Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 25, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

ATTACKING AL-QAEDA....Last August, in the wake of news (here) that Donald Rumsfeld had called off a special ops mission intended to capture senior members of al-Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas, Barack Obama called the failure to act a "terrible mistake." He then went on to promise that in an Obama administration, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

John McCain has criticized that speech, and over at The Corner David Freddoso joins him today. Responding to the news that we launched a drone missile attack last month against targets in Pakistan, he says:

As much as I appreciate the idea of a dead terrorist, I don't like what we did in Pakistan, and I really don't like the fact that we're bragging about it, or that a presidential candidate would openly discuss it as an option.

....But so powerful is Obamania that liberals can now praise even George W. Bush for doing something they would oppose under any other circumstances — all because of Obama's ill-considered comments last year. That I cannot respect.

The logic for this Pakistan operation clearly flies in the face of every argument against invading Iraq — international law, sovereignty, respect for other countries, our standing in the world, etc.....That Obama's supporters would hold it up as some kind of model is deeply puzzling to me.

The dynamics here are certainly turning deeply weird, aren't they? Freddoso may have a point about liberal reaction (though a drone missile attack in tribal territories is hardly comparable to a massive invasion and multi-year occupation in the heart of the Arab world), but it looks like conservatives might have the mirror opposite problem. Is McCain going to paint himself into a corner and start claiming that he opposes covert attacks just because Obama has said he supports them? And will conservatives then be forced to follow along? This is going to be one peculiar campaign if everyone starts bending themselves into a pretzel over this, with liberals defending covert strikes and conservatives trying to paint that attitude as reckless and naive. I can't wait.

And while we're on the subject, here's a data point to suggest that Obama's position hasn't led the Arab public (or the Arab elite, anyway) to become wary of him. Marc Lynch just got back from the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha and files this report: "The US elections absolutely dominated the conversations, with Obama the runaway favorite. Most of the Arab participants I talked to seemed fascinated by Obama, and frightened by McCain." Maybe the Arabs in Doha don't have a problem with the odd missile attack on Pakistan's tribal areas either.

Kevin Drum 1:37 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Political events in Pakistan may, just may, render any future need for even comptemplating a covert attack (or any type of attack) moot.

That is my sincere, if naieve, hope.

Posted by: Keith G on February 25, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

The fascination with Obama is not limited to Arabs. I was recently in India and Thailand and both countries are hoping for an Obama presidency. Which is kind of weird because Africans are usually unpopular in both countries. Unless they are NBA stars, of course. Or Tiger Woods, in the case of Thailand. But as strange as it may seem, Obama is even more popular in Thailand than Tiger Woods. His international appeal is really stunning. My prediction (hope, actually): Obama gives a speech in Tehran and draws more than a million people. How embarrassing would that be to Ahmadinejad? I think Obama's rock-star appeal may very well work to our advantage.

Posted by: fostert on February 25, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

How does going after terrorists equate to a preemptive invasion of Iraq?

Do these people not understand the fundamental problem, from the beginning, with invading Iraq?

Posted by: JC on February 25, 2008 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

You are simply describing German politics - when in power, party X proposes something which reasonable people can see as worthwhile, while opposition party Y rejects it. When opposition party Y gains power, they turn around, and support the reasonable policy, while party X attacks it.

Amusing, really, because at some point, even the most jaded political observer recognizes this is just a game which can be ignored, since none of the people playing it actually care much about whatever they are saying today.

Of course, in German politics, a lack of fanatic believers (or at best, ensuring fanatics always remain at the extreme fringe), as compared to thoroughly self-interested members of a party or faction, is generally considered a plus, based on past experience with how democracy collapses, followed by a total social collapse in turn.

The next decade or two in America should be a text book lesson in what the Founders did their best to hinder, though they recognized nothing lasts forever. Fanatics are the true weakness of democracy, much in the same fashion that cancer is a true weakness of a body - though seemingly a part of the whole, the unstoppable demands of the fanatic/tumor can only be treated with radical measures, ones which ravage the life being saved.

Posted by: not_scottbot on February 25, 2008 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

Is McCain going to paint himself into a corner and start claiming that he opposes covert attacks just because Obama has said he supports them?

Purposefully charming display of innocence and naivette here from Kevin.

If McCain start claiming that he opposes covert attacks just because Obama has said he supports them, it will not paint McCain in a corner because he is a Republican. All McCain is doing by his claim is pointing out that the Dems are not allowed to be tough on our foreign enemies. He of course he can do so because he is from the GOP.

Posted by: gregor on February 25, 2008 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

JC, don't you understand? The terrorists don't hate us for our military actions or for treating them like our primitive, brown skin servants for the last 80 years.

They hate us for our freedom.

Posted by: Keith G on February 25, 2008 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, we should definitely elect the man who is preferred by Arab dictators and their henchmen.

