September 05, 2004

Bush By the Numbers

Graydon Carter has this extremely lengthy list. Some of the "highlights":

Vacations: 13 Number of vacation days the average American receives each Year; 28 Number of vacation days Bush took in August 2001, the month he received a 6 August Presidential Daily Briefing headed "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike US Targets."; 500 Number of days Bush has spent all or part of his time away from the White House at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, his parents' retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, or Camp David as of 1 April 2004.

Terrorism and Iraq: 1 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security issued between 20 January 2001 and 10 September 2001 that mentioned al-Qa'ida; 104 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security and defence in the same period that mentioned Iraq or Saddam Hussein; $3m Amount the White House was willing to grant the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 11 September attacks; $50m Amount granted to the commission that looked into the Columbia space shuttle crash; $5m Amount a 1996 federal commission was given to study legalised gambling; 2.5 Number of hours after Rumsfeld learnt that Osama bin Laden was a suspect in the 11 September attacks that he brought up reasons to "hit" Iraq.

And how about these on our knowledge of the world: 69 Percentage of Americans who believed the White House's claims in September 2003 that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 11 September attacks; 34 Percentage of Americans who believed in June 2003 that Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" had been found; 22 Percentage of Americans who believed in May 2003 that Saddam had used his WMDs on US forces; 85 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel on a map; 30 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map.

There's much more listed.

Posted by armand at September 5, 2004 01:05 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Politics


Armand, you forget zero, the number of people killed in America since 9/11 by terrorist.

Posted by: Morris at September 6, 2004 12:02 AM | PERMALINK


How valid is that number? First, we don't know how many terrorist attacks have been attempted. If none have been attempted, than Pres. Bush deserves little to no credit for a lack of attacks. Second, why are you giving Pres. Bush a pass on 9/11? Sure, no one has been killed (except about 1000 US soldiers) since 9/11, but 3,000 or so were killed on 9/11. Doesn't Pres. Bush share some blame for that? There is clear documentation that the Bush administration focused little on international terrorism in the nine months between his inauguration and 9/11 (prefering, instead, to focus on missile defense and Pentagon reorganization/downsizing).

Posted by: Baltar at September 6, 2004 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

And Mo if you're so interested in charging out into the world and changing it and protecting all life everywhere on the planet - well, the number of terrorist attacks outside the US is up since 9/11.

Posted by: Armand at September 6, 2004 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

What do you expect Bush to have done about Al Queada in 9 months when Clinton had several years to do something about UBL but did nothing? The Al Queada attack was planned and financed over many years; if lack of intelligence is to blame maybe we should hold someone responsible who supported all the cuts in the humint budget. As you like to point out, Bush didn't have a political job until being Texas governor, and that's not exactly a national post. Maybe we should hold responsible those in the ACLU who are so afraid of people finding donkey sex pictures on their computers that their efforts yielded an inability to examine the computer which would have provided clues to 9/11 BEFORE it happened. You make a big deal about Dr. Rice advising the president about possible attacks using planes when their had been such a possibility discussed by intelligence since the 60's, so commonplace an idea it is that it's in a Tom Clancy novel, but you think it's Bush's fault for not instituting a radical policy change within a month of hearing a non-specific intelligence threat. In fact, if Bush HAD done something you would have talked about how he's taking away the rights of airline passengers to privacy, and if the attack had been averted you'd say that Bush had nothing to do with it, that it would have been averted without the invasion of rights, or that any president would have done the same thing. This is the minimizing you do at the beginning of your comment. I'm glad we have a president who's made it so we get to ask questions like how many terrorist attacks have been attempted?, I'm glad we don't know for certain how many have been by watching them over and over on CNN. As a WWII veteran said on the news the other day, it's better to have our soldiers fight this war overseas than to watch our own cities reduced to rubble as he'd seen happen in Europe. I might remind you that the same doubts about reconstruction existed after WWII in Europe as exist about Iraq. I hate to break it to you, but missile defense systems may be our best option against a nuclear threat from N. Korea and other rogue proliferators. There may come a point when people in Los Angeles are very glad we have a defense that might work, instead of no defense at all.

Yes, the number of terrorist attacks is up, but it's backward of you to hold the United States responsible for that. If we can continue to replace regimes that foster terror and mute the voices of those who incite others to bring suffering and death to Americans, Jews, whoever their target may be, we will have at least joined the battle that has been raging against us for many years. Terrorist attacks were increasing before we ever fought back. Do you also think women are responsible for their black eyes when they try to stop abusive boyfriends from hitting them?

Posted by: Morris at September 6, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK


I'm sure Armand can respond on his own. However, I have a few issues with your comment.

No one is advocating to let Clinton off the hook. However, it is clear that the Clinton National Security team (with one voice) told Bush's transition team that terrorism is the number one threat, and they were ignored. Bush didn't do much about terrorism before 9/11. We can certainly hold him responsible for that. Remember: Bush did nothing with respect to international terrorism before 9/11. Complaining that a mythical Bush policy to increase screening at airports would have failed is not an excuse.

Any computer that held 9/11 plans on it would have been outside the country, and outside any ACLU attempts to keep it private.

You miss the point about the lack of terrorist attacks. Yes, certainly I'm glad we don't see any on TV (though there are many outside the US), but since we don't know how many have been tried, we don't know how effective US anti-terrorism measures have been. In short, we don't know how effective Bush's policies have been. By your logic Clinton's eight years were 100% effective (the only attack under him was in 1993, and we can blame that on the previous administration's ineffective anti-terrorism policies).

As for preferring our soldiers to fight over there rather than over here, this argument only works if you are talking about fighting the same enemies. There is substantial evidence that the insurgency in Iraq has more to do with nationalism (get America out so we can make our own Islamic/Baathist state) than Al Qaeda. Hence, invading Iraq may not have taken the fight to them, but instead have opened a second war while we are still fighting the first.

Lastly, missile defense may be effective, someday. It is not right now. I actually support testing and research to build such a system, but only if done carefully (building a defense may cause others to build more offense, meaning our missile defense shield will likely provoke other states to build more missiles, which is bad) and only deploy it when it works. As of today, it does not (yet they deployed it).

Posted by: Baltar at September 6, 2004 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

The 3rd point in Colleen Rowley's memo is key.
Moussaoui's computer was not searched out of concern for his due process rights; though obtained before 9/11, it was weeks before a warrant was granted. This was in the United States.

It was my impression Dr. Rice said she was not briefed on Al Quaeda; I know Sandy Berger said she was, but I'm not certain we can trust the word of someone who likely destroyed code word files, probably to hide Clinton's failure to act on the millenium plot's after action report. Let me know if you have a source for Dr. Rice saying she was briefed.

I'm not sure much could have prevented 9/11, but to nix Bush because a particular FBI agent didn't follow a lead seems like firing a restaurant manager for a particular waiter's failure to bring out a plate of food when the restaurant has tens of thousands of waiters. I don't think before 9/11 the country had the political will to undertake the balancing of privacy rights with national security interests. Personally I find fault with the build down in humint, but this is not a partisan stance.

Considering Saddam's outright support and financial compesation for terrorist, and harboring terrorist, even if you don't see a connection between 9/11 and Iraq as I do, those who believe in the political spirit of Saddam's baathist iraq also believe in terrorism against the U.S. Yes, they're fighting for their old country...that supported terrorism.

Just four days ago there were two successful missile defense tests; the deployed systems were only about 50/50, but they will give our people a chance to survive.
I'm not too worried about an overwhelming missile attack because of the worldwide environmental disaster that would follow any such attempt, it would be a Pyrrhic victory for any nation; only a madman would attempt one, and it's because of a madman we need something to protect us.

Posted by: Morris at September 6, 2004 05:43 PM | PERMALINK


1. The computer thing: The link you gave (Time Magazine's reprinting of an FBI agent's letter) makes no mention of the ACLU. The FBI was following guidelines to get into Moussaoui's computer. These failed: take it up with the FBI (i.e., fire some people and get it working better). Nowhere in the letter is it noted that the computer contained information that would have allowed the 9/11 plot to be stopped.

2. I don't know if Berger briefed Rice or not; I don't care. It is clear that, in general, the outgoing Clinton National Security team made repeated reference to terrorism as their highest priority. Bush's team (perhaps not the president, but certainly the team) failed to follow through. Perhaps someone should take responsibility for this? Resign? Get fired?

3. Maybe you should fire that restaurant manager. It depends. Were they responsible for the hiring of the waiter? Did they create the framework for how orders were taken and checked? Truman's famous "The buck stops here" sign comes to mind. No, you can't blame the President for everything, but you can ask what the President did to facilitate good decision-making in the people he choose to run the national security end of things.

4. I'm sorry. Iraq never supported terrorism against the US. Not in any serious fashion. Saddam paid some of the suicide bombers families in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and Saddam attempted to kill former president Bush in the early 1990s. Oh, and Saddam gave sanctuary to Abu Nidal (who, after he moved to Iraq, never committed any other terrorist act, to my knowledge). That's it. Saddam, to his credit, prevented Al Qaeda from operating in his territory (he saw them as a threat to his supreme authority), which is something the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia cannot say. Just to be inflamitory, you could make a reasonable claim that Saddam did more to prevent/hinder Al Qaeda than just about any other government in that part of the world. He did not support international terrorism.

5. On missile defense, the link you give does not go to any information about a recent test. All the press releases (not a credible source, in any event) talk of tests for theater systems (i.e., local Patriot-like anti-missile systems that would not be capable of hitting an ICBM). The missile system being put in place in Alaska has been tested eight times, and succeeded five. In all eight tests, the "enemy" vehicle was a low and slow drone and the test missile technicians knew a head of time what path the drone was taking. This is not a valid test. I'm not arguing we shouldn't do it, I'm arguing that we need to test effectively before spending billions. Would you order a new Army rifle and put it into production before finding out whether it worked? No. That's all.

Posted by: Baltar at September 6, 2004 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Prior to and even after receipt of information provided by the French, FBIHQ personnel disputed with the Minneapolis agents the existence of probable cause to believe that a criminal violation had occurred/was occurring. As such, FBIHQ personnel refused to contact OIPR to attempt to get the authority."

There was a lot of talk about the atmosphere of intimidation created by the Bush White House that led to only intelligence that supported a war with Iraq being received by them. If you look at this, there's an atmosphere of intimidation created by the ACLU, that is the first instinct was not to grant the warrant but instead wait until more evidence was available even when field agents had reached the conclusion Moussaoui was a terrorist. This is the problem with pursuing terrorists with the criminal justice approach. In a post-9/11 environment, we can no longer afford insecurities about private information coming to light. The idea that if FBI agents suspect someone of being a terrorist they cannot search their computer is absurd. I think we need to rethink the concept that people have the right to commit crimes as long as they do it in the privacy of their homes. In this way, the ACLU "create[d] the framework for how orders were taken and checked."

You want to blame the Bush administration but you don't care if Berger briefed Dr. Rice? What kind of a terrorism briefing could it be if he didn't mention Al Queada? "By the way, we haven't really done anything about these people, but they're our highest priority, just can't think of any names off hand." Was it something like that?

Iraq never supported terrorism? They tried to kill a president of the United States. They paid thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers. They were a safe haven to Abu Nidal, preventing him for facing justice for the hundreds he killed(in America we call that accessory after the fact if not principle party to those murders). Saddam didn't prevent Al Queada from operating in his country, he gave medical aide to one of their operatives within his country. Iraqi security personel just happened to meet with the 9/11 highjackers four times in the months before their getting a big cash infusion, setting up and then carrying out their attack. You say, "That's it." You're smoking crack, aren't you?

If Iraq was the Michael Moore heaven, even if you don't care about their hands being cut off, chemical weapons being used against them, maybe you think the Iraqi people are dirt and don't deserve better. But why did John Kerry vote for us to go to war if it was such a bad idea? Was he just an idiot?

You forget the M-16. Our soldiers in Vietnam had many, many problems with it jamming because any small amount of dirt could keep it from working, unlike the Kalishnakov rifles. The fact is the military fields systems all the time that sometimes don't work. Think about all the problems with the Osprey. If we wait for perfection we'll be waiting a long time, and some effectiveness is better than no effectiveness when the threat is a nuclear attack.

Posted by: Morris at September 6, 2004 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Morris writes: "In a post-9/11 environment, we can no longer afford insecurities about private information coming to light. The idea that if FBI agents suspect someone of being a terrorist they cannot search their computer is absurd. I think we need to rethink the concept that people have the right to commit crimes as long as they do it in the privacy of their homes. In this way, the ACLU 'create[d] the framework for how orders were taken and checked.'"

This is so garbled and addled with non sequitur I'm not even sure to begin. In order, then:

* The Framers, in drafting the Fourth Amendment, were not "insecure about private information coming to light." They were concerned about an overbearing government with disproportionate power and the authority to use it arbitrarily. Period. It takes more than a "hunch" to intrude upon the sanctity of one's person and one's home -- as it has in this country since its inception, as I pray it forever will.

* "Absurd." Ditto -- Take it up with the Framers.

* ". . . the right to commit crimes . . . in the privacy of their own homes." Huh? Seriously, what in God's name are you talking about? There's no question about the ability to punish people for crimes, whether committed at home or otherwise. The Fourth Amendment concerns itself only with the way in which law enforcement detects crimes, a wholly independent matter. This sort of strawman that people so love to set up and bring down, akin to excoriating the criminal system every time someone "gets off" on a "technicality" (no one ever calls it a "technicality" when they are allowed to express their most incendiary ideas freely, but insofar as "technicalities" in criminal justice often involve constitutional protections the two are analogous), generally leads to, "No constitution for A-rabs," or words to that general effect.

* Finally, you give the ACLU waaaaaaay too much credit. Long before there was the ACLU, there was the Supreme Court. Long before there was the ACLU, there were criminal defense attorneys. And long before there was the ACLU, there was The Constitution of the United States of America. It is the criminal defense attorneys, working from that document, who have convinced appellate courts large and small, state and federal, that the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments are toothless without specific protections. It is the courts who have given those protections teeth. The warrant requirement itself is constitutional. The ACLU, at its most effective, does what individual attorneys have been doing all along -- attempting to convince jurists that the constitution requires certain rulings. Contrast that to the present administration, which doesn't even bother to mount such arguments, or does so in the demilitarized zone of the national media, and does everything it can to stay out of courts -- which isn't surprising, since even with a court system stacked to the gills with conservatives, this administration can't buy a favorable ruling of late. And the ACLU is so not responsible for that. Once again, thank the constitution.

Is it possible that, by maintaining our constitutional framework, we may in some small degree increase the immediate danger to the United States (a danger no doubt offset by protecting the principles enshrined in our founding document)? Of course. Me? I'll take that chance. It won't be the first time people have died to protect the ideals there expressed. I fail to see how one can wave the flag in one hand and a burning constitution in the other; that's not American patriotism in my book.

Posted by: joshua at September 7, 2004 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Morris: Once again you show little grasp on what I actually think, your suppositions to the contrary notwithstanding.

"In fact, if Bush HAD done something you would have talked about how he's taking away the rights of airline passengers to privacy, and if the attack had been averted you'd say that Bush had nothing to do with it, that it would have been averted without the invasion of rights, or that any president would have done the same thing."

