Democrats & Liberals Archives

Accepting Failure

There are two ways to accept failure. The first is admit that things haven’t worked out as planned, that you theory was flawed, that your actions were inappropriate. This is a good kind of acceptance. The bad kind is when your acceptance is of its continuation. Perhaps you don’t want to give up on your ideology. Perhaps you don’t want the reins of leadership passed on to your rivals. Regardless, it is the difference between embracing the truth and living a lie.

To accept that you have failed in the first way is to be on the way to solving your problems. To accept failure in the second fashion is to defer that solution.

I would like to think that people on my side are somehow immune, but no, this is just human nature, and these kinds of tough choices will always be made. It's human to hesitate to reveal your party's flaws, to highlight them and point them out, but we have to face at some point that we do not fight so passionately just to screw things up. There is something beyond ideology, beyond political victories, and beyond debates that we seek.

Most people seek to improve the reality of their situation. Most of us are realistic enough not to be too shocked when things fall short, but few of us can't help but feel disappointed when an economic program fails to deliver results, or when a military operation turns south. Despite rhetoric from the right, most people in America don't want to see their country lose, or its effort expended in vain.

There is a pragmatic aspect to politics, both in how it's carried out, and in how results come to pass. The world is complex enough that a well-run office can end up with negative results, and a mess of a bureaucracy can end up working spectacularly. Relax, I'm not going to claim that somehow that's the usual way of things. What I am going to say though, is that there is an integral connection between how we see a the world, how we deal with it, and what what the results are. Politicians must seek the wisdom to understand the situations they address, must act from that wisdom as appropriately as possible, and then seek awareness of what has come of their actions.

I can't help but find the Democrat response to the war anemic, by these standards. It shouldn't take that much political courage to end the war and prevent Bush from leading us into another one unless he has serious proof of its necessity. That's what the people want. Unfortunately, folks are lost in the complexities, and all too scared of the rhetoric.

Well, let me get to the point on that. Hot air passes from this world rather quickly and rather easily. The policies decided upon don't. Even successful deception eventually falls prey to the intuitive perception of folk's reality. Bush can talkabout how great his economic numbers are, but when people themselves think they're worse off, the message falls flat. The consequences of ones actions will leak all around one's rhetoric, and people's feelings will turn again what they support.

The Republicans won so many of the debates and elections over the past few decades Now they're at their worst point in a generation. Why? Because so much of their politics was focused on the appearances, rather than on creating coherent, workable policy. It didn't help that Republicans had a dogmatic disdain for making government work.

The Republicans have learned to accept a great number of failures in practical policy for that reason, and in order to keep winning. They've perfected the art of blaming government's nature for their failings, of not accepting failure as failure, not admitting their mistakes, and Bush has become one of their greatest practicioners of this art. Willpower and political discipline, message control, and all these wonderful things brought them to the pinnacle of power.

To accept that for too long, though, inevitably hollows out one's victories, and ensures the failure of leadership. It affects what kind of people show up to do the job. It affects what kind of a job gets done by those who are capable, but trying to coast along. Leadership is not about the enforcement of conformity and groupthink. It's about the coordination of talent and approach to get the job done. It's very rare in today's complex society where any one person can know everything about what is right and wrong, about how to handle things. Leaders can not afford to be passive figureheads, or active dogmatists. More than ever before, listening and understanding are crucial skills for those who lead, in addition to wisdom on how to act.

This poses a challenge by itself, but when you add in the shaping of messages and all this other gobbledygook, things can become hopelessly snarled. It becomes even worse if you make shaping the images and the messages the top priority. For those who have done that, bringing people to accept less than the best from their government becomes the priority, and that is a path of diminishing returns for all concerned.

For the politicians, it becomes, like all cheating, an easy way out from the kind of genuine policy experience that allows people to become good leaders. For the people, it brings them into a labrynth of lies, half-truths, and spin that saps their will to make things better for themselves, and of their community spirit. This becomes a vicious cycle as people flock to politicians who promise to end the corruption, only to see the same thing happen again. The politicians don't actually benefit much from this, as the legacy of their predecessors and the distrust of the people make good decisions difficult, and retaining public favor a greater challenge.

Politicians fear admitting their failures, but it's better to admit small and keep problems likewise than be forced to deal with and ultimately admit to a much greater problem later. Simplify things in the now.

The simplest courses of action take care of business in a timely fashion, rather than waiting for the next crisis to force action. People tell themselves it's realism to act otherwise, to count votes and give up if things don't come back right, but the truth is, especially after the last campaign, it's an inane way of going about things, especially with a public mandate behind you.

While it is wrong to become reliant on message and image, it's foolish to disregard that element when called upon to tackle a political issue. If people are on your side, politically, it's foolish not to be a good advocate for your position, just as it's foolish to pick a poorly supportable position, or take a poorly executed or considered action. Communication is not to be disregarded, it's just not to be turned into the prime mover of one's actions. Bush's real problem is that he doesn't recognize that actions and their results communicate powerfully themselves, form part of the real message that goes out to people. To botch those is to send an unintentional message that is deeply negative.