Posted by: am on February 25, 2008 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, am, Bush can't have a third term.

Posted by: blahblah on February 25, 2008 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

It should not be terribly surprising that tribal Paki land arouses little interest. Most of the world believes anyway that an American President does such things.

I mentioned myself I ran into similar, if oddly informed chatter of late.

Of course to be accurate, for the trollish fellow, at the Conference Lynch attended there are few 'henchmen.'

In any case, political tribalism: My guys are right, the other guy must be wrong. Found everywhere, deepest human emotional instincts being expressed.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on February 25, 2008 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

blahblah beat me to it.

Posted by: merlallen on February 25, 2008 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't conservatives care about who actually attacked us and who did not? Funny how attacking actual threats is deemed different by us liberals compared to attacking random powerless dictators that can do no harm to us.

Posted by: Mark on February 25, 2008 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

OFF TOPIC:

You'll all be pleased to know that out of my 20 Oscar predictions, I got 10 right, including the all-important Sound Editing category.

...And conservatives are never reckless. Don't you know what the word "conservative" means? You need to learn some "conservative Texas values." Re-make the world into a blissful Eden the way Texas is.

Posted by: Anon on February 25, 2008 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK

When a military dictator who took power in a coup decalares martial law and in the election he disrupted is defeated in a country where the vast majority of the people do not support Al Qaida, then publicly says he 'didn't give permission', how do we know what he REALLY agreed to?

Further, it may set a precedent to cross boundaries in pursuit of an enemy, but if the root of the precedent is to take out the masterminds and managers of an org that killed 3,000 Americans, I don't imagine that can be invoked very often.

And remember Clinton fired missiles into Sudan trying to get Osama before his death toll was that high, and cross-border take-downs by secret operatives have been occurring throughout the Cold War, so suggesting it's somehow new and different is nothing but spin.

I mean, what was the Bay of Pigs? Who helped fund the assassins of Iran's Mossadegh? Who dropped bombs on Laos and Cambodia? I didn't support any of those, because none of them killed 3,000 Americans.

I didn't check to determine who was president before I thought - as a liberal - it made sense to do. Others can frame it via a political lens, but I think breaching some borders in very extreme situations is simply pragmatism in this case, because the lawless region was really not under the control of most Pakistanis or its government.

It's a calculated risk but you don't see angry Pakistani crowds denouncing it. Likely because they fear Al Qaida too.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on February 25, 2008 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm still waiting to find out if there's anything online Obama supporters won't try to defend. So far they've accepted all of the following:

- Hiring an openly anti-gay singer to help him raise money. "He's trying to start a conversation!"

- Proposing a non-universal health care plan. "First we make it affordable, then we make it universal."

- Attacking the candidates who did propose a universal health care plan. "Do you really want the government to garnish your wages?" Well, I pay taxes. Don't you?

- Lifting entire paragraphs almost verbatim from Deval Patrick and John Edwards and making it seem as if they're his own. "But Deval Patrick doesn't mind!"

- Backing out of a pledge to accept public financing. "It wasn't a pledge; it was an option. He said he'd aggressively pursue something, not that he'd actually do it."

- Having lobbyists work on his campaign after he proudly claimed his distance from them. "But they're state lobbyists, not federal lobbyists. Except for that one guy."

- Praising Ronald Reagan. "He wasn't really praising him. 'Curbing the excesses of the 60s and 70s' was a bad thing. So was reining in a 'government that had grown and grown without accountability.' And all that stuff about how Reagan had brought clarity, dynamism, and entrepreneurship? All that stuff is bad."

- Praising the GOP. "When he said they were the party of ideas in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom, it was clear that he thinks the conventional wisdom is a good thing."

- Skipping the Kyl-Lieberman vote. "Harry Reid scheduled it too quickly." Somehow Clinton, Dodd, and Biden were all there.

- Dropping an oppo hit on Paul Krugman. "Krugman is angling for a job in the Clinton administration. His non-existent son works for her."

- Pushing out a memo in which Clinton is labeled as D-Punjab. "It was a staffer. It wasn't him."

- Pushing out a memo in South Carolina accusing the Clinton campaign of racism. "It was a staffer. It wasn't him."

- Buying a house in a coordinated deal with a slumlord who is now under federal indictment. "They were friends. Don't we all buy property with our friends?"

I'm not saying any of these are dealbreakers. But you'd think that more Obama supporters would admit to being a little dismayed by some of these, instead of trying to excuse every single one of them. You know, it's okay if your candidate isn't perfect.

Posted by: Crouton on February 25, 2008 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

"The logic for this Pakistan operation clearly flies in the face of every argument against invading Iraq — international law, sovereignty, respect for other countries, our standing in the world, etc."

