October 08, 2004

Where I Stand

I'd like to clarify something for regular readers since there has been a bit of a misunderstanding.

I have decided to vote for Bush (and a Democratic Congress) in the election. A few days ago I said I'm 51 percent for Bush and 49 percent for Kerry. I didn't mean to suggest I'm still undecided. What I meant was that I slightly prefer Bush to Kerry. It's not a slam dunk. My hawkish case for Kerry wasn't enough to convince me to vote for him, but it was enough to convince me that a Kerry presidency, though ultimately not what I prefer, will be okay and have real advantages. There will be other advantages that I didn't mention in the article, but that's because the scope of the piece was limited only to foreign policy.

I went undecided for a while. Probably for too long, but I did it on purpose. I wanted to make really sure I wasn't overreacting to John Kerry and conflating him with Dennis Kucinich. So I tried to talk myself into voting for him as best I could. And I tried to talk myself into it on my terms and my terms only. This is the first election where I have done this. If I'm going to declare myself Independent, I need to think like one instead of just hopping onto a different bandwagon because I no longer care for my old one.

Because I am only a moderate Bush-supporter, I can understand very well why someone who isn't me might prefer John Kerry instead. I can argue with myself about this, so I'm perfectly comfortable disagreeing with others and understanding how they might see things differently. It also helps that more than half my friends are voting for Kerry, and so is my wife. It is not possible for me to believe that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism. None of my friends or family are voting for terrorism.

This leads me to something else, something I really wish I did not have to address.

Yesterday I got into an argument with some people on a blog (which shall remain unnamed) that is centrist on the surface but has a monolithically right-wing readership in the comments. I used to contribute to that comments section regularly, but I now mostly abstain. Anyone with opinions contrary to the pack has been driven out, not by the gracious blog host but by the readers. I am too “left-wing” for them to handle. My own wife was insulted in lurid terms. (No one will ever get away with that here.)

The reason I mention this is because I want to say right now that I will not permit my comments section to degenerate that way. Contrary opinions are both welcome and encouraged here. Just because I’ve come “out” for Bush does not mean I am uninterested in conversation and dialogue or that I’m willing to let my comments section become an intolerant right-wing echo chamber. I will shut down the comments if it happens because I can’t take it.

UPDATE: Please, no one ask me to identify the blog I mentioned above. I am not going to do it. It makes no difference at all. I'm sorry I was even as "specific" as I was. This phenomenon affects the entire blogosphere and has been an ongoing problem for some time now. I am not going to pick on anyone in particular because of an anecdote, especially since it is not in any way whatsoever the fault of the person who owns the blog. Babysitting the comments isn't easy, and it becomes exponentially more difficult as the readership grows and the threads get longer. That's just the way it is. It is no one's fault.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 10:17 AM
Comments

IMHO you allow your comments section to degenerate in an entirely different way: by giving far too much deference to the robotic partisans and knuckle-dragging bullies of the left. (Yes, yes, yes, I realize that there are some problematic commenters coming from a different orientation as well, but they are fewer in number.) The avoidance of an "echo-chamber" is an important goal, but the ultimate, higher goal is to try to maintain a certain level of civil, reasoned discourse. IMHO: Mork, Tano et al make this nearly impossible.

Also, perhaps due to some vestigal leftism on your part, I don't think you fully recognize how irksome and bullying they and their ilk are, yet you hold commenters coming from a right-of-center perspective to a much, much higher standard. (All done I'm sure unconciously and non-maliciously).

In short, the site is not a place where I would ever feel comfortable discussing in a reasonable way the extent of my support for Bush, and I think Bush-supporters here are forced into more of a shrill mode because of the tactics of the many Bush-haters here.

My point is that echo-chambers are bad, but having a diversity of opinions only so people can flame at each other is equally bad.

Obviously, your site, your rules, totally up to you and all that. I just thought I should comment so you can see a different perspective on this, and because I have a hunch I might be speaking for some other people.

A microcosm happens below: You rightly smack down David Thomson for saying "A vote for John Kerry is a vote for the terrorists." I agree that this is an over-the-top comment, but the number of equivalent anti-Bush-supporter comments I see from Tano, Mork et all every day is huge yet they get a pass.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 8, 2004 10:42 AM

Not to be pedantic, but you'll actually vote for Bush a Democratic congressman and a Senator (Wyden, i assume) and hope that the rest of COngress goes to the Democrats.

Posted by: Randy Paul at October 8, 2004 10:43 AM

You found a centrist blog? I haven't seen one of those in ages. I miss them.

(Present company and a few rare others excluded from above sarcasm, of course)

Posted by: Court at October 8, 2004 10:48 AM

Perhaps Kerry and a Republican Congress would be just as good. In either case, one branch would hold the other in check.

In my case, the decision comes to a matter of character, and Kerry fails miserably. Inconstant and inconsistent, calling for international unity while at the same time (practically) calling them a "coalition of the bribed and coerced", and even as we type, his sister is in Australia working to get their PM unseated for having the audacity to support us.

Also for putting way too much stock in the UN's infinite wisdom, as a source of guidance for whatever the US might need to do in the future.

Voting for the war but not the funding. It goes on and on.

If he were consistent, if his positions stayed the same - regardless of how the polls went - I might consider voting for him.

About the only thing he's been consistent about is missing votes in the Senate. The record's there - call up Kerry and count the "Not Voting" entries.

Of course nobody votes for terrorism. But I simply cannot in good conscience vote for a man who is the leader of the Democratic party - of which their other chief members (Carter, Clinton, Pelosi, Sharpton - just go through the list of speakers at the Convention) are not one of them capable of running the local hardware store, let alone the country. Then there are their staunch supporters: Moore, Chomsky, Zinn, Franken... Are either of these groups people you look up to?

Maybe if Kerry weren't a Democrat, I could vote for him.

Posted by: Mike at October 8, 2004 11:00 AM

Michael,

I really do not like the fact that comment sections become filled with angry and outrageous comments that bloggers are turning off the comments. I knew that leftists were frequently going over the edge, but I had not realized that it would be happening with seemingly rightwing commentors.

I have looked at radical and obnoxious commentors as trolls that could not be taken seriously, and whose comments should be excised. I am sorry that people were so abusive in the comments to which you referred.

I have appreciated that you have been open to comments, and have thought it worthwhile.

I consider abusive comments on the same order as the people who assaulted Bush-Cheney campaign offices and those who shot at the Knoxville office. I have been so used to seeing abusive behavior on the left in this campaign, that I had not realized that it might be there on the right, as well. There certainly are strong feelings among religious conservatives in the Southeast. Every group has hotheads, such as those who were so far over the top that they thought it acceptable to kill abortion doctors and bomb clinics.

The sort of rhetoric that we have been hearing from prominent Democrats and their 527 supporters have been so extreme that I feel that it has driven the less stable to take inappropriate action. What you have seen (seemingly from the right, but I wonder if it might be leftist trolls, instead) is as unacceptable.

Posted by: Jim Bender at October 8, 2004 11:03 AM

We've tried a far leftist Democrat in the WH along with a Democrat Congress of fillibuster proof numbers. We've Tried a Republican in the WH along with a Democrat Congress of fillibuster proof numbers. Both were demonstrably disasters.

Meanwhile, the only Republican congress' we've managed to elect in the last 100 years, hasn't had the numbers really needed to get the agenda going.

I begin to suspect that the biggest fear of getting a Republcian in the WH with a filibuster proof Republican congerss is that it might actually WORK.

Posted by: Bithead at October 8, 2004 11:04 AM

Jim Bender: I knew that leftists were frequently going over the edge, but I had not realized that it would be happening with seemingly rightwing commentors.

This has been going on for a while now. What has changed is that I think it's getting worse on the right side than it previously was.

There are some truly rancid right-wing comment sections out there. The harsher the blog, the worse the comments. Sometimes I like the blog and hate the comments. The same happens on the left side of the blogosphere: good blog, bad comments.

Hopefully things will cool down after November whichever guy wins.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 11:16 AM

Eric Deamer: IMHO you allow your comments section to degenerate in an entirely different way: by giving far too much deference to the robotic partisans and knuckle-dragging bullies of the left.

I've heard this before. But I've also heard the exact opposite complaint. What this tells me is that I'm too tolerant period, if anything. But I really don't like kicking people out of here. I only do it if I really feel like I must.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 11:19 AM

The longer this goes on, the more polarization one will see. The situation shouldn't surprise anyone, really.

Like MJT, there are some blogs I don't even read anymore because they've gone just boring with the partisanship.

Posted by: Eric Blair at October 8, 2004 11:21 AM

"I knew that leftists were frequently going over the edge, but I had not realized that it would be happening with seemingly rightwing commentors."

What planet are you living on Jim?

I wont pretend to have a overall view of the blogosphere - I tend to frequent sites whose orientation is different than mine - I find it more interesting - but my sense is that the right-wing sites are every bit as abusive as the lefty sites.

In some senses they are even worse. In the mud-slinging playgrounds, like the freepers or DU, there is simply a mirror image of the two sides. But in the more mature sites, it is often the RW sites that feature "educated" people getting down and dirty with the best of them - perhaps less vulgarity, but no greater openenss of mind, or basic civility.

I find that leftys tend to be critical thinkers by nature, and thus those sites tend not to have as much bonding and support. But the criticism is often issue oriented, and probing. The RW sites, on the other hand, tend to be highly defensive, almost paranoid about liberal media conspiricies, commies under the bed etc. and are much more likely to turn on, and gang up on individuals with bitterness if one questions the dogma.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 11:22 AM

My view is same but different.

As a centrist, I support a split ticket.

I've endorsed Kerry and a Republican Congress.

My logic is that the incompetence is centered around Bush. While Kerry has a record of weakness, he's been talking tough. A Republican Congress will keep him to his word

Posted by: Rick (Centrist Coalition) at October 8, 2004 11:24 AM

"A Democratic Congress"? That's as unrealistic as voting for Nader.

If you vote for Bush, you vote for four more years of what we've been doing. Which is, well, dumb.

