Democrats & Liberals Archives

Thoughts on The One Percent Doctrine

The doctrine of the title of this newest of Ron Suskind’s books sounds good on paper to those who would like action against the terrorists, and not a bunch of hand-wringing: If there is even a one percent chance that a threat could emerge, we treat that threat as a certainty and act. The book, essentially deals with the problem of that approach, especially when you ask this question: what action, and why?

In the absence of good awareness on a subject, people looking to act often fall back on the conventional wisdom they have of the world. The Bush administration, unfortunately, has the modern Neo-conventional wisdom as their backup. Confronted with the new threat of al-Qaeda, we get something that echoes the 1996 Clean Break Plan offered to Benjamin Netanyahu. Confronted with the spectre of international terror, non-state actors working without relying on governments, the Vulcans in the White House find their solace in the theories of Laurie Mylroie, who suggests a culprit that might sound absurd to many intelligence agencies and folks outside the right-wing fringe: al-Qaeda is a front for Iraqi Intelligence! Oh, now it falls into place!

The book does a good job of laying out the issues of post-9/11 policy. I think one could justify extra-legal responses in the immediate aftermath, given the emergency nature of the situation, but what happens when the dust settles and America has to sustain these efforts? One of the revealing facts about the computer-patterned wiretaps that the book reveals is just how ineffective they were. They combed through so much information and delivered practically no suspects who passed muster after closer examination. One reason for this is simple: computers are too stupid to judge context. A big meal or a wedding might be codewords for a terrorist attack, or they might just mean that the caller ate well and that someone's going to have that other kind of big day soon.

One of the big problems with total information awareness is what to pay attention to. Attention, by definition, is selective, and the selection itself, whether managed intuitively or consciously, is a choice and judgment all its own. It should concern people that in the wake of 9/11, despite great evidence of al-Qaeda cells operating within our borders, we have not found one active cell here in America. The best we've done is the Lackawanna cell, and there are real questions to how much of a cell they are.

We are also presented with the story of Abu Zubaydah, and how it related to the White House's fondness for message control, the centering of its policies on political considerations. When captured, people simply knew that he was connected with a lot of the players in al-Qaeda. Bush would go on television and claim that he was one of al-Qaeda's top operatives. Despite Bush's high hopes, Abu was not the high muckety-muck the administration wanted to believe. As CIA agent Dan Coleman would say:

"This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality... That's why they let him fly all over the world doing meet and greet. That's why people used his name on all sorts of calls and e-mails. He was like a travel agent, the guy who booked your flights. You can see from what he writes how burdened he is with all these logistics-- getting families of operatives, wives and kids, in and out of countries. He knew very little about real operations, or strategy. He was expendable, you know, the greeter... Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar's Palace, shaking hands"

Bush's response?

"I said he was important," Bush said to Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?"

Bush was demanding results, and the CIA would have to provide them: support for what Bush had told the public. Suskind writes that moments like this would have a "subtle, corrosive effect" for the CIA and other agencies.

"The thinking was, why the hell did the president have to put us in a box like this?"

What they'd soon realize that this was the President's management style. A way, as he would often quip, to push people "to do things they didn't think they were capable of."

Though the book makes it clear that the context here that the president was trying to derive the results he wanted out of things, it could also be argued that the president's policies had a corrosive effect on moral behavior, lending the advantage to those who would tell the president what he want to hear and do what he wanted done. Bush is not surrounded by ideologues and loose cannons by accident. These are the people who appeal to the president's sensibilities. He often judges people by their manner. The man who briefs him on one memo is brushed off by the president for his nervousness, with the president telling him that he'd covered his ass. This off the cuff judgment of the man's character from this encounter would not be disturbing if it were not for the fact that the briefing was about the infamous memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."

Zubaydah, interrogated with the administration's classic array of torture-light techniques would send agents on one wild goose chase after another. As with any coercive, will-breaking methods of interrogation, the treatment yields questionable results because the essential effect of the treatment is to make the person suggestible. While that means they might be brought to talk because of their altered state of consciousness, the direction an interrogator leads can have an effect on the person's responses. In other cases, where hypnosis is what brings on the state of suggestibility, we get people coming up with outlandish stories of Alien Abduction, familial incest by decent people, and Satanic cults going through infants faster than a meat-packing plant. Even functional, undrugged people not in trances can be lead into different recollections by the use of certain phrasing. Memory is not separated from will or emotion by some magic wall in the brain.

This is why many in the book relate that this kind of interrogation is generally not fruitful. The point of an interrogation like this is not to have your enemy tell you what you already think you know, or what you would like to find out, but instead what you don't know, and could not learn on your own.

Such as where the mastermind of 9/11 is hiding. A CIA interrogator "skilled in the nuances of the Koran" managed to get him to open up by appealing to Abu's sense of predestination. It's from this that we get the arrest of Jose Padilla, and the connection of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed to his code name of Muhktar: The Brain. This was crucial to his eventual capture, as it made identification of references to him and his role in things easier to discern.

If you can keep a person together, so to speak, you also keep the useful information in one piece. Otherwise, you create more uncertainty in your information than you had before, and this is tiring to people who are asked to go on alert when the calls go out. The frequency of alert levels raised without accompanying incident may have been partly political, but in large part it, the false information frequently tortured out of inmates may have been as much to blame.

Reading this book, one feels a great swell of pity for the CIA. Here's an agency trying to redeem itself from one of it's greatest intelligence failures, doing its best to give the president the best information, and yet here we have the president riding them for the answers he wants (as opposed to those he actually needs to have), and the president's own staffers playing analyst with information in their own little intelligence operations. It's not surprising that this is the route they take. As I related in one of my earliest posts, Richard Perle and others used similar tactics to override the CIA on the Soviets, claiming a military buildup and robustness to the Soviet Union that really wasn't there.

What we're seeing here are people who are highly self-suggestible, comfortable with entertaining and exercising an intense bias against external ideas and evidence that do no agree with their internal sensibilities. Is it any wonder they are so enchanted by methods which break, trick, and persuade people to their will, even when there's no substance behind them? In the case of the CIA, the price paid for the leadership of such people are ideological purges, outings of agents, recieving the blame for what was largely an administration-led effort to market a war to the American people.

And marketing was what was done. The product was already lined up. Much of the groundwork for the War on Iraq was done before the public was even informed of the need to go there. The meeting where Tenet made his infamous "Slam Dunk" comment was concerned more with how to present the information to the American people than it was about the information itself.

We didn't need a war marketed to us, though. We needed the truth of why we needed to put our lives, our dollars, and our country's reputation on the line. Now faced with an ongoing loss of all three, some still wonder why we Democrats are still going on about WMDs and missing terrorists? Why? Because we want wars justified to us, not marketed. Great marketing can be done on behalf of a product that isn't what it's cracked up to be, with evidence that isn't as reliable as it's presented to be.

The book ends with some troubling revelations. First, it appears that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us. This is troubling because their purpose has become to sever us from allies and limit our ability to project our strength. Bush's irresponsible diplomacy is only aiding al-Qaeda's aim. Which brings us to our second disturbing revelation: al-Qaeda likes having Bush in power; Bin Laden's october surprise in the last election was intended by the leader to throw the election to Bush. Why? Because Bush is predictably belligerent, and al-Qaeda's strategic aims are benefited by that. Bush is burning bridges far and wide with the nations we need to have good dialogue and relations with to fight this war on terrorism.

Which brings me to the last revelation: al-Qaeda is using different methods of organization, communication, and financial dispersal to bypass our financial and electronic intelligence gathering methods, which repeated setbacks and a pattern of arrests have alerted them to. To put it in the books terms, we are going blind.

We cannot win against al-Qaeda without human intelligence, reliable interrogation methods, and other means of gathering, analyzing and ensuring reliable information. We cannot win without the cooperation of nations outside America's sovereign control. We cannot win without a government that understands that its vision of the truth is flawed, and that constant influx of information and ideas from without are required to prevent delusion from growing within.

In short, we cannot win without a change in the leadership. Whether that's internal in the form of changed minds, or external in the form of a change in personnel prompted by the voters is up to those in charge. If they can't manage the first, we must do the second.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2006 10:21 AM
Comments
Comment #173621

Anyone who watched the Senate with Rumsfeld and the Generals… and then compares their assessment to the countless statements in interviews this weekend by Rice, and comes to any other conclusion that this Administration in irrationally blind to the reality of thier war… I would suggest that they too have the same sickness.

Rice suggests that this is simply the ebb and flow of creating a good democracy, yet seems to be blind to the uprise of support for Islamic extremists in the past 2 free elections we helped foster. Hamas, Hezbolloh & Dawa/Iraq - the axis of democracy. The only thing scarier than all the destruction and chaos this will surely generate is the strong possibility of their hatred of the US and Israel becoming strong enough to make these warring factions forget their hatred of each other in favor of presenting a united front to try and overthrow the west (mostly the US & Israel.)

Posted by: tony at August 6, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #173629

Stephen,
You write about “winning.” Win what?

Victory is a matter of framing. In political terms, it is a matter of creating expectations.

Perhaps the biggest problem right now is that there is no focus. Foreign policy is in perpetual reaction mode, with the reactions determined by domestic spin.

We are caroming from one debacle to another, staggering in the general direction of WWIII. Whether it is intentional, or the end of a string of reactions, we are setting up a war between the US/Israel v Islam.

A defeat of Lieberman will help. Sweeping the Republicans in the midterms will help immeasureably.

It is just a question of whether the Republicans can be stopped before the bombing of Syria and Iran begins.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #173630
Stephen Daugherty wrote: In short, we cannot win without a change in the leadership. Whether that is internal in the form of changed minds, or external in the form of a change in personnel prompted by the voters is up to those in charge. If they can not manage the first, we must do the second.

I agree. Both are correct. The second way is the real answer. The first alone only lets irresponsible incumbent politicians continue to take turns.

The blunders and mismanagement are mind-boggling. If security is so important, why spy on Americans, ignore wide-open borders and ports, alienate allies, waste lives and resources in Iraq (a war based on flawed intelligence), oppose 9/11 commission and findings, ignore the advice of some military leaders, still defend flawed intelligence, have no real plan for Iraq, cut FBI request for counterterrorism by 67%, fail to adequately secure our own nuclear weapons labs, and not commit troops to capture Osama Bin Laden when was was cornered in Tora Bora (Nov-2001), allowing opium production to continue in Afghanistan, oppose an independent inquiry into intelligence failures, and spending 50% more on nuclear weapons instead of body armor for our troops.

Just wait until terrorists get WMD.
There will be nothing to stop them.

Is it any wonder (justifiably) most Americans feel this (below) way …

But, don’t be so certain incumbents of another party are going to be much better. How about trying the one simple thing we were always supposed to do all along, always. Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbents. Eventually, after we have tried everything else, we will eventually realize (whether we ever do it or not), that the one simple thing we should have been doing has been right under our very own noses, all along.

All we have to do is choose.

Our inability to choose correctly reveals much about us, in this era of selfishness, apathy, complacency, corruption, fiscal and moral bankruptcy. We like to think we are so, so intelligent and civilized, but we are not. There is progress (2 steps forward, and 1.999 steps backward), but it is excruciatingly slow. Too slow. Why? Because we are blinded by our own petty little desires and greed. Sure, it could be worse. But, is that any excuse to accept what we have now? No. Not even close. We will learn, but the lesson (as usual) will be the hard way. Pain and misery is the best teacher.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #173633

“The meeting where Tenet made his infamous “Slam Dunk” comment was concerned more with how to present the information to the American people than it was about the information itself.”

