July 26, 2004

Readjusting to Reality

Is it okay for a guy who writes about politics to completely ignore the Democratic Convention?

I have no opinions today since Iíve been out of the news loop for almost a month. Itís a nice change, and it wonít last long. Oh no. Give me a day or two and Iíll have plenty. By that time the convention should be blessedly almost over. Should I really spend my time getting caught up on a bunch of nonsense? Iíd rather catch up on the important things Iíve missed if thatís okay with everybody.

All Iíve really figured out so far is that some guy named Sandy Berger got in trouble for something that has to do with his pants. Iíve no idea. Please donít explain it to me in the comments. This, I think, is one of those things that ought to go straight to the memory hole before even passing into the brain.

So anyway, the convention. Who cares? It has nothing to do with anything. It's a bunch of b.s., just like the upcoming Republican Convention - which I also intend to ignore. No real news will emerge. That is by design. Ever since the right-wing put on that freakshow double-headed by the two Pats in Houston back in 1992 conventions are scripted to be boring on purpose. This is probably wise. That turkey in Houston scared me off the Republicans for a decade. No one in either party wants something like that to happen again.

Thank God Iím not a reporter stuck covering these things. Iíd rather head down to Rachel, Nevada and write about UFO goofballs in the desert. That might actually be entertaining. My left-wing friend Marc Cooper is covering the Democrats and says (in my comments section) he feels he's being ďheld prisonerĒ by the DNC. Iíll bet. He liked my Tunisia photos, said they were a nice break. I understand. The real thing was even better. I think Marc would rather be fishing the waters of Baja. So would I. So would most other people.

I donít know who Iím going to vote for in November. In the next few weeks and months Iím going to be thinking long and hard about this. Iím going to build two separate cases: The liberal case for Bush and the hawkish case for Kerry. Both strike me as dubious, and will strike most other people as dubious too. But I donít have anything else to work with here. The liberal case for Kerry is obvious. The conservative case for Bush is equally so. You donít need me to explain either one and, besides, neither speak to my concerns at this time.

In the meantime, Iím saving most of my Tunisia material for paid work. If youíre still interested in reading about the country, Iíll provide links to those pieces as always. Iíll also post a travel narrative that wonít make it into a column just as soon as Iím finished writing it. So stay tuned for that.

Itís nice to be home. I have a brand-new home office that I finished remodeling just before I left the country. I can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast again. I can log onto the Internet whenever I want. I can talk to anyone I please without worrying about the language difference. I can get a cup of coffee thatís more than an inch deep, and I can sleep in my queen-sized bed where my feet donít stick out the bottom all night. I can kiss my wife in public without being offensive. And I can pet my cats.

We came home and found baby fish in our pond. Life is good.

UPDATE: By the way, my traffic is down by half. If you have your own blog and you feel like letting the world know I'm back from vacation, I promise not to get mad.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 26, 2004 08:24 PM

The photos are amazing, as were the posts describing the country and culture you encountered. Welcome back!

Posted by: PurpleStater at July 26, 2004 09:36 PM

Michael -

There's no detail value in the DNC convention except that the entire undertaking is planned as an exercise in disguising the true nature of the Democrat party.

Amazingly enough, that design has been reported and commented on at length and in detail by most media. Kerry's campaign is said to have declared editorial oversight and control on all speakers (not that the herd listened in light of tonight's speeches) in an attempt to head off any Dean Scream moments...

Think of the flip side; what if Karl Rove told Katie Couric that his priority for the Republican Convention was censoring the base? Now that's not to say that the media won't make a great effort to imply that the speakers-in-tongues, gay lynchers, klansmen, and corporate overlords are really all over the convention floor but controlled by mental waves emanating from Dick Cheney's butt, but there will not be any PR campaign featuring RNC or Bush Campaign staffers making the case that having their base on display is a bad thing in itself.

A political party that dedicates itself to deception on the occassion of what is supposed to be its crowning public moment begs to be examined closely. They cannot imagine media (well, the IMPORTANT part) questioning the tactic, much less understand that those 'undecided' voters they so desperately need might just judge their strategy in a different light than was intended.

There has been a lot going on. I made sense of it by taking the key Left indictments of Bush and listing them on the left side of a paper and then countering those with the conclusions of the 9/11 commission, Senate Intelligence committee, and Butler (UK) reports. I'm fairly confident that you will employ a similar method, only more comprehensive in resources and depth.

I don't know how you have any doubts about who you are going to vote for in November; you don't strike me as the kind of guy who'd by a lemon with a slick paint job.

Especially while you watched it being painted.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 26, 2004 09:59 PM

Preview, preview, preview -

...BUY a lemon with a slick paint job.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 26, 2004 10:19 PM

Tmj: you don't strike me as the kind of guy who'd buy a lemon with a slick paint job.

I'm not. Unforunately for me (and for many of the rest of us) the few qualities I used to admire in George W. Bush went poof. For a while I thought I'd vote for him because Kerry would let Iran get nukes. Now it looks like George W will let Iran get nukes, too.

I want to vote for the guy who will hunt down terrorists, kick down their doors, and put bullets in their heads. Bush has lost interest in this project. Kerry is bored with the idea, too, but at least he might snap out of it and bring a good chunk of the left with him. Bush can't bring anyone along with him who isn't already there. I'm there now, wondering why he isn't.

He's had almost three years now to explain to America and the world what we're doing. He has chosen not to do this. I watched the conservative Tucker Carlson on TV tonight say he thinks the war in Iraq was a mistake because we did not find weapons. Bush blew it. He made the wrong case for war, and now he and every other hawk looks like a chump. Paul Berman, who hates Bush and refuses to vote for him, made the best case for the proper kind of war in this essay only a month after September 11. If a Bush-hating leftist can do it, why can't Bush or Powell or Rumseld or Rice? I'm tired of doing Bush's PR work for him, and I'm not willing to continue doing so if he's no longer interested in continuing the project in any case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 26, 2004 10:52 PM

Better cultivate some relationships with people who are actually doing the heavy lifting, Michael.

Bush told us what the plan was three years ago. In the time since, I haven't seen any marked deviation from that plan. He can babysit and play the spin game, or he can serve up results.

I've had to wade through literally thousands of news, editorial, and public relations spin pieces damning every act Bush has committed every step of the way...but in the end we've freed two countries, positioned our striking power on the borders of the core of the enemy host nations, and are actively engaged in hunting and eliminating terrorists across the world. There have been no more 9/11's here. Yet. There will be before this war is over.

When you worked for an organization was it incumbent on your boss to bring you in every day and restate your team's objectives every morning? Did you get a university-level refresher on capitalism and coporate strategy with your noonish coffee?