The Republicans, trying their best at this point to pull a sleight of hand and make this our failure, are backing us down with pretty much the same rhetoric they've used all along. The scary thing is, that they might succeed in pulling us down into the mud that they won't get out of, if we continue to complement their tunnel vision of policy and accountability with our own.

America doesn't need two parties that inept. If we want people to truly make a good distinction between the Republicans and us, we need to master the practical elements of running a government and outdo our competitors. We must become and stay the better folks on domestic issues, on warfighting, and on foreign policy. We need people's experience of our leadership to be positive for real reasons.

If this means not following the party line, the party dogma, so be it. They're supposed to be guides, not barriers to proper action, and if they don't correspond to that, who needs them? If this means taking political risks, then its worth remembering that poor leadership is a political risk, too. Like somebody said, if you want a safe job, sell shoes. If this means acknowledging mistakes, then do it, because people will think your leadership is even poorer if there's a great discrepancy between your evident mistakes and your admitted ones. Take Bush as your example for that.

The tragic thing about Bush, at this point, is that his poor leadership is still manifesting its one, great, hideous strength. He's still manipulating people's fears and and people's concerns about appearances and politics so that he can continue his policies. We won the election. People preferred what we offered them on Iraq. They liked us standing up and actually acting as a strong opposition party.

Now''s not the time to become discouraged, or to buy this year what we took back to the store last year. We should make it clear to the President that his ability to continue this debacle is a thing of the past. If Bush and his allies want to continue to highlight their own failures as leaders, by blocking our efforts, we shouldn't stand in their way. After all, the biggest issue they will have to deal with when this next presidential and senatorial election rolls around will be Iraq, and most people will not like what they hear from the Republicans if they don't change their tune real quick.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 17, 2007 9:21 AM
Comments
Comment #212483

It seems to me the democrats have already failed.

They failed to address the supposedly bloated budget, instead delcaring they would spend exactly as much as the Republicans. They shuffled some of it around but are blowing it.

Nancy and Reid were talking in the 06 elections about how terrible this budget is because it spends too much money. Nancy told us she is a grandmother and horrified by these nasty Republicans spending her grandchildrens future.

Now we see Nancy spending the EXACT SAME AMOUNT! Why don’t you folks remind her that she’s spending her grandchildrens future? Why, it’s almost enough to make you think she lied about the budget and the spending to get elected…that she really doesn’t care.


Why should you folks be defending this failure? Why should you be saying: “they need time to warm up their chairs” when your leadership has been there for ages.

Reid told us that he would eliminate corruption. Ah yes, and the man is himself a fine example of corruption. He kept all of his Abramoff money. He’s keeping all the money from this dirty land deals. And his family is being paid money to LOBBY him. So, this is corruption that’s ok? When Republicans do it, it’s wrong but when democrats do it…..we wink and blink and nod our heads and smile and let it “slide”? Where is the hate and the smearing and the insisting that people resign when democrats catch republicans doing what their leader Reid Does?????

From the Budget, to Corruption, to Ear Marks, to Social Security, to Medicare, to National Health Care, to sealing the boarder against Illegals….I see nothing but failure in the present and failure on the horizon for the democrat party and not one single “progressive” standing up and demanding that these issues be dealt with.

As long as Pelosi and Reid are waging a war against the US military the progressives are happy with the failure of the Democrat leadership in congress.

It doesn’t HAVE to be that way. You folks could DEMAND that democrats start working on the budget and cutting spending. You could DEMAND they work toward ultimately getting a balanced budget. You could demand a fix for social security and Medicare. You could DEMAND they fullfill their promises. You don’t have to roll over and support a corrupt, spend happy, do nothing, failure of a democrat party after you get them in. You could demand they do what they said they would do. You could hold them accountable for the budget they are refusing to be accountable for.

Posted by: Stephend at March 17, 2007 11:30 AM
Comment #212490

Stephend-
We don’t bother her about this years budget, because the Republicans dumped this years budget in her lap. The Republicans were supposed to write and pass the spending bills while they still had power to cover this year. They didn’t.

Result? Democrats were faced with the prospect of having to do two years, this year and the next (The one we were actually supposed to do) because of the Republican’s irresponsibility.

Pelosi’s way of dealing with this was to take last year’s budget, and essentially run the government on those numbers. Any other course of action would have put this country into fiscal paralysis.

In real terms, this years spending bills are a reduction, because they do not include the increases that would come with a typical budget.

The real test will be next year’s budget.

As for Reid’s corruption, I’d be careful what stock you put in the stories about that. There are any number of problems with Solomon’s coverage of Reid, and the claims he made Most of the Claims about Reid trace back to that coverage.

In terms of corruption, The Democrats in office are not perfect. However, we do write letters, we do complain, and as one of the more recent blog entries about Harry Reid on that link shows, we do get results. Our leaders back down when they are exposed, rather than fight. That, at least is a first step towards cleansing congress of corruption.

We will demand they fulfill their promises, and already have in fact. If you look at our blogs, we are just as quick to jump on our party members as we are to jump on the Republicans. Unlike the Republicans, we perceive the awful cost of sitting back and saying nothing.