This is the crux of the issue, IMO. This isn’t about the efficacy or the accuracy of the information, it’s all in the presentation. And this isn’t only an issue with GWOT or Iraq. This is the nature of an administration, or any politician really, who’s constantly ‘running for office’, and really has nothing but contempt for the concept of governance. In fact, this is a societal malady. No wonder there’s all this harping on morals and values—we don’t have any!
Capitalism doesn’t mind selling the consumer green spam on moldy bread, as long as the presentation makes you stupid enough for long enough to want to buy it.

This is the legacy of the neo-con brand of conservatism, a political philosophy that despises government and does everything to undermine it’s effectivness, believes that privatizing everything in sight and disabling governmental agencies that moniter business, trade, and the citizen’s welfare is best, and that the free market and corporate goals are sacrosanct.

Is it any wonder that the neo-cons’ version of undermining government best, is turning it into a feeding trough for lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, enablers, uplifters and con-men? They have embezzled, stolen, absconded, given away and traded the national treasure and wealth, and then had the temerity to cover it all with a smelly, greasy, stinking, gelatinous sheen of morality and Right-wing ‘Christianity’ that would have enraged Christ himself. If you thought he was pissed at the money-changers in the temple….

We even have a foreign policy that is being driven by some theocratic Right-wing evangelicals that are rooting for mankind’s destruction, so they can smugly go to the head of the line when the Rapture comes and get whisked away to their very own gated community in the sky where the only darkies are the help—you know, the way it should be. George Orwell, who was a colonial cop in Burma for awhile, once said that ‘like the government and white society he represented, his job was largely trying to get through the day without being laughed at.” Unfortunately, for the United States in the court of world opinion, the laughter is just beginning.


Posted by: Tim Crow at August 6, 2006 2:52 PM
Comment #173635

Eureka!

I have the solution for ending terrorism in the Middle East! Not only would it end terrorism, but it would be tremendously profitable for the US!

First, we would recognize Hezbollah as a political entity with standing equal to nationhood.

We would then do the same for the Shias of Hezbollah as we do for the Israelis.

Shipping jet aircraft, precision guided missiles, bombs, and artillery to Hezbollah would be very profitable for the US.

First, Hezbollah could drop US made pamphlets in nothern Israel, warning Israelis to leave. Anyone who remained would clearly be sympathatic with the combatants.

Hezbollah could then destroy Israeli infrastructure with attacks against ports, airfields, roads, television towers, and so on.

The beauty of this is that it would not be terrorism. It would simply be two nation states fighting it out. We could rush shipments of arms to each side as they use up their weaponry.

Of course, Israeli civilian casualties would skyrocket, just as the Lebanese civilians have died. When Hezbollah drops precision ordnance on military targets in downtown Tel Aviv, well, civilians would die.

But at least they would not die one or two at a time because of terrorist attacks.

This would be good, old fashioned, symmetrical warfare.

Eventually, each side could depopulate several miles of borderland. After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Realistically, neither side would be in danger of being wiped out. Really, this is just a common sense approach. Agreed?

But imagine the profits! And no matter how it turns out, the US comes out smelling like a very, very profitable rose.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 3:02 PM
Comment #173638

Sheesh, Tim. I give a pefectly good Cheneyesque market-based solution to terrorism, if you will, and you have ruin it by bringing in religion.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 3:25 PM
Comment #173639

phx,
Careful, you may be onto something.
Ever see “3 Days of the Condor” ?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #173643

phx8-
Win against al-Qaeda, like I said.

I think my point here is that we aren’t doing ourselves much favors when our own vision of the world gets in the way of our clarity of our ability to see it for what it really is.

I worry sometimes looking at us, that in the face of Republican rigidity on these matters we might develop a similarly stubborn counter part to their error in our own behavior and politics. I would think that would be a shame. We don’t need to be replacing one set of people only trying to see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear with another; worse, doing so with our party when we our original complaint was basically along those lines.

Ultimately, this is about getting these things right, not making them right (or left, for that matter.) The world of politics can become a fantasy world sometimes, and in that world, dangerous delusions can develop and governance in the real world can suffer.

The advantage of being liberal should be our open-minded approach to different points of view, and our tradition of critical analysis. We should not fail that, and fail the American people, by taking up politicized policy in the process of opposing our rivals.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2006 3:56 PM
Comment #173645

This article/book is chock full of flaws. Here’s just a few which jump out like muggers in an alley:

“This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality… ” —- ahh good, then we can dismiss Hitler, Polpot, and Amin as a threat to anyone. Excellent work!

“What they’d soon realize that this was the President’s management style. A way, as he would often quip, to push people “to do things they didn’t think they were capable of.” —- Yes, what a cutdown! Uh, except it’s in every leadership manual ever made. Remember, WW II military generals didn’t think they could fight Japan & Germany simultaneously, FDR told them they could and to make it happen. They did. Good leaders push, they don’t coddle and stroke the hair out of your face.

“Zubaydah, interrogated with the administration’s classic array of torture-light techniques would send agents on one wild goose chase after another. As with any coercive, will-breaking methods of interrogation, the treatment yields questionable results . . “. —- Okay, there ya have it, the dems plan for terrorist fighting: Unless every search or interrogation period yields results then all searches and interrogations will cease and desist! Bravo!!! I’d much rather have a higher potential for another terrorist disaster than go on one fruitless search or receive one iota of erroneous information from an interrogation. Go Al Qaeda Go!

“First, it appears that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us.” —- Yes, it must be the generosity of Al Qaeda which has prohibited another attack since 9/11. How could I’ve been so misinformed??!! I love rosy outlooks! Too bad Osama and Zawahiri have announced otherwise, they stil hate us and want to inflict much more death & damage. But what the Hell, let’s get rid of “plan for the worse and hope for the best” and exchange it with “plan for the best and experience the worst”. Yet another sterling foreign policy idea from the Left!

Looking on the bright side however, at least you’re supporting some meek concepts during your Bush bashing now … cheers to ya!

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 6, 2006 3:58 PM
Comment #173650

Stephen,
Against Al Qaida? Going after OBL & Zawahiri is a great idea. But other than them, Al Qaida does not provide much of a target. It was not much of an organization in the first place, more like a loose network. It also appears the number of members was much smaller than originally thought; that, or they all died in the fighting in Afghanistan.

At any rate, there just is not enough of Al Qaida in existence to justify its focus as the centerpiece of US foreign policy. The oocasional Hellfire missile destroying a mud hut in Pakistan just does not get it done.

When it comes to terrorism, we are faced with police/intelligence/special forces operations. It may not be very emotionally satisfying, but there it is. The threat of terrorism has be vastly overrated.

Rhinehold,
We made a gentlemans bet: there would be no terrorist attacks in the US for the period of one year. I claim a win.

Just another example of how exagerrated the threat of terrorism and Al Aqaida have become.

Although, I suppose if the US/Israel keeps invading or bombing Arab capitols, at some point someone will strike back.

D.a.n.,
Good movie, “3 Days…” Rented “V is for Vendetta” last night. Well worth a look.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #173654
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Ultimately, this is about getting these things right, not making them right (or left, for that matter.)

I think we will get it right, some day.
Unfortunately, it will most likely be preceded by a hard lesson. How harsh of a lesson? How much longer before it occurs? It is hard to say. The longer we wait, the worse it will be. But, when in history were common-sense reforms not preceded by pain and misery? We are slow learners. It’s 2 steps forward and 1.999 steps backward.

There are a few that understand all of this quite well. They understand the problem and the only real solution. But those people are an extreme minority, and realize that the real solution is elusive, because it must come from the majority.

Unfortunately, the majority in this era of selfishness and sense of entitlement is too irresponsible themselves to seek more responsible government. We have further to go still, and a few more painful lessons to learn before there will be enough people to form a majority with enough character to make a step forward, instead of continuing backward.

Education is the only hope to learn sooner than later. We have ample history to show us where our current path will lead.

People (naturally) seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain. So, they vote their own self interests, and over one third of all eligible voters do not vote at all.

Voters don’t really comprehend the gravity of their vote or its absence. Sadly, most vote for the person that spent the most on the campaign (90% of the time, and 83% of all federal campaign money comes from 1% of the U.S. population). Voters are too easy to bribe with their very own money. It is amazing how easy it is to manipulate the voters with their own greed and selfishness. Day-in and day-out, we observe their overwhelming fondness of wallowing in the petty partisan warfare while the security and future of the nation grows increasingly questionable.

Only education can show them what is truly in their own best interest, and how to choose a more sustainable long-term-gain over temporary short term self-gain.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 4:35 PM
Comment #173656

““This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality… ” —- ahh good, then we can dismiss Hitler, Polpot, and Amin as a threat to anyone. Excellent work!”

Ummm - yea… those guys are all dead… how much of a threat do you think they create? While these were all “not normal” people, they were functionally sane (they had the mental ability to make things happen…)

As far as the rest of your attempt to debunk these arguments… cynical quips don’t cut it. And - as far as I can see, you’re the only one tossing around political insults, while attacking us for “bush-bashing.” Hypocritical maybe?

Posted by: tony at August 6, 2006 4:38 PM
Comment #173658

phx8,

Watched V for Vendetta two days ago, myself.
I rather enjoyed it, and found the similarity of V’s symbol to VOID’s somewhat interesting.

: )

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 4:45 PM
Comment #173660

If only a common-sense political idea (don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians) could obtain the same popularity and cult status of the movie.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 4:56 PM
Comment #173661

Yet, another sign that we have a ways further to to go. Like Evey, who had to suffer much misery and pain, before should really understood.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #173662

Stephen:

“The advantage of being liberal should be our open-minded approach to different points of view, and our tradition of critical analysis. We should not fail that, and fail the American people, by taking up politicized policy in the process of opposing our rivals.”

This statement is the reason why, when I’m asked whether I’m a liberal, I say, “No, I’m left of liberal.” No wonder the Dems have been in the political wilderness for 15 years (actually, more like 25 years). You keep thinking that your presentation, your appeals to rational thinking, your ‘critical analysis’ is what is going to bring a dawning of renewed American values and democracy.

The voters have soured on the GOP because of Katrina, signing statements, Iraq, staggering national debt, a jobless recovery, and a total disregard of environmental challenges and pragmatic demands for energy independence. Not from some incisive analysis from the Democrats. In fact, one could argue, that much of voter disgruntlment is disgust with Repubs—not an embrace of Democrats. Their lack of spine in challenging a run-away neo-con free-for-all is, for alot of voters, part of the problem.

So, while liberal Dems preen and fluff their feathers, enthralled with their open-mindedness, their sense of fair play, their gentlemanly sense of not rocking the boat, the country goes down the drain.

The Democrats lost a lot of people by their total abdication of any pretense of being an opposition party in 2000, after theft of an election in broad daylight. Just to prove they really hadn’t learned anything in four years, they laid down again in 2004 when evidence indicated the same mendacity ocurred again.

And now, because there isn’t any real democracy in this country, and the only alternative to Republican chicanery and incompetence is the Democrats, we suppose to believe that liberal openmindedness and rational presentation is going to lead American politics back to that ‘shining city on a hill.’ If the American voter had a real third choice, they wouldn’t vote for the triangulating, finger-in-the-wind Dems, either.