Freddoso forgot the biggest reason for not invading Iraq--we wanted to focus our efforts on eradicating Al Qaeda.

Posted by: reino on February 25, 2008 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

Any current interpretable understanding of Israeli approval or disapproval of Obama? Seems a big one no one ever talks about (especially MSM), to be sure it will surface in the general election.

Posted by: benmerc on February 25, 2008 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is incoherent. The man is mentally unstable and Democrats need to keep making that point in a very loud voice. It was Republicans who played pattycake with ISI, Pakistan's brutal intelligence arm, that spawned al-Qaeda and a number of other radical terrorist groups. Now McCain wants to give them more latitude to foster more unrest and birth more disaffected Muslim fighters? Stupid.

If we can't kick this old man to the curb in November, the Democratic Party needs to fold up shop.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 25, 2008 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Most of the Arab participants I talked to seemed fascinated by Obama, and frightened by McCain."

What do you think, crawl on Fox News or shortened for the bumper sticker for McCain '08?

Posted by: BrianInAtlanta on February 25, 2008 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

/me slaps Kevin in the face
Snap out of it!!! I am sorry but your were saying you expect a basic level of logic and consistency in GOP rhetoric on “foreigners policy”.

Hell you shouldn't even expect that in their foreign policy papers. Remember all the commotion when Rudy wrote that he is a foreign policy realist (as in realpolitik) except for the part of not having your ideology drive your foreign policy. And that he believes that Americans believe (?) in equal god given rights for everyone enforced by the state... except the Palestinians who don't yet quote “deserve” a state.

Thats right, nobody even really noticed inconsistencies that show there is no real thought trough idea behind the tens pages of foreign policy “vision” the GOP candidates came up with.

I am glad I caught Kevins dangerous urge for sanity in time before he started expecting really crazy stuff..., like, and I am just thinking of the craziest think I can think of like... say, the media actually asking candidates to explain how their rhetorical points fit together logically... thats madness!

The person is criticizing the mention of a unilateral options in the Pashtun lands because of Pakistani sovereignty is the person who made the argument, and I quote:
bomb bomb bomb... bomb bomb Iran....
Bomb Bomb Bomb... Bomb, Bomb Iran
Bomb, Bomb Iran Wooheee bomb bomb Iran bomb bomb Iran
Chorus: Bomb Bomb bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran
Bomb, Bomb Iran Wooheee bomb bomb Iran bomb bomb Iran
Chorus: Bomb Bomb bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran
Bomb, Bomb Iran Wooheee bomb bomb Iran bomb bomb Iran

Don't think about it, just sing along, you have to admit its catchy! I think I will put it in my playlist next to the dead kennedy`s domestic policy agenda: “kill kill kill kill kill the poor”, I sing along with that in the train ;-)

Posted by: asdf on February 25, 2008 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

"As much as I appreciate the idea of a dead terrorist..."

Soft on terror!!! Soft on terror!!!!

Posted by: Culture of Truth on February 25, 2008 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

The State of the Election (SOTE) for today:

Obama - a sunny future, springtime in America
Clinton - (anger)(sweetness)(ice)(details)(cry)
McCain - almost there, the old car's still running
Nader - the Greatness returns, here Me speak!

Posted by: jim on February 25, 2008 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe we actually have to waste words on this. Freddoso ignores the fact that the "etc..." part of the arguments for not invading Iraq includes the fact that Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq. And we can hardly talk about "sovereignty" in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Posted by: some guy on February 25, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the Arabs in Doha don't have a problem with the odd missile attack on Pakistan's tribal areas either.

Hey maybe Osama's a fan too. My guess is a mass surrender during the inauguration. Hopefully the parade of old printers leaving local landfills won't confuse them on they're way to nearest US consulate.

Posted by: asdf on February 25, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

we should definitely elect the man who is preferred by Arab dictators and their henchmen

Like the Saudi royal family? Been there, done that.

Posted by: Gregory on February 25, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Freddoso conceded the similarity between what Bush did recently and what Obama said he would do, so I guess we can say that "Bush invaded Pakistan" recently.

Posted by: Foo Bar on February 25, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

So now we see how the people at "The Corner" really feel--if a conservative shoots at terrorists on foreign soil, he's a "visionary leader who is protecting America."

If a liberal ever tries to do it in the future, they're going to--just for starters--start talking about international law and sovereignty?

Don't make me fucking laugh. The rule of law doesn't exist in hive mind of the Bush administration. There is nothing sacred when they can start wars based on manipulated intelligence. There is no chance whatsoever anyone will hold them accountable for anything they've done--the evidence has been destroyed already. To cite "international law" is to bring up the specter of sending John Bolton to the UN to undermine the use of international law. Since when did anyone at the Corner think it was a good idea to treat fighting terrorism in this manner? Didn't they sneer at John Kerry when he suggested that fighting terrorism was a function of law enforcement and not a wise use of the military?

