March 02, 2004

Bush Vs. Kerry

So it looks like John Kerry is it.

And therefore Iím out.

I would have voted for John Edwards had the Democratic Party chosen him as the nominee. Heck, I would have voted a straight-Democratic ticket next year if thatís how it went down. But it didnít, and so I wonít. I canít.

Until further notice, this blog officially supports George W. Bush for president in 2004.

I will not be his cheerleader. Though I will defend him from scurrilous charges, I donít like the man, and I never have. I appreciate very much what he has accomplished in the realm of foreign policy, as anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows. And there is simply no way I can vote for his opponent who has spent the past year whining about every good thing we are doing and have done in the Middle East. This is by far the most important task now and ahead of us.

I am not about to join the right-wing bandwagon. I will support a Democratic Congress as I always have.

The Christian Right can take its hysterical reactionary agenda and stuff it. They are not my comrades, and they should not come looking to me for support. They will get none.

I cannot and will not be a team player for the Republican Party. None of the partisan ďresponsibilitiesĒ apply to me because I do not accept them. When I side with the liberals I am not a ďtraitor.Ē I could be plausibly accused of heresy for siding with conservatives as a Democrat. But thatís because I actually was a Democrat. I am neither a Republican nor a conservative. I will vote a split ticket this year because the way I see it, each party gets some things right. The inverse of that statement is obvious. Each party gets some things wrong.

I hope the Democrats spend the next several years, whether in the White House or out of it, getting themselves a serious foreign policy. Right now they donít have one. Some individual Democrats are exceptionally sharp on this subject. But the party as a whole is lost. It hasnít always been this way, and there is no reason to expect it to remain this way forever. I may very well support the Democratic candidate in 2008. It depends on who they nominate, and it depends on what happens between now and then.

Itís also entirely possible that John Kerry will win in November and I will come around to his side. He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice. Iíll be grateful and relieved.

Until then I oppose him, and I do it without malice. I donít hate the man, and I doubt I ever will. Hatred destroys people emotionally and intellectually. The pitched level of anti-Bush hatred is shocking to me, just as the fury from the right against President Clinton was shocking. The asinine bluster from political haters is surely the dumbest commentary on any subject Iíve ever heard and read from adults. Get a life, haters. This is just politics.

I am the same person I was when I wished Al Gore were president. And if I change my mind about Bush in the meantime, or if I warm to a President Kerry, Iíll be the same person then that I am today. Some people make the funniest judgements about others because of who they support as a president. Itís not until you change your mind about a president that you come to realize how petty that is.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2004 10:25 PM
Comments

"I will vote a split ticket this year because the way I see it, each party gets some things right. The inverse of that statement is obvious. Each party gets some things wrong." "Heck, I would have voted a straight-Democratic ticket next year if that’s how it went down." Incongruent?

Posted by: SteveM at March 2, 2004 11:07 PM

I'm not quite there with you - yet. But I listened to his speech in the car, and damn what a sad, uninspiring pastiche of a once-vital set of values.

Sigh.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at March 2, 2004 11:18 PM

I just can't bring myself to vote for a man who sincerely believes that loving couples who share a gender in common pose such a great threat to this nation that our Constitution, the appropriately closest thing we'll ever have to a sacred secular document, must be amended to prevent the possibility of their ever being allowed to marry. If I don't have the option of voting for someone who isn't a bigot or an idiot, I suppose I'll just leave that part of the ballot blank.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at March 2, 2004 11:21 PM

SteveM: Incongruent?

Only if I said I would turn into a partisan left-wing hack if Edwards were nominated. I would still be more or less in the middle.

Christopher: I just can't bring myself to vote for a man who sincerely believes that loving couples who share a gender in common pose such a great threat to this nation...

I completely understand.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2004 11:46 PM

This is just silly.

Kerry gave a foreign policy on speech that it all the yousta-bee talking points on Friday, he's got a stack of hawkish advisors, and Edwards can't even find Haiti on the map.

I think you ought to reconsider.

Posted by: praktike at March 2, 2004 11:50 PM

Michael,

I appreciate the sentiment. Basically, you're saying that the war on islamofascism trumps all other concerns-- a point on which we agree.

But if you're not going to be a cheerleader for the President's campaign, might I suggest something else?

I first started reading this blog after your "builders vs defenders" post was posted to The Corner by Jonah Goldberg. Like him, I don't think that that is all there is to our differing foreign policy temperments, but your insight did ring true.

If I were on the Left (and I'm not), I would most want to see a ground-up reconstruction of liberal foreign policy. Something that talks about differing cultures, what we can tolerate and what demands our intervention. A view that incorporates trade, the developing world, the undeveloped world, and our fellow industrial nations. A view of our short term spats and long-term rivalries. And most of all, what we need to be doing.

Democrats, as you rightly point out, don't have a foreign policy. At best they have been decent crisis-managers, dealing with issues in an ad-hoc fashion as they appear on CNN. No Democratic President since Kennedy has really had a coherent vision about how it all works, and what our national interest is, and how we pursue it.

Oddly, they had Republicans totally licked for decades in this regard. But I guess that these things are cyclical.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that America is in trouble if the debate becomes "foreign policy vs chaos", even if chaos loses. Your blog would be a good starting point for this kind of discussion, and would at least get things moving in the right direction.

Just a thought....

Posted by: Rob at March 3, 2004 12:09 AM

praktike: Kerry gave a foreign policy speech...I think you ought to reconsider.

Kerry shares my foreign policy views all of a sudden? Why? Since when? What changed? Why should I believe him?

Kerry can't make up for a year of petulant carping by paying lip service to me. I am not stupid, and I have a long memory.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 12:14 AM

There are two threats to the economy right now - the threat of the deficits and the threat of a trade war. Greenspan has testified to this.

The Republicans have been in control of the Congress and the Whitehouse for long enough to prevent them from wiggling out of the deficit issue (and I'm nominally Republican and an avowed fiscal conservative).

I watched some of the last Democratic debate and was appalled at the pandering on the trade issue. Where was the Democratic party of Al Gore when he demolished Ross Perot's protectionist stance on Larry King in '92? Where is the Democrat who stands up for free trade as Clinton did with NAFTA?

If the Democrats fielded a candidate who combined Clinton's fiscal and trade policies with Tony Blair's foreign policy, I think they'd walk away with this election. Like, 45+ states, 60% of the vote, that kind of thing. I'd vote for that kind of Democratic candidate. But today that candidate cannot be nominated (except as a Republican, and that slot, for better or worse, is taken).

Posted by: lewy14 at March 3, 2004 12:32 AM

praktike,

From John Kerry's victory speech:

The Bush Administration has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless, and ideological foreign policy in modern history.

Thus ends my reconsideration. I really can't imagine why you'd think I would like him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 12:34 AM

lewy14...If the Democrats...Clinton's fiscal and trade policies with Tony Blair's foreign policy...with this election. Like, 45+ states, 60% of the vote

That sounds definately closer to Bushes numbers for sure. Kerry is more fiesty then Dukakis or Mondale. Bush II is better than Bush I. Reagan better than both. Bush I got 53%, Reagan got 59%. I've got to believe that Bush wiil get somewhere in between those two probably 53-57%. and forty states. The question is when is a Dempcrat going to crack 50%? (Last Carter 50.1%) And please people don't tell me this is the year, I know what Bush is going to do to Kerry. Kerry doesn't have a political record worth running on.

Michael, like I said the other day your are the true definition of a "War Liberal". I am just gratful unlike many you are smart enough to realize that survival of civilization and freeing nations of Dictators (let alone the world) is more serious than arguing on the margins of abortion etc., credit goes to you for sure.

The interesting thing is that being able to measure your politics after reading all I have read, I would say that as a Democrat I was way more fiscally liberal than you but a little more sympathetic in my social senses towards the traditional. (Though no where near Bush, but I have sympathies) I guess that is why Bush and Medicare, Education, and the deficit doesn't bother me as much, but then again I'm fairly well off, so who knows.

Posted by: Samuel at March 3, 2004 01:21 AM

But Christopher, Kerry is on record for opposing gay marriage, so where's the big difference?
Oh, that's right, Dems can oppose something, like Saddam, and just have words, and more words, and more wordy opposition. The Mass. judges have acted and the SF mayor has issued licenses. If you oppose it, what do you do? Words, or actions?

I don't think any FMA is going to pass, but at least Bush is following through on his promise to "do something". And it's the right something, let the American voters & their reps decide. In the debate, it’s unlikely to pass; politicians will have to either back it, or not, and this certainly increases polarization. But the gay marriage debate is primarily a surrogate for the abortion debate, which itself is at the core of the almost unmentionable God debate.

Is America a Christian nation? Should it be? What does that mean? And, if it’s not or shouldn’t be, then what is "good"?

Michael's great on most honesty issues; why I like here the best! But here's two value questions, most relevant to those with children.
1) Would you rather send your children to a school system that encourages atheism or faith?

2) Does the answer change when you learn that the atheist system produces 40% literate/ 60% illiterate, but the faith system results in 80% literate/ 20% illiterate?

One of the biggest challenges to the atheists is the scientific facts that faith-based assistance so often works better. 30 years ago, this was believed, but there was little data. There’s no right answer to question (1), just personal preference, but most I think agree on the faith answer if the facts are as stipulated in question (2) (and the atheists will try to weasel about these not being facts; I’m not claiming they’re true of the current system, I’m trying to ask an honest value question. And if you reverse the numbers, you change MY answer – but show me evidence that’s more likely to be true.)

God & faith, and their place in politics, can't be avoided because GW is an honest believer, as was Carter, but Clinton not. A good part of the Bush-hate is also God-hate, and likely even self-hate at atheism not working. (Similar to Muslim America-hate being a projection against self-hate at Islam not working. And related to the sin of Envy, destroying another’s good.)

And so many Christians, who actually live lives of less materialism and really try to help individual poor people with little local programs, who since FDR (& JFK) have been often Democratic, are being excluded by the God-hating Leftists from the Dems.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 3, 2004 02:13 AM

I was a dem all my life but am voting Bush for a much-deserved 2nd term. I don't agree with everything he's done (or not done) but I don't feel like I have to hold my nose either.

As mentioned, the FMA will start a dialog/discussion and that's why it's good. It won't pass...no way. But let us feel we're part of the process. When gays do marry it will be because we as a society embrace them, not because gay marriage was forced by fiat.

The WoT is the most important issue of our time and Kerry basically mocks it. He still believes HE could have gotten France to go along with us which shows he's either naive, or ill-informed about the dynamics of Europe post cold-war.

There may be a few hawkish foreign policy wonks around among the Dems, but, quite frankly, most of them left the party during the 80's. Why do you think they're called neo-cons?

Kerry seems to have some 'expertise' or at least interest in drug cartels, which is why I suspect he emphasizes policing and intelligence. But that's only part of the WoT. We're not just playing whack-a-terrorist here but up against a huge worldwide fascist movement.

And with more than 100 radicalized mosques here in America, we can't afford to gut the Patriot Act either.

Posted by: Syl at March 3, 2004 03:23 AM

John Kerry on gay marriage:

Voted for the Defense of Marriage Act,
Is publicly opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment,
Is publicly opposed to government recognition of gay marriage,
Is publicly in favor of amending the Massachusetts Constitution to disallow gay marriage,
Is publicly "ok" with civil unions,

His public record on most issues is similarly contradictory.

Posted by: steve at March 3, 2004 03:28 AM

I arrived at the opposite conclusion. I can't support a presidential candidate who has a good chance of getting the opportunity to appoint an anti-choice Supreme Court justice and continue his systematic attack on women's rights. With a daughter coming into the world within two months, the thought of her having to live her entire adult life under attack is too terrible.

I think Kerry, while whining now, will do what's right on fighting the Islamofacists.

Posted by: scott partee at March 3, 2004 04:06 AM

Well said. The first and foremost role of the President is Commander-in-Chief. In wartime the most important criteria in choosing who to vote for is a candidates ability to effectively wage war. The voters in the center who will decide the election will easily recognize that Bush is the far better candidate for Commander-in-Chief.

Bush will win the election by a large electoral majority barring any real scandal in the next 8 months.

Posted by: Reid at March 3, 2004 05:05 AM

Michael: Thank you for summing up my thoughts completely. There are many issues on which I don't agree with Bush and the thought of campaigning for him gives me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I will be a single issue voter in this election- security. And I'll vote for a Republican for president for the first time as a life- long Democrat. Kerry's comments last night about Bush's "reckless, inept..." foreign policy make it clear where Kerry stands - he'll roll back the progress that has been made over the last two years. If we don't get this issue right on this country, the other issues won't matter.

I continue to be profoundly disappointed in my party as they continue to ignore what I believe to be the most profound issues facing our country. Yet they still churn out bumper stickers urging us to "Beat Bush". This isn't a sporting event.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Ann at March 3, 2004 05:09 AM

Well Scott, I also have a daugther coming in May, late May, and I do not wish my Daughter to live in a world were she is considered Property. Or has to wear a Veil, or can only be out in Public with her Brother, Husband or Dad.

Those that we are at war with, wish to bring Sharia law to the whole of the world. There is no chance, none that abortion goes away, that genie is out of the bottle. Unless of course the Islamist Extremeists wins. I am against them and the Christian Extremists, and the Catholic Extremists, all of which would outlaw Abortion.

If tomorrow the Supreme Court Struck it down, a good majority of the States in the this Country would legalize it. Therefore doing what should have been done before, let it be a State's rights issue. And if enough State's passed it into law, there could be a chance for an Amendment thereby making it a true law. One the people voted on, not one forced down the people's throat.

But yes, you may live in the make believe world of John "I believe the US should never use power without UN authority" F'n Kerry would not sell us out to the UN. Who here lately has done everything in it's power to be on the side of the Haters.

Posted by: James Stephenson at March 3, 2004 05:28 AM

Interesting comments. I really can't believe that the Democrats are going to run Kerry. What blow out this election is going to be.

Posted by: eric at March 3, 2004 05:31 AM

"I think Kerry, while whining now, will do what's right on fighting the Islamofacists."

Perhaps - we don't know what he'll do in office, and election year rhetoric is a poor guide. How is it that every 4 or 8 years we are taken in by election year pandering only to find that the man in office acts quite differently?

It doesn't sound to me like MT has his mind completely decided. He'll be watching Kerry in the general election, as will I. If Kerry doesn't have the sense to move to the political center, the point will be moot - he'll lose badly. It's tough to unseat an incumbant - moreso if the economy is rising. It will be impossible if Kerry persists in running like George McGovern.

BTW, the Republicans have not had a consistent or particularly cogent foreign policy. Can we recall Reagan's limp withdrawal from Lebanon? Opposition to the confrontaton of Milosevic? Increases in steel tariffs and farm subsidies under Bush II? Let us also recall that the stunning military machine witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq was funded and forged during the administration of Bill Clinton.

Posted by: BF at March 3, 2004 05:40 AM

i will wait til the very last presidential debate before i make up my mind, i think. i want to leave out as much rope as possible for kerry so that if he ever finally FINALLY got serious on foreign policy and national security, i may choose to vote for him. i want to hear concrete proposals and ones that make sense. i am not hopeful for kerry though as he has said absolutely nothing so far to pull me towards him. the problem is that i dislike just about everything else about bush (besides foreign policy and national security issues) on such a wide range of matters that i have to give kerry a chance.

Posted by: Glenn at March 3, 2004 05:40 AM

(BF wants us to hold judgment on kerry because presidents occasionally end up doing opposite of what they preach on the campaign trail. what a funny proposition. GO NADER!!)

Posted by: Glenn at March 3, 2004 05:43 AM

Michael:

Had Bush simply said : "I am opposed to the imposition of gay marriage by unelected courts, and reluctantly find myself in favor of an amendment requiring that gay marriage only be implemented with the consent of the electorate."

Would this change your opinion of Bush on this issue?

Posted by: TAS at March 3, 2004 05:55 AM

Don't blame me. I voted for Kucinich.

Posted by: Roark at March 3, 2004 05:59 AM

doh,,,
May I point out the obvious?
The first mark of a serious politician is the ability to address the concerns of their constituency. Not necessarily to stick his finger in the wind (allow the voters to tell him what to think), but to articulate his own views on the issues that they feel important.
That is why we had George Bush campaigning in '99 and '00 by basically going around and telling us that he would cut taxes, and not have sex in the Oval Office. That is what was important to republicans. Did Bush lay out a foreign policy agenda? Did he tell us he would be the new Woodrow Wilson? Did he harp and criticize the democratic administration for its failure to pursue bin Laden?

I dont have the slightest doubt that John Kerry would do whatever is necessary to defend this country. He is smart, tough as nails, and completely tapped into the defense-foreign policy establshment in Washington. He knows the ropes, he knows how to pull them, and he has the experience to understand the types of consequences, seen or unseen, that could result.

He has spent the past year seeking the support of the democratic party. He needed, obviously, to convince the party that were he to be president, he would conduct foreign policy in a manner that reflected the criticisms and concerns that most democrats feel toward Bush's apporach. Michael calls it whining, but it is obviously the job of a leader of the opposition to, well, oppose - to critique. And there is plenty to critique.

I find Michael's attitude strange. Its almost like he would want the opposition to completely buy into Bush's agenda, as if that were the only reasonable approach to take.
I suspect that now that the primaries are effectivly over, Kerry will have the chance to start speaking to a larger audience and presenting a fuller picture of his policies. In that, he will end up giving us an enormously fuller and, most likely, more honest vision of his foreign policy than Bush ever gave us in '00.

Perhaps those who really are "independent" should wait till the campaign plays out a bit before making their committments?

Posted by: tano at March 3, 2004 06:01 AM

I am voting for Kerry. We can still have gay marriage in a nuked-out, radioactive crater that was San Francisco. Bush and the extreem right-wing are more dangerous than atomic fire.

Posted by: Kerryblog at March 3, 2004 06:25 AM

tano said "Did Bush lay out a foreign policy agenda? Did he tell us he would be the new Woodrow Wilson? Did he harp and criticize the democratic administration for its failure to pursue bin Laden?"

If I remember correctly the extent of George Bush's foreign policy when he ran for president was that he wasn't going to get involved in world affairs. There is some evidence that the Clinton administration had a plan to go after Al Queda in Afghanistan that they presented to the Bush administration, and the Bush administration blew it off because foreign policy was not something they were interested in. At least part of the Bush administration's unease with the current investigation into 9/11 is due to the fact that former Clinton officials tried on several occasions to warn them that Al Queda was going to be a huge problem, and they didn't pay attention. It's not like Clinton got it right from the beginning either, but the WTC bombing of 1993 woke him up to the threat. It's interesting to note that Al Queda didn't mount another attack in the US during Clinton's administration. I think Clinton gets a bad rap for not doing enough about terrorism, but most of that is ignorance of what the real record is.

Posted by: Theo at March 3, 2004 06:35 AM

What I can't figure out is why you would have voted for Edwards who would have been worse on the war than Kerry.

Posted by: Starhawk at March 3, 2004 06:44 AM

Tom:

But Christopher, Kerry is on record for opposing gay marriage, so where's the big difference?

There is none. Point out where I said there was.

Oh, that's right, Dems can oppose something, like Saddam, and just have words, and more words, and more wordy opposition.

Maybe somebody else you know holds this position, because it wasn't me.

Let the American voters & their reps decide.

They already do. At the state level. And no state is required to accept another's marriage license. There's clearly no need for an amendment, because the problem simply doesn't exist. If voters in a single state want to allow gay marriages, why should the rest of the country tell them they can't?

To try to frame this as a Christian argument is to ignore the large number of American Christians who are strongly in support of gay rights, including marriage. I'd be suprised if you weren't aware of this, as it's a perennial issue within mainline Protestent congregations that seems to get at least some press at everybody's general assembly every year.

But fine, I'll play:

1) Would you rather send your children to a school system that encourages atheism or faith?

Neither. School is for secular education, church is for spiritual education, home and the rest of the world are for both. More directly, school should be non-theistic (unless it's a private religeous school, of course).

2) Does the answer change when you learn that the atheist system produces 40% literate/ 60% illiterate, but the faith system results in 80% literate/ 20% illiterate?

Assuming that your statistics are correct, I'm completely unsupristed that religious schools, which are by Constitutional requirement private, have higher acheivement rates that public schools, which are by the same requirement secular (which is not at all, I'm sure you realize, the same thing as athiestic).

A good part of the Bush-hate is also God-hate, and likely even self-hate at atheism not working.

Fascinating, Captain. I didn't realize your tricorder could read so many minds from a distance.

And so many Christians, who actually live lives of less materialism and really try to help individual poor people with little local programs, who since FDR (& JFK) have been often Democratic, are being excluded by the God-hating Leftists from the Dems.

Well, Tom, as a Christian who lives a life of at least a bit less materialism and who really does try to help individual poor people, and who has been often Democratic, I can make the following two statements:

1. God-hating leftists are the least of my problems with the Democrats.

2. To hate the love two people share is to hate God.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at March 3, 2004 06:51 AM

scott:

Your daughter will "spend her entire adult life under attack"? Isn't that a bit of an exagerration? Despite repeated warnings to the contrary that Roe v. Wade was at risk and imminently about to be overturned, it hasn't happened. I'm not holding my breath.

In contrast, the women of Afghanistan, who were liberated from the Taliban by the U.S. war, truly spent their entire adult lives under attack, as did little girls throughout Afghanistan under that deeply reactionary regime. This doesn't mean Afghanistan is going to magically transform itself into a liberal democracy anytime soon, but at least girls can go to school. Look at the language of the new proposed constitution that Iraq is about to adopt--unprecedented in the Arab world, with strong protections for human and women's rights.

I don't have any problem with you saying you're opposed to Bush and have problems with his record on women's issues, but I do have a problem when people conflate depradations by the "regime" of George Bush with true depradations in such outposts of inhumanity as Iraq, North Korea, and elsewhere, where deep oppression of women and other minorities (Shia), blatant discrimination based on religion, and hateful intolerance is utterly routine. To me, this sounds like Tim Robbins crying about U.S. censorship and police state Amerikka while attending the Oscars and living large in Hollywood--this kind of whining is throughly narcissistic, and shows little regard for or interest in the world outside the United States.

Indeed, it represents American culture at its worst: self-involved, navel-gazing, narrow-minded, and kvetching from a realm of almost unimaginable privilege and iron-clad legal rights that much of the world would be enormously grateful have. I'm not saying you're guilty of this, but pointing out that this kind of exaggeration weakens any critique that you might have.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at March 3, 2004 06:52 AM

Michael T.:

Excellent post. Those are my sentiments exactly, except the part where you wrote, "It’s also entirely possible that John Kerry will win in November and I will come around to his side. He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice."

I suppose I just differ in my estimation of the likelihood of that occurrence. I'll allow that there's a theoretical chance I might come around to his side too, but I think Kerry is too old to change his stripes. I think Kaus has infected me.

Tano:

You wrote that Kerry "will end up giving us an enormously fuller and, most likely, more honest vision of his foreign policy than Bush ever gave us in '00," and that "[p]erhaps those who really are 'independent' should wait till the campaign plays out a bit before making their committments?"

I think you missed Michael T.'s comment that "Kerry can't make up for a year of petulant carping by paying lip service to me. I am not stupid, and I have a long memory."

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 3, 2004 06:53 AM

Michael:

Great post. It asbolutely sums up the feelings of many many people from center-left to center-right.

I just have one question, and it's a nitpick and a moot point now so I won't take any offense if you ignore it. Was there ever actually any substantive difference between Edwards and Kerry on foreign policy, or indeed on anything? I saw Edwards tell George Stephenapoulus in so many words that there was no major difference between him and Kerry on Iraq. They both voted for the war and against funding it. They both talked endlessly about getting the UN involved as if they hadn't already run away etc. etc. And if Iraq is the most important front currently in the world war on Islamofascism, then didn't Edwards fail on this single most important issue as well? Really, it seemed to me that the only real differences between Edwards and Kerry were that Edwards was even more anti-free-trade and was more likable personally than Kerry.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 06:55 AM

What I can't figure out is why you would have voted for Edwards who would have been worse on the war than Kerry.

That's like saying Ralph Nader would've been worse on the environment than, say, Trent Lott. Um.....huh?

That doesn't track with any of the things I've read and heard about Edwards - it's the main reason I was supporting him, and I suspect why Michael was too, was his position on national security was the best of the remaining Dem. candidates.

Speaking of Edwards, if Kerry does indeed pick him as a running mate, what are the chances Kerry's foreign policy views might begin to track more toward Edwards, due to his influence in the campaign? I think it's something to watch for as we get closer to November, and it may be enough to alter your view, Michael. I'll be watching closely as well.

Posted by: Barry at March 3, 2004 07:08 AM

his position on national security was the best of the remaining Dem. candidates.

Please explain, in light of the information in my post above.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 07:17 AM

I have to agree with those who are completely befuddled by Michael's (and Barry's) views on Edwards.
How on earth could anyone be relatively supportive of the democrats, but balk at Kerry's foreign policy, AND THEN CHOOSE EDWARDS? That is a complete riot.

The only difference between the two on foreign policy is that Kerry has 20 years experience on the inside. He knows the issues infinitly better than Edwards, and so there must be at least the hope that when he is in a position to actually assume responsibility and make decisions (rather than just give a speech to partisans) he will know what to do.
Dont ge me wrong. I love John Edwards. He is a passionate defender of working people - and that is the real heart of the democratic attitude. He is Dick Gephardt, with Clinton's charisma and speaking style. But he lacks the intellectual and experiential depth of either of those two, and of Kerry.
Could anyone name me one thing he has ever said on national security issues that differs from Kerry, or that somehow puts him on the other side of the great threshold that MJT erects?

Posted by: tano at March 3, 2004 07:26 AM

Michael, well said, and quite congruent with my own feelings on the subject.

The most difficult thing this year will be the Us vs. Them demonization by partisans of both sides. That one can be a reluctant supporter of one side or the other will not go down well with the Bush Can Do No Wrong crowd, nor with the Anyone But Bush gang. Stick to your guns.

Posted by: *** Dave at March 3, 2004 07:26 AM

I think it boiled down to, for me, that Kerry seemed much more vocal about it and pandering to the anti-war Left during the primaries - which may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but as they say perception is everything.

Plus there were a few voter guides and online profiles that suggested (to me, at least) Edwards' foreign policy views were more favorable than Kerry's.

