June 22, 2010

Back in a Sec

Apologies for the slow blogging. I have to finish up something offline and will be back shortly.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 1:55 AM
Comments
No worries. We have the French soccer team to entertain us while you re gone.
Posted by: Joe at June 22, 2010 2:20 am
We miss you...=P
Posted by: Kyle at June 22, 2010 3:45 am
How is the book coming along?
Posted by: Don Cox at June 22, 2010 10:56 am
Don,

The book is about 99 percent done now, though it will still be a while before it's available. It has to be edited, printed, bound, boxed, shipped, etc.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 11:48 am
Michael, any idea who's going to blurb your book cover?
Posted by: Gene at June 22, 2010 11:57 am
I have several blurbs, but the best is the one from Christopher Hitchens, and I imagine it will be that one. I'm not in charge of that sort of thing, though.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 12:09 pm
I've never published, so I'm curious:

"I'm not in charge of that sort of thing, though."

How come, Michael? Is this just part of the packaging a marketer wants (demands?) to try to make his share of the profit?

I'm thinking...who best to know who to blurb the contents other than the author? And whose name (and rep) are on display, after all?
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 1:27 pm
I just noticed in today's JPost scroll:

"Tensions rise between Hizbullah, Sfeir."
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 1:57 pm
Paul,

The only part of the book I'm in charge of is the text. I'm a writer, not a graphic designer.

who best to know who to blurb the contents other than the author?

Publishers have a better sense of that because they are, among other things, marketing professionals. They know what sells and what doesn't. I haven't any more of a clue about that than you or anyone else.

My job is to write the book. They're in charge of everything else.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 2:49 pm
Can't wait to read the book...
Posted by: Michael Hussey at June 22, 2010 4:23 pm
Thanks, Michael.

Makes sense; whatever gets cash from pocket to till.

I'll be ordering from that first edition; your well deserved reputation precedes you!
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 4:28 pm
Marketing is really the only reason left to use an agent, publisher etc. Nowadays, an author can self-publish and sell via Amazon, Lulu and others. But tough to get attention using this approach.
Posted by: Joe at June 22, 2010 4:29 pm
If you'll "John Hancock" it I'll put it next to my autographed Michael Yon.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 4:35 pm
I intend to sell signed copies through the Web site, and they'll be available for pre-order at some point.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 4:41 pm
You mean blowhards don't get something special?

It must be strange writing a book on your topics because so much is in flux. The world can turn upside down at any moment...

It is a project that is always searching for the final chapters.....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 22, 2010 6:52 pm
Maxtrue: It is a project that is always searching for the final chapters.....

It sure is. I may end uping writing another chapter just before it's released. We'll see.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2010 6:55 pm
I like reading your blogs Michael.
Posted by: Ninveh at June 22, 2010 7:01 pm
Sadly, from a distance at least, it seems "the more things change..."

"Staying better" seems a hopeless ideal---if "getting better enough" can even be arrived at first. But then, better than when, I guess?
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 7:04 pm
I don't doubt you will Michael, though I think it is sad that in your field of journalism every new twist to history finds some pundits saying, "See? I told you so", until the next twist makes them look foolish.

It takes a steady mind.....which you have.

Max
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 22, 2010 8:08 pm
And extraordinary patience, Max; something I think I ran out of years ago.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 8:11 pm
For Fzi: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704009804575308182324490568.html

Turkish intellectuals afraid to go home....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 22, 2010 8:12 pm
Paul, when trying to get Liberals and Conservatives to be honest about their partisan directions, it takes a lot of patience. Mine has not run out yet...

Everything recycle as youth tends to reject the views of their parents....

I'm still waiting.....and waiting......and waiting......
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 22, 2010 8:19 pm
Max,

I'm with Craig about what "liberal" means. "See: Nancy Pelosi" doesn't come to mind. I agree that politicians, hell, everyone, should be honest about what they stand for; if you're convinced it's a good idea, let everybody examine it.

