A Truly Honest Candidate Cannot Win

Today’s politicians are faith healers. They sell hope. Their fans swoon. They give us excuses to explain away our shortcoming and scapegoats for our sins. They promise to fight the chimeras keeping “ordinary folks” from achieving their hopes and dreams. They tell us that politics can make us happy and in doing so they are telling us that our problems come from outside and are outside our control. They are lying.

I have to admit that even my man JM plays the game. I suppose to do good you have to do well enough to succeed and you have to make some compromises. Hypocrisy is the price of admission, but at least my man is not very enthusiastic about it and he limits his promises.

Democrats, on the other hand, have always excelled at the unsubstantiated promises. This election features more faith healing than usual. Neither of the leading Democrats has the experience to be commander in chief, so they are selling hope faster & more passionately than usual. I didn’t support John Kerry, but at least he pointed to his record and he had a record to judge. The same goes for Al Gore. The current generation of Dem leaders reaches back only a couple years and there is really nothing there. For Obama we have a rock star life and one speech in 2002. Hillary was married to the president. It is sort of like playing a doctor on television and using that experience to request a medical license.

What would an honest politician tell the people?

An honest politician would tell the people that government’s effect on the economy is long term and cannot be personalized. He/she would tell them that government programs are more likely to cause harm than good to the economy. He/she would explain that manufacturing jobs are disappearing because of technological changes (just as agricultural jobs did) and that they will never return, no matter how much we want to bash Mexicans, Canadians or Chinese. He/she will understand that high gas prices are caused by high demand and that the best way to address that is through a carbon tax that will RAISE prices even more in the short term. He/she will acknowledge that no matter how wealthy the country becomes, people will still feel dissatisfied and that this is a race without a finish line. AND he/she will know that ultimately happiness and success is mostly a matter of what people do for themselves. Government can help create the conditions of prosperity, but people must make it. Americans are entitled to the pursuit of happiness, but not many people will attaint it on a sustainable basis.

No politician who told the whole truth would ever win an election...so they don't.

Politicians like to talk about thing they really cannot do because it takes the spotlight away from the things they CAN do but prefer to avoid.

The President elected in 2008 will have two really big challenges to face about which they can REALLY do something: national security & entitlements. President Bush tried to do address entitlements and was completely shut down. No candidates now are even seriously talking about it. In fact, Obama and Clinton are advocating adding even more entitlements that we cannot pay for.

National security is where the Dems are most disingenuous. Hillary at least has come around to try to address the issue, although her 3am "red phone" commercial is not very subtle. Obama seems to think that if we all just believe in magic all those terrorists, despots & dictators will just recognize our virtue and be nice to us.

Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe. Neither Obama (the faith healer) nor Hillary (the adult Lisa Simpson) has what it takes. BUT maybe if we just close our eyes and wish, maybe click together our ruby slippers …

Posted by Jack at March 9, 2008 6:41 PM
Comments
Comment #247476

That’s debatable. And cynical.

But “read me lips” … a politician is not likely to get re-elected by lying.
But it may depend on what the meaning of “is” is.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 9, 2008 6:58 PM
Comment #247477

Amen. Wish someone would break ranks and give us real reform and not more of the same. Do I care if a politician is re-elected? No! I care if they do what they can to cut spending and entitlements. Cynical, absolutely! And we have politicians to thank.

Posted by: Chris at March 9, 2008 7:14 PM
Comment #247478

People never tell each other the whole truth, and even when they do tell each other the truth, they don’t always know everything or think of everything to say.

But that said, and human fallibility allowed for, falsity and deception carry their costs, and in it’s in our interests to strongly discourage them.

And people already do that, to be sure. A person who lies consistently, who creates massive deceptions is a person setting themselves up for a fall. There are people like that, especially high in government, but at the end of the day, the risk we take in every election is the same. We have to have the courage to risk putting people like that in power, yet also the courage to confront them when they try and screw us over. There is no passive solution to this problem.

All that said, look at your friend McCain. He’s an utter hypocrite. He sells himself as clean of Washington influence, yet he surrounds himself with it. He said one thing before he ran for president, and says another now to get elected.

And if that’s not bad enough, he’s basically going to continue the whole foolish mess Bush made. I could hardly think of a person less qualified to be president, no matter how long he’s remained in Washington.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 9, 2008 7:22 PM
Comment #247479

But that explains why the politicians avoid discussing illegal immigration, or these other abuses.

And the media isn’t very helpful either at asking the tough questions, such as

  • What causes inflation?

  • Why has the U.S. Dollar been falling drastically since 1999 (it’s actually been falling (one-simple-idea.com/DebtAndMoney.htm#Inflation0) all along)?

  • Why are incomes stagnant since 1967 while GDP has increased (despite more workers per household, a disappearing 40 hour work week)?

  • Why is the tax system called progressive, when it is actually regressive?

  • Why the occupation of Iraq? Oil?

  • Why rampant illegal immigration? Who profits from pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes ?

  • Why aren’t existing laws enforced (e.g. such as immigration laws; U.S. Constitutional violations)?

  • Why so much debt ($48 Trillion nation-wide: mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat-a.htm)?

  • If economy is so great, why a $150 Billion economic stimulus package? What are they nervous about?

  • Why the constant consumerism and encouragement to spend, borrow, spend, borrow, … ?

  • Where will the money come from to pay the interest on $48 Trillion of debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL $48 Trillion of debt? What is a pyramid-scheme?

  • Why does a tiny 1% of the U.S. population own 40% of all wealth (up from 20% in year 1980; never worse since the Great Depression)?

  • Why are some things not taught in public schools, or ever mentioned in the Main Stream Media (e.g. monetary theory, banking, finance, pyramid schemes, etc.)?

  • How is it that 99.85% of all 200 million eligible voters are VASTLY out-spent by a very tiny 0.15% of all voters that make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more). 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 (such as merely not re-electing irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians).
There are many questions, and a person does not need to know all of the answers to know that these many abuses did not all come about by mere coincidence.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 9, 2008 7:26 PM
Comment #247480

A politician has to satisfy two constituencies. First, he or she has to earn the votes of the majority of the people in a democratic election.

Once in office, a politician must satisfy a different constintuency, the powers capable of putting promises into action.

These are two different groups with two different and often conflicting agendas.

Most of the power and wealth in the US is concentrated in a very small portion of the population, less than 1%.

The rest of the power and wealth is spread over the rest of the population.

Therefore, the majority must somehow be convinced to vote for a program which is contrary to their interests, and favorable to the 1%.

This is the nature of corporatism and the exertion of control by the military industrial complex.

For example, most people have no interest whatsoever in Iraq. Most Americans have never been and will never go to Iraq, and most have never met an Iraqi.

Yet Iraq possesses a geographical position which is valuable to the military, and natural resources in the form of oil, which are valuable to corporations.

The trick is to convince Americans that Iraq somehow poses a threat to them.

Lately it hasn’t been working so well.

Good luck, Obama. Best wishes. You’re talking the talk of the majority, and that means some very unscrupulous people will be coming after you in the name of corporatism, as you already know.

Posted by: phx8 at March 9, 2008 7:32 PM
Comment #247481

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080309/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_war_costs_1

Posted by: Jane Doe at March 9, 2008 7:39 PM
Comment #247482

Jack,
“An honest politician would tell the people that government’s effect on the economy is long term and cannot be personalized.”

What are you suggesting? How long is “long term”? The Federal Reserve changes the Federal Funds Rate based on six month time lines. For fiscal policy, Congress is offering a stimulus package with the same kind of time line.

The government personalizes the economy in the form of training programs, among many other ways.

Half of the net number of jobs created by Bush have been government jobs. That’s a pretty personalized effect which the government can have.

The government could do something really great which would have a huge effect on the economy, such as a major investment in rebuilding infrastructure-

Gee, what a concept-

-Or investing in R&D for alternative energies, to ameliorate Global Warming.

You write: “He/she would tell them that government programs are more likely to cause harm than good to the economy.”

No. An honest politician would admit most economic problems are caused by greed. That greed is criminal in nature. Most often, it hides behind words like “privatization” and “deregulation.”

Posted by: phx8 at March 9, 2008 8:01 PM
Comment #247486
An honest politician would admit most economic problems are caused by greed. That greed is criminal in nature. Most often, it hides behind words like “privatization” and “deregulation.”

And so deprivatization and regulation is what helps the economy? That is what you think an honest politician would tell us? Politicians like Kim Jung-il and Fidel Castro might agree, but that’s not the kind of honesty we need.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 9, 2008 9:08 PM
Comment #247489

Greed is a perfectly good motivator. I believe that worse decisions are based upon fear of loss. The one term congressman finding the halls of power to be addicting turns into a career man based upon the fear of loss of that power. Without some self interest in a project, it will mostly likely stagnate (unless of course it is a government program). All things in moderation including moderation.

Posted by: Scottp at March 9, 2008 10:34 PM
Comment #247490
Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe.

If elected President, John McCain will be 72 years old when he takes office. Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he took office. Reagan was very adept at deflecting questions of his age, when he ran. Ronald Reagan was also disputably already feeling the affects of Alzheimer when he left office. Does this mean McCain’s age would definitely affect his presidency, if elected?

No, of course not. But it does mean his experience would come with some form of baggage. The voters will have to look at whomever he chooses as a running mate, as having a higher than normal potential of having to relieve McCain as president, if McCain were to win.


Posted by: Cube at March 9, 2008 11:53 PM
Comment #247492

“Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe.”

Safe from what? Am I supposed to be afraid again? Sheesh.

Posted by: phx8 at March 10, 2008 12:03 AM
Comment #247494

Stephen

In politics there is pattern of deception. People are willing to accept and vote for candidates who tell them that their problems are not there fault or more usually the fault of rich, foreigners, insiders or just “them”. Politicians who promise easy solutions do better than those who tell the truth. This is human nature.

The danger of politics is that it makes perfect sense to vote for the liars. That is why we need to limit the scope of government.

d.a.n.

What causes inflation – politicians influence that only tangentially. Inflation has not been a serious problem since the 1980s anyway.

Incomes have not stagnated since 1967. The median income adjusted for inflation is around 1/3 higher than it was back in 1967. If you just look at what people own now compared to back then, you see the difference. I was a working class kid in 1967. We lived in a house with a single bathroom; we did not own a car; most of my neighbors had never been on a airplane (except in the military). We had one black and white TV (no cable). The list goes on. Things have improved materially.

Phx8

The long term is generational.

I think that a good analogy is a human body. If I want to be healthy and strong, I need to spend years eating right and exercising. It is possible to take drugs or drink some whiskey that will make you FEEL good, but the in the long term these things will actually hurt you.

Your infrastructure example is good. Investments in infrastructure pay off YEARS after they are built. They also need to be maintained. Politicians don’t get much credit for infrastructure, especially the most important parts, which are often invisible to the public.

Re economic problems – NO - they are not caused by greed, except in the very broad sense that most people want to make money. The biggest problem in the economy is information. That is why it is a mistake for governments to try to control prices. It takes away too much information.

Private property is the best way to grow general prosperity. There is NO country in the world were you would want to live that does not protect private property. It is the single most important factor in prosperity.

Re jobs – presidents do not create jobs (I suppose unless the government hires somebody, but that is just a redistribution). Most of the jobs were “lost” in 2000-2002, anyway and there is no way Bush could have caused that – EVEN if you believe presidents create jobs.

Re alternative energy – in the last couple of years investment in alternative energy investments have skyrocketed. The government already has programs that help, but the biggest incentive is price of energy. The best thing the government could do is a carbon tax.

Re being afraid again – No, a prudent and brave person does not need to be afraid. But he does need to do the things necessary to protect himself. When I ride my bike a wear a helmet; when I drive my car I wear my seatbelt. The world has both opportunities and dangers. We cannot just ignore either.

The most important job of a president is to protect the country from all enemies foreign and domestic. That is what the oath of office says. Everything else is mere comentary.

Posted by: Jack at March 10, 2008 1:32 AM
Comment #247500
Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe.

Actually McCain is a very old man with a very bad temper, and that unstable temperament of his really spooks some military leaders.

A quote from the link:

In interviews with Salon this week, several experienced military officers said McCain draws mixed reviews among military leaders, and they expressed serious doubts about whether McCain has the right temperament to be the next president and commander in chief. Some expressed more confidence in Obama, citing his temperament as an asset.

It is not difficult in Washington to find high-level military officials who have had close encounters with John McCain’s temper, and who find it worrisome. Politicians sometimes scream for effect, but the concern is that McCain has, at times, come across as out of control. It is difficult to find current or former officers willing to describe those encounters in detail on the record. That’s because, by and large, those officers admire McCain. But that doesn’t mean they want his finger on the proverbial button, and they are supporting Clinton or Obama instead.

“I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor,” said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. “I think it is a little scary. I think this guy’s first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse.”

“I studied leadership for a long time during 32 years in the military,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, a one-time Republican who is supporting Obama. “It is all about character. Who can motivate willing followers? Who has the vision? Who can inspire people?” Gration asked. “I have tremendous respect for John McCain, but I would not follow him.”

“One of the things the senior military would like to see when they go visit the president is a kind of consistency, a kind of reliability,” explained retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Republican, former chief of staff of the Air Force and former fighter pilot who flew 285 combat missions. McPeak said his perception is that Obama is “not that up when he is up and not that down when he is down. He is kind of a steady Eddie. This is a very important feature,” McPeak said. On the other hand, he said, “McCain has got a reputation for being a little volatile.” McPeak is campaigning for Obama.

Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at Georgetown who is studying the personalities of the presidential candidates, agrees McCain’s temperament is of real concern. “The anger is there,” Wayne said. If McCain is the one to answer the phone at 3 a.m., he said, “you worry about an initial emotive, less rational response.”

Another quote from that link:

McCain’s supporters will no doubt continue to assert that his experience far outweighs any alleged issues with temperament. But if past wartime presidents are a guide, experience of the kind McCain has isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for performing well as commander in chief. Historians point out that presidents without any experience in the military have guided the country through some of its most dangerous conflicts.

The closest thing Woodrow Wilson had to commander-in-chief credentials was his term as governor of New Jersey. Wilson gave Franklin D. Roosevelt his only pre-Oval Office military-related experience — by appointing him as assistant secretary of the Navy. Both presidents faced down world wars, but neither had fought in one.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 10, 2008 3:11 AM
Comment #247502
The most important job of a president is to protect the country from all enemies foreign and domestic. That is what the oath of office says. Everything else is mere comentary.

Really, I thought the oath office read as follows: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Foreign and domestic enemies? Defending our nation is only one component of protecting the Constitution, our President, the Republican party and you, evidently has forgotten the rest.


Posted by: Cube at March 10, 2008 3:18 AM
Comment #247510

I saw McCain’s “display of temper” over and over on the news. He firmly told the NYT reporter that her question was silly. I didn’t see anything wrong with the way he did it. He did not lose control and his annoyance was perfectly appropriate.

Bill Clinton went into blue funks of temper for no good reason. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with getting angry when it is appropriate.

Sorry. I was indeed confusing that oath. The oath for military and civil servants is”

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;…” I took that oath 24 years ago and I took it seriously enough to remember it. I have never taken the presidential oath.

Nevertheless, making our nation safe is the president’s most important task. He is the only elected official tasked to do that. The Constitution explicitly gives him the powers to carry out this task. It mentions the Commander in Chief powers first. Then it goes on to talk about his other foreign affairs powers related to securing our nations. It doesn’t mention anything about making people happy or equalizing outcomes, BTW.

Re Wilson and FDR - secretary of the Navy was a big deal and Roosevelt was a lifelong student of military affairs. Wilson, BTW, did not do such a good job with WWI. In fact, maybe he could have kept us out of that war. He had about as much “justification” as Bush had in Iraq.

Posted by: Jack at March 10, 2008 9:03 AM
Comment #247511

Jack

This entire article is nothing better than cynical ideological propaganda aimed at creating skepticism and doubt. Your desire is to place a clear line of definition between republican and democrat ability when it comes to security issues. Need I remind you that it was GW who held the watch during 911. It was the same crew who led us into the security quagmire that exists today. It is the same crew that has exacerbated the heightened state of terrorism in the world today. Their very actions have done more to perpetuate the hatreds of terrorism than ever existed pre 911. In other words their approach imo has been foolish and wasteful. We can even include shameful when one takes into consideration the greed induced oil interests in Iraq. Taken on first under the guise of removing Hussein and conveniently evolving into the guise of fighting terrorists there so we don’t have to fight them here. The result of the lies you advocate for are having a debilitating effect on this country.

It simply is time for a new direction. Bush policy is flawed and has for the most part failed. The republican party has supported him tooth and nail. The realization of that association directly reflects on their credibility not only in world affairs but also affairs here at home.

Politicians may lie. But there is not a reason in hell why we should lay down and accept that fact. The last congress and this executive is a great example of what happens when people become complacent, over trusting, and shrug off corruption and dishonesty in government as just another day of policy making.

Your ideologies in this thread are indirectly encouraging voter apathy in an attempt to retain the status quo. I personally will not allow myself to become complacent and accepting of a government that is allowed to operate outside the realm of decency and accountability.

Posted by: RickIL at March 10, 2008 9:46 AM
Comment #247512

RickIL,

You mean Jack is a Republican hack? No!!! His posts are never disengenuous.

I’ve always wondered how being a Republican or Democrat can supercede being an American or even a Human Being.

I watched John Dailey on CNN’s crossfire recently from a linked article about the cancelation of Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show, and loved the way Tucker squirmed as John called him on the dishonest “debate” format. Granted this website is set up in a party line format, and most debates here are much more in depth than that show ever was. That said, i am frequently disappointed with the partisan tenor of many so- called debate subjects. I guess that’s what draws a crowd.

Posted by: googlumpugus at March 10, 2008 10:06 AM
Comment #247514

I simply can’t watch those types of shows. All you hear are talking points shouted over the top of the other’s talking points. No one listens to the other and tries to break down points with logical factual evidence, it is mostly emotive rhetoric.

Jim Cafferty, Keith Oberman, Sean Hannity, O’Reiley, etc. They all just have me shouting at the TV so often as I hear nonsensical partisan rhetoric being spewed…

I’m down to watching some HLN and the occasional CNN analysis right up to the point it becomes overbearing. I’m back to print these days, which is saying a lot since that is becomming about the same. Everyone is either regurgitating the partisan hackneyed talking points or simply rerunning AP storylines. I go out of my way to read Reuters and international news stories these days just to get a SECOND view of the news, something we should be demanding from our own ‘news’ companies these days. There are no more news companies btw, they are all firmly in the ‘entertainment’ line. When they started worrying about ratings instead of integrity, well, that was the end…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 10:29 AM
Comment #247518

Googlumpugus

;) I love the Daily Show. I rarely miss it. John Stewart is hilarious and some would claim partisan. But I don’t see it to any great degree. He tends to bust on whoever is deserving at the time. And to be honest the shows views are in general more credible and honest than is available on main stream media news outlets. You are right about drawing the crowd. Without some sensationalism and controversy no one would be interested in watching or listening depending on the media outlet.

Rhinehold

You carry the same thoughts as me when it comes to O’Rhiely, Hannity, etc. I can not stomach the overly opinionated extremist views and dramatic sensationalism created just to draw crowds. Like you I will watch CNN and once in a while HLN, but just to the point of getting the information I what. Everything after that is just repeated sensationalist opinion aimed at keeping the viewers tuned in.

Posted by: RickIL at March 10, 2008 11:09 AM
Comment #247521

Googlumpugus

RE - I’ve always wondered how being a Republican or Democrat can supercede being an American or even a Human Being.

Same here. It seems to be a favorite ploy of the republicans to try and paint a picture of amoral, evil, uncaring, unamerican and careless human beings upon anyone who does not bend to their will or line of reasoning. I think it can be seen as a form of psychological intimidation. Unfortunately for them, in light of recent past practice, it is difficult for them to effectively use this ploy with any but the most gullible.

Posted by: RickIL at March 10, 2008 11:21 AM
Comment #247523

RickIL,

Just as it is the favorite ploy of democrats to try to paint a picture of selfish, uncaring, bigoted, hate-filled and pompous human beings anyone who does not bend to their will or line of reasoning…

Thinking that Democrats are somehow absolved of the partisan chicanery they conspire to exhibit is the exact reason we have these problems…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 11:31 AM
Comment #247524

Jack,

I cannot agree with you more about politicians lying simply to get elected. Although, if they did tell you the unvarnished truth, it might be really refreshing.

For example, would you vote for a candidate who said any of the following:

1.) Social Security is broken. I will send a bill to Congress to fix it, but it won’t be fixed because of partisan political bickering. It won’t be fixed because Congresspersons have to be re-elected and God forbid that they did anything that would cause the electorate to have to tighten their belts or stop buying big screen TVs and gas-guzzling over priced SUVs.

2.) We’ll never catch Osama Bin Laden. We’ll never stop baby killing Islamic fascists that strap bombs to their bodies completely no matter what we do.

3.) We’ll never fix the tax code. Sure, there’s huge support for a flat tax and the Fair Tax, but it’ll never happen. It might hurt very influential people financially and those persons might stop feeding cash into re-election campains. Forget about fixing the tax system.

4.) We’ll never stop the flow of illegal drugs into this country. We would have to napalm huge areas of South America and Southeast Asia and then sew that ground with salt…and that would have to happen just to slow down the influx of cocaine and heroin. To stop the flow of crystal meth and crack cocaine, we’d have to suspend the Constitution and kill dealers and users on sight. Ain’t gonna happen.

5.) Term limits would go a long way to slow the flow of corrupt money into re-election campains. Sure, the president has term limits (2 terms), but term limits for Congress would put more power into the hands of “We The People”, and that simply can’t be allowed to happen.

6.) “I’m going to promise that I will fix the problems facing the United States, but the truth is that all I can do is propose changes that will be poo-poo’d by Congress or the Supreme Court, so live with it. I can’t fix anything, but I’m going to tell you that I can.”

Of course, this is only a partial list, but once again…would you vote for someone who actually told the truth while campaigning?

I probably would.

What about you?

Posted by: Jim T at March 10, 2008 11:35 AM
Comment #247527
Jack wrote: d.a.n. What causes inflation? – politicians influence that only tangentially.
Not true.
  • And who signed the Executive Order (President Woodrow Wilson in 1913) turning the banking system over to the Federal Reserve (a quasi-government controlled/privately owned bank)?
  • Who dreamed up the $150 economic stimulus package? Aren’t they politicians?
  • Who borrows, spends, and creates money out of thin air? Who appoints the board membbers of the Federal Reserve?
  • Why do we have a $9.4 Trillion National Debt?
  • Who borrowed and spent $12.8 Trillion from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with an approaching 77 million baby-boomer bubble approaching?
  • Who shifts medical cost burdens via Medicare costs, massive Medicare fraud, and other government meddling?
  • Who created Medicare and other entitlement systems?
  • Who creates other inflationary burdens, wage suppression, job displacment, and other pressures on tax payers by pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes?
  • Who is behind hundreds of billions of annual pork-barrel, corporate welfare, graft, and waste (one-simple-idea.com/Links1.htm)?
So, the question was: What causes inflation? While demand on resources (such as oil) can raise prices, creating too much money out of thin air can cause inflation too. M3 Money Supply increased from $135 Billion in year 1950 to $10.15 Trillion in year 2005 (a factor of 75.2 ; one-simple-idea.com/M3MoneySupply.htm). That’s a lot of new money creation. Especially when the U.S. population also doubled since year 1950 (one-simple-idea.com/PopulationUS.gif). We didn’t all become 75.2 times wealthier since 1950, did we?
Jack wrote: Inflation has not been a serious problem since the 1980s anyway.
Not true.

We have had incessant inflation (and no deflation) since year 1956:

  • ____INFLATION RATEs____

  • 16% +

  • 14% + - - - - - X

  • 12% + - - - - X- X

  • 10% + - - - -X - X

  • 08% + - - - X- - -X

  • 06% + - - -X - - -X

  • 04% + -X- X - - - - X - X X

  • 02% + X -X- - - - - - X - -

  • 00% +X- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - YEAR

  • _____1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2

  • _____9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 0 0

  • _____5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 0 0

  • _____5 0 5 0 5 0 5 0 5 0 5

3% to 5% inflation may not sound so bad, except when it is year after year, which fools a lot of people.
It is bad, because it is then like reverse compound interest (i.e. exponential).
3% this year is more than 3% last year, which is more than 3% of the previous year, etc., etc., etc.
Never underestimate exponential growth.
Incessant inflation is why a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 11 cents.
It is also partly the reason for the rising energy costs.
That’s why the Consumer Price Index looks like this:

  • ____INFLATION - Consumer Price Index (CPI)_______
  • CPI (CPI=100 for year 1967)

  • 700 | - - - - - - - - - - - X (=665: JAN-2008)

  • 650 | - - - - - - - - - - -X

  • 600 | - - - - - - - - - - -X

  • 550 | - - - - - - - - - - -X

  • 500 | - - - - - - - - - - X

  • 450 | - - - - - - - - - - X

  • 400 | - - - - - - - - - - X

  • 350 | - - - - - - - - - -X

  • 300 | - - - - - - - - - X

  • 250 | - - - - - - - - - X

  • 200 | - - - - - - - - -X

  • 150 | - - - - - - - - -X

  • 100 | - - - - - - - -X

  • 050 |XXXXXXXXXXX

  • 000 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - YEAR

  • _____1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 22

  • _____8 8 8 8 8 9 9 9 9 9 00

  • _____0 2 4 6 8 0 2 4 6 8 00

  • _____0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 07

Jack wrote: Incomes have not stagnated since 1967. The median income adjusted for inflation is around 1/3 higher than it was back in 1967.
Not true.