Sorry I can't be more quantifiable, but that's my perception.

Posted by: Barry at March 3, 2004 07:26 AM

Bush v. Kerry v. Nader = no brainer

Viva Bush!

Posted by: chris at March 3, 2004 07:27 AM

As a Libertarian for Bush, I can say you join good ranks in the "You have my vote by default" crowd. Survival first, and then we can start arguing about the best way to handle pressing issues like toothpaste regulation.

Posted by: Phelps at March 3, 2004 07:38 AM

Except, Michael, that it wasn't a year of Kerry carping on foreign policy, but pretty much a career.

Article today in the LA Times ('laexaminer'/'laexaminer' doesn't appear to work any more)...

The Resounding Choice of All but Independents. I'm going out on a limb and saying it's not goting to be close, electorally and possibly in terms of absolute votes. Bush is better at pitching independents than Kerry both because he's demonstrated a certain - flexibility - and because he's personable and telegenic, and Kerry will never be.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at March 3, 2004 07:52 AM

Michael, I'm in complete agreement with you.

Posted by: Finnpundit at March 3, 2004 07:55 AM

Michael-
I couldn't agree more. I am a democrat who will also be voting for Bush b/c I see the WoT as being the most important issue right now, and I see Bush as the only one who finish this war. The anti-bush hatred that exists now astounds me. Most of my friends and family think i'm nuts when I say I am going to vote for GWB in November. I think there are a LOT of people who will vote for Kerry primarily b/c of their hatred of Bush. They won't even take the time to hear out the issues. I live in NYC and so it seems like this is how the majority of the people here feel. I just hope the rest of the country has some sense.

Posted by: Al at March 3, 2004 07:57 AM

A quick quiz for Michael and those who agree with him:

1. The U.S. is committed to handing over power to a sovereign Iraqi government on June 30 (less than four months from today). What will be the form of this government, and how will its members be selected?

2. How does this plan demonstrate the Bold, Steadfast Leadership™ that you find so irreplaceable in Bush?

Posted by: Swopa at March 3, 2004 08:25 AM

Welcome to the creamy middle.

Posted by: Brandon at March 3, 2004 08:28 AM

Michael,

Once again you have captured my sentiments exactly. I have been greatly disappointed to see the implosion of the Dems over the last 4 years in particular. However, regardless of what Kerry does or says over the next several months I will be voting for GWB. I just don't trust Kerry. Never mind the waffling, he does not offer any reasonable alternatives for the Bush policies and positions he rails against.

Posted by: BeckyJ at March 3, 2004 08:29 AM

Michael, you're not alone. I've voted straight Democrat for thirty years (except for one year in the 70s when I voted only for women) and my husband's voted straight Democrat except for Mayor Lindsay in NYC. We're voting for Bush too, for much the same reasons, add Israel. And so is our 18-year-old son, who will be voting for the first time. I've got a "Democrat for Bush" sticker on my car; I hardly recognize myself.

It's simple (but not simplistic): We're voting the strongest possible opposition to global jihad. period.

Posted by: Yael at March 3, 2004 08:39 AM

Unlike overthrowing the Taliban and Saadam, the challenges of the coming years are unlikely primarily involve the willingness to apply brute force. I see no evidence that Bush is any more compentent than Kerry in dealing with sort of nightmares likely to be coming down the pike, such as the break-up of Iraq (or at least all-out Sunni/Shiite and Sunni/Kurd civil wars), dealing with Iran as a nuclear power, dealing with Islamists in the Pakistani military.

As to the election as a whole, Andrew Sullivan in this week's Time says it better than I could:

"Here's what a really smart Democratic contender could say to the President this fall: 'Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in difficult times. You made some tough decisions, and we are safer as a result. But the very qualities that made you a perfect pick for the war so far are the very ones that make you less effective from now on. You are too polarizing a figure to bring real peace to Iraq. You are too unpopular overseas to allow European governments to cooperate fully in the attempt to hunt down terrorists. And your deep unpopularity in half the country makes it impossible for you to make the necessary compromises that the country needs domestically. Thanks for all you've done, but bye-bye.'"

He then goes on to say he doesn't agree with this perspective. I do.

Posted by: markus rose at March 3, 2004 08:42 AM

Oh, and a bonus question for Michael:

3. How is John Edwards' policy regarding Iraq and the war on terrorism distinguishable from John Kerry's?

Given that you consider this to be the most important issue in the race, and you would definitely vote for Edwards but can't imagine voting for Kerry, I gather the differences must be quite large.

Posted by: Swopa at March 3, 2004 08:47 AM

Yeah.
I am not being an advocate here. I sincerely want to take MJT's perspective to heart - at least give it consideration.
But I am flummoxed.

If someone were to say to me:
"I really love John Edwards, he is so right on the domestic and social issues, but I am worried about turning over the WOT to an inexperienced trial lawyer - convince me please that he is as smart and well grounded as, at the minimum, John Kerry, and I will vote for him"

NOw that would be a rational sentitment.
But the opposite?
"I generally like Kerry but he doesnt cross the national security threshold that Edwards does"???

Hello....help me out here!

Posted by: tano at March 3, 2004 09:10 AM

I have no hope that a Democratic administration would protect America the way President Bush has done. The Democrats have no credibility on the issue at all. John Kerry and most of his party still think that the war on terror is a "law enforcement issue." The fervor in which committed Democrats oppose the War on Terror in general speaks volumes about the degree to which they hold protecting America as an important value.

Quite simply, neither Democratic leaders or their voting constituents can be counted on to fight a war against Islamic terrorists.

Several comments on this thread are quite perverse and illustrate this lack of credibility: "Bush and the extreem right-wing are more dangerous than atomic fire."

Um. No. They are not. I live in Manhattan and every day before brushing my teeth I turn on the radio to see if my office building is still standing. I won't be surprised when the suicide bombers start attacking our subways.

A presidential candidate who draws support from people who believe that law-abiding, believing Christians are as dangerous as fantatical Islamic murderers cannot be trusted to protect America.

Posted by: Sydney at March 3, 2004 09:13 AM

I find it interesting that everyone brings up the 'religious right' when talking about the bad side of Bush, but no one ever mentions the 'anti-semitic left' when speaking of the democrats. I'm an independant and feel that both lunatic fringes need to be dealt with, not just the republicans.

Posted by: Moira at March 3, 2004 09:17 AM

Dear Mr. Totten:

I, too, am a Democrat who is being reluctantly forced to vote Republican for President by the lack of seriousness of my own party. Mr. Kerry is just not a serious candidate. The main defense his supporters seem to be making is "he doesn't really mean it". Now there's a ringing endorsement.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at March 3, 2004 09:17 AM

Swopa: How is John Edwards' policy regarding Iraq and the war on terrorism distinguishable from John Kerry's?

They voted the same way, but Edwards unflinchingly defends his support of regime-change and Kerry screams that Bush's foreign policy is arrogant, inenept, reckless, blah blah blah.

The U.S. is committed to handing over power to a sovereign Iraqi government on June 30 (less than four months from today)...How does this plan demonstrate the Bold, Steadfast Leadership™ that you find so irreplaceable in Bush?

I honestly don't know if this is wise or not. And I never said Bush was perfect. It would be nice to have an intelligent response to this by John Kerry, but instead Kerry is breathtakingly reactionary and I can not vote for that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 09:18 AM

What?

The Bush Admin is the worst foreign policy administration in a very long time! They walk away from the table without discussing anything, they do things their way and tell (or threaten)the world to either be for Bush or they will be considered against Bush. They (The Bush Admin) are egotistical and narrow minded, they kiss the foreign country's ass when it mean the big wigs of the big corporation will get more money in heir own private pockets but then go back on their word to appease the worker if it's a big enough vote in a swing state, but then go back on that word too because now the Bush Admin is painted in a corner.

What have they done at all in foreign policy to warrent getting your vote? They are making people hate us and proving that all the decades of propaganda that has been spread by the terrorists might be true - "America is the great Satan, bent on taking over the world by force and forcing IT'S beliefs upon you and your children!" causing people who were on the fence or didn't believe them before TO start believing them now!

What foreign policy???

You think it's good foreign policy to have Rumfeld totally deny that he ever said things he is being directly quoted as saying? Does THAT make other countries have more faith and trust in us and want to help us? "I never said that, no one has ever said that, I don't know wher eyo ugot that from but I never said it." I would love to have the reporter say "I got it from the video tape. Here let me play my tape of you saying it, you lying piece of crap!" Just once!

You're also voting for cheney, another liar and evil doer whose energy bill was so currupt he couldn't let anyone see it at all (in his own words and ashcrofts when the patriot bill was coming out "only the guilty have something to hide")and this is a man who has two of his top officials currently being heavily investigated as being the people who leaked the C.I.A. NOC agent's name for revenge against her husband for proving that the administration was lying or ottally wrong (as always). Ruining not only her cover but the cover of the company she worked for whose job it was to monitor WMD around the world.

You're voting for two liars, Both were strongly in favour of state rights to decide on things, even gay marriage... but now are against it. They were against nation building but now for it (not for any other countries that need it like in Afghanistan, Africa, China, North Korea, or Haiti of course but in countries with oil or stratigic positionings - THEN nation building is good.)

You'll be voting for poluters who have given more power to those who polute the most, they now allow more polution in the air, more sludge dumping, and they believe that swamps and wetlands actually polute water, not filter it. Even though twenty year studies come out finding things the Bush admin doesn't want ot hear, they just have some non-scientific person come in and change it all.

Not to meantion they either lied about Iraq or were totally inept. Probably both actually, since Bush has said twice since July 2003 that one of the justification of invading Iraq was that Saddam wouldn't let inspectors into Iraq. Either he's a HUGE liar, or he's so out of touch with reality that he will believe whatever the people around him (his only source of information on everything) tell him, or he is literally losing his mind.
Operation:Desert Fox was a success and Saddam was no longer a threat to his neighbors or the world. But that's onyl what Colin Powel said in 2001.

Bush has done absolutely nothing to protect us, he's been turning the world against us through lies, falsehoods, and egotism, he's underfunding all the security agencies in America, he's spreading our military thin, all his security beliefs would let in terrorists easier since most terrorists who blow themselves up live rather clean lifes so would go through any security check, and he helps men in other ocuntries who are far worse than Saddam ever was. (Haiti being a current example since they refused money to them that would have helped keep things more stable there, and has been promoting the thugs that have wanted to take over.)

They say one thing during their campaign and do the complete opposite when in office. They have lied about everything, they have mislead everyone about everything, and they are now and always have been taking away more and more civil rights from different groups and people.

If you disagree with them in anyway you could be classified as an enemy combatant and they want to be able to get all your records from every area of your life, such they tried to do fro mthe university to get the records of all the peaceful protestors from there. And All the records from that hospital of all the women who have had abortions.

So vote for him, the terrorists won't need to come and bomb us since America will be gutted from the inside by our own leaders.

Bush's logic is always toally flawed.
Example - gay marriage. He opposes gay marriage because it wil lruin the "sanctity of marriage".
But if gays are only allowed some kind of civil union with most of or all the same rights, then why would any true American in good conscious get married? Maybe it would be easier to jsut get a civil union. Less hassle and no embarressing moment of asking for a pre-nup. By NOT allowing certain American citizens the same rights as other American citizens (and only using his religious beliefs as a reason makes it unconstitutional - "The government shall not promote one religion above another") marriage will die out in America and will only be left to the religious nuts who only believe certain parts of the bible but turn a blind eye to the parts that would effect them.

So voting for George W. Bush is totally anti-American, it owuld be like standing up for King George during the revolutionary war. Bush has done nothing but take away rights, and in true soviet fashion... taking away the rights of the lower classes while giving more privledges to the wealthy and powerful. But hey, the russions always got free toilet paper and bread, so I'm sure we'll be ok.

Think about everything before you vote.
It's only the future of your country and country men at stake, not to mention your own future.

Just a few thoughts to mull over.

Logic, Fairness, and Compassion.
Truth, Justice, and the American way.

Posted by: p.f. Romero at March 3, 2004 09:23 AM

Wow. Totten really IS inconsistent. Talk about all the criticism about Kerry being a flip-flopper. Totten wriggles around more than a trout freshly plucked from a pond. Voted for Nader in 2000 and now will endorse GWB in 2004. That's quite a transformation. I guess the war on terror trumps every other concern. Jobs, economy, deficit, education, environment. Just look at Bush's record on all of these and I can only come to the conclusion that his policies in these areas are simply failures. When all GWB has to run on is War on Terror, that is pretty sad. It is even sadder when ostensibly educated people actually believe that.

I will be voting a Kerry/Edwards (wishful thinking) ticket in November and will actively help that ticket defeat GWB and will donate as much money as I possibly can to make sure that GWB doesn't get another four years to piss on our constitution, depopulate the forests, idly watch as another 2.1 million jobs get shipped overseas and give further tax cuts to people who don't need them.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 09:25 AM

Sydney:
I think that comment about the extreme right wing being "more dangerous than atomic fire" was meant to be sarcasm about Kerry's views on the WOT.

Posted by: sam at March 3, 2004 09:27 AM

Your point seems to be that the "war" trumps human rights issues for gays, etc., but how exactly is Bush treating this like a war? Considering the slaughter that's going on now in Iraq, and will continue into the indeterminate future, how has Bush made us safer? The rules of those countries that backed the terrorists who caused 9/11, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, are still able to sleep comfortably, Al Qaeda and similar groups have metasticized, and Israel is now a humanitarian catastrophe. We're even losing the support of our more sycophantic allies in Australia and the UK.

It has been quite clear for some time that Bush isn't fighting a real "war" against terrorism, as much as he is using the events of 9/11 as a way to boost his domestic political standing. So how is Kerry less serious than Bush about fighting terrorists?

Posted by: Steve Smith at March 3, 2004 09:28 AM

Correcting a comment by Steve above: Kerry was one of 14 senators to vote against the 1998 Defense of Marriage act.

Of course, he's completely flopped around on this issue, as with most others: Against DOMA in 98, signed a letter opposing a Massachusetts state DOMA in 2002, but now opposed to gay marriage yet for civil unions. I would have considered voting for Kerry if I had any idea at all what he actually believes in.

Posted by: Joe Maller at March 3, 2004 09:29 AM

Graham: Totten wriggles around more than a trout freshly plucked from a pond. Voted for Nader in 2000 and now will endorse GWB in 2004.

Oh, give me a break. 9/11 happened between those events. Did that make any impression on you at all?

Do you think I should vote for Nader again? Just to be consistent?

People change, and so does the world. Dig your heels in and refuse to budge if you want, but that's not my way. I might be on your side in four years and get a bunch of crap from the right. If that happens, oh well. So it goes.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 09:35 AM

So Kerry is against all things Bush.

That isn't enough to be President.

Will someone please explain to me what Kerry is FOR?

Posted by: Trent Telenko at March 3, 2004 09:37 AM

p.f. Romero...please keep posting. Thanks.

Posted by: Karl Rove at March 3, 2004 09:41 AM

Michael,

I have been a daily reader of your blog for a while now and have always found it both thoughtful and principled. This was the first post that seemed knee-jerk and narrow.

While I recognize that you happen to agree with certain aspects of Bush's foreign policy, I must remind you that there is much that you don't. How excited are you about Bush's bold strategy for dealing with Saudi Arabia, the country who funded 9/11 and who's citizen's carried out the attack?

Bush certainly tortured the truth to make it appear that Iraq was an imminent threat which, even if forgivable, was neccessary not to con liberals into supporting the war but to get his core political base of isolationists to come aboard. Critics making this point are well within their rights and quite correct even if you agree with a different rationale for the war.

I too want there to be an active foreign policy to address islamofascism but I see plenty of reason to criticize the more tactical choice of unilaterally invading Iraq and don't buy into the argument that "at least he did something". I think that the something should have been a lot smarter (and even perhaps a lot more aggressive) and I think that is worth criticizing. Some of the critics of the Bush foriegn policy are just wrong but many are very very right. You have lumped all of those criticisms together and react to them as such.

I have not yet made up my mind about who to support in November. Kerry is admittedly a weak candidate but I am not sure that Bush is worth saving even if you are put off by some critics of his foreign policy. On the domestic front Bush has been a complete pandering train wreck that we will be working our way out from under for many years.

If you were going to decide who to vote for based only on Middle East foreign policy (too narrow), I am not sure which candidate would be more likely to follow a course that you would be happy with and I think it too early to make such a call. Perhaps it is Bush and perhaps you will vote for him but not voting for Kerry because he criticized Bush for the one thing that Bush did that you happened to agree lacks the thoughtfulness that I have come to admire in your writing.

Posted by: g2 at March 3, 2004 09:42 AM

Your arm's length take on politics is very refreshing. You might be interested to know that evangelical Christians like myself read you and appreciate much of what you write. There are things far more earth-shaking than politics left or right: decisive epiphanies in the realm of history, like September 11th. How we respond to them is more important than our starting point before we do.

- Cassandra

Posted by: John Hobbins at March 3, 2004 09:48 AM

For Scott Partee: If you are 2 short months from becoming the father of a daughter, its time - NOW - to get your priorities in order. Roe v. Wade is not the most important thing in the world for your daughter's future. You have some major bridges to cross before it has any impact on your daughter's well being.

Grow up, and please do it quickly. Your daughter will need a father who can think beyond "womens rights = abortion". There's a complex world out there and you've apparently had your head stuck in the abortion-is-the-only-issue-sandbox for far too long.

Posted by: Ray at March 3, 2004 09:49 AM

9/11 happened between those events. Did that make any impression on you at all?

Yeah, it made an impression on me. For one, I thought maybe it would be better to have a president who would immediately leap into action as soon as he heard about WTC collapse rather than continue reading "The Pet Goat" 15 minutes after hearing about it. Maybe scramble some fighter jets in case there were more hijacked airplanes. Maybe we would have a president who would volunteer more than one hour to the commission that is investigating the 9/11 tragedy. Maybe it would be better to have a president who didn't attack countries who posed NO IMMEDIATE THREAT.

Totten, you have taken your eye off the ball. Perhaps you believe in the "perpetual war for perpetual peace" crap that Wolfowitz and Perle espouse. I don't.

PS: Trent, why don't you go to Kerry's website to find out what he is for yourself? A 5-second Google search should get you there. I believe in going to the source rather than getting someone else's biased view; which is what I am sure will happen in this forum.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 09:53 AM

Scott,
If Roe v Wade was over turned the only thing that would really change is: We would gain the right to vote wither abortion was legal or not. The status of abortion would be legal. States would have to make it illegal and some would. The majority would not. I have never understood why abortion supporters are unwilling to go the democratic route and allow people decide the laws for themselves. Is't this suposed to be the goverment of the people, for the people, and by the people?

Posted by: Derek at March 3, 2004 09:55 AM

I am assuming from Mr. Luebcke's statement above that he did not vote for any demorcratic candidate for president in the past presidental elections.

I assume he would not have voted for FDR, LBJ OR JFK. I further assume that he things that the previous generations were all bigots.

this "issue" has only been an "issue for a very few years and to oppose a candidate for believing what america and americans believed without an issue for 220 is a hoot. (does anybody say hoot anymore?)

The reason why nothing of this nature is in the constitution is that there was no debate on what marriage was or is. You might as well question why the Constitution doesn't say the sun is bright.

Posted by: P. Ingemi at March 3, 2004 09:57 AM

Steve, the slaughter going on in Iraq right now is a tragedy. It's a tragedy that we can see. It's a tragedy we are in a position to stop, or at least mitigate. How is that worse than the ongoing tragedy under Saddaam?

Yeah, innocent people are being blown up, and reporters are outraged. Guess that makes it worse than those fields full of people with holes in the backs of their skulls, or those poor saps going into the plastic shredder....

Bush has what might be called a naive belief that the world can be changed in such a way that the Saddaam's aren't just accepted as a part of the human condition. He also got the wake-up call that it has become actively dangerous to suffer these monsters to live.

Sign me up for some more of that simplisme, please. Nothing in the world scares me more than a return to September 10 thinking.

As to sycophantic allies, I will be willing to postulate that you've thought these issues out and come to your own conclusions if you will do the same for, say, Tony Blair. Otherwise, keep the insults down, okay?

Posted by: mark at March 3, 2004 09:59 AM

Eric Deaner,

Was there ever actually any substantive difference between Edwards and Kerry on foreign policy, or indeed on anything?

Unlike Edwards, Kerry has a 30 year track record of spewing soviet propoganda, gutting our intelligence services, attempting to gut our military, and undermining our cold-war policy of containment. It is possible to dismiss Edwards' rhetoric as pandering to the fetid swamp that forms the intellectual base of the Democratic party. Kerry's record shows where his heart is.

Posted by: HA at March 3, 2004 10:04 AM

With all due respect, I guess there are some, who in the face of al-Q terrorism, are so consumed with fear that they need to run grab onto someone who gives the impression of being a "strong leader" - even if that strength is merely a manifestation of energy being applied to a simple mindedness. As if the Bush approach to the WOT is the only effective way to do it - the only way to be considered. For to even question the strong leader would be to show weakness.
Pathetic.

Anyway, if all that the "9/11 democrats" need in order to come back to the fold is to sense that Kerry could be as strong and effective a war leader as John Edwards would be, then I guess we dont really have all that much to worry about.

Posted by: tano at March 3, 2004 10:12 AM

Hey Tano, all due respect, but I don't have any problem with the questions; I have a problem with the alternatives presented. With the exception of Lieberman I haven't heard any believable vision addressing global terror/fascism other than to go back to what didn't work before. That is especially true of Kerry; no matter what he says is his vision today, he's on record someplace saying something else.

And just in case you haven't figured this out, a strong leader has to be able to give the impression of leadership, no? Or am I being too simplistic here?

Posted by: mark at March 3, 2004 10:31 AM

We invaded a country that was not one of a signficant source of terrorism against us, was not a grave threat to us, and that did not have significant WMDs.

We took major resources away from the fight against bin Laden and Al Qaeda -- you know, the terrorists -- for the Iraq invasion. We're just now "intensifying" the hunt for bin Laden by taking special forces from Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan.

Morally, Bush did a great thing in toppling Saddam. But I just don't understand why people think he's done such a great job protecting America.

Posted by: Oberon at March 3, 2004 10:33 AM

I am, always have been, and probably always will be an independent. I cannot recall a time when I have not voted a split ticket. I am from Mass, and have voted for John Kerry over the years.

That being said, I cannot vote for the man again based on what he has said over the past several months.

In a nutshell, John Kerry has shown me that he will sacrifice the security of the nation in order to pander to an irrational elitist hatred and buy their vote. I cannot trust him to do make the decisions required of a wartime president if he cannot demonstrate enough backbone to chance losing the anybody but bush vote in the nomination process no matter what his spin may be in the general election.

Posted by: Just Passing Through at March 3, 2004 10:42 AM

"I thought maybe it would be better to have a president who would immediately leap into action as soon as he heard about WTC collapse rather than continue reading "The Pet Goat" 15 minutes after hearing about it. Maybe scramble some fighter jets in case there were more hijacked airplanes. "

Scramble some jets where, you twit?

America's fighter jets: Able to patrol all 3.6 million square miles of American territory instantly.

Posted by: Floyd McWilliams at March 3, 2004 10:48 AM

As per Bush II, he seems to see things in black and white (often criticized) but, personally, I like that...some things ARE black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, etc. (think flying airplanes into public buildings). Bush then acts forcefully on his beliefs, no waffle. I like that in a leader.

Posted by: lostboy at March 3, 2004 10:51 AM

Bush is a polarizing figure, I guess, from a France and german point of view, if you are a 3rd world dictator certainly. But the thought that JFKerry will some how magically gain international support is ludicrous. First he has spent the better part of 9 months insulting the members of the coalition of the willing as not real allies, frauds etc. So the dying that the Italians, Aussies, Brits et al have done is not real. Kerry does not subscribe to the belief that there are enemies of the US out there, that people hate us, not for some foriegn policy decision, 5,10, 15+ years ago (that is the leftists), they hate us for what we are and what we represent and how we challenge thier beliefs. For us, infidels, adulterers, are free, independent, sexual women.

I know its taken as common faith among Bush Haters that the Clinton team left a great plan to tackle UBL, which Bush just ignored. If it was such a great plan, why didn't the Clinton team implement it, to wrapped in legalistic, police procedures, worried about world opinion. In hindsight this was foolish, but the Clinton team and most of America did not really see the threat, a few bombings on the peripherey. Bush and co had a failure of vision for 8 mos, Clintons 8 years and Reagan/Bush/Carter another 16 years of failed vision. That's how far the failure to take strong action goes. Bush and his team, to thier immense credit, realized on 9/11/01 11:00 am (give or take) that their previous ME policy was a failure and this failure killed 3,000 people. So they took out the proverbial clean sheet and started anew. Bush the humble, reluctant, wary nation builder changed his foriegn policy on its head and has made the establishment of liberal regimes where individual rights are recognized in an area of the world where they have never really existed. So I look at the 9/11 commission as a giant waste of time. Were their systemic failures in the CIA and FBI that missed the clues? Absolutely. But if the CIA/FBI catch the 19 hijackers, so what. As Israel as proved time and time again, there is no such thing as perfection in terrorism, you are going to have leakers. So playing defense, not getting to the root of terrorism, - ie the lack of freedom, was the systemic failure. And handwringing that if only the FBI and CIA had done this, questioned that is monday morning quarterbacking. The question that needs to be asked, and the Dems are not asking it is what do we need to make this not happen. Kerry thinks law enforcement issue. He has made that clear. So to me there is one choice, Bush and I make that gladly. Gay marriage is not a constitutional issue and will not even get that far, its an issue for the state legislatures. Budget deficit is an issue, and I will worry about that in 4 years, once we have cemented the gains in WOT. Social Security, well if the Dems have a plan, its a quiet plan of ignoring the elephant in the room. At least Bush recognizes the elephant is there and would like make some changes to its diet. So Bush in 04, kerry can go back and be the lousy senator he is, edwards can go back to suing people for a living. Where are the serious Democratic canidates.

Posted by: Kevin at March 3, 2004 10:51 AM

Toten:People change, and so does the world. Dig your heels in and refuse to budge if you want, but that's not my way.

Furthermore, you can defend yourself in changing viewpoints but slam Kerry for the same thing? Curious.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 10:53 AM

Time for me to drop this thread and back off while the blood pressure is still in the yellow zone....

