"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Kathy Piles On

Sorry, Sam, but I must stand with Ben and Hunter on this one. This nomination is one of the worst moves Bush has made so far, and I'm not a Republican cheerleader who has overlooked and excused his previous miscues.

I realize that people are reaching back into history to find nominations similar to Miers's, and to reassure themselves that some of those (Rehnquist, for example) turned out not so badly. I think this is misguided, for the simple reason that the Court today represents a power that it has never represented in the past, and thus demands a type of legal mind -- one that is philosophically committed to undoing its usurpation of that power -- that was never a requirement in the past.

I am not in any way reassured by these reverse arguments from silence. Elite lawyers, like any other professionals, make decisions about what is important to them and these are reflected in the kind of law they practice. Sunny smilers like Hugh Hewitt seem to think that it's just happenstance that Harriet Miers has never spent much time visibly engaged with constitutional law. Horsefeathers. She hasn't spent time becoming a constitutional scholar because it wasn't important to her, in the way it was important to fifty other conservative legal minds I could name off the top of my head, including a dozen women.

I am also not being won over by Bush's increasingly petulant manner when defending his nominee. It suggests to me that he did not anticipate the level of conservative disappointment he was courting, which suggests that he's not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, which suggests that the argument that we should trust him is somewhat misplaced.

22 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"It suggests to me that he did not anticipate the level of conservative disappointment he was courting, which suggests that he's not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, which suggests that the argument that we should trust him is somewhat misplaced."

Of course the fact that it took you THIS long to figure out he's an idiot doesn't speak too highly of your own "wattage." It's not like it's ever been really hidden. The guy boasts that he doesn't read, doesn't listen to the news. He terribly inarticulate. His policies have been uniformly disasterous on every major issue.

Why would you elect this dim bulb to be president twice? Why did the Right always agrue against the rest of the world's characterization of Bush as exactly what you now realize he is?

This is what recovering alcoholics call a moment of clarity. You get to face up to the uncomfortable truths of your past.

Hunter Baker said...

T-man, the problem is that we haven't seen the Republican we really like since Reagan. BUT, you give us a choice between Johnny GOP and Bill DEM, then we gotta go GOP. The DEMS strike me as supremely soft-headed in most of their policy ideas. Clinton was an exception, as was the whole New Democrat thing, but he just didn't govern that way until forced by a GOP majority Congress.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the DEMS could've run just about any moderate against BUSH and won. Of course this is hindsight, knowing how close the elections were.

It was sheer lunacy for the DEMS to run KERRY in '04. I've been scratching my head on that one for, well, two years now.

Tlaloc said...

"The DEMS strike me as supremely soft-headed in most of their policy ideas."

That's fine, but you had other republican options. Compare Bush to McCain and in every way McCain wipes the floor with the conneticut-texan.

Hunter Baker said...

Interesting you bring up the Bush-McCain thing. I was in favor of McCain in 2000 until he started attacking conservative evangelicals. I'm pretty sure in hindsight that it was the idea of his lame adviser Mike Murphy. If he runs again, I hope Murphy gets "Left Behind." (Did you like that, Jay?)

Evanston said...

tlaloc, if you re-read Kathy's comment, it starts with Bush's assessment of his conservative Base (whether we would back him on another "stealth" nominee). She believes Bush has mis-read the Base, and then questions whether we should trust Bush's assessment of a person, Ms. Miers. She links these 2 issues by questioning his intellect. While you chime in and mention his lack of reading and watching the news, those qualities reflect on his "book smarts." Bush's error in this case is one regarding "people smarts" (since he has mis-read the Base, how do we trust his assessment of Ms. Miers) and while I believe he has made a tactical error with Miers, it is difficult to make the case that his "wattage" is generally "low" with people. He has made enough connections and won enough elections to think otherwise. His error in this case is in prematurely compromising to people like...you. We'd rather have him nominate a genuine conservative and lose a nomination battle before compromising, and most conservatives are convinced we have the numbers and won't lose. You need your own "moment of clarity." The people who run The Reform Club are thinkers. I've read your posts on several occasions and you need to boost the "wattage." You have only demonstrated the ability to insult others and make sweeping generalizations (such as "His policies have been uniformly disasterous (sic) on every major issue"). Please take the time to stake out an argument with facts, or take your thoughtless comments elsewhere.

Tlaloc said...

"While you chime in and mention his lack of reading and watching the news, those qualities reflect on his "book smarts." Bush's error in this case is one regarding "people smarts"

Call it whatever you want Bush is neither charismatic nor intelligent. Both of those traits have been fully on display since day one. I can say that for a fact because virtually the entire world except the deep south managed to figure it out really early.



"He has made enough connections and won enough elections to think otherwise."

Uh no, that's called money, not "people smarts." Besides which he didn't win the election for his first term and in the second it was pretty shady. The republicans managed to cheat better than the democrats in Ohio. Again not something you can chalk up to any virtues of Bush.

Tlaloc said...

"His error in this case is in prematurely compromising to people like...you."

Well then he's even dumber than we though since I certainly don't want meirs on the bench. But really you are just wrong. To assume that bush in this case is reaching out to the opposition is to ignore everything he's ever done. The man is nothing if not egomaniacal. He is also famous for corrupt cronyism. The Meirs nomination fits both those traits and the right has no one to blame but themselves because both those traits have been very obvious from the beginning.



"Please take the time to stake out an argument with facts, or take your thoughtless comments elsewhere."

If you want me to back up a given assertion feel free to let me know. In this case I'll assume you want me to back up that his major policies have been a disaster. Sure no problem.