I meant year 1978, but it is still true for 1967 too, when the following are also included:

  • (1) more workers per household;

  • (2) more government debt;

  • (3) more regressive taxation (i.e. Warren Buffet paid 17.7% income tax on $46 Million while his secretary paid 30% income tax on $60K);

  • (4) more taxes;

  • (5) more illegal immigration causing job displacement, depressing wages, and costing tax payers an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion in net losses;

  • (6) more job displacement due to hundreds of thousands of H-1B Visas and H-2B Visas (abuses depressing wages further)

  • (7) more wealth disparity; the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. population has 40% of all wealth in the U.S. (up from 20% in year 1980; never worse since the Great Depression); 80% of the U.S. population has a mere 17% of all wealth in the U.S.
    ;

  • (8) more work hours, increased productivity, and the disappearing work week and less vacation; jobs leaving the country in droves and replacement jobs paying less than previous jobs;

  • (9) more unaffordable healthcare; and more dangerous too; killing 195,000 per year; Since 1999, that is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes. That is more than all the U.S. troops killed in the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), the war in Afghanistan, and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (3,963), COMBINED!

  • (10) higher energy costs; more energy vulnerabilities;

  • Real Median Incomes (in 2004 Dollars): 1978 to 2006
  • 46K | - - - - - - - - - - -
  • 45K | - - - - - - - X - - -
  • 44K | - - - - - - -X-X- - -
  • 43K | - - - - - - X - -X- -
  • 42K | - - - X - -X- - - - -
  • 41K | - - -X-X- X - - - - -
  • 40K | X - X - X - - - - - -
  • 39K | -X-X- - - - - - - - -
  • 38K | - X - - - - - - - - -
  • 37K + - - - - - - - - - - - - - YEAR
  • _____1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2
  • _____9 9 9 9 9 9 9 0 0 0
  • _____7 8 8 8 9 9 9 0 0 0
  • _____8 3 6 9 2 5 8 1 4 6
  • Year 1967: $35K (in 2004 Dollars; one-simple-idea.com/RealMedianIncome1967to2004.jpg)
  • Year 1978: $40K (in 2004 Dollars)
  • Year 2006: $43K (in 2004 Dollars)
So, when all factors are included, real median incomes have actually been falling (especially when considering more workers per household and much more government debt which will fall on the tax payers);
Jack wrote: If you just look at what people own now compared to back then, you see the difference. I was a working class kid in 1967. We lived in a house with a single bathroom; we did not own a car; most of my neighbors had never been on a airplane (except in the military). We had one black and white TV (no cable). The list goes on. Things have improved materially.
Yeah, yeah, and you also walked to school barefooted, in the snow, and it was uphill both ways. : )

So, do more things (TVs, cell phones, cars) mean we are better off now? Wealthier?
After all:

  • (a) people are now tethered to their jobs 24/7 by cell phones (whoopeee!).

  • (b) More cars? And more commuting. Sprawl kills. People are sitting in their automobiles 65+ eight-hour days (520 hours per year); breathing carbon monoxide and benzine, not to mention more accidents; So, are more cars a good thing?

  • (c) Color TV versus Black and White TV? But we don’t build those TVs. The U.S. builds less and less of anything each year. Trade deficits are huge and getting worse every year.

  • (d) More bathrooms? Bigger houses? That also means much higher electricity bills. Also, Americans now own less than 50% of the equity in their homes (lowest level in 16 years)

  • (e) Wealth disparity today has never been worse since the Great Depression. 80% of all Americans only own 17% of all wealth. The nation is swimming in debt; $48 Trillion nation-wide. Where will the money come from to pay the INTEREST on the $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt?

  • (f) Income-to-Nation-Wide Debt as grown drastically since 1956:
    • __TOTAL U.S. Debt and National Income__(2006 Dollars)
    • T=Trillion
    • $50.0T | - - - - - - - - - - - - - D (Debt=$48T)
    • $47.5T | - - - - - - - - - - - - - D
    • $45.0T | - - - - - - - - - - - - -D-
    • $42.5T | - - - - - - - - - - - - -D-
    • $40.0T | - - - - - - - - - - - - -D-
    • $37.5T | - - - - - - - - - - - - D -
    • $35.0T | - - - - - - - - - - - -D- -
    • $32.5T | - - - - - - - - - - - D - -
    • $30.0T | - - - - - - - - - - -D- - -
    • $27.5T | - - - - - - - - - - D - - -
    • $25.0T | - - - - - - - - - -D- - - -
    • $22.5T | - - - - - - - - - D - - - -
    • $20.0T | - - - - - - - - -D- - - - -
    • $17.5T | - - - - - - - - D - - - - -
    • $15.0T | - - - - - - - -D- - - - - -
    • $12.5T | - - - - - - -D- - - - - - -
    • $10.0T | - - - - D - - - - - - - - I (Income=$10T)

    • $07.5T | - - D - - - - - -I

    • $05.0T |D- - - - I

    • $02.5T |I

    • $00.0T + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - YEAR

    • _______1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 22

    • _______9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 0 00

    • _______5 6 6 6 7 7 8 8 8 9 9 0 00

    • _______7 1 5 9 3 7 1 5 9 3 7 1 56

    • The Debt-to-Income ratio in year 1957 was 200% ($5T/$2.5T)

    • The Debt-to-Income ratio in year 2006 was 480% ($48T/$10T)

    • That is, in 1957, total debt was 2.0 times national income.

Jack wrote: The list goes on. Things have improved materially.
Well, that all depends.

That may be true if you are one of the 1 in 10 people that own 70% of all wealth in the U.S.
20% of all Americans have negative net worth (i.e. debt).
40% of all Americans (on average) have ZERO net worth.
80% of all Americans own only 17% of all wealth.
2% of Americans own most of the wealth in the U.S.
1% of the U.S. population (305 million) owns 40% of all wealth (a worsening trend since year 1976; never worse since the Great Depression).
Where will the money come from to pay the INTEREST on the $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt?

Most Americans are going backwards for 30+ years, due to these 10 abuses, which did not all come about by mere coincidence.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 11:42 AM
Comment #247531
Jim T wrote: Of course, this is only a partial list, but once again…would you vote for someone who actually told the truth while campaigning?
Good list. Yet, most voters repeatedly reward those incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
Jim T wrote: Jack, … I cannot agree with you more about politicians lying simply to get elected. Although, if they did tell you the unvarnished truth, it might be really refreshing.
Yes, it would.

Unfortunately, who ever the next president is, they will sabotage the next president by saddling the next presidente with the same irresponsible, do-nothing, dysfunctional Congress that can’t seem to solve any of the nation’s pressing problems, but can give themselves another raise every year (like their 9 raises between 1997 and 2007), and vote through pork-barrel, corporate welfare, and waste in a heart beat.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 11:51 AM
Comment #247533

I think it is dishonest of republicans to use buzz pharases like “dealing with entitlements” instead of just saying it the way it is: Republicans want to cut social security.
Republicans want to cut payments by Medicare,
Republicans want to cut benefits provided to post-military programs (those programs are “entitlements” too)

Upon reading this I’m sure there will be a post or two saying essentially “oh no, we don’t want to cut any of that we just want to “deal” with entitlements.

Question: For years now, conservatives have been claiming that Social Security is such a bad deal for beneficiarys. If it is such a bad deal how could it be claimed by the same “conservatives” that the monies paid out are simply too much to pay?

Admit it, you are not talking about “dealing with entitlements” you are talking about cutting the very minimal financial and medical benefits provided to the elderly, the disabled and the very people who have sacrificed life and limb for this nation.

Posted by: charles ross at March 10, 2008 12:00 PM
Comment #247535

Charles Ross said:

“I think it is dishonest of republicans to use buzz pharases like “dealing with entitlements” instead of just saying it the way it is: Republicans want to cut social security.”

Oh, you mean like the Democrats say, “We want to roll back the Bush tax cuts” instead of saying, “We want to hike taxes”?

Charles Ross said:

“…instead of just saying it the way it is: Republicans want to cut social security.”

You seem to forget the prescription medicine benefits that Bush got enacted (financially unsound and draining the Social Security fund, but there they are). Sounds to me like increasing Social Security benefits rather than cutting them.

Posted by: Jim T at March 10, 2008 12:36 PM
Comment #247537

Well, I do agree that the prescription drug benefit plan (part d) enacted by bush was a terrible idea. It’s more of a financial subsidy program for drug companys. Stop thinking about health insurance as being something that preserves your health. It should preserve your ASSETS. Medicare part D is designed to break people, to EXTRACT as much money out of people as possible and pass it on to big pharma. Have you ever heard of Billy Tausend, he was the republican congressman who played a major roll in forming and fashioning the bill that would become medicare part D. He now works for the pharma industry as their spokesman. Do you know what he said when he moved from congress to big pharma? he said “now i’m going to make some REAL money”. That says it all.
Re: bush’s tax cuts, congress is not going to raise taxes, they are simply not going to renew tax cuts that are due to expire. If these tax cuts were so great why were they not made permanent in the first place? It was bush who signed the sunset bill on these taxes. The reason that the tax cut was made on a TEMPORARY basis was that the economy was in recession, there was a surplus, and there was great uncertainty about the effectiveness of these tax cuts (of course, there it no longer any uncertainty that these tax cuts were poorly targeted and did little to help the national economy) This is not even subject to debate. Limits on dividends and capital gains and the estate tax were supposed to flush the economy with money that would be used to form/expand new business and create jobs (how well did that work out?) How is it that at the end of the “pro-growth” administration of geo. bush that we HAVE NO GROWTH!!!

Posted by: charles ross at March 10, 2008 12:54 PM
Comment #247540
RickIL,

Just as it is the favorite ploy of democrats to try to paint a picture of selfish, uncaring, bigoted, hate-filled and pompous human beings anyone who does not bend to their will or line of reasoning…

See, Charles Ross just comes along and proves my point for me!

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 12:59 PM
Comment #247541

I find the various theories of economic activity outlined above very interesting. If one reads the ten planks found in the manifesto by Karl Marx and honestly asks themselves which planks would be supported by liberals and which planks would be supported by conservatives it should be an exercise in enlightenment.


http://laissez-fairerepublic.com/TenPlanks.html

Posted by: Jim M at March 10, 2008 1:24 PM
Comment #247542

Rhinehold, I just want it all to make sense. The economic/social/foreign policies pursued by the republicans over the last eight years have made little sense to me. It is a republican world, admit it, they have been making the policy on all levels for many years now. There is a dem controlled congress for the last year, but it has been ineffective given the legislative roadblocks (vetoes by bush, inability to provide the 60 votes to close debate in the Senate) It is 2008. republican policies and philosophy have greatly shaped the world we live in: We are buried in debt, inflation is rising (the real inflation rate is soaring) and WE HAVE NO GROWTH. Have you heard that home equity is the lowest it has been since they started keeping records (post 1945), that we are facing the first reduction in life expectancy since THE CIVIL WAR!!? And you want more of that???
Yes, republicans are, by and large, sociopaths who think of the world in terms of WHAT IT CAN DO FOR THEM, they hate government EXCEPT WHEN IT IS PROVIDING A BENEFIT TO THEM, they hate the legal system, except when it is time FOR THEM TO LAWYER UP. They are anti-intellectual but the rich ones make sure THEIR KIDS GO TO THE BEST SCHOOLS.
In spite of all these truths, the problem I have with republicans is that their ideas, by and large, are really, really bad.
Haven’t the last eight years proved just that?

Posted by: charles ross at March 10, 2008 1:26 PM
Comment #247543

All your rant has proved is that a) you have no sense of non-biased understanding of the issues involved and b) you keep proving my point.

But tell me, I’ve asked a question before that keeps getting ignored. Maybe you can answer it for me.

How do progressives believe that they will ‘create jobs’ if they were in complete control? No platitudes or talking points, give me the exact method that they intend to fulfill this promise that they make.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 1:34 PM
Comment #247545
Jack wrote: Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe. Neither Obama (the faith healer) nor Hillary (the adult Lisa Simpson) has what it takes. BUT maybe if we just close our eyes and wish, maybe click together our ruby slippers …
Safe from what?
  • Iraq?
  • Terrorists?
  • Americans being murdered and maimed?

Thousands of Americans being killed every year should be important, eh?
If anyone in Do-Nothing Congress and the federal government were truly serious about Homeland Security, shouldn’t they stop THIS.
But John McCain’s voting record on this is pathetic (grade = “D”).
Likewise with Hillary and Obama.
What ever the reasons (votes, profits, more compassion for illegal aliens than American citizens), they are wrong.
McCain says “I get it now”.
Is that believable?
Or are these politicians (like most of them) willing to say anything to get elected?
The last SHAMNESTY in year 1986 quadruped the problem (from 3 million to 12+ million).
Another SHAMNESTY could quadruple it again (from 12+ million to 48+ million).

Yet our laws and the U.S. Constitution are blatantly being ignored.
Politicians are ignoring existing laws to permit illegal employers to continue making profits; despicably pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes (one-simple-idea.com/VoteDemocrat.gif).

Illegal Immigration, is costing U.S. tax payers an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion per year in net losses (one-simple-idea.com/BorderSecurity.htm#Burdens), not including the untold cost of crime, job displacement, disease, and depressed wages.

    WageStagnation + CheapLabor = BigProfits

While our politicians are despicably pitting Americnas and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes, more Americans were murdered (estimated from 1310 to 4380 per year; www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53103) in the past 3 years by illegal aliens than all U.S. troops killed (3980) in Iraq in the last 5 years (since March-2003).

NOTE: total of all homicides in year 2004 in the U.S. was 16,528 (45.28 per day);

Also, the perpetrators of the 11-SEP-2001 attacks were illegal aliens, 18 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 11-SEP-2001 possessed state-issued and/or counterfeit driver’s licenses or ID cards and ALL 19 had obtained Social Security numbers (some real, some fake). Those terrorists very simply tapped into an enormous market for fraudulent documents that exists because 12-to-20 million illegal aliens have successfully breached our borders and now reside here illegally, and anonymously. And that anonymity and the broken revolving-door legal system breeds more crime, when illegal aliens are repeatedly arrested, released, and deported, over and over. GAO-5646R Report indicated that a study group of 55,322 illegal aliens had an average arrest record of 13 arrests per illegal alien.

So, doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical to continually fear monger about Iraq, terrorists, and Homeland Security, when our borders and ports are wide open, and more Americans (thousands per year) are being killed by illegal aliens than the wars in Iraq?

Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 1:47 PM
Comment #247549

Rhinehold, great question. I think creating jobs should be only one of the goals of public policy, and government is not going to be the direct agent of job creation, private industry is. There is a strong role for govenment to play:
shut down illegal immigration. Put people who employ illegals OUT OF BUSINESS. Put people who engage in drug running, people smuggling, kidnapping ( a huge problem now in AMERICAN cities) in prison for life.
Have a tax structure that provides a balanced budget; maybe not every year. cutting spending is part of this but a small part. If there were substantial cuts that could be made they would be at least identified (taking Amtraks subsidy is not real money that would lead anywhere). Raise taxes. Having a lower rate on investment over payroll just doesn’t work ( i wish it did as a business owner and long time investor) but the last eight years have shown that it doesn’t work. Use the tax system, not only to provide revenues but to influence behavior (deduct for home interest, yes, tax ciggies heavy, yes, tax carbon emitters heavy yes, tax fuel use, yes (do you really think we are in Iraq (second largest proven oil reserves in the world) to give them “freedom”? Why shouldn’t we be paying a war tax at the pump?
Invest in renewables, wind in solar. government investment direct and through credits. Mandate fuel efficiency and provide aid to auto companies to improve efficiency.
Tax the hell out of companies that are flooding this country with cheap (meaning cheaply made) foreign goods.
Keep raising the minimum wage.
Redo trade agreements. The powers that promote free trade envision a horizontally integrated economy for the u.s. not a vertically integrated one (meaning u.s. workers would add value to a product, not make the product in its entirety) Do we really want to give away our ability to grow our own food, make our own military hardware, manufacture our own durable goods to other countrys?)
Well, theres a lot more but I’ve got to go. Regards

Posted by: charles ross at March 10, 2008 2:22 PM
Comment #247552

Charles,

You realize that enacting just a few of those policies that you listed would destroy jobs, not create them, right?

Raising minimum wage? cuts jobs
Raising taxes? cuts jobs
Raising Tarriffs? cuts jobs

How does ‘influencing behavior’ more than we already are affect jobs, exactly?

Do you remember what actually caused the Great Depression? Why are you suggesting those same policies again? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot-Hawley_Tariff_Act

The Hawley-Smoot Tariff (or Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act) was signed into law on June 17, 1930, and raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels, and, in the opinion of most economists, worsened the Great Depression. Economists have now generally regarded this Tariff Act (i.e., tax increase on imported goods) as the greatest policy blunder in American economic history, coming as it did after the 1929-30 recession and preventing the economy from a full, natural recovery which had already started by the Spring of 1930. Many countries retaliated with their own increased tariffs on U.S. goods, and American exports and imports plunged by more than half.

Although the tariff act was passed after the stock-market Crash of 1929, many economic historians consider the political discussion leading up to the passing of the act as a factor in causing the crash and/or the recession that began in late 1929, and its eventual passage as a factor in deepening the Great Depression. Unemployment was at 7.8% in 1930 when the Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed, but it jumped to 16.3% in 1931, 24.9% in 1932, and 25.1% in 1933.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 2:56 PM
Comment #247554

RickIl

I am distressed that all the candidates are promising things that are wildly out of the ability of any president to deliver. It is not surprising that I think my man is doing it less than others, but the fact that even my candidate must do those things shows the mendacity of the system. All the candidates are promising that as president they will restore the prosperity of the U.S. economy. Presumably this involves lowering the unemployment rate permanently below 4.5% and raising economic growth sustainably above 3.5%, which is what you would need to do to make the economy better than it has been for the last five years. Since this is not even possible to do in theory, I assume politicians are lying about that, some more than others. AND people ARE accepting their lies and even reveling in them.

I know you guys want to run against George Bush, but he is not running in this election. John McCain has been at odds with the President at many times over security policy. Only in 2006 did the President come around to something like what McCain had advocated in Iraq and since then the situation has completely turned around.

Of course, Obama and Hillary have stayed their course despite changing circumstances.

Googlumpugus

I always write what I believe is right. I have no contact with the Republican Party organization. I get most of my current news from the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, “the Economist” magazine, the “WSJ” and the “Washington Post”. You may think those things are bastions of Republicanism, but WP is considered by most people who know about these things are liberal. The News Hour is a PBS program and “the Economist” is not even an American publication. My experience about Iraq comes from … experience in Iraq. When I write about that it usually does not have a media source. You may disagree with what I write, but in order to be a hack you have to write to other people’s specifications. That I never do, since I don’t even know what those specifications are. I seriously doubt that the Republican Party apparatus would be happy with what I wrote in this post, nor do I think they would embrace my persistent calls for a carbon tax or my occasional praise for Bill Clinton.

I am never disingenuous. I am occasionally facetious and I often find reasons to laugh at things in society, which I find generally amusing. Liberals just cannot seem to take a joke and often don’t even know when they are being ridiculed. Sorry about that, but my style is very simple and straightforward to those who can understand it.

Jim T

There are simply lots of things government cannot do. I think we agree that it is not a matter of people wanting it or not. I don’t think most people would vote for the guy saying the things you write. Our only hope is that government is small enough that it does not have the power to pretend to solve our problems too much.

d.a.n.

The statistics tell us that real incomes have grown since 1978 and that the median income adjusted for inflation is higher. I know you dispute that statistic, so I go with experience. We have become richer and the things we want to buy (with a few exceptions) have become cheaper in terms of our salaries. Some of this is simple technological change. In 1978 only the very richest people could have movies on demand in their homes. Today almost anybody can. In 1978 only millionaires had personal access to computers. Today all of us writing here do. In 1973, my mother died of a form of cancer that could probably be cured today. In 1978 you couldn’t buy a car that could go 15000 miles w/o major maintenance. In 1978 most houses did not have central air. In 1978 less than 20% of households owned stocks. Today it is over half. The list goes on. These things have improved our standard of living AND have helped the poor more than the rich. Think of a simple thing like a DVC player. In 1978 only the richest guys could have movies at home. Today everybody can. The rich guy can still have movies at home, as he did before.

Re cellular phones, you are right. I carry a blackberry when I want to be in touch, but I leave it at home or turn it off most of the time when I am not at work. There is sometimes a little grumbling when people cannot find me when they want to bother me, but after I tell them to f*ck themselves a few time, people quiet down.

Charles

I wrote a lot about social security when it was a bigger issue. I would raise the retirement age and do some means testing, so yes, I would cut social security for some people. Of course, I would also encourage individual accounts, which would make up for most or all of the cuts. The alternative is to saddle our children with a fantastically high tax rate. I am unwilling to transfer that much wealth from the young to the old, even though I will be in that old group.

BTW – the economy grew very rapidly from 2003-a couple months ago. It is still growing as we speak, but slowly. It may stop growing soon, but it has not stopped yet. We had a slow down that started in March 2000 (you know, the year BEFORE Bush took office) and lasted until 2002. As you probably know, the Federal fiscal year goes from Oct-Oct, so the first Bush budget didn’t come online until OCTOBER 2001, so if you really want to blame Bush, you probably cannot start doing that until almost 2003, when the economy started to do well again.

Rhinehold

I feel your pain. How can we explain it. Many people seem to think that government can just run the economy and so it follows that if everybody is not happy somebody else must be to blame.

The funny thing is that these same guys who want to give government all sorts of powers also hate George Bush. They don’t seem to take the lesson that government will be controlled by people you do not like about half the time. If you dislike George Bush and you do not want him to have more power, you cannot give the government he runs more power.

Clever people figure out how to subvert any governmental/coercion based system. (I have figured out legal ways to benefit from affirmative action, price controls & local sourcing rules, for example. None of these things were meant to benfit me, but I can find ways and I am not even all that clever.)

The only intelligent course is to keep these sytems as simple and small as possible, which tend to miniumize the corruption.

If you make a law setting prices lower than the market price, you create shortages, black markets and criminals, but you don’t make people happy.

Posted by: Jack at March 10, 2008 3:13 PM
Comment #247560

Government provides all sorts of standards/requirements that must be met in order to be a business. Paying a minimum wage is one of those standards. Is there a high enough minimum wage at which jobs would be lost? of course. Are we, at a $6.00 minimum, anywhere close to a wage requirement that is costing jobs? Of course not. Are you seriously suggesting allowing business’ to be free to set the wage as low as possible? Illegals won’t have to worry about leaving the familiarity of the third world when they come over here, it will be just like home!
Re: tariffs being the cause of the Great Depression, you say, Rhinehold, in different parts of your response, that tariffs caused the Great Depression and, in another part, that it worsened the Great Depression. Which is it? I recommend A. Schlessinger’s book about the depression. He suggests that the main driver of the downturn was that the money supply was sharply contracted over the five year period from 1930-1935, about 40% as I remember reading.
I would say that the average American has two things of value left to him: his power as a voter and his power as a consumer. Why in the world would we take American jobs, move them somewhere else, and then allow the products to come back into this country free of charge (no tariffs)? Why aren’t these companies who consign their manufacturing to, say, China, selling their products there? Because, people in third world countries have little disposable income, that’s why. So how is free trade occurring? What is actually “free”? For whom is it free?
Re: raising taxes. I assume you are middle class as far a income. (If you had a great deal of money you probably wouldn’t waste your time on blogs like this!) As a member of the middle class You have received little or no tax relief over the bush years. I operate a small business, I am a long time stock market investor and I can tell you for a fact that the benefits to me in both roles has been just about zero. Letting the stupid 15% tax on dividends and cap gains expire would have little to do with the level of job creation. We have those tax levels now and lost 63,000 net jobs last month. Be honest, how exactly has the big three of bush tax relief (dividend, cap gains, inheritance tax) benefited you, Rhinehold. Most likely, the honest answer would be “not a damn bit”. and if that is true why would you be in favor of borrowing money to provide tax relief to people at the very highest income levels. Probably the tax relief provided to Leona Helmsley’s dog ( a twelve million dollar beneficiary in her will) is more than the total amount you have made in your lifetime, Rhinehold, Is that what you are fighting for?