And didn't these people just get caught using Britain to land planes being used for extraordinary renditions? Hasn't the Bush administration killed al Qaeda operatives in places like Yemen with Hellfire missiles fired from drones? Do these people think we're not paying attention?

What is absolutely true is this--a "liberal" President is going to do a far better job of preventing terrorist attacks and actually killing terrorists if they do not succumb to the temptation of using the "politics of fear" to manipulate the political process in this country. A "conservative" President is simply going to be forced to continue scaring the American people to keep a lid on the crimes committed by the Bush administration--i.e., waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, turning individuals over to third party countries for enhanced interrogation, detaining people without benefit of counsel, Gitmo, warrantless wiretapping, and so on.

The staggering dishonesty of the conservatives in this country is enough to make you want to retch. They'll say or do anything if they think no one has any form of long term memory. It's shamelessness, and nothing more.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 25, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Drum: The dynamics here are certainly turning deeply weird, aren't they?

Nope. Just right wingers trying to be clever, Kev, presenting McCain as the "responsible power" candidate, and trying to further the idea that Dems are weak on national security issues...equivocating Obama's statement to their own 'bull-in-a-china-shop' approach to foreign policy over the past years. At least Freddoso has been somewhat consistent in denouncing preemptive warring. His problem is that he's comparing apples and oranges - Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq based on lies versus a selective strike based on specific, confirmed data.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

not_scottbot wrote: "The next decade or two in America should be a text book lesson in what the Founders did their best to hinder ..."

The last eight years have already been that lesson.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Freddoso must have not read anything written by a liberal over the past 7 years. Iraq didn't actually have any meaningful connections to Al Qaeda terrorists, nor was it harboring any within its borders- therefore, we argued, there was no reason to violate Iraq's sovereign borders, to hurt our standing in the world, etc. I've never heard a single liberal state that a country's sovereign borders or our standing in the world are reasons not to pursue dangerous terrorists, in and of themselves.

Freddoso's piece is an example of what dumb conservatives wish was going on and what they wish they could argue, so they could look smart. They care more about beating us in an argument than they do about pursuing terrorists smartly and governing smartly.

Posted by: Swan on February 25, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

To put it another way, violating international law and alienating our allies were what liberals argued were some consequences of pursuing terrorists where they couldn't be found and it wouldn't be worth it to go after them. We made the case we couldn't step on everybody's toes for no reason, not that we shouldn't catch the terrorists when they were right in front of our faces. Bill Clinton was actually the first American man to try to kill Bin Laden, years before it became cool to do so, back in the '90s, a fact all the conservatives conveniently forget.

Posted by: Swan on February 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Can't speak for everyone, but this liberal has repeatedly quoted Sam Spade on the subject of tracking down al-Qaeda.

Bogart/Spade: When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's-it's bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.

My post-9/11 rewrite:

When 3000 Americans are killed, our government's supposed to do something about it...when 3000 of your fellow citizens get killed, it's bad business to let the killers get away with it, bad all around, bad for every American everywhere.

It doesn't matter if I'm liberal or conservative. We can't have people coming in here and killing thousands of Americans, and let them get away with it. We can't afford to send the message - to those that planned this attack, to those that might do so in the future, and to our own citizens, including the relatives of those who died on September 11, 2001 - that we aren't taking it seriously.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 25, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

How many people were killed as a result of the government disclosing the secret work of Valerie Plame and her organization?

What should be the punishment for those who revealed her work?

Posted by: MarkH on February 25, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, folks... really reactionary.

I'm with Kevin AND Obama on this.

The military strike in Pakistan was probably, well, illegal. The Pakistani government surely didn't give authorization and we went in and bombed them anyway. I would say that is a violation of international law, but one that explicitly serves the United States' best interests.

I think the difficulty we've had since 9/11 is that neoconservatives have been able to appeal to the revenge part of the brain, whereas many liberals were either: a) completely confused as to know how to respond; or b) presenting a nuanced view, which was too complicated to understand for a populace still reeling from the attacks. So, while non-peacenik liberals have been pretty consistent in their beliefs -- root out terrorism using a heavy dose of diplomacy, mixed with limited, effective military attacks on those most interested in hurting us -- conservatives bought into an unrelated war and are now forced into blatantly contradictory statements. It is VERY easy for conservatives to go after liberals when they are promoting a popular eye-for-an-eye reaction, but not so much when the actual effects of those actions make the diplomatic landscape more difficult to navigate. It is very difficult to be a party of absolutes, then to attempt to shift rhetoric to nuance.

Posted by: ABCJr on February 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is essentially correct that loose lips sink ships. He is misguided in thinking that he can glom onto some votes by posturing as a peacenik.