Posted by: Jack Bog at October 8, 2004 11:27 AM

Eric,
Would you care to remind of what it is that I have ever said that remotely resembles (in the inverse) that a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists?

And would you also care to remind me of when I have ever called you, or those of your ilk "robotic partisans and knuckle-dragging bullies of the" right?.

Though I must admit, that right about now, I am tempted....

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 11:30 AM

Tano,

It is hard to dissent on most left-wing blogs. Trust me. There are very few where I feel comfortable doing so.

Marc Cooper runs the very best left-wing blog. He has as many conservatives posting as he has liberals, and he is extremely gracious with them. He is glad to have them, and it shows.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 11:33 AM

I find that leftys tend to be critical thinkers by nature, and thus those sites tend not to have as much bonding and support. But the criticism is often issue oriented, and probing. The RW sites, on the other hand, tend to be highly defensive, almost paranoid about liberal media conspiricies, commies under the bed etc. and are much more likely to turn on, and gang up on individuals with bitterness if one questions the dogma.

ROFLMAO! Really dude. There's nothing left to say after a comment like that one. You just proved my point. I guess you've never visited Atrios/Daily Kos/Oliver Willis/Kevin Drum's comments/Matthew Yglesias's comments etc. etc.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 8, 2004 11:35 AM

...by giving far too much deference to the robotic partisans and knuckle-dragging bullies of the left.

Hmmm. Nothing devisive or knuckle-dragging about that comment, is there?

Eric, would you care to paste in some "bully" comments from the leftist commenters you mentioned? I'd be very curious to see if they're more florid that ones from several of name-calling right-wing posters here.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 8, 2004 11:36 AM

Jack Bog: "A Democratic Congress"? That's as unrealistic as voting for Nader.

How so? Roughly half the country will vote for Democrats in Congress. Hardly anyone will vote for Ralph Nader.

If you vote for Bush, you vote for four more years of what we've been doing. Which is, well, dumb.

Come on, Jack. I'm not happy with my options. I know you aren't either. But I'm not going to say you're dumb for going the other way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 11:37 AM

I kind of agree with Rick. If you're about centrism (which I am inasmuch as I believe Kerry is a centrist and the Republican party is the purview of radical right-wing thugs), the way to go is to vote for Kerry. The Republicans will stifle and stymie everything he tries to accomplish, abandoning all their interventionist rhetoric at a stroke, the better to free themselves up for Democrat-bashing. So you'll get your divided-government fix. But the thing is, Bush is incompetent. He has set himself grand causes which he cannot possibly achieve, and his failures endanger the country. Plus, and I know you're never gonna believe this no matter how many times I post it here, this is not a one-issue election. Bush is even more wrong domestically than he is in the arena of foreign policy.

Maybe he'll be even more swaggering, pissy and crass in the second and third debates than he was in the third, and maybe that will sway you. But I doubt it. Your vacillations have been unconvincing, honestly. This post is no surprise at all.

Posted by: pdf at October 8, 2004 11:38 AM

'It is not possible for me to believe that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism. None of my friends or family are voting for terrorism'--MJT

I am quite a lot less convinced of this than you seem to be.Clearly on any conventional basis,it would be clueless to attempt to say that Kerry = terrorist,butI do not believe that it is obviously delusional to say that in the context of this WAR,a vote for Kerry could well be interpreted as a vote for appeasement and retreat from confrontation of the enemy,not to mention how the ENEMY will view it.Is this not a legitimate prism thru which to view voter's behaviour and criticize the 'potential'outcome of those choices ?
Is this not at least theortically a variant on the 'useful idiots',analysis and therefore,it is not surprising that the tone of the discussions is becoming sharper over time.To hope that all this blows away after Nov.,is I fear,more wish fulfillment than reality.
This is a SERIOUS and PROFOUND existential disagreement on the very nature of our present reality.Compromise is very,very,difficult.This is perhaps not a win-win situation;this is a win-lose as the views cannot be easily reconciled to any real synthesis.

Posted by: dougf at October 8, 2004 11:39 AM

They who have eyes but do not see, and ears, but do not hear...

Posted by: FH at October 8, 2004 11:41 AM

I must admit I find it difficult to understand how someone who is not a full-throated partisan Republican could vote for Bush. I assume that most in the center are uncomfortable with Bush's social and economic policies - and these are huge issues. If the war is the one issue that trumps all, then still - the utter incompetence that has infused every bit of the war effort offers no hope whatsoever for anything better in future. It isnt just the president - it is the people around him as well.
No matter how little confidence you might have in John Kerry, it is hard to conceive that he and his team would do very much worse. And of course, you wouldnt get all the other Bush policies as well.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 11:45 AM

Mr. Totten,

A friend turned me on to your site a while back and I have been reading your stuff lately. I like to do my homework to find out where people are coming from. So when I saw that you write for a conservative, corporately funded group, a flag went up. Could you describe your relationship with Tech Central Station and DCI Group, LLC and your philosophy regarding staying true to making your decisions without being biased by those that pay you money, especially since your readers seem to be largely influence by your comments.

Appreciate your feedback.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 11:48 AM

I'd just like to say thank you for your stance on this issue. I'm pretty sure we all know who you're talking about, or at least have some idea. I've also noticed myself abandoning blogs I previously enjoyed because of the content of the comment sections. Blogs on both sides of the aisle are getting to be pretty hateful. I'm glad there are bloggers like you making an effort to provide a different perspective without descending into the muck.

Posted by: Scott at October 8, 2004 11:57 AM

Jeff: Could you describe your relationship with Tech Central Station and DCI Group, LLC and your philosophy regarding staying true to making your decisions without being biased by those that pay you money, especially since your readers seem to be largely influence by your comments.

Are you suggesting that Tech Central Station is telling me what to think? I want you to answer that question before I say anything else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 11:58 AM

'Are you suggesting that Tech Central Station is telling me what to think? I want you to answer that question before I say anything else'--MJT

And THAT is why this is such a great blog.Honourable.

Posted by: dougf at October 8, 2004 12:10 PM

I'm pretty sure we all know who you're talking about, or at least have some idea.

I don't, and I'm dying of curiosity.

By the way, Obsidian Wings remains a moderate board with a well-policed comments section.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 8, 2004 12:11 PM

No, not at all. I haven't been here long, and maybe you have covered this.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 12:15 PM

I think the nature of internet discussion prompts vituperation and extreme statements. You don't have to look anyone in the eye or read their body language; you can simply zap them as if the keyboard was an extension of your CNS. The internet empowers people and of course human nature being what it is power gets abused. It's like the old sci fi movie Forbidden Planet; the Krell technology unleashes monsters from the id.

Posted by: Zacek at October 8, 2004 12:15 PM

I have noticed the phenomena you mention, and I think I have a fairly good idea of the blog you are talking about. Those who tack against the wind on a given issue are too often shouted down as "trolls," and then the piling on begins. Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, the behavior has a chilling effect on all but the true believers, and many just move on to other sites. All of which proves the adage that, yes, we all have a right to free speech, just not in each other's living rooms.

Posted by: The Lapsed Randian at October 8, 2004 12:21 PM

Tano,
If the war is the one issue that trumps all, then still - the utter incompetence that has infused every bit of the war effort
Would you mind offering supporting evidence to the assertion: “The utter incompetence of every bit of the entire war effort”? I have read a hell of a lot of history and as far as I can tell the only better way to have handled Iraq involves shooting looters and the total destruction any area that resisted. I take it you are not supporting such actions, correct? What different actions would you have done and why?

Derek

Posted by: Derek Lund at October 8, 2004 12:23 PM

This is the ugliest election I can remember. I know what you're talking about, Michael -- I once mentioned, to make a point, that my wife is from France, and was attacked in a very unpleasant way by some on the Right. Just: BOOM!

But then I was dismayed when I posted something on a blog on the Left (one I know you like) about Islamists in France -- and was then called "a member of the Mussolini lobby." (Apparently for some even to criticize "honor-rapes" must mean you're pro-Bush and thus fair game.)

Since then I've mostly kept my mouth shut, because the ad hominems aren't worth it. For what? Does anyone ever change his or her mind?

Posted by: miklos rosza at October 8, 2004 12:30 PM

"It is not possible for me to believe that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism. None of my friends or family are voting for terrorism."

Like dougf, I think that a vote for Kerry is almost certainly a vote for appeasement, cutting-and-running, and giving France and the UN a veto over the defense of America. I think that there are many people who lean left who mistrust American power and would feel more comfortable giving it to someone else. There are also others who believe that the would would be safer if we'd just walk away from a fight, not realizing that this is a fight we cannot walk away from - ever.

There is no compromise between a victim and his murderer. People sometimes just can't admit that. I think that there are also many people who, based on Kerry's rhetoric, have deluded themselves into believing that the man is NOT the result of 30 years of questioning American power, American defense, and America's strength in the world: voting against the 1st Gulf War, appeasement in Central America in the 1980s, criticizing the non-proportional response of Reagan's bombing of Libya in 1986, and campaigning on cancelling major weapons systems.

Kerry is a dove. Many people are doves. Many people are afraid of the use of force by ANYONE.

These people are not voting for terror. They're voting their beliefs, their deeply held, and fundamentally absurd belief, that the clock can be turned back to September 10th, 2001, and that if we hope and believe in smarmy and stupid happiness enough, and trust in the nefarious French, their families can live in peace without worrying about the "so-called" threat from al Qaeda.

That's a charitable interpretation of a vote for Kerry. Don't get me started on the sinister influence of people like Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter.

Bush might not be the greatest, but he isn't living in a fantasy world like the deluded hopeful left. He might make some mistakes, but his commitment to success in this war will win in the end. Voting for Kerry is just too dangerous.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at October 8, 2004 12:36 PM

Derek,
Sufficient troops so that you dont have the aura of lawlessness that gives rise to looters.

Dont dismiss the army - and take away their pensions, while leaving them with their guns - thereby instantly making half a million people (plus their families), your armed enemy.

Dont follow Chalabis advice and purge the economy and the government of all Baath party members, thereby deconstructing an entire government - requiring it to be rebuilt on the fly.