Posted by: charles ross at March 10, 2008 4:46 PM
Comment #247561
Jack wrote: d.a.n. The statistics tell us that real incomes have grown since 1978 and that the median income adjusted for inflation is higher. I know you dispute that statistic, so I go with experience.
Not true when the higher number of workers per household, and other factors, are also included (factors often conveniently omitted by anti-anything-not-rosy optimists).

Real Median Household Incomes have fallen when the following factors are also included:

  • (1) more workers per household;

  • (2) more government debt;

  • (3) more taxes and more regressive income taxation (i.e. Warren Buffet paid 17.7% income tax on $46 Million while his secretary paid 30% income tax on $60K);

  • (4) more illegal immigration causing job displacement, depressing wages, and costing tax payers an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion in net losses;

  • (5) more job displacement due to hundreds of thousands of H-1B Visas and H-2B Visas (abuses depressing wages further)

  • (6) more wealth disparity; the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. population has 40% of all wealth in the U.S. (up from 20% in year 1980; never worse since the Great Depression); 80% of the U.S. population has a mere 17% of all wealth in the U.S.;

  • (7) more work hours, increased productivity, and the disappearing 40 hour work week; less vacation; jobs leaving the country in droves and replacement jobs paying less than previous jobs;

  • (8) more unaffordable healthcare; and more dangerous too; killing 195,000 per year; Since 1999, that is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes. That is more than all the U.S. troops killed in the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), the war in Afghanistan, and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (3,963), COMBINED!

  • (9) higher energy costs; more energy vulnerabilities;

In addition, despite those other factors above, I would not be celebrating an income that only increased by a measley $3,066 from $40,000 in year 1978 to $43,066 by year 2006 (in 2004 dollars).
Again, when you also consider more workers per household, incomes have fallen since 1978 (source: www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/incxrace.html)

Jack wrote: We have become richer …
Not everyone.

Maybe if you are one of the 1 in 10 people that own 70% of all wealth.
The wealth disparity has been growing worse since 1976.
Year 1976: 1% of the wealthiest owned 20% of all wealth in the U.S.
Year 2008: 1% of the wealthiest now owns 40% of all wealth in the U.S. (never worse since the Great Depresssion).

Jack wrote: Re: cellular phones, you are right. I carry a blackberry when I want to be in touch, but I leave it at home or turn it off most of the time when I am not at work.
That’s nice if you can do that. However, more and more employers are abusing it to increase productivity (and profits). More and more people are tethered to their jobs 24/7.
Jack wrote: There is sometimes a little grumbling when people cannot find me when they want to bother me, but after I tell them to f*ck themselves a few times, people quiet down.
That’s nice.

Do you recommend that people use that method with their employer?
I’m sure many would like to, but it might also lead to unemployment.
For most Americans, this is also part of the disappearing 40 hour work-week, diminishing vacation time, increasing corpocrisy, H-1B Visa abuses, and other manifestations of unchecked greed.

We have become richer and the things we want to buy (with a few exceptions) have become cheaper in terms of our salaries. Some of this is simple technological change. In 1978 only the very richest people could have movies on demand in their homes. Today almost anybody can. In 1978 only millionaires had personal access to computers. Today all of us writing here do. In 1973, my mother died of a form of cancer that could probably be cured today. In 1978 you couldn’t buy a car that could go 15000 miles w/o major maintenance. In 1978 most houses did not have central air. In 1978 less than 20% of households owned stocks. Today it is over half. The list goes on. These things have improved our standard of living AND have helped the poor more than the rich. Think of a simple thing like a DVC player. In 1978 only the richest guys could have movies at home. Today everybody can. The rich guy can still have movies at home, as he did before.
Sure, there have been technological advances.

But that does not explain away the seriousness of the current economic picture, and the consequences for the next decade.
That still does not explain away the astronomical cost of healthcare (dangerous too, killing 195,000 per year).
That still does not explain away the falling U.S. Dollar.
That still does not explain away the $9.4 National Debt (and growing fast).
That still does not explain away the $12.8 Trillion borrowed from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with an approaching 77 million baby boomer bubble.
That still does not explain away the $48 Trillion nation-wide debt (mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat-a.htm)
That still does not explain away the huge trade deficits, jobs leaving the country, and incomes falling (when you also consider more workers per household).

After all, you previously wrote
After all, a while back, you [Jack] wrote

Jack wrote: It [the federal deficit] would be fine EXCEPT for the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.

The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something.

That doesn’t exactly sound all that rosy.

Jack, Let me ask you ONE question …

  • QUESTION: WHERE will the money come from to pay the interest on $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the principal debt?

Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 4:51 PM
Comment #247563

I’d like it if politicians would try to answer that question.

QUESTION: WHERE will the money come from to pay the interest on $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the principal debt?

Borrow and create more money out of thin air?

Is it possible to create new money, tax, borrow, and spend your way out of $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt?

There is over $1 Billion per day of INTEREST alone on only the $9.4 Trillion National Debt.

The U.S. is borrowing $3 Billion per day.

And INTEREST on debt is often many times more than the PRINCIPAL.

Are all the clowns in Congress simply not very good in math, or do they have a plan?

Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 4:55 PM
Comment #247565

Much of what I read on this blog concerns power and greed. Those who don’t have power or wealth want to rob those who do. Liberals attempt to gain power by promoting the “group” (any group will do) over the individual rights guaranteed in the constitution.

Neal Boortz in his book “The Terrible Truth About Liberals” puts it very well, “Barring extreme physical or mental disabilities…each and every one of us is where we are today, be it poor or wealthy, happy or sad, on the streets or in a condo, in a Mercedes or a rusted-out Pinto…because of the choices we have made during our lives. It’s the choices we have made that put us where we are, not the choices others have made for us.”

Posted by: Jim M at March 10, 2008 5:20 PM
Comment #247568

d.a.n.

As I said, you dispute the statistics.

Here is a good article from today’s paper.

My observation is that we have had a great increase in wealth since I was growing up. I came from a working class neighborhood. I am better than average at what I do, so I did all right in life and will not take my own experience as the example. But I have friends and relatives, also all working class, which I can compare today to what they had in the past. I am amazed at how well my friends and relatives have done. Most are still working class (whatever that means), but when I go back to visit (which I do every year), I find nice homes, big televisions, new cars, trips to Las Vegas etc. I can accept that I have been usually lucky, but I cannot believe almost everybody I grew up with managed to beat the trends. In fact, their incomes have pretty much tracked the American statistics and life is good. Are they happy with what they have achieved? Some are; others not, but just about everybody has access to a lot more goods and services than our parents had.

I think many of your statistics are skewed by immigration. As new people come in, they start at the bottom. The rest of us are moving up, but the distribution looks the same year to year.

Re entitlements – I do worry about them. We have promised ourselves way too much in our old age. Our generation has promised that the younger generation will pay us a big retirement. We will have to deal with that sooner or later. But that does not change the fact that everybody but the very unlucky, lazy or dumb has enjoyed significant opportunity for the last 30 years.

Posted by: Jack at March 10, 2008 5:36 PM
Comment #247569

DJIA: Jan 2001 10,587 Today: 11,740 +11%
Nasdaq: 2,770 2,169 -21%
S&P: 1,342 1,273 -05%

Since January 2001, the dollar has lost over half its value against the euro.

Oil closed today just under $108.

McCain needs a better platform than being a guy who will keep the country safe. This election will be about the domestic economy, which is in bad shape and rapidly getting worse. “Staying the course” won’t work. We’re spending $12,000,000,000 per month on the wars. A major investment bank may be about to fail.

McCain is the wrong candidate for the problems that will dominate the election in November.

Hope there’s a “plan B”.

Posted by: phx8 at March 10, 2008 5:39 PM
Comment #247570
Don’t Flush - President in the Toilet

The President’s approval ratings are in the toilet. Only 34% of Americans think he is doing a good job. It could be worse. The Republicans in Congress weigh in 7% lower than their president…Most people think the country is heading in the wrong direction. Only 27% are optimistic…How can this be? With few exceptions everything is better now than it used to be. Why all the angst?… None of the leaders we admire most would be qualified for public service today…All of the important advances that make our lives better would engender fear and be shunned as dangerous and dodgy propositions by our precautionary standards. …People’s perceptions are not going to improve until they wise up about the world.

Posted by Jack at November 27, 2005 10:16 PM

I’m a little disappointed in you Jack; you have at times admitted that your role here was as a Republican advocate. Yet in your response to Rick, there is no mention of that. I was perusing your previous posts, looking for that quotation when I ran across this old thread you started.

I must first commend you for initiating these discussions, trying to find new or original topics must be challenging. But I do find the correlation between your remarks in this present post and that old one humorous. The only difference seems to be that in the old thread you are defending Bush, while in this new thread you say we should ignore Bush and elect another Republican, John McCain. Hmmm, and we should believe you, why?

Posted by: Cube at March 10, 2008 6:00 PM
Comment #247572
Jack wrote: d.a.n. As I said, you dispute the statistics (online.wsj.com/article/SB120511125873823431.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries).
False.

I do not dispute the data.
I’m saying the data presented is incomplete (cherry picked).
The article you provided also (again) fails to account for more workers per household (since 1967).
When you include that factor, real median household incomes have fallen.

  • Year 1967: $35K (in 2004 Dollars; one-simple-idea.com/RealMedianIncome1967to2004.jpg)

  • Year 1978: $40K (in 2004 Dollars)

  • Year 2006: $43K (in 2004 Dollars)
  • So, when all factors are included, real median household incomes have actually been falling)

    Jack wrote: Some are; others not, but just about everybody has access to a lot more goods and services than our parents had.
    Including affordable and safe healthcare?

    Do you think those cars, TVs, cell phones, PDAs, bigger houses is really better?
    Especially when home equities are at a 16 year low?
    Especially when there is $48 Trillion nation-wide debt?

    Jack wrote: I think many of your statistics are skewed by immigration. As new people come in, they start at the bottom. The rest of us are moving up, but the distribution looks the same year to year.
    Skewed? I don’t think so, regardless of whether you are talking about legal or illegal immigration?

    Illegal immigration is a major factor, but there are several other factors too (e.g. regressive taxation, more taxes of all kinds, more workers per household, lawlessness, energy vulnerabilities, incessant exponential inflation, etc., etc., etc.)

    Jack wrote: Re entitlements – I do worry about them. We have promised ourselves way too much in our old age. Our generation has promised that the younger generation will pay us a big retirement. We will have to deal with that sooner or later. But that does not change the fact that everybody but the very unlucky, lazy or dumb has enjoyed significant opportunity for the last 30 years.
    We agree on that.

    But the problem is actually a combination of pressing problems all culminating simultaneously:

    • massive debt ($48 Trillion nation-wide debt; mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat-a.htm);

    • exponential inflation; erosion of the U.S. Dollar since year 1956; falling against all major international currencies since 1999;

    • falling real median household incomes (especially when including more workers per household);

    • credit crunch, exacerbated by much debt and inflation already;

    • wealth disparity (never worse since the Great Depression);

    • record low home equities (below 50%); lowest level in 16 years;

    • record level foreclosures; millions per year;

    • increasing education costs and declining quality (at a time when we need more education to compete globally);

    • illegal immigration costing tax payers $70 Billion to $339 Billion annually in net losses; FallingOrStagnantWages + CheapLabor = BigProfits

    • astronomical health care costs bankrupting families;

    • regressive taxation, as evidenced by Warren Buffet, the 2nd wealthiest person in the U.S., who paid a lower tax rate (e.g. 17.7% on $46 Million in year 2006), than his secretary (who made $60,000 and paid a 30.0% income tax rate)

    • rampant corruption and irresponsible borrowing and spending by Congress;

    • many pressing problems are getting ignored, growing in number and severity; lawlessness is increasing; crime rates are increasing;

    • stock market volatility and huge losses;

    • gold prices spiked to $980 per ounce;

    • oil reached $107.90 per barrel today;

    • two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing hundreds of billions per year;

    • $12.8 Trillion was borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching;

    • hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilites for Medicare; and now, possibly a government health care system too?

    • the monetary system is a pyramid scheme that is doomed to collapse when there is no more capacity for more debt; it’s like playing the game of Monopoly, and one player (the bank) can print all the money they want; Before long, the bank owns all the money and property, and everyone else is broke or deep in debt.

    • plutocracy; our government is FOR-SALE, as evidenced by 99.85% of all 200 million eligible voters that are vastly out-spent by a tiny 0.15% of all 200 million voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more)

    • increasing global competition;

    Jack, you still avoided the …

    • QUESTION: Where will the money come from to pay the INTEREST on the $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt?

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 7:00 PM
    Comment #247573
    Jack wrote: Re entitlements – I do worry about them. We have promised ourselves way too much in our old age. Our generation has promised that the younger generation will pay us a big retirement. We will have to deal with that sooner or later. But that does not change the fact that everybody but the very unlucky, lazy or dumb has enjoyed significant opportunity for the last 30 years.
    We agree on that (something must be done about entitlements).

    And the U.S. is still one of the best 26 (of 195) nations in the world to live, and the U.S. still scores higher than most nations on Transparency International Corruption Score (although the U.S. has fallen from position 11 (year 2004), to 17 (year 2005), and to 20 (year 2006).

    But we can and should do better.
    A good place to start is to stop rewarding incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates, and then put a stop to these 10 abuses.

    Then, perhaps healthcare would become affordable, and a number of other solutions to other problems would start to fall in place.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 10, 2008 7:11 PM
    Comment #247575

    Rhinehold

    Re-Thinking that Democrats are somehow absolved of the partisan chicanery they conspire to exhibit is the exact reason we have these problems…

    I think no such thing. As a matter of fact I recognize it as a major obstacle to productive governance. Both parties use the ploy of implanting notions to sway support one way or the other. Unfortunately over time these notions tend to evolve into actual belief for many of the masses. I feel that most common people, be them conservative, liberal, green, independent or whatever are basically good decent people who mostly share the same goals, with different ideas about how to approach them. However there are some in support of or working for each party for whom these labels accurately apply.

    If a person is sincere in their beliefs that all liberals are amoral or all conservatives are greedy warmongers then they have some serious reality issues. If one is disingenuous in using these labels then they are lacking in moral value and have some serious community issues. One of the reasons I support Obama is that he is asking people to recognize the divisiveness of these foolish hatreds and biases and rise above them.

    Posted by: RickIL at March 10, 2008 8:13 PM
    Comment #247588

    The Title of this article presupposes there is such a thing as a truly honest candidate for president. Obviously a false supposition, since American political parties would never permit a truly honest person to rise to such a level of candidacy, unless the candidate had no political experience at all, in which case, they would not be a nominee of either of the duopoly parties in the first place.

    To find a truly honest candidate for president one has to turn one’s hopes to Ralph Nader or Ross Perot, but, as we have seen, such honesty is not well tolerated by our political system, and is immediately labeled radical or crackpot.

    Even if an honest person somehow made it to high office, they could not possibly remain honest and reelectable. So, the whole premise of this article is rather absurd on its face. Can you imagine Comptroller David Walker’s stark honesty running for president? The derision of his honesty as Comptroller has already taken on ‘kill the messenger’ proportions inside political circles of both the left and right.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at March 10, 2008 9:38 PM
    Comment #247590
    Are we, at a $6.00 minimum, anywhere close to a wage requirement that is costing jobs? Of course not.

    That depends. In New York City or LA? Nope. In rural Iowa? Oh yea, that is too much.

    It’s the big hammer problem.

    But, beyond that, when you raise the minimum wage, those making $1.00 than minimum are now making minimum. They won’t like that so they will demand a raise. Then those above them will demand a raise, etc… In the end, when it is all said and done, the economy shuffles and people are right back to where they were.

    In fact, I keep hearing that raising the minimum wage will not cause a recession, but didn’t we just raise it? And aren’t we about to enter a recession just afterwards, when we WERE starting a recovery?

    The minimum wage is good, if it is very low, and it is dependant upon the living wages in the area. A high national minimum wage will cut jobs out of the economy. If you want to cut jobs out of the ecomony, by all means raise the federal minimum wage. If you want to create jobs, you make incentives for businesses to hire more people. That means prosperity first, then the jobs will come. Focus on fixing the problem, not the symptom, or you will end up making it worse.

    Re: tariffs being the cause of the Great Depression, you say, Rhinehold, in different parts of your response, that tariffs caused the Great Depression and, in another part, that it worsened the Great Depression. Which is it?

    That is not what I said at all… Perhaps you should read what I write, not you want me to have written. And I didn’t write it, it was a quote, but it still didn’t say that.

    It said quite clearly that the crash occurred before the Tarriff. But it clearly says that we were in a RECESSION, not a depression, and were coming out of it when the Tarriff hit. It also says that many feel that the crash occurred because the tarriff was being discussed.

    I recommend A. Schlessinger’s book about the depression. He suggests that the main driver of the downturn was that the money supply was sharply contracted over the five year period from 1930-1935, about 40% as I remember reading.

    Yup, and did he explain WHY? Perhaps it was those who had money to invest no longer had incentive to invest it?

    I would say that the average American has two things of value left to him: his power as a voter and his power as a consumer. Why in the world would we take American jobs, move them somewhere else, and then allow the products to come back into this country free of charge (no tariffs)?

    We shouldn’t, but we should find out why they are going to begin with and FIX THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SYMPTOM. And you wonder why people don’t trust progressives with anything, they never want to make the hard look at the real reasons why things are, they just blame ‘the man’ and set out policies to fix it all, without fixing a thing.

    Re: raising taxes. I assume you are middle class as far a income. (If you had a great deal of money you probably wouldn’t waste your time on blogs like this!) As a member of the middle class You have received little or no tax relief over the bush years.

    Nor did I during the Clinton years, or the Bush years before, etc… All new policies require spending, that spending comes from the middle class. It is the way the world works. If you want tax relief you have to cut spending. Good luck getting a Democrat (and a Neo-con as well it appears) to agree to that.

    why would you be in favor of borrowing money to provide tax relief to people at the very highest income levels.

    I am not in favor of borrowing money to provide tax relief, I am in favor of cutting spending so that we can provide honest tax relief.

    Is that what you are fighting for?

    You have no clue what I am fighting for, apparently. I want our government to stop grinding the middle class to take care of everyone else’s needs by force. Are you for that? Are you for cutting back on the size of government so that people can make the decision to help someone who needs it on their own when they can, not by force and then figure out how to take care of themselves second? OR, are you, as I suspect because you’ve said so before, for EXPANDING the size of government, to be paid for by, you guessed it, the middle class. Because, unless you are entirely nieve, and I don’t think you are, the middle class pays for the society we have today. The rich pass on their costs to the consumer and the poor ask for assistance to exist. Guess who that leaves?

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 10:10 PM
    Comment #247592
    “Staying the course” won’t work.

    Neither is spending MORE money, as the Democrats are promising to do. Unfortunately, neither major party gets it and continue to spend spend spend… It will get worse before it gets better, no matter which of the two major parties wins the election this year. :/

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 10, 2008 10:14 PM
    Comment #247600

    Jack

    You are making accusations of promise from candidates that simply are not true. I have yet to hear Obama promise that he will deliver new jobs. He promises that he will work towards that end. Mostly what he proposes is nothing more than reform, a reevaluation of priorities and new approaches to what is not working in this country.


    You continually make comparisons of today with when you were a child and how hard life was. That is not a fair comparison. I agree that people have it good today by yesterdays standards. For the last two decades they have been encouraged to spend and charge as if credit were a limitless resource. The result is the evolution of a perceived new standard of living. Because of massive debt, energy costs and the resultant inflation people are no longer spending as if there may be no tomorrow. They are uncertain of their futures and are becoming cautious spenders striving to pay down that debt. As a result they are not able to enjoy the same type of carefree spending lifestyle that they have grown accustomed to. It may not be difficult by the standards of our childhoods or our parents. But it is never the less a change for them. What we would have considered a great lifestyle in our younger days equates to a less than adequate lifestyle by todays standards. I know it all seems a little shallow but this reality is showing the long term effects of careless spending encouraged by greedy profiteers. My guess is that all but the most wealthy will have to suffer with less at some point before things get better, by todays standards. Lets call it as you say, just a correction and a good thing that needs to happen.


    Seriously Jack, no one with half a brain actually expects any president to precipitate instant and complete change, be it the economy or security issues. We just hope that person has the good sense and judgment to take a responsible intelligent and firm approach to the matters at hand. Your man has all but insured us that he will continue in the format of Bush. To be honest I can not imagine anything more unacceptable.

    Posted by: RickIL at March 10, 2008 11:04 PM
    Comment #247603

    Rhinehold,
    I agree, at some point federal spending must be checked. But it is only half of the equation. If you believe in fiscal policy, increased federal spending boosts the economy, and lowering taxes does the same. For the past four or five years we have been in the recovery phase of the economic cycle. During that time, Bush & the GOP increased spending, and lowered taxes. At the same time, the Federal Reserve kept its rate very low. Because of outsourcing, among other things, job creation never took off. With spending, taxation, and interest rates so far out of whack, debts and deficits went through the roof, and the dollar tanked. It was a grossly irresponsible application of fiscal and monetary policy. Taxes should have been increased, and spending cut.

    Now we are at the point of the economic cycle where it actally would be appropriate to cut taxes and increase spending, but that really isn’t an option anymore because of the debts and deficits.

    The Federal Reserve is making a very scary move by dropping its short term interest rates. That makes the dollar drop even faster, and inflation is taking off, big time.

    Congress is close to a standstill. The GOP has used filibusters (and obscure procedural moves) to stop the Senate and the House. In the Senate, the previous record for filibusters was 62 in two years. The GOP has already filibustered 62 times in one year in the Senate. The House is just as bad.

    Democrats are promising to re-instate pay-go. They have a lot of other good ideas, but without the cooperation of the GOP minority & Bush miraculously discovering the need to veto appropriation bills, Congress is stopped- until the GOP and Bush can be removed as obstacles.

    Will the Democrats do better? Maybe. Maybe not. But it couldn’t be much worse than what the GOP & Bush is doing to the country.

    A great place to start would be cutting military spending. We’re spending more on “defense” now than we spent during the Cold War. It’s completely out of hand.

    McCain is totally out of synch with what the country needs. The election needs to address the economy. The election will have to be about the economy. And McCain has absolutely no freaking idea what to do, other than “stay the course.”

    What worries me is that his pose, as someone who will make us safe by keeping us afraid, will be supported by Bush when the Neocons start another war.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 10, 2008 11:38 PM
    Comment #247608

    PHX* “A great place to start would be cutting military spending. We’re spending more on “defense” now than we spent during the Cold War. It’s completely out of hand.”
    How true, a wise use of our tax dollars is exctly what is needed now. The cons may have a problem with it but after the mess they have got us into the past 8 years who cares. They just need to sit back and shut up. Its obvious they cant handle governing and fiscal responsibility.

    Posted by: j2t2 at March 11, 2008 1:31 AM
    Comment #247609

    Phx8

    There you go again with the economy. Presidents have not much power to fine tune the economy. The U.S. economy has been mostly good for the last 25 years. That is amazing. It is still good compared to most other countries. In places like Germany & France, unemployment hovers around 7-8%.

    So what SHOULD a president do? Probably the best thing the Federal government can do is to cut spending. I don’t hear that very loud from any candidates, at least nothing very specific. We also would need to address entitlements, which we are approaching like the Titanic sailing toward the iceberg.

    The other problem is high energy prices. Although oil production is near record levels, demand worldwide has gone up faster. We need to get a handle on demand. The high prices are already beginning to do that. Gas consumption is DOWN this year and mass transit rider ship is at its highest level in 50 years. I carbon tax would help institutionalize this. Is there any candidate advocating this?

    Complaining about the economy is a lot like complaining about the weather, especially if you do not intend seriously to address entitlements, cut the budget or push up the prices of gas. If you have a candidate who is willing not to stay the course, tell me about it.

    Cube

    I am a Republican advocate. That is why I write on this side of the blog. I don’t need to repeat that all the time. I am not a Republican “hack” since I write from my own point of view and make up my own mind on everything.

    Re earlier posts – I am consistent in my understanding that what politicians can REALLY do is very limited and what people can demand is almost limitless. This post is very much along those lines. In fact, the reason I am a conservative is that I don’t trust government to run my life and am not interesting in letting it micromanage the economy.

