October 20 Sources: A Dangerous Nation

Robert Kagan proposes an explanation for America’s reputation. In Dangerous Nation, he says that our idea of our history and our nature differs drastically from what others see. We see ourselves as generally peaceful and interested in the common good. Many of those who have been on the receiving end of our “interest” are less enthusiastic about our altruism.

Americans, according to Kagan, are aggressive. Even relatively passive Americans implicitly accepted the right - even the duty - of America to set the rules (and set things straight) for the people around them. Even when the U.S. controlled only a sliver of land on the East Coast, many Americans assumed their country would eventually encompass the continent, as soon they could clear off the troublesome folks currently occupying it.

Kagan says that his analysis has something in common with revisionist leftist ideas, but unlike them he doesn't see the motivation as primarily economic or capitalistic. Economics has something to do with it, but the American difference was kind of an aggressive self defense. In many ways, Kagan’s idea reminds me of Surprise, Security, and the American Experience. Americans are problem solvers. Rather than tolerate or respond to security threats as they came up, we eliminated them. The trouble is that each success leads to expansion which pushes up against new threats. In a couple generations we defended ourselves all the way to the Pacific Ocean and then beyond.

Sort of the same way the Romans took over the Mediterranean. It does give a different perspective. I always kinda admired the Romans. I think the Founding Fathers did too.

Other sources are below. Note calls for a higher gas tax. I got there first.

$122 Million Worth Of Hype
A Clash of Civilizations in Europe?
A Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population at Mid-Decade
Congress to Courts: "Get Out of the War on Terror"
Evangelicals and the GOP: An Update
Mr. Erdogan's Turkey
Raise the Gas Tax
The Endgame in Iraq
Who Votes, Who Doesn't, and Why
Democratic Agenda Full of Same Old, Tired Ideas

Posted by Jack at October 20, 2006 11:24 PM
Comment #189410

Kagan’s ideas sound interesting, but the idea of
territorial expansion is totally outdated. The America which sought to expand its borders has been gone since even before the end of the era of the horse and buggy, and we have as much to with that time and its concerns as Brittney Spears has to with Cotton Mather.

Isolationism was actually very strong in the US in the post Civil War era, and we were pretty much dragged into both World Wars against our will. Look at WWII.

Despite how it might be remembered now, it took us many years to get involved—there was no rush to jump in whatsoever. Poland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, etc. were all conqured by the Nazis before we even decided to get involved. Such a scenario would be unthinkable today. We’d be on the front lines after the first shots were fired if such a thing happened again.

So to understand the current American attitude, you have to look at the post WWII era, not our entire history.

In some sense, we’re still locked in a Cold War, post World War II mentality today: this arose from the knoweledge that we were the only civilized country left in the world with the ability to shoulder the world’s burdens.

We rebuilt Western Europe with American dollars after WWII, we faced down the Soviets, and the entire world put us speed-dial in case of trouble.

So now, part of the problem is that too much of the world demands American involvement on one hand and condemns it on the other. We’re stuck in totally disfunctional relationships, even with our allies. Isolationism is most likely on the horizon once again.

We need, first and foremost, to break our dependence on foreign oil.

Then we need to let it be known that we’re not going to pick up the phone and come running to help whoever who calls us.

Get out of South Korea. South Korea has a much larger population, and is several times richer than North Korea. If they together with Japan can’t take care of North Korea themselves, that’s their problem.

Get out of the Middle East “peace process.” There is no peace process there and never was. If the Palestinians want to attack Israelis, don’t raise a peep. If Israel wants to round them all up and march them into the Sinai Desert as their reward, then don’t raise a peep either.

The world thinks we’re a problem? Let them see what its actually like to solve problems without us.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 21, 2006 12:52 AM
Comment #189415

American expansionism actually started during Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure. Theodore Roosevelt was the first US President to attempt to establish by force of arms US colonies overseas as a matter of policy.

The actions on Morocco and the Philippines are prime examples of this.

Mark Twain despaired of this behavior and wrote about it as being America’s undoing.

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at October 21, 2006 2:00 AM
Comment #189425

Revisionist leftist ideas? WTF is that? Is that different than Authoritarian right wing revisionism? Personally, I prefer knowing the facts of history and accept that there are different interpretations of different readers.

Manifest Destiny was not a defensive idea. It was more like the “Superman” Aryan ideas of Hitler, if you ask me and a few billion other people in the world. Perhaps some Americans saw it as defensive, but not the rest of the world.

As we reach 300 million people, we are still expansionist. Rather than conquering other peoples through genocide and occupation (keeping silent about Iraq for now), however, we impose “democratic and capitalistic” ideas upon them so we may freely use their lands and resources.

I’m not making a judgement as to whether this is right or wrong, it just is our mode of conquest.

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 9:07 AM
Comment #189426

Juan, Umm nope. Think Jeffferson and the Louisiana purchase. Not to mention the expansion into Kentucky, which was then considered part of Virginia, which predated the Revolution. My ancestors moved into that territory with Daniel Boone and was the grounds for some of the French and Indian War(1756-1763)
(also known as the 7 Year’s War).

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 9:17 AM
Comment #189427

I think American expansion is alive and well, but it is a different character then actual land grab. I would define expansion as imperialism. Control of the world.

I agree with Neo-con Pilsner on lot of points, especially his point to look at our histroy since WWII. Since then we have been involved in over 240 epsisodes trying to control foriegn governments to make them friendly to our interests. Rigging elections, managing coups or just assainations of leaders we do not like. If look to the neo-cons of the the last 10 years and the “Project for a new American Century” we have reached a climax in our rightousness to do this. These folks envisoned a “Good American Empire” to use military force to spread democracy throughout the world, to eliminate rogue states for our security and economimc interests.

Kagan is right, we believe our aggressiveness is motivated by good intentions moral rightouness, a fight against evil, well intenioned and we are instruments of peace to save countries from themselves. We think so much of ourseleves that we feel we have a superior culture and everyone needs to model us. Coupled with the world’s strongest military and economy, it makes us a dangerous and destablizing force.

When President Bush made his last visit to England, he was incensensed when some British groups called the US a force of evil in the world”. I think this makes Kagan’s point.

Posted by: Stefano at October 21, 2006 9:22 AM
Comment #189428


“if you ask me and a few billion other people in the world.”
Name these few billion people please!

“Rather than conquering other peoples through genocide and occupation (keeping silent about Iraq for now), however, we impose “democratic and capitalistic” ideas upon them so we may freely use their lands and resources.”

I would like you to name a few of “them” and “their”

Impose,,I don’t think so

Posted by: Ken at October 21, 2006 9:22 AM
Comment #189430


I tried to get a list of the few billion, but they all signed the list, Charlie Chang. I can send you an email of the file if you like:-)

Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Panama, Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Iran, Afghanistan, the Phillipines. Iraq also comes to mind. Not all have ended sucessfully in America’s favor, but we’ll be back I’m sure.

I’m not saying Democracy is bad, or that capitalism is, but often what is sold as that looks a lot like colonialism.

My main point is that America is by the fact of it’s history, an aggressive and expansionist nation. That isn’t liberal revisionism. Hell, Im American, I ain’t complaining, I benefit from it. It is useful to be aware of when talking to others not so inclined to be happy about it.

Most people don’t care about the BS of politics. People want to put food on the table and raise their families in relative safety. Whether it’s Communism, Democracy or a Junta, most people have little say in it. Freedom sounds a lot like the other crap when bombs are flying and you’re starving.

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 9:58 AM
Comment #189431

Good post.

I really liked the article on the Democratic agenda. That one would be worthy of it’s own post. If you haven’t read the whole thing, take a minute and do it.

Posted by: Ilsa at October 21, 2006 10:02 AM
Comment #189432


You’re correct. Economic expansion is the driving force of capitalism. Corporations must either grow or die. If your profits don’t EXCEED expectations, your market value goes down - investors aren’t interested in you. Here’s just one example.

Now, some of those corporations are doing more than just lobbying to expand their markets. They’re trying to change the law to suit themselves.

In the state I live in, a large out of state real estate developer is bankrolling an initiative that would in effect force local government agencies to either waive ALL zoning, density, and other land-use restrictions so he can build more houses, or pay him not to build them. The construction industry is the main financial backer of a state supreme court candidate.

American foreign policy has been driven by corporate expansionism for years. We aren’t in Iraq to fight terrorism, or to “give them freedom”. We’re there to expand the markets for American corporations like Halliburton, Exxon, Verizon, Merck, Boeing, and Starbucks.

Posted by: liberal curmudgeon at October 21, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #189433

I think we’re missing one thing here. After “the war to end all wars” we saw the most terrible war in history happen. After that one we found ourselves in a position to insure it would not happen again. We set a system where countries could feel safe. NOT because of the UN, but because AMERICA would come in if our allies needed and asked for our help. Japan didn’t need to rearm against China because AMERICA would help if China attacked Japan. We could do this because we had the might to do this. The same applied all over the world.
Who else could do this? Europe? after the history of wars over there? LOL! Only America had the power and the ability.
Is America dangerous? Yes, to our enemies we are a deadly threat! To our allies, we are scary. All that power would scare anyone. It scares Americans!
Americans don’t WANT to be the cop of the world but, Who ya gonna call??

Posted by: Darryl at October 21, 2006 10:07 AM
Comment #189434

Have a nice weekend, Ilsa. It was brought to you by labor unions, something the Republicans oppose. Just one of the “tired old” ideas that you’re reaping the benefits from.

Posted by: liberal curmudgeon at October 21, 2006 10:10 AM
Comment #189438


My father was a lifelong union man and would probably defined as a socialist by today’s standards. We got along until the day he died, despite my apostasy and I respected his judgment. We were both right, but our assessment was based on different realities.

He grew up and worked in a poorer world with less opportunity and more need to fight over the crumbs. Most workers in his day were poorly educated and unable to protect themselves. Technologies of the past meant that an employer needed to hire his workers hands, but not their brains. This is the case in fewer workplaces.

My experience as a manager is that I no longer can (or want to) tell people what to do. I do not want their hands. I want them to innovate and figure out better ways to do their jobs. I need their brains. To do this, I have to make most of them part of the team and treat them decently (empower them). In this respect the union (thankfully very weak where I am) is an impediment. Innovation usually means changing the conditions of the jobs. Unions do not like this. Allowing freedom means trusting people. This means I have to discipline or get rid of the bad ones. Unions fight that. I let some of my people telecommute. Others cannot be trusted to do so. Unions pretend that all the workers are equally good. They defend the bad ones.

I recently got the job of reorganizing an operation. I inherited some workers who are not working at all. One woman claimed to be telecommuting for several weeks. She did not work. When I tried to find her, she was no where to be found. When I took away her telecommuting privileges, she claimed to be sick. Can I get rid of her? The union will stand in the way.

BTW - I will succeed in getting rid of the bad ones. I always do. But the union will make it more painful for all the good workers.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 10:37 AM
Comment #189439

International trade is the business of those that participate in it. The importers and exporters. They are a specific interest group.

This is the group that influences and always has influenced American extra-national policy. America was established as a colony expressly for that purpose.

The wealth that this has generated, is what drives our economy. Sadly, we’ve become a net importer of goods. While the importers get rich off the trade, Americans are losing as they have over the last 30 years. Slides in wages, increasing gaps in the wealthiest and poorest, squeezing the middleclass are all associated with this trade gap.

