Democrats Hoisted on Their Own Petards

We are a year away from presidential elections. It will be an unpleasant one for the Democrats. They bet their fortunes on failure in Iraq and a bad economy. They said both had happened already. Despite comical spin such as As Violence Falls, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch, their Iraq stance will begin to work against them. The economy is indeed heading down, but Democrats convinced Americans that it was so bad even during the boom that there is not much more for them to say.

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. My Dem colleagues are learning the truth of this. Having declared defeat in Iraq a done deal so often, the recent success leaves them with a lot of explaining to do. Actually, they were right in the context they said it. If any of the leading Democrats had been president, we would have lost by now. George Bush showed great courage in the face of a determined opposition. Instead of cutting out, as every leading Dem suggested, he boldly embraced a new strategy. It demonstrates why we probably cannot trust Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, not to mention the likes of Edwards or Kucinch, to do important foreign policy work.

The economy is even more amusing. It looks like the U.S. economy is indeed headed down. Dems could probably have taken advantage of this, except that they already shot their rods on this one. Since 2003, the economy has been good to excellent, but the Dem PR machine managed to convince most people that we were just a little short of the Great Depression. We probably will face a downturn, although not a recession. But the real numbers will look good in comparison to the doom & gloom we have been hearing for the Dem noise machine. It is really a case of being hoisted on their own petards.

Last year, it looked like a Republican could never win. This year, it is starting to look like an even bet. Next year …

Posted by Jack at October 22, 2007 8:30 AM
Comments
Comment #236615

Not reading many polls lately are you Jack? Certainly if you had, you would have revised this article regarding Democratic prospects in 2008.

As for the economy: The economy was good from 2003 through 2006 ONLY for corporations, investors, politicians, and mid to upper middle class and wealthy. Inflation in health care, energy costs, and food have not blessed the lower middle classes and poorer. Suppressed wage growth due to Clinton’s and Republican’s neglect of the illegal immigration issue and UNFAIR to Americans trade policies, have really hit the lower economic classes hard. And it shows in the polls.

As I have said many times before to you, anyone can borrow themselves into the appearances of a healthy financial state, but, when the bills come due, it all falls apart. This is precisely what the Republicans have done to the economy since 2001, increase national debt by 3.34 Trillion dollars making it appear for a short term that our economy is jim dandy. But, the Soc. Sec. and Medicare bills are coming due pretty fast, as is the global climate change bill already and our dependence on foreign energy supplies in the form of the Iraq War.

So, no, Jack. Your blind faith optimism in a Republican take back is in for a rude shock. To my intense regret, we have only a one party Democratic Party government to look forward to, thanks to the grotesque negligence and incompetence of Republicans in office these last 6 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2007 9:03 AM
Comment #236623

David,
No one has put together a real balanced budget since W.W.II. Every supposedly balanced budget has been accomplished by sleight of hand and accounting fudges like not considering kiting the Social Security Trust Fund “borrowing”. Even failing to account for this little scheme you can see looking back at the budgets of the last two decades there were no balanced budgets after all the numbers were in.

What we sould really be looking at is the deficit after accounting for borrowing from Social Security. Since the so-called surplus from which those funds are borrowed is steadily narrowing we are getting closer and closer to seeing what the REAL budget deficit actually is. I haven’t seen those numbers, though it is probably not all that hard to find them, but I’ll hazard a wild guess that the real deficit now is almost identical to the real deficit at the end of the Clinton administration.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 22, 2007 10:34 AM
Comment #236635


Jack: I think you are underestimating the desire of the American people to change the path our government is on. While I don’t see the Democrats offering any earth shaking changes, they are advocating a change in priorities. The Republicans, on the other hand, are offering to stay the course. Be it the religious right agenda, the war, or the economy, the answer to the problems we face is stay the course. As the year wears on, the picture of Republicans as obstructionists and agents of the statis quo rather than agents of change will become more and more clear to the people.

The religious right should determine what rights the individual has.

An economy that is best for the wealthy is best for all.

“War is good business, invest your son.”

Does that sound like a winning political strategy to you?

Posted by: jlw at October 22, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #236639

Lee said: “What we sould really be looking at is the deficit after accounting for borrowing from Social Security. “

You’ll get no argument from me on this.

However, the Soc. Sec. program is facing an unfunded liability of 4 Trillion dollars over the span of the boomer’s retirement demographic. A pittance compared to the Medicare/Medicaid $40 Trillion dollar unfunded liability.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2007 11:22 AM
Comment #236642

jlw

I do not think the religious groups will have as much influence on say Rudy.

The economy is doing all right for most people. The inequality is a long term trend that is world wide. Read RObert Reich’s “Supercapitalism”. Clinton did nothing to change the course and neither did Dems in Congress.

The war - it is the Dems who have not changed course. There is a new strategy in Iraq that is working. It is NOT stay the course. It is just prefering to win rather than lose.

David

I do not think the Republicans will take back the Congress. But the Dems will not take the presidency. Imagine a Hilary Clinton president or a Barack Obama, and they are the better ones.

Posted by: Jack at October 22, 2007 11:33 AM
Comment #236644

Oddly enough, The Onion was saying the same thing about Iraq:

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/not_so_horrible_thing_happens_in

Posted by: phx8 at October 22, 2007 11:33 AM
Comment #236651

I wonder how Hillary will parse her recent statements; “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good” and “(WE)…can’t just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people.” I wish one of the candidates, during the Republican Debate on Fox last night, would have mentioned these quotes, but it was quite clear that Hillary is thought of as a Socialist. Her own words tend to prove it. After the conventions have elected their candidates, I am sure we will hear more of these quotes by Hillary which, in my opinion, will not sit well with the majority of the voting public.

Posted by: Jim at October 22, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #236657

Yes, Jack, unless the GOP can come up with another Reagan, the American public polls show they would prefer a Democrat to a Republican. Sorry, but, those are the polls. Still, you can hope for something unforeseen like a terrorist attack by terrorists coming illegally across our Southern Border. That would pretty well cook a Democratic candidate’s goose given their refusal to secure out borders, maybe. I say maybe, because Bush and Republicans didn’t make move one to secure our borders either until after they lost power.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 22, 2007 12:36 PM
Comment #236665


Jack: Less than 2% of the religious right say they are going to vote for Rudy in the primary. If that holds up, what do you think his chance of winning the primary is? If Rudy loses in Iowa and New Hampshire, everyone will be saying Rudy who.

I am aware that Reich is pro free trade. I am also aware that Reich says that the problems that workers are facing has much less to do with free trade and much more to do with the antagonistic attitude that corporate/shareholders have towards workers.

The new strategy in Iraq is a product of mental invention, a few more troops to help maintain “stay the course.” Where is the political reconciliation that has been accomplished by the surge? A military that is heavily reliant on corporate built Weapons of Mass Destruction will get you an Iraqmire every time.

Posted by: jlw at October 22, 2007 1:22 PM
Comment #236666

Jack:

I’m on the too early to tell bandwagon.

It looks like to me we will see Hillary Clinton for the Dems. Will the left back her or will there be a third candidate with some force behind them?

Same question in reverse for the Republicans. If Rudy gets the nod, is there going to be another candidate on the far right who is pro life?

Do we end up with four major candidates with the democrats and republicans fighting for the center?

Fruit basket upset!!

I just think it is early

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 22, 2007 1:50 PM
Comment #236667

The economy’s good for whom???

Posted by: Rachel at October 22, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #236676

Iam sticking my neck out on this prediction, but I am convinced Mike Huckabee will get the nomination. I have made my first contribution to his campaign today. Mike is a guy with great leadership credentials, extremely likable, no political baggage to drag him down, and very strong on the conservative issues that mean the most to me. I will be interested in reading comments by liberals who find Mike unacceptable.

Posted by: Jim at October 22, 2007 2:37 PM
Comment #236686

Rachel:

I agree with your writers conclusions:

It is likely that the massive divergence in opinion about the near term economic future will decline — possibly soon. This will occur as undue optimism about future asset price performance and excessive fear by some members of the middle class subside. Euphoria over the Fed rates will fade fast, unless further cuts occur. Further cuts will mean falling dollars and rising food and energy prices. More importantly, much divergence of opinion reflects divergence of reality and fortune within our population. This is more enduring, important and profound than temporary dislocations in the business cycle and asset prices. The longer term reality is that “we” are not of the same mind about the economy because “we” are not in similar positions of risk and reward. As we teeter on the edge of recession, it has become hard to find the policies that are good for “us.” We are faced with very divergent opinions because we are not in the same boat.

I have two exceptions:

Number one: They overstate the likelihood of a recession. It’s less than 50%.

Secondly: Because we are “in different places”, many americans believe we are in recession now, even though we are not. This I believe is a main point of yours that lower income Americans are not enjoying the fruits of this recovery.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 22, 2007 4:40 PM
Comment #236699

Craig:

This I believe is a main point of yours that lower income Americans are not enjoying the fruits of this recovery.