Lets review:
Biggest policy is undoubtedly the war on terror. It's been an abyssmal failure. Osama? Still free. Anthrax mailer? Still free. Afghanistan? Controlled by violent warlords and now the number one producer of opium in the world. Iraq? We're losing Baghdad to the insurgents! Think about that we've ceeded secions of the capitol city to a guerrilla force. That sound like a successful campaign? Bush claims there are a 100 Iraqi brigades ready for combat. Unfortunately the truth is that there are 3 and only one is considered ready to fight without US support. Terrorism worldwide is up in every measure including the state department report (before they stopped giving it as it made them look bad). We've seen at least two more major attacks world wide since we started this "crusade." Other middle eastern countries are now being destabilized by the rising shiite sunn tension in Iraq.

(If you doubt any of these I'm happy to give you the links to read about them on your own)

Social Security- Bush has given up on this one.

Homeland security- we got to see first hand how effective his department of homeland security was during Katrina.

Budget- took a record surplus and turned it into a huge deficit.

any other major presidential policies we should address?

Evanston said...

Let’s review the so-called “Abyssmal (sic)” failures:
-Osama? Used to run an entire country (via the Taliban). Now scared to take a crap without getting his butt shot off. Has he attacked U.S. again? No. Are you even sure he’s still alive? No. Who has failed? Looks like Osama!
-Anthrax mailer? Hasn’t done a thing since 9-11. Either running scared or incapacitated (ran out of supplies, dead).
-Afghanistan? Was (past tense) controlled by violent warlords. Who are now scrambling to get “on board” in a legitimate democracy. Has always had drug problems. Did Bush promise you to make Afghanistan drug-free overnight? Sorry, I missed it. You are “moving the goalposts” that define “success” so you can claim he has failed.
-Iraq? Have you been there? I have. You are out of touch. Keep going to your links and keep abreast of Cindy Sheehan news shows and other infotainment. They will continue to keep you misinformed as they did most recently on Katrina. Hey, I’ll make a “date” with you. Please return in October, 2006 to comment on how “we’re losing Baghdad to the insurgents.” By then Baghdad should be “lost” right? While you’re claiming Iraq is an abysmal failure, please define what would be a “success.” Democracy is being introduced in Iraq for the first time, and across the Middle East. If this is “destabilizing” then I’ll accept it, just as I believe that destabilizing Saddam was/is a good thing. Democracy means that people get to work out their tensions in public instead of getting thrown into a wood chipper when they disagree with a dictator. This is progress.
-Social Security? If, as you say, “Bush has given up on this one” then how is that an abysmal failure? You have what you want, the same bankrupt system as before. THAT is the abysmal failure, that Bush has not succeeded in fixing the system created and neglected by Democrats over our lifetimes.
Homeland security? Gee, FEMA, the big government solution, fails after Louisiana Democrats find out that crossing their fingers and hoping that Katrina would go away didn’t work. Whose abysmal failure is this? These are examples of classic liberal failures. Bush created Homeland Security as an umbrella agency to oversee FEMA, INS, Customs, etc. with national security in mind (that is, first priority was to prevent/mitigate terrorist incidents). Can you honestly tell me that Clinton or Kerry would have done better? I missed their campaign promises to “fix FEMA” and “fix incompetence and corruption in Louisiana.”
- Budget took a record surplus and turned it into a huge deficit? Hey, 9-11 had serious economic consequences. And overall it is laughable that you are a “budget hawk.” See your question about Social Security.
-Any other major presidential policies we should address? I truly do not mean to be insulting, but do you know what the word “abysmal” means? It is certainly arguable that Bush could have done better on loads of issues, but you’re saying that he could hardly have done worse. If you want to be taken seriously, back off on the alarmist rhetoric and also offer some SOLUTIONS, that is, what would “tlaloc” do???

Tlaloc said...

"Osama? Used to run an entire country (via the Taliban). Now scared to take a crap without getting his butt shot off. Has he attacked U.S. again? No. Are you even sure he’s still alive? No. Who has failed? Looks like Osama!"

Don't be ridiculous. four years after coordinating an attck that killed thousands of americans and humiliated us as a superpower this single man still sucks air past his teeth. If you think that's a failing on his part you are completely out of touch with reality.



"-Anthrax mailer? Hasn’t done a thing since 9-11. Either running scared or incapacitated (ran out of supplies, dead)."

They were never identified, never caught. Gives you a huge amount of confidence in our capacity to catch future terrorists right?



"-Afghanistan? Was (past tense) controlled by violent warlords. Who are now scrambling to get “on board” in a legitimate democracy. Has always had drug problems. Did Bush promise you to make Afghanistan drug-free overnight? Sorry, I missed it. You are “moving the goalposts” that define “success” so you can claim he has failed."

Actually you are completely wrong here too. Afghanistan had very little poppy cultivation under the Taliban. In fact our government gave them special recognition for their drug curtailing efforts. Whereas in the new government one of Karzai's chief aides just retired because he wanted to go against the drug lords but the problem is they controlled too much of the government. If preventing a new narco-state wasn't on our list of success criteria then maybe there's a problem in the planning department at that big five sided building.


"-Iraq? Have you been there? I have. You are out of touch."

So you contend that there are not segments of iraq including neighborhoods in baghdad that our troops will no longer enter and have thus ceeded to the guerrillas?



"Please return in October, 2006 to comment on how “we’re losing Baghdad to the insurgents.” By then Baghdad should be “lost” right?"

I didn't give any timeline for when we'd lose all of baghdad, nor would I given how impossible that is to predict. What I can and did say is for a military power fighting a guerrilla enemy to have to give up parts of the capital is a sure sign things are going badly.