Since Vietnam, we have not been able to dominate world markets. Vietnam was the signal of our impotence to continue our expansionist vision of economic dominance. Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia seem to be the confirmation. Our success in Bosnia seems to have benefitted the EU, not us.

There is a complacency in America towards the interests that profit while we lose. We have sold our governance to those interests. This to me, is the more central issue in the problems of America rather than the policies of Bush, the Muslims, or whether we stay the course or cut and run from Iraq.

It isn’t an issue of American aggression, but who is benefitting from the loss of economic position of our country and why aren’t we pissed about it?

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #189440


I’ve had similar experiences with people impeding change. A few times, those were union people. Unlike you, I don’t blame the unions, I blame the petty-minded people who used the union (or anything else) as an excuse to obstruct progress.

Enjoy your union-created weekend.

Posted by: liberal curmudgeon at October 21, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #189441


You always intrigue me. My father was a Goldwater Republican. We are estranged at this point in our lives, but I find it interesting that we both have drifted from our fathers politics.

I find it interesting that you curse the Union but then acknowledge the corporate interest will eventually win out and terminate the errant employees.

I actually agree that many beaurocratic inefficiencies are the bane of large corporations, which is why I’ve always gravitated toward smaller enterprises, often at my own expense in terms of benefits, I might add.

I actually helped a “friend” start a company a few years ago, with the understanding (unfortunately on a handshake)that I would participate in the profits. After a year of my guidance he chose to fire me and employ immigrants at rock bottom wages, after gaining my training and client base at below market cost. Dumb of me and smart of him? Yep. Crooked. Yep. Illegal? Nope.

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 11:06 AM
Comment #189442


I wrote to liberal about different points of view. I do not reject your opinion, but it seems to be based on a different reality.

I started working when we were getting out of Vietnam. I remember the 1970s were horrible, but since 1982 our economy has been amazingly good. There have been plenty of opportunities and it was easy to become prosperous (if not rich) if you made reasonable choices and were not very unlucky.

I really do not understand how anyone can be negative about the economy since 1982. This includes Dem and Republican times, so I am not talking partisan politics here. I know incomes have been stagnant and decling since 2000, but that means that the median income today is about what it was in 1998 - not a bad time. And when you include added benefits, the decline actually is not there.

Are conditions perfect? Of course not. But it really does not get much better than this. We have really big challenges with entitlements, but I expect the future to be better than the past overall.

The problem with memory is that it is selective. People tend to remember the good old days better than they really were.

I grew up near a foundry. Many of my neighbors worked their and they hated their jobs. They had good reason. The work was dangerous and dirty. As technology replaced manual workers and jobs moved to the sunbelt, these jobs disappeared. I could not believe the nostalgia. I agree that a steady paycheck is a good thing, but many of these guys also talked about the good times at work. “Sure I burned my hand off, but it was so funny to see the look on Mitch’s face.”

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 11:07 AM
Comment #189443


Re getting rid of bad employees - corporate interests will not win out. I will win out. The “corporate interests” would be content to leave these people in place. That is the easy road. It is my duty to get rid of them. To do otherwise is unfair to the good workers.

They have no right to collect salaries if they do not produce something. I cannot get rid of all the people who do this, but I will take out the ones nearby.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 11:10 AM
Comment #189445

Wages may be slowly rising, but one of the main reasons is that emploters are paying more in benefits. In years past employers did not participate in pension plans for rank and file employees. Post WWII employers startes offering things like health insurance as an incentive to lure the best and the brigthest when tehy came home from the war. Over the years this has become an entitlement that everyone expects but not everyone considers part of their wages as it should be.

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2006 11:39 AM
Comment #189447


Are you saying the CORPORATE interest is the continuation of inefficient, non productive employees? Hmmm. I thought corporations were for profit organizations. That the executive staff is too lazy to deal with the issue, is why they have you.

I didn’t realize that I was being negative on the economy, just trade policy. I moved to Houston in 1975 or 6 to get a job when I dropped out of college. In Ohio there weren’t many jobs, I was hired at a grocer in Houston, when I walked in the door. Houston was a boom town in the 60’s and 70’s. It struggled in the 80’s due to the S&L crisis and falling oil prices. I think Neil Bush and McCain had their fingers in that pie. I moved to Dallas in 1985 (I left a government job and was moved to Dallas by a private employer) and back to Houston in 1993.

I personally have never found it hard to find a job and always am getting unsolicited offers. When I was fired for having a heart attack a couple of years ago by a new employer, I found it difficult unless I hid the fact that I had a heart attack. Even then, I never applied for unemployment. I’ve never needed the government to take care of me. Frankly, if I became ill and couldn’t work and couldn’t support myself, I’d probably choose to end my life. I have no dependants. That doesn’t mean I think that should be the policy of a government of an economically robust nation.

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 12:00 PM
Comment #189448

Keith and Jack, Real wages may have risen over the last couple of years and benefits increased since WWII, but that is a very narrow window to look at. The trend has been downward since the 60’s. This is due,in my opinion, in large part, to poor trade policies influenced by interests who profit from what I believe are anti-American trade policies.

Posted by: gergle at October 21, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #189450

My Name Is Roger:

I have heard that even an ugly man can look in a mirron and see something good about himself.

Maybe we need to try to look at ourself as others look at us, or try to see ourselves as other see us.

I rembemer when I was a kid I saw a movie called [THE UGLY AMERICAN].

Maybe we are not as good looking as we think we are.

Roger A Conservative Christian Rupublican

Posted by: ROGER at October 21, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #189452

I should point out that the average pay of a Corporate Flunkie hasn’t changed in over 10 years while the pay of the CEO’s are astronomical regardless of performance.

How do you reconcile that fact, Jack?

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at October 21, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #189455


I went to the link. The thing that stands out the most ot me is how flat it was during the 90’s. The decade of great progress.

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #189456


“Corporate interests” are really just a type of culture. It is efficient in some ways, less in others. I have seen no organizations that are consistently sharp in all they do. Managers are people too. Most of them do not like the trouble and psychic stress of dealing with bad employees. Bad employees often are very GOOD at defense.

The easy route is to make general rules. It is like the teacher who punished the whole class when a couple of kids damaged the toilets. It is an abdication of responsibility. When I am done with my reorganization, I expect that I will be more popular with the staff than with the top management. They are the ones who have to live with the bad workers. In my particular work, I will not be promoted and my salary will not go up. They pay me enough and I do what I am supposed to do. (BTW - I rarely get the chance to do the type of thing I am doing now.)


I do not believe that CEOs should make piles of money if they do not add value, but that is a management decision made beyond my pay grade. Please see above about general rules. Some CEOs are worth the money. If they add - by their skills and work - 10 million of value, I do not mind sharing that with them. It is the job of the directors and shareholders to determine pay. If they want to pay more than they should, it comes out of their profits too and it is their business.

I do not care what the flunky makes. That is also not my business. If it becomes my business, I will try to ensure the flunky is paid appropriately. That may mean more money or less money, or it may mean we get rid of him entirely. General principles do not decide particular cased.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #189458

This has been a great thread. I highly recommend those who want an inside view of America’s new imperialism read a book called “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”. It will completely change your view of American foreign policy.

Posted by: David S at October 21, 2006 2:17 PM
Comment #189459

Actually Juan if you want to blame expansionism on some President you have to go back to 1840 when the Filabuster movement roamed the spanish territories and tried to set up “Texas” style nations. The last real attempt was when Stanton supported the return of Santa Anna shortly after the Civil war.
But we can play that game forever. The Spanish - American war to which you speak Roosevelt was secretary of the Navy, not president. That gave Cuba and the Philappeans (sorry for the spelling) their out under Spain and American “benevalent” occupation, which amounted to military bases and tons of aid - Banito and Marcus. But we fought WWII just to get them back? Hardly!! Morocco? you write? hum, you mean the Slave trade raids of England and America of the Coast of Africa - that happened in 1807 - 30. The French and Spanish occuppied Morocco until the Nazis came - not America.

Posted by: Kuzriel at October 21, 2006 2:19 PM
Comment #189460

My read on all this is that America has little need or desire for fundamental resources beyond its borders besides oil. Even there, though, we have little will to outright conquer territory for that. As much as we dislike who our money is going to, we still treat the oil supply in terms of a commodity, rather than as a resource which should belong to us and us alone.

The main issue, as I see it, is the impulse to enjoy Democracy amongst ourselves, and let others worry about it for themselves, as opposed to the wish to actively create it elsewhere. Then comes the question of how we do it.

The big problem is that Democracy like ours must be embraced of the people’s own free will. Otherwise it degenerates into something else. The failures of Iraq rest on the naive assumptions that Democracies are viral institutions, and that it would win out by simple inevitability. They fail to look back at the mass of restrictions and freedoms that make up our constitution and body of law. They fail to see how our Democracy evolved.

They made the same mistake with the military aspects of the war, and with the economy back home, expecting things to run themselves far more than they actually have. They have theories to prove about how things work, and they’ve emphasized them at the expense of actual progress, reasoning that the difficulties they produce were just the inevitable growing pains of success.

Many assumptions have been made and continue to be made to protect theories, to protect beliefs. This is a lousy way to go about things, as it often isolates one from the questions that can test a theory- if necessary, test it to destruction. We must be willing to consider information that could invalidate our theories. We must endure the potential pain of acknowledging our failures and our errors, or else feel it more when our problems grow out of control.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 2:26 PM
Comment #189462

This is the closest I’ve seen you come, Jack, to acknowledging the atrocious behavior of the United States in its involvements with many countries. I think you do, though, underestimate the economic reasons behind much of our behavior.

What, exactly, is leftist revisionist history? Is it that history that looks behind the patriotic slogans and lies and sees what we’ve actually done?

We are similar to Athens, in this regard. We are proud of our democracy, but in dealing with foreign nations, we generally put our self interest before the actual lives of the people of these nations. We didn’t oppose communism because countries had become authoritarian; we opposed it because it was a rival economic system that shut out U.S. investment. And because fascist leaders opened their doors to investment, we were gungho about fascism.

What is history? It’s a representation, and those representations that capture as much of the evidence as possible are to be favored. The chief ideology in this country, in my view, is not Democracy. It is Capitalism.

Posted by: Trent at October 21, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #189463

liberal crumudgeon -

unions created the weekend? laughable. First of all the largely agricultural nature of work many years gone by typically recognized the sabbath as a day of rest. My grandfather relished the thought of being able to work seven days after surviving the depression. He skirted the “not economically rational - to him” union rules and was paid under the table on the weekends. That put my father through college.

But lets say the unions did create weekends. OK, big deal - do you define their success by something done decades ago? AND, how do you reconcile the fact that about 25% of the guys in my subdivision are working today (Saturday) at union shops? Totally idiotic comment.

Here’s my beauty of a story. I was assigned to the Ford minivan supplier rationalization team - I was the finance rep. We were discussing the requested budget request with a UNION supplier and didn’t understand a request related to the installation of back interior panels. They “required” pre-assembly of three plastic parts which added about $15 in cost per vehicle to accomplish. We couldn’t grasp why this was after talking to numerous people. So finally we went onto the shop floor to understand. Pretty simple - the union guys had banded together and demanded that they be able to do the install with one hand. So they could have their coffee, pop, etc. while they were working. This is how they have been doing it for years after all.