The Democratic Party is a shadow of it’s former self. It doesn’t stand for the American worker—NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade policies they’ve supported prove that—you really want to know where the Democratic Party stands? Seventy-three Democratic reps and nineteen senators voted for the lobby-crafted Bankruptcy bill. Until evey one of those turncoats are voted out, the Democratic Party is living a lie. They don’t care about a corrupted voting system—they’re on the gravy train whether they win or not. The party has dithered and mealy-mouthed about Iraq for four years. Until finally, even a good ‘ol boy like Lieberman is in dire straights.

Please, don’t take credit for a rational civility that flies in the face of party behaviors that verge on treason. The Democrats have enabled, supported and greased the way for most of the criminality that has ocurred over the last six years. They are approaching a probable electoral triumph because of outrageous Republican malfesance, not because they have any real integrity or a plan to heal the wounds of this lousy government.

“We should not fail that, and fail the American people, by taking up politicized policy in the process of opposing our rivals.”

What a load of crap! The Democratic party has failed the American people monstrously in the past six years, by it’s total inability to act like a real opposition party. Perhaps this idealized notion of rising above the fray and not sullying itself with ‘mere’ politicized policy is the reason they’ve essentially had their political clocks cleaned for the last 25 years!

Frankly, I’m ready for a down home dirty, partisan, back-alley knife fight with these neo-con morons. No-holds-barred, teeth-rattling, kick-in-the-nuts donnybrook. Only our country, with all it’s democratic ideals, is at stake. Instead of primping in front of a mirror, marveling at the party’s ability to stay ‘civil’ in these trying times, perhaps it is time to mothball the civility and get nasty. The people in the alley are laughing at the Democratic Party’s sense of fair play and decency.

I think it’s time to win some elections. There is nothing more pragmatic than power—and another slide to the middle to garner more votes will lose another election— AGAIN.

Posted by: Tim Crow at August 6, 2006 5:11 PM
Comment #173665

Tim Crow,
Wow. Hmmmmm. Ouch.
I really do understand the frustration, though.

Many times, I have advocated that the American people march on D.C., drag all the incumbent politicians into the streets, and kick the [explicative] out of them.

But, I’m only kidding (at the moment).

But, you are right though for the most part (except perhaps that one thing:

… the down home dirty, partisan, back-alley knife fight…

That might happen later, anyway, if the peaceful approach doesn’t succeed. But, one of our goals should be to educate people about that way partisan warfare is being used to distract people from substantive issues. Partisan warfare is the politicians’ favorite detractor. So, Yikes! It’s best not to fuel the partisan warfare. Enough politicians and their hacks are doing quite well at that already.

Neither party holds the solution.
That must come from all of us.
Politicians, regardless of party, are not likely to pass any common-sense, no-brainer reforms voluntarily.
And voters aren’t likely to stop re-electing irresponsible incumbents, until they have sufficient motivation.
That motivation will probably be hardship. Pain and misery is a good teacher.
The other possibility is Education.
That does not require a lot of people really.
That is the best hope.

Start showing voters how their politicians are corrupt, and how it hurts the them (the voters), take money out of their pocket and food off their table. Knowledge and information is power too. People don’t always do the smart thing, but they generally will if it can be clearly demonstrated to them how their actions (e.g. continually re-electing irresponsible, corrupt incumbent politicians) are hurting themselves.

And, politicians have been so kind to supply us with ample ammunition. Their voting records and scandals are now easier than ever to see. It’s time to start showing the American people what kind of people are really running things (running it into ruin, that is).

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 5:39 PM
Comment #173674

phx8,

You’re making the very large assumption that Hezbollah will use guided weapons against military targets only. they have never shown any concern for civilians before, why do you think they would be any better with better weapons.

Posted by: Keith at August 6, 2006 6:40 PM
Comment #173681

Tim Crow,

I’m not talking about education by the government, or some corporation. What ever gave you that idea?

I’m talking about a grassroots movement. And, as you well know, that’s where all movements begin. What’s wrong with that?

You can belittle it if you like. It doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it. But, there are many like yourself that sound extremely frustrated. Eventually (hopefully) you will finally arrive at the simple, common-sense solution that has been right under our very own noses, all along. Not everyone will (ever). But, hopefully, some day, enough voters will. It doesn’t require everyone. Just enough to have an impact. After all, most elections are won by a small percentage of all votes (as you well know). So, it’s not as far fetched as you think. There is power in small numbers, if used wisely.

I realize the likelihood of significant reforms and improvements in our lifetime is questionable, since things will most likely have to get much worse before they can get much better. But, nobody knows for certain. There have been other periods when voters get fed up and start voting out large numbers of congress persons. We need it agian. Something like this:

However, doing nothing will accomplish nothing.
Giving up will guarantee failure.
No one knows for certain if progress is impossible.
So, why not try?
So, I keep trying, because giving up will accomplish nothing.
So the only logical thing to do is try, since none of us have a crystal ball.
One thing is for certain. Doing nothing will most likely guarantee failure.

So, after we have tried everything else, why not try the one simple, common-sense, safe, peaceful, and responsible thing we were supposed to be doing all along? Simply don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbents. That requires education by spreading the simple concept and the simple justification. Nothin’ fancy. No vast conspiracies. Just the simple, honest, logical, responisible thing we are supposed to do. That’s all.

Who are you going to vote for in November?
Have any names?
Do you know any responsible incumbent politicians?
Can anyone name at least 268 (half of 535) in congress that are responsible?
If not, what can you conclude?
Re-electing the same incumbents is not going to change that? In fact, it will make it worse, as we have all observed.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 7:23 PM
Comment #173685

The ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE we should be considering is:

  • DO NOT RE-ELECT 99% of the MOST irresponsible incubment politicians.

Then, you will see big improvements the very first year.

And, two years later, if they slip back into their selfish, irresponsible ways, don’t re-elect them either.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 7:43 PM
Comment #173686

“I believe all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.”

H.L.Mencken

I’m trying very hard not to come to the above conclusion.

Today, I lost.

Tomorrow is another day.

Posted by: Tim Crow at August 6, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #173687

Keith,
I am being a little tongue in cheek by suggesting we arm Hezbollah the same way we arm Israelis. It makes sense in a kind of sick, twisted, market driven, Mutually Assured Destruction way, but personally I think the world would be far better off if we stopped being the major supplier of arms.

That will not happen. “War is a racket,” a very profitable one for some people.

By the way, anyone notice the Israeli soldiers who were “kidnapped” by Hezbollah to provoke the current confrontation were in Lebanon when they were “kidnapped”?

D.a.n.,
I am not onboard with the Void concept because I think the problem can be solved by a very specific group:
Liberal Democrats
Right now the American people are leading the politicians. According to polls, they are taking positions advocated by liberals. Since liberals consititute about half of the Democrats, the rejection of Lieberman this week is more than just rejecting an incumbent; it is rejecting the “get along, go along” moderate Democrats who are on the take, as described by Tim.

I think- hope- that liberal Democrats will bring public financing of elections into play. I think- hope- that liberal Democrats will bring judges to the Supreme Court who will reject the erroneous treatment of corporations as entities deserving constititutional rights.

I could go on in this vain, but you get the idea. I suspect you & Tim & Stephen & I agree far more often than we disagree. It is a question of bringing it together in a coherent party platform.

I would hope true conservatives- not the fundamentalists & NeoCons currently in control of the Republicans- I would hope they could regain control of their party. The tension between true conservatives who are not on the take, and true liberals looking to re-enfranchise this country is a useful one.

The moderate Democratic incumbents & most Republicans need to go, and go soon.

Anyone who watched Condi Rice today can see we are driving with out eyes closed. Iraq is heading for a very bad ending. Lebanon has been trashed for no useful purpose, and lots of people have been murdered.

It will probably get worse before it gets better, and getting better will take a long time. Oh well. Maybe elections this midterm will make a difference, starting with CT voters pulling the plug on Lieberman.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #173695

So, what would have happened if Al Gore had made this speech several weeks after the 2000 elections? Or if Kerry had made this speech after the 2004 elections? Or if hundreds of thousands of people had gone to the streets, like they did in Mexico and the Ukraine?

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=59&ItemID=10716

What if Gore had said something like this?

“Transparency is not much to ask, a count, vote by vote, box by box. It is not much to ask that there be a recount. That is what is going to calm the country, that is what is going to contribute to social peace, political, economic and financial stability, that is what is going to leave every one of us satisfied. No democrat can reject transparency : transparency is the golden rule of democracy. And if there are so many doubts and if there is uncertainty, why refuse to count the votes? We have said and I repeat it here in the main meeting place, the political heart of our country : we stand by the recount, we are going to accept the result, that is our guarantee, that is what we are giving as collateral and we are people of our word. We are never going to accept an election at the State’s convenience and I am never going to accept that this election was clean, free, equitable, because it would be to betray myself. But I have indeed put it to the candidate of the Right that if he declares himself in favour of a recount then I am going to accept the result and I am going to cease calling for citizen mobilization.”

Where would we be today? Would there be tens of thousands of dead in Iraq, 2600 dead Americans, 20,000 wounded, $350 billion vaporized down a rat hole of waste? Where would we be as a nation regarding global warming? Energy independence? Where would the rebuilding of New Orleans be right now? What kind of policy would we be witnessing in the Middle East?

I’m not talking about voting out incumbents. I’m talking about carrying the hopes and dreams of liberty into the streets. I’m talking about national strikes, a halt of business-as-usual, a refusal to accept deception and thievery as a substitute for American Democracy.

D.A.N., you ask for the least from the American voter. I ask for much, much more.

What if there is continued chicanery in certain key races this November, with exit polls and general polls saying one thing, and the outcome being something else entirely? If there is continued duplicity in the voting system, how will voting out incumbents cure this degradation of democracy and liberty? How will voting between tweedle dum and tweedle dummer give the country any sense that there is planning, dreaming, building going on?

We’re constantly looking down on the Mexicos, the Ukraines, the countries that want it so bad they’ll take to the streets. Sitting on our collective asses and voting against incumbents is a desperate plan that coddles American ignorance. Its time to educate, yes, but it’s also time to refuse a rigged electoral system, a coporatocracy that refuses to answer to real human needs, a foreign policy that kills people for some Machievellian chess game being run in some neo-con’s head.

I think a total economic collapse, one war too many, a military takeover of the country, is just the ticket to ‘educate’ the public on the price of liberty. The bill has come due.

Posted by: Tim Crow at August 6, 2006 8:39 PM
Comment #173697

Yes, get off our collective asses and get involved in the political system. Voting is not enough. Putting on a bumper sticker or sticking a yard sign outside your house is not enough. Join your local Democrat or Republican or Green or Libertarian or any political party and work for or recruit good people for public office. Better yet run for a local office yourself. Start anywhere, school board, township trustee, city council, planning commission, dog catcher anything. Become educated and involved, become a local activist. Do something!

Posted by: mark at August 6, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #173705

To All:
Let’s please not get off topic here. This is not about politics, but where a fixation on politics, on ideology, and on theory becomes a liability to this nation’s defense. We can talk about VOID and other related issues of incumbency elsewhere, since it really isn’t relevant. Why? Because essentially this is the kind of mistake a zealous freshman and a hardline senior member of the party can make with equal vigor.

Ken Strong-
It would be nice to know whether you’ve actually read the book.