"While you’re claiming Iraq is an abysmal failure, please define what would be a “success.”"

Lets just go by the administration's own success goals
1) overthrow saddam (done)
2) troops out within a few months (failed)
3) Iraq becomes a secure democracy (certainly not successful yet)
4) Iraq's oil revenues pay for most or all of reconstruction (failed)
5) Democratic Iraq becomes center point of transformation of middle east (sort of succeeding but in the bad way)
6) Remove WMD from unstable country (failed)



"Democracy means that people get to work out their tensions in public instead of getting thrown into a wood chipper when they disagree with a dictator. This is progress."

Have you paid any attention to Iraq? You said you've been there and then you write THAT? News flash people are going into the "wood chipper" everyday in Iraq despite their quasi-democratic new government.



"-Social Security? If, as you say, “Bush has given up on this one” then how is that an abysmal failure?"

Duh...his policy was to "reform" (destroy) social security. Since he couldn't get even the slightest traction on the topic that qualifies as a failure of one of the president's key policy issues.



"Homeland security? Gee, FEMA, the big government solution, fails after Louisiana Democrats find out that crossing their fingers and hoping that Katrina would go away didn’t work. Whose abysmal failure is this?"

Sorry no. Blaming the locals may have some merit but it in no way excuses FEMA and the DHS's repeated ridiculous failures. Driving Ice trucks up to Northeastern states ring a bell?



"Can you honestly tell me that Clinton or Kerry would have done better? I missed their campaign promises to “fix FEMA” and “fix incompetence and corruption in Louisiana.”"

Actually one of the things Clinton did right was to substantially restaff FEMA with professionals who knew what they were doing. Before that it was a dumping ground for cronies (sound familiar?). But regardless whether Clinton or Kerry would have failed as well is immaterial to the question of whether this was a failure for Bush. It was.



"- Budget took a record surplus and turned it into a huge deficit? Hey, 9-11 had serious economic consequences. And overall it is laughable that you are a “budget hawk.” See your question about Social Security."

Actually I am, I strongly believe that the government should be required to run a balanced budget except in times of national emergency which require some borrowing. I've said as much before. As for your contention that 9/11 is responsible for our defecit that's again simply false. Bush cut taxes, ran up a huge war bill, signed a huge highway bill, signed a huge medicaid bill...but maybe you weren't paying attention to any of that.



"I truly do not mean to be insulting, but do you know what the word “abysmal” means? It is certainly arguable that Bush could have done better on loads of issues, but you’re saying that he could hardly have done worse."

And since you were wrong as I've shown in each case where you defended him I find abysmal to be a perfectly apt description. And I'm far from the only one. Zycher compared the man to Saddam. Hunter says that conservatives are seeing him as a worse president than his father.



"If you want to be taken seriously, back off on the alarmist rhetoric and also offer some SOLUTIONS, that is, what would “tlaloc” do???"

Sure, which issue you want my take on?

James Elliott said...

Evanston, for the sake of my eyes, please learn to use the "enter" key. Yowza.

Evanston said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer me. Obviously you grant Bush credit for absolutely nothing, but I would like to know more about your “logic.”
- Osama/Al Qaeda: Osama has lost his ability to move, communicate, or act freely. The only visible form of Al Qaeda, in Iraq, is reduced to killing muslims and alienating the Iraqi people. Yet you say that since Osama is (presumably) still alive, we have failed. I am glad I did not serve under your leadership. If 90% of your force were destroyed, but you were still alive, evidently you would be proud of your “success.” Your standards are quite disproportionate, lopsided in favor of whoever opposes the U.S.
- Anthrax: Yes, I do have confidence in our capacity to catch future terrorists. Again, your standard for “success” (that the terrorist may still be breathing) is quite lopsided.
- Afghanistan: There are many articles on the Web regarding the Taliban and opium. One published in India is the most comprehensive in terms of satellite photography and its questions regarding UN methodology: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1919/19190660.htm
Recommend you “page down” to comments regarding the effect of the drought. And note that the Taliban relied on opium “taxes.” Even if you grant the benefit of the doubt to Karzai’s aide (that he retired due to lack of drug crackdown) it is clear that you expect instant success in suppressing opium. Your definition of “success” is unrealistic, and once again, lopsided.
-Iraq: Iraqi troops are now patrolling most neighborhoods of Baghdad. No, they are not everywhere all the time. Predicting the future of Baghdad is not “impossible.” The new Iraqi government will continue to consolidate its power. Al Qaeda will become the new IRA – a nuisance, but ineffectual against the Kurds and Shia, who have seen plenty of death in the “good ol’ days” of Saddam that people like you would have let continue…
- Thank you for your list of administration goals. It was fair, but not all have equal weight:
1) overthrow saddam (done). Easily the most important goal. Can Iraq invade or gas its neighbors any more (like it did in the 1980s and 1990s)? Can it develop any new WMD? No, it is no longer a national threat.
2) troops out within a few months (failed). Never promised. Recommend you re-read what Bush said before the war. Bush said it would take several years. Just give me one instance where he said we’d be out in months. Just one single quote by him, Rumsfeld, anybody in the administration. And don’t refer me to the “mission accomplished” photo op, which referred to point #1 (overthrow Saddam).
3) Iraq becomes a secure democracy (certainly not successful yet). Second most important goal. Ambitious given Iraq’s history, but worthwhile in permanently removing the threat. Also worthwhile if you care about human rights.
4) Iraq's oil revenues pay for most or all of reconstruction (failed). Agreed, I believe that the administration promised (or at least strongly suggested) that Iraq would be financially self-sufficient by now. Definitely critical to attaining goal #3 (democracy).
5) Democratic Iraq becomes center point of transformation of middle east (sort of succeeding but in the bad way). Please elaborate on “the bad way.” If you’re a dictator in Syria (ruling Lebanon by proxy), Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, even Kuwait, you’ve already made democratic changes. The transformation is good. If you expect instantaneous success, you are not a student of history/democracy.
6) Remove WMD from unstable country (failed). Just for laughs, are you claiming that the WMD were there when the war began? I’d love to hear your answer. FYI, Iraq had WMD – used on Iran and its own people. Only question is whether Saddam destroyed, removed, or hid WMD so well that even his agents can’t find and use them against the U.S. If they could, they would.
- Regarding violence: Yes, Iraqis are dying today but now for something more than Saddam’s greater glory. They have hope for a democracy. Does that mean anything to you?
- DUH back atcha regarding Social Security: You allege that Bush’s policies were an “abysmal failure.” You now confuse a “political” failure with a “policy” failure. Bush never implemented his policy so you cannot judge it. He failed politically, so far. The irony is that people like you want things the way they are. The failure is on the part of those who do nothing, who offer no solutions.
- FEMA: At what level did Clinton re-staff FEMA? Please link to an article. Looks like his “professionals” did not incorporate the sort of procedures, fund the types of equipment, make the levee upgrades needed to deal with Katrina. Clinton had 8 years. But I guess it is “immaterial” unless you can say something positive about “your guy.”
- Budget: If you are indeed a budget hawk, you are absolutely correct on all points. From that perspective, Bush has blown the budget.
Overall, you will never give Bush positive credit for anything so it is a waste of my time to discuss his merits further. But regarding your own merit:
SOLUTIONS: Why not offer a solution or actionable alternative the next time you criticize someone in a post? Or is that too much to ask?

