Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Bush Decision/The Obama Decision

If this is how we make our decisions, we’re screwed. Oh, I’m not talking about Obama. Right or wrong, Obama took time to consider what he was doing, and how long he would be doing it.
The rest of us are who I am ashamed of. We’re still thinking politically and rhetorically about things we should be addressing practically.

That's what killed us in Iraq. We let politics deprive ourselves of alternatives in the lead-up.

Let me clarify what I opposed with the Bush policy, and what I did not. I'm not a pacifist. I hate this Vietnam syndrome, this bringing up of a singular war, taken as a whole, to determine strategy. Vietnam was Vietnam. The lessons, really, were in the small things that were done, and not done.

When Bush was re-elected, I was reading The Best and the Brightest. It was quite depressing to read it at the same time, so many of the things that the Bush Administration was doing- attacking the Media, spending out of deficit, with the attendant economic consequences, and overall just refusing to see anything but the best evidence for success going forward, not trying to engage the people of the country in the fight- these were things Bush and LBJ had in common.

The real problem with Vietnam was the approach that felt ignoring and hiding the problems of that war would help win it, that if you could just trick people into a bit more support we could win.

In short, people were trying to make popular bad policy, in no small amount because of the fear of confronting Americans with a difficult, unpopular choice.

The irony is that we were attacked from Afghanistan, yet we are treating this war just like Iraq. Iraq was a useless war to this country, a strategic boondoggle. AFghanistan was the real war on terrorism, the right target, and one where even now there is still a real threat, folks who will probably attack us again if we don't hit them first.

I'm not saying we should endlessly support this war. If our efforts do not bear fruit, then we're not really protecting anybody from anything. But we got to try here. Eight years of neglect may keep things from being successful, but this is where our troubles began, and if we can exterminate our original enemies, it will at least bring us some cloture.

Obama, in his speech and in his policy, has acknowledged many of the problems. Less foreign aid is going through the corrupt government. More soldiers are going where they're needed, and we're recognizing that we can't ignore the border regions of Pakistan.

This is not the plan of bluffing, blustering cowboy, who thinks things just take care of themselves. This is not a pacifists plan, who believes that we can exit Afghanistan once more without creating a power vacuum. This is not a hawk's plan, endlessly pushing us into a war, endlessly escalating us into a conflict that they have no idea how to resolve.

This is a strategic plan, which recognizes that victory emerges, not spontaneously, but as a result of aligned circumstances which determine outcomes. We can't simply cheerlead into victory. We cannot ignore conditions on the ground. We must adapt to them.

I'm not going to say victory is certain. What I will say is that Obama's plan is smarter, and more responsible than its predecessor.

I listened carefully to what my President promised as a candidate. He did not promise to withdraw from Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the good war when he talked about it, the war we needed to win against the enemy we should have vanquished long ago. And I did not mind this, much less kid myself about this.

I don't think my party benefits from reflexive rejection of war. By taking up that banner in the wake of Vietnam, our party became as strategically deadlocked in its thinking as the Republicans, with the Republicans left as the only party that really was willing to go to war- and the side who determined what was the best plan.

It was because of this that Democrats had far less of an alternative to offer when the Republicans went on the warpath.

We need folks who are willing to use military force, but we need them to use it with discretion and judgment. We do not need to be encouraging our leaders to further commit the error we have committed for quite a long time: shaping policy in military matters to suit public opinion, rather than the necessities of the military matter. While public opinion and morale is an important matter for our Commander in Chief to consider when committing us militarily, it is folly for us to build our policies simply around partisan concerns and political anxieties. To put it plainly, when we shape our policies to respond merely to what's in our heads and on each other's lips, the ultimate result doesn't do our elected officials nor our foreign policy interests much good.

Get things right on the ground. If the last eight years has taught us anything, getting policy right first makes it easier to get things right in the politics. Just pandering to public sentiment will not work. All the PR and the pandering will not keep the screw-ups from undermining whatever success we sought, whatever power we wished to solidify. We only hamstring ourselves when we take a policy of wish fulfillment and wishful thinking forward into the real world. We need to recognize that the real world does not offer us ideal circumstances to get what we want. Struggle is the way of the world, and the bitter education of experience is too often the way we learn better. The question is whether we learn from mistakes, or simply react to them.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 2, 2009 10:10 AM
Comments
Comment #291898

Stephen:

My son and daughter-in-law could possibly be deployed in this war. As a father, I don’t want my son in harms way, but if he needs to be there to defend our country I understand that is a part of service to our country.

I want my son’s commander in chief to either say to my son and daughter-in-law and all the other families and servicemen and women, that we are sending you there to win with the FULL backing of our countries resources or we are bringing you home.

My son and daughter-in-law’s commander in chief did not use the word victory once. It seems to be a political calculation speech. It was very measured. If the country is not sending our son’s and daughter’s to win, then they should be brought home. Their is too much risk of having these brave men and women twist in the wind because of partial support.

When you say as commmander and chief that you are not willing to commit the full resources of our country to a fight, you are saying that the venture does not involve our “vital” national interest.

because Obama does not have victory in mind, I think his better choice would have been to bring our troops home.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 2, 2009 11:59 AM
Comment #291899

I agree in the sense that Obama has at least proposed a plan, but unfortunetly the fact that we are even there doing what we are doing shows that there is a lack of understanding of the whole situation.