But let me get down to it: There is a such thing as a person with a mental disorder who’s not insane. A sociopath is sane by society’s standards. They know what they are doing, and they know the consequences. They simply don’t care. Also, people can grow to be evil, brutal and sick individuals without the excuse of an organic syndrome to explain away their dark behavior and attitudes.

The President’s management style is crap. When it comes to intelligence, the whole point is that they find out what you don’t know, not that they confirm what you think you know. What you think you know could be wrong, and your interference could lead to costly mistakes.

The point, by the way, had nothing to do with the difficulty of whatever fight we’re in. Just go to my profile on the about tab on this blog, and you will find one entry after another where I essentially say that Bush could fight this war better with more soldiers and better equipment. What I also say, is that we need good information and plans in addition to that to win. Otherwise, the resources and the will to use them are wasted, used in vain, which only benefits the enemy.

On the subject of torture, again you miss the point. The Liberal’s plan for fighting the war on terror is follow the evidence. Let the evidence tell you what’s going on, shape your solutions. don’t waste so much time with your self-serving theories, come down out of your ivory tower and see what things are really like. Torture only serves to break the will, not clear up the facts. It’s a Hollywood myth that torture is the easy way to information. There is no easy way to information.

As for al-Qaeda’s intent not to attack us, let me let you in on something: that can change, once they’ve weakened our alliances and resources enough. If you like being weakened and cut off by your enemy, by all means, enjoy the show. I’d rather defeat al-Qaeda’s aims.

phx8-
The book’s read on things is that the threat’s getting worse, not better. A loose network is better for them, not worse, It means we’re dealing with multiple independent cells rather than people we can trace instructions and money easily between. I would not say after 9/11 that the threat was vastly overrated, not when 100,000 dollars can buy the terrorists 40 billion dollars worth of damage. Worse yet, the conditions that allowed 9/11 to happen haven’t been taken care of. The last plot they engaged in, the Mukhtabar plot, was not broken up by us, it was willingly cut short.

The problem with the Busha administration is not that it’s focused on terrorism, it’s that its using terrorism as an excuse to shape geopolitics, to try and force changes on the Middle East. Needless to say, it hasn’t worked, it’s backfired.

We need a foreign policy that both functions for day to day concerns, and takes on this new threat. before you go crowing about the lack of attacks in the U.S., take this into account: al-Qaeda isn’t putting off attacks here because they’re unable to strike at us, it’s because they have strategic reasons for attacking elsewhere.

Elsewhere being Madrid, London, and Iraq. This is not over, and the threat could easily turn back to our vulnerable shores anytime now. Let us not forget that after the WTC bombing in 1993, the terrorists attacked targets in foreign lands for Eight years before they struck the same place once more.

We should not underestimate the threat. We should not get paranoid either though, for paranoia is a waste of good suspicion. We need to follow evidence, and develop our gut feelings by knowing our subjects well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #173710

Stephen,
Reality suggest my assessment of the terrorist threat is correct.

The Mukhtabar plot? They had been monitored since 2002. That “threat” was miles away from being serious. Had they not been entrapped by Canadian police, they would still be thinking about doing something, someday.

“… The conditions that allowed 9/11 to happen haven’t been taken care of.”

True.

“The problem with the Busha administration is not that it’s focused on terrorism, it’s that its using terrorism as an excuse to shape geopolitics…”

Absolutely true.

“Al-Qaeda isn’t putting off attacks here because they’re unable to strike at us, it’s because they have strategic reasons for attacking elsewhere.

Elsewhere being Madrid, London, and Iraq.”

Wrong. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. OBL & Zawahir may want to launch attacks, but they no longer have an organization with which to attack, and they are too remote to be operationally effective.

Attacks elsewhere needed no coordination or financial support. The conditions which spurred their attacks are still in place today. These conditions motivate attacks. Al Qaida has little or nothing to do with them. All OBL & Zawahiri have are their poisonous words and their pretensions.

There will always be a threat. Always has been. Always will be.

But within the larger scheme of things, that threat is a small one.

The threat of terrorism pales in comparison to the damage done by a recession, the destruction caused by war, or the devastation of Global Warming.

A prolonged drought in the US or the Amazon will make 9/11 look like childs play.

It is not easy to keep your head, especially when the media and the administration spread fear of “the other.”

Look around, make a level-headed assessment, and allocate attention and resources in the appropriate ratio.

Terrorism is pretty far down the list.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #173714
If there is continued duplicity in the voting system, how will voting out incumbents cure this degradation of democracy and liberty?

Keep voting out irresponsible incumbents, always. They W I L L get the message. That is how it works. That is what voting is about. Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbents. Replace them with responsible candidates. The system is designed to work that way, and it would if people stop re-electing irresponsible incubments for all the wrong reasons, just to win an extra seat for their party.

Don’t you see how that lets the majority of incumbents, who have been in congress for years and decades, continue to grow increasingly corrupt, greedy, and arrogant?

Look at the rampant corruption.
Government is FOR SALE.
They can hide $90K in bribes in their freezer and get away with it.
And, even if ever convicted, they can get a pardon.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
We created them, by empowering them, by continually re-electing them. Duh!

Parties are not the solution.
Parties have not been the solution.
Parties will not be the solution.
Parties simply take turns because each contain irresponsible incumbent politicians.
Parties want partisan warfare. It’s a great distraction.
Parties are more similar than different, on the things that matter most.
Parties are what they consist of: too many irresponsible incumbent politicians.

I think a total economic collapse, one war too many, a military takeover of the country, is just the ticket to “educate” the public on the price of liberty. The bill has come due.

That, I fear, will be the hard lesson. I really believe that will happen. Sometime within the next 10 years. Pain and misery is a good teacher. But, we have visited this lesson before. We don’t always learn the first time.

phx8 wrote: I am not onboard with the Void concept because I think the problem can be solved by a very specific group: Liberal Democrats

Sorry, but I don’t how that will solve anything. I used to think the same thing (when I used to be a Republican).

But, you’re in luck. The Democrats will probably win back the majority, eventually.

Then, the new “In Party” will be just as corrupt as the “Out party” was, and the long-time incumbents in both parties will continue to be just as irresponsible as before (or worse). Why not? They still have their cu$hy, coveted seats of abused power. Most incumbents will. They enjoy very high incumbency rates (see incumbency rate chart above).

No, I don’t see that as any real solution.

Some day, after we’ve been there and done that, over and over, hopefully, we will learn that the only real solution is the one simple thing we were always supposed to do all along?

Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians.

All the rest has failed, and will continue to fail, until it fails so badly that the pain and misery that it causes finally provides the education and motivation to do what we were all supposed to do in the first place.

I hear your schemes, and partisan plans, and theories, and some are complex. Far too complex.

Why not just stop re-electing irresponsible incumbents? Always. What’s so complicated about that?

  • Who can argue with that logic? Why complicate it with nonsense about liberals and conservatives and neocons and socialists, etc., etc., etc. Why, when a vast number of philosophical differences do NOT even enter into the many duties of congress?

  • Who can argue that we are not supposed to re-elect irresponsible incumbents?

  • Who can argue voters are supposed to lazily pull the party lever, or vote strictly along the party line. That is how irresponsible incumbent politicians fool and control voters, by fueling the petty partisan warfare, while the nation falls apart right before our very eyes.

  • Who can argue voters are supposed to wallow in the petty partisan warfare. What good are parties if irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians in both parties just take turns using and abusing everyone ?

  • Who can argue voters are supposed to empower the very same irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians that use and abuse us.

  • Who can argue voters are supposed to be so blinded by the petty partisan warfare, that they are oblivious to our pressing problems as they grow in number and severity.

  • Who can argue that government is supposed to be FOR-SALE, where too many bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians are too beholding to a few big-money puppeteers with vast wealth and power (instead of the voters).

  • Who can argue that voters are supposed to ignore their government, as they do now, inviting abuse, and breeding corruption.

Why not vote out irresponsible incumbents?

Why can’t anyone name at least 268 (half of 535) in congress that are responsible?

If there are not at least 268, why do you say voting out those incumbents will not work?

Eventually, after we have tried all those things (many times), we will stop re-electing irresponsible incubments, or we will suffer the consequences (the very ones you speak of; we will learn the hard and painful way).

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 10:35 PM
Comment #173716

Stephan and all: Interesting but I cannot swallow your sympathy for the CIA. They have long history of pursueing their own agenda.They are totally controlled by the oil and arms industry. Us poor Americans just get to foot the bill and we are not even allowed to know how big a bill it is. Looks more to me that there was a concience decision made for Tenet and the CIA to take the fall if justification for the war in Iraq fell apart. Part of the plan. I mean what really is going to happen to them? No way their budget gets cut. Tenet retires with a full pension and ant time he needs a few mil all he has to do is get on some defense contractors board or have a book ghost written for himself.More likely they had a hand in tricking GWB into thinking it would be easy. Follow the money.
This is not new stuff. Remember when they “missed” the fact that the Soviet Union was colasping? It was just coincidental that because they messed up we spent half a trillion dollars on a unprecedented arms buildup of no real utility,no logical threat response justification.Please.
The instances we know about are damning enough. The intallation of the Shah at the behest of oil,the assanation of Allende at the behest of Anaconda Att and others. Their recent and adamently denied attempts at destableizing Venasuela. These are not the good guys. The sooner they are put out of our misery the better.

Posted by: BillS at August 6, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #173722

Oh, more on topic …

The administration is hypocritical, since we still have open borders and ports, people still getting onto planes with weapons, and crossing the borders with fake IDs, and 3.5 people are murdered each day by an illegal alien.

When terrorists do finally get WMD, there is nothing to stop them.

How close do the dots have to be to each other to be able to connect them?

The CIA has good reason to be embarrassed. It’s a slam dunk. 9/11 and no WMD. They ignored numerous warnings about securing cock-pit doors on planes, and did nothing. They failed to connect the closely position dots. You’d think $2 trillion per year in annual taxes would get better intelligence. And then there is the missing $24.5 billion dollars. If they can’t even find $24.5 billion, how can they be expected to find anything?
___________

1. The Missing $25 Billion
Buried in the Department of the Treasury’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section titled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position,” which explains that these unreconciled transactions totaled $24.5 billion in 2003.

The unreconciled transactions are funds for which auditors cannot account: The government knows that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what it was spent. Blaming these unreconciled transactions on the failure of federal agencies to report their expenditures adequately, the Treasury report con­cludes that locating the money is “a priority.”

The unreconciled $25 billion could have funded the entire Department of Justice for an entire year.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 6, 2006 11:18 PM
Comment #173730

phx8-
You’re confusing the Lackawanna cell with the Mukhtabar plot. It was supposed to be a cyanide gas plot in the subways, and was halted by Ayman al-Zawahiri for reasons still unknown.

Don’t mistake the autonomy of the cells for safety. It only makes things worse, makes it harder to track them. Recall all the death and destruction wrought in London and Madrid. Right now, we’re being spared this because Bin Laden does not see a strategical point in attacking us yet. When he does, what is our defense, then, to the disproportionately effect attacks of all the little al-Qaeda franchises.

This is not about being afraid of the other. This is about taking international terrorism seriously, especially when we’re face with such a disproportionately effective set of methods.

As for global warming, recessions and the destruction caused by the war, I think you misunderstand the situation. There’s no use in ignoring one of these problems for the other. Neither will simply take care of itself, and choices concerning them are not mutually exclusive.