Dont loudly proclaim your intention of establishing up to 14 permanent military bases, long before there is any legitimate Iraqi government to express an opinion on the matter.

Dont outsource the rebuliding of Iraq to American corporations - who must pay combat-zone wages, while 60% of the adult population of Iraq is unemployed.

Dont wait over a year to establish some form of represenative Iraqi government with "soverignity" - giving the impression in the meanwhile that you are going to rule for an indefinite period.

Enough for a start?

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 12:37 PM

I think this article hits the proverbial nail on the head regarding the two sides in this year's discourse. (Sorry for the lack of HTML skills).

http://rantmeariver.blogspot.com/2004/10/mortal-kombat-real-deal.html

Posted by: sammy small at October 8, 2004 12:47 PM

DPU: I don't, and I'm dying of curiosity.

I am not going to say. It is completely irrelevant. The entire blogosphere has this problem right now and I refuse to single out anyone in particular based on an anecdote. It would be totally unfair.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 12:52 PM

Jeff: No, not at all. I haven't been here long, and maybe you have covered this.

Then I don't understand what you are asking me. Can you rephrase your question and be more specific?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 12:53 PM

I've been on the Internet since 1989, and I don't think that things are really that different. Internet based communications have always been vitrolic. This year, it may seem worse, but I think that's the natural progression since this is the first year we've seen political blogs, which have made it really easy for anyone to simply spout off.

I also have noticed that intolerance for 'the other side', seems to be occuring in the 'well over thirty' crowd. I have many GenX friends and we simply don't hate each other over which liar gets the White House for the next four years.

My best friend is an avid Bush Boy... the other 15 or 20 close friends in my local cadre are all Kerry supporters. However, William fits in just fine... even in the political discssions (and he really, really likes Bush).

This year the interest in politics is electric. Every GenX hangout I visit hosts Kerry Bumper Stickers in the parking lot. It is a strange thing indeed to walk into your local Underground club and see people dancing to techno, drinking bizzare shots, getting chained to the wall and whipped... and at the table next to you, sits a punk, rivithead, hippie and goth all discussing the importance of voting. Very weird, esp since most people in the club (when not in the middle of something obscene) seem to agree with them.

My personal theory is that the GenX group has finally figured out that we have the numbers to sway politics. Since, by and large, we're a selfish lot, finally getting a little control over politics (and therefore, forcing the bastards of the previous generation to give us things we want), is something that resonates with the 30 and under crowd. They don't seem to care as much about today's issues, as they do about making America the sort of place they want it to be (which is far and away different from what the Boomers are going to want going into retirement). I think we may see a huge generational fight in politics over the next several years.

Or not, how the hell should I know?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 8, 2004 12:59 PM

Michael,

I witnessed your contretemps yesterday, and was dismayed. It was a reprehensible and totally uncalled-for insult for which I apologize to second order for even witnessing.

I'd like to think that it was a transient lapse in the good fellowship generally shown there. In these perilous times it is especially important to be able to consider all reasoned viewpoints, to whatever extent they may agree or disagree, to improve our collective decision-making. Your comments were highly apposite, and certainly did not merit the response they received.

In particular, I'd be most unhappy if that blog degenerated into a right-wing version of DemocraticUnderground, where I've gone to learn the views of others, only to find puerile rantings of little substance.

So keep on coming back, please.

Posted by: Occam's Beard at October 8, 2004 01:11 PM

Michael, I assume from your post that you favor divided government which is a valid position. However the only way in which that happens is for Kerry to get elected. The Senate, whichever way it goes, will go that way by a seat or two. The House is a lost cause for a while unless something truly earthshaking develops.

The nature of the House - both constitutionally and because of the folks presently running it - requires that the other two (Senate and presidencey) be of the opposite party for effective divided government to exist. When we recently had a Dem Senate and a Rep House and President I didn't see happy results.

Also recall the fun we had with a Rep Congress and a Dem President. If Kerry wins the same machinery that was used on Clinton will be taken out of mothballs and used on him.

One can vote for whom one wishes, of course, but making the statement that one is going to vote for Bush and a Dem Congress does not reflect a realistic view of the current American political situation. BTW is your CD even contestable and is it represented by a Dem or Rep?

Meaningful divided government in 2004 means a Dem President and a Dem Senate.

Posted by: alan aronson at October 8, 2004 01:12 PM

Tano, the only point I might agree with you on was the disbanding of the Iraqi army. But effectively, the only real reason to keep the army intact would have been to keep watch on the soldiers.

In other words, treating the Iraqi army as an incarcerated population.

As you pointed out, there would have been reason to do so, but people aren't stupid and (a) everyone would realize that the Iraqi army was an army of prisoners and (b) it would have taken a lot more people to guard them than we wanted to commit. Easier to close it down and rebuild from scratch, which is what we're trying to do.

The "total incompetence" of our war effort resulted in us winning much faster than anyone expected. Therefore we weren't ready to begin the occupation. It's called outrunning your supply lines. War can be like that.

The Ba'athists were the bad guys, remember? There was a denazification program in Occupied Europe too that seemed to work out in the end.

Don't outsource jobs to Americans? I thought outsourcing to non-Americans was bad? (To seriously address your point, how could we have planned to use a population we didn't yet trust?)

Give "soverignity" in less than a year? I think it's probably too fast, but I understand the political calculations that are going into this.

You see total incompetence because it's what you want to see. I see decisions made, some of which worked well, others which didn't.

A long time ago (by blogosphere standards) I wrote up my Measures of Success, and it's stood up pretty well over time. Since this Administration is still well within my "Success" parameters, I'm voting for Bush with a fairly clear conscience.

A real rational thinker comes up with a hypothesis, thinks about the implications of the hypothesis, devises tests to see the validity of the hypothesis, and discards the hypothesis if the data disagrees with predicted outcomes. It's called the scientific method, and once upon a time rational liberals treated it as a core component of their thinking.

Should Kerry win, I invite you to post your own "Measures for Success" on my blog, and we'll see how those hold up.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 01:15 PM

"I think this article hits the proverbial nail on the head regarding the two sides in this year's discourse. (Sorry for the lack of HTML skills)."

I disagree. People can have serious and profound disagreements over the direction of the country without abandoning the fundamentals of civil discourse.

There are numerous reports of harassment of people simply for putting a bumper sticker or a sign in their front yard. Yesterday a gun was fired at a campaign office in Tennessee.
This is more than an artifact of being divided, it a condition of valuing your political agenda over the voluntary restraints imposed by any society that honors political freedom.

Like Michael, I have centrist leanings its easier to see how friends and family have a different opinion than myself. I can easily argue both sides of the fence. Unfortunately people are polarized and are breathing their own fumes and have virtually shut down on any give and take.

My gut tells me that we have to get down in the mud and see the consequences of our intolerance towards one another before we begin to rediscover the value of civility.

Posted by: bob at October 8, 2004 01:15 PM


Sufficient troops so that you don’t have the aura of lawlessness that gives rise to looters.
There was around 350 thousand troops in theater, but only 100,000 in country at the time of the Iraqi governments collapse. You can't move that many men that quickly in order to stop the looting. The only way your solution would have worked is for the Iraqi government to have held on until we could have gotten all of our troops in. Nobody accepted Iraq to collapse so quickly.

1. So what would you have done?


Don’t dismiss the army - and take away their pensions, while leaving them with their guns -

So it would have been better to leave a well armed group troops in power, a group I might add that has no reason to take orders from you? I see no historical example this working. Besides, they changed their uniforms and went home. They were simply not around to be used.

2. So what would you have done?


thereby instantly making half a million people (plus their families), your armed enemy.

A couple of months (or 3) we started paying them a pension. We adjusted to reality on the ground like any good army does.

3. So what would you have done?


Dont follow Chalabis advice and purge the economy and the government of all Baath party members, thereby deconstructing an entire government - requiring it to be rebuilt on the fly.

A. There was no economy to speak off. Nothing bloody worked in Iraq beside Saddam's death squads.
B. Baath party members we not completely purged (They went though a screen process and most were let back in) and I am sure you would have advocated leaving the nazis in power after we beat Germany, right?
C. How the hell does leaving a corrupt facist government in power help?

4. So what would you have done?


Dont loudly proclaim your intention of establishing up to 14 permanent military bases, long before there is any legitimate Iraqi government to express an opinion on the matter.

So just do it quietly and left the Iraqis pick it up in conspiracy theories? This would have made things worse, not better.

4. So what would you have done?


Dont outsource the rebuliding of Iraq to American corporations - who must pay combat-zone wages, while 60% of the adult population of Iraq is unemployed.

What percentage of this work force was skilled enough to do the work? (Real figures please). If the people of Iraq are not skilled enough to do the work well, what is the point of rebuilding anything?

5. So what would you have done?


Dont wait over a year to establish some form of represenative Iraqi government with "soverignity" - giving the impression in the meanwhile that you are going to rule for an indefinite period.
Dude, that is an out and out lie. You very well know we set a date with Iraq to hand back power and we kept it. Don't try to BS me.

The only incompliance I see here is the failure to shoot looters on sight.

Derek

Posted by: Derek at October 8, 2004 01:16 PM

Every one of Tano's so-called "incompetence" points is arguable today, and certainly arguable at the time the decision was made.

Face it, Bush is waging war on terrorists and fascists in the middle east, while the entire Democratic party, mainstream media and the left are waging war on the Bush Administration and have been since April of 2003.

The coalition of the bribed and coerced are the European countries and MSM companies who did business with Saddam. The candidate and campaign utterly lacking in sensitivity to our allies is Kerry's.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at October 8, 2004 01:19 PM

Mr. Totten,

Me: Could you describe your relationship with Tech Central Station and DCI Group, LLC and your philosophy regarding staying true to making your decisions without being biased by those that pay you money, especially since your readers seem to be largely influence by your comments?