Not just “lower income” but middle income, too, as the costs of food, gas, medical insurance, and just about everything except wages rises…wages go up, but not enough to cover the increases in consumer costs on necessities…look at the paltry 2% raise in social security…I doubt it covers the raise in Part B Medicare’s increase for the coming year…it certainly doesn’t cover food and gas prices that have already risen!!

Posted by: Rachel at October 22, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #236700

I don’t share the perception you have, Jack, that the Iraq war is being won and that the economy is in great shape as a result of the stewardship of the republican party.
By almost any measure: cost in treasure and lives, goals achieved, the future danger to the United States incurred as a result of world-wide ill-will, we have lost this war. The worst accusations that republicans can make of the dems is that we wish to extrcate ourselves from this mess in an undignified manner (ala Kucinich’s “just pick up and leave”). The war has been lost.
Re: the economy. It has been the absolute best economy that a credit card could buy. In order to have a great economy, low interest rates, plenty of jobs, record highs in the markets republicans had to run record deficits. It was the only way they could do it. This is as much admitted from statements from w implying that balancing the budget would hinder the recovery.
I do agree with you though that the coming election will be an unplesant one for Democrats. Right after they win the presidency, increase their majority in the House and win a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in the Senate they are going to fully appreciate what a mess w and the repubs have made (I separate the two because no smart republican politician is going to associate his name with george’s. McCain did that and look where that got him. His own party’s primary voters don’t like him)

Posted by: Charles Ross at October 22, 2007 6:12 PM
Comment #236705

Monday morning quarterbacks wisely wait until the game is over before they brag about what they would have done. Making too much of a fuss in the first quarter sometimes turns out to be embarrassing. In this case the Dems might be back on the right side sooner than they would like. Next year they may well deny what they are now saying…The U.S. will certainly leave Iraq a better place than we found it…But as the Iraqi Index indicates, the Iraqis are making progress.
There is always an interval between the time when the tide turns, when things happen, and when people start to understand it. By next year, a lot of the critics are going to feel a little ashamed of what they are saying now…

Have fun on the roller coaster. Were I a Dem, I would start figuring out excuses now. Beat the rush.

Posted by Jack at November 20, 2005

Republicans will hold on to both the House and the Senate

Posted by Jack at December 3, 2005

Jack has been ranting the same mantra over and over again the past few years. Perhaps one day he will be right. Early next year the government will declare that they will be withdrawing thirty thousand troops because the surge worked. Of course for the people that are paying attention, we already know that we have to withdraw those troops because we can’t maintain for long the level of force that is presently there. Perhaps we can hire more mercenaries, BlackWater has been our greatest ally in our fight in Iraq anyways.


Posted by: Cube at October 22, 2007 7:22 PM
Comment #236706

I am astounded. Honestly, I’m speechless. I think your post is so far off base as to be irresponsible.

The war is not being won. Even if it were, winning the war is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the work that will need to be done to stabilize Iraq. General Patraeus said his most optimistic assessment for leaving Iraq with the mission accomplished is ten years.

But let’s say the mission was accomplished - tomorrow. Would I be happy? No. Not really. It would be like a contractor who did an incredibly bad job incredibly late at incredible overhead cost who didn’t really build the building I wanted anyway demanding some kind of praise from me for simply completing, badly, the job I contracted him to do. A stable, democratic Iraq, with all our money coming back to us in the near future, and a significantly weakened Al Qaeda and dead Osama, again, all tomorrow, would go a long way to making me happy. Anything short of that is way too little too late.

Then there’s the economy. You feel the economy is as good as it was under Clinton? For me to believe that to be true, there would need to be a surplus, and we would have to be talking about investing it. Anything short of that doesn’t cut it.

Finally, Hillary’s not good enough for you? Sorry, but she is by far the most experienced and capable candidate. She’s the only one with direct, long term, practical, national experience working directly with the issues facing us today. And don’t say Guiliani has terrorism experience. The only decisions he made in regard to terrorism was to place the emergency command center on the 75th floor of the towers, against expert advice, after there had already been several attempts to blow it up.

I realize that you are going to say that all of this has already happened, that there is a surplus, the Iraqi mission has been accomplished, and Hillary’s just too divisive, if I just close my eyes and look at the facts from a slanted perspective. Sorry, no one’s buying that.

Posted by: Max at October 22, 2007 7:43 PM
Comment #236707

To paraprhase, then, “Mission Accomplished.”

Posted by: L. Knight at October 22, 2007 8:13 PM
Comment #236708

Yes, let’s all us floppy headed progressive, liberal, Demon-crats go over to the party of “family values”, funded by the avuncular Milton Scaife, with his recent cavorting with prostitutes. Surely any party that depends upon his funding to prop up its thinly disguised cheerleading think tanks like the Heritage Foundation must be a beacon of morality and loving concern for society. Yeah, Jack, you really are on the side of the angels, dude.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at October 22, 2007 8:16 PM
Comment #236710

Er, Richard Mellon Scaife that is.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at October 22, 2007 8:20 PM
Comment #236720

Sure Jack, just tap your ruby Red slippers together and you’ll be back in Kansas.

For the past two years I keep reading about how the GOP is about to make a comeback. Eventually you guys are going to be right, but it won’t be in 2008.

Posted by: Woody Mena at October 22, 2007 9:35 PM
Comment #236739

Yeah Jack just keep claiming the moral high ground. If you shout it long enough perhaps someone will start to believe it.

Iraq is far from the only issue negatively affecting your party. The last few years revelations have painted a clear picture of a party in moral decline. And to top that off you guys have all those corruption issues to deal with. Your party played the religious right like a violin. I can not believe they have forgotten this so quickly. The list could go on and on, but no need since we have all heard and discussed the claims a million times.

I honestly can not believe that you think GW will be venerated simply by some minor proclaimed advances in Iraq. The administrations problems reach well beyond Iraq. If anything Iraq has been a convenient tool to opening doors of secrecy and revealing the true nature of he and his administration. You are assuming that the voters of this country will be forgiving and willing to forget. Of this you are totally wrong. Honesty, trust, credibility, integrity. These are all values GW left behind in his corporate motivated quest for dominance, oil, wealth and power. To put it simply your party favored the wealthy and forgot about the people that make this country work. Because of this the electorate will not be so easily duped again anytime soon.

Posted by: RickIL at October 22, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #236747

A lot of the same voices predicting massive Democratic electoral gains based on what they perceive as the current popular sentiment have been singing the same tune before every election over the past ten years.

In 2006, when Republicans controlled Congress and a number of scandals (i,e, Foley) were all over the news, and at a time when the situation in Iraq looked more dire than it does now, the Democrats managed to win back Congress by nearly running the table with a whole bunch of Republican-lite candidates in squeaker elections. Congratulations to them!

But 08 and beyond is a whole new thing. Democrats now control Congress, and that has plunged approval of Congress to historic lows. They’re now facing numerous ethics scandals of their own. Beyond that, they’re poised to run for president a candidate who—even if she wins—is going to be a massive drag on down-ticket candidates across the nation.

A lot of things might happen in the next 12 months—no, a lot of things will. The overconfidence of Democrats, based on one election cycle when they won with a bunch of candidates who were far more conservative than the majority of their base, may very well prove to be delusional.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 22, 2007 11:48 PM
Comment #236748

Jim,
I like Huckabee as a dark horse contender. I think he could surprise people in the primaries. In terms of character, he strikes me as a decent man, something I would definitely not say about Giuliani. Also, Huckabee recognizes the failure of the Bush economic agenda. No matter how many times talking heads on tv and articles like this one by Jack try to pretend, there is no escaping it- the Bush agenda has benefited the wealthy, but left the vast majority of people behind. Huckabee recognizes this. He is far more in tune with the American people than some of the other GOP presidential candidates.

However, I disagree with Huckabee on most issues- respectfully disagree- and I believe he advocates replacing income taxes with sales taxes. That is a pretty radical plan. I am not closed to the idea. But I would need a lot of convincing.

In one sense, Jack is correct in his article: the economy is doing all right. But dong all right for who? Corporations are profitable. The wealthiest among us have enjoyed tax cuts, cuts on capital gains and dividends, and more. We are waging war without the wealthy being asked for any sacrifice whatsoever. Core CPI numbers for inflation are moderate. So these have been good times for rich people. Why isn”t everyone else happy?

For the 80% of Americans earning non-supervisory wages, their gains in real terms (after inflation) are non-existent. The impact of volatile numbers from the PPI, reflected in the prices of gas and food, have a disproportionate impact on people with less money. In economic terms, the demand is relatively inelastic. Working people have to drive to get to work & keep their jobs. They have to buy food. Health care, which is not measured by inflation numbers, has also skyrocketed.