Conservatives I know personally, and that ain't many here on the Island of Fantasy, strike me as being pragmatists, not philosophers. Being simple minded/direct/blunt, which is maybe why my patience is about used up, I see "Left = more government (control)", "Right = lean government, more personal freedom and private sector promotion." If someone has a case for healthy businesses fueled by consumer power support not being the engines of a healthy economy and society, I'll look it over. The 1930s seem to support my perspective though.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 22, 2010 9:29 pm
Paul: the idea that the left supports more government control is an issue of framing, as much as saying the the right supports the starvation of the poor. While it may be true, you can't compare the intent on one side (less government), with a negative outcome on the other side (more government). To re-frame it from the left it would be (and I've just take one isolated issue as an example) that the poor should have enough to survive (intent), the poor shouldn't have enough to survive (negative outcome treated as intent).

Anyway - I see this all the time in politics (esp in regards to abortion) and it makes me very cynical as it often replaces any real discussion of priorities.
Posted by: Cassius Corodes at June 22, 2010 11:21 pm
Cassius,

The crux of the (growing) problem is this: the majority of the electorate, through its hired representatives, has allowed a pyramidal structure to grow, with an expanding base of minimally contributing or non-contributing dependents, relying on a shrinking tip of providers. Takers receive incentive to take what is free to them, along with a strong incentive not to become successful makers. While makers are receiving less or no incentive to make that which funds everything. This progression is unsustainable, a blueprint for economic collapse and societal meltdown, the widespread consequences of which know no political affiliation.

As I see it, the crux of a conservative perspective is that government is inherently a dependency; it must take to give, anything; it is incapable of generating self-sustaining profit. What it has to take must come from the private sector, making less available there for the creation of potentially profit generating businesses, along with the financial support of consumers necessary to maintain a healthy business climate.

Keeping government lean, therefore, is the key to economic and, subsequently, societal health.

Businesses must pay attention to competitors; however, my state capitol's legislators are Government "A", with no "B" or "C" competition taxpayers can turn to for better use of their funds. This competition-free environment creates no incentives to operate efficiently or cost effectively; providing and ultimately encouraging, in fact, license to waste and grow---all at the expense of its financier, the private sector.

Businesses, on the other hand, must listen to potential customers, to gain some, and keep meeting their needs as well as or better than competitors to keep those customers, and survive. A win-win.

For more, if you're interested, far better explained, see Milton Friedman and other like minds; Walter E. Williams is a contemporary favorite of mine.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 23, 2010 1:55 am
Paul, I don't disagree with most of what you say there - I was merely pointing out that it was unfair to characterise the left as being pro-big government for the reasons I outlined.

However, let me lay out what I think in response to what you have written -

I particularly don't like narrative on the right (or conservative, if you prefer) that treats the government as an incompetent, outside entity. A government is made up of its people. If its people take ownership of it and care about it then it will be a good government, otherwise it wont. And it won't be helped or changed by making it "lean".

There are things that the government is good for, better than the private section - and places where it is not. I will give you one example - I have lived in three countries during my lifetime, and in each one I have witnessed the privatisation of infrastructure, such as gas and electricity. In each of these cases, without fail, the end result was increased prices, much poorer customer service, and finally ads on TV telling me how great a job they are doing! In addition after a few years - the downtime for the services starts going up - and a few years later an expose documentary about how the new owners immediately gutted the maintenance crew, and walked away with millions of dollars in bonuses.

I think for some things the government is a natural choice. However what I see on the right, however, is an ideological stance that simply says that any government intervention is inherently bad. To me this is a self defeating attitude - equivalent to tying one hand behind your back. Why not use the tool that is right for the job?

You compare government to business in terms of competition, and elsewhere say its incapable of making self-sustaining profit. I think this view completely misses the point of government - its there to provide a service, to buy civilisation (what ever that means to a people), with the money we give it, through the people we have temporarily entrusted it with.

Now to end on a positive note, I agree with much of what you have stated in regards to the dangers of government getting too large. This is especially visible is eastern european countries that are struggling to transition to a free market model.
Posted by: Cassius Corodes at June 23, 2010 3:20 am
Paul, I don't want to fill the thread here. I simply do not think it is exactly the way you are framing it. Think of the millions of people who with assistance went on to lift themselves up, produce productive off-spring who in turn contribute taxes and labor and consumers.