UH, needless to say we went with a non-union shop. That was 3 years ago. That shop is now closed - good riddance. Unions have failed all large industries and they will drive failure through the automotive industry.

They are dinosaurs of yester-year … buh bye.

Even when they think they are doing good for their members they aren’t.

Posted by: echop8triot at October 21, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #189466

Jack said in his article: “Americans are problem solvers.”

That is the only line of your article I take exception with, Jack. America used to be problem solvers. Today, America creates far more problems than it solves. Hell, even our solutions multiply our problems, as in Iraq.

It would be the noblest of causes for the American voters to force politicians to return to our tradition of being problem solvers, instead of creators.

To force them to end the debt spiral which has gone from 20 Trillion in 2000 to 43 Trillion in just 6 years.

To force them to close our borders to any and all we don’t choose to admit.

To force them recreate our once held status as the greatest educational system in the world.

To force them to establish a national election standard which is transparent, accountable, and fair and easy to all who wish to vote legally.

To force them to force employers to pay a living wage.

To force an end to the Shylocks charging our American citizens 30% interest while giving foreigners and foreign nation’s interest free loans.

To force our politicians to be role models for citizens and children instead of predators preying upon them.

WE voters can force them, by voting for challengers and voting out the incumbents who are directly responsible for our nation having become one which creates more problems than it solves.

As CNN’s very conservative Jack Cafferty said: “Don’t vote for any incumbents. How much worse can the newcomers do? And, it would send a clear messasge. Do the peoples’ business, or you’re gone.”

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 21, 2006 3:58 PM
Comment #189470

liberal curmudgeon:

In the state I live in, a large out of state real estate developer is bankrolling an initiative that would in effect force local government agencies to either waive ALL zoning, density, and other land-use restrictions so he can build more houses, or pay him not to build them.

It’s not just your state…it’s 6 Western states which have this on their ballot…supposedly it would counteract the “Kelo” decision, but it’s really not a question of eminent domain. And before even discussing the issue, one would have to wonder why is a Libertarian millionaire real estate developer funding this proposition, supporting it with millions of $$$ and funding the entire signature process that got it put on the ballot?? Hmmmmm….it certainly raises my suspicions.

That said, it ruins zoning laws…it would entail making the state not just pay a “fair & just” price for condemned or “takings” land, it would make the state reimburse for “lost use”…here’s the scenario:

The Libertarian real estate developer from “back East” buys up Western land on the cheap (worthless at best, but worth a lot more when there is any development or zoning close to his land), he can claim he “intended” to build housing or factories or whatever on that land, and now his “use” is disrupted, so the “fair & just” price now includes not solely the land’s value, but the “future use” value…and it’ll be our tax money that goes into his pockets.

This whole thing is a boondoggle in favor of developers and has nothing to do with eminent domain…it does have to do with obstructing land use zoning and taxpayer money!!

I live in Arizona and I’ve already mailed in my ballot with a big no on this proposition!!

Probably the very best article revealing the true efforts toward getting this on the ballot, plus the resulting $$$ and lack of zoning that could be enforced was in High Country News a couple months ago.

Vote NO!!

Posted by: Lynne at October 21, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #189471


I don’t really feel bad about American behavior. We have behaved better than most in similar situations. There will always be disagreements and some people will not like the outcomes.

I think we need to exercise our idealism in the context of real alternatives. The world is dangerous. When it comes to conflict, I am glad if my side wins. Americans are aggressive problem solvers. It is incumbent to others not to become problems.

Re Athens and its lessons – yes it is a tragedy. But would people have preferred the Persians or the Spartans?

Re fascism and communism – I recall we fought a war that destroyed fascism. We just kind of gnawed at the edges of communism and outdistanced them culturally and economically. We traded with both sorts of regimes. You may recall the most important Russian inventor of the 1930s was REG.US PAT.OFF.


Re problem solvers - the American people are problem solvers. The government is less so. It was much better and respected more when it had a smaller portfolio. One reason we may have lost a little of our problem solving skills is that we ask the government to do too much.

Anyway, all my life I have heard that America has or is about to lose its edge. The Soviets (can you believe it?) were going to dominate us in the 1960s. European management was supposed to displace us in the 1970s. The Japanese were taking our place in the 1980s. Now it is the Chinese. I suppose it will be the Indians soon. The U.S. is very adaptive.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 5:09 PM
Comment #189475


I’m not with you on the “we’re better than most” argument. The point is for us to be the best we can be, not just a level above others.

We are an arrogant, aggressive, sneaky nation. Or, I should really say we are a nation run by arrogant, aggressive, sneaky, self-serving humans. There is a group think that happens in DC that needs to be addressed somehow.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 21, 2006 5:17 PM
Comment #189477

Jack said: “It was much better and respected more when it had a smaller portfolio. One reason we may have lost a little of our problem solving skills is that we ask the government to do too much.”

I disagree. The reason is the voters kept giving their votes to parties without demanding far better results for their vote. Politicians are our employees. Would you hire someone and pay them without checking on their job performance? That is precisely what voters have been doing for far too long, and now we have an entire Congress full of folks who don’t expect to work for us anymore, just themselves and their party.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 21, 2006 5:30 PM
Comment #189482


You can only be so good. Perfect is not an option. Sometimes I do not regret the agression. I don’t mean to be bloody minded, but I like it that I don’t need to negotiate with dozens of tribes as I drive across the U.S. I am glad that the U.S. Navy sweeps pirates off the seas. I am content that when we fight wars we do is somewhere not in America. I don’t want to give those things up. No country that can do these thing will give it up.

The U.S. provides the security umbrella under which other shelter. Look at the speculation about Japan, Taiwan or S. Korea developing nukes. They do not have them now because they feel relatively secure. We provide that. We all benefit from the free trade. Europe - after 1000s of years of fighting, is peaceful (mostly). Why did Germany and France NOT feel the need to defend themselves against each other? Why have Greece and Turkey not gone to war? Hegemony is never popular until you consider the alternatives.


It is a matter of organizational ability. You just cannot make some things work when they get too big and when decisions are made for political reasons. It is not due to the bad guys in charge. It is systemic.

We have to acknowledge that sometimes bad things happen BECAUSE of our best efforts, not in spite of them. Some jobs cannot be done by anybody.

If we ask government to do too much, it will try to give it to us and then it will get messed up.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 6:10 PM
Comment #189484

The U.S. has treated some nations badly. Guess who was largely behind a lot of it?


Read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins to see how U.S. Corporations have used and exploited other nations. Bush exacerbated it by alienating many nations, including our allies. The U.S. is in decline. Government is FOR SALE. Government is increasingly run by an elitist political class, but irresponsible voters keep re-electing them. Maybe, finally, voters are getting educated? It is only a matter of time before the voters’ education (consequences) eventually arrives on the scene. The middle-income-class is getting squeezed, median incomes have been falling since 1999, the arrogance of government is growing out of control like the $22 trillion (or more) of total federal debt, massive borrowing, spending, and money-printing.

Jack Cafferty (CNN) is 100% correct.

Finally !

Finally, someone in the Main Stream Media (MSM) is finally recommending the one simple, common-sense, no-brainer, peaceful, non-partisan, and responsible thing that voters were supposed to be doing all along, always.

Jack Cafferty has a good idea. Not a new idea, but still a good idea.

The PROs and CONs of why to NOT RE-elect irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for, look-the-other-way incumbent politicians …

Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2006 6:38 PM
Comment #189486

On the question of unions? Yes, I think they screwed up. I think a number of them started using their clout to bargain for useless things, for things that gave the big businesses the excuse to undercut them and cut them out on the important things.

However, until somebody comes up with a better solution for the problem of how to represent the interests of wage earners, unions are the only means that make sense, and we need our government to reinforce the right for unions to resist the pressures from the top. When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, the industrial revolution was in its infancy, and one could count on the mostly free workers being able to independently set the wages they were able to accept according to their needs wants, and capabilities. Now in this day and age, the job market can exchange workers almost like parts, hiring cheap until the labor laws force them to hire no cheaper. Without unions people have few options to make themselves heard.

Those of us who decide to form and become members of unions must take it upon ourselves to fight for what we earn, not try and build in needless comforts and frills. We have to knock down this image of Union workers being lazy, appealing to obscure regulations to get out of doing our jobs. It’s got to be literally all business. Otherwise we’re only bargaining ourselves out of jobs, and the labor movement in general out of credibility.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #189487

An additional note: Adam Smith notes a balance between what workers ask and what employers grant. Pressures are not supposed to be forever downward; the market itself requires that people earn a certain about to keep up their standard of living. I’d like every one of you free-market advocates to consider for a moment what happens to a consumer economy when people don’t earn enough to effectively spend. Under Bush, and the Reagan legacy in general, the average person has seen a decrease in this earning power. Are we to become, once more, a nation split between cut-rate and luxury, as we were before the war, or are we going to have a strong middle-class economy once more?

It’s our choice. But I’ll tell you this: there’s nothing socialist about demanding a honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work. The best way to get people off of government programs is to increase the minimum wage to something with real buying power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #189491

Stephen Daugherty,
Unions were necessary at one time because government failed to create and/or enforce just laws.
The never ending struggle is between the hyper-wealthy in-league with government, and everyone else.
Now, unions have NO leverage.
Because corporations simply move operations overseas, and our own government (which we keep re-electing) help the corporations do it, because politicians are bought-and-paid-for and only carry the water for their big-money-donor puppeteers. In a sense, many (if not all) politicians are whores. That may sound harsh, but it is true. But, voters keep re-electing them, so which is worse? Might as well stick a sign on the voters’ backs that says “kick me”.

I would support a raise in the minimum wage.
However, with wide-open borders, it may simply lead some greedy employers to hire more illegal aliens. Therefore, we need some serious immigration reform too. But …

But … none of these reforms will ever happen as long as voters keep re-electing politicians that don’t give a damn about anything or anyone except themselves and their hyper-rich puppeteers.

That may sound extreme, or it may sound like class warfare, but it is the truth. If you want to call it class warfare … fine … let’s call it that. The corporations (owned by the hyper-rich) are stickin’ it to us.

If voters would stop empowering these very same crooks that use and abuse them and the voters, there might be a chance for many reforms. If not, it’s not too hard to see where it is headed. The nation will simply continue it’s steady demise. The hyper rich will continue to exploit everyone and everything.

Voters were given a very important tool to keep this from happening. The right to vote, of which many risked life and limb to secure. Unfortunately, lazy voters tend to cyclically forget their responsibility. So, corruption in government always finds a foothold somewhere, and grows, and grows. Voters have much to learn. The voters lot in life in this nation is NOT going to improve until they stop empowering the very same people that use and abuse them.

It seems so simple, yet so elusive.
It speaks volumes about the human species.
We seem doomed to always learn the hard way.
But, on the bright side, there is (usually) a built-in self-correction. We, as it shoud be, have to suffer the consequences of our own irresponsibility. That is our education, and it is on its way.

There are two classes in this country:

  • One class derives concentrated power from its concentrated wealth.