But Oberon, I would point you to Steven Den Beste's take on the US strategy. The question is whether you think our Iraq project is an end in-and-of itself, or if it's a move in larger plan. Den Beste sketches out a believable analysis, and I believe his gameplan probably overlaps the Administration's to a fair degree.

As to why I feel safer: Libya is backing off nuclear development, Pakistan is coming out of the nuclear shadows (slowly, but it's progress), Iran is feeling the pressure and allowing inspections, Iraqi terror funding is cut off, and without US dependence on their support in the region, we are in a position to plausibly put pressure on the House of Saud.

This is the diplomatic catastrophe that is the Bush Administration. And you know, I've not noticed that I can't get cheese and wine at my local stores, so I'm not feeling the pinch of our soured relationship with the French.

Posted by: mark at March 3, 2004 10:55 AM

In a lot of ways this election reminds me a great deal of 1996, 1998 and 2002. In 1996 and 1998 Republicans ran on a platform of "We hate Clinton", and got smacked around by the voters. In 2002 Democrats ran on a platform of "We hate Bush", and got smacked around by the voters.

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 3, 2004 10:55 AM

Christopher, gay marriage is NOT about love -- lots of loving gay couples live together and love each other and this doesn't change with or without an amendment or the Mass. rulings.

It IS about whether child creation, the future of Western Civ., is central to the (magical? miraculous?) word "marriage", or not. But that's been (over?) discussed on other threads. (And the health & probate industries need to accept contracts between lovers above parent & siblings; certainly.)

It IS, also, about whether Christians will be "allowed" to believe that homosexual behavior is sinful. For Utah to become a state, they had to make polygamy illegal, despite it being a part of their religion (and in the Bible, etc.). The state imposed intolerance of polygamy. I kind of like that result, but am uncomfortable with the process.

Note the recent CA court forcing Catholic Charities to include birth control as part of their health insurance, knowing it's against that organizations' founding religion.

That's NOT live and let live, that's using court decisions to club Christian believers. Similarly, the purpose of gay marriage is to give God-haters another, more easily used club, to bash Christianity. If you're an atheist, that might not sound so bad. But if you're uncomfortable about intolerance to Christianity, as I am, it doesn't look so good.

And that's why Kerry will say he's against gay marriage, to avoid not looking good--but most will know he means it about as much as the French meant they were against Saddam. (see, back on topic after all!)

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 3, 2004 10:57 AM

Talk is cheap. Anyone can say anything, but how to judge what a person will really do in a certain situation? With a politician, I submit that the only real way to tell what his behavior will be in the future is to look at what his behavior was in the past. With John Kerry, and how he will approach the war we are currently fighting, all we have to do is examine his record for the past 30 years in the Senate. That record has been well documented and sorry John, you do not get my vote.

Posted by: s schultz at March 3, 2004 11:11 AM

Michael: Well said and I respect your position. Living outside the US I see how much foreign leaders envy the US and translate that into hate for the President. They know that they can't control Bush and hope desperately for a President that they can control, one who begs for "International Consensus" before taking any action. The weak always want to control the strong. I also don't understand why anyone in the US worries whether our President is liked or disliked internationally. No one in the UK or France give a damn if the American people like Chirac or Blair, it's none of thier business. Why the rush to pander to the failed and socialist governments of Europe?

BTW: Oberon
I just don't understand why people think he's done such a great job protecting America.

How about the end of Libian WMD and exposure of Iran and Pakistan WMD production. Wouldn't have happend without Iraq.

Posted by: Hal at March 3, 2004 11:12 AM

Tom,

Similarly, the purpose of gay marriage is to give God-haters another, more easily used club, to bash Christianity.

That's a stunningly self-centered view. But you're welcome to it; it's clear we're not going to sway each other, and this isn't even the right thread for it.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at March 3, 2004 11:17 AM

Graham: Furthermore, you can defend yourself in changing viewpoints but slam Kerry for the same thing?

He changes his "viewpoint" every five minutes. He says one thing to one person, and turns around and says the exact opposite to a different person.

I have slowly and deliberately shifted over a period of years.

Surely you can see the difference.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 11:18 AM

No, I don't see the difference, MT. When has Kerry taken one position to one person, then turned around and said the exact opposite to a different person? The meme that Kerry is a flip-flopper (or more to the point, that he flip-flops more than other politicians in an electoral democracy) is a Karl Rove spinpoint that has no basis in reality.

Posted by: Steve Smith at March 3, 2004 11:26 AM

Steve Smith: Karl Rove spinpoint that has no basis in reality

Ah yes, I'm just a dupe of Karl Rove. I haven't been paying any attention to politics over the past year. I've been too busy watching Fear Factor and reading People magazine. That's why I'm so easily bamboozled.

Don't insult my intelligence, please.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 11:34 AM

Daggone people, the Christian right is not your enemy here. Yeah we (the Christian right) oppose abortion, not because we hate women (unlike our Islamist enemies), but because we believe that unborn children have the same inalienable rights (you know the ones endowed by our Creator) as everyone else. Plus, I think the a strong case can be made that while unrestricted abortion has been great for men (Hey, look at me lots of sex, no responsibility), it has not been great for women (high rates of single motherhood, complications from abortions). I mean "Sex and the City" may make great TV, but most of us evil Christian types look at it as a pretty empty and meaningless existance, certainly not how I would want my 1 yr old daughter to grow up. On gay marriage, almost nobody (yeah there are exceptions)on the Christian right is advocating discrimination against gays; heck I don't even like ant-sodomy laws (again unlike our Islamist enemies), but we are concerned about how ready libs are to monkey around with an institution as old as history to score some cheap politcal points. Especially since the only vote (not counting the 38 state DOM laws) on gay marriage has been by 4 judges from a state that is not representative of most of the country. I mean look at countries where they have established SSM (Sweden and Norway), nobody (even gays and lesbians) get married, 3/4's of children are born out of wedlock. Does anybody want to say this is a good thing? Something we should aspire to? You want to see real hate, you won't see at my church, but try your typical left coast university. People comparing Bush and Sharon to Hitler, I mean come on. Signs reading that 6 million dead Jews was only a good start. You won't see that at any church I've been to, but I have seen it protests to the Iraq war and against Israel. Some of you people need to open your eyes and realize who your real enemies are, it ain't Christians.

Posted by: Rob at March 3, 2004 11:39 AM

Steve Smith: When has Kerry taken one position to one person, then turned around and said the exact opposite to a different person?

Here's one example. Actually, it's not technically an answer to your question since this is an example of Kerry giving opposing answers to the same person.

Michael T.: Thanks again for the html pointers; they make writing much cleaner than what I was doing before.

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 3, 2004 11:42 AM

Rob: Daggone people, the Christian right is not your enemy here.

You can tell me that you personally are not my enemy and that's great. I'll take your word for it.

But Dennis Prager declared war on me yesterday. He is my self-declared enemy.

And that's too bad. Only a few days ago I read one of his articles for the first time and thought it was very good. And then he wrote this piece of garbage.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 11:45 AM

It's a tragedy we are in a position to stop, or at least mitigate.

------------------------------------

I'd like to hear how this could be accomplished. It seems like the Israelis have been trying to do this for some time so you should inform them too.

----------------------------------------

With all due respect, I guess there are some, who in the face of al-Q terrorism, are so consumed with fear that they need to run grab onto someone who gives the impression of being a "strong leader" - even if that strength is merely a manifestation of energy being applied to a simple mindedness.

--------------------------------------

I've read this pregnant sentence three times and I don't detect even a light dusting of respect.

Posted by: Matthew Ryan at March 3, 2004 11:46 AM

"When has Kerry taken one position to one person, then turned around and said the exact opposite to a different person?"

Hell, here's an example where he did it to the SAME person.

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 3, 2004 11:47 AM

Oberon:
Oh, yes it was, yes it was, yes it did.

Focusing narrowly on UBL and al-Quaeda is the "police action" espoused by Kerry that has failed in the past. Everything has failed in the past.

It's much bigger than that, and has only just begun. It will take decades if not generations. Everyone agreed that Saddam had to go. No progress could be made against the sponsors of terrorism in Saudi Arabia or supporting states like Syria or Iran with Saddam in the way and US presence in Saudi Arabia.

The sanctions weren't working and would have to be lifted or altered one way or another. The sanctions were doing more harm than good.

The capture or killing of UBL will not be the cure-all.

Posted by: Loren at March 3, 2004 11:49 AM

Michael--

Speaking from a liberal Republican standpoint, that was very eloquently put. I'll post a link to my blog and hope I might sway a handful of my more left-leaning readers.

I've had a few good things to say about Edwards too, and I think the race is so much the worse for his not being the Democratic nominee. Sometimes I think the Democrats are bound and determined to cut off their nose to spite their face. Kerry is nothing but a tiresome JFK wannabe, and I can't believe that more Dems don't see that...

Posted by: Pete (Alois) at March 3, 2004 11:57 AM

Having known Micheal for a few years, I'd have to say he has slowly changed over the years. I've debated him many, many times via email and his stances have changed very slowly over time. My stances have changed too, it is what intelligent people do when they get new facts and information, they make informed decisions and change their ideas/beliefs.

I think Micheal's decision is a good one. If we aren't safe, jobs, health care etc.. means nothing. Others have pointed this out on this thread, abortion means nothing when Islamic law doesn't let you out of the house.

Posted by: Mark D. at March 3, 2004 11:58 AM

Kerry said:
The Bush Administration has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless, and ideological foreign policy in modern history."

Totten writes:
Thus ends my reconsideration. I really can't imagine why you'd think I would like him.

There is more to foreign policy than just declaring war. There's the run-up to the declaration, there's the conduct of the war, the conduct of the reconstruction and, oh, everything else in the entire world other than the war.

Posted by: Hipocrite at March 3, 2004 12:04 PM

BTW: Oberon ...How about the end of Libian WMD and exposure of Iran and Pakistan WMD production. Wouldn't have happend without Iraq.

Now that point I like. Personally, I think the spread of nukes is the absolute #1 security issue we face.

Which leads to my latest pet theory on Iraq -- maybe the Bush admin had very good intelligence (which they didn't/couldn't reveal) that Saddam was developing nukes. Otherwise, I just can't figure why they wanted to invade the friggin' place.

Posted by: Oberon at March 3, 2004 12:05 PM

Well Totten has gone wingnut. He is just frightened of terrorism so he goes and supports a dictator like chimpy.

Us enlightened TRUE compassionate and educated liberals will be voting for anyone but bush. anyone with an advanced degree can tell you why. we don't need hicks like you anyway.

Posted by: Liberalguy at March 3, 2004 12:08 PM

Besides, why even debate why bushy invaded Iraq. We know it is for an evil reason. end of story. Anything else is just corporate propagda.

Posted by: Liberalguy at March 3, 2004 12:09 PM

Edwards and Kerry had basically the SAME positions on the issues. It was only a difference of style and experience. I simply don't understand why someone who would have voted for Edwards won't vote for Kerry.

I won't be voting for either.

Posted by: frogurt at March 3, 2004 12:10 PM

Gosh, "liberalguy," that's pretty clever. None of MT's readers will ever suspect you're a right-winger in disguise.

Posted by: Oberon at March 3, 2004 12:12 PM

Liberalguy said:

"Anything else is just corporate propagda..." [emphasis mine]

And this is a guy with an advanced degree? I guess "hicks" like Michael don't have much to worry about.

Posted by: Pete (Alois) at March 3, 2004 12:14 PM

Liberalguy,

LOL, unless of course that wasn't satire (If not, your post is truly sad.)

Posted by: JFH at March 3, 2004 12:18 PM

I started to type a long post on my usual schtick... but then thought, Screw it, I've said this all before. Afghanistan's a disaster, homeland security mostly hype, and Iraq held prisoner by the desperation of the November 15 agreement.

So I'll just say this: I've heard the Democracy in the Middle East speech. I know Wolfowitz's dominos theory. It's a nice vision. But outside of a quick invasion of Iraq, I haven't seen the Bush administration take a single substantive step toward any of the goals he's spoken so highly of. The absolute rejection of any sort of Israel/Palestine negotiation is a silence so loud its deafening. As is the failure to institute any sort of smart campaign to burnish the U.S. image in the Middle East or to modernize economies. I feel like Bush is standing at the plate and watching pitches fly by. He's not doing anything.

So. What, exactly, is Bush's foreign policy?

Posted by: harry at March 3, 2004 12:24 PM

Rob:
We're never going to convince each other and this is the wrong place to try. You say a fetus is an "unborn child" with "rights" granted by "the Creator" and I say a fetus is merely a fetus with no rights that could be construed as being in the compelling interest of the State.

The same applies to the arguments against stem cell research. Those are really "off the wall".

Not to further the argument, but it seems that abortion rights would minimize single motherhood rather than promote it.

I come down on the side of freedom both "of religion" and "from religion".

In that regard I would view the actions of the administration in the Justice department to be anathema.

Regardless, the WoT has to be the overriding consideration.

Posted by: Loren at March 3, 2004 12:27 PM
It's a tragedy we are in a position to stop, or at least mitigate.
------------------------
I'd like to hear how this could be accomplished. It seems like the Israelis have been trying to do this for some time so you should inform them too.

That's of course the question. Why don't those things happen here in the US on a regular basis? Or Europe? Or Japan? I'm serious.

With Iraq being where it is, and with neighbors who manifestly do NOT want a western-style democracy next door, we may be setting Iraq up for a long fight against externally-sponsord terror. Exactly like what Israel faces.

So we do what we can to end those external threats to our friends (including the Iraqis) and to ourselves. And this is the point where creative suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Posted by: mark at March 3, 2004 12:27 PM

Yeah other than fighting two wars and shit, what HAS Bush been doing?

Kerry's foreign policy is clear as day: NOT-BUSH.

Posted by: Liberalguy at March 3, 2004 12:32 PM

Michel,

Very thoughtful post. I've been reading your blog since you first started and am almost always persuaded by your arguments.

As I am in this case, for you have put eloquently exactly my reasons -- as a life-long liberal and Democrat (who voted for Gore and who, before 9/11, "hated" Bush) -- for reluctantly, but passionately, supporting Bush's re-election.

In my view, Kerry cannot be trusted. Like you, I would support Kerry if he were elected and if it turned out that I had been wrong about the senator's ability to effectively prosecute the war against Islamic fascism. (Big ifs.)

Jamie Irons

The Napa Valley

Posted by: Jamie Irons at March 3, 2004 12:39 PM

Sorry, Michael! Please forgive me!

Somehow I wrote your name in the French form, "Michel," and failed to catch it in proofreading!

Yikes!

Jamie Irons

Posted by: Jamie Irons at March 3, 2004 12:41 PM

Just thought I'd toss in my couple cents.

Graham- "Toten:People change, and so does the world. Dig your heels in and refuse to budge if you want, but that's not my way.

Furthermore, you can defend yourself in changing viewpoints but slam Kerry for the same thing? Curious."

I don't see how this is curious to you Graham. MT is changing his opinion based upon what reality has dictated. John Kerry has changed his public opinion based on what he thought was the most politicly popular thing to do, and then continued to behave in his usual pattern.

Just because I'm curious, has Kerry EVER concluded he was wrong in his position that the US should send the military only when, and wherever the UN says? Is he on record, anywhere, saying he was wrong in his 71 interview with the Harvard Crimson? If not, and if he doesn't, he's on record as stating he will subvert the soverignity of the US to an unelected, unaccountable foreign body. He's unelectable on that alone. Heck, even if he states tomorrow that he was wrong and doesn't feel that way now, he still has to contend with this past year of deferring to the "greatness" of the UN.

Here is my, admittedly over-simple and kind of stupid, litmus test for a presidential canidate:
Does this man (until a woman runs I'm going to keep the nouns sexist because it's my litmus test dangit) believe that the US is the greatest country in the world, and that there is no treasure too great to spend or blood too great to sacrifice, to defend what has been built?

Despite Bush's flaws and mistakes (occasionly grevious mistakes), he has shown that he'd be willing to stand against the world to defend the United States. John Kerry's words and deeds make me think he wouldn't be able to defend the US from Kofi Annan.

Posted by: SSG B at March 3, 2004 12:43 PM

Time, harry, time. It takes time. You want everything now. But you're absolutely right. Something needs to be done about Iran, and to a lesser extent, Syria very soon.

Regarding explanation of the foreign policy, that's a reasonable charge also. But you have to remember that this is an election year and the WoT can be lost by losing the election. Detailed foreign policy pronouncements must be very carefully couched in terms especially with the withering attacks from the Left.

The only "pitch" that you mentioned flying by was Israel/Palestine "negotiations". In the absence of any movement on the "Roadmap" particularly on reducing or eliminating terrorist attacks, many have given up on talking. And not least of all Sharon who has obviously decided that the wall is the answer. And, it's working. Now we hear that the Palestinian civil war has already begun. There are now demonstrations in the streets against Afafat's PLO. They want an end to it.

Agreed, Harry, but those pitches are not flying by.

Posted by: Loren at March 3, 2004 12:43 PM

Oberon

Why did they want to invade Iraq. For a number of reasons, one to make a lesson to all that wish us ill, that we were not going to take it anymore. 2. We need to drain the swamp of oppression that breeds terrorists who willingly die for thier "cause". 3. We needed to get a handle on the nuclear black market. We had known for years that Pakistan was trading in nuclear weapon designs and such but a. didn't care and b. were in no real place to do anything about it. And then there were the defiance of UN, wmds, terrorists connections etc. The suprising thing is the case was hard to make as the only case you can't publicly state is the use of Iraq as a leverage point for our military. And now I will go slow for you. Saudi Arabia is a big supplier of terrorism, with all of thier petro dollars, but to invade/regime change them first makes no sense unless world depression after disruption of SA oil is a goal, especially with Venuzuela having internal problems. So Iraq - with all that oil, underproducing in that oil for palace and bribes program, a little regime change won't cause that big of disruption in global marketplace. And now they are ramping up production. Suddenly SA is no longer such a valuable friend, We have stable military bases poised where once we finish handing off of Security to Iraquis, we can now pressure Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Libya has folded its tent. Have the Bushies been perfect, hell no, mistakes were made and guess what, mistakes will continue to be made, but we will muddle through. So Afganistan is slowly improving and so is Iraq and Libya is making nice and NK is still talking and SA and Pakistan are cracking down on thier terrorists, syria is trying to play nicer with Israel, the PLO is going broke, Iran is teetering. And this is a flawed policy. To me it seems like incredible, creative destruction at its best. Is the war over, no, are we assured victory, no. Will we suffer another terrorist attack, quite possibly. But we are at the turning of the tide, America woke up on 9/11 and decided they were still strong. Kerry woke up on 9/11 and vowed to fight our enemies, on 9/12 well at least round them up, 9/13 make them uncomfortable 9/14 vote for war 9/15 but not to actually do it. Frankly Kerry is an unserious man w/o a backbone.

Posted by: Kevin at March 3, 2004 12:48 PM

Suppose I invent a machine wich makes shoes for 1/2 the current cost and drives shoe makers out of business. Is this good?

Now suppose the Chinese are willing to work like dogs to feed their families and will reduce the cost of shoes by 1/2 is this bad?

Economically there is no way to tell the better machine from the cheaper Chinese.

Marx said capitalism was a brutal system and the best hope for improving the lot of mankind. I think he was right on both counts.

Posted by: M. Simon at March 3, 2004 12:49 PM

Kevin,

I concur.

Excellent points.

Even in hind sight there is no perfect poicy because it assumes your opponent will not react differently. Actually humans is perverse. When pressed they often do tthe opposite. When left alone they do as they damn well please.

Posted by: M. Simon at March 3, 2004 12:54 PM

For Scott: Congrats on the soon-to-be daughter, and welcome to the Parent Club. The dues are high, but the benefits are amazing... :-)

That said, as a 40-something woman living in the US, I can honestly say I've never felt "under attack" even momentarily, let alone constantly, at least in the cultural, societal sense. Under attack from individuals, male AND female, sure. But threatened simply because of my gender in daily life? Are you kidding me? Reproductive rights are only a small part of the issues that concern me, and that's the only aspect of women's rights that the Bush administration has made any changes to. Removing a very specific, seldom-used method of abortion from the slate of available procedures is hardly on a par with, oh, revoking our rights to vote, or drive, or own property, or manage our own legal affairs, or marry/divorce without a man's permission, or hold jobs and elected offices, or...

There are far bigger issues facing women than terminating undesired pregnancies, I assure you. We still struggle with body image, thanks to a media culture saturated by the perfect. We still struggle with wage inequities, despite enormous progress made on that front. We still struggle with domestic violence, again despite great advances. The prospect of losing my right to an easy, cheap abortion really doesn't weigh on me, to be honest.

Even a complete revocation of Roe v. Wade, follwed by sweeping anti-abortion legislation in every state of the Union would not place me "under attack." I would still have contraceptive options to prevent pregnancy, should I not desire it, and there are various options following a rape to prevent implantation from ever occurring, thereby mitigating the need for abortion. Abortion is very much a last option, except for a few misguided souls who use it in lieu of decent contraception, and so outlawing it only removes the last stop on a complex route. I'd fight any such change to the end, but should it happen, I wouldn't consider myself under attack.

All parents want to make the world better and safer for their children. I know I sure do. And that's one reason why, despite the deep misgivings I have about Bush on a whole host of domestic issues, you can mark me down in the "war bloc." Because I know that Western civilization, as exemplified by the US and like-mided countries such as the UK, Canada, etc., provides my daughter with the most options, the most freedom, the highest standards of health and wealth, and the best chance for a long, happy, fulfilled life available anywhere in the world. Our opponents in the war on terror want to change that, and I'll be damned if I'll ignore that fact. If the Democrats had a platform that included something besides "the opposite of anything Shrub does," I might consider it. But they don't, so I won't.

And yes, I'm a registered Dem. Actually worked for the Clinton campaign, on a local level. I never left my party, but it sure feels as though it's left me, lately. I hope it changes in time for '08.

donna

Posted by: donna at March 3, 2004 12:55 PM

Mark, Staat, whatever your name is:
Others have pointed this out on this thread, abortion means nothing when Islamic law doesn't let you out of the house.

This nonsensical sentence must have been written by someone in the middle of a moronic panic attack. I think you need a Bogart-like slap across the face to snap out of it. WTF are you trying to say here? If we don't have Bush as our "defender of evil", then were in danger of becoming an Islamo-fascist state? My stomach still hurts from laughter. I don't think I connected the dots wrong on that statement. Totten's wriggles with the best of them AND he isn't even running for office. I guess to fit into that pundit niche of "reformed lefty" I guess this is what one has to say. What ever shall he do when he finds out that niche has no more room? Even the beloved Dennis Miller is finding that niche crowded. His dull MSNBC show is curently being "retuned".

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 01:04 PM

"defender of evil" should read "defender against evil"

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 01:06 PM

Shorter Kevin: It's all about oillllllll!

And something about bombing Venezuela.

Posted by: Oberon at March 3, 2004 01:09 PM

Bush is going to tie Kerry into a little pretzel.

Posted by: David at March 3, 2004 01:14 PM

Bush is going to tie Kerry into a little pretzel.

... and then choke on the pretzel. Couldn't resist.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 01:17 PM

Oberon

Pretty funny, but Its not all about oil, its about islamic nut jobs who like to kill americans and jews, so the question is what are we going to do about that. We can take the war to our enemies, uproot the causes of thier mindset and plant freedom and liberty. In the short term, things get destroyed, people die. Or we can take the defensive approach, allow our enemies take the war to us and hope we catch them, and we will catch most of them, but some will get through. But we have tried plan B, there is a great big freaking whole in NYC so you know what that doesn't work so well. Kerry believes plan B works well, so he is not to be taken seriously. Its not about oil, its about killing terrorists before they can try and kill us, I like that equation better, the oil is just a bonus.

Posted by: Kevin at March 3, 2004 01:24 PM

Well, that does it. This thread is so "over".
Bye.

PS. donna, agreed, but you're oversimplifying and don't see the "slippery slope".

bye, again.

Posted by: Loren at March 3, 2004 01:25 PM

I don't quite understand how diverting troops from battling UBL and the boys who attacked the WTC to go after a has been dictator without WMD advances the fight against terrorism. I am at a loss to see how killing 500+ Americans to advance a Shiite state in Iraq makes us one bit safer. I am puzzled as to how the "Uniter" who divided us so completely, the one who was going to have a "humble" foreign policy that avoided "nation-building" has produced a coherent foreign policy. All the Bushies are saying is that they have done a bang up job at this and we should take their word for it. Totten, your head is in a fishbowl. Kerry may not be much, but he's twice the leader GWB turned out to be.

Posted by: Brock at March 3, 2004 01:29 PM

Graham: I guess to fit into that pundit niche of "reformed lefty" I guess this is what one has to say.

Fuck you.

You have no idea how much I hate the fact that I'm a Bush supporter. It's causing me a great deal of personal distress, and my wife and I are arguing about it.

Now, why don't you go have your cute little arguments with other people who don't take the world seriously. You'll fit in better over there. I'm not kicking you out. This is just some advice.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 01:30 PM

Michael:

I don't know where all these trolls come from and why they end up here. Maybe it's just that getting linked on Instapundit means that such a great number will see the post that there will be a certain number of trolls just because of the sheer volume of traffic.

Anyway, you're a thoughtful and reasonable guy, and you treat most of these jerks with a lot more respect than they deserve. If my blog got a lot of moronic and/or abusive comments I would probably lose my temper a lot more or just adopt a zero tolerance policy and delete stuff and ban people all over the place.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 01:39 PM

Michael,

You might want to show this to your wife the next time you talk about Kerry vs. Bush. Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle asked Senator Kerry a straight forward question on why he voted for the last Gulf War authorization resolution.

This is what she wrote about it:

Kerry's complicated exfoliation
Debra J. Saunders
Wednesday, March 3, 2004
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback | FAQ

URL: sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/03/03/EDGVG5CFUG1.DTL

"Kerry's answer was that Washington insiders believed that Bush didn't mean what he said. "I think that you had a hard-line group (then Pentagon adviser) Richard Perle, (Deputy Defense Secretary) Paul Wolfowitz and probably (Vice President Dick) Cheney. But when Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker (former advisers to the first President Bush) weighed in, very publicly in op-eds in the New York Times and the (Washington) Post, the chatter around Washington and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell in particular, who was very much of a different school of thought, was really that the president hadn't made up his mind. He was looking for an out. That's what a lot of people thought."