Did you depend on that nightly six page email to tell you that you were doing fine and that tomorrow your name would still be on your cube?

I'd like to see GW Bush come out and call the enemy fundamentalist Islam, and identify the state sponsors as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria...but that can't happen right now because the nation is reluctant to accept the reality of our times. Not only that, he's given the leaders of those states breathing space to possibly reform from within. Small chance of that, but tactically not a very bad move to make on Bush's part.

My personal opinion is that the longer this silly season of campaigning goes on, the more valid the parallels between Lincoln and Bush become. We live in a world where our very way of life is under attack ...genocidal attack...and several of our former allies, the past leadeing nations of our western civilization, have elected to exploit the challenge in some obscene attempt to regain international stature. The same tactic has been used with reckless bordering on criminal abandon by our Left, as well. To lose this war is to lose everything we hold dear beginning with freedom and ending with our lives.

Bush fights. He is the indispensible man of our time. The active offensive against us has been ongoing since before Beirut. That's over two decades and three administrations. Bush is the first president to not turn away from the challenge.

Pardon my cynicism...but just what one quality of leadership or accomplishment do you see in John Kerry that remotely qualifies him to be the leader of the free world? After twenty years left of Ted Kennedy? In time of a global war? Or for that matter his party, which is right this minute presenting itself as some of mutant sort-of conservative-but-without-the-nasty-judgemental-or-patriot-thingies? Bush is a whole lot of things, but being uncomfortable with or afraid of who he is or what he stands for he is emphatically not. His party's performance in the legislature has been abysmal bordering on the laughable, but his administration cabinet has been far and away the A Team for tackling and solving the problems we have faced over the last three years.

I agree that things might have been done differently, that maybe some people might have benefitted from having the challenge before us diced up small and run through a blender to avoid any confusion for even the weakest of minds...but maybe a conscious decision has been made to prioritize winning the fight over anything else. Even being reelected. I have no way of knowing for sure, but maybe the sitting president has decided that a nation that will not judge on results may not be worth serving. I just don't know.

I am assuming that you took time out of your catching up to respond to my first post. Please feel free to take a good long look at exactly what the domestic battlefield looks like before you invest any time responding to this.

And thanks for the commentary and lovely pictures. I love the desert.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 26, 2004 11:31 PM

With "left wing" friends like Marc Cooper is surprising you have the views you do...sliding scale, anyone?

Just give up the schtick for christ's sake.

Welcome back. Fraud.

Posted by: Saag Paneer at July 27, 2004 12:53 AM

You really don't want to know about Berger.

Trust me.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at July 27, 2004 03:24 AM

For something truly hilarious and worth your while related to Campaign 2004, go and check out the JibJab Woody Guthrie parody of Bush and Kerry singing "This Land Is Your Land". If you've been gone almost a whole month, I'm guessing you might not have seen this yet, Michael...

Just go to jibjab.com and "click to play".

Posted by: Grant McEntire at July 27, 2004 03:43 AM

Welcome back Mr. Totten, glad to let my readers know you are back.

Posted by: Gerry at July 27, 2004 04:33 AM

>>>"All I’ve really figured out so far is that some guy named Sandy Berger got in trouble for something that has to do with his pants."

If you're a Dem, the real scandal isn't Berger's theft (and the motives), but the leak that revealed them.

Any other schmuch would/should go to jail, but sadly, because Berger's protected from on high, he'll get off scot free, and the GOP will look like the villanis for "leaking" it.

Welcome to the upside down world of the Liberal.

Posted by: David at July 27, 2004 06:51 AM


Welcome back Michael!

I, for one, understand your split opinion on the future President of the United States. I ask myself, "Which fraud is the fraud least likely to make things worse than they are?"

Should I vote for the man who panders to the right-wing christian conservatives and the neo-con hawks, or should I vote for the man who panders to the "I'm not the other guy" crowd?

Well, let's see, Bush has the War on Terror and response to 9/11 on his side. We invaded Afganistan to get this guy named Bin Laden. He sent airplanes into some of our buildings (If I recall correctly). I think we're still there looking for him. Somehow (no one can really tell us why), we decided to take a break from looking in caves and sent the majority of our standing army, sitting army, vacationing army and retired army to fight Al Q's partner in crime, supplier of WMD's and number one member of the Axis of Evil... Iraq.

Except, of course, Iraq and Al Q were not apparently partners in crime and they apparently did not have any WMD's. Oh, and we botched the entire operation, so while we achieved a millitary victory, we lost the victory of freedom and justice. The horrific memories of the lowest point in American morality will stain our nation for years. We, The Best Democracy in the World, Champion of Freedom, have thousands of people in prisons, not charged with crimes, some apparently goatherders who happened to be in the wrong place....we could talk about abuse of human rights, we could talk about abuse of executive power, we could talk about the fact that world opinion of us seems lower than ever before... but why bother? Indeed, many Americans have no problem with this course of action. "Faster, Faster", they chortle, "She is the best ocean liner ever, take her to top speed and don't mind those little bits of floating ice!"

Not only have the past four years given us an embarassment of failures, but it has shown the putrid underbelly of the American People.

Or, we can vote for the guy who apparently has no solid opinions on anything.

I want a do-over.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of the ChaoAcorn
POEE of the Great Googlie-Mooglie Cabal

PS - I told Eris to leave you alone while you were on vacation... I hope she listened.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 06:54 AM

Oh, and lets not forget this administration gave us the USAPATRIOT Act, which stops terrorism as shown in the following news story:


Federal charges were filed against Adam McGaughey, creator of the popular SG1Archive.com website - a fan website devoted to the MGM-owned television show Stargate SG-1. The charges allege that the website engaged in Criminal Copyright Infringement and Trafficking in Counterfeit Services. The charges were the culmination of a three-year FBI investigation, set in motion by a complaint from the Motion Picture Association (MPAA) regarding the content of the SG1Archive.com website.

SG1Archive.com is one of the most popular fan-run websites among the Stargate community. In addition to providing very active fan discussion forums, broadcast schedules, production news, and episode guides, the site heavily promotes the sale of the show on DVD.