BillS-
Conspiracy theory. Nobody could have predicted this crap. The simpler theory is the one that the book gives: Tenet was happy to keep his job, and he and Bush got along. Bush, by the way needed no help in tricking himself into thinking it was easy.

The CIA’s done some dirty stuff in time. That’s why we had all that oversight piled on them by the Church Committee. Unfortunately, that went too far, and curtailed our ability to get human sources in accross the world

They are not the good guys or the bad guys, they are the guys who are supposed to watch our backs. What they do in that service all depends on what pressure we put on politicians, and how badly we politicize all this.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #173736

I think I disagree with everyone here. I also agree with some of the thoughts here. I haven’t read the 1% doctrine.

I agree that these broad intelligence sweeps are pprobably not very productive. Broadcast marketing or broadcast anything usually has low returns. I think our intelligence agencies are aware of this and are adapting. This will not be public information. I don’t think we have dumb people in intelligence.

I do think that these progams will begin to gel and become more reifined. They have the potential to be powerful tools. Who’d have thought that a bunch of 1’s and 0’s would lead to the internet? They have the potential to become even dangerous tools.

I have been thinking about the perception of freedom we have and how it is vastly different from what our forefathers experienced. In some ways colonial life was terrifically unfree, because everyone knew everyone. There was very little real privacy. In the hinterlands to the west, freedom was absolute. The government had nearly no way to reach you, when you were so distant from its reach. As our population increases, so does our freedom decrease.

I don’t believe either party has a magic solution to the problems of terror or the middle east. I don’t believe every congressman is evil or corrupt. I don’t believe corporations are all destroying America.

I do believe Bush is a poor president and his admininistration and the Republican party have been fawning to the wealthy in a corrupt manner and fanning the flames in the Middle East due to personal vendettas and myopic geopolitical notions.

I think an atmostphere of getting rich through politics permeates a great deal of corporate executives. I think guys like Tom Delay, Bill Frist and GW Bush have encouraged this. I think we are involved in the Middle East due to oil. I think our current administration believes there are no real alternatives to oil. There are no corporate sponsers with the cash to change their minds.

We need to position ourselves to take oil, if necessary, until we can become independent. We will have to defend ourselves from terror as long as we need oil. This is not a noble endeavor, but a thirsty grab for survival. Becoming independent kills off the Middle East terror beast, because it takes away the money funding it and our need to take it away from those who have it. We must wean ourselves from oil to have a future.

Posted by: gergle at August 7, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #173737
The problem with the Bush administration is not that it’s focused on terrorism, it’s that its using terrorism as an excuse to shape geopolitics, to try and force changes on the Middle East. Needless to say, it hasn’t worked, it’s backfired.

Bush derided “nation-building”, but that’s what he’s trying to do, and engaged American troops in one of the most explicit instances of nation building in American history.

And, now it looks as though it will end in a disaster as Iraq descends into civil war, and thousands take to the streets in support of Hezbollah.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 12:34 AM
Comment #173742
We need to position ourselves to take oil, if necessary, until we can become independent.
Hmmm. What do you mean? Take oil from a nation that refuses to sell us oil? Or charges too much? Or refuses to sell us as much as we want? Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #173746

Stephen,
It is not a matter of taking the threat of terrorism seriously. It is a matter of assigning concern about it in proportion with the threat. In real terms, the threat is small, and the consequences limited.

The problem is that OBL beat Bush twice.

The first time, Al Qaida launched 9/11.

The second time, Bush took the focus of OBL and made that focus his own. Each ramped up the fear. Each terrorized for their own ends. Bush accepted the political frame presented by OBL, thinking we could beat him at his own game.

We are losing, not because the US is being subjected to attacks, but because we accepted the framing presented by OBL; we accepted that the focus should be upon Al Qaida and terrorism.

We understand the goals of OBL: resisting westernizing influences, withdrawal of US forces from the Arabian Penisula, opposition to Israel, and since then, opposition to the bombing and/or occupation of three islamic capitol cities. He focued attention upon these issues through terror attacks.

Terror launches horrific attacks against civilians to call attention to its cause. The point is to frame the debate, and polarize. Terrorism forces the large and undecided, compromising middle to choose sides, to choose one extreme or the other.

Bush could not admit the defeat of 9/11. Politically, it was untenable. Therefore, he had to make the issue his own. Terrorism and fear became the centerpiece of the Republican agenda. It had to be; anything less, and the Bush administration would have been admitting incompetence & defeat.

So here we are. The incompetence became glaringly obvious. And as for the second defeat dished out to Bush by OBL? Well, today, every action by an enemy abroad is terrorism. Hezbollah? Terrorists. The Sunni insurgents? Terrorists. The Taliban? Terrorists. Shia death squads? Terrorists.

The word has nearly lost all meaning. Now, its main use is to invoke unthinking fear among Americans, to justify any course of action, no matter how unjustifiable, and to stay the catastrophic course.

Posted by: phx8 at August 7, 2006 1:45 AM
Comment #173759

phx8-
The CIA, in looking at Bin Laden’s video, concluded that it was likely the man’s intent to scare people into voting for Bush. The primary reason for this is Bush’s alpha male way of doing things. He has to be in control, and you have to know it. Cooperation isn’t enough, public submission is required.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only silverback amongst the 800 pound gorillas of the world.

This isn’t about framing. If you’re thinking simply in rhetorical terms, you’re missing the greater part of what is wrong with the Bush administration. His problem is that his administration acts on information that’s been warped to fit its preconception, with the result that its actions do not meet with the reality that would make those actions successes rather than merely errors.

The constant focus on image, framing, and rhetoric in today’s politics is an enslavement to illusion. We have to get beyond that to the underlying truth of what’s going on. I call many people to task for the broad, vague term “islamofascist” for exactly those reasons.

It’s a category that could contain with its confines both the Shah and the Ayatollah Khomeini, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Hosni Mubharak, Arafat (when he was living) and Nasrallah, Bin Laden and the Saudi Royals, Saddam Hussein and the Emirs, Saddam and the Mullahs in Iran.

Those who think in such terms run right over the profound differences in the Middle East and back over them twice without even noticing them. As a result, the adherents to this philosophy react inappropriately, and miss opportunities to make a real difference in matters.

We can always refine our definition of terrorism back towards its more sensible usage. Words are flexible like that. It’s the consequences of our actions we should be more concerned about, both to avoid mistakes and foster successes. The War against terror is a real war. Bin Laden, who typically carries out his promises, has promised to gain WMDs and use it on us. He has actually taken practical steps to gaining such weapons, or manufacturing them himself (recall the Mukhtabar).

For that reason alone, we are better off not underestimating the threat he may pose. We shouldn’t hype it, or run around like chickens with our heads chopped off, but we should take this seriously, and follow what leads and information we can gather in order to head off the threat he poses.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2006 8:51 AM
Comment #173773
Bin Laden, who typically carries out his promises, has promised to gain WMDs and use it on us. He has actually taken practical steps to gaining such weapons, or manufacturing them himself (recall the Mukhtabar).

And, there will be nothing to stop them when they do get WMD, when borders and ports are wide-open. Also, if it’s not OBL, it will be someone else. What dots will be left un-connected next time (regardless of how obvious they are and how many warnings are know of in advance)? Why weren’t troops committed to capture Osama Bin Laden when he was cornered in Tora Bora (Nov-2001)? Hmmmmmm. Do you suppose some really don’t want to capture OBL yet? After all, it might take away the ability to use OBL for other reasons? Was there something more important getting in the way? The blunders and certain things still being ignored is curious. Perhaps ulterior motives can help understand the inconsistencies?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 9:51 AM
Comment #173774

“WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United States has “no good options” left in Iraq, and the war “is not going to turn out the way that we were promised,” an increasingly outspoken Republican critic of the war said Sunday.

Sen. Chuck Hagel said the United States needs to convoke a regional conference with Iraq’s neighbors and the major players in the Middle East to find an end to the 3-year-old conflict, rather than leave U.S. troops in a “hopeless, winless situation” by trying to reinforce Baghdad.

“Unless you come at it that way, we’re going to be leaving Iraq. And it’s not going to be the way we intended to leave Iraq, because that is the direction this is going,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

————

Anyone have any doubts as to the failue in Iraq now?

Posted by: tony at August 7, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #173782

It’s not looking good.
Thousands marching in the streets for support of Hezbollah?
You’d think Iraqis would be sick of terrorists.
But, they appear to embrace them?
Some correctly predicted civil very early on.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #173789

d.a.n.-
I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories, even when they involve my opponents. I think Bush would love to get his hands on Bin Laden, and remove that loose end from his political past. I think the reason he doesn’t more actively pursue Bin Laden is that Musharraf is hanging on a very thin thread in regards to that region.

As for Tora Bora, I’m inclined to think that he and Rumsfeld simply trusted their plan too much, and dealt with things with too little follow-through. I find those are common enough errors in the Bush administration. One doesn’t need conspiracy theories to explain most of Bush’s mistakes. As a matter of fact, most of the reasons for his screw-ups are depressingly simple. That’s part of why I’m such a strong critic of the Bush administration. Just about anybody could do better.

As for support of Hezbollah, I’m inclined to think that the Iraqis support them thinking of them as freedom fighters against what they see as the Israeli aggression, rather than seeing them as the terrorists they really are. We should factor in Iran’s political influence here, as well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #173794

Hmmmmm. Maybe. Deriding nation building? Spreading democracy, against massive resistance and cost of U.S. lives (based on bad intelligence)? Maybe there is no such plan, but there may be a propensity? A general frame of mind? The influence seems to crop up in everything, giving rise to a trend. I’m not sure it can merely be all summed up as incompetence. It might be summed up more accurately as a flawed and failed vision?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #173813

tony:
“Anyone have any doubts as to the failue in Iraq now?”

None at all. And good for Chuck Hagel for being honest.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 7, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #173814

“Some correctly predicted civil very early on.”

No - they were just lucky guesses while jumping to conclusions of guilt. (oh, I’m sorry - wrong argument.)

Posted by: tony at August 7, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #173822

I’m new to this business of reading posted comments and have never posted a comment. However as a lifelong 70 yr old Democrat, left of middle, it pleases me to read postings that register such disgust and frustration with current events and this adminstration’s dumb policies—both domestic and foreign. One of you said that education is the key to change. Yes, but action must follow. Voting with a degree of intelligence is a must. Democrats need both.

Posted by: Gene McKibben at August 7, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #173838

Welcome to Watchblog, Gene! Nice first comment. In my opinion, you’re absolutely right, Democrats do need both.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 7, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #173842

Gene -

Hello & welcome. Ihope you have fun here.

I’d definitely agree that education & action are key. Not sure how many people it will effect who would be considered Bush’s base (the haves and the have-mores) … but we can do a lot with the people not in that group.

I’ve found going door-to-door… phone calls… the personal touch to be the most effective and the most rewarding. I still give money, and that’s always the first thing campaigns ask for, but that really doesn’t satisfy the need to be proactive.

Posted by: tony at August 7, 2006 2:51 PM
Comment #173846
Gene wrote: One of you said that education is the key to change. Yes, but action must follow. Voting with a degree of intelligence is a must. Democrats need both.