I see your point and the down-side you mention, but on the other hand EVERYONE benefits from social order in a thousand indirect ways. When we scan the troubles of America, much of it is the failure of government regulation. Business often seeks monopoly and leadership is often driven by greed and a narrow set of objectives. There is in reality, not much that speaks to a REAL FREE MARKET or the benign inclination of private enterprise.

I won't go on here, but have problems with simplistic dichotomies and for now, I give Cassius's words strong consideration. Too often I see this framing as blurring a far more complex sociobiological dynamic although I do understand your point. One could also make the point that government should be the brain of the people. The calories required for its function is critical for the body to avoid walking off the cliff....

That the body STILL walks off the cliff is not necessarily the fault of the CNS "robbing" the muscle's energy stream, but rather the incoherence of the brain's functioning...

Sorry for the poor analogy, but time constrains...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 4:09 am
http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_6030.shtml

On another note, what is this crap? Or, how bad is going to get before it gets better? I'm not sure the private sector is going to be of much service....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 4:16 am
http://news.am/eng/news/23011.html

This whole region is confusing to me. Perhaps Michael can offer a primer for the less informed.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 4:29 am
Sorry if this has been posted already, but from Michael's friend...

http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/36885/the-next-lebanon-war/
Posted by: Kyle at June 23, 2010 10:14 am
Petraeus replacing McChrystal. I didn't see that coming! I guess maybe I should have, though, as it makes sense from a perspective of maintaining the current COIN methodologies. And, to avoid the appearance of sending in the "B" team.
Posted by: Craig at June 23, 2010 10:55 am
McChrystal is the child who calls out the emperor is naked...
Posted by: LittleTinSoldier at June 23, 2010 11:32 am
FREE, FREE Kurdistan.
Accelerate the breakup of the Iranian empire
Posted by: True Kurd at June 23, 2010 11:42 am
In one respect Obama really elevates Petaeus, the man denounced by MoveOn and drawing no fire from Obama. Ironic. I rather doubt Obama can afford to replace Petreaus, so maybe this is a good shift. Now Peteaus will have to save Iraq AND Afghanistan.

If he does, might even run against Obama......
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 11:51 am
Cassius, it might be more accurate to say that both liberals and today's conservatives want more government control. They just differ in what they want controlled. Liberals want government control of the economy, and no control over private personal behavior. Conservatives want government control over private personal behavior and no control over the economy.

The actual contrast is to libertarians, who want less government control over everything.

And, taken to extremes as they usually are these days, all three are wrong.
Posted by: wj at June 23, 2010 1:31 pm
...."This whole region is confusing to me. Perhaps Michael can offer a primer for the less informed.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 4:29 am"....


....Maxtrue, thanks for that quip. If more folks would simply admit that, then we'd have a far less garrulous commentary across the whole spectrum of the media's "discussion" of Islamic-Israeli politics and wars. Only those two adversaries know the details. Their leaks only create more unease among each of us uninformed outsiders.

I've posted several times my praise for the stamina of Dennis Ross. How many years has he been participating in the endless Sisyphean grunting effort. (another favorite adjective for this endless "Peace" charade..Sisyphean).

If Dennis Ross is now working with a think-tank, then lucky think-tank; and it only goes to show (to me at least) that his direct participation in all of these futile Kabuki acts over all of these years has had a severe draining effect. Surely, that in itself is telling.

Only he can comment on that; it'll be years before his candid memoirs are published.

They'll be priceless.
Posted by: Hrothgar at June 23, 2010 2:11 pm
MJT, do you discuss anything other than Lebanon in your book?

Do you discuss the LAF?

It might be worth adding a small blurb about the Lebanese economy and budget deficit. National debt = 148% of GDP versus 130% for Greece. Deficit = 12% of GDP. Interest on the debt alone is something like 12% of GDP.

http://www.imf.org/external/np/ms/2010/060910.htm

The debt to GDP ratio and budget deficit greatly restrains Lebanese government spending, weakening the capacity of the Lebanese State and strengthening Hezbollah.