  • The other class has power only in numbers, and that power is largely ineffective due to their inability to mobilize through organization.

The voters are disadvantaged.

1% of the U.S. population has 40% of all wealth.

A tiny 1% of the U.S. population (300,000) donates a massive 83% of all federal donatons ($200 or more; $2.0 billion of $2.4 billion in year 2004) to federal campaigns. What chance do you have? Unless you are one of the hyper-rich?

How can the remaining 99% of the U.S. population compete with that ?

No wonder government is FOR SALE. No wonder bought-and-paid-for politicians carry the water for their big-money-donor puppeteers.

But the fact is, voters are overlooking the one simple mechanism right under their very own noses to balance the power between government and The People (not merely shift power or strip all power from government to accomplish anything).

  • Stop Repeat Offenders.

  • Don’t Re-Elect Them !

I don’t have anything against the wealthy, unless they use their vast wealth to control government. Then they are on my list. Come to think of it, we need to start a national list of hyper-rich that do this. We need a database of those that are controlling government, eh?

Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2006 7:37 PM
Comment #189499

I really agree with the first comment made. There are lots of nations in the this world that really think we are a problem. Lets give them what they want and see how things turn out. I really think that we are way to involved in issues as it is. Nations want us to stop meddling in certain things. I think it’s funny because these are the same nations that come crawling back to us and beg for money and aid. It is extremely stupid. Let them figure out there problems on there own. If we were to help someone I think that it would have to be somewhere on the lines of WWII where were fighting to protect our freedoms. The Korean issue can work itself out on its own. If they do happen to nuke us, that would be the stupidest thing they could do. I would predict a huge military volunteer jump because it would be just like Pearl Harbor. This is where the Iraq war differs because most soldiers don’t know what they are fighting for. We don’t need to push to stop North Korea. If something does happen to us, there would be full and brutal retaliation.

Posted by: Brad Murphy at October 21, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #189502

Correction: One percent of the US population is 3 million, not 300,000. Numbers on the concentration of US wealth are tricky. The federal government does not statistically assess this concentration. I suspect the concentration is even greater than you suggest, and that .25%, that is, one quarter of one percent, possess a substantial amount of the wealth. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of that number, roughly somewhere between 60% - 67%, inherit their wealth.

Outsourcing is also a statistic which is also hard to discuss. But no doubt, we are in the process of undoing the economic health of working people, who constitute 80% of the population, by undermining unions and outsourcingjobs, even high end ones in IT & programming.

We are hitting another turning point, a nexus, which will determine the next two years of policy. As much as all us political junkies wish it were otherwise, midterm elections are determined by local issues, not national ones. Between gerrymandering, vote fraud, & the enormous amount of campaign money provided to Republicans by corporations, I think it is possible the Republicans could retain retain control of Congress. A lot can happen in a few weeks, and depending upon that outcome, we can start to see where the country will go.

Whether it is in a few weeks or in two years, a few things seem certain. We are done with nation building. Some isolationism will result. I am not saying this is necessarily a good thing. But it is where we are heading.

The longer we stay in Iraq, the worse for foreign policy & our international engagement, and the more withdrawn we will become from the world scene. However, economic interests will never permit us to withdraw very far or for very long.

A positive note should be disengagement from Israel. We have allowed ourselves to be maneuvered into acting in the best interests of Israel, rather than our own interests. Already, we have been reduced to an American/Israeli alliance with only a few dependable, Anglo, english speaking allies still at our sides, so effectively speaking, we have become diplomatically isolated anyway.

Posted by: phx8 at October 21, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #189505


Union workers are not lazy and they tend to be among the most skilled workers. The problem is not when the union tries to win higher wages (within reason). Unions are bad when they try to control management decisions. They also tend to protect bad workers and insist on equalizing everybody. I worked at the firm where my father worked when I was in college. He was there 30 years. After I worked there for 3 month, I became an “experienced operator” and his official equal. The union demanded it.

I do not believe that people have lost earning power over. I know people can quote interesting statistics on both sides, but when I look around and see the things ordinary workers and even the unemployed actually OWN, I see growing prosperity. When I was a kid, most working families where I lived did not own cars. They never took vacations outside town. Nobody had air conditioning or color TVs. Large families shared small houses with one bathroom for six or seven people. We have achieved significant material progress. The complaint is that the gains have been distributed unevenly, but it is not true that the poor HAVE less than they did.

BTW - the trend people talk about started about 1972. It continued pretty much the same under Dems and Republican. Inequality grew fast under Clinton, if you will recall.

Posted by: Jackj at October 21, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #189521


Where do you think democrats get their money from? Santa Claus

The only thing that has come out of McCain-Feingold is that only rich people can get elected.

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2006 11:09 PM
Comment #189522

I spoke of reputation, not reality. I’m sure most are hard-working. If you were to ask me whether I supported union regulations that tried to manipulate things in the fashion you described, I’d have to say I’d want better than that. Remember, my critique covered arcane regulations and stuff like that.

As for earning power?
I’d have to say I recall a day when a three hundred dollar light bill was considered high. Now its normal. I remember the first appliances my family used lasting well into my late childhood. I remember a time when food prices were lower, when gas prices were under a dollar.

For some reason, the price of everything has gone up, and what people pay folks has not.

We cannot help but measure progress from our beginnings. Well, I have to measure it along much of the last three decades, and I see the trend very well.

As for inequality growing under Clinton, yes. Its one of my regrets about his presidency, and he’s partly responsible for that. The other part of that responsibility lies upon the Republican Congress. Let’s not forget them, when recounting the Clinton years.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 11:14 PM
Comment #189525


“To force our politicians to be role models for citizens and children instead of predators preying upon them.”

That’s pretty funny. When the right brought the issue of character during Clinton’s time in office we were told, it’s not character that matters but what he can do for us.

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2006 11:18 PM
Comment #189530


Yes, the Republican congress, how come they don’t get credit for the boom?

People’s pay has gone up. Many goods are also cheaper in the amount of time a person has to work to earn it. Clothes are actually cheaper today for similar quality. Gas at $2.50 a gallon is cheaper in real dollars than it was in 1980.

I don’t know about your appliances. I bought my house in 1997. It came with a stove, fridge etc. We still have them and they show no sign of giving up. People these days change major appliances because they go out of style. Of course, it might be a good idea to change some things because they have improved so much. My cousin, who does heating, says that a new furnace would pay for itself in a couple of years.

The improvements are a reason we are better off. The new microfibre clothes are really making a difference. You can get a good pair of wrinkle free pants for about $38. You look good and save hours on ironing, so your total cost of owning in hours worked is a mere fraction of what it was.

Posted by: Jack at October 21, 2006 11:39 PM
Comment #189535

Phx8, we are not diplomatically isolated at all. It is impossible to diplomatically isolate the world’s sole superpower.

What we suffer from is life under a microscope. We’re in a situation now where citizens of far-flug countries wag their fingers with disapproval for something like Guantanomo while a few hundred miles away or even down the street people are being tortured, murdered or suffering actual genocide.

I think we should “disengage” militarily from South Korea and Japan in the same way that China is “disengaged” from North Korea. And we should “disengage” from Israel in the same way that Iran and Syria are disengaged from Hezbollah.

Disengagement needn’t mean that we don’t offer material and intelligence support to our allies.

What I object to is the kind of thing Condi Rice said in Japan: that the US will consider an attack on Japan an attack on the United States. This was sound thinking in Europe during the Cold War, but not anymore.

Euorope really did lack the manpower and technology to avoid being overrun by the Soviet juggernaut during the Cold War, and Soviet occupation of Western Europe would have been very damaging to our own interests as well.

Japan and South Korea, however, are wealthy and technologically advanced. By agreeing to defend them against a monetarily and technologically inferior neighbor, we’re just allowing them to spend their vast treasure on luxuries while we have to play the grown-ups.

As far as Israel goes, let’s neither condemn or support them but merely sell them whatever they want to buy and get out of their way. They have some things they need to sort out with their neighbors, and it’s high time to just get it over with.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 21, 2006 11:57 PM
Comment #189550

Jack said: “It is not due to the bad guys in charge. It is systemic.”

What a fallacious assumption that is. To call the problems of a human designed system made up of people as its primary parts, systemic, is to exclude the human factor from responsibility for the problems. Clever argument but wholly fallacious.

The people who design and manage the system are responsible for its successes and failures. Too many failures, means the people in charge of the system need to do some redesigning to meet the challenges asked of the system.

In this specific case, the voters need to hold the politicians responsible and accountable for government’s successes or failures. That is afterall, how our system of government was designed in our Constitution - we either make it work, or call the American experiment a nice idea in theory but, useless in practical terms in modern times.

Should we cash it in Jack, and try communism, or a Platonic authoritarian Presidency, or perhaps a few decades of direct democracy and anarchy will help us regain our sensibilities about how important it is that the people hold politicians responsible for the government they run on our behalf?

If too much is being asked of government, then the politicians should be paring it down. If they don’t, they are part of the problem, not the solution, and should be removed from office, like many will be on Nov. 7. But, they are not allowed to break their commitments to the people in paring government down, without the people’s assent.

In other words, politicians saying, “We screwed up on Medicare, took your lifelong earnings contributions into it, but, now we have to reneg on those promises when your claim for services comes, because we mismanaged it. NO! That COP OUT won’t wash with the American people, nor should it.

Like Bush’s attempt to privatize Soc. Sec., effectively defunding benefits for millions who already paid into it and who paid the salaries and luxuries of those in government charged with managing it; cancelling it without the people’s permission is not an option. If failure in Iraq is not an option for you Republicans, why would you think privatizing Soc. Sec. or ending Medicare/Medicaid, which would be even greater failures to serve the Americans who paid for it, would be a viable option?

That is tantamount to saying failing the Iraqi people is not an option, but, failing 100’s of millions Americans here at home, well, that’s OK because we screwed up. Nope, it just doesn’t wash, Jack. As Republicans are about to learn, the people are the one’s with ultimate power in America and though they may be slow and cumbersome in getting there, they will eventually hold the politicians responsible for their failures, just as our Founding Fathers intended.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2006 1:38 AM
Comment #189552

McCain-Feingold was well intentioned, but it does not work. Eventually we will all conclude public financing of elections is better, but that opens up another can of worms, and belongs in another thread sometime…

Let me rephrase it: we are more diplomatically isolated now than at any other time since WWII. But to concede a point, you are right. It is impossible for the US to be completely isolated from the rest of the world. It would be like ignoring a 500 lb canary in the living room.

The situation with North Korea offers few good choices. I have never held Bush responsible for the current situation; same goes for Carter, Bush #41, and others. North Korea is bad news, always has been, and only China has real influence with them, because China controls their main access to trade.

It really is a case where China should take the lead. If they do not like the idea of a nuclear Japan, then the Chinese need to put the North Koreans under their thumb.

I have a profound dislike of the Bush administration, but it has nothing to do with North Korea. Like I said, the options were always limited, and it is mere partisan gamesmanship to blame one party or another.

As for arms sales to Israel in particular, I think it was disgusting that the US rushed an arms shipment of missiles and cluster bombs shortly after the attack upon Lebanon commmenced. If ever there were a time to jerk the leash, that was it, and we should have embargoed the Israelis.