What about what Bush said to the U.N.? That was "rhetorical," Kerry answered. And "a whole bunch of very smart legitimate people" not running for president thought as he did. "So most people, actually on the inside, really felt that (Bush) himself was looking for the way out to sort of satisfy Cheney, satisfy Wolfowitz, but not get stuck." Kerry continued, "The fact that he jumped and went the other way, I think, shocked them and shocked us."

So Kerry was "misled" because he believed that Bush didn't mean what Bush said."

and

"The scariest part is that Kerry looked as if he believed what he said. He had noted that all of his fears of where Bush might err turned out to be right. At the same time, Kerry asserted that his vote for military force made it "harder" for Bush to go to war."

In so many words, President Bush deceived Kerry by telling him the truth.

Posted by: Trent Telenko at March 3, 2004 01:44 PM

Welcome to Bush '04 Michael.

I know I fell one hell of a lot better knowing that my political party, and President, appeals to wavering independants rather than calling them names and insulting their motives.

The hesitant nod of a cautious independent is worth more than ten partisian voters any day. Hopefully Bush will continue to earn your vote. If he does not, I will be one of his many firm supporters wanting to know why he isn't rather than berrating the individual who finds themselves unable to vote for him.

The political party that finds itself forcing its members to conform to its standards rather than changing itself to mirror the needs of the day is a dead party. I feel for the Democrats who have taken this approach by demanding loyality oaths (A.B.B.) and blasting anyone who does not tow the line. At the same time, I'm glad the Republican party is able to appeal - and hopefully can continue to change - to suit the needs of those who find themselvs politically homeless.

Posted by: Roark at March 3, 2004 01:49 PM

Michael, don't let the bastards get you down. What Graham's doing is a standard part of the extremist's (whether left or right) playbook. If you can't attack the other person's arguments, attack their motivations, and if that doesn't work, start calling them names.

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 3, 2004 01:53 PM

I try to be funny, usually fail. Seriously though:

Its not all about oil, its about islamic nut jobs who like to kill americans and jews, so the question is what are we going to do about that.

Agreed

We can take the war to our enemies, uproot the causes of thier mindset and plant freedom and liberty.

Agreed

In the short term, things get destroyed, people die.

Life ain't fair.

Or we can take the defensive approach, allow our enemies take the war to us and hope we catch them, and we will catch most of them, but some will get through.

Well, I think we need both a defensive approach and an offensive approach.

But we have tried plan B, there is a great big freaking whole in NYC so you know what that doesn't work so well.

Well, no. To me that mean we need improvements in our defense to go with the offense. Like fully funding homeland security.

Kerry believes plan B works well, so he is not to be taken seriously.

Here's where you lose me. Kerry supported the invasion of Afghanistan. He supports killing terrorists.

Its not about oil, its about killing terrorists before they can try and kill us, I like that equation better, the oil is just a bonus.

Agreed.

Posted by: Oberon at March 3, 2004 01:54 PM

Trent: You might want to show this to your wife the next time you talk about Kerry vs. Bush.

My wife is with me on foreign policy and doesn't need any convincing.

Her best friend for life is gay and he is getting "married" this summer. He was in our wedding.

My wife is so viscerally repulsed by Bush's attitude about this that she cannot forgive him. And I don't blame her for a second.

Bush made his re-election personal for her. She feels the president of the United States spit in her best friend's face. And she gave me a look last night after I posted this that I never want to see on her face again.

So Graham really can just fuck off if he thinks I'm making my decision lightly to get attention, or whatever it is he thinks I'm doing here. I care a lot more about what my wife thinks than what anyone else in this world thinks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 02:00 PM

Eric Deamer
If my blog got a lot of moronic and/or abusive comments I would probably lose my temper a lot more or just adopt a zero tolerance policy and delete stuff and ban people all over the place.

Honestly, this is why Totten gets the comments he does. He should never ban anyone no matter how many times they pour salt into his wounds. What you described is what happens at FreeRepublic.com. Do you want to end up like Freepers? Just have a look at their forums. It is REALLY scary. This is discussion. If Totten wants to tell me to fuck off. That's fine, but the minute he starts banning people then he is contradicting the values and ideals he so dearly loves.

Totten:
Fuck you.

Fuck me? Totten, I wish you could see the light. I wish you could see that national security can be handled by someone other than GWB and the Republican party. If that is your one "hot button topic", then how much must be stacked on the other side of the scale to swing the balance? Patriot Acts, constitutional bans on civil liberties, lost jobs and deficits as far as the eye can see don't seem to be enough. Anyway, wishing it isn't going to make that happen, so I will be here whenever I have a free moment reminding you what you are turning your back on. Get used to it. And don't think for a moment that I don't take this stuff seriously. I'll put my money where my mouth is when it comes time.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 02:03 PM

Graham,

Thanks for steering the conversation back to substance. I'll apologize for my profanity in the hopes that you understand why I said it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 02:07 PM

Michael Totten: "You have no idea how much I hate the fact that I'm a Bush supporter."

That's silly. Why should it cause you "distress"? If you agree with the Republicans, then run with it. To hell with the politically correct expectations of your liberal buddies. They're the ones that are stagnant, unable to grasp the impact of current events, and their party's inability to deal with them. They're the fools, not you. They should apologize for placing their loyalty to party before the good of the country, not you. You need to let go of the silly notion that being "liberal" or "Democrat" equals being "enlightened" or "high minded". This notion has been crap since the 70s. Get with the program. This isn't your dad's GOP.

Posted by: David at March 3, 2004 02:14 PM

Oberon

Kerry supported the war in Afghanistan, he had no choice, he voted for the war in Iraq but did not think bush would do it, then trashed the efforts (its a quagmire, no planning etc) voted to withhold rebuilding money. He has come out and said that he thinks that Terrorism threat is overblown and its more a police and intelligence operation (funny that he votes to cut that funding back in the day) so I think its a fair statement to say that Kerry is in option 2 camp.

In my opinion - Iraq is a strategic move in the war on terror, it cuts out a cancer, strives to move ME away from despots and thugs. It strikes fear in our enemies, hey when the going gets tough we don't go, we redouble our efforts.

To go back and treat this as a law enforcement issue, is to go back to the Clinton years of legalistic operation orders and millions of reasons to not do something. Clinton had the luxury because the one attack on American soil didn't kill that many people, the rest of the attacks were over seas. Post 9/11 we don't have that luxury. Bush has set the agenda - freedom and liberty to ME. Kerry has no foriegn policy agenda, his domestic policies are just as bad as Bush (I am personally waiting for the Lock Box to re-appear). Iraq was a dangerous place, ME is full of dangerous places, we can ignore and hope for the best or we can try to change things - Iraq was the best place for a host of reasons. If the terrorists get another shot in, lets say Nuking a major city (not un-realistic but hopefully not probable)what is the response.
I don't want to get there.

Posted by: Kevin at March 3, 2004 02:18 PM

What you described is what happens at FreeRepublic.com. Do you want to end up like Freepers? Just have a look at their forums. It is REALLY scary. This is discussion

I've never been to FreeRepublic.com so I don't know what you're talking about. I prefer discussions which steer clear of bullying,over-the-top rhetoric, and personal insults. The fact that you think that's part of "discussion" is what's scary.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 02:19 PM

Here's why so many people hate Bush. He has balls. The man stands up to the rest of the world regardless of what the hell they think. He isn't ashamed to be a practicing Christian and talk it about it on occassion. It takes gonads to fight the UN and the godless left simultaneously. The left simply cannot stand a man of true inner strength and character. And if you don't think Bush has character, you don't know him. He is devout, humble and deeply patriotic. All are traits that the left likes to piss on.

Posted by: probity at March 3, 2004 02:25 PM

Thanks for steering the conversation back to substance. I'll apologize for my profanity in the hopes that you understand why I said it.

Profanity I can handle. Banning would be unforgivable but then you would never hear about it since, well I was banned.

I had a nightmare not long ago about Bush. Don't want to go into detail but the point is, that I too think about this stuff all the time.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 02:27 PM

David: Why should it cause you "distress"?

It must be nice to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious, where nothing ever challenges you or makes you think. But I don't live in that world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 02:29 PM

Eric:
The fact that you think that's part of "discussion" is what's scary.

So which of your "rules" have I violated? I questioned motivations. That is not an ad-hominem attack. Anyway, Michael can well defend himself without your help. Good day.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 02:33 PM

Graham:

I don't pretend to make the rules or to be defending Michael. I'm merely pointing out your inarguably churlish behavior. (FWIW, I generally think questioning motivations is a very poor way to argue, because unless you're omniscient, you can't claim to know anyone else's motivation, and a poor motivation could lead to a good result and vice versa, and, well, many other reasons). Ultimatley, it makes no difference to me. It's you who is undermining your own points with these lame tactics.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 02:41 PM

Graham: I questioned motivations.

Yes, and that's what set me off. What you did was indirectly call me a liar, and suggested that I only hold my opinions to get attention, or that my opinions are dictated to me by some nebulous "pundit niche."

If all I wanted was attention or a safe "pundit niche" I would be a partisan blowhard like Rush Limbaugh or Atrios. That model works much better, and it takes a lot less intellectual energy. I wouldn't have to learn anything new, I could just mouth off and cash checks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 02:45 PM

Michael, re: the look on your wife's face. My condolences.

But, Kerry isn't much better on that particular issue. I'm not certain that it should be an issue at all, if certain groups weren't so up-in-arms about it -- and both sides forcing their views on the populace as a whole.

At least the FMA is going to a vote, where it will most likely fail -- as it should. I hope this spawns new bills in every state advocating a vote on the issue, so that the people may decide for their own states, instead of having something pushed on them from on-high. From either end.

I would love to have a sincere conversation with a person that is pro-gay-marriage that doesn't devolve into wisecracks about right-wing-fundies. What's the big deal? Why demand "marriage"? Are civil unions insufficient? Is the big issue wanting to joing the "married couples" club? Is this much different from boys wanting to join the girl's lacrosse team? Why all the hoopla over the "married" label?

I personally don't think there's any reason why gay couples shouldn't be afforded the same rights as anyone else, but I don't understand why the big push now. If gays are going to reject the "old fashioned" moral structures that believe homosexuality to be a sin and an abomination, why would they also want validation by means of an "old fashioned" institution?

Disclaimer : I think the state should get completely out of the marriage business. I am such an extremist that believe any X number of consenting adults should be allowed to enter into civil union with any other X consenting adults.

On another note re: the slippery slope argument. The slippery slope is only a danger when combined with the inevitability of gravity. If, somehow, RvW were overturned, would the next logical step be to turn women back into chattel?

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 02:46 PM

Note to self. It is wrong to question Michael Totten's motivations. I shall write this 100 times on a blackboard.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 02:51 PM

{{My wife is so viscerally repulsed by Bush's attitude about this that she cannot forgive him. And I don't blame her for a second. }}

Excuse me, but how can one get "viscerally repulsed" by the simple suggestion that maybe the constitution needs to codify what human history always took to be the definition of marriage? Is this position really so outlandish as to justify visceral repulsion? Doesn't such a reaction seem a might, uh, over the top? Michael, would your mother and father have taken this position 30 years ago? My guess is that 30 years ago 98% of the US population would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. How can the mere passage of 30 years create and justify such "repulsion"?

Posted by: Ariel at March 3, 2004 02:52 PM

Michael Totten: "You have no idea how much I hate the fact that I'm a Bush supporter."

No need to panic Mr Totten. Your liberalism will overcome your fears, I suspect you will return to the fold before November. :)

Posted by: Ted L. at March 3, 2004 02:56 PM

Ariel: How can the mere passage of 30 years create and justify such "repulsion"?

My wife and I are both 33 years old. That's why.

Respect for gay people is totally ingrained in every fiber of our psyches. The fact that we have gay friends in stable relationships makes this personal for both of us. Don't insult my friends and expect me to be quiet about it.

If you argue that if our gay friend Ezra marries his boyfriend that men will soon marry their dogs, yes, that's a pretty big insult. Think about it. Ezra was in our wedding. How could I not be in his? Do you expect me to spit in his face as the president has?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 03:07 PM

The reason Bush must be re-elected is because the new American foreign policy must be solidified so it survives a change of administration or even party. At this point a Kerry victory will be a repudiation of everything accomplished so far based on Kerry's statements and the Democratic positions. They have shown visverally that they do not understand or accept the deep strategic change Bush is pursuing. To me, they have shown a laughable lack of seriousness, simply parrying each and everything with glib soundbites. (Maureen Dowd being the classic example) We cannot return to the old ways or we are finished. But this new battle may take longer than the Cold War and must survive the inevitable setbacks and lulls. It must survive the defeat of a president or a switch of party. Bush's task over the next 4 years, if he wins, will be to accomplish this in much the manner Truman consolidated the new approach post WWII. This is why I support President Bush (other issues such as economic and trade policy matter also but even without that I would support Bush) I imagine Michael's reasoning is the same. Maybe in 4 years he can go back to voting Democrat. And BTW, my early prediction is that Bush will win in an electoral landslide comparable to Clinton-Dole. New York and California will be in play even if they ultimately go Democrat. You can save this for November.

Posted by: Doug at March 3, 2004 03:08 PM

You know, I'm reminded of the old joke -- a Democrat is a Republican that hasn't been mugged yet.

America's been mugged, and quite a few people are reordering their priorities.

From what I've noticed (purely anecdotal evidence) it's the people that don't believe we are at war at all that are the most virulently anti-Bush. Those that do tend to be more supportive of Bush, even if they have to hold their noses a bit -- because they recognize that while they may debate social policy and disagree vehemently with conservatives, it is certainly nice to have the freedom to debate in security.

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 03:11 PM

bkw,

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

:)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 03:14 PM

You're a perfect example of the inadequacy of labels. Conservatives are supposed to embrace the "Christian Right"? And follow to the letter a long, contrived list?

Christopher Hitchens saw the light not too long ago, and left the Left. He believes in calling a spade an instrument for digging in the earth. Has his faults, but ideological tunnel vision isn't one of them. And now you're on that road. May the road rise to meet your feet, &c, &c., &c.

"He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice."

Everyone will notice, and everyone will be sore amazed, saying, "Good grief! I never woulda believed it!!" (Consider, for example the wealth of legislation he got passed in his 19 years in the Senate.)

In the next 6 months, Kerry's got a whole lot of 'splainin' to do.

And a split ticket is probably the best thing. A Congress that can't just rush things through is less likely to cause trouble. Let's keep the two sides just one vote apart, where they can't hurt anyone.

Posted by: Mike at March 3, 2004 03:16 PM

Wow...140-some posts, already. What's your "comment" record, Michael? Somehow I'm thinking you're about to shatter it.

As for the merits of the Bush endorsement, I dunno man. There's so much to dislike about the guy. He's great on the War on Terror, but the President sets the agenda for sooooo much more and I dunno if I can swallow 4 more years of it. Especially the Amendment crap. If Bush really pushes for it, it might actually stand a chance of getting through. Public opposition to it in a recent poll was down to like 35%.

I hear ya on the whole "each party gets some things right...and somethings wrong" thing, though. Makes it really hard to passionately vote for any of them, however. And that kind of sucks. Again, I say, we need a centrist party.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 3, 2004 03:18 PM

Perhaps some of the knee-jerk reactionism going on is because of the desire of a group of people to redefine "marriage" to include a set of folks who the other set don't believe the word should apply to.

If "marriage" has always, throughout human history, referred to men and women, is not this man/man or woman/woman pairing something new? Why shouldn't it have its own name?

If the same rights and whatnot can be afforded by certain legal procedures to a man/woman union as a X/X union, then does that not qualify as equal protection?

I think quite a bit of the friction stems from a group demanding validation and recognition from all and sundry ... and not all of the sundry are so willing to give it.

Michael, can you understand the viceral revulsion people feel when NAMBLA demands to be taken seriously?

Not everyone has the ingrained respect for others that you do. Using the courts to force that respect has, and will, backfire. Or so I'd argue. I'd like to be wrong.

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 03:20 PM

PS...

I for one am thoroughly stoked by your "profanity". It's a nice change of pace. :)

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 3, 2004 03:21 PM

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

Bravo! I hadn't heard the later dichotomy, but it's magnificent!

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 03:22 PM

Public opposition to it in a recent poll was down to like 35%

If the "public" wants to make such changes, shouldn't the "public" be allowed to? Is this not a Republic?

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 03:25 PM

Grant: I say, we need a centrist party.

Grant, I'm beginning to like you more and more.

What I can't get over is that many of those who are solidly in one camp don't seem to understand the concept of a centrist. The other day I defended gay marriage on this site while some were saying some rather bizarre things (I won't bother going into it) about those who would defend gay marriage.

Meanwhile, over at Matthew Yglesias' site I'm being called a "Republican troll" and at Atrios' site someone complained that I had "stained" a thread with my comment.

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 3, 2004 03:30 PM

bkw: Michael, can you understand the viceral revulsion people feel when NAMBLA demands to be taken seriously?

Of course. And that's not because I'm a centrist.

Gender and sexual orientation has nothing to do with why NAMBLA is repulsive. My gay friends are just as repulsed as I am.

I am heterosexual, obviously, but I don't think it's a good idea for a man my age to have sex with a seven year old girl.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 03:34 PM

My point was that that revulsion is the same as some people feel about gays and their demands for equality.

In hindsight NAMBLA was a poor choice to compare and contrast; I was throwing out something I was pretty sure you'd feel strongly about and chose poorly (for subconscious, if not overt, overtones, if nothing else). I apologize.

I should have chosen, say, the KKK instead.

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 03:42 PM

Regarding change and hypocrisy:

> Having known Micheal for a few years, I'd have to
> say he has slowly changed over the years.

The speed of change seems somewhat beside the point. A better defense of Michael is to note that he's quite upfront about having changed; that 9/11 in particular caused him to revise some of his views.

In contrast, where has Kerry ever said he was wrong about Vietnam, that in the light of Cambodia and the boat people he now regrets his earlier opposition? If he's said something like this, I've sure missed it!

And Michael, perhaps I shouldn't pick a minor nit in what is otherwise such an interesting discussion (despite the trolls), but Dennis Prager would doubtless be surprised to find himself part of the "Christian Right".

Posted by: Kirk Parker at March 3, 2004 04:00 PM

Am I the only one who doubts whether Kerry would have gone to war in Afghanistan post 9/11 had he been president?

Posted by: lewy14 at March 3, 2004 04:07 PM

Am I the only one who doubts whether Kerry would have gone to war in Afghanistan post 9/11 had he been president?

If it was politically expedient to go to war, I think Kerry may have done so. But I find it more likely that he would have demanded that the UN find and arrest the extremely rude people that plotted 9/11.

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 04:15 PM

This started out with the Bush endorsement and now has moved over to gay marriage somehow... so I'll throw in my two cents.

Some argue that opinion polls don't support gay marriage. Well, I have seen polls (CNN, non-scientific) that say that more people oppose an amendment banning gay marriage than support it. Asking the question one way or the other can dramatically change the poll result. So polls are bullshit.

Others say we should have a vote. Well, this merely invites the "tyranny of the majority" on an issue that is fundamentally a personal choice. There was probably a point in the history of America where if it had been left to a vote, slavery would have been upheld by the majority. Just because most people believe something doesn't make it right.

Finally you get some that say gay marriages "invalidate" hetero marriages. Give me a freakin' break. If your straight marriage is so weak that it can't be "valid" because Bob and Dave down the street are married, then it wasn't a very solid marriage. If anything invalidates marriage, it is divorce, but you don't see anyone calling for a constitutional amendment banning divorce do you?

The constitution is a "Bill of Rights". Not a list of banned activities. The declaration of independence has words like "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and "unalienable rights". How can we then amend the constitution to deny those liberties to a group of people just because some of our citizens don't like them? It is a cynical act by a divisive president who doesn't deserve the title.

End of discussion. Have a good day. That's an order.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 04:20 PM

MT, gotta disagree with you on the anger at Bush re: gay marriage (and your wife's lividness, and the lividness of one of my best friends, who has just decided not to vote for Bush because Bush opposes his marriage). It's pretty hard to maintain that anyone who opposes gay marriage is bigoted. This is an issue on which people can reasonably disagree. The arguments against gay marriage ultimately fail, but they have some initial weight of plausibility. I think you're overreacting, and your wife and my friend's lividness is over the top.

Posted by: Jim at March 3, 2004 04:33 PM

It must be nice to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious,

Michael,

it's called having balls. You should try it sometime.

Posted by: David at March 3, 2004 04:39 PM

Grant, there will never be a centrist party for the simple reason that there are no passionate moderates. I moved over from the Democrats to the Republicans back in the Reagan years, and went through the same agonies that Michael has described. The good news is that part of it is just Democratic-conditioning; you'll quickly learn that Republicans are not intolerant bigots just itching for an opportunity to restore segregation.

Yes, we have the CC crowd, but they don't have a huge influence on the party EXCEPT where they've got the right ideas.

The gay marriage issue is a tough one. If people think Bush is sooooo intolerant, then why is it that Kerry gets a pass on his stated opposition to gay marriage? Is it because you know he's lying?

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 3, 2004 04:43 PM

I see your current frustration with the gay marriage issue, where you feel like the president spit in your face, and I'd like to explain why I
feel it's not the president, but part of the gay community that spit in the American ppl's face..

I've watched for the last 15 years, as gay friends of mine went from living in self-doubting, almost suicidal fear of admitting what they were, to the point now where they are proud of who they are. Where they feel comfortable expressing their affections in public and discussing themselves openly with others when the topic arises.

I've watched this, because American society has truly changed wrt this topic. People who back 10 years wouldn't have wanted to be in the same room as a gay man, now don't allow that to bother them. They've graduated from fear to acceptance, in my opinion, and I think that's great. Society as a whole was really moving forward on this, with even many of the far-right ministers no longer desiring to bring out this issue (sure, some always will, but the majority had definately changed their tune).. again, happy to see this.

Just recently, some states were even legislating for the full realisation of civil union for gays. Massive progress!!

But for some, it was not enough. I cannot emphasize my frustration that some portion of the gay community continually demanded to be given the same designation of married. That civil union, which addressed all the actual legal issues I had seen campaigned for, was not enough. They wanted "the word" .. when I was younger, in school I was taught to pick my battles carefully. When things are going in your favor, when society is coming to acceptance of who you are and what you choose, you should take what you can get, but not push things too hard.

This is where I felt like part of that community spit in my face. They pushed and pushed on an over-sensitive topic, and brought out all the far-right people who otherwise were backing off the gay issue.
In an election year, they chose to make this an issue, when they did not have to. They chose to stoke the fire.

If they had just accepted the civil unions, and waited a few more years as acceptance went even farther (or even,
waited until a more agreeable group was
in office), the gains to have been realized would have been exceptional. Instead, they've added one more hot issue to the ticket this year, and I suspect, will cause a lot of ill will among people like me, who up until now had felt really good about all this :(

I cannot remember the exact quote here, but it's paraphrased something like "No one can destroy a group better than that group"..

Posted by: Dave at March 3, 2004 05:11 PM

Dave:
But for some, it was not enough.

First rule of bargaining, ask for more than you want, then maybe you'll actually get what you want.

Posted by: Graham at March 3, 2004 05:16 PM

Kirk: Dennis Prager would doubtless be surprised to find himself part of the "Christian Right".

Yeah, I know. He's Jewish. He's part of the Religious Right.

I have no problem with Judaism or Islam or Christianity, but a person who adheres to one of those religions better respect my secularism. Because otherwise I'll throw it right back at them. If Prager wants a verbal war with me, he'll get it. If Islamic fundamentalists want a physical war, then I can't wait until they get a bullet in the face.

Jim: I think you're overreacting, and your wife and my friend's lividness is over the top.

Perhaps so, but that's what happens when a president supports discriminatory laws that affect specific individuals because of who they are. Those individuals, their friends, and their families are going to take it personally.

That's the price Bush will have to pay for cranking up the Culture War in war time. People who recently gave him some slack (like my wife, for instance) are fighting mad at him now. He knew that would happen, and he did it anyway.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 05:19 PM

***You can tell me that you personally are not my enemy and that's great. I'll take your word for it.

But Dennis Prager declared war on me yesterday. He is my self-declared enemy.

And that's too bad. Only a few days ago I read one of his articles for the first time and thought it was very good. And then he wrote this piece of garbage.***

Michael, Dennis Prager is a man of extreme thoughtfulness and gentility. He is on the radio in most big cities for 2 or 3 hours a day and you will not find a more decent, polite and humble radio host. He has written a number of books, all of them highly reflective of his gentle and decent nature. For you to suggest that he has delcared war on you because you disapprove of his defense of traditional marriage only serves to make you out to be a hot-headed 30 something who jumps to conclusions based on emotion and prejudice rather than thoughtful reasoning.

Posted by: Arial at March 3, 2004 05:52 PM

Arial,

Perhaps you didn't read the article by Prager that I linked to.

America is engaged in two wars for the survival of its civilization. The war over same-sex marriage and the war against Islamic totalitarianism are actually two fronts in the same war - a war for the preservation of the unique American creation known as Judeo-Christian civilization. One enemy is religious extremism. The other is secular extremism.

There you have it. I am Dennis Prager's enemy, and I'm accused of trying to destroy Western Civilization.

You say he is decent, polite, and humble. I'm not seeing it.

What do you think of a leftist who screeches that conservatives are the fascist enemies of humanity? Do you feel like such a person is a potential comrade of yours?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 3, 2004 06:04 PM

I imagine there are literally millions of Americans who distance themselves from Prager's remark, aren't homophobic, but are persuaded by arguments against gay marriage.

Posted by: Jim at March 3, 2004 06:32 PM

So, what are Praeger's views on divorce? His language is that of a sanctimonious wind-bag.

Posted by: eric at March 3, 2004 07:25 PM

You know, Michael, if you had judged George W. Bush on the foreign policy he enunciated during the GOP primary campaign in 2000 - or even more so what he said during the election campaign, you would have written him off for ever more.

If you honestly think that Kerry or any other senior Democrat is indifferent to American security, and would not prosecute the war on terror if elected to office, then you're a gullible fool. And if you regard statements made in the course of a primary campaign as definitive of where a person stands on issues, then ditto.

And whichever you are, you could certainly stand to lose a little pomposity.

