they've never lost.

Posted by: Ray Waldren on September 11, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79:

I saw those discussions. They're pointless.

What's relevant is in things like Jason's above post.

We can sit there and debate the names we call each other all day long.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel's had a bad day. Mommy just explained that having a wet dream does not mean you've lost your virginity.

Posted by: NSA Mole on September 11, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think now we might get a serious debate? You know, since all those generals were just speaking out of turn and out of spite.

Last week there was some British officer in south Afgahistan pleading through main media for "a few hundred more troops -- boots on the ground would be nice -- and some more aircraft...."

Then in The Sunday Times this:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2350795,00.html

You'd think we might want to win ONE war we started, wouldn't you?

This administration is pathologically incapable of admitting any mistake or failure. As a result they make them all and arrive unerringly at the latter.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

NSA Mole:

Mommy *did* ask him, though, to quit hoarding her panty hose and good gloves, and use some lotion and tissues instead :)

Bob

Posted by: Birkel's Child Psychologist on September 11, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal, great post of 2:55. You nailed it.

Gee, "sportsfan," if that's so then maybe you can produce a single post from this thread that supports "ex-liberal"'s claim. Certainly "ex-liberal" has failed to do so.

Or is this belief, like your apparent belief in Bush's competence, just another example of wishful thinking?

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well I sure as hell gave *that* one away ...

*red face*

I have entirely too much fun with those kinds of posts.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

There is no way to win this argument with chickenhawks. If you did not serve, you lose the argument by definition. If you, or your near and dear ones, did, there is swiftboating waiting for you.

It's quite a futile exercise to engage the chickenhawks in a rational debate. The only way to win with them is to use with them their own tactics with a vengence.

Posted by: gregor on September 11, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK
}}}} On the subject of who does or does not have a right to speak about war, I think only veterans. For or against - only veterans. I think we can safely assume that civilians lack expertise in military matters. I will allow that there may be exceptions (e.g., State Department officials, Law Enforcement and Intelligence officers, members of Congress, etc., and even those who have actually seen war though not in uniform). But definitely not devotees of political parties - these can be assumed to lack credibility as well as expertise.

Randy {{{{

Interesting to see that the Radicals are coming right out and stating that they want to replace the Constitution with a military dictatorship.

The funny thing is that history shows that the party that creates the military dictatorship doesn't benefit from it the way they think they will. Funny in a sick way, that is.

Will the Radicals being running on this platform from now through November 2006? In 2008?

Not Really

Posted by: Not Really on September 11, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler -

Having our troops stay around can make things worse as the extremely careless Bush Administration has proven.

We're there. We broke things. We upset a repressive balance. I can live with that even though I don't much like it. What I see no reason to excuse is that the people who did this made absolutely no attempt to plan for a successful occupation.

Surprise. The occupation has been remarkably unsuccessful with Iraq engaged in low grade civil war. It is totally clear that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush (and their neo-con ankle-biters) are responsible for this failure to make the occupation work. And let's not forget that they are slowly losing in Afghanistan. George Bush may claim that the Taliban is gone, but the people being targeted in Afghanistan know that is another of his lies.

I am not angry at the people who supported the President when he was selling the lies that got us into the mess. Bush's claims were not so outlandish and the data wasn't so badly misrepresented that it was obvious to everyone that Bush was lying. Yes, today we know that Bush lied, but it wasn't as clear when there was far less evidence available to the public (by the way, is Cheney actually delusional or has he decided to stick with lies until he dies, like the whoppers he told on Meet the Press yesterday).

I am, however, totally angry at the people who have been making excuses for the failures of this Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. If McCain were actually involved in straight talk, he would point out exactly why Bush should have fired Rumsfeld years ago. If Senator Frist wants people to think he is a real leader, he would remind President Bush what Lincoln did when his generals weren't delivering: fire them, in this case Rumsfeld and the brown-noses in DOD. Even Senator Clinton is unwilling to clearly criticize the incompetents who have failed us in these wars.

Walking away is a very bad idea. Staying there without making any changes is even worse.

Posted by: freelunch on September 11, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist writes:

To be a "chickenhawk" someone has to be a hawk, which means they have to support, advocate or otherwise be in favor of war, or of a particular war.

Birkel, you're intellectually outgunned here. Take your straw man arguments and move along. It appears the only thing you're capable of is trading insults.

Posted by: Andy on September 11, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not really, Not Really.

I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and though retired, I will continue to do so. My purpose is to oppose the argument that only those willing to serve should be allowed to support the war, which is no more meaningful than that only those who have served should be allowed to oppose the war. But still, in terms of how much credibility I give to an argument, I don't give much to those who begin by implying the worst possible motives to the President of the United States.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

freelunch: "I am, however, totally angry at the people who have been making excuses for the failures of this Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. If McCain were actually involved in straight talk, he would point out exactly why Bush should have fired Rumsfeld years ago. If Senator Frist wants people to think he is a real leader, he would remind President Bush what Lincoln did when his generals weren't delivering: fire them, in this case Rumsfeld and the brown-noses in DOD. Even Senator Clinton is unwilling to clearly criticize the incompetents who have failed us in these wars."

From a commentary published in the Kansas City Star (the emphasis is mine):

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

"Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

"Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, 17 May 1918

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 11, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Randy,

What good motive would Bush have for lying?

Posted by: freelunch on September 11, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I personally don't think service per se has anything remotely to do with being able to comment intelligently and objectively on a war. Not Really nailed it; this is a liberal democracy with a civilian military command, and every taxpayer is affected by the burdens of war in one way or another.

The problems come, like in commenting on anything else, with vested interests -- be they ideological or in the military as an institution. Wars are those sorts of things that are easy to start and inflame -- and sometimes terribly difficult to stop. It's very difficult to stop supporting a war short of victory -- because then you have to question all the sacrifice. Did our soldiers die in vain?

The best tools in judging warfare come from a good grasp of history, foreign affairs and human nature. And an ability to admit one's mistakes faced with new evidence.