Specifically, how did you come to write for TCS? What were some of your concerns upon considering this gig considering the publisher's background and backers and your centrist position? Have these concerns ever manifested in some way. Where your concerns addressed by anyone at TCS or DCI Group, LLC? Did anyone there ever describe what they wanted from you? Why did they choose you or what reasons did they give for choosing you? Do they pay for your web site/web address? Do you and fellow TCS'ers ever get together, have meetings, speak on a regular basis or do you just push send and collect later. Are you on a piece by piece payment plan? Or, do they give you a salary? Are you free to write anything you want? If you wrote something that criticized a major advertiser or contributer to TCS or DCI, would you be dropped? Disciplined? Spoken to?

I only got this specific because you asked and am not trying to "pry". At the same time, when I am reading or listening to an opinion, it is a much more valuable and rewarding to me when red flags like the one I mentioned are proved to be non-issues or, at least, out in the open.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 01:24 PM

Michael, you're welcome to come post anytime at my place (linked above). Actually it's not "my" place, because it has an owner other than me. I used to have this place, but I had to give it up because my boss threatened to fire me for having a site and expressing opinions and media critiques without permission (I'm in newspapers).

Being a "centrist" in this season is like walking a tightrope. I've given up posting comments just about everywhere (this, obviously, being an exception). If you dare to invoke a little perspective on the "Chimp-face is actually certifiably insane" thread (which also is the prevailing opinion in my newsroom, by the way), you're accused of being a fascist.

Posted by: Doug Harper at October 8, 2004 01:25 PM

Doug, sorry that your paper is choking off blogs. Visited it and found the writing excellent and the topics interesting. Keep commenting here, please.

To all, a friend runs a site where I'm often in dissent, and the community is nearly always civil and perceptive.

Ishbadiddle

Someone should start a listing service for "Quality of Blog-Life", rating the commenter communities for blogs.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 01:38 PM

MJT: I am not going to say. It is completely irrelevant. The entire blogosphere has this problem right now and I refuse to single out anyone in particular based on an anecdote. It would be totally unfair.

Yeah, I know, that's why I didn't ask.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 8, 2004 01:40 PM

Mark,
I disagree that the army would simply have been held together so that it could be under watch. It could have been the basis for the army of today. Most of the soldiers were normal guys, trying to serve their country. Replace the top leadership, slowly but surely comb through the rest for the real evil ones, and train the rest. Would be far less expensive and time consuming than starting from scratch.

I disagree with the "catastrophic success" line. The administration was at the forefront of those claiming that the march to Baghdad would be a cakewalk. That was their rhetoric. If they didnt believe it - then it is another case of their dishonesty. If they did believe it, then there is no excuse for being unprepared.

As for the Batthists - same as the army. Either throw them out on the street so they, and their family, are your enemy. Or take your time and sort through them to just eliminate the bad ones. The latter apporach might have some problems, but far far less than the former.

As for using the population that we "dont trust"...What does that mean? We were there to liberate them! Now you want to put them on trial before you let them drive a truck?

As for soverignity - less than a year might be too quick, but you certainly could have given them the type of faux soverignity that they have now. Symbols and messages are extremely important. Give them the sense that we want to rule the country, like so many others in the past have, and they will turn against us, never to be won-overable again. Thats what happened.

"A real rational thinker comes up with a hypothesis, thinks about the implications of the hypothesis, devises tests to see the validity of the hypothesis, and discards the hypothesis if the data disagrees with predicted outcomes."

Now tell me that you are voting for Bush because he is a rational thinker.
Heh

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 01:40 PM

So, how much do you think that the whitehouse's attitude toward dissent is affecting the attitudes of the electorate?

Campaign Security Screening, a story by Nina Tottenburg on NPR this morning talks about people being turned away at Bush rallies for having a pro-choice shirt, Kerry shirt, even high school students who had Kerry stuff, were made to leave a Bush rally at the High School.

This is not how a democratic society is supposed to work. For children to be 'flagged as a security risk', because one of them had a Kerry sticker on their billfold, indicates to me a level of paranoia and intolerance for dissent that scares me.

Go to NPR, listen to the news story and think about it. Is the paranoia and intolerence of the administration feeding the paranoia and intolerence in the electorate?

I don't know, I'm just askin'

Posted by: Tosk at October 8, 2004 01:40 PM

Jeff,

What ails you? Why not hold a holy inquisition and be done with it?

Michael, have you ever had prostate problems? Did you inhale when you were in college? Do you brush your teeth regularly? When was the last time you rotated your tires? If you have given recently to your favorite charity, how much was it, are you going to deduct it from your taxes, and could I have ten percent?

I demand to know this or else I'll hold my breath for twenty seconds until I turn blue.

bob

Posted by: bob at October 8, 2004 01:41 PM

I also have some serious doubts about TCS.

TCS is owned and managed by DCI, a Washington lobbying group that specializes in grassroots mobilization and astroturf organizing. TCS is "sponsored" by major corporations and in turn represents their interests by putting out opinion pieces favorable to their objectives. The founder of TCS, James Glassmann doesn't have any problems with admitting this: "We're an advocacy group. There's no doubt about that."

All of this is laid out in much more detail in this article. Quote:

But TCS doesn't just act like a lobbying shop. It's actually published by one--the DCI Group, a prominent Washington "public affairs" firm specializing in P.R., lobbying, and so-called "Astroturf" organizing, generally on behalf of corporations, GOP politicians, and the occasional Third-World despot. The two organizations share most of the same owners, some staff, and even the same suite of offices in downtown Washington, a block off K Street. As it happens, many of DCI's clients are also "sponsors" of the site it houses. TCS not only runs the sponsors' banner ads; its contributors aggressively defend those firms' policy positions, on TCS and elsewhere.

James Glassman and TCS have given birth to something quite new in Washington: journo-lobbying. It's an innovation driven primarily by the influence industry. Lobbying firms that once specialized in gaining person-to-person access to key decision-makers have branched out. The new game is to dominate the entire intellectual environment in which officials make policy decisions, which means funding everything from think tanks to issue ads to phony grassroots pressure groups. But the institution that most affects the intellectual atmosphere in Washington, the media, has also proven the hardest for K Street to influence--until now.

I don't think TCS tells you what to think, Michael, and I don't challenge your journalistic integrity, but since you are one of the people shaping politcial opinion, I think it is fair to ask what your views on the "journo-lobbying" tactics of the paper you write for are.

Posted by: novakant at October 8, 2004 01:45 PM

Come on, Bob, I didn't get specific until Mr. Totten asked. These are the things that go through the minds of people that have developed the ability to look at the world with a critical eye. It comes in handy sometimes and I think there are high school and college texts and the such that could help you understand the notion.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 01:46 PM

miklos rosza

Does anyone ever change his or her mind?

Well you know I do, and for that matter I know you do too.

Eric Deamer

To me you sound like a moderate person calling it like you see it. Like me you have posted on other blogs more to the right and like me argued the "RINO" ways. That we hve both personally witnessed. MJT that is what is frustrating because it forces moderate people like Eric and I to come more from the right than is natural. So Eric I tend to agree with you on the left bias. And I feel the people you name are rarely reasonable if ever. But also in fairness as centrist as Michael tries to be he also has admitted that he has biases too. I will add they are within the bounds of reasonable.

MJT

I find myself in the position of saying exactly to you what was said to me two days ago. An acquaintance of mine and I were talking and he recently came to knowledge of my political change. Now as we talked it became obvious to him my conversion was not near as complete as he had hoped mostly due to my more liberal social positions and my saying “I could give a rats ass about a tax cut right now”. After we talked he turned to me and said, "Well, I am glad we have your support even though it is somewhat weak.” He then stopped himself and said “let me correct that, I mean of a more limited focus."

Well Michael from my perspective I can also say the following without need to correct, "I am glad we have your support even though it is somewhat of a more limited focus." I’ll end with this…

A person stands in what he feels is the proper place to be. He gazes over and sees another man gazing off in the distance and thinks, "That man is either out of place or lost, I wonder if he knows where he is going or what he is doing? Maybe I should tell him he is where he shouldn't be." Meanwhile the person he sees gazing off in the distance is in fact also looking at another person gazing off in the distance and thinking the exact same thing. Are they both lost? Probably not , we have no reason to make such assumptions. The reality is neither is lost.

Michael I don't always agree with you, but many times I do. My friend one thing I do know for sure is that you are not lost. Good work and good day.

Posted by: Samuel at October 8, 2004 01:46 PM

dang, the second to last paragraph should also be italicized, sorry

Posted by: novakant at October 8, 2004 01:47 PM

Tano,

Each one of the decisions you listed has argument both in favor and against. To call those examples incompetence, is like calling the 1944 invasion of France incompetent because:

We didn't understand the delays of the Hedgerow country and plan accordingly.

We didn't close the Falaise Pocket.

We didn't have enough supplies to keep Patton moving when he hit the Muese - the broad front strategy.

Monty took Antwerp, but not Scheldt estuary allowing the German 15th Army to escape and regroup.

The British 1st Airborne was dropped on a SS Panzer Corps that we didn't know was in Arnhem (Market Garden).

We were surprised at the Battle of the Bulge.

I could go on like this for pages. Every war (and peace) has decisions made on the fly that were wrong for short-term gain, lack of the understanding that you get with Monday morning, or pure stupidity.

From what I’ve read, Bush has not overruled the people on the ground very often. I know of no examples where he did more than choose between conflicting arguments. (Very Harvard MBA by the way – have both sides presented as forcefully as possible and choose.) Things that are viewed as not a good idea in retrospect are not always that clear in real-time. Several of the things you complain about (disbanding the army, purging Baath party, sufficient troops) were reasonable in light of what was occurring at the time. Much of the army disbanded itself, the purge of the ruling party was SOP based on Germany and Japan, given the logistics problems and the French/Turk obstruction, we probably put in as many troops as we could. (Remember the supply line problems and how the sandstorm was going leave us in a quagmire?) Outsourcing? There are only two companies that can do this type of heavy construction abroad - one is French and the other it the H word. Coming in with a pre-canned government? That makes it look like we are setting up our own puppet government.

Listening to Kerry saying that his opponent is incompetent does not make the opponent incompetent. One of the problems with your argument is that you have selected items when the short-term gains may well be overwhelmed by the long-term losses. For incompetence, you should read about the British Kut campaign in WW1.