1) As to your first sentence, probably not. 2) It would have been possible to avert in a number of ways, some which would threaten rights, others which would not. 3) So Bush gets off the hook b/c he decided he should move into the White House uniformed of politics beyond what's discussed in Austin? Because it was only 9 months into his term? What? When does his responsibility start? To me it started on January 20, 2001. And you can keep bringing up Clinton all you like (though I still don't get why), but it's factually documented by the Bush team themselves that they de-prioritized terrorism when they entered the White House. That, I blame him for. Doing NOTHING that I can tell to confront al Qaeda or deal with the Cole bombing I blame him. He was the president of the United States. If the buck doesn't stop with him, where does it stop?

I have no problem with fighting terrorists overseas. I strongly disagree with the assertion that Iraq had much to do with terrorism before we invaded it.

Even if we accept your assertion that Rice was never briefed on al Qaeda - You don't think the NSC advisor should have shown some interest in terrorism for 9 months! If she's not briefed that's someone else's fault? Maybe we should have officials in office who can think ahead and ask for briefings on major threats. And if she's not getting such briefings that's hardly a sign that the Bush NSC was functioning well in 2001.

I most certainly don't expect to agree with John Kerry on everything. I think he voted the wrong way on the war. But I still think he would have prosecuted it in a more effective manner.

And sure, people were tortured in Iraq and murdered (what does it really matter if it's with poison gas or machetes). That happens in many places around the world. It's unfortunate, and I'm not against working to stop it. But I don't know that stopping it is worth damaging our security position, killing over a thousand of our troops and our allies's troops, maiming many thousand more, killing a large number of Iraqi civillians, and spending vast somes of our resources that could be doing a great deal of good in Montana or New Hampshire but are instead being used to pulverize small villages in Iraq. Obviously, that's a value judgement. We disagree on that.

So you're pro-Osprey? Good for you. I'd never set foot in one of those things. "Death-trap" might be a bit strong, but still. Seriously though - the tests simply aren't accurate tests of real-world situations. If you want to spend 10 billion on untested technology, again we disagree - that's, again, a value judgment.

Posted by: Armand at September 7, 2004 11:29 AM | PERMALINK


I'm going to skip the ACLU/Probable Cause argument. We can have it, but I think it is subsumed under a broader, and more important, argument:

This is the problem with pursuing terrorists with the criminal justice approach. In a post-9/11 environment, we can no longer afford insecurities about private information coming to light. The idea that if FBI agents suspect someone of being a terrorist they cannot search their computer is absurd. I think we need to rethink the concept that people have the right to commit crimes as long as they do it in the privacy of their homes. In this way, the ACLU "create[d] the framework for how orders were taken and checked."

Now this is more interesting. I think I disagree. While 9/11 was a horrible tragedy, it was only a single event. I'm not sure I want to throw away 200+ years of civil liberties and court cases supporting them (like the limits on probable cause) because of one (spectacular) failure. In other words, until there is a clear reason to argue that the US (not individual people in the US) is in danger of collapse or a significant harm to national interests, I'm not willing to give up my civil liberties. If you remember the argument I was making to Marris and AngryMacaque (democracy trumps troop morale), I would make a very similar argument here: democracy trumps responding to terrorism. These civil liberties (using the courts to find guilt and punish people) are fundamental to the kind of democracy we are, and that has to outweigh any tactical advantages gained in fighting terrorism by reducing our legal civil liberties.

You argue:

Iraq never supported terrorism? They tried to kill a president of the United States. They paid thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers. They were a safe haven to Abu Nidal, preventing him for facing justice for the hundreds he killed(in America we call that accessory after the fact if not principle party to those murders). Saddam didn't prevent Al Queada from operating in his country, he gave medical aide to one of their operatives within his country. Iraqi security personel just happened to meet with the 9/11 highjackers four times in the months before their getting a big cash infusion, setting up and then carrying out their attack. You say, "That's it." You're smoking crack, aren't you?

No, crack is to acidic. It gives me gas. There is no credible proof that the Iraqi government met with Al Qaeda at any time (the source you cite in the Swiftboats thread is not credible - no one outside of right wing internet sites accepts this version of facts). There is no evidence at all that Iraq did anything to help Al Qaeda, and, as I argued, Iraq did more to prevent Al Qaeda (by suppressing all religious groups) than just about any other Middle Eastern government. You may not like these facts, but they do exist. Whatever support Iraq gave to terrorism in general (payments to Palestinians, Abu Nidal, and attempts against former Pres. Bush) are pale shadows of what the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Afghanistan have done. Again, you may not like this, but these are facts.

As for Saddam torturing people, that's red herring. I know of no one, left or right, who has a kind word to say about Saddam. He's clearly an evil man. There are many evil men. Why invade that one, and ignore (because that's what we are doing) the others? Armand said what needed to be said on this.

As for the "Star Wars" anti-missile system, I think you are ignoring the effects it will have on other states. Even if it works (which is very, very doubtful), its mere presence will cause other nuclear states (Russia & China spring to mind) to build more missiles in order to deter us. And what if South Korea and Japan decide that our missile shield makes it more unlikely that we would defend them in case of North Korean attack? Their rational response would be developing their own missiles (which they are both technologically capable of). That is what I fear about the missile shield. It's a waste of money, but we've done that before (the B-2 bomber, anyone?). It’s the effect it will have on others that is scarier.

Posted by: baltar at September 7, 2004 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry I haven't gotten back to you for a few days, I've been sick and busy with school.

The Constitution is a LIVING document, yet your arguments treat it as static. There are more ammendments (or little burnings, to your way of viewing it) since that document was written than there were in it to begin with. As you say, the courts have a rich tradition of "interpreting" it, which often means changingit to suit the needs of a growing society. You act as if to create a new system of rights (not exactly the first time...the Supreme Court has established some rights are more important than others before) would be to destroy that piece of paper. I'm more worried about there being Americans left to hold it in their hands. As you say, the ACLU appeals consistently to the Supreme Court which has the power to change the Constitution and which rights are more important than others, thereby exerting pressure on the document and those rights. Yes, ultimately the decision rests with the Court; but ultimately the decision of which intelligence to release rested with the CIA, yet liberals still accuse the White House of creating a coercive environment. Is the number of visits Cheney made to the CIA any more than the number of Supreme Court cases assisted by the ACLU and the number of Amicus Curiae briefs they filed during its last session?

Right, I'm sure you would have given Bush credit for averting 9/11. Tell me one good thing you think Bush has done, I challenge you to give him some credit. Tell me you're not in the camp of absolutist thinking, just tell me one good thing Bush has done. I gave Gore credit for being stronger on environmental issues, I just didn't think that was enough to vote on.

You know exactly why I bring up Clinton, he was the last Democrat in the White House. At least I can argue with something Clinton actually did. I don't know where to start with Kerry, and that's not my fault. He was absolutely sure Iraq had WMDs less than two years ago, was sure they were working on a nuclear program. Now he's talking about us being in the wrong war. Barely a year ago on Meet the Press Kerry said we should spend more on the war, however many billions it takes to win. Now he says Bush wasted two hundred million dollars that could have been spent on education. That's just in the last two years. I'm not sure he has any complex grasp of politics when he says Bush is going to take a hundred thousand comps off the streets because of war costs when that bill only fully funded those cops for the first two or three years of a ten year duration. Is he an idiot or he is just trying to mislead America AGAIN? So I'm going to talk about Clintonn, because nobody knows who Kerry is.

Clinton did nothing about terrorism but make it number one priority in name. How many people wre killed in the African embassy bombings? How many people would have been killed in the first terrorist bombing in New York if the bomb hadn't vaporized the WMD it contained? Those were early in his administration; he had a lot more than nine months, and he did nothing but lob cruise missiles in their general direction.

How do you expect an intelligence community that had shifted to an electronic/signals intelligence emphasis to have picked up 9/11? That was done in previous administrations, CIA's budget was cut and THAT was a mistake. If we had more human intelligence resources, we might have had someone actually SEE Atta meet with the Iraqi agent in Prague instead of having to take the word of one of the Czech agents (which when combined with the paperwork found in Iraq is convincing to me). We might have had someone in Kuala Lampur to see that meeting.

Really, I don't blame Clinton or Bush (I know I'm strange, I blame the terrorists). And if the FBI had gotten a search warrant for Moussaoui's computer, or if the beaurocracy at FBI had been as vigilant as the border agent who foiled the Millenium plot in passing intelligence up the line about Middle Eastern men learning how to fly planes but not land them, or if we had agents in Prague or Kuala Lampur doing surveilance on the Iraqis, yes, this could have been prevented. And if you recall, our military did destroy a vehicle carrying terrorists involved in the Cole bombing when we had specific intelligence. You talk about where the buck stops. Where did the buck stop when Clinton pulled U.S. troops out of Mogadishu after they were killed under U.N. command? Where did the buck stop with the first N.Y. terrorist attack, with the embassy bombings in Africa?

Bush recognized the opportunity to change the system, to go after terrorists with war tactics rather than a failed criminal justice approach. Bush created the Homeland Security department and Kerry held up its implementation because it didn't have unions. Do we really want unions when it comes to people volunteering to defend our country? If people want a union, they can work in another sector. I wonder how many military opportunities would be lost if commanding officers had to get the approval of union bosses holding out for a better pension plan.

You want to work to stop torture and killing without "damaging our security position." Even if we only sent a platoon of troops to protect one village, that would still damage our security position. We can't use force without losing potential force, if you remember physics. You don't know if it's worth the lives of our troops? Guess what, most of them did know, that's why they volunteered, that's why military and veterans are so supportive of Bush, that's why Kerry has veterans walk out on him when he badmouths the President. If you truly cared about what's important to THEM in a more than condescending fashion, you'd support Bush as they do.

The point of the Osprey is that the military often puts in the field weapons tthat have less than perfect track records, SDI isn't the first.

If 3,000 people dead and a great symbol of our nation burning isn't harm to our national interests, I don't know what is.

The Republican co-chair of the 9/11 commision accepts the version of facts you dismiss. This is a fact. Just because the NY Times ignored it doesn't make it untrue. Well, I'll give them credit, at least they didn't invent or steal this story, they just got their facts wrong.

I don't think we should ignore the other men who torture and kill but we don't have the strength to tackle them all at once, so we have to start somewhere. And if you go back to Kerry's Senate floor speech cited in his Tim Russert interview from last year, he makes a great case for Iraq being the place to start.

If memory serves, the ABM treaty already entitles Russia to an anti-ballistic missile system around Moscow. I'm not worried about them or China because if either of them launched all the nuclear weapons they already have at us, the world would be ininhabitable. Perhaps a Homer Simpson quote is in order.
"Statue of Liberty! That was OUR planet! And you blew it up, you maniacs! Damn you, damn you all to Hell!"

I think it's more likely we would be able to protect South Korea and Japan if we could protect our homeland from nuclear retaliation.

Posted by: Morris at September 11, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

OK, Morris:

I give him credit for bringing down the Taliban regime. But any president would have done that in the aftermath of 9/11, so I don't know that it's particularly something to congratulate Bush for. Where who is president matters on that point is on if another president would have done that differently - and yeah, I think lots of other potential presidents would have done that differently and in ways that might have produced better results in the fight against al qaeda. But that the taliban is out of power (at least in kabul) is a good thing.

"I don't know where to start with Kerry, and that's not my fault." Uh yeah it is. Because this is 2004 and Bill Clinton is not a candidate, so if you purport to be a well-read obersvor of the political scence you should be able to read about both candidates who are actually running. You think you can't figure out who Kerry is because he hasn't been in office yet? Are you planning on never voting for a non-incumbent ever?

As to your Kerry-centered comments, the point on spending on the war isn't necessarily that more or less is bad or worse, it's on how it's spent. It doesn't surprise me in the least that Kerry would have proposed spending more given this administration's preference for fighting on the cheap. And yes, Kerry supported fighting Saddam Hussein. I'd think you'd feel more secure with him for that. But you can fight wars in a variety of ways, and Kerry doesn't think Bush has fought this one in anything approaching the optimal way.

Again - I don't give a damn about what Clinton did. He's not president. If 9/11 had happened on his watch, I'd be pissed at him. The point is what the current president - Bush - did. And if you insist on comparisons Bush did even less than Clinton (whether we're counting missiles lobbed as the measure, or level of government action as the measure). And I still think you're showing a shocking level of acceptance of the White House's complete indifference to this topic until they had to face the deaths of 3000 Americans. They didn't have any policies on this or show any interest in this topic. And if nothing is coming down from above, it's not too stunning that the performance of the bureacracies on this left a lot to be desired (though Bush is hardly the only person in our government who I think failed the people in this tragedy - I'd certainly also put Louis Freeh on that list). And of course I blame the terrorists - but Bush showed a dangerous indifference to this threat. And if you know you're life's in danger (and many people in governemnt certainly knew, and those who didn't should have), you hire a body guard, and the body guard is asleep outside while you're being murdered in your bed, you'd fire the bodyguard - well, you would if you were still alive.

Criminal justice is hardly a failed approach to fighting terrorism (it'll likely remain much more effective at controling the funding of terrorists than an invasion policy), and there's no reason why you can't use multiple tactics to fight this fight.

And Bush did NOT want to create the Department of Homeland Security (though I don't think that's necessarily a huge help in this fight). That's one of his flip-flops.

"I wonder how many military opportunities would be lost if commanding officers had to get the approval of union bosses holding out for a better pension plan." Are you saying stuff this stupid just to piss my off? In what bizarro-land universe is it that you expect that to happen? Let me know when the shuttle lands.

"We can't use force without losing potential force." Exactly. And this is one of those things you and I just disagree on. I think it's more important to conserve our forces to fight what I think of as real threats. To me, Iraq wasn't one, and I'm displeased that our position is being weakend by keeping much of the military there so that Iraq can develop ... whatever it is that we're waiting for them to develop.

And I know you're not so naive as to think that all of the troops and all our veterans support Bush or this war, so I'll overlook your own condescending last paragraph.

You and I are just going to disagree on this. I think Bush should be faulted for his negligence pre-9/11, you don't. For you the buck seems to stop with the FBI (though isn't that treating the war as a criminal matter - though I also blame the FBI). I don't think Iraq was pressing threat before our invasion, apparently you think it was (though please stop it with the WMD stuff - lots of WMD aren't that scary, certainly not any more scary than a lot of conventional weapons). I don't think Iraq was a major supporter of international terrorism before the war (certainly not the equal of Iran or our close ally Pakistan, or a financial/ideological base like Saudi). I think that even if the war was a good idea, that the planning and implementation of it shows the team in DC to have been wildly incompetent. And the scale of that has been breath-taking. Whether it's excluding area experts and State, prioritizing "movement" folks from places like Heritage in hiring, disbanding the Iraqi Army, the Fallujah follies, our installation of Allawi as PM, the mishandled attempt to grab al-Sadr, the Chalabi escapade and Abu Ghraib scandal, bumbling Turkey, our UN voting strategy in March and our surveillance of the UN delegations .... a full list would take forever. We made lots of obvious mistakes for which I'm surprised even you seem willing to forgive the president.

Posted by: Armand at September 11, 2004 05:47 PM | PERMALINK

You say, "Where who is president matters on that point is on if another president would have done that differently...."
My critique of Kerry goes to the heart of this point. He claims now that he would have done things differently, but just over a year ago his perceptions of the war were so similar to the President's (spending however many billions it takes to win, bringing France and Germany in for rebuilding support but not as security troop reinforcements because of concerns about ceding command to the UN, maintaining the current level of U.S. troops) that this seems like nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking. He complains about the environment Cheney created at the CIA; and even if what he suggests is true, what about his years on the intelligence committee before Bush was in office? He cites Saddam's failure to comply with the UN by kicking out the inspectors as his reason for supporting the war, but that happened before Cheney was loitering around the CIA to create the supposed coercive environment. Kerry had access to the national intelligence estimate, to the State Department's belief that Saddam was not a nuclear threat. He still supported the war. What could possibly make me think he would handle it differently when he had access to the same information as Bush and formed the same perceptions Bush formed?