    Re Bush – we have a new election. McCain is not the same candidate. He differs significantly from Bush. McCain has been my favorite candidate since 2000. If you look at my bio, that part has not changed since I began to write at Watchblog since I began to write here before the 2004 election. I thought Bush was a better candidate than Kerry, and I still believe that. I think McCain is better than Bush. No candidate is my perfect choice. It is silly to talk about Bush or Kerry, however, in the context of the 2008 election. Neither of these guys is running. I feel no responsibility to defend the past except as it effects the future. Another consistent part of my character – and my writing here - is that I love history, but I face the future, not the past.

    d.a.n.

    The debt as % of gdp is what counts so I am less worried re the interest than you are. That said, I believe we SHOULD cut Federal spending. Do you hear any candidate promising that with any specifics?

    RickIL

    The point is that I did NOT have a hard life. Life was good in the 1960s for most Americans. It is even better now in terms of what people can afford to buy. Today the poor have access to goods that only the upper middle class could afford in 1960.

    The problem is that desires and – yes – greed have overtaken people. Life has become so easy compared to previous generations and most places in the world that we gripe and cry about little things. Government really cannot help with these things. It is not possible to give people enough goods and services to satisfy most people, at least not for very long.

    Personally, I dislike ostentatious displays of wealth and I despise anybody too caught up in the pursuit of material satisfaction. Hedonism, to me, is an insult. The irony of leftist politics is that it is actually about these things. It is, at bottom, about taking away from some and giving to others. This made some sense in pre-modern societies where wealth was close to being zero sum. It makes less or no sense in our modern economy where wealth grows exponentially.

    Upwards of 90% of current U.S. workers have enough material resources to live happily. The fact that they do not do so says less about the state of the economy and a lot more about them and the evidently nearly limitless desire for more coupled with the even more pernicious feeling of entitlement.

    I am sorry if I am drifting off politics, but I do believe this is the source of many problems. I started working at “career” positions in 1984. At that time I could afford a certain lifestyle. In the intervening years, my income went up a lot in real terms, but my lifestyle did not change that much. My first car was a Toyota Corolla. Today I drive a Honda Civic. It is a hybrid, so it cost more, but in terms of status, it is a downsize. I still wear the overcoat I bought in 1984 for my job interviews. I do not consider myself “cheap” but there are things I just do not need. I had enough then and now I have enough and can afford to do things like my forestry hobby. That is a good place to spend money. Many of my colleagues spent a lot more as they made more. Today they are still on the treadmill. There is nothing we can do to help them, but they can help themselves. I am unenthusiastic about sharing with them because they cannot handle it.

    Actually, the problems of individual Americans is a lot like the problems of the Federal government. They spend too much but instead of geting that under control, they want to get more (in taxes or salary) and like the shift the blame for their lack of discipline.

    Posted by: Jack at March 11, 2008 1:36 AM
    Comment #247614

    Jack’s opening line:
    “A Truly Honest Candidate Cannot Win.”

    One of Jack’s closing lines:
    “Only John McCain has the experience and proven character to keep our country safe.”

    An honest candidate cannot win. Thus, the least honest will win, and Jack supports McCain, so McCain must be the least honest candidate!! Wow, that makes it crystal clear, thanks!’

    L

    Posted by: leatherankh at March 11, 2008 9:47 AM
    Comment #247616

    I find it sad that there is not a single conservative on this board who is honest enought to take ownership of the last eight years. People are “looking forward”, “loving history, but facing the future”, the economy is like “the weather” (that’s a good one, I didn’t know crappy weather could last so long!!), “President’s can’t do much” (given w’s efforts, a true statement), How about “neither party gets it”, that’s a good one, lumping the dems together with the complete failure of the repubs over the last eight years.
    Conservatives, Republicans, w-Fan’s!! Take ownership of the republican years. It was your time. It was a tremendous opportunity to shape, fine tune, determine the relationship between government, the individual, the corporation, small business and that is what you did. It is a republican world. You ran the government (into the ground) you ran the military (into the ground) you ran the economy (into … well, you get the idea.)
    It is dishonest to present yourselves on this board as being somehow distanced, disinterested observers to the trainwreck that is the republican party. Through your vote, you guys were the ones driving the train.

    Posted by: charles ross at March 11, 2008 9:58 AM
    Comment #247621
    Jack wrote: d.a.n. The debt as % of GDP is what counts so I am less worried re: the interest than you are.
    There ya go again … cherry pickin’ the data.

    The $9.4 Trillion National Debt is 68% of the $13.86 Trillion GDP.
    However, that does not include:

    • the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching.
    • the PBGC pensions are $450 Billion in the hole.

    • the hundreds of billions per year of unfunded liabilities for Medicare.

    • the hundreds of billions per year of unfunded liabilities for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • the nation-wide debt of $48 Trillion (mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat-a.htm”) is almost quadruple the $13.86 Trillion GDP!

    Jack wrote: That said, I believe we SHOULD cut Federal spending.
    Absolutely. The federal government is so severely bloated, wasteful, irresponsible, corrupt, and incompetent, you have to wonder if they are of any net beneift to society?
    Jack wrote: That said, I believe we SHOULD cut Federal spending. Do you hear any candidate promising that with any specifics?
    Sure, “read my lips”, they all make empty promises.

    John McCain talks a good game about cutting spending, but many incumbent politicians do that, while simultaneously promising and pandering to provide more things to voters.
    John McCain also says he “now gets it” (regarding illegal immigration), but his dismal voting record on illegal immigration doesn’t make him look too credible.
    And John McCain can’t cut spending all by himself, and he hasn’t done much to stop these 10 abuses during his many years in Congress. In fact, he made some of them worse (e.g. illegal immigration, campaign finance reform, Constitutional violations such as Article V, Iraq, regressive taxation, voted for matching funds for seniors citizens’ prescription drugs (Dec 1999), voted for $1 Million for the brown tree snake in Guam, and by his own admisison of regret in 2005 on NPR for “looking the other way”, etc., etc., etc.).
    Fiscal responsibility will not come about as long as the voters repeatedly reward incumbent politicians in Do-Nothing Congress with 93%-to-99% re-election rates, and/or until the economy has been so screwed up that pain and misery becomes the major motivation.

    Jack, you still avoided the …

    • QUESTION: Where will the money come from to pay the INTEREST on the $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt?
    Care to take a stab at it?
    Especially when you wrote
    Jack wrote:
    • The debt as % of GDP is what counts so I am less worried re: the interest than you are.

    • and previously …
    • It [the federal deficit] would be fine EXCEPT for the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.

    • The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something.

    Those don’t exactly sound like rosy predictions.

    So, which is it?
    How do you separate them (National Debt, entitlements, war debt, monetary policy, illegal immigration) as if the omitted (or cherry picked) factors will have no effect on the economy as a whole in the future?
    There’s something inconsistent about that.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 11, 2008 11:16 AM
    Comment #247622

    Jack,
    A US president has a great deal of influence upon the economy. A president institutes an economic agenda by nominating the Fed Chairman & the Secretary of the Treasury, the IMF, the World Bank, and many more; proposing legislation which, if the president’s party in power, can be enacted; can veto spending bills which usually prevents any undesired legislation; initiates wars, treaties, and trade policies; controls agendas for privatization and regulation/deregulation; determines education policies and funding, as well as R & D; guides energy policies…

    Goodness, this could take the rest of the morning! A president has ENORMOUS influence over the economy. Is the control perfect? Almost, but not quite. Is there lag time? Sometimes, but not always.

    So, Jack, you are simply wrong if you pretend the presidency does not have much power over the economy. You use the phrase “fine tune” which might be a way of avoiding the reality of the current situation.

    “Complaining” about the economy is not like “complaining” about the weather. And essentially saying “hey, it could be worse” about the current state of the nation is completely unacceptable. It’s not good enough. We can do better.

    But because of Bush and Republican policies, we are not doing better, not at all.

    Will the Democrats do any better? I don’t know. I can easily see how they’d fail. I can also see ways they can succeed. That is why we have elections. It’s time to try something different- or at any rate, to stop “staying the course,” because the direction we are heading is very bad.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 11, 2008 11:37 AM
    Comment #247626

    Liberal Democrats are a confused bunch, at least confusing to me. I am frequently hearing now that the big issue of this election will be the economy. Not long ago it was the war in Iraq and global warming. Which is it?

    Liberals are fond of endorsing a tax increase on energy to solve our growing problem of supply. Does this remind anyone of Jimmy Carter. The commonly accepted theory is that we get less of what we tax and more of what we subsidize. Do liberals really want energy shortages, long lines at the gas pump, and even higher prices? Does this need to “feel good” override their common sense?

    Are higher income taxes a prescription that will encourage American’s to work harder, become more productive, and take more risks with capital to start new business and develop new technologies?

    A joint announcement by the congress and president of a massive investment in nuclear, clean coal, wind, and drilling for oil in our own soil would immediately have the effect of lowering energy costs worldwide, raising the value of the dollar, and alleviating the suffering of many in our nation and across the world.

    It’s time to discard the worn-out and silly-science theory of “man-made” global warming and promote sound economic principles of energy self-sufficiency thru our existing resources and increase funding for new energy sources to keep America strong and working.

    Liberals appear to believe there is virtue in causing all American’s to suffer with their calls for higher taxes on gasoline and income and more spending for social equality over individual initiative and freedom. This call to raise some boats by sinking others is reminiscence of the failed Karl Marx theory of socialism and hardly a prescription for the ills plaguing this nation.

    Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2008 12:16 PM
    Comment #247631

    s Ross

    I have written about it so many times that I usually just don’t bother to repeat.

    Consider the last eight years. They started with an economic downturn that started just before Bush took office (March 2000). When President Bush was in office for less just over eight months, terrorists attacked New York and Washington. So those eight years had a very inauspicious start. I don’t take “ownership” of these things because they represent trends that merely continued.

    We successfully did what most pundits said was impossible when we defeated the Taliban in a few months. Check back what the pundits were saying in October 2001 and try not to look at it from the 20/20 hindsight perspective. We invaded Iraq, which virtually all intelligence agencies and leading Clinton Administration officials thought was a gathering threat. The war was brilliantly managed; the post-war situation not so much. It took us until 2006 to come up with a winning strategy. I personally cannot take ownership, but it these things can logically be laid at the feet of the current administration.

    The economy recovered from the downturn by 2003 and grew robustly until 2007. Unemployment dipped below 5% and it is still under that. I wish I could take credit for that brilliant economic growth. I believe the tax cuts contributed to it, but as I have said many times, presidents get too much credit or blame. The same goes for the slowdown this year. It is a lot like what happened in 2000.

    I won’t take ownership for the entitlement crisis. I wrote in favor of reform. President Bush’s proposals were shot down by the Dems. Nothing was done to address this problem and that is something Dems in Congress “own”.

    But we all do need to look forward. John McCain was not a decision maker in the Bush Administration. He has often advocated policies re environment, Iraq, campaign finance and interrogations that were seriously at odds with Bush. When we vote for politicians, we get a package. The McCain package is different from the Bush package. I voted for Bush in 2000 & 20004, but I supported McCain in the primary of 2000. I liked the Bush package better than the Kerry or the Gore packages, but McCain is the one I like the best. Since Kerry, Gore or Bush are not running, I think we need to compare the McCain package to those offered by Obama or Clinton and I will discuss them as soon as I figure out what they really stand for.

    Leather

    As I wrote in the main article, even my man must play the game. I said a truly honest man cannot win. It does not follow that the least honest one will be the winner. McCain is the best choice we have.

    d.a.n.

    My predictions on entitlements are NOT rosy. I think they are a very serious problem. It doesn’t follow that the economy is terrible today. In fact, if we pretend life is so hard now, it makes it harder to address the real challenges coming up.

    Phx8
    Influence the president has. In the long term a lot. But he/she cannot fine tune the economy. Government does not create productive jobs (although it can create wasteful ones) .

    As you know, I do forestry and so I see many things through this perspective. I think the government influences the economy like I influence my forest. I have a great deal of influence, but it is in a long term. I have a very limited choice re what sorts of trees I can plant (if I expect them to thrive). I can do little in the short run to make the trees grow faster. My trees are growing on soil laid down many years ago. I can do my part for the future, but you really cannot praise or blame me for most things happening THIS year or even the next five or ten years. The only thing I CAN do rapidly is screw things up. My decisions could result in destruction and disaster, but if I avoid those things I am just part of the stewardship. Some of my trees will be thinned and produce income in 2019. If I sell the land in 2018, it doesn’t follow that the guy who bought it is a much better forester than I am because he produced a lot more. On the other hand, if I cut everything down and sell in 2020 it does not mean that the next guy is a bad manager.

    In government as in forestry, fast changes usually are not smart and if someone promises to fix everything is a short time, he is lying.

    Posted by: Jack at March 11, 2008 12:49 PM
    Comment #247633

    Jim M,
    The economy, Iraq, & Global Warming are all related. The common factors are oil, fossil fuel dependency, commodity fueled inflation, and a falling dollar. The debt which causes the falling dollar comes in part from the war in Iraq.

    In my opinion, Global Warming is by far the most important long term problem. Recently I think polls have shown the biggest concerns for Americans have changed from Iraq to the economy.

    I don’t think total energy independence is possible for America. However, there is obviously a lot we can do about it. Personally, I would advocate conservation, high CAFE standards, and a lot of R & D on alternative energies. Personally, I have yet to be convinced any of the current energy alternatives are the best answer, though a combination of some is worth the investment, such as wind and solar power.

    Income and outgo for the federal budget need to be in synch. Right now they are not in synch. Raising taxes is unpleasant. So is cutting spending. It will take a combination of the two, raising taxes and cutting spending. Ironically, if this is done right, no one will be happy in the short run.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 11, 2008 12:57 PM
    Comment #247639

    “Income and outgo for the federal budget need to be in synch. Right now they are not in synch. Raising taxes is unpleasant. So is cutting spending. It will take a combination of the two, raising taxes and cutting spending. Ironically, if this is done right, no one will be happy in the short run.”
    Posted by: phx8 at March 11, 2008 12:57 PM

    I certainly agree that the federal budget needs to be in sync. I hear the Democrat candidates talk about raising taxes and raising spending on social “equality” causes. This is not a prescription for curing our ills, but rather, for promoting the illness. If someone can devise a way to raise taxes without increasing spending I’ll vote for that person. A temporary tax increase used solely to reduce our nations debt would be a worthy endeavor. It won’t happen, not with a Republican or a Democrat Congress or President. Give a politician a dollar and they will always spend two.

    Conservatives are traditionally against higher taxes as an effort to keep the beast “government” from growing. Thinking liberals and conservatives all agree that our government is too big, too invasive in our lives, too unresponsive to our needs and wishes and needs to be trimmed back to its original function as dictated by our constitution.

    Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2008 1:28 PM
    Comment #247642

    “Income and outgo for the federal budget need to be in synch. Right now they are not in synch. Raising taxes is unpleasant. So is cutting spending. It will take a combination of the two, raising taxes and cutting spending. Ironically, if this is done right, no one will be happy in the short run.”

    And that is one reason why politicians are dishonest. No one wants to see their ox gored. The next administration will face some very hard choices- withdrawal from Iraq and maybe Afghanistan too, restructuring health care despite the opposition of Big Pharma, Insurance, and Trail Lawyers, developing alternative energies despite the opposition of Big Oil, raising taxes on the people who contribute the most to the politicians, and so on.

    As the thread started with the comment about cynicism, I find myself returning to that. “We the people” get the government we deserve. Right now it’s little better than a kleptocracy.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 11, 2008 1:37 PM
    Comment #247644

    Jack, you are rationalizing and spinning the performance of the republican president, the republican house and senate over these last years. Blaming Clinton for a lousy economy that bush inherited is ridiculous. first of all, the recession was a very mild one. Look at the fed funds rate in the year prior to and the year after the election. greenspan drove the rates straight up and then dropped them straight down. You all but blame clinton for what happened on 9-11. I would refer you to Richard Clarke’s comments regarding the bush administration in its first eight months. condi, rummy, w, and dick were ASLEEP regarding the threat that al-queada posed. Even to the point of ignoring direct information in the August ‘01 security briefing that they were planning an attack in the u.s. The title of the briefing was “al-quaida determined to attack the United States” as I recall.
    Re: the “defeat” of the Taliban. Obviously, six years after their “defeat” they remain very much a threat. why would there be talk of moving thousands of marines from Iraq back into Afganistan?
    Re: Iraq. There is only one person responsible for the invasion of Iraq, and for the competent conduct of the war: that person was the “decider” your “w”. no one else, not clinton, or pelosi or kerry. it was w. who made the decision to go in. It has been a failure, perhaps well intended, but a failure by any reasonable measure. Also: “postwar” ??? What does that mean? Do you understand that for the Iraqi’s opposing us there was no war and post-war. there is just war and it continues. Progress, yes, resolution, maybe, but not yet in sight.
    I disagree that the economy was growing “robustly” over the last several years. The number of jobs created was pathetic, barely enough to cover the expansion in job seekers. The fact that it all collapsed so quickly is an indication that it wasn’t all that strong to begin with, expansion financed by a lot of borrowed money, by government, business, and individuals. In order to have economic expansion it was a REQUIREMENT to borrow trillions of dollars. Otherwise the expansion would never have happened. How can any reasonable person regard the w years as good stewardship of the economy. Do you really think w would have ever been elected had people understood what was going to happen to debt levels at the federal level. Robust growth??
    w is your boy, he was in charge, domestic policy, foreign policy, economic policy. take ownership for it, jack. be honest, admit it. Maybe you thought w and the other repubs were something else other than what they turned out to be. Maybe you could say something like:” well, i guess w and his crowd are a bunch of FUPS, and maybe we made a mistake in voting for him, we’ll try to do better next time”. Now something like that would be honest comment.

    Posted by: charles ross at March 11, 2008 2:17 PM
    Comment #247646

    Jack:

    I saw McCain’s “display of temper” over and over on the news. He firmly told the NYT reporter that her question was silly. I didn’t see anything wrong with the way he did it. He did not lose control and his annoyance was perfectly appropriate.

    Are you seriously trying to act as though that recent little display of McCains temper is the only instance of it that anyone has ever seen? McCain has got a very LONG and well known history of having an explosive and ungovernable temper — and that is why those military leaders are afraid to have him become the president.

    He’s simply got too unstable a temperament to be trusted with the job of Commander in Chief.

    Re Wilson and FDR - secretary of the Navy was a big deal and Roosevelt was a lifelong student of military affairs.

    But FDR had never fought in a war, so claiming this is a necessary requirement in a president during a time of war is totally bogus.

    Wilson, BTW, did not do such a good job with WWI.

    Oh, is Republican revisionist history now trying to claim that we lost WWI?

    In fact, maybe he could have kept us out of that war.

    After German submarines sank seven U.S. merchant ships? After he’d seen the Zimmerman telegram?
    Maybe you don’t know the history of how and why we finally entered the war?

    He had about as much “justification” as Bush had in Iraq.

    What complete bullsh*t.
    Unlike Bush’s mistaken, illegal and failed Iraq War which will be five years long on March 20th, our involvement in WWI was entirely necessary and it didn’t last very long. Wilson declared war on Germany on April 6th 1917, and Germany signed the armistice and a ceasefire was immediately affected on on November 11, 1918.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 11, 2008 2:28 PM
    Comment #247649

    V.V. I like the fact that McCain shows his emotions and sometimes even says what he thinks. These are qualities that clinton carefully conceals,( if she has them at all), and Obama only talks about. McCains mistake is that he is embracing the %10 nut fringe of the republican party (Hagee as an example). I would find it difficult to vote for the guy because of his positions on several issues. His advocacy of extending w’s tax cuts (dividends, cap gains and getting rid of the estate tax (not the “death” tax, the estate tax!) is inexplicable and will do much to doom this fine man’s bid for the presidency. His temper does not disqualify him.

    Posted by: charles ross at March 11, 2008 2:47 PM
    Comment #247653

    Charles

    Yes, the recession was mild and over by 2003. I don’t BLAME Clinton for this. It was part of the normal economic cycle. But it clearly started and most of it played out before Bush policies could reasonably take effect and in fact before Bush was even in office.

    Re jobs and robust economy – take the economy 2003 – right now. As I wrote above, the rest cannot reasonably be laid on Bush. That was a robust growth until only recently when we again hit a cycle of downturn. If you want to look for correlation, maybe you can say that from 1995-2000 Republicans controlled both House and Senate. 2001-2 they controlled only the House. 2003-6 they controlled both and 2007- now Dems controlled both. It makes as much sense to credit or blame the Dems. But the economy does not turn that fast.

    Re your thing about the Iraqis opposing us, most do not. There was a big change from the active war against Iraqi forces to the war against insurgents and terrorists. Right now we have a lot more Iraqis fighting (and dying) at our sides than opposing us. That is why the terrorists have moved their targets to killing civilians. Near where I live, they beheaded a father and his 11 year old son just for trying to open a shop.

    Re voting for Bush – I believe he was better than the alternatives in the general election. I supported McCain against Bush in 2000 and I do believe that McCain will do better.

    BTW – I would not object to repealing some of the general tax cuts of 2001. The dividend and capital gains cuts, however, have paid for themselves in terms of economic growth. It makes little sense to set up taxes that discourage investment.

    VV

    I didn’t say fighting in a war was a necessary qualification. It is good, however, to understand what war is. Roosevelt did. McCain does. Neither Obama nor Hilary have ever been near one.

    I also did not say we lost WWI. The management of that war and the subsequent peace treaty was not good. The treaty of Versailles led to WWII. It was not a good peace.

    It is always interesting to play alternative histories. Do you believe Germany in 1917 posed a imminent threat to the United States? Was war the only answer to our security needs? And how long wars last is less important than how many people die in them. WWI wiped out a generation of Europeans and virtually destroyed the western political system. It resulted in 53,402 American battle deaths and the war and the botched peace agreement led to fascism, communism and WWII. It is not remotely comparable to Iraq in terms of destruction. My only comparison was presidential decision making that went into getting involved.

    BTW - I think Wilson made the correct choice of getting it. He screwed the pooch on the peace agreements, however.

    Posted by: Jack at March 11, 2008 4:13 PM
    Comment #247654
    Jack wrote: d.a.n. My predictions on entitlements are NOT rosy.
    Of course not. That wasn’t the point. The point was that the problem is more fundamental and wide-spread than entitlements alone. You seem to blame everything on entitlements, and ignore the more fundamental underlying root causes and their wide-spread effect on the economy.
    Jack wrote: It doesn’t follow that the economy is terrible today.
    No. Not this very instant. But how about the next 2 to 10 years from now, with all of these other problems culminating almost simultaneously?
    Jack wrote: In fact, if we pretend life is so hard now, it makes it harder to address the real challenges coming up.
    Pretend?

    Again, you think these other factors don’t warrant some alarm?
    Also (again), the issue is not so much only this very instant (the short-term; even though many economic factors are getting worse now; not better), but the coming years; the long-term.

    Do you really think future recessions and economic conditions are going to get better any time soon (e.g. in the next decade)?

    It doesn’t make sense to single out Social Security and other entitlements only, and then say the economy is OK. The problem is not only entitlements. The problem is more fundamental and wide-spread than that. In fact, entitlements wouldn’t be in so much trouble if it had not been for those more fundamental problems.