You obviously don’t like Bush. You obviously would prefer a little more of LBJ’s hands on management style. What I like very much about him is that he got the best people he could find to do the job, let them do the job, and didn’t second guess them.

Posted by: OldManRick at October 8, 2004 01:47 PM

dang again, the URL for the article is

www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0312.confessore.html

cheers

Posted by: novakant at October 8, 2004 01:49 PM

Actually, I am voting for Bush because he is the more rational thinker. Rationality implies integrity, and Bush has displayed far more of that than Kerry. Like it or hate it, Bush sticks with what he says he's going to do. I think Bush is on the right track, so he has my vote, in spite of my feeling about his domestic policies.

Kerry on the other hand says whatever feels good at the moment, and as far as I can tell has done very little other than run for office since the early 1970s. (Do a little research into his Senate attendance records some time. Massachussets wasn't getting much bang for it's Senatorial buck.) If I had the impression Kerry really was this nuanced Machiavellian thinker, I'd consider voting for him. Instead I simply find him duplicitous and not that bright. Case closed.

As to your talking points, I've already used too much of MJT's bandwidth, but if I have time this weekend I fisk it over on my site.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 01:53 PM

Jeff,

Here's the deal with me and TCS.

The editor Nick Shulz invited me to write for him back when I was still calling myself a disaffected liberal. He said he would rather read something from a smart liberal than a typical conservative because he likes learning new things and getting a fresh perspective.

I am not a liberal anymore, but I'm not a conservative either. Nick says he likes my stuff because I think "outside the box." I wrote a piece a few weeks ago tentatively in favor of electing John Kerry for president. He published it without making any changes. (He hardly ever makes changes, and he always asks for my permission first.)

No one at TCS ever tells me what to think or what to write about. I have chosen the topic for every article I have written and I have always come to my own conclusions.

After writing a few freelance pieces I asked if I could become a regular contributer. The answer was "yes." And I warned my editor that am I still not a conservative and that I may very well vote for a Democrat for president. He said he didn't care who I vote or support in the election.

I get paid by the article. I am not on salary. This blog has no connection with TCS whatsoever, and there is absolutely zero pressure on me from anybody at TCS about what my opinions should be.

For example: I am in favor of universal health care. I have written about this on my blog. My editor knows this because I told him so. He doesn't mind. This blog is mine, not his. I can say absolutely anything here. The only editor or "censor" is me. But obviously he has the right to edit his own magazine and say "pass" on an article about universal health care if he doesn't like it. But I know that he won't care if I publish the same article somewhere else. He told me so. He's a good guy. Great to work for. No complaints.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 01:57 PM

Thanks for your candor, on behalf of me and, if I may be so bold, Bob.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 02:03 PM

Tosk:

Go to NPR, listen to the news story and think about it. Is the paranoia and intolerence of the administration feeding the paranoia and intolerence in the electorate?

That's a great point. Bush didn't start down this path (Clinton did more-or-less the same thing) but he's certainly happy to stay on it. Like I've said, Bush's domestic policies bug me, but that get's trumped by foreign policy.

Kerry should have had this election in the bag, and it's a sign of how bad he is that he doesn't.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 02:03 PM

Mark,
In your own words:

Rational thinker:
...discards the hypothesis if the data disagrees with predicted outcomes."

Gerorge Bush:
Like it or hate it, Bush sticks with what he says he's going to do.

Case closed.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 02:05 PM

Novokant: I think it is fair to ask what your views on the "journo-lobbying" tactics of the paper you write for are.

Do you think it is really any different from what, say, The Nation does? I don't. Somebody owns every magazine.

The Nation and TCS are both opinion and advocacy magazines. They are very open and up front about this. Neither pretend to be comprehensive or unbiased.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 02:05 PM

I, too, have quit reading both left and right blogs. From the supposedly centrist Instapundit to Daily Kos, who has said some pretty dumb stuff. I would like to also point out that these blogs create an echo chamber that is not helpful to anyone.

Let me tell you why I'm voting for Kerry. Two reasons.
One - "catastrophic success". What a bunch of hogwash. That's not a good thing, guys. That indicates poor planning.

Two - despite Bush's claims that we're "winning" this war on terror, it seems to me (and research by many individuals support this) that there have actually been MORE terrorist attacks since 9/11 on an annual basis than before.

Most of all, I think that things have gone so poorly in Iraq and in the greater "war" that I'm willing to give someone else a shot.

When the terrorists are in Afghanistan, Bali, and now Egypt and Palestine, Iraq is not the "front lines".

Posted by: Greg Bair at October 8, 2004 02:06 PM

dpu asked for an example of what I was talking about. Here's one from above:

the Republican party is the purview of radical right-wing thugs

That's the worst from this thread. You can find more in others if you look easily.

Then there's Tano's comment that lefties "are critical thinkers". Meaning, I guess, that non-leftists aren't? What bilge. The latter statement is less obviously offensive then the former but neither exactly elevates the tone.

Do you even notice these things being said? Or do you think they are reasonable statements? How would you feel about someone saying that the Democratic Party is the pruview of left-wing thugs or that liberals aren't capable of critical thought?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 8, 2004 02:08 PM

I have to agree with MT...I am a centrist...I voted for Clinton and Gore, thought they were right for the times. I am supporting Bush now. Kerry has a few good points, but I cannot stand with him on defense or the environment and those trump the others for now. I am basically in agreement with Ed Koch's op-ed which was published a few months ago.

Some of the right of center blogs are pretty extreme, but the left of center blogs are worse...

Posted by: jimf at October 8, 2004 02:16 PM

Eric,
I am surprised you came back. Do you not realize that you are the one who has posted the most insulting comments in this thread?

And you seem to have some obsession with me - I dont know why. You need to distort my words in order to find some way to appear that you are operating at a higher level? I said lefty's (I really meant liberals) are critical thinkers - by nature. That is , I think, true. It is inherint in the liberal, rational, scientific apporach to knowledge acquisition. As opposed to the faith-based grounding of conservativism.
I did not claim that conservatives are incapable of rational thought, I merely claimed that such an approach is inherint in the liberal apporach. If you take that as an example of the depths of blog-bile, then I guess there is no conversation of any interst that could meet your standard. (I shouldnt say "your standard" because the standard that you actually operate by is quite a bit lower).

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 02:17 PM

Jeff,

Thanks for the ad-hominem.

I'd be happy to exchange professional and academic credentials off-line. You will learn that I have actually opened up a book or two.

IMHO, your request to MJT speaks volumes about critical skills.

The point of my saracasm was this: Why don't you just take Michael's writings at face value and then come to your own value judgement about its merits based on its logic and consistentcy, and the correlation to facts/opinions reported by others on the Internet?

Jeff, isn't that the gist and greatness of New Media? An assumed low level of trust. Ddeeper responsibility on the reader to do their own leg work in getting differing opinions from multiple sources. The requirement for the reader to distill lots of information for him or herself. Finally the freedom to make up ones own mind?

bob

Posted by: bob at October 8, 2004 02:17 PM

Tano,

For every "faith-based" conservative you can find, I can show you a "utopian liberal." And for every critical thinker on the left you can show me (and I agree, there are plenty of those) I can steer you to his or her conservative counterpart.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 02:23 PM

MJT,
I am not arguing that point. Very few people are pure liberals or pure conservatives. I was merely making a claim about what one of the fundamental priniples of liberalism is.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 02:32 PM

Tano, case not closed.

(A.) Bush was going to be the Domestic Policy President, remember? When the situation changed radically, he changed behaviors to suit the new paradigm. That was rational behavior.

(B.) A rational thinker compares outcomes to predictions. Just because Bush's predictions may have been different from yours doesn't mean he's not seeing the progress that he expected.

(C.) You seem to mistake integrity for irrationality. It's not. Integrity is critical to rational discourse (and again, to the scientific method) because it ensures that correct information is shared by all. So doing what you say you're going to do is critical, assuming your starting hypothesis (see point [A] above) has not been invalidated.

(D.) Calling Bush irrational because he's not doing what you want him to do is irrational. In fact, it's pretty much an ad hom attack, and therefore not in the Liberal tradition.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 02:35 PM

Michael, I think we both know there is a difference, but I'll give you an example:

I casually looked at the "Health" section of TCS just a few minutes ago and found:

On Obesity, What the Researchers Didn't Find

30 Day McDiet: Results Are In

Minimize Me

Health Panel: "Supersize Me" Movie Trivializes

Obesity, a Serious Problem

A Supersized Distortion

Want To Be in a Movie? Get Fat

Obesity: a Sign We're Doing Things Right

All of these articles argue more or less subtly that there is nothing wrong with junk food and obesity, and that "Supersize Me" is grossly distorting the facts etc. etc.

And then in the "About Us" section of TCS you find this:

and so we are grateful to AT&T, Avue Technologies, The Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil, General Motors Corporation, Intel, McDonalds, Merck, Microsoft, Nasdaq, PhRMA, and Qualcomm for their support.

The lobbying effort is blatantly obvious, I don't think they're even trying to hide it. This is not Mr. Sulzberger having some vague effect on the political leanings of the NYT, or even Murdoch spreading the rightwing word - this is paid-for journalism designed to promote corporate objectives.

I'm sure you can see the difference too.

Posted by: novakant at October 8, 2004 02:37 PM

Tano,

Sorry, but I work in an industry - engineering - where critical thinking, planning, risk evaluation is paramount. This industry tends more to the republicans than the democrats. It is not "pure" like academia but, like Den Beste always used to point out, it has learned to temper its thinking process by looking at the results.

I have a background in math, economics, statistics, and math. I have had to make decisions over scarce resources based on what less than perfect information. I use decision trees and game theory in day to day work. I understand the concepts of scare resources, incomplete information, and unintended consequences. I have a hobbyist's background in history, wargames, and thinking games. I have an above average winning percentage in these games.

The implication that liberals are natural critical thinkers and, by inference, the right can't understand your brilliance is as a minimum a condescending combination of several common argument fallacies and as a maximum a rebuttal of your premise.