You criticize this administration for "fighting on the cheap," yet Kerry said he would cut other defense programs to have more troops available.

The point of the union/military comparison is that when you have forces on call for emergencies, whether they be homeland forces or military, that is not a place for unions. Nobody forces people to sign up for the military or Homeland Security, and I'd prefer people in those positions have more concern for their country than how many vacation days they get every year.

Posted by: Morris at September 12, 2004 03:56 PM | PERMALINK

" What could possibly make me think he would handle it differently when he had access to the same information as Bush and formed the same perceptions Bush formed? "

Well, there is the outside world you react to, and then there are your own preferences and beliefs. People respond differently to similar perceptions all the time. I think he's made it perfectly clear the ways (at least some of them) that he would have handled this differently.

"You criticize this administration for "fighting on the cheap," yet Kerry said he would cut other defense programs to have more troops available."

So? What's the point of this comment? I'm missing what you think is Kerry's big sin on this. Yeah, he's against certain defense programs like SDI. But he's for a lot of them too. And I think that given his record, and the way he looks at the troops and troop structure I think he would have handled the Guard situation differently and I'm certain he would have sent in more troops. I seem to remember in the past you excoriating the LBJ administration for not following the military recommendation of the top men in uniform. We went in with a lot less troops than the generals thought were necessary. I think Kerry would have sent in more. I also think he would have been more likely to get more foreign troops committed to this. I don't think if he'd been in office he would have done as much to piss off our allies as Bush had, and I think they would have been more willing to commit the troops that Bush was unable to get.

As to the union point, hundreds of thousands of civilians work for those organizations. Many of them have skills that cannot be replaced or filled by others, and many work extrenely hard and believe strongly in their commitment to improve the nation. A lot of these people could be making more money outside the government, but choose to work for the country instead.
Why you want to make it harder for them to get a fair shake in the structure of their contracts and stuff ... I don't get that.

Posted by: Armand at September 13, 2004 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

You really fell into it this time. You cite the way Kerry looks at troops as being different. He came out a few months ago talking about moving troops around from Europe and N. Korea, then he criticized when Bush did what he had talked about. This is exactly the point. I have no idea what Kerry would do because it's all those hypothetical questions that he won't respond to, so yes it's Kerry's fault I know nothing about his plans. He has a secret plan like Nixon did, and we're supposed to trust him like we trusted Nixon. Are you really going to let him get away with that?

I hope those who work for Homeland Security are as noble and virtuous as you make them out to be. If they are, they might answer your question by saying our nation's defense and protection are more important than contract structure. Everybody knows you lose your rights when you join the military, but people do it because they believe the security of their countrymen is more important than their freedom.

I think Kerry should be talking about his opposition to SDI because with the N. Korea situation now there are many more people like me who believe it's better to have partial protection for our West Coast cities than no protection at all.

Posted by: Morris at September 13, 2004 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Kerry on troops I'm talking about the fact that I think he would have used more troops if he'd been sending them in during the Spring of 2003. It's highly unlikely that any other Republican for that matter would have relied on the low number of troops that Bush and Rumsfeld ordered in.

Hundreds of thousands of people who work for the government (a great deal of whom deal with defense and security issues) are NOT in the military. Why do you want them to have rights different from those accorded other civilians? You don't think their work for the country merits them equal protection?

So you want protection from all those bombs the North Koreans have built on George Bush's watch? I'd feel more protected if they'd never been built. As to SDI talk about it all you like, but the testing for this system has been extremely weak and there's every chance it would miss. And of course if the North Koreans choose to attack us with these weapons there's no guarantee they'd use missiles. But why don't we also talk about how Bush fueled this crisis, and did nothing to stop the North Korean weapons program for years.

Posted by: Armand at September 13, 2004 05:26 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Kerry in his August 31, 2003 interview said he would not increase the number of troops, so what he's actually said contradicts what you think he would have done.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that we should withdraw American troops from Iraq?


MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe we should put more American troops in Iraq?


I think civilians volunteering to work in military, homeland security, and fema should be compensated well and should be taken care of through the VA, but I don't think unions are appropriate when national security is at stake. I don't think people in Florida want to see a union walk out when a hurricaine strikes. You've heard the saying there's the right way and the army way; the army way's not perfect, but it gets things done.

"When Kerry was pressed about how he would handle the threat of a North Korean nuclear test if he were in the Oval Office today, he declined to be prescriptive, other than to say that the issue would probably have to be taken to the United Nations Security Council. 'Hypothetical questions are not real,' he said, arguing that North Korea was a case for preventive diplomacy and that Bush's 'ideologically driven' approach had kept him from truly engaging the erratic North Korean government."
You know, what's really the point in discussing Bush's nuclear policy without having something to compare it to? When one of my professors asks me what I should do in a certain counseling circumstance, I should respond that hypothetical questions aren't real. No, wait. THAT would be stupid. They're never going to know if I'm ready to be a counselor unless they know what I would do in a real life situation. Why doesn't Kerry just have bumper stickers that say, "If you hate Bush vote for me"? That's all it is at this point. He doesn't have plans, he could have talked about them at his convention, at any of his public appearances, or in any interview. A vote for Kerry is nothing more than a vote for Bush hatred.

As to your SDI thought, "there's every chance it would miss," I would say there may be fifty of a hundred chances it would miss and fifty of a hundred it would hit. I think a bunch of Laker fans may be grateful they have at least one in a hundred if North Korea launches a missiles. But why should it surprise me you're being pessimistic, there's nothing real about Kerry to support, so how but doubting, fearing and attacking the President will Kerry get elected?

Posted by: Morris at September 13, 2004 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

"so how but doubting, fearing and attacking the President will Kerry get elected?"

doubting, fearing and attacking dissent and dissenters, the challenger, and every arm-twisted
"ally" who doesn't either share both our geopolitical goals and timetable (e.g. turkey, whose democracy had the audacity to vote its own conscience instead of "ours") has kept bush in the hunt.

if you want to criticize kerry's policy alternatives, that's fine. if you want to criticize his senate voting record, that's fine too (although you, and republicans, would be far more credible if, in doing so, you took account of the very real vicissitudes of being a senator -- all the horse trading that goes on on both sides of the aisle when, as was often the case during kerry's tenure, there is a real balance of power). but to roll out what he said a year ago about what he'd do in iraq is absurd. a year ago, we were still going to find WMD. a year ago, bush had turned over all of his NG records. a year ago, bush maintained that medicare reform would cost substantially less than he knew it would. and so on and so on and so on.

the fact of the matter is -- and kerry's campaign is making a mistake in not acknowledging this -- george bush has created an almighty mess in iraq, where tens of thousands of americans and innumerable iraqis are in harm's way, and nobody, not bush, not kerry, can maintain even the thinnest pretense to having the slightest clue how to proceed.

given a choice, i'll still vote for the guy who has, at this stage in his career, not yet victimized so many in service of the abstract ideological commitments of so few. i'll vote for arguable nuance over undeniable hypocrisy.

and if kerry proves to be as bad after four years as bush has, then i'll vote for someone else in four years. i'm no slave to any party. but i'm also done being lied to. would that more of the country thought its government should at least make a token wave at telling it the truth; this wouldn't even be a debate worth having.

government of the people for the rich by the right-wing nutjobs. enough already.

lest i come off as merely hurling invective, here are kerry's nuclear plan, education plan, crime plan, and health plan.

bush's "plan" such as it is falls into just two categories: "tax relief" and "everything else," and to "everything else" there is affixed a footnote that makes it clear that where "everything else" can't be afforded without sacrificing "tax relief," it'll be "everything else" that gets neglected. can you say unfunded mandate? i knew that you could. and while of course i'm talking about no child left behind, i'm also talking about matters of national security, where he's not half as strong as he would have us believe.

the emperor has no clothes. and he's not a lot of fun to look at.

Posted by: joshua at September 14, 2004 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Morris: As to your first point I invite you to explore the fascinating world of verb tenses. The quotation you draw from deals with events that would have happened AFTER the interview. I'm saying that I think Kerry would have paid more attention to the military experts in the Pentagon and would have used more troops initially if he'd been president and chosed to invade Iraq in the Spring or Summer of 2003. That's when we had the best chance of getting a lid on the security situation before things got wildly out of hand - at the begining. I also don't think Kerry would have do everything in his power to offend the Turks (you can find plenty of articles on how we did that) like President Bush did, so I think we would have been able to have had more flexibility from the start throughtout the area (as opposed to in Bush's version of the war), and we might have hit the all the terrorist camps we knew about BEFORE the invasion.

As to your last comment: As to SDI, the very best case for it is as a deterrent that would lead small states not to build the missiles to begin with, because if you're talking about a small state that can only afford to build a small number of them, we MIGHT actually be able to shoot them down (though the chances that the current system could shoot down all of even small group of missiles are very remote). That approach has failed re: North Korea. The system failed to deter the construction of their program.

When it actually comes to using nukes that they've built it's highly unlikely they would use missiles. If they fired ICBM's at us - we'd know who did it and we'd go kill them. If they actually wanted to get at us with them it's much more likely they'd use another method of deployment (that's one of the reasons that I think the money spent on SDI would be better spent on port security). I've seen no sign that President Kim has a suicide complex, so it's not likely he'd choose to attack in a way that would ensure his own painful death.

And what it is that you have against unions I just don't get. But the way you write about it seems pretty close to pathological (so I won't bother trying to sway you), so I'll let the subject drop beyond saying that 1) you appear to greatly overestimate their power 2) you seem to have very little respect for the federal workforce and 3) you seem to have really rather peculiar notions of the ability of workers to negotiate good/fair working conditions on their own against management. In many sectors of the economy it just doesn't work that way.

As to "If you hate Bush vote for me"? That's all it is at this point." Beyond asking if you are either high or unable to read, I'll largely leave this until later, but I'll respond in a similarly shrill way - if who's president doesn't matter re: the economy (previously you've state that the economic #'s in year 4 of a presidency are not that president's fault) and if a president isn't responsible for terrorists' ability to attack and murder thousands of Americans here at home - in what ways does it matter who's elected president? How is it that you fear Kerry is going to damage the country, if you don't consider the president all that responsible for what happens on his watch?

I'm not voting against Bush b/c I hate him. I'm voting against him b/c he's pushing the country off an economic cliff, has no respect for the fundamental rights of millions of Americans (most clearly women and gays, but in many respects ALL Americans) and b/c he did NOTHING whatsoever to protect America from terrorism prior to 9/11. And that's just for starters. I think he's a failure and fear what further damage he'd do with 4 more years in office.

Posted by: Armand at September 14, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

more on bush's peculiar brand of big-government conservativism (not to mention his disingenuousness and lack of credibility).

Posted by: joshua at September 14, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, don't even bring up Bush's National Guard record. Did you even read the article? It said that an oversight led to the first new wave of records, but I suppose it's Bush's incompetence that led to someone incompetent working for the records department at the Pentagon. Right. As to the new "records", you must have missed the news this week. They're fake. CBS knew that when they ran the story. This should fill you in:
Read the end of the paragraph you cited, it talks about how Kerry hasn't released all of his records. As it recommends, "Each should simply sign the Form 180 and be done with it."

That's right, we were going to find WMD a year ago, and that's what this thread's been about; Kerry keeps saying he would have done things differently, and in doing that he keeps going back on what he said before when it's in the record. He's been consistent with Bush's positions with very few exceptions, like voting against the 80 million dollars after he voted for it. And then he comes out and says he won't answer hypotheticals about foreign policy. That's absurd. That's why I conclude that this election is about Bush hatred, because he offers no alternative solutions (we know all he's going to do is talk to them (if it's okay with the UN) and pay them money like Clinton did). So instead of facing a desperately poor nation without the resources for a nuclear program, we're facing a country who we allowed to militarize their nuclear program with money we gave them. If you give someone ten dollars a week in exchange for a promise they won't steal a gun, eventually they're just going to have the money to buy it.

You talk about Bush underestimating Medicaire reform costs; what about Kerry knowingly saying the war in Iraq has costed 200 billion when it's less than 120 billion so far? That's on
That's 80 billion dollars, and it's not stretched out over ten years like Bush's underestimation of Medicaire costs.

I'm glad you recognize that no one knows how to proceed in Iraq. This is the post-Eisenhower military understanding. We cannot plan for an invasion, an occupation, we just have to adapt to it the best we can, and I hope with you admitting this I can stop hearing all the chatter about how we should have had more planning before we went into Iraq.

I wouldn't be so sure about Kerry not having victimized people to his ideology (or lack of ideology), with what the Swiftees say about his war crimes and the reasons he was given three purple hearts to get him out of Vietnam.

A token wave at telling the truth? Right, let's bring back into power the party who's idea of truth depends on what the definition of is is. Let me quote from the specific "plan" you offer from Kerry's website when talking about N. Korea/Iran: "All options must remain on the table to accomplish this." Is this a plan to you? It's a goal, that's all he's offering. He wants to safeguard nuclear material. It's a good idea, but why should we think he's going to be successful? What's he going to offer them? That would be a plan. He talks about continuing the six party talks with North Korea, which is exactly what we're doing now. He talks about strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, closing loopholes. Is he daft? Does he really think North Korea would have said, "Aw, shucks, they closed the loophole. We WERE going to build nukes but now we can't, because genius Kerry thought to close the loophole." The problems with the nonproliferation treaty happen when other nations (not the US) provide nuclear material to rogue states, not the US; where's his PLAN to get them to stop doing that when it's in their economic interests? He talks about Iran: "If Iran does not accept this offer, their true motivations will be clear." Guess what, to everyone in the world EXCEPT John Kerry, their motivations are already clear. And what's he going to do about it? He's going to take it to the UN. Well, I'm sure they're shaking in their boots.

His crime "plan" is more of the same smoke and mirrors, suggesting that Bush is going to take 100,000 cops off the street when they stopped being fully funded by the national government seven years ago. They weren't an unfunded mandate by Clinton, they were just unfunded. He blames Bush for a rising murder rate when social science has known for years it correlates with the number of adolescent males as a percentage of society, not the number of cops on the streets. He's going to send drug offenders to treatment; well, I guess he hasn't seen the research on how well that's going to work, either.

I like the link from CBS news on how Bush is losing the war on terror. Should I just assume that they're not holding back parts of the story that favor Bush, like they're doing with the National Guard story? I'm sure Beers being a registered Democrat wouldn't effect what he said, nor would his being rewarded with a position as national security advisor for Kerry. Right.

And an editorial in Intervention Magazine is an indictment of Bush? Why don't you go to someone a little less biased, like the 700 club, for your news?

You're driving me crazy with these sources. I'm not going to waste my time going point by point on these charges. I can't believe you give me grief for citing the National Review when you cite central Indiana's #1 newspaper. I'm sure the editorial staff there is like 85% of journalists who are liberal. This doesn't surprise me. From now on, I'm not going to respond to any argument the arguer cannot take the time to type him/herself. I'm not going to address whole articles when it only takes you five seconds to hyperlink them. Although, considering the ones cited above, I'm not sure you read more than the title.

Your next article says that both Bush and Kerry are flip floppers. You don't seem to get that Kerry's flip flopping is so offensive not because he changed positions but because he talks as if that's the position he's had all along, and that he flip flops over and over again on the same issue like with whether we should have gone to war in Iraq. Any intelligent person is going to adapt to new information, but only a fraud will act as though that's the position they've had all along (depending what focus group they're speaking to).