It also makes the LAF funding extremely unpredictable since it is so dependent on international funding and unreliable Lebanese tax revenue, hurting long term planning and LAF capacity. LAF's serious underfunding is a major reason they are reluctant to mess with Hezbollah.

The good news however, is that the Lebanese economy has significantly accelerated in recent months while inflation and interest rates have been contained. If this continues, expect a significant strengthening of the Lebanese state and a weakening of Hezbollah.
Posted by: anan at June 23, 2010 3:24 pm
MJT, do you discuss anything other than Lebanon in your book?

Yes, of course. Also Iran, Syria, and Israel.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2010 3:41 pm
"LAF's serious underfunding is a major reason they are reluctant to mess with Hezbollah."

That is an overwhelmingly false statement, apparently intended to spread the idea that giving, giving and giving some more will be just-the-ticket to a better future.

The Lebanese armed forces can't mess with so-called hezbollah because the Lebanese armed forces are prone to sectarian strife within their ranks. Many Lebanese armed forces soldiers sympathize with Iran's and Nasrallah's minions and would hezitate, and possibly mutiny, or perhaps only disobey orders and avoid combat, if they were ordered to fight against those minions.

Separately, anan is spreading some disinformation at a more philosophical level:

Implicit in his comment is the idea that man in general, and in particular lebanese-man, is, like most "westerners", a subspecies of Homo economicus (hat tip to Hugh); that is to say that money and economics are the most significant motivators of their actions. There are certainly many people on the planet, and in the "west", for whom a phrase such as "follow the money" would be useful. However, there are other subspecies of mankind, the members of which are motivated by ideology, including that particular religio-political ideology which must never be named.

The assumption by most westerners, including GW Bush after 9/11/01, that everyone is really the same underneath out colorful sarongs, dashikis, and business suits, and wants the same things, has been a very basic error in the "GWOT".
Posted by: del at June 23, 2010 4:56 pm
Del: The Lebanese armed forces can't mess with so-called hezbollah because the Lebanese armed forces are prone to sectarian strife within their ranks. Many Lebanese armed forces soldiers sympathize with Iran's and Nasrallah's minions and would hezitate, and possibly mutiny, or perhaps only disobey orders and avoid combat, if they were ordered to fight against those minions.

That's exactly right, and it's exactly what happened in Iraq and in Lebanon during the civil war. You can't understand these two countries without first knowing this.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2010 5:05 pm
We can't even figure out Liberal and Conservative in America. We are lost understanding the dynamic from North Africa to the Far East. As Del says, we don't understand the multiple mindsets and narratives/conditioning that drives them.

Worst even than that: we ignore what we have already discovered about the genetic basis of cooperation.....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 23, 2010 6:04 pm
MJT, the Iraqi Army general staff leadership was always itching to take out the Shiite militias and establish a monopoly on force inside Iraq. So were Jafari and Maliki for that matter. But they needed to weaken the Iraqi resistance [aka Baa3thists, Takfiris and Sunni Arab militias backed by Iraq's neighbors] first, before they opened another front.

The IA and IP reported to the PM. So any Iraqi PM would have likely wanted the ISF to become top dog in Iraq and dismantle all autonomous militias.

What is, however true, is that weakening the Iraqi resistance was the overwhelming priority for the vast majority of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. That took precedence over the rest.

Another point to remember about the ISF is that a major effort to stand them up wasn't implemented until mid to late 2006 [when PM Maliki ordered a massive increase in funding, and President Bush ordered a major increase in MNF-I efforts to fund, train and advise the ISF]. Very quickly thereafter, the ISF kicked butt. After defeating the resistance in the fall of 2007, they quickly turned on the Iranian backed Shiite sectarian militias.

There is some info on what the IA general staff thought. 8th IAD commanding LTG Uthman spoke out at actual briefings. [He commanded IA and the battle space in 5 Iraqi provinces . . . Babil, Najaf, Karbala, Quadisiyah, Wasit.] He was rearing to go in early 2007.

By way of background, 8th IAD was the best Iraqi Army Division between 2005 and early 2007 [when several IA divisions proved themselves to be very capable.] 8th IAD was the first IA Division to assume substantial battlespace [really assume it, not just on paper], assume control over its brigades, and report to the Iraqi Ground Force Command.

