October 08, 2004

The Second Debate

I only watched part of the debate tonight. I taped the whole thing and may sit down to absorb it this weekend. (Then again, I may not.) I found this one far more irritating than the first.

I did see a few small pieces. And instead of reacting to the debate as a whole (I can’t, sorry) let me react to two things I did see.

George W. Bush still can't explain who we are fighting and why even after all this time. Yes, weapons of mass destruction are a problem. But, you know what? England has weapons of mass destruction and we aren't worried about those. I don't lose any sleep over the French Force de Frappe. Bush continues to reduce our enemies in the Terror War down to abstract nouns; terrorism and weapons. Wrong answer. Paul Berman, an anti-Bush leftist, knows who and what the enemy is better than the president does. Berman more or less agrees with the neoconservatives here. Yet not one of those in his administration is willing to talk about this or explain it to anybody who doesn't read the same geeky magazines I read. That needs to change. And it probably never will.

As for John Kerry, I am tired of his alternate universe where Bush "pushed our allies away." I can't stand to listen to it anymore. One of two things is happening here. He is unseriously playing “politics” and hoping to fool everyone to score points. (If so, he is not fooling me and I don’t care to have my intelligence insulted on a regular basis.) Or he desperately needs to catch up – fast - on what has changed in the trans-Atlantic alliance since the end of the Cold War. Robert Kagan, one of the smartest thinkers around, can fill him in on the details. This ought to be old news by now, senator. Do your homework. If you are elected president, there will be a test.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 08:14 PM
Comments

Michael - that's over two years old. Why don't you cite something about what Robert Kagan thinks now?

I believe that you'll find that his current views are somewhat closer to Kerry's than yours or President Bush's.

Posted by: Mork at October 8, 2004 08:29 PM

Spot on Michael. The polite fictions of the trans-Atlantic alliance are over – at least for anyone up to speed. Even Thomas Friedman of the New York Times pondered whether or not it’s time to consider France an outright enemy. Surely Kerry knows this.

Posted by: Joe Marino at October 8, 2004 08:36 PM

Mork,

Please cite something specific from Kagan. I'd be curious to read it.

In any case, I rather doubt he repudiates that essay I linked. He expanded it into a book, which I also have read. It's good.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 08:39 PM

MJT,

Did you know Bush had a timber company? That explains Iraq! It wasn't about the oil. It was about the forests!

I mean, there must be at least three trees in the whole damn place. Bush must be raking in millions! That bastard.

No more wars for timber! All you Canadians can go back to sleep now.

Posted by: HA at October 8, 2004 08:39 PM

I don't lose any sleep over the French Force de Frappe.

John Kerry seems more worried about our own nuclear weapons than Iran's. Incredible.

I think I see how this global test works now. If we disarm, we pass! If Iran gets nukes, they pass!

Posted by: HA at October 8, 2004 08:47 PM

Mork,

Please see Kagan's recent piece titled The Kerry Doctrine. I agree with every single word of it. And it doesn't exactly bolster what you said in your first post above.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 08:49 PM

Bush had substance and style tonight.

Seemed too hot for the first 20, but that may help him.

Bush missed the chance to zing Kerry on:

Kyoto
Oil for Bribes
Kerry's Gulf War no vote

Have you noticed the online polls have Kerry winning by like 80% to 20%? Apparently, Instapundit got an e-mail asking him to help flood the polls like a good Democrat. Pathetic.

Posted by: Matt Ward at October 8, 2004 08:53 PM

Kerry also won the ABC poll, barely. And even Chris Wallace and the Fox crowd seemed to believe that Bush did much better than the first debate, but not as good as Kerry. Kerry by decision, as opposed to KO.

I'll admit to having been rooting for one side, so I wont bore y'all with "he kicked ass" -type statements.

Posted by: Tano at October 8, 2004 09:04 PM

OK, Michael, just looking at his recent WaPo columns, try:

3/16/04

The Bush administration needs to recognize it has a crisis on its hands and start making up for lost time in mending transatlantic ties, and not just with chosen favorites. The comforting idea of a "New Europe" always rested on the shifting sands of a public opinion, in Spain and elsewhere, that was never as favorable to American policy as to the governments. The American task now is to address both governments and publics, in Old and New Europe, to move past disagreements over the Iraq war, and to seek transatlantic solidarity against al Qaeda.