I’ve said it before, this isn’t like fighting a country, or a defined group of people following one leader or banner. We are fighting an idea. A concept. A paradigm that is largely shaped by American actions, not the actions of those who believe how they do. Bush took the bait, and now so did Obama.

We cannot “win” a war against terrorism because terrosim isn’t an enemy, it is a tactic, and in this case it is a tactic used to proliferate a belief system. There is no amount of enemies we can kill that will allow us to claim victory.

Obama is trying to fix a problem that cannot be fixed. He is falling prey to a dangerous belief that seems to live in American mystique that we can always conqour any foe and that we can always find a way. In real life, you don’t always get to win. Sometimes you lose. We lost this struggle years ago when we played right into the hands of those who attacked us.

Does anyone remember when Bin Laden basically said he attacked us to draw us into an endless conflict? Well look what happened…

The terrorists DID win after all!

Posted by: mike falino at December 2, 2009 12:14 PM
Comment #291900

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/here_we_go_again_20091202/

President Barack Obama’s own top national security adviser has stated that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan and that they are not capable of launching attacks. What superheroes they must be, then, to require 100,000 U.S. troops to contain them.

The president handled that absurdity by conflating al-Qaida, which he admitted is holed up in Pakistan, with the Taliban and denying the McChrystal report’s basic assumption that the enemy in Afghanistan is local in both origin and focus.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2009 12:16 PM
Comment #291901

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/02/obama/index.html

He’s convinced his admirers that this is a form of noble “pragmatism” but, far more often, it appears to be a mishmash of political calculations bereft of principle and plagued by numerous internal contradictions that make it impossible to understand, let alone defend. Everyone gets to read into it whatever they want to see.
Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2009 12:18 PM
Comment #291910

Craig,

If you can define what winning is, and then fully explain mileposts that would show that win, I’d buy you’re argument.

If you are willing to spend the next twenty five to 50 years thousands of lives and gazillions to win this nation building, or region building war…Then please let us know. If you sincerely think more than a handful of Americans would actually go for that, I think you are deluded.

We could have poured millions more in life and treasure into Vietnam with the same result.

John Wayne makes simple declarative statements like that in his movies. I don’t recall him ever running for office.

Posted by: gergle at December 2, 2009 2:54 PM
Comment #291912

gergle:

If we can’t determine success than we shouldn’t be there.

Obama didn’t use the word victory once.

My come back to you is that if there is not definition of victory, what are we doing?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 2, 2009 3:20 PM
Comment #291913

gergle:

I’m making the case that middle ground half hearted efforts might be worse than withdrawal long term.

this all looks too political. Notice how the timeline fits nicely into the election cycle. It really does not make sense at all.

I really could accept Obama saying we are pulling out because Afghanistan is no longer in our national interest.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 2, 2009 3:25 PM
Comment #291915

Craig Holmes-
Better something short of a victory than nothing short of a defeat. We waited several years to put the focus back on Afghanistan. Such delay is not without price. There are consequences for being lazy about a war.

What we would call victory might not be possible. But a lesser outcome, at least better than the alternative, might be doable.

As for support? I don’t think the Obama administration is going to stiff the soldiers on the equipment to get the job done. If you’re talking about matters of spirit?

Well, you know? I watched the Bush Administration cheerlead two wars into the ground, with terrible consequences for morale. Though more susceptible to plain-old persuasion than other conditions of the battlefield, real events and real outcomes on strategy have much stronger bearing on where morale goes than pep-talks and rigid policy support on the part of some people.

Mike Falino-
I did not mean war on terrorism in that ridiculous, overbroad sense. I meant that Afghanistan was the real war we fought against real terrorists who posed a real threat to us. You can’t make war on a tactic, but you can sure kick the **** out of a particular group of people who used that tactic in a particular time and place.

I think his plans are far more specific and far more grounded than his predecessors.

As for the terrorists winning? It all depends on what you mean. Did they get the better of us in Iraq and Afghanistan? So far, they have. But that’s not exactly a fight I want to lose. Somehow the idea of terrorists striking with impunity on our country doesn’t seem to me to be an acceptable outcome.

However, I recognize that the problem is more complicated than the Bush Administration thought. I just think it still needs to be solved, nonetheless.

Rhinehold-
The question is not whether there are 100 card-carrying al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan today. The problem is how many are there tomorrow. The good news is that we can get people to cooperate against them and the Taliban. Bad news is that eight years of war and support for a week, corrupted government doesn’t bear such sweet fruit for such efforts.

What can we do in the meantime? I don’t know. But inaction here is not a smart idea. We got a responsibility and an obligation to do better.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 2, 2009 3:29 PM
Comment #291917

Craig Holmes-
Let me discuss a pet peeve of mine with you: when folks think long wars are a good idea.

Obama’s speech recognized some critical, if unpleasant truths: the war is not very popular right now. And the damn thing is too expensive to keep going forever.

If you read Von Clausewitz or Sun Tzu, these strategic problems are very well laid out- the problems of paying for a soldier out in the field, the problem of maintaining a war in the face of public antipathy.

Truth is, you can’t control everything about a war, including how people favor or do not favor it. You have to adapt to these things, or put yourself in the ugly position of having to fight the politics at home as well as wage the war.

Or put another way, you’re getting a lot more war than you might have gotten if Obama had just gone by policy popularity polls. He’s treading the edge of what’s politically acceptable.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 2, 2009 3:35 PM
Comment #291921

We lost first when we named it a war, but did not name who the war was against…a nebulous, ‘war on terror’ says nothing.