OMG. I don't believe you actually cited a site called "". This is better than the national review? You're sharing Baltar's crack. What am I supposed to look at here, one of the articles from February, or the commentary on the age of aquarius, or the big galaxy picture taken from the hubble telescope?

Alright, I'm taking a break before getting to your next post.

Posted by: Morris at September 14, 2004 07:55 PM | PERMALINK

Your first argument doesn't really make much sense when you think about it; he thinks we need more troops in Iraq than we have, but since they weren't there to begin with he's not going to bring them in. I don't buy it. If he thought we needed more, he'd still bring them in even if late; we're doing troop redeployments there all the time.

I don't see the primary purpose of SDI as a deterent. I don't think examining more containers is particularly effective in terms of defusing their ability to do damage with imported nuclear weapons. They could detonate them as soon as they got into new orleans, new york, seattle harbor, or the houston ship channel, killing hundreds of thousands, making those cities uninhabitable. Inspecting the containers already on shore won't solve that threat. And without a hundred times more Coast Guard, they couldn't even get to 5% offshore inspections. I'll admit it's a problem, a big problem. I just don't know what Kerry's going to do to improve the situation. I mean it, I really don't know.

Right, where outside of Youngstown would I get the idea that unions would threaten our national security for their own advantage? I know what the Supreme Court ruled, only because Congress had rejected the seizure before, not because to keep unions from acting this way is in itself unconstitutional. And I have great respect for our nation's citizens who are willing to sacrifice freedom to protect this nation.

Economic cliff? What are you talking about? Before the past year, everyone was talking about a recovery except in employment. In the last year nearly 1.7 million jobs have been created. The unemployment rate is down over the last year in 49 of the 50 states. Even manufacturing has added more than a hundred thousand jobs. At 5.4%, the unemployment rate is lower than the average of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Real after-tax income is up 10% since December 2000. Home ownership and minority home ownership are both at record highs. Where's this economic cliff you're talking about? Really, I think low interest rates probably have had more of an impact than anything any president has done, but the last year of economic gains sure does make the argument tax cuts didn't hurt. The best argument you could make here is the deficit, except that Kerry's planning on spending a lot more than Bush.

By your standard, most Americans don't have fundamental respect for the rights of all Americans since most are in favor of the so called "protection of marriage" ammendment. We live in a society that allows the expression of the will of the majority, and usually that works out, but when it doesn't we have the right to protest and educate. These values are sacred to the people who hold them, and I hear that, I respect they're acting on their convictions even though I don't agree with their conclusions. I'm voting against it in my state in a few days. But there's no issue that's a litmus test for me. If you know someone long enough, no matter how much you agree, you'll eventually disagree. I respect the President. I admire him for comforting this nation even if I don't agree with him on every issue. We forget now how sure we were then that the terrorists would attack us again, but Bush did not run and hide. To protect the nation, he safeguarded another leader in case something did happen, to ensure we had another leader who would continue this struggle. He went to comfort the troops in Iraq when it wasn't safe to do so. For every time Kerry risked his life in Vietnam, Bush has equaled him as President. Even though the tradition at the Air Force graduation was to shake hands with just the top hundred or so of the officers, Bush shook the hands of all of them, about a thousand, because he knows if they can risk their lives for us, he can take the time to do that, pose for a picture for their parents, say a comforting word. This is the man we don't see on the news. This is a man who loves this nation.

Bush has promised economic recovery and he's delivered. He's protected us from domestic terrorism for three years. You blame him for the terrorist attack, I blame intelligence failures and, as I've said, the terrorists. I say we had to hold Saddam accountable; this is what Kerry said when he voted for the war, this is what Clinton supported in policy, and I believe Bush will hold Iran accountable when it's time. I know what Bush will do because he's done it in Iraq the last four years.

Posted by: Morris at September 15, 2004 03:14 AM | PERMALINK

"except that Kerry's planning on spending a lot more than Bush"

not true.

Posted by: joshua at September 15, 2004 09:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, that no one knows (perfectly) how to proceed now in Iraq I will grant you, because there are so many variables and so many things that could unravel in unanticipated ways. I think however, that earlier there were some very good possibilities that were overlooked. I admit my bias, which tends to conservatism on military intervention: avoid if possible, but if you have to do it, make sure you are ready to go and do go with overwhelming force and get the job done quickly using our military for what they are (well) trained to do. My problem is that I believe if you're going to commit, commit dammit. If it's important enough to invade, it's important enough to supply enough resources to accomplish the mission (leaving out the discussion "but we don't know what our mission was.... etc etc" that I know will erupt).

The idea that we should or should not have had more planning before Iraq is irrelevant if we consider how little the planning we did have seemed to matter. We had plenty of planning, and plenty of people working for the Bush administration who had at least a fair grasp of what could happen. You don't think that Iraq invasion scenarios were on the shelf since Bush 1? You don't think military exercises in the last 15 years didn't train soldiers for invasions of some "Country X" that looked a lot like a scenario for invading Iraq? I think there was plenty of information, that was accumulated by several administrations and diverse agencies, but that much of the information was dismissed or ignored.

OK, I have to stop or else I'll get started on the misuse of Colin Powell and then I'll really begin frothing.

Posted by: binky at September 15, 2004 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

regarding the quality and nature of such pre-war planning, consider the poor quality and nature of bush's post-invasion policy. do we have any reason to think his cronies were less blind to their limitations then than they were later on?

Posted by: joshua at September 15, 2004 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

You keep citing articles without reading them. What it says is they plan to spend the same amount of money (2 trillion) over the next ten years, but in Bush's budget, a trillion of that will go back to Americans when they retire. It's true, Bush is never taking from Americans a trillion dollars that Kerry is; but to say that's spending is like saying I'm saving you 5,000 dollars by not overcharging you 5,000 dollars on any purchase. Think it through.

You and others here have talked up what you say is Bush listening to the wrong people, having poor CEO skills, poor planning. I don't know if I can believe this story because it's from CBS news, but it expresses Gore's campaign manager's view that

“There is nobody in charge and you have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other,” says Coehlo, who ran Al Gore's campaign early in the 2000 presidential race. As Coelho and other detractors see it, there is a civil war within the Kerry campaign.

Does this remind anyone of how they criticized Bush for having differing opinions coming from state and defense? If Kerry can't even keep his political campaign together, how can he keep this country or any of those coalitions he's supposedly going to build together? You criticize Bush for picking the wrong people, yet Kerry brings in Shrum.

“In 1988, Dukakis: Shrum is involved. In 1992, Clinton: nothing to do with Shrum. They don’t want Shrum in any way,” Coelho says. “In 1996, they do not want Shrum in any way. In 2000, Gore doesn’t want Clinton people. We go forward, 2004, all of a sudden it’s the Shrum/Kennedy people.”
The Democratic scuttlebutt has long been filled with concern over Shrum’s losing streak. He remains 0 for 7 in presidential elections, from George McGovern to Michael Dukakis to Al Gore. When Coelho resigned as chairman of the Gore campaign, Shrum, in large part, took the reins.

Is this a superior eye for talent? Maybe he'll bring in Mike Tyson to manage the budget.

As to Binky's argument that criticizes Bush listening to military advisors who were overly optimistic about Iraqi support, Kerry mistakenly listened to his advisors who told him to ignore the swift boat vets. What makes me think he'll be better than Bush? Let me know if you think of it.

But then, he sums this argument better than I could.
If [Sasso] is in charge then Goddammit, say it and stop having the speculation of who's in charge because that’s worse,” Coelho says. “It also starts to impact in regard to the whole image of leadership. If someone can’t control a message in a presidential campaign, how are you going to be a good president?”

Posted by: Morris at September 15, 2004 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

no article citations, and i'll keep this simple:

choosing a campaign staff poorly (and that kerry isn't whipping bush 75-25 by now is all the evidence i need to agree with you on that) is a lot different than being a war-mongering president who's too craven himself to fight (and no, going to baghdad for thanksgiving isn't worth one second of swift boat time on the cambodian border and i think you know that), appointing a hawk running mate who also was too scared to fight, appointing a secretary of defense who (gasp!) also has no idea what it's like to have his boots on the ground (nor the sense to listen one iota to people who do), serially ignoring a secretary of state who actually has a useful background in the thick of things rather than in a think tank, and so on.

cheney is a serial failure. he was in the thick of things with both ford and bush 41, hardly campaign success stories. moreover, there is evidence that crucial decisions that sank both campaigns were spearheaded by cheney. cheney oversaw a recently identified financial fraud (recently corrected and fined; link available upon request) at halliburton the likes of which the press has been skewering left and right, and for which he now would be punishable under sarbanes-oxley. one heartbeat away.

as for whether i read the articles i cite, i think you know better, and i'll not further dignify that uncalled-for broadside.

Posted by: joshua at September 15, 2004 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

True, there is little that I can "know" regarding what comes out of any politician's mouth versus how he will act. The action in Bush's case has had disastrous results in the cost of lives and health of US servicemen and women in Iraq. Leaders choose to listen to or not listen to advisors all the time, but I would argue two things: 1) the decision to take the so-called "high road" in response to advice on a campaign is a vastly different thing from a decision to go to war in which there is not only advice but also intelligence, years of research and historical precedent, and 2) we don't know yet whether it was a mistake (i.e. it will have been a mistake if he loses the election, if I take your meaning correctly about "mistake").

If you don't find the foreign policy of the Bush administration objectionable, then why should you support Kerry? Honestly, in that case, I don't know what would make you think Kerry would do better than Bush, but I wonder if you would be so vehement about any potential Bush challenger. You really think Bush has done a great job and there is no one you'd rather have at the helm? I can think of several other potential administrations that would do better, but this isn't fantasy baseball, and we only have two candidates. Shoot, if it were, and if we were choosing administrations on how they would respond to this particular foreign policy challenge....hmm, I'd probably want Bob Graham on the team.

As geeky as it sounds, the study of international affairs is my life's work, and I am seriously concerned with the U.S.'s place in the international system. I am appalled at the way this administration has squandered - yes squandered - US power in the world. Power is not only about force, and the ability of the U.S to lead and have other countries follow has been a key component of its strength. I think the Bush administration not only has lost the U.S. a considerable amount of "soft" power in the world, but has been very careless with its exercise of hard power to the end of showing enemies and potential enemies that we can be beaten or that we lack the interest to win (and I don't just mean win military battles. Hello North Korea). As I said earlier, if you're going to commit, commit. If you want to be the hegemon, act like the freaking hegemon, and don't go into a war half-assed and on the cheap (in support of the mission, if not on the final pricetag). This has terrible results for your own military, for the unity of your country, and for your (hard and soft) power base in the international system.

Posted by: binky at September 15, 2004 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

As to point 1 - # of troops needed at time 1 and # of troops needed at time 2 can be quite different. I think having had more at time 1 would have been very helpful. I think Kerry would agree.

You might not think of SDI's deterrent value as important, but lots of pro-SDI people do. And as to detonating nukes, I'll possibly grant you that (though obviously not all shipping checks happen in the middle of a harbor thankfully), but as to chemical and bio stuff, those would likely be unleashed after being imported. Setting them off in a container is unlikely to be highly effective. What would Kerry do differently on this? His proposals (and the Democrats generally) for spending on operations on this have been consistently higher than what Bush has called for. Personally, I'd feel safer with more of those things checked and with a better funded Coast Guard. I trust Kerry to do a better job with this b/c Bush really hasn't pushed this hard at all in the 3 years since 9/11 or the 8 months before it. If you go through his speeches this kind of thing is frequently highlighted.

Economic cliff? Yeah, I mean the deficit. Bush plans to make it worse. Much, much worse. And seemingly has no plan to deal with the coming economic nuclear bomb that is Medicare. This is one area that I think we'll see a really positive change with if Kerry wins b/c if he does and the Republicans are in power in Congress (as they are certain to be) I think you'll get really spending constraints that you are not going to see with a Bush presidency + a Republican Congress (we sure haven't seen anything remotely like that yet).

As to your really long paragraph - the majority often doesn't respect the fundamental rights of the minority, that's why we're lucky to have the Bill of Rights. The terrorists will attack us again. As I recall the president did run (well, after spending several minutes with those cute kids in Florida - and btw, can you imagine how he would have been excorriated if that had happened during the Cold War back when the public remembered that every minute counts). As to "For every time Kerry risked his life in Vietnam, Bush has equaled him as President" - whatever dude. I strongly disagree, but whatever. And I'm not saying Bush doesn't love the country. I'm saying he's incompetent. Are you saying Kerry doesn't love the country? The one he volunteered to defend in battle (unlike many other people including the president)? If so - that's both presumputous and kind of sick bro. I think both candidates are sufficiently patriotic.

And you are PLEASED by what's gone on in Iraq and you want more of it? I really continue to be nothing short of amazed at your lack of standards re: success. If you think Iraq was handled well, what else are you a fan of? Napoleon's invasion of Russia?

Posted by: Armand at September 15, 2004 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bush volunteered to go to Iraq. Kerry requested a deferment, didn't get it, and then requested an assignment that was at the time he requested it no more dangerous than air national guard. So don't start with this too scared to fight crap, Bush risks his life every day for standing up to the terrorists. Kerry was to scared to fight, twice; and when it came down to it, it was easier for him to witness and commit war crimes than it was to stand up to the officers he says ordered him to commit them. Then he came home and was still too scared to report them so they'd be brought to justice, instead encouraging others to lie about the war crimes they had witnessed (check out hannity and colmes tonight for that story).

Oh, one more liberal talking point. Cheney has sold all his stock in Haliburton, he's not working for them anymore, but somehow he must be to blame for their recent activities.

You talk about disastrous results, and I just don't see Iraq as the Vietnam you guys want to see in this. Yes, Bush listened to advisors who painted a better picture of Iraqi support than was present in all parts of the country. Kerry listened to the same intelligence Bush did and drew the same conclusions about the need to go into Iraq, if not the need to support them. As you say, if we're going to commit, commit dammit. Bush had the leadership to do this. Kerry listened to advisors who led him into a blunder, thank God just a campaign blunder and not one that cost American lives. I don't see how you give credit to Kerry for being stronger in the area of listening to the right people. I don't see Kerry as taking the high road. To quote the article,
Sources inside the Kerry campaign say the Democratic nominee was fuming that his advisers told him to ignore charges by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

If he was taking the high road, he'd still think he did the right thing now, but he doesn't think he did. That is, he did what he thought would get him more votes, this is a long way from a high road.

As I've said here before, if Wesley Clark were running I'd have a very difficult decision to make, between one candidate who I believe is following his conscience and another whose experience in serving his country may be more useful to our national goals. Wesley Clark is articulate about many complicated issues, but Kerry is a consumate politician, catering to whatever group he's speaking to. I would have a very difficult decision, between someone who comforted the nation in a time of great need and someone who's dedicated his life to serving this country. But since Kerry's running, its pretty simple. To be honest, as long as we're playing fantasy baseball, I've been very impressed with the other senator kerry and with john breaux, they strike me as competent even if I don't always agree with them. I could understand someone voting for them over Bush; but Kerry I just don't get.

I don't think the Bush administration has shown the world we can be beaten. They figured that out after Mogadishu, after they hit the Marine barracks in Beirut. That's why they came after us on 9/11, they believe we can be beaten because they believe we don't stand for anything meaningful, that we'll get bored and frustrated and just leave Iraq if they kill enough of our soldiers. Are they right? I want to vote for a President who believes they're not, who's ready to stay as long as it takes.