6/20/04

Beyond the needs in Iraq, there are broader issues at stake. Above all, there is the question of whether there is any meaning left in the term "alliance." Admittedly the United States hasn't been the best of allies over the past two years.

3/2/04

As much as some might wish to dismiss the problem, Americans cannot ignore the unipolar predicament. The Bush administration has been slow to recognize that there even is a problem. This is partly because Bush and his advisers came to office guided by the narrow realism that was dominant in Republican foreign policy circles during the Clinton years. In the 2000 campaign and in the early months of the Bush presidency, there was much talk about focusing intently, and exclusively, on the American "national interest." Trying to fashion a foreign policy that would be as different from the Clinton approach as possible, the Bush administration proclaimed it would take a fresh look at all treaties, obligations and alliances and reevaluate them in terms of America's "national interest."

Pursuing the "national interest" always sounds right. But in fact the idea that the United States can take such a narrow view of its "national interest" has always been mistaken. For one thing, Americans had "humanitarian interests" two centuries before that term was invented, as well as moral, political and ideological interests for which Americans have historically been willing to fight. Beyond that, the enunciation of this "realist" view by the dominant power in a unipolar era is a serious foreign policy error. A nation with global hegemony cannot proclaim to the world that it will be guided only by its own definition of its "national interest." That is precisely what even America's closest friends fear: that the United States will wield its vast power only for itself.

Both the unipolar predicament and the American character require a much more expansive definition of American interests. The United States can neither appear to be acting only in its self-interest nor act as if its own national interest were all that mattered. The United States must act in ways that benefit humanity, as it has frequently tried to do in the past. It must certainly seek to benefit that part of humanity that shares America's liberal principles. Even at times of dire emergency, and perhaps especially at those times, the world's sole superpower needs to demonstrate that it wields its power on behalf of its principles and all who share them, including its democratic allies in Europe.

Kagan is also able to face up to another unpalatable truth about which you continue to delude yourself:

All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now ... The Bush administration is evidently in a panic, and this panic is being conveyed to the American people.

I think that would put you pretty squarely among "the most blindly devoted Bush supporters".

Posted by: Mork at October 8, 2004 09:07 PM

BTW - on the debate, Andrew Sullivan has nailed it in one sentence:

The contrast between a man who can make an argument and one who can simply assert what he believes to be a truth was striking.

He went on to say:

If we have learned anything these past three years, it is that conviction is not enough. Skepticism, openness to other arguments, thinking outside the box or against a bubble mentality: all these are useful in a war leader and Bush has none of them.

If you were serious about winning the war, rather than merely about sounding tough, you'd want a grown-up in charge.

Posted by: Mork at October 8, 2004 09:14 PM

Mork: I think that would put you pretty squarely among "the most blindly devoted Bush supporters".

Wow. Did you actually write that sentence?

Earlier today I had to write a post explaining, in no uncertain terms, that I am not voting for John Kerry. I keep getting emails from conservatives who argue with me about "my support for John Kerry."

It's amazing what people who are nowhere near the political center see when they look at it. I mean, it's really amazing. I'm a rorshach test for you guys.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 09:15 PM

Bush did much better tonight, but neither was very powerful in convincing anybody but their devoted fans in voting for them.

Kerry was right about the 'timber company comment', apparently Bush declared $84 on his 2001 taxes as income from ownership in a timber company. This would make him qualify as a 'small business owner' who would have his taxes increased if those making over $200K lost the most recent tax cut.

Posted by: Mark Hamm at October 8, 2004 09:18 PM

Mork, quoting Sullivan: If we have learned anything these past three years, it is that conviction is not enough. Skepticism, openness to other arguments, thinking outside the box or against a bubble mentality: all these are useful in a war leader and Bush has none of them.

I agree. But you don't get it. The other option is John Kerry. If I could fire Bush I would do it, but not if Kerry is the only replacement option. You (meaning the Democrats) should never have picked him in the primary. Never.

Read the Kagan piece I linked above in the comments called "The Kerry Doctrine." Read it all and pay attention so you can see what you are inflicting on those of us who aren't pacifists. You don't have to agree with Kagan, but perhaps you will come to understand the motivations of people (like me) who don't think like you do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 09:20 PM

Bush may not know what to do with Iraq, but I doubt anyone else does either. The ONLY way we can end this QUICKLY is to either REALLY ramp up the violence against the terrorists, which Kerry will NOT do, or, pull out now, which a lot of Kerry's supporters want to do, even if Kerry does not. And if Kerry wins in November, he will have to deal with the anti-war crowd.