However, instead of thanking Adam for his promotion of their product, officials at MGM and the MPAA have chosen to pressure the FBI into pursuing criminal charges. Adam was first tipped off about the investigation when the FBI raided his and his fiancee's apartment in May of 2002 and seized thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment. Adam later received a copy of the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant, and was shocked to discover that this document, prepared by the FBI, contained significant amounts of erroneous and misleading information. For example, two social security numbers were listed for Adam, one of which is not his. References were made to a cease and desist letter sent by the MPAA to an email address that did not exist. His online friendship with other Stargate fans across the globe was portrayed as an international conspiracy against the MPAA. And perhaps most disturbing of all, it was later revealed that the FBI invoked a provision of the USA Patriot Act to obtain financial records from his ISP. The FBI's abuse of its powers did not stop there. When they seized Adam's computer equipment, he was given written documentation stating that it would be returned within 60 days. The equipment that they did return did not arrive until more than 8 months later, and only then after much prodding from his lawyer. Much of it was damaged beyond repair - one laptop had a shattered LCD screen, an empty tape backup drive was ripped apart for no apparent reason, his fiancee's iBook was badly damaged when it was pried apart with a screwdriver. The FBI's computer crimes staff is either incompetent (at least when it comes to Macintosh computer equipment) or else they just don't give a damn.

I feel safer knowing that Fans won't be creating websites in tribute to their favorite shows. Damn those evil Terrorists!

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 07:27 AM

In a post today at Belmont Club, Wretched nicely explains the difference between Kerry and Bush on the war.

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2004 07:39 AM

>>>"And perhaps most disturbing of all, it was later revealed that the FBI invoked a provision of the USA Patriot Act to obtain financial records from his ISP."

a flimsy post considering you try to connect the ransacking of his house with the Patriot Act with only the above quoted paragraph as your evidence. You have failed to make the case that the ransacking occurred because of the patriot act because homes in this country have been ransacked for centuries. Try again.

Posted by: David at July 27, 2004 07:46 AM

Michael, welcome back.

Regarding Iran and nukes, what is Bush to do this year? Barring Iran doing something truly stupid, we can't ratchet pressure up quickly without the Loyal Opposition screaming about tails wagging dogs. My feeling is Bush thinks this election is important, and that he needs to win to take the next steps in this war, and that effectively ties his hands on Iran until after the General Election.

I do expect the rhetoric on Iran to be pretty forceful in Bush's acceptance speech, however. If Kerry is smart, he'll pre-empt Bush by calling out Iran on Friday.

Anyway, fearless predictions regarding the situatioin with Iran over the coming months:

Falling Skies and Fearless Predictions

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 27, 2004 07:53 AM

By all means take some time to de-compress, Michael. As you point out there's unlikely to be any news coming out of either convention. You might want to watch the keynote address: Obama is likely to be a rising star in the Democratic Party.

I'm trying to adjust myself to the idea of a Kerry presidency. Will he really rise to the defense of the country? Gosh, I hope so. It's hard to tell either from his record, his speeches, or his policy positions. From a personal standpoint he seems like a first-class horse's patoot but since I've never liked the incumbent much either there's not choose between there, either.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at July 27, 2004 07:57 AM

Welcome back. Your note on traffic tickles me because I just found out that the old Calpundit site still gets 10 times my traffic despite the fact that Kevin moved to a new site months ago.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at July 27, 2004 08:31 AM

Bottom line, however imperfectly, Bush will fight the war on Islamic terror. I do not believe Kerry even believes we are in a real war. There is no question he does not see the connection between the overthrow of Sadaam and the war on terror. His party has effectively politicized the war. It is a shame and a tragedy that the loyal opposition now rlentlessly attacks, not just the tactics or the strategy but the very integrity of the commander in chief in a war where morale is the sole key to victory. I will not reward them for this. And you just know that if Kerry or Gore or any Democrat were doing the exact same things, they would defend him to the hilt. Maybe it would be true of the Republicans as well if the roles were reversed. I doubt it. Not this broadly across the country. Republicans had their doubts about CLinton's national security actions. They doubted his sincerity and seriousness. They doubted his willingness to follow through. They were correct. They still gave him the support he needed to take action against Hussein and Al Quaeda to the extent that he did. Our only chance to restore a modicum of bi-partisanship in this great struggle of our time is to defeat the idea that everything is politics. Only a significant Kerry defeat will possibly achieve this result. And it doesn't matter what Kerry himself thinks (who can know) or says. His party has made its position clear. Kerry, after initially supporting the President made his bed in order to get the nomination. Finally, whatever his flaws as a commander in chief, President Bush has shown a resoluteness of purpose that is truly rare. I honestly believe he will do what he believes correct, regardless of political expediency. In a long struggle with inevitable ups and downs, this is a priceless commodity. If anyone thinks Kerry has it they are dreaming.

Posted by: Doug at July 27, 2004 08:36 AM


The Berger thing is a pretty big deal, as far as these things go. Some folks liken it to Watergate with very highly classified documents. I don't know if it's that big, but the stuff he removed was most certainly of extraordinarily high sensitivity.


Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 27, 2004 08:45 AM

Welcome back. Good luck trying to readjust. I spent one week out of the country and I'm still trying to find it in me to give a damn about this horse and pony show.

Great photos by the way.

Posted by: ken at July 27, 2004 08:56 AM

Welcome back.Glad you enjoyed your vacation,and am glad to see you are avoiding the farce in Boston as are all reasonable people.However surely the sight of Lumpy Riefenstahl in the box of honour merits at least some little comment.What a disgrace!!!
On the other hand,I do plan to watch the Republican event,just so that I can see Arnold.
Call me shallow but in a world of pygmies I like to sometimes see someone who appears larger than life.

Posted by: dougf at July 27, 2004 09:27 AM

Boy Michael, I was happy to see you back until I read this thread. Pretty amazing that a "glad to be home" post devolved into a partisan food fight, right from the first response.

TMJ, you've got me ROTFL with your self-righteous condemnation of the dems for practicing image control. Whose notes do you think they studied to divise such a clever strategy? BTW, how are you feeling about the planned speakers at the GOP convention, they're so representative. I'm sure Karl Rove is encouraging Arnold to expound at length on his libertarian social views.

Not. In other words, the pot and the kettle my friend, the pot and the kettle. Anyway, thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: bk at July 27, 2004 09:34 AM


"a flimsy post considering you try to connect the ransacking of his house with the Patriot Act with only the above quoted paragraph as your evidence. You have failed to make the case that the ransacking occurred because of the patriot act because homes in this country have been ransacked for centuries. Try again."

I wasn't trying to connect the ransacking of his house with the USAPATRIOT Act. I was pointing out that this "For Evil Terrorists Only" Act was used to get financial information on a suspect who was decidedly not a threat to the American people, their property, nor does he appear to have been a sympathizer with any terrorist activity. The ransacking of his home and destruction of his property is just more of the same gross neglect our government has shown for citizen's for decades.