We lost second when we decided that the perpetrator of 9/11 was not worth pursuing, and diverted our resources to Iraq.

We lost third when we could not define what we were actually doing in Iraq.

President Obama did not mention victory, because you cannot abtain victory by fighting an idea or an ism. He did lay out a strategy for gaining the most out of a bad situation. I, for one, wish him luck…but with the conservative enemies he has to fight at home in order to make those gains, I don’t think my luck wishing will help much.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 2, 2009 5:01 PM
Comment #291924

Stephen:

Let me help you then with your pet peeve. I don’t think long wars are a good idea. Now you can relax!!

What I don’t think is a good idea in warfare is half measures like we did in Iraq. If we are not able to commit to the cost of a victory we shouldn’t go at all.

Victory can be defined in many ways.

I have noticed that Obama has set the timetable to coincide witht the 2012 elections.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 2, 2009 5:46 PM
Comment #291927

Craig Holmes-
Victory can be defined in many ways, but only some are useful definitions.

I don’t believe in half measures either, but the problem is that wars that are not strictly about gaining ground and conquering territory can deal with fairly sensitive situations.

Another issue, though, is that sometimes you’re not given the resources to fight the war you need, simply because others have set the stage so poorly. This is part of the problem that Iraq, even now, poses for us. Ideally, we get all the weapons soldiers and other things we need. In the real world, though, unless you want to seriously bust the bank, you have to deal with less. The Nazis had the best tanks, but they also had the worst fuel shortage. Strategically the latter would have been bad, and the former great, but together, they add up to a resource you couldn’t use. The Shermans were gasoline driven tanks that the Panzers could blow up by looking at them funny, but the allies had more fuel, and the Shermans could be maintained better.

That’s the way war works, I guess.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 2, 2009 6:12 PM
Comment #291928

Obama appears to be fighting not to loose.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 2, 2009 6:35 PM
Comment #291930

S.D.
The real problem with Viet Nam was POLITICIANS. They wouldn’t let their Generals fight the war like they should have. When you let the enemy stock pile munitions and restrict bombing those positions your fighting a loosing battle. I don’t want to hear no BS because I fought in that war.

Posted by: KAP at December 2, 2009 7:02 PM
Comment #291931

I was there two and a half times. We didn’t lose it so much as we found out we could not justify being there, and got the hell out. If we’d been smart, we’d not have lied our way into it in the first place…hmmm…a lesson we could have learned, but did not for Iraq. Lie your way in…wallow your way out. That’s the price you pay for being stupid…er…that and fifty-five thousand lives.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 2, 2009 7:13 PM
Comment #291933

KAP, which generals? Westmoreland, the lying sack of shit?

If you are talking about Bundy or Mcnamara or Johnson (politicians), I agree with you, but not that fighting the war would have won in end regardless. It was a stupid political decision made even more stupid by Johnson’s decision not to withdraw after he knew it was a lost cause. South Vietnam was corrupt and did not have the population’s backing. (Remember we had Diem killed) Thieu was just a stooge pilot. Ho understood the Vietnamese desire to be in charge of their own fate after years of colonization.

Posted by: gergle at December 2, 2009 7:46 PM
Comment #291934

Craig,

I disagree. I think Obama is going to try a surge like Iraq and Afghanization of the war, while making more inroads politically into Pakistan, which is really the key.

He’s already announced a deadline of 2011 (politically convenient?). This is a withdrawal, just an attempt to stabilize the situation, before doing so.

It will be cheaper to get the Afghans or Paks to destroy Al Qaeda. The key is turning the tables on Bin Laden. By repairing America’s image and doing what is in both countries interest, he could do this, I’m not saying it will work, but it’s worth a shot. Better that attempt than a scorched earth strategy that will just inur more people against the US. We cannot fund this indefinitely, either; no more than the Soviets could.

That is what I heard yesterday.

Posted by: gergle at December 2, 2009 7:55 PM
Comment #291938

Dude
I was there twice. Yea it was a stupid war because of the politics involved. Yes gergle Johnson was an idiot and I hope BHO dosen’t follow suit with Afganistan.

Posted by: KAP at December 2, 2009 8:14 PM
Comment #291940

Stephen

Casablanca was on TV yesterday. The last line Victor Laszlo says to Rick before getting on the plane applies here to your piece - “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”

You might recognize the Obama surge if you know its older brother the Bush surge, but call it what you want, it is good to have you on the right side.

Posted by: Christine at December 2, 2009 9:41 PM
Comment #291957

They have LBJ today at no 11 One below Reagan and four below Jefferson..

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 3, 2009 12:15 AM
Comment #291958

KAP-
What I read indicates that everybody was BSing everybody else. People weren’t interested in determining the truth so much as pushing competing points of view out of contention.

And why not? They were of course saving the free world from the domino effect. Politicians hid bad stuff from the voters. The military hid bad stuff from the politicians. The folks on high hid from on low, the folks from on low hid from on high. In essence, people were so worried about making sure the war went through and went through their way, according to their particular theories, that they listened to few others and lied to the others in order to manipulate the situation.

There’s a reason I’m so insistent on skeptical inquiry: I do not underestimate people’s willingness or ability to get too creative with the truth. You can lose a war because you won’t listen, because you’re playing the politics too enthusiastic to actually focus on the real world results.

Christine-
The irony here is that I suggested escalation in Afghanistan as an alternative to the Iraq surge.