    And because the root problem is actually more fundamental and wide-spread, the entire economy will be affected by these continued abuses.
    I think we’re in for a bumpy ride.
    Unfortunately, I think it may be too late for the economy to avoid a bumpy (and painful) ride for the next few years:

    • lawlessness; crime rates are rising again, after falling for many years;

    • $9.4 Trillion National Debt, with over $1 Billion per day in INTEREST alone on the National Debt (never higher, and never larger as a percentage of GDP since after World War II);

    • $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching (never worse, and if combined with the $9.4 Trillion National Debt, the total federal debt has never been worse ever, including as a percentage of GDP);

    • the PBGC pensions are $450 Billion in the hole;

    • state and local governments have over $6 Trillion of debt;

    • the nation-wide personal debt is over $20 Trillion (never worse ever; and never worse as a percentage of the $13.86 Trillion GDP since the Great Depression);

    • there are hundreds of billions (possibly trillions) of unfunded liabilities for the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;

    • the nation-wide debt is over $48 Trillion (almost half of the Nation’s total net worth; never worse since the Great Depression);

    • but 80% of Americans only own 17% of the Nations total wealth (never worse since the Great Depression); only 2% of all Americans owns most of the wealth in the nation a trend that has been worsening since year 1976, and has never been worse since the Great Depression;

    • the U.S. Dollar has been falling fast against all major international currencies for the last 7 years; we’ve had incessant inflation since year 1956;

    • illegal immigration has never been worse, costing middle class Americans an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion in annual net losses; there is also the untold cost of crime by illegal aliens, who are encouraged to commit more crimes by being anonymous, and repeatedly arrested, released, and deported over and over and over;

    • taxes are more regressive now than they have been for many years; we don’t need higher taxes; we need fair taxation; (what a few people have said about my tax plan);

    • the monetary system has two problems:
      • the issue of usury, which is moral issue

      • a mathematical flaw; it is a pyramid scheme (a 9-to-1 fractional banking system) and all pyramid schemes are doomed to eventual collapse; where will the money come from to pay the INTEREST in the $48 Trillion of nation-wide debt, much less the money to reduce the PRINCIPAL of $48 Trillion of debt; and the Federal Reserve is creating more money to bail out banks, as if we can borrow and spend our way out of debt;

    • Unemployment is rising since Dec-2007 (101,000 lost jobs in the last few months); finances are contracting;

    • Jobs are leaving the country in droves; here’s a law firm that teaches corporations how to avoid hiring Americans; jobs are going to China (1.3 Billion people), and India (1.1 Billion people), and Asia;

    • Incomes have been falling since year 1967 (when also adjusting for more workers per household, more government debt, more taxes, and more regressive taxes, more illegal immigration; job displacement, and replacement jobs paying less than previous jobs, etc.);

    • The wealth disparity has been growing worse since 1980, and has never been worse since the Great Depression.
      The wealthiest 1% of the U.S. population has 40% of all wealth in the U.S. (up from 20% in year 1980; never worse since the Great Depression).
      The wealthiest 2% of the U.S. population owns most wealth; more than the remaining 98% of all Americans.
      The wealthiest 10% of the U.S. population has 70% of all wealth in the U.S.
      The poorest 20% of the U.S. population has negative net worth (i.e. debt)
      40% of the U.S. population has (on average) essentially zero net worth.
      80% of the U.S. population has a mere 17% of all wealth in the U.S.

    • Education is declining in quality while rising in cost; causing climbing property taxes (and tens of millions of illegal aliens is exacerbating the situation);

    • HealthCare or DangerousCare?: Healthcare is not only increasingly unaffordable, but dangerous too! HealthGrades.com reported (27-July-2004) that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”. Once again, part of the problem is government meddling, the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and other manifestations of unchecked greed. Health Care Solutions are needed. While government is not necessarily responsible for providing universal health care, it is responsible for protecting consumers from some greedy corporations that will do anything for a buck. Also, illegal immigration is placing huge burdens on the healthcare system. Illegal aliens are over-running our ERs, hospitals, Medicaid, and welfare. If the 9 problems (above) were adequately addressed, it would reduce the pressures on the healthcare system, and make healthcare more affordable. Healthcare and pharmaceuticals; in their greedy dash for money and profits, pharmaceutical companies and corporate hospitals are killing 195,000 people per year due to preventable medical mistakes. 195,000 deaths per year is appalling; another manifestation of unchecked corporate greed. Since 1999, that is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes. That is more than all the U.S. troops killed in the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), the war in Afghanistan, and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (3,963), combined!

    • Average savings rates in the U.S. have been negative since 2005, which have only been negative for over a full year once before for one year, which was during the Great Depression, when Americans were struggling with huge job layoffs during the Great Depression;

    • Average home equity fell below 50% (a 16 year low);

    • Home foreclosures are at record levels. Greedy banks are raising bank fees, fines, and Adjustable Rate Mortgages to usurious double digit rates. Predatory lending and fraud are part of the problem. Since year 2006, home ownership has fallen for middle-income and lower-income people. Currently, home ownership is in a record plunge, and the 4th quarter of 2007 saw the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since tracking began in year 1965, as current mortgage problems and rising foreclosures take their toll, and more and more people find themselves with upside-down mortgages in which their homes are worth far less than the debt owed on the home;

    • Stock market volatility is a lagging indicator of economic instability;

    • Gold spiked to $988 per ounce;

    • Oil spiked to $106 per barrel; and the U.S. also has a very bad situation with urban sprawl and long commutes (also see book: Sprawl Kills - written by Joel S. Hirschhorn, coFounder of FOAVC)
    • Energy vulnerabilities, despite the Department Of Energy’s (D.O.E.) $28 Billion annual budget;

    • Incessant government bloat and waste, growing to nightmare proportions; there are now more jobs in government than all manufacturing; trade deficits are at record levels; we can’t only be a nation that consumes (spends and borrows), but has no manufacturing or industry … eventually, we will be crushed by the debt; the U.S. is borrowing $3 Billion per day; what do Americans expect if they keep selling each other out, and repeatedly reward the irresponsible incumbent politicians for all of it with 93%-to-99% re-election rates? For example, did you hear last week that the U.S. Airforce (7-Mar-2008) awarded a major portion of the contract to build airborne refueling planes to a European maker of Airbus planes (delivering a major blow to Boeing Co.);
      Needless to say, despite what some anti-anything-not-rosy economists and analysts say, some economic instability on the way, and lower standards of living for many Americans will most likely be the inevitable result.
    And today, the Federal Reserve pumped another $200 Billion into the banking systems (a.k.a. liquidity).

    Let’s hope the member banks are more responsible with loaning it out this time, eh?
    In the mean time, the U.S. Dollar is still falling fast (one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm).
    Hopefully, before too much longer, we won’t need a wheel barrow full of U.S. currency to buy a loaf of bread.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 11, 2008 4:15 PM
    Comment #247659

    charles:

    V.V. I like the fact that McCain shows his emotions and sometimes even says what he thinks.

    We’re not talking about normal demonstrations of emotion here, we’re talking about explosive anger and rage that military leaders in my link remarked upon. They spoke in terms like “knee-jerk response”, “scary”, “acts on impulse”, “volatile”. One even went so far as to say: “I would not follow him.” Experienced military men don’t use such terms, or make such claims lightly.

    McCains mistake is that he is embracing the %10 nut fringe of the republican party (Hagee as an example).

    Hagee is an bigotted extremist who believes we are living in the “End Times” and that Armageddon lies just ahead. McCain is a warmongerer who is willing to embrace such an extremist. Temperament very often affects good judgment.

    His temper does not disqualify him.

    Imagine if you will McCain losing his temper and explosively lashing out at meetings or at summits with foreign leaders because they disagree with him, or because of something they’ve said, exactly the way he has with military leaders and his own congressional colleagues. Temper can affect not only judgment, but outcomes too.
    With such a long and well-known history, I definitely think that McCain’s temper should be carefully considered before he is elected our Commander in Chief.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 11, 2008 5:11 PM
    Comment #247664

    Jack:

    Do you believe Germany in 1917 posed a imminent threat to the United States?

    Look up what the Zimmermann telegram was, and you tell me.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 11, 2008 5:38 PM
    Comment #247669

    VV,

    “Look up what the Zimmermann telegram was, and you tell me.”

    At the time of the “Zimmerman Note”, Mexico still had it’s hands full with the Mexican Revolution. Though Zapata had faded a bit by 1917, he was still giving the Mexican troops “what for” until his death in 1919.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 11, 2008 6:26 PM
    Comment #247671

    Rocky, here is what the telegram said:

    On the first of February, we intend to begin unrestricted submarine warfare. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep the United States of America neutral.

    In the event of this not succeeding, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and make peace together. We shall give generous financial support, and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details of settlement are left to you.

    You are instructed to inform the President [of Mexico] of the above in the greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United States and suggest that the President, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence with this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Japan and ourselves.

    Please call to the attention of the President that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England to make peace in a few months.


    That Mexico had it’s hands full at that moment is almost beside the point. It was Germany’s obvious intention to bring Japan into line with their future plans that was so alarming. This, combined with the fact that they weren’t going to give up with the “unrestricted submarine warfare” that had already been “ruthlessly employed” to sink seven U.S. merchant ships meant that the U.S. could no longer maintain an isolationist stance about the war.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 11, 2008 7:18 PM
    Comment #247675
    The economy, Iraq, & Global Warming are all related.

    Bzzzt. In a progressive’s mind, the one seeing conspiracy in all things, perhaps. But the economy issues we are seeing now are more about personal debt that we can’t fudge around anymore, Iraq about national security issues (no matter how much you want to claim otherwise) and Global Warming is less about oil and more about making bad decisions in the past for the sake of the economy…

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 11, 2008 7:39 PM
    Comment #247676
    This, combined with the fact that they weren’t going to give up with the “unrestricted submarine warfare” that had already been “ruthlessly employed” to sink seven U.S. merchant ships meant that the U.S. could no longer maintain an isolationist stance about the war.

    Nevermind that those ships were carrying illegal arms to Europe…

    And nevermind that Iraq had recently increased shooting at American and UK planes in the months leading up to the war in Iraq…

    A lot of ‘neverminding’ have to go into making them less alike than more.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 11, 2008 7:40 PM
    Comment #247678

    VV,

    America was still trading with both sides at the time of the “Note”.

    BTW I did read the note.
    Mexico was up to it’s ass in alligators, I doubt seriously if they were ready to take on the US, even as a distraction.

    Japan declared war on Germany in 1914, secured the Pacific against Germany, and occupied German leased territories in the Pacific. Japan sat at the peace talks at Versailles as a member of the Allies, and was a founding member of the League of Nations before dropping out in 1933.
    Japan held it’s appropriated territories in China and the Pacific after WW1, through agreements with the allies including America.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 11, 2008 7:49 PM
    Comment #247679

    Rocky,
    Yes, I know all that regarding Japan, but I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make. The telegram outlined the fact that Germany intended to use Mexico to act as a mediator in order to build a relationship with Japan. And, it showed that Germany was planing and fully intended to ultimately make war on America. Could we really remain isolationist after we knew this was their goal?

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 11, 2008 9:48 PM
    Comment #247682

    Does Senator Obama not proud of his heritage and his middle name that he has never openly said so ? I may be labelled a racist while asking such a question.
    Whats in a middle name ? So what if his father was a moslem ? So what if Al-Quaida will celebrate Obama as American President.
    All I say is that Americans are proud of their heritage, so should Mr Obama be.
    And in the end I wanna ask, what are the chances that Mr Obama will not have same Democrats in his cabinet, that Mrs Clinton would, if she wins.

    Posted by: Mich at March 11, 2008 10:06 PM
    Comment #247683
    But the economy issues we are seeing now are more about personal debt that we can’t fudge around anymore
    Yep. The inherent problem with the current system. Posted by: d.a.n at March 11, 2008 10:08 PM
    Comment #247692

    VV,

    “In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep the United States of America neutral.”

    How does this line of the telegram equate to what you seem to believe?
    How could Germany hope that they could keep America neutral, and intend, at the same time, to make war on the United States?
    What could either Mexico, or Japan hope to gain from this agreement?

    Sorry there’s no logic there.

    Zimmermann, from what I have read on the subject, thought we were distracted enough by the raids of Pancho Villa that we would remain neutral. Not to mention, as State Foreign Secretary of Germany, was extremely naive about America.
    Germany didn’t have the technology to truly wage war on America, and Germany had to know that if we entered the war it would break the stalemate in Europe.
    Britain had control of the Atlantic. What little resources the Germans had in the Pacific were defeated in mere months.

    On the telegram;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Zimmermann#Arthur_Zimmermann.27s_speech

    “In fact, he blamed President Wilson for breaking off relations with Germany “with extraordinary roughness” after the telegram was received, and that therefore the German ambassador “no longer had the opportunity to explain the German attitude, and that the US government had declined to negotiate.”

    Well duh!

    Posted by: Rocky at March 11, 2008 11:35 PM
    Comment #247695

    Rhinehold,
    How much has the War in Iraq actually cost? In direct costs, it’s over $500 billion so far, with no end in sight. Associated costs for equipment replacement, veterans benefits and medical coverage will easily push it over $1 trillion, and numbers even higher are thrown around. None of those costs were paid for with tax increases. It’s money which is lost, gone down a rat hole. Buh-bye. In addition, there are indirect costs. How much has the war added to the price of oil? How much has the additional debt contributed to the decline of the dollar?

    Of course there are a lot of other problems contributing to the present economic situation. But Iraq has played a significant role.

    Mich,
    It’s a little early to speculate about the possible make-up of the cabinet if Obama wins. Unless Hillary is his VP, I doubt there’d be much overlap in the choices. Hillary represents the big money crowd and the traditional Democratic establishment. Obama does not. I’d certainly welcome Rudin back as a Secretary of the Treasury, but I don’t know if he’s up for it again.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 11, 2008 11:46 PM
    Comment #247696
    And, it showed that Germany was planing and fully intended to ultimately make war on America.

    And Iraq repeatedly spoke of still being at war with the US, fired at US planes at a furious pace in 2001 and then there is the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed that “after Sept. 11, 2001…the Russian Special Services” passed along to the U.S. how it had “received information that officials from Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States…”

    But, we had ever reason to attack Germany (for attacking a civilian vessel carring weapons to their enemies) and removing Saddam from power was ‘illegal’. Interesting…

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 11, 2008 11:48 PM
    Comment #247698

    VV,

    I guess my point is that during WW1, u-boats aside, Germany truly never was a threat to America.
    Shortly after we entered the war a combination of escorted convoys and a Brit that invented the “hydro-phone”, virtually ended the U-boat threat all together as well.
    Germany was doomed from the moment that telegram was sent, and the “note” was one of the reasons Zimmerman resigned.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 11, 2008 11:51 PM
    Comment #247700
    How much has the War in Iraq actually cost? In direct costs, it’s over $500 billion so far, with no end in sight.

    I agree, it has been managed horribly and it is well beyond the originally stated goal of removing Saddam from power…

    I think you’ll notice I said similar things in my article Enough Is Enough that I wrote in 2005, one year after making the case for invading…

    Just because someone understood the need to remove Saddam and supported the action, don’t assume that they agreed with the implementation or still want us there… Something that the left is all to ready to forget to make political points, of course, all the while alienating all of those like me.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 12:02 AM
    Comment #247701
    Of course there are a lot of other problems contributing to the present economic situation. But Iraq has played a significant role.

    I agree, but like you said, there are a lot of other problems.

    In fact, we could have absorbed the costs had we been fiscally responsible and the people of this country not been so bent on get rich schemes, living beyond their means and a dependancy upon debt.

    Look at the end of the 1990s. Netscape is a GREAT example, IPO’s after being in existence for 9 months, stock price went straight to $120, with no history of operation and NO profits at all. The initial investor who put up $5 million walked away in 1997 with around $2 BILLION and the market tanked. Was it their fault or the fault of those who ignored the common sense and financial wisdom to avoid get rich schemes? Much like those in the 1920s started throwing wisdom out of the window in order to try to make quick money?

    Is it the government’s problem that people are idiots? Shouldn’t idiots and their money be parted at some point in order to remind those left that common sense should be utilized instead of coddling them and letting everyone know that their idiotic mistakes will be forgiven so keep making them?

    I doubt we will see the result of the 1929 crash, because we aren’t stupid enough to raise taxes and tarriffs in response… oh wait a second, perhaps we just ARE that stupid to forget the lessons of the past, obviously…

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 12:08 AM
    Comment #247704

    Rhinehold,
    It’s not about “free trade,” and it’s not about tariffs. It’s about outsourcing American jobs to other countries, where foreign labor will work for less than Americans, without basic benefits or the observation of environmental regulations. The talk about “free trade” and tariffs is a red herring.

    There was no need to take out Saddam Hussein because he did not present a threat to the US. The Pentagon is about to release yet another report reconfirming this, entitled “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents”. Bush and Cheney lied about connections between Iraq & Al Qaida. They continue to lie. It’s pretty straighforward.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 12, 2008 12:32 AM
    Comment #247706

    Rocky:

    “In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep the United States of America neutral.”

    How does this line of the telegram equate to what you seem to believe?

    It was their intention to keep the U.S neutral while they defeated England, and despite the fact that they had already sunk seven of our ships and were intentionally going back on the very promise they had made which had kept us out of the war up until that point: that they wouldn’t ruthlessly use unrestricted submarine warfare on anyone who went anywhere near their enemies.
    The telegram told us that they were breaking that promise.
    But why do you just focus on that line alone? The entire telegram shows that Germany had no respect at all for America.

    How could Germany hope that they could keep America neutral, and intend, at the same time, to make war on the United States?

    As soon as they went back on their word about waging unrestricted submarine warfare, they knew that we could not and would not, continue to remain neutral. It seems they were just hoping we would remain neutral long enough for them to subdue the English. They may have been grasping at straws even entertaining the idea of unifying efforts with Mexico and Japan, but the fact that they would even try to arrange such a thing told us that Germany had to be stopped.

    What could either Mexico, or Japan hope to gain from this agreement?

    Nothing at that moment, but clearly the Germans imagined themselves winning against the allies, and they seemed to believe that if they were victorious, it would be easy to bring nations such as Mexico and Japan into line with them. Had the Germans not been defeated, the world may well have seen them making all kinds of alliances.

    Sorry there’s no logic there.

    I think I’m being entirely logical. That telegram was all the proof we needed to know with certainty that Germany had lied to us, and that they were a ruthless and treacherous threat. And there was no way after seeing it that Wilson could have ignored Germany and remained isolationist — even if the plans outlined in the telegram did seem pretty far fetched and unlikely.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 12, 2008 12:44 AM
    Comment #247707

    Phx8, VV et al

    The debate we can still have about the causes of WWI shows the complexity of decisions involving war and peace. Ninety years later, after all the major participants are dead, passions have presumably cooled and virtually all the documents are declassified, we still can debate.

    Yet about the Iraq war, you have metaphysical certainty that the President of the United States lied in order to fight a war in Iraq. Whenever someone asks why he would do this, people bring up truly silly things like he did it for personal profit or to avenge Saddam’s attempt to assassinate GHW Bush.

    The fact re Iraq is that the intelligence indicated Saddam Hussein was a growing threat to regional and American security. Virtually Nobody in a position to know seriously disagreed, including such prominent Democrats as Bill & Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, a strong majority of the Senate and most foreign intelligence services. AND subsequent events indicate Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat. He did not have WMD on hand, but he maintained the capacity and intention to rapidly recreate them. He considered himself to be at war with the U.S. and frequently bragged about that.

    The part that Bush haters cannot seem to understand is that all important decisions contain a great deal of uncertainty. Intelligence is never 100% clear. That is why it is called intelligence and not news.

    If you look back at what we THINK we know now (remember also that our information REMAINS imperfect about the history of what happened) the invasion of Iraq at the time and way we did it was a mistake. That does not mean that the decision made with information available at the time was wrong and it does not mean that consequences from taking a different action would not have been worse.

    The President had to weigh the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power versus the risks of taking him out. There was no option that had only positive outcomes. The Bush haters evidently live in a different world than the rest of us where all decisions are in black and white and all the factors are neatly laid out in front of them.

    An honest critic of the war would maintain that the President made the wrong decision to invade Iraq. He/she might list the consequences of NOT invading and argue that they would not have been as bad as the invasion. These would be valid criticism. The moralizing that the President lied is not a valid criticism. There is absolutely no real evidence for this postition and I have never heard anybody give me a good reason as to WHY he would want to fight a war in Iraq if he did not believe Iraq was a threat.

    So you can say that the President made a bad decision based on the information he had available. That is a something about which reasonable people can disagree. You really do not have to bring in conspiracy theory unless your goal is to sound silly and move the debate from an honest assessment to an emotional screed.


    Posted by: Jack at March 12, 2008 1:15 AM
    Comment #247711

    Jack,

    Let’s assume that all of the reasons to invade Iraq were valid.

    Why did we also assume that we could go into Iraq with less than half of the strength we used to merely kick Saddam out of Kuwait?
    Yes, the race to Baghdad was a spectacular success, however, after that until the surge WTF?

    You and I have had this conversation before, and I don’t know that I ever got a straight answer.

    Why didn’t we cover our ass?

    The Germans, in WW2, as arrogant as they were, secured what they took as they raced across Europe.
    Did we learn nothing?
    Why did we ignore the Powell or Weinberger Doctrine”?

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 1:48 AM
    Comment #247714

    Jack,
    You write: “… I have never heard anybody give me a good reason as to WHY he would want to fight a war in Iraq if he did not believe Iraq was a threat.”

    1) Oil
    2) Establishing permanent military bases in the heart of the Middle East, in order to overthrow countries such as Iran (oil) and Syria.
    3) Protection of Israel. Much of the disinformation comes from the Israelis, and Neocons embrace it because it coincides with their agenda.
    4) At the time, attacking Iraq distracted Americans from a recession, and seemed like a sure bet to enhance prospects for the next elections. It was supposed to be quick and easy. The “mission accomplished” moment was intended to be a commercial for the next election. How quickly we forget.

    According to a poll before the invasion, only about 1/4 of Americans thought invading Iraq was justified. To generate support, the Bush administration went through a sequence of rotating rationales for invading. It was propaganda to bring American citizens on board, and whip up war fever.

    How quickly we forget.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 12, 2008 1:53 AM
    Comment #247716
    Why didn’t we cover our ass?

    First, the goal was completed quickly. Had we packed up and left right then, warning other states that if they invade we would be right back in, we would have three separate states in that region now and pretty much peace, IMO. The Secretary of Defense at the time ignored that recommendation and decided to go off on a mission of nation building and the President did not stop that nonsense. He screwed up. He should have pulled out the troops the minute he declared Mission Accomplished and left them to figure it out on their own, it is their country after all.

    BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have invaded. The decision was not an easy one, as evidenced by all of the people who supported it and all of the people who did not. They cross party lines. The longer term Democrats, especially those involved in defense and the Clintons, understood exactly the kind of person they were dealing with and the danger he possessed. There was no need to lie to convince the American public that there was reason enough to go, the majority were convinced already. In fact, d.a.n. likes to list the ### of lies make by the president that came out of a recent article, but fails to mention that those are things that he said in good faith at the time but since we have found to be false. That is the height of arrogance, IMO.

    Most of us had gone through the 12 years of trying to deal with the bastard before the invasion. Between the threats, the support of international terrorism, the attacks on our planes and the threats of administering terrorism within the US where he did have agents threatening former Iraqi citizens, he WAS a real threat. How much of one is up for debate and to assume by what we found out years after the fact that those who supported the war were either stupid or malicious in their support is ignorant to the extreme and a prime reason that the Democrats did NOT win the presidency in 2004 and why they are not any better than a tie in 2008. If they would just drop their assinine attacks and claims of ‘Bush Lied’ moronity and accept that we all had hard decisions to make and accept that there was no maliciousness involved but good faith, they would be up in the polls 75 - 25 right now, I am convinced…

    But, why should I offer the advice, I mean, the Democrats are the ones talking about being uniters, not dividers, yet they attempt to divide at every single opportunity presented, as this conversation proves. It is good to point out failures and where people made mistakes in judgement, but calling people names, making accusations with no factual basis in them and even worse to assign motive where there is no proof available is not very UNITING… I should just go back to keeping my mouth shut I suppose, since it’s like talking to a brick wall on either side of me…

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:16 AM
    Comment #247717
    The Germans, in WW2, as arrogant as they were, secured what they took as they raced across Europe.

    Are you suggesting we should have secured Iraq the way the Germans secured Europe?

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:17 AM
    Comment #247718
    How quickly we forget.

    You wish, that is the only way that nonsense flies, people forgetting the 12 years leading up to the invasion.

    BTW, who sent the anthrax to Tom Daschle? I’m just curious who you think sent it and why we haven’t caught them yet… I’m sure you have a theory?

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:19 AM
    Comment #247720

    BTW,

    Seven months prior to the September 11 attacks a Gallup poll showed that 52% would favor an invasion of Iraq while 42% would oppose it.

    In fact, at no time before the invasion did less than a full majority not support the invasion…

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1633/Iraq.aspx#3

    Favor Oppose No opinion

    2003 Mar 14-15 ^
    64 33 3

    2003 Mar 3-5
    59 37 4

    2003 Feb 24-26
    59 37 4

    2003 Feb 17-19
    59 38 3

    2003 Feb 7-9
    63 34 3

    2003 Jan 31-Feb 2
    58 38 4

    2003 Jan 23-25
    52 43 5

    2003 Jan 10-12
    56 38 6

    2003 Jan 3-5 ^
    56 39 5

    2002 Dec 19-22 ^
    53 38 9

    2002 Dec 16-17 ^
    58 35 7

    2002 Dec 9-10
    55 39 6

    2002 Nov 22-24
    58 37 5

    2002 Nov 8-10
    59 35 6

    2002 Oct 21-22
    54 40 6

    2002 Oct 14-17 ^
    56 37 7

    2002 Oct 3-6
    53 40 7

    2002 Sep 20-22 ^
    57 38 5

    2002 Sep 13-16 †
    57 39 4

    2002 Sep 5-8 ^ †
    58 36 6

    2002 Sep 2-4 †
    58 36 6

    2002 Aug 19-21 †
    53 41 6

    2002 Jun 17-19 ^ †
    61 31 8

    2001 Nov 26-27 ‡
    74 20 6

    2001 Feb 19-21 ‡
    52 42 6

    1993 Jun 29-30 ‡
    70 27 3

    1992 Mar 30-Apr 5 ‡ #
    55 40 5

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:29 AM
    Comment #247721

    Oh, and this one I find interesting…

    Saddam had WMD?