In fact, you will note that the entire subject of my posting is in fact to light a fire under my party to act, to go beyond simply muddling around trying to make statements.

Now, you say we want our people to attack the military. You miss the mark. The policy has always been the main focus. Go through the archives of my postings, and you’ll find numerous entries where I’m demanding more things for the troops. My opinions, over the past few years, have not strayed far from the Democratic mainstream.

For many on the right, it is more convenient to back the president than to take a critical eye to policy like the Democrats have. It would have benefited the Republicans greatly for them to be just as scrupulous in their examination of policy, rather than simply backing their leaders, and blaming the Democrats for what resulted of the policies their leaders pushed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 17, 2007 12:23 PM
Comment #212492

Stephen, your comments on why democrats are spending massively now, are without justification. It’s now the democratic party budget. They very easily could have started working through the budget and fixed it. They ran on that, they said it was horrible, they said they would not spend like that, they said it was destroying out childrens future.

Now you say, well, it’s ok if they destroy our childrens future for another year?


Doesn’t cut it, it sounds like a lie. Either they are or are not destroying our childrens future. Sounds like you don’t believe they are and NEVER believed it. Like the entire song and dance about democrats taking control of spending was a lie.

As far as Reids corruption, I don’t have it wrong. I know he took large amounts of Abramoff money, I now about his million dollar dirty property deal, and I know about his family working as lobbiests. Corruption is corruption and the democrats like you apparently feel it’s ok for a democrat congress to BE CORRUPT.

You don’t have to accept this nonsense. You don’t have to make excuses for a democrat congress that refuses to control the budget. You don’t have to make excuses for a corrupt Harry Reid. You could speak out against the Democrat party of corruption and you could demand they sit down now and cut spending….as they promised they would.

Stop Making Excuses. Face up to the Failure of the Democrat party to do what they said they would do. Their failure to control the budget, to cust spending, to fix socialil security, to stop corruption, etc.

Posted by: Stephen at March 17, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #212498

One thing I’ve noticed about the budget. Since the democrats have opted not to take control of the budget or to even debate the budget, there is virtually nothing on it out there. Nothing about their plan for controling spending. No more talk about the evils of spending our childrens future. No more talk of the horors of over spending the “Repubicans” did. Even though they have pased the “Republican” spending and “wisely” chosen to “Not deal” with the 07 budget. Which is, in itself, a decison to overspend and somehow still credit themselves as being “responsible” and NOT SPENDING OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE? But wait, how could that be spending our childrens future when the Republicans spent that much but now when the democrats do it?

Get ready folks. Democrats have been in power for nearly 1/4 of 07 and they have failed to cut spending. They will are failing us, they are running from the issue, they will continue to fail us. Unless you on the left pressure them. The radical left now sets the nations agenda in congress.

It’s up to you radical Bush haters to force democrats to cut government spending, or they will fail us…no matter what they promised the voters.

Posted by: Stephen at March 17, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #212507

Stephen

Republicans did not make the government work any better than Democrats.

We need government. Government is good and appropriate for things like big infrastructure, security and generally addressing problems the people themselves cannot.

It easily gets in trouble trying to manage production, create advantages for particular groups of citizens or micromanaging the economy.

It is true that at some point a large government, especially in a big and diverse country like ours, becomes an impediment to progress. It cannot be made to do many of the things people want.

Re Iraq - all decision should be foward looking. If we assess the total costs and risks of staying in Iraq are greater than the total costs and risks of leaving, we should go. If not, we should stay. All this talk about how we got in, what we did etc, is an academic exercise except to the extent it informs our decision about the future.

Our debate should be what the world will be like for us five years from now if we leave right away or if we withdraw based on conditions and what those conditions should be.

Posted by: Jack at March 17, 2007 2:15 PM
Comment #212509

Jack, I agree with much of what you say. I’m going to focus on the present though and not the past. I want this government, this present government, to cut spending, balance budgets, fix social security, fix medicare, secure the boarders, create national health care that honors our free enterprise and capitalist traditions, and to clean up government.

At this point all we have done is traded a corrupted Republican congress for an already corrupt group of democrats. The present corrupt democrat party leadership is failing us, just as the past Republican group failed us. And they are sharing many of the same failures. Such as spending too much, not fixing major, broken, social service programs, accepting corruption, etc.

Posted by: Stephen at March 17, 2007 2:19 PM
Comment #212512

Stephen D

The sad reality is that the republican party has rhetorically talked themselves into a soundproof box. People listen but they hear nothing because nothing new or credible is being said. They seem to be holding onto their hollow words as if there is some sort of twisted nobility in doing so. Unfortunately this benefits no one including themselves. It makes me wonder if they truly believe in this direction or they are actually so inept as to not be capable of pursuing different avenues. My guess is that they will continue down this road of stubborn denial until it is absolutely necesary to change course. If not then one can only assume that they think all is lost for them in the immeadiate future and there is nothing to lose by persisiting in this manner. Perhaps it is the result of a bit of vindictiveness in the wake of their moral demise. At any rate it is a shame because their obstructionism does nothing to improve the state of our nation.