Ultimately, Afghanistan was always the priority with me.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 3, 2009 12:18 AM
Comment #291964

In my mind, the key question regarding Afghanistan is what do the majority of Afghans want? Do they truly desire an alternative to the Taliban style of governance? If so, are they willing and capable of developing such an alternative? We lost Vietnam on those issues not military ineptness or political waffling.

The McCrystal plan, endorsed by Obama, with its emphasis on protecting the population from attacks by the Taliban, assumes that Afghans, in general, are not supportive of the Taliban and given some breathing space can develop a self sustaining alternative. The withdrawal time frame is a clear signal to the Afghans to begin to prove those assumptions correct or we are out of there.

Posted by: Rich at December 3, 2009 6:48 AM
Comment #291969

Stephen

I know you suggested it as alternative. That is not irony. You just didn’t believe the surge in Iraq could be successful. You were mistaken and now we have a much better situation in Iraq than you envisioned. We all make mistakes.

Posted by: Christine at December 3, 2009 8:17 AM
Comment #291972

Christine, patience. Iraq is not a done deal. No where in the middle east is.

What actually turned the tide in Iraq was removal of Rumsfeld, and engaging the Sunni’s in the fight. The surge did help, but it was also diplomatic and strategy moves. I also did not think the surge would help, based on the previous failures of Bush policy. He finally acceded, belatedly, to outside advice.

Posted by: gergle at December 3, 2009 8:25 AM
Comment #291975

The ‘surge’ worked in Iraq, only because of the abject failures preceding it. It fails to amuse me that those who advocated and boasted of the ‘surge’ successes, are the very ones who denigrate the ‘surge’ that may give us health care reform, and a recovering economy. The abject failures that led to our financial crises was led by a runaway health care system, and fed by the deregulation authorized in GLB. The required financial ‘surge’ has been fought tooth and nail by the very ‘surge’ proponents who saw the need when it came to killing people, but don’t see the need when it comes to salvaging a semblance of middle class in America.

Take another look at those polls that some on the right chortle about so abusively. You might notice that the President’s positives are led by a 91% approval in the non-white demographic, as compared to a 39% positive in the white demographic. That leads me to believe the lies and shouting of the Becks, Tea Partyers, the right side of the Congressional aisle, et al, have been pervasively racist in tone and have been far too effective at derailing good policy. Evil always does serious damage in its wake…just like those polls show.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2009 8:49 AM
Comment #291977

Marysdude, the surge in Iraq did NOT work to achieve the ends set out for Iraq.

Iraq is NOT a stable government. Iraq is cannot even be called an ally. Can you call a junkie hooked on a dealer’s heroin an ally?

Iraq now has a corrupt government and society, which means it is run by thugs, black mailers, skimmers, kidnappers, and terrorists continue to terrorize there.

Our choice in Iraq going forward is to bankrupt our own nation by maintaining a damper on Iraq’s corruption, or leave Iraq to the thugs, and a future liklihood of another despotic centralized figure like Saddam Hussein, beating back all the other thugs for power.

In this regard, the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan are similar, from our vantage point, the major exception being that a centralized thug in Afghanistan only exists with our support of Karzai. But, the in the end, the best we can hope for is that a despotic regime in both countries views al-Queda as a threat to their despotism and thereby permits our leaving with our own national security intact as far as those two countries are concerned.

That is the primary objective of our policy in Afghanistan announced this last week, to prop up Karzai to the point that his army is capable of preventing a return to Taliban rule and organized al-Queda operations within that country. That is the best possible outcome that can be achieved at the least economic and personnel loss to America. In other words, the best of all poor or bad realistic options.

The rest is perceptual window dressing to put our best face forward as we seek to accomplish that one primary objective while securing maintaining the U.N.’s future willingness to respond appropriately to changing conditions there that may impose a new threat to international security and relations.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 3, 2009 9:25 AM
Comment #291991

Kirk,

What you say might have been true had the non-white favorable percentages increased, but it is the other way around, ie, the white favorables are falling. Some on here were virulent about how these polls were showing a center ‘right’ movement. I see it more as a center ‘white’ movement…and find it shameful.

If you find President Obama lacking, perhaps you should examine your starting point…did you approve of him before he became President? If not, then you have not changed because he is half black. If your opinion has changed, is it because he has not followed through on the things you liked about his approach? If your views have changed, but not about his approach to those things, have they changed because of the constant bombardment by the right?

Now assess your own findings on whether the white approvals falling are consistent with policy differences. One thing to remember…he said the things that were important to him before he was elected. Some interference occurred because the bottom fell out of our financial system, but for the most part you must agree that he has held true to what got him elected by a majority of voters. It is not him that has caused the white fallout. What do YOU think it might be?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2009 12:38 PM
Comment #291993

The President of the United States is supposed to be the President of all her citizens, be they rich or poor, smart or not, dark or light, etc. I think that beginning with FDR and continuing through HST, Ike, JFK and LBJ that held fairly true. I also think that beginning with Nixon and continuing through today that has failed to be true.