Posted by: Mork at March 3, 2004 09:29 PM

From a different religious perspective:

I'm a Western Buddhist, and I am afraid that I will not be able to practice my religion freely in the future under the regime of GW Bush. Sure, some Christians may laugh at that, and say that they are the ones being persecuted, but you know, every time I hear that "America is a Christian nation," I cringe. America is a nation that allows its people the freedom to practice (or not practice) whatever religion they so choose.

I would hate to think that the extreme Christian right would want to espouse the same beliefs as the extremist Muslims, by not allowing other beliefs to exist in their midst.

Just food for thought from the other side. I always see this debate framed as Christian America vs. Secular America. I think it goes much deeper than that, when one is afraid of being fired from a job or being persecuted for practicing a religion not sanctioned by the President.

And adding language to our Constitution stating that marriage is only between a man and a woman, based on Biblical beliefs, is just another step toward our country becoming a Christian theocracy.

Posted by: dawn at March 3, 2004 09:45 PM

I don't know whether I should laugh or cry.

1.) Prove the existence of God.
2.) Prove that God does in fact pick sides
3.) Prove a reason why God would be on "our side"?
4.) Prove that the nature of good and evil can be determined objectively.
5.) Prove that God is incapable of evil.

In true politician form Kerry tried to dodge what many would consider to be a silver bullet. For many the question is no doubt very significant. After all there is little doubt among the American populous that there is in fact a God and he caters to the red, white and blue. In fear of trying not to come off as some vile atheist, Kerry attempts to strafe around the question - as doubting the existence of God and his divine preference to the U.S. of A might not go over well with potential voters whom he needs to sway in order to win the presidency. My question, or main objection, is what is good and what is evil? Do good and evil exist as some invisible undetectable entity that transcends the nature of human understanding? How exactly does it work? The question more or less begs the question, but I see no reason to believe in objective good and/or objective evil. Do good and evil exist? I would say yes, but not because they exist anywhere in nature, but rather because we place value on phenomena and label them as being good and evil - thus bringing good and evil into existence. If a star goes nova and takes out the surrounding solar systems around it does that constitute as good or evil? If an earthquake kills 50,000 people is the earthquake's nature objectively good or evil? or simply the result of millions of years worth of geological change. In a universe filled with a wide array of planets, stars, moons, and nebula it would seem strange to me that God would focus his attention on a country in the Milky Way galaxy made up of 300 million people? I'm sorry, but I don't suffer from such chauvinism. On the topic of Democrats seeing the world as complex and the Republicans simple, I think I would have to side with the democrat?s view of the complex world. We exist in a world of over 6 billion people (If I am not mistaken), only 300 million of which live in the USA, even in this country alone we have different people with different desires, ideas for how the government should function, goals, beliefs, etc? and that's not including the other 4.7+ billion people. To say that the world is simple is a complex lie.

Posted by: Kevin Beasley at March 3, 2004 09:55 PM

My sister is gay, and she was very tentatively pro-War on Terror until the Gay Marriage thing came up. Now she's ABB.

I told her I didn't see Gay Marriage as an life or death emergency, but to her it suddenly trumps everything else.

A month ago she said, about the Islamofascists: "I know they'll kill me if they get the chance."

She doesn't care about that now.

Posted by: miklos rosza at March 3, 2004 10:12 PM

First rule of bargaining, ask for more than you want, then maybe you'll actually get what you want.

Second rule of barganing: ask for too much, and you may break the negotiations.

:)

Posted by: bkw at March 3, 2004 10:55 PM

MICHAEL HALL...

"grant, I'm beginning to like you more and more"...

Oddly enough, you're not the first person to say something like this to me lately. Or the second. Or even the third, for that matter. Bizarre, I know. I even got this one the other day, in a personal email, from a guy who heads up some kind of administration in the New York University School of Medicine. Completely blew me away. I'm makin' connections, buddy. Harvard, here I come!

Perhaps, I grow on people...like the plague. Or some kind of really nasty fungus you just learn to live with. Who knows?

Most people I know love me. A few hate my guts. That's life, I suppose. Welcome to the fold. Glad to see you're in the right camp: The pro-me camp. It's a nice place to be.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 3, 2004 10:57 PM

That's the price Bush will have to pay for cranking up the Culture War in war time. People who recently gave him some slack (like my wife, for instance) are fighting mad at him now. He knew that would happen, and he did it anyway.

Bush cranked this culture war up? He started it? What gives him less right to defend the position he believes in? What did you expect from him? For every person like your wife there is some Catholic Blue collar union guy in the rust belt that will appreciate the President though that is not his reasoning. He's the counter balance. Do you really believe he would just have done this at random? He has said it is a rule of law issue.

Face it Michael extreme positions are not just being taken on one side. They were initiated by the other side. Now the very think that makes you appreciate this President is the very thing you hate. Bush is a fighter, when he feels things become too much he reacts. Bush sees a table tipped by the left beyond the reasoning of the reasonable. His hard reaction is just a reaction to counter what appears just as extreme to your counterparts on the right. His response is measured to the very proportion he feels is needed to keep at bay the extreme left, something he views as threatening as you view the right. You both have that right. Ironically the final result will be a policy more in the center of the political spectrum which I believe to be to the right of you and closer to where I am. Had he done nothing we were headed in a direction way to the left of the electorate, he had to act. Michael, also blame those on the left who unwisely fanned the flames in ways that was imprudent to begin with as well. Rule of law and process is important to conservatives, it is as much about that as anything.

Posted by: Samuel at March 3, 2004 11:16 PM

Kevin,

Do good and evil exist? I would say yes, but not because they exist anywhere in nature, but rather because we place value on phenomena and label them as being good and evil - thus bringing good and evil into existence. If a star goes nova and takes out the surrounding solar systems around it does that constitute as good or evil? If an earthquake kills 50,000 people is the earthquake's nature objectively good or evil?

No, but if a man name Osama bin Laden tries to kill 50,000 people in a building that sure is evil. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel whole. That was one of the most amoral rants I've heard in a long time, equating acts of evil to acts of nature, is preposterous and quite frankly, spooky. That is a view the Marxists had. People are just worth no more than inanimate property. Well people can harness nature for good or evil and super-novas just react to nature period, people make value judgements and super-novas can't. That brings responsbily because decisions can and must be made. Maybe you should meet with simplicity in the middle and shake hands.

Posted by: Samuel at March 3, 2004 11:34 PM

America will win the WOT eventually, no matter who is president. John Kerry will fight terrorism, he'll just go about it the wrong way. An ineffective approach could lead to tragically prolonged WOT. But I have little doubt who will win in the end. Neither Bush nor Kerry can guarantee complete safety for Americans or the world.

Nevertheless, Kerry freightens me. He wants to "open up a dialogue" with the Iranian mullahs. He wants to make an offer and deal directly with Kim Jong-il. He will cede the initiative to the Islamic reactionaries.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at March 4, 2004 01:44 AM

Samuel,

Excellent response. However it seems we are still back to square one. What is evil? It seems my question still stands, as too does the question or rather proof of why God would be on "our side"? I hope you or someone else will rise to the challenge.

"That was one of the most amoral rants I've heard in a long time, equating acts of evil to acts of nature, is preposterous and quite frankly, spooky. That is a view the Marxists had."

I'm flattered that I have constructed one of the most amoral rants you've heard in a long time - I think.

"Well people can harness nature for good or evil and super-novas just react to nature period, people make value judgements and super-novas can't."

I like it, however, people harness nature for good and evil -hmmm, this supposes we have free-will, which could be debated. However, assuming we do indeed have free-will, I don't feel you've answered my response of objective good and objective evil vs. good and evil as we conceive it to be. The fact that we make value judgments and tag them onto certain events or phenomena doesn't entail that we are correct in our assumptions. Perhaps we can and do have certain moral convictions about certain things, but as far as grounding them, objectively speaking, in terms of good or evil - I find your response wanting. Although I appreciate it all the same.

1) Assuming God exists, prove he's in fact "on our side"?
2) Ground Good and Evil objectively

Posted by: Kevin Beasley at March 4, 2004 01:45 AM

What frustrates me about the Bush foreign policy is that it makes a grand entrance but doesn't follow through: Afghanistan, minus Kabul, is really a lawless land. Aid workers from relief organizations are constantly targeted, denying the population much needed aid in the countryside. Anti-american and anti-west feelings are constantly fed by madrasah's that spew nothing but hatred in the guise of Islam. Iraq isn't faring much better. There are still many regions in the country that are without electricity and running water for many hours during the day. Hard line clerics like Sadr stir up anti-American feelings on a constant basis. Sistani, the supposed moderate, is pushing for Islamic Sharia to be the basis of Iraqi constitution. I can go on and on....
I applaud Bush for wanting to get rid of dictatorships but what matters to me, as opposed to many on this site, is not that he is waging a war in Afghanistan and Iraq but rather how he follows through. Let's take Afghanistan since more than two years have passed since the country was rid of the Taliban regime. Are we providing Afghanistan with the necessary help it needs to establish a democracy? It is supremely frustrating to see how the opportunity to make Afghanistan into a proving ground for establishment of american ideals is being lost. People preach patience but time is running way short.
I don't see us winning the war on terrorism the way it is being waged now. I really want to but I don't. And hence, I really find fault with people's assertions that the Bush WoT is/will be superior to what Kerry might do. Please note that I am not saying Kerry has the upper hand on the WoT. What I am saying is that this adminstration's policies re WoT are not the slam dunk many seem to believe here.

Posted by: Parsa at March 4, 2004 01:51 AM

Michael, if we abbreviate your name, do you prefer MJ, MJT, or MT?

I'm sorry about your wife. I suppose you've mentioned that Kerry also spits on Exra's marriage, so who should you support? That Clinton signed a federal law against gay marriage? (of course, if all know those Dems don't mean it, perhaps it's OK? But then, is that really rule of law?)

My own wife and I argue about my support for legalizing drugs--we get along OK because we agree on similar values, minimize gang wars, life destruction, how bad drugs are, etc. And note that my view of gov't is to decide when force should be used (pretty much NOT in personal relationships).

Donna wrote nicely about how, even if Roe v Wade was overturned, it wouldn't mean wives were chattel. Ezra can "marry" his lover, and be called married by you, your wife, and all your friends -- even without the legal Oregon marriage license. In fact I urge you to plan on doing so, even it it's not legal, as a form of civil disobedience.

But if you are a secular extremist, you will be supporting too much PC, and too much intolerance. You know that UC Berkeley students oppose free speech by those with pro-Israel views? In fact, if Berman is right that totalitarianism is the problem, the last hundred years should show that secular extremism is the route towards that problem in industrialized countries.

And it gets there by being extremely anti-faith. Including support for Kerry type politicians who mouth pro-God words that most folks (think they) know he doesn't mean.

Similarly, with gay-marriage legal, it's clear that the state will be used to force Catholic Charities to hire such couples on an equal basis with other married folk--clearly spitting on their Catholic beliefs and even forcing them to act contrary to their beliefs. How does a lack of official gay marriage force any gay to act contrary to his or her belief? Secular extremism leads to such state force against believers, and it's already happening in the USA.

More Bush defense: his deficits are huge, but he was successful at avoiding a depression after the dot.com bubble -- today 5.6% unemployment is said by Leftists to be too much, in 1996 it was very good. On the Patriot Act, certainly not perfect, it IS important to get law enforcement tools to go after terrorists. There have been no Waco style overreactions, so comparing Reps & Dems makes Reps look better, in practice.

Keep up the good work of being honest to yourself! Hope we can continue to agree, or disagree, with intelligence. (I try, anyway.) And maybe, probably, with a lot of shared values about what is "good", politically realistic, and what some of the tradeoffs are. I'm kinda big on tradeoffs.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 4, 2004 04:27 AM

Yeah Parsa, follow through seems less than ideal -- but the Dems are complaining about which road is being taken, so arguments about the slow speed are secondary. Unfortunately. The debate would be much better if the Dems came out in favor of GW goals, with a better plan on how to get there. Unless they don't have one, thus think GW is doing the best on this road as can be done, and, therefore, for political reasons, they try to convice voters it's the wrong road.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 4, 2004 04:30 AM

***One enemy is religious extremism. The other is secular extremism.***

Prager is simply announcing the creation of a new front in the ongoing culture wars. For Michael to take it as some sort of personal attack that justifies trashing a very very good man is childish. Should we tear down all statues and references ot George Washington because he approved of slavery?

A mature person evaluates others on more than one paragraph in one column written in the heat of a culture battle. Michael is a hothead with a giant chip on his shoulder looking for issues to get angry about. He reminds me first and foremost of the anti-abortionists who think anyone who promotes an abortion for any reason is working for the devil.

Posted by: Ariel at March 4, 2004 04:58 AM

Do you want the guy that might prevent the...ohh lets say 5% chance we get nuked OR the guy who will give you free health care and show real compassion? I will take a free lunch over the tiny tiny threat of terrorism (which we deserved anyway), which Bush has used to turn us into a dicatorship.

Posted by: Liberalguy at March 4, 2004 06:33 AM

Bus has turned us into a dictatorship?! HAHAHAHAHA! Are you out of your mind, Liberalguy? Or are you still in Junior High School!?

Posted by: RSN at March 4, 2004 07:44 AM

...which Bush has used to turn us into a dicatorship.

Yea, Liberal Guy, loss off freedom is when the other party wins, I felt like that right through the mid-terms when all the people themeselves mandated a solidification of that dictatorship by giving the President back the Senate. Of course after watching Liberal predictions of dire disaster, body bags, and quagmire, I have become the evil neo-con that I am.

But if I swear if John Ashcroft comes into city library one more time and puts my librarian in cuffs I'll be liberal again I swear! Oh and those poor guys in Gitmo? Damn Bush and that dictatorship!

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 07:45 AM

Libral Guy,

I'll add, meanwhile while Bush topples dictatorships, you claim he creates one here. I hope I didn't used to sound like you, somehow I think I did.

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 07:47 AM

Samuel, RSN:
I think Liberalguy is trolling, pretending to be a liberal and making statements that are patently ludicrous. I think its called Mobying, pretending to be an extremist in order to discredit more moderate or rational versions of the same positions.

Of course I could be wrong and he's just a lunatic.

Posted by: sam at March 4, 2004 08:04 AM

Anyone on this thread honestly think that Kerry has a "moral compass" or any deeply held set of fundamental beliefs that informs his positions on the issues? By that I mean a set of beliefs and values that, once understood, could lead someone to predict where he likely stands on any given issue.

Posted by: probity at March 4, 2004 08:39 AM

Kevin,

Are you still staining at that gnat?

However it seems we are still back to square one. What is evil? It seems my question still stands, as too does the question or rather proof of why God would be on "our side"?

And what is obscenity? To me it is two people screwing in a public square. To someone else they might be just expressing their First Amendment rights because they feel "fucked" that John Ashcroft is Attorney General, screaming political rants while they do it. Of course a moral people decide such things, amorality like that super-nova can’t. That is why the Founding Fathers said the Constitution is wholly inadequate for governing an immoral people. Hopefully we haven’t reached that. Kevin actually you answered the question in your first post and then proceeded to dilute a fine point with your amoral rant…

Do good and evil exist? I would say yes, but not because they exist anywhere in nature, but rather because we place value on phenomena and label them as being good and evil

Well I could do without the word phenomena because that leads to the force of nature rant but the premise is thoughtful when referring to the one species that is able to reason such value judgments to begin with, man. Our Founding Fathers would certainly pray we were on the right side and then fight for those beliefs. I believe we are doing that. Evil like obscenity is easier to recognize than define in one sentence. I look at Saadam and to me clearly see evil, George Bush clearly good. With the left, which I used to be part of, they often take the polar extreme opposite tack of the right by morally equivocating. For instance, in the 80’s when many on the left, me included, treated the Soviet Union like a legitimate counter to the U.S. as if their values were just different yet somehow legitimate, equal and we should respect that. Well they were somewhat equal if you viewed each as some force of nature that was colliding in a fixed point in time. Of course they weren’t equal because they weren’t just forces of nature colliding but a collision values, ideas and reason. While both weren’t perfect that is not how to judge, sure America had Slavery, Indian Wars and many other problems. The Soviet Union was responsible for much worse and their idea was not to promote free will which you declare as a debatable idea (I do not), but to squash it. The United States believes in free will and promotes it. At a minimum we are the “Lesser of Two Evils” (I believe more actually) that by default puts God on our side because the good side is where he will be found. You don’t believe he’s with Osama or Saadam do you? I hope you don’t view George Bush as the moral equivalent of Saadam or Osama. Or do you not believe in God and are just picking for trouble?

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 08:42 AM

Sam,

...LiberalGuy is trolling?

You are probably right.

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 08:45 AM

{{{That is why the Founding Fathers said the Constitution is wholly inadequate for governing an immoral people.}}}

Exactly, and since our morality has always been defined by our judeo-christian heritage, the further we move from that heritage the more ungovernable we become.

America's historical strength and resilience came in large measure from a shared set of beliefs grounded in judeo-christian principles. Movements that tend to undermine the notion that we have a shared set of beliefs, such as gay marriage, serve to weaken the ties that bind. Perhaps it is the inevitable result of a population that has gone for several generations without a true "crisis" imposed upon it. Our success in the last 60 years of avoiding any calamitous events that impact the lives of all of us jointly has had the effect of making us less appreciative of just how fragile the American Expirement truly is. Prior generations were tested by the hot sword of deprivation, either through world war or economic disaster. 9/11 bound us all together for a few weeks but memory is short for the masses and the return to business as usual has been depressingly swift.

As a nation we are a victim of our own success. It will truly take a national crisis of some sort for us to realize that we have much more important battles ahead of us than such frivolous and pointlessly divisive nonsense as the re-definition of marriage.

Posted by: Ariel at March 4, 2004 09:17 AM

Since Michael is thinking (WITH a life), instead of pontificating, I had to read some ... Patrick Lasswell.
http://pslasswell.blogspot.com/2004_01_25_pslasswell_archive.html#107542745283255137

A couple of good, relevant, posts about responsible homosexuals and predatory homosexuals (in the military).

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 4, 2004 09:17 AM

Arial: Michael is a hothead with a giant chip on his shoulder looking for issues to get angry about.

It may look that way to you, but that isn't it. I am a very reluctant Bush supporter. And some of his other supporters declare themselves my enemy.

What do you expect me to say about them? Like I asked you earlier, what do you think of leftists who say conservatives are Nazis?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 09:46 AM

MJT,

I agree that..

Michael is a hothead with a giant chip on his shoulder looking for issues to get angry about.

Is a little much. But the "hothead" part, I don't know, you seem to have a little snappyness to your personality, not that that is bad. This you may give into from time to time. You do try however, that is for sure.

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 10:05 AM

Somehow, this does not come as a surprise.

Posted by: Arrow of Paris at March 4, 2004 10:13 AM

Outside some campaign rhetoric what exactly is the difference on foreign policy here?

Posted by: buermann at March 4, 2004 10:25 AM

yeah, big effin surprise michael, you hack.

Posted by: nilsey at March 4, 2004 10:30 AM

Kerry can't make up for a year of petulant carping by paying lip service to me.

Does Kerry know who you are?

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 10:44 AM

I try to remain civil when debating but sometimes I fail when someone either (1) makes no attempt to understand my argument, or (2) worse still, deliberately distorts it. There really is a lot of dishonest argumentation in blogger comment sections.

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 4, 2004 10:46 AM

It must be nice to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious

Isn't that what people like about Bush? His entire foreign policy can be reduced to platitudes. evil, good, madmen, freedom . . .

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 10:50 AM

T-bogg must have just linked me. Trolls from his site are always the most juvenile.

At least you trolls came in at the end of the discussion.

Good day.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 10:55 AM

Damn, you are one great big scared bunch of people. You are voting your fears. I am not afraid of the threat of Islamic terrorism, unless we continue to allow the Republicans to pursue their policies against it - they are feeding into the future of terrorism. We are the freaking United States of America - we could wipe out the whole entire planet if we wanted to.. and you're afraid of a relatively small group of crazy people. No doubt, they can cause some damage, and 9/11 was certainly a huge tragedy of modern times, although historically, there have been far worse scourges upon many populations.

Well, in my mind, continued liberal Democracy is what will win the war on terror. But the Republicans are at war against liberal Democracy.

If you want to see how serious Bush is about his foreign policy, check out how much help and assistance he's given and continues to give to the 9/11 Commission. He doesn't care about how 9/11 happened, and he doesn't care who the perpetrators of 9/11 were. He cares about his wealthy friends and his own butt. He is the most unserious president on ANY issue in my lifetime.

I understand you folks are scared, but you don't have to be. If the U.S. doesn't get too scared and focuses on the real problems at hand, we can solve this problem and continue to be the greatest place to live. If we give in to fear, the terrorists win.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 10:57 AM

{{{It must be nice to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious

Isn't that what people like about Bush? His entire foreign policy can be reduced to platitudes. evil, good, madmen, freedom . . .}}}

His refusal to view the world in nothing but shades of gray is, to many, a virtue. One of the lefts biggest conceits is to equate indecesiveness with intellectualism. The ability to see through the clutter and take action is one of the many reasons Bush will be re-elected.

Posted by: Ariel at March 4, 2004 10:59 AM

T-bogg must have just linked me. Trolls from his site are always the most juvenile.

At least you trolls came in at the end of the discussion.

Good day.

Oh, don't get all huffy.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 11:08 AM

>> If we give in to fear, the terrorists win.

Actually if you submit to their will (as you are suggesting), they win.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 11:12 AM

{{{It must be nice to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious

Isn't that what people like about Bush? His entire foreign policy can be reduced to platitudes. evil, good, madmen, freedom . . .}}}

His refusal to view the world in nothing but shades of gray is, to many, a virtue - Ariel

Yeah, Ariel, I believe that's what I just said. I just thought it odd that someone who would say, with seeming sarcasm, "It must be nice to to live in a world full of certainty, where everything is simple and uncomplicated and obvious," would endorse Bush, a man who lives in just such a world.

But then maybe I misunderstood Mr. Totten - maybe he was being earnest, not sarcastic.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 11:12 AM

Actually if you submit to their will (as you are suggesting)

No, sir, the poster is NOT suggesting that we "submit to their will."

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 11:13 AM

Of course the poster is. This is a war, is it not? One side either trimuphs or it submits.

But since you are sooo much smarter than us all (including Mr. Bush) I suppose you will say something that sounds really smart like "it isn't black and white" or some other bit of sophism.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 11:22 AM

Of course the poster is. This is a war, is it not? One side either trimuphs or it submits.

But since you are sooo much smarter than us all (including Mr. Bush) I suppose you will say something that sounds really smart like "it isn't black and white" or some other bit of sophism

I'd point out your own sophism here but then you'd probably think I was just showing how I'm "sooo much smarter" than you all. So I'll just laugh at the irony to which you clearly are oblivious.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 11:26 AM

Ex, I realize that this may be difficult for you to understand, but each problem does not have only 2 solutions. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and there are a lot of ways to win against an enemy.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 11:31 AM

Nah, the point is, Michael, expecting you to support Kerry is like expecting Susan Estrich, Mickey Kaus, or Zell Miller to support Kerry.

Posted by: arrow of paris at March 4, 2004 11:34 AM

If the war against Islamist terrorism is the most important issue that America faces, the LAST guy this country wants in the Whitehouse is a man beholden to Saudi Arabia! When all of America was grounded after 9/11, the president let his Saudi buddies, including members of the Bin Laden family, hop around the country in their private jets and fly home. Saudi Prince Bandar hangs out with the President in Crawford, yet evidence shows that his wife gave money to some of the 9/11 hi-jackers.

Michael, is it just the fact that this president used our armed forces to go to war against Arabs...any Arabs after 9/11 that makes you support the guy? Because the body of evidence shows that we wasted time, effort, international credibility and goodwill, and American lives against the wrong country.

We know that the Rumsfeld and the other PNAC members, immediately after 9/11 wanted to use the tragedy to go after Hussein, whether he was involved or not. We know, from David Kay, that there really were no WMDs after all. These two facts together should give the average American pause. Unfortunately, we have committed hundreds of thousands of our military to the Iraq occupation which means that they are not available to defend us if another, more significant, need arises.

What if the terrorists strike again? When we find out that even more Saudi money went to fund the next attack will we finally do something about it or just pussyfoot around? This President has made it clear that he won't cross his Saudi frinds.

Posted by: ajg at March 4, 2004 11:46 AM

Rogue Planet: But then maybe I misunderstood Mr. Totten - maybe he was being earnest, not sarcastic.

Oh, I was being sarcastic.

Arrow of Paris: Nah, the point is, Michael, expecting you to support Kerry is like expecting Susan Estrich, Mickey Kaus, or Zell Miller to support Kerry.

My friend Matt Welch recently spoke to Mickey Kaus, and Kaus said if the election were held today he would vote for John Kerry.

And last I heard Susan Estrich was an anti-Bush Democrat.

I know some of you guys demand absolutely party-line obedience, but some of us find you insufferable blowhards who are more totalitarian than you know.

I would have voted for John Edwards, and I guess your head would have subsequently exploded.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 11:56 AM

So it looks like John Kerry is it. And therefore I’m out. I would have voted for John Edwards...

Proof positive this space is the bloggy equivalent of Penthouse Forum.

(BTW, if TBogg never linked to your sorry ass, you wouldn't exist.)

Posted by: dave at March 4, 2004 12:21 PM

I hear the buzz of the "Yoosta Bees":

"I 'yoosta bee' a Dimmiecrat 'til the steely rocketman stare and stuffed-crotch flightsuit of my President showed me that Kerry is too much of an Ivy-league wimp on the islamofascists that seek to destroy me and mine."

(Despite the fact that Kerry personally chased down and killed an enemy soldier with a RPG around the time Bush was hard at work earning his "Cuntsman" wings in 'Bama.)