I fervently opposed the Gulf War. I realize, in retrospect, that I was wrong.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

When last seen, Col. Devlin was headed for Git'mo wearing an orange jumpsuit, shackles, and a headsack.

Posted by: bo on September 11, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Randy:

You gave an oath to uphold the Constitution.

You didn't swear your loyalty to a King.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

HEY DICK CHENEY HE WAS TALKING ABOUT YOU NOT THE ANTI_WAR CRITICS!!

1111u1100k 1101i1100k 1100h1110n1110y!!

OH WAIT DICK IS AL AND AL IS DICK

AL IS A WORD FOR KING OR SOME SUCH CRAP?
RIGHT
AL?

1111u1100k 1010l!

Posted by: DICK? WTF? on September 11, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

> But still, in terms of how much
> credibility I give to an argument,
> I don't give much to those who begin
> by implying the worst possible
> motives to the President of the
> United States.

Personally, I don't give any credibility to a politician who states, not implies, that criticism of an elected Administration by a Citizen is treason.

That would be Dick Cheney, in case it isn't clear to you.

Not Really

Posted by: Not Really on September 11, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jason,

Re; "...can you criticize the President and still be a patriot?"

Yes you can. But the criticism must be done with respect. The respect isn't so much for the person as it is for the office - and for one's fellow Americans. Perhaps we could even say that respect is the defining characteristic of the patriot.

But that said, I am under no illusions about the fact that Americans tend to be a people distinctly lacking in respect. This is actually quite encouraging. It means that the Constitution really does work - even under trying circumstances.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Puh-leaze. Anyone, regardless of whether they've served or not and reagardless of whether they've fought or not, can and should have an opinion about war. After all, those of us who did serve, served as citizen soldiers. In the history of nations and warfare, it's an important distinction that our military is (at least for now) an all volunteer force, not draftees, not foreign mercenaries. That's its strength. And since anyone can join, it's important that people think critically and intelligently about what warfare in general means and which wars are worth fighting, since at least theoretically any war could affect you or someone you know.

Certainly combat veterans know a bit more about warfare than people who have never fought and as a result the opinion of such should (at times) carry more weight. But everyone gets to speak, otherwise no point in the oath I took to defend the Constitution.

And I would just like to remind everyone that the enlistment age has been raised to 42 and the Army (my alma mater) is having trouble meeting recruitment goals. Do what your conscience dictates.

Posted by: cyntax on September 11, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote:

"I am a pacifist and I will not take part in any war, regardless of whether anyone thinks it is "just" or not. If necessary I will give my life for nonviolence."
__________________

This is a principled stance, though the the idea of giving one's life for nonviolence isn't really the issue. The vast majority of pacifists live lives of perfect safety. No, the real question is, how many other lives is the pacifist ready to give up for his or her commitment to nonviolence? The same question goes for war supporters.

Advocacy of a particular policy so as to satisfy one's personal beliefs is legitimate. But nobody should be deceived into thinking that others won't pay the price for our advocacy.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 11, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Re; "You didn't swear your loyalty to a King."

Exactly. I have served with Presidents of both parties.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

HEY DIDNT NOWATRASH ALSO WRITE A MOVIE ABOUT BLACK MEN AND UNIONS?
10,000 BLACK MEN CALLED GEORGE?
OR SUTHIN LIKE THAT?
=======

Now I have to go home and see if my new computer was delivered today. (Hint: never, under any circumstances, let yourself be talked out of buying a Mac like I was a few months ago. My relationship with PC's is like a bad marriage - we had five or six good years, but by the time the divorce is final, I'll have a quarter century invested.)
==
COMUPTERS,TODAY,ALL OF THEM, ARE LIKE MICROWAVE OVENS, THEY ARE DISPOSABLE.
I KNOW I HAVE 6 OF THEM USELESS DAMN THINGS. MAC LINUX XP KNOPPIX 98 NT....

ITS ALL 1's AND O's TO ME!!

Posted by: 1011r10101101 on September 11, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly. I have served with Presidents of both parties.

IS THAT YOU JEFF GANNON?

(joking) =}

Posted by: 1011r10101101 on September 11, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall,

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/009722.php

But what seems to me to be one of the greatest injuries of that day is the way we now sometimes seem to mistake optimism for pessimism and vice versa. Persistent fear and retreat from our own ideals and power isn't optimism. It is the deepest and most pernicious form of self-doubt. Yes, something terrible and unthinkable could happen tomorrow. But none of us has more than a probable claim to life from one day to the next. And as a country we are neither weak nor threatened. With apologies for a perhaps over-used line, I can't help thinking of Franklin Roosevelt's "firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itselfnameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Doesn't it have an uncanny claim on this moment?

So my regret for today is that the way that al Qaida has gamed us into doing great damage to ourselves. And my feeling of optimism is the sense that tide may at last be turning.

Posted by: cld on September 11, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

I think the only time that was strictly true in American history was the Civil War, and the closest it approached to truth since, WW2. Clearly the world couldn've ended up a far different place had Hitler the time to build the atom bomb.

All the other wars in our history -- and I'd include the Cold War in there, too -- haven't been existential fights, where our very survival and way of life is at stake.

SecularAnimist giving no support to the Vietnam War or the Gulf War does not mean that others died for his freedom if his freedom wasn't at stake to begin with.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Some dark humor on the subject:

US President George W. Bush rejects suggestions that Iraq be partitioned as a way of heading off worsening violence there, White House spokesman Tony Snow said today.

"He doesn't buy it," the spokesman said of an occasionally floated proposal to cut the war-torn country into separate states.

"It's not practical. Most Iraqis don't want it," he said.

August 16, 2006

And then there's reality:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Iraq's majority Shiite parliamentarians are seeking quick approval of legislation allowing the country to be divided up, The New York Times reports.

Shiites and Kurdish coalition partners made their first moves Sunday, which inflamed minority Sunni Muslims, the report said.