This weekend I noticed a gallon of milk cost $3.79. Not long ago it cost only $2.89.

The company I work for switched its health care options last year, because the cost of Kaiser went up 31%, while the current provider only went up 17%.

The impact of the housing downturn is also very real. Resetting Adjustable Rate Mortgages will continue to keep the economy down for at least another six months, more likely a year. The Federal Reserve did a great job by flooding the market with cash, in order to prevent a liquidity/credit crunch, and the Fed also did a great job by cutting the Federal Funds Rate by 50 basis points. They did what they had to do in order to prevent the near term certainty of a recession, even at the expense of long term problems with inflation and a tanking dollar.

Meanwhile, job creation under Bush has been a disaster. Something like 5.7 million jobs have been created under Bush in seven years, which is disgraceful. Even Jimmy Carter created 10.8 million in just four years, and that was when the population of the US was only 250 million! Too many jobs have been outsourced, and among those jobs created by Bush, most are government jobs, and the rest low paying jobs.

Anyway, Huckabee recognizes that it is a bit absurd to concentrate an economic agenda on helping the wealthiest among us. They are hardly the ones in need a helping hand.

Posted by: phx8 at October 22, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #236753

Rachael:

Not just “lower income” but middle income, too, as the costs of food, gas, medical insurance, and just about everything except wages rises…wages go up, but not enough to cover the increases in consumer costs on necessities…look at the paltry 2% raise in social security…I doubt it covers the raise in Part B Medicare’s increase for the coming year…it certainly doesn’t cover food and gas prices that have already risen!!

I see the working poor every day at the bus station. They have money. They have tatoos, cell phones, cigarettes, etc.

My daughter blessed us with our first grandchild early. She was pregnant at 16. So we all pitched in and have helped. Anywho now my daughter is 19 and qualifies for low income housing because she has a baby and is a head of household.

Two weeks ago we helped her move in. Wow was it nice. Sure nicer that what we had when we got married. It had air conditioning. (not a neccesity where we live), a dishwasher and a microwave. (We didn’t get a dishwasher until we were 28!!)

I agree with you that there is a spread between the haves and have nots, but it’s important to be careful and not completely generalize. Some of the issue is brought on by choices. Junk is a lot cheaper.

Oh I also helped my working class/college student daughter move her computer. I had an old typewriter when I was her age. Being a poor college student just isn’t what it used to be!!

Her apartment is full. No TV yet, that is next week.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 23, 2007 12:32 AM
Comment #236756

The Republicans are presently positioning themselves further and further right. While this maybe necessary for the eventual Republican primary winner to succeed. This will make it difficult for the eventual Republican primary winner to win the general election. Except for the last two general elections, moderates decided the presidency. Even though it is a slim majority on some issues, Americans still believe in gun control, feel deceived about Iraq and are pro-Choice. So as long as the Republican candidates keep pushing themselves farther and farther right, the likelihood of a Democratic President increases.

Posted by: Cube at October 23, 2007 1:08 AM
Comment #236757

phx8, you like Huckabee? OMG! It’s true. Some of the left are falling for this Gomer Pyle of contemporary politics who may just “Aw, Shucks” his way into the White House where he will:

Privatize everything privatizable

Expand the military and spending to truly try to live up to his belief that we SHOULD be the World’s Cop on every nation’s border if not within.

Balance the budget and increase American business competitive advantage by working to privatize social security and end Medical safety net programs.

And work to make religious education the mainstay of public education, and permeate the Supreme Court with edicts of Christian moral and ethical behavior backed by the full force of law, politicians of his administration excepted, of course.

Unbelievable that Americans are actually beginning to fall for that Bush sales job of being a simple country Christian who knows what’s right and wrong for America. Is it that easy for Americans to overlook the similarities between Huckabee’s campaigning and Bush’s in 2000? They share the same agenda’s, they both claim to be common people with a common sense about right and wrong, and they both approach leadership decision making from the personal experience and history reference point, as opposed to a thorough knowledge and understanding of history, civics, and philosophy.

If this country elects another Gomer Pyle candidate, the last laugh will be Mohommed’s as holy war is unleashed and poverty and ignorance fuel the flames. The only difference I see between Huckabee and Gomer Pyle, is Gomer carried an incredible compassion for people, animals and other living things, which wars for profit and illusory control destroy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 1:12 AM
Comment #236758

Craig Holmes, the aboriginal in the Boreal Forest is wealthier than most American workers making less than $24,000 per year. And the aboriginals have no electricity, no automobiles, no mass transit, no armies, no TV’s, no radios, no supermarkets. Just some knives and what their forests provide. They are a happy people, and wealth, as long as profit does not encroach on their village further with Caterpillar deforestation implements of destruction, is a sharp metal blade, a piece of loin cloth, a grass hut, a family, and health to hunt, cook, clean and preen.

Wealth and well being are entirely contextual to the society one lives in, and the inhabitant’s ready access to what they perceive they need. In a consumer marketing and advertising society, its inhabitants are taught from their earliest TV years what they need, and in America that is an incredible and enormous amount from education and employment opportunity to cars, vitamins, viagra, vibrators, spacious homes, jewelry, new duds, McDonalds and Red Lobster, a lawyer, a banker or loan shark, a credit card company, a gun, and “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, what else can you do for me”?

Wealth in America is really about the perception of independence where wealth in reality makes one far more dependent than almost anyone else and in an enormous number of ways. Control, as the Bush administration has found out the hard way, is also an illusion. Control requires dependency upon others, and dependency on others is not really control at all. The movie “Instinct” with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Anthony Hopkins as the imprisoned anthropologist, exposes this topic of dominion and control quite relevantly.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 1:34 AM
Comment #236759

David,
I like Huckabee as a person. There is no chance I would vote for him, none, based upon issues. But I think it is a little harsh to refer to him as a Gomer Pyle candidate.

He has a disconcerting habit of referring to “Islamofascists.” That is simly an ignorant way to approach the problems of the Middle East. However, he does recognize the need to develop alternative energy sources as a matter of national security, if nothing else.

On Global Warming, he seems to have come around more than other Republican candidates by favoring trading of cap trade emissions.

I think it would be more accurate to compare him to Carter than to Bush. Huckabee touts the conservative agenda, and if I were a conservative or a Republican- which I am not- I might approve of that. Like Carter, Huckabee is deeply motivated by Christian faith. I am not a Christian. But I do respect people motivated by compassion, and Huckabee strikes me as a compassionate person, unlike Bush, who exhibits little compassion in his actions.

So I am simply trying to see things from the other side.

When it comes to issues, among the Republicans, Giuliani would be the most acceptable- or at any rate, the least objectionable- among the GOP contenders to me. But personally, as a man who has been married for 27 years to his “starter” wife, and raised a family, I find Giuliani despicable in terms of the way he has treated his wives and children. His actions are not the actions of a good man.

Posted by: phx8 at October 23, 2007 1:58 AM
Comment #236761

phx8, I hear you and understand. I have no objection to any person’s religion including my own. I do have a problem with anyone who implies they will serve the will of god, as both Bush and Huckabee claim. The will of god can be anything a person of power wills it to be. That is scary stuff.

Dick Cheney has announced that we must take care of Iran. What’s his hurry? His hurry is the 2008 election. Same with the AEI spokesperson on Hardball, who said the invasion must be now. This month. If not this month, then next month. When Mathews pressed him asking if a year from now would be too late. He said a year from might still be soon enough.

These people’s compassion is in their policy agenda’s and there is about enough there to perhaps fill the void between two electrons in a helium atom. Or, as Gump’s Mama might have said: Compassion is as Compassion does. Elective preemptory war against a possible but uncertain future years away defies all definitions of humanity or compassion, in any religion.

Huckabee’s “Aw, Shucks” demeanor should raise alarm bells in every person who voted for Bush and came to regret it. Bush was supposed to be straight shooter, a man tempered by his faith who was going reduce the size of government, create budget surpluses and pay down the debt. He was going to be uniter, not a divider. Here is a quote from Bush’s 2000 campaign speech:

No, there’s a better day for this country. Washington doesn’t have to be a place of bitterness and acrimony and finger-pointing and no results. There’s a better way to have a president who’s willing to reach across the partisan divide and to unite this nation, to go to Washington to do the people’s business. And that’s exactly what I intend to do, should I earn the confidence of the great people of this land.

The people gave him their confidence. And this “straight shooter” failed to deliver on his end just about as dismally as humanly possible. Beware those who seek power as simple men and women. Power in the hands of simple minds is a very, very destructive force.

And nothing is simpler than the presumption that one knows good from evil in others. Give me a person who knows good and evil in themselves and shows signs of having mastered their own evil and temptations with rational enlightened knowledge, wisdom, and study.