Posted by: Pope Mel the 1st at March 4, 2004 12:41 PM

You know, Tbogg can have whatever kind of lame, hyper-partisan, flamethrowing blog he wants. Actually, I even kind of think some of the stuff he does is funny, from what little I've seen. But, to deliberately send people to anonymously troll another blog is just the lowest possible level of internet behavior. It's the blogging equivalent of insulting someone's mother or maybe more like just barging into their living room and peeing on the carpet.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 4, 2004 12:47 PM

Oh yeah, Bush is very serious about dealing with terrorists:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4431601/

Unless they are interfering with his plans to go after those who ARE NOT a threat to the United States.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 12:51 PM

But, to deliberately send people to anonymously troll another blog is just the lowest possible level of internet behavior.

tbogg didn't "deliberately send" anyone to troll, he just posted a link and a comment on his blog. I can't speak for other tbogg readers but I just followed tbogg's link checked this place out out of curiosity. That's how people find blogs and become regular readers.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 12:52 PM

Rogue Planet:

Well then I can only conclude that his blog attracts a disproportionate number of readers who are the sort of people who like to anonymously troll. Either way it doesn't speak very well of him.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 4, 2004 12:55 PM

Rogue Planet:

Well then I can only conclude that his blog attracts a disproportionate number of readers who are the sort of people who like to anonymously troll. Either way it doesn't speak very well of him.

I can only conclude that you like to leap to conclusions. Which doesn't speak very well of you.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 12:56 PM

RoguePlanet:

I wasn't including you in that group, which perhaps I should have made clearer. Anyway, well how do you account for the disproportionate number of trolls who say they've followed a link from that particular blog (see above)?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 4, 2004 12:59 PM

"But, to deliberately send people to anonymously troll another blog is just the lowest possible level of internet behavior. It's the blogging equivalent of insulting someone's mother or maybe more like just barging into their living room and peeing on the carpet."

Bwaaaaahahahaha!

Sure. I hear you. To deliberately discuss and link to statements that someone has published (published!) on a FRICKIN WEBSITE FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD TO SEE...it's just the lowest, most aweful thing...it's like forcing a person to consume excrement...or tying their perents down so a gang of homosexual raspists can defile them...or or or making small children listen to Perry Como and eat tomato aspic on melba toast...

...It's just wrong!

Posted by: ajg at March 4, 2004 01:01 PM

Eric Deamer, what the hell diff does being anonymous have to do with anything? Tottie's still another warmongering sell-out. After a 2 years of Bush ass-kissing, I don't buy his "I'd support Edwards" gambit for a nanosecond.

Want me to send you my name and address so that you can mail me a letter bomb or something, whiner?

Posted by: Pope Mel the 1st at March 4, 2004 01:04 PM

Geez Michael, sorry to see this topic descend to such depths! Guys can we just discuss policy please?

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 01:06 PM

Pope Mel the 1st:

I wouldn't send anyone a letter bomb or anything like that and I don't know anyone who hangs out on the sites I frequent that would. The fact that you'd think of something like that right off the bat makes me think that you're probably projecting.

ajg:

You're right. People shouldn't publish their opinions on the internet. If they do, they're just asking for personal abuse. Everyone should keep their opinions to themselves, starting with you.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 4, 2004 01:08 PM

Anyway, well how do you account for the disproportionate number of trolls who say they've followed a link from that particular blog (see above)?

Feel free to include me in that group; I suppose I am rather troll-ish.

As for the other posts, I wouldn't even attempt to account for'em; for one thing, I wouldn't know if the number's "disproportionate" since I've never been here before (that I can recall). For another, I arrived late and scrolled down pretty quickly, just skimming past most posts and pausing to read a few, so I didn't keep track of who said they came here via tbogg. I did see your blog host, Mr. Totten, making note of it above however, so I'll take his and your word for it.

If the anonymity is what's bugging you, it looks to me like a fair number of regulars here are anonymous. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 01:09 PM

With friends like Kaus and Estrich, Kerry doesn't need enemies.

Posted by: Arrow of Paris at March 4, 2004 01:11 PM

Dude,

Let me elaborate further: With friends like Kaus and Estrich, the Democratic Party doesn't need enemies.

I'da voted for Edwards, too, but voting for Bush just 'cuz Edwards didn't win is sorta like voting against 99 percent of what Edwards stands for.

Signed,

Dude

Posted by: Arrow of Paris at March 4, 2004 01:14 PM

With friends like Kaus and Estrich, Kerry doesn't need enemies.

Unfortunately, they are not the only "friends" like these. Kerry is a dead man walking.

Posted by: Samuel at March 4, 2004 01:14 PM

I'da voted for Edwards, too, but voting for Bush just 'cuz Edwards didn't win is sorta like voting against 99 percent of what Edwards stands for.

Exactly. As several posters noted above, it just baffles me that Mr. Totten could say that his main beef with Kerry is in the foreign policy area, and yet, he would have voted for EDWARDS. And I saw his explanation, and it didn't make sense to me. His decision to vote for Bush seems to be based on a visceral dislike of Kerry (am I missing something here?) So he's voting for a guy with whom he says he disagrees on just about every other issue.

I find that as irrational as he would no doubt find my utter disgust for Bush.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 01:19 PM

Samuel,

Again, another excellent response. I must extend my thanks once again for participating in my little philosophical exercise. Perhaps I should rephrase my question, in an attempt to escape or do away with any ambiguity or misinterpretation. I want objective good and objective evil, in other words, good and evil that exist independent of our value judgments. To say that Saddam or Bush are good or evil is a normative statement; it assumes we already have a clue of what good and evil are, however, I want a ground for this "good" and "evil". What you have given me is value judgments, which is problematic because everyone makes value judgments but I want some point of reference to do away with any misconception that might arise from contradicting value judgments (if such a thing can/could even exist). In my first argument I said that good and evil exist, but only based on our representations and value judgments of what constitutes as good and evil, however, what I am saying is not contradictory. I am simply saying that given a focal point of good and evil, good and evil can exist. However, in advocating my call for an objective good/evil I want a concrete evaluative standpoint that can not be moved around by fickle human beings.

"Our Founding Fathers would certainly pray we were on the right side and then fight for those beliefs. I believe we are doing that. Evil like obscenity is easier to recognize than define in one sentence. I look at Saadam and to me clearly see evil, George Bush clearly good."

So, for the sake of argument, let's say morality rests on value judgments and can not be determined objectively - I'll grant you that, because my original argument was related with God's nature and not human nature. So right now, I've granted you that God exists, and good and evil can be measured or assessed via value judgements - the hard part should be over, I would think. If you wish to argue this point further I would be more than willing, however my problem has to do with the conception of God's nature.

You look at Saddam and see evil, and view George Bush as good. Funny, I view them both as lunatics. So which is it? Is George Bush evil, or is George Bush a lunatic? Or perhaps GWB is a good lunatic (as opposed to an evil lunatic).

I found your Soviet Union example to be alluring. During the course of history the Soviet Union has committed more indecent acts than has the US despite slavery and genocide of the native Americans. So we are in a sense better than the Soviet Union because we have committed less crimes against humanity, indecent acts, etc. So in relation to the Soviet Union, the US is the lesser of two evils. However here is my problem. God, by his very nature is all powerful. Are you saying that God MUST choose the lesser of two evils? God is not a voter in the 2000 elections, he is not constrained to pick the lesser of two evils, he can completely abstain from picking at all. Consequently this view would also assume that God is a benevolent being and would opt for the greater good in favor of the lesser good. Perhaps God would just assume choose something we might label as evil. Which ever it happens to be we assume firstly that our value judgments will always correspond to the way God would view things and secondly, we assume God MUST choose. I find this situation very flawed to say the least.

"You don't believe he's with Osama or Saadam do you? I hope you don't view George Bush as the moral equivalent of Saadam or Osama. Or do you not believe in God and are just picking for trouble??"

Firstly, it's Saddam not SAAdam. Secondly, even assuming morality can be conceived through our value judgments, it doesn't follow that the judgment I place on something is the same as the way God is going to view it. Lastly, what difference does it make if I do or do not believe in God? Either way you argue it you rely on faith, which again, is subjective and differs from person to person. If I were to say God existed I would be making a statement based on faith, if I said he doesn't, then I am also making a statement based on faith. I maintain the position that I simply don't know - he may or may not exist. And picking for trouble? What trouble are you referring to? If questioning the logic or rationale of other people is trouble then I should surely be put to death, however my goal or aim at this little discussion, or swap of ideas, is to stimulate thought more than anything.

Posted by: Kevin Beasley at March 4, 2004 01:40 PM

>>Ex, I realize that this may be difficult for you to understand, but each problem does not have only 2 solutions

Not in battle. And why would it be difficult for me to understand? Do you honestly think I haven't thought this war (or the nature of war in general) through? What an ego!

>> There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and there are a lot of ways to win against an enemy.

Yes, but doing nothing (i.e. not offering an alternative solution) or refusing to recognize an enemy as a threat is usually a good way to lose.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 02:10 PM

When Totten is wrong, I'll set him on fire, as I did recently.

So, when he's right, it's only fair for me to point it out, particularly when he is dramatically so. Such is the case in his posting here.

Yet, I'm a little uncomfortable, though; I'd be interested to see where he thinks Edwards would have been any different as to policy, than Kerry, particularly enough to cause him to lean toward the senseless act of a straight-line Democrat vote.

Personally, I've NEVER voted straight line ANYTHING... particularly left of center.

Posted by: Bithead at March 4, 2004 02:31 PM

It's interesting how the Kerry supporters can tell us that there are a lot of different ways of dealing with the War on Terror without actually naming any of them! From what I can gather, (1) there is GWB's way of conducting the WOT (which is wrong becuase he's doing it), (2) there is the ostrich approach (which we have been told is wrong, too), and (3) there are a lot of other ways of fighting the WOT which all sophisticated and intelligent people know about but seem incapable of explaining to anyone else. I have yet to hear a coherent Democratic message about how to conduct the WOT. If there are so many possibilities, how about sharing just 1 of them with me.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 02:44 PM

Let's look at the issues.

These are the most important foreign policy questions that I see regarding Kerry.

1. Would Kerry have prosecuted the war on terror as effectively as Bush has?

I think the answer is clearly and obviously (to the point of being inarguable by reasonable people) that the answer is no. His anti-war protesting, his 30 year record of voting against the military and intelligence agencies, his statements show that he thinks appeasing the UN, France and Iranian dictator, and his failure to failure to state any plausible strategy or even any long term goals in this war. I put the odds of him having done what Bush has done at less than 1% (one percent).

2. Will Kerry stick with the war until it is won the way Bush is obviously committed to doing?

Again, given his complete lack of strategy or vision for the conflict and his priority of appeasement, I don't think he would. Combine that with his proven record of waffling on even the smallest of issues, and there is a vanishly small chance that he would suddenly grow a backbone and a set of balls and see this through to the end.

Now the most important question, but it isn't about Kerry's foreign policy. The question is whether YOU, as a citizen and voter think a small civil rights issue that effects less than 3% of the population in a minor way is more important than preventing future terrorist attacks against America, up to and probably including biological and nuclear strikes against our cities.

The window of time for successful prevention is closing, and I estimate that if we don't fix the problem with terrorist supporting states within the next two presidential terms, it will be too late. Given that, I cannot in good conscience even consider voting for Kerry (Lieberman is the only one of the nine I would have).

Tim

Disclosure: I'm a registered Republican with mostly libertarian views on economics and social issues, with a strong Jacksonian foreign policy view (and I regard Stephen den Beste of USS Clueless as a political god among mortals ;-).

Posted by: Tim at March 4, 2004 03:12 PM

"It's interesting how the Kerry supporters can tell us that there are a lot of different ways of dealing with the War on Terror without actually naming any of them! From what I can gather, (1) there is GWB's way of conducting the WOT (which is wrong becuase he's doing it), (2) there is the ostrich approach (which we have been told is wrong, too), and (3) there are a lot of other ways of fighting the WOT which all sophisticated and intelligent people know about but seem incapable of explaining to anyone else. I have yet to hear a coherent Democratic message about how to conduct the WOT. If there are so many possibilities, how about sharing just 1 of them with me."

OOOH. OOOH. Ben, pick me!

Cool. As I was saying above. The most important quality that a POTUS should have in order to fight the WOT is to NOT have Crown Prince Abdullah's Semen in his mouth. Unfortunately, this would exclude the man who presently holds the office.

Seriously, though. Afganistan was an appropriate priority. We needed to go in there. Too bad we have put no effort in stabilizing or rebuilding it. Actually having a teensy weensy bit of stick-to-itiveness in Afganistan would have been a long way.

Secondly, we should have put all our political and military might into getting real reforms in Saudi Arabia and getting real help from there government in rooting out terrorism. Instead we get lip service and an ad campaign about what "good allies" the Saudis are while they still won't provide us with real intellegence.

Posted by: ajg at March 4, 2004 03:16 PM

2. Will Kerry stick with the war until it is won the way Bush is obviously committed to doing?

Again, given his complete lack of strategy or vision for the conflict

Help me out here. What, exactly, is Bush's strategy? And where might I find his "vision for the conflict" (whatever that means) articulated? Thanks.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 03:17 PM

ajg --

1. Just exactly what evidence do you have that we have put no effort into Afghanistan? The last time I checked, we were still there.

2. Specifically what do you intend to do to Saudi Arabia? Are you prepared to go to war if they tell us to take a hike? What about the oil? What leverage do we have against Saudi Arabia if they use oil against us? (BTW, this problem would be far worse if Saddam were still in power in Iraq).

3. I have yet to see specific policy prescriptions from the Democrats. Saying "we should put pressure on the Saudis" or "we should have more allies" is not good enough. If I am to take the Democratic foreign policy seriously, I want to know why GWB is wrong, what you propose to do about it, and how you intend to implement your plans.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 03:57 PM

Wow Michael,

This post certainly got the neo-war-liberals going. All in all a good post and many excellent comments. Sorry I got here late, but hopefully you will see this.

1. I think your analysis of Kerry is correct - for a good short history of this Zelig, see here http://www.boston.com/globe/nation/packages/kerry/

2. I don't agree that Bush spit in your gay friends face. I think he picked up the gauntlet thrown in Mass. I realize the paradox of a minority trying to assert an unpopular view in a democracy, but while the founders intended the courts to protect minorities from abuse, they didn't intend them to use the courts to encroach on the majorities culture. And this is exactly what this is. You can say that hetero marriage is not threatened by gay marriage until the cows get to mars, but it does impact what marriage means, it does change the culture.

I see a lot of hand wringing on the blogosphere over this issue, and it galls me, because the fight wasn't started by GWB.

3. I also think you are over-reacting to Prager -
"The other war is against the secular nihilism that manifests itself in much of Western Europe, in parts of America such as San Francisco and in many of our universities."

Are you a secular nihilist? Or do you have a dog in the civilizational fight? Do you plan to raise children and leave them a better world, or are you just fulfilling your desires of the moment.

From what you write, I am guessing you are not a secular nihilist, if you are, then you are right, Prager has declared war on you.

In any case you should read this to see "Why radical Islam might defeat the West" http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EG08Ak02.html

Key Point: "History exposes Hobbes's "self-preservation instinct" as a chimera. If men have no more than physical self-preservation, self-disgust will stifle them."

What I am saying is that from a civilizational point of view, gay marriage may be very damaging. Peoples feelings, and a few judges should not tinker so with the social fabric. Such a change should take two hundred years or more.

Prager is coming from a religious POV, I am saying religion or not you need something to fuel the will to live and procreate of your society. If not your traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs, what then?

If you look at all of Spengler's article, you might get the point that casting aside religion and those who support may be a very bad idea just now.

"Which brings us to the threat of radical Islam. "You are decadent and hedonistic. We on the other hand are willing to die for what we believe, and we are a billion strong. You cannot kill all of us, so you will have to accede to what we demand." That, in a nutshell, constitutes the Islamist challenge to the West."

Regards,

James Williams

Posted by: jdwill at March 4, 2004 04:23 PM

----Help me out here. What, exactly, is Bush's strategy? And where might I find his "vision for the conflict" (whatever that means) articulated? Thanks.----

Rogue,

His statements about bringing democracy to the middle east, his policy of opposing terrorist states and instituting regime change where necessary, his committment to not forget and not give up. Bush's vision which he lays out in his speeches is glossed over and then forgotten and ignored by the media (and the sheep who swallow everything their told), but people who pay attention, whether they agree with Bush or not, know exactly what he stands for and what his strategy is.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 4, 2004 04:58 PM

Tim,

Mark's post above pointed to
Steven Den Beste's take on the US strategy.
http://denbeste.nu/essays/strategic_overview.shtml

In case you hadn't seen it. Den Beste does heavy mental lifting.

Posted by: jdwill at March 4, 2004 05:31 PM

James Williams is right. Michael T, why don't you care about the future of the human race? Maybe you didn't get the memo, but secularists are atheists, and atheists are nihilists, and therefore horrible, horrible people. Why do you hate nuns who feed starving children?

If the government doesn't stand for Judeo-Christian religion, we will all be hedonists and kill ourselves. This is just common sense.

Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2004 05:39 PM

Our social and governmental system is living off of the accumulated capital of the Judeo-Christian tradition, like it or not. Our religious tradition is waning, and that capital is gradually been slipping away. Since nature abhors a vacuum, we need to think very carefully about whether to reinvigorate it and, if not, what should replace it. Personally, I think our tradition has served us well and should be strengthened and protected; even if people are not religious, I would hope that they at least support the traditions that undergird our social order. Edmund Burke once noted that a man without internal controls needs external controls. My fear is that we are headed toward nihilism, which inevitably begets tyranny.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 06:24 PM

Ben,

1. How about the fact that Hamed Karzai has no power beyond downtown Kabul, for starters. How about the fact that we have spent about 1% of the money rebuilding Afganistan that we have rebuilding Iraq.

2. You said, "What about the oil? What leverage do we have against Saudi Arabia if they use oil against us?"

Ummm. have you bought gas lately? Here's a clue. They're already using the oil againts us. And they know they can bend Joe American over a barrel, because they have a buddy in the whitehouse. Seriously, the Saudis need to sell the oil. Their economy is based on keeping it flowing. If they shut it all off tomorrow it would hurt them far worse than us.

"BTW, this problem would be far worse if Saddam were still in power in Iraq"

BTW, Bullcrap.

3. "Saying 'we should put pressure on the Saudis' or 'we should have more allies' is not good enough."

It's a good thing the magic fairy tapped you with her wand and made you the final arbiter of whose politcal agument is or isn't good enough.

Do I have to spell it our for you? What we most want is for the Saudis to clean up their own house. We want the Saudi Oligarchs to stop giving the U.S. lip service with one breath and supporting the Hate-America Wahabi's with the next. GWB never should have let the Saudi oligarchs leave right after 9/11. they should have been questioned. Some of them should have been imprisoned and we should have gone public with names:
Princess Haifa, Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, and every other Saudi Royal family member who gave OBL a dime.

The Saudi royal family's hold on power is not that strong. The threat of US support for a dissident faction would be very persuasive for the house of Saud.

Posted by: ajg at March 4, 2004 06:25 PM

typo: should "has been slipping away."

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 06:25 PM

I should quit now. I make a grammatical error when correcting another error. My mother (former English teacher), would have a fit. . . .

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 06:26 PM

ajg --

1. Afghanistan has had a warlord problem for centuries. Karzai controls approximately as much real estate as Najibulla did. It's not clear to me what else we could be doing to improve this in the short term. Karzai's control will expand only as his regime gains legitimacy. This comes with TIME, not American troops and money.

2. Saudi Arabia absolutely is not using oil against us now. Imagine what would happen if they tried a replay of 1973 or 1979. The shock to our economy would be very severe. With Venezuela destabilized, Russia uncertain, and Iraq subject to sanctions (if you had your way), where would we turn for alternatives? What contingencies would you have for that eventuality?

3. The Iraq War gives us immeasurably more leverage against Saudi Arabia. 1st, the oil is now available for sale on the world market. 2nd, we have large numbers of troops in the region. 3rd, the most significant regional wild card has been removed from the deck, giving us a greater ability to control events. 4th, we have demonstrated seriousness in dealing with those who don't toe the line -- I don't see how you can claim that this doesn't give any threats to the Saudis more potency. 5th, in the event we successfully introduce democracy to Iraq, that will create tremendous pressure on the Saudis. And this list of benefits is far from exhaustive.

4. My standard for what Kerry has to do to convince me he is serious is just that: my standard. Who are you to tell me I'm wrong?

5. I am well aware of what we want the Saudis to do. I am asking YOU how you intend for this to be done. I fail to see how a few arrests and/or going public with some names would accomplish this. I will ask again: Are you willing to go to war if the Saudis refuse to change?

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 06:40 PM

It's important to get your support of Bush on the record now; makes it much less likely that you will be Disappeared later on.

Here's hoping the rest of us manage to kick your fascist flyboy back to Texas and that he heeds the results if we do.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 4, 2004 07:10 PM

Kimmitt: It's important to get your support of Bush on the record now; makes it much less likely that you will be Disappeared later on.

Are you serious? Come on.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 07:17 PM

Kimmitt --

Can we drop the "fascist flyboy" crap and the garbage about "if he heeds the results." Come on! GWB respects the rules of our political system just as has every other President in my lifetime; our system works because the losers respect the result (something Gore supporters should do). This line of argument demonstrates either your fundamental unseriousness or your gross lack of understanding of dictatorships.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 07:34 PM

You guys are quite an amusing echo chamber.

Kerry doesn't have a record to run on against a former one term Governor whose run the economy into the ground (jobless recovery), hid like a coward during 9/11 (and won't testify about it), overseen the wholesale dismantling of Federal environmental regulation, issued unfunded mandates (Leave No Child Behind Act), invaded a country unprovoked, has not dealt with North Korea other than to say "I'm not Clinton, I'm not Clinton...", attempted to reduce military bennies while doling out huge tax cuts...and the list goes on.

Did Kerry blow up a bus full of orphans or nuns or something? Did I miss that?

And somebody said Edwards couldn't find Haiti on a map? Like GW is some geography bee winner and Edwards is stupid? Edwards is a self made man which is more than anyone in their right mind can say about the failed-at-every-business-venture-pretend-cowboy son of a Yankee blue blood former President of the United States of America.

Your arguments are weak, but hell, maybe all of you are right. Maybe that Bush guy is alright. He's got a nice haircut.

Posted by: Scott at March 4, 2004 07:56 PM

You scared folks seem to have forgotten a very very important lesson that I learned from 9/11 and the whole lead-up to war- the perpetrators were NOT Iraqis, and Saddam Hussein was not a threat to the U.S.

I don't know if there is a less serious way to handle a threat than to divert resources away from that threat to attack someone who is not a threat.

And I know y'all didn't read the link I put up, because you would have read that the Bush administration could have taken out a bona fide terrorist (who is responsible for several attacks on our guys since Bush declared "mission accomplished"). Why would the serious foreign policy president do this? Because taking out this guy, who was in the No Fly Zone in Northern Iraq, which was under U.S. and U.K. control, would have hurt their case for dropping bombs on the guy who didn't sponsor 9/11.

You're telling me you've thought this thing through, but you don't seem to have any facts on your side, Ex. I don't think you're stupid, I think you made up your mind, just like your super duper prez, and are only willing to entertain facts that support your belief.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 08:00 PM

Tim said:

"His statements about bringing democracy to the middle east, his policy of opposing terrorist states and instituting regime change where necessary, his committment to not forget and not give up. Bush's vision which he lays out in his speeches is glossed over and then forgotten and ignored by the media (and the sheep who swallow everything their told), but people who pay attention, whether they agree with Bush or not, know exactly what he stands for and what his strategy is."

So, RoguePlanet, no, none of his supporters can articulate what their president's brilliant foreign policy is.

Plus, Bush is a politician, and he, like many other politicians, has been known to say a few things that he doesn't actually mean! Remember his war on AIDS, where he promised all that money to Africa? Never took action. Remember his plan for a Moon Mission? Folks didn't take too kindly to the thought of spending all that money for a rerun, and we don't hear about it anymore. Heck, even the War on Terror gets lip service - they couldn't even mention it in their budget! No money for the war on terror! Yep, that's the serious way to handle it!

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 08:06 PM

Scott and Maurinsky --

Obviously we see the world in different terms. Fundamentally, however, I would say that the issue is this: GWB has been President for 4 years, so we know where he stands on foreign policy. Conversely, Kerry has been doing everything possible to confuse people about where he stands. Other than being opposed to Bush, I'm not sure what Kerry intends to do to prosecute the WoT.

To me, the connection between Iraq and the WoT is clear. It has been explained numerous times by numerous people; I see no point in arguing the issue because neither one of us will change our minds, and I have better things to do. If you don't buy the connection, however, I submit you still should have supported the war because getting rid of Saddam was the right thing to do: Happily, this was a situation in which our national interests converged with doing the right thing. What happened to the Anti-Fascist Left? It appears to have sold its soul to Bush-hatred. What a tragedy.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 08:13 PM

Ben, I'm a huge supporter of ending terrorism. That will be a happy day, when there are no more scary people who want to kill regular folks like you and me just because of where we're from.

The Bush administration thinks the best way to stop terrorism is to show those terrorists how strong we are. I think this is a fine short term solution - in the short term (and I mean very short term, weeks/months), you can have those bad guys second guessing themselves. But it also feeds into a lot of anger, which is a helpful tool for recruiting terrorists. Anger can get passed down from generation to generation, too. Many of my Irish relatives still sing rebel songs and curse the English. In the U.S., the Confederate flag is still flown in many places, and even in Yankee territory, there are Confederate flags on many a pickup truck. There are still people who are pissed off about that stuff. Now, just being pissed off isn't enough to send someone into action, but let's face it - there are plenty of White Pride groups in the U.S., and there are domestic terrorists who share some of those views. And I know people who thought they were good, caring, and loyal folks who donated money to Noraid, which provided money to the IRA.

But the current policy is not a serious long term solution to end terrorism. As evidenced by the continued bombings, by the soldiers who come home in "transfer tubes" (a disgraceful euphemism, more evidence of how childish this administration is, they aren't manly enough to take responsibility for those who died fighting for their foreign policy), by the young men and women who have lost limbs, those mysterious and rarely reported on veterans who were treated way too casually by an administration filled with people who supported war when they were young, as long as they didn't have to go fight.

I don't like Bush, but I'm not blinded by hatred. I read a lot of different news sources and make up my own mind about these things. Maybe we can't convince each other of our respective positions, but mine was arrived at honestly, by taking a look at what the Bush administration is doing, and thinking about what those actions could mean in the future. The only things he seems to take really seriously are tax cuts and baseball.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 4, 2004 09:43 PM

Maurinsky --

Amazingly enough, I agree with at least part of what you have said: War is not a long-term solution. I would argue that it is not sufficient, but that it is necessary to a favorable long-term resolution. We can be nice to the terrorists or treat this as a law enforcement issue from now until forever, and we will not solve the problem. They do not want to kill us because of our alleged crimes; thus, responding as if this were so does not address the matter. IMHO, we must militarily crush them, then extend a helping hand to rebuild. I analogize this to 1940s Japan.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 10:10 PM

MJT,

258 posts? When are you gonna get blogads? You might as well make a few bucks on this site.