September 11

Just how disconnected are these guys from what's going on???

But the criticism must be done with respect.

Disagree, particularly when someone has egregiously abused the office and cost blood and treasure.

And I don't recall the respectful criticism of Clinton, do you? Also, see the Jefferson/Adams disputes.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 11, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

The Revolutionary War, too, of course.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

But the criticism must be done with respect.

Where is that written?

The respect isn't so much for the person as it is for the office

Again, as Americans, we elect a President, not a King. And if the individual holding the office does not deserve respect -- as Bush, IMO, does not -- then there's no reason at all to let him cower behind the trappings of his office to avoid the criticism richly due him.

Perhaps we could even say that respect is the defining characteristic of the patriot.

Well, inasmuch that I don't agree with you at all, no, "we" couldn't say that.

I'd contend that holding our government accountable is the defining characteristic of the patriot, and I suspect Thomas Jefferson would agree with me, not you. (Check out how "respectful" the Declaration of Independence is sometime.)

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel can't fight the Islamofacists because he likes cock in the ass. Until we change the idiotic don't ask, don't tell policy many Republican manly men are prevented from heroically sacrificing their lives for the country.

Posted by: Mehlman on September 11, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

trashhauler = paid troll

Posted by: Haul this on September 11, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yes you can. But the criticism must be done with respect.

Fuck that.

Republicans get as much respect as they gave to President Clinton -- that is, none.

Bush works for us, remember, not the other way around. Take your "respect" and shove it up your ass.

Posted by: Arminius on September 11, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

LOL AT SITHLORD@WHITEHOUSE.GOV
{DICK CHENEY}

SNARKY!!

Posted by: DICK? WTF? on September 11, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

Re; Holding our government accountable.

"Our" government. Exactly. Mine as well as yours. So long as we respect each other, we can have a government that is truly "ours". And when that respect collapses... well, take a look at Iraq.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

See ya Jason - I gotta go - the Metro waits for no woman.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 11, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone, regardless of whether they've served or not and reagardless of whether they've fought or not, can and should have an opinion about war.

Of course. But individuals who insist that America is engaged in an existential struggle that must be fought, and yet conspicuously avoid serving, citing the same reasons (such as having young children) any soldier would have for wanting to stay home (see Goldberg, Jonah), do indeed lose any claim to moral seriousness.

But hey -- the fact that these same yo-yos evidently approve of Bush's insistence on paying for the war with a tax cut proves that they aren't really serious anyway.

For all Bush's rhetoric about sacrifice, the Republican Party evidently believes that sacrifice is for suckers. And Americans are waking up to the fact.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Randy:

No, not as long as we respect each other. Genuine respect is earned and conditional; unearned respect is sycophancy.

As long as we respect the institutions of government, starting with the Constitution.

Nation ruled by laws and not men sorta thing.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mommy *did* ask him, though, to quit hoarding her panty hose and good gloves, and use some lotion and tissues instead :)

Bob

Ahh, so rmck1 has been the main doppelganger all along. There's a mystery solved.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 11, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

So long as we respect each other, we can have a government that is truly "ours".

Need I point out how explicitly the modern GOP has rejected that philosophy?

But anyway, while I agree with your sentiment, I do draw a distinction between respecting each other and respecting the President. Again, if the President's actions merit disrespect, then disrespect is what he ought to have, and not hide behind the respect nominally due the office. I would assert that Bush has earned the contempted directed at him.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Arminius,

I liked Clinton. And I didn't appreciate the lack of respect then any more than I do now.

And seriously, what do you expect would happen if you and I were having this discussion face to face and you were to take on a similar attitude. I'd say we'd be takin it outside. And that's my point... Can we, as a nation, afford to be takin this outside?

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79:

Hardly. Just an occasional dabbler. You can probably pick out mine by carefully observing the rhetorical quirks.

Mine *do* tend to be a bit more graphically obscene than most, for instance :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I think a three-way partition would doom Iraq to civil war for the forseeable future."

Iraq is already doomed to civil war for the forseeable future.

One of the chief lessons of the early post-Cold War era is the primacy of state dissolution (along sectarian lines), and the need to manage the process of nation un-building. Iraq, like a great many Arab-Muslim countries (or for that matter the former Yugoslavia), is an immature political and geographical fiction that never cohered around a strong set of national institutions and national identity; it never had time. (It took centuries for most of the western nation-states we take for granted to become nation-states; England and France weren't anything like separate countries until at least after the 100 Years War. And even though Norman surnames began to disappear en masse then, Norman French was still being regularly spoken in English manor houses until at least the time of Elizabeth I.)

No one (in power) really wants to admit that liberal democracy is not a realistic possibility for Iraq, and it seems likely that a lot more people are going to have to die before Washington finally gets serious about organizing mass relocations to ethnic and majority religious zones, then going about the petty-ugly business of partitioning the country. But there is no other way.

The only way to avoid a full blown replay of Yugoslavia is to do the ethnic cleansing ourselves, make it a humanitarian imperative.

Posted by: Linus on September 11, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Randy:

If what you're saying is that there needs to be a baseline civility of conduct in any democratic society, that's of course true.

But what we're concerned about here is a conflation of civility, which is good, to deference, which isn't necessarily good at all.

Europeans believed that deference was owed to one's social superiors. Many early political thinkers, in fact, considered this the essential glue that held society together.

The American Revolution was predicated on the contrary notion that all men (sic) were created equal.

Social deference was smashed. And this was a *very* good thing.

Clearly you can't use American political history to argue for the mutual civil treatment of political opponents. Jefferson and Adams weren't exactly on speaking terms for a while, speaking of takin' it outside.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Randy:

If what you're saying is that there needs to be a baseline civility of conduct in any democratic society, that's of course true.

But what we're concerned about here is a conflation of civility, which is good, to deference, which isn't necessarily good at all.

Europeans believed that deference was owed to one's social superiors. Many early political thinkers, in fact, considered this the essential glue that held society together.