Successfully transforming places like Lebanon into a representative government requires integrating groups like Hezbollah into the political process. We keep screwing ourselves by framing every conflict as a fight against terrorists.

As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, we can successfully spread the messages we want to spread through trade, enforcement of international law, and confidence in the rightness of our message. We need to model the message first, and then encourage the observation of Human Rights, representative government, and concepts like freedom and liberty. It needs to be done as a member of the international community, which is only right; and not through the unilateral actions of a superpower.

Posted by: phx8 at October 22, 2006 1:59 AM
Comment #189555


Can you please show me in Bush’s Social Security plan where he was going to defund benefits for anyone who has paid in. Also what part of taking 1% - 2% of your money and investing it however you want “privatizing social security”

Posted by: Keith at October 22, 2006 2:09 AM
Comment #189557
phx8 wrote: d.a.n., Correction: One percent of the US population is 3 million, not 300,000. Numbers on the concentration of US wealth are tricky.

Thanks, you’re right. I fouled that all up.

What I meant to say is:
A tiny 0.15% (i.e. only 300,000 people of all of the 200 million eligible voters in the U.S.) donates a massive 83% of all federal campaign donatons (of $200 or more; i.e. $2.0 billion of the total $2.4 billion in year 2004).

That is, 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more) came from only 300,000 people, which was $2.0 billion of a total of $2.4 billion in 2004.

That’s amazing!
What chance does the average voter have?
$2.0 billion come from 300,000 people.
That’s an average of $6667 per person.
Not many middle-income-class persons can make donations of that size.

No wonder bought-and-paid-for politicians ignore the other 99.85% of the eligible voters.

phx8 wrote: Outsourcing is also a statistic which is also hard to discuss. But no doubt, we are in the process of undoing the economic health of working people, who constitute 80% of the population, by undermining unions and outsourcingjobs, even high end ones in IT & programming.
Yes, the middle-income-class is shrinking. The 99% of the population that has 60% of all wealth has never been that low since the Great Depression. It has fallen from 80% in 1980. Median incomes have fallen since 1999.

Meanwhile, corporations have had record profits lately, and CEO compensation is obscene. Outsourcing or moving overseas is how corporations deal with unions, and there is always someplace else to outsource to. How do you stop that? There does not seem to be any good answers. Find new frontiers? That requires education, which is another area we are failing in. Our own universities are graduating more people from foreign countries with engineering and science degrees.

And, these corporations also exploit foreign nations. Profits are more important than the fact that some of their foreign suppliers are violating all sorts of human rights (child labor, dangerous working conditions and exposure to toxins, etc.). Walmart knows this goes on, but claims it has no control over it. China has some labor laws, but they are regulary violated. In the 1960s and 1970s, oil corporations made a bundle off of other nations. At least until they got tired of being taken advantage of and kicked them out. And many believe the interest in Iraq was partly due to oil.

Free market enterprise is one thing, but using and abusing is another.

No wonder some nations are calling the U.S. “Imperialists”. And, after starting an unnecessary war in Iraq, and losing focus on Afghanistan, it’s no wonder other nations are suspicious of our motives.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2006 3:24 AM
Comment #189558


Great point about McCain-Feingold not working, but I’m not sure it was very well intentioned. To the contrary, I think it was a cynical bill designed to stifle people and make it more difficult to unseat incumbents, which is probably why it received such bipartisan support. I agree that the best solution is public financing of elections, and I would propose the following mechanism. Revamp the primary system to be the following. Primaries will be a vote to determine who gets public financing. ALL candidates who get over a given percentage of the primary, say 15-20%, should receive a fixed amount of money based on the office for which they are running. This should be the ONLY cash these candidates get. No other funding should be allowed, period.

Your views of the North Korea situation are pretty much on point. I think there is plenty of blame to go around. I feel Clinton was too soft on the North, but Bush’s bellicosity gave them no reason to restrain themselves from developing nuclear weapons. The Axis of Evil was a hit list of regimes in need of change, and both Iran and North Korea recognized it and decided to move more aggressively to develop nuclear weapons in an attempt to preclude US military action. That being said, both North Korea and Iran are evil regimes and a threat to global security.

In retrospect, I do think we missed a real opportunity to gain positive feelings in the Muslim world by not restraining Israel. I do think that Israel was right to take strong action against Hamas and Hezbollah, but Israel’s actions and subsequent US support of them did nothing but further alienate us from the Muslim world. On the other hand, at this point I strongly doubt that anything the US can do, aside from mass conversion to Islam, will enhance our standing in the Islamic world.

You make a point about the role of US influence and its role in the world. When practical, the US should work within the international community. On the other hand, we should remember that the big concern of the international community during the Clinton years was that America would forsake its leadership role and leave the international community without a direction. From Clinton to Bush, we have gone from one extreme to another without finding a balance. This does not bode well for us unless we can find this balance.

Posted by: 1LT B at October 22, 2006 3:33 AM
Comment #189563

“I hear theres rumors on the uh, internets…” one of Gee Dubya Bush’s many famous comments has prompted me to jump into this political war of words with the rest of you.
Bill Clinton LIED about getting a blow-job and got impeached. Gee Dubya Bush LIED about Iraq and got 3000+ Americans killed and over 100,000 Iraqi casualties (both numbers are increasing daily).
All for, what was that again ??? (oil, no, we would never allow that)
How many reasons has Gee Dubya Bush come up with to be in Iraq to date? “I hear theres rumors on the uh, internets…” “that Iraq has WMD”, nope, didn’t find any, “that Iraq WANTS US TO FREE THEM”; nope, they hate us even more then ever; “that fighting in Iraq will spread freedom and democracy in the middle east”; nope, just a republican battle cry proved to be another lie. Gee Dubya Bush’s TOP SECRET INTELLIGENCE must be these “rumors on the uh, internets…” Why has he changed his reason for being there from WMD to spreading freedom and democracy? He changed the reason for being there mid-stream, why not change the course of action?

He insisted that we had no time wait and went on against the UN’s advice.

Fast forward, North Korea, a long time sworn enemy to the USA tells the ENTIRE WORLD they are building WMD, Gee Dubya Bush’s response, “I am concerned…” North Korea detonates a WMD and Gee Dubya Bush says “we must let the UN do its job”. Why the sudden change in Gee Dubya Bush’s policy of shoot first, ask questions later??? Oh yes, North Korea has nothing of value for a Texas Oil Baron to plunder for his oil executive friends. After all, he is only president for 8 years; his buddies will watch his interest while he is out playing president.

Lets not make the same MISTAKE twice, GET OFF YOUR ASS and VOTE DEMOCRAT, we can not afford to prolong the Republican Parties disregard for the Constitution and abuse of power. Its time Gee Dubya’s rubber stamp politicians get sent packing. And if whats going on is not enough to piss a Republican off and motivate them to do the right thing, then they are as diluted and self medicated as Condilisa Rice and the entire White House put together.


Posted by: Elephant911 at October 22, 2006 5:29 AM
Comment #189569


Systems we use are created by humans but they develop their own logics and priorities. No system I have ever experienced, seen or even heard about delivers all good things simultaneously. Many sorts of system just cannot be scaled up. Government is one of these.

A consistent problem with human systems is that when they get to be too big and complicated they start to fail. People on this blog often point to examples of successful big-government countries such as those in Scandinavia. These are great places (although having spent four years in Norway I suspect many liberals would be less enthusiastic about them if they got to know them better.) The key to their success, however, is their small size and homogenous societies. Norway, for example, has a totally unworkable political system - unworkable anywhere but there

The U.S. is too big and too diverse for a government that is too intrusive in managing the economy.

You and I also have a difference in perception of our country. I see lots of problems, but I also see that ours is among the best countries in the history of the world and by fast the best run large country ever. If you look at international comparisons, you find high quality of life, nibble economies and innovation tend to be the domain of small countries – and the United States. We have managed to balance size with innovation. This is very difficult. In fact, our accomplishment is one rarely equaled and never exceeded.

Returning to my initial systems thinking, my experience teaches me that you just cannot take complicated relationships and remake them to your hearts desire. That is why every true revolution in the history of the world has been a failure or more correctly required many years until they got rid of the initial firebrands and learned from experience.

SS is a more specific argument that we have had before. Suffice to say, we disagree. I believe some sort privatized accounts will be necessary. The alternative will be that the well-off, the clever and the lucky prosper with private funds, while others languish on government dole. I am not sure we can avoid that no matter what we do, given the demographics, but staying the SS course will certainly not work.

Posted by: Jack at October 22, 2006 10:01 AM
Comment #189578

Jack, so you believe the surpluses your Republican government is taking from tax payers today is not the problem, but, the deficits needed to make up a shortfall in 2040 for about 30 years, is the problem. How typically Republican. To take the people’s money and charge up their debt, then, when the people’s tax well dries up, punish the people by telling them sorry, we spent your surpluses and you will have to take care of yourself now without Soc. Sec. because continuing it would add to our Republican deficits and we can’t have that happen for something like Soc. Sec.

For bridges to nowhere, and no bid contracts, and our corporate donor buddies tax relief, no problem, those deficit makers are fine. But, running a deficit to give the people back a service for which they already paid, no, that is not acceptable. Yes, I see your very Republican argument, Jack. And I and millions of Americans will be voting that argument out of office. It doesn’t belong.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #189581


Just so that you don’t give the impression that only the reps are capable of earmarks, here are a few examples of the dems bellying up to the trough.

$17,361,000 for projects in the state of Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and in the district of House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member David Obey (D-Wis.), including: $8,000,000 for the Nutrient Management Laboratory; $817,000 for urban horticulture; $600,000 for the Babcock Institute; $260,000 for grazing research; $250,000 for cereal crops research; and $30,000 for Great Lakes aquaculture.

$10,995,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), including: $4,500,000 for the Geographic Information System Center of Excellence at West Virginia University; $2,045,000 for the Appalachian Fruit Laboratory in Kearneysville; $860,000 for the Appalachian Small Farmer Outreach Program; $750,000 for multiflora rose control; $690,000 for agriculture waste utilization research; $180,000 for turfgrass research; $160,000 for poultry litter composting; and $160,000 for feed efficiency research. According to USDA testimony, the feed efficiency project was supposed to be completed in 2005, and the research was being conducted at the West Virginia University Performance Bull Testing Facility in Wardensville. Now, that’s appropriate!

$360,295,000 for projects in the state of Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), including: $22,000,000 for Maui Space Surveillance System operations and research; $21,650,000 for the Hawaii Federal Health Care Network; $17,000,000 for the digitization of DOD manuals; $6,000,000 for the Center of Excellence in Research and Ocean Sciences; $4,000,000 for the Center of Excellence for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance; $3,400,000 for the Hickam Air Force Base Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program; $2,500,000 for a small business pilot program to re-engineer the DOD vendor payment process; $2,000,000 for small business development and transition; $1,000,000 for methane desalination systems; $500,000 for porous silicon research; and $500,000 for the Hawaii Wireless Interoperability Network.

28,950,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.): $26,350,000 for a facility restoration plan at the Allegheny Ballistics Lab and $2,600,000 for the West Virginia National Guard for drug interdiction and counter-drug activities. The Allegheny Ballistics Center is located at the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Flexible Manufacturing.