Bush undoubtedly performed better this week than last week, but it was not a knockout.

Bush will lose the "spin war" over the weekend, because of course most of the press is for Kerry.

This debate clarified two things :

1. Those who believe that because Bush got us into Iraq and should be given the chance to see it through, or who do not trust Kerry to see it through, will vote for Bush.

2. Those who either want us out of Iraq, or think Bush has botched it so badly that they are willing to turn Iraq and the terror war over to Kerry, will probably vote for Kerry.

If Kerry wins, get ready for his momentum to deflate VERY FAST. Not only will Kerry face the same hard questions and challenges Bush now faces in Iraq and on the broader terror war, but he will also be faced with a CIVIL WAR WITHIN THE DEMOCRAT PARTY over Iraq and other matters. Bush-hatred is covering up BIG schisms and internal contraditioncs within the Democrat Party at the moment. Democrats have much bigger internal problems than Republicans. Ironically, a Kerry win may turn out to be bad for Dems, and good for Republicans. But in the current crazy world, who knows ?

Posted by: freeguy at October 8, 2004 09:33 PM

MJT, I agree about Bush's oblivion to voices outside his administration. But give him credit for keeping a cast of advisors that included people from Tenet to Rice to Powell to Wolfowitz. He hasn't been hearing opinions from a narrow slice of neocon dogma, no matter what the conventional wisdom says.

What I see is some who literally runs his administration like a business. Trust your staff, follow the business plan, don't micromanage, be ready to make the tough calls. Maybe it's not the way to run a government, but hey, at this point we have to choose between two options. Bush is a known quantity, and Kerry is suspect at best.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 09:35 PM

Freeguy,

"if Kerry wins get ready for his momentum to deflate very fast."

Thats one of the best quotes I've heard in awhile. If Kerry wins I think he has no clue what to do with it! But, I'm sure it will be OK, because, after all, "He has a plan!" How many times did I hear that tonight?

Posted by: Cathy at October 8, 2004 09:58 PM

MJT:

You see it as a difference between "extremists" and "centrists". I don't view it that way. I see it as the contrast between people who view things somewhat indepedently and those who are robotic partisans. I don't think people like Mork and Tano are that extreme in their views. They simply view blogs as a place for partisan activism and not intellectualism. There are blogs that are used for partisan activism, like the Daily Kos and Free Republic. You're trying to do something different here.

Mork and Tano have evinced no extreme views in my experience. They are merely extremely convinced that John Kerry is superior to George W. Bush in every single way and they want to use the medium to bludgeon as many people into agreeing with them as possible as opposed to actually having an open, civil discussion.

Why anyone would actually want to do this (if they weren't being paid by a campaign) and how they think it will be effective is beyond me. But anyway, I don't think what you are encountering is extremeists of the left and right versus your centrism. You're encountering people who have an activist/partisan mindset versus your wish to analyze things from a more independent perspective.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 8, 2004 09:59 PM

Michael, your support for Bush may follow from your blind support for the rationale for invading Iraq, rather than the other way around, but it seems to me that it is absolutely blind and fact-proof.

As for your views on Kerry, well, it's all hot air. Who knows what he'll do? I don't, and you don't either. Like every other president, he'll react to the circumstances with which he's confronted, just like Bush did.

Do you imagine for a second that Bush would believe the things he claims to believe now if he were the challenger? Of course not - he'd be pointing to whatever mistakes he thought the incumbent had made and trying to show what he'd do differently. That's what he did in 2000, and that's what Kerry is doing now. That's how you run for office.

And what you mistake about me is to imagine that I am anywhere other than the political center. Philosophically, I am for free markets, free trade, restrained government spending and a balanced budget. I support welfare reform, which I see as a virtually untrammelled success. Socially, I don't get animated by either side's hot button issues: I don't much like abortion, but I don't want government stopping people who feel they need to do it. I don't much like guns, but I can read the second amendment, and if folks feel safer having them, then it doesn't bother me much. I don't care what pledge kids recite. Generally, I think that it's better to deal with these sorts of issues at a local rather than federal level. In foreign policy, I have no philosphical objection to the use of American force - although there is a practical and moral equation to balance every time it is used. I supported the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan (enthusiastically) and I even supported the invasion of Iraq back when I believed what this Administration told me.