The American Revolution was predicated on the contrary notion that all men (sic) were created equal.

Social deference was smashed. And this was a *very* good thing.

Clearly you can't use American political history to argue for the mutual civil treatment of political opponents. Jefferson and Adams weren't exactly on speaking terms for a while, speaking of takin' it outside.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Jefferson and Adams weren't exactly on speaking terms for a while, speaking of takin' it outside.

Not to mention Hamilton and Burr.

Posted by: Arminius on September 11, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that they "cannot accept" that liberals have served in the military, it has more to do with the rarity of it.

sportsfan79, the "vast majority" of the military doesn't vote at all. In '92 only me and my Captain requested absentee ballots. I voted for Clinton and he voted for Bush.

Posted by: elmo on September 11, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "But the criticism must be done with respect. The respect isn't so much for the person as it is for the office"

I have no respect for George W. Bush, because he is a liar and a thief, who became President of the United States by the criminal act of stealing the presidential election of 2000.

This was accomplished by his brother, Jeb Bush, and his Secretary of State of Florida, Katharine Harris, who deliberately disenfranchised tens of thousands of eligible African-American Democratic voters by falsely identifying them as "felons" who were ineligible to vote and purging them from the voter rools.

When Al Gore won the presidential election in Florida anyway, in spite of that criminal conspiracy, Bush & Bush & Harris conspired to steal the election again by preventing every legitimately cast ballot from being counted in accordance with long-standing Florida election law.

This is how Bush's "presidency" began: with the most grotesque, blatant crime against democracy imaginable, the theft of a presidential election. Bush has never been the legitimately elected President of the United States, and he is not the legitimately elected President of the United States today.

Moreover, once in power, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other career war profiteers of the Bush administration lied -- deliberately, repeatedly, elabororately lied -- to the American people, the United States Congress, the United Nations Security Council and the entire world, in order to mislead America into a war of unprovoked aggression against Iraq, for corrupt purposes of private financial gain for themselves, their cronies and their financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex.

And need I remind you that that war -- a war based on sickening lies -- has so far cost the lives of nearly as many Americans as died in the 9/11/2001 attacks, and the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. All of them died because of George W. Bush's deliberate lies.

The Bush administration is nothing more than a gang of criminals, masquerading as "conservative" politicians in order to gain and use the power of the US federal government and the US military for their own profit. They gained power through crime, and they have used that ill-gotten power to commit more crimes, crimes that have killed thousands of people.

If John Gotti or some other leader of organized crime stole his way to the Presidency and began using the federal government as a Mafia crime front, enriching himself and other criminals through mass murder, would you say that we should "respect" him out of respect for the office of the President?

My respect for the offices of the President and Vice President, and for the US Constitution by virtue of which those offices exist, compels me to have absolutely no respect for the criminals -- George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -- who hold those offices today.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Re; Social Deference

I really don't see this as a personal issue. Respect for the office of the Presidency is a matter of respect for the system - respect for the Constitution - respect for our fellow citizens.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

The lying sack of shit who posts as "sportsfan79" wrote: "Al Gore attempting to disallow military votes in 2000 wasn't by accident."

Neither Al Gore nor any of his lawyers or other agents did any such thing in 2000.

You are a liar.

The 2000 election was stolen by the criminals whose boots you lick, brownshirt asshole.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

SA,

The decision on the election was made by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "Respect for the office of the Presidency is a matter of respect for the system - respect for the Constitution - respect for our fellow citizens."

All of which are precisely the reasons that I have no respect whatsoever for George W. Bush, who himself respects none of those things and who has betrayed and dishonored all of them on a regular basis since he became President by stealing the 2000 election.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm hoping the brave, upright Americans who have chosen to fight this war at home (i.e., Al, Thomas1, American Hawk, and Jonah Goldberg)

These clowns haven't been upright for 5 years. Fetal position more like.

Posted by: ckelly on September 11, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Randy: Yes you can. But the criticism must be done with respect. The respect isn't so much for the person as it is for the office - and for one's fellow Americans. Perhaps we could even say that respect is the defining characteristic of the patriot.

I think you could say that respect is one of the defining characteristics of a patriot, and not simply respect for an office but respect for another's right to voice their dissenting opinion on any given matter.

But really that just begs the question of how much an administration can abuse such respect. When an administration cynically trades on the respect of the citizens for national offices like the presidency and for our respect for the military and their sacrifices, when is enough enough? How long did it take Bush to go see the coffins returning from Iraq? For that matter, why are fallen soldiers returned in the dead of night? The sacrifices the military is making should never be hidden from the public eye.

Posted by: cyntax on September 11, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist is right -- historians with the perspective that comes with time will identify 12.12.2000, and not 9/11, as the greatest body blow this nation has taken since Fort Sumter.

So the sunk cost fallacy now requires us to continue killing our soldiers forever after the first casualty?

The sunk cost fallacy killed some 14,000 Americans in Vietnam. They could use it at that rate as an excuse to stay in Iraq until the middle of the next decade.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 11, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "The decision on the election was made by the Supreme Court of the United States."

The decision was made by a partisan Republican majority on the Supreme Court who betrayed their oaths of office to put a Republican in power.

And that decision only served to prevent all the legitimately cast ballots from being counted in accordance with established Florida election law; it had nothing to do with the deliberate disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of eligible Democratic voters by Jeb Bush and Katharine Harris, which occurred before the election.

If you are a partisan Republican who puts power for your party above the law, and above your "respect for the Constitution", then all of that is no doubt fine with you, and indeed like most of the bootlickers of Republican power who infest these comment pages, you probably gloat over the theft of the 2000 election even while you pretend to deny that it occurred.

Otherwise, if you are not a partisan Republican who puts power for the Party above all, you may prefer, as many people preferred, to hide under your bed from such a monstrous crime since you would rather not consider that such a hideous thing could, and did, occur in this country.