We tried to lead the world into Iraq, most of them didn't want to go. I'm not going to put that responsibility on Bush, that's on France, Germany. I'm not going to let them off the hook like you do by saying we weren't persuasive enough. There were hundreds of Germans killed in WTC, German intelligence pointed to a nuclear weapons program in Iraq, if they don't want to support us that's on them, not on us for not forking over enough of our taxpayer's paychecks to make it worth their while. We've created a system that makes other countries believe if they hold out long enough, we'll fork over enough "economic incentives" to get them to go with us, just like Turkey did. That's the wrong direction for the U.S. to lead.

I think the Anthrax letters prove that chemical and biological weapons don't have to be imported to be in this country, there's plenty on the market for anyone skilled in those areas to set up their own lab and build these weapons in their basements. If a civilian can build a cruise missile, I think a civilian can build some chemical weapon that hasn't been state of the art technology for decades. This is why human intelligence is so key; it's the best way we can find out about local threats. You may remember domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City was a devastating attack. I don't think you appreciate how many more Coast Guard vessels and personel and detection devices would be required to check freighters at sea, the cost would be astronomical. I'm not sure it's a bad idea, but it would be VERY costly.

I don't think anyone is going to do anything to Medicaire benefits, that's like jumping on a political grenade, and I don't think Kerry wants any more shrapnel in his ass.

Exactly what do you expect the President to have done in those first seven minutes? Everything went wrong that day, the fighters were going the wrong direction and I don't know what Bush was supposed to do about air traffic control failures. He was a model for calm, that's what people are supposed to do when chaos ensues, to keep others from panicking.

Again, Kerry didn't volunteer. He requested a deferment and was denied. Then he requested a noncombat assignment that was later transformed to combat duty after he'd signed up for it.

Everyone keeps comparing Iraq to great debacles. Fifty thousand died in Vietnam, in Napolean's invasion of Russia. Yes, I am grateful to every one of them for protecting and sacrificing for those I love and what I believe in, and I'm grateful for all those who must go on without these heroes in their lives. But Bush stood up for freedom (I don't see anything about sexual orientation or marriage in the Bill of Rights, or exceptions as to the lives of the unborn), for democracy, and most importantly for the security of his fellow Americans, and I'm grateful for him too.

Posted by: Morris at September 15, 2004 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

it's not like i don't leave room for disagreement, morris, but if you're going to indict me for not reading the articles i cite, you ought to make sure you read what i write before you jump on it.

what interest cheney may or may not have in halliburton's present fortunes is nothing i intended to discuss (although under the circumstances it's certainly suggestive the number of no-bid contracts a company can garner while robbing, pillaging, and stealing from the u.s. treasury); rather, i referred to an SEC settlement with halliburton concerning accounting irregularities in 1998, during cheney's tenure at halliburton. then there's this:

The developments at Halliburton since Cheney's departure leave two possibilities: Either the vice president did not know of the magnitude of problems at the oilfield services company he ran for five years, or he sold his shares in August 2000 knowing the company was likely headed for a fall.

so let me see -- during cheney's tenure, while scrambling to arrange the dresser merger, halliburton modified its accounting practices to inflate its quarterly earnings during the merger's pendency to facilitate said merger. then cheney left the company foundering under the weight of the asbestos liability dresser brought with it to the merger.

as for kerry's votes on the iraq war, really, morris, you're way too bright to spout in this company the right-wing talking point that kerry voted "for the war": kerry voted to authorize the use of force in iraq, which is a very different matter that vested a certain amount of trust in bush's discretion. kerry is well within his prerogative to later observe that that trust was betrayed; lord knows he's not the only one. i mean, seriously, can we not just do bush's stump speech here? next thing i know, you'll be smirking your way through the voted-for-it-voted-against-it canard in an exaggerated texas twang, failing to note that kerry's vote against was not the $67B in military aid (his initial yay), but the $20B blank check to halliburton et alia for Whatever-Some-Suit-Thinks-Is-Necessary-At-Whatever-Rate-The-Government-Will-Swallow (his (senate commonplace) protest nay).

when bush gives the national guard adequate health care, we can talk about failing to support the troops and other lies.

oh yeah, and regarding the absence of abortion and gay marriage from the constitution, a few points:

first, nowhere in the constitution is found a right to straight marriage either;

second, the constitution's enumerated rights are in terms nonexhaustive:

Amendment 9. Rights retained by the people. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment 10. Powers reserved to states or people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

now, i'm the first to agree that the constitution finds its force in the laws of the federal government and in the voice of the supreme court, but the next time you're tempted to say or imply that those justices defending the so-called liberal agenda are "activists," please recall that the supposed textualists and originalists have a funny way of overlooking these amendments in denying or disparaging unenumerated rights neither "delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States."

Posted by: joshua at September 16, 2004 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I think we are in the "agree to disagree" camp, which is fine. I understand that you want to extrapolate from what you see as "bad campaign decision-making" to a potential for Kerry to get into "bad war decision-making." I think that as important as campaign strategy is, it still would not motivate a leader in the same way as the decision to go to war, and that a candidate's bad campaign decisions are not grounds to predict bad decisions later (otherwise, Clark, who is also appealing to me as a candidate for various reasons) would also be out because his decisions-making was so bad he couldn't win the primary.

I also disagree that Bush committed. I think the strategy they chose to pursue in Iraq of the quick punch-through rather than sticking to the Powell doctrine is a prime example. It was a policy choice of listening to some advisors over others true, but I think now we are seeing the disastrous results. Did I say Iraq was Viet Nam? How about Chechnya? No? We won't go where Russia has gone and be as ruthless, nor fight as hard because we are not retaining a secessionist movement, but I think there are better comparisons than Viet Nam. Of course, I am out of my league on drawing comparisons to military actions, and should pass the baton to our resident warmonger, Baltar. Disaster doesn't have to mean Viet Nam. Whether we were there to find WMD, secure democracy for the Iraquis, or secure oil for ourselves, I don't see how the administration can claim that they have either done or are on track to do (since some take a while) any of those. If we had committed more forces up front, even if not immediately, I suspect (though, as my mom would say, "if "if's" and "but's" were candies and nuts...") that the , ah, shall we say, distracting security problems today would have been less severe if not under control.

Finally, I agree with you that leadership is more than trading economic goodies for support. But I mean more than this when I talk about the loss of soft power. Do you really think Germany wanted us to fork over money? I doubt it. I think they wanted some solidarity on (at least historically) shared norms about the processes and results of the international system. I stick by "squandered" when it comes to soft power, especially since the levels of support from our European allies after 9/11 was at an amazing high. They invoked NATO mutual defense, the governments and people of Europe were publicly committed. So they just magically changed their minds? I suppose you would say (but I don't want to put words in your mouth, so bear with me) that the US shouldn't go through the motions that other countries want in order to get to a place we could get by taking direct steps. But I would argue that not only are motions in themselves important in the world of international politics and diplomacy (not least fortheir role as "signalling"), but also that a longer term view that sees dealing with allies as long term investments rather than short term hassles yields a different appreciation of the potential costs.

Posted by: binky at September 16, 2004 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Would increasing Coast Guard expenditure be very costly? Of course. But if the candidates (either one of them) are supposedly serious about border security it would seem that that's something they really would have to do, and Bush hasn't done much on that front (or nothing remotely near what would be necessary).

Of course chemical and bio weapons can be obtained here at home. But again, if we're going to be worried about them as a weapon that rogue states might use against the US they might very well chose to import them (though yeah, perhaps we should be more serious than we have been about increasing safeguards at chem plants and places like that) - and SDI wouldn't protect us against that. You'd need to increase money for port security (and similar programs).

Bush was a model of calm on 9/11? I agree. But that's hardly being a "war president". When your chief of staff whispers into your ear that America is under attack I'd expect a president to, say, call the Pentagon, the CIA, start collecting information that would allow for a quick, informed response to whatever might be coming next (for all he knew planes could very well have been on their way into slamming into two dozen skyscrapers - yet he jsut contined to sit there) - not sit quiet and stare at elementary school students. And again I say - can you imagine a president getting away with such a lackadaisical (spelling?) response to an attack during the Cold War? Fortunately only 4 planes went down that day. But what if it had wound up being 15? And what if other attacks had also been planned. He just sits there and does nothing. I like calm. I'm very pro-calm. But I don't think inaction was what was called for at the time. Could he have done anything else to prevent the attacks? Maybe not (though I'd feel better if it was the president making decisions to blow American citizens out of the sky and not the VICE president). But it seems to me that it was his job to start considering and confronting the problem at hand - not to carry out a photo-op.

Posted by: Armand at September 16, 2004 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

halliburton, it turns out, is still on the hook, since a judge has refused to approve the settlement.

the cute aside:

the article appears to suggest that lead plaintiff's counsel in that case, richard schiffrin of a philadelphia firm that shall remain nameless, dealt in a way that failed properly to honor plaintiffs' interests.

last year, i interviewed, and halfway-fell in love, with a number of attorneys at that very same firm (though not that attorney). i also note in revisiting their website that they're smaller than they were when i interviewed, at which time they swore that their recent improbable growth spurt (having doubled when more established firms were shrinking, merging, or folding) was in fact indicative of things to come.

looks like it's just as well i didn't get that offer; i would have been first to go, after all the trouble of relocating to philly.

i offer all of this to put myself in your cross-hairs, morris, since i'm sure you have some choice words for would-be plaintiff-side securities lawyers. ;-)

Posted by: joshua at September 16, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

I find it telling you criticize me for saying you don't read the articles you cite, but within the very first quote you cite you ignore the quoted possibility that Cheney did not know.

I don't see how Kerry's trust was betrayed when Kerry had access to the SAME intelligence Bush did. Of course, maybe if he hadn't missed 75% of the intelligence committee meetings he WOULD HAVE known. As to his voted for it before voted against it debacle, he had just gotten done saying on the Senate floor how no matter how much pork was added to the bill, we HAD to support the troops. THEN he voted against it.

That's right, there is no right to straight marriage in the Constiturion. HENCE my point that it was not considered an inalienable right. I understand ammendment 9, but it does not promise ALL rights to ALL people, only allows for other liberies to exist when society supports them; to do the previous would essentially make the Constitution meaningless because all people having all rights is anarchy. Yes, that's right, ammendment ten reserves powers to the people that are not enumerated in the Constitution, that's what I just said. If the people support a constitutional ammendment banning gay marriage, that IS constitutional. I won't vote for it, but it will be constitutional.

Posted by: Morris at September 17, 2004 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

i didn't ignore it, morris -- i quoted it, because i'm not afraid of qualifications offered in context, and i trust you to finish the sentence and read between the lines, rather than attempting to do it for you, as i now feel compelled to do.

so here goes: it's a comfort to know that cheney's retained plausible deniability about accounting changes that facilitated the merger of which he was a champion and by which shareholders who didn't get out, um, when he did, got screwed.

the question is: would you hire cheney to run your corporation if you knew he couldn't keep track of such salient details as fundamental accounting changes that have the effect of radically changing earnings reports? if you were a shareholder in any company at which he oversaw such misconduct, and if it were your portfolio shrinking, you'd be livid. well you're a shareholder in the u.s., and he's mismanaging that too.

as for kerry yes yes yes, he's a flip-flopping dove in hawk's clothing for, among other things, voting against omnibus spending packages in the 1980's against which cheney also railed at great length. of course, cheney did it on grounds of principle, as did he now change his tune -- principle. kerry, however, did nothing on principle. i mean, duh, anyone with principle would never admit a flaw or recognize problematic details. hence, republicans = principled and democrats = unprincipled.

can't wait to cast my vote for unprincipled leadership.

once again your legal logic betrays a frightful majoritarian streak, previously highlighted by armand, that i'm glad is inconsistent with the functioning interpretation, if not the text, of the constitution. because if you were right, this country could ban blacks on a simply up-down vote. the ninth amendment says nothing about majority rule.

oh, and loving v. virginia said, in the context of interracial marriage, that marriage = a fundamental right ("inalienable right" is not a phrase of much pertinence in the supreme court, but i'm assuming "fundamental" is what you meant). i'm guessing you don't really want to do away with all of substantive due process, which provided you with, inter alia, the rights to contraception, abortion (using "you" loosely here), interracial marriage, and sodomy (in the best possible way), but if you do, the originalist line you pursue above against gay marriage and elsewhere is a very effective way to do so.

and if so, cheers! (i only thank whoever-it-is-that-i-thank that your majoritarian perception of the constitution is not the governing view at the moment; there's no risk that a small majority of morris-minded people can take all those rights away from me.)

i swore i wasn't going to post on this thread again. just when i think i'm out, they pull me back in!

Posted by: joshua at September 17, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not that there's anything wrong with that....
If you're so intent on accepting the highest court's view of what is a fundamental right, then what's the point of this argument? If gay marriage gets banned, then you must be sure the Court will do the right thing thing and overturn it. Or are you not sure that THIS Court will do that? And if you're not sure that THIS court will, then your standard for what's right must be something other than what any particular highest court says is right. And if that's the case, then it really doesn't matter what any other Court said, does it, unless there's some other standard for what makes this right in your mind than what the highest court says? EXCEPT that the highest court determines what are fundamental rights (as opposed to other systems of rights) in this system. If this is such a hot button issue for you, if it's a litmus test, then vote for Kerry. I think it's more important to pursue the war on terrorism, accepting that Iraq isn't any better than Germany in 1946, or Japan, or any other country we liberated from tyrrany. That's what's important to me, so I'm voting for Bush, who isn't going to cut and run, to make worthless all the American lives lost there, to profane the memory of those lost on September 11. Bush is going to stay there as long as it takes, even if we have troops there for ten years like we do in Kosovo. So I'm voting for him. But if this is what's important to you, by all means vote for Kerry.

As I said, I'm not trying to take these rights away from anybody. After I'm done posting here, I'm going to vote against the ammendment. But if the people (how do we determine their will but by a majority, unless you want to bring back oligarchy, if that's a better way of protecting rights for you) support this, then that's the system, and it's not perfect but it's the best in the world.

Posted by: Morris at September 18, 2004 05:27 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, Joshua, if you wanna debate vps, then in the words of Joe from Family Guy, "Bring it on!" (I could say in the words of Kirsten Dunst, but it just doesn't have the same effect)

It's your business if you want to support a lawyer who's made miliions and millions of dollars by taking a quarter of the awards given to people victimized by doctors. I'm sure people who went to doctors in good faith and had their trust abused aren't really expecting anything better than that, at that point. I mean, what do pemanently disabled people need with a few hundred thousand dollars, with all they've got going for them in their lives. So don't lament the plight of people who "got screwed" as you so eloquently put it, unless you can come up with someone better than John Edwards to support in Cheney's place.

As far as the actual political considerations, the Weekly Standard puts it better than I could.

"Either Edwards doesn't understand current realities, or he is willing to let France and Germany exercise a veto on decisions affecting American security. No administration wants to go it alone. But the approach outlined by Edwards suggests a style of statecraft that would put a premium on unanimity over decisiveness and, in the name of working with all potential allies, forestall making the hard decisions required if the war on terror is going to be waged successfully.

But perhaps winning the war is not uppermost in Edwards's mind. One of the most striking statements in the Edwards speech is the reason he gives for wanting allied help in Iraq. 'With a new president, we will earn the respect of our allies. We will ask more from them to ease the burdens on our troops so they can come home.' Sorry, but how do you earn the respect of our allies, if the point of asking them to do more is so that you can bring your own troops home?"