This President, if he has a failing, it would be that he has not convinced the American people that he is trying to do what is right for all of them. Somehow, he has allowed the vociferous dividers and obstructionists to steal his America from him. The twenty-four/seven bombardments from so many small fronts has made inroads where those inroads should not be. When (yes, I said WHEN) our country begins to turn the corner as far as the economy is concerned, and when folks find out just how rotten and corrupt our health care system has really been, when we look around in the world and see that not all nations dislike us, then and only then will we wake up as a nation and realize the prize our last election has won us.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2009 12:56 PM
Comment #291999

I guess I still don’t understand and no one has answered my questions…

Why are we still there? Who are we fighting and why? The Taliban did not attack us, Afghanistan gave al Qaeda aid and protection but they have a new government now and most experts agree that the Taliban are interested in local politics, not international terrorism. There are less than 100 actual al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. The person who planned 9/11 is in custody and will be tried in New York, bin Laden had no knowledge of the plan until after it was played out and someone told him so I don’t know why we have set him up as the bogeyman.

Are we nation building? We shouldn’t have been doing that in Iraq (Rumsfeld’s vision was flawed there) so why are we doing it here? We removed the Taliban from power, just as we removed Saddam from power, staying around to make the country look the way we want it to look is a bit narcissistic, isn’t it?

When will it be enough? What is the end goal? Apparently, right before an election is the best time to get out of dodge…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 3, 2009 2:13 PM
Comment #292001

By the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan had its largest membership ever and had become a formidable political force in many parts of the nation. On October 26, 1921, in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, President Harding advocated civil rights for all segments of the American populace, including African Americans. Earlier, he had proposed appointing African Americans to federal positions and supported an anti-lynching bill and establishment of an interracial commission to find ways to improve race relations. ” Politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties “had a hand in thwarting these presidential initiatives.
President Harding supported labor’s right to bargain collectively and abolition of the twelve-hour work day and the six-day work week. The major steel producers finally did away with the twelve-hour day just before Harding’s death, acknowledging the President’s influence on their decision.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 3, 2009 2:37 PM
Comment #292012

I feel sorry for anyone who has a family member that may be one of the 30,000.

“A candlelight vigil tonight honored a soldier from Crystal Lake who was killed in a mortar attack in Afghanistan this week less than a month before he was scheduled for a leave to see his wife and young daughter. Speaking to those at the vigil outside her parents’ home in Cary, Aimee McLeod called her husband “the most wonderful man I ever met in my life.” Spc. Jason A. McLeod, 22, who was promoted to sergeant after his death, was three weeks from leave to see his wife and infant daughter when he was killed. On his second tour of duty, the 2006 graduate of Crystal Lake Central High School had earlier been deployed to Iraq. He worked as a mechanic on Humvees in the Army’s 112th Infantry…”

“While in the Army, McLeod received numerous awards, including the Army Commendation Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He’s survived by his wife of more than 2 years, Aimee Ghannam, 15-month-old daughter Jocelyn, parents and two siblings. He was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.”

That was just before Thanksgiving, his body was returned home yesterday.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 3, 2009 6:22 PM
Comment #292017

Perhaps we must remain in Afghanistan until Pakistan has a better grip on that country’s insurgency problem. Proximity might be a good thing for a while, as Pakistan has nuclear weapons, which cannot fall into ugly hands. The border regions of the two is the locale of much al Qaida activity, and even a hundred is enough to commit much mischief. The hundred in Afghanistan may have a lot of support from those across the border. Best guesses on numbers may be faulty, because if we could get an accurate count, wouldn’t that mean we are close enough to ben Ladin to capture or kill him?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2009 7:21 PM
Comment #292023

Kirk,

Okay, I get your drift…he’s bad now, and he’s always been bad…mostly because he is LIBERAL. Man! I wish I’d known THAT before I voted for him.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 3:09 AM
Comment #292024

PS:

He ran on a platform that said:

Gays are productive citizens, and should be treated as such…
Torture is unAmerican, and should be stopped…
Guantamano is illegal, and should be closed…
Iraq is not a war, it is a stupidity, and should be shut down…
Health care in America is out of control, and should be reformed…
The previous administration was too secretive and made arbitrary decisions…
Other stuff too…

What in the world caused you to suddenly believe, after he was elected, that he might be a darned old LIBERAL?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 3:17 AM
Comment #292025

>In less than one year he has overseen a tripling the deficit. Excluded Republicans from input on any of the major bills being authored. Put a tax cheat in charge of the IRS. Seen unemployment blow past the 8% ceiling he guaranteed if we would only pass the stimulus. Taken over the banking and automotive industries. And is now about to drive the health care system into the ditch.
Posted by: Kirk at December 4, 2009 01:31 AM

All Glen Beckian rants, lies and just plain crap. Do you actually BELIEVE any of this stuff?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 3:22 AM
Comment #292026
Gays are productive citizens, and should be treated as such…

Only he’s done nothing about it.

Guantamano is illegal, and should be closed…

Still open

Iraq is not a war, it is a stupidity, and should be shut down…

Still going, increasing the use of mercs to fight it… And just as much a war and stupid as Afghanistan…

Health care in America is out of control, and should be reformed…

And let the most inept group of people sit down and try to work out just how with little or no direction so he can save his political hide when it blows up.

The previous administration was too secretive and made arbitrary decisions…

Glad we don’t have to worry about Obama claiming ‘exeuctive privledge’ then. OR spying on citizens of the US.

Oh wait…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 4, 2009 4:58 AM
Comment #292029

Gays are productive citizens, and should be treated as such…
Only he’s done nothing about it.
He hasn’t changed his mind, and has several years to see to it.

Guantanamo is illegal, and should be closed…
Still open
Becoming more closed as we speak and every day.

Iraq is not a war, it is a stupidity, and should be shut down…
Still going, increasing the use of mercs to fight it… And just as much a war and stupid as Afghanistan…
Becoming less involved as we speak and every day.