I wish people would stop calling Rove Republicans conservatives. Is the King of Spenders Bush conservative? Is he in Africa acting like Angelina Jolie? Is packing the Supreme Court with Catholics conservative?

In the new order, the Republican party is the liberal, religious party; and the Democratic party is the less liberal party.

Posted by: Luther on February 25, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps that's because Pakistan isn't an Arab nation is the reason they don't mind Obama's talk? While McCain, on the other hand; is talking about invading Arab nations, such as Iran.

Posted by: Radix on February 25, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

That Obama's supporters would hold it up as some kind of model

The Democratic presidential candidate of four years ago, the billionatress's husband, called for a surge in combat troops to Iraq before the Republican president did. Many Obama supporters, like the Kerry ones, don't care about people, living or murdered by US bombs, they care about a Democrat winning the White House. The similar policies to use US power of both Democrats and Republicans is what motivates Ralph Nader to run.

Posted by: Brojo on February 25, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes David Freddoso: "The logic for this Pakistan operation clearly flies in the face of every argument against invading Iraq — international law, sovereignty, respect for other countries, our standing in the world, etc."

The principal argument against invading Iraq was none of the above.

The principal argument against invading Iraq was that the arguments presented by the Bush administration to the US Congress, the American people, the United Nations Security Council and the entire world for invading Iraq were all lies -- deliberate, repeated, elaborate and sickening lies about what the Bush administration knew at the time to be a nonexistent "threat" from nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction" and nonexistent "links" between Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.

The Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq was a long-planned war of unprovoked aggression and imperialistic conquest, and a misuse of the US military for corrupt purposes of private financial gain, to seize control of Iraq's oil wealth for the enrichment of Cheney/Bush cronies and financial backers in the multinational oil companies -- all justified by sickening lies about a nonexistent "threat".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Many Obama supporters, like the Kerry ones, don't care about people, living or murdered by US bombs, they care about a Democrat winning the White House. The similar policies to use US power of both Democrats and Republicans is what motivates Ralph Nader to run.

Brojo, You can fuck off with that sentiment. I care very much about people being killed by indiscriminate bombings and an unjust war, thank you very much. I also care about people being tortured in my name and the complete lack of respect for the rule of law. I first supported Edwards, now Clinton, but if Obama is the nominee, I will support him with equal fervor and intensity because there is no chance--no chance--of ending this war if we elect McCain because a few pissy little shitheads want their one issue candidate to win against all common sense.

Nader is not running to "stop" any of these policies. He's running because he's a delusional crank who knows he can get money from Republicans to do what he really wants to do, and that's sabotage the Democratic Party. And he wants to do just that because they never embraced him the way that he figured he deserved to be embraced. He is the perfect ego politician, and nothing more.

The fact that I support a Democrat doesn't mean I'm a warmongering freak, and if you try to make that case, I've got a whole shopping cart full of pushback that I'm going to run you over with all goddamned day. I've got years and years of posts against the Iraq war, against dropping JDAMs and cluster bombs on civilians, against the use of force against people who aren't a threat to us, and against escalating the war into Iran. I do think that an organization that killed 3,000 Americans should be dealt with accordingly--and the Bush administration has been woefully inept at doing it.

Sometimes the stupid you run into around here burns so bad you can't stand it. Maybe more pushback is needed. Damn, who'd a thunk it?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Pale Rider, and frankly, Brojo, it's cranks like you and Ralph who give the left a bad name.

Now, I want to ride Kevin's ass for not posting promptly on the Siegelman story.

Get your shit together, Kevin.

Posted by: mattski on February 25, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Brojo wrote: "The similar policies to use US power of both Democrats and Republicans is what motivates Ralph Nader to run."

I don't know what motivates Ralph Nader to run. But whatever it is, it is most certainly not a commitment to build a progressive, grassroots political constituency that might actually move the USA in the directions that Nader talks about.

In 2000, Nader said that he was running to (1) build the Green Party and (2) pressure the Democratic Party to put forward progressive proposals.

Between 2000 and 2004, Nader did exactly NOTHING to help organize and build the Green Party. In 2004, Nader did not even seek the nomination of the Green Party -- he turned his back on them and ran as an independent candidate. (He did, however, urge the Green Party not to nominate anyone for president, but instead to endorse his candidacy, which would have given him the use of the Green Party's permanent ballot access in a number of states -- which the Green Party wisely rejected, instead nominating long-time Green Party activist David Cobb).

Also in 2004, Rep. Dennis Kucinich campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination, on a platform that was very close to the Green Party platform -- exactly what Nader had said in 2000 that he wanted to see from the Democrats. And Nader did exactly NOTHING to support Kucinich's efforts, at a time when Nader's endorsement, and perhaps public appearances with Kucinich, might have significantly boosted the impact of Kucinich's progressive proposals on the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign.