Posted by: Morris at September 18, 2004 07:51 PM | PERMALINK

Morris - "That's what's important to me, so I'm voting for Bush, who isn't going to cut and run, to make worthless all the American lives lost there, to profane the memory of those lost on September 11. Bush is going to stay there as long as it takes, even if we have troops there for ten years like we do in Kosovo."

How exactly does killing Americans in Iraq for 10 years commemorate those lost on 9/11? We can't know of course, but I bet a lot of those who died that day wouldn't support that way of commemorating their own deaths. And I continue to be amazed that someone as pro-life as you is so strongly in favor of this war, and launching further invasions that will result in the deaths of who know how many more people.

And of course barring a suspension of the Constitution whoever is elected will just have 4 years to do what they do. And Kerry hasn't said anything about getting troops out before year 4 (though yeah, he's said he would like to pull them out by the end of his term - but I don't think there's much evidence that he's planning on quickly "cutting and running").

Beyond that exactly when will Iraqis become responsible for themselves and allow us to "cut and run"? There have been "insurgencies" there regularly ever since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Do you want to stay and have Americans die forever - to continue the constant commemoration of 9/11? And what if the Iraqis want us gone (as many Iraqis do)? Will leaving in those circumstances while fighting continues be cutting and running?

And you know this argument sound suspiciously like that used by a number of freedomless Islamic regimes - notably those operated in Sudan and Iran. Both of those operated long-standing wars to stay true to a vision and show the willingness of the patriotic believers to lay down for their lives for the great battle, and the ideology of the state. Those wars (the Iran-Iraq war and the civil war in Southern Sudan) principally accomplished keeping totalitarian regimes strong, weakening domestic opposition to them, and killing off hundreds of thousands of poor souls. But yes, according to their rhetoric ending them would be a surrender and an insult to those who died (though they were long more or less "won" in conventional terms).

Plus, I really think that at a basic level this "we have to stay there for as long as it takes to save them from themselves" rhetoric is insulting and staggeringly condescending. It really smacks of the language used by many Americans (and others) during the imperial age (in the case of Americans, in places like the Philippines and Cuba).

I know you'll disagree with this - but given your comments I think it's really weird that you're the "pro-life" one of us. Your views about the appeal of war don't seem to fit with that at all.

And Joshua can certainly defend himself, but as to this: "It's your business if you want to support a lawyer who's made miliions and millions of dollars by taking a quarter of the awards given to people victimized by doctors." - I think it's worth noting that without these lawyers these people would have 1) no way way of fighting the evil doctors and 2) no way of winning. Compensation scales might be a bit out of whack - but they are probably more out of whack in the world of medicine than they are in the world of law.

Posted by: Armand at September 19, 2004 02:25 PM | PERMALINK

We're not "killing Americans for ten years." We're sending Americans to Iraq to protect Americans, and the terrorists are killing Americans. This is not a subtle distinction, or a "nuance".

I always liked that movie, The Man in the Iron Mask I think it was, talking about Dumas' character Athos teaching his to soldiers to bear in mind each time they draw their swords not the lives they take but the lives they protect. Bringing Americans home now won't stop them from killing us, they were killing Americans before we ever went to Iraq if you remember correctly.

What do you think's going to happen to the motivation level of the terrorists if they know we're leaving in four years? It gives hope to them, and that's going to cost American lives. How do you ask someone to be the last man to die in Iraq, Mr. Kerry, if all we're doing is waiting four years to pull out? If it's really an important mission, we stay as long as we need to. If it's not, it's stupid to stay even four years. This is Kerry's lack of decisiveness and vision, and this is how it's going to get American heroes killed.

Yes, there have been insurgencies in Iraq for years and years, just like in Yugoslavia and Ireland. As long as Iraqis (I fear you're going to accuse me of being "majoritarian" here by suggesting a democratic solution rather than one chosen for the good of the stupid masses by intellectual elitists) support leaders who want us to stay and support them, I think we should stay, at least until we get a better handle on the security situation in Fallujah, Sadr City, etc.

If you choose to see protecting Americans from terrorism as "ideology of the state," well I hope you're right, because that is the kind of vision I want American leaders to embrace for the rest of my life. Since when has America become a "totalitarian regime"? In fact, it's lawyers who support Kerry that are trying to subvert the democratic process by keeping Nader's name off the ballot, they're the ones "weakening domestic opposition."

I'm more worried about saving us from them than I am saving them from themselves. Here's Bill Kristol listing seven excerpts from the bipartisan 9/11 commission report and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing links between Iraq and Al Queda.

And there's no requirement that lawyers who want to help people fight evil doctors take millions of dollars from the infirm in the process. If John Edwards feels entitled to their awards, that's his business, up until he claims to support the public welfare.

Posted by: Morris at September 19, 2004 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

you talk about this being the best system around, and i'm inclined to agree. it so happens that lawyers, under this system, are an important source of accountability. and insofar as i take it you're conservative, they are even more important; deregulation, union-busting, and other pro-corporate toadying requires some sort of offset if the people of this fine country are to avoid being serially screwed by market forces. if the government won't look out for the majority of people exploited by such an ideal, than somebody else will have to.

as for unfair compensation, which is what i take it you're saying, bush got paid off in millions for an ineffective tenure with the texas rangers for which he didn't even cough up the $250K initial investment; it was loaned by one of daddy's boys. cheney was ignorant, on your favorable account, of crucial accounting changes, an ignorance that would not be punishable criminally under sarbanes-oxley, and is still drawing millions in deferred compensation.

what CEO of a company that doesn't even succeed as such should be paid millions? none, i daresay, but this administration is chock-full of people who've drawn such disproportionate paychecks from the same people they now hold secret policy meetings, and draws quite a bit of its funding from the rest. indeed, the multi-million-dollar executives at companies large and small, successful and failing, are a huge and unjustifiable drain on those companies' profitability; the wage gap between executives and their employees is unrivaled in the western world and its an embarrassment.

so who did cheney help for his millions? not the company (although he appears to be compensating for that now, no?). not the shareholders.

john edwards made a great deal of money for himself making a great deal of money for others doing something at an elite level with tremendous success. very few med mal attorneys make the kind of money he did; contrary to popular belief, very few contingency fee attorneys of any stripe make millions. edwards, however, excelled from the moment he began his practice, and i guarantee you his clients aren't complaining. like armand said, if not him, who? god knows the insurance companies hire elite attorneys to fight every claim legitimate or otherwise; why shouldn't patients have the best, and why shouldn't the best be compensated well.

and since we're wandering towards this topic, he's more food for thought: most studies of med mal recoveries show only an incremental increase in payouts over the past several decades -- increases out of all proportion to the much more rapid change in premiums. doing a little homework yields the revelation that the spike in premiums coincided perfectly with the dot-bust. why's that? well, how do insurance companies make their money? they invest the premiums they collect. and what happens when their investments go sour? uh-oh, they're short on cash -- bingo, premiums go up. so i don't want to hear that the lawyers are at fault for the insurance crisis in medicine either; the insurance companies have themselves to blame.

but really here's the bottom line: the bush administration is full of failed professionals who found safe harbor in politics where, sadly, they can more easily escape accountability. edwards, at least, has been _good_ at what he's done, and has done it without help from daddy, affirmative action, or low friends in high places. and you complain about "elites?!" my god, man, your coterie of favored politicians are the very definition of "elite," and no amount of down-home accents and photo-ops on a ranch virtually no one in this fine country could afford is going to change that. their very cronyism is far worse than the "intellectual elitism" you decry -- it has the whiff of aristocracy, or feudalism.

Posted by: joshua at September 20, 2004 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

If you send people into the field and know they are going to die - you are killing them. If you have the power to order people into a mine field, you might not personally be placing them on top of the mines ... but you still bear responsibility for putting them in a situation in which they'll quite likely be maimed or killed.

And what do you mean the "terrorists" are killing Americans in Iraq. Who do you mean by that? One thing I find stunning about our incompetent press is their complete lack of reporting on who exactly it is that's killing Americans. Of course since the country is too unsafe to go around perhaps it's not that surprising (though why is that the case if we're winning). But I wonder - is the entire population of Fallujah now composed of "terrorists"? And when/how did that occur?

And I'm still at a loss at what part of an oath any American official or soldier takes that has anything remotely to do with being willing to give up their/your life to protect Iraqis.

And when exactly was it that Iraqis Were killing Americans? I seem to recall the United States now having invaded Iraq twice. I don't recall Iraq having invaded the United States - not even once.

And I'm sure all those dead Iraqi civilians and their families are thrilled by our protection of them.

And you're still accusing of Kerry of fecklessness without saying what you think is the endgame here. Kerry has proposed a goal - one he might not meet. It's certainly not inconceivable he'd still have US troops in Iraq in November 2008 - but when exactly would you have our troops leave? Ever? What is it that you want here? When will Iraqis be "free" and when will "terrorists" in "Iraq" be defeated? You're not giving us any really detail about what you mean - much like the president. So you're saying when the Iraqis want us gone we should leave? What if the "terrorists" are still fighting? And why do you think they even want us there now? We're not remotely popular and there hasn't been an election saying they want us.

I did not say the US was a totalitarian regime.

And as to this - "And there's no requirement that lawyers who want to help people fight evil doctors take millions of dollars from the infirm in the process. If John Edwards feels entitled to their awards, that's his business, up until he claims to support the public welfare." - does the same hold for all businessmen? What about bankers, they make money off the poor. The owners of Wal-mart? Doctors? How far do you want that to go? Pharm executives? Do you want salary limits for all occupations? Wouldn't that be stifling competition? I don't care about your response really, but I mean it's not like trial lawyers are the only group that's making money off the poor and infirm.

As to your "proof" - there were some meetings. Wow. Members of a government held meetings with members of an organiztion - stop the presses. Bush has met with Democrats, pro-choice people, even gays. Does that mean he's started to owrk hand in hand with them to subvert his administration's approaches to government? NOTHING in that story you cite says anything operationally came of those meetings. And the wording makes clear some of those meetings may never even have occured. And the last one simply notes that it was reasonable for the CIA to think something, not that their assumption meant anything (and of of course Saddam Hussein didn't have any power in the Kurdish region - though of course WE did). There's still NOTHING there that show any evidence of anything beyond meetings. A host of countries had meetings with members of al-Qaeda. Unlike the Iraqis, the Saudis and the UAE actually had FORMAL ties with the Taliban. They were the only two governments on the planet to do so. Yet for some reason that wasn't enough for us to invade them. Republican Congressman Rohrbacher of California went to Afghanistan, hung out with the Taliban and came back praising them. Saddam Hussein wasn't praising. Should the Congressman be forced to resign? Just wondering.

Posted by: Armand at September 20, 2004 10:07 AM | PERMALINK


You need to consider your sources. You cite this Weekly Standard article by Bill Kristol as listing seven areas of contact that the 9/11 commission found between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The article does nothing of the sort. First off, only three of the seven points comes from the 9/11 commission: the other four are a senate Intelligence committee report.

The 9/11 commission found three points of contact between Iraq and Al Qaeda:

1994/1995: Al Qaeda asks for bases in Iraq. Iraq says no.

1998: There were (maybe) some meetings between the two. Nothing happened (i.e., no exchange of materials, resouces, intelligence, or anything).

1999: (the most damaging to the argument that there was no linkage) Iraq offers Bin Laden a place. Bin Laden says no. The 9/11 commission was unable to confirm this, and again, there is no evidence of any actual exchange of materials, resouces or anything. If, big if, this is true, it might mean something, but I would hope there is further evidence.

The other four instances of "connections" are not, in fact, "connections". They come from Senate Intelligence Committee overviews of CIA reports from an unknown time. They note, in total, that the CIA looked for a relationship, didn't find one, that the CIA was worried about weapons of mass destruction finding their way to Al Qaeda (though, again, there was no actual relationship, so this was strictly a theoretical worry), and finally that there was some intelligence that Al Qaeda had operatives in the Kurdish areas (which Iraq did not control). In other words, nothing the 9/11 commission didn't already cover.

Overall, there is no evidence of any substantive linkage between Iraq and Al Qaeda. There might (and this is still unproven) have been discussions, but those never, ever went anywhere.

There were no connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda. That's as simple as I can make it.

Now, why are we in Iraq?

Posted by: baltar at September 20, 2004 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry you misunderstood my cite, perhaps I phrased it poorly; they are seven excerpts from bipartisan reports, including three from 9/11 and three from the senate intelligence report.

I would question your summary of the 1998 meetins from the 9/11 commision; we don't know what happen, and as Bill Kristol says, we should look into this. That we don't know what happened in no way equates to knowing that nothing happened; would you really arrange a meeting for the purpose of...nothing?

As far as your analysis on the 1999 offer of safe haven for Bin Laden, how does Bin Laden's choice to decline this in any way make it insignificant? They had every intention of keeping from harm someone who'd killed hundreds with the embassy bombings in Africa. Can you honestly tell me that a nation with such intentions poses no threat to us?

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 94, p. 346)
The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons.

Does this also seem insignificant to you? I don't see how this equates to looked for but didn't find a relationship.

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 95, p. 347)
The Central Intelligence Agency's assessment on safehaven--that al-Qaida or associated operatives were present in Baghdad and in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control--was reasonable.

Okay, there is mention of Kurdish areas, but also Baghdad, and my recent history of Iraq is a little fuzzy, but has Baghdad been under Kurdish control, do you really think that's what this says?

Personally, al Quaeda operating out of Baghdad, Iraq training them in CBW, and Iraq offering to protect these murderers from justice is pretty substantive to me; that's why we're in Iraq.

The Bathist party has supported terrorists, and they used WMD against the Kurds, but maybe to you that in itself isn't terrorism. The Bathists in Fallujah are terrorists, to me at least. What would you call someone who kidnaps a person and beheads them on TV, if not a terrorist?

Again, we're in Iraq first to protect ourselves, and yes officers do take an oath to protect our nation. Since when does one country have to invade another to cause it harm? The Iraqis support and protect terrorists, and terrorists kill Americans. How difficult a connection is that to make, that they're a threat to us?

You lament the lives of the thousands who have died trying to kill Americans? Where is your concern for the three hundred thousand innocent civilians who Saddam killed without reason? Yes, there are innocents who have died in our struggle to free the Iraqis, and protect America, and I do lament their sacrifice.

Since when has our popularity ever been an issue, Mr. quotes Edmund Burke only when it serves his purpose. I don't know what Kerry's goal is this week, or this minute, so I'm not sure which you're talking about. We should protect our nation, but it will work better if the Iraqis can govern themselves.
How can you begin to criticize the President for being unclear? He's got four years of service for you to look at, unlike Mr. new position every week depending on who his campaign advisor is.

Yes, absolutely many people make money off of the infirm, but when they claim to be public servants, I question their sincerity.

I do question any governments that meet with terrorists, or any politician that does so, although past experience makes me wonder if there isn't more to that than you're saying, so please provide me with a link to that story. I'm actually more concerned about governments that covertly meet with terrorists, because that suggests they have something to hide.

Certainly there are noble lawyers, ones who live comfortably as public defenders, assistant district attorneys or servants of the noble causes you suggest. But I question someone who feels entitled to millions and millions of dollars each year without regard to those from whom they take this money. There's a reason ambulance chasers have a bad reputation, even among lawyers. Yes, Bush got paid by the Rangers. Are any of them infirm or poor, do you think? The league minimum is pretty high.