I will take such a person for a leader; and with skeptic mind ever watchful in my own defense, will I evaluate the results of their power wielding, as I would the devil incarnate. And never would my cutting citizen vote, honed to a fine edge on the abrasive words ‘removal from office’, be ever allowed to slip from reach, as the founding fathers intended of voters and literate citizens capable of Adam Smith’s “enlightened self-interest”.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 4:31 AM
Comment #236766

Mike “Huck” Huckabee used to be my governor, and I developed a love/hate relationship with him. On the “love” side, I liked the stance he took when the Arkansas Supreme Court declared that the rural schools were not offering an adequate array of classes. He wanted to consolidate the many small school districts to put students in schools (especially high schools) where they could have a good course selection, reasoning that it is too wasteful to do it in literally hundreds of rural school systems. This struck me as a truly conservative position and also very reasonable. He faced fierce opposition from largely Democratic rural politicians. (Arkansas is overwhelmingly Dem on the state level.) Eventually he had to compromise quite a bit but I liked how he took an unpopular position.

As for the things we disagree about, well he is a fundamentalist Christian so you can probably figure it out.

I would never vote for him but he may be one of the less scary Republicans as he strikes me a very sane person.

Posted by: Woody Mena at October 23, 2007 8:54 AM
Comment #236789


Jack: Why is Democratic propaganda more effective than Republican propaganda?

Posted by: jlw at October 23, 2007 2:23 PM
Comment #236790

Woody, I have no reason to believe Huckabee is not a very decent and affable person to be a neighbor to or friend to. But, that was true of the Gomer Pyle character as well, but, I would hardly want Gomer to be President.

Huckabee strikes me, especially in light of what you said, as so much a mirror image of GW Bush, an affable and enjoyable person to be around personally on a friendly basis, but, also capable of being extremely stubborn when opposed. As if opposition was proof that he was right and should continue unquestioningly down that same path.

I have had quite enough of a president who errs and then defends his errors with ever new ones. Huckabee strikes me as a very similar kind of person. And his policy results and consequences would be opposed by a majority of Americans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 2:39 PM
Comment #236800

I have had quite enough of a president who errs and then defends his errors with ever new ones. Huckabee strikes me as a very similar kind of person. And his policy results and consequences would be opposed by a majority of Americans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 02:39 PM

David, President Clinton isn’t running again and neither is President Bush. What in particular are you refering to when saying Huckabee strikes you as similar in defending his errors. And what in the world possessed you to say his policy results and consequences would be opposed by a majority of Americans? I doubt you know what his policies would be if President, much less the consequences of those policies. Then, you top it off by saying those imagined policies and consequences would be opposed by the very people that just elected him. Can you tell me in plain English what that means?

Posted by: Jim at October 23, 2007 5:12 PM
Comment #236807

Jim, apparently you don’t keep up with my running commentaries. I have commented at length on Huckabee’s positions, and yes, I know them because I researched them in his stump speeches and debates. And yes, the majority of Americans would not find his policies favorable. Either you don’t know his policies or you don’t follow the polls of what Americans think about them. Fact is, most of Huckabee’s policies of central concern to Americans are very close to Bush’s if not the same. And we know from the polls what Americans think of Bush’s policies on Iraq, SS and Medicare, and immigration amnesty and border security.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 23, 2007 6:57 PM
Comment #236809

Here is some more bad news for Democrats.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21444614/

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 23, 2007 10:19 PM
Comment #236811

We’re not in a Great Depression. Not yet.
But if we continue ignoring problems growing in number and severity, it is not far fetched.
Especially if voters continue to reward incumbent politicians for all of it with 95% to 99% re-election rates.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2007 10:40 PM
Comment #236812

Craig,
A decline in the number of American deaths in Iraq is good. I am not sure why any Americans should be dying in Iraq though, never mind killing Iraqis.

Did you know the Syrians are going to close the border with Iraq? They are the last country to accept refugees, and now they are not going to accept any more. In a normal month in Iraq, 30,000 - 50,000 people flee the country. In just four days before the closing, 25,000 Iraqis fled into Syria.

General Odierno announced the US will not intervene in the civil war in the south. The various factions will fight it out without US interference. No reason for American soldiers to die in the mayhem.

So, according to the link, the US military and the Iraqi Health Ministry say the violence is less horrific. Uh huh. How about this: when independent reporters can actually report, and when independent sources start providing some hard statistics, I will be convinced. Until then, people like General Lynch, who provided his rosy appraisal accompanied by an artillery barrage behind him- did you catch that?- until then, I have to dismiss people like Lynch as mere propagandists. He has done it before. He is doing it again.

Posted by: phx8 at October 23, 2007 11:20 PM
Comment #236813
Craig wrote: Here is some more bad news for Democrats. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21444614/ Sharp decline in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq Officials cite U.S. ‘surge,’ civilian assistance as reasons for decrease

Craig, I’ve never been a Democrat, and don’t know many that I agree with, but do you really think most (if any) Democrats consider it “bad news” that more of our soldiers are not dying? Don’t you think that’s a bit over the top?

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2007 11:27 PM
Comment #236814

Dan:

I think it is over the top when Harry Reid says the surge has failed while brave men and women are still on the way to battle, and there is no outrage. That is over the top.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 23, 2007 11:30 PM
Comment #236815

phx8:

The point being that less troop deaths is bad for democrats.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 23, 2007 11:32 PM
Comment #236817

dan:

It’s obvious we are winning the war. Look on the left side of this blog. How long has it been since there have been no topics on Iraq? If the left is silent America must be winning.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 23, 2007 11:52 PM
Comment #236819

Craig,

Your comments are most likely in violation of the Rules for Participation:

“Trolling and flame baiting are NOT acceptable. This means comments whose primary effect is to provoke hostility or anger in other participants at WatchBlog are not tolerated.”

and

“Critique the Message, Not the Messenger.”

Posted by: Jaxebad at October 24, 2007 12:31 AM
Comment #236823

Craig Holmes-
The decline in violence can be a bad sign if it’s a symptom of the consolidation of power by the insurgents and the sectarian militias.

The trouble with this is that permanent peace cannot come of an Iraq where the peace is the result of sectarian division.

It also can be a product of an unsustainable strategy, in which case, things might start going south next year.

I think its worth pointing out that Democrats have been pointing to the violence not out of some glee that it’s going to discredit Bush, but in alarm that things have come to that. Bush and his supporters spent years rationalizing their failure to change policy, and only after the elections decided to do what they’d been told all along to do. Profound changes, though, had been made since the troubles started, changes that could have been headed off had the Bush Administration not stuck to it’s policy guns for so long.

And what helped to keep that perseverence going? propaganda like you relate, which paints the opposition as bloodthirsty opportunists rather than concerned citizens appalled at the results of a failing policy. Concerned citizens you would have to answer and be accountable to. Bloodthirsty opportunitists you can beat up and leave at the side of the road.

The focus on ad hominem bashing of political opponents in the debate on this war has been a distraction of lethal consequence, deflecting inquiry from the facts when such inquiry could have put the brakes on a misconceived war, or helped straighten up and optimize a badly mistaken policy.

But it’s too late now for the Iraq war. Every original purpose that we’ve had there has either been invalidated (WMDs anyone?), proved counterproductive, or has failed. Granted, peace may come of current efforts, but it will be a peace every bit as false as that which came out of Versaille in 1919. And Iraq? It’s officially a failed state. In fact, Philip Zelikow of the State Department labelled it as such in 2004. If Iraq in 2004 was a failed state, what would we call the Iraq of today?

The situation is far from stable. Bush supporters and supporters of this war have so lowered their standards on what constitutes success, that the Iraqi government could kick us out and they’d be talking about how the Iraqis are finally standing up. Of course, after the fact, when people start killing each other, or some threat pops up, they’d be quick to blame everybody else they shut out of policy discussions.

There is a culture of denial, of mind over matter embedded here that has armor plated itself against the unpleasant realities around it, with very regretful results.

I’m not at all concerned with joining in this denial. Our misfortune has been a motivating factor for me, not an political opportunity. The ones who really created the political opportunity from this have been the Bush Administration and its Republican allies. Unfortunately, what comes up must go down, and they rose pretty far on the Iraq war. It is only natural in a Democracy that those who mishandle power lose to those who are out of power. If the Democrats do the same, the same will happen to them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2007 9:07 AM
Comment #236835
They bet their fortunes on failure in Iraq


You said it! The surge is (indeed) WORKING!!!! The anti-Bushies should have never ever bet against the US.

Posted by: rahdigly at October 24, 2007 12:35 PM
Comment #236840

rahdigly, the surge is reducing violence. But, that was not a goal of the surge, only the means to the goal of political reconciliation by the Iraqi sects withing the government and the country. The goal is still many years away, so, no, the surge has not worked in accomplishing any of the goals for which it was implemented.