    Certain Yes, Think had, lot of doubt, Certain No, No opinion

    2006 Mar 10-12 ^
    29 28 22 19 2

    2003 Jan 10-12 †
    41 45 10 1 3

    Before the invasion, only 1% of people were certain that Iraq had no WMD. 2 years ago only 20% were certain that Iraq had no WMD.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:35 AM
    Comment #247722

    Rhinehold,
    I don’t know who sent the Anthrax. The original culture came from a British cow, oddly enough, and that is the strain which the US sold to Saddam Hussein. As far as anyone knows, nothing came of it. Developing bio warfare is very difficult. The same strain of Anthrax, which was developed by the facility at Fort Andrews, I believe, was the one mailed to Daschle. The suspicion centered around a disgruntled Fort Andrews scientist. It almost certainly originated in the US. But short answer- I don’t know.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 12, 2008 2:36 AM
    Comment #247724

    The suspicon was wrong, Dr. Hatfill is now suing everyone involved and even was able to get a judge to slap a fine on a reporter for not giving up her sources that named him. He has been ‘Jeweled’, as it were, mainly from a false profile…

    August 2006 - A report from a well-informed source indicates that “The Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis used in the attacks is distributed throughout the world, making it difficult to track down a potential source.” On August 7 we learned that another informed source said Ames was “exchanged all over the world”, and on July 30 we learned another well-informed source said the Ames strain is “near-ubiquitous”. We don’t know what was learned which changed the official word on this from saying it was in “limited distribution” to it being “near-ubiquitous”, but it appears that the original beliefs were wrong. However, this also means that the anthrax culprit could have obtained the Ames strain a lot more easily than previously believed.
    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:57 AM
    Comment #247726

    Rocky

    I think the war was implemented wrong. We screwed that up. My opinion is not that it was all good, but rather that we have to take into account the conditions and information available at the time.

    Rumsfeld thought he could do the job with a smaller footprint. We also did not anticipate total collapse of the Iraqi government. Planners expected capitulation (where units and structures remain intact but surrender). They were badly mistaken. We are learning now how completely corrupt and dysfunctional Saddam’s regime had been. As I have mentioned on other occasions, they did absolutely no maintenance and they destroyed the functioning civil society. The only thing holding it together was the terror state and when we removed that the whole thing collapsed into the chaos we saw.

    The war in Iraq actually resembled the blitzkrieg in many ways. Of course we were not as savage and that is why we had relatively more trouble after. Of course the Germans faced severe insurgency problems their entire time too.

    Phx8

    Oil – Saddam was willing to sell us as much oil as we would allow and he was selling at cut rate prices. If we wanted his oil, we could buy it – just like we buy Iraqi oil now. You don’t need a war to do that.

    Military base – not a bad idea. Of course we had big military bases in Saudi and we can move assets from CONUS that can reach these areas. Beyond that, an aircraft carrier battle group has more effective capability than the armies of any of the local despots.

    Israel – A lot of people think Jews control the world. I do not agree. I suppose we could argue this for a long time w/o result.

    Recession – the economy picked up in 2003 and was headed up before the invasion. Iraq, in fact, distracted Americans from the good news coming out of the economy.

    Re Polling data – most Americans supported the invasion and continued to support it until 2006.

    Rhinehold & Phx8 et al

    Rhinehold makes an excellent point about uniting. I am more than happy to talk about the mistakes made and I hope lessons learned. That is why think talking to Rocky is productive. There is not much use in talking when your interlocutor just says that everybody is lying and accuses the United States of going to war for greed.

    I really do not see how it helps anyone’s argument to assert the that president lied. In politics, as in life, people advocate their position. They see things from their point of view and tend to discount or ignore contrary evidence. That is a human failing and not a lie. However, a constant partisan attack makes is LESS likely that mistakes can be acknowledged and addressed.

    The divisiveness on this issue is appalling. If you search my writing on this subject ever since 2004, you will find that I am looking for ways to improve performance and you will also find in the comments all this Bush lied BS and the only “suggestion” is to embrace defeat and leave.

    I disagree that we are defeated. I think we are winning now and that we will achieve success. That is my opinion from what I read and what I see first hand. I may be wrong, but I am no lying and neither is the President.

    Posted by: Jack at March 12, 2008 4:54 AM
    Comment #247733
    Rhinehold wrote: BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have invaded.
    Wrong.

    Based on the chances of the reasons being wrong, a pre-emptive war is probably almost always (if not always) a bad idea.
    Especially now that we can clearly see that the supposed reasons used to do justify war can be false.
    We most certainly should not have invaded since we were not 100% certain of the existence of WMD, which was a major reason for the invasion of Iraq.
    The facts were wrong.
    And it is now clear that the facts were trumped up too; not mere mistakes.
    Some lies were told too, and that is not hard to prove.
    The fact is, no WMD of any significance were ever found, and the Administration’s statements were false.
    And it was not merely a matter of making an honest mistake.

    Rhinehold wrote: There was no need to lie to convince the American public that there was reason enough to go, the majority were convinced already.
    The American people were not given the true facts.

    What the administration was telling the American people were not true.
    I do not think the majority of Americans would have supported a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq had they known the true facts; that Saddam really had no significant WMD.
    Some people like to call them lies, and some people like to call them mistakes; falsehoods; or honest mistakes.
    In reality, it was probably a combination of both.
    Lies are much more effective when sprinkled among some true facts.
    Either way, it was a severe mistake.
    The American people did not have full access to the intelligence information and true facts being told to them by the Administration.
    When the American people eventually discovered so many things they had been told were not true, they were (by year 2005 and 2006) understandably unhappy and angry about it.
    And rightfully so.
    Whether the invasion was based lies or mistakes (or both), it was a massive blunder.

    Rhinehold wrote: In fact, d.a.n. likes to list the ### [935] of lies make by the president that came out of a recent article, but fails to mention that those are things that he said in good faith at the time but since we have found to be false. That is the height of arrogance, IMO.
    Oh … you mean this list of 935 false statements in the 2 years following 11-SEP-2001:
    • 532 statements about WMD or links to Al Qaeda
    • 260 by George W. Bush (42)
    • Dick Cheney
    • Powell
    • Condoleza Rice
    • Donald Rumsfeld
    • Paul Wolfowitz
    Rhinehold wrote: In fact, d.a.n. likes to list the ### [935] of lies make by the president that came out of a recent article, …
    Well, some of us are not is as big of a big hurry to sweep so many false statements under the rug?

    Some people don’t like being lied to, whether they were honest lies or mere incompetence.
    Especially when their children are being sent to war.

    Do you think patriotism requires going along with lies; especially so many lies?

    When people make a few false statements by accident, that is understandable and forgivable perhaps.
    But not when thousands of our U.S. Troops lives are at stake.
    When war is the issue, people had better be damn sure that thier facts are true.
    But it is more serious than merely a few mistaken facts.
    We are not talking about a few mistakes.
    We are talking about what is now an obvious campaign of many hundreds of statements, repeated over and over, to shape public opinion.
    Are you seriously defending these false statements as mere honest mistakes?

    Rhinehold wrote: In fact, d.a.n. likes to list the ### [935] of lies make by the president that came out of a recent article, but fails to mention that those are things that he [George W. Bush] said in good faith at the time but since we have found to be false. That is the height of arrogance, IMO.
    said in good faith ?

    height of arrogance ?

    Wow. A few mistakes might be understandable, but not hundreds and hundreds (a total of 935 false statements during the 2 years following 11-SEP-2001).
    Trying to defend those hundreds of false statements as “said in good faith”, is the true “height of arrogance” and delusion.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 12, 2008 10:30 AM
    Comment #247739

    Jack,
    Iraqi oil was contracted to French, Russian, and Chinese corporations. Because of the invasion, those contracts were torn up, and the new ones will go to Exxon, BP, and other US oil corporations. Furthermore, contracts for exploring new fields will also go to the US corporations and immediate allies.

    So yes. You do need a war to do that.

    The economy went seriously downhill about 6 months after 9/11. For those with short memories, the DJIA regained almost all of its losses within 6 weeks of 9/11. Please don’t pretend the economy was ok in the summer of 2002. It was not, and that was a fearful prospect with midterm elections looming.

    As for polling- a lot of people believed the administration story. They did not know Bushco was withholding or ignoring information which undermined support for going to war, and that much of the information that was publicly presented was manufactured by people belonging to groups such as the Iraqi National Congress, which was funded by the US in the first place.

    The war in Iraq is a deep disgrace to our country, it is a war that was based upon baldfaced lies, and it is simply unjustifiable.

    You’ll be glad to know as of 9 months ago, 41% of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 12, 2008 12:00 PM
    Comment #247746

    VV,

    “I think I’m being entirely logical. That telegram was all the proof we needed to know with certainty that Germany had lied to us, and that they were a ruthless and treacherous threat. And there was no way after seeing it that Wilson could have ignored Germany and remained isolationist — even if the plans outlined in the telegram did seem pretty far fetched and unlikely.”

    Sounds more to me like the Germans were desperate. The only thing they really had going for them was their U-Boats.
    The battle on the ground in Europe was a stalemate. The British controlled the Atlantic, and had blockaded the German Navy in their home ports, one of the major reasons Germany lost the war.
    As far as Japan was concerned, if you had ever been to Asia, you would know that Asians, once they have taken a position, rarely change their minds, as they would lose face by doing so.

    Pre our entering the war, the British already knew the solution to the U-Boat problem, but were reticent to employ it.
    That was the use of escorted convoys. Once they started using this tactic, sinkings fell off dramatically.

    Submarines though they had been around since the 1850’s, were not widely used before WW1.

    Germany posed no actual threat to America, other than fear.
    The means to lessen the threat of the U-Boat was already at hand, though it wasn’t employed until we entered the war.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 1:15 PM
    Comment #247747
    In fact, at no time before the invasion did less than a full majority not support the invasion…

    The problem with this argument is, only one person in the United States makes the final decision to go to war or not. It is this person we hold accountable for the decision that is made, it is this person that is elected to make such decisions. Interesting enough, since the war has started the trend of public opinion to the question: “Do you think the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or not?” Has risen to a full majority.

    What does this really mean, it means we expect our president to make good decisions with or without all the facts, this one didn’t. It means that the person the president chose to plan the war ignored the General who had already planned for this contingency and went in with a force nearly 1/4th the size recommended. It means that this president ignored the person who they had endorsed as lead for the UN inspectors, when he asked for more time. The president also ignored the advice of his chief for counterterrorism, Richard Clarke. This president also drastically underestimated the costs and duration for this war. This president has also failed to capture or kill OBL, added to this the president has never attended to Afghanistan properly. This president has intentionally used words and changed phrases in reports to deflect criticism and to draw support for his decision, and he fires or disparages people who disagree with him. The list goes on and on.

    This president made poor decisions and he chose bad advisors, and I might add the Republican Party has publicly fully supported this president throughout this quagmire.

    Does this make his decision to go to war in Iraq wrong? Yes it does, a poorly executed decision, is a bad decision. We have spent so much money and lives that no matter what the outcome, this war will always be considered the result of a bad president involving us in a needless war.

    Posted by: Cube at March 12, 2008 1:21 PM
    Comment #247749

    Jack,

    “The only thing holding it together was the terror state and when we removed that the whole thing collapsed into the chaos we saw.

    But we allowed this to happen by not exerting the control necessary to stop the looting and anarchy that occurred. We didn’t have enough boots on the ground to control the situation, and even if we had enough bodies to exert that control, Rumsfeld seemed reticent to do so.

    “The war in Iraq actually resembled the blitzkrieg in many ways. Of course we were not as savage and that is why we had relatively more trouble after. Of course the Germans faced severe insurgency problems their entire time too.”

    Savage or not the Germans took control of their gains, and made sure they stayed in control by garrisoning behind their blitz. They didn’t have to retake the same real estate over and over because once they established control, they kept what they took.

    We couldn’t do that.

    Jack, this all goes back to having overwhelming force, before you invade, and not being too impatient (which we were) before invading.
    This flies in the face of “going to war with the army you have not the army you want”.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 1:35 PM
    Comment #247755
    Does this make his decision to go to war in Iraq wrong? Yes it does, a poorly executed decision, is a bad decision.

    Cube,

    There is a difference in accepting that Bush made bad decisions and should accountable (which I support) to saying that all of those who believed (and still believe) we should have removed Saddam from power were wrong.

    The fact that the progressives of the Democratic Party can’t accept that and work to heal the wounds that the decision and bad implementation caused, but instead use it as a litmus test against even their own are chucked against for the sake of advancing political power… Well, it speaks volumes.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 2:28 PM
    Comment #247758

    bush had it all going in the right direction in late 2002 and early 2003. He was talking the bad talk about Sadahm, he got his resolution through congress, he got the inspectors back in. Things were going well. When he authorized the invasion, when he said “go” i assumed that one big reason was that the military did not want to conduct the invasion in the heat of the summer. I supported w till this point. It was quickly apparent to me that things were going badly, even before the fall of baghdad; yes their organized military was dropped like a bag of dirt, Sadham was on the run, but we were leaving key sites unprotected; ammunition dumps, ministries, even oil facilities. Key u.s agencies were left out of the loop: treasury, fbi, state. we were left with 40,000 army standing in the center of baghdad, saying essentially “now what”.
    When the young american soldier,early on was shot in the back of the head while eating an ice cream cone at a local college, all those people just looking on, doing nothing. when that happened I knew we were fucked, truly fucked.(does anyone remember that)
    Jack, there was no “war and then post-war” there is just war, and with the deaths of eight more soldiers on monday, this war continues.

    Posted by: charles ross at March 12, 2008 2:55 PM
    Comment #247761
    Wow. A few mistakes might be understandable, but not hundreds and hundreds (a total of 935 false statements during the 2 years following 11-SEP-2001).

    Let’s take a look, shall we? Because on the face, what you state is not only wrong, but is worse than what Bush did because you KNOW them to be misleading…

    First, the list contains about 6 actual different things stated that were LATER found to be untrue. That the administration believed them to be true before is never disproven in any way. Then, to further the arrogance, they count the number of times that these 6 things were stated during two years and count them up, saying ‘935 lies’. It’s really laughable in the extreme.

    But, let’s look at this few statements that are considered ‘lies’.

    On August 26, 2002, in an address to the national convention of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Cheney flatly declared: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” In fact, former CIA Director George Tenet later recalled, Cheney’s assertions went well beyond his agency’s assessments at the time. Another CIA official, referring to the same speech, told journalist Ron Suskind, “Our reaction was, ‘Where is he getting this stuff from?’ “

    He was getting them from other sources that the CIA. Interestingly enough, the CIA is not the end all and be all of intelligence that the administration receives (thank god because of the number of times that they were wrong).

    Even here they were wrong, but the number of other agencies, from UK, Germany, and others, were backing up the intelligence. Why? Partly because there was a contingent of Iraqis that wanted Saddam removed and were willing to make up intelligence to support it. Partly because it was what SADDAM wanted us to believe. Partly because there were less than honest people looking for personal improvement from making such statements (re: Curveball for example). Partly because it fit with what we had known or suspected about Saddam for 12 years prior.

    To say that Bush KNEW what he was saying to be false is incorrect and no one has proven that to be the case. People may SUSPECT it, but aren’t you the one saying we need 100% certainty before acting on suspicion?

    In the closing days of September 2002, with a congressional vote fast approaching on authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address: “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given… . This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.” A few days later, similar findings were also included in a much-hurried National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — an analysis that hadn’t been done in years, as the intelligence community had deemed it unnecessary and the White House hadn’t requested it.

    Which proves nothing, other than that they were wrong. There is no malice proven here, only bad judgement. But, the evidence two years prior, done before Bush entered office, suggested the same thing. In fact, it garnered Saddam a few cruise missles up his butt if I recall. Only then, it was ok, because the President was a Democrat, right?

    In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: “Sure.” In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of “compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda.” What’s more, an earlier DIA assessment said that “the nature of the regime’s relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.”

    Wow, the stench on this one is overpowering. There was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. It was not a working one at the time, but even Richard Clarke admitted and still agrees there was one when he told President Clinton to bomb the al Shifa plant. It was in the final 9/11 comission report. Why people think that there was no communication or relationship between the two to this day is as bad as people thinking that Iraq was invovled with 9/11. Both are factually wrong and both are ‘suggested’ by politicians looking to make political points, not make intelligent well-informed decisions.

    On May 29, 2003, in an interview with Polish TV, President Bush declared: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.” But as journalist Bob Woodward reported in State of Denial, days earlier a team of civilian experts dispatched to examine the two mobile labs found in Iraq had concluded in a field report that the labs were not for biological weapons. The team’s final report, completed the following month, concluded that the labs had probably been used to manufacture hydrogen for weather balloons.

    Right. This helps prove the case that Bush actually thought that those trailers were used for the purpose of making chemical weapons. It turns out they weren’t. They were wrong. That is not the same as knowingly putting out false information…

    On January 28, 2003, in his annual State of the Union address, Bush asserted: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.” Two weeks earlier, an analyst with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research sent an email to colleagues in the intelligence community laying out why he believed the uranium-purchase agreement “probably is a hoax.”

    So, an unnamed State Department analyst said this. Yet Joe Wilson and the CIA reported that the approach did take place. Again, your assertion that it was well known in intelligence circles that this was false is incorrect AND it is also incorrect to say that Iraq never approached Niger, because we know that they DID. This isn’t even a false statement, it was backed up as being a valid statement in two different reports….

    On February 5, 2003, in an address to the United Nations Security Council, Powell said: “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.” As it turned out, however, two of the main human sources to which Powell referred had provided false information. One was an Iraqi con artist, code-named “Curveball,” whom American intelligence officials were dubious about and in fact had never even spoken to. The other was an Al Qaeda detainee, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who had reportedly been sent to Eqypt by the CIA and tortured and who later recanted the information he had provided. Libi told the CIA in January 2004 that he had “decided he would fabricate any information interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government].”

    Yes, this information turned out to be incorrect. But Curveball was considered believable by the Germans. That they wouldn’t let the US interrogate him is unfortunate and the US was wrong not to demand it before accepting the information, but to use it as ‘proof of lying’ is again, incorrect.

    In fact, there is nothing, NOTHING, in list list of 6 things, repeated over 900 times, that validates anything that is suggested that Bush knowingly provided false information, information he KNEW to be wrong, in order to make the case. In fact, every single action he took, including not allowing the UN to take over the post-war administration of Iraq (Biggest mistake of all) because he was sure that they would bungle finding all of the WMD that was scattered around Iraq, leads a critical thinker to accept that he genuinely thought these to be true.

    Couple that with the other information available, including:

    * 12 years of defying UN resolutions, not just a little bit but in the most blatant and indefensible manner, including, as Hans Blix admitted to, violating the UN Resolution 1441, leading no one to be able to trust the results of those inspections anymore. Just as Saddam wanted.

    * Shooting at UK and UN airplanes. Not just a little bit, but in ever increasing manner for months leading up to the invasion.

    * Saddam’s support of internation terrorism, including his own internal state sponsored terrorist group that was working IN the US, to harass and terrorize former Iraqi citizens that spoke out against the country.

    * Saddam’s repeated statements to still being at war with the US and not shying away from admitting to being responsible for hundreds of US citizen’s deaths through terrorist means.

    * Information presented to the US from Russia that Iraq was planning to committ acts of terrorism against the US on US soil, coupled with the knowledge that Iraq’s terrorist groups were in the US operating at the time of invasion.

    With that information, along with the belief that he was working to rebuild his WMD stash, as he wanted us to believe, it is not unreasonable to make the decision that Bush did. That he failed miserably in having the right people dong a good job doesn’t change those facts, it just makes it a stain on the judgement of one person, Bush. Not on everyone who supported the actions, like McCain or Clinton. Or me. Or any of the other millions of people who the progressive part of the Democratic Party is now at war against, instead of uniting with.

    Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other instead of working to heal the wounds caused by Bush and his inability to properly manage our military, which is what needs to take place.

    But, we can’t do that, there’s an election to be won, at any cost! It seems that Hillary is not the only one willing to do that…

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 12, 2008 3:05 PM
    Comment #247762

    Rhinehold,

    OK, Saddam needed to be removed from power. Clinton signed an oft-cited declaration to that effect.
    That declaration (H.R. 4655 the Iraqi Liberation Act) stated, that while we would support anyone that would work toward that end, and we would support both monetarily, and with military support, we wouldn’t invade.

    Yet we invaded anyway, and in our rush to invade, it would appear that little thought was given to any circumstance past the fall of Saddam.
    We knew going in that Saddam ruled with an iron fist. We knew going in that Saddam was a ruthless dictator.
    We also knew going in that once Saddam was deposed, knowing human nature, that chaos and anarchy would reign if we didn’t step in and take control.
    Yet we stood by and watched as that took place.

    Look it is very easy to sit back and judge through the microscope of history, hindsight, of course, being 20-20, but this discussion has gone on aud nauseum for the nearly 4 years I have been posting here.
    I get no joy in being right. The mistakes made, and pointed out by a significant number of people here, were blatantly obvious from day one. We that pointed out these mistakes were criticized for any number of things, and told we had to “stay the course”. That it was the only way we could “win” in Iraq.

    What a crock.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 3:08 PM
    Comment #247767

    Phx8

    I wish new contract would go to America and immediate allies. There is no reason to believe this will happen and the way the Chinese and Europeans are talking, it won’t.

    Besides, oil is fungible. Oil firms no longer own most of the oil they process. Most of the oil is owned by governments that sell it at the world price. They try to keep the world price high, but it is still a type of market price. You really no longer need to fight wars or control territory to get the resources. Ask the Japanese. That is the beauty of the market economy.

    Re the economy – the war started in 2003. By then the indicators were good. 2003 was a very good year. The war distracted people from that good news.

    Re withholding information – I do not believe leading Democrats are as stupid as you imply. If former president Bill Clinton couldn’t see through it, or former VP Al Gore, or John Kerry who was on the intelligence committee long before Bush took office, we have to believe that they have the IQ of a chimp – collectively. And if Bush could trick all these smart people, along with guys like Tony Blair who had access to his own intelligence network, he must be the smartest man in the world. So I do not accept that Democrats are as stupid or Bush is as smart as you think.

    Re intelligence as above, we really didn’t know how bad Saddam had been. It was only when we took over that we found the extent of his crimes. The world community paid almost no attention. That is also a perception problem.


    Cube

    The president made the decision with the support of the Senate, which in 2002 was controlled by the Democrats.

    Rocky

    I agree. It was a miscalculation. But the history of war is nothing but those sorts of things.

    Charles

    Okay, call them phases of the war. It is clearly very different now than it was in 2003 or 2006. The responses we must make are different. What you call it is up to you.

    In 2003 we faced Saddam’s armies. In 2006 we had an active insurgency all over the place. In 2008 we can walk down the streets of places like Hadithah reasonably certain that nobody will shoot at us on this particular day. There is still a lot of danger and risk, but the phases are different. In 2003 we needed to fight big battles. In 2006 we needed to chase down insurgents. In 2008 we need to protect the local population from remaining terrorists and help them rebuild. Different circumstance; different strategies.

    Posted by: Jack at March 12, 2008 3:40 PM
    Comment #247772
    The fact that the progressives of the Democratic Party can’t accept that and work to heal the wounds that the decision and bad implementation caused, but instead use it as a litmus test against even their own are chucked against for the sake of advancing political power… Well, it speaks volumes.

    This could be construed as very hypocritical statements (I know you claim not to be a Republican, but you spend a lot of time defending them.), considering the Republican Party has utilized fear and declared those who disagree with them as unpatriotic amongst other things. Republicans are as much to blame if not more for the political divide that exists. Rove, De Lay, Gingrich and others have intentionally created this divide and consolidated power for the Republican Party. They altered the face and honor of politics, but hopefully not forever. Hopefully all parties will eventually rediscover some esprit de corps.

    Posted by: Cube at March 12, 2008 4:04 PM
    Comment #247776
    Rhinehold wrote: First, the list contains about 6 actual different things stated that were LATER found to be untrue. That the administration believed them to be true before is never disproven in any way.
    First of all, I don’t believe that it was a mere mistake.