You lament secret policy meetings, I'm guessing you're talking about oil/gas meetings. As I recall, they're are plenty of open meetings with industry leaders on many issues, just watch C-SPAN. If you suggest there's tit for tat, would it be better for them to receive a hundred K from Viacom, and a hundred K from other media giants, like the Kerry campaign? Are you suggesting that when someone works for a company, that they should never be able to meet with people they knew there, as long as they're in public service? Yes, Cheney made a lot of money, Edwards made a lot of money, Bush made a lot of money, Kerry married a lot of money; they all receive a lot of money from people and companies to whom they are probably beholden. This happens on both sides; so vote on the policies, and stop trying to make partisan what is equal to all involved. How do you even begin to suggest there is a difference in this when both presidential candidates went to Yale, and both joined the secret society reserved for the elite?

Posted by: Morris at September 21, 2004 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"But I question someone who feels entitled to millions and millions of dollars each year without regard to those from whom they take this money."

It's not entitlement if it's compensation that's indexed to success. And one third of nothing is nothing; it's not the clients lawyers take their contingency fees from but defendants. Find me two victorious Edwards clients who feel robbed and I'll be chastened; I guarantee, however, that in trying to do so you'll work a lot harder than I would to find a Halliburton shareholder who feels robbed by Cheney.

In none of their ventures were Cheney's or Bush's compensation packages meaningfully indexed to success; Edwards, on the other hand, fronted large sums of money to pursue his claims (as do most contingency fee lawyers), in effect gambling on his ability to recover for his clients. That's a gamble neither Bush nor Cheney has indicated they'd be willing to take. And one can understand why: if past performance is any indicator of future success, they might as well slide their money into a slot machine as bet it on their own management acument.

Posted by: joshua at September 21, 2004 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

My point as to figuring out who the "terrorists" are is that we are killing a lot of people who haven't kidnapped or beheaded anyone. Do you want to kill every former member of the Baath party? Every resident of Fallujah? Who exactly? Are we fighting terrorists? Insurgents who don't like the Allawi regime we installed? Followers of clerics who won't work with us? Who? And why? Neither the administration or the media is being at all clear about who we are fighting and why - and if we are going to fight a war I don't think it's too much to ask for some details on exactly who we are fighting.

[And as to gassing the Kurds that was a government action and typically internal government actions aren't classified as terrorism. Plus of course it happened ages ago and it was carried out by a government that was our ally at the time, if that makes any difference.]

"The Iraqis support and protect terrorists, and terrorists kill Americans. How difficult a connection is that to make, that they're a threat to us?"

If that's the basis for your support for the current action we should be currently occupying (presumably with or without their consent if this is your argument) Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - they've given vastly more aid and comfort to the radical fundamentalists than Iraqis ever have. Iraq is nowhere near the top of that list.

"Where is your concern for the three hundred thousand innocent civilians who Saddam killed without reason?" Are you insane or simply an idiot? Osama Bin Laden ordered 9/11. Saddam Hussein did not.

Our popularity matters if it affects what we can do. Every democratic government that has sided with Mr. Bush has suffered electoral defeats. Leaders of foreign lands notice that kind of thing and if we actually want to fight wars with the military and financial assistance of the good guys of the world - world opinion matters. It saves our lives, our tax dollars, and deepens our commitments to what we are supposedly fighting for.

If you STILL don't know Kerry's plan - go to his website and read the speech he gave yesterday at NYU. It's fairly specific.

Posted by: Armand at September 21, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK


You overstate some "ifs" and "maybes". There is no evidence of any substantive connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

The 1998 meetings may not have happened. No one can confirm them (at least publicly). Even if they did occur, no one can is even claiming that there was an exchange of any materials, resources, information or anything. The 9/11 Committee report only uses the term "meetings" (modified by "reportedly") and the absence of indications of the exchange of anything indicates that there is no evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda actually helped each other at all.

Certainly I would arrange a meeting where nothing happened. It happens all the time. I don't know you, you don't know me, we get together to see what we know together. If it doesn't work out, we don't have other meetings. In this case, they may have had further meetings but nothing seems to have happened. They didn't help each other.

As for the 1999 offer of a "safe haven", I did grant you that this is the most damaging argument against my case. But it still isn't enough. It isn't even confirmed that it happened. Even if it was confirmed, I don't really think it is important. Was it just a place for Bin Laden to retire to (like Abu Nidal - who came to Iraq and did nothing else afterward)? Like a large prison? Was it just so Saddam could point to Bin Laden (who was popular in the Middle East) and hope for some of that popularity to rub off on him (Saddam was trying to find a way out from under the sanctions, and greater popularity would help his cause)? There just isn't enough here to justify a war. So Saddam offered Bin Laden a place, so what? The US has offered political asylum to the head of the Chechen rebel/terrorist group. How is that not the identical act to Saddam offering Bin Laden a place to go? Should we invade ourselves?

As for the Senate Inteligence stuff, I'm much less impressed. The first report notes:

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 94, p. 346) The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons.

I read this differently than you. I read this as saying: "if there were contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, then the reports we have of training in WMD are very worriying." This is not the same statement as: "The WMD training that Iraq gave Al Qaeda are bad." They don't know if the training happened, but they worry about that as being the worst thing that Iraq could do for Al Qaeda (since they know that Iraq and Al Qaeda don't actually exchange resources, money or anything else).

As for the report of Al Qaeda in Baghdad, this is the first I've seen of it, and it, along with everything else, is still just unconfirmed "reports". Its not real evidence. Don't you think that the US government, after owning Baghdad for the last 18 months, would have brought our real documentation, real proof if they had any? We own Iraq now. If we can't prove now that Iraq had an Al Qaeda connection, when will be see the real proof?

In any event, even if your suppositions and "reports" are true, they are not enough. One set of meetings, one offer of "safe haven", an Al Qaeda operative in the country and some supposed training on WMD (which, by the way, couldn't really have been useful, since they didn't have any) is not sufficient evidence to invade a country. Hell, Pakistan, Syria (with Hezbollah), Iran (with other Palestinian terrorist groups) and even Saudi Arabia have had much more significant relationships with terrorists. Why Iraq? Why not a real threat to the US? That's the question.

Posted by: baltar at September 21, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree with you, Armand, on whether or not terrorism can be conducted by a state and also whether gassing Kurds falls into that category. Internal action by governments - especially under authoritarian regimes - that seems to be fairly random and is designed to cause hysteria/fear/blind obedience is commonly designated as state terrorism. Think "military junta in Argentina torturing and 'disappearing' college students." There is no real objective of the activity itself (no intelligence gained, etc) other than instilling fear in the population. I also might suggest that gassing the Kurds was less about state terrorism than attempted ethnic cleansing or an attempt to head off a proto-civil war. One could argue that point, depending on how much one thought the action was a) an attempt to instill generalized fear versus b) an action against a specific group to achieve a specific objective. Of course, how efficient of Saddam, he got to accomplish both.

Posted by: binky at September 21, 2004 03:07 PM | PERMALINK

Disagree away. Please! I don't necessarily disagree with what you're saying Binky. Not at all. I'm just think we're still thinking through what qualifies as "terrorism". And it strikes me that if you look at a lot of the treaties and agreements on it, especially some of the early stuff, it was worded in a way that focused on "terrorists" being non-state actors. Of course this isn't surprising since these treaties were written by states, many of whom were looking to defend themselves from non-state actors. And of course it wouldn't have done to implicate themselves in supporting death squads and the like either. So I guess what I'm saying isn't that I didn't mean to say that gassing the Kurds wasn't terrorism. It's just that there's disagreement over the meaning of the term, and what qualifies as "terrorism" changes over time, and it's useful to understand why that is and how it comes about.

In other words, we should all study constructivism!

Posted by: Armand at September 21, 2004 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

Aieeee! (in an overacted Kirk voice) No! not! that! Anything! But! Constructivism! Actually, yeah, our definition is biased towards states, large powerful states at that. Go figure.

And, actually, I don't think gassing Kurds was by design terrorism. I think the generalized terror effect was a nice little bonus for Saddam. But, as I said, one could debate that point.

Posted by: binky at September 21, 2004 04:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ewwww. I write "actually" way too much. Sorry folks.

Posted by: binky at September 21, 2004 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

I said three hundred thousand, because that's how many of his own people Saddam killed.

"Among cases that could be investigated are:
The reported killing of 8,000 members of the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983
The use of chemical weapons on 16 March 1988 against Kurds in the city of Halabja, which left 5,000 dead and 7,000 injured or with long-term illnesses
The reported killing of 300,000 Shia Muslims after the 1991 Gulf War.
Since then [the end of major combat operations], more than 200 mass graves have been unearthed across the country."

Of course, your genius candidate for prez is saying this week the world isn't any safer without Saddam in power.

World opinion does matter. Japan's opinion matters, so does Italy's, Poland's, Australia's, etc., but these countries who've had the guts and foresight to join us in Iraq are being made to seem irrelevant every time Kerry opens his mouth. How do you think that's going to affect Kerry's ability to build a coalition? I haven't seen anybody as concerned as Kerry about Germany's opinion since Neville Chamberlain. Of course, now Kerry's concerned about world opinion; in 1997, long before he was deceived by George Bush, this is what Kerry had to say:

"The administration is leading." said Kerry. "The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by Mr. (Richard) Butler. So furthermore, I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests. And clearly it is not just our best interests, it is in the best interests of the world to make it clear to Saddam Hussein that he's not going to get away with a breach of the '91 agreement that he's got to live up to, which is allowing inspections and dismantling his weapons and allowing us to know that he has dismantled his weapons. That's the price he pays for invading Kuwait and starting a war."

It's also interesting that Kerry attributes France's current objection to involvement in Iraq to a lack of U.S. leadership when in 1997 he said it was about money.
"The fact is that over a period of time France and Russia have indicated a monetary interest," he said. "They on their own have indicated the desire to do business. That's what's driving this. I mean, as (The New York Times') Tom Friedman said in a great article the other day, France Inc. wants to do business with oil and they are moving in the exact sort of opposite direction on their own from the very cause of the initial conflict, which was oil."

Kerry's first point in his new plan calls for foreign troops. I find it interesting that besides offending all our allies who actually have contributed troops, he offers no "plan" on how he's going to get troops. He talks about how the U.N. has already passed a resolution calling for U.N. members to provide troops, and they haven't done it. Maybe that's why Bush calls the U.N. irrelevant. Maybe it's because when we actually go in and enforce one of their resolutions, they say we acted illegally. What's Kerry going to do to get other nations to live up to their promises? Why should we care what the U.N. says when they don't keep their word? The idea that other world leaders would show up to a convention so that they could make good on their promises when they haven't before is absurd.

His second point suggests getting other nations to train Iraqi security forces, with again no explanation of how he's going to persuade them to send trainers to Iraq. This is a specific "plan"? He talks about doubling classroom time, and a couple other micromanaging techniques, as though these few details will legitimize all his four points. Do you really think John Kerry knows more about how much classroom time Iraqi forces need, compared to, I don't know, U.S. special forces? He talks about opening training centers in other nations (for which I'm sure he would generously compensate these nations for legitimizing his international coalition, and I'm sure given what he said about France being motivated by money in 1997 that they would be happy to cooperate).

Kerry's third point is we need to have high visibility reconstruction projects. The Iraqis know we're rebuilding their country, and they know terrorists keep sabotaging our efforts to restore power; if they don't, it's because Al Jazeera doesn't cover those stories. And Kerry offers no solution for the real problem here. He takes a shot at civilians risking their lives to put Iraq back together, those who get kidnapped and have their throats slashed. He says they should be fired, instead of holding responsible terrorists who sabotage their operations and murder those workers.

His fourth point says we should rely on the U.N. to secure Iraqi elections, ignoring that they are already failing to meet their responsibilities as he already noted in his speech. This is just absurd. Yes, let's waste more time getting the U.N. to make promises they aren't going to keep.

I'll get to the other posts later.

Posted by: Morris at September 24, 2004 05:08 PM | PERMALINK

As to Kerry's ability to get help from France with his secret coalition-building skills, apparently they're still a secret to France.

As for Paris, well, French president Jacques Chirac made it quite clear on Monday, while in New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, that Kerry's possible victory in November would have no impact on France's decision to stay out of Iraq: "French policy with regard to Iraq has not changed and will not change." ("La politique francaise a l'egard de l'Irak n'a pas change et ne changera pas.")

Posted by: Morris at September 24, 2004 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Morris - Why do you include rubbish like this in your posts: "I haven't seen anybody as concerned as Kerry about Germany's opinion since Neville Chamberlain." That is obviously inaccurate, and of course on substance Germany matters - it's the biggest and richest country in Europe - so I think it's fairly important to deal with it, though the president is such a crybaby that it took a great deal of massaging by Rice and company for him to even TALK to the Chancellor after the Chancellor won reelection partially by taking an anti-Bush line.

Posted by: Armand at September 25, 2004 03:16 PM | PERMALINK

Armand, my brother,
I think if liberals continue to compare Bush to Hitler, it's only fair to compare Kerry to Neville Chamberlain who also valued international support above his own country's protection, and was to his credit successful in getting that support up until Germany attacked them. I'm worried that if Kerry gets elected he'll come back from N. Korea and Iran with agreements that they won't honor, and Americans will die. As to Germany's support,

"Speaking to journalists in Berlin before boarding a plan to Istanbul on Sunday, Gerhard Schröder said the transatlantic row over the Iraq war belonged in the history books and that all NATO states were interested in improving security in Iraq. At the same time, however, he expressed his determination not to budge on his refusal to send troops to the war-torn country.",1564,1248580,00.html

So I guess it doesn't matter whether he talked to them or not, since they're not going to send troops into Iraq any more than France. And if you read this article, it's kind of interesting, because it's a few months ago and they're already talking about Germans training Iraqi security forces. What's Kerry going to do that's so different from Bush?

Posted by: Morris at September 25, 2004 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

One, this site is not run by "some liberals", and none of us is stupid enough to think Bush equals Hitler. But if you want to engage in the Ann Coulter school of debate - feel free. It's just hard (very hard) to take you seriously if you do.

And if you think this is true - "Neville Chamberlain who also valued international support above his own country's protection" - there's a lot of history you have not read. There were some perfectly good reasons from a British national security standpoint for him to screw the Czechs (though it's not surprisingly that the Czechs are still seething about that).

And of course it matters if you talk to Germany or not. They may very well help us out - maybe not with troops, but there's no reason why they couldn't be cajoled into giving more money or adding to the international legitimacy of the mission (which really does matter and affects the level of troops and money other countries will send). A willingness to work with them though is required and Bush as shown anything but that. And if we won't work with them at all, as Bush refuses to do ... why exactly should they help us?

I don't think it will be easy at all for Kerry to get a lot of international support, but I think he stands a better chance at that than Bush does. Pretty much only major countries (those that could really help) that Bush hasn't basically burned his bridges with are the autocracies (many of which aren't helping us in Iraq), Israel (which obviously can't help), the Aussies (provided Howard gets reelected) and the Brits. Through his bullying, inattention and arrogance Bush has supremely pissed off much of the world that would otherwise be relatively likely to support us in noble causes and its not shocking that those countries don't want to work with him. I'm not saying Kerry would be hugely successful on this score, but I think a fresh face would help.

And you can criticize Kerry all you like for his possible Korean and Iranian policies, but the fact is that Bush has shown a fantastic level of negligence on the first one of those, and as to the latter, I don't think either one of them can do much to make that situation better in the immediate future (though I do at least trust Kerry to have the good sense not to invade Iran ... I wish I could say the same of Bush).