Remember when the USAPATRIOT Act was proposed? People said it gave law enforcement too broad of powers? The response, if you remember, was that it would only be used in terrorist related cases. You tell me how a Fan site (even one hosting copyrighted material, which is bad IMHO) falls under terrorism and I'll vote for George.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 09:41 AM

Grant, that was awesome. Thank you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 10:01 AM

Saag Paneer,

Is your real name perchance Bob Armstrong? I think I recognize that email address of yours. But I could be wrong. It's been awhile.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 10:04 AM

Also re the war, I commend to you Nelson Ascher's 7/26/04 post at Europundits. In essence, Ascher says that Bush is not perfect, but we are in the middle of a war. Electing a new President will cause problems in prosecution of the war, at least in the short term. The War is THE issue, and everything else can wait. So, unless Kerry is significantly better than Bush, Bush should be re-elected. I agree.

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2004 10:08 AM


The War is The Issue?

Which war? The War on Terror or the war on Iraq?

The war on Iraq, I thought, was over. We're just helping the Iraqi people with their security problems now, right?

The War on Terror isn't going to end in the next four years, its like the War on Drugs, its going to continue for decades and dictate policy, more than be troops on the ground. Why? Because terrorism is an ideology, its been used for many, many centuries (perhaps even mellinia). It's not like killing Osama will end terrorism. so should we just keep Bush in power for the next 30 years or so, while he sorts this Terrorism issue out?

Vote for whomever you want, but don't let asinine arguments be the support for your position.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 10:17 AM

I agree that Kerry is worse than Bush on the war, or at least he appears to be. The reason I might vote for him anyway is because his election might re-hinge, so to speak, a broad swath of the currently unhinged Democratic Party. Bush is so despised by so many people, both here and abroad, I doubt he will be effective in the future.

We did not need to invade Iraq over weapons of mass destruction (although I do think we needed to invade for other reasons), but we may need to invade or at least bomb Iran over weapons of mass destruction. Would Bush be able to pull that off? I don't think so. He cried wolf whether that was his intention or not. (I'd say "not," but that's how it appears.)

Kerry could pull it off, though, if he could be persuaded to do so. He will not likely govern as he campaigns. But then again, perhaps I'm wrong and he will. I don't know. These are some of the things I am thinking about.

Bottom line: If I do end up voting for Kerry, and I may or may not, it will be for very different reasons than those of most of his supporters. What I would really prefer is a serious hawk who is not Bush. Since that's not an option, I'm stuck.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 10:23 AM

Tosk, this is not a "war on terror." It's a war against Middle Eastern fascism, both religious and secular. If we beat that, we beat the people who are using terrorism as a tactic. One thing that pisses me off about Bush is that he's leading this charge and has yet to articulate it properly. That is the reason Iraq looks like a distraction. No one could say Iraq was a distraction from fighting Middle Eastern fascism unless they want to get bogged down in distracting academic arguments about the meaning of the word "fascism." In any case, Baathism was imported to the Middle East from Nazi Germany and Vichy France during World War II. This is part of an old fight that never ended.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 10:30 AM


The fact that the vast majority of Kerry voters disagree with you about the war should provide a clue as to where Kerry's political base is and what kind of foreign policy he is likely to follow.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at July 27, 2004 10:37 AM

Michael, I'm in the same boat as you. I never liked Bush, I didn't vote for him, etc., but I'm an internationalist hawk and I also have great doubts about Kerry's willingness to do the things that need to be done.

But I also wonder whether we can have long-term success in the WO21CF (War on 21st-Century Fascism) unless we can get my wife and most of my friends and immediate family to take it seriously and support it. Politics is about emotion as much as it is about reality, and the aforementioned people (very moderate-to-liberal Democrats) have an intense hatred for Bush and the Repub party in general, so much so that they will never adopt a hawkish position as long as it's GWB that's taking it. The question I'm struggling with is: How polarizing does the guy in the White House have to be before his very presence in power actively hinders what he's trying to accomplish?

Posted by: Gene at July 27, 2004 10:44 AM

"The reason I might vote for him anyway is because his election might re-hinge, so to speak, a broad swath of the currently unhinged Democratic Party. "-- MJT

I am astounded that you could say this.I put it down to the heat and sun exposure you endured during your vacation.
Who cares if Michael Moore and his drooling cohorts are re-integrated into a semblance of sanity?They are still LOONS, even if they cease acting the role for a short while.By this logic is the ability to throw a delusional temper tantrum the real key to your voting heart?
This is a truly dangerous line of logic to pursue.If ANYTHING the only neccessary reason to vote AGAINST the LOONS and EVERYTHING they support is precisely BECAUSE they are so maddened.Such behaviour should never be encouraged under any circumstances and especially in a democracy.Is thus not very much akin to negotiating and surrendering to hostage takers? Seems suspiciously similar to me.

Posted by: dougf at July 27, 2004 10:49 AM


Ok, let's go with your defination of the war, as a war "against Middle Eastern fascism, both religious and secular."

We are still not going to see the end of it in 4 years, unless someone thinks that Bush will sucessfully take out the Saudi's, the Iranians, the Jordanians and who knows how many others... then he'll also need to make sure the sleeper cells are taken out. To claim that because we're in this War we shouldn't replace the President is a non-argument, unless we plan on keeping him in power for the next decade at least. Even if he gets a second run, his term will end before this War on ends.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 10:54 AM


They may be loons, but they are half of this country. They are what used to be known as citizens. You know, when we hear about a government by the people, of the people and for the people... we're talking about ALL the people, not just the ones who agree with your particular platform.

If you seriously believe that Bush will have a sucessful second term, while alienating half of the electorate, then perhaps you need to take a class or two on the US Government (check out your local High School Seniors Gov class).

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 10:57 AM


I'm not concerned with getting Michael Moore's sanity back. He's not the guy I'm concerned about at the moment. I'm thinking more of the editorial board at The New York Times. Imagine how differently the media would spin the war in Iraq if Al Gore were leading it and you'll have an idea what I would like to see happen. The catch, of course, is would Kerry even lead such a thing in the first place? And this is offset by wondering if Bush has the clout to lead us into the next necessary stage, whatever that turns out to be.

Imagine if Bush goes before Congress and asks to invade Iran because of weapons of mass destruction. Would he get the authorization? I have my doubts at this time. But Kerry would get it if he were to bother to ask.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 11:05 AM

Tosk: To claim that because we're in this War we shouldn't replace the President is a non-argument

I agree and I don't think I said otherwise.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 11:06 AM


I know you agree, I was simply re-stressing the point I had made earlier.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 11:17 AM


"Imagine if Bush goes before Congress and asks to invade Iran because of weapons of mass destruction. Would he get the authorization? I have my doubts at this time. But Kerry would get it if he were to bother to ask."

I think the question is: Will anyone get that authorization ever again?