Jay D. Homnick said...

Evanston, you're fabulous. Please visit often and keep writing.

Hunter, I liked the gag. And calling Murphy "lame" is not something I get worked up about; he treated me rather rudely on the Weekly Standard cruise.

Tlaloc said...

"- Osama/Al Qaeda: Osama has lost his ability to move, communicate, or act freely."

The first is an assumption on your part and one not well supported by the facts. The second is clearly false as he's put out more videos, those are in fact "communications." For the third, well yes I suppose he can't act totally freely in the sense that we'd kill him if we could, the amazing thing is that despite our incredible advantages we CAN'T.



"The only visible form of Al Qaeda, in Iraq, is reduced to killing muslims and alienating the Iraqi people."

Again simply wrong. Al-qaeda has been connected to attacks in the following countries recently:
Afghanistan
Bali, Indonesia
Iraq
London, England
Madrid, Spain
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt

It's hardly contained to Iraq.



"Yet you say that since Osama is (presumably) still alive, we have failed. I am glad I did not serve under your leadership. If 90% of your force were destroyed, but you were still alive, evidently you would be proud of your “success.” Your standards are quite disproportionate, lopsided in favor of whoever opposes the U.S."

No sorry. When a rag tag bunch of geurrillas are able to smack down the country with the most powerful military in the world and live to brag about it four years later that is most certainly a failure on the part of the big country. We said we were going to get him. We've failed to do so.



"- Anthrax: Yes, I do have confidence in our capacity to catch future terrorists. Again, your standard for “success” (that the terrorist may still be breathing) is quite lopsided."

How precisely is it lopsided to question the capability of law enforcement by examining the criminals they've failed to catch years after the fact?



"- Afghanistan: There are many articles on the Web regarding the Taliban and opium. One published in India is the most comprehensive in terms of satellite photography and its questions regarding UN methodology: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1919/19190660.htm
Recommend you “page down” to comments regarding the effect of the drought. And note that the Taliban relied on opium “taxes.” Even if you grant the benefit of the doubt to Karzai’s aide (that he retired due to lack of drug crackdown) it is clear that you expect instant success in suppressing opium. Your definition of “success” is unrealistic, and once again, lopsided."

According to the DEA the Taliban cut afghani production of opium from nearly 4000 tons to 70 tons between 2000 and 2001. That's a 98% decrease in one year. Tell me again how expecting us to have prevented Afghanistan's explosion of opium production in four years is lopsided...



"-Iraq: Iraqi troops are now patrolling most neighborhoods of Baghdad. No, they are not everywhere all the time. Predicting the future of Baghdad is not “impossible.” The new Iraqi government will continue to consolidate its power. Al Qaeda will become the new IRA – a nuisance, but ineffectual against the Kurds and Shia, who have seen plenty of death in the “good ol’ days” of Saddam that people like you would have let continue…"

I have no idea what you base that rosy assessment on. There's three Iraqi brigades considered to be combat ready but only one who can go it without US support. The military is widely recognized to be thoroughly infiltrated by insurgents. Marines have said they won't teach the iraqi troops tactics because they know they'll just see them be used by the insurgents. Rather than consolidating power the government we put in place is looking at a low scale civil war (notice how they just tried to disenfranchise all sunnis? You think that really helped the situation?) that can spark up any time to be a full civil war. The central government has agreed to pay to arm militais which have absolutely no loyalty to or oversight by the central giovernment (the pershmerga and the Badr corps).



"1) overthrow saddam (done). Easily the most important goal."

Unless you happen to be an Iraqi who doesn't like dying in a civil war.



"Can Iraq invade or gas its neighbors any more (like it did in the 1980s and 1990s)? Can it develop any new WMD? No, it is no longer a national threat."

Yeah because becoming a client state of Iran means it can't develop WMD. Wait isn't IRAN the country we are now charging as having a nuclear weapons program?