And I apologize for criticizing you on the 300,000 number. I thought you wrote 3,000 and were back on the Saddam & 9/11 horse. But I really don't think it makes any difference if it was 30,000 or 300,000. We've not traditionally been in the business of taking out brutal dictators b/c of what they do to their own people. And if we were to start doing that, I don't see how that's any justification for invading Iraq. The death toll in other places was much higher - I mean in the Congo it was in the millions, but you haven't heard a peep about doing anything there, and I have yet to see a plan for stopping the killings in Sudan. I mean I know you're the bug idealists who wants to kill 'em all before they can kill others ... but to me that's a really minor reason for saying this war was appropriate, and if it had been framed that way there's no way that would have been supported by the American people.

Posted by: Armand at September 26, 2004 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

When it's been seriously debated by the moderators of this site that Bush may be the most incompetent President in history, I don't see how you suggest I'm any worse by comparing Kerry to a statesman who made a grave error in perceiving the wrong threat to his country. The Czechs may have greatly wronged the English, I'll be the first to tell you I'm not familiar with this part of history; but I am enough of a student to see that Germany was a great threat, they were violating the treaty following WWI with their arms buildup, and Chamberlain had the chance to act against Hitler at this point, but he made peace with his enemy instead.

If you read on in the article I cited above, it talks about Schroder (does anybody know where the umlaut key is?) saying the rift over the Iraq war is over, that they are already going to help train Iraqi security forces if that's what Iraq wants. I still haven't seen more details about Kerry's secret plan to get more than they're offering now.

You say:
"I don't think it will be easy at all for Kerry to get a lot of international support, but I think he stands a better chance at that than Bush does."
First, Kerry has offended the hell out of the coalition of the coerced and the bribed, as he calls them. You say Bush is offending other nations with arrogance, but how do you think nations who are helping us at great political risk feel? Offended, maybe? He's casting doubts on the legitimacy of the Iraqi government, so why should other nations help us if it's not a legitimate government? Other nations like France and Germany have said they will not send troops no matter who is President. I just don't see how this guy thinks he's a foreign policy genius.

"I will work with our allies to get the six party talks with North Korea back on track -- and I will talk directly with the North Koreans -- to get a verifiable agreement that will eliminate their nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly. We have to get serious about diplomacy with North Korea now. Only then will we have the support of our allies for action if diplomacy fails." --John Kerry, September 24th.
I'll defer to Baltar's expertise on the logic of this statement, but first of all, if he gets an agreement that, as he says, "will eliminate their nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly," then diplomacy won't fail. Of course, he's using nuance again and saying it might. He talks about getting the support of other nations, but he's notorious on this issue for not being prescriptive or responsive to hypothetical questions. So what's he going to do? You criticize Bush for inattention, yet Kerry offers no plan for North Korea and the plan it took him a year to come up with on Iraq is mostly a rehashing of what Bush is already doing. For more on NATO trainers going to Iraq, check this article.

You say:
"But I really don't think it makes any difference if it was 30,000 or 300,000." I can hardly respond to this. But I'll do my best. I think we have a responsibility as the most powerful nation in the world to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I feel this is our duty to fellow human beings, I know you say if it's not Americans you don't think we should intervene. The specific reason I bring up this number is that you act like it's the worst thing in the world that innocent civilians die in Iraq. It's certainly something I don't take lightly, but I can't help thinking about all the people Saddam has killed and tortured, and if we can protect the ones who survived his tyranny now...I don't think a few thousand civilian deaths makes this policy a failure. The media loves trotting out how many women and children die in each bomb attack on Fallujah, but why exactly should we just assume they aren't working with terrorists after what happened in Russia, after that Palestinian child had a bomb strapped to his chest and was marched into an Israeli checkpoint? How many children died when Hamas blew up that ice cream stand in Israel? The deaths of women and children do leave raw our sense of innocence, but it may be better for them if we stay in Iraq, rather than leave them to get beaten for attending school or stoned for being raped. It runs counter to my sense of justice that we should leave the Iraqis to languish under the chokehold of UN sanctions (which intelligence says is the only reason Saddam hadn't acquired WMD again) when we can make life better for them.

Posted by: Morris at September 26, 2004 09:49 PM | PERMALINK

As to your 1930's history - huh? "The Czechs may have wronged the English"? I haven't the vaguest clue what you are referring to. And as to your complaints re: Chamberlain ... I don't think Chamberlain misperceived the things you think he misperceived. He knew perfectly well what the Germans had violated the treaty. I think the point is that he didn't think the English could beat the Germans in 1938 (a quick reasonable assumption) and he was looking to buy time. But the 1930's analogy is beside the point unless you think Kerry is actually going to make a peace deal with the "insurgents" (or whoever it is we are fighting in Iraq) or Osama bin Laden - neither one of those possibilities is remotely credible.

As to - "He's casting doubts on the legitimacy of the Iraqi government, so why should other nations help us if it's not a legitimate government?" Of course it's illegitimate - we picked it. No one is going to give aid to prop up the current government. What you have to do to get the aid is to show 1) how events there affect the West and 2) how they affect the legitimacy of our rules of the game and our self-assigned role as the protectors of those rules and norms. If anyone thinks Western countries will give aid just keep that great and noble democrat Allawi in power ... well, that's not going to work. We (the West) will act because of our self interest.

As to your paragraph - it's all about choices. Do you build schools and roads here or there. Do you kill person A or person B. I'm not comfortable with the idea of regularly killing American troops there until the end of time, ditto for Iraq civilians, be they male or female, young or old. I don't think it's up to me to decide who lives or dies. I don't like it if dictator X kills 50,000 people - but I don't know that I think it's an easy call to say that it's ok to kill 5,000 to stop that. And I definitely don't know that it's appropriate to make American soldiers part of that equation. They signed up to better their lives and defend their country - not to be sacrificed to prevent the death of an Iraqi. If some want to make that sacrifice - fine - but I don't think it's appropriate to order them to.

And if you really believe that 1) every civilian killed by American troops is working with terrorists or that 2) by killing civilians we aren't increasing the hositility against us there and creating new nationalists and terrorists - I really think you are deluding yourself. And if you think that Islamic traditions and law aren't going to be a part of the law and norms of a new Iraq (issues that matter on a host things, but especially noticeably re: women's issues) - you are both deluding yourself, and ignoring the polling that shows a huge majority of Iraqis want that. Through the installing democracy it's very possible that the new Iraqi government will have much more reactionary policies regarding women than Saddam Hussein's did. I'm not saying that's right or wrong - but I am saying that installing democracy (at the cost of many lives, Iraqi, American and otherwise) is not going to necessarily mean more "freedom" for some people. In some aspects of life, it will mean less.

Posted by: Armand at September 27, 2004 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

What is entirely credible and makes the 1930's analogy relevant is that Kerry is likely to make peace with North Korea and Iran, for the purpose of proving to the world beyond a reasonable doubt that they are willing to break treaties regardless of the fact they've already done so. This is all for the purpose of getting France and Germany involved (in Iran) despite their obvious unwillingness to put troops in the Middle East. After all, German intelligence said Iraq could get nuclear weapons within a couple years when we first liberated Iraq, and they still were unwilling to participate. This is a complete diversion of time and resources away from anything that might actually work.

Yes, I agree that France and Germany will only help if they perceive it's in their self interest, and at the point we're doling out economic aid and trade incentives to them, to get their participation and the perception of legitimacy, it's no longer in our self interest.

As to your third point, that American soldiers should only have to fight when their country is in direct danger, I think 9/11 taught us that indirect danger is just as dangerous. When we went into Yugoslavia, were they a direct threat to us? Iraq as you love to forget was rewarding the families of suicide bombers, they invaded another country (and even Kerry says they would have ended up going after other nations in the region if we had let them have Kuwait), Saddam tried to kill a President of the United States, they harbored Abu Nidal to keep him from facing justice for the hundreds he murdered, Iraq offered UBL safe harbor as well (and since that happened in 98' you can't really argue that he would have gone there to retire, what with killing 3,000 Saddam in 2001), Saddam kept shooting missiles at our pilots, and that's all without the links to 9/11 that you find convenient to dismiss but I find quite compelling. How can you say Saddam wasn't a threat to us? To quote The Princess Bride, "Inconceivable!" Yes, it's true I find a compelling interest in peace and justice for all people of the world that escapes you (which is strange, because you have such an idealistic view that makes it not okay to kill 5,000 to save 50,000), but just because I make this point does not make our national security interest any less salient.

I don't believe that every civilian killed is working with Iraqi troops, only we shouldn't let the media use sentiment to persuade us we're doing the wrong thing because women and children are dying; they are not immune from the depravity of terrorism, as persecutors or innocent victims of terrorists, so just because innocent women and children have died as we struggle to protect them does not mean we're doing the wrong in our struggle to protect them. They are more than anyone the victims of Islamic radicalism, women whose rights are denied and children who learn to embrace nothing more uplifting than a God who hates Americans and Jews. Surely there will be some who hate us because we've killed their wives and daughters in trying to free and protect them, but to say that freeing twenty five million people from state sanctioned depravity is a worthless cause because we're not capable of perfection is not something I can accept. If anytime someone innocent gets hurt we run away, it just makes things worse, and it's mistakes like that for which our soldiers are dying now. The terrorists believe we are weak because we ran away from Mogadishu, because attacks on Israelis brought them to the peace table. The terrorists attack us because they believe we are weak and will just leave. And Kerry gets people killed by saying we will have enormous troop reductions within four years, because they think if they step up their attacks now, Americans will vote for him.

You say regarding islamic denial of women's rights: "I'm not saying that's right or wrong - but I am saying that installing democracy (at the cost of many lives, Iraqi, American and otherwise) is not going to necessarily mean more 'freedom' for some people. In some aspects of life, it will mean less."

Well, it's funny for me that you make so much of our President's reflection of the American people's will in supporting a ban on gay marriage, yet you're unwilling to stand up for women's rights in Iraq because it might offend their Islamic sensibilities. That's very liberal of you. It's true, women may not have all the rights I hope for them in the new Iraq; but at least the soccer team won't have to dodge Saddam's son's bullets whenever they feel like least the Kurds won't have to spend as much money on air least people who offended Saddam's insensibilities might be able to form a handball team in the future...and maybe, just maybe, Iraq will save a lot of public works money, what with not having to spend money digging 200 mass graves.

Posted by: Morris at September 27, 2004 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still confused by what you mean "make peace" with North Korea and Iran, (and once you tell me that you can tell me why you think Kerry is going to do that). And I'm also puzzled at your views of treaties. Of course some can be violated. You can make a good argument that we broke the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea before they did - but whether or not a treaty is broken is a peculiar measure of success. They are a means to an end, and if you get the end, great.

I know Iraq was giving money to suicide bombers (though nothing like the Saudis were). But last time I checked those bombers weren't targeting the US. As to Iraq harboring terrorists, nothing remotely on the scale of Iran or Syria. And for that matter WE harbor terrorists. Go read the articles about those friendly souls who blew up airliners that we let in the country recently. Venezuela (for one) would like to prosecute them for their crimes, but we don't seem that interested. The point here is that these aboslutes are fun little talking points and everything, but lots of countries violate them to one degree or another, and it's not at all clear that Iraq was the worst country on these fronts (well actually it's pretty clear that they weren't).

And yeah, I know you think Saddam was a threat, and I'll grant at a certain level he was (though I certainly don't ascribe to your 9/11 pipe dreams) - but not at such a level as to distract us from more pressing threats like al Qaeda.

As to your dreamy central section - you value masses over individuals. I'm not remotely surprised given your general burn-the-village-to-save-it tendencies re: the war, but I disagree.

As to your last point, it makes no sense. In both cases (here on gay rights and re: women's rights in Iraq) I'm saying that mass politics are denying individuals' rights. "Democracy" is going to mean less freedom for many Iraqi women, much as it can mean relatively less freedom for minorities here. Again though you are showing a willingness to favor the rights of the many over the rights of the few. Perhaps that's appropriate, but again it's making a choice - and I'm uncomfortable with the notion that to help the many we should oppress or kill the few.

And again, Kerry did NOT say we'd have enormous troop reductions in 4 years, only that he hoped we would, and to say that he's getting people killed is despicable.

Posted by: Armand at September 27, 2004 02:48 PM | PERMALINK

On letting terrorists into the US

Posted by: at September 27, 2004 05:33 PM | PERMALINK

Despicable? This comes from the the same opposition to Bush that invokes the image of mushroom clouds rising over our country. This comes from the person who talks at lenth about Bush getting people killed. And, yes, Kerry is getting people killed.

I don't understand how you call me dreamy but then say you're unwilling to let a few die in the course of helping hundreds of thousands. Human beings are not perfect, and neither are our efforts. You criticize Bush for being ideological, yet you're doing exactly that in valuing your ideals of freedom and perfect endeavors over the reality of human suffering.

It's true, Saddam was rewarding people blowing up ice cream stands in Israel, but last I remembered Israel is our closest ally.

Okay, this is why I think Kerry is going to make peace with North Korea:
"I will work with our allies to get the six party talks with North Korea back on track -- and I will talk directly with the North Koreans -- to get a verifiable agreement that will eliminate their nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly. We have to get serious about diplomacy with North Korea now. Only then will we have the support of our allies for action if diplomacy fails." --John Kerry, September 24th.

And on Kerry withdrawing troops in four years:

"John F. Kerry pledged Sunday he would substantially reduce U.S. troop strength in Iraq by the end of his first term in office but declined to offer any details of what he said is his plan to attract significantly more allied military and financial support there.
In interviews on television talk shows, the Democratic presidential nominee said that he saw no reason to send more troops to Iraq and that he would seek allied support to draw down U.S. forces there. 'I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops,' he said on ABC's 'This Week.'"

Yes, treaties are a means to an end, but as I said it's a waste of time and energy if they're not going to abide by them, and if the countries we might convince to help us already are helping us, and if the countries that won't help us won't help us at all, as with Germany and France in Iraq.

9/11 pipe dreams? Two of the hijackers met Iraqi intelligence agents on their way to the US. How is that a pipe dream?

Posted by: Morris at September 27, 2004 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

This weekend I read an analysis that suggested that no matter who is President, our diplomatic and military options in Iran and North Korea are extremely limited. If we are essentially backed into a corner with nowhere else to go on these cases, neither Bush nor Kerry will be able to do much maneuvering.

Posted by: binky at September 28, 2004 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

On funding terrorists attacking Israel - if that's what bugs you fine, but by that measure we should have attacked our allies in the Gulf that gave (and give) much, much more money to Arafat etc. than Iraq did.

As to North Korea, how is this -- "I will work with our allies to get the six party talks with North Korea back on track -- and I will talk directly with the North Koreans -- to get a verifiable agreement that will eliminate their nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly. We have to get serious about diplomacy with North Korea now. Only then will we have the support of our allies for action if diplomacy fails." --John Kerry, September 24th -- a bad thing?

Others wouldn't support us militarily if we didn't negotiate first (and others do matter, particularly since we'll likely expect them to pay for an agreement) and if we could get a verifiable treaty ... you're against that? Why?

And yeah, you're going to say well they broke the 1994 agreement ... and yeah, maybe they did. But guess what, we broke it too. And we really never intended to keep it. The idea that an agreement might not last forever is hardly a reason to oppose it. The 1994 agreement meant that for several years NK accepted inspectors and didn't make plutonium ... I think that's a good thing.

With Bush we've had a president who raised tensions, smashed our friendship with South Korea to pieces and stood by and did nothing while N. Korea kicked out inspectors and (apparently) began building several more nuclear bombs.

Just how exactly can Kerry compile a record worse than that?

Posted by: Armand at September 28, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK
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