Posted by: OldManRick at October 8, 2004 02:40 PM

Bob,

Take a look at what has transpired. I asked for a response directly from a writer. He didn't have to give it to me. Why spend hours trying to get the answers I want when I can get it straight from the horse's mouth? Now, yes, I will have to take Mr. Totten's response and work it into my current knowledge base and opinion, but by just going straight to a source, I get what I want and I am satisfied. Remember when you were young and you were told that the way you learn things is by asking questions? It actually still holds true and people who see that you have a real curiosity and have nothing to hide will, generally, be pretty honest with you.

Would love to hear back if this helps in your academic and professional life.

Posted by: Jeff at October 8, 2004 02:43 PM

Rick Centrist

Democratic President and a Republican Congress?

If economic neo-liberalism is what is most important then you are more then correct. If the WOT is more important then you are insane. (Take the insane in good spirit please.) I am with Ed Koch, a sane liberal. You want to go back to the 1990's? That is what you are calling for. Bush takes the arrows for everything he does wrong and also the arrows for what his predecessors did wrong as well. Bill Clinton was the first President to hand the next President a world much less safe then he inherited since Carter. Most failures we see today I more lay at previous administrations feet, and none more than Clinton. (I voted for him twice blame me too.)

Resolve and not nuance is what is needed. Nuance fears mistakes, nuance appeases. Resolve doesn't quit and does what it takes. I see the lack of resolve on the left and among the Democratic base. And by the way a Congress can't hold a Commander in Chief's "feet to the fire" on non fiscal matters accept to play the part of "brakes" on the effort. (like voting against the 87 billion). In reality by historical standards we are more than succeeding. I just hope in the end people left or right will quit moving goalposts and judge history honestly. Reagan was a failure to the media and conventional wisdom as well. History is slowly correcting that prejudice. It will say the same with Dubya. I was wrong with Reagan and I will admit I was wrong again either way, hopefully others will, most don’t.

Again, I must say such premature declarations of failure fly in the face of the realistic standards history gives us in rendering such judgments. I listen to my family and friends scream failure yet they have screamed failure ever since Vietnam, with Reagan, Bush I and now Bush II. It gets old, damn old. It also gets less credible, I was on that side for a long time, it is defeatist and I am tired of it.

I have a good idea! Let’s elect a man that said, "We are fighting the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time” and repudiate the Bush Doctrine at the same time, that will help! NO THANKS! The 1990’s and her nuanced ways are dead to me until the war is over. How long will that be? Long enough for this middle aged liberal Jew to become a Republican because I will be gone when this War is over and whatever resolve the Democrats had left them when the “South went Red and the Neo-cons fled”. As Ed Koch said… “The Democrats don’t have the stomach or the will” I’ve been a Democrat all my life so has Ed Koch… reality wins. RESOLVE is the key word.

Everyone carps and while they carp, Bush stays the course. How can one make fewer mistakes then Dubya when they don’t have the vision and resolve, have talked down our allies, the effort and played the "Gerhard Scroeder" political game of destroying will and playing to the worst instincts in people. Also Kerry represents a political base that does not have the will to fight let alone finish. Electing Kerry would be the biggest riskiest mistake in my lifetime and Eisenhower was President when I was born. What Kerry should have said, I will say about Dubya… “The right man, fighting the right war, at the right time” Well I don’t know about the right time, but better late then never.

I am a statistic now… Zell Miller's "State has gone Red" And Samuel "the Neo-Con" has fled. Yes one more neo-con Jew added to the ranks of the right.

Posted by: Samuel at October 8, 2004 02:45 PM

Are you comfortable letting Bush choose judges for the Supreme Court? The repurcussions could be dreadful for decades...

Posted by: dave at October 8, 2004 02:49 PM

Tano:

I merely claimed that [critical thinking] is inherint in the liberal apporach.

I would concur. But what bothers me is much of the Left has abandoned Liberalism for Tribalism, and has dragged the Democratic Party with it. Identity politics have been corrosive for years, and I blame it for the ugliness we see in political discourse. Both sides do it; the theocrats on the Right are as bad as the Dworkin feminists on the left. But it's my observation that the right-of-center in this country has done a better job of marginalizing its tribalists than the left-of-center. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me that so many people who think of themselves as Liberals find themselves pushed to the Right, while so many "America Firsters" find themselves drifting to the left.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 02:52 PM

Greg Bair,

If a large number of terrorists around the globe are supported by Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, then Iraq sure as hell is on the front lines. Right in the middle of the hornets' nest. Southeast Asia's Islamist extremists are not sui generis. They've been fostered since the 1980s by Saudi Arabia. Iran-sponsored Hezbollah has struck all over the globe, even South America. If you want to remove hornets, remove the nest. Don't limit yourself to going after only those that stray far from the nest.

Posted by: Joel at October 8, 2004 02:57 PM

Novakant: The lobbying effort is blatantly obvious, I don't think they're even trying to hide it.

You're right. They aren't trying to hide it. It's good that they are not trying to hide it. Isn't it?

This is not Mr. Sulzberger having some vague effect on the political leanings of the NYT, or even Murdoch spreading the rightwing word - this is paid-for journalism designed to promote corporate objectives.

TCS is an opinon site. Every single thing they publish is opinion. That is not the case with the NYTimes. You are comparing apples and oranges here.

Compare the blatant agenda of TCS to the blatant agenda of The Nation. And note that The Nation gets foundation money, as well.

TCS isn't "pro-corporate" because it gets paid to be pro-corporate. It is pro-corporate because it is libertarian. And it attracts corporate money because it is libertarian. If TCS were, say, environmentalist or something else it would simply attract money from different sources.

You come across like a person who thinks it is somehow corrupting for a writer to get paid to write. Guess what? I'm a writer. I make my living from writing. So you can imagine that I don't share your viewpoint on this. How could I? You're basically calling me a sellout. (Sorry! I have a mortgage to pay.) How old are you? 20?

I don't agree with everything TCS publishes. Not by a long shot. Some of it I think is frankly ridiculous, and I have no doubt whatsoever that some of its other writers think I am often ridiculous. I know as a FACT that at least one of them does have this opinion of me. But I do agree with everything I publish there. Otherwise I wouldn't put my name on it.

There is not one single opinion magazine that consistently publishes pieces that I agree with. So I will have this exact same "problem" no matter who I write for. I don't care. It's just the way things are.

This is my last post on this subject. If you want to think of me as a corrupted "sellout," fine. You think that. But I don't have to answer to you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 03:00 PM

Mark Poling: But it's my observation that the right-of-center in this country has done a better job of marginalizing its tribalists than the left-of-center. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me that so many people who think of themselves as Liberals find themselves pushed to the Right, while so many "America Firsters" find themselves drifting to the left.

I agree with this. I think this has been true at least since we started talking about invading Iraq. Maybe it was true before, but if so I did not notice it. I definitely think it was the other way around when Clinton was president.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 03:02 PM

pdf

Kerry the Centrist? What MSM pap. He is one of the more liberal by a long shot. What is worse is where he truly was reasonable he is now not. Trade Protectionism and turning againts NAFTA under the guise of turning back "outsoucing" is comical and one example. His ties to Hienz and its outsourcing makes him as credible as Wonder Boy Edwards championing tort reform... please! Not very neo-liberal and certainly not centrist. This is vintage Bernie Goldberg. As he said, a person on the left thinks that they are where the center starts and that puts the true center much to the right of them. This of course makes a mainstream conservative a far right character of cartoonish quality, except scary. There are easily as many moderate Republicans as there are moderate Democrats. Your blatant disregard of them and declaration of Kerry as a Centrist speaks volumes to your objectivity.

Posted by: Samuel at October 8, 2004 03:03 PM

Dave: Are you comfortable letting Bush choose judges for the Supreme Court?

No. That's one reason I'm mad at the Democrats. I would rather vote for a hawkish liberal party but they took that off the table right at the beginning of World War IV. Sometimes it really makes me want to scream.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 03:04 PM

Jeff,

I'm glad you are satisfied. Good for you.

Clearly we have different perspectives on blog journalism.

Resumes or on-line bios have little merit with me. If I harbor serious doubts about the integrity of a person, an electronic blurb in a comment section written by the very same person is hardly going to sway my concerns. IMHO, lack of integrity will ultimately reveals itself in inconsistentcies of opinion.

For the moment, I'm presuming that MJT is not a CIA plant, in cahoots with K street hustlers, or gets supersize free deliveries of Coca-Cola to his home in Portland. But, frankly, I don't care.

Even people and institutions with impecible integrity still carry terrible biases. We see that in MSM. The problem with the Boston Globe and New York Time doesn't have anything to do with some grand conspiracy. It is simply an artificact of the state of journalitic profession today: they all have the same education, went to the same journalism schools, live in the same economic class, have similar work experiences.

It's the institutions that think they have no bias and have a stranglehold on media that concerns me. But we live in a new age where we don't have to adjust rabbit ears and choose between three networks to be given "the truth". We live in an age where there are thousands of competing venues for opinion, and virtually anyone can publish something to the world for free.

I only wish I had the time to visit them all.

Posted by: bob at October 8, 2004 03:33 PM

Michael, I'm pretty centrist myself, although I lean the other way. I could have voted for Lieberman, but not Kerry.

I get the same kinds of things from some liberal commenters, and I often wonder whether they've even bothered to read what I wrote.

No flame wars, yet. But I don't get as many visitors as you, either. Not sure I really want the headaches that go with the notariety.

Posted by: Mike at October 8, 2004 03:34 PM

What Michael is talking about is the one thing I hate about internet communications. I mentioned on a blog once (my own actually) that I was a military Mom with a son fighting in Iraq. I got attacked so forcefully by some radical anti-war people that I not only had to remove the entire post, I eventually have had to shut down all comments. Mine is just a small family blog that occasionally I state my political views on. Noone comes to it and thats the way I like it. It somehow became infiltrated with this group from "somewhere" that made my life hell.