These last four years have been a test of Bush's theory of PrEmptive War (PEW). He was backed by the Congress, the Senate and a majority of the American people (a slim majority, but amajority nonetheless). Claims were made, they didn't materialize. If we had found WMD's, then Bush would probably have an 80% approval rating and all the PEW's he could ask for. If the administration could find proof that Osama and Saddam partnered for other terrorist acts, then he'd probably have a 60% approvaly rating and could make a case for another PEW. But, those haven't materialized. We have had one success, the removal of a horrific dictator. However, is the removal of a dictator justification for PEW? I don't think the American people believe it is (based on the who-knows-how-biased polls). If the American people won't support another PEW, then Congress and the Senate won't grant it, for fear of their seats. I don't think it matters who asks for it.

A PEW against Iran instead of Iraq, would have given us WMD's, a direct link with Osama and 9/11 and taken out an extremist theocratic political system.

Of course, there would have been a much higher likelyhood of failure, 20,000 insurgents in Iraq are small potatos to the potential number of insurgents in Iran, not to mention that they haven't struggled under embargos for the past decade and have a well supplied millitary` (which would probably give us a much greater fight than the Iraqi "I surrender" Army.

I don't know how we will deal with Iran, but I doubt America has the stomach for another PEW.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 11:31 AM

My sense of PEW is that the rationale is to pre-empt a hostile regime's development of serious WMD that could directly threaten us, especially nukes. By that criteria, invading Iran wouldn't be pre-emptive, would it? Don't we think Iran either has nukes or is quite close, and that they are close enough that we don't want to find out by starting something that answers our questions with a mushroom cloud yes?

Regardless of the merits of the current admin's forceful response to 9/11 by broadcasting our intent to carry out pre-emptive actions, we have to realize that some or even many hostile nations have interpreted this to mean that if they wanted to be an international player, then they needed nukes.

We've succeeded in laying down the law in Afghanistan and Iraq, but these regimes turned out to relatively toothless. By contrast, we've buddied up with Pakistan, which has nukes, which was buddies with the Taliban, which has shared nuclear info with a host of other buddies, and which may well have been involved with helping Al Quaeda camp out in Afghanistan. And we've not engaged N Korea at all, which we believe has nukes. Neither have we engaged Iran, which most in the know regard to be a greater threat than Iraq.

All of this suggests a whole lot more realpolitik behind the scenes than most partisans care to recognize. The most aggressive saber rattlers go on and on piously about things like "draining the swamp" and winning a battle that we can't afford to lose. But how likely is it instead that Afganstan and Iraq muddle forward in semi-chaos and the overall US-ME relationship lapses into an extended cold war?

Posted by: bk at July 27, 2004 12:24 PM

Michael, I think you'r absolutely backwards on "re-hinging" the Democratic Party.

It took the Michael Dukakis debacle to get Clinton as a candidate. (That, and the fact that Cuomo et. al. decided early on that Bush Sr. was unbeatable.) If Kerry wins, the Nancy Pelosi's in the party will see it as a defeat not of Bush, but of the Evil Neocon Agenda. And as they say, payback is a bitch.

I'm deeply afraid of four years of Carter-esque moral equivocation and limitations appreciation.

My gut feeling from reading polls over the past year is young people tend to support the war more strongly than the boomers and beyond (not that you'd know it from MTV; but then again, who controls the money at MTV?) I don't think the War on Terror could have been conducted without this kind of devisiveness. Too many people are still fighting the last war, and for most of those people the last war was Viet Nam.

Tosk farther up the thread said something about the War in Iraq being a disaster. (Sorry Tosk if I mischaracterize.) I'm sorry, but it simply hasn't been. If someone can point out five major conflicts in world history that have resulted in fewer combined military and civilian casualties per population defeated, point them out to me. Otherwise, tone down the hyperbole.

Bush has had an amazingly noisy channel to push his message through. (Re: Tosk's tossed-off statement of fact.) I'm not saying Bush couldn't have done a better job communicating, but on-balance I'll take concrete results for now, and let history sort it out who should have said what.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 27, 2004 12:39 PM


It was a disaster in a nmber of ways.

1. Failure to produce the evidence of Bush's claims that led to war (even if WMD's and the Al-Q connection were not the actual reason, they were the Named Reasons, it was the Mantra of the Administration).

2. The current Insurgency does not jive with what the Administration predicted (I believe they expected flowers, not grenades to be thrown).

3. The cost of the Iraq conflict has surpassed the budget by millions.

All of these, as well as the continued mess with POW's, etc. equals a disasterous engagement. We can win the physical power struggle, but that isn't winning the minds of Americans, its not winning the minds of the rest of the world and it certianly isn't winning the minds of potential terrorists living in Iraq now.

The physical power struggle doesn't stop terrorists, terrorism is an ideology, it must be stopped in the mind. We aren't anywhere near that yet.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 01:03 PM

Mark Poling: It took the Michael Dukakis debacle to get Clinton as a candidate.

Good point. If Bush wins in a landslide it could help. But if he squeaks by or, God forbid, wins while losing the popular vote again, there will no rehinging of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 01:05 PM

If he wins while losing the popular vote again, I expect that there will be violence. Especially if some of his winning votes are cast on the Diebold machines. Well, we're a young country and have only had one civil war... i suppose we're due for another.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 01:07 PM

"Well, we're a young country and have only had one civil war... i suppose we're due for another"

Correction, old country, but young nation.

And I assume that this due for another civil war thing is hyperbole.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 27, 2004 01:30 PM

Tosk, I beg to differ. The problems you describe will be footnotes, much like the continued German resistance after WWII ended is a footnote today. Do you think the Ba'athists in Syria care that the war in Iraq cost us more than we thought? Do the mullahs in Iran think what happened in Abu Ghraib makes them safer?

The only reason either country might feel safer is the "hearts and minds of Americans" problem you point out. But I'd like to point out you're a part of that when you start talking about those troubling points equating disaster. Let's not shout "fire" unless there's fire, okay?

The Arab Street doesn't worry me. Damascus and Tehran worry me. (Paris worries me only a little, and only because I don't like the fact that Chirac has the Force De Frappe. Should Paris be hit by a Sarin attack, all bets are off.)


Agreed re: squeekers. (Hard to believe Bush Sr. was the last President to win with a simple majority. In 1992 Clinton won with 43% of the popular vote; in 1996 Perot and other third parties meant Clinton won with 49% of the vote.) I guess if I had to list best-to-worst case scenarios:

  • Bush in a landslide.
  • Kerry in a landslide.
  • Bush in a squeeker.
  • Kerry in a sqeeker.
  • Bush wins the Electoral College, loses popular vote.
  • Kerry, ditto.