But we've seen the consequences of that. The consequences have been government of, by and for organized crime -- which is all one should expect from people who attained power through a criminal conspiracy to begin with.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"There it's you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
-George W. Bush

Couric interview

Posted by: ckelly on September 11, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

And here folks, I give you the height of right wing argumentation:

I fart toward you. But not really at you.

Chickenhawks -- really, there is nothing more pathetic and stupid in this country than chickenhawks.

Posted by: Disputo on September 11, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Al Gore attempting to disallow military votes in 2000 wasn't by accident.

Another rightwing lie. Gore was trying to prevent double-voting and ballots cast after the election.

Posted by: Disputo on September 11, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

...Social deference was smashed. And this was a *very* good thing....

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Although I agree with your point generally, I can't let pass such an inaccurate representaion of the War of Independence. Although the intent was layed down in the Declaration and the US has progressed over time, social deference did not magically disappear.

In the argument over respect there may be some difference of definition.

I would point out that military training imbues (up to a point) represssion of dissent or of showing lack of respect.

However, in the political world, it was the intimidation of the Presidential position and deference of everyone in matters international that led to none of the right questions being asked, and allowed us to progress to this sorry state.

It is also the media, who have been pressured not to be "liberal" or "leftist" (nice conflation), that has been unable to pursue reasonable lines of questioning and shown too much respect/deference to the President.

You only have to hear the White House press corps laugh politely in unison to the President's weak jokes to shudder. With lives at stake and serious decisions to be made, a stoney silence might convey a determination to do a job long-delayed properly.

This is not the same as being disrespectful.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Randy is Thomas1.

Posted by: Disputo on September 11, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

"There it's you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
-George W. Bush

As of last week I think he stopped trying:

    President Bush was in the midst of explaining how the attacks of 9/11 inspired his freedom agenda and the attacks on Iraq until a reporter, Ken Herman of Cox News, interrupted to ask what Iraq had to do with 9/11.Nothing, Bush defiantly answered.

I feel like I'm getting a nosebleed trying to respect the office while he's in it. Think I'll just pass out under my desk... ah... sweet oblivion...

Posted by: cyntax on September 11, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

notthere:

Well, I dunno if we need to get into the weeds to disupte this, because I don't think we disagree on the larger issue. But I do have to counter that social deference *as it is practiced in European societies* was definitely and explicitly smashed, by both the Declaration and the Constitution.

Social deference as an *attitude* took a long time to erode, but social deference as certain specific customs related to social status died a quick and deliberate death. This is one of Toqueville's big themes.

The government bestows no titles, hereditary or otherwise, for instance (that's explicit in the Constitution). Our land system is based on Kentish tenure, not primogeniture. The Framers most assiduously did *not* want an American landed hereditary aristocracy -- and this, of course, became a seedbed of conflict with the South.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo,

I was wondering what that was all about. I'm really not Thomas1. I only found this place a couple of weeks ago. Not a bad group, by the way.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

trashhauler: And turning away is often what makes them worse.


"We never had enough troops on the ground to keep order in Iraq, and both George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld knew it." - Paul Bremer 1/8/06

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK


randy: And when that respect collapses... well, take a look at Iraq.

funniest line in the thread.....

and i know funny...


Posted by: jay leno on September 11, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

mr. irony wrote:

"trashhauler: And turning away is often what makes them worse.


'We never had enough troops on the ground to keep order in Iraq, and both George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld knew it.' - Paul Bremer 1/8/06"
__________________

Sadly enough, those two sentences are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Trashhaulerd on September 11, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno if we need to get into the weeds to disupte this....

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think we do, but if I think about the amount of social deference enforced in this nation well after Voting Rights, I think you are helping to foster a myth of US moral superiority that just doesn't exist in reality.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

of course....

only one has actually occurred...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bob wrote:

"All the other wars in our history -- and I'd include the Cold War in there, too -- haven't been existential fights, where our very survival and way of life is at stake.

SecularAnimist giving no support to the Vietnam War or the Gulf War does not mean that others died for his freedom if his freedom wasn't at stake to begin with."
________________

Bob, it's not his freedom at stake, but the success of his point of view. Whenever one side wins a political fight, somebody pays and the somebody isn't even usually the participants in the political struggle.

War is politics and defeat or victory in any war is a function, not only of the armies, but of the political battle behind the armies. To the extent that anyone argues for war or argues for an end to war, they have a share in responsibility for the consequences of their political victory. Most people aren't overly troubled by this responsibility or they'd approach the subject much more carefully.

It's easy to see the responsibility of the war supporter in the daily death and destruction on the ground. Less easily seen is the responsibility of the peace advocate. Stop a war prematurely, without a needed resolution, or convince people that the fight is not worth the effort and somebody will pay, somewhere, sometime. Their influence over future events is harder to trace and easier to deny. But it's real, nonetheless.


Posted by: Trashhauler on September 11, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

of course....

only one has actually occurred...
________________

So far.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 11, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

notthere:

Well I think that's an entirely unfair characterization; you've read enough of my posts to know that I am no apologist for American exceptionalism.

Today, European societies have moved beyond classism (having so much more of it to react against) and are decidedly more egalitarian in important ways than America, even with their vestigial titled aristocracy and royalty. They're certainly more economicaly socialistic societies than America, and I state that as a positive.

I only meant to counter Randy's argument that we owe some kind of inherent respect to a particular President; I don't think you can back that up in our traditions, nor do I think that's a facet of any healthy democracy, where the office is always much more important than the person who occupies it.

Thomas Jefferson, the architect of the First Amendment, was so demoralized by the broadsheets publishing invective against his second term as President that some of his papers rue the day that Amendment was ratified.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

Of course peace activists play a role and bear a responsibility. But I'd argue that inconclusive war outcomes don't necessarily imply more death and suffering in the long run than had the war been carried to a definitive conclusion.

In fact, arguing that they do is counterintuitive. You'd have to present examples in order to make that case.