Many forget that the reason Petraeus could surge MNF-I and IA into greater Baghdad was because the IA was performing well elsewhere in the country.
Posted by: anan at June 23, 2010 6:37 pm
"I agree with much of what you have stated in regards to the dangers of government getting too large."

Then I made my point, for the reasons I stated. Thanks for wading through it. Government is essential. It isn't incompetent or evil; it just doesn't exist in the same environment, influenced by the same forces that can keep the private sector healthy. So it becomes what voters let it become.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 3:25 am
Max,

Debating belief is wasted energy, so I'll just drop in my two cents and move on. This cul de sac isn't Michael's beat anyway.

The millions of small and midsize businesses that are the backbone of our country's economy don't exist because they're run by selfish, greedy monopolists who must be controlled by a nanny state. They survive through hard work, and flourish because they offer value to their communities. If they didn't, they'd disappear; reality's checks and balances at work, forces the Left apparently cannot or refuses to appreciate. Sarcastic? Yeah, from hearing too much bullshit over too many years here. Same old got old long ago.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 4:05 am
I hear you Paul, but the Mega corporations play a huge role shaping the landscape. Some are even doing trade with Iran. From Health Care insurance companies to Wall Street, these corporations don't disappear for reasons beyond benign Darwinism. I'm staking out the excluded Middle and I dare say Michael is too. Tell me under which administration the country experienced the worst toxic spill on land? And what fine did they pay. Hint: WV

Yes, it tough arguing belief, but then hard numbers point to some disturbing facts. I'm just arguing that BOTH sides have valid points and the "purist" positions are neither realistic nor true to the facts on the ground. I think you would agree that the cycling of extreme positions is producing one failed administration after another.
I promise however, not to forget the points you make. I'm here after all.....an orphan of the political warfare...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 5:57 am
http://www.thenation.com/article/36562/us-hikers-were-seized-iraq

Now this will generate some problems...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10403527.stm
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 6:15 am
http://www1.albawaba.com/en/main-headlines/controversial-report-says-17000-syrians-disappeared-during-era-hafez-assad
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 6:27 am
Max, I don't consider "The Nation" a very reputable source. But even if it was and even if their allegations that the 3 Americans were seized in Iraq and not in Iran could be definitively proven to be true, what difference does it make? I don't know of any American who considers the arrests of those 3 to be valid. As far as I can tell everyone in the US considers them to be hostages. Is it really MORE illegal to take hostages one place versus another?
Posted by: Craig at June 24, 2010 6:57 am
Yes. It takes away the whole claim by Iran and we should make this a huge effort to hold Iran as Kidnappers violating Iraqi space. How could they be spies if they didn't enter Iran? I know it might not lead to much, but certainly a rhetorical blow in the PR war....

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0623/Pakistani-Taliban-helped-Faisal-Shahzad-it-s-not-on-US-list-of-terrorists

And crossing the border to take US citizens makes Quds even more the terrorists. I guess I am pointing to the US failure to take the media high ground...

Where is Obama making this point? If Quds gets on that Flotilla, intercept it at sea and take them to stand trial....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 7:40 am
Mary, from the previous thread:
Many countries have capable militaries:
-India
-Pakistan
-South Korea
-Taiwan
-Singapore
-Malaysia
-Thailand
-Australia
-France
-Germany
-Turkey
-Jordan
-Netherlands
-Poland
-Switzerland
-Sweden
Posted by: anan at June 24, 2010 8:02 am
Max,

Yes. It takes away the whole claim by Iran and we should make this a huge effort to hold Iran as Kidnappers violating Iraqi space.

Everyone already knows the IRI conducts cross-border incursions into Iraq all the time. And everyone has known the IRI engaged in kidnappings - ESPECIALLY of Americans - since 1979.

What does this change?

How could they be spies if they didn't enter Iran?

Of course them entering Iran or not has nothing to do with whether or not they were engaged in espionage. But as far as I know the IRI has not formally charged them with any crime at all. And if the IRI did choose them with being spies, evidence would be entirely optional. The IRI has charged Americans with being spies before, and CONVICTED them, without any evidence at all.