Health care in America is out of control, and should be reformed…
And let the most inept group of people sit down and try to work out just how with little or no direction so he can save his political hide when it blows up.
Placed the responsibility where it belonged all along, and is being successful because he played it correctly.

The previous administration was too secretive and made arbitrary decisions…
Glad we don’t have to worry about Obama claiming ‘exeuctive privledge’ then. OR spying on citizens of the US.
Less secretive and makes decisions after much input by several open sources, much of it contrary to his initial view.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 7:27 AM
Comment #292035
Gays are productive citizens, and should be treated as such… Only he’s done nothing about it. He hasn’t changed his mind, and has several years to see to it.

I’m sure that’s reassuring to those people who’s basic human rights are being squashed every day. Especially knowing that the way the things are going that the Democratic majorities he enjoys now to get things done are going to be getting smaller in another year.

Guantanamo is illegal, and should be closed…
Still open
Becoming more closed as we speak and every day.

And the proof of this is? Last I checked we were having issues determining where we were going to send these people and even congress with a Democratic majority doesn’t seem willing to let him bring them to US jails

Iraq is not a war, it is a stupidity, and should be shut down… Still going, increasing the use of mercs to fight it… And just as much a war and stupid as Afghanistan… Becoming less involved as we speak and every day.

Again, facts? Because that’s not the reality that we see. More troops are going in as mercenaries with almost no actual troop draw down. In fact, with the troops being sent over for Afghanistan, there are now more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined than EVER during the Bush administration, even during the surge.

Health care in America is out of control, and should be reformed… And let the most inept group of people sit down and try to work out just how with little or no direction so he can save his political hide when it blows up. Placed the responsibility where it belonged all along, and is being successful because he played it correctly.

If you call what is going on successful, then I can understand why you think Obama is doing a great job. Some people have higher expectations from a President and congress…

The previous administration was too secretive and made arbitrary decisions… Glad we don’t have to worry about Obama claiming ‘exeuctive privledge’ then. OR spying on citizens of the US. Less secretive and makes decisions after much input by several open sources, much of it contrary to his initial view.

Right… So that expansion of power that he has taken ahold of, that even Bush wouldn’t have dared broach, to spy on Americans with no repercussions is OK with you then? Or the blocking of access to visitor lists and claiming executive privilege is ok, just because he wasn’t as bad as Bush was about it? That’s our measuring stick and goal, not to such as bad as the other party?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 4, 2009 10:06 AM
Comment #292036

Absolutely NOTHING gets changed in Washington overnight…not even socks. Get real about this thing before your blood vessels pop.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 10:14 AM
Comment #292072

I think the last figures show President Obama’s addition to the deficit to be about 7%. You say triple, so I don’t think it worthwhile to answer any of the rest of your Beckian rants…what a waste of time and effort.

You, as an individual, may not have made up your mind about our President by profiling, but to say that non-whites, which includes Asian and Spanish, etc, as well as blacks, remain essentially the same regarding their positives toward the President, and whites, almost exclusively have slid down the scale, and you say it’s because the non-whites are racist…hmmm…well, everyone has an opinion that flies in the face of logic every now and then.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2009 6:23 PM
Comment #292106

If no spending had been done at the end of 2008 and since that time, we’d likely be in deep gdp negative territory. The report doesn’t account for that, and you seem to neglect that as well. The CBO is honest about it, though. They simply don’t make comments about possible consequences.

Posted by: gergle at December 5, 2009 8:43 AM
Comment #292126

A second stimulus package? This is turning into a joke. Borrowing ever more money from the Chinese in order to prop up banks and businesses (like GM) that have unworkable business models is only going to make the eventual crashing-back-to-earth when reality sets more painful than it has to be.

Cash for clunkers is a perfect example. It’s like the entire country experienced a mid-life crisis at once and thought that the solution to our problems was borowing money for shiny new automobiles that we can’t afford.

Posted by: Phillip at December 5, 2009 6:04 PM
Comment #292130
necessities of Keynsian economics

Awesome, so much wrong in that one sentence that I think my brain may literally explode.

BTW, I love the presentation of the situation.

“Our solution sucks, but if we don’t do it we will all die!” Because we know that there are NO OTHER alternatives that might be better at solving the issues we have. Why, there’s nothing to even discuss then, is there! No need to re-examine your views, no reason to defend doing all kinds of despicable things… Constitutionality? Logic? Not important.

BTW, Keynes was proven wrong about deficit spending in the late 40s… it’s sort of like watching the Jehovah’s Witnesses keep defending their religion which was based on a false prophecy about the end of the world. Just keep in denial and everything will be fine…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 5, 2009 8:03 PM
Comment #292131

Rhinehold,

Right, which is why every government follows his macro economic ideas.

Yes, Keynes was wrong on some things. and..?

It would of course be much smarter to follow the advice of fringe economists and experience another Great Depression.(sarcasm)

When was that Supreme Court case outlawing the Fed, and economic legislation, again?

This economics proselytizing is your biggest mistake, IMO, and what makes your politics a bit on the wacko side.