Posted by: HA at March 5, 2004 04:00 AM

Jim,

I went back and read your previous posts and I guess you were being sarcastic.

"but secularists are atheists, and atheists are nihilists, and therefore horrible, horrible people."

No, no, and no. More like beautiful losers, actually.

Try reading some of Spengler on Atimes. Writer is a psuedonym, not sure who he/she is, but very provocative thinker.

The point is that a civilization that begins to detest itself (as is being taught in our universities) will fail. Another, more energetic civilation will swallow or replace it.

Posted by: jdwill at March 5, 2004 04:14 AM

Ben - Take a good look at what is happening in Iraq. The Bush administration does not have a plan in Iraq now that the active phase of the war is over. They are not serious about following through.

Posted by: maurinsky at March 5, 2004 06:21 AM

maurinsky --

I think you are wrong. The Admin does have a plan, and things do appear to be getting better. It will take time to implement -- years, in fact. I would expect nothing less.

Posted by: Ben at March 5, 2004 06:44 AM

Ben,
The plan is that it will have to get better someday. The plan is to get morons like yourself to think there might be a plan that takes decades to implement while they try to get the UN to take over so they can cut n run.

Totten,
You would never in a million years have voted for anyone other than Bush (for some kind of wierd convoluted reasoning based on propaganda rather than fact) and this post is an exercise in snarky deceit.

Posted by: Leo at March 5, 2004 07:26 AM

jdwill,

I've read all of Den Beste's stuff (Yes, ALL of it).

maurinsky,

I did lay out the plan, I just didn't use bullet points as I thought Michael's audience was intelligent enough to grasp the concepts.

Here's Bush's strategy laid out:

One, directly attack terrorist groups that have attacked or threated us.

Two, halt the flow of international money to these groups.

Three, convince all reasonable governments to stop supporting international terrorism, and forcibly change the regimes of those who don't stop. Now I know you're probably going to confuse Al Quaeda with international terrorism, and complain that Iraq wasn't supporting it, but that's because you're short-sighted.

Four, preventing terrorist-friendly states from getting nuclear and biological weapons that they might give or sell to terrorists.

Five, create and foster democracy and freedom in the middle east to strike at the root cause of radical Islamism.

Six, create a stronger intelligence community focused on preventing more attacks.

Now unless you have a very short memory, you remember that Bush has made at least some progress on every single point, and substantial progress on a few. The ones we've haven't heard as much about are the parts requiring secrecy (such as the progress on finding and stopping the financial network or in tracking down the the terrorists themselves), but we've seen direct, effective, successful action on all the other points.

If you still fail to grasp Bush's strategy, you are simply incapable of understanding foreign policy and should go back to protesting whatever scare the media has cooked up this week.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2004 08:25 AM

Ben, Tim et al

You are wasting your time and effort with these people, they refuse to grasp the idea that Bush and company actually have a strategy. The fail to grasp that the previous modus operandi in the ME, the last 60 years or so, was an abject failure that left people living in oppression which lead to the explosive growth radical islam.
We ignored the fact that the mad mullahs and thier brethren declared war on us in 1979, we ignored the escalating attacks in the 80's and 90's. This method of ignoring the oppression for stability, for treating terrosism as a police action instead of an act of war leads directlt to 9/11 and two huge holes in the city of new york. The failure to grasp this concept, the failure to see the actions of the French and Germans and Russians as nothing more than a money grab, it was in thier best interest to keep Saddam in power, they were making money, the failure to see that Iraq holds strategic importance in the WOT is just willful ignorance at best. Its like the scene in citiy slickers, when they are talking about programming the VCR and Bruno Kirby rides up and screams "the cows can program the VCR by now, he's doesn't get it and he is never going to get it. They don't get it and never will, they joke about disappearing w/o understanding what that actual means, they talk censorship w/o getting what that means, they talk and talk and talk. But they don't actually get it so who cares. Vote Kerry, he is going to get crushed because most Americans do get it and will not allow an unserious man hold the helm in times of danger.

Posted by: Kevin at March 5, 2004 09:10 AM

"I will vote a split ticket this year because the way I see it, each party gets some things right. The inverse of that statement is obvious. "

Inverse: I will not vote a split ticket because some party gets everything wrong.

Converse: Every party gets some things right because I will vote a split ticket this year.

Contrapositive: Some party gets everything wrong because I will note vote a split ticket.

However, I think you just meant the implication is obvious; i.e., each party gets some things wrong?

Posted by: mountb at March 5, 2004 09:22 AM

Hi Everyone,

Certainly Clinton isn't to blame for 9/11 but he didn't think out of the box. He didn't have a strategy for dealing with terrorism. He only reacted after it happened and the policy was conflicted. Please read the following review and get a hold of the book if you can. Gaddis is a very highly respected historian. Bush may not make all the right moves wrt to foreign policy but having a strategy is better than not having one at all.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2004/02/08/grand_old_policy

http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1181/2002_Nov-Dec/94129194/print.jhtml

Posted by: lisa at March 5, 2004 11:20 AM

Mr. Trotten is not flip flopping like Kerry. He has decided one policy area overrides others. Kerry stands for everything and stands for nothing all at the same time. Mr. Trotten still holds his belives but he can't fight for everything at once and neither can those in this thread complaining about Mr. Trotten. But you will never make changes if you don't know what changes you want to make.

Kerry switches from week to week. 9 days apart he sent the same person a letter saying he opposed the Gulf war in 91 and was a strong supporter of the action from the get go. In December he was still supporting NAFTA. He won't a letter supporting gay marraige but now supports civil unions but doesn't support DOMA but supports states deciding (DOMA) Couldn't vote on DOMA because he claimed offensive comments were made during the debate. Since when does that become part of the legislation. He could have been perfectly clear in the congressional record that he denounced those comments. He was perfectly clear that he didn't really feel comfortable with the use of force act unless certain steps were accomplished first but he signed it anyway. Hint for congress. You make them do the steps first and then come back for authorization. He doesn't think companies should go to Bermuda and receive tax breaks but where is the blind trust funds for his wife located. He complains troops don't have proper equipment and voted not to authorize the appropriations to pay for their equipment. In 2002 he wanted to end double taxation on dividends, within the year he opposed them. He opposed having anyone working for welfare and then supported it. He was against mandatory sentences and then supported them. Against affirmative action and then suported it.
Against the death penalty for terrorist and then supported it. Proposed clamping down on teacher union strangleholds and then opposed it. Supported a gas tax and then opposed it.
Supported raising retirement age and then opposed it. And many times the postions have switched when it was election time. Who is he?

Mr. Trotten has not giving up his values to pander to both sides of the isle. Changing your mind is not the same as talking out of both sides of your mouth. Our congress is divided almost down the middle. No big inroads are going to be made on any issue one way or another. Abortion isn't going anywhere and either are guns.

Posted by: lisa at March 5, 2004 11:48 AM

Kevin --

You are right, of course, about it being a waste of time to argue with some of these people. A portion of them clearly don't get it, and the rest only pretend they don't get it so that they can say with a straight face that Bush doesn't have a plan.

Leo --

1. Nation building is a complicated process that takes years. What evidence do you have that there is no plan? What evidence do you have that Bush wants to cut and run? If you opposed the war in the first place and you believe that Bush will cut and run, why are you critical of him for that?

2. On another note, what evidence do you have that I am a moron? What's my IQ? How many years of education do I have and what were my grades? What is my profession and how long have I been doing it? What other professional and/or life experience do I have? What understanding do I have of history/foreign policy/the Middle East/etc.? What are my motivations for holding the positions I hold?

Since I am relatively confident that you cannot answer any of these questions, it is apparent that you have absolutely no basis in fact for declaring that I am a moron. Is everyone who disagrees with you a moron? Are you really that undemocratic? If everyone who disagrees with you is a moron, who made you the final arbiter of all that is good and just? Are you really that arrogant? Or, was you statement simple hyperbole -- an argument device? If so, then it's clear that you lied (I'm assuming that you believe "Bush lied," under which standard you have clearly lied when you called me a moron).

In other words, make actual arguments rather than ad hominem attacks.

Posted by: Ben at March 5, 2004 02:47 PM

I've voted Dem all my life, but I won't this year.

I might have, but I can't vote for Kerry. He's a spineless opportunist who cares more about his personal policitical advantage than anything else. He's been doing it for 30 years.

It was bad enough having to vote for Gore four years ago. Why can't the Democrats do better than these losers?

Posted by: Bostonian at March 5, 2004 03:32 PM

Bostonian,

They can do better. Unfortunately the "democratic wing of the democratic party" (I don't why we can't just go back to calling them commies :p just kidding). influence on the primaries has guaranteed that they are either forced to swing their positions far to the left, or not get nominated. That is why Dean and Kerry were the two front runners, and not Lieberman or Gephardt.

And if you're into conspiracy theories like so many are these days, then it's all some big plot by the Clintons to make sure Hill doesn't have to go up against an imcumbent in 2008.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2004 03:49 PM

Greetings. I come to the party late; I hope all the rational discussion hasn't been wrung out of the topic.

I find entirely untenable the charge that returning to "law enforcement, diplomacy, intelligence and market forces" policy represents a clear indication of foreign policy failure, either in the past OR the future. The most obvious example of success would be the one that guided our foreign policy for close to 50 years--Cold War containment. The arrangement of political and military alliances, human intelligence, overt and covert operations in hot spots, and economic muscle--both in outspending the Soviets and appealing to their citizenry's consumerist yearnings--would seem to have worked spectacularly, WITHOUT a hot war between the combatants.

What strikes me as fascinating is how anyone can argue that the non-preemptive policies of the 90s didn't WORK in Iraq. Let's review the record: Hussein attacked another sovereign nation preemptively. The response was a broad coalition of international partners working under the leadership of the US but UN aegis, that immediately arrested the incursion and sorely punished Iraq's military capabilities in the process.

Having done so, our most glaring mistake was not to continue the pressure by supporting the Kurds in their effort to internally topple the unstable Hussein regime. Even so, we instituted a policy of disarmament to be supervised by the main international body for doing such things. This effort resulted in the estimated 90-95% destruction of all WMDs. The policy of economic sanctions continued to bleed the Iraqi economy dry, despite corruption in enforcing those sanctions. By 1998, what little that remained of WMD production capability was destroyed by airstrikes during the Clinton administration (so says David Kay, anyhow). Speaking of Clinton, at about the same time it became known that the trendy despot of the 80s, Qaddaffi, had ALSO grown weary of suffocating sanctions and began making overtures to re-enter the pantheon of credible nations. Once again, diplomacy and carrot-and-stick tactics produced an environment ripe for the plucking when Qaddaffi finally admitted involvement in Lockerbie. Note that it was the British who engineered the settlements with Libya--again, diplomatic arrangements. Certainly the spectre of Iraqi invasion must have put Mommar's finger closer to the BatPhone to Tony Blair's office, but note that talks began in earnest BEFORE the invasion, not after. So it was merely the THREAT of trouble that caused him to cave. And speaking of Iraq, here is a nation crumbling in stability, bereft of weapons (and ripped off by other countries who were too afraid to sell them any) and weaker even than post GWI militarily, without credible connections to terrorism.

I ask you then, where is the failure of this strategy? Even Colin Powell understood that containment of Saddam had worked; he said so himself in 2001, as did Condi Rice.

Now, it's also fair to ask that if Bush's policy is considered nonexistent or even fundamentally counterproductive, what would have been the alternatives? I'll share some with you, that I held out as meaningful alternatives from since the end of the Afghani hot war:

1) Attack the Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds, as well as madrassas in southern Pakistan. Use a short period of air power, and then hit the ground with large numbers of troops to go after and capture their supporters. Now THAT'S a country that needed an occupying authority--they had nothing there of any substance to work with politically, structurally, economically. They needed reconstruction from the ground up.

What did Bush do? He started with the airwar; all good so far. Then he let the war get entirely away from him, allowing the Northern Alliance to choose which towns to overrun and in what order. Furthermore, when the battles were over, was the US around to take control of the combatants? Nope--we were too slow by a mile there as well, and the NA simply allowed the vast majority to spill back into the hills. And having accomplished even that little, our attention immediately began to wander, to the point where the Taliban have reasserted control of their native areas to the South, the border with Pakistan is still essentially open, and activities continue roughly apace.

2) If the problem of Iraq is potential terrorist connection, what's the obvious solution? ATTACK THE TERRORISTS. Where was Zarqawi? In the northern no-fly zone, out of Saddam's control. Step one if we really believed in the terrorist threat, would have been immediate eradication of those camps, even to the extent of basing near PK cities as both additional protection for the Kurds and Turkmen and monitoring for further development.

What did Bush do? Attack the entire country, thus invoking the phrase "you broke it, you bought it." And not more than a year afterwards, the "plan" is to simply back out of control and let whatever happens, happen to the Iraqis themselves. Iraqification--as we've seen, if it's Iraqi police and civilians being bombed, that doesn't make the front page. And we've ended up doing what Bush claimed was impossible--validated the importance of the UN as a world body for restoring order. Without Kofi Annan sending a team to assess electoral feasability, there'd have been a fatwa issued and blood in the streets of Iraq today. Time and again, this "dissident" organization has proven that it will do the bidding of the US if the right leverage is applied. The one way it DOESN'T work is through scorn and arrogance.

3) If we're truly serious about terror in the Middle East viz Israel/Palestine, the answer is not inaction and a blind eye to whatever Ariel Sharon thinks is the best policy. I would have severely hesitated for taking this step, but at least I could understand the directness of the rationale: invade the Palestinian Authority. Flood the country with special ops and military police, build a fence at the '67 border and police "our" side of it, and demand secular control of government functions. How can the PA police itself without any hint of policing institutions available to them? Someone must do it, and clearly Israel is an unacceptable alternative. Viewed as toadies of Israel or not, the US is the only country with any real credibility with both sides. Again, as with Afghanistan, there is no infrastructure to speak of. The area needs a total rebuilding. The one country that HAD pretty good institutions was Iraq--and that's the country we leveled. Why?

This was longer than perhaps anyone was able to get through. I apologize for being so windy. I didn't even get into my thoughts on a slow, deliberate and increasing squeeze on Iraq as an alternative to invasion, deposition and occupation. This would have had the added benefit of giving the US a moral "out" should the Iraqis have felt provoked and lashed out at the pressure in a violent way.

What really bothers me about Bush foreign policy is that not only do the proponents in the White House seem seriously ignorant of the places they were invading, they appear to not care either.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 5, 2004 03:56 PM

Torrid Joe,

For point 1 you are making the fundamental mistake of assuming that what works for one situation is guaranteed to work in another.

I know you probably haven't studied a lot of history, but both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns rank among the fastest, cleanest, most merciful and most effective in military history. Why were they so successful? Because the military leaders didn't try to copy previous successes, but instead spent a great deal of time examining the opposing force, the terrain, past military campaigns (particulary the russian-afghan and first gulf war to see what worked and what didn't), the political situation, etc., and then custom-crafted a strategy for each. What worked in Afghanistan would not have worked in Iraq, and vice versa.

For point 2, you are demonstrating you disagree with the strategy of eliminating terrorist supporting states altogether, which means you are taking a very short-sighted view of just cutting off the hydra heads one by one while more new ones grow, and would pursue a limited strategy which would guarantee eventual defeat for us. Sorry, but I'm glad Bush and his team are in charge because they know what they are doing.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2004 05:08 PM

our system works because the losers respect the result (something Gore supporters should do).

In order:

1) When has a suit been brought or a popular uprising ignited demanding that Gore be put into the Presidency? Neither happened; instead, many people are horrified by what happened but view the continuity of the system as more important than the election of their candidate.

2) I am serious. I expect widespread electoral fraud and that Bush will decline to yield power in the case of a close election that turns out against him.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 5, 2004 05:46 PM

No Kimmit, you aren't serious. If you were serious, you would have tried to examine what actually happened and would have discovered that out of all of the recounts done, including those by left-leaning media organizations, precisely 0 (zero) would have given Gore the victory. And you would have read up on the applicable laws and discovered that the Supreme Court didn't steal the election, but rather prevented the Florida Court from trying to steal it by rewriting the election laws after the fact. Furthermore, you would have remembered the lawsuits filed by democrats in attempts to get legitimate military votes thrown out because they were for Bush.

Somebody is playing your fears like a fiddle and I'll give you a hint, it's not Bush.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2004 06:01 PM

I read the laws. Since the "intent of the voter" is obvious on an overvote, Gore would likely have won the state by approximately 200 votes.

link.

More importantly, however, than whether Bush or Gore won Florida is the fact that it is irrelevant. Even if the numbers had come out on Gore's side, Bush would still be President. I do not see the process of declaring a winner, then counting the votes and hoping that you got it right as being particularly democratic.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 5, 2004 06:36 PM

No, if the Florida numbers had come out in Gore's favor, Gore would have been President (and there probably would have been almost as much whining from the republicans as there was from the democrats). What you fail to understand is that victor of the election is established by law and genuine effort to subvert it (such as by Florida Court) would be blocked. The only way one could succeed is if nobody knew about it and everything was kept hush-hush. As we all know, there is tons of attention from both parties, the media, and other watch-dog organizations that makes secret subversions on any relevant scale impossible.

And the title from your CNN link: "Florida recount study: Bush still wins".

I've had enough with the tin foil hat brigade. I'm finished here.

Tim

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2004 07:15 PM

Tim, how grateful I am at your availability to point out my grave mistakes! Your helpfulness is most appreciated.

1) I'm at a loss to admit the assumption you claim for me, since none of the three approaches I suggested were the same type of mission. Afghanistan--full regime change and isolation and prosecution of terrorist encampments and support. Iraq--limited counterterrorism, increased diplomatic pressure and programs verification (such as performed and correctly reported by UN teams forced to leave by the invasion). Palestinian Authority--no major change in government, counterterrorism, largely police and administratrive control. The "fundamental mistake" glove more properly fits the President's policies, which seem characterized by a very single minded and not at all nuanced approach to the war on terror (when did that phrase get the WoT capitialization treatment?).

2) Your applause over swift tactical victories in both countries is freely and cheerfully stipulated to. I think bragging about taking down the Taliban is a little like giving Joe Frazier the heavyweight belt for whipping Butterbean. But that misses the point entirely. Bush does not create tactical policy. He formulates strategic policy. And the strategic policies pursued in each case (failure to cut off the enemy; heinous over-response; and casual neglect) have created situations at BEST neutral to their previous status--at likeliest rather worse.

3) I don't disagree at all with the strategy of eliminating terrorist states. I'm glad you mentioned that; please let me clarify--although I suppose I expected that calling for it in two of the three scenarios would help you reach that conclusion. I'm sure once the bus has reached that stop for you, the evidence weighing strongly against terrorist sponsorship in Iraq will be able to register. Again, your "hydra head" charge seems much more apt for the President. A region that featured little to no globally sponsored terrorism (ie, from points east) now has it. State support for it in Iran seems likelier with conservative reassumption of the government. One front has become two, or rather two have become three if you rightly include the homeland.

4. Yes, the homeland, which remains nearly as porous as on September 10th, especially as regards cargo. I have first hand experience with the budgeting impacts being felt by first responders, THE key element in any terrorist disaster. Port security in my hometown is a big issue that gets very little attention, given the size and diversity of our imports through it.

I am happy to engage a discussion on the strategies that I proposed. Tactics wasn't my issue, terrorist sponsorship was not an issue in Iraq. To. Sum.

Have a fine evening.

TJ

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 5, 2004 10:44 PM

Just for the record the United Nations is in charge of reconstruction and forming democratic institutions in Afghanistan. They came up with the figures for the amount of money that will be needed for rebuilding. They charged themselves with registering the population and holding elections. They are in charge of deciding which projects will move forward first, etc. The US doesn't make any of these decisions. The UN distributes the contributions. Isn't this was the left wants-the UN in charge. Why complain about getting your way? BTW Does anyone that complains about the progress in Afghanistan know anything about the progress in Kosovo. They still don't have electric all day. German and French companies were awarded the contracts to repair that infrastruture and instead skimmed off millions and stashed it in bank accounts in Sweden. Ethnic violence still takes place and the UN headquarters had to increase security because of attacks.

Posted by: lisa at March 6, 2004 07:34 AM

As for that "Florida recount study: Bush still wins" story, try reading it. Bush only "wins" by applying a nebulous concept of what "most" local election officials said they would have used. But by all the other reasonable-seeming counting methodologies presented (not counting Gore's requested recount— who cares what his particular strategy was anymore) Gore wins by increasing margins, up to tens of thousands of votes (which doesn't even take into account the wrongly
purged voters
.)

Posted by: basula at March 6, 2004 07:52 AM

TorridJoe,

I was impressed by your post, almost an essay, really. I don’t know if you will be returning this late, but, I needed to write this response as an exercise for my own training in dealing analytically with such arguments.

TJ>>"I find entirely untenable the charge that returning to "law enforcement, diplomacy, intelligence and market forces" policy represents a clear indication of foreign policy failure, either in the past OR the future.">"The most obvious example of success would be the one that guided our foreign policy for close to 50 years--Cold War containment.">"What strikes me as fascinating is how anyone can argue that the non-preemptive policies of the 90s didn't WORK in Iraq. ">"Having done so, our most glaring mistake was not to continue the pressure by supporting the Kurds in their effort to internally topple the unstable Hussein regime (in 1991). ">"This (containment) effort resulted in the estimated 90-95% destruction of all WMDs.">"Note that it was the British who engineered the settlements with Libya--again, diplomatic arrangements. Certainly the spectre of Iraqi invasion must have put Mommar's finger closer to the BatPhone … ">"I ask you then, where is the failure of this strategy? ">"What did Bush do? Attack the entire country, thus invoking the phrase "you broke it, you bought it.">"If we're truly serious about terror in the Middle East viz Israel/Palestine, the answer is not inaction and a blind eye to whatever Ariel Sharon thinks is the best policy. I would have severely hesitated for taking this step, but at least I could understand the directness of the rationale: invade the Palestinian Authority.

The area needs a total rebuilding. The one country that HAD pretty good institutions was Iraq--and that's the country we leveled. Why? ">"I didn't even get into my thoughts on a slow, deliberate and increasing squeeze on Iraq as an alternative to invasion, deposition and occupation. ">"What really bothers me about Bush foreign policy is that not only do the proponents in the White House seem seriously ignorant of the places they were invading, they appear to not care either. ">"Afghanistan--full regime change and isolation and prosecution of terrorist encampments and support. ">"Iraq--limited counterterrorism, increased diplomatic pressure and programs verification (such as performed and correctly reported by UN teams forced to leave by the invasion). ">"Palestinian Authority--no major change in government, counterterrorism, largely police and administratrive control. ">"Bush does not create tactical policy. He formulates strategic policy. And the strategic policies pursued in each case (failure to cut off the enemy; heinous over-response; and casual neglect) have created situations at BEST neutral to their previous status--at likeliest rather worse.">"I'm sure once the bus has reached that stop for you, the evidence weighing strongly against terrorist sponsorship in Iraq will be able to register. ">"Yes, the homeland, which remains nearly as porous as on September 10th, especially as regards cargo."

Posted by: jdwill at March 6, 2004 02:59 PM

I appreciate the compliment. "What would you have done differently" is an entirely legitimate question, one that deserves reply. Luckily, in my view there is no shortage of better alternatives than the ones actually pursued.

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 6, 2004 03:45 PM

TorridJoe (blog ate my previous post),

I was impressed by your post, almost an essay, really. I don’t know if you will be returning this late, but, I needed to write this response as an exercise for my own training in dealing analytically with such arguments.

TJ-I find entirely untenable the charge that returning to "law enforcement, diplomacy, intelligence and market forces" policy represents a clear indication of foreign policy failure, either in the past OR the future.

This ignores the escalating attacks throughout the 80’s and 90’s. It also ignores the rising antipathy in the Islamic world fed by Wahabist doctrine from Saudi Arabia.

TJ- The most obvious example of success would be the one that guided our foreign policy for close to 50 years--Cold War containment.

Was the cold war a spectacular success? It was a big part of my life, and it seemed we made a lot of bad choices in who we backed, not to mention Vietnam. Were the peoples subjugated by the Soviet Union consulted for this appraisal?

TJ-What strikes me as fascinating is how anyone can argue that the non-preemptive policies of the 90s didn't WORK in Iraq.

Again, were those who suffered under Hussein consulted? What about the bounty paid to suicide bomber’s families? And there is the general failure of states in the ME, allowing the breeding of terrorism (see Friedman, etal.) that struck us.

TJ-Having done so, our most glaring mistake was not to continue the pressure by supporting the Kurds in their effort to internally topple the unstable Hussein regime (in 1991).

Agreed, but the much lauded multilateral coalition had a huge Arab component that would not have allowed a fellow dictator to be replaced. Also, Turkey is paranoid about the Kurds getting any independence. You didn’t make the unilateral charge, but this refutes it.

TJ-This (containment) effort resulted in the estimated 90-95% destruction of all WMDs.

Maybe. Why did several intelligence agencies besides the US and the UK think he was still holding and developing weapons? I read all of the Kay report, not just what the myopic media trumpeted. I am patient enough to wait and see what turns up in Syria and Iran as more muscular inspections are pursued.

TJ-Note that it was the British who engineered the settlements with Libya--again, diplomatic arrangements. Certainly the spectre of Iraqi invasion must have put Mommar's finger closer to the BatPhone …

Yes. And your point is? Diplomacy is limited to what sphere of action?

TJ-I ask you then, where is the failure of this strategy?

Where was the success? I mean, come on, you have to better than that.

As to your take on Afghanistan, well maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it was on short order, and we seem to be slowly turning Pakistan (a major stumbling block on the path to land locked Afghanistan) more and more.

TJ-What did Bush do? Attack the entire country, thus invoking the phrase "you broke it, you bought it."

I refer you to Den Beste (see link above) for the why of Iraq. He lays out the rational brilliantly. I admit this is a grand risk that Bush is taking, the really difficult dialogue is why such a risk is thinkable – what are the alternatives?