"2) troops out within a few months (failed). Never promised. Recommend you re-read what Bush said before the war. Bush said it would take several years. Just give me one instance where he said we’d be out in months. Just one single quote by him, Rumsfeld, anybody in the administration"

Done: "And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
-Donald Rumsfeld, February 7, 2003, Aviano Airforce base.

We're at 30 months now just for the record.



"3) Iraq becomes a secure democracy (certainly not successful yet). Second most important goal. Ambitious given Iraq’s history, but worthwhile in permanently removing the threat. Also worthwhile if you care about human rights."

Regardless of arguments of how worthwhile it may be the goal is failing. We have a constitution that is being described as illegal and minority populations being harrassed and disenfranchised by the central government.



"5) Democratic Iraq becomes center point of transformation of middle east (sort of succeeding but in the bad way). Please elaborate on “the bad way.”"

Sure, Iran which is already a powerhouse becomes more powerful because Iraq is becoming a client state (SCIRI is entirely at the beck and call of the Iranian Mullahs, example- the president of Iraq went and laid flowers on Khomeini's grave, the same guy who took american's hostage). Furthermore as discussed before the tensions between shiites and sunnis in Iraq is spilling over into other countries, destabilizing them. As for spreading democracy it simply hasn't happened. Egypt had a token vote which Mubarak won by more votes than the one he ADMITTED to having fixed. Lebanon's democratic changes came about due to an assassination and not at all connected to Iraq.



"6) Remove WMD from unstable country (failed). Just for laughs, are you claiming that the WMD were there when the war began? I’d love to hear your answer."

Of course not, but we went to war on the idea of removing them, since they didn't exist it was an obvious failure.



"- Regarding violence: Yes, Iraqis are dying today but now for something more than Saddam’s greater glory. They have hope for a democracy. Does that mean anything to you?"

No because it's simply not true. There is absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy in Iraq in the foreseeable future. They are dying because Bush is advised by people who are functional idiots in regards to the way the world works. They had no idea what would haoppen in Iraq and they refused to listen to those of us who did.



"- DUH back atcha regarding Social Security: You allege that Bush’s policies were an “abysmal failure.” You now confuse a “political” failure with a “policy” failure."

Again no. The President outlines his policies, these are his goals. When he fails to achieve them it's called a policy failure. It may also be a political failure but that in no way changes the fact that his policy (his goal) failed.



"The irony is that people like you want things the way they are. The failure is on the part of those who do nothing, who offer no solutions."

Since there's no real problem in the case of SS there's no reason for me to try and offer a solution other than to leave it alone.



"- FEMA: At what level did Clinton re-staff FEMA? Please link to an article."

Sure.



"Overall, you will never give Bush positive credit for anything so it is a waste of my time to discuss his merits further."

Bush is an idiot but he has done some things I agree with. Originally refusing to open the strategic petroleum reserve was the right call. Roberts was a decent choice. Hrrrm. Yeah that's all I can think of. He has been one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States. Has there been one major thing he's done right? I'm curious to hear what you'd consider a major decision or project he's made that didnt turn out to be done for the wrong reasons, or done so incompetently that it would have been better off not done at all.



"SOLUTIONS: Why not offer a solution or actionable alternative the next time you criticize someone in a post? Or is that too much to ask?"

I often do, as I said before if you want my solutin to any of these issues you have only to ask. Since the topic was Bush's miserable failures my solutions weren't relevent, but if you want them you may certainly have them.

James Elliott said...

"There's three Iraqi brigades..."

Actually, they're battalions, which is a significantly smaller unit.

Tlaloc said...

"Actually, they're battalions, which is a significantly smaller unit."

Double checked and you are right on both counts. My mistake.

Tlaloc said...

Just found this:


Al Qaeda Website Openly Hiring New Recruits

Somehow that doesn't sound like the group is pinned down and unable to communicate or function.

Evanston said...