And again, since 2004, Nader has done exactly NOTHING WHATSOEVER to build or organize or develop ANY progressive constituency, organization or movement, either within the Democratic Party or within the Green Party.

This year, Nader is one of several candidates seeking the presidential nomination of the Green Party -- or rather, he has surrogates seeking the nomination on his behalf. He announced on Sunday that he is running again as an independent, not that he is seeking the Green Party nomination. Of course, as in 2004, Nader would like to have the nomination or endorsement of the Greens, because he covets the permanent ballot access that the Greens have won in many states (due to the hard work of many grassroots Green Party organizers over the years, no thanks to Nader).

Nader is not serious about building and organizing a progressive political constituency. He runs every four years for the benefit of Ralph Nader and only Ralph Nader.

I am a registered Green Party voter in Maryland, and will not be voting for Nader in the Maryland Green Party primary in March. I do plan to vote for the Green Party nominee for president in November -- unless it is Ralph Nader, in which case I will vote for the Democratic nominee. Indeed, if Nader is the Green Party nominee, that will cause me to question whether the Green Party can any longer be taken seriously as a political party, and I will consider changing my voter registration from Green back to Democrat.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK
While McCain, on the other hand; is talking about invading Arab nations, such as Iran.
This is demonstrably untrue. McCain has intimated that he believes the US should attack a Persian nation, specifically, Iran. Which is not Arab. That is central to my point. Posted by: kenga on February 25, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I would note that Clinton tried covert strikes againsts bin Laden. Republicans at the time denounced the effort.

Republicans object to covert attacks because the attacks are quick and relatively cheap. Unlike the war in Iraq, such attacks do not create a private sector gravy train that continues paying out for years.

Posted by: fidelio on February 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I would add one thing to my previous post:

As a Green Party voter and a strong supporter of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, I am pretty much agnostic as to the merits of Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton on the substance of their policy proposals. They are more similar than they are different. Either one is clearly preferable to John McCain.

Having said that, it seems clear that Obama is a highly effective grassroots organizer, with a long and successful history of progressive political organizing, from the community level to the national level.

And I would go so far to say that Barack Obama has done more to organize, energize and build a strong, progressive grassroots political constituency just in the course of this one presidential primary campaign, than Ralph Nader has done in his entire career.

As a critic, a gadfly, a writer, a generator of ideas, Ralph Nader is admirable. His critique of the role of corporate power in the USA is essential (though of course hardly unique to him, and others have said it better). But as a political organizer he is clueless, incompetent, negligent, ineffective, arrogant, manipulative, dishonest, and self-absorbed.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Is Kevin losing it?? There is no equivalence here between Obama and Bush. Bush invaded Iraq for no reason at all!! Obama (a) isn't talking about invading Pakistan, and (b) wants to go after actual terrorists, as against the ones conservatives fear are hiding under their beds.

Jesus!

Posted by: Amit Joshi on February 25, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider and Secular Animist are rocking the thread, but just to note once again, and you can call me Chicken Little if you wish, but:

McCain has consistently polled within the margin of error against the Democrat in November, and the shit hasn't even hit the fan yet.

Posted by: Lucy on February 25, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Kenga, While Iranians were at one time Persians, I highly doubt that argument is really valid today. What with migration in the middle east and inter-marriage and so fourth. You might as well argue that Todays Turks are in reality Mongols. My point is still valid. Pakistan is a long ways off from the middle east, Iran isn't.

Posted by: Radix on February 25, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy:

KERRY VS. BUSH: CHOICE IN NOVEMBER
(Registered voters)
March 15, 2004
John Kerry
Now
43%
Two weeks ago
47%
George Bush
Now
46%
Two weeks ago
46%

I don't think the polls matter this far out. What does matter is the overwhelming desire people have for change, and I don't think that desire existed as strongly in 2004 as it does today.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Administration has a clear, unblemished record of ignoring Al Qaeda. They ignored the Clinton team when they warned them about Bin Laden, they ignored the intelligence that warned them of an upcoming attack, then they fought efforts by Powell and the CIA to attack Afghanistan, then they hamstrung the efforts by immediately redirecting all our forces to Iraq, yet were totally unwilling to risk a single American life to wipe out Al Qaeda once and for all in Tora Bora, and have refused to pursue them into Pakistan.

The record is clear: these guys never wanted to get Al Qaeda.
You want to surprise me? Give me an example of them going after Al Qaeda that wasn't just Orwellian justification for the real prize, Iraq.

Posted by: Memekiller on February 25, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy wrote: "... you can call me Chicken Little if you wish, but: McCain has consistently polled within the margin of error against the Democrat in November, and the shit hasn't even hit the fan yet."

I wouldn't call you "Chicken Little". On the contrary, I think it is more likely than not that John McCain will be sworn in as the next president in January 2009.