Personally I would be happy if the dems were to take the high ground and institute whatever measures necesary to end this mess, regardless of political repurcussions. It is time our legislature did what is right for this country. Period!

Posted by: ILdem at March 17, 2007 2:33 PM
Comment #212525

Stephen-
This was your party’s budget, and it should have been done last year, so as not to get in the way of the smooth operation of the government.

This is your way of passing the buck. You didn’t get nearly this bent out of shape over record deficits. You didn’t call the Republicans on their earmarks, even though they far surpassed any other congresses, including the one they replaced. You didn’t complain when your Republican congress earmarked funds meant for our soldiers for all kinds of petty crap. I did.

As far as the claims go with Reid, this is the story: Whatever lobbying Abramoff did with Reid, it had hardly any effect. He took an opposing position. There was no quo for Abramoff’s quid. It was also unlikely that Abramoff lobbied Reid or any Democrat all that seriously, given that there’s hardly any documentation to support that. His own colleagues challenge that assertion The Boxing thing was a load of crap as well, especially since it was illegal to pay for the tickets.

Then there’s the land deal where he supposedly made millions. Admittedly, there are ethical problems there, but they were minor. The core of the story, again, is crap. The land was transfered to a corporation all right. No money changed hands, though, because this corporation, an LLC, was owned by the two people who owned the land in the first place, Reid being one of them. Then, when it got sold, Reid only made a 700,000 dollar profit, not the 1.1 million claimed by John Solomon.

Reid dealt with his reporting oversight. To my knowledge, Solomon has yet to deal with his own.

Reid, as far as I can see, is not perfect. But he’s not as dirty as you would like to believe, and he’s certainly a vast improvment over his predecessor, in that he actually backs down when these things are brought up.

It’s amazing how much responsiblity you want me to take on other people’s mistakes, both the previous congress’s and this reporter you keep on referencing. I’m open to preventing my party from going the way of yours, I’m just not open to getting gulled by those who want to lie and cheat their way back into office, rather than own up to their problems.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 17, 2007 4:07 PM
Comment #212533

Stephen D,

All in all a very nice article. One note on this thought from you, “They’ve perfected the art of blaming government’s nature for their failings, of not accepting failure as failure, not admitting their mistakes, and Bush has become one of their greatest practicioners of this art.” and “The bad kind is when your acceptance is of its continuation. Perhaps you don’t want to give up on your ideology.”

I would hope that you don’t lock yourself into your own idealogical box of making government work pragmatically so that you are unable to see when it really can’t. There are things that Washington should not/ can not do effectively. I hope your belief in the pragmatism of governement extends that far.

There are activities that should be taken on by the Fed’s as Jack mentioned above. There are those that should be taken by the States and localities. Then there are those that should be taken on not all despite all the best of intentions.

Washington regardless of the party in power has been ill equipped to let go of the last group because of either fear of losing power or fear of failure or both.

Posted by: Rob at March 17, 2007 5:59 PM
Comment #212534

Rob-
I have no problem with looking at things critically. Appropriate use of government is key to making government useful to the people, which is in fact the modern liberal’s true goal, not a dogmatic love of big government.

I think the big problem is categorical thinking, of approach it in an all or nothing manner from either side. Some government works and can work, and some doesn’t work and can’t work.

How do you discern the difference? I think people from both side of the fence need to do their best to make their arguments particular to the issues and programs at hand, finding where government does things better, and where it doesn’t by a close examination of the facts. Fanatically held-to beliefs stretch credibility by their nature. If nothing can disprove one’s ideas, nothing can prove them either.

We need to find the data that tells us one way or another whether our approach is working, and not simply take it on faith.

So, in answer to your concerns, yes, my pragmatism does extend that far.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 17, 2007 6:07 PM
Comment #212575

Thanks, Steven Daugherty, this is major problem in politics.

Accepting failure is something that can turn a defeat into a learning experience. The vague “Mistakes were made” is a popular phrase in D.C. these days and something the media has bounced around.

While I’m not for Seppuku, a little more mia culpa, would do us and the rest of the world a lot of good right now. Ritual Rehab seems to be more the vogue here, however.

Posted by: gergle at March 18, 2007 2:12 AM
Comment #212584

Stephen,

As usual, another excellent article.

Posted by: Ray Guest at March 18, 2007 10:21 AM
Comment #212599

Democrats load emergancy troop spending bill with 21 billion worth of LARD. Is this the promise being kept that Pelosi would save our childrens future from outragous spending? When will democrats stop blaiming their MASSIVE DEFICIT SPENDING on the Republicans.

Here we have a democrat controlled congress loading up a defense bill with massive additional spending. Why are the democrats breaking their promises to us? When will liberals demand that democrats stop with their culture of corruption and control spending?

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm1397.cfm

Posted by: Stephen at March 18, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #212605

Stephen (not Daugherty),

I’ve not looked to see what all of the pork in this bill is. Undoubtedly there is a lot of pork. Both parties are horrible about adding pork to every bill that passes thru the house and senate. The practice needs to be changed. I’d love to see a “one bill / one purpose amendment” added to the constitution. I’d actually say that should be a priority.