A few corrections, not on your faulty interpretation of the facts (see Osama, Taliban “smack down” of the U.S., incarceration of terrorists vs. prevention), but on the facts themselves:
-Al Qaeda, I said “reduced to” killing muslims in Iraq because that is the trend line.
-Afghanistan and opium, again, read the article I gave you the link to, about the drought: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1919/19190660.htm
Again note that the Taliban relied on opium “taxes.”
-Iraq: You make several factual observations. Well done, seriously. However, you distort the facts. You use the words “combat ready” for the 3 Battalions. Educate yourself. The top level is able to "operate without U.S. military help" which includes logistics and communications. A great many Iraqi units are in combat TODAY. Recommend you read the Belmont Club or other milblogs such as http://strengthandhonor.typepad.com
for an unclassified analysis. Those same Marines who refuse to train locals (that is, Sunnis) are reenlisting at record rates, along with the other services (including the Army). Read the comments from servicemen/women serving and returning from Iraq. They share my outlook on Iraq, no surprise, I’m one of them. Overall, your observations reflect an ignorance regarding how political/military alliances are formed, democracies developed. In a place with no democratic tradition, you start with what you have and build. You see the Shia passing a law to discriminate against the Sunni. I see them reversing it the next day. I did not paint a “Rosy” picture, I say “Al Qaeda will become the new IRA – a nuisance, but ineffectual.” You are sloppy in the adjectives you use. Just as cute as your comments about someone dying in a “civil war.” Absolutely, Iraq could become a civil war. But it is not one today. I am trying to get you to discipline your language.
- Iraq as a national threat (including WMD). Good job avoiding the question by bringing up Iran. Since Iran matters, please tell me when they developed their WMD technology. Under 8 years of Clinton, who relied on arms protocols (as he did a worthless treaty with N. Korea, negotiated by Jimmy Carter). Say, when Bush named Iraq, Iran and N. Korea as an “Axis of Evil” how did you react? The fact is we did things the Clinton/Carter way and outlaw nations carried on, knowing we would do nothing. Saddam ignored his Gulf War treaties and carried on, defying inspections, committing mass murder, thriving under “UN sanctions” and deals with the French, the Russians, etc. Bringing up Iran as an issue is a mistake and again, irrelevant to the fact that Iraq is no longer a national threat.
- Rumsfeld quote: You mis-interpreted the comment but this is understandable. Rumsfeld was asked a military question in front of a military audience. I’ll walk you through it, you can go to this link for the full transcript: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/t02072003_t0207sdtownhall.html
(1) Air Force guy asks question on behalf of reservists, whether we are going to a “full mobilization.” [As a preface to his question he mentions that he is part of an “AEF rotation.” More on that later…]
(2) Rumsfeld answers that full mobilization is highly unlikely. [FYI, this ends up being correct. We end up doing a mobilization of particular units, not the entire Guard/Reserve.]
(3) Rumsfeld continues. Here is the key quote you misunderstood:
“…we have brought a good many Guard and Reserve on active duty. Fortunately, a great many of them were volunteers. We have been able to have relatively few stop losses. There are some currently, particularly in the Army, but relatively few in the Navy and the Air Force. And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
[Rumsfeld is addressing “stop losses” because this was the overall point of the Air Force guy’s “full mobilization” question – he asks “how long will we be frozen?” By that he means, how long will Reservists (and even Active Component) military have to stay in the service after mobilization. FYI, under “stop loss” they cannot leave a unit. More on that later as well…]
(4) At the end of Rumsfeld’s answer regarding stop loss he mentions days/weeks/months. [Pay attention here, he mentions how there have been “relatively few stop losses” and he and his audience know that partial stop losses are already under way. He is referring to a general stop loss where everyone in the service (i.e., activated Guard and Reserve units as well as normal Active Component servicemen) must stay in. Here is the key point regarding Rumsfeld’s accuracy: there was a general stop loss during the initial months of the war but it ended soon thereafter. Now, a selective “stop loss” continues today, for a recent article see:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051004/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/army_recruiting
Here’s an extract:
“Under current practice, soldiers in units that are under orders to prepare to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan are prohibited from leaving the service during the 90 days before their deployment and for up to 90 days after they return — even if their enlistment period ends during that time or they had planned to retire.”
Bottom line is that if you are in a deploying unit, you cannot end your enlistment or retire on a normal schedule. But you are not kept in for years.
(5) In sum, you missed the point of his remarks ENTIRELY. He was speaking about “stop loss” – not how long the war would last. For Rumsfeld’s outlook on the war, you may wish to read the rest of his remarks. Such as the part immediately after the portion you quoted, which DOES talk about the “after war” period:
“After that, we have a responsibility as a country that if force were to be used…we feel an obligation to see that what is left after that regime is gone becomes a state that does not have weapons of mass destruction, and that would be part of our responsibility; that it would be a state that would not threaten its neighbors and launch Scuds into it, or use chemical weapons on their own people or their neighbors, as they have in the past; that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces; and that it would be a country that would be setting itself on a path to assure representation and respect for the various ethnic minorities in that country.
The number of people that that would take is reasonably predictable, and the only question would be what portion of that total number would be U.S. forces.
So I would see this buildup going up, lasting for a period, and the last choice is war, but if that is necessary, a period where that takes place and then a drawdown. And you would find people moving back out and some residual number staying there, with the -- undoubtedly the forces of many other nations.”
[Note how he lays out the strategic goals of the war, how we will draw down (which we have) but “find people moving back out” (that is a re-deployment of units like the Air Force guy belonged to – “AEF” means “Air Expeditionary Force” – these are designed for deployments instead of just launching air strikes from normal bases)
- Regarding Democracy in Iraq and Elsewhere. Your expectations, that everyone should be getting along swimmingly from the get-go, are so unrealistic and your interpretation of events there and in Egypt and Lebanon so pessimistic that they are only rivaled by the WMD statement: “since they didn't exist it was an obvious failure.” They did exist. Ask the Kurds and Iran. If Saddam destroyed them, he was fool enough to do it surreptitiously in violation of a treaty.
- “There is absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy in Iraq.” Smiles.
- Political vs. Policy failures. Did Clinton’s “National Health Care” policy fail? No, he never implemented it. Same with Bush on Social Security. It is quite revealing when you do not understand the distinction…
- FEMA: waiting for the link, and an explanation as to why Clinton’s “professionals” did not incorporate the sort of procedures, fund the types of equipment, make the levee upgrades needed to deal with Katrina.
- Bush: Has done fine. It is clear your mind is closed on this issue, that is why I have asked you to propose SOLUTIONS: I have read your previous posts on this Blog, and before I “called” you on it they constantly contained diatribe, no hard facts. Remember, Bush is an idiot. It should be easy for you to come up with better solutions.

Tlaloc said...

"-Al Qaeda, I said “reduced to” killing muslims in Iraq because that is the trend line."

And US soldiers in Iraq, and English civilians in London, and Spanish civilians in madrid, and...

that doesn't sound very "reduced" really.



"-Afghanistan and opium, again, read the article I gave you the link to, about the drought: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1919/19190660.htm
Again note that the Taliban relied on opium “taxes.”"

I did look at it but it's disputed by the UN, the DEA, the state department, and others. I'm siding with their figures and not those of a single Indian magazine of whom I have no knowledge or ability to corroborate.