Yes, we all need both.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 3:22 PM
Comment #173857

I think when faced with difficulties, all but the rarest and most precious of politicians will do just what they can get away with doing. For that reason, I think cynicism with politicians and with the political process, in the form of just giving up on the whole thing, is counterproductive. Americans must push the tough questions on our politicians, past their defenses if we can. Even if we can’t fully penetrate their PR armor, we can at least put the pressure on them and make sure that when the cameras are off, they’re kicking their own or somebody else’s ass to get things done.

I think one of the big problem with the GOP is how easy they are on their candidates, so long as they say the right things on the campaign trail. Another problem is that Republicans expect big government to fail, so they rarely view it as a priority to keep it from happening. Unfortunately, reality becomes more impactful than rhetoric when we finally do become dependent on our government’s response to do something right. Katrina is a good example, 9/11 is another. The immediate response to these crises are crucial if one wants to avoid having problems escalate. Where the response is immediate and effective, more people live, and where they’re not, people die.

Other problems in less immediate areas become of concern when their results begin to cause trouble. The SEC’s enforcement problems lingered until we faced Enron. The FDA’s troubles sat around doing their ill until one drug after another caused terrible side effects. When we trust an authority to get things done right, the economic effects of it not doing so can outweigh the profit others get from having the status quo shaped in their favor.

With homeland security, we can never be entirely safe, but we can increase the odds against our enemy landing the blows or landing them with full force. We have to have a clear idea of who does what, though, and there has to be a process in place to get our countermeasures in motion when time is of the essence.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2006 5:00 PM
Comment #173862

—-d.a.n—- I am curious as to what party you
affiliate with. You want change, change to what party!

Posted by: DAVID at August 7, 2006 5:47 PM
Comment #173872
DAVID wrote: —-d.a.n—- I am curious as to what party you affiliate with.

I belong to no party.

DAVID wrote: You want change, change to what party!

Who needs a party?
Parties are not the solution.
Respectfully (because used to think the same way), try to think out of the box.

I used to be a Republican for 28 years, but left that party about 18 months ago. I apologize for not figuring it out sooner. But, I didn’t see any compelling reason to flee to the Democrat party. Nor Libertarians. Nor the Reform Party, or any other party. I looked around, like most do, and finally concluded that parties are not the solution. All of them have problems. The two main parties just take turns being irresponsible, because too many (if not all) incumbent politicians in both parties are irresponsible.

A party is the sum of its parts.
If too many of its parts are irresponsible and corrupt, then so is the party (as a whole).

Also, the partisan warfare merely serves as a grand distraction. Incumbent politicians love it.

Unfortunately, I used to be part of the problem, instead of the solution.
While personal philosophies vary, the two main parties, on most things that really matter, are not that different. They are similar in many ways.
I understand the elusiveness of the real solution, but that in no way diminishes its correctness, honesty, common-sense, and simplicity.

DAVID,

My goal is no longer to fuel the petty partisan warfare. Instead, my goal is voter education. That’s why I created One-Simple-Idea.com

Education is the key to change. Education will hopefully lead to action. More partisan warfare will only lead to more of the same. The best teacher is pain and misery, and we are on the right path for some of that.

There is a strong probability, since we still have the right to vote, that voters will finally catch on, and just simply stop re-electing irresponsible incumbents. They may forget it later, and may have to re-learn it later, but they will, most likely, figure it out eventually.

Why?

Because:

  • it is the easiest thing to do, and people naturally seek the path of least pain and effort. We just haven’t truly discovered it yet, but people almost always, eventually, find the path of least resisitance, effort, pain, and misery.

  • it is the most logical, common-sense thing to do.

  • it is the easiest way to protest. People are frustrated, and see that what we have been doin’ ain’t workin’ .

  • it is the least expensive solution.

  • it is the most peaceful solution.

  • it is the most fair and just solution.

  • it is the most obvious solution to term limits.

  • it is the least complex method.

  • it does not require yet another party.

  • it does not require yet candidate to save us (perhaps an unrealistic hope).

  • it is the most likely to invalidate the influence of big money.

  • it is the easiest way to send a message to congress to reform themselves or have a very short career.

  • it is the most effective way to create some peer pressure and incentive for incumbents to police their own ranks.

  • it is the most likely way to decrease corruption.

  • it is the safest action, that will balance power, and not merely shift it or strip all power from government to accomplish anything.

  • it is the most responsible thing to do.

  • it is the one simple thing we were alwasys supposed to do, all along. After we have tried everything else, perhaps we will try the one common-sense, responsible thing we should have been doing all along, always: Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 6:34 PM
Comment #173896

Frankly, I’m ready for a down home dirty, partisan, back-alley knife fight with these neo-con morons. No-holds-barred, teeth-rattling, kick-in-the-nuts donnybrook.
Posted by: Tim Crow at August 6, 2006 05:11 PM

Tim, as one who was born and raised in the original Donnybrook (Dublin Ireland), I have an instinctive sense that you are right on this one. If politics are important at all, then it is important to fight with everything you have in order to implement your policies. If you have too much of a “reasonable” view of the issues, you cannot commit to a passionate expression of your political beliefs and without such passion, how can you hope to convince the electorate that you have meaningful and effective answers? It’s not simply cold logic that persuades, but completely congruent and passionate expression of your powerfully held political beliefs.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at August 7, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #173925

Paul in Euroland,

Many are passionate, but not yet in a violent way (yet).
And, that passion needs to be focused.
We have a peaceful approach that’s been right under our very own noses, all along.
All we have to do is the one simple thing we were always supposed to do.
Just stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.
If that doesn’t work, then I suggest all Americans march on Washingnton D.C., drag the incumbent politicians into the street, and kick the [explicative] out of them.
Or, worse, we will have the decay of society, or a revolution, or civil war, or worse (as some see as inevitable).

But, we have not yet done the smart, easy thing, first.

Will people choose violence, revolution, civil unrest, and anarchy before even trying the one simple thing they were supposed to do, first ? Maybe, but that would be a mistake, since there is nothing to lose by trying the one common-sense thing we were always meant to do.

If only 1% of all 200 million eligible voters stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians, it will change the outcome of many elections, since most elections are won by a small margin.

If only 1% of the 78 million eligible voters that don’t usually even vote, do not re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians, it will change the outcome of many elections.

If only 5% (10 million) of all eligible voters (200 million voters) don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians, it will drastically change the outcome of many elections.

Then, it is highly unlikely it will go unnoticed by incumbent politicians. They W I L L get the message. They may even start to police their own ranks? And if they don’t, don’t re-elect them. Or, perhaps, recall them (like Gray Davis, former Governor of California).

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 11:19 PM
Comment #173926

Paul in Euroland-
Passion and logic go hand in hand. without the first, the second has no motivation. with the second, the first has no direction.

But without a third element, both can mislead and ensnare: a grounding in reality. We’re imaginative creatures; we can push and pull the facts like clay in our hands into anything we want to believe. The only thing that can stop this is mental discipline based on effective analysis and understanding of what one sees in the world. Too much of the debate in the Bush White House centered on the support that information could provide, rather than the correctness of that information. As points were incestously amplified and browbeat into staff, the Bush administration got the facts it wanted, at the expense of a reliable picture of what they truly communicated about the situation, if anything at all.

It’s no accident they got into trouble like this. The Republican party has become all about fighting for certain ideas, certain agendas. The price for that? Those certain ideas are believed easier than the evidence that says they’re bunk, and the execution of the agendas takes precedence over protests that people may neither want nor benefit from them.

The Republican party, in trying to free itself from interfering forces have also liberated themselves from the very kind of feedback that might have kept them from crashing and burning so badly in the last few years.

I do not wish for my party to make the same mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2006 11:19 PM
Comment #173928

Stephen Daugherty,

The new “In Party” will make the same mistakes, because the last “In Party” made the same mistakes.

So much focus on party is like the partisan warfare that distracts everyone from the most basic and fundamental truths.

Consider DAVID above, who wants to know what party I belong to and believes I need a party.

When did party become more important than everything else?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 11:45 PM
Comment #173982

—-d.a.n—-You have futuristic ideals an plans
for which methodologies you seek are far out of
reach now or any time in our near future. Forty
percent of our population are to some degree
illiterate an need guidance in their lives of some kind or another. There is an estimated 201.5 million
citizens age 18 or over eligible to vote this
November. 127 million registered voters, 55 mil.
Republican, 72 mil. Dems. 74.5 not voting at all.
As you have noticed, on this blog. an most other
sites barley agree on anything an almost never on
political views. I have visited your site, an would like to know how many converts you have at this time, an a rough guess as to how long would
it take to convert 201.5 million other people
over to your new system of Governing!

Posted by: DAVID at August 8, 2006 4:41 AM
Comment #173985

—-d.a.n—-You may have greater success at starting
a grass roots thing in many an try cleaning up one
of your favorite parties, Most people can’t
tolerate change which makes you job very difficult!

Posted by: DAVID at August 8, 2006 4:58 AM
Comment #173986

——-Polls open early, be a patriot DO a good
DEED FOR YOUR SELF GO VOTE a little voice
is better than none.——

Posted by: DAVID at August 8, 2006 5:16 AM
Comment #173992

Dan-
I think the better word is can, rather than will. Will expresses inevitability. Can expresses potential. My party might make the same mistakes, but it doesn’t have to. There’s a choice, and if we make it right, we can avoid the “can” becoming a “will”.

Too much of our thinking nowadays consists of viewing our problems as inevitable and intractable. That’s a big part of why I am not a Republican. There is a pessimism in the Republican party about the government’s ability to do good, a believe that government “will” go wrong, rather than just “can” go wrong. You will never get enthusiastic leadership from a person who believes an organization has no chance of moving past its problems, nor will you get much in the way of results. Often, people like that will corrupt the whole affair because they have no pride in what they do and they believe it might as well serve the interests of their friends and contributors.

I would not say that the government will do good in any given situation, or even that it can do good in all situation. But in some situations, it can do great things, good things, if the leadership is just willing to consider the possibilities and work towards getting things right.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 7:04 AM
Comment #174012

DAVID, Stephen,

You both insist T H E___P A R T Y as the solution.

DAVID wrote: —-d.a.n—-You have futuristic ideals an plans for which methodologies you seek are far out of reach now or any time in our near future.

Hmmmm. Maybe, maybe not. You can’t really know that, but that is a very common excuse to accept mediocrity, and accept the status quo. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we want to. It may take a long time, but it has to start some where. But, I’m always facinated by those that seem to not want anyone to try.

DAVID, I have no illusions or delusions about the ignorance of the electorate.

That is why education is important.

But, never say never.
People sometimes get it right.
True, it takes a long time.
Two steps forward, and 1.999 steps backward.
But, giving up and giving in won’t ever accomplish anything, except help hasten our demise.

Someday, when we have tried everything else, we might finally try the most simple, common-sense thing that’s been there all along, right under our very own noses? If not, corruption, FOR SALE government, and our demise will continue, until the consequential pain and misery brings about (a) reform, or (b) increased demise that could last for a very long time, and a demise that we may never recover from.

  • The bad news is that things will have to get much worse before they get better.
  • The good news is that we are on the right path to make things much worse before they can get better.
Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 10:13 AM
Comment #174017
—-d.a.n—-You may have greater success at starting a grass roots thing in many an try cleaning up one of your favorite parties, Most people can’t tolerate change which makes you job very difficult! … would like to know how many converts you have at this time,

DAVID, visit V.O.I.D. .
Grassroots is good. That’s the plan. It’s small, but growing all the time.