The corporate-owned media, from which the vast majority of Americans get the vast majority of their information, will wage a campaign of character assassination against the Democratic nominee, as they did to Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Indeed, this is already happening, with the Associated Press and CNN busily spreading right-wing lies and hoaxes about Barack Obama's supposed lack of patriotism.

Meanwhile, the corporate-owned media will be avidly shilling for John McCain, the candidate who is most likely to continue the Bush administration policies of massive tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, deregulation of corporations, and in particular policies that promote the consolidation of media ownership in the hands of a few large corporations.

And as we know from 2000 and 2004, the Republicans don't need to actually win elections -- they only need to get close enough to steal them. And the theft of the 2000 election in Florida, and the nationwide crime spree of stolen elections that the Republicans pulled off in 2004 (not only in Ohio but all over the country), will be nothing compared to what they have planned for 2008.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider on February 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM:

Brojo, You can fuck off with that sentiment.

I second that, Pale.

Funny how Nader comes out just around the time the Dems start to coalesce around a candidate, isn't it? McCain starts moving toward the center, Nader shows up on the left, and both begin making noises with their mouths. Downright interesting how that happens.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 25, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't call you "Chicken Little". On the contrary, I think it is more likely than not that John McCain will be sworn in as the next president in January 2009.

I'll disagree with my friend SecularAnimist. McCain, I think, will be soundly beaten by Obama. Here's why:

-He is, at bottom, more of the same.
-He is old
-He lacks charisma, especially in comparison to Obama
-He promises the nation more war
-Limbaugh & Dobson can't stand him
-He has a track record of making demonstrably false statements. Examples: he denied ever saying that he "didn't know as much as he should about economics." He denied that his campaign made any attempt to dissuade the NYT from publishing the Iseman story.

From TPM:

NOT LOOKING GOOD
Maybe they'd prefer to go back to the affair story?

When John McCain went before the press on Wednesday to deny having an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, he also made a series of categorical denials about the non-sex, influence peddling part of the story. Only many or most of those claims now appear to be demonstrably false.

McCain said and his office later released a statement claiming that McCain hadn't met with anyone from either Paxson Communications (the broadcaster wanting the favors) or Alcalde & Fay (the lobby shop trying to get them the favors). Today, though, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff dug up a 2002 deposition in which McCain said that he had discussed the issue directly with Lowell Paxson, the head of Paxson Communications. Now the Post has asked Paxson himself, now retired, and he says, Yep, I met with McCain and asked him to write the letters. And he thinks he remembers Iseman being in the meeting too

Posted by: mattski on February 25, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kenga, While Iranians were at one time Persians,

Iranians weren't at one time Persians. They are still and continue to be Persians. Persia's name was changed from "Persia" to "Iran" by the Shah in the 1950s, but that didn't mean that the Persians stopped being Persians or that they stopped speaking Farsi, the language of the Persian people.

You might as well argue that Todays Turks are in reality Mongols.

No, you mightn't.

Posted by: Stefan on February 25, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Attacking Pakistan and attacking Iraq are apples and oranges: AND THAT IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT!

How can you be so stupid as to miss the whole point of the last 6 years?

Iraq == War Profiteering for Rumsfeld's defense contracting buddies, and Bush's oil biz buddies.

Pakistan == Getting the people who attacked us on 9/11.

The DUH heard 'round the world.

Jesus-h.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 25, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

To the folks arguing that McCain is anything but a has-been/never-was:

What is McCain's core-competency? What is his appeal?

Straight talk?

The guy who gave Romney the smack-down on torture waffling - then turned around and refused to vote against the torture ban?

Straight talk my ass.

I gave McCain money in 2000. (mostly because I was terrified of a Bush presidency).

Huge mistake.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

.

I could very well be wrong here, but I think we have some sort of agreement with Pakistan that we can, in fact, go after terrorists within its borders if we have reason.

Again, I'm not 100% sure on that or anything, but it's my belief from talking with a few of the Pentagon folks with whom I work that we are allowed to do this -- it was part of the agreement when we sent them those billions in military aid.

As far as Freddoso's idiotic "reasons" some were against the Iraq war: I don't really recall reading any liberal of note making any of those arguments. I heard and read a lot about needing to finish in Afghanistan, that Iraq wasn't a threat, that it had nothing at all to do with 9/11, etc., but not the reasons he lists.

Of course, neither truth nor reality have ever stopped a wingnut from posting something stupid in the past, so not sure why they would now.

.

Posted by: Mark D on February 25, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

What is McCain's core-competency? What is his appeal?

The ability to appeal to reporters and other fawning media gasbags easily susceptible to man-crushes?

Posted by: Stefan on February 25, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

mattski wrote: "McCain, I think, will be soundly beaten by Obama."