$79,745,000 for projects in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-Nev.), including: $14,300,000 for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas ($5,000,000 to study the deep burn-up of nuclear fuel and other fuel cycle research, $3,400,000 for the study of hydrogen fuel cell and storage, $3,400,000 to research the solar-powered thermo-chemical production of hydrogen, and $2,500,000 for photonics research and the evaluation of advanced fiber optics for hybrid solar lighting); $3,400,000 for the National Center on Energy Management and Building Technology; $3,500,000 for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s virtual- site office; $2,500,000 for Altair Nanotech; $1,000,000 for materials reliability at the University of Nevada- Reno Center; and $250,000 for the Mojave Bird Study. Due to previous concerns regarding the safety of birds in the area, an environmental impact report, released in July of 2004, revealed that the death toll on red-tailed hawks and other bird species in the area would be minimal following the construction of a wind farm. According to an article published by Judith Lewis in LA Weekly, the local Audubon groups that led the attack on the Pine Tree Wind Farm offered to pay for a meticulous study that would focus specifically on the songbirds. However, the government insisted on conducting their own study using taxpayer dollars to fund the project.

$56,078,000 added by the Senate in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), including: $11,650,000 for construction of the Santa Ana River Mainstem; $10,000,000 for the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Project; $7,000,000 for the UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine; $3,000,000 for the American River Watershed; $3,000,000 for the San Ramon Valley Recycled Water Project; $2,900,000 for regional wetlands in Lake Tahoe; $1,440,000 for the San Francisco Bay Long-Term Management Study; $1,250,000 for the Long Beach Desalination Project; $1,000,000 for the Sacramento River Division Study; $1,000,000 for a water reclamation project in Orange County; $500,000 for the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center; $400,000 for the California Hydrogen Infrastructure Project; and $300,000 for Surfside-Sunset and Newport beaches. Senator Feinstein told reporters, “The problem with earmarks is they’re put in in the dark of night and they are unknown. I recognize that earmarks have been abused.” Fifty-six million dollars later, the other side of her mouth is probably singing a different tune.

Posted by: Keith at October 22, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #189583

I am not a CA resident, but many of the earmarks you list look like great ideas, and they look like they deserve federal funding for their national impact. Some look shaky. But some involve infrastructure maintenence, and others environmental restoration. I think the point of your comment is that Democrats are just as corrupt as Republicans when it comes to earmarks.

Unfortunately, you unintentionally make the opposite point. Earmarks should probably be disallowed. But it loks to me like many of these are good ideas! Careful about cutting and pasting lists! What was your source?

Posted by: phx8 at October 22, 2006 12:25 PM
Comment #189584

Keith, pork is the staple of almost every politicians’ diet. I do not think David was trying to exonerate the Democrats from guilt.

Even if he was, he is still right to point out that the current administration has been irresponsible fiscally.

Posted by: Zeek at October 22, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #189587


Please don’t put words in my mouth. Nowhere did I say the US needed to be perfect. I just feel we need to set our own high standards at a level that is right, not just better than anyone else. We need to hold true to our own ideals regardless of what any other nation does.

We can be better as a nation about establishing and upholding our principles than we are now.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 22, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #189589

Yes, the pork-barrel is rampant in both parties. Voters are being bribed with their own money.
That money is NOT really an efficient use of tax dollars. It is mostly graft, bribes, and paybacks. One only needs a few minutes at Citizens Against Government Waste to see that. There are very few incumbent politicians that don’t vote on pork-barrel. Even those that usually fight pork-barrel are guilty of it (like Sen. John McCain’s $1 million for the brown tree snake (in Guam) earmark sneaked into a defense BILL at a time while our troops were going without adequate medical care and body armor). Most (if not all) incumbent politicians are irresponsible, and have voted for some sort of pork-barrel, waste , or something that grows government ever larger, to nightmare proporations.

Those pork-barrel stats look like they are from Citizens Against Government Waste, and they probably want appreciate those stats being spread around as much as possible.

Also, the U.S. is often doing more damage than good with foreign aid. Often, the billions sent to foreign nations enables corruption and corrupt governments to wage war on their own people.

That is yet another way that U.S. is dangerous to other nations.

For example, former dictator Charles Taylor used foreign aid to build an army to wage war in West Africa.

In Somolia, foreign aid depressed the food markets and prices, and led to more chaos, war, and corruption. President Siad Barre waged war on his own people.

The way foreign aid is administered, it breeds corruption, oppression, crime, war, and disrupts existing markets.

The U.S. will spend about #31 billion in 2007 in foreign aid for nation building (excluding Iraq) and a wide variety of things. However, private aid is far more effective and less wasteful. Also, private aid dwarfs that $31 billion, so perhaps the U.S. government shoud stop doing it, since it often causes more harm than good, since those funds are often used to prop up corrupt and oppressive leaders, that prolong or magnify the problems.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2006 1:08 PM
Comment #189598


Vote out those who obstructed the proper workings of government. Vote out any who inserted pork barrel spending of any kind. Vote out any who accepted donations of over $200 from anyone. Vote out the Democrats. Vote out the Republicans. Vote out the Christians. Vote out the non-Christians. Vote out the blacks, the whites, and the non-white others.

Danger! These ways of voting are dangerous! Each race must be evaluated by itself. Each incumbant has a record that can be researched. Each contender (hopefully) has some kind of record to check on. Each candidate (hopefully) has a plan and an agenda and personal standards that can be identified. If you really want to change the way government works, then YOU will have to do research on the races that YOU can vote on.

A couple of months ago I gave a name of an excellent candidate for a regional office detailing his standards and record. The response from the blog was “But he’s a Republican…we can’t vote for him.” Stupid voters look only at the party. Look at the man/woman and the values, goals, and plans.

Some of the incumbents are worth re-electing. Check it out their records and values for yourself. Some Democrat incumbents are worth re-electing. Some Republican incumbents are worth re-electing. Some should have been kicked out 30 years ago. In the great (impoverished) state of Michigan we have a senator who hasn’t accomplished anything (except re-naming a building) since her election in 2000. She will be re-elected merely because she is a Democrat from a blue state. BTW - her Republican opponent in this race doesn’t have as much experience as I would like (but he would lose even if he was the perfect candidate).

We also have a governor who was great as state attorney general (I voted for her for AG, but voted against her for gov’r). She has wasted her 4 years and should be canned. But right now she has the lead in the polls.

It is shameful and lazy for anyone to vote a party line.

Posted by: Don at October 22, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #189603


I believe Dems will win the House. Then you will have a chance to see how much better it gets. But you know that if you followed your vote out the incumbents logic, you would be favoring a Republican retention of the Senate, since if all those open seats changed parties the Repubicans would win.


Everything could be better. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but when we hear that kind of criticism it often means we are not good enough. I am merely pointing out that real world examples provide no overall better model. We can cherry pick from particular places and times, of course, but putting them all together in one big diverse place is so far eluded mankind.

The danger is always to jump away from the practical good in search of the theoretical (nearly) perfect.

My belief (and you probalby do not disagee) is that we have a basically good system that requirees constant repairs and improvements. But there is no reason to be overly pessimistic and revolutionary change would be a bad idea.

Posted by: Jack at October 22, 2006 2:54 PM
Comment #189609
I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but…

I rest my case.

I also believe we have a fairly good system, but I see it crumbling. It needs to improve our attitudes on rights, and then live what we say. I don’t believe I’m being overly pessimistic by disagreeing with your take on things. You seem pretty satisfied with the status quo, I’m not. I would love to see us at least attempt to live up the ideals (Christian or otherwise) that we claim to own.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 22, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #189610

Jack, it doesn’t matter substantially if the Republicans or Democrats win the majority in one or both of the Congressional Houses. The problem is the political leadership of both parties in those houses who put party before country, and the campaign dollar before the needs of the people.

Only removing incumbents on the principle that reelection depends upon efficient, cost effective, and durable solutions to America’s problems, will ever make a difference.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #189613

Keith, Zeek, and phx8, you are all correct.

Pork is being used in the following manner. Politicians pass laws to take our money from us. Knowing that pisses off voters, they embed pork spending to bribe those votes back from the pissed off voters at election time. But, the reality is the dollar amount of pork spending for one state costs the pork spending in 49 other states. It’s exactly like having a family of 50, each making $20 per week, and the only way I can justify buying steak for myself on the family income is to buy steak for the other 49 family members too so as not to raise their ire. In other words, the steak I wanted for myself, for $20, has now cost the family $1,000, and the whole family just blew their entire week’s earnings on one meal. Then everyone is upset that the family’s credit card debt just went through the roof threatening the solvency of the whole family. DUH!

What is needed is to force incumbents out, again and again, until their replacements pass laws which require one bill per purpose, and full debate and vote on each spending purpose bill. It only lacks the will of politicians to accomplish. It only requires removing the incumbents who keep the deceptive spending practices in place.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2006 3:44 PM
Comment #189616
Don wrote:

Some of the incumbents are worth re-electing.

Maybe. Very few though (if any).
Especially if you are looking for someone that has not voted on pork-barrel, waste, trolled for big-money-donors, peddled influence, or looked the other way.
Do you know any one.
Say 10, 20, 50, 100, or 268 (half of 535) in Congress that would qualify?
I’ve tried. There are very few, and they are mostly newcomers that have not yet had time to do much damage.

The goal should always be to vote out irresponsible incumbents, always.

I can’t vote for my incumbents, because they have voted on pork barrel, waste, refuse to enforce existing laws, peddle influence, misuse or abuse their office, say and/or do unethical things, or look the other way.

So, if in doubt, vote ‘me out.
Don’t worry. You are wasting your time wasting any sympathy on this do-nothing, bought-and-paid-for, look-the-other-way congress. Unless someone can name at least 268 (half of 535) in Congress that are responsible and accountable, then they have failed as a whole and deserve the boot.

Do that, and then you might finally see some peer pressure among their own ranks. Right now, there’s little (if any) ethical peer pressure in Congress. Most (if not all) look the other way, and for all the corruption we have seen lately, it is probably only a fraction of what exists. Take Hastert for instance. He knew about Foley for a long time. He’s lying when he says he didn’t, and there’s still the little matter of the attempted cover-up. As usual, the attempted cover-up is more revealing than the scandal.

Don wrote: Danger! Vote out those who obstructed the proper workings of government. Vote out any who inserted pork barrel spending of any kind. Vote out any who accepted donations of over $200 from anyone. Vote out the Democrats. Vote out the Republicans. Vote out the Christians. Vote out the non-Christians. Vote out the blacks, the whites, and the non-white others. Danger! These ways of voting are dangerous!

Yes, those are dangerous goals, because what we, the voters, are supposed to be doing is voting out irresponsible incumbent politicians, always.

You’re right. The problem is that voters keep letting one group or the other take turns, without ever getting to the real root of the problem. The problem is not just one party, or group. It is A_L_L of us. Irresponsible incumbents in both parties, and irresponsible voters that keep pulling the party-lever and keep on RE-electing the very same incumbent politicians that use and abuse the voters.

Unfortunately, I think Democrats will be the most guilty of that this time. Lots of disillusioned Republicans have left the Republican party and won’t vote Republican, or won’t vote at all. The Democrats will gain some seats, bringing the total seats (perhaps 14 in the House, and 4 in the Senate) for Democrats and Republicans very close to 50%/50% in both houses. Grid-lock is likely to follow, 85% of incumbents will be re-electing, and voters will have blown another chance for real change.