Parties are the sum of their parts.
Too many broken parts in the party equals a broken party.
The real solution doesn’t need parties.
The real solution is to fix the parts of the whole.
The real solution is to remove the broken parts.
The real solution is the simple, no-brainer, common-sense thing we were always supposed to do, all along, always.

Nothin’ fancy.
The goal is not to shift power from one party or the other.
The goal is to make all parties better.
You call it futuristic?
I call it simple, plain, ordinary common-sense.
Simply stop re-electing irresponsible incubment politicians.

Do that, and reject all of the vast schemes, the ONE PERCENT DOCTRINEs, and all the vast theories and partisan warfare, and then we might finally see real progress. Why ever give up on common-sense? Why give in to the status quo? Who knows what is possible, or not? We’ve made it this far. How can anyone say that such a simple idea as doing the one simple thing we were always supposed to do can’t work? That’s not futuristic. It’s not impossible. We’ve seen courage and responsibility in the past. There’s no reason it can’t happen again.

Some call me a pessimist.

But, I must really be an optimist to believe we are capable of doing such a simple, common-sense thing that everyone else says is impossible.

Just stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.

That’s all.

That’s how you remove the broken parts that make up the whole broken party. Or, are you arguing it ain’t broken, and don’t need fixin’ ?

It’s truly fascinating how many different ways people can find so many ways to argue against something that is so simple and so right.

Who is the real pessimist?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 10:37 AM
Comment #174024

Don’t Re-elect Irresponsible Incumbent Politicians.

One DRIP at a time can become a roaring cascade of renewal.

Posted by: Jackie at August 8, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #174026

Paul in Euroland,

Many are passionate, but not yet in a violent way (yet).
And, that passion needs to be focused.
We have a peaceful approach that’s been right under our very own noses, all along.
All we have to do is the one simple thing we were always supposed to do.
Just stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.
Posted by: d.a.n at August 7, 2006 11:19 PM


Paul in Euroland-
Passion and logic go hand in hand. without the first, the second has no motivation. with the second, the first has no direction.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2006 11:19 PM

Dan, I find the sentiment of voting out incumbents very appealing as a strategy, i’m just not sure that it would lead in its aftermath to the
cohesive policies that a modern country needs.

Stephen, as is usually the case, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I was simply saying that cold logic is not enough, the political vision has to be driven with passionate intensity in order to convince would be electors that the proponents of a vision are committed. You speak of the Republican party fighting for certain ideas, certain agendas - I think the only thing they seem to be fighting for is a very narrow elite power base in the US. Everyone else can fend for themselves. And that applies as much to foreign policy as domestic.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at August 8, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #174031
Jackie wrote: Don’t Re-elect Irresponsible Incumbent Politicians. One DRIP at a time can become a roaring cascade of renewal.

You are a genius. That’s really good. I like that! Do you mind if I use it?

Paul in Euroland wrote: Dan, I find the sentiment of voting out incumbents very appealing as a strategy, i’m just not sure that it would lead in its aftermath to the cohesive policies that a modern country needs.

Modern, New, Young, Old?
I don’t see what difference that really makes?

And, I would not really call it a strategy.
Not re-electing irresponsible incumbents is simply common-sense … something we don’t have enough of these days, in an era of selfishness, greed, and partisan warfare.

Just doing one right thing is not really the solution. The will to do the right thing is what is missing. Too few care, too many are too fond of wallowing in the partisan warfare, and too many are too concerned with preserving too many seats for too many irresponsible members of “THEIR” party.

Paul in Euroland wrote: I am just not sure that it would lead in its aftermath to the cohesive policies that a modern country needs.

It would lead to more Responsibility, and help create Transparency and Accountability needed to create cohesive policies, and FINALLY pass some no-brainer, common-sense reforms that corrupt, FOR SALE, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians have been resisting for many years, for fear that it will reduce their opportunities for self-gain and reduce the security of their cu$hy, coveted incumbent seats of abused power.

The truth and the basics are being over-looked.
Vast schemes, theories, and parties are not the solution. Education will lead to will, then action, then change. Partiest have not, and will not be the solution. If anything, part of the grand distraction, helping fuel the distraction partisan warfare.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 11:53 AM
Comment #174034
Do you mind if I use it?

Have at it d.a.n. Post it everywhere and anywhere it might do some good. No genius,” just someone totally disgusted with the goings-on in D.C.

Posted by: Jackie at August 8, 2006 12:25 PM
Comment #174039

Jackie,

Thanks!
I know what ya mean.
Others and myself are workin’ on it.
Hopefully, the DRIP will continue to grow to a “roaring cascade” to create real change and progress.
It’s pretty much a give, as more people, like yourself, get tired of the same-old, tired, partisan warfare, party non-sense, and realize we are overlooking the one simple thing we were supposed to do all along: DRIP

Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #174055

Dan-
Truth is, I don’t believe parties are the answer, they’re just a means to an end. Not everything worth doing can be done in a short enough time for people just to spontaneously do it in mass movement.

Besides, the parties aren’t monolithic or unchanging. We’re in a dynamic period of change as things are now. The Republicans are losing their grip on the country. Or you could say that fewer people, even within the Republican party, feel as the leaders and the leading influences want them to think.

What I advocate (greater awareness, more determination to right wrongs)I think works best because it is appropriate regardless of who’s in office. It’s a truly party-independent answer. Politicians will always need to be held accountable, and the people will always need to be clear about what they want from their leaders.

That I am a Democrat is a coincidence of values and interests, and a sign of my appreciation for their attitudes. But as you have heard me say time and time again, We only deserve the power we earn, and if we fail the American people, we should rightly be kicked to the curb. Mine is not an unconditional loyalty, nor do I believe there should be a rigid stance on issues. The most important part of the Democratic party is it’s approach to problems, not the platforms or issues.

There’s a reason people seek out parties. Don’t blame people for that. What we should ask is that we don’t park our brains outside when we enter a political party. The parties exists to serve our interests. They should only serve their own through serving the public’s interests first. Otherwise, they are not fit to hold office.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #174076
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Dan- Truth is, I don’t believe parties are the answer, …
That’s good. Too bad more don’t realize that.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: … [parties] they’re just a means to an end.
Which proves that the end does not justify the means … especially since it doesn’t work very well, and may even be a hindrance.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Not everything worth doing can be done in a short enough time for people just to spontaneously do it in mass movement.
Hmmmmm….not everything, but not re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians is easy and can be done is a short enough time … as quickly as one can vote.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Besides, the parties aren’t monolithic or unchanging.
Not in all ways. But, they are very similar. It’s increasingly difficult to tell them apart. But, voters made ‘em that way by always re-electing them. It’s like raising children (but much worse). If you reward them for bad behavior, they will do more of it.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: We’re in a dynamic period of change as things are now. The Republicans are losing their grip on the country.
That is merely a cycle as the many remaining incumbents of both main parties merely take turns using and abusing the electorate.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Or you could say that fewer people, even within the Republican party, feel as the leaders and the leading influences want them to think.
True. It’s just part of the cycle. As long as voters keep letting the majority of incubments of both parties take turns being the “In Party” and the “Out Party”, we will continue to see more of the same (or most likely, worse).
Stephen Daugherty wrote: What I advocate (greater awareness, more determination to right wrongs)
I couldn’t agree more with that.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: I think works best because it is appropriate regardless of who’s in office.
I could NOT disagree more with that.

Greater awareness and determination don’t mean much if an incumbent has no honesty or integrity, and voters keep re-electing them, over and over, because common-sense takes a back seat to partisan politics.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s a truly party-independent answer.
Hmmmmmmm. Not to sure about that.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Politicians will always need to be held accountable, and the people will always need to be clear about what they want from their leaders.
No argument with that.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: That I am a Democrat is a coincidence of values and interests, and a sign of my appreciation for their attitudes.
Fine. I can’t get on my high-horse. I used to be a Republican for 28 years. So, I’m not above reproach. But, I hope more people start to realize that parties are not the solution. That are not that different. They are the sum of their parts, and too many of their parts are broken and need to be replaced. But, party loyalties get in the way of that. I’m not buyin’ any of the partisan crap anymore, because they all have too many broken parts.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: But as you have heard me say time and time again, We only deserve the power we earn, and if we fail the American people, we should rightly be kicked to the curb. Mine is not an unconditional loyalty, nor do I believe there should be a rigid stance on issues.
I’m 100% confident that the Democrat party, if it regains the majority, will fail. And, the voters, after a while, will flip-flop again, and put Republicans back in control. Maybe some day, voters will see how the majority of incumbent politicians of both main parties (about 80%) remain in congress. They are the problem. It’s simple arithmetic, but Americans are increasingly falling behind in math and common-sense.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The most important part of the Democratic party is it’s approach to problems, not the platforms or issues.
Ya think so, eh? I don’t think either party can do that, because both consist of too many corrupt, bought-and-paid-for, irresponsible incumbent politicians, and that is why NO one can name even 268 (half of 535) in congress that are responsible, accountable, and don’t look the other way.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: There’s a reason people seek out parties.
I know, and most of those reasons are bad.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Don’t blame people for that.
I have to. But, will acknowledge that I too made the very same mistake.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: What we should ask is that we don’t park our brains outside when we enter a political party.
That’s exactly what happens to most. Party loyalty asks for just that. Pull the party lever. Don’t let an evil Republican win a seat. Keep fueling the petty partisan warfare. Parties fuel the partisan warfare, because they are … hmmmm … parties. Duh!
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The parties exists to serve our interests.
Ya think so, eh? Above, you said: Truth is, I don’t believe parties are the answer

Too many have swallowed that myth, hook, line and sinker.
Ya know, Republicans say the same thing.
I look at both, and the similarities far out-weigh the minor differences. Most differences people see are only perceived, or merely a difference between which is the current “In Party” or “Out Party”. I’ve lived long enough to observe that and know it is true. Both are so corrupt, their minor differences make no difference. Most don’t want to believe it, but it is true.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: They should only serve their own through serving the public’s interests first. Otherwise, they are not fit to hold office.
Most are N O T fit to hold office.

So, let’s get down to the bottom line.

If there are at least 268 (half of 535) in congress that are responsible, who are they?

I’ve looked at almost all of them.

There are damn few (if any) that deserve to stay.

There are very damn few that:

  • do not vote irresponsibly for pork-barrel (while our troops risk life and limb, go without body armor, armor for vehicles, and adequate medical and health care) ?

  • do not vote themselves cu$hy perks and raises (e.g. such as the extravagant retirement plans, funded by tax-payers, that are not part of the same mismanaged Social Security and Medicare systems that tax-payers are relegated to) ?

  • do not ignore problems for fear of risking re-election or defying their big-money-donors ?

  • do not prevent newcomers from passing badly-needed, common-sense, no-brainer, responsible reforms ?

  • do not tempt, pressure, and threaten newcomers with the loss of party support if the newcomers don’t accept the status quo ?
  • do not pander ?

  • do not peddle influence and accept money from big-money-donors ?

  • do not fuel the petty partisan warfare that distracts the nation from our many pressing problems ?

  • do not spend a great deal of time and tax-payers’ money (via allowances) trolling for money for their campaign war-chests ?

  • do not abuse their allowances (provided by tax-payers) to retain their cu$hy, coveted seats of power ?

  • do not look the other way ?

  • genuinely embrace campaign finance reform, election reform, tax reform, or any reform that will create more transparent, accountable, and responsible government, even if it diminishes their opportunities for personal gain ?

  • are fiscally responsible ?