The problem is we’re basically dealing with two teams. One wears Red and the other wears Blue. What you’re suggesting now is that the Blue team play by different rules than the Red team, thus giving the Red team the advantage. Well, it’s not going to happen.

I will say that not all of the “pork” is uncalled for, even though I’d rather see it approached differently (ie: in the form of separate legislation) but unbenounced to most of America much of our heartland has been in a drought for some time. Production costs have risen disproportionately compared with market prices and the drought has placed hundreds of small producers in jeopardy.

Without farm subsidies we’re looking at a monopolization of the farming industry such as we see now with the oil industry. Imagine our nations farmland being owned by five or six large corporations! To some degree it’s beginning to happen already.

I find it odd that the party who seeks to save the family farm by eliminating the so-called “death tax” (which can be avoided thru incorporation and life insurance anyway) finds it preferable to starve the farmer while he’s still living. While I’m unfamiliar with the fruit-growing industry I’m sure the struggle they face is quite similar.

It would be pointless for me to mention the subsidies to our oil companies wouldn’t it? We all know they’re struggling to stay above water.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 18, 2007 3:06 PM
Comment #212617

Wow, what a defense of the democrat congress. They are corrupt, it’s ok, we must accept it. Yes, they promised to control spending, they promised to end corruption, they promised to not “pork out bills” but now that they are overspending, corrupt, and pouring on the pork, it’s ok….because they are democrats and not republicans.

No, it’s not ok. They promised to end the massive spending not to continue it. They promised to “pay as they go” not continue massive spending and call it “wise”. They told us we should vote for them because mean old Republicans were spending away our childrens future, and they would put an end to that stuff.

Now, it all seems like lies. And now, you who bashed the Republicans for these practises, support the democrats in them. Why the Flip Flop boys? When exactly did you flip to “democrat party corruption” doesn’t stink?

Posted by: stephen L at March 18, 2007 5:28 PM
Comment #212628

Stephen (not Daughtery),

Please continue trying to convince me that the Republicans are better. You’ll waste your “cyber-breath”. Both parties love pork. One mans pork is another mans bacon.

I’ve already said that I don’t like the way the system works. Both parties are guilty of pork-barrel spending. It will take more than a shift from Republican to Democrat or vice-versa to change that.

But, when you say “they” ran on just “this or that policy” you’re as full of “funny stuff” as you could possibly be. The last election was a state by state, district by district election.

Undoubtedly some were elected because of their stance on economic policy, while others were elected because they promised to deliver PORK for their constituents, and some were elected because of their anti-war stance. You can try to paint the picture with a 4 inch brush but you’ll end up with a darn poor depiction of the true image.

So, just keep shouting from the rooftops that Democrats are the blight of the land, then explain to me how exactly you’re different than those in Iraq who refuse to give the government a chance to work. In ten short weeks the Democrats have pushed hard for changes to the war policy of King George and begun investigating a number of his administrations violations. At the end of the day that’s what really get’s under your skin, eh?

Posted by: KansasDem at March 18, 2007 7:31 PM
Comment #212630

Hi, folks,
I’m back.

Stephen D.
Your points are well taken. I would only like to add that admitting failure must the top priority before one can truly learn from it.

The idea of our American government conceding anything is probably one of the hardest things any American can think of doing. We are taught from school age up that we have the greatest nation in the world (I’m not arguing that) however to actually coincide the idea of the the Greatest Nation conceding (failing) to do anything is hard for all of us to swallow. The notion that simply being an American means we will always succeed is difficult to over-come. The very idea seems almost Un-American.

However, virtually every other nation in our world has suffered a lost - a war,a culture, a tradition, a loss of “FACE” if you will. We are still re-covering from the notion that we chose to leave Vietnam, instead of acknowledging we simply couldn’t do the job we wanted to do. Much the same can be said of Iraq.

Learning one’s limits can be devastating, at first, however once one understands where these boundaries are located, then one can either work within, or learn how to reach outside. America, and Americans have not yet learned the boundaries between ourselves and our own beliefs, let alone the boundaries of others.

We are still very much the idealistic teenager who believes he\she will live forever, can change the entire world by simply challenging the old ways, without looking at the past. The type of child who tries to solve the math problem without knowing how to show how he\she arrived at the conclusion. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself. The problem arises when the child does not learn how to learn from the mistakes of itself, as well as the mistakes of others.

We as Americans must realize that even we can not over-come all adversities in the exactly same way we have also done it. I hate to admit it, as I imagine, as most of us do, that we most likely need a ‘comeuppance’ as it were in order to grow.

We are not the saviors of this world - heck we haven’t even managed to solve many of our own problems - so who are we to tell another country how it should live?

Jack,
I tend to agree with your statements about what government is good at and what it is not, however, I would add that government can not and should not try to legislate morality either. A government that stays out of individual affairs is important as well.