"The top level is able to "operate without U.S. military help" which includes logistics and communications. A great many Iraqi units are in combat TODAY. Recommend you read the Belmont Club or other milblogs such as http://strengthandhonor.typepad.com
for an unclassified analysis"

how about this one:
Officers Worry Iraqi Army Will Disintegrate After U.S. Draws Down



"Those same Marines who refuse to train locals (that is, Sunnis) are reenlisting at record rates, along with the other services (including the Army)."

This is actually kind of worrying. Consider that recruitment is down. If then reenlistment is up it suggests a growing divide between the overall population and the subset that is in the military. Combined with pervasive abuse of prisoners and crimes against iraqi civilians it suggests possible that these soldiers are getting a taste for the brutality of war. Worrisome indeed.



"Absolutely, Iraq could become a civil war. But it is not one today. I am trying to get you to discipline your language."

The problem is we disagree not that my use of language is sloppy. You say it is not a civil war. How many times have there been found groups of dozens of men shipped out to the desert and shot execution style? I've lost count. More to the point the men are sometimes shiite and sometimes sunni. For those of you playing along at home that means the Shia militias are now striking back at the Sunni population in retalitation for the mostly sunni supported insurgency. Its certain a low intensity war but I can easily call that a civil war.



"- Iraq as a national threat (including WMD). Good job avoiding the question by bringing up Iran."

Since Iraq is essentially part of Iran now it seems very relevent to the question of Iraq's future WMD. You suggested that because Saddam was gone Iraq could not have WMD in the future. That's just silly. Iraq most certainly could develop WMD especially with Iran's help. You may not want to look at the bigger picture but it's important nonetheless.



"Say, when Bush named Iraq, Iran and N. Korea as an “Axis of Evil” how did you react?"

I groaned. Melodrama doesn't make good statesmanship.



"The fact is we did things the Clinton/Carter way and outlaw nations carried on"

You are forgetting that Saddam didn't have any WMD! Whoops, there goes your entire theory, since it appears all those UN inspections worked perfectly.



"(5) In sum, you missed the point of his remarks ENTIRELY."

Okay tell you what I'll assume you are right. The problem is that Rummy wasn';t the only one saying it. Here's cheney on face the nation (which I'm assuming we can agree is not a miitary briefing):

"Cheney, March 16, 2003: I'm confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it'll go relatively quickly, but we can't...

Q: Weeks?

Cheney: ...we can't count on that.

Q: Months?

Cheney: Weeks rather than months. There's always the possibility of--of complications that you can't anticipate, but I'm--I have great confidence in our troops. The men and women who serve in our military today are superb. Our capabilities as a force are the finest the world has ever known. They're very ably led by General Tommy Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld. And so I have great confidence in the conduct of the military campaign. The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the--in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and--and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation."

Here.

Is the military segment over?



"- Regarding Democracy in Iraq and Elsewhere. Your expectations, that everyone should be getting along swimmingly from the get-go, are so unrealistic and your interpretation of events there and in Egypt and Lebanon so pessimistic "

It's pessimistic to see something that is in no way connected (lebanon) and say so? It's pessimistic to see something that is in no way an improvement (egypt) and say so?



"that they are only rivaled by the WMD statement: “since they didn't exist it was an obvious failure.” They did exist. Ask the Kurds and Iran."

There's this thing we call time. It means things change. For instance if you had a bit of cheese cake a year ago it doesn't mean you have cheese cake today. This is a fundamental feature of reality. I'm not sure how it has to date escaped your attention. The presence of WMD twenty years ago in now way means they exist today. What exactly is it you think happened? Do you think the stockpiles they promised us they knew about will still be found? I didn't think there was anybody left who still bought the party line on that one.



"- “There is absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy in Iraq.” Smiles."

Convincing argument.



"- Political vs. Policy failures. Did Clinton’s “National Health Care” policy fail? No, he never implemented it. Same with Bush on Social Security. It is quite revealing when you do not understand the distinction…"

Yes his policy on health care most certainly failed. This isn't rocket science, you set forth a goal and then you either meet it or fail at meeting it.



"I have read your previous posts on this Blog, and before I “called” you on it they constantly contained diatribe, no hard facts."

It was a lie when kathy claimed this, it's no less of a lie now. I can point you to any number of posts in which I have used "hard facts." Are you really sure it's my mind that's closed?



"Remember, Bush is an idiot. It should be easy for you to come up with better solutions."

Indeed. And as I said if you want my solutions you just have to tell me which issue it is that interests you.

Evanston said...

Nice partial quote of Cheney. To continue from the link you sent: "And so I have great confidence in the conduct of the military campaign. The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the--in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and--and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation."
It is clear that Cheney is talking about how long the military campaign (force-on-force) will last, then he segues into "the really challenging part" which is the aftermath.

You consistently, desperately, choose to interpret any fact or event in the worst possible light.

You say democracy in Lebanon, Egypt. etc. are unrelated to Iraq, while claiming I miss the "bigger picture" with another neighbor, Iran, on WMD (that were already in development long before the war started, unlike pro-democracy events in Lebanon, Egypt, etc. that are arguably causal since they happened after GWOT began).

You say that there is "absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy" in Iraq and at the same time refuse to back your thoughts on Baghdad since it is "impossible to predict" what will happen.

You choose to believe the UN when it fits your convictions on Afghanistan when the methodology they used is discussed in detail elsewhere, you just "choose to believe" them.

You continue to claim there were no WMD although the dead Kurds and Iranians prove otherwise.

Your say that in the "bigger picture" since Iran has WMD, therefore Iraq could develop WMD. Then express superiority to Bush's naming them in the Axis of Evil since it was "melodrama."