I can make my case easily enough with the Vietnam war. Everybody agrees that it was a "bad outcome." The NVA overran the country and to this day Vietnam is one of the few remaining Communist countries. But we also trade with them vigorously and their society is beginning to prosper and be pulled into our orbit.

Let's say the hawks had their day. Let's say we "took the gloves off" and decided to really capitalize on all those tactical victories, or do whatever it was that the "we could've won Vietnam" crowd likes to argue. What would have been the result? Ultimately, a Vietnam who's trading with us, whatever their form of government.

But think of all the added death and destruction it would've taken to get to essentially the same outcome.

Vietnam peace activists have much to be proud of, indeed.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I only meant to counter Randy's argument that we owe some kind of inherent respect to a particular President; I don't think you can back that up in our traditions, nor do I think that's a facet of any healthy democracy, where the office is always much more important than the person who occupies it.

For what it's worth I interpreted Randy as saying it was the office that deserved respecting. The problem with GWB being that he has done so much to besmirch the office and the Constitution that we now we're in the singularly interesting position of figuring out if it's possible for a particular president to be so odious as to drag the office down to his level. I'm thinking this is the one job GWB actually is up (down?) for.

Posted by: cyntax on September 11, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

More fundamentally, the problem with your argument about the responsibility of peace activists in prematurely stopping a war is that it depends on counterfactuals (historical "what if's"), and counterfactuals are by nature conjectural.

All a peace activist needs to do is to point to the killing that's stopped. If another war breaks out later, then it's his/her job to oppose that one, as well.

Arguing that the premature stoppage caused the later war the job of historians and political scientists, and is subject to fierce, partisan and inherently biased debate at the time.

There is certainly no moral contradiction from the peace activist's POV.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax:

Well, I think Randy backtracked to that point when he saw his initial position to heavily pummeled by historical examples (the Adams / Jefferson feud being one of the best).

I do agree that ultimately it's about respecting the office -- but then I see that as a double-edged sword and am wary of pushing a president on it because it became the entire modus vivendi of the Clenis-hater crowd. Oh what *damage* to the Oral- I mean Oval Office! Oh if those walls had eyes!, etc. etc. I tend to shy away from that kind of thing and just criticize Bush on his character and policies -- not try to frame him in a context that includes William Howard Taft and US *hic!* Grant.

Randy was initially pushing civility as a prerequisite for democracy (a truism), and thus, that any President deserves respect (meaning giving his good motives the benefit of the doubt) just cuz he's the President.

And I think that position is entirely untenable by any yardstick you'd care to use.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Randy was initially pushing civility as a prerequisite for democracy (a truism), and thus, that any President deserves respect (meaning giving his good motives the benefit of the doubt) just cuz he's the President.

And I think that position is entirely untenable by any yardstick you'd care to use.

Well, giving anyone the benefit of the doubt because of what position they hold is an approach of limited utility. And further, the respect cuts both ways: if the position you hold is so important it deserves this automatic respect, then you better start growing to fill your shows PDQ. Obviously that never happened with the current president, and that reflects even more poorly on him.

Posted by: cyntax on September 11, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax:

Exactly. At the end of the day, we judge the man by the responsiblities of the office. We don't assume that the office bestows anything inherent on the man.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bob and cyntax,

You all do have a point. At some point it may become necessary to disrespect a President who brings disrespect to the office.

Personally, I would need to see some pretty clear evidence to come to that conclusion. And no, I don't see pushing the limits of Presidential authority in this age of asymmetrical warfare to be such evidence. Indeed, I and many others see such actions as a pragmatic response to a genuine threat in a genuine effort to protect the American people. FDR took far more dramatic measures, as did Lincoln.

The kind of respect I'm talking about is the kind of respect shown by saluting a senior officer. Its not personal. Its not about subordination. Its about understanding the responsibility the officer holds. And understanding that we're on the same side.

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

President Lincoln was a chickenhawk.

FDR was a chickenhawk.

Bwaaakkkk.

Chickenhawks all around.

Posted by: Birkel on September 11, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well I think that's an entirely unfair characterization....

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, what I originally said was "Although I agree with your point generally, I can't let pass such an inaccurate representaion...."

To your: "...Social deference was smashed. And this was a *very* good thing...."

I didn't mischaracterize your statement which was a gross exaggeration and simplification.

I said I couldn't let it go. That's because it lies at the heart of the US myth-making that leads those such as our fearless leader to think the world is their playpen and it will all pan out like any Hollywood movie. It's white US chauvinism.

Instead of getting stuck in the original constitutional arguments, I showed how, in practice since then, social deference has been far from "smashed."

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK
President Lincoln was a chickenhawk. FDR was a chickenhawk. Birkel at 9:05 PM
Lincoln was a Republican; FDR was crippled by childhood polio and was unable to walk. Lincoln was attacked by racist Southerners at Fort Sumpter; FDR by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and then the Axis powers declared war on the US. Birkel is an idiot.
Vietnam peace activists have much to be proud of, indeed.: rmck1 at 8:11 PM
Speaking as an old guy who was there: Damn right.
Stop a war prematurely Trashhauler at 7:52 PM
Everyone can see that when a war is lost beyond repair, its foolish to keep at it. Everyone knows that when support for a war must be drummed up by jingoism and demagoguery, that war is illegitimate and should not be fought Posted by: Mike on September 11, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

"We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically, and that's where wars are won or lost." - Col. Pete Devlin on Anbar province, Iraq

Compare, probably apocryphal but widely cited exchange:

"You never defeated us on the field of battle." - US Army officer

"That is true. But it is also irrelevant." - North Vietnamese Army officer

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 11, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Randy, political leaders are not military officers, and citizens are not soldiers. Political leaders must understand that they possess a limited resource of political capital, which they can grow or spend, depending on their policies and the way they relate to the public. They are not elected by God; they do not rule by divine right, and nowhere in the Constitution does it say that voters have a duty to be respectful. Respect is something you earn, not something you possess by right.