I hope so. Whether the Democratic nominee is Obama or Clinton, he or she will have to win by a theft-proof margin in November to be sworn in as president in January.

mattksi wrote that McCain "has a track record of making demonstrably false statements."

So did George W. Bush in 2000, particularly in the televised "debates" with Al Gore, where Bush told one blatant lie after another. The corporate-owned mass media ignored or glossed over Bush's numerous blatant lies, and excoriated Gore for his "troubling sighs", while telling their own litany of blatant lies about Gore.

We can expect more of the same this year. McCain will be touted by the corporation-owned media as the "straight talker", no matter how many blatant lies he tells. And "troubling questions" will be raised (or made up) about whether Obama or Clinton can be trusted.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 25, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Do these people not understand the fundamental problem, from the beginning, with invading Iraq?
Posted by: JC on February 25, 2008 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

I see no compelling evidence to suggest that they do.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on February 25, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Voting for the lesser evil should be done with the acknowledgement that the choice is a compromise. Attacking terrorists/freedom fighters in an unauthorized attack in Pakistan is not as bad as nuking Iran, like a president McCain might do, but it will still kill innocent civilians. Some Democratic voters will be making a compromise.

Posted by: Brojo on February 25, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Geez Kevin,

It seems you and Freddoso are drinking the right-wing Kool-Aid on messaging. I seem to recall cruise missile strikes in Pakistan and Sudan during President Clinton's term that were in *sovereign nations*, with no advance warning to the aforementioned sovereign nations. Sort of like, I dunno, striking Al-Qaeda targets in Pak now. That Obama indicates he *might* do, if called for (if he's got good targeting info).

In short, bubba, why hypocritical in criticizing Obama for saying he might do what Bill actually *did*? I'm confuse-ed. Maybe your Master Pundit self can clarify?

Uh, OTOH, maybe not.

Posted by: Joel Wright on February 25, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain: born 1936
Barack Obama: born 1961
The Beach Boys song "Barbara Ann": released 1965

Not to get all ageist, but I've thought for a while now that John McCain's strength as a candidate is widely over-estimated. The fact that he is old enough to be Obama's father, which is reflected by his taste in music and memorable quotes, is not my main reason for thinking so, but it sure doesn't hurt.

Posted by: Cyrus on February 25, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Following the 9/11 attacks, Bush declared he would go after the al Qaeda right-wing religious fundamentalist terrorists wherever they might be in the world.

Then Tora Bora in Afghanistan happened. The Bush administration, in not having enough boots on the ground to surround Tora Bora, let Osama bin Laden escape across the mountains into Pakistan.

Within several months, though, a member of al Qaeda riding in a car on a Yemeni road was killed by a missile fired from a Predator drone aircraft. Reportedly, he was tracked via his cell phone signal.

But wait. During 2002 prior to Bush starting the Iraq War in March 2003, the Bush administration knew of an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who'd fled Afghanistan after the Taliban and bin Laden were routed after which he setup camp next to the Kurdish regions in northern Iraq. Everyday during 2002 and early 2003, heavily-armed U.S. and British fighter aircraft overflew this guys location as they patroled the north Iraqi no-fly-zone...and they never dropped a single bomb on this guy's location. He disappeared into the Iraqi population after the start of the war, spending the next several years organizing Al Qaeda In Iraq, and blowing up U.S. soldiers, as well as killing countless Iraqi citizens.

Anyway, I just thought I'd add these tidbits to flesh out reports of U.S. sorties into Pakistan to go after suspected members of al Qaeda. The Bush administration's response to the al Qaeda terrorist threat over the years looks somewhat inconsistent, to say the least.

Posted by: The Oracle on February 25, 2008 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is the only one talking any sense on the Pakistan issue. Everyone says he's naive or crazy when he states the plain obvious truth. It's as though there is a general, bi-partisan agreement that the U.S. must babble irrelevant nonsensical generalities on any truly significant issue, and Obama's the only one failing to stick by that idiotic game plan. There's your candidate "without substance," all right.

Posted by: J. Myers on February 25, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama is the only one talking any sense on the Pakistan issue"

haha.. definite obamabot sighting.

i think the difference here is that there is some workable relationship we have with pakistan and an attack could undermine it. on the other hand, iraq had refused to cooperate so there were less alternative courses of action.

in obamabot language: some hope for change in pakistan but little hope for change in iraq.

Posted by: marks77 on February 26, 2008 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Freddoso may have a point about liberal reaction"

No, Kevin. Most liberals are not pacifists. We oppose hoax-driven wars of aggression that lead to a million deaths, but if you can take out Osama bin Laden with a model airplane, then have at it.

Posted by: The Fool on February 26, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Radix,

Iran isn't Arab, it's Persian.

Posted by: X on February 26, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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