Posted by: gergle at December 5, 2009 8:38 PM
Comment #292180

WTF is going on with this column. There were 50 posts an hour ago, in this thread. The number keeps going down, now at 44. It makes it pretty confusing when people respond to posts that are no longer there. If those posts are being deleted for some reason, then the responses should be deleted too.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 6, 2009 2:36 PM
Comment #292215

orealy,

It’s that damned Harry Potter, Practicing again…

This has been going on for several days. I think it’s a glitch in the system, (perhaps a server going bad), but it is not done intentionally by the editors, as they have in, in the past, gave explanations and/or warnings.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 7, 2009 6:53 AM
Comment #292234

BO said the same thing as Johnson did during Nam, the General asked for more, so we are giving it to him, along with trying to set up a government that is not corrupt and setting mile post or else.

Yes this war is very similar to Nam, unfortunately we will probably end up with as many dead, and the that country no better off then now. Corrupt, war lords, taliban, and opium being the main cash crop.

What we try to do in a decade, will not effect what has been going on for centuries, UNTIL the people make a change themselves.

Posted by: KT at December 7, 2009 1:43 PM
Comment #292240

KT,

The major difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam is that the Afghans, by and large, want our assistance. The vast majority of Afghans reject the Taliban. Mullar Omar is not Ho Chi Min with a large disciplined army and half the country under his control. But, you are correct that without the development of a viable Afghan system of governance, the effort will fail. The McCrystal/Obama plan, with its empahasis on population protection provides the Afghans some breathing space to demonstrate that they can make progress on an acceptable alternative to the Taliban.

Posted by: Rich at December 7, 2009 6:55 PM
Comment #292256

Craig,

In my opinion, Obama’s changes are the only way your son will have a chance to participate in victory. The war as it was previously defined, namely, to rebuild Iraq as a functioning democracy, was too large a goal to be practically feasible. Obama is now redefining the war as dismantling the Al Qaeda. I hope you find this reason worthy for your son’s service. I honestly am not sure I would, but before I was dead certain your son was being sent on a fool’s errand.

Posted by: Max at December 8, 2009 2:37 AM
Comment #292279

Kirk-
Okay, let’s do what you want.

Let’s ignore that about a third of that deficit comes from the revenue shortfall that Obama both has no control over, and which could not be directly blamed on a president.

Let’s ignore that he put ON budget the two multi hundred billion dollar wars that Bush kept OFF Budget.

Let’s ignore the emergency nature of the Bulk of Obama and Bush’s bailouts, without which we still would see deficit increases, in the form of lost revenues over time.

Lets do things your way and forget all those relevant, provable, substantial facts that I already went over with Watchblog readers.

On the stimulus bill, I guess we should forget all those negotiations we had with your people, including the moderate Republicans who we bargained with to get the stimulus passed. We should also forget that your party set precedent with such manuevers.

On the length of the healthcare bill, let’s all forget that bills are written up in a widely spaced, funkily formatted manner, and that when it’s all condensed down to the more normally formatted federal register, the bill takes up less than three hundred pages. let’s also recall (or forget) that this is neither the first nor the last bill to have such length, and that the Republicans had their share of doorstops.

Let’s also forget that contents are more important than page numbers. If the legislation has to be long in order to do the job right, let’s forget that so we can screw things up for the sake of brevity.

Let’s also forget that the Republicans have maintained filibuster threats regardless of content from the beginning. The other committees of the Senate got their bills out before August. The finance committee, where we let Republicans negotiate for some time on the bill, failed to get anything out of value, much less get it out on time, and we had to sit through those loudmouths spreading BS at the town halls.

Gee, thanks, lets do things your way some more.

As for unemployment? The cause of that unemployment is one of the worst recessions on record. If anything, Obama’s stimulus has kept that number lower, and growth numbers higher than they otherwise would be. I know Republicans are looking to weasel their way out of responsibility for having cheerleaded the wild-west economy, but I’m not going to buy the BS.

That’s really what most of your talking points are. They are people getting creative with the truth so they can apply the rousing populist rhetoric despite being the hardline elitists that they are.

So, you are discounting the CBO numbers? Then I guess you would also poo-poo the CBO’s scoring of the Health Care fiasco.

Why don’t you answer that question, first? There have been multiple CBO reports concerning the stimulus and healthcare, with the Senate and House plans that showed the success of the stimulus and projected the deficit neutral, even reducing aspects of our plans. Why do you disregard that? Why is it just kung fu with numbers when it favors us, and ironclad truth when it favors you?

Rhinehold-
The truth is, Obama will do more to reduce deficts than Bush ever did, despite the insistence of people like yourself that these people are spendthrifts.

The problem is, What Bush set in motion can’t be undone as easily as it was done. I complained in my first paragraphs about the tendency to think in terms of rhetoric, rather than realities, and your approach to talking about the budget unfortunately favors the former angle.

We have to end the wars before we can end their costs. We have to reform healthcare before we can make medicare part D cheaper. We have to do many things.

What do we have to do in order to move on policy? Apparently, we have to give up all hope on moving on policy, so Republicans and people like you will be satisfied that your inflated sense of minority rights has been satisfied.

Of course, then the Republicans have to want to undo their mistakes. But they’re too busy claiming that none of that stuff were mistakes.

Oh well. At least we got the politics right for you folks. That IS what matters, isn’t it? Not results, not doing things right.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2009 6:19 PM
Comment #292289

Stephen,

If anything, Obama’s stimulus has kept that number lower, and growth numbers higher than they otherwise would be.

Proof? Or more rhetoric and hope?

That’s really what most of your talking points are. They are people getting creative with the truth

Really, Stephen, you have to stop giving away your secrets… Most everything you write these days are exactly that, talking points and getting creative with the truth. For example, your suggestion that ‘Obama can’t do anything about the deficit’.