    However, some people in the Administration might have actually believed the bad intelligence was true.
    However, many knew it wasn’t.
    And that requires lying or incompetence, or both.
    And when the facts were later proven false, some people in the administration continued in making false statements.
    And as you saw in the video, Bush and Rumsfeld flat out contradicted their own statements.
    When you catch people red-handed in one lie, it’s safe to assume they will lie about other things.
    Both were caught red-handed telling lies (read and/or watch it for yourself here).
    Both said one thing, and then tried to say they never said that.
    Also, there was a clever campaign to imply that Saddam Hussien had links with Al-Qaeda, which was very successful based on the people that still believe it.

    Rhinehold wrote: Then, to further the arrogance, they count the number of times that these 6 things were stated during two years and count them up, saying ‘935 lies’. It’s really laughable in the extreme. But, let’s look at this few statements that are considered ‘lies’.
    The real arrogance is this clever game of trying to defend the indefensible.

    First of all, the article calls them false statments.
    Second, no one ever said the false statements were unique statements, which should be obvious to most people.
    So your argument is very weak (if not totally lame) on both counts.

    Rhinehold wrote: To say that Bush KNEW what he was saying to be false is incorrect and no one has proven that to be the case.
    He should have. That’s his job. He has proved his incompetence.
    Rhinehold wrote: People may SUSPECT it, but aren’t you the one saying we need 100% certainty before acting on suspicion?
    That’s right. The government should be 100% certain before starting a war.

    They weren’t, which is obvious.
    Even if there were not intentional lies, there were hidden motives and agendas, and then it was followed by massive incompetence.
    The many blunders that followed are proof enough of those blunders.
    So, again, your argument is very weak indeed.

    Rhinehold wrote: Right. This helps prove the case that Bush actually thought that those trailers were used for the purpose of making chemical weapons. It turns out they weren’t. They were wrong. That is not the same as knowingly putting out false information…
    Bush still (July 2003; 2 months later) used that false assertion AFTER he had already been told it wasn’t true:
    Bush said: We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents.
    Bush had already been told those mobile trailers contained no WMD nor functional capabilities. So, again, your argument is very weak again.
    Rhinehold wrote: That he [Bush] failed miserably in having the right people dong a good job doesn’t change those facts, it just makes it a stain on the judgement of one person, Bush. Not on everyone who supported the actions, like McCain or Clinton. Or me.
    Not true.

    You are not as culpable, since you are not privy to viewing the intelligence and reports week after week, year after year.
    However, the Administration and Congress members (with clearance) do see some of those things.
    They are culpable.

    Rhinehold wrote: Or any of the other millions of people who the progressive part of the Democratic Party is now at war against, instead of uniting with.
    Nonsense.

    So anyone that doesn’t agree with you is somehow a traitor, and hater of America?
    Is that what you are saying?
    If so, it’s one of the more disgusting and despicable statements I’ve seen here.

    Rhinehold wrote: Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other instead of working to heal the wounds caused by Bush and his inability to properly manage our military, which is what needs to take place.
    More nonsense.

    That is also a despicable personal attack to say I am doing a

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Nonsense. I have done nothing to make Americans continue fighting and hating each other.
    You should take a good look at your comment and then ask yourself who is spewing hate speech?
    As for Iraq, we’ve been there 5 years, and that’s long enough.
    We can’t stay there much longer (much less 20, 50, or 100 years), because nation-building is NOT the fair and just use of our troops, and we have $48 Trillion nation-wide debt.

    Rhinehold wrote: But, we can’t do that, there’s an election to be won, at any cost! It seems that Hillary is not the only one willing to do that…
    Yes, it certain appears so, as evidenced by your statement …
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Thus, your comments are becoming less and less credible with every post.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at March 12, 2008 4:19 PM
    Comment #247792

    So Rocky,
    Are you saying that you think Wilson should have ignored seven sunken ships that killed Americans and any others that were sure to have been sunk afterward, and completely ignored the Zimmermann telegram, and cheerfully allowed Germany to get away with lying to us about the agreement they had made regarding unrestricted submarine warfare, and given them exactly what they wanted, which was to ensure that America would remain neutral while they continued to fight the Allied Forces and attack anyone who chose to trade with, or offer arms or aid to them?
    You think that it would have been wiser for us to have remained stubbornly isolationist in spite of all that, and stay out of that war at all costs?

    I personally don’t see how that would have been considered the right thing to do. And I say that knowing full well that WWI was a truly horrific war, that killed an large number of our soliders.

    Btw, good replies to Jack on the Iraq War.
    Same goes for phx8 and cube — excellent points and replies.
    Between the three of you covering that end of this argument, I actually have no reason to interrupt with my own comments.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 12, 2008 6:27 PM
    Comment #247797

    VV,

    I am saying nothing of the sort.

    You asked if I thought Germany was a threat to America during WW1, the answer is no, and it is no for the reasons I’ve already stated.
    Yes, a few hundred Americans had died as a result of sinkings, prior to our joining the war, that isn’t a reason to go to war.
    As I said before we were still trading with all sides before we entered the war. There is evidence of a German submarine freighter docking at New London Conn, and Baltimore in 1916, and taking it’s cargo back to Germany unharmed.

    Yes, the AEF suffered many casualties in France, not a few of which were caused by Pershing’s arrogance in not wanting to adopt already proven tactics.

    IMHO, there is a vast difference between a threat to American “interests”, and a threat to America itself.
    Germany posed no threat to America itself.

    BTW, thanks.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 7:22 PM
    Comment #247806

    Jack,
    Suggesting oil is fungible fails to address the issue on several levels.

    Usually, when a person suggests that oil is fungible, they mean that oil is interchangeable regardless of source; it forms one common pool, and that determines pricing.

    However, the quality of the oil, transport, and political security of the supplier all affect the price. Even minor disruptions can cause large price swings.

    The fungibility argument also implies the worldwide pool of oil is a constant, and the worldwide demand is constant as well. This is obviously not true. There is a lot of talk about Peak Oil, and the decline of the Saudi fields, which affects supply. The increasing demand comes from growing economies such as China.

    If the US insists on importing oil rather than pursuing alternative energies, the source of oil becomes critical. Given the foolish insistence of the Bush administration to perpetuate oil dependence, it does, in fact, matter a great deal where the oil supply originates. It is about control of oil. From a Neocon/BushCo point of view, political and economic control of Iraq and Iran are vital.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 12, 2008 9:31 PM
    Comment #247809

    Rocky, do you see yourself looking at patterns or trends in which another country continually “tests” and “baits” the USA and believing that they are pushing the limits of our sovereignty? Or is that their business and their region, and the US has to hold back?

    Posted by: Edge at March 12, 2008 10:12 PM
    Comment #247814

    Edge,

    America has had what appears to be expansionist aims for at least 60 years.
    We protest loudly that we aren’t the world’s police force, yet we are johnny on the spot when some one even hints to threaten our perceived self interest.
    We have troops stationed in countries all over the world, some in places where the local population wish we would leave.
    America has propped up or placed in power some of the most repressive regimes on the face of the planet, and we wonder why the populous of those countries don’t trust us.
    We have exported McDonald’s, Coke, Pepsi-co, Levis, etc, to places that don’t necessarily agree with our way of life.
    IMHO, America’s sovereignty extends only to it’s borders, and to the fence lines of our embassies. We can’t seem to get through our heads that the laws of this country are only in effect in this country. We also don’t seem to believe that there are other sovereign countries, and we shouldn’t just waltz in, snatch somebody, and waltz out, with out so much as a fare thee well.

    Please don’t get me wrong. America has done great things throughout the world, but more often than not, we have done it in our own self interest, and we have to admit the bad with the good.

    I like Americans, I like living in America, but I also liked the Chinese, the Filipinos, the Greeks, etc that I have met in my travels to other countries. Just like we do they want to live their own lives, in the way they choose.

    If there is a ruthless dictator, Saddam comes to mind, we should do all we can in our power to help the folks in that country to overthrow that dictator. But, once that goal is accomplished we should step back, and allow them to pick the type of government they want. Sure, suggest democracy, but allow them that choice, and support it no matter what that choice is.

    Sorry for the long answer. I have had an interesting day and somebody pushed my verbose button

    Posted by: Rocky at March 12, 2008 11:28 PM
    Comment #247815

    Rocky, thank you. No worries about the verbose button, I hit back space for awhile before I posted my question to you. It would have been a statement rather than question.

    I tend to think that we are protecting ourselves by promoting ourselves. I struggle with this and appreciate/respect you ansswer.

    My thanks.

    Posted by: Edge at March 12, 2008 11:30 PM
    Comment #247820

    Cube

    Democrats always bring up grievances – real and imaginary – when anybody tries to do what is right. The problem is that you are mistaking partisan interests for American interests. When I write about Iraq, I am looking for solutions that will be best for our country. I may be wrong in my assessment. But way to often, instead of logical arguments about the way forward, I get a response that is sort of like “original sin”. Dems cannot accept that mistakes were made in a complex decision. They insist on making it a moral issue and insist on calling their opponents liars and much worse.

    Imagine if the president and thousands of others (because it would take a lot of co-conspirators) actually lied in order to make money on oil. Do you really believe that is possible? Is your hatred so great that it blinds you so completely?

    But let’s take the worst case scenario, it still makes sense to look to the future for solutions. George Bush has about ten month left to be president. After that, it will be a new team. Nobody closely associated with the Bush Administration will be prominent in that team, whether it is McCain or one of the Dems who wins. Iraq will be an AMERICAN problem still. Should we solve it, or should we argue about what the former president did or didn’t do seven years ago?

    Phx8

    We paid the Iraqis for their oil during the time of Saddam Hussein. We pay the Iraqis for their oil now and we will pay the Iraqis for their oil in the future. Most of the oil from Iraqi goes to places other than the U.S. It did before and it will in the future. It is part of the total oil supply. That is what I mean by fungible.

    It is possible that American oil companies benefited relative to those from Russia or France, but not decisively, not directly and certainly not enough to want to provoke an unnecessary war. If you follow the money, you come to a dead end. The Iraqis today have more freedom to choose their economic partners than they did under Saddam. They will choose the ones who give them the best deal and they are not going to sell us oil at a discount. That war for oil mantra is just silly.

    Oil gives despots resources to become dangerous. When people say war is about oil, that is the only thing that really is true. War for oil profit just doesn’t pass the test.

    And – BTW - how does the Bush Administration insist on oil dependence. Our consumption of gasoline actually DROPPED this last year. This is the first time this has ever happened since the 1970s expect when we had a supply disruption after Katrina. The price of oil makes the big difference. It was during the 1990s when prices were low and energy efficiency slipped. Bush was not president back then.

    As you know, I advocate a carbon tax. I understand that you cannot use less oil unless you … use less oil. Most of the other proposals we hear are just BS. When any candidate gets on the carbon tax wagon, we will know he/she is serious about oil dependency. The Dems, as I recall, complain that gas prices are too high. They want to lower them and consume more.

    Rocky

    People love McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Otherwise they wouldn’t buy them.

    The U.S. is so big and powerful that we just cannot stay out of the big conflicts. We get blamed whether or not we do very much. Consider the case of Saddam Hussein. Many people worldwide and in the U.S. firmly believe that we propped up Saddam. The U.S. supplied 0.47% of Saddam’s arsenal. Less than one half of one percent in not very much by any standards, but because the U.S. was involved we get stuck with the blame.

    The U.S. gives more than half of all the money used to fight AIDS worldwide. Who knew? President Bush vastly increased our foreign aid to Africa. Who cares? They remember that 0.47% because the U.S. has replaced the will of God as the thing people around the world blame for their troubles. It is the price of being so big, powerful and ubiquitous.

    Anyplace in the world you go, you can probably speak English, drink Coca-Cola and find people who know the name of the U.S. president. This is a truly amazing thing when you think about it, but it has a downside.

    Posted by: Jack at March 13, 2008 2:06 AM
    Comment #247825

    Jack,

    I said nothing about supplying Saddam, but he wouldn’t have been there to support if it weren’t for the CIA.
    The same goes for Noriega, and the Shah, and Pinochet.
    BTW, who was it we were backing in the Cuban revolution, oh yeah, Batista. He was a swell guy too.
    Suharto, he was well liked in East Timor.

    Jack, you don’t have to defend America to me. As I said, America has done some great things.

    Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2008 4:12 AM
    Comment #247826
    The president made the decision with the support of the Senate, which in 2002 was controlled by the Democrats.
    a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

    Iraq War Resolution

    The final decision to go to war in Iraq was Bush’s.

    When I write about Iraq, I am looking for solutions that will be best for our country.

    Interesting comment and even somewhat commendable if not for previous comments that you have made. I remember early in the war how you said that we shouldn’t be arguing about the decisions to go to war at a time when we should be showing unity towards the war effort. I even asked when would be an appropriate time? Now you say the time for discussion is too late, and we should look towards the future, very convenient.

    However I do agree, we do indeed need to look towards the future, but we shouldn’t ignore the past.

    Posted by: Cube at March 13, 2008 4:26 AM
    Comment #247828
    Rhinehold wrote: Or any of the other millions of people who the progressive part of the Democratic Party is now at war against, instead of uniting with.

    Nonsense.

    Ignoring the truth is not going to help anyone…

    So anyone that doesn’t agree with you is somehow a traitor, and hater of America?

    Not sure where this came from, but no. And I’ve never once suggested such a thing and have in the past taken great pains to denounce anyone suggesting so.

    It appears you are just lashing out at anyone who you perceive is disagreeing with your litmus test… And proving my point for me.

    Is that what you are saying?

    No where close. In fact, it would be like you asking if I am saying the sky is orange when I point out that it is in fact blue…

    If so, it’s one of the more disgusting and despicable statements I’ve seen here.

    And attempting to deflect by accusing someone of something so despicable when it is clearly the opposite of what I have stated is even more so.

    But let me be clear here. I understand that the decision about Iraq was a tough one for everyone. That is why I do NOT find fault with anyone who said at the time that we shouldn’t invade. I disagreed with them, strongly at time, but now and then I understood it to be a valid decision. All I have ever asked for is the same. Not to be subjected to the kinds of hatred that is spewed by many on the left who somehow find something wrong with my character because I had seen enough to support the removal of a brutal dictator from control in Iraq.

    This is something the Obama camp doesn’t get, they use the decision as a litmus test for whether you are worthy or not. They do this because of political reasons, it is the only real way to differentiate their candidate. Obama himself uses this in his campaign. So when he should be trying to unite the people by saying that while we had differences in the past about it we should learn from that time and move on, he is making sure we stay divided on the topic. Continuing the situation. For personal gain.

    And people call that leadership… I sure don’t.

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Nonsense. I have done nothing to make Americans continue fighting and hating each other.

    I disagree. Am I not allowed to do that then?

    As for Iraq, we’ve been there 5 years, and that’s long enough.

    If you look at what I say and not what you imagine I say, you would see that I agree with that statement and have stated so several times in the past including articles on record in this forum.

    Another example of the either or, black and white nonsense that is being pushed…

    We can’t stay there much longer (much less 20, 50, or 100 years), because nation-building is NOT the fair and just use of our troops, and we have $48 Trillion nation-wide debt.

    Again, I agree.

    Rhinehold wrote: But, we can’t do that, there’s an election to be won, at any cost! It seems that Hillary is not the only one willing to do that…

    Yes, it certain appears so, as evidenced by your statement …

    Glad we could agree.

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Thus, your comments are becoming less and less credible with every post.

    Then stop reading them. You are not obliged to do so.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 13, 2008 7:22 AM
    Comment #247834
    Rhinehold wrote: Or any of the other millions of people who the progressive part of the Democratic Party is now at war against, instead of uniting with.
    Ignoring the truth is not going to help anyone…
    What truth? More like fueling partisan warfare, hatred, and lies.
    Rhinehold wrote: Not sure where this came from, but no. And I’ve never once suggested such a thing and have in the past taken great pains to denounce anyone suggesting so.
    False, as clearly revealed by this lie
    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: It appears you are just lashing out at anyone who you perceive is disagreeing with your litmus test… And proving my point for me.
    Nonsense, there is a difference between a disagreement and making personal attacks such as this
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: No where close. In fact, it would be like you asking if I am saying the sky is orange when I point out that it is in fact blue…
    More nonsense to distract from the fact that the following statement is a blatant lie
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: And attempting to deflect by accusing someone of something so despicable when it is clearly the opposite of what I have stated is even more so.
    More lies. I said the statement was despicable, and it is, and the real attempt to “deflect” from lies such as this
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: But let me be clear here. I understand that the decision about Iraq was a tough one for everyone. That is why I do NOT find fault with anyone who said at the time that we shouldn’t invade.
    More nonsense, contrary to your own statement, and another attempt to “deflect” from lies such as this
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: I disagreed with them, strongly at time, but now and then I understood it to be a valid decision.
    Base on falsehoods such as this statement revealing the hypocrisy by claims of disdain for hate mongering, while simultaneously spewing hate mongering
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: All I have ever asked for is the same. Not to be subjected to the kinds of hatred that is spewed by many …
    More hypocrisy revealed by the contrast of that statement, claiming disdain for hate mongering, while simultaneously spewing hate mongering
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: … many on the left who somehow find something wrong with my [Rhinehold’s] character because …
    That is perhaps quite understandable, based on the hypocrisy and contradictory statements shown above, the supposed disdain for hate mongering, while simultaneously spewing hate mongering and lies about others such as this
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
      d.a.n wrote: Nonsense. I have done nothing to make Americans continue fighting and hating each other.
    Rhinehold wrote: I disagree. Am I not allowed to do that then?
    Yes, of course disagreement is allowed, but don’t expect others to believe hypocrisy and lies such as this
    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Which may be why
    Rhinehold wrote: … many on the left who somehow find something wrong with my [Rhinehold’s] character because …
    Rhinehold wrote: Another example of the either or, black and white nonsense that is being pushed
    What is truly “nonsense that is being pushed” are lies like this
  • Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
  • Rhinehold wrote: But, we can’t do that, there’s an election to be won, at any cost! It seems that Hillary is not the only one willing to do that…
  • Rhinehold wrote: Glad we could agree.
    The agreement is that the very hate mongering and hypocrisy that your statement decries is the very thing revealed by the hypocrisy and lies such as this
    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
      d.a.n wrote: Thus, your comments are becoming less and less credible with every post.
    Rhinehold wrote: Then stop reading them. You are not obliged to do so.
    That’s quite a talent for stating the obvious.

    However, hypocrisy, lies, and personal attacks such as this should not get a free pass, even if the author of them is a Watchblog column writer

    Rhinehold wrote: “Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    You did not merely critique the message.
    You attacked the messenger as clearly indicated by the statement above.
    And on top of that, it is an unsubstantiated lie.
    And even if it was not a lie, that is not a mere critique of the message.
    And comments like that is perhaps why some question the credibility of your statements and
    Rhinehold wrote:
    … find something wrong with my [Rhinehold’s] character …

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 13, 2008 9:25 AM
    Comment #247846

    This just keeps getting better, and better.

    Yawn

    Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2008 11:12 AM
    Comment #247849

    Rocky

    I just like to take any opportunity to get that statistic out there. And I will say it again:

    0.47% - the amount of Saddam’s weapons supplied by the U.S. He had no U.S. supplied weapons systems, no U.S. military advisors and was not the creature of the U.S. in any way.

    I am not saying you disagree and this is not a response to your point, but I like to say it.

    Posted by: Jack at March 13, 2008 11:26 AM
    Comment #247853

    Jack,

    Do you truly think that if the CIA hadn’t, in the early ’60s, helped put Saddam into a position of power in Iraq, we would have had to go through what we went through for the last 17 years?

    Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2008 11:47 AM
    Comment #247858

    Rocky,
    It’s safe to say the U.S. meddled.
    And in the Iraq/Iran war, the U.S. supplied intelligence to Iran to keep Iraq from gaining an advantage. When Saddam discovered that, he was very angry about it and turned against the U.S.
    But, Saddam was unstable to start with (to say the least), so one might make the argument that subsequent problems might have still happened.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 13, 2008 12:41 PM
    Comment #247863

    d.a.n.,

    Apparently you have a problem with criticism, which is fine. But attempting to project that onto me isn’t going to work very well I’m afraid.

    I attacked your actions, not you. I questioned the results of your actions and words, not you. I did not, one time, attack you or your character. It may sting, but that’s the truth of it. Nevermind that you attempted to put words in my mouth to deflect, you continue and project those failings onto me.

    You have attacked the character of many other people repeatedly. Bush for example, gets accused of 935 lies. Even though I’ve proven them be invalid, I doubt that will detract you from continuing pushing them.

    And yes, your repeated villification of anyone who believes we should have removed Saddam from power in 2003 *IS* ensuring that Americans keep fighting with each other and divides this country. Again, this is not an attack on you, but an attack on your actions and words. That you take it as an attack on YOU personally is perhaps a signal to something else that you might want to investigate.

    But that would mean admitting you are wrong. So far in the years I’ve communicated with you on these boards, that’s something I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do. Once. Even when it was pointed out to you in black and white.

    Posted by: Rhinehold at March 13, 2008 1:07 PM
    Comment #247868
    Rhinehold wrote: d.a.n., Apparently you have a problem with criticism, which is fine.
    Is that another critique of the messenger?

    No one likes criticism, but no one likes criticism that (a)false, and (b) lies about them, and (c)not critiquing the message, as demonstrated by your comment above and here

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Rhinehold wrote: But attempting to project that onto me isn’t going to work very well I’m afraid.
    Nonsense.
    Rhinehold wrote: I attacked your actions, not you.
    False. Your own comment reveals the truth …
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Notice the direct reference to “d.a.n., you …” ?

    So trying to now weasel out of it what isn’t going to work very well.

    Rhinehold wrote: I questioned the results of your actions and words, not you.
    False. Read your own comment.

    That was not a question, contained no question mark (?).
    You statement was a clear lie.
    Please show the proof that I have done

    Rhinehold wrote: … “great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”

    Rhinehold wrote: I did not, one time, attack you or your character.
    Nonsense. You said (which is false) I was …
    Rhinehold wrote: … ” ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”
    That is a lie, of which you have offerred no evidence whatsoever.

    Your comment is no better than others that challenge other Americans’ patriotism, or call them America haters, when they reveal problems.
    First of all, I’ve never blamed other Americans (i.e. voters). I find fault (whether lies and/or incompetence) with the administration and no WMD (a huge mistake).
    But I’ve NEVER said Americans that supported the removal of Saddam and Weapons of Mass Destruction were to blame.
    You invented that lie, and I challenge you to find ANYWHERE, anything I’ve ever written to support your lie.

    Rhinehold wrote: It may sting, but that’s the truth of it.
    No. There is no sting because there is no truth in your lies …
    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.
    Rhinehold wrote: Nevermind that you attempted to put words in my mouth to deflect, you continue and project those failings onto me.
    Nonsense.

    You’ve been caught red-handed telling lies about me. That is definitely more than merely critiquing the message. It is an offensive lie.

    Rhinehold wrote: You have attacked the character of many other people repeatedly. Bush for example, gets accused of 935 lies.
    Some people call false statements: lies (whether intentional, or not).

    I already said above some were mistakes, and some were lies.
    And there was definitely an agenda, that became more apparent after the fact.
    The voters were misled, and the clever associations between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, over and over, is only partial proof of it.
    There was a steady drone to go to war.
    It was not all mere mistakes.
    There was trumping-up weak evidence, and exaggerations (even when some of the evidence was said to be weak, if not false).
    It was not all mere honest mistakes; not when they are repeated over and over, and not when they are repeated after already having been proven false.

    Rhinehold wrote: Even though I’ve proven them be invalid, I doubt that will detract you from continuing pushing them.
    You have proven noting.

    I have seen ample evidence of lies by Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, and those lies are not hard to prove.
    They all have flat out denied saying things they in fact said.
    After the fact, it is a stretch to think there were NO lies; no agenda; no incompetence (in the administration).

    Rhinehold wrote: And yes, your repeated villification of anyone who believes we should have removed Saddam from power in 2003 *IS* ensuring that Americans keep fighting with each other and divides this country. Again, this is not an attack on you, but an attack on your actions and words. That you take it as an attack on YOU personally is perhaps a signal to something else that you might want to investigate.
    That is another lie.

    I’ve never villified anyone who believes we should have removed Saddam from power in 2003.
    That would be sort of stupid since I supported it too.
    Your comment is yet another lie, because you can NOT find any thing I have ever written that villifies anyone who believes we should have removed Saddam from power in 2003.

    I challenge you to prove it. I have challenged the wisdom of it based on what we know now, and criticized the incompetence and lies with the administration, but I have never villified a fellow voter for supporting the removal of Saddam, since I was one of them too!

    Thus, that is yet another comment you’ve made that has no credibility.

    Rhinehold wrote: But that would mean admitting you are wrong.
    No, you are wrong.