The only reason I put a Kerry EC win/popular vote loss last is because I can imagine how the Republican-controlled congress would react. Horrifying.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 27, 2004 01:37 PM


I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the anarchist bloc becomes violent with a Bush win whether he wins the popular vote or not. They'll be violent assholes if Kerry wins, too. But the odds that a Democratic Party soccer mom will have anything to do with anti-Republican political violence is zero. For there to be an ideological civil war in this country, the Democratic Party would need to form its own militia and death squads. Not gonna happen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 01:37 PM

1. The Civil War statement was a bit of hyperbole... but I don't doubt that violent times may lay ahead of us (not just the anarchists either).

2. In history our problems may be footnotes. But, here and now they are not. While a relative minority of idealists may look at the situation as a "We won and this problem will resolve itself". The majority of Americans don't seem to think too highly of the War, nor the doctrine of premptive warfare. Why should anyone believe Bush the next time we have 'credible evidence' that Country X has WMD's? By not being absolutely sure before engaging in PEW, Bush made the likelyhood of majority support for another unlikely. If by calling out the problems here and now, I am somehow undermining our War, then so be it. For if we must stifle Free Speech and Criticism to win this War, then I'd rather lose.

3. In the revolutionary war, it was not the soccer mom's, nor the majority of the American people that were rebels. In the South, the Torries outnumbered the Patriots, and the fence sitters had more people than either side, the active supportfor our Civil War is similar, it wasn'tthe majority, but a minority that led us to bloodshed. Civil War isn't always the choice of the majority, in fact, I doubt that it ever is.

At some point, it is likely (given the example of almost every other government in history) that the disenfranchised, disallusioned and angry group of citizens will eventually reach a Popping Point. Will it happen if Bush wins a questionable victory? I don't know... probably not.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 27, 2004 02:45 PM

Michael -

NARAL and ELF already exist.

We just rang up a fiery young activist here in Happy Valley. The dedicated eighteen year old friend of the earth torched the animal husbandry barns at that center of religious/conservative extremism which is known as Brigham Young University (codeword BYU to the illuminati of Green Jello Land).

That's just less than two miles from where I sit. The fire department knocked the fire down before the two truck-sized propane resevoirs cooked off.

The rising future threat to America is being spread across the blogs; variations on a storyline about evil Diebold executive swaying the course of history.

What do the adherents of that future possibility have to say about squads of lawyers petitioning to invalidate tens of thousands or military ballots because the mail clerk in Kosovo/on the Korean DMZ/CENTCOM didn't have a postal stamp? Or the FSSC attempting to rewrite legislation to favor a political party? Or a preplanned telemarketing campaign executed to confuse and frighten Florida's minority voters?

Or is the political outcome more important than the facts? That's a no brainer.

And bk, I do get worked up when it's my family at stake. Sue me.

And Michael, again -

"Kerry could pull it off, though, if he could be persuaded to do so. He will not likely govern as he campaigns."

BASED ON WHAT? His Vietnam stint? His activist credentials? Twenty years in the Senate voting solidly against intelligence, defense, and business? The clear and unambiguous statement his party makes about confronting and defeating terror? What's that? crickets

Change your party to ABB, but don't try to paint Kerry as anything but a political flavor you find less repugnant than Bush.

I'm not going to fight the last three years all over again. If the thread continues for any length, feel free to post the entirety of my email to you, less the postscript.

Home stretch. I'll be glad when the election is won. I am under no illusions that a Bush win will in any way have any effect on the rhetoric of the opposition, whether it's an electoral victory, EV coupled with a plurality, majority, or landslide.

I do worry to what extent the opposition will go to discredit the system they can no longer compete in. That will be the number two issue, right behind the foreign war.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 27, 2004 02:49 PM

As a general response to comments above

1. There is absolutely no way that a Kerry victory in November will look to the Islamofascists as anything other than a repudiation of our efforts in the WoT. If Kerry is serious about prosecuting the war, it will take him a period of time to establish his bona fides with the Islamofascists. Thus, if the War is the major issue, we should only vote for Kerry if (1) we want to repudiate the war or (2) Kerry will be a vast improvement over Bush sufficient to offset the problems that will occur in the transition.

2. I am not arguing that Bush should be president forever -- only that if we elect a candidate who receives a lot of support from the anti-war left, we must consider the repurcussions this will have on the war effort. E.g., if Lieberman were the Dem. nominee, I would not have this concern.

3. It used to be said that politics stops at the water's edge. The Dem. party has heavily politicized the war. It would do grave damage to US foreign policy in the future if they are rewarded for this. For the same reason that MJT spoke about rehinging the Left, I want the left to be punished.

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2004 02:50 PM

TmjUtah: Change your party to ABB, but don't try to paint Kerry as anything but a political flavor you find less repugnant than Bush.

I don't find Kerry less repugnant than Bush, I find him differently annoying. I would never say "Anyone but Bush." I've read too much history for that. "Anyone but Hitler, or Anyone but Stalin" is a reasonable position, but "Anyone but Bush" is madness. Lyndon LaRouche is on the ballot in my state.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 03:24 PM

Michael -

We all make choices. Please sit down and pen an essay in favor of Kerry, being sure to articulate what specific advantages a Kerry administration can bring to the table demonstrated by references to past policies, voting record, and likely cabinet choices.

Bear in mind that beyond the war, the other items on our international dance card include but are not limited to immigration reform/border control, the collapse of the EU political construct, the looming depression in the Eurabian continental economy, probable transition of Cuba to some sort of reform as soon as Castro dies, the coming conflict with China (whether over Taiwan or simply a trade war on a scale never seen before), possible collapse of multiple South American governments, and finally evolving a new international diplomatic organ to replace the U.N.

The world awaits.

A pleasure, as always, to disagree.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 27, 2004 03:41 PM


I simply do not believe that, given your priorities, when you sit down and rationally choose, you will be able to vote for Kerry. For one thing, your thought that a Kerry victory would rehinge the Dem party is exactly backwards. As VDH has pointed out in different contexts, only a complete defeat can make a party capitulate. In this case, I would like to see the Democratic party end its Clintonization, that is its willingness to shamelessly say or do anything in the name of victory. This year has been particularly nauseating. I believe Bush is likely to win a solid victory,comparable to Clinton's 96 victory, if slightly closer. If the Repubs. hold the COngress the Democrats are likely to do some serious sole searching as they have never done (Clinton's victory did not make the Congressional Dems. change their stripes and they lost the majority two years later) Furthermore, I remain convinced that Kerry will be a catastrophic president along the lines of Jimmy Carter. He has many reminiscent character traits not the least is his willingness to campaign as something he is not.