I have never called anyone on any blog a horrible name or attacked them verbally or challenged anyones intelligence. Why people can resort to such low-life gutter talk is beyond me..Who needs that anyway !

It's a shame that in America you can't even post on your own site about your worries and concerns for your child fighting a war!

Posted by: Cathy at October 8, 2004 03:37 PM

Uh oh, Miochael, no need to get personal, guess I hit a raw nerve there.
But while we're at it: I am not 20 and at different times I used to write as a journalist, as well as for an ad agency and I got paid for both, but I was always aware of the not so fine line between a piece of journalism and marketing blurb.
If you were to buy a new car would you trust a magazine that is sponsored by BMW? If you wanted to buy a novel for the summer holidays, would you value the opinion of a paper sponsored by HarperCollins?
For the record, I explicitly stated that I do not question your journalistic integrity and never called you a sellout, but TCS is indeed a corporate sellout and apparently proud of it.

Posted by: novakant at October 8, 2004 03:44 PM

PS Michael,

This is pretty much the only blog I visit anymore (except for the occasional browse), the left wing blogs are rediculous with their Dogma, and the right-wing ones are no better.

You have some extremist commenters, on both sides, but overall you blog isn't. For Eris sake, even David and I can be civil here.

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 8, 2004 03:59 PM

My vote for Bush comes down to this: I believe he will be the stronger leader in what I perceive to be the major threat we face for the foreseeable future. I disagree with some of his social policies, but the larger issue is the conduct of the war on terror, and indeed his vision of the mideast. It is too soon, of course, to know if he will be right. Time will tell that. It has been remarked that he has been incompetent. It is possible to reach the conclusion with the benefit of hindsight, and there have clearly been some miscalculations; on the whole, however, I suspect the judgment of incompetence rests more in the eye of the beholder that as an objectifiable truth. And given the partisanship surrounding this political season, I see no hope of persuading anyone to change his or her mind, no matter how objective we think we are.

Posted by: RogerA at October 8, 2004 04:03 PM

Cathy:

You and your family deserve better. I hope your son makes it back home safe and sound. Thank you and him for the sacrifices that you all are making for our country.

Novakant:

"I don't challenge your journalistic integrity"

"TCS is indeed a corporate sellout and apparently proud of it"

Both are your statements. They are blatant contradictions.

You can't claim that you aren't challenging someone's journalistic integrity on one hand, and then infer that by association with TCS one is participating in a "corporate sellout".

Either you have to concede:

1.) The scope of the sellout is constrained and, minimally, does not include at least one writer (MJT). And if not MJT, why don't other writers get a pass.

2.) The sellout is comprehensive and affects all writers.

Posted by: bob at October 8, 2004 04:07 PM

Novakant: Uh oh, Michael, no need to get personal, guess I hit a raw nerve there.

Actually, no, you didn't hit a raw nerve so much as I thought you were accusing me of something I'm not doing without evidence. If that's not what you're doing, then okay.

No one tells me what to think. If I were told what to think I would be a partisan hack for the highest bidder, not a conflicted middle-of-the-road writer for low pay. Middle-of-the-road ain't where the money is.

Look. I think you should take everything TCS publishes with a grain of salt, including my own stuff. Partly for the reasons you state but more importantly because it is an opinion magazine whether it gets corporate money or lefty foundation money or whatever.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 04:17 PM

Somehow I always thought "critical thinking" was something inherent in the Western Philosophic tradition and neither the purview of the right or the left. Foolish me.

Posted by: RogerA at October 8, 2004 04:20 PM

RogerA,

Critical Thinking is something rarely done by most Americans. I would guess that about 10 to 20% of Bush supporters and Kerry supporters actually do critical thinking. The rest parrot the MSM, Fox News, Talking Points and Blog Comments.

I would love to figure out some method to try to quantify that theory.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 8, 2004 04:29 PM

Tosk--I concur entirely. Difficulty it seems to me is that critical thinking is a process; the process is only as good as the facts one chooses to analyze, and our value structures operate on the selection and interpretation of those fact--rather the problem of feeding inaccurate information into a computer program: GIGO

Posted by: RogerA at October 8, 2004 04:35 PM

Dang, why am I feeling so queazy that Michael Totten, of whom I go back a ways with, is gonna vote for Bush, of whom I support 99%?

I should be glad, I should be elated, I should be leaping for joy! Instead, I feel a bit like laughing during my father's funeral. He was a Democrat, btw.The FDR-kind, Totten referenced in his "Liberal case for Bush."

I feel a lot of "pain" -- really -- for Xers like Totten. When all this Kerry-sixties stuff really hit the fan I'll be dead. And Totten knows, all too well :), you folks are gonna be "left" holding the bag.

In the meantime, Go Bush!

p.s. Luv ya', Michael. :)

Posted by: Marc S. Lamb at October 8, 2004 04:59 PM

Roger,

the process is only as good as the facts one chooses to analyze, and our value structures operate on the selection and interpretation of those fact

No doubt! It obviously possible to view slightly different facts and return with slightly different conclusions. However, when someone simply gorges themsleves on facts that fit their bias, they always come to the same conclusion: "I am Right, anyone who disagrees is wrong." Sometimes it gets called Dogma.

Dogma, I think, is the 'Error Code' that tells us we fed bad data to the brain.

Well, this debate should be good... maybe one of them will show some critical thinking... though I fear the audience will be more likely to do so, than either cannidate.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 8, 2004 05:01 PM

Marc Lamb: He was a Democrat, btw.The FDR-kind, Totten referenced in his "Liberal case for Bush."

Yep. And you ought to know. We used to argue about this stuff online every damn day. I got pushed toward your side instead of the other way around. So, okay, you won ya bastard - for now.

Just kidding. Luv ya, too. Glad you still check in once in a while.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 05:19 PM

"But it's my observation that the right-of-center in this country has done a better job of marginalizing its tribalists than the left-of-center."

Mark,
To the extent that there is any truth in this, it is probably a result of being in power. Those actually wielding power need to be somewhat rational, even if it is not in their nature. And their supporters fall into that flow. When out of power, and ones identity is to be a critical opposition, then there is much less of a discipline that could yield a coherent message, or a responsible tone. This is true on both sides. Witness the craziness in the nineties - including such nuttiness as militia movements, and the terrible spawn of all that in OK city. Or, not even to go to extremes, just the tone of the discourse against Clinton. No way was it any less over-the-top than the Bush haters. Hell, you had the spiritual leaders of the modern right calling the president a murderer and a drug dealer, and generally the spawn of satan.

Democracy can be damn messy - on all sides.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 05:58 PM

MJT-

You found belligerent Republicans on a blog? Really? I didn't know the animal existed. Go figure.

You could e-mail the site privately...I'm always looking for new friends.

Novakant-

Nice use of the Kerry/Lockhart Method of Disjointed Discourse to impune Totten's integrity while denying as such intent. Must I be the one to mention that you missed the Halliburton logo over at TCS? Go look again...they're everywhere.

Why am I less than surprised to find you're a Democrat with a backround in journalism and advertising?

And one more thing...Whatever TCS is or is not, at least it is not so half-assed that it is a for-profit business that solicits donations on its' site like The Nation and Washington Monthly. Only a Leftie could be so crass, stupid and greedy to solicit donations to a business...

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at October 8, 2004 06:13 PM

Dennis the Peasant: You found belligerent Republicans on a blog? Really? I didn't know the animal existed. Go figure.

Yeah, I know. Old story. What else is new, right? Some days it just bugs me more than others. Today was one of those days.

Our pal Roger called and told me to relax. My wife tells me the same thing. They are both right, of course, as are you in your sarcastic way. So I'm all better now. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 06:35 PM

Sarcastic? Me?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at October 8, 2004 06:44 PM

Bush kicked Kerry's ass in the debate.

Posted by: d-rod at October 8, 2004 07:37 PM

d-rod,

Were you on shrooms again?

I think that Kerry did a good job, I think Bush did well too. Bush outperformed himself from the last time, but he kicked no ass.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at October 8, 2004 07:41 PM

I agree d-rod, but I'm probably more pissed than I have been throughout this whole GD thing. What kind of questions were these anyway? Is it just me or did these questions seem like they were all pro-Kerry questions? WTF was with that last question? "Mr. President tell us 3 mistakes you have made?" Anyway, even with all that I thought Bush did much much better this time than last.

Posted by: Cathy at October 8, 2004 07:42 PM

No schrooms tonight, tosk. That was a hardball question thrown in at the end, Kathy, but Dubya slammed it pretty well IMHO.

Posted by: d-rod at October 8, 2004 08:01 PM
RogerA:
Somehow I always thought "critical thinking" was something inherent in the Western Philosophic tradition and neither the purview of the right or the left. Foolish me.

Right up to Niztche (or maybe Kant). There should be a rule against Germans taking up Philosophy as a career, on public safety grounds.

I'm halfway serious, and I'm of predominantly German descent.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 09:56 PM

Tano:

Those actually wielding power need to be somewhat rational, even if it is not in their nature. And their supporters fall into that flow. When out of power, and ones identity is to be a critical opposition, then there is much less of a discipline that could yield a coherent message, or a responsible tone.

For once, I wholeheartedly concur with you. The trouble is, the standard bearer here is Kerry, and I just don't feel he's up for the job. If it were Lieberman, or even Gephart, or hell's bells Dean, I'd consider voting against Bush. Being able to take a stand is critical for a President, and I don't see that with Kerry. Sorry.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 09:59 PM

As a life-long Democrat who will vote for Bush, I find Michael Totten's soul-searching very much in tune to what I'm going through.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Finnpundit at October 8, 2004 10:02 PM

Geez Michael, I'm right wing? Got a little peeved, did you? Welcome to the rest of the world.

Posted by: chuck at October 8, 2004 10:17 PM

Does anyone else see the irony in Tano saying first this:

"Rational thinker:
...discards the hypothesis if the data disagrees with predicted outcomes."

Gerorge Bush:
Like it or hate it, Bush sticks with what he says he's going to do."

And then this?

"Case closed."

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 9, 2004 01:45 AM

MJT,

It is not possible for me to believe that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism. None of my friends or family are voting for terrorism.