TJ- I would have severely hesitated for taking this step, but at least I could understand the directness of the rationale: invade the Palestinian Authority. …

You carp about invading Iraq and then say we should invade the PA? This needs some development on your part.

TJ-The one country that HAD pretty good institutions was Iraq--and that's the country we leveled. Why?

We leveled Iraq? Two previous wars, Hussein’s mismanagement, and the sanctions depleted Iraq.

TJ-I didn't even get into my thoughts on a slow, deliberate and increasing squeeze on Iraq as an alternative to invasion, deposition and occupation.

Umm, well that is your argument, isn’t it? It seems to me that you gave the containment argument a pretty good go.

TJ-What really bothers me about Bush foreign policy is that not only do the proponents in the White House seem seriously ignorant of the places they were invading, they appear to not care either.

Not worth responding to. You can’t expect us to accept that Perle, Wolfowitz are ignorant when their Project for a New Century spelled out in the 90’s most of what is happening now.


You later summarize your views quite clearly in response to Tim:

TJ-Afghanistan--full regime change and isolation and prosecution of terrorist encampments and support.

Okay to give that one away, no sense trying to get the angry Americans to sit still for the multi-culti solution right after 9-11.

TJ-Iraq--limited counterterrorism, increased diplomatic pressure and programs verification (such as performed and correctly reported by UN teams forced to leave by the invasion).

The UN inspectors were forced out in 1998 by harassment and threats. The second wave was Hussein’s last chance. As soon as he submitted his bogus disclosure the game was on. You can ignore the 12 year ‘rush’ to war, but some of us were doing some fact checking.

TJ-Palestinian Authority--no major change in government, counterterrorism, largely police and administratrive control.

Arafat has been the doom of the Palestinians. Until this is changed, no hope exists for them. Would you seriously accept Arafat and Hamas with its explicit charter to run the Jew’s into the sea as a starting point for any solution?

TJ-Bush does not create tactical policy. He formulates strategic policy. And the strategic policies pursued in each case (failure to cut off the enemy; heinous over-response; and casual neglect) have created situations at BEST neutral to their previous status--at likeliest rather worse.

The strategy is working fine, you are complaining about tactics. BTW heinous over-response would have featured a lot more civilian causalties and casual neglect is what happened after the Russians were run out.

TJ-I'm sure once the bus has reached that stop for you, the evidence weighing strongly against terrorist sponsorship in Iraq will be able to register.

This is utter horseshit. What about Salman Pak, Ansar el Islam, and bounties paid to PA suicide bomber’s families?

And yes, the terrorists are flocking to Iraq. The Iranian theocracy is in a life or death struggle to prevent Shia’s in Iraq from pointing the way to democracy for the huge number of extremely discontented Iranians.

TJ-Yes, the homeland, which remains nearly as porous as on September 10th, especially as regards cargo.

As to homeland security, the only reason we are going through this stupendous exercise is the fact that we didn’t have the will to confront Islamofacism in the 80’s and beyond. Thought to be complete, we should examine how that magnificent containment of the Soviet Union allow despots in the ME to play one superpower against another while stagnating and radicalizing their populations.

I find after taking your points one by one, that while your argument as a whole seems persuasive, it rests on some very unlikely assertions. I will stick with Den Beste, though I challenge you to find the flaw I see in his strategy html.

Posted by: jdwill at March 6, 2004 04:05 PM

Torridjoe --

1. I disagree with almost everything you said, but I am only responding to a selected few of your points in the interests of time. The point of the Bush strategy is to deal with extreme anti-Westernism in the Middle East by ripping down the failed states that cause it and replacing them with democracies -- an extremely ambitious goal, and one I think honest liberals should support.

2. Containment worked in fighting the Cold War because our enemy believed that he had something to lose. The USSR was unlikely to instigate nuclear war with the US because the USSR would be destroyed in the process. There is no evidence that our current enemies have such scruples. I fear that the only way to deter them is to kill them.

3. The Clinton policy toward Iraq was not sustainable in the long term. Military containment and diplomatic pressure worked only because we kept large numbers of troops in the vicinity as a constant axe hanging over Hussein's head. (Incidently, the presence of those troops was Al Qaeda's initial reason for its jihad against the US). There was widespread cheating on the sanctions and diplomatic pressure by the heroic French and others to end the sanctions "for the children" (who were starving to death in droves while Saddam used corruptly obtained money in the oil-for-palaces program to enrich himself at the expense of his countrymen).

4. Lobbing a few cruise missiles into Iraq from time to time was not meaningful military pressure, in that there is no evidence that it would ever either topple or reform Saddam. In fact, it probably undermined our Middle East policy as a whole because it demonstrated a lack of resolve to deal with a mad dictator who had openly defied us for 12 years.

5. I'm not quite certain how you can assert that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been anything but successful. We overthrew 2 of the world's worst regimes at relatively low cost to American and Allied servicemen and are proceeding steadily in the rebuilding of both countries. Capturing or killing a particular person is important only in symbolic terms -- destroying the opposing infrastructure is far more important. Al Qaeda is on the run and has not successfully launched an attack in the USA since 9/11. It would certainly be better to catch Osama than not to catch him, but it is far more important to neutralize his organization.

6. Discussing security at our ports is a red herring. We are probably years away from effective security at our ports. The sheer volume of traffic makes it virtually impossible to have tight security. Therefore, the best security is prevention. A combination of intelligence and instilling a sense of fear in our enemies is probably the best we can do for now.

Posted by: Ben at March 6, 2004 04:38 PM

Thanks for the response. I'm unpersuaded, and I will return to explain why. Let me say just for the moment that Salman Pak has been thoroughly discredited, Ansar I referred to correctly as being outside of Saddam's control, and I think the term "bounty" is an odd usage, and also doesn't represent sponsorship of terrorism, either. I'm also pretty shocked that you appear to believe WMD exist somewhere, against overwhelming odds. If you're going to persist in believing WMD and a terrorist connection despite a near total lack of evidence to support them, we're going to hit a rhetorical dead end between us very quickly.

More on point later.
TJ

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 6, 2004 04:42 PM

Ben, I'll catch up with you, too.
TJ

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 6, 2004 04:44 PM

TorridJoe,

You may be right about reaching a rhetorical impasse.

A quick google on Salman Pak - discounting newsmax, nro, and lefty polemics as well turns up:
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/salman_pak.htm
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gunning/interviews/
http://www.libertyboard.org/print.php?sid=72
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/06/09/1055010927084.html

All pointing to some very terrorist-like activity

Et tu PBS?

Dictionary on 'bounty':
A reward, inducement, or payment, especially one given by a government for acts deemed beneficial to the state, such as killing predatory animals ...

So giving money to families of suicide bombers represents 'no evidence' (is your mind that
closed?) of inducement to or reward of murder?

From Kay Oct 2003:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/kay.report/

DK-Post-OIF looting destroyed or dispersed important and easily collectable material and forensic evidence concerning Iraq's WMD program. As the report covers in detail, significant elements of this looting were carried out in a systematic and deliberate manner, with the clear aim of concealing pre-OIF activities of Saddam's regime;

DK-For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

My suggestion to you: avoid electrically grounded areas, shock under these conditions is considerably more severe.

Posted by: jdwill at March 6, 2004 05:16 PM

Thanks for the reply. If Salman Pak were at all credible, clearly the administration would be all over it, instead of distancing themselves from Chalabi and his band of opportunistic liars. Here's a recent rundown on the terrorist angle, detailing the lack of evidence and refuted claims:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationalpolitics/2001870791_alqaida04.html

Money quote:

"Iraqi defectors alleged Saddam's regime was helping to train Iraqi and non-Iraqi Arab terrorists at a site called Salman Pak, south of Baghdad. The allegation made it into a September 2002 white paper the White House issued.

The U.S. military has found no evidence of such a facility.

I found bounty an odd word, because to my mind it implies specific agreement afore, and payment to the actor--but your definition seems apt. I withdraw. But bounties are not sponsorship of terrorism; they are payments to families.

I think the last bit of evidence you're presenting is an attempt to show that there's more looking to be done on WMD. Considering Kay has told Bush and Cheney to give up on that idea, and if he suspected there was anything at the sites you mention he clearly would have had his team LOOK there, I think your hopes are entirely dubious. They just weren't there. The UN destroyed most, Clinton destroyed the rest, and Saddam was being lied to about production progress.

More on your original response in a moment.

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 7, 2004 11:00 AM

From your article:

"President Bush's claim that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaida was one of his administration's central arguments for a pre-emptive war. Yet nearly a year after invading Iraq, no evidence … "

You know, as soon as I see the words ‘no evidence’ a switch goes off, and I start to be skeptical. It has become a sort of rote denial tool that ignores the non black and white nature of the world. It sounds like someone has stuck their head in the sand, and no evidence will be accepted or considered. It is the cheap deny, deny, deny tactic of the guilty defendant.

BTW the first sentence that deliberately misleads by misstating Bush’s case. My partisan diatribe meter hit 8 on that alone.

Now here comes TJ – “The U.S. military has found no evidence of such a facility (Salman Pak).”

From http://www.habitablezone.com/currentevents/messages/311204.html

Salman Pak, Iraq (AP) - Marines pulled intelligence from a shattered Republican Guard headquarters Sunday after a night of fiery bombardments, and they searched a suspected terrorist training camp, finding the shell of a passenger jet believed to be used for hijacking practice.

And http://www.photodude.com/weblog/2003/april/07_the_capture_of_salman_pak.shtml

And http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/special/iraq/1855357

CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar -- Marines overran a suspected terrorist training camp Sunday, complete with an old airliner and a rappelling tower, after picking up information from non-Iraqi fighters captured in the war.

And on the question of Hussein payments not being a support of terrorism:

From http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,48822,00.html

FN-McGeough quoted the Arab Liberation Front's Ma'amoon Tayeh as saying the extra $15,000 would encourage more suicide-bomber volunteers to "confirm the legitimacy of our national questions."

FN-On March 12, the Associated Press quoted Baghdad's Al-Iraq newspaper's quoting of deputy minister Tariq Aziz, who said the payments have been made since 2000 and recently were increased.

We could go on and on. No point really. But what is interesting me just now, is the lack of coverage the general media has given these stories.

On the Salman Pak story, I wonder if there is not a 'late hit' planned for the 2004 election.

On the payments to PA 'martyrs' I just don't know. Maybe the press is afraid to inflame opinion any more, a sort of numbness has set in.

On WMD:

DK-For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

What part of this can't you accept?

Posted by: jdwill at March 7, 2004 11:38 AM

Are you saying the threat of terrorist use of WMDs was not the central point of the attack? Hogwash. Otherwise there was no threat to the America at all-Iraq posed no delivery threat; al-Qaeda no payload threat.

The part I can't accept is that if they thought there was something there, they would have LOOKED already. If there was something there, what on earth would possess Kay to declare firmly there wasn't anything to find? There were well over 1000 sites high on the list to look into--not a single one produced anything of merit. It's pretty much you, GDub and Cheney on this one. The experts are on the side of the facts.

As for late hits--outside of Osama, if they had anything they'd be using it now. BC04 got into this a lot sooner than it wanted to, and they are still playing catchup on the campaign. Last week was not a good start. :)

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 7, 2004 11:58 AM

To your original critique:

"Was the cold war a spectacular success? It was a big part of my life, and it seemed we made a lot of bad choices in who we backed, not to mention Vietnam. Were the peoples subjugated by the Soviet Union consulted for this appraisal?"
Stipulated on bad choices, no doubt. But what's the alternative to a cold war? A hot one. Given the two options, I choose cold.
"Again, were those who suffered under Hussein consulted? What about the bounty paid to suicide bomber’s families? And there is the general failure of states in the ME, allowing the breeding of terrorism (see Friedman, etal.) that struck us."
To your first point, were they consulted on the invasion? If you're going to argue shameless unilateralism, being on the pro-invasion side is untenable. As for failure of states in the ME (? Turkey? Jordan? Egypt? UAE?), the breeding of terrorism relevant to US threats was not occurring in the ME, it was in the FE--Pakistan and Indonesia.
"Agreed, but the much lauded multilateral coalition had a huge Arab component that would not have allowed a fellow dictator to be replaced. Also, Turkey is paranoid about the Kurds getting any independence. You didn’t make the unilateral charge, but this refutes it."
So stipulated that using the Kurds to topple Hussein brought its own problems, but I was referring to setting them up and then abandoning them. Not setting them up might have been the better alternative still, I agree.
"Maybe. Why did several intelligence agencies besides the US and the UK think he was still holding and developing weapons? I read all of the Kay report, not just what the myopic media trumpeted. I am patient enough to wait and see what turns up in Syria and Iran as more muscular inspections are pursued."
Most of those agencies, including the UK, relied in turn on previous US intelligence, in a wicked cycle of echo-chamberism. Don't forget also the large pattern of deceit by Chalabi's "defector intelligence' group. If you're waiting for 'more muscular inpsections' you'd better exhale--there won't be any. The search team has been split into counterinsurgency in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm doubtful of WMD having been spirited away, but if you're correct that doesn't really redound to Bush's favor, does it? No, not at all--one of the arguments against his plan was that resulting instability would place the "weapons" in even greater danger of changing hands.
TJ-I ask you then, where is the failure of this strategy?
"Where was the success? I mean, come on, you have to better than that."

It's fairly self-evident, isn't it? WMD destroyed, military capability crippled, regime weak and ever-more capitulative.
"You carp about invading Iraq and then say we should invade the PA? This needs some development on your part."
As I said, it's the toughest choice of the three scenarios. But my use of the term "invade" in that case is rather ill-advised; I would be confident that compared to the IDF, the PA would welcome US control of the territories.
"Not worth responding to. You can’t expect us to accept that Perle, Wolfowitz are ignorant when their Project for a New Century spelled out in the 90’s most of what is happening now."
They spelled out that we would be treated as liberators and regimes around the region and world would run scared. I don't see Iran running scared, and North Korea responded by kicking their WMD production up a notch. They perceived that a group of exiles headed by an embezzler would be seen as legimitate by the Iraqi masses--ha, ha. Contrary to validation, the Iraq war is likely to be the death of the neocon approach for some time.
"The UN inspectors were forced out in 1998 by harassment and threats. The second wave was Hussein’s last chance. As soon as he submitted his bogus disclosure the game was on. You can ignore the 12 year ‘rush’ to war, but some of us were doing some fact checking."
The second wave was going quite well, actually. At no site were they refused access. If 12 years had yielded only the strengthening of our relative positions, what was the negative impact of more time going to be?
"Arafat has been the doom of the Palestinians. Until this is changed, no hope exists for them. Would you seriously accept Arafat and Hamas with its explicit charter to run the Jew’s into the sea as a starting point for any solution?"
Arafat has barely been alive for the entire period of "doom" for the Palestinians; I don't think he's the key actor. I'd say Sharon has been the more predominant sycthe-bearer recently, by far.
"The strategy is working fine, you are complaining about tactics. BTW heinous over-response would have featured a lot more civilian causalties and casual neglect is what happened after the Russians were run out."
I'm specifically NOT complaining about tactics; I'm complaining about strategy. It seems you frame "civilian casualties" in the tactical realm; I'm saying that invasion, deposition, and occupation themselves were the over-response. It simply wasn't necessary, we know that now. Your assessment of casual neglect is similarly not on point--I agree that was casual neglect as well; this doesn't change the fact that inattention to rebuilding has let the Taliban reassert control over large swaths of the country, the madrassas run apace in Pakistan, little boys are once again the sex slaves of tribal leaders, and the heroin trade is back in booming business. That's neglect of a known volatile situation.
"As to homeland security, the only reason we are going through this stupendous exercise is the fact that we didn’t have the will to confront Islamofacism in the 80’s and beyond. Thought to be complete, we should examine how that magnificent containment of the Soviet Union allow despots in the ME to play one superpower against another while stagnating and radicalizing their populations."
I disagree that we didn't have the will beyond; certainly no President pre 9/11 did anywhere NEAR as much to combat terrorism as Bill Clinton. The record there, financially and legislatively, is clear. And of course, your response is again not on point--reasons or not, it has been fundamentally neglected in key areas, post-attack.
Thanks for taking the time to read what I took the time to write!
TJ

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 7, 2004 12:21 PM

Not the ties to AQ, but the general willingness to work with terrorists (i.e., the PA bounties), the general moneygrubbing nature that would sell anything to anyone (Hussein, not the French), and the major propensity for building and using WMD. This taken with 12 years of breach of UN resolutions made the center of the case.

I am not inclined to defend Hussein as if in a legal trial where a preponderance of evidence is needed. Its more like when Aunt Sally hits Tom Saywer and then he proves his innocence - her retort? "Like as not, you did something (else) today to deserve it"

I give up on the WMD. If you can't visualize the enormity of the ammo dumps (50 sq mi is a 10, by 5 mile rectangle, like the size of a largish city) and you think Kay's opinion on one remark occludes the entire rest of his report, well we will just have to wait and see.

In any case, going back to my original posts about Den Beste,
http://denbeste.nu/essays/strategic_overview.shtml
I don't care all that much. If we can hold on in Iraq, we stand a good chance of Iran tipping over and the pressure on SA, Syria, etal will then be immense. That's the ballgame.

The mild tone of BC04's initial adds, sets the tone and defines the 'brand', the harder stuff will come later as tit for tat. I'm no serious campaign strategist, so all of this is IMHO.

Posted by: jdwill at March 7, 2004 12:26 PM

Ben, to your points, helpfully numbered:

1) I agree it's ambitious, bit it's also illegal and immoral. What gives us the right to rip down states we deem "failed," even if they pose no threat? I thought Bush's strategy was to fight terror. Why is he assiduously avoiding those places where terror is most virulent (Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine?)

2) Saddam believed he had something to lose, I think. He was as craven as any other dictator in love with his own power. And even if you disagree with that assessment, the reality is that containment worked in Iraq, too.

3) Why was the Clinton policy not sustainable, but upping the troop limit repeatedly and keeping tens of thousands of reserve forces in country on stop-loss orders is somehow maintainable indefinitely? Cheating or not (and you'll note I allowed that corruption was occuring), the process was still showing success.

4) Lobbing cruise missiles may not have been "meaningful pressure," but it did do what it was designed to do--destroy WMD capability potential. I don't think it undermined our ME policy anywhere near the extent to which it's been undermined currently. Money talks as well as force in many situations, and Qaddaffi's flipping out of financial need is a key example of US resolve that doesn't involve reckless killing.

5) Again, I freely stipulate the success of the wars in terms of primary tactical objective--topple the regime. Unfortunately, the strategic objectives--kill and arrest the terrorists--have been much less realized. And our peace objectives are unknown at best, failures at worst. And I sure don't consider 2-300bil SO FAR to be low cost. If al-Qaeda are on the run, why are we claiming they just took out 200 people in Karbala and Baghdad last week? They haven't launched an attack on the US--what about elsewhere (eg Turkey, Bali)? They're still pretty busy. I agree it's more important to neutralize the organization. When does that start?

6) I don't see the connection between volume and security. Spot checking 10-20% of the cargo is a viable and effective goal. I agree the best security is prevention, since terrorism is not something you can ever truly "defeat." Prevention starts best at home. You can't get rid of burglars, but you can put a deadbolt on your (cockpit) door.

Thanks for the reply.
TJ

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 7, 2004 12:33 PM

Thanks again for the reply, jdwill. I find it interesting that you think Iraq's development will lead to a better Iran. I think clearly the opposite is looking to be true--Iran's Shia clergy are not only friendly to the Iraqi Shia, they're literally RELATED. The conservatives have firm control of the country now, and rest assured they will work with Sistani and al-Sadr to create an Islamic Iraq. In any case, we show no interest in "holding on" there; despite Iraq clearly not being ready, the US administration clings to June 30th like white hot death. We're out of there, and then it's somebody else's problem.

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 7, 2004 12:37 PM

Torridjoe --

My sur-rebuttal:

1. Attacking Iraq was both legal and moral. (a) Legal because Gulf War I ended with a ceas fire that spelled out certain obligations on the part of Iraq. 12 years later, Iraq had not complied with its obligations. Therefore, we had every right under "international law" (which I don't think very highly of for a lot of reasons) to take action. (b) Moral because Saddam was one of the worst dictators in the world. If anything was immoral, it was leaving him in power as long as we did.

2. Containment was a short term solution for the reasons I cited above. It was also costly in both money and lives (of Iraqis) and tied down large numbers of American troops (keeping them in Saudi Arabia was what set bin Ladin off in the first place).

3. The process was not showing success -- it was preserving status quo, which is not good enough in the post 9/11 world. (BTW, it was the Bush I policy, as well).

4. To the contrary, a real example of "what happens to bad guys who cross us" does far more to advance our ME policy than all the money in the world. (Remember in the 1980s when Americans were being taken hostage in Lebanon. 2 Russian diplomats were taken. The Russians responded by going after the families of the kidnappers. The hostages were returned unharmed and it never happened again). You are looking at this by Western standards. The ME is not the West. It's more like the Wild West.

5. The strategic objective was NOT to kill and arrest "the terrorists." It was to take down the regimes that support the terrorists. The ONLY way to stop the terrorists is to go after the states that sponsor them and the money that funds them. Without state sponsors and money, the terrorists lose most of their ability to act. We can pursue individual terrorists at our leisure, but as long as state sponsors and money exist, they can always find new recruits. You don't kill a hydra by cutting off its heads -- you go for the body.

6. We shouldn't ignore security by any means, but security alone will never solve the problem. There is no effective defense against an attacker willing to die. The problem will be solved when the Islamic fascist realizes that the cost of attacking us is higher than the cost of staying home. All the security in the world will not do this.

7. As an aside, I never cared about WMD in the first place. It was 1 justification of many for the attack on Iraq, and not even the most important of the many.

Posted by: Ben at March 7, 2004 02:56 PM

Ben,

Well said.

Posted by: jdwill at March 7, 2004 03:44 PM

Mr. Totten, obviously you must vote for whoever your conscience tells you to vote for.

But do you really trust the people who created the Taliban, supported Saddam, and set in motion the chain of events that led to the mullahs seizing power in Iran, to get it right this time? The Republicans (and the elements in the Democratic party that have since become the neo-conservative movement) have been trying this for at least sixty years. They have constantly and consistently made things worse. What's going to be different this time?

The isolationism of the old Republicans and the extreme left is not an acceptable alternative to the apocalyptic blundering of the modern Republicans. And perhaps that half-way house lies in tying America's global escapades to the UN, and particularly to our allies in Europe, building a real international coalition and exploring options other than military attacks and economic imperialism. And building that house is what John Kerry wants to do.

President Bush has caged traditional Manichean intervention in humanist terms, and all this has allowed him to do is intervene overtly where in the past America had to intervene covertly. A geninely international, genuinely humanitarian foreign policy is what we need. And that is what John Kerry will give us.

Posted by: Tim H at March 7, 2004 08:49 PM

Tim H --

1. You have a very one-sided view of history. It's also inaccurate: "But do you really trust the people who created the Taliban, supported Saddam, and set in motion the chain of events that led to the mullahs seizing power in Iran, to get it right this time?" Give me a break.

2. How in the world do you KNOW what John Kerry wants to do. He has been on every side of every issue at one time or another.

Posted by: Ben at March 8, 2004 04:12 PM

I'm not sure if anybody other than spammers are posting on this interesting thread but it's worth pointing out that you (MJ Totten) and other "Democrats voting for Bush" are a phenomenally small number of voters according to a recent ARG poll. 11% of Republicans would break ranks and vote for Kerry while only 5% of Democrats would break ranks and vote for Bush. That's considerably smaller than the number of Dems who voted for Bush in 2000. Why might that be? Surely there are other single-issue voters on the WOT who are pleased at Bush's approach and unimpressed with Kerry as an alternative. Are those numbers wrong? That they would change drastically between now and November seems unlikely considering Democrats have had three years to decide what they think of Bush's approach to the war on terror. Do Democrats really not care about the war on terror? Or do most (nearly all) Democrats find Kerry to be a sufficiently strong enough commander in chief in spite of not presenting any coherent, comprehensive and aggressive WOT strategy until very recently? I'm sure many don't care what others think but I find it interesting that pro-Bush Dems (on defense) are quite prominent in the blogosphere and media but are virtually non-existent in the electorate. Just curious.

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President Bush has done a great deal for our country, but lately his self-interest has me in doubt about reelecting him. This anti-gay behavior really worries me about what values he will instill in our children. I want a president that I can be proud of and one that I can tell my children to learn from. At this point, I'm inclined to vote for Nader. Has everyone forgotten him? It's another option.

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Posted by: alveo at December 19, 2004 11:22 AM

EMPLOYMENT OFFER...

Would you like to work online from home and get paid weekly ?

Wills & Jerry LIMITED needs a Representative in the states,so i
want to know if you will like to work online from home and get paid
weekly without leaving or affecting your present job?

It's just that we presently run a textile and fabrics firm in the
West Africa and we also have many branches all over Africa
countries and we need someone to work for the company as a
representative/book keeper in the states.

My company produces various clothing materials, batiks, assorted
fabrics and traditional costume which we have clients we supply
weekly in the states.

My clients make payments for our supplies every week in form of
Cashiers check/Money Orders which are not readily cashable outside
the United States, So we need a reliable and trustworthy individual
in the states to work as our representative and assist us in
processing the payments from our clients and will paid weekly.

All you need to do is to receive the payments from our clients in
the states,then get it cashed at your bank,you will then deduct
your weekly pay which would be 15% of whatever you cash then
forward the balance to the company down here via the closest
western union or moneygram outlet close to you.
I sincerely hope i can have an irrevocable trust in you on this.

So all we need to do is to forward your information to our client
who will be make money orders payable to you on our behalf then
send it to you via mail or courier
I will need the following information below

1.YOUR FULL NAME AND CONTACT ADDRESS.
2.YOUR DIRECT TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBERS.
3.YOUR AGE AND PRESENT OCCUPATION.
4.YOUR EXPERIENCE IN FUND MANAGEMENT

At the provision of the above information we can now forward your
information to
Smartregards

NOTE:KINDLY GET BACK TO ME ON THIS EMAIL :.{gladys_morgan_20062007@yahoo.com} or to
the Company Private email Address:.{jerrywills300@myway.com}

Wills & Jerry Limited
Assistant Manager
GLADYS MORGAN .

Posted by: gladys morgan(mrs) at January 31, 2007 07:22 AM
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