Posted by: Doug at July 27, 2004 04:12 PM

TmjUtah: Please sit down and pen an essay in favor of Kerry

At some point, I will do just that. I promise. I don't know if such an essay will convince me, even though I'll be the one writing it, but I'll write it all the same. I'll give him the best chance I can.

And I will do the same for George W. I really do intend to write "The Liberal Case for Bush" and "The Hawkish Case for Kerry." I'll write them as TCS columns if my editor Nick Shulz is interested in them, and if not then I will blog them. I have to spend some more time thinking about each and blogging about various points before I begin writing either one, however.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 27, 2004 04:14 PM

I'm still thinking about the liberal case for Bush. That's a tough one. Let me offer you some ammo on the other side: the hawkish case for Kerry. It may turn out that the liberal case for Bush is the mirror reflection of this.

While I think it's unlikely that Mr. Kerry will pursue the WoT in its current form more aggressively than has Mr. Bush, what would be Mr. Kerry's likely response to a radical Islamist terrorist attack with mass casualties in the U. S.? I wouldn't be surprised if he reacted more forcefully than Mr. Bush would to the same attack. As a new president he'd have the political capital to do so. While a significant portion of his base would hope he would not I suspect he'd look to right and center and see the "Impeach Kerry" petitions being drafted. Forceful response would be anti-impeachment insurance. And what would his anti-war base do? Say "Damn. He wasn't lying when he said he'd defend the country. Get rid of him!" Not likely.

Under similar circumstances Bush would be hamstrung by a combination of lack of political capital, the "Bush = Hitler" signs coming out again with lots of press coverage, and moderates getting nervous when his finger got too close to the trigger. Additionally, he's have nothing to prove.

The ideas expressed in this comment are not necessarily those of the management, the commenter, or anyone else in his right mind.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at July 27, 2004 04:22 PM

The Liberal case for Bush is simple. The Iraq War is fundamentally a liberal war fought for liberal values: transforming the ME to rid it of fascists. Paul Berman admirably makes the case in his book "Terror and Liberalism." Christopher Hitchens has also written about this.

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2004 05:12 PM

What Ben said, in spades.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 27, 2004 08:26 PM

one key issue is that for a large number of Americans, Mr. Bush is no longer a respected president. His policies on things not related to the War on Terror have distanced him from the center, left and most actual Libretarians (big or small l).

If he is re-elected in a squeaker, or only by the EC (and there is no reason to believe he will win a landslide or anything close to one), he will not have the support of most of the country. If the President of a democracy is not supported BY THE PEOPLE, he is no president.

Multiple Choice Question

What is the goal of the Terrorists?

A) Destroy all Americans Everywhere.

B) Fundamentally change the way America lives, proving that we can't practice what we preach.

C) Foster large schisms within the American populace.

D) Force the United States to cave to its demands re: our involvement in the Middle east.

E) All ofthe Above and then some.

I say that the answer is E. They have already succeeded in B and C. A is not a relistic goal and D will not happen as long as we depend on the ME for Oil. That leaves 2 goals for Bin laden and Company.

You want to know what makes the Terrorists win?

Americans who are unable to maintain respect for their fellow citizens, thoughthey may disagree on the war (both sides).

The Use, Abuse and Misuse of the USAPATRIOT ACT and other acts of privacy invasion that have spilled out of the "For Terrorists Only" box.

The actions by this administration which belie the sacred belief that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. Our actions in dealing with enemy combatants, POW's and goatherders has shown to the World that America loves to talk about Freedom, Justice and Equality, but as soon as our balls are by the fire, our ideologies go in the trash. Well done everyone.

A Bush win or a Kerry win will not matter to the terrorists. A Bush win, means that they'll be free to continue to do as they will, because the American people will remain so divided that Bush will be impotent. A Kerry win means they'll have a period of time to act, before Kerry gets a chance to figure out what he's doing. A Bush win means that the freedoms of the American people will remain on tenous footing, the USAPATRIOT Act will remain exactly as it is and its abuses will become more widespread. A Kerry win, means that America will probably be split again, because no matter what, the Right will try to blockade his plans. A Bush win will see the same from the Left. Either way the terrorists get what they want, an America that is vastly different, less free, less safe, less sure of itself than ever before.

Arguments that a Kerry win will equate a Terrorist win come only from biased, partisans struggleing to ensure that their canndate stays in pwer through the use of Fear, Uncertianty and Doubt.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 28, 2004 07:49 AM


Please, criticize the Iraq War with all your heart. That's not my point. My point is please, use your head as well.

The attack on the WTC was a disaster for America.

The liberation and rebuilding of Iraq is only a disaster if we choose to name it one. Words count. Any way you slice it, a homicidal dictator who was an avowed enemy of the United States is gone, with a fledgling democracy doing a decent job of rising from the (not so copious) ashes. Does that count for nothing?

Only Kerry can make sure that a vote for Kerry isn't seen as a vote against the War on Terror. So far, he's a long way from convincing me. (Every time he says "United Nations" he takes a three-yard loss. Ditto the veiled allusions to our allies the French.) He could surprise me. He could say things that would make me change my mind. But it will be very hard for him to do so, because I don't trust him as far as I could throw someone elses' medals.

On the domestic side, I have very little truck with Bush's policies. I've said so here and on my own blog. So I'll donate to the ACLU, and watch the situations, and write about what seems wrong. My advice for people worried about civil liberties in the US is do your best to see Congress reverts to the Democrats this fall. Domestic issues are what the Dems are (okay) on.

But by my analysis, Bush is the better choice to address what worries me most.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 28, 2004 09:13 AM


Well stated comments.

I think that a Democratic congress and a Bush presidency could be useful to the American people for the next four years. But only if the dems are willing to stand against Bush.

I'm not as concerned about terrorim, because frankly , I'd expected it long before 9/11. I remember at Pennsic War (SCA event) having a huge argument with someone who was enlisted (and currently in Iraq), they were supporting Bush's Missle defense plan and I was arguing that our real concern wasn't Missles from afar, but a bomb strapped to someone in NYC. (So I missed the bit about the Jets).

I think that America is still in Overact mode. Terrorism is an ideology and ideologies can't be stamped out by brute force. Terrorism won't be stamped out this year, next year, or likely next decade. Even if we take out the uge netowrks and support groups, the idealists will continue to invoke terror. Hassan i Sabbah had men willing to throw themselves off of the Walls of the fortress Alamut, because they followed his ideology. No matter what force they faced, their death meant immediate tranportation to "The Garden of Earthly Delights". Any fool who believes that their death will give them a one-way ticket to Allah is capable of killing thousands, with little or no support groups.

That's why I believe this "War on Terror" is not the most important piece of the election. It doesn't matter if Bush invades four more countries, or if Kerry invades none, until the iedologies change, we will be vulnerable to attack.