What has been accomplished is another quarter trillion added to our national debt. Thanks to your and other’s votes that put this President into office, not once, which would have been forgivable, but, twice.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 24, 2007 1:04 PM
Comment #236844


Oh how wonderful, the surge is working. How soon will it be before our troops can come home and we can let the Iranians take over?

Posted by: jlw at October 24, 2007 1:13 PM
Comment #236848

Rahdigly-
Hold your horses. It’s good news, and if there’s substance behind it, I’ll gladly embrace it, because it could mean we’re out of there quickly.

However, the surge has less to do with it than the fall of the Rumsfeld regime at DoD, I think, and the fact that the average Iraqi has no love for the people blowing them up and shooting at them.

Additionally, the badly needed political reconciliation has failed, and that means that left to themselves, it’s civil war; these developments would just raise the size of the players. You would use that as an argument for staying, but the surge must end and will end, and if this reduction in violence is based on those troop levels, everything fought for will be lost.

I know you hate that Democrats don’t take the sunny view, but the problem is, many Bush supporters never take anything but that, and it’s been as much a contributing factor in our current situation as anything else.

People will take a wait and see attitude on this, because the American public’s been burned on the promises and boasts of this administration too many times. They will also do so because for the past four years, success has been a distant relation to this war.

More to the point, Republican’s glee on this seems based on willful blindness towards some serious problems. Turkey’s on the verge of invading Northern Iraq, which will certainly complicate matters. Thousands are still fleeing Iraq, indicating that things still aren’t wine and roses there. More to the point, this decline of violence is from over a thousand to around 900, and strong indications exist that it’s due to the success of precisely the kind of sectarian division we were hoping to avoid.

Additionally, we must remember that Petraeus’s figures, which these are likely measured in a similar manner to, had some funny definitions of sectarian violence.

Republicans have a bad habit of not waiting til events are done and over with to write their history books. Also, of late, they have developed a tendency to define down victory, pretending like terrible conditions and devastating screwups of permanent impact are nothing to be concerned about.

I’m not betting against the US, but I’m not betting for this war, or its redemption in the pages of history.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2007 1:26 PM
Comment #236852

The additional troops (the surge), that was poo-pooed by the anti-Bushites from the get go, is working and will continue to work. Many of you tried (and tried) to poo-poo it yourselves back in July and August on this blog; all to no avail. There are no “sunny days” with some of you; it’s all about blaming Bush and his admin. Period. We know who you are and what you are all about. So, you can get defensive and paranoid all you want; the bottom line is that we are winning and will win this war…

Posted by: rahdigly at October 24, 2007 2:07 PM
Comment #236855

In 2006, the USAF ran 229 bombing missions in Iraq. In 2007, there have already been 1,140, and in October there are now an average of 70/day.

It is a great way of reducing US casualties. It is a terrible way of winning Iraqi support, since bombs in urban areas cause a lot of “collateral damage.” In other words, innocent Iraqis die.

The recent strike in Sadr City is a classic example. An attempt to arrest a militia leader resulted in 49 Iraqis being killed, including many innocents, even women and children.

So I do not think lower US casualties translates into the same thing as “the surge is working.” The good news for Americans is not the same thing as good news for the Iraqis.

The surge has little if anything to do with improvements in Anbar province. We cut deals with the people who were attacking us: power and guns in exchange for leaving us alone, and suppressing the jihadists. The followers of Saddam Hussein have always been pretty good at that. But do not ask them about their methods!

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2007 2:24 PM
Comment #236857
The surge has little if anything to do with improvements in Anbar province.


Oh really?!! Are you in the military or in the intelligence community?!! Because, they are saying something entirely different than you. And, I’m going with our military, buddy!!

Posted by: rahdigly at October 24, 2007 2:50 PM
Comment #236861

rahdigly, a quiescent al-Anbar does not, a peaceful and unified Iraq make. al-Queda left al-Anbar and are now creating havoc in the North. Whack-a-mole, whack-a-mole, whack-a-mole. Here, then there, but, woe, not enough troops for everywhere.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 24, 2007 3:17 PM
Comment #236862

snarkiness often reveals who it is feels they are losing a debate. Adamant reiterance that they are right, in response to any and all evidence to the contrary, is a sure sign.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 24, 2007 3:22 PM
Comment #236866

Rahdigly,
Did you read the article you linked? The article presents two points of view from within the military.

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2007 4:13 PM
Comment #236876

There hopefully is progress. That’s good. But there is still the disturbing fact that Iraq is still broken, and the job to fix it is still HUGE and will probably take many more years (perhaps decades).
We should all be thankful for good news. But we also should not try to inflate this improvement either, since it would take many more improvements, time, money, lives, limbs, and wounded to finish the job.
And there is the possibility that the cost to fix Iraq is too high, since the people of Iraq may be too determined to have their civil war, despite our efforts to supress their pent-up hatreds and intolerances that existed long before we got there.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 24, 2007 6:18 PM
Comment #236878

Stephen:

The decline in violence can be a bad sign if it’s a symptom of the consolidation of power by the insurgents and the sectarian militias.

The trouble with this is that permanent peace cannot come of an Iraq where the peace is the result of sectarian division.

It also can be a product of an unsustainable strategy, in which case, things might start going south next year.

Actually I think the better numbers are absolute complete proof that the war is not lost. I think the left has been premature in calling it a lost war.

I know you hate that Democrats don’t take the sunny view, but the problem is, many Bush supporters never take anything but that, and it’s been as much a contributing factor in our current situation as anything else.

Let me separate what I “hate” from what I disagree with. I “hate” politicians needlessly endangering our troops with their words. I “hate” the lack of decorum and the sense of propriaty in this important debate. I “hate” aiding of the enemy by leaders in your party. I “hate” what the democratic leadership does to morale to those who are heading into combat.

I “disagree” but do not “hate” liberal positions. I understand that liberals have a different view of the war. I especially respect those who have never altered their view. I disrepect those that flow with the wind depending on what the current news is.

I “disagree” with you because I believe you are wrong when you say the war is lost. It is neither lost nor is it won. Currently momentum appears to be on our side. Momentum has changed in our favor. Obviously momentum can switch the other way quickly.

What I notice however in the media and here is that when momentum switches to the United States, the media including those present here shut up. One really has to dig to find out that a few things are going right in Iraq. It is obvious that the national media are against this war, and are chosing not to encourage our finest as they fight this battle.

Daily they prove Rush Limbaugh correct!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 24, 2007 6:45 PM
Comment #236880

Jaxebad :

I appreciate your comments. Facts are facts. When momentum shifts toward America, the left start shuting up. When American troops are stuggling, there is no end to comment.

Here is a fact. Since momentum has switched toward America in the Iraq war, news coverage has dramatically declined. It appears America winning is not newsworthy!!

Doesn’t it make you want to sign up when the home folks scream about your failures but are silent about your successes?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 24, 2007 6:50 PM
Comment #236884

Craig,
America is winning? Winning what?

As a result of an unjustified invasion, thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead. Almost thirty thousand Americans have been wounded, many of them very seriously. No one knows how many Iraqis have been injured. The country is in ruins. Millions have fled their homes.

Our reputation is in tatters. Our honor has been irreparably stained because of torture.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been squandered.

The media repeats whatever the Bush administration and the military tells them to say. Investigative reporting is nearly non-existent, in part, because it is much too dangerous.

We are succeeding because fewer Americans are dying? We are winning?

Iraq is a disgrace, a botched war, a black spot that has hurt everything this country should stand for. The lies, the incompetence, the corruption… it is simply disgusting.

Of course, some people want to stay for the oil, and the permanent military bases, and the position Iraq provides for threatening other countries, such as Iran.

But Iraq is nothing less than a cause for national shame. Period.

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2007 7:53 PM
Comment #236889

phx8:

Don’t really know if we are “winning”. But obviously those who say the war is “lost” are wrong!!!

Not sure who you are going to vote for. None of the major democratic candidates will state when they intend to have troops home.

Of course it looks like Hillary is going to win. She supported the “unjustified invasion”. With a Democrat former president husband it’s a bit had to claim she was “misled”.

What are you going to do?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 24, 2007 8:59 PM
Comment #236894

Edwards. From his website, johnedwards.com: “Edwards believes we should completely withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within nine to ten months and prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.”

Of course, a lot can happen in the next year. The continued occupation of Iraq could turn into a war with Iran.

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #236902

Craig,

CNN has announced that the “Terrorist Watch List” has now surpassed 3/4 of a million people.

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/10/24/gao.terrorist.screening/

“A Government Accountability Office study out Wednesday said the Terrorist Screening Center’s watch list contained approximately 755,000 names. But because many potential suspects have multiple names or aliases on the list, investigators are not certain how many distinct individuals are actually represented.”

Now the list may actually include only 300,000 people, but still, don’t you think that’s a bit over the top?