Hell, even military leaders have to cope with this reality; their troops are bound to obey orders, but in practice, you have to earn their enthusiasm by leading them well, and if an officer behaves in a scheming, divisive, selfish manner, she will ultimately find it impossible to accomplish anything, orders or no orders. Political leaders are all the more bound to lead by example. President Bush had 90% approval ratings on Sept. 12, 2001. He didn't fall to 38% by accident.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 11, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

notthere:

I just qualified the rather limited sense of "social deference" I was referring to in specific argumentative context to explain the decidedly un-deferential way we treat our political leaders, and have since our earliest days as a nation.

I don't think there's any way in the world you can use what I said to evidence the privileging of American exceptionalism. It's a healthy attribute of all democracies (where the office is always much more important than the officeholder) as I noted previously.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Brooksfoe,

Re; "...nowhere in the Constitution does it say that voters have a duty to be respectful.

You're right. There is no legal requirement for civilians to be respectful to the President - or anyone else for that matter. But for the military, insubordination is a violation of the UCMJ. The difference is that the military has a mission to accomplish.

The thing is, for any group to accomplish anything, respect for others in the group is essential. Your argument, therefore, boils down to a statement that the citizens of the United States are not a cohesive group. And you are, of course, absolutely correct.

What is the importance of respect? It is the difference between a "loyal opposition" and just plain "opposition".

Posted by: Randy on September 11, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Add ths to the list of things Birkel is wrong about. Lincoln was not a chickenhawk. He was a veteran.

Posted by: Pat on September 11, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bob --
Being un-defernetial on some blog somewhere doesn't count for much. As I've written before and said here, media and US citizens and politicians are far too deferential to the President by nature of his position, at least the last 30 years I've been watching reasonably closely, and it has led to some bad places.

As I understand it, the Constitution created three separate and equal authorities, not one that is in some way superior to the others. I find many US citizens hold the President in some kind of awe, as if he is automatically imbued with some superior wisdom.

This is demonstratively not the case.

That's all I'm going to say.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

"demonstrably" not "demonstratively", but that too!

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is interesting. On the one hand you have Randy arguing that we're not deferential to the president enough, and we have notthere arguing that we're way too deferential to the president.

Notthere, you're a Brit or Commonwealth citizen, correct? If so, that may explain it. We have these strange institutions of artificial comity in the House and Senate that are antithetical to the rough-and-tumble a PM endures in a parliamentary system. I'm not exactly sure what explains that -- since we also have a long tradition of ad-homing our politicians and political candidates in often quite savage ways.

I don't think anyone could have observed the brutal attacks on Clinton and think that somehow American pay an excessive amount of deference to the POTUS. With Bush, I think it really had much more to do with the context. 9/11 was a huge psychological jolt to the country, and we responded accordingly. Many of us (myself and others not included) thought Bush was actually going to rally the country together and respond positively. We gave he and his administration a tremendous benefit of the doubt.

And we were horrifically hoodwinked. I do believe that the scales have fallen from many people's eyes, and that this is why the Bush-hatred we encounter is so incredibly virulent.

I honestly do believe that the bloom is off that rose, notthere.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

You bag of shit you piece of dreck. You keep posting and I will knock your block clean off. Do you understand me. I will *not* be messed with.

I do agree that ultimately it's about respecting the office and getting a little tail on the side. A man gets *up* in the morning and wants to wave his sword around and he doesn't want a bunch of blue hairs telling him what to do. What you have right there crapped itself out of the backside of a southbound camel and became the entire modus operandi of the Clenis-hater crowd. Bent and to the left, just like a blue hair falling down the steps and dying of a blood clot to the brain.

I tend to drink heavily from the glass of cooking sherry that I keep at arms length about my person and then shy away from that kind of thing and just criticize Bush on his character and policies -- not try to frame him in a context that includes William Howard Taft and US *hic!* Grant.

If you stay away from looking at the forest for the trees, I dunno if we need to get into the weeds to disupte this, but Clinton liked his fat girls to bend over a lot and that's a good thing because when a fat girl bends over a lot, the whole country *benefits*.

Snark-tack-u-lar.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

A *bot* can take a bunch of lines from various posts of a single individual and concantenate them together.

That's not exactly writing either parody or a serious spoof.

I really *did* tweak you by outing you as Cheney, didn't I?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

or the woman

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

That's actually a point I had wanted to make earlier, because it cuts right to the heart of the whole deference issue. It's the difference between respect for laws and institutions vs respect for individuals.

Which is precisely why I posed that to Jason. I believe that ideas are ultimately more important than personalities in a forum like this.

Jason can respond to it how he wishes -- or not respond at all. His reaction is not at all the point of why I wrote it -- though I'll always give props where I think they're due.

Only newbie or a rankly insecure person takes this stuff personally.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

> I prefer the company of wingnuts and trolls, sometimes. They are
> a vicious, nasty lot, but when you whack them with a rolled up
> newspaper, they can be made to behave.

Right :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

I like my progressive rock on a stick.

I like my disco duck.

DD - Donald Duck voice]
[BS - background singers]
[EP - Elvis voice]

Went to a party the other night
All the ladies were treating me right
Moving my feet to the disco beat
How in the world could I keep my seat

All of a sudden I began to change
I was on the dance floor acting strange
Flapping my arms I began to cluck
Look at me..
I'm the disco duck

[DD:] Ah, get down, mama
I've got to have me a woman, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] Got to have me a woman
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] Oh, get down, mama
[BS:] Try your luck, don't be a cluck, disco
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD+BS] Disco
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] All right
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] Ah, get down mama,
Oh mama, shake your tail feather, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

When the music stopped I returned to my seat
But there's no stoppin' a duck and his beat
So I got back up to try my luck
Why look

[DD:] Everybody's doin' the
[DD+BS] Disco, disco duck
[DD+BS] Disco, disco duck
[BS:] Try your luck
[DD:] Wave to me
[BS:] Don't be a cluck
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD+BS] Disco
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] My, oh my
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[DD:] Ah, get down mama, ha, ha, ha, ha
[BS:] Try your luck, don't be a cluck
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD:] Disco
[BS:] Disco
[DD+BS] Disco
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[BS:] Disco
[BS:] Disco, disco duck
[BS:] Try your luck, don't be a cluck
[EP:] Thank you duck
[BS:] Disco
[EP:] For gettin' down
[BS:] Disco disco disco
[EP:] Thank you so very much
[BS:] Disco duck
[DD:] You're welcome
[BS:] Disco Disco Duck
[BS:] Try your luck, don't be a cluck
Disco, disco, disco

Screw you, you shitheels and cocksuckers. You think you're funny? Goddamned right you're not funny. This is not funny. I'm going to poke out yer eyes and skullduck you.