Posted by: Linda H. at March 18, 2007 7:47 PM
Comment #212639

Stephen-
You have yourself tied in knots here. Which party controlled the Congress when the spending bills for this year were supposed to be written? Which party decided to let the next congress deal with it? Which party wrote the spending bills for the year before, which my party used to bridge the gap in fiscal planning your party was responsible for?

You’re applying one hell of a double standard. Your party rarely if ever got a spending bill in on time, yet you wanted us to write this year’s spending bill, and the next all in one year.

We at least wiped the slate clean of earmarks, pending legislation to reform the process. We at least have returned some degree of oversight to Congress.

If my party fails to get some fiscal sanity back to the spending, I will be angry, and I will be writing about that. Now you can complain that I’m not serious, but I don’t think your people were ever truly serious about fiscal discipline. I don’t think the fiscal irresponsiblity of the last decade is an accident. Don’t talk to me about flip flops, not with that on your party’s record, and your people not putting up enough of a fuss to set your party straight.

In short, let me just say that I have no intention of seeing my party follow your party’s example.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2007 9:54 PM
Comment #212640

Linda H.-
I think you have a point there. the way I’d put it, is that it’s America’s ability to correct itself that makes it great, not some inherent advantage in brains, courage, or brawn. Still, our ability to correct ourselves, makes our application of the abilities of our citizens stronger…

…So long as Americans are willing and able to make the effort to do their best and deal with their mistakes in a timely fashion. I might be a liberal in many ways, but I do appreciate the value of good-old fashion responsiblity and integrity.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2007 9:59 PM
Comment #212651

“I don’t think the fiscal irresponsiblity of the last decade is an accident.”

Stephen Daugherty,

It’s no accident at all. It’s all part of starving the beast. It’s also not limited to one decade. Reaganomics was the beginning of “starving the beast”. Whether you call it “trickle down” economics or any other name it all amounts to starving the beast which brings all of FDR’s remaining social programs to an end.

The “right” longs for the day it can put the working classes back in their place, which is groveling at the feet of the rich. They’re getting closer all the time.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 18, 2007 11:40 PM
Comment #212676

KansasDem-
If they’re taking that approach, they’re fools. They get all of the blame and none of the credit, and they do more to validate the value of big government, run properly than otherwise.

I meant, when I said it wasn’t an accident, that it wasn’t sheer bad luck that got them to this point. In theory, they’re big government’s biggest opponents. In practice, though, they don’t have all the support for reducing government that they’d need, so they go for half measures that don’t really work in terms of cutting budgets, or maintaining efficiency.

Also, they tend to make things more competitive, more political, with the result that bureaucracy becomes more self centered. They do other things that reduce morale of folks in those offices, and that compounds everything else.

If the Republicans really wanted to slim down government and reduce its extent, they would not try and starve the beast. That is an irresponsible approach. America can’t just be dropped off of all this stuff. If they want to take America off entitlements and programs, things have to be phased out and replacement programs brought in, and all this has to work, or it encourages people to go back.

However, there are two things wrong with this. People may not always want to go that direction, period. If they like things as they are, there’s no support either way. Additionally, most Republicans aren’t thinking that far ahead. They’re trying to force a decision here. In theory, they could force people to go off of entitlements, but in practice, people might choose any number of other options.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #212693
“I can’t help but find the Democrat response to the war anemic, by these standards. It shouldn’t take that much political courage to end the war and prevent Bush from leading us into another one unless he has serious proof of its necessity. That’s what the people want. Unfortunately, folks are lost in the complexities, and all too scared of the rhetoric.”

If the people wanted out of this War, then the Dems could easily cut off funding for the troops. Yet, they don’t! There have been polls out there that shows the American people are in favor of “completing the mission” and think we can win; another poll showing that the surge, the same one the dems had a “non-binding” resolution against, is working; and here’s a poll showing the Iraqis feel life is getting better.

Posted by: rahdigly at March 19, 2007 1:08 PM
Comment #212711

Rahdigly-
Okay, while we’re on the subject of polls:
CNN’s latest tells us that 67 percent of Americans think this war is going badly, with about half of those thinking it’s going moderately bad, and the others saying it’s worse than that. 59 percent flatly oppose the surge. 61 percent believe that we are not winning, and 46 percent believe we cannot win and 54 percent believe we will not. 58 percent believe we should withdraw immediately or within the year.

54 percent believed the Bush administration misled them about the war. 52% of people believe that Democrats should block the funding for sending further troops to Iraq. 47 percent believe that the Democratic Congress rather than the president should set policy, this as opposed to 33% for the president.

NBC and the WSJ report that two thirds of the country disapproves of Bush’s handling of Iraq. Their number for the surge is 63% in disapproval. They have a statistical dead heat for opposition and approval of cutting funding for the surge. Most troubling for you is that 51 percent of Americans, according to their poll, do not think Congress has gone far enough to reduce troop levels.

USA Today/Gallup tells us:
Fifty-nine percent of Americans believe that Iraq was a mistake. Only 28% of Americans said we would win, with 20% saying that we could but won’t, and 46%, nearly half, saying that we can’t win. 58% in that poll favored withdrawal, with 20% wanting that immediately and the other 38% wanting it within the year.