Posted by: Rocky at October 25, 2007 12:46 AM
Comment #236931

Here is the author of the surge, Fred Kaplan, on the problem with reducing US casualties by increasing the use of air strikes.

http://www.slate.com/id/2176464/

Posted by: phx8 at October 25, 2007 12:04 PM
Comment #236951

Rocky:

Now the list may actually include only 300,000 people, but still, don’t you think that’s a bit over the top?

In a 300 million population 300 thousand is a tenth of one percent. In the middle of a war to be watching a tenth of one percent of our our population doesn’t seem over the top to me.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 25, 2007 3:46 PM
Comment #236954

phx8:

Edwards. From his website, johnedwards.com: “Edwards believes we should completely withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within nine to ten months and prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.”

Of course, a lot can happen in the next year. The continued occupation of Iraq could turn into a war with Iran.

Sure you are not falling for the old “I voted for the funding right before I voted against it?”

John Kerry:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esUTn6L0UDU

Current Dem presidential candidates:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ugZNMlYBAg


I hate to swear but doesn’t this sound like BS? Isn’t this leadership according to John Kerry again?


Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 25, 2007 4:01 PM
Comment #236977

Rahdigly-
I’m not one for instant gratification, but this war has been the equivalent of the Pizza not only being thirty minutes late, but having been run over by the guy delivering it, chewed on by rats, hocked on by the deliveryman’s friend and then dropped on the doorstep as he’s handing it to me. Then I find that not only is the pizza not free, but my credit card number’s been stolen by identity thiefs who’ve just run up my bill on Hentai anime and donkey porn.

Should I be a forgiving person? By all means. I forgive Bush and his people. Should I be a gullible fool, who actually thinks that all this damage is reversible by a small increase in forces, and a belated change in policy towards better counterinsurgency?

No. What was true before Sept. is true after it: we didn’t do much of anything. Civilian deaths by insurgents is down. Military deaths for Americans are down. But Refugee numbers remain constant, neighborhoods remain divided along sectarian lines, militia’s and local gangsters remain in control, progress with the soldiers and the police remain stupendously awful, and we’re arming and training the people who when we leave will be at each other’s throats.

Most importantly, to get military deaths down, our leaders have resorted to using bombing more, which has driven up collateral casualties. Like many things in this war, it’s counterproductive.

Pardon me if I don’t stand up and cheer. You guys took a lightning victory and turned it into the most brutal military fiasco we’ve been involved in since Vietnam. And for what? To avoid looking bad in front of the Democrats, to avoid having to admit you made mistakes.

Craig Holmes-
Rush Limbaugh? Don’t rely on a paid propagandist to give you a straight story. He’s a rallier of political troops, a man who is paid to flatter those on the right into supporting much of the the stuff your folks are now bitterly regretting.

The Numbers are not what make this war lost or won. It’s the fact that from total military victory over Iraq, we’re now down to calling the arming and training the future participants of both sides in a civil war in order to gain enough peace to continue to sell the war to the American people. We’ve accepted counterproductive air-strikes to get troop casualties down, while driving up Iraqi collateral casualties. We’ve accepted what is essentially sectarian division and terribly weak central government. And what, why? So we can talk of winning. Any positive development is said to demonstrate we’re winning, even if it might come back to haunt us later.

God, this is what I hate about this war. The people running it do not know where to draw the line between their political objectives and their military ones, and almost invariably, their strategy here and and around the world is to keep up appearances even as the real world results make us look like weak morons.

I have no problem with American being strong, winning wars, and being an effective world power, but I will not support a policy just because somebody claims it will do these things. The Bush Administration has repeatedly demonstrated the ugly difference between intentions and results stemming from their results. I lost patience long ago with the games they played with our national interests.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2007 10:32 PM
Comment #236981

Stephen:

Just to be “fair and balanced” on my criticism (and discust) for how some are making their points in the war. How my belief that out of respect for our finest volunteering to go into harms way, we should be mindful how we use our free speech. Here is an over the top from the right:

http://www.eveningsun.com/ci_7277523?source=most_viewed

Please understand, I believe ALL of us need to be mindful of our approach. You seem to be one from the left who does a pretty good most of the time in this regard.

If you find the time, I would enjoy a thread from you on free speech during war time. How does one voice decent when young men and women are in harm’s way? At one time there was a great deal of censorship.

Part of my struggle is that people who should know better, (senior leadership in congress) set such a poor example.

I’m for laws on the books that outlaw protests of anykind (without family approval) at funerals of fallen soldiers.

What I am for is statemanship. Here is a recent example from Bill Clinton:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c68_1193347304&p=1

We need more of this

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 25, 2007 11:07 PM
Comment #236988

Well Jack
You are probably right. As Truman said,When a Republican runs against a Republican,the Republican wins every time.” even if she is a Democrat on paper.

Posted by: BillS at October 26, 2007 1:38 AM
Comment #236992

Craig,
There is no question, when it comes to the War in Iraq, the American people have consistently led the politicans, and not the other way around. The majority of Americans want the war to end, and soon. The Democrats, for all their faults and lack of backbone, belatedly recognize this. No question, it is not a performance which inspires pride. However, the Republicans seem intent on continuing the war in perpetuity, and some even want to expand the war to Iran.

I am very comfortable seeing the issue decided at the polls next year.

Posted by: phx8 at October 26, 2007 2:31 AM
Comment #236998

Craig Holmes-
I’ll have that discussion right now. In my view, the people at home must be free to dissent, because the people fighting that war won’t be, and they’ll need our help if the government insists on counterproductive policies.

I practically joined this site because of this war. I came to dislike the way Bush was fighting it because he was letting so many things slip and get out of control. I was a bit of a late adopter, if not a laggard on the notion of withdrawal without victory. I never was on board with the surge, nor will I be, because I believe the main reasons for that approach are political, rather than strategic. They didn’t increase nearly enough troops to lock down Iraq and calm it down. They cite that increase as if it, by itself, qualified as getting enough troops, but it’s not. Meanwhile, we have already lost the readiness required to face Emergent threats with ground forces, and the sheer logistics of the situation will demand that the surge starts winding down in April, and ends in summer. And if we have to stay longer to get things done? We don’t get to. The manpower policy has been that screwed up.

You see why I’m so put out with blind support of this war. It wasn’t started by our leaders in good faith. It hasn’t been carried out well, and even now, as the consequences of so many mistakes weigh down any chance of a decent ending, they are unwilling to admit how much worse things are, and take care of it. Delusion from day one, and all along, they’ve been trying to force people like me to ignore these issues, telling us we were traitors for being concerned about the possibility that America might lose a war, or that it’s image might be tarnished.

It had been my belief to a certain point that America might win this war, if they just buckled down and took care of business, if they admitted their original plans were not that good, and rethought things out, open to what the battlefield itself was telling them about the needs for victory. After a certain point, I came to believe that the destruction of the pre-existing society has pretty much become complete, and that even if we found a peaceful way to bring the war to the close, it will still be a major defeat because we haven’t really acheived any of our original aims, those that could actually be acheived, that is.

I believe it was the successful quashing of dissent, both inside the government and outside of it that made this misbegotten war possible. I believe that when you do quash dissent, you reduce your flexibility, and the folks whose views are privileged don’t necessarily end up being the smart, the wise, the well-informed, or the right.

We do our soldiers no favors by sending them to war having artificially silenced, but not truly dealt with objections from the other sides of the debate. We do our soldiers no favors by remaining silent about screw-ups by their commanders, equipment problems, or that other junk. We do them no favors by keeping them in a losing war, expecting them to win, then talking about how their lack of morale is what’s losing the war.

We also do them no favors, when like Rush Limbaugh, we belittle and insult the views of those soldiers who don’t come home with positive feelings about the war.

I think America’s tough enough to have a robust discussion about these things without having to be treated like Children by their government or potential enemies by their own fellow Americans. We have to have the courage to face the fact that we won’t win every war, that we can lose them, especially if we don’t deal with the screw-ups in due time.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 26, 2007 8:54 AM
Comment #237023

It is sad to see non-stupid people make stupid arguments.

I never was on board with the surge, nor will I be, because I believe the main reasons for that approach are political, rather than strategict.

Additional troops, the “Surge”, would have done absolutely nothing to change the circumstance in Iraq. A poor general with lots of troops just means more casualties. What is mentioned most , the troop strength, has the least to do with the “Surge” strategy. The current strategy was originally developed by Lt.Col. David Galula of the French army and is a 180 turn from the “whack-a-mole”. In an indirect way you are right in your assessment of troop strength being political because an increase was needed in order to have faster results but there is a lot more strategic aspect to what is going on in Iraq then most people suspect.
It had been my belief to a certain point that America might win this war, if they just buckled down and took care of business, if they admitted their original plans were not that good, and rethought things out, open to what the battlefield itself was telling them about the needs for victory.

Gen. Peatraus used this current strategy on a much smaller scale with great success, which is why he got the top job. The battlefield told them that this is what is needed for victory.
The Big Lizards has more on this (warning right wing hack link).