You ask if a fledgling democracy and a deposed dictator count for nothing. It is a good question, do the ends justify the means?

Iraq may have gained some measure of freedom (we won't know if it succeeded for awhile yet). But at what cost?

Cost - The government estimate of insurgents in Iraq are somewhere near 20,000 with only 5% being outside terrorists. Twenty Thousand iraqis who hate us. How many of them will fall to Bin Laden's retoric now?

Cost - America has lost much of her Credibility. Who will believe the President when he says Country X has WMD's? Who will believe the Secretary of State, when he shows off sat photos? How many will remember the dead Iraqi prisoners, who apparently died at the hands of inquisitors, guards... Americans?

Cost - Justice has fallen before our actions. Thousands of people have spent years in our prison systems without even being charged with a crime.

Cost - The American people are now divided, decent conversation has been replaced with name calling, ranting and bigotry. I ceased even conversing at Roger Simon's blog, because they're happily calling large numbers of Americans "Anti-semite" simply because they're not pro-Jew. Name calling, not debate is the lingo of this war.

If we had persued the Afgan offensive, focused on tracking Bin Laden and left saddam for another day, I would still support Bush. However, the relative freedom of Iraq, doesn't heal the wounds given to my country.

Just my opinion,


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 28, 2004 09:39 AM

20,000 / 25,000,000 = 0.08% of the Iraqi population. (Assume a 50/50 M/F ratio, and assume all insurgents are men, and it comes to 0.16 of the male population. Say only the middle third of the population is really capable of being an insurgent, and it goes up to 0.42% of the population.)

So by my calculations 1 in 200 Iraqi men are fighting against us. Or more to the point, against the Liberation of Iraq. They wouldn't be blowing up their own compatriots if it was just Americans they hated. No, it's the "not (insert Pan-Islamic Fascist Label Here)" that they hate.

As to going to Osama, where are they going to go? Infrastructure matters. If Iraq can purge itself of hate without simply exporting it, they will set an example for the rest of the world. It's worth trying.

As to credibility, no argument that we lost a lot. On the other hand, it's hard to say we blew the intelligence and then say we should rely on intelligence and law enforcement to protect us from rogue nations and organizations.

Roger's site is getting a bit strident; my gut feeling is that's because he was hit harder by True Believing Trolls that Michael has been. It's a shame. Welcome to Discordia. (Sorry, had to get the dig in.)

My take on terror is much like yours; it's going to be a problem for many years to come. Where we diverge is in our "worst-case scenarios", I think. The Madrid bombings were awful; the Madrid bombings with a pound of plutonium divided between the bombs would have been catastrophic. Replace Pu with weaponized antrax, Sarin, or VX and it's not much better. So the actual nations that can aggregate and (maybe or maybe not) control these materials are my number one concern. Simple as that.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 28, 2004 10:18 AM

Tosk --

Yes, ideology can be stamped out by war. WW2 was hell on the Nazis. Sure, some still exist, and once in a while they make trouble. BUT, I don't see any more Dachaus.

Posted by: Ben at July 28, 2004 11:00 AM

I agree that 20,000 isn't a large portion of Iraqis, but it is a large number of potential terrorists. Even if only a tenth of them actively persue terrorists activity, thats still 2000 new enemies (not to mention the signifience of 42 in 0.42% ;-) ).

As for fighting against the Liberation of Iraq, youmay be right, or they may see the 'Liberation' as simply a puppet extention of the West. To an arabic mind, thats a very bad thing. I don't know the 20,000 people personally, but I wouldn't say they were all against a free Iraq (of course, I wouldn't say that any of them were necessarily for it either ;-) )

As for relying on Intel instead of Action, I too am at odds with myself. On one hand, I would like to live in a world where Terrorism was a bad memory. On the other hand, I don't see us as 'safer', simply because Saddam is out of the picture, I don't believe he was much of a threat. There were more acts of terror last year than before, Bin Laden is still free and (according to Tom ridge) actively plotting against us right now. The war in Iraq doesn't seem to have changed much.

The comment on discordia is greatly appreciated ;-)

As for the Madrid bombings... they were bad and could have been much worse. But, I still don't see that as a Plus for Bush. he's on the campaign trail telling everyone that America is safer without Saddam, yet neither 9/11, the first WTC attack, the bombings of the Cole or the Madrid bombings had anything to do (apparently) with Saddam.

Bush may surprise me, he may lean more to the center, he may start listening to ideas other than his own and those of his few close companions, he may recognize that in some cases, upholding the Freedoms and Rights that this country is based on, is more important than taking a risk on saftey. He may be willing to say "We made a mistake"... Or he may not.

Its a tough decision and I don't hold ill will to anyone who wants to support Bush. I'm just not sure he's given me any reason to support him.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 28, 2004 11:34 AM

Ratatosk -

Up there you mention a war based on lies.

That contention has been pretty well repudiated by the 9/11/Senate/Lord Hutton reports. Bad intelligence, maybe - but nobody except the handflapping moonbats are trading in the lies market now. The body of intelligence that was surveyed prior to deciding whether or not to go to war did not spring into existence on Bush's first inaugeration, and neither did regime change as a U.S. policy objective.

You also intimate that a president who wins by electoral college votes alone is somehow less than legal or is somehow less legitimate in some structural manner than one who wins in a landslide.

That concept might pertain to a politician who never stops campaigning. I propose that trait is not held by Bush. Again, wrong.

You also say that regardless of which man wins the election it will have no effect on terrorist attitudes or posture toward us. I cannot disagree strongly enough with that statement except to point out that when Yassir Arafat, france, and the Arab News are pulling for your candidacy it might be an indication that your threat potential isn't perceived as all that great.

The old 'balance' paradigm only works when both parties share common goals. A large reason the Republicans won the house and senate in the nineties wasn't a reach for balance - it was an act of defense. Then in 2002 both houses went to the Republicans because the Democrats were seen as less attractive by their constituents than the Republican alternative.

One election does not make an Armegeddon if we screw up. Not even two, in the case of some presidents. That's the inherent strength in the system of electoral oversight. Just because YOUR pet issues fail of ratification (no pun intended) doesn't automatically call into question the entire system. If mistakes are made, the power to implement them is usually restrained by checks and balances or elections before they become fatal.

I do expect quite a bit of (more) rhetoric about the end of times and such in the event the Republicans pick up two or three more senate seats, though. Judgeships are just about the last legislative tool the Left has, and they are nearing panic at the prospect of seeing the balance shift right there, too.

Respect is nice. I'll settle for fear, though, if it means my family won't take an unscheduled trip into a government building while flying to Auntie's house.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 28, 2004 01:12 PM
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Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn