October 05, 2004

The Edwards And Cheney Debate

Let me begin with a caveat. I only watched the first half of the vice presidential debate, the portion that focused on foreign policy.

I have no idea who “won” or who will be perceived to have won. And I don’t really care.

Both were confident, articulate, knowledgeable, and presidential. Both had some command of the facts, and both were sometimes right. When they were wrong they weren’t offensively or freakishly wrong. There were no Howard Dean moments, in other words. (Although I'm liking Dean more these days. He's out of his radical phase now.)

When John Edwards said we lost more soldiers in September than in August, and more soldiers in August than in July, and more soldiers in July than in June, he proved he isn’t stuck in denial about the fact that Iraq has taken a turn for the worse. I worry about Bush and Cheney sometimes. Are they even aware that Iraq is on fire? I don’t know. Probably. But I don’t know. They talk about Iraq as though everything is rainbows and sunshine. You don’t have to buy into hysterical doom-mongering to see that Iraq is whacked. And you can’t solve a problem if you can’t even admit a problem exists.

But Edwards seemed to be in denial about something else. He said the United States is taking 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq. Well, senator, welcome to the unipolar world of the American superpower. Our European allies do not have the military capacity to project power as we do. They cannot match us on the battlefield no matter how much they might want to. (And let us not forget that they do not want to.) That’s because they deliberately reduced their military power down to token “me too” levels. They knew – rightly – that we would pick up the slack. So we will pick up the slack. You and John Kerry will never get Europe to pick up your slack. It isn’t politically possible. Nor is it physically possible.

Edwards and Cheney went back and forth like this. Sometimes Cheney was right. Other times Edwards was right. I can imagine that if these two men were working together they could cobble together a plan for success in Iraq that isn’t hampered by Republican chauvinism or left-wing defeatism.

I don’t trust Kerry and Edwards, mostly because of John Kerry. Kerry is the boss, not Edwards. And Kerry has ran a wobbly campaign following a shaky record where he has been consistently on the weak side of national security.

But I don’t trust Bush as much as I used to, in part because he really does appear to be in denial. Also because he has practically no political capital to carry out a foreign policy I basically agree with, and because he is such a polarizing figure he has become an enormous liability.

I would put more trust in a Cheney/Edwards or an Edwards/Cheney ticket than the two options we currently have. Too bad it’s not an option.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 08:02 PM
Comments

Michael,

I had a different reaction than you. I was not impressed by John Edwards, and was surprised that he came across as an intellectual lightweight.

With respect to Iraq, the enemy is trying the "Tet Offensive" gambit. In Viet Nam, they North Vietnamese staged a big attack, and were defeated (something like the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge). We won big, but the mainstream media, lead by Walter Cronkite, painted it as a defeat. That sort of coverage, along with the Fifth Column assault by John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and the rest, succeeded in pulling us out and letting the North have South Vietnam. Now, John Kerry wants to do the same thing in Iraq.

Posted by: Jim Bender at October 5, 2004 08:09 PM

There are a number of different ways to measure success in Iraq, and troop casaulties are one of them. But not the only one. Wretchard has done a good job of analyzing what is going right and wrong in Iraq.

Posted by: FH at October 5, 2004 08:16 PM

I thought it was sort of comical the way Edwards kept saying "we have a plan!" for every damn thing that came up.

And his explanation of the so-called "plan" to fix Iraq was even weaker than Kerry's.....So far as I can tell, the plan is to -- go faster! Train those freakin' Iraqis as fast as we possibly can! Pull them the hell out of Iraq, dammit, if that'll make it go faster! Faster, faster!

Was there something else there that I missed?

Posted by: Priscilla at October 5, 2004 08:41 PM

Maybe I'm missing something, Michael. How does Edwards awareness that we have suffered 90% of the casualties indicate he is in denial about the US as sole military power? Isn't the Bush/Cheney insistence that there really is a massive coalition doing all this work a greater case of denial? And how does Cheney's apparent belief that we should count Iraqi casualties as part of our coalition show him to be more aware of this vital fact than his opponent?

Posted by: Jeremy at October 5, 2004 08:54 PM

John Edwards looked like he was on amateur hour. He appeared completely unable to comprehend what is going on in Iraq on the ground. The fact that the ever increasing deperate attacks by Zarqawi et al simply reflects a group who is unable to influence events with ideas and must rely on killing Iraqis, soldiers from the US-British led coalition or foreign civilians. He does not recognize the courage of Allawi, who is trying to transition Iraq to a secular elected goverment or the geopolitical implications if it fails. He must be ignorant regarding the progress made in restoring a country destroyed over 25 years by Saddam via lost wars and wars against the his own people. He must believe the limited television coverage that is focused solely on the drama of car bombings.

Are things perfect in Iraq? No. Should certain things have been done differently in hindsight? Yes. (Remember hindsight is 20/20, but it is only available to armchair quarterbacks who never play the game.) War is messy and no rational person wants to be engaged in war. It never goes according to plan. Do you think D-Day went according to plan? What about the Battle of the Bulge? Think about the "incompetence" on the morning of December 7, 1941 when radar and other warnings were dismissed. Do you need more examples from Korea, Vietnam, Somolia and so on?

Kerry and Edwards are nuts if they think the French, Germans and other countries that have leaders who have made their careers by being anti-American will bail them out in Iraq or anywhere else. A global test and proving to the world that it is okay to defend ourselves is a joke. Do you think the band of thieves at the UN and France, Germany and China will ever approve of our actions? Kerry and Edwards (and Kerry more than Edwards) are spineless. Their comments have hurt our true allies and embolden our enemies.

However, the real question is which of these men has the qualifications and capacity to be President if necessary. John Edwards is at best someone who can whip up the emotions of a jury in a personal injury trial. He ran for President because he could not get elected again to the Senate. He has no executive experience, no foreign policy experience, no economic experience (as he said tonight he actually believes that the money trial lawyers siphon out of the healthcare system and elsewhere has no impact on economics or the services provided - idiotic), nothing that makes him qualified. On the other hand, Dick Cheney has all of those qualifications.

Lastly, who would trust to do the things to keep your family safe if called on to be President? It may not be perfect, but for me the answer is clear. Dick Cheney.

Posted by: BDB at October 5, 2004 09:04 PM

This, just posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

"Boy was I ever wrong. If last Thursday night's debate was an assisted suicide for president Bush, this debate - just concluded - was a car wreck. And Cheney was road-kill. There were times when it was so overwhelming a debate victory for Edwards that I had to look away."

Hmm....

Posted by: chopperdave at October 5, 2004 09:10 PM

Chopperdave,

You fit in well Kerry and Edwards. You make broad comments and have no substance to support your view.

Posted by: BDB at October 5, 2004 09:12 PM

Dick Cheney is a LIAR. He can't even tell the truth about when he met John Edwards:

Check out this picture, folks:

http://geekesq.20megsfree.com/Cheney-Edwards.jpg

If he's willing to lie about something so trivial . . .

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at October 5, 2004 09:15 PM

Another link for the image:

http://blog.johnkerry.com/blog/archives/Cheney-Edwards.jpg

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at October 5, 2004 09:19 PM

I think Edwars did a hell of a job considering he was basically defending Kerry. The problem is, he lacked material in that regard, and was forced to fall back on rhetoric and campaing slogans. That weakness shone through when he defended Kerry's resolve on matters of defense by citing Kerry's debate performance against Bush. That gave it away, and Cheney called him on it. It was rhetoric. Kerry's debate performance can't disguise his record. Edwards came out strong, but seemed to fade just a bit towards the second half.

Cheney was precise and impeccable, and substantive. He should be the president.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:20 PM

BDB,
I didn't make a "comment," let alone a "broad" one. I posted what Sullivan wrote.

Posted by: chopperdave at October 5, 2004 09:21 PM

chopper,

those sound like Dem spin doctors. It's one thing to be biased, another altogether to indulge in complete fantasy.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:23 PM

Cheney is going to get crucified about that lie he told on stage.

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20041006/capt.vpd10510060104.debate_vpd105.jpg

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at October 5, 2004 09:24 PM

Geek,

it may or may not have been a lie, but I doubt it will get any traction.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:25 PM

David,
I agree, but I'm surprised at Sullivan's reaction. I would have bet he thought Cheney won big.

Posted by: chopperdave at October 5, 2004 09:27 PM

Nobody won this debate. I heard more substance from Cheney, but the presentations were equally impressive. I think it's a tie simply because Edwards had less material to work with, but held his own anyway.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:32 PM

re rhetoric:

MSNBC's analysts all called it for Cheney and big. Said Chris Matthews: John Edwards was giving a stump speech while Dick Cheney was debating.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:36 PM

This is pure conjecture Michael, but I'd posit that the current Admin only appears in what you call denial to counter the constant negative press re Iraq. Playing on your words, Bush's arrogant optimism vs. the Media's endemic gloom and doom.

Posted by: bains at October 5, 2004 09:48 PM

Cheney was excellent. He simply was more persuasive and forcefull than this green-horn
Edwards.He exposed Kerry and Edwards on fundamental issues as security of US. Edwards
proved to be very inexperienced person. He could not stand two rounds. Edwards was knocked out
in second round when he was questioned about his
absenteeism on the job. This is disgracefull.Kerry has the same record. They are taking taxpayers
money(paid $200,000 per year)and their responsibility to vote on Senate Floor on number
of issues. They failed to do it.Loosers. ZG

Posted by: Patriot at October 5, 2004 09:48 PM

I thought they both did ok.

Of course, thats OK in the way that lukewarm flat water is ok when someone is dying of thirst.

The best thing I saw was civility. By god, Darth Vader and Opie had more class, respect and politeness than almost anyone I've seen in the political arena in quite some time. Cheney wasn't nearly the arrogant buffon that Bush was last week, and Edwards wasn't the condecending prat that Kerry was.

Personally, the highlight for me was the discussion of gay marriage. Cheney gave a very good answer that didn't tow the party line, and Edwards gave an excellent response about the problems with a constitutional admendment for such issues (his personal comments were good) and Cheney's response was admirable.

As for Cheney and Edwards never meeting, who cares? That whopper was the least important of the ones told (from both sides). Though I notice that Cheney has a black ink pen in his breast pocket at that Prayer breakfast ;-)

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 5, 2004 09:52 PM

As for Cheney and Edwards never meeting, who cares?

I suspect Edwards didn't remember meeting Cheney either, and that's why he didn't remind him about the prayer breakfast.

Posted by: David at October 5, 2004 09:55 PM

Additionally, as a pro-war but tepid Bush supporter (neo-libertarian) I can only wonder what would have happened had Bush faced Edwards instead of Kerry last Thursday.

And they say Bush was annointed... oops I said that.

Posted by: bains at October 5, 2004 09:58 PM

David,

I agree. I doubt Cheney would make such an obvious lie. Self-destruction, so far in the debates seems to sit only on G.W.'s shoulders.

Everyone else performed well.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 5, 2004 09:59 PM

As for Cheney and Edwards never meeting, who cares? That whopper was the least important of the ones told (from both sides).

Yeah, I agree 100%, Tosk. But if it had been Edwards who said that, it would be all over Drudge, Fox News and Instahack within seconds, and the whole GOP machine would be doing their best to turn it into THE narrative of the debate.

Sometimes it sucks being reasonable!

Posted by: Mork at October 5, 2004 10:15 PM

BTW - "factcheck.com", which Cheney told viewers to go to get the facts about Halliburton, is George Soros' site. The front page carries the following headline:

"President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values".

So true!

Maybe Sullivan is right ... Cheney wants out.

Posted by: Mork at October 5, 2004 10:22 PM

Let us be fair. Chenney won overwhelmingly. He (Cheney) tried to debate
like gentlemen do, but oponent(Edwards) did know the "rules".
Finally Cheney got irritated and slapped him few times.
They(Kerry and Edwards) do not have good record on issues like security, military
to compete with Bush and Cheney regardless how bad debater Bush is.
Bush lost the debate. I think he was not impressive.
Tonight Chenney gained back what Bush lost.(Certainty)
Kerry(Champion Flip Flopper) tried to be forceful and decisive, of course it was different Kerry
who again changed his position as he always did. Sadly to say, American viewers
care more about "nice phrases, eloquency, personal look" than substance.
Bush and Cheney are men of action. Have we ever had better administration in the past?
I still believe in right judgement of American people and Bush will be reelected.
God Bless America.

Posted by: Patriot at October 5, 2004 10:33 PM

Bains: This is pure conjecture Michael, but I'd posit that the current Admin only appears in what you call denial to counter the constant negative press re Iraq. Playing on your words, Bush's arrogant optimism vs. the Media's endemic gloom and doom.

I agree that's possible. I've made the same point when arguing with others. But I really don't know, and I would appreciate some honesty at this point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 10:33 PM

Edwards left me cold, I expected better after hearing so much about his charisma and lawyerly skills. I was afraid someone would cough and he would blow away.

Your comment about the administration and Iraq sounds awfully self important, as if you know better what is going on, which I really doubt. It strikes me as a left over trait from the left, and rather unbecoming.

Posted by: chuck at October 5, 2004 10:39 PM

Mork: BTW - "factcheck.com", which Cheney told viewers to go to get the facts about Halliburton, is George Soros' site.

Maybe he meant factcheck.org. There's a lot of anti-GOP stuff there, too. But here's a link to the debunking of some Halliburton charges.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 10:39 PM

Hey, Geek, Esq.,

The MSM might try to make hay of Cheney actually having been in the same room with Edwards at some other occasion. So what? The whole statement was:

"Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."

Clearly the context and meaning is "I never saw you in the Senate", or more precisely (using the connotations of "met"), "I never spoke with you in the Senate or had any official dealings with you." If they met at some other event, so what? The MSM, Kerry, etc, will look pretty stupid trying to make an issue of this.

But no doubt this will be one of the key spin items. "Cheney Lied! The Debate is Tied!"

Posted by: Matteo at October 5, 2004 11:05 PM

I would appreciate some honesty at this point. (MJT)

Agreed. They are all, unfortunately, politicans (as opposed to statesmen - and on both sides of the aisle), and attaining job security seems to be their primary task...

Posted by: bains at October 5, 2004 11:05 PM

The reason Cheney getting the "I never met him" line wrong matters is because it was part of a larger effort to say that Edwards was absent all the time. Never mind the fact that Senators running for President tend to, you know, not be in Washington all the time. Cheney trying to score on that point was every bit as egregious as Kerry saying that he was in Cambodia on Christmas on the Senate floor to make a rhetorical point - they were both embarrassingly wrong. I think it WILL come back to bite Cheney only because the video is available already.

Posted by: Elrod at October 5, 2004 11:07 PM

You know, it's kind of funny...

I think the only loser in this debate was George Bush. Cheney might have slightly won. Or maybe Edwards did. I dunno. They both held their own, seemed to have a strong command of the facts, and made intelligent cases for their point of view. Of the four candidates total, Bush is the only one who has failed thus far to pass that test.

If I'm "John Q Swingvoter" sitting at home, I'd have to be saying to myself, "why can't the President of all people talk and argue like this?" If anything, Cheney merely reminded us how much better and brighter a politician he is than his boss. I'd say that only further raises the bar for Dubya heading into the next debate. If Bush comes across every bit as incoherent and ill-prepared as he did in Round One, I don't even want to guess what the reaction to that might be.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at October 5, 2004 11:28 PM

MJT - yes, I'm sure he meant factcheck.org - which is, as he described, non-partisan. Just thought it was worth a giggle.

but I'd posit that the current Admin only appears in what you call denial to counter the constant negative press re Iraq.

That's also worth a giggle. Imagine believing that it is appropriate for a government to lie to the public in order to offset the impact of a free media!

Posted by: Mork at October 5, 2004 11:33 PM

"If they can't stand up to Howard Dean, how can they stand up to terrorists?" told the whole story.

That Halliburton tedium is so predictable that it's time to update Godwin's Law to encompass it.

Edwards was totally destroyed, and it wasn't even close. How anyone can be impressed by such a lightweight is totally beyond me.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at October 6, 2004 01:42 AM

MJT,

Sounds like Mork and his friends have succeeded in warping your perception of reality. Bush talks about Iraq as if everything's roses? Really? I'd like to see an example. If you show me ONE QUOTE from Bush that even IMPLIES denial of the current situation, I'll cast my vote for Kerry. Mork would have you believe that if Bush says anything other than "troops are dying in increasing numbers, and therefore we are losing in Iraq," then he is lying. Absurd!

The MSM reports death and destruction every day. You guys apparently want Bush to come on the air and say, "In case you're not watching the news, lots of people are dying in Iraq. And that obviously means we're losing." Am I wrong? What you would you like him to say?

As for me, I'd like him to tell the American people what the MSM isn't telling you- the REST of the story, if you will. Tell them WHY American and Iraqis are dying over there. Tell them WHAT we are fighting for. Why do I want him to do this? This is the part that is going to shock you- HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!! NOT a political pundit! NOT some Senator trying to get a job at the White House. YOU want him to act like a desperate candidate- I want him to act like a Commander in Chief. His job, as the Commander in Chief, is to provide leadership to us deployed soldiers and AVOID giving aid and comfort to the enemy (as Edwards and Kerry do in their bid to get elected).

Apparently, you've bought into Edward's "these-facts-support-my-lie" assertion that we're losing in Iraq (lie) because more soldiers died in Iraq in Septemeber than Auguest (69 vs. 50) and August than July (50 vs. 41). In order to complete this lie, he needs you to believe that these soldiers died for nothing. He needs you to ignore the fact that during that time two hotbeds of resistance have been pacified, THOUSANDS of insurgents were killed or captured, we've trained many thousands of new better-trained Iraqi Security Forces and sent them into action, and most importantly- we've moved them steadily closer to the election. Nobody will argue that violence has escalated- the administration had HONESTLY predicted that ALL ALONG. How did they know the violence would escalate? The elections of course! The terrorists and insurgents have been operating with an "illusion of legitamacy" since the invasion. Each of the 4 separate insurgent factions can rightfully claim that THEY are the voice fo the Iraqi people, because so far nobody's been able to definitively prove otherwise. However, when MILLIONS of Iraqi people cast their first vote, they will have officially spoken AS A PEOPLE for the first time in who knows how long- ever?

There are 2 groups of people who want you to believe that we are losing in Iraq- left-wing Democrats and terrorists. Terrorists try to convince you by blowing up car bombs. Left-wingers (including Kerry and Edwards) try to convince you by pointing at the news coverage of those car bombs. Kerry and Edwards apparantly think that shaking the confidence of the American people and boosting the spirits of our enemies is a justifiable tactic in the their hunt for the White House. I disagree.

If you want a leader who will base his assessment of Iraq on the profit-driven MSM (as Edwards CLEARLY did last night) and tell the soldiers that they're slowly losing the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time, then I encourage you to vote for Kerry/Edwards. If you want a guy who won't back down from the enemy or waiver in his support for the deployed soldiers in order to get elected or for any other reason, then I implore you to hang on to my current boss- he's doing a great job and so are we...

Posted by: $lick at October 6, 2004 04:26 AM

The thing that struck me about the two debates is the evidence of tremendous pressure that Bush and Cheney have been under since 9/11. They both came across as fatigued and it is evident that the pressure has taken a physical and emotional toll.

In light of this, it amazes me that Bush was able to give such a gracious response in the first debate to the question about Kerry's fitness for office. I don't know how he did it in the face of the shameless cynical attacks from Kerry and the Democrats during this campaign. He could have launched an attack against Kerry, but he didn't. It shows that Bush has a respect for public service regardless of his opponents positions on the issues. This is obviously a character trait of the Bush famiily. Bush is a better man than I. I would have gone for the jugular.

Posted by: HA at October 6, 2004 04:46 AM

Iraq is on fire?

I have adopted five soldiers in Iraq and correspond frequently. Not one has said Iraq is on fire, or is falling apart, or is in a quagmire, etc. etc. etc.

What I have heard from these soldiers is that while things are tough, after all they are fighting a barbaric enemy, these soldiers believe they are progressing in ways the media fails to honestly report. Actually, all have expressed anger towards the manner in which the media represents their efforts.

They also say they miss their loved ones back home but recognize the importance of fighting this war away from home rather than at home.

"Iraq on fire" is an overstatement.

Posted by: susan at October 6, 2004 05:03 AM

Thank you, $lick.

The Kerry/Edwards current foreign policy, as outlined in the debates, can be summed up as : Iraq is not part of the War on Terror so let's mop up and get the hell out.

After the mop-up? Well, let's throw some sanctions on Iran while we wait for them to develop their nukes, and let's sit down with North Korea and talk tough, so that they can give us a phony agreement and we can wave it around and declare victory.

How anyone outside of the hard left can grant these guys any credibility at all is simply beyond me.

Posted by: Priscilla at October 6, 2004 05:49 AM

Edwards was totally destroyed, and it wasn't even close. How anyone can be impressed by such a lightweight is totally beyond me.

I was very impressed by Edwards. Yes, he appeared to be a lightweight, but that's because he had no material; and that's inherent to the Democrats this season, not Edwards. If he was on the right side of this debate, he would have sounded and come across as formidable indeed.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 06:53 AM

ps. there were times when you could tell Edwards was lawyering, but again, that's because he was forced to defend Kerry and other shallow positions. It doesn't speak to his skills, just the side he's chosen.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 06:58 AM
How does Edwards awareness that we have suffered 90% of the casualties indicate he is in denial about the US as sole military power?
Because the US will take a large majority of casualties whether we have 'allies' or not. In Gulf War I, the US made up about 76% of the total allied troop strength, and suffered about 69% of all allied soldiers killed in action. In the Korean War, US casualties were about 68% of the allied total. No matter how many allies we have, the US is still going to do the heavy lifting. Posted by: David Fleck at October 6, 2004 07:07 AM

Sullivan has lost it. In the space of fifteen months he's gone from "Bush walks on water" to "Bush can't walk upright". Sullivan recognizes that the most important issues of this election are Iraq and Terror, but his opinions on how they've been handled did a 180 immediately after Bush came out for the FMA. And I think that's fundamentally dishonest.

I don't blame Sullivan at all for being pissed off about Bush's social policies, and I wouldn't blame him for refusing to support Bush for that reason. But instead he's become a cheerleader against everything Bush, and I think his zeal does damage to a vital international undertaking.

We need good criticism of what we've done in the occupation and in prosectuing the War on Terror, because we're going to be in Iraq for at the least many more months, and no one knows how long the WoT will last. Constructive criticism is necessary.

Maybe Sullivan never was honest and just conformed to my biases in the past; it's hard for me to say. One way or the other it's a shame, because he's a wonderful writer and even if he shifts back to my perspectives I just won't be able to respect anything he has to say.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 6, 2004 07:13 AM

Apparently John Kerry conceded yesterday that he probably would not be able to get Germany and France to send troops to Iraq. He said: "Does that mean allies are going to trade their young for our young in body bags? I know they are not. I know that."

I'm wondering what his plan is now.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 07:17 AM

"You don’t have to buy into hysterical doom-mongering to see that Iraq is whacked. And you can’t solve a problem if you can’t even admit a problem exists."

Michael, you are unfortunately demonstrating the single most common deficiency of the pundit: an attention span of perhaps five seconds, driven by the requirement for something new every time you sit down at the keyboard.

The current situation is a battle. The fact that it isn't one where the two sides line up facing one another in gaudy uniforms, mix it up with lots of exciting one-on-ones, and finish up before sundown so the carrion-crows can get to work and everybody else gets a hot meal before bed, is an artifact of the situation. Political battles -- which this one is -- operate in slow motion, and just as an ordinary battle consists of individual sub-battles in which one side advances and the other retreats, this one has winning moments and losing ones for both opponents.

As for having a plan, the Bush administration told you two years ago what the intention was. Bush hasn't done much clarification lately, but not because he doesn't want to; he doesn't say much because the MSM have demonstrated conclusively that they will not transmit the message, instead eliding, ellipsizing, editing, interpreting, and where necessary inventing from the whole cloth in order to lampoon it. He cannot even explain in person. Divide the country into groups of 2,000 and have Bush make a speech to each. The reporters show up and "report" -- and at the end of the process each person in America has heard the actual plan once and the "interpretation" 140,000 times.

Plan? Yes, they had a plan. Yes, it was optimistic. No, it didn't work -- but like sensible people, they also had an overall vision, a metaplan consisting of principles of operation from which to construct new plans when the enemy distrupted the old ones. That disruption happened in this case, as it always does, but if you'll stop insisting on the TV reporter's "final score in time for the 11:00 PM update" paradigm and start looking at the overall progress, you might even be able to figure out what the overall metaplan really is -- especially since Bush has swerved not a hair from it since the original war planning.

Will you? On the evidence of past essays, it's at least possible, unlike the lefties screaming "imperialism!" and the righties bewailing insufficient imperialism. But the war is, and will be, a slow process, in which the individual sub-battles take weeks, the whole battle extends over several months, and will be measured in decades, not years; and your pundit-reflexes may make it hard for you to work that out.

Regards,
Ric Locke

Posted by: Ric Locke at October 6, 2004 07:20 AM

I thought it was a knock-out punch for Cheney, and I'm surprised that polls are apparently showing a split among viewers over this debate. This tells me people are easy to distract with empty rhetoric, which is 80+% of what Kerry and Edwards offer. On not a single foreign policy issue have they given any indication that they would have been or will be more effective than Bush. Not to say that Bush's policies are that good. But Kerry's are a fantasy in which: pacifist "allies" will suddenly turn bellicose; Death-to-America-chanting mullahs who know their days are numbered will stop enriching uranium because of economic sanctions; Krazy Jong will turn peaceful if only we buy him off (worked for Clinton, right?); John Kerry will track down Bin Laden better than the largest manhunt in history; etc.

Bush and Cheney should have said: "My opponent must think he's a magician...."

Posted by: Brad Williams at October 6, 2004 08:01 AM

DAVID...

I can honestly really respect you right now for at least admitting that John Edwards is a pretty likeable/charasmatic m-f-er and came across as such. You and I can disagree on the merits of the actual material (and we do by and in large) but you're honest with yourself in assessing the guy. That's more than I can say for a handful of your fellow right-wing counterparts, here, who would be singing his praises were he on your side last night.

And, yes, I sure am glad he isn't on your side. John Edwards is one hell of a politician. Formidable is an understatement.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at October 6, 2004 08:04 AM

Mark Polling,

Maybe Sullivan never was honest and just conformed to my biases in the past; it's hard for me to say. One way or the other it's a shame, because he's a wonderful writer and even if he shifts back to my perspectives I just won't be able to respect anything he has to say.

My dear friend, are you under the impression that anyone truly ses without conforming to some bias? Every author, news reports, editor, anchorperson, and political figure, I think, sees through their own bais.

Our brains recieve millions of signals a second, many of those signals get processed analyzed and dumped. The signals that most closely conform to the existing thought patterns are usually more likely to be picked up (ie. You tend to more easily identify with a recoginized pattern than a unknown one). Every signal, from the wavelength of light bouncing off of your world, to the touch of your keyboard, the taste of morning coffee, all of it, gets filtered through the biased human brain.

Some people make a conscious effort to be unbiased, but even then 'pattern recoginition' is almost impossible to identify and stop.
-----Sidebar------
For example, Discordians hold to 'The Law of Fives', which states that "given enough creativity on the part of the observer, everything relates to five." If you spend a few weeks trying to make everything relate to 5, you'll soon find that you begin to automatically relate things to five. Pattern recoginition.

42 is considered the answer to Life the Universe and Everything, according to the silly british trilogy 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'. 4:20 is, of course, one of the counter-culture's symbols (4:20 each day is the official time in which all good stoners 'light up'). As such, some Discordians consider 42 to be a holy Erisian number and assume that Eris is telling them something when they see it.

Once you start looking for the number 42, 4:20, $4.2x $xx.42 etc... you begin to see it everywhere. I once counted 25 instances of the number 42 that randomly popped up in my day.

There is a really cool experiment that R.A. Wilson recommends in (i think) "Prometheus Rising".

He tells the reader to keep track of quarters that they find on the street, sidewalk etc. for a month. He then tell the reader to begin meditating on the image of a quarter, envision it in detail, every day, as often as they can. He gives them exercises for this... how to make the image clear in their minds etc. He tells the reader to convience themselves that they are able to create these quarters in real life... and then count the quarters that they find during the next month. Finally, he tells the reader to convience themselves that the only reason that they're finding these quarters is that they have programmed in a sort of pattern recoginition for quarters, therefore, they're more likely to 'see' (or their brain is more likely to register the pattern of seeing) already existing quarters.

After three months of this, you compare the quarter findings of the three months. Here's what I found:

Month 1:

I found 5 quarters.

Month 2:

I found 18 quarters

Month 3:

I found 26 quarters (yes almost one per day)

Currently, I tend to find about a quarter a day, sometimes more. Am I creating them? I don't think so... I think that they're there... and I just never noticed them.

-----End Sidebar----

I think that we all have our own patterns that we're likely to recoginize and if we start working with new/different patterns, then, it seems we begin recoginizing different patterns.

I think that most partisan people, truly see the patterns that support their world view. I don't doubt that the patterns are really there, even if I can't see them from my point of view. Examples like Sullivan, I think, are people who are seeing different patterns now, because they forced their brain to look for different patterns (Do you want to see supportive data for the guy that you DON'T want to be President?)

Toskie

(sorry for the wandering post)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 08:07 AM

"I think that most partisan people, truly see the patterns that support their world view. I don't doubt that the patterns are really there, even if I can't see them from my point of view.

Tosk,

I agree. That's why I think that "facts" aren't as important to one's worldview as are values-- the things we hold important. It is from those things we value that those "patterns" you speak of emerge. Facts are often selective and can be rationalized, but they're always used to support our values system. That's why blogging is such a waste of time; worldviews are often impervious to everyday facts; but it's still fun.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 08:37 AM

David,

Thoughtful post!

I agree that 'facts' are in the eye of the beholder (perhaps in the mind of the beholder, more appropriately). I personally try to maintain what gets classified as 'good ideas' instead of Facts, Truth or the like. My values have changed drastically over the years, so I don't really consider them the stable foundation that I once did. I was a very conservative, extremely religious Christian, once upon a time. My moral compass was in line with most of the conservative views expressed here these days.

Then, around the age of 23 I started questioning what I thought I knew... by the age of 25 I was really scared, because everything that I was SURE of, was falling apart right in front of my eyes. The more I began looking at other world views, the more that my world view seemed to became invalid. As I began to change my world view, my values changed.

I figure that if it happened before, it could happen again, so now I try (definately the operative word here) to keep in mind that its all ideas, and ideas can change in light of new ideas.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 08:50 AM

Why is there so much talk about them "Never meeting before?" That seems a pretty insignificant part of the whole. More important are some of the answers or lack thereof.

Didn't Ms. Ifill ask John Edwards "Since yourself and my Kerry consider the war in Iraq as being the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Does that mean that Saddam would still be in charge if you had your way?" Did he answer that question? Not that I heard he didn't. That was a pretty important question and he dodged it.

Another one I though was almost laughable was when Edwards made the remark "John Kerry has been completely consistent about the war in Iraq."

john Edwards is use to being in a court room where it is much easier to manipulate 12 people than an entire country. He is out of his league.

I thought Cheney did excellent work last night. Was there a better remark than when he reminded Edwards that he and Mr. Kerry voted to send the troops to Iraq but then flopped and voted to not support sending them needed supplies. Think about that one for a minute...Send our men to war but don't send them the supplies they need to successfully defend themselves! Can there be anything more telling?

Posted by: Cathy at October 6, 2004 08:57 AM

Heh, I checked out CNSNews's homepage... they have the following in their headlines:

Exclusive: Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties

Then, posted soon after that story (referencing the documents in question) we see:

No WMD in Iraq, Inspector's Report Will Conclude
(CNSNews.com)

All in all, that is pretty funny.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 08:58 AM

I agree with everything $lick has put forth.

I watched the first debate with friends. They were lured here under the guise of a drinking party and sobered up as I rebutted Kerry on all his talking points. I've been a social democrat my whole life, my friends are all democrats. I worked in NY for 6 years at a Wall St. address my apt. is in Greenwich Village. (I also own a home in NJ where I raise my family) I learned all I needed to know about Islamofascism on 9/11. We had a full house again last night and quite a few of my friends left politically confused.
The minute both Cheney and Edwards sat down and started scribbling notes we thought it would be a very different debate. Edwards responded to the very first question by saying the American people are being lied to. He sited the CIA report which according to your post yesterday still left the door open on a link.
"But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that the report, which was a mix of new information and a look at some older information, did not make any final judgments or come to any definitive conclusions. Edwards threw up that report as proof positive, that was misleading at best.

Would Saddam still be in power is Kerry/Edwards were in office? Yup. Cheney said it best "Tough talk does not obscure weak defense record."

What is the plan to capture OBL? Elections in Afghanistan - "Freedom is the best antidote for terror" and we haven't let up on OBL. Edwards - Our mistake was Tora Bora and druglords and warlords are running Afghanistan. In other words they have no plan and pay no attention to the elections in 4 days.

What is global test if not a global veto? - This was an excellent question. Instead of an answer we get the 90% figure floated again and Cheney points out that Iraqis are also dying. They don't count to Edwards. They voted for war, but against $87 billion. Not credible, nor consistent.

Is Kerry dangerous? Best line of the night from Cheney - "If he can't stand up to Dean, how can he stand up to al Qaeda?" To which Edwards says "A long resume does not equal good judgment." Which just reinforced Cheney's point about Kerry. Oh, and if we didn't hear Kerry was in Vietnam.

Ifill shined an obvious spotlight on Kerry "allies" with the next question. This left me thinking out loud. We all know France wants it's two journalists released. We know France said summit support will only take place if terrorists are invited and a troop pull out date is given. Why when questioned didn't Powell jump on the obvious. Cheney didn't either he just reiterated Kerry had insulted Allawi and was continuing to demean the Iraqis and our current allies. Hmmm...

I would have liked to have heard both of them address the future of intelligence question better.

At this point, and the mention of Halliburton 4x's we were buzzed and my friends would have voted from my sons pet frog if I told them too. I served food.

Israel? My friends all support Israel and want Arafat isolated. "Senator gone" caused a chuckle.

Most of my friends own small businesses and were quite happy with the tax cut. It afforded them the opportunity to reinvest in their businesses. I don't know the answer to the manufacturing industry's sector. We also don't follow the logic of how higher taxes for the 200K and up will cut the deficit in half. Kerry and Edwards both missed the vote on Monday extending the middle class tax cut.

We all oppose an amendment to the constitution banning same sex unions! We are also bright enough to know it has a snowballs chance in hell of passing.

We were all a little edgy on tort reform and a cap on non-economic damages but not attorney awards. The three strikes and you out reform didn't put a cap on attorney awards and left us feeling that some part of the public would be left underrepresented as lawyers would then be able to cherry pick lawsuits.
Sub-chapterS companies meant life to small businesses before the tax cut after the tax cut we agree it's loophole.

Not knowing the statistic black women dying of aids was a failing of both. Bush doubled the amount of international aid from Clinton and Edwards promises to double it still.

Experience went to Cheney.
Differences - proactive and preemptive vs. pacifist.
Flip-flopping? Bush and Cheney are running the country, Kerry and Edwards are trying to get elected and have pandered to headlines and crowds. (personally I don't like the whole flip-flop innuendo applied to either party but I do look for a consistent message)
The blue and red divide will only be bridged when we the people isolate and marginalized the hard left and right through our votes. We hold the power to do it and are divided because of it.

Closing arguments were flat quick recaps.

Cheney won this round. Edwards did an amazing job of holding it together and was impressive with his arguments. I give him all the credit he deserves for last night. Quite a few of my friends have leapt into the undecided category after being diehard Kerry supporters. I'd like to think it's not just the booze talking. On to Friday.

Posted by: Kim at October 6, 2004 09:10 AM

$lick: Apparently, you've bought into Edward's "these-facts-support-my-lie" assertion that we're losing in Iraq (lie) because more soldiers died in Iraq in Septemeber than Auguest (69 vs. 50) and August than July (50 vs. 41). In order to complete this lie, he needs you to believe that these soldiers died for nothing.

I don't think we're losing. And I certainly don't think those soldiers died for nothing. (I don't think Edwards thinks that, either.) It is worse in Iraq now than it was, and I don't think it can be denied. I'm not crying QUAGMIRE or DOOM by pointing this out.

I prefer to write positively about Iraq whenever possible because the media is so relentlessly negative. But I intend to go to Iraq in person when the country calms down and I am well aware that it was once relatively "safe" for me to do so and now it no longer is. The anti-war left ignores all good news coming out of Iraq, and most hawks don't take the bad stuff into account. At some point this has to change.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 09:24 AM

People seem all over the place with last night's debate. Hearing it on the radio, I thought Cheney had the upper hand.

The emerging spin is that it was a wash. So that's that. Unless the Dems decide to fisk Cheney's false statements and turn them into talking points, or unless Cheney's "can't stand up to Howard Dean" line really starts to get around, I expect and hope the VP debate won't add up to a hill of beans for either side.

That's good. I would prefer to join my favorite hawkish blogmeister and thoughtful minions in discussing the real top stories from yesterday and today:
1. Bremer saying he needed more troops
2. Most definitive report so far on Iraqi pre-war strength, or lack thereof:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A9790-2004Oct5.html
3. Sharon's top advisor conceding his boss's agenda is to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/485680.html

On number 1 and 2, who is to be held accountable?
On number 3, does anyone give a damn?

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 6, 2004 09:27 AM

Grant and/or all Kerry supporters,

I have a question. The Democratic claim is that the war in Iraq is was the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, that it is a grand diversion from fighting terrorism, and that we are creating more terrorists than we are killing. If Kerry and the Democrats truly believe all that, isn't the only strategic and moral choice for them to withdraw from Iraq?

How could they possibly stay the course in Iraq if they truly believe what they say? How could they continue to send our troops into the meat grinder if it only undermines the "real" war against Al Qaeda? In fact, wouldn't they have a moral DUTY to withdraw rather than let the troops continue to get killed for no reason at all?

These are serious questions. If you grant the Democrats the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they believe what they claim, isn't it also true that their stated commitment not to withdraw from Iraq cannot be supported by their underlying beliefs?

Don't their arguments against the war in Iraq completely undermine the justification for their commitment to stay? Because if they believe what they say, then wouldn't staying be a bigger disaster than leaving? Doesn't staying make things worse?

That means one of two things. Either they don't believe their own arguments, in which case they are lying to win this election. Alternatively, they believe their own arguments, but are willing to allow the troops to keep getting killed for political reasons.

Posted by: HA at October 6, 2004 09:29 AM

HA, that's a pretty disingenous post, you don't spin seamlessly.

I don't think its that difficult to grasp the Dem's position that while the war was the wrong way, time and place, now that Iraq is unstable, we cannot leave until its fixed.

If you're going to 'ask' questions, at least try to keep them above spin... you just don't pull it off well.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 09:40 AM

HA -- "The Democratic claim is that the war in Iraq is was the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, that it is a grand diversion from fighting terrorism, and that we are creating more terrorists than we are killing. If Kerry and the Democrats truly believe all that, isn't the only strategic and moral choice for them to withdraw from Iraq?"

Of course not. A Baathist Iraq ruled by an aging fascist thug, weakened by continuing sanctions, inspections, U.S. flyovers and bombings if necessary, and US control of its Kurdish territory is not an imminent, grave or gathering threat. An unruled, violent, chaotic Iraq in which any nutcake or terrorist can carve out some power or influence for himself or at least find a safe haven IS A THREAT to our vital interests.
(I don't know that I agree with this, I am just pointing out that it isn't illogical or unreasonable to argue that while we shouldn't have "broke Iraq" we have a strategic obligation now to "fix it.")

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 6, 2004 09:45 AM

Then, around the age of 23 I started questioning what I thought I knew... by the age of 25 I was really scared, because everything that I was SURE of, was falling apart right in front of my eyes.

Tosk,

that's interesting. I've made exactly the same journey, in exactly the opposite direction. It just goes to show.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 09:48 AM

Kim,

that's an excellent breakdown. Poor Edwards had very little material from which to work. That's why is was so fascinating watching him debate. I guess it was just lawyering though. I'll bet he fooled most people.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 09:51 AM

David,

I've noticed that a number of people begin a shift around 23-25. Sometimes, its minor, sometimes its major.

I think (at least in my case) it had a lot to do with being exposed to something other than the reality tunnel of my parent, congregation and religion. They had always stressed "this is Right, t is the Only Right, it is Absolutely Right", once I found out that it wasn't 'Always' right, things began to unravel like Osama's turban on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

I wonder if we passed each other on the way ;-)

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 09:52 AM

David, that is a natural progression: at 25, the world is falling apart around you. At 55, the world is obstinate and solid, but you start falling apart.

Posted by: Zacek at October 6, 2004 09:54 AM

Zacek,

That was damn funny!

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 09:54 AM

Markus,

we have a strategic obligation now to "fix it."

How can you reconcile that with the Democratic positions that the war is a "diversion" and that we are creating more terrorists than we are killing?

If the war in Iraq is part of the war in terror, then we must stay. If it is not, and staying undermines the war on terror, we must withdraw. Period. Kerry cannot have it both ways.

You're answer completely failed to reconcile these contradictions. If they believe their own claims, and Kerry stay's in Iraq should he win the election, then he is sending American troops to their deaths to follow through on a policy that he knows is a strategic mistake for political reasons. That isn't fighting a war. That's cold-blooded, premediated murder.

Posted by: HA at October 6, 2004 10:13 AM

HA,

Are you serious, or just trying to slam Kerry?

The following statements are not contradictions

1. This war was wrongly exectued, it was based on faulty intellengence and we never should have gone there.

2. The war has completely unstabilized the Iraqi nation, terrorism is now rife, Islamic fundamentalism is trying to get a foothold and we cannot pull our troops out until we have helped clean up the mess we helped make.

Let's use a everyday common example:

"I told you not to touch your toys, but you spread them all over the floor anyway. Now you have to clean up your mess."

Obviously, to clean up their mess, the Child must 'touch' their toys. The parent isn't being contradictory. The parent is making the child be responsible for their actions.

The first statement is 'before' a set of actions. The second statement is 'after' a set of actions, and in response to the concequences of those actions.

In the Kerry campaign; The first is a statement about the past (this was the wrong war, place, time). The second is a statement about the present (stablize Irq), since our actions in the past, changed the realities on the ground in Iraq.

I always hope that posters are genuinely trying to find truth and honesty. It disgusts me when obvious spin and slur gets posed as an 'honest' question. Its stuff worthy of the Iraqi PR minister.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 10:42 AM

HA -- I don't know how to respond without repeating myself. Pay attention to my tenses. The war WAS a diversion. It HAS created more terrorists. We MUST CONTINUE to attempt to stabilize the country. This may in fact risk the creation of even more terrorists, but we have no choice, because at this point the alternative of pulling out appears to hold even more negative consequences.

These strike me as facts on the ground, and I don't see the contradiction. Sounds like common sense, and the emerging liberal, as opposed to radical, consensus on what to do.

And as the President notes this morning, it's also not that different from Bush's own plans:

My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. Parts of it should sound pretty familiar -- it's already known as the Bush plan. (Laughter and applause.) Senator Kerry suggests we train Iraqi troops, which we've been doing for months. Just this week, Iraqi forces backed by coalition troops fought bravely to take the city of Samarra from the terrorists and Baathists and insurgents. (Applause.) Senator Kerry -- Senator Kerry is proposing that we have -- that Iraq have elections. (Laughter.) Those elections are already scheduled for January. (Laughter and applause.) He wants the U.N. to be involved in those elections. Well, the U.N. is already there.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/10/20041006-9.html

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 6, 2004 10:57 AM

That paragon of virtue, provider of unbiased info, 'DailyKos' has come up with some interesting observations.

Apparently, John Edwards has presided over the senate twice in the past four years.

Mr. Dick 'Most Tuesdays I'm in the Senate' Cheney, presided over the senate... twice.

Wait, if the President of the Senate is present when the Senate is in session, he IS the one who presides over the senate... if he's there Most Tuesdays.... why isn't he presiding 'Most Tuesdays'?

I can't imagine that he's handed his job over to someone else every week except for two...

(not that I trust KoS further than I can throw it)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 11:13 AM

David - Thanks and agreed Edwards had his party message/material to work with. He did a great job holding up under the pressure of the debate. It had to suck that he had to defend Kerry's economic plan when he himself criticized it while campaigning. Cheney to his credit stayed on tack and put their voting records in the spotlight. Both have come down on the wrong side of national security - when they voted. He also hammered home Kerry's attitude towards our current allies and towards Iraqis. This is a pitfall for Kerry. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski released these comments - "It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience does not recognize Polish contribution. This is immoral," "It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience underestimates Polish sacrifice, this is sad." "I do not think this was out of ignorance," the president emphasized on the TVN Facts. "There is one thing which should be stated clearly: this coalition is not just the United States, Great Britain, Australia alone; it also involves participation of Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Spanish soldiers who have died. It is immoral not to recognize the involvement we contributed based on our conviction that there should be unity in fighting terrorism, that there was a need to display international solidarity and that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous individual of this world."

Posted by: Kim at October 6, 2004 11:18 AM

Mr. Totten,

I don't think that anybody has addressed this, so I will bring it up.

You wrote, "Although I'm liking Dean more these days. He's out of his radical phase now."

I've read soom of your articles and your posts here and it seems that you like to ride the fence - cashing in on "credibility" that seems to some with criticising both dems and repubs alike. But often, it seems to me, you take these positions from somewhere around the watercooler.

Did you ever go to a Howard Dean live event? Did you ever read his positions on his website? I would very much like to hear which of Howard Dean's positions were radical. Please describe why you think it is a "radical" position.

Posted by: Jeff at October 6, 2004 12:29 PM

In 2002, John Edwards told CNN’s Late Edition:

“I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country. And I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat.”

Here's the audio:

http://homepage.mac.com/cfj/.Music/WireTap_recording001.mp3

Do you people really want these wet noodles to lead the war on terror?

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 01:03 PM

Jeff,

Dean wasn't radical so much in substance as he was in style. He has always been a centrist Democrat. I've noted this plenty of times on my site. He isn't Dennis Kucinich, I know.

As to this: I've read soom of your articles and your posts here and it seems that you like to ride the fence - cashing in on "credibility" that seems to some with criticising both dems and repubs alike...

Some people really are in the center, you know. The number of registered Independents is now larger than the number of registered Democrats and Republicans. So the fact that I can criticize both isn't exactly bizarre.

Anyway, I'm not "cashing in." There is a lot more paid writing work for partisan hacks than there is for people in the middle. How many centrist columnists can you name?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 01:13 PM

Do you people really want these wet noodles to lead the war on terror?

Is he a wet noodle because he thought that Iraq was a threat? I thought your boys agreed with him on that count?

Tosk

Posted by: tosk at October 6, 2004 01:24 PM

For all of the bruhaha that many blogs spewed around Pengate, I'm surprised that those same blogs are mysteriously quiet on all of the personal attacks that amounted outright lies... told by Dick Cheney.

It's important to raise valid questions (Did Kerry cheat?), but isn't it just a bit biased and partisan if you only raise valid questions when they're about the guy you don't like?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 6, 2004 01:42 PM

Mr. Totten,

I was using "cashing in" figuratively.

I agree that there are lots of people out there in the "center" as it is used commonly. That's fine and healthy for the country. I have noticed that there seems to be a lot of cache that comes along with being in the center - and that's cool, too. But I have noticed that some comments you have made are the type I have noticed friends and acquaintances make that turn out to be one part left plus 2 parts conservative spin. That way, the centrist can then relate to his buddies that watch FauxNews. (Since everybody in the world that has cable tends to get sucked into this channel - like it or not. Repetition works, even for free-thinking centrists)

Your comments the other day on the Fahrenhype 911 film are one example of the comments of this sort of centrist trying to gain credibility by getting sucked into far-right spin.

"Somebody needed to make a cinematic counterpoint to Michael Moore's CRACKHOUSE (my caps) propaganda.

But that obligates me to WATCH Moore's movie first,..."

I know you've heard about this already. My point isn't just this instance but a trend I've noticed from your comments and those of others where they are chatting up a "centrist or independent" view that is acceptable by mainstream standards. (A view where O'Reily would actually nod a couple of times before he barks at you and sends you on your way.)

Posted by: Jeff at October 6, 2004 02:09 PM

Markus Rose:

Please see the Belmont Club's (http://www.belmontclub.blogspot.com/) latest post for further details regarding Bremer's statement.

Posted by: semm at October 6, 2004 02:24 PM

Tosk,

Are you serious, or just trying to slam Kerry?

You're damn right I'm serious and your analogy was non-responsive. You're conflating the "we broke, we fix it" argument with the "if we're in a hole, stop digging" argument. I am de-conflating these arguments and dealing with them one at a time. For now, I'm focused on the "if we're in a hole, stop digging" argument.

I'll give you another chance. If the Democrats truly believe that the war in Iraq is seperate from the war on terror, that it is a grand distraction from the war on terror, and that by waging it we are creating more terrorists than we are killing, then wouldn't Kerry have a moral obligation to withdraw?

Because if Kerry and the Democrats believe those things and do not withdraw from Iraq, then they will be sending American troops to kill and be killed for a mission that they don't believe in and is only causing harm to the real war on terror according their own claims. And if Kerry wins and follows this path in spite of his and the Democrats own claims, that would be tantamount to cold-blooded murder for politcal gain.

Do you agree or disagree? And don't try an analogy this time. Let's deal with the arguments that have actually been made by the Democrats and take them to their logical conclusion. So a yes or no will do.

Posted by: HA at October 6, 2004 02:26 PM

I'm surprised that those same blogs are mysteriously quiet on all of the personal attacks that amounted outright lies... told by Dick Cheney.

Cheney said he'd never met Edwards before. That was a personal attack? Or was the personal attack Cheney's accusation that Edwards was a no-show in the Senate?

If the latter, then it was true, and not a lie.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 02:36 PM

Markus,

The war WAS a diversion. It HAS created more terrorists. We MUST CONTINUE to attempt to stabilize the country. This may in fact risk the creation of even more terrorists, but we have no choice, because at this point the alternative of pulling out appears to hold even more negative consequences.

How do you know it HAS created more terrorists. Can you prove that? Of course you can't. And besides pure conjecture, what basis do you have for claiming that pulling out would have MORE negative consequences? Its possible it would have POSITIVE consequences too.

One obvious consequence of pulling out is that American's would no longer be getting killed or wounded. And Iraqis are already getting killed both by us and by the Baathists/terrorists. Do you have any basis for claiming that MORE Iraqis would be getting killed? And even if more get killed, wouldn't that be the responsiblity of the Iraqis instead of us? Isn't it up to them to fight for the kind of government they want?

And if it really WAS a diversion, would it be a diversion for us or for the terrorists? Do you honestly believe that the Jihadis would be content to let us go about the business of rebuilding Afghanistan if we hadn't attacked Iraq? Wouldn't they be pouring into Afghanistan instead of Iraq? So didn't we really divert the terrorsts from the ground of THEIR choosing to the ground of OUR choosing?

Posted by: HA at October 6, 2004 02:43 PM

HA:

We invaded Iraq so it would be easier to rebuild Aghanistan?

Well, that's certainly an argument I hadn't heard before.

As for the number of terrorists, can you point us to one expert on terrorism who thinks the number has NOT gone up as a result of our invasion of Iraq?

Posted by: Oberon at October 6, 2004 03:36 PM

Oberon -

Subtract the number of dead terrorists in Iraq from the live ones circa a year ago.

We're safer than we were.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at October 6, 2004 04:38 PM

“But I don’t trust Bush as much as I used to, in part because he really does appear to be in denial.”

Huh? Are we living on two different planets? I see no evidence whatsoever to suggest that President Bush (and Dick Cheney) doesn’t realize that Iraq remains a major challenge. He does indeed point out the good aspects---but our current commander-in-chief is not running away from the harsh realities.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 6, 2004 06:11 PM

“Anyway, I'm not "cashing in." There is a lot more paid writing work for partisan hacks than there is for people in the middle.”

Agreed. Michael Totten would be financially better off if he were either a far right-wing Ann Coulter or a leftist Paul Krugman. The middle of the road is not the best place to be.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 6, 2004 06:21 PM

Michael,

Re: Bush and Cheney in denial. Why do you think this. Because Bush does not publicly state that things have gone to shit and beg to be flogged by Jiohn Kerry with a wet noodle? Who ever heard of something like this? Of course they know things have gone badly. Of course they are attempting to make corrections. But how can they publicly announce it when Terry McCauliffe's camera is waiting to record it all for a Kerry commercial. "Even the President admits he is a screup." This is what happens when one of the two political parties of a great power turns nearly fifty percent of the country virulently against a war in the midst of its happening. And it makes it much less likely the war will be won. It didn't have to be this way. When I think of Kerry's hypocrisy, his naked ambition and his willingness to say ANYTHING to get a vote it makes me VERY VERY ANGRY. President Bush's administration has made mistakes but removing him in favor of this cypher would be a TRAGIC mistake. I have never believed anything more fervently in my entire life. I pray to God everyday that Kerry does not win this election. I mean that literally.

Posted by: Doug at October 6, 2004 07:38 PM

I'm not clear what could work in iraq, but I can follow the logic.

When our soldiers mostly don't speak the language and they do massive response when they get attacked, they alienate civilians. They can't effectively protect civilians directly; given a dispute they usually can't sort it out and they don't have the time anyway. All they can do is kill insurgents, often at the time and place of the insurgents' choosing which is likely to be dangerous to civilians.

Well, but iraqis can turn informer and tell americans where the insurgents are. They can get the americans to grab their personal enemies, their professional enemies, their political enemies, etc and throw them in prison for an indefinite term. But it's risky. One informer went to the americans with a large sum of money in his pocket, that he said was for a wedding. The americans notice the money, assumed he'd been paid to misinform them, and threw him into prison after confiscating the money.

We just don't do a good job of it. We need to get iraqi police and soldiers trained as soon as possible to replace our soldiers.

But iraq has no tradition of selfless public service. Their tradition is that public servants at all levels get bribed. (Incidentally, that's one way Zarqawi could wander around Baghdad without getting caught. All it takes is sufficient money. Though he spent most of his time in the kurdish areas that Saddam didn't control at all.)

Ideally we could train police etc and also train spies who'd try to entrap the police into taking bribes and such, and over a few years get selfless iraqi public servants. I'm not sure how that would go. It might be a hard task.

Still, we need as quickly as possible to get US troops in iraq to be only training iraqis and serving as a shock force to deter invasion and to deter rebellion by antidemocratic forces.

We can get more allies to help train iraqi security guys, provided the training fits together well enough. The iraqis can presumably travel to someplace safer if the foreign trainers don't want to go to iraq. This is a risk since iraqi policemen who get a taste of a better life are likely to try to save up their bribe money to leave the country. Perhaps they could be trained in saudi arabia, jordan, syria?, egypt, morocco, and other places that don't seem tremendously better.

The iraqi government will look like a puppet government to a lot of iraqis while the US military is there. The most obvious thing they can do to dispell that appearance is to tell us to go away. I expect they'll do that at the earliest opportunity. But when would that be? Iraqi troops are likely to look incompetent as long as they're working for US troops. For one thing our equipment is a whole lot better. We expect them to take the lead into gunfire while we have armor and they don't? For another thing they can't be sure they're working for foreign colonisers instead of their own nation. Chances are they'll improve when we're gone, but how much will they improve? An iraqi government that voted to get the foreign troops out would be safer from insurgents than one who didn't, but would it be safe enough?

How many insurgents would put up with a democratic government that let them vote for their own preferred party, and how many would insist on fighting it out with the iraqi government and all othr insurgent movements hoping to come out on top?

Anyway, part of it is clear for Bush or Kerry either one. As quickly as possible we must minimise contact between american soldiers whose arabic is inadequate and iraqis. American soldiers who can't talk well have mostly the mission of keeping US bases running smoothly (no contact with outsiders) and some of them could do intense firefights where civilians aren't an issue.

Our troops have done very well at the missions they've been assigned, but those missions don't make sense in context. Replace them with sensible missions, and if most of the sensible missions don't need US soldiers, pull them out.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 6, 2004 08:49 PM

I don't understand why anyone cares if Cheney ever met Edwards before. Isn't Edwards' record in the Senate more important and relevant to the election? Extreme concern over whether Cheney LIED about something completely inconsequential is a red herring to distract people from considering Edwards'record. And it works, beautifully.

Also, when folks talk about how badly it's going in Iraq, I wonder what they think war or a "good" war, or a "better" war should or would look like? Didn't we just overtake Sumarra, killing tens if not hundreds of the enemy, and losing very few of our own? Those dead "insurgents" aren't going to be blowing up busloads of Iraqi children, are they? Isn't that a good thing?

Posted by: Anne Lieberman at October 6, 2004 08:52 PM

One more thing for consideration. Even with all Edwards' rah-rah about Israel last night, when Kerry goes to garner support from European allies, they're going to want something in return. Ed Lasky, writing at American Thinker, suggests they will demand he sell out Israel. Call me paranoid, but "Why American Jews must vote for Bush" is well worth the read, and not just for Jews. http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=3901

Posted by: Anne Lieberman at October 6, 2004 09:05 PM

Anne, what do you know of Edward's record?

Cheney said Edwards wasn't there. dKos says he was, that he voted 95% of the time which is a very high average for a senator.

Are they wrong?

Or is Cheney lying about that too?

Posted by: J Thomas at October 6, 2004 09:28 PM

MJT,

I don't believe that Edwards thinks we're losing in Iraq either- he's not that stupid. I DO believe that he is trying to convince America that we are losing. Why? To get elected. What's my evidence? Because he states flat out that the number of US casualties increased over the past few months. This statement, with NOTHING to balance it (i.e. the number of insurgents killed is ALSO increasing, clear progress was made during that time), is a DIRECT implication that we're losing. I'm suggesting that you were starting to buy into it, which is surprising.

Edwards suggested that Bush andCheney are not being honest about the current situation, which you apparently agree with, and I'm telling you that it couldn't be farther from the truth. Notice how he hasn't produced a shred of evidence outside of saying "they talk about Iraq as if everything's great over there." Once again, I'd respond to that with "show me a quote." Show me ONE SINGLE QUOTE that proves that they are painting a rosy picture of the current situation in Iraq. One quote that implies that Bush and Cheney don't understand or acknowledge what's happening over there. My question to you, MJT, is what do you WANT to hear from Cheney or Bush? Do you want them to cater to Edwards insistance that they ackowledge the news accounts? Recently, UBL's number 2 guy came out and claimed AQ is winning. Is that the kind of news coverage you want Bush to acknowledge? "Al Qaeda's winning, folks. I heard it on the news. I'm very sorry." Terrorists use violence to make political statements. The news will amplify those statements and ensure that the world hears them. It's bad enough that Edwards and Kerry say "Watch the news! Listen to the terrorists! They're kicking ass over there- Iraq is on fire!!" From what I can tell, you want our commander in chief to do the same. I think that's absurd. He's not denying that any of that stuff is happening- he's choosing (wisely I might add) to shift America's focus from the news-generated message of the terrorists (which gives an UNBELIEVABLY inflated picture of their success vs. ours) to the WHOLE TRUTH of what's actually happening. Did Bush ever say that it's now safe for you to go to Iraq right now? Of course not. Does he ever imply that Iraq WILL BE safe for you to go someday? I think he implies that every day, and if he didn't- he wouldn't be doing his job. If the troops aren't meeting YOUR timetable right now, then that's a problem you have with our commanders or maybe even the administration. I'd call that impatience on your part- not incompitence on our part (or the administrations). Do you honestly beleive that things would have been better under Kerry or Clinton? Do honestly believe that Kerry can do better in the future? Our inability to provide you a safe haven in Iraq RIGHT NOW has nothing to do with Bush or Cheney being dishonest in any way.

When you go to Iraq, I strongly recommend you stop by Mosul, Hillah (Babylon), and the nicer parts of Baghdad.

Posted by: $lick at October 6, 2004 11:15 PM

“Ed Lasky, writing at American Thinker, suggests they will demand he sell out Israel.”

I have been saying this for over a year. It stuns me that so many American Jews support John Kerry. The liberal media hide the harsh fact that at least a third of John Kerry’s supporters believe that the Palestinians are victims of Israeli oppression. Indeed, a Kerry presidency will be very bad news for Israel. Are there a lot of self hating Jews? Or are they merely easily guilt tripped? Whatever, they are definitely not doing any favors for Israel.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 7, 2004 02:01 AM

HA,

Your argument is based on a completely illogical assumption. Every action has a reaction, every action has a consequence, even (and sometimes especialy) BAD actions. The reaction and consequences sometimes mean that one can not simply 'undo' the first action.

Invading Iraq, at the time it was done, in the way it was done, following the plan(?) that was used, was an action (some say a bad one) that created reaction and consequences. No matter what the rightness or wrongness of the action was, we now must deal with the reality of the reaction and consequences. Your statements betray either a lack of basic cognative skills, or an intentional attempt to misrepresent the Kerry position.

Personally, I don't know if Kerry will do any better than Bush in Iraq. But that doesn't mean I'll stand by while illogic and spin get perpatrated on the board.
------

As for the rest of you who are telling me that Cheney's 'little white lie' was no big deal... I agree. His other lies however....

Interestingly, however, the evidence for Edwards senate record indicates that Edwards was at work quite often:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/6/11163/2940

It equally indicates that Mr. Cheney is not, as he suggested, acting as President of the Senate on Most Tuesdays, in fact he's only done it twice. Mr. Edwards has filled in as Acting President of the Senate an equal 2 times, and Mrs. Clinton has done Mr. Cheney's job twice as many times as He has!!!

List of Senators who presided over the Senate as many or MORE times than Mr. Cheney

Chaffee (Rhode Island) 9
Enzi (Wyoming) 5
Nelson (Nebraska) 5
Stabenow (Michigan) 5
Cornyn (Texas) 5
Miller (Georgia) 4
Reed (Rhode Island) 4
Clinton (New York) 3
Landrieu (Louisiana) 3
Corzine (New Jersey) 3
Cheney (VP) 2
Burns (Montana) 2
Reid (Nevada) 2
Byrd (West Virginia) 2
Wellstone (Minnesota) 2
Edwards (North Carol.) 2
Cleland (Georgia) 2
Murkowski (Alaska) 2
Chambliss (Georgia) 2
Ensign (Nevada) 2

Also, on the six occasions when Vice President Cheney was present to cast a tie-breaking vote, Senator Edwards was present and voting on all six occasions. also consider that Edwards had a 95% voting attendence record for his first 5 years and 99.4% for his first 4 (usually its ok for a Senator to be less visible when running for office).

Now, to be perfectly fair, Cheney does show up at the Senate building every Tuesday, to have lunch with his GOP buddies (not, as his statement intimated) to do his job.

Face it, Cheney lied, he lied so blatently and so succiently, it seemed prepared. If Kerry had done that, or Edwards, many of you pro-Bush folks would be ranting to the heavens.

What are you doing? Is the crusade for your Man so important, that your willing to overlook the same immoral issues that you'd crucify Kerry for?

Are you being American, or being Republican?

How many of you (here and elsewhere) ranted and raved about the 'crib notes' that Kerry brought to the debates? How many of you focused on those images, watched the videos, and tried to convience others that Kerry was dishonest? How much time did you spend on that?

If you are not equally angered by ACTUAL EVIDENCE that another cannidate (no matter their party affiliation) was dishonest, then I would have to think that 'dishonesty' must be somewhere in your nurological processing.

Either dishonesty is unaceptable, or dishonesty is fine. Make up your mind and quit flip-flopping on it!

Ratatosk

Posted by: Tosk at October 7, 2004 09:17 AM

And Mr. Edwards home paper did call him Mr. Gone:

http://www.thepilot.com/opinion/100604PilotEditorial2.html

Err, whoops, I guess it was mentioned once, in one editorial, while he was running for President. Even then they pointed out that his voting record was BETTER than thhree other Democratic Senators running in the primaries Joe Lieberman, Richard Gephardt and Bob Graham.

Lies, Misdirection and Bullshit.

If you're gonna support cheney on this, then you have some serious cognative dissonence going on.

I'm always happy to admit when Kerry spews BS... surely those of you who I spar with here are at least as moraly honest as a Godless Discordian Squirrel... aren't you?

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of The ChaoAcorn
Chatterer of The Words of Eris
Full-Spectrum Nutter

POEE of The Great Googlie Mooglie Cabal

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 7, 2004 09:28 AM

This is silly. What could a bunch of europeans offer the USA that would be worth Kerry selling out israel? He wants a second term, doesn't he?

Kerry/Edwards are even more strongly backing Sharon than Bush/Cheney.

Posted by: 324 at October 7, 2004 09:34 AM

Slick said, "Because he states flat out that the number of US casualties increased over the past few months. This statement, with NOTHING to balance it (i.e. the number of insurgents killed is ALSO increasing, clear progress was made during that time), is a DIRECT implication that we're losing."

Slick, it appears you have misunderstood the situation. You don't understand the difference between winning and losing.

I mean, you are plain unclear on the concept.

You win an insurgency when the insurgents give up fighting and accept the democraticly elected government. That's what winning is.

You are losing an insurgency while the violence is building up. You can put a spin on it, you can say that the body counts show they're losing more illiterate unemployed street gang members than you're losing trained middle-class soldiers. Body counts are not the point. You don't win an insurgency by racking up a really high body count. You win when the enemy stops fighting.

It's possible that the current fighting is planting the seeds of future victory. Maybe we're killing iraqis faster than new ones get mad at us, so eventually the survivors will settle down and do things our way. It wasn't true back when it was 5 attacks a day and Rummy was saying it was 5000 deadenders doing it. It wasn't true when it was 20 attacks a day and Rummy was saying it was 5000 deadenders doing it. It wasn't true when it was 40 attacks a day and Rummy was saying it was 20,000 jihadis. But now that it's 90 attacks a day maybe we're finally killing them faster than they can stand and they'll give up. There's always that chance.

Right now we're losing in iraq. It isn't clear whether the level of violence in iraq will go up or go down when US forces leave. Maybe the way to win is to pull out, but that's a risky strategy.

Once more, because this is something you really need to understand since after all you're part of the military machine that's getting misused so badly: Winning means the enemy stops fighting. Winning an insurgency does not mean you kill more of them than they do of you. Depending on body counts means losing unless you're willing to do genocide.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 7, 2004 10:09 AM

Well said, J Thomas.

I'd also add, that with a true insurgency, the more of them you kill, the more likely it is that their friends will turn against you. Depending on which school of military thought you follow, it can be as high as 10 new insurgents for every 1 you kill.

Remember, the American revolutionaries lost EVERY battle in the South, until ther 1 final and decisive victory over Cornwallis.

Insurgencies are like other wars.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 7, 2004 10:19 AM

Sorry that should have said "Insurgencies are NOT like other wars"

Posted by: tosk at October 7, 2004 10:27 AM

You know, we lost more soldiers in June 1944 than in May 1944. We lost more soldiers in December 1944 than in November 1944.

Yes indeed, Michael, you are buying into hysterical doom-mongering. The American army has often lost more soldiers in battle in one hour than have been killed in Iraq in the past year and a half. Soldiers die in war, and the number dying is not a particularly accurate indicator of how the war is going. Those are the simple facts of the matter, and no amount of fretting about how Iraq is "on fire" or "wracked" is going to change them.

The Iraqi enemy has been defeated. We are currently engaging, and defeating, the Iranian enemy. As long as we display a little fortitude and backbone there is no way we can lose this fight.

The comment about Bush being a polarizing figure was simply fatuous. If people chose to hate him, that is their choice. Time for the left to accept responsibility for their choices.

Posted by: flenser at October 7, 2004 12:12 PM

Mike, I agree with you on this case. To be truly honest I have always regardaed the lack of open primaries/runoffs as the key flaw of the American political system (see how Louisiana elects a Senator, now that's sweet) the current primary system basically forces canidates to the extremes (look at Dean's actual record as Governonr, the man was arguably the most sensible moderate to run for the presidency since Clinton, but then he had to go all super liberal and appeal to a the base to get into the primaries, a move which actually backfired). My problem with Cheny is that while he seemed far more intellectually prepared than Edwards, at least on Foriegn policy, he also basically lied at every opportunity, excusing this I have to ask why isn't Cheneny President and Bush VP?

Posted by: Socraticsilence at October 7, 2004 02:00 PM

Tosk,

Your argument is based on a completely illogical assumption. Every action has a reaction, every action has a consequence, even (and sometimes especialy) BAD actions. The reaction and consequences sometimes mean that one can not simply 'undo' the first action.

What is my illogical assumption? Don't give yet another non-responsive, bogus analogy. Point out the specific assumption that I made that is flawed. If you can't do that, you're the one spinning.

I am not misrepresenting Kerry's arguments. I am accepting Kerry's arguments and carrrying them to their ONLY logical conclusion. And if Kerry believes what he claims to believe, he MUST withdraw from Iraq.

Maybe you're right in one respect. It is illogical to assume that Kerry believes what he claims. If that assumption is discarded, the alternative is that Kerry does NOT believe what he claims. In that case, Kerry is deliberately misrepresenting his own position in order to undermine the war for his own political gain. Either way, your candidate is conducting himself in a profoundly corrupt and immoral way.

These are the only logical conclusions. If you're were objective and honest, you would admit it. Instead, YOU have resorted to dishonest spin. And isn't that really what sparked you're little tirade?

Posted by: HA at October 7, 2004 02:49 PM

Although I'm liking Dean more these days. He's out of his radical phase now.

A better way to phrase this would be, "He's out of his grossly misrepresented by the media phase now."

Dean will probably have a different media persona next time around. When I supported Gore in the 1988 presidential primary, my Berkeley friends were outraged that I would support the "conservative" in the race. Ten years later they all loved Gore as a radical tree-hugging liberal. But Gore himself hardly changed at all. What changed was how the media painted him. Same with Dean.

mdl

Posted by: mdl at October 7, 2004 07:59 PM

J Thomas,

I do in fact have a much clearer understanding of winning and losing than you do, but thanks for trying. My argument is clear and simple- increasing casualties (on either side) does not = losing. I never implied that we're winning because we're killing more of them than they are of us. I was merely pointing out that this was the picture being painted (spun, if you will) by Edwards, in his attempt to draw that false conclusion.

I agree that the goal is to decrease violence. You and I are totally in agreement there. That is a LONG TERM goal. Nobody ever said it would happen between the months of July and Septemeber. You make the FALSE assumption that if the violence escalates for a period of months, then we are losing. This is absolutely untrue. If could mean any number of things- the insurgents are getting desperate, WE decided to launch some offensives here and there, ONE radical cleric decided to make a last stand, etc. Do you see where I'm going with this?

You claim that I'm trying to "spin" the escalating violence. Wholly untrue. I know why it occurred, and I know that it has NOTHING to do with winning or losing. YOU, J Thomas, are doing the spinning. You need to embrace the fact that you spin the violence in the EXACT way that terrorists want you to.

Example: How much of a tactical gain did the insurgents get from hitting the Sheraton yesterday? I'll give you a hint- NONE. ZERO. None of our equipment lost or damaged. Not even an INJURY to any of our forces. Not even any innocent bystanders hurt. Our guys killed the perps and cleaned up some glass- end of story. Yet the news covered it for a good couple hours. You would think we had lost the biggest battle of the war. THAT is the spin you are running with, J Thomas. I don't operate with spin. I'm here. I know the facts. If we were losing, as you insist we are, I'd know it and I'd freely admit it. You can watch your news reports and try to convince me we're losing all you want. I'm here, and I know better.

I know people like you, J Thomas. You sit around your house watching CNN and CSPAN, and every 15 minutes you slam your fist on the table because you're not a 4 star General. You'd really clean up over here- you're totally convinced of it.

Get over it, dude. We'll do fine following the ones you insist are mismanaging us- inexperienced and incompitent saps like Metz, McKiernan, and Petraeus. If you really think those guys are incompitent, you're completely ignorant. If you think they're being "pushed around" or "mismanaged" by a corrupt administration, then you're insulting their compitence AND their integrity. In either case, I thank my lucky stars you're not in the military...

Posted by: $lick at October 7, 2004 11:10 PM

Egomaniacal Kerry again opened his mouth full of venom today
and caused nausea. He was very ecstatic that no WMD was found in Iraq.
He wants to blame Bush for it, does not he? Let's examine situation that Sadam
has hidden WMD or destroyed it before we entered Iraq. How would you react
if we find WMD, 2 years after it was declared that WMD never existed?
Would you blame Bush again.? I remember that Sadam used WMD
on his own people. He killed 5000 people. Is it not enough to assume that
he had WMD.?Let me give you one of the scenarios what will happen if this
megalomaniac(Kerry) become President of US. This perfidious vipers(Islamic terrorists)
will stop bombing in order to confuse us and give us false impression that we elected
"right man" as a President of US. In the meantime they will set up more cells in US
and bring the same WMD we declared that they never existed.They will be working
in silence and we will be listening on TV and on Radios Kerry's great heroic
actions in Vietnam and his grandiose adventures. When we wake up
it will be too late. Kerry will not help you anymore. He will throw all his medals
and will surrender to terrorists. The terrorist will dictate conditions and if we do not satisfy them
they will detonate one or two WMD precisely the same WMD we declared
that they never existed. Will you again blame Bush for it?

Posted by: Patriot at October 7, 2004 11:27 PM

Egomaniacal Kerry again opened his mouth full of venom today
and caused nausea. He was very ecstatic that no WMD was found in Iraq.
He wants to blame Bush for it, does not he? Let's examine situation that Sadam
has hidden WMD or destroyed it before we entered Iraq. How would you react
if we find WMD, 2 years after it was declared that WMD never existed?
Would you blame Bush again.? I remember that Sadam used WMD
on his own people. He killed 5000 people. Is it not enough to assume that
he had WMD.?Let me give you one of the scenarios what will happen if this
megalomaniac(Kerry) become President of US. This perfidious vipers(Islamic terrorists)
will stop bombing in order to confuse us and give us false impression that we elected
"right man" as a President of US. In the meantime they will set up more cells in US
and bring the same WMD we declared that they never existed.They will be working
in silence and we will be listening on TV and on Radios Kerry's great heroic
actions in Vietnam and his grandiose adventures. When we wake up
it will be too late. Kerry will not help you anymore. He will throw all his medals
and will surrender to terrorists. The terrorist will dictate conditions and if we do not satisfy them
they will detonate one or two WMD precisely the same WMD we declared
that they never existed. Will you again blame Bush for it?

Posted by: Patriot at October 7, 2004 11:27 PM

HA, We'll go line by line:

I have a question.

You have several.

The Democratic claim is that the war in Iraq is was the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, that it is a grand diversion from fighting terrorism, and that we are creating more terrorists than we are killing. If Kerry and the Democrats truly believe all that, isn't the only strategic and moral choice for them to withdraw from Iraq?

The democrats claim that the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, they also believe that the invasion of 2003, was a diversion from our WoT.

Ok, got that?

If Kerry and the Democrats truly believe all that, isn't the only strategic and moral choice for them to withdraw from Iraq?

No. Not at all. Due to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we (America and her allies) have destablized the country of Iraq. We have destroyed their infrastructure and government, we have disbanded their police and army. Due to our actions, the situation in Iraq has become VERY UNSTABLE.

The only moral choice is to fix what we broke. This is the position Kerry has publicly taken.

Got that?

How could they possibly stay the course in Iraq if they truly believe what they say? How could they continue to send our troops into the meat grinder if it only undermines the "real" war against Al Qaeda? In fact, wouldn't they have a moral DUTY to withdraw rather than let the troops continue to get killed for no reason at all?

This doesn't warrent a response because you're working off of an incorrect assumption, which I hopefully laid to rest above.

These are serious questions. If you grant the Democrats the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they believe what they claim, isn't it also true that their stated commitment not to withdraw from Iraq cannot be supported by their underlying beliefs?

You're way out in the world of assumption now, HA. All of your arguments are predicated on your summation that opposition to the Invasion, somehow translates to opposition to the reconstruction of a nation we helped to destroy.

Don't their arguments against the war in Iraq completely undermine the justification for their commitment to stay? Because if they believe what they say, then wouldn't staying be a bigger disaster than leaving? Doesn't staying make things worse?

Again, all of these questions are based on a faulty connection between an invasion and fixing a country post-invasion.

That means one of two things. Either they don't believe their own arguments, in which case they are lying to win this election. Alternatively, they believe their own arguments, but are willing to allow the troops to keep getting killed for political reasons.

It can also mean that you used bad logic to implicate the democrats, instead of using logic to form a fair argument. It saddens me that either you are too stupid to understand logic, or too partisan to fairly discuss issues.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 8, 2004 07:08 AM

Slick claimed, My argument is clear and simple- increasing casualties (on either side) does not = losing. I never implied that we're winning because we're killing more of them than they are of us.

Previously Slick had claimed, ... he states flat out that the number of US casualties increased over the past few months. This statement, with NOTHING to balance it (i.e. the number of insurgents killed is ALSO increasing, clear progress was made during that time), is a DIRECT implication that we're losing.

It seemed to me that Slick was implying then that the claim that our casualties are increasing is a direct implication that we're losing, and if it is paired with the claim that enemy casualties are also increasing (which is claimed to be clear progress), it would be an implication that we're making progress.

My claim, though, is that we are winning when there is less fighting and we are losing when there is more fighting. This looks like the best metric the american public can use. We want the fighting to end, and when we persuade the insurgents to stop fighting then we have won. If we have to kill 5% of the iraqi population to do that (about 750,000 people) that would be a rather bloody victory.

You claim that I'm trying to "spin" the escalating violence. Wholly untrue. I know why it occurred, and I know that it has NOTHING to do with winning or losing.

The trouble here is that you have no credibility whatsoever with me about this. I was in high school during vietnam. I believed in the war. I told people "If we can't believe our own military about what's going on, who can we believe?" After the war I went back and found out I had been believing lies straight down the line. Fool me once....

I can understand. If you thought the war could still be won, and it would be lost if american opinion went bad, it would be your duty to lie to the public. I can't fault you for that, exactly. But I don't believe you.

Ten years from now I'll go back and look at what was going on in iraq, and if I find out you were telling the truth I'll try to track you down and apologise, and I'll believe the military in the war we'll be having then. Right now I have no reason to think you tell the truth except by accident.

How much of a tactical gain did the insurgents get from hitting the Sheraton yesterday? I'll give you a hint- NONE. ZERO. None of our equipment lost or damaged. Not even an INJURY to any of our forces. Not even any innocent bystanders hurt. Our guys killed the perps and cleaned up some glass- end of story. Yet the news covered it for a good couple hours. You would think we had lost the biggest battle of the war.

You know why that is. It's too dangerous for the media to go look at the big battles or even the little battles. The level of violence against them is too high. So we get essentially no credible reports out of iraq. And when the safe areas get hit proving that there are no safe areas, that's news. Compare to vietnam. How many years were we in vietnam before the media couldn't get out of Saigon? How many years before they couldn't get out of the fortified area around the US embassy?

You can try to spin that but it doesn't look good.

I know people like you, J Thomas. You sit around your house watching CNN and CSPAN...

I'm sure there are people like that. I look at summaries maybe twice a week, I follow up some of the details, and I do G**gle news weekly to look for keywords. I don't have time to keep up with the non-news from iraq. I have no idea how the US military could win in iraq. It doesn't look like it's primarily a military problem. Some time ago you revealed to us the latest (then) silver bullet, spreading around reconstruction money so iraqis would have jobs. I was pleased that more of that money was going through the military instead of the utterly incompetent CPA. I'd trust you guys to get that stuff done if it's doable, and the CPA had shown us they were clueless. But soon after that the revealed wisdom to the media was that we couldn't do much reconstruction until we'd handled security. So we have that long-term project first. Train iraqis to handle their own wecurity and then we can do reconstruction and hire them to rebuild. And the attack on the Sheraton shows....

If you really think those guys are incompitent, you're completely ignorant. If you think they're being "pushed around" or "mismanaged" by a corrupt administration, then you're insulting their compitence AND their integrity.

The question is likely to arise later, why didn't they resign in protest? They've been given a mission that's probably unwinnable, and they accept it. If 7 top army guys resign one after the other rather than accept this mess, the 8th could get permission to salvage what he can.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 8, 2004 04:56 PM

"It seemed to me that Slick was implying then that the claim that our casualties are increasing is a direct implication that we're losing"

Wrong- Edwards was implying that. By harping on the fact that our casualties increased during a three-month period, he wanted to convince everyone that we were losing.

", and if it is paired with the claim that enemy casualties are also increasing (which is claimed to be clear progress), it would be an implication that we're making progress."

You spin my words faster than I can type them!I NEVER claimed that casualties increasing = clear progress. I asserted that the fact that escalating violence AND the fact that clear progress was being made are two very important details that Edwards "neglected" to mention. Here's why:

If Edwards had said: "The number of American casualties has been increasing for three months. Insurgents have been steadily picking our guys off, getting better at better at finding ways to kill them. Our guys haven't been able to fight back effectively. During that three month period we've made no progress whatsoever." then I would say OK, he's right- we're losing. At least during the last three months, we've been losing. But Edwards DIDN'T say that. You know why? Because it's NOT TRUE!!! We HAVE made clear progress. Najaf, Samarra, Tal Affar, Zarqawi's lost support AND manpower, Sadr has COMPLETELY lost his base of power, and there are numerous other things that I can't mention in a public forum, but Edwards knows what they are. He just doesn't want the public to know that progress HAS been made. He just says "our guys are dying, so we must be losing." The fighting has escalated, but that DOESN'T mean we're losing. You won't find a single war in our nation's history where violence hasn't escalated at least at some point. Take that in conjunction with the fact that we've KNOWN from the outset that violence would increase as we get closer to the elections. In short, Edwards just came out and said the number of American casualties increased for 3 months, and used THAT FACT ALONE to support his claim that we're losing fast in Iraq. I'm saying you can't do that. It's not only lying- it's irresponsible.

You claim we're losing. I completely disagree. I won't claim that we're winning. That would be naive. There are way too many things yet to unfold. I WILL say that I'm confident we'll achieve all our goals over there. I believe that, the Generals believe it, and damn near every American soldier believes it. If this surprises you, then I suggest you remind yourself what country you live in. To say that all is lost and that we should cut and run, because YOU don't like the way things have been going as we approach the elections- well, that's just absurd. This isn't Vietnam. Not even close. I'm confident now that this reality will never set in with you. That's too bad. I don't want your apology when Iraq and the mideast turn out to be much better 10 years from now.

Posted by: $lick at October 8, 2004 07:16 PM

Tosk,

The democrats claim that the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, they also believe that the invasion of 2003, was a diversion from our WoT.

Ok, got that?

You are obviously choosing to ignore some key points so that you can arrive at the conclusion you want. I'll point out the key points once again.

The Democrats claim that Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. And by fighting in Iraq we are creating more terrorists than we are killing. So the war was a mistake that is making things worse. Therefore, we must leave.

The logic is clear and unavoidable when you consider ALL the points the Democrats are making. The only way you can arrive at a different conclusion is by excluding some of their arguments.

The only moral choice is to fix what we broke.

We didn't break Iraq. Saddam broke Iraq. The Iraqis who looted their own country broke Iraq. We have NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to fix what they broke.

The only moral obligation we had was to overthrow Saddam. We have fulfilled that obgliation. We owe them nothing else.

What we do have is a national interest in seeing a liberal Iraqi government that fights terrorism. But John Kerry has never supported that idea, and in fact has expressed contempt for the leaders of the government we are trying to help build. If he is not committed to that goal, then there is no further purpose to remain in Iraq after the election.

you're working off of an incorrect assumption, which I hopefully laid to rest above

Not even close. You didn't even try.

Posted by: HA at October 8, 2004 07:46 PM

Slick said, I NEVER claimed that casualties increasing = clear progress. I asserted that the fact that escalating violence AND the fact that clear progress was being made are two very important details that Edwards "neglected" to mention.

OK, I misunderstood your wording. If you reread it you can probably see how I got that interpretation, but you've made clear now that it wasn't what you intended.

We HAVE made clear progress. Najaf, Samarra, Tal Affar, Zarqawi's lost support AND manpower, Sadr has COMPLETELY lost his base of power,

It takes a lot of spin to call what we did in Najaf "progress". Samara is unclear but it looks bad so far. It makes sense to me that Zarqawi should lose support, I've been surprised he got much of any support to begin with. He should have been replaced by a more competent leader or a more heroic-looking figurehead long ago.

Do you have any evidence that Sadr has lost anything important to him? That one would be interesting. Sadr is the only major shia political figure who has not gotten significant support from iran, so if he's losing support that would say something important.

there are numerous other things that I can't mention in a public forum

Then don't. Saying you know secrets is sheer spin. Bush told us he had secret evidence that Saddam had a significant nuke program. and he was lying through his teeth. We don't need it from you too.

Take that in conjunction with the fact that we've KNOWN from the outset that violence would increase as we get closer to the elections.

Heard it before. They were telling us the insurgents were killing themselves off making attacks before the handover. Same old same old spin. The violence is increasing. No evidence it has any connection to the election hopes.

I'm confident we'll achieve all our goals over there.

Would you care to make a list of the goals that we'll achieve there? Does it include permanent bases? Does it include US control of the oil? Does it include a government that will be friendly enough to the USA to do what we want? Does it include a staging area from which to invade iran or syria? What all are the goals?

To say that all is lost and that we should cut and run, because YOU don't like the way things have been going as we approach the elections- well, that's just absurd.

You may not have noticed that neither I, nor Kerry, nor Edwards, have suggested doing that.

I say that the primary goal now is elections and a working democratic representative government. This should involve free local elections wherever Bremer's appointees are in place. It should involve letting any party run that's willing to run, including Ba'athist and salafi and Sadr. In each area the elections people should ask protection from whoever is willing to guarantee it, whether they are insurgents or not. The election organisers don't get to say whether the voting they observed was rigged until they are home safe.

Iraq needs local police paid and controlled by local governments.

All the guys who're running around playing soldier are secondary to this. There is no public indication that the US military is aiding the process in any way. There is strong reason to believe that when an elected legislature takes office they will ask the US military to leave.

This is not defeat. Defeat would be losing so much supply thata we couldn't attack, and couldn't retreat, and finally couldn't defend. I don't expect that to happen. What I expect is that we will win this war when the iraqi government is strong enough it tells us to go away. Our military is largely irrelevant to that, except for our training iraqi soldiers -- and our attempts to lead them in battle against iraqis is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I'm basing this entirely on public information. There might be secrets that make things look different. But here's the question -- why are these secrets worth keeping secret? They can't be strategic military secrets -- we aren't fighting the kind of war that strategic military secrets matter. If there's something that would make us look good, why not declassify it?

Posted by: J Thomas at October 8, 2004 09:16 PM

HA said, "The only moral choice is to fix what we broke." ....

The only moral obligation we had was to overthrow Saddam. We have fulfilled that obgliation. We owe them nothing else.

This is your stand. Tosk and probably Kerry et al say there is a moral obligation to fix what we broke. You accuse Tosk of throwing away part of their platform, and here you're doing it yourself.

John Kerry [....] in fact has expressed contempt for the leaders of the government we are trying to help build.

For Allawi, who campaigned strongly for Bush. Allawi will have no place in the government after the end of January, unless he gets elected or appointed to one. With luck Kerry won't have to deal with him at all.

Blair had sense enough not to campaign strongly for Kerry or Bush. He'll have to work with whichever one wins, unless he loses himself. Allawi wasn't so discreet. I'd pin this more on Allawi than on Kerry. If Allawi had come to the USA and campaigned for Kerry I think you'd understand where I'm coming from on it.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 8, 2004 09:26 PM

"there are numerous other things that I can't mention in a public forum

Then don't. Saying you know secrets is sheer spin. Bush told us he had secret evidence that Saddam had a significant nuke program. and he was lying through his teeth. We don't need it from you too."

Saying that Bush was lying through his teeth because he had reliable intelligence that proved to be incorrect/flawed- THAT'S spin. The stuff I can't talk about involves nothing even similar to that. You think Samara looks bad- I can't convince you to accept the truth. You believe what you want to believe regardless of what the facts support. There's nothing I can do about that.

Our disagreement is that you think that 3 months of increasing casualties means that we're losing. I think it could mean any number of things (which I laid out specifically), and that it in no way implies that we're losing. Especially when we anticipated the violence to increase leading up to the elections. To say taht there is no evidence to support that the violence is connected to the elections is completely ridiculous. Should we take a poll among all the car bombers? Ask them why they committed suicide in order to kill a bunch of people? that would be tough, because they're dead. I've seen more intel reports than I could possibly count that detail evidence of mounting violence in order to throw off the sources. It all came straight from captured sources. I can't tell you their names or anything about them- that's the only thing I can't discuss. But I can say that PLENTY of intelligence suggests that we're making progress despite the insurgent's determination to throw off the elections. If you think those debriefs should make public, than you lack a certain degree of understanding when it comes to strategic intelligence. But the overall assessment of these interogations are put out all the time- the Stars and Stripes is a good place to look if you're interested...

Posted by: $lick at October 9, 2004 05:52 AM

"...of mounting violence in order to throw off the sources."

should read

"...of mounting violence in order to SABATAGE THE ELECTIONS."

Posted by: $lick at October 9, 2004 05:55 AM

Slick spun, Saying that Bush was lying through his teeth because he had reliable intelligence that proved to be incorrect/flawed- THAT'S spin.

Bush had unreliable intelligence that his advisors should have known was falsified.

There were eyewitnesses provided by Chalabi and Allawi, and every time the inspectors checked out some of their data it came out false.

There were documents that took the experts less than 3 days to prove were forgeries.

There were aluminum tubes that Bush's own experts said were not for nukes -- but Bush's nonexperts overruled them.

There were biowarfare vans that turned out to be for routine food-testing etc.

Bush had no evidence unless he had secret evidence that he still hasn't revealed to anyone.

It made perfect sense that Saddam would be building WMDs. He'd built and used them before. If you look at a photo of him he just looks like the kind of guy who'd want WMDs. But Bush claimed to have compelling evidence that Saddam was building WMDs. The evidence was all lies.

Our disagreement is that you think that 3 months of increasing casualties means that we're losing. I think it could mean any number of things (which I laid out specifically), and that it in no way implies that we're losing.

Let's review the bidding. In the short run, we cannot win unless we can provide security to the iraqi people. If we can provide sufficient security then then can have workable elections, which is the next step we need, and they can take over their own security duties and start reconstruction, and we can leave, and at that point their disaffected citizens are likely to settle down. The first requirement for us is to provide security for iraqi citizens, we can't do any of the rest of it without that.

Is there any evidence we are succeeding at security in iraq? How many cities have insurgents taken over? I haven't seen any public mention of that, it's just "some iraqi cities and all of Anbar province" and the media list a few examples.

Samara proved that we could take back parts of one of those cities by occupying it with thousands of US troops, which is something -- Samara isn't like Fallujah where at last note so much of the population was against us that we couldn't go in without killing most of them. Though the insurgents have controlled Samara and killed whatever collaborators they wanted to, we could make them run away provided we put enough american soldiers in with artillery and air support, and they won't come back as long as we keep all those soldiers there. If they do come back I hope we have collaborators who will point them out to us so we can get them. And they won't have the chance to kill the new collaborators unless we leave briefly for any reason.

This is not particularly security. Clearly it was bad spin when US commanders admitted there were no-go zones in iraq. We could prove there aren't many such zones by listing the towns and cities we haven't patrolled in squad-strength or platoon-strength in the last month. I figure that places we can patrol in squad-strength are mostly secure. There might be the occasional IED or RPG attack but they're as secure as any place in iraq. Places we don't patrol in platoon-strength might be no-go zones. We could go there if we were willing to devote the resources -- hell, we could go to Fallujah if we were willing to put enough men and airstrikes into it -- but we don't.

So to an outsider, any town that isn't in the news might be a no-go zone, or it might not. We outsiders have no way to tell. All we know for sure is Fallujah, Samara, Baquba, Sadr city, and maybe a few others. I haven't heard that our military has told us how bad it is. Probably better that they don't, because once the public hears about a no-go zone the military is likely to feel obligated to invade and occupy it which stretches our forces thinner and leaves us less able to provide security anywhere.

In the long run we want to get the iraqi army to occupy the country instead of us, but it's no use cutting their training; half-trained soldiers will fall apart and be worse than useless. We don't have many trained iraqis and we'll only get a few more before the January elections.

So is security for iraqi citizens getting better? I've heard no indication whatsoever that it is. Security for foreigners is definitely getting worse. Security for US troops is getting worse.

We can't do democracy and reconstruction until we do security, and we're slipping on security. Again you can point to Samara as an improvement, but we aren't as well off in Samara as we were before the insurgents took it over.

We can't completely lose in iraq unless we fail to put in sufficient resources. But it's extremely hard to spin the public information to call the current situation "progress".

To say taht there is no evidence to support that the violence is connected to the elections is completely ridiculous.

No, it just disagrees with your opinion. Try this approach: Suppose there are insurgent groups who are training new people and collecting supplies. And their limiting factor is not recruits -- they can easily get more recruits than they have any current use for -- suppose the problem is training. So each new class does attacks on US troops as their graduation exercise. The failures get captured or killed, and the successes train new people. Their intention is to get enough trained men to attack all of our supply lines at once and keep attacking them. Not one convoy in 4 gets attacked, not one convoy in 2 gets attacked, every convoy gets attacked 6 or more times. So every current convoy attack is a training mission to prepare for that day. In that case, when you capture prisoners and ask them why they attacked, what will they tell you? They'll tend to tell you whatever you want to hear. "Are you trying to sabotage the elections?" "Yes." "Are you trying to sabotage reconstruction?" "Yes." "Are you trying to sabotage the Iraqization attempt?" "Yes." I'd be interested in a breakdown of how many prisoners were on their first mission.

I can easily believe that the iraqis are getting interested in elections and that threatens the insurgency. After all, if they get an elected government it can tell the US military to go away and maybe get us gone easier than by fighting us. Elections would tend to get supported. But we aren't the ones doing the elections, we're the ones doing security for the elections. I don't see that the promise of elections represents progress on our part.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 9, 2004 10:38 AM

J Thomas,

Blair had sense enough not to campaign strongly for Kerry or Bush.

Blair banned Labour party members from attending the Democratic convention in spite of a tradition of them doing so. This is a tacit endorsement of Bush.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 11:49 AM

HA, that wasn't anything like Allawi coming here and campaigning for Bush, reciting scripts written by Bush's puppeteers.

Bush pressed Blair to come to Washington and accept an award before the election, and Blair declined. He wasn't willing to get in front of the TV cameras and endorse Bush, just as he wasn't willing to have his party members get in front of the TV cameras at the Democratic convention and endorse Kerry.

Very different from Allawi. Allawi didn't have the option not to endorse Bush, he's unquestionably Bush's puppet.

He's going to have a hard time if Kerry wins the election, unless Kerry wants him for a puppet.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 9, 2004 02:15 PM

J Thomas spun: "But Bush claimed to have compelling evidence that Saddam was building WMDs. The evidence was all lies."

Lies told by whom? Have you read the Darfuer Report? Read it, and you'll find that Saddam did everything in his power to convince the world that he had WMD's, because he thought it would keep Iran, the US, the Kurds, the Shi'a, and whoever else at bay. Great tactic, but in a post-9/11 world, we chose not to play his games. Saddam did not expect this- he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Now he's eating in a jail cell. The evidence was NOT "all lies." Different experts had varying opinions, but much of the evidence turned out to be quite reliable. You claim that we should have been able to see through Saddam's smokescreen. What about France, Russia, UK, etc.? Should they have known better? Why do you put all the blame on Bush and his advisors? Did the whole world "lie?"

"Samara proved that we could take back parts of one of those cities by occupying it with thousands of US troops"

You said earlier that Samara was "looking bad right now." Why? Because the ISP and local citizens ran the insurgents out of town? Because people are now moving freely about the city, getting paid good money to work on over $40 million worth of reconstruction projects, which is in following the EXACT blueprint for success in Najaf? Your logic defies me...

"In the long run we want to get the iraqi army to occupy the country instead of us, but it's no use cutting their training; half-trained soldiers will fall apart and be worse than useless."

No argument there. Kerry proposes to speed up their training- exactly the mistake that was made the first time around, and now he wants to repeat that mistake. If he's not smart enough to understand that LTG Petraeus knows what he's doing, then he truly IS "unfit for command."

"We don't have many trained iraqis and we'll only get a few more before the January elections."

Absolutely false. Read this article, and tell me how you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49283-2004Sep25.html

""Are you trying to sabotage the elections?" "Yes." "Are you trying to sabotage reconstruction?" "Yes." "Are you trying to sabotage the Iraqization attempt?" "Yes.""

Do you REALLY believe that's how we interrogate detainees? Okay, keep believing it.

"I'd be interested in a breakdown of how many prisoners were on their first mission."

Seriously, how badly are we fooling ourselves by trying to pretend that we even have a chance over here without you around to make everything right? Are you trying to tell me that nobody's called you about coming over here to work as an interogator? Keep waiting by the phone, I'm sure somebody will call REAL soon, seeing as you're the only one who knows how to do it. I mean, with ALL your military experience and your current rank of armchair general, how are you not here, yet?

You don't trust our government and you obviously think our military is completely incompitent. I don't think that outlook of yours will ever change, so I won't attempt to change it. You believe only the negative media spin, but you have no concept of the overall picture. You claim that the truth just isn't being told. I would argue that it's being told everyday, but people like you choose not to listen. I would recommend you take a cue from Senator Chambliss, but I'm sure you'll dismiss him as a "liar." And those 72% of the troops (which includes me) that he mentions have more credibility when it comes to this war than you'll ever have.

CHAMBLISS DISMISSES PESSIMISTS ON IRAQ
DURING SENATE FLOOR SPEECH

WASHINGTON – Senator Saxby Chamblisss, R-Ga., member of the Senate Armed Services and the Senate Intelligence Committees, delivered the following statement on the Senate floor.

For the past several days, I have followed the remarks of the senior Senator from Massachusetts relative to Iraq and the war on terrorism. He likes to talk more about yesterday and not so much about tomorrow. He finds fault in everything that the President and his team have done to protect our lives, our liberties, and our way of life. He interprets facts to fit his dismal view of Iraq.

What bothers me most about his many public statements condemning the war in Iraq is that he does so while we still have troops engaged in securing that country. These troops know it is vital – absolutely vital –for the long-term security of the United States and our allies that they succeed in helping Iraq become a free and democratic country.

The most recent edition of the Army Times newspaper contains a very telling survey of active, reserve, and National Guard troops on their views of Iraq and the presidential race, which bears this point out. This is the October 11th edition of the Army Times. I ask unanimous consent that the article, which appears beginning on page 14, be printed in the Record. Mr. President, the caption is: "Troops Sound Off: Who you chose for President and why?"

Among active duty forces, 66% in this poll said the most important issue for them in deciding for whom to vote is the war in Iraq. In the same poll, 60% said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq and 72% said if the presidential election were held today they would vote for President Bush. That is quite a statement of support for the Commander-in-Chief, and his policies in Iraq, from those who are actually doing the fighting and dirty work to bring security and prosperity to that country.

Even more significant are the results from the reserve and National Guard troops who have been called to active duty and deployed to Iraq. Among this group, 72% said the most important issue for them is the war in Iraq, 63% approve of the President's policies in Iraq, and a full 76% of the reserve and National Guard soldiers who have actually been deployed to a combat zone said they are planning on voting for President Bush. These are amazing figures from both our active and reserve forces that tell us much more about what is going on in Iraq than just the reports of bombings and kidnappings.

Listening to the assessments from my colleague from Massachusetts begs the question: Why do the vast majority of our soldiers and Marines engaged in ground operations in Iraq appreciate the importance of our mission there and believe they are engaged in an historical struggle that will lead to a better world and a safer America when a senior senator cannot see the same thing? Are they right or is he right?

As I reflect on the words of the Senator from Massachusetts, I am reminded of that famous quotation made by McLandburgh Wilson:

Twixt the optimist and pessimist,
The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut,
But the pessimist sees the hole.

When it comes to Iraq and our war on terrorism, my colleague from Massachusetts sees the hole when he should be seeing the doughnut.

I suspect that nothing we say in this Chamber will change his views on the issue. Nonetheless, I feel obligated to make some remarks about why our troops are fighting in Iraq, and why some are giving the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is important for our troops and their families to know that not all Senators see only the "hole."

Our policy in Iraq should not be viewed in isolation; the issue is far more complex than that. It is important to understand the linkage between the Islamic terrorists who want to destroy us and the totalitarian regimes under which so many of them were raised. People who have such a deranged view of a Supreme Being that they believe their religion sanctions their own suicide while killing innocent people do not come from free, open, and democratic countries and societies.

Let me explain how I look at Iraq and the war on terrorism. If we look at each incident individually, each bombing, each hostage-taking, each killing, etc. we get one impression of these events. What we should do instead is put ourselves in the place of an eagle that is soaring high and looking down on everything that is going on inside of Iraq.

When we take the eagle's view this is what we see: Iraq is no longer a sanctuary for terrorists, it is no longer a country that threatens its neighbors, and it is no longer a threat to world peace and order.

The insurgency in Iraq is confined to 3 of the 18 provinces, and the country is preparing for its first democratic election in only 4 months from now.

Iraqi leaders, Iraqi soldiers, and Iraqi policemen are stepping forward in the thousands to take back their country from the terrorists.

All we have to do to see what progress is being made in this area is to look at the success we have had just over this weekend. It was not just American troops who had success in Samarra, one of the most violent places inside of Iraq; it was the now-trained Iraqi security police, who fought side by side with the American troops, who received the praise of the American troops for the training, the preparation and the great job they did in not just helping secure the peace but driving the insurgents out of that town and providing a safer and more secure community in which people could live.

America, along with many other countries, remains firm and will not be deterred from achieving the goal of seeing a democracy in Iraq; and there is a realistic understanding of the difficulties and dangers in Iraq.

There are also visionary, optimistic leaders in Iraq and in the many countries that make up the multinational force who are determined to see the insurgency fail.

There have been many references to the July 2004 National Intelligence Estimate, or the NIE. In fact, Senator Kennedy said in this Chamber on 29 September 2004 that the best case scenario in that NIE was that violence in Iraq would continue at current levels, with tenuous political and economic stability. Regardless of what this classified NIE actually said, I do know that it was based on information that is but a snapshot in time and that time continues to move on.

There are many things visible today that were not clear when that NIE was written. The character of the Iraqi leadership was unknown last June. But, no one who heard Prime Minister Allawi speak to a Joint Session of Congress recently could be anything but impressed with his enthusiasm, his intellect, and, most importantly his determination to see a free and safe democratic Iraq.

Lieutenant General Petraeus has been working assiduously to build up the Iraqi security forces. Last June, when the NIE was written, very few of those forces had completed their training. Now trained and competent Iraqi army and police units are "on-duty" and are assuming the major role in restoring security in their own country, and the training continues, so we can expect even more Iraqi security forces to assume their duties every month, just as they did in Samarra this past weekend.

We are engaged in an enormous struggle of historic proportions to see freedom and democracy spread throughout the Islamic world, and, this will set the foundation for a final, peaceful solution between Israel and Palestine. It will also, in the long-term, eliminate the politically oppressive environment and poor economic conditions that have been the breeding grounds for terrorists to find new recruits.

I want to say to our military personnel and their families that your role in this historic and important struggle is key to its success. You will look back on your contributions and your sacrifices in making our country and the world safer. When you see what you have accomplished from an eagle's view, you will not see the hole that a pessimist sees.

Posted by: $lick at October 10, 2004 01:51 AM

J Thomas,

Very different from Allawi. Allawi didn't have the option not to endorse Bush, he's unquestionably Bush's puppet.

Is Hamid Karzai a Bush puppet too? His address to the joint session was almost identical to Allawi's.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43335-2004Jun15.html

What fate do you think awaits all these Bush puppets should Kerry win?

Face it. Kerry's smearing of Allawi was just the latest disgrace in a lifelong quest. He showed absolutely no grace whatsoever. He should have embraced Allawi. Smearing him was wrong. Even worse, it was a mistake. Give it up.

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2004 03:56 AM

It is hard to understand why swing voters
are so indecisive about making their choice.
After second debate one could see two opponents
with quite different view of the world. There is big contrast among them. I would understand
swing voters dilema to choose if both candidates
were in some way similar in their philosophical
views of the world.If it was the case one would have to look deeper and find important distinction among them.The picture of both is so clear. One is capitalist and another one is socialist. You don't have to be savvy in economics
to find out that increase in taxes that Kerry proposes on businesses which earn more $200,000
will burden our economy and after few years will
cause economic stagnation. His tax plan was further scrutinized and was found out that people
who make $150,000-$170,000 will pay higher rate.
Kerry and Democrats cry out loud about under funded schools. This is big lie. In fact they are over funded. With respect to abortion issue the choice is clear. You are pro-life
or so called pro-choice. Kerry wants to have both ways. He is very "sensitive" and "respectful" to the people who are pro-life
but he has to see wider spectrum and see the needs of other groups. He has moral "dilemma".
He is Catholic and he believes that life
begin at conception but he needs to be bigger than LIFE. Do we have to see third debate?
Is it important to see their styles and make
decision based on this factor? We already
know their characters, their views and their plans. I made my mind how I cast my vote.
How about you ?

Posted by: ZIB at October 10, 2004 10:04 PM

Slick spun, J Thomas spun: "But Bush claimed to have compelling evidence that Saddam was building WMDs. The evidence was all lies."

Lies told by whom?

Lies publicly told by Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld. Plus others.

The evidence was NOT "all lies." Different experts had varying opinions, but much of the evidence turned out to be quite reliable.

Tell me about evidence that Saddam had WMDs that turned out to be true. He didn't have them. All of the evidence that he did was wrong. Are you telling me you have evidence that Saddam had WMDs, that wasn't wrong?

You claim that we should have been able to see through Saddam's smokescreen. What about France, Russia, UK, etc.?

As you conveniently forget, the CIA at the time was leaking like a colander that the evidence was all disinformation. That implies that the CIA did see through it. They were ordered not to see through it. One could make the interpretation that the CIA did not see through the deception and the leaks were politically motivated lies. But I tend to believe them because they turned out to be true, according to the Senate reports.

MI6 did not leak that way, though there were muted claims that MI6 had been ordered not to see through the deception. Since Blair was a co-conspirator, it's completely understandable that MI6 wouldn't see through it. The british investigation eventually claimed that the brits had no evidence that Saddam had WMDs, but they believed the french had evidence they hadn't seen and so they said it was definitely true. This is not the sort of thing MI6 would do unless under direct orders.

The french of course had only the same forgery everybody else did.

The italians appear to have been instrumental in collecting forgeries and disseminating them. There is some reason to think they knew what they were doing. If further investigation finds that they were doing a favor to the Bush administration, then there would be no mystery why they failed to anounce the truth.

The russians -- when did we start depending on russian intelligence for our vital interests? Napoleon said, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.". If the russians thought we were making a mistake to invade iraq, why would they do anything that might actually stop us? Better to make a show of opposing us and give in.

I can believe that a whole lot of people thought Saddam had WMDs. He just looked like somebody who'd do that. But Bush claimed we had incontrovertible evidence. And the evidence was entirely lies.

More later, I need to do other things now.

Oh, but one little bit.

I mean, with ALL your military experience and your current rank of armchair general, how are you not here, yet?

I have other priorities.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 11, 2004 07:56 PM

I said, "In the long run we want to get the iraqi army to occupy the country instead of us, but it's no use cutting their training; half-trained soldiers will fall apart and be worse than useless."

Slick utterly missed the point, No argument there. Kerry proposes to speed up their training-

I'll be charitable and suppose that you misunderstood Kerry and weren't trying to smear.

There's an old saying about crash projects, that goes "You can't get a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.". Clearly it would be wrong to shorten the training even further; the training has been shortened so far already that the soldiers are not really competent. However, try this one: You can get nine babies in nine months by getting nine women pregnant.

Don't shorten the training. Train more iraqi soldiers at once. So why aren't we doing that already? Because we don't have enough troops assigned to training iraqis. (The material resources could become an issue but don't have to be, the critical problem is the trainers.) The US military got criticised for that, but maybe the problem is finding qualified trainers. It isn't enough to just throw more men at the job. If the trainers aren't well-enough trained at the job of training soldiers, then....

So we're training trainers while we improve the training program, and ramping up, and it's an extremely slow and uncertain process. Kerry is proposing getting other countries to do some of the training so we get more iraqi troops trained quickly. I figure if they already have trainers who'd be good for training iraqi troops, then it's a plus. Otherwise it should do no harm so long as the foreign-trained iraqis don't mess up communications with the ones we train.

"We don't have many trained iraqis and we'll only get a few more before the January elections."

Absolutely false. Read this article, and tell me how you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49283-2004Sep25.html

My best guess is that Petraeus is weaseling, he's trying hard to put the best face he can on it. I can believe that he's seeing progress. Since we were starting from nothing anything that appears to work is progress. But his numbers don't add up. First he says 100,000 are trained and equipped. That must include police who get their 4-week course and get equpped with handguns and a few police cars. (And a few police have completed the 8-week course.)

He appears to count it a positive that more than 700 of them have been killed. That does indicate that they aren't entirely on the other side, so it's something, I'll give him that one.

" Six battalions of the Iraqi regular army and the Iraqi Intervention Force are now conducting operations."

There we go. The iraqi army that's conducting operations. How big is an iraqi battalion?

"In the past couple of months, more than 7,500 Iraqi men have signed up for the army and are preparing to report for basic training to fill out the final nine battalions of the Iraqi regular army."

It sounds like iraq has big battalions, maybe 1000 men each. Is that right? You could find out easier than I could.

So this six battalions is 6000 men trained, equipped, and conducting operations?

"Within the next 60 days, six more regular army and six additional Intervention Force battalions will become operational."

Good, that's 18 battalions if all goes well.

"Nine more regular army battalions will complete training in January, in time to help with security missions during the Iraqi elections at the end of that month."

27 battalions in time for election day. Maybe as much as 27000 troops, depending on how big their battalions are. They'll surely be needed.

"Iraqi National Guard battalions have also been active in recent months. Some 40 of the 45 existing battalions -- generally all except those in the Fallujah-Ramadi area -- are conducting operations on a daily basis, most alongside coalition forces, but many independently."

Note he says nothing about the training and equipment of these perhaps 40,000 troops. Just that they're "conducting operations". He lists no successes for them, as he did the 6 battalions who got the attention.

"But equipment has begun flowing. Since July 1, for example, more than 39,000 weapons and 22 million rounds of ammunition have been delivered to Iraqi forces, in addition to 42,000 sets of body armor, 4,400 vehicles, 16,000 radios and more than 235,000 uniforms."

So we can suppose that we have armed 39,000 of the 100,000+ iraqi forces (of whom perhaps 6000 elites are clearly functional). Assuming that all the weapons have been distributed.

I don't see why you consider this good news. Here's a guy who's taking time off from his impotant military job to write a press release. Of course he'll put the best possible spin on it. And ne's saying he sees some signs of progress, there are a whole lot of challenges ahead, he admits that some iraqi soldiers have "given in to intimidation" but many display courage. "We must expect setbacks and recognize that not every soldier or policeman we help train will be equal to the challenges ahead." "There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way." I want to hope that he's given an honest assessment of the problems,and he's telling us it's a tough and uncertain job but there's still hope it might turn out well eventually. I'm hoping that this bleak report isn't entirely spin to cover up something even bleaker.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 12, 2004 07:11 PM

HA asked, Is Hamid Karzai a Bush puppet too? His address to the joint session was almost identical to Allawi's.

If you didn't already know Karzai was Bush's puppet, there's your first clue.

Have you seen any hint of a reason to suppose Karzai is not Bush's puppet? How long do you suppose he'd last if the US pulled out of Kabul? How many afghan gunmen support him?

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