77% favor Congress bringing troops home if Iraq does not reach benchmarks in terms of reducing violence. 76% favor keeping troops in America for at least one year before redeploying them to Iraq-Murtha’s plan, let me remind you. 60% want a timetable for withdrawal. 54% favor capping the number of troops serving in Iraq.

The only things you win on in that poll is on voting to revoke authority or the funding for additional troops.

You present me with one poll saying the American people are behind the surge. I present you with mulitiple polls from independent sources saying otherwise. You present me with one poll saying that things are getting better. This poll seems more reputable, but it still leaves the question open: then what?

Your idea of the surge working is violence going down. However, it’s not as simple as that. If we have to stay there indefinitely to prevent the violence from coming back, we can’t win the war, because people will not let this war go on forever. People are already opposing putting more troops in, and are calling for withdrawal in the majority.

The Iraqi troops are the makers or breakers of this deal. Only they can remain behind when all is said and done. Unfortunately, they have not proved up to the task so far, and many of them have just shown up to train so they can turn around and cause more problems.

America cannot win the war by it’s own military force. It’s military force, in fact, props up a government which should be forced to make the hard compromises, rather than pushing that off on us. In the end, the Iraqi government must take the target off our backs, put it on their own, and survive that.

What confidence do you have concerning that? We suggest a timetable or withdrawal, and you guys say “wait a minute!” For all your boasts, you folks believe that the Iraqi government and army cannot pass the basic test of supporting itself. You never have. So you keep us going, with no real notion of how to get us from point A (dependency) to point B (their independence from us).

The Bush administration has never really figured out how to make that work.

What we’re suggesting, at this point, is a soft landing. We need to start leaving. We need them to realize that they have to keep their own peace. That is about the only chance we have of convincing them to stop this civil war. They have to start sharing power, and making compromises. As long as various bad actors can simply screw around with our forces taking up the slack, they won’t do anything.

We need these people to face reality. We need these people to realize that they will no longer have an excuse for doing things the way they’ve been doing them.

We need to face reality ourselves. We were defeated. It’s a crappy outcome, but it was preventable, in many ways. One way was avoiding the war. Another way was paying attention to the realities of fighting a war, and not arrogantly assuming the best case scenario would be the outcome. Another way would have been abandoning the misperceptions, and the plans that were not working, and reconfiguring things to improve our chances of winning.

Opportunity after opportunity passed your people by, and they didn’t take them. Now you’re looking at an expected reduction in violence (but no elimination) and one poll, and you’re telling me that everything is somehow alright.

Pardon me if I find your optimism unconvincing after four years worth of wrong guesses as to how things would turn out. The surge will temporarily surpress violence, but it will only hasten our readiness problems, and when those force us to leave, without political settlement, things will get worse.

They didn’t have to be that way, but you folks had to define optimism in terms of blind loyalty to the war as Bush wanted to fight it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #212715

An additional survey

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2007 3:19 PM
Comment #212716

Don’t accept democrat party failure as they continue to spend our children’s future. Demand that democrats stop with their pork spending, their billions of add-ons to defense spending, demand they sit down and cut spending and work toward a balanced budget.

They ran on “fiscal responsibility”, they lied. Force them to do the right thing. Talk about it. Be outraged. Stand up to them. Stop covering for a democrat party that is spending like crazy and start holding them accountable.

Posted by: Stephen at March 19, 2007 3:20 PM
Comment #212750

They may well have lied, but I’m going to wait until I see the budget they’re supposed to write up to make that determination.

It is hypocrisy to blame the Democrats for this year’s spending. It was your party’s duty to deal with it. It’s your party’s budgets we’re using to do this. Where was your outrage when this was your party’s budget. How loudly were you complaining?

Not loudly enough, obviously. Ironically, by going for that year’s spending bills, we actually ended up with a reduction of the amount that was going to be spent, because we froze the spending instead of raising it to cover the increases that came along.

But that’s chickens*** to take credit for, frankly. I will wait to give my party real credit for fiscal responsiblity when the next budgets and spending bills come out.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 19, 2007 6:07 PM
Comment #212820
“Okay, while we’re on the subject of polls: CNN’s latest tells us that 67 percent of Americans think this war is going badly, with about half of those thinking it’s going moderately bad, and the others saying it’s worse than that.”

That’s such a weak argument. That question is too(ooo) broad. That’s similar to the question, in 2004, “What do you think of the President’s handling of the War in Iraq?”; nearly 2/3rds of the people were against his handling of it, yet he still won the election with a majority of the electorate and by 4 million in the popular vote.

There are several reasons why the majority may feel the war is going badly: some may have wanted more troops; more air power; don’t like NOT bombing mosques and military funerals of bad guys just b/c there were a few civilians, etc. So, that question is definitely not a good indicator of what people really feel about the war.


Yet, if you look at the Iraqi poll; more Iraqis feel safer now than under Saddam. And, 61% feel there is not a civil war as compared to (only) 27%. Those are big numbers and positive signs!

“By a majority of two to one, Iraqis believe military operations now under way will disarm all militias.”

“Only 27% think there is a civil war in Iraq, compared with 61% who do not, according to the survey carried out last month.”