Charles Krauthammer makes the case that Kerry is Bin Laden's choice:

It is perfectly true, as Bush critics constantly point out, that many millions around the world -- from Jacques Chirac to the Arab street -- dislike Bush and want to see him defeated. It is ridiculous to pretend that bin Laden, Zarqawi and the other barbarians are not among them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16511-2004Oct7.html

You may not like to admit. Your family and friends may not like to admit it. But the simple fact is that a Kerry victory in this election would be a tremendous strategic victory for the terrorists. To pretend otherwise is pure denial and rationalization, and cannot be credibly argued. The Arabs danced in the streets on 9/11. They will dance in the streets on 11/2 if Kerry wins. And the Europeans will gloat joyously.

You have made the right decision to support Bush. It must have been a difficult one given your political background. It is the right decision because Bush will fight the terrorists and Kerry will try to appease the terrorists. If this wasn't already clear from Kerry's flailing around in search of an Iraq policy position, it should be crystal clear from his proposals on Iran.

Kerry's proposal on Iran is the same failed model Clinton/Carter tried. He wants to give Iran nuclear material. He wants to cancel our buster bunker nuke program. This can ONLY be described as foolhardy appeasement. The terrorists will chew him up and spit him out.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 03:49 AM

The one particular fact that galls me about Kerry is that he actually believes France and Germany are going to be willing allies.

As a European-born American, I cringe every time I hear him talk about this. Even in Finland - a very anti-Bush country, I'm afraid - people easily see that France and Germany have an inherently hostile agenda to US interests, which existed way before Bush was in office.

Kerry's naivete is inexcusable. He will be just like the lamb Jimmy Carter was, when he went to his first meeting with Brezhnev (If you'll recall, that meeting convinced Brezhnev the US will do nothing if the Soviets invaded Afghanistan).

The US president must be strong. He cannot flip-flop. And he cannot listen to Europeans who don't contribute in any major way.

And he ESPECIALLY should not be listening to France.

Posted by: Finnpundit at October 9, 2004 05:19 AM

Michael,

Coming late, but ...

This is definitely the best blog I know of for discourse. I wouldn't want Tano and Tosk, or Eric and HA to quit posting here because it is what lets all of us, regardless of POV sharpen our wits. Thanks for moderating and keeping the dialogue substantive!

As to knuckle draggers:

o'ak'q41]=014c1'p
,ap'

Well, I think you can spot their tracks on the keyboard easily enough and MoveOn ;-p

Seriously, I check a lot of other sites for other reasons, for example I do check LGF frequently for news but the comments move too quickly for engagement and are too much a Greek chorus. On Atrios, its even more rabid.

Long may you run.

Posted by: jdwill at October 9, 2004 07:57 AM

". If it were Lieberman, or even Gephart, or hell's bells Dean, I'd consider voting against Bush. Being able to take a stand is critical for a President,"

Mark,
I dont really unerstand your logic here. If you could equally vote for Lieberman (very pro-war), or Dean (very anti-war), then I guess the war isnt the real issue for you. So it is just the ability to take a stand and stick with it, irrespective of what that stand is?

Seems to me that Kerry's stand is pretty consistent - it is just not on the extremes of the spectrum. He felt that Saddam was somewhat of a threat - and said so going back to the nineties. He wanted the president, Clinton and Bush, to have the power to pressure Saddam into coming into compliance with the UN sanctions - including a threat of war if necessary. So he said that consistently and voted accordingly. And he feels that Bush effectivly used that power, and inherint threat, to begin to put together an alliance (the unanimous UN resolution), and to compel Saddam to let the inspectors back in. But then he abandonded that process for no good reason, and ordered the invasion. It was not necessary at the time, it was not well planned out, and it left much of the rest of the world, who had invested somewhat in the process, feeling as if Bush had decieved them and had been planning war all along.

I dont see any inconsistency there at all. Read Kerry's floor speech in the Senate at the time of the authorization, and you will see that his views today are completely consistent with the stand he took then.

I opposed the authorization because I never trusted Bush in the first place - I felt at the time that he had made up his mind already, such that a vote for authorization would effectivly be a vote for war - and that Bush was lying through his teeth when he claimed otherwise. Unfortunatly, I think I was right about that.

Just a side note. For my part, and I think a lot of democrats as well, the anger at Joe Liberman was not so much his vote for authorization, but the manner in which he went out of his way to speed passage of the authorization - without very much of a debate, including a public debate. Since I felt that the vote would effectivly be an up or down on war itself, to take such a vote without a real discussion/debate was madness.

Posted by: Tano at October 9, 2004 09:54 AM

jdwill: This is definitely the best blog I know of for discourse.

Thanks! Another good one is Marc Cooper's blog. You will surely disagree with him more often than not (but he will sometimes surprise you.) He's a GREAT guy and is very kind to his conservative readers. (And he has a lot of them.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 9, 2004 11:29 AM

jdwill,

As to knuckle draggers:

o'ak'q41]=014c1'p
,ap'

I think that is the kindest thing anybody has ever said to me(SNIFF, SNIFF). Thanks!

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 11:40 AM

Tosk,

It looks like jdwill sees moral equivalanece between you and me!

I wouldn't want Tano and Tosk, or Eric and HA

It looks like moral equivalence can be a double-edged sword!

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 11:42 AM

Uh, actually I was going for spectrum definition.

Posted by: jdwill at October 9, 2004 12:16 PM

Tano, I said I would have considered voting for Dean.

Lieberman would have gotten my vote.

Gephart could have won my vote with the proper moves.

Dean would have had to have a "Come to Jesus" moment that I believed -- a stretch, but conceivable. Dean is at least passionate and projects conviction in something other than himself.

Kerry's been such a duplicitous jerk since the beginning that there is no way I would vote for him. I hate to admit this, but I am an ABK voter. If I had as many reservations about Bush as, say, Andrew Sullivan after HIS "Come to Jesus" moment (Bush's endorsement of the FMA) I'd be voting Libertarian on principal.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 9, 2004 12:33 PM

Well Mark, you just confuse me even more. Dean might have won your vote if - what - he had flipped flopped on the war? As in - I think we need a president who expresses his opinion passionatly and sticks with it, unless he then changes his position, but then he has to express the new position passionatly as well?

As opposed to Kerry who has had a consistent position - but one that is wise, rather than being of the type to get ones blood boiling - in either direction? A position that distant threats should be addressed with all of the political, economic, diplomatic tools at our disposal, and yes, the threat of force looming in the background. But if you use the force, it should be only as a last resort, and then only with an intellegent plan for what most likely will come after.

You see, it took me a rather long sentence to explain that wise position. Wouldnt fit on a bumper sticker. Is that the real problem?

(N.B. I dont think it is, in your case. I dont find the position all that hard to follow, and I am sure that you can understand it perfectly well. )

Posted by: Tano at October 9, 2004 01:02 PM

Tano, there's a difference between changing your mind as a result of new data and saying contradictory things within the same paragraph. If you can't (or won't) see that I'm not sure why I'm bothering to engage with you.

(Actually, Teddy Roosevelt summed up your presumed Kerry position with "Talk softly and carry a big stick". Really smart people get to the point quickly.)

If you can actually quote Kerry sounding wise instead of weasely, by all means do so. "I Have A Plan" ain't gonna cut it without a PUBLISHED plan with....

...wait for it...

...measures of success and failure that can be verified by actual data.

Or, in other words, any time someone ends an argument with "trust me", don't.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 9, 2004 02:51 PM

Or, to put it more succinctly, the Democrats managed to nominate the worst of the realistic candidates. (Although if they'd nominated Sharpton, it would have been a much more entertaining election cycle....)

A-O-Way to go, Iowa.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 9, 2004 03:05 PM

"Or, in other words, any time someone ends an argument with "trust me", don't."

Hmmm, you write a sentence like that, and say you are voting for Bush?????
What on earth is the Bush plan? Aside from "trust me, because I speak loudly and simply and dont change my mind". I.e, trust me.

Kerry laid out a plan in his NYU speech - I'm sure you can find it on his website if you were interested. Put it next to Bush's plan, and make your choice. THat is, if you could find a Bush plan.

Posted by: Tano at October 9, 2004 05:51 PM

"Really smart people get to the point quickly."

No, that would be really good rhetoriticians. Kerry aint that hot in that regard. Personally, I would prefer someone with wisdom and good ideas, even if they take 3 paragraphs to explain them, over someone who can articulate simplistic ideas simplisticly.

Posted by: Tano at October 9, 2004 05:57 PM

jdwill,

Uh, actually I was going for spectrum definition.

Yeah, I know. But I got a kick out of it because Tosk fancies himself a master of critical thinking and we've been locking horns lately. It must be painful for him to be tossed in as a poster-child for the left with me chosen as a right-wing equivalent.

I would protest being tossed in as a right-winger, but I would have about as much credibility as Kerry protesting that he is not a flip-flopper.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 06:39 PM

Tano, to employ your most common debate tactic (pick a point and yank it till the context squeals):

Well, if you'd take Kerry over Teddy Roosevelt, you deserve what you get.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 9, 2004 07:51 PM

Bob, I hope that you see this since it is FAR down. I haven't been able to catch up with comments here until this morning.

Thank you for your kind words. it means alot to myself and my family to know that some people do understand the sacrifices our Military make for us. My son will return home in Feburary. Needless to say, this upcoming election has me on needles and pins every day.

Thanks,
Cathy

Posted by: Cathy at October 10, 2004 09:18 AM

I know the blog to which MJT is referring, and I do remember the incident. There was some argument, and then out of nowhere, this attack on MJT's wife, which was startling, idiotic, and very uncharacteristic of the comments section there usually.

I'm not apologizing for anyone (I can speak only for myself), but I do read that blog & comments daily, and that nasty scene was highly abnormal.

Posted by: Bostonian at October 15, 2004 09:28 AM

I have it completely different 51% for Kerry and 49% for Bush. This is mostly because I strongly believe Kerry can do a better job in Iraq and clean up the mess also I believe Kerry will have a better impact on the economy.

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