Posted by: Mutt at October 26, 2007 2:48 PM
Comment #237027

Stephen:

I believe it was the successful quashing of dissent, both inside the government and outside of it that made this misbegotten war possible. I believe that when you do quash dissent, you reduce your flexibility, and the folks whose views are privileged don’t necessarily end up being the smart, the wise, the well-informed, or the right.

I will respond more in depth later but at the get go I disagree.

We got into this war because of flawed intelligence. I am reading this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Ashes-History-Tim-Weiner/dp/038551445X

Here are Tim’s qualificatiions:

Tim Weiner is a reporter for The New York Times. He has written on American intelligence for twenty years, and won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on secret national security programs. He has traveled to Afghanistan and other nations to investigate CIA covert operations firsthand. This is his third book.

In this book he clearly makes the point that the CIA has been a messed up organization from day one.

From your point of view, (that Bush misled us into war) here are some problems.

1. How do we explain not knowing about the fall of the Soviet Union.

2. How do we explain not knowing about 9/11 in advance.

3. How do we explain Hillary Clinton’s vote? Obviously she had sought Bill Clinton’s opinion before her vote.

4. How do we explain Bill Clinton in 1998 saying just about the same things as Bush?

5. How do we explain Colin Powell’s speech before the UN?

The reason this is critical is that replacing Bush makes us no safer if we still have flawed intelligence.

Bush’s preemtion theory of foreign policy after 9/11 has some merit. However in light of the fact that we have no accurate intelligence it cannot be considered. Iraq is a profound object lesson of the need for accuracy.

It was not squelching of the voices of those who opposed the war, it was bad intelligence that got us where we are today. It was Bush’s misplaced faith in the CIA and other intelligence services that got us here.

Because our intelligence cannot be trusted, we should have chosen a more rigorous inspection precess to verify the intelligence. Iraq should have been strip searched.

This relates to the future because we are considering IRAN as a target. Going forward we need another policy that either fixes the intelligence issue, or requires a higher standard of documentation that has been our policy or both.

I will resond to your comments on free speech later tonght

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 26, 2007 3:23 PM
Comment #237032

No Craig. The intelligence was weak and inconclusive. You must be reading a biased source. There was no conclusive evidence of anykind. Only guess work and false and unreliable sources that fit the bill to weave together plausible intelligence. But, the American public was not informed of the weakness nor fabricated nor unsubstantiated nature of the intelligence. They were told the FACTS were in hand. History of the last 5 years have proved those FACTS were wrong, unsubstantiated, and fabricated by sources cherry picked for what they had to offer that fit the intent to invade Iraq regardless of what the situation was there.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 26, 2007 4:04 PM
Comment #237034

David:

Then I would need you to explain:

1. The fall of the Soviet Union without our knowing.

2. Bill Clinton’s speech in 1998

3. Hillary Clinton’s speech supporting the war. (I can’t believe she had not consulted her husband on such an important matter before hand).

4. Not knowing about 9/11 in advance.

5. Colin Powell’s speech before the UN.

There is a clear pattern of our intelligence being WRONG that spans many presidencies both Democratic and Republican.

I would encourage you to read this book from a New York Times writer who has won a Pulitzer.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 26, 2007 4:14 PM
Comment #237035

David:


You must be reading a biased source.

Check this out:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/books/12besc.html

Mr. Weiner is scathing about the current state of the agency, writing that George W. Bush has turned the institution “once proudly run by his father” into “a paramilitary police force abroad and a paralyzed bureaucracy at headquarters.” He says that President Bush “casually pronounced a political death sentence” on the C.I.A. in 2004 by dismissively explaining that the agency had been “just guessing” about the future of the Iraq war. .


I don’t think he gets a christmas card from Bush if that is what you are implying.

By the way, that is sort of a dumb statement up there. We are all biased.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 26, 2007 4:26 PM
Comment #237041

Mutt-
Look, the guy continually refuses to raise the number of soldiers, throughout the war, and suddenly, when he loses the election, guess what he does? If not inherently political in its motivation, this action was at least something that only happened because of the firing of Rumsfeld following the loss of the 2006 election.

More to the point, though, it’s not a 180 turn from whack-a-mole. You might like to think that, but it only relieved that problems somewhat.

The real strategic success, if one is to be had, was a more counterinsurgency-based methods Gates has employed. The trick is, though, we’re not getting a free pass on all those years we spent screwing things up, so it’s a sort of too-little, too-late approach.

Additionally, that approach is no longer so much in operation, owing to the fact that it was killing Americans at a politically harmful rate. So, what gets done? We do bombing, which has greatly increased the civilian casualties, which is counterproductive to the counterinsurgency. You don’t go making collateral casualties out of people you want turning against the insurgents.

Craig Holmes-
The politicization of intelligence and foreign policy is a good answer.

1) The Neocons were part of an effort in the late 70’s to discredit detente. To do so, they lashed out at studies indicating the Soviet’s economic troubles, the unsustainability of the system. They built it up into this big rival power, when it was actually limping and slouching towards its fall. We didn’t expect the Soviet Union to fall because it was not politically correct, in the old Maoist sense of the word, to treat the Soviets as anything more than a juggernaut capable of rolling over us in a second.

2) First, if you don’t look for it, you won’t find it. This is a general problem, but our focus in 2001 was mainly on threats from nations, rather than counterterrorism. It didn’t help that Bush’s Cabinet didn’t consider counterterrorism a big threat at all, hardly doing any meetings on it among their principles Second, most disasters do not come from obvious quarters. Often enough, they come of a conspiracy of failures. If Watchlists and follow up on visa violations had operated better, if the airlines hadn’t resisted security improvements for years, 9/11 might have been just another scary fizzle like the Bojinka plot.

3) How do we explain Hillary’s vote? You’re presupposing that anybody in Congress was well-informed at that point. Nobody really was. The Bush administration had made sure that most of the uncertainties were cleanly hidden away from members of Congress, Bill Clinton, meanwhile, would have only had five year old intelligence on the matter, and that would have hardly lit a candle next to this supposed new information that nobody in the Senate or House had the clearance to dispute. Did Hillary want to look weak on defense? Did she want to share Max Cleland’s fate- you know, the triple amputee war hero that the Republicans were willinge to slim to replace him with a chickenhawk who sat out Vietnam with a bad knee?

I don’t know, you make the political calculation.

4) Here’s the thing, though, and I think many right-wing supporters of Bush miss it: talk is cheap. Bill Clinton talked about much, but what he actually did should tell you what he thought of Saddam’s real capability. Bill Clinton himself never supported a pre-emptive war. Bush did.

5) Colin Powell is a prototypical “good soldier” type. He was going to do what his CINC told him, disagreeing in private, but putting himself out there in public to support him. He would talk convincingly in public having thrown much of the reporting given to him and called it shit.

The real problem with Bush intelligence is Bush, and the people he surrounded himself with. These are people who trusted what they believe over all else, and felt that becoming uncertain about what they believed was a sign of weakness.

When such people are in charge, the suppression of dissent is incredibly dangerous, because much as we follow their delusions in kind, we put the weight of the entire country into mistakes that will cost us all dearly. The more real information people know when they’re making their decisions, the less we will see fiascos like this.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 26, 2007 5:13 PM
Comment #237047

Stephen:

The politicization of intelligence and foreign policy is a good answer.

This is one of the points that “A Legacy of Ashes” makes.

It might be a central point. Our system of intelligence is political. It has been that way since Truman. This capable writer goes back to through ever president and shows incompetance or worse.

He speaks of banishment of the institution. If you tell the president what he doesn’t want to hear, you never see the president again. He talks about Clinton and Somalia for instance. He shoots both ways.

Here is my point. With your line of reasoning, replace Bush replace the problem. Sorry.

Changing the law so that our intelligence service is independent (Like the fed???) and is mearly a data gathering organization and you may be closer to pay dirt. Make it so the head of the CIA is not a political appointee, and you may be closer to your goals.


Look at this quote:

As he tells it, part of the problem has been misguided orders from presidents, like Eisenhower’s demand in 1953 that the shah of Iran be restored to his throne. “A generation of Iranians grew up knowing that the C.I.A. had installed the shah,” Mr. Weiner notes. “In time, the chaos that the agency had created in the streets of Tehran would return to haunt the United States.”

Another difficulty has been the agency’s periodic refusal to be in full sync with the presidents it serves. Reporting to John F. Kennedy on its planned invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, C.I.A. men like Allen W. Dulles and Richard Bissell exaggerated the chances for success and soft-pedaled the need for United States air cover when the anti-Castro exiles hit the beaches. Director William Casey’s freelancing under Ronald Reagan led to the Iran-contra scandal, which, as Mr. Weiner rightly notes, “came dangerously close” to ruining the president and the agency.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 26, 2007 6:15 PM
Comment #237048

Stephen:

The real problem with Bush intelligence is Bush, and the people he surrounded himself with.