I know it might not lead to much, but certainly a rhetorical blow in the PR war....

If the PR war was winnable based on hostage taking and other acts of terrorism then it would have been won decades ago. I have no idea why the IRI still gets a seat at the table at the UN after having violated the Vienna Accords on diplomacy in every detail as one of their first acts upon coming into power.

When it comes to bilateral relations, this incident gives the US one more cause for war amongst so many others. But we don't need any more justification for war with the IRI.

And crossing the border to take US citizens makes Quds even more the terrorists.

Perhaps we should start calling the IRI a state sponsor of international terrorism? :)

I guess I am pointing to the US failure to take the media high ground...

The media won't allow the US to take the media high ground.

Where is Obama making this point? If Quds gets on that Flotilla, intercept it at sea and take them to stand trial....

You really think Obama would engage in such aggressive action? Maybe we'll get lucky and some "run away" admiral will decide that the ships are attempting to violate the sanctions :)
Posted by: Craig at June 24, 2010 11:58 am
He won't win re-election this way....His corner for action is shrinking....

His handpicked General called him a whimp. I say this ONLY to stress that the tipping point is coming and I rather doubt Obama can dance his way around it....

The story I posted is making rounds. because it involves US mothers, it will continue to resonate. Even a Liberal or two has shed a tear for NEDA.

And now Obama is going to have a hard time butting up with Petraeus.......
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 12:23 pm
The story I posted is making rounds. because it involves US mothers, it will continue to resonate.
Even a Liberal or two has shed a tear for NEDA.


Well, these 3 hostages are leftists so of course it "resonates" with leftists. It doesn't really matter how much it resonates, though. It will never approach the magnitude of the hostage crisis in the late 1970s and the effect that had on Americans.

His handpicked General called him a whimp. I say this ONLY to stress that the tipping point is coming and I rather doubt Obama can dance his way around it....

His handpicked general(s) and civilian appointees are all completely invested in Afghanistan, to the point they are even willing to turn on Israel just so that they can win some Pyrrhic "victory" in a country Americans stopped caring about years ago. If you think Obama's military and political advisors are going to support war with Iran(which would put their pet project in Afghanistan on the back burner again) I think you're wrong, Maxtrue. This crew intends to win in Afghanistan no matter what the cost, and if something happens which forces a military response to Iranian aggression I would expect them to low-ball it and then claim they've done enough to deter the IRI, even if that's obviously untrue.
Posted by: Craig at June 24, 2010 12:57 pm
Craig,

Well, I hope you're not right. Given the strong support of Congress for Israel, I think Obama must tread carefully given the Democrat's weakening position. Do you think Petraeus has no concerns about Iran which exceed his concern for Afghanistan? Part of the concern with Afghanistan is the concern with Pakistan. Ironically Pakistan wants Iranian gas and tells what Pakistan does is of no business for the US. My alliance would be foremost Israel, Kurdistan, India, keeping Iraq steady, Pro West Gulf States, push Egypt and Saudi Arabia to the West.

You know I've not been arguing based on the belief Obama has a hidden streak in him. I've been arguing political numbers here. I do hope the military understands the threat Iran is and the significance these shifts in the ME.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 2:52 pm
Max & Cassius,

There are points we may never agree on, or just always view from different angles, but so what; we have the country's best interests in mind. I appreciate your input. To be fair to our patient host, if you want to take our US-centric discussion elsewhere it's useful mental exercise for me.

"I think you would agree that the cycling of extreme positions is producing one failed administration after another."

Yes; it locks out critical thinking's mandatory adjustment component. And brave warriors of my and subsequent generations paid the price. And the brilliant notion to offer mortgages to folks no banker with a working brain would talk to, and then stick responsible taxpayers with the consequences should have gotten a bullet between the eyes from taxpaying voters regardless of party.

"From Health Care insurance companies to Wall Street..." When I can buy a shirt from another state but not the best healthcare plan something's rotten.

Prediction: tighter and tighter focus now on "comprehensive immigration reform", AKA "get them registered to vote before November, or as soon as possible."
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Do you think Petraeus has no concerns about Iran which exceed his concern for Afghanistan?