  • deserve to retain their cu$hy, coveted, and prized seats of power ?

The system has become SO perverted and dysfunctional, it corrupts almost all within it. And that will continue, until voters make it obvious to irresponsible incumbent politicians that their careers will be short, indeed, if they succumb to the status quo too!

But, pulling the party lever ain’t gonna accomplish that.

So, study:

  • the politicians’ voting records to see the pork-barrel they voted for while our troops risk life and limb.

  • the things they do and say.

  • their attendance records; many (such as Sen. John Conyers) don’t even bother to vote much of the time ;

  • their travel habits and expenses paid for by the tax-payers.

  • the use of their time, and how much of it is spent raising big-money for their campaign war-chests.

  • the way they vote themselves raises, special perk$, and cu$hy retirement plans while they totally mismanage and plunder Social Security ($12.8 trillion in the hole)and Medicare Systems.

Yes, study all those things, and you will probably be surprised at what you find.

If an incumbent really is responsible, then they deserve to stay.
However, there are very few (if any).
Therefore, few (if any) of the incumbents deserve to stay in their cu$hy, coveted seats of abused power, and perhaps, that is the price that the irresponsible incumbents should pay, if for no other reason than merely looking the other way?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #174098

Dan-
Do you believe a Democrat would have left FEMA to rot, or would have cobbled together a Homeland Security Department without planning it out? Do you think they would have been so secretive, so beholden to the Neocons, so inclined to go after Saddam in the place of Bin Laden? Do you think Gore would have endangered our fiscal situation by creating huge overages in spending. Do you think Gore would have dealt with a Republican congress and not vetoed one bill in five years?

This canard that Democrats and Republicans are just the same only serves to aid the Republicans, who have prospered in all these years of neglected accountability. After all, if Democrats and Republicans are the same, why give up on Republican incumbents?

Hell, if we’re the same, what’s all the arguing about? Ultimately, the differences may appear small in this time of Republican dominance, but they are really great.

In terms of what I said about greater awareness and greater determination to right wrongs, it boils down to this: just why the hell should people kick the incumbents to the curb? That is the linkage here. If the Politicians don’t abide by their obligations, we have to be able to provide good reasons to the not-so-politically aware as to why a change is needed. Vague charges and attitudes will not fit the bill here. People need something to react to, if they are to change their minds.

Any victory we have in the next election is ours to lose after that. I can’t see into the future, but I know this: I can be just as harsh with my own people if they don’t do their duty. I did not take B.S. from the Republicans, and I sure as hell won’t take it from my own people. I think the numbers indicate that people are in no mood to be cheated, and if my party members are smart, they will deal with things along those lines.

You’ve got all these points as to how evil, corrupt, and otherwise undesirable the politicians in Washington are. Well, I’m not arguing that point. I just think all this is about selection pressures. These people have to sense that there are certain things they don’t do if they want a candidate to win primaries, and the primary winner to gain office. If we just focus on incumbency as the problem, we miss the point: We will not get it perfect. Even as we throw away the old trash, we will inevitably bring new trash in with all the freshmen. People don’t get to this level without some level of ambition, and some ambitious folks aren’t that mindful of moral things.

The parties, too, are not utterly blind to movements. They will sense what is being done, and they will apply measures to ensure their power remains in place. They will act in the interests of self-preservation, and they will likely win in the long run.

But that same sense of self-preservation can be used as a purifying force, and it’s more effective if they face it in such a way that the sense of dread at crossing the voter seeps into their bones. I think that’s best managed by American’s vigilance and determination to act as watch dogs of the Government. That is the only way to have an equitable relationship with our government. Ultimately, the leadership has to understand that bullshit will only get it kicked to the curb, and defiance of the voter’s interest will get them sent upstairs without dinner. Broad attacks on incumbents will only serve to drain people of their motivation. Once the critical state of fervor has washed over them, and their efforts have been spent, successfully or not, they will once again rest with the status quo, and fall back asleep.

My aim is not merely to disrupt the status quo of American politics, it’s to change it permanently.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 7:22 PM
Comment #174103

Paul In Euroland-
I think in dealing with the Republicans we should be careful not to jump to the conclusions about the party. Though there are many corrupt politicians among them, there are honest ones as well. Most importantly, though, there are many people who support the Republicans for perfectly reasonable reasons, at least in their own minds, and ones that have little to do with supporting corruption or incompetence.

At worst, I think most Republican voters have been gamed by their folks, isolated, divided from people who they otherwise share much in common with. Republicans have been taught to be hypersensitive about some very small differences, and to turn other arguments into matters of life and death. I think that’s part of why even some people disgusted with the GOP, or not entirely severed from it have a tendency to still distrust Liberals and Democrats, and swallow GOP talking points uncritically.

If the Democrats win back the Congress and Senate, there’s going to have to be a bit of deprogramming, and I think that will take the form of being very frank and honest about what we believe, but also respectful. We should be graceful in our victory, not obnoxious. The key is not only to win, but to reassure people that our winning was a good thing.

Part of this will be presenting the president with legislation that both enables and defines his powers to fight terrorism. One theme I started this entry with, before it turned to anti-incumbency movements for some strange reason, was that politics should not get in the way of getting these things right. Bush let that happen, and as a result, the world is a heck of a lot less safe for my country and yours.

Ultimately, like I said to Dan, politics is just a means to an end. It’s a poor substitute for good policy, and good policy is the end result I want out of this government, regardless of who runs it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 7:35 PM
Comment #174108
Dan- Do you believe a Democrat would have left FEMA to rot, or would have cobbled together a Homeland Security Department without planning it out? Do you think they would have been so secretive, so beholden to the Neocons, so inclined to go after Saddam in the place of Bin Laden? Do you think Gore would have endangered our fiscal situation by creating huge overages in spending. Do you think Gore would have dealt with a Republican congress and not vetoed one bill in five years?

Who knows? Maybe. I didn’t think Clinton would have oral sex in the Oval office and then lie about it.

You think Democrats are better.
That’s fine.
I used to think Republicans were better.
Neither are better.

The problem is that both parties stink.
Why?

Because 90% of congress consists of INCUMBENT politicians that have been there a long, long time.

Perhaps there is a correlation? Duh !

After all, according to Democratic statements, everything would be fine if Republicans didn’t mess it up. The mere absence of Republicans should fix things up, according to Dems. Fix ‘em up good.

True. That would eliminate half the probem.

But, the fact is, it has less to do with party and more to do with what each party consists of?

Each party has the very same problem.

Each party is merely the sum of its parts, and too many broken parts means that party is broken. The broken parts need to be replaced. In both parties.

Why? Because each consists of INCUMBENT politicians mostly. INCUMBENCY rates are very high (about 90% overall).

The one common thread to our pressing and worsening problems is NOT because of which party is the current “In Party” or “Out Party”. Both parties just take turns being the “In Party” and the “Out Party”.

No. The common thread IS the numerous INCUMBENTs of both parties that keep getting re-elected, over and over.

If these INCUMBENTs are doing such a great job, why are things so [explicative] up ? (and getting worse).


Stephen Daugherty wrote:
My aim is not merely to disrupt the status quo of American politics, it’s to change it permanently.

Me too. And what I recommend is more basic, honest, and responsible. Just don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians. What’s wrong with that?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 8, 2006 8:25 PM
Comment #174121

Stephan: Just because it is a conspiract theory does not make it wrong. No one could have predicted this? Hardly. A great many did exactly that including myself and Bush Sr.
The CIA has long been at work for US commercial interest. It is part of their mission. This is true of most intelligence agencies. This has often had negative value as far as US relations and security go. Example: The replacement of the democratically elected government of Iran and the installation of the Shah. We have been living with the results for years and will continue to do so. Why did they do that? To protect American oil interest.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #174134

Dan-
Maybe I’ve been a bit too patient with the direction you’ve taken things. What is this thread about? Incumbents? I look down the comments, and I see far too many of your standard bullet points, graphics and font-driven special effects. I appreciate that you must have put a great deal of work into them, but honestly, you know what my response to all that is?

I skip it, generally. I go for your more salient points, and I skip all the rest. Like it or not, this is how people in the real world approach politics. What I told Paul in Euroland is a guiding principle of mine: passion and logic are not two different things, but two sides of the same coin.

It’s more than just my own passion. I write to open people up to their own passions, to present them with facts that invite response and agreement. Then they can take care of the rest themselves. I’m not interested in repeating slogans, or a laundry list of charges, or doing other things that essentially try people’s patience with old information.

When I say that politics is but a means to an end, I mean to imply that when it does not serve those ends, it is to be dispensed with. I really don’t care who comes up with way to keep this country safe. I think people will vote for the person who gets the job done, for the people who make it possible for them not to worry.

I think our function as electronic pundits is not to browbeat people to our beliefs. It’s to look into issues like this and alternatively reassure or agitate people as is necessary. Americans need to know when their defenses are working, and when they’re not. They need to be presented with enough, in a compelling enough presentation to knock them out of the world of the illusively routine. America doesn’t need to be a country of 300 million blissfully ignorant ants, waiting until they get stomped to start biting and stinging.

We as a society need to be active in our own education and defense. We cannot simply leave defense of this nation to one expert “party” or another. One of the biggest lessons of this administration has been that simply leaving the defense of our nation to one party will only lead to the eventual decay of our ability to respond appropriately. Politics cannot be the answer to our defense, it can only be used as means to gain that defense. Historically, it’s worked best when it works to unite people rather than divide them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #174148

Dan-
Remember the guiding policy of this site.

BillS-
I distrust conspiracy theories because they are untestable. One can always claim that the truth was covered up, so that’s why one’s theory didn’t hold up with the facts.

If I’m going to nail people I want to be able to nail them good, not settle for the hal-backed information another sweep gives.

Revised 8/9/2006 to reflect deletion of image

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2006 12:53 AM
Comment #174318

:p

Posted by: d.a.n at August 9, 2006 5:56 PM
Comment #174415

BillS-
It would be nice to say that this is merely the evil CIA, running shadow governments, doing things with its own agenda, but a close examination of history, both recent and not reveals that the CIA policies have been set by our leaders.

Also, making everything about oil misses some of the essential elements of the Cold War involved in analyzing that these people. One aspect of all this was opening a third front on the Soviet Union. Read up on it. One reason I don’t like conspiracy theories is that they often miss interesting facts in their generalization.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #174522

Stephen, Tony,

I think with today’s news it’s good to reiterate what I posted several days ago now:

“First, it appears that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us.” —- Yes, it must be the generosity of Al Qaeda which has prohibited another attack since 9/11. How could I’ve been so misinformed??!! I love rosy outlooks! Too bad Osama and Zawahiri have announced otherwise, they stil hate us and want to inflict much more death & damage.
__________________

This desperate attempt from the left to diminish the evil, the intentions, or the ability of Al Qaeda is extremely troubling. We all need to constantly reflect on how ignorant “First, it appears that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us.” is.

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #174601

Ken Strong-
It’s not rosy. If you took the care to read, you would realize that the book’s point was that it was only by their leave that we weren’t getting attacked. The books point, and mine, is that we are underdefended.

We need to bring things to the point in this country that we’re not having to be lucky enough for al-Qaeda to call off its attacks or get caught by the far more vigilant authorities in Britain for us to remain safe. I don’t think the Bush administration’s excesses in terms of legality and human rights is yielding dividends in our success in interdicting these plots.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 3:57 PM
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