Sorry, but this does not jive with our history since 1945 to present.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 26, 2007 6:17 PM
Comment #237066

Jack,

Is being “Hoisted on Ones Petards” the same as a conservative wedgie? Is that what’s going on with the newly amended SCHIPS bill?

You see, this POTUS has never had to negotiate before. Until now he’s basically had a “rubber stamp” congress and now the only thing he knows how to do is whine!

One might also ask if the strategy in Iraq would have changed as drastically as it has if not for the whoopin’ in ‘06? Contrary to what we’ve become accustomed to from the Rethuglican party no one Dem speaks for ALL.

There are many divisions within our party. We actually believe in the power of individual thought. Perhaps that is the “petard” you refer to. The loud explosion of thought that brings about change!

Posted by: KansasDem at October 26, 2007 10:23 PM
Comment #237106

Craig said: “By the way, that is sort of a dumb statement up there. We are all biased.”

No, that is shortsighted to absorb such popular mythology as objectivity and fact do not exist. They do, and the fact that so many today now turn a blind eye to fact and objectivity in favor of painting the universe with Red or Blue tinted mindsets, is a big part of why so much we do America today sucks and fails to work.

Were the founding fathers biased Red or Blue when they said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Guess they were just naive, eh? Not blessed with the popular wisdom you tout in your comment above?

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 27, 2007 2:48 PM
Comment #237107

Craig said: “1. The fall of the Soviet Union without our knowing.”

I fail to see the relevance. Gorbachev gave ample notice to the world that the USSR was radically transforming. Remember Peristroika and Glasnost? Yes our intelligence agencies have gotten many things wrong. But, you have to ask why? Part of the answer is the political filters through which that intelligence passes.

“2. Bill Clinton’s speech in 1998”

Bill Clinton was wrong. He had no proof, no conclusive evidence, only assumptions based on “What would I do if I were Saddam Hussein?” But, then Bill was nothing like Saddam Hussein, his gratuitous error.


“3. Hillary Clinton’s speech supporting the war. (I can’t believe she had not consulted her husband on such an important matter before hand).”

Hillary is yet an unknown quantity. One thing is OBVIOUS, she did not read the CIA fact books of 2000 and 2001 both of which contained all one needed to know in Senate to predict that invading Iraq, with or without WMD, was a horrendously BAD IDEA. Hillary didn’t do the homework the people paid her to do.

“4. Not knowing about 9/11 in advance.”

Intelligence had gathered information forewarning of a possible attack using planes prior to 9/11. The operative word there however, was “possible”, not imminent.

“5. Colin Powell’s speech before the UN.”

Colin Powell was caught between conscience and the politics of working for a politician. He has spoken of this with sincere and deep regret.

The point however is that preemptive invasion took place without solid evidence to support it. Everyone in government SHOULD know how very, very expensive war is, and therefore should know that elective war, as opposed to defensive retaliation, will never be a war supported long by the American public. That was the lesson of the Korean and Viet Nam wars.

But, Americans aren’t very big on history, and they erred gravely in their ignorance of it, in electing a president who also wasn’t big on history. America got exactly what she deserved by invading Iraq. Horrendous losses of life, treasure, and public confidence in government and elected officials, not to mention decrements in trust and faith by the people and many leaders of other nations.

Ignorance and superpower status cannot, and will not, live long together. Another lesson from history courtesy of the USSR.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 27, 2007 3:06 PM
Comment #237113

David:

1. USSR

Yes our intelligence agencies have gotten many things wrong. But, you have to ask why? Part of the answer is the political filters through which that intelligence passes.

That is the key question. Why do we get so many things wrong? Part of it is of course politics.


2. Bill Clinton wrong in 1998

Bill Clinton was wrong.

There is a trend here. Bill Clinton was briefed by the same organization that briefed Bush.

3. Hillary wrong.

Hillary is yet an unknown quantity. One thing is OBVIOUS, she did not read the CIA fact books of 2000 and 2001 both of which contained all one needed to know in Senate to predict that invading Iraq, with or without WMD, was a horrendously BAD IDEA. Hillary didn’t do the homework the people paid her to do.

Follow the dominos. Bill Clinton’s speach in 1998 to Hillary Clinton’s speech in 2003. It is impossible for me to think that Hillary was not influenced by her husband.

4. 9/11

Intelligence had gathered information forewarning of a possible attack using planes prior to 9/11. The operative word there however, was “possible”, not imminent.

However we discribe it, intelligence failed.

5. Colin Powell.

Here are Colin Powell’s words:

“I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now,” he said.

Mr Powell spent five days at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters ahead of the speech studying intelligence reports, many of which turned out to be false.

He said he felt “terrible” at being misinformed.

However, he did not blame CIA director George Tenet.

Mr Tenet “did not sit there for five days with me misleading me,” he said.

“He believed what he was giving to me was accurate.”

Some members of the US intelligence community “knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn’t be relied upon, and they didn’t speak up,” Mr Powell said.

“These are not senior people, but these are people who were aware that some of these resources should not be considered reliable,” he said.

“I was enormously disappointed.”

My point is a very serious one. I can give evidence clear back to 1945 that the CIA is basically messed up. It is structured in ways that makes intelligence political. For instance in the book I quote from, former heads of the CIA both democratic and republican talk about whether to tell the president the truth or tell the president “what they want to hear.”

I understand the need to “blame bush”. However I believe we will be no more safe when bush is replaced.

This is actually a far more dangerous time. We don’t have mutually assured destruction anymore. We simply cannot tolorate such a compromised intelligence service.

David, I want you to think carefully about this. The CIA is flawed in it’s creation. It’s designed in a way that gives too much power to any president. This book is very damning. And it’s got a pretty good author. If need be I can produce intelligence failures for 60 years.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 27, 2007 5:43 PM
Comment #237120

Craig-
Bush represents the culmination of a problem created by the Cold war’s destruction of reasonable foreign policy. He represents the Chickenhawk mentality with all the stops pulled out, with most of the inhibitions removed.

Things will certainly get better when Bush goes, but as long as you replace him with somebody who feels obligated to continue things the way he wants to, you will see this stupidity continue.

We have to recall that many of the assumptions keeping the war going are based on the information that turned out false. If we complain about the intelligence, but fail to end the actions they have precipitated, we’ve hardly learned anything.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 27, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #237153

Jack- great post. I couldn’t agree with you more.

David- you never cease to amuse me. Perhaps you need to study those polls a little more carefully. Take Billary & McCain matchups for example- the differance falls in the margin of error. And how about that one that goes “51% of Americans say they will never vote for Sen. Clinton”?
I love the ‘blind faith’ you have in your party. All these unkept promises in the Dem. controlled congress hasn’t swayed your unfounded optimism in the least eh?
Anyone who puts so much faith in polls at this early of a stage is either ignorant of history or just lacks an understanding of the fluidity of a campaign cycle.
What I enjoy most about your rantings- and those of the editors at NYT & other liberal rags - is this absurd portrayal of a country that is on the verge becoming a utopia- if only those pesky Republicans weren’t obstructing greatness.
You want to see an economic disaster then, by all means, vote for Hillary. Just don’t sit there and talk about this being a done deal because the October polls tell you so. I know its coming up on Halloween, so perhaps you are just trying to terrify us all with the prospect this great nation being taken over by the Clinton-monster.

Posted by: Dan at October 28, 2007 8:56 PM
Comment #237191

Stephan

More to the point, though, it’s not a 180 turn from whack-a-mole. You might like to think that, but it only relieved that problems somewhat.
The real strategic success, if one is to be had, was a more counterinsurgency-based methods Gates has employed. The trick is, though, we’re not getting a free pass on all those years we spent screwing things up, so it’s a sort of too-little, too-late approach.

Give credit where credit is due. Gen. Petarus is the one who pilot plant test the counterinsurgency, Gates only saw how effective it was on the smaller scale. This strategy you to attribute to Gates is exactly what I am referring to as the departure away from the whack-a-mole (sorry for not explaining properly). It only relied on a boost in troop strength to get the ball rolling but is a departure in randomly removing the insurgency that raise their head but to targeting the important aspects in controlled areas. Once that is accomplished, the area is expanded and the controlled areas become larger. When the troop strength is divorced from the change in strategy, the entire argument is flawed and misleading. (for a good analogy try reading the Belmont Club , once again rightwing warning)

When you acknowledge that the counterinsurgency is a success, you should acknowledge that there has been a change in direction. Whether or not it is too little, too late remains to be seen. But considering the current drop in violence and the political climate of the front running Democrats backing away from declaring defeat or pushing for a pull out, I would say that is an indication that it may well be the right direction.

Posted by: Mutt at October 29, 2007 9:46 AM
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