That's correct.

*skull duck*

K---

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

The email is skyweb.net, not skyway.net. Sheesh :)

Damn, I wish I had the energy to google up the lyrics to Dancin' Fool -- but, probably fortunately, I don't atm.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ass clowns who are copying me,

You have no sense of what is and is not funny. And this is mostly *not* funny. I am going to write a personal E-mail to Kevin Drum and make him make you stop.

I may even decide on hiring a lawyer. I know several lawyers, some of whom enjoy taking a scouring pad to butt cheese and making it shine.

>:(

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

*snicker*

You really *are* an obsessive, aren't you. At one point -- regrettably -- I cared about this.

You better get back to the other thread, Thomas. PaulB is calling you "dear" again :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Or maybe this is actually Jason spoofing me. I dunno ... it seems like it's going a little bit beyond Thomas' ken. Especially the naughty bits. I have a hard time imagining them crawling off of Thomas' fingers, but Jason, the ex-military, would have no problem with it. This is, of course, pure speculation ...

And Jason, like Thomas, truly *doesn't* have much of a genuine sense of humor. And the parody here is *way* forced ...

I dunno, truthfully. Hmm. Oh well ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin Drum,

As you may or may not know, I am a person who posts on your blog. I use the handle rmck1 and I like to use humor to blast the trolls and sometimes, yes, I get a little out of hand but who doesn't? Your blog needs people like me. I don't know why more people are not appreciative of the effort I put in. It seems like there is a desire out there to ignore genius. Genius is best described as a shell that hides the head of a turtle. Without genius, the turtle's head pops out and looks like a Clenis. I'm not making this up--it does and I am frightened. I am cold, I am frightened and my hair is falling out in clumps. It's sitting in my lap right now. No. That's my pet ferret. I have a pet ferret named Bingo. You should always have more than one ferret, but Bingo is anti-social and he killed all of the other ferrets that I tried to pair him up with.

*Snicker*

It has come to my attention that a deranged and obsessed person is using my handle to humiliate me. This shall not come to pass. I demand that your web master forward to me all IP addresses and routing commands of whoever is 'sock puppeting' me and causing me shame and embarrassment.

For the record though, I do like ass fucking.

;^|

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly better than the last few attempts, I will give you that. I liked the "genius is like a shell that hides the head of a turtle that looks like a Clenis" bit.

The ferrets and clumps of hair, however, started to reveal the kind of forced humor that comes with a writer becoming overly impressed with him(definitely him)self.

The paranoia about being spoofed is where it futzed out. Good satire maps onto reality. Obviously, I'm not taking this particularly seriously anymore. I learned *that* lesson the hard way, unfortunately.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bob --
I don't know what I am. I am very middle aged and have spent more than half my life here. I was a Brit!

Yes, there is a certain comity in the senate and reps, but it is not honest. They can be polite there and perfectly willing to lie their media and campaign heads off; both sides.

Yes, PMs go through more rough and tumble -- in the house and with the press! I really think, as part of the political process, the President should too -- from oversight and the press!

(I lose count?) The 4th Estate needs more teeth or backbone right now, but more especially in 2001-2. They (and I, and others I know) were intimidated. Not a good feeling for me or for the health of the US.

Posted by: notthere on September 12, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

notthere:

No argument there at all.

It's a dangerous time we live in, for sure. Not because of "homeland security," but because of all the institutions we so cherish mutating into something permanent and not at all like what the Framers intended. Perpetual war against an unseen enemy. Boy, something tells me they woulda seen right through *that* concept.

Fucking Orwell lives.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

Jason,

Re; "While American troops were engaged in battle, Republican presidential candidates and leaders in the House and Senate criticized the Clinton administration and the war in Kosovo..."

Yes they did - and it pissed me off. We were in the middle of operation Provide Promise, with C130s coming back full of holes, and our political "leaders" are taking potshots at each other.

I remember the undercurrent of feeling that the Democrats were intent on downsizing the military. The downsizing was real, but it made perfect sense. I also remember the stories about some officers who were openly criticizing the President. The military at that time did lean to the right politically speaking, but I remember thinking that such behavior was incredibly unprofessional. Most of us just carried on with our jobs and ignored it.

Posted by: Randy on September 12, 2006 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

randy: I remember the undercurrent of feeling that the Democrats were intent on downsizing the military.


Over Cheney's four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD's total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion. Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent, the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.

http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/secdef_histories/bios/cheney.htm


In December 1991, he bragged to the Washington Post that he was setting an all-time record as Defense Secretary for canceling or stopping production of weapons and equipment.

At one point, Cheney told the Post he had terminated the F-14, F-15 and F-16 fighters, the A-6, A-12, AV-8B and P-3 Navy and Marine planes, and the Army's Apache helicopter and M-1A1 tank.

Posted by: mr. perspective on September 12, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Perspective,

I did say that I thought downsizing made sense. What does it matter which party is in charge while it happens? I helped close several bases while Clinton was in office, more closed under Bush, and still more will close in the future.

The thing that the "we need more" crowd is forgetting is that maintaining a large force is extremely expensive.

Posted by: Randy on September 12, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

GOP: PUT IT ON OUR...AH...YOUR TAB.

Posted by: rnc on September 12, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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