You claim to be a budget hawk who thinks Social Security is just fine.

Reading your posts is like watching a yogi twist into a pretzel. Very entertaining postures, not much good for getting around in the real world.

Carry on.

James Elliott said...

Evanston,

You say democracy in Lebanon, Egypt. etc. are unrelated to Iraq, while claiming I miss the "bigger picture" with another neighbor, Iran, on WMD (that were already in development long before the war started, unlike pro-democracy events in Lebanon, Egypt, etc. that are arguably causal since they happened after GWOT began).

The best you can say here is that there's a chance that the GWOT and pro-democracy movements in Lebanon and Egypt are correlational. You cannot, based on available information, make a causal argument. Causation requires more than a convenient timeline. The American Revolution follows the English Revolution. I can't argue that Cromwell caused the Declaration of Independence. At best, I can argue that his example had something to do with inspiring the participants of the Continental Congress. Correlational, but not causal. That's basic debate logic.

You say that there is "absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy" in Iraq and at the same time refuse to back your thoughts on Baghdad since it is "impossible to predict" what will happen.

Is there a chance for meaningful democracy when the Kurds and Shiites have to be bullied out of disenfranchising the Sunnis? Possibly, but the odds aren't great. You can't really hold a debate when all you have to refute Tlaloc's arguments is unbridled optimism.

Your say that in the "bigger picture" since Iran has WMD, therefore Iraq could develop WMD. Then express superiority to Bush's naming them in the Axis of Evil since it was "melodrama."

As far as refutations go, this one is a confusion of non sequiturs, not to mention gramatically fragmented and hard to understand. Bush's words were melodramatic, especially since they weren't terribly factual. He completely omitted our obstensible ally Pakistan, the world's biggest enabler of the rogue nuclear technology black market. Give me a break, Evanston, or at least come back with something cogent.

You claim to be a budget hawk who thinks Social Security is just fine.

Like most arguments in economics, it's all in the statistics you use. Economists can't project trends out three years, much less 75. Social Security, most likely, will remain perfectly solvent, especially if we can get rid of the tax cut. It's entirely possible to be a budget hawk and support Social Security. Watch: With ten days' worth of Iraq War money, we could have made secure over 160 ports in the United States. Look, I did it, and didn't even have to touch Social Security! Just because Tlaloc has different budget priorities than you doesn't make him less of a budget hawk. Your "argument" isn't even worthy of the name.

Reading your posts is like watching a yogi twist into a pretzel. Very entertaining postures, not much good for getting around in the real world.

Reading your posts is like watching a monkey color with crayons. Amusing, but nothing to put on the refrigerator.

Tlaloc said...

"Nice partial quote of Cheney. To continue from the link you sent: "And so I have great confidence in the conduct of the military campaign. The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the--in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and--and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation."
It is clear that Cheney is talking about how long the military campaign (force-on-force) will last, then he segues into "the really challenging part" which is the aftermath."

I was wondering if you'd try to pull this but then I thought it was just too obvious. So at least you surprised me. Here's why you are wrong: Cheney is talking about the nation rebuilding as being AFTER the military phase. Nobody with a working brain can look at current situation in Iraq where we have 150,000 troops being shot at and blown up on a daily basis as being post-military. Cheney thought the troops would be done and out in weeks or months. That was clearly not the case. Their optimism was rivaled only by their utter ignorance of the region.



"You say democracy in Lebanon, Egypt. etc. are unrelated to Iraq,"

Egypt had an intensely rigged election. I don't see how you can call that democracy. Lebanon's situation is entirely related to the politics of lebanon-Israel-Syria. Iraq is completely unrelated. Again if you study the area and it's history these are very obvious conclusions to reach. It's only the typical american who can't point to Bahrain on a map who can be conned into thinking that the faux democracy in Iraq has anything to do with Lebanon.



"You say that there is "absolutely no hope for a meaningful democracy" in Iraq and at the same time refuse to back your thoughts on Baghdad since it is "impossible to predict" what will happen."

No that's not what I said. I said it was impossible to predict WHEN baghdad would implde. The Iraqi civil war has already started (admittedly as a low intensity affair so far).



"You choose to believe the UN when it fits your convictions on Afghanistan when the methodology they used is discussed in detail elsewhere, you just "choose to believe" them."

As before you chose to believe some unknown Indian magazine. I choose to believe the UN, the DEA, and the FBI. I feel pretty okay with that balance of expertise.



"You continue to claim there were no WMD although the dead Kurds and Iranians prove otherwise."

I asked you before: what exactly is it you think happened to these WMD? Are they still in stockpiles in Iraq? Were they hustled out of the country? Cause we never found any. And again I point out the concept of time. Iraq most certainly had WMD in the 80s. We sold them to Saddam afterall. That doesn't mean that they still exist. They may have been all used, they may have gone bad, they may have been destroyed. By your logic since Europe once was devastated by the bubonic plague it is always being devastated by it, no matter how much time has passed.



"Your say that in the "bigger picture" since Iran has WMD, therefore Iraq could develop WMD. Then express superiority to Bush's naming them in the Axis of Evil since it was "melodrama.""

Uh yeah. Having WMD doesn't make one automatically Evil (tm). The US afterall has a huge amount of WMD. Iran is most certainly dangerous (partly because of their culture and partly because of the way we've treated them). Recognizing that is smart. Declaring them to be evil is just dumb.



"You claim to be a budget hawk who thinks Social Security is just fine."

Social Security runs a surplus, except when politicians divert the funds to other projects. So it's a social program that generates a profit? Sounds like a winner to me!