I’m sorry, but isn’t he the President of the US with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and overwhelming majority in the House? And he can’t undo what the hapless and moronic Bush did? He can’t pull our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan? If he can’t who can?

The deficit he inherited was horrible. That he has done *NOTHING* to lower it, in any way, does not let him off of the hook. I heard him yammer on today about how he was given this and he inherited that, etc. Isn’t it about time he stop RUNNING for president and start BEING president?

BTW, do you remember *THIS* campaign promise?

“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank. ” - Barack Obama Campaign Promise

Nearly 11 months after taking office and we are still in Iraq. Are we helping curb violence there, Stephen? Did you read the newspaper today?

He laster relented from this promise and promised again that he would have us out in 16 months. That’s coming up pretty soon, does anyone really think we will be out in May, 2010?

Don’t you think that, more than anything, people are disappointed that all of the lofty rhetoric and promises of change have brought us nothing new of consequence?

You can say what you want, Stephen, but the reality is the reality no matter how much you want to pretend it isn’t happening.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 8, 2009 9:22 PM
Comment #292290

The Dmcrts should have stopped the deficit spending when they took over the USHOR in 2007, just saying no to 43. If they’re always going to be afraid of the big bad Rplcns, then what use are they?

“we are still in Iraq. Are we helping curb violence there”
How many people have died since we got into this mess? Now they’re going to abandon billions in equipment there because we can’t afford to bring it to Afghanistan? Sounds like we can’t afford any of this nonsense.

New Server? I hope it works better than the old one.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 8, 2009 9:56 PM
Comment #292307

Rhinehold
Proof? Proof.

I’m sorry, but isn’t he the President of the US with a filibuster proof majority

It’s a majority. And it’s enough to block a filibuster all by itself. But what gives you the bright idea that it’s somehow filibuster proof, with Lieberman and the conservative Democrats doing their thing? Any way you slice it, it’s not the Liberals keeping my party back.

As for pulling soldiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan? That’s what he’s doing, over the long run. But what, in your great military experience, justifies a sudden withdrawal?

Sudden withdrawals are typically military bad ideas. It’s not cheap or easy to move an entire army anywhere, and if you get the timing and the situation wrong in the country you’re pulling out of, you put your soldiers in danger, and invite a power vacuum that’s sure to have negative practical and political consequences.

It’s easy to say, “I’m pulling the army out.” The trick is actually doing it.

You can talk to me about reality when you’re being realistic about troop movements, strategy, parliamentary and budget issues. Otherwise, you seem to be selling a politically convenient narrative that doesn’t seem to resemble any kind of recognizable real world.

If, for example, every Democrat was a diehard hardliner, then we could talk about filibuster-proof majorities. In all actuality, it was always only potentially filibuster proof, and that only if the Democrat’s ALL agreed. A realist would recognize that the Republicans are more ideologically monolithic, while the Democrats have significant rightward components.

I’m not going to give more than short shrift to a line of rhetoric that says, somehow, that having sixty member majorities means no more filibusters.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 9, 2009 2:56 PM
Comment #292358

For those like Kirk on here who insist on laying the high deficit and future debt on President Obama’s shoulders, perhaps this will help enlighten.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/10/obama-grappling-with-fall_n_387121.html

An Exert:

A forthcoming study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concludes that the $1.4 trillion annual deficit run by the government has little to do with current White House policies and much to do with George W. Bush’s actions.
Posted by: Marysdude at December 10, 2009 12:50 PM
Comment #292439

Because ‘conservative’ ideas were obviously NOT the answer to America’s economic problems. When we have had higher taxation, and especially higher taxation on the wealthiest few, we have prospered, and when we have had tax cuts and especially tax cuts for the wealthiest few, we have faltered. Spending has never been as much of a factor in our balancing act as taxing. We ‘spent’ on veterans after WWII and with the help of unionization, created the great middle class. We de-unionized under Reagan and de-taxed under Bush and lost the great middle class (with the help of Wal-Mart).

About the link. I believe that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Just because you don’t like the source does not denegrate their numbers, or the likelyhood of the end result. You use ‘conservative’ talking points, so where’s the beef?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 11, 2009 5:14 AM
Comment #292441

PS:

If you are a ‘conservative’, why in the world are you so concerned about what happens to Social Security or Medicare? Those are both Social programs, and conservatives have been trying to rid America of them for decades. If President Obama inadvertently accomplishes that for you, you should be celebrating, and kissing his feet.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 11, 2009 5:18 AM
Comment #292488

Marysdude:

When we have had higher taxation, and especially higher taxation on the wealthiest few, we have prospered, and when we have had tax cuts and especially tax cuts for the wealthiest few, we have faltered.

Like when Hoover raised taxes during the beginning of the great depression, and when Kennedy lowered taxes in the early sixties?

Franklin D. Roosevelt blasted the Republican incumbent for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, raising tariffs and blocking trade, as well as placing millions on the dole of the government. Roosevelt attacked Hoover for “reckless and extravagant” spending, of thinking “that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible,” and of leading “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.”[48] Roosevelt’s running mate, John Nance Garner, accused the Republican of “leading the country down the path of socialism”.[49]

Here is John Kennedy sounding like Ronald Reagan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEdXrfIMdiU


Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 11, 2009 3:54 PM
Comment #292495

Like in the fifties, and sixties, as compared to the eighties to now.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 11, 2009 5:09 PM
Comment #380594

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