“49 percent said life is better under the current Iraqi government. Just 26 percent preferred life under Saddam Hussein. And 64 percent want to see a united Iraq under a central national government.”

Posted by: rahdigly at March 20, 2007 8:54 AM
Comment #212828

Stephen Daugherty,

Re: “starving the beast”. You’re correct when you say, “If they’re taking that approach, they’re fools.” But it’s hardly just a concept of my over active imagination as evidenced by this article in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starve-the-beast

John F. Ince has a good article on AlterNet today about the pending threat of our National Debt which has increased THREE TRILLION dollars over the past six years of BushCo policy:

http://www.alternet.org/story/49418/

Not a pretty picture.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 20, 2007 9:49 AM
Comment #212935

rahdigly-
Times reporter screwed up. Look at the actual results.

First, of those sixty percent who say Iraq is not in a state of civil war, 22% of the surveyed whole think it’s close to civil war. Not quite as rosey as you were claiming. The numbers predictably go up for bad outcomes as you approach the real trouble spots.

Additionally, more than fifty percent of Iraqis believe that things will get better once we leave, with nearly thirty percent of all surveyed saying that it will get a lot better.

I think the poll shows quite ably that the problem with the Sunnis remains. Kirkuk, Diyala, al Anbar, and Ninewa, all Sunni strongholds, strongly prefer the old regime. The problem with Iraq is not that a majority of Iraqis in general liked Saddam in power, the problem is, the majority of Sunnis do, and without their acquiescense, we have civil war.

Additional problems come from the fact that you have significant numbers of people who know somebody who has been killed, kidnapped, or had a family member kidnapped.

As for military operations now underway? Their military operations, not ours. The question specifically asks about operations taking place under Maliki.

As a Republican, you keep misdiagnosing the problem. The problem here is the Sunnis. They are essentially the people who are the big losers, and they know it. Unless some political compromise can be made, there is no peace with them. They will not lie down, after three quarters of a century dominating Iraq, and let themselves be ruled by the Shia without some kind of agreements in place to protect them.

That’s the problem you have, which you don’t have the time, and never gathered the soldiers to deal with.

To put it plainly, you’ve taken a rosy picture of this poll because of the poor wording and reporting done by the journalist. You failed to take a look at the nuts and bolts of what was being said, and more importantly who was saying these things. You fail to consider that the problem in Iraq is not a general rebellion against our presence, but the armed opposition of many Sunni Groups, and the militarized, fundamentalist nature of many of the supporters of the current government. That both reflects and amplifies the problem.

Do I believe this problem can be solved? Yes. Do I believe that our forces can force this resolution? No, they cannot. We don’t have the numbers to clamp down thoroughly on the country. The Surge is localized in Baghdad, which means that the insurgents are simply going to go elsewhere and cause trouble. It’s also going to cause even greater problems for readiness, and drain even more resources away from Afghanistan.

I know you think things are done there, but there’s a certain six foot Arab that, while Saddam Hussein was captured, imprisoned, convicted, sentenced and executed has not seen on hair of his head touched. This being the man who actually had a hand in the deaths of thousands of Americans, and whose terrorist group remains a real threat to us.

What amazes me, in light of all the rhetoric about the existential nature of this GWOT is the haphazard, lazy approach that has been taken to actual counter terrorism and military operations against the terrorists. Worse yet, even the wars he does show interest in fighting to the bitter end seem to be fought only hard enough not to have to give up tax cuts, or admit the need for more soldiers, more armor, or more readiness over all. This is an adminstration quick to speak to the necessity of war, but not very quick to respond to the necessities that come with fighting one.

Do I think Bush is a serious warfighter? Not really. He’s too inclined to indulge in his fantasies of what might happen if he had more support. Moreover, neither he nor you seem to recognize the inherent problems that come of escalating a war that is at best tolerated, and at worst completely unwanted.

You can talk about how we are unwilling to do everything it takes to win, but that doesn’t seem to be your party’s problem either.

You never made sure of the evidence. There were no confirmed WMDs when we invaded, and this was one of our big justifications for the war. There wasn’t a Plan B except to push blindly forward with Plan A until people got fed up. Then he turned around and did so again and again, changing things just enough to encourage people to give him a second chance, but never taking the kind of radically different and mores substantial approach that might have gotten the job done.

Is this consistent inability to admit failure a means to success? It’s one thing to keep trying new things until something works, but to keep on attempting to win in the same fashion again and again? That speaks of determined denial more than a toughly wrought will to win. It’s defeat in slow motion, and it grieves me that we didn’t have a better leader in place who would be willing to sacrifice face in order to take a better approach.

It’s time to end this appalling example of mediocrity in command. It’s time to recharge America’s strength face it’s most important challenges ahead. I wouldn’t want to have some other country get the best of us because we didn’t keep our military readiness at appropriate levels.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 20, 2007 9:12 PM
Comment #212936

KansasDem-
I didn’t say I didn’t believe they were doing it, or wanting to do it, I just said it was stupid and unwise.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 20, 2007 9:14 PM
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