If voters want real change, they need to simply not re-elect any irresponsible incumbents (ever), and there are many more PROs than CONs.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2006 4:18 PM
Comment #189625


This is a bit off topic, but I’m curious. Why do you admire the Romans? Their government was a mess, even before the fall of the Republic. Afterwards, there were no Constitutional provisions for changes in Emperors; thus legions or the threat of the legions often determined new leadership. The division of powers in the government during the Republic often meant that little got done. Rome had no police force; therefore, gangs and mercenaries for powerful figures often ran rampant. Decisions in the forum and other government entities were often influenced by armed toughs. Rome had no state tax collection system; therefore, it contracted out tax collection with the inevitable result of corruption and tax collectors becoming immensely wealthy. Rome had massive numbers of slaves; I forget the estimated percentages, but they are huge. As a partial result of this, unemployment was high — government handouts of grain and public spectacles were considered necessary to keep the mob happy. The state for the most part was concerned with protecting the interests of wealthy landowners; its policies lead to the loss of many small, privately owned farms to large-scale farms worked by slaves for the benefit of a privileged few. In the latter stages of the Empire, when the bureaucracy had become all pervasive, the local elite no longer run for office; they angled for government positions. Therefore, they no longer felt the need to contribute their own wealth for new buildings, infrastructure, etc.

I’m not certain we can say life was better under the Romans than under the various tribes and nations Rome conquered. We simply do not have, for the most part, written records from the illiterate Germanic tribes, and what little contemporary information we do have comes from Roman sources, which understandly are biased. At any rate, we know that when the empire started to fall apart, large property owners often simply switched allegiance. Their concern was survival and to get tribute/taxes down to reasonable levels. With some exceptions, large land owners were all to willing to switch masters. Ironically, the bulwark of the Roman state, the property owners, had an interest in accomodating the invaders instead of resistance.

It is true that the Roman empire survived for centuries. Much of the reason, I think, is that the Romans were often very practical minded. When they figured out they couldn’t hold without enormous cost the lands east of the Rhine, they simply gave up their territorial ambitions and built a lot of border forts. Their expansion into the Hellenistic kingdoms was helped by the fact that these states were generally unstable, weak, and fought amongst themselves. (And, for the most part, they were run as fiefdoms in which the rulers extracted as much wealth for their own purposes as possible.) The Romans simply had their act together in ways the Hellenistic kingdoms did not.

One can admire success, but other than that, what is it about the Romans commands admiration? I ask as someone genuinely fascinated by both the Greeks and Romans.

Posted by: Trent at October 22, 2006 6:48 PM
Comment #189631


You are right about everything you say about the Romans. But you have to go beyond that. They established a period of relative peace for 200 years. They created little of their own civilization. That is true. But they facilitated the spread of a common culture throughout the Mediterranean. They developed the basis of our rule of law. Their engineers build fantastic public works.

The ancestors of my people (where most of my DNA comes from) were painting rubbing their hair with butter and sacrificing to Thor and Wodin uring those times. They thought fighting and killing were positively good things. Our neighbors were burning people in wicker men and painting themselves blue. They were much more in sync with today’s style. They behaved a lot like rock stars or motorcycle gangs. But they produced little in those centuries.

I dislike Rousseau and I do not believe in the idea of the noble savage. The Romans were cruel and backward by our standards, but they were about the best you could do at the time and we are heirs of their civilization. We learned from their mistakes. Our Constitution is very much a legacy of theirs.

Of course their empire fell, as all things do. Sic transit gloria mundi. But their empire endured several centuries in the west and another thousand years at Constantinople. And we still live with their legacy.

Posted by: Jackj at October 22, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #189632

True enough. And if not for the Romans, Christianity might have remained a minor cult. One thing that always fascinated me was how the ideal of “Roman-ness” spread across ethnic lines. In the latter stages, generals and even emperors had “barbaric” blood. In a strange way, the Romans and the barbarians became very, very similar.

Posted by: Trent at October 22, 2006 7:51 PM
Comment #189636

There have been comments about voting out irresponsible candidates, and keeping some responsible one’s. Since this blog is about primarily national politics, does anyone have a list of candidates you think should be voted out or voted in and why?

Posted by: gergle at October 22, 2006 8:40 PM
Comment #189638

At the rate we are going, the Roman Empire will have lasted many centuries longer than the U.S.

We are on track to become just another banana republic.

How long before foreign nations are sending us foreign aid to feed our starving masses?

It seems freedom and abundance is always followed by complacency, irresponsibility, and apathy. Humans simply cannot endure freedom and abundance.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2006 8:45 PM
Comment #189649

d.a.n, we just last week became like a S. American Junta regime, where we can “disappear” people on nothing more than a suspicion of being linked to terrorists or their support organization, and locked up for life, without ever appearing in a court, learning the charges against them, or ever having representation. All that power in the hands of one person. Sounds like a S. American dictatorship to me circa 1970’s.

Unbelievably, it is now legal in America. What a temptation for that person with all that power and so many political critics and opponents. It is only a matter of time before Nixon’s Watergate crimes appear to be minor misdeameanors.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2006 11:43 PM
Comment #189653


The only thing in common between what’s going on now an Nixon is the paranoia.

Posted by: Keith at October 23, 2006 1:05 AM
Comment #189654

Keith, it does not require paranoia to distrust power in the hands of a few or one, it only takes an education in history.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2006 3:12 AM
Comment #189658

I agree with neo-con, but I think our non-expansionist tendencies began even earlier, when the founding fathers adopted the strategy of not getting involved with “entangling alliances”, believing that all nations will always act to achieve their own self-interest. We had plenty of opportunity (and many wanted us to) to join the French revolution, but we didn’t.

The genuis of Reagan and Bush senior was that they waited and managed our risks. They won without war! But neo-cons read Reagan’s triumph as meaning that you could easily topple regimes. Wrong!

Security, independence, no nation-building, fiscal conservatism, I’m no conservative, but if I was I would say the conservative party has abandoned everything it once stood for.

Posted by: Max at October 23, 2006 5:30 AM
Comment #189659

As I read more and more of these posting, especially by David, I am sure in his heart he feels that all things good this nation has ever done is a direct result of the Democratic Party! Isn’t history wonderful? Just like monday morning quarterbacking… David, what would you and your party do different? What is the platform? Give us some meat! Not one of you have stated what or how you would govern different… all you can say is we need change, but change just for change is not a plan. Please tell all of us out here how your party will do things differently, if you can. On by the way, David, an honorable discharge, does not make one an expert. Give me some meat..ie length of service, branch, last rank, highest award… then you can pontificate on my 30 plus years of service… 10 of which were in Special Operations…

Posted by: Lacy at October 23, 2006 7:47 AM
Comment #189660

Lacy, I never pontificated on your 30 plus years of service. Your comments however, are getting personal. You may want to review the Rules of Participation here to insure your comments remain in compliance. Just a friendly suggestion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #189661


I don’t think that saying David is a Democrat is true from my reading of him….he is more libertarian. What you seem to be unwilling to accept is the utter failure of the Republican party in the last 6 years.

It really doesn’t matter, at this point, what the Democratic plan is, anything is better than what we’ve had.

I suspect several things may happen with Democrats, expect to see some redistricing, expect to see a revisit of the prescription drug non negotiable price program, expect to see investigations into Iraq spending, and expect to see a more honest discussion of Iraq policy. I’m hopeful that Democrats may approach universal healthcare, but I’m not holding my breath.

I doubt there will be much in the way of lobby reform, although we may see reform of the electronic voting debacle.

I’m also hopeful that Congress will look at Jack’s idea of funding alternative fuels research and development through a gas tax.

Posted by: gergle at October 23, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #189664

Lacy, I believe the Republican’s welfare reform was an outstanding benefit for our nation. And Democrat’s hadn’t a clue on this issue. The proof was in the consequences that Republicans were quite right on that one.

The Republican and Democratic presidents who fought the Cold War with economics and MAD were proved to have chosen a far better course than direct military engagement. So, your premise above is not valid.

A divided party government in the long run is more beneficial in terms of checks and balances than a one party government. To that extent, it will likely be more beneficial if Democrats take one or both Congressional Houses. But, as I have written extensively here at WatchBlog, I seek removing incumbents from both parties and for a number of elections to come. So, again, that assumption made in your comment above is also not valid.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2006 9:44 AM
Comment #189665

gergle, what we have had is a party that lost an election and have balked at fixing thing like, Social Security, Border Security and civil discussions on the betterment of the nation. Reguarless of which party is in charge, until we have a true democratic process instead of a two party division in this nation, we will never accomplish those things necessary for the betterment of our nation…

Posted by: Lacy at October 23, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #189666

Trent, I agree the Romans lasted a long time and we do possess many of their societal qualities. History admires them because, as you said, they wrote history.

They remained in power due to their armies. Hmmm, that is still the source of most power in the world. I guess we haven’t come that far after all.

I get amused at times when people talk about the advancment of our civilization. Lincoln preserved the Union by violent repression of the Seccessionists. While we pay lip service to the end of slavery, and equality. We still burn, maim and kill those that presume equality we have not confered upon them.

I do think that science and technology has advanced, and when times are plush, some of us do try to be more civil toward others, as I suspect many did even in Roman times, but when things get thin, expect a return to the brutality of the past. It is in our nature.

Posted by: gergle at October 23, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #189667

Lacy, agreed. You should know that David Remer is one of the founders of a campaign to stop the reelection of corrupt incumbents, irregardless of party affiliation.

I think you may have mispoken.

Posted by: gergle at October 23, 2006 9:55 AM
Comment #189670

David, not sure I am reading you correctly. Are you suggesting that economics would have toppled the Taliban? North Korea? Iraq? Iran? The Cold War was fought through numerious Geo-Political processes and it was fought against a government that was suseptable to economic isolation. I don’t belive the current fight against terrorist who have no nation or nations who have garnered the support of major economic powers in the world (Russia and China) who are more concerned with their trade with these groups and nations could work in todays world. As times change one must look to new and better ways to effect the betterment of not only our nation but man kind as a whole. So your assesment that economics will not work today as it did during the cold war. If the UN was a viable force, and the member of the Security Council were interested in the betterment of the world, then and only then will economics play a role in the change of a nations direction. Don’t think economic will ever play a role for terrorist organizations who are not alined with a nation. Economics without the political and military means to inforce economic measures coupled with nations willing to work for the common good is only rethrotic at best.

Posted by: Lacy at October 23, 2006 10:18 AM
Comment #189672

Yes, Americans are arrogant, pushy, controlling and think we’re always right. We believe our way is the best way and everyone should agree.

Iraq, Iran and North Korea are perfect examples. Why anyone would think Iraq wants our form of government is arrogant; and who are we to say another country cannot possess nuclear weapons? Can you imagine our response if another country told us we couldn’t have something we wanted?

Instead of trying to control other countries, we need to be prepared. Fix our borders, deploy a missile defense network and improve our Homeland defense. Only then can we use our economic power to diplomatically persuade other countries to “play nice” and “get along”.