I think he has as much concern for Iraq, although maybe not since he can say his job is done there. I personally think the entire leadership of the DoD is emotionally invested in "winning" in Afghanistan to the point they view anything that doesn't advance that cause as an unwelcome distraction.

I do hope the military understands the threat Iran is and the significance these shifts in the ME.

The military is not monolithic. A change of the top brass (where necessary) and a change of civilian leadership in the DoD could effect a 180 degree change of direction, instantly. The "political" layers of the DoD are very thin and the bulk of military personnel are not particularly ideological. If I had to guess based on how things were when I was in, I'd say most are fairly conservative and fairly libertarian.
Posted by: Craig at June 24, 2010 3:30 pm
Paul, I think we ALL would agree to a sound centrist position (involving some compromise) as a welcomed change to what we have got. There are reasons for the lack of Interstate competition of health care. It is a complex problem not as simple as it sounds. I found that out advocating for your position last year. States themselves are a big problem.

I think that in keeping with the dynamic tension embraced by our founders, we could put together solutions that respected both the idea of smaller government and respect for traditional values with government regulation and expanding opportunity.

The whole idea of centrists is to leave the ideological baggage outside the door. Republicans need more people like you and Craig and Democrats would be wise not to loose people like Michael and others. That we all can unite here should be a lesson.

As far as a victory of sorts: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/06/24/iran.gaza.aid.boat/index.html?eref=edition_meast&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+rss/edition_meast+%28RSS:+Middle+East%29&fbid=2ei1atSLlTP

Craig, the fact these were Lefties, is even more reason the Iranian narrative is weakening. In this sense Obama is behind even the public curve.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 3:40 pm
Craig, we let's "hope" for some "change"....

I had thought many in the DOD didn't want to spend too much resource on Afghanistan. Sounds the soldiers are pissed about the restricted use of force. Iran is a larger threat to our forces in the Gulf.

I think you're right about the average soldier, but McC did vote for Obama....lol
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 3:44 pm
Craig, let's "hope" for some "change".

back to work...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 3:45 pm
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hbaJ4FKRgvRUjqmBoyfYUmpG0vJgD9GHH9G00

One last one. Muslims identify who is killing them and causing chaos and terror. Now take a guess what they have found?
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 3:48 pm
"I think that in keeping with the dynamic tension embraced by our founders, we could put together solutions that respected both the idea of smaller government and respect for traditional values with government regulation and expanding opportunity."

Well stated, Max.

"Republicans need more people like you..." They're out there; I read them regularly. If I ever meet Tim Berners-Lee or any of those involved in giving us the power of the Internet, dinner's on me.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 4:09 pm
I think simply, following incentives; how strong an incentive does X have to do Y?
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 4:14 pm
Or, as professor Freud said, humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. Some having strange notions of both.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 4:23 pm
Yes, Paul undoubtedly, though I lean towards Jung....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 7:44 pm
Max,

"Freud Or Jung" by Edward Glover (1950), if you're interested. I see how much dust has layered that section on my shelf, so it has been a while. I've always admired Freud's unflinching acknowledgement of the beast within, and willingness to grapple with it.

And what the hell DO women want, Anyway?
:-)
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 8:18 pm
Thanks, according to Freud, a penis...:)
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 24, 2010 8:29 pm
No wonder they get so cranky.
Posted by: Paul S. at June 24, 2010 8:30 pm
"That is an overwhelmingly false statement"

It's the only kind anand knows how to make.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at June 24, 2010 10:41 pm
"Although Iranian aid is not dispatched by Iranian ships, these sorts of aid would be sent by other means," Sheikoleslam said. "The Zionist regime has turned the issue of sending aid to Gaza into a political one. We do not want such humanitarian issues to be turned into a political matter. For us, the most important thing is the breaking of the blockade."

And the only kind of statement Iran can apparently make as well.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 25, 2010 7:24 am
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/world/middleeast/08sanctions.html?pagewanted=all

Maritime shell game by Iran
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 25, 2010 7:30 am
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/presidential-approval-tracker.htm
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 25, 2010 8:05 am
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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