    I have nothing to admit since your statement is a flat out lie.
    I challenge you to prove where I have ever villified anyone who believed we should have removed Saddam from power in 2003, or …

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Rhinehold wrote: So far in the years I’ve communicated with you on these boards, that’s something I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do. Once. Even when it was pointed out to you in black and white.
    Wrong again.

    I have made mistakes, and apologized several times. For example (a few excerpts):

    • (1) JayJay Snowman, I’m sorry I got you so fired up… .

    • (2) No, JayJay Snowman, I want to apologize to you and others, and also thank you …

    • (3) Dave, But, I will be the first to admit it, and sincerely apologize for it …

    • (4) Lawnboy, I may have over-reacted to a few things in this thread, and probably should have ignored them, and I apologize for that, …
    • (5) Richard Rhodes, I apologize… .

    • (6) and I once apologized to 3 other people once a few years ago for telling lawyer jokes and criticizing the profession.

    • (7) and I probably owe Lawnboy an apology for using capitalization on his handle (last year).

    • (8) I also apologized for voting for Bush in 2004, but I don’t think I, nor anyone else should be villified for it, nor for supporting the removal of Saddam. Especially NEVER our troops. The fault lies entirely with the administration, whether they told lies or were merely incompetent.
    There have been a few others.

    So, once again, that is yet another one of your false statements; only adding to the lack of credibility in your statements.
    And is is also another critique of the messenger; not the message.

    I make mistakes, and try to own up to them when they are true, but you will get no apology from me for the arrogant and offensive lies, such as this

    Rhinehold wrote:“Good job, d.a.n., you are doing a great job of ensuring that all Americans continue fighting and hating each other”.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 13, 2008 2:22 PM
    Comment #247869
    Bush for example, gets accused of 935 lies. Even though I’ve proven them be invalid,

    Rhinehold you continue to use the same misinformation in order to make a point. I will concede that there was jumbled information prior to the war in Iraq. However, I contend that there was sufficient information to make a reasonable person reconsider committing the U.S. to a war prior to our invasion of Iraq.

    Either way, you continue to use the same misinformation to make your point. Consider the following article you attempted to use once before and you continue to misinterpret.

    The answer came from Berlin 48 hours later from the German intelligence chief, Dr. August Hanning. In a letter, a copy of which 60 Minutes has obtained, Hanning began, “Dear George.” He said no to Curve Ball being interviewed on television or by an American officer. Hanning wrote that Curve Ball’s reporting was “plausible and believable,” but, he added, “attempts to verify the information have been unsuccessful.” Curve Ball’s reports “must be considered unconfirmed,” Hanning wrote. If Tenet still wanted to use the information despite these caveats, Hanning said he could if the source was protected.
    In late September or early October, 2002,… Drumheller, whom I always considered to be a capable officer, now says a the German told him, “You do not want to see him [Curve Ball] because he’s crazy. Speaking to him would be ‘a waste of time.’” The German reportedly went on to say that his service was not sure whether Curve Ball was telling the truth , that he had serious doubts about Curve Ball’s mental stability and reliability…. Further, the BND representative worried that Curve Ball was a “fabricator.” Transcript from 60 Minutes, Nov. 4, 2007
    Sorry, Cube, but I’m going by the 60 minutes report that came out, oh, last week? It entirely contradicts the Christian Science Monitor report you are quoting from 2 years ago. Posted by: Cube at November 12, 2007 10:34 PM

    In the above article you may notice and you failed to acknowledge it before, U.S. intelligence knew that the Germans thought Curveball was unstable. Also you admonished me for using the “Science Christian Monitor” for my information even though they and “60 Minutes” were using the same exact same quotes. I also see that you have various other inconsistencies in your defense of going to war, but I’ll wait until another time to point them out.


    Posted by: Cube at March 13, 2008 2:23 PM
    Comment #247882

    Rocky

    I think the causality is extremely weak. The U.S. was/is involved in many things. Every day U.S. officials, business people and ordinary citizens make decisions that may have great consequences that cannot be foreseen at the time. Sometimes we are deciding which crook is the less of the evils; most often it is a choice among bad choices.

    It is an example of taking a current situation and then looking back to find causes which may or may not be the important ones but in any case were not possible to foresee at the time. I am sure there is a fancy Latin name for this, but I cannot recall. In any case, it is manifest in chaos theory, where you can identify the cause only after you know the result and sometimes the cause you identify is suspect, such as the butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon causing a hurricane in Florida.

    Cube

    It is always easy to make decisions about the past. Reasonable people certainly could have disagreed about the decision to go to war in Iraq. Very few did, however, including leading Democrats who has access to very high level intelligence. It is a big jump from saying that reasonable people might disagree to saying that there was only ONE decision a reasonable person could have made and then going one further by saying the president lied (and managed to outsmart all those smart Democrats in the Senate).

    We also need to consider the consequences of letting Saddam remain in power. What would a reasonable person expect Saddam to do if in January 2003 we just sent most of our troops home and called the whole thing off? Do you believe Saddam would have seen the error of his ways and stepped down? Would the Arab street have conceded that the U.S. was a good guy after all and they should stop being anti-American? Or maybe would all these guys be emboldened to push a little farther, as they had in the past. Remember also that Al Qaeda was operating in Iraq by 2003. A deal between these two sworn enemies of the U.S. would have been possible. Former Saddam supporters had no trouble working with AQI after the U.S. invasion. Why not an accommodation after the U.S. backed down? There was no zero option for us. One option left Saddam in power and all that went with that. That was a big risk. The other involved invading Iraq, another big risk. A reasonable person could have gone either way with the information available at the time and I believe a reasonable person could still believe that the harm from leaving Saddam intact would have been greater than the harm we suffered taking him down.

    Posted by: Jack at March 13, 2008 5:59 PM
    Comment #247887

    Jack,
    No. A reasonable person would reach the same conclusion that Bush 41# and Cheney and others reached after the First Gulf War. Although Saddam Hussein was not a good guy, getting rid of him meant worse alternatives. During the First Gulf War, Iraq did possess chemical weapons, but did not use them. If they weren’t going to use them then, they certainly weren’t going bother with them after the last ones were dismantled (which occurred in 1995).

    Regime change was an appropriate policy. It’s also worth pointing out Saddam Hussein was an old man, and it would have only been a matter of time before he was replaced with the son who wasn’t stone cold crazy. Sending in inspectors for WMD’s was a reasonable course of action.

    Invading was not a “reasonable” course of action.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 13, 2008 6:58 PM
    Comment #247908

    Phx8

    So you have a monopoly on truth and think that people like me are just stupid and/or unreasonable. It must be nice to know everything. You must be an extremely rich man in excellent health, loved by all your neighbors with a beautiful wife & happy family. I know I would achieve those things if I had all the answers and was so certain that only a fool or a liar could disagree with me.

    I understand that what I wrote above probably is not what you think you said, but think it through. I am a reasonably intelligent man with much more experience in Iraq than you have. My opinion is very different from yours. What does that mean to you? Does it mean that one of us is stupid or dishonest? I do not draw that conclusion.

    I enjoy talking with war opponents, but it is time to call you all on this aspect of your argument. It gets a little old and a lot insulting for arm chair strategist to tell people with more experience in these matters that we are dumb or dishonest.

    BTW – if you knew that WMD were dismantled in 1995 how is it that Bill Clinton didn’t know that?

    Please get off this hate wagon. It is going nowhere. In 2009 NONE of the guys who you think were in on the big lie will be in office, no matter who wins the election. We will face a situation in Iraq that we will have to address, whether or not the former president got us into it for the wrong reasons. Just give the hatred a rest and let’s talk solutions.

    If Dems want to pick up and leave, let them tell us about the consequences of that decision. I believe we should leave as fast as possible consistent with our interests. That just sounds reasonable to me, but I am not omniscient as Dems seem to be.

    And let me explain something about WMD that people do not seem to understand. We worry most about the nuclear type WMC but MOST WMD is low tech. They often use technologies developed a century ago. What you need to make WMD is a little bit of money and a permissive environment. WMD is not much use against prepared military targets. That is what armies learned in WWI. WMD is effective as terror weapons against civilians. That is what Saddam did against his own people and threatened in the Gulf War. It is the ease of production and relative cheapness of WMD that make it dangerous. Any reasonably developed country can make WMD. The simple versions can be made from common agricultural chemicals that any of us could obtain. What is important is the WILL to make it, some knowledge, facilities that can be duel use and the security of having a government that will protect and encourage the production.

    To say that Saddam did not have WMD at a certain date is not really useful information. You can take that old saying, “give a man a fish and he eats today, but teach a man to fish and he eats forever” and apply it to WMD. Saddam may not have had fish on hand, but he had the equipment, facilities and knowledge to quickly reestablish a program.

    Sanctions. What would have happened to sanctions if/when Saddam was certified not to have WMD and after sanctions were lifted, why do you believe he would have behaved well?

    BTW – both his sons were psycho killers and serial rapists. I don’t recall which one was less sadistic, but both were worse than the old man.

    So let me get to the long conclusion - It IS possible for a reasonable person with better than average intelligence and experience to have supported and to continue to support our policy in Iraq.

    You are entitled to say that this conclusion is silly, misguided or just plain wrong, but you cannot say that no reasonable person would have supported or would support the American policy in Iraq.

    Posted by: Jack at March 14, 2008 2:27 AM
    Comment #247920

    First, allow me to climb onto my high horse, balance a soap box on the saddle, stand on that rather precariously, and offer some high-handedness:

    The nice thing about being right is, that person usually gets to take the moral high ground.

    And the nice thing about taking the moral high ground is, that person usually gets to be right.

    The two tend to go together.
    Of course, being right or taking the moral high ground is not that simple, or that easy, or that clear. But it is that simple, and that easy, and that clear in the case of Iraq.

    It is a matter of judgment. Judgment can be clouded by mists of misinformation, if you will. But if a person creates those mists, that person can hardly complain about the misinformation clouding their eyes.

    In the case of Iraq, the Bush administration misled Americans. They decided what they wanted to do- invade Iraq- and proceeded to fix the data & intelligence to the policy decision. Information undercutting the war was denied, minimized, ignored, and the sources were derided, forced to retire, or fired. Misinformation supporting the view, mostly coming from groups founded and funded by the administration, with clearly compromised agendas and unreliable intelligence, were presented as fact. The Bush administration presented an enormous amount of misinformation and propaganda and outright lies. Many Americans accepted the misleading information & supported the invasion, and not surprisingly, this resulted in wrong actions and bad results. But once the misleading nature of the war’s origins are understood, the excuses end. Once the mists parted, the proper course of action becomes clear.

    Some people will go to great lengths to rationalize thier continued support of the war. The alternative is to admit being wrong, which is never easy, especially when the consequences of being wrong are so tragic. But keep in mind:

    Rationalization is not the same as being reasonable.

    And two rights don’t make a wrong. Going into Iraq was the first wrong. Staying is the second one.

    Jack,
    Backing up to your comment-
    I do not have a monopoly on truth, etc, etc, but the question about Iraq is primarily a moral question, not a question of intelligence or experience. Presumably intelligence & experience help with judgments, but sometimes they just make rationalizations more convoluted.

    Opposing war and killing and violence and the Bush administration is not “hate.” It’s a little like the argument used by people who want to impose their religion on others; when they encounter opposition, they say something like ‘they’re intolerant of our intolerance!’ Or in the case of war, ‘we had to destroy the village in order to save it.’

    I’m pretty sure I understand WMD better than most people. It’s a threat which has been vastly overstated, and it’s certainly not a threat which deserves the primary focus of US policy through a War of Terror. I never write about scenarios because I don’t want to give anyone ideas. In wartime, governments have found chemical warfare useful for denial of terrain, and against massed attacks. Biological warfare has been useful in seige situations. But really, neither works very well for terrorists, and most scenarios are relatively difficult to pull off, and too uncertains to be worth bothering with in the first place. To get real about it, a maniac with an automatic rifle is a much more realistic threat.


    Posted by: phx8 at March 14, 2008 12:24 PM
    Comment #247976

    phx8,
    Bravo, sir. Well said!

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at March 14, 2008 9:32 PM
    Comment #248062

    Phx8 & VV

    I think Iraq is a moral question too. I try not to bring it up because moral issues are not negotiable and I am not arrogant about these things as some others. I think we did the right thing at the time based on the information available. I think it was the moral (if not the practical) thing to overthrow Saddam and I think abandoning the Iraqis now to be killed by AQI and the insurgents, who will be able to return is the height of cowardess and immorality.

    You can now see why we cannot discuss moral issues like this. I am metaphysically certain of the morality of my position. That is why I was willing to leave my family and risk my life to live in the desert and try to make peace work in Iraq, so please do not talk to me about morality. BUT despite that, I understand intellectually that moral arguments should be used sparingly.

    So please get off that moral high horse. You do not deserve to ride it. Moral certainty belongs only to the courageous who are in the middle of the fight. Even they should probably be a little more circumspect when the immediate situation has passed.

    And your information about Iraq is mistaken. We are not destoying villages to save them. Our policy is to protect Iraqi civilians. Our men are risking their lives to protect civilian populations from terrorists who kill them for political or religious purposes. This I know for certain and I can tell you that anyone who tells you otherwise is ignorant or a liar or both.

    A lot of people got their image of U.S. forces from watching movies about Vietnam. I was not in Vietnam, so I cannot say from personal experience whether or not those characterization are wrong, but they DO not apply to Iraq.

    About WMD, your position goes against what most American and foreign experts believe. Against a prepared enemy, chemical weapons are not effective. We (most of that) learned that from studying the experience in WWI. We also say that WMD worked as a terror weapon in Ethiopia or against Kurds when Saddam used it. Using a bio weapon against troops is even more of a problem. Unless you have a bioweapon that both can be deployed and will incapacitate troops in a very short time, it I not much use. Bioweapons are also best used as terror weapons.

    VV

    “bravo” When did you last visit Iraq?

    You guys are certain about something you have not seen. I envy that certainty, in some ways. But I would not want that kind of religion.

    Posted by: Jack at March 15, 2008 6:27 PM
    Comment #248079

    Jack,
    “So please get off that moral high horse. You do not deserve to ride it.”

    I most certainly do deserve to ride it. No matter how you parse this, events in Iraq have proven me absolutely, unequivocably right. And when asked about the future, my predictions have been right. So not only is my hindsight excellent, but my foresight has proven to be excellent as well. I realize statements like that sound conceited and ungracious, but nevertheless, they are true. Can you say the same, Jack?

    When it comes to Iraq, I will continue to bust the chops of the Bush administration every chance I get. A friend of my daughter was arrested at an Iraq protest. I applaud her. I applaud Code Pink for waving bloody hands in the gallery of Congress.

    I am pretty sure we are metaphorically and sometimes literally destroying urban areas of Iraq. Last I heard, over half of Fallujah is damaged, and civilian vehicular traffic is not allowed. This is occurring in a city which used to have the largest population in Anbar province.

    You keep referring to terrorists, as if everyone fighting in Iraq is a terrorist. The vast majority of the people fighting are native Iraqi “insurgents.” Some are fighting the US. Some are fighting each other. Some belong to militias, paramilitaries, and Death Squads. Very few meet the definition of what most Americans would call a terrorist- that is, a civilian launching attacks against other civilians with the intent of inspiring terror. Most suicide bombings meet that criteria, but while those make the news, the largest numbers of casualties are caused by gunfire, not explosions.

    US policy is protect Iraqi civilians. That sounds great. But what do you think happens when the USAF launches a strike in an urban area? I’ve read plenty of accounts about urban fighting. The horrible fact is, in urban warfare, it is extremely difficult to avoid killing innocent people, especially when our troops do not speak the language or know much about the culture. Walking around a foreign country while heavily armed is a recipe for bad things to happen.

    We’re not welcome there, Jack. We never were welcome. No poll shows that we are welcome. There is no point pretending it is otherwise. They’ll smile, and take our money and our guns, but that is not the same as being welcome.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 15, 2008 8:38 PM
    Comment #248133

    Phx8

    I was in Fallujah last week. The battle of Fallujah destroyed much of the city, yes. Now it is being rebuilt, markets are opening and property values are rising as people move back. It is still a terrible place.

    I don’t know what experience you have with war, but I was in Eastern Europe in the 1990s and you could still find war damage from the 1940s. Conditions don’t just change from war to peace in an instant. That is why we are helping rebuild, not only war damage, but the damage caused by Saddam, whose terrible rule ran the country into the ground and virtually destroyed civil society.

    I don’t know what accounts you are reading. Maybe they are from last year. Most of this kind of fighting is over. We are still in a war situation. That is why we are still there. We ARE protecting civilians because we still have to.

    Our troops travel with Iraqi interpreters who speak the language and know the culture. That you do not know this indicates – again – that your information is outdated. Back in 2005, we had trouble finding Iraqis who were qualified and would work with us. This is a problem no longer.

    Re terrorists – you could say that the people FIGHTING us are insurgents, but there are not many of them left fighting. Most of their activity now involves killing civilians and destroying property of Iraqis. A couple weeks ago, they beheaded a man and his son (I don’t recall if the kid as 9 or 11 years old) for the crime of trying to open a shop. These guys ARE terrorists.

    BTW – many of the insurgents have reconciled with us and their fellow Iraqis. The insurgency effectively ended in early 2007. We are cleaning up terrorists who could recreate a type of insurgency if not addressed. Remember that AQI’s goal in Iraq was to create chaos. They still want that.

    Re being welcome – everybody wants us to leave & we want to go – WHEN it is secure to do so. We all want a normal relationship with a normal country.

    I don’t know how you could do a proper opinion poll in Iraq and I am suspicious of any “scientific” measurement. The atmospherics are now much more positive. Of course we were not popular during the fighting. But as we have tapped down the bad guys, there is less of that. The change in U.S. strategy – to place greater emphasis on the protection of civilians – which we have been following since the end of 2006 has also had a great positive effect.

    Re morality – I am really surprised you cannot see the problem. You are having great fun thinking you are right re a situation you have not experienced. And even if you were to be right, how can you take pleasure in your country’s defeat? BEYOND all that, this demonstrates why we have wars. If you see fellow Americans as so craven, dishonest and stupid, how do you think we can deal with Islamic radicals who don’t share our general outlook.

    The irony of all this is that many on the left direct a lot more hatred at their fellow Americans who disagree with them than at the terrorists who want to bring down our civilization.

    It is impossible to argue morality. That is why we should be careful about deploying it. We both have some moral certainties about Iraq. I suppose you could argue that you have a detached perspective since you are not closely involved in the situation and do not know some of the people risking their lives. I am more deeply involved and I understand that influences my outlook. Living in Iraq changes your perspective, for good or bad.

    Posted by: Jack at March 16, 2008 3:06 AM
    Comment #248143

    Jack,
    “Our troops travel with Iraqi interpreters who speak the language and know the culture.”

    Yes, I knew that. However, urban combat involves small teams who must stay separated in order to avoid presenting a target- (the five US soldiers who recently died at the hands of a suicide bomber in the Mansour neighborhood inexplicably stayed close together in the same place for an hour)- and in urban combat most of the decisions will have to be made by individual American soldiers, without the benefit of the interpreter’s input.

    I’m surprised you didn’t know that. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with combat. What sources are you using? Those are condescending questions, aren’t they? Then let’s not go there, shall we?

    “… How can you take pleasure in your country’s defeat?”

    My country was wrong. I will take pleasure in seeing my country stop being wrong. I will take pleasure in seeing my country stop being the world’s leading arms exporter. I will take pleasure in seeing my country stop spending more on “defense” than the rest of the world combined. I will take pleasure in seeing my country stop supporting authoritarian regimes.

    I’ll take pleasre in a great many things, because we need to change.

    “The irony of all this is that many on the left direct a lot more hatred at their fellow Americans who disagree with them than at the terrorists who want to bring down our civilization.”

    Bush and his supporters have done more to bring down our civilization more than any terrorist could ever hope to do in a thousand thousand years.

    Posted by: phx8 at March 16, 2008 1:14 PM
    Comment #248157

    phx8

    Sorry about the condescending questions, but your positions do indicate a lack of current experience. I have walked the street with the Marines. Believe me that they would not let a f*ckup like me do that unless they thought it was safe and I wouldn’t go unless I was reasonably it was not that dangerous. We are not in those combat situations very much anymore. That is the point of what I am trying to explain.

    Obviouly we both think we are morally right and we both think the other is ignorant. That is why I don’t go down this morality road very often. It dead ends.

    Posted by: Jack at March 16, 2008 4:00 PM
    Comment #248170
    [#01] Jack wrote: how can you take pleasure in your country’s defeat?
    [#02] Jack wrote: If you see fellow Americans as so craven, dishonest and stupid, …
    [#03] Jack wrote: … many on the left direct a lot more hatred at their fellow Americans who disagree with them than at the terrorists who want to bring down our civilization.

    The problem isn’t mere left or right leanings, or merely being Democrat or Republican.
    One of the problems is extremism.

    For the record, I believe:

    • Some in the civilian administration misled Americans (whether it was due to lies, and/or exaggerations, and/or incompetence, and or a combination).

    • Some in the civilian administration showed more incompetence by trying to make military decisions based on political reasons (against the judgement of some military leaders).

    • Since there were no WMD of any significance, it certainly raises a valid question whether the threat to the U.S. was serious enough to warrant an invasion of Iraq. Also, understandably, people are not happy about it; and not merely because of the monetary cost, or the damage to the nation’s reputation, but the loss of life and limb.

    • Regardless, we are there now, and regardless of whether the Iraqi people improve and build upon it, or waste it, it is in no way a defeat of our troops.

    • Iraq may NEVER get their act together.

    • The U.S. can not stay in Iraq for a long time, because:
      • it is NOT fair to our troops.

      • The argument that terrorists will follow us here may be a valid statement. However, there are better ways to deal with that, and more Americans have been killed by illegal aliens in 3 years than U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 5 years.

      • Whether maintaining peace in Iraq with U.S. troops is making the U.S. safer is debatable.

      • Terrorists might attack us again. Perhaps that would be a good reason for more secure borders, and better ways to know when, where, and who is in the U.S. illegally. After all, the perpetrators of 11-SEP-2001 were illegal aliens, 18 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 11-SEP-2001 possessed state-issued and/or counterfeit driver’s licenses or ID cards and ALL 19 had obtained Social Security numbers (some real, some fake). Those terrorists very simply tapped into an enormous market for fraudulent documents that exists because tens of million people have successfully breached our borders and now reside here illegally. And anonymously. And that anonymity breeds more crime, when illegal aliens are repeatedly arrested, released, and deported, over and over. GAO-5646R Report indicated that a study group of 55,322 illegal aliens had an average arrest record of 13 arrests per illegal alien.

    • The U.S. has other priorities and pressing problems too.

    • The U.S. has massive debt problems too ($53 Trillion total nation-wide debt). The U.S. can not afford to be the world police.

    • Regarding [#01],[#02], and [#03] above:
      • (a) I certainly don’t want to see our troops defeated, and seriously doubt many (if any) Americans do.

      • (b) I don’t see all fellow Americans as craven, dishonest and stupid (a few bad apples doesn’t mean all are bad).

      • (c) I certainly don’t direct hatred at fellow Americans more than than terrorists.
      That would be a truly despicable person. I have not noticed anyone in this thread write anything that resembles [#01], [#02], and [#03] above.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 16, 2008 6:52 PM
    Comment #248922

    As long as the news media remains as an entertainment source and not report ethically and only report news, the news networks will continue to report their candidate like Sen. Obarack Obama. Had the news media reported the truth for the past 18 months, the Senator from Illinois would have been out of the presidential race. Instead each time the Senator from Illinois was caught in a lie, they made excuses or worst, the news networks did not report it at all. Instead of truthful news the networks continue to report hype. For example:

    It is obvious that Sen. Barack Obama does not know General Merrill McPeak well. Otherwise, he would have not bragged about his support. For a portion of my military career I was under the generals’ command and I can assure America, most military members routinely made fun of the general. He was referred to as the waist-fraud-and-abuse general but mainly because he was the source of the never-ending waist. In my view, as for the general’s leadership abilities, like when the general supported the Senator from Illinois on Fox News, the general had to read a script. But then the Senator from Illinois is known for being able read a well written speech better than most Americans. Only the news media was impressed with the race speech. Minorities saw if for what it was, a political survival speech. Most military members I knew (i.e., airmen) gave a party to celebrate the general’s retirement. I hope that the Senator from Illinois has better judgment at 3 AM in the morning than selecting individuals like Tony Rezko, Pastor Wright, State Senator Meeks, Gov. Richardson, and General McPeak, retired. In my view, the Senator from Illinois has judgment problems and America cannot afford such a president at 3AM in the morning.

    Posted by: Dr. Rene, USAF Retired at March 22, 2008 8:25 PM
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