Posted by: mac6115cd at October 23, 2006 10:29 AM
Comment #189679

Mac somewhat agree however, the issue is not that we have said these countries cannot have nukes, it is the world ie. UN and the agreements these countries have made with the UN. As of Democracy according to the US way, no one has said they want a democracy like America. We just want a democracy where leaders are elected by the people and govern accordingly… If the world powers do not hold countries accountable for the agreements they make, then why have a UN? Agreements without accountablity is unacceptable in todays world. Whether it is a British,Russian,French,or any other democracy, all forms are acceptable.

Posted by: Lacy at October 23, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #189682


Americans don’t WANT to be the cop of the world but, Who ya gonna call??

The world itself?
Who say only one nation should do the cop?!
Do you ask the strongest man of america to be your one single cop to secure your streets?

There’s an alternative to doing something hard all alone: doing it as a team. Of course, US is welcome to join the team and, if she wants to, lead the team.

But going multilaterism seems so insulting and constraining for the #1 superpower…
Then, be alone. Your call.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 11:26 AM
Comment #189687

The problem with letting others be the “World Cop” is that the US stands a very good chance of being one of the “arrested”.

Face it. Being the Lone Super Cop allows the US to escape what in another country’s actions would certainly be illegal.

Among the more famous offences:
1. Saturation bombing of known civilian areas during Vietnam.
2. Assasinations and overthrow of duly elected governments in Latin America and Middle East.
3. Renditions.
4. Torture.
5. so on and so forth…

You guys do know that just because BushCo retroactively made a US Law legalizing torture does not make it legal overseas? Our Dear Leader could end up in the Hague someday.

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at October 23, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #189690

Lacy: Your comment about the U.N. was meant to be a joke wasn’t it?

We want sanctions against Iran. Russia says no.

We wan’t sanctions against N. Korea. China says no.

They want sanctions against Israel. We say no.

When a handful of individual nations have the ability to thwart the will of the U.N. with their veto power, there will be no progress towards a more peaceful World, only a continuation of the statis quo.

Posted by: jlw at October 23, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #189691

Juan, even if I agree with the past US sanctionnable actions, I’m talking here about present or near future: world (well, at least more than just a very few nations) doing all together the cop of the world, US being as all others nations, both actor and eventually object.

And BushCo wont last forever. Afterall, they don’t fund that much human cloning technology, right?

(Just happened to watch Aeonflux yesterday).

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #189692
When a handful of individual nations have the ability to thwart the will of the U.N. with their veto power, there will be no progress towards a more peaceful World, only a continuation of the statis quo.

Agreed. Unfortunatly, no veto power nations seems ready to lost it. Yet.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #189694

Philippe Houdoin:

They used to say that Vietnam would never happen to the US again. That we have learned our lesson about the “Domino Theory” and the use of force.

Why are we in Iraq again?

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at October 23, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #189701

Americans love their freedom too much to bow to world govt and opinion, well, half of us anyway.
The rest of the world has no idea of what true freedom really is and rely on govt to make them feel free.

The US is only a danger to those like saddam and if the world doesn’t like how we handle things, then the world should take care of their own problems. But they won’t will they? No, they would rather take all of our financial aid and technological advances with one hand and condemn us with the other.
The world demands the US to respect them but they offer no respect to the US.
Unfortuantley, a large ideological voting block in American happens to believe world before their own country now.
Nice to know “Proud to be an American” and “America first” isn’t PC to these people.

The world wants the US to leave it alone? Well so do I.
I’m sick and tired of seeing US money go to those who hate us and I’m sick and tired of seeing American lives being lost to help non-American and non-deserving country’s.

Posted by: kctim at October 23, 2006 2:16 PM
Comment #189702


Because the foreign policy of the US was taken over by a bunch of “dead enders” who wanted to re fight the Vietnam war. They lost it once and now have lost it again. Rummy was one of those.

Posted by: gergle at October 23, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #189717


Just because we are on top of the world doesn’t always mean we need to be knocked off… or we don’t deserve to be.

Other countries are guilty of far worse than America has ever done… Slavery, while terrible, doesn’t equal the genocide in the Middle East or the Ivory Coast, or Hitler and Stalin.

America seems to be called when needed, we hail the call and die for others, not just when we feel like it or as we have been accussed of.

Most of our accusers are domestic unfortunately.

Posted by: Chris at October 23, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #189718
The rest of the world has no idea of what true freedom really is and rely on govt to make them feel free.

That’s your opinion until you could prove it.

if the world doesn’t like how we handle things, then the world should take care of their own problems.

Then stop block them. Wants to start counting how often US used its veto at UNSC, compared to the others? Wants to sea how much often *only* US allows Israel to NOT face its policies consequences? And stop emit 25% of the world CO2 emission and find a way to keep them within your borders. Thanks you very much.

Us, the rest of the world, yes us, this useless part of the humanity, hold a major part of *your* country treasure, mind you. Ask chineses. Ask Japaneses. Ask Soudian Arabians. Ask even a few europeans.

I’m sick and tired of seeing US money go to those who hate us and I’m sick and tired of seeing American lives being lost to help non-American and non-deserving country’s.

You’re talking about Iraq here, right? ;-)
IIRC, many nations told you to not waste your money and soldiers lives there. Your leader didn’t listen. Neither did he read. Don’t blame the world for your leader being that deaf and illiterate. Blame his (spin) doctors instead.

Anyway, welcome to the global world. There’s no escape.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 4:54 PM
Comment #189719


Why are we in Iraq again?

Don’t ask me! My french fellows are still looking for a rational which could make sense…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 4:56 PM
Comment #189724


Just because we are on top of the world doesn’t always mean we need to be knocked off… or we don’t deserve to be.


Other countries are guilty of far worse than America has ever done… Slavery, while terrible, doesn’t equal the genocide in the Middle East or the Ivory Coast, or Hitler and Stalin.

Most of nations have an history way longer than USA. Indeed, their bad past or present behaviors amount to a worst ending score than your. Still, I failed to see how it gives a blank check for any US’s misbehavior forever. “They did worser” is not a valid argument for doing wrong.

America seems to be called when needed, we hail the call and die for others, not just when we feel like it or as we have been accussed of.

Well, check again history. Americans didn’t *hail* the WWII call before they were attacked 3 years after it started. It’s doesn’t taint bad at all what they did then, au contraire. But fact is fact: you don’t always rush to help others, which is not that an issue except when you brag about it too much.
Also, please remember that others also died sometimes for your nation.

Most of our accusers are domestic unfortunately.

Hey, at least I’m not one of them (domestic, that is).

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 5:12 PM
Comment #189725

I’m totally against the UN and all those little vetos you are talking about were nothing but pandering to some other country.
I don’t care about Israel or what it does.
As far as CO2 emissions, big deal. We do more, create more and play more than the rest of the world. Learn to live with it or figure out a way to stop it.

I also wouldn’t say the rest of the world is a “useless part of humanity” either. I say I don’t care about what you guys do to each other and that we should take care of our own people, not everybody elses.

Yes, I am talking about Iraq. I’m also talking about Korea, Kosovo, Vietnam, WWI, South America, Africa etc…
There is only one country worthy of shedding American blood for and that is the US.

I know there is no escape.
Our own liberal partys willingness to place their own country’s welfare second to that of the world proves that.
Which I’m sure elates the world to no end.

Posted by: kctim at October 23, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #189733

kctim, I loved your line: “The rest of the world has no idea of what true freedom really is and rely on govt to make them feel free.”

I loved it because of the corallary, in America we rely on politicians to make us feel free - or, afraid at election time.

Too Funny!

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2006 5:28 PM
Comment #189735

Lacy asked: “Are you suggesting that economics would have toppled the Taliban? North Korea? Iraq? Iran?”

No, I was recounting how I supported and respected the actions of some Republicans in the past, the cold war having been one of them. There was a time when I questioned mutually assured destruction with nuclear weapons as a basis for peace. I still do, but, in the particular case of the US and Russia, it turned out to be an appropriate course of action.

Lacy said: “Don’t think economic will ever play a role for terrorist organizations who are not alined with a nation. “

I think you are very wrong in this assessment. I agree going after their money is not the whole solution, but, action by terrorists costs money and therefore, their funding has to be a major target as well as their leaders, and recruiters. One of the things I applaud the current administration for is its insistence upon an international cooperation to attack the economic support for al-Queda. We led the way on that flank of the war, and it was most appropriate and very well handled by the Bush administration.

Still, in the end, the war against terrorists is a war fought by intelligence agents and police authorities around the globe. The terrorists will never congregate into an army which our military can do battle with and defeat. At best, our military can conduct surgical strikes in small groups of them and their operations sites based on the work of police and intelligence officials.

The War in “War on Terror” is such an inappropriate word in so many ways, including allowing this adminstration to believe it would be justified in suspending and altering Constitutional rights and freedoms of American citizens.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #189737


I don’t care about Israel or what it does.

But your country still block any action against their policies and, eventually, goes even to provide them illegal weapons and experimental ones… How “the world should take care of their own problems” if your nation make opposition when the world try to take care ot their own problems?
You can’t have both way.

As far as CO2 emissions, big deal. We do more, create more and play more than the rest of the world. Learn to live with it or figure out a way to stop it.

Wrong. US CO2 per GDP rank is way below many nations, mine included. Check it yourself.
See, some nations find a way to produce more *and* polute less.

I say I don’t care about what you guys do to each other and that we should take care of our own people, not everybody elses.

Yes, I am talking about Iraq. I’m also talking about Korea, Kosovo, Vietnam, WWI, South America, Africa etc… There is only one country worthy of shedding American blood for and that is the US.

I guess your leaders see larger than you and consider that there is american interests or idealogy that worth americans blood too.
I can’t say I blame them…

Anyway, I understand you’re for full isolationnism, but currently that’s not the US foreign policy at work. Until it is, your country actions worldwide will be exposed to both critics (not necessary all negative) and high expectation (being the #1 strongest and richer come with cons) .

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 23, 2006 5:46 PM
Comment #189893

I am well aware that I can’t have it both ways, which is why I do my part to try and change it.

GDP has nothing to do with what we create and how we play. We have tons of motor sports, chemicals etc… which we use for our own personal pleasures.

“I can’t say I blame them…”

No, you won’t blame them for anything, as long as they do as you agree.

Posted by: kctim at October 24, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #189895
GDP has nothing to do with what we create and how we play. We have tons of motor sports, chemicals etc… which we use for our own personal pleasures.

Yet the amount of CO2 / GDP ratio show how much you pollute to create all these “toys”. When compared to others nations, US is far from being the most effective in this area. Which is my point.
You don’t care. Okay.
But we, the rest of the world, have to care about these 25% of total CO2 released in *our* atmosphere because your country can’t keep it within its borders. Because, as you suggested above, “the world should take care of their own problems”, one of them being these 25% of CO2 coming into *our* atmosphere but not emitted from any place of this world. But your country.

No, you won’t blame them for anything, as long as they do as you agree.

Yep, that’s call agreement and disagreement.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 24, 2006 12:01 PM
Comment #189899
The trouble is that each success leads to expansion which pushes up against new threats. In a couple generations we defended ourselves all the way to the Pacific Ocean and then beyond.

You do realize that the Nazis claimed they were defending the Fatherland, don’t you?

Posted by: mental wimp at October 24, 2006 12:10 PM
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