So yeah, I'm a big lefty, all right.

But what I most care about is two things: honesty and competence. Without those two qualities, it just doesn't matter what leaders believe, you're just fucked any which way. And that's where we are now.

And if Kerry's a screw-up, and the GOP nominates someone reasonable, then I'll support them, too. That's how the system is supposed to work.

Posted by: Mork at October 8, 2004 10:04 PM

Cathy:

"I have a plan" was the "hard work" of this debate.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 8, 2004 10:06 PM

Eric,

Yes, you're right about Mork. (And Tano, too, but I've never thought he was a left-wing nut.)

Mork, okay. I guess I knew already you weren't a radical. It's just that your statement about me and George W was a peculiar one, indeed. Especially considering what else I wrote earlier today.

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.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 8, 2004 10:50 PM

Maybe we really are headed in the right direction ultimately. Both major political parties are hypocritical. Republicans are rhetorically for small government, but not in practice. Democrats claim to be champions of human rights, but only at home, and even then, not with respect to economic liberty.

I am SICK AND TIRED of hearing Democrats tell us that more government is the answer to our problems and play the class warfare game, as if "rich" people are to be vilified, rather than admired. Rich people pay most of the taxes and create most of the jobs. Envy is not pretty.

And I am SICK AND TIRED of hearing Republicans lecture us about drugs and sex. I do not do drugs, but I think they should be legal. I am gay, but I do not plan to have sex in public. The kind of public morality we need to worry about is the general decline in honesty, cheating, buck-passing, and a propensity to sue at the drop of a hat, NOT the positions people choose to have sex in, or with whom !

This nation is pregnant with a new political ideology. I see it EVERY DAY. MOST people I talk to about politics are FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE and SOCIALLY MODERATE TO LIBERAL.

The party that grabs that mantle will become the new majority party, IMHO.

Posted by: freeguy at October 8, 2004 11:31 PM

freeguy, you are absolutely on target. The problem is something has to happen to shake up the current paradigm, and if 9/11 didn't do it I don't know what will.

Sigh.

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 8, 2004 11:47 PM

Michael,

It would have been helpful if, instead of choosing to bicker with Mork, you responded to the several Kagan quotations he posted.

Especially this one: " Even at times of dire emergency, and perhaps especially at those times, the world's sole superpower needs to demonstrate that it wields its power on behalf of its principles and all who share them, including its democratic allies in Europe."

That sounds very much like the "global test" Kerry mentioned.

Posted by: Swopa at October 8, 2004 11:59 PM

Swopa,

What is there for me to address? I'm not going to argue with Robert Kagan, if that's what you're asking me to do. I agree with just about everything he writes, including the passages Mork cited. I cited him twice tonight myself.

Kagan is a neocon, you know. He's not a Kerry guy. Mork is completely wrong if he thinks Kagan supports John Kerry's foreign policy.

Maybe you need to read my liberal case for Bush. It fits nicely with the excerpt you singled out above.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 9, 2004 12:40 AM

Michael, this is a point you may think pedantic and it has no bearing on your main argument. But I'm going to make it anyway. There is no nation state called England. The correct name is the UK (though Britain will do fine!)and it consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh (Scotland!) and his mother was Irish. His likely successors are either Gordon Brown (Scottish) or Michael Howard (Welsh - and Jewish). The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish really hate being lumped as part of 'England'.

Posted by: Anne at October 9, 2004 01:14 AM

Mork is completely wrong if he thinks Kagan supports John Kerry's foreign policy.

No, my point is that many of the themes that Kerry strikes and which you deride him for (including above by reference to Robert Kagan) are actually things that even serious neo-cons acknowledge have been deficiencies in the Administration's conduct.

Kagan has been critical of a straw-man that he says might be Kerry's foreign policy, but he basically agrees with the criticisms that Kerry makes of the Bush Administration - criticisms that you can't bring yourself to acknowledge ... and for which criticize John Kerry for having made.

BTW - you approvingly quoted this above:

If we have learned anything these past three years, it is that conviction is not enough. Skepticism, openness to other arguments, thinking outside the box or against a bubble mentality: all these are useful in a war leader and Bush has none of them.

They're useful in someone who wants to be taken seriously as a commentator, too.

Posted by: Mork at October 9, 2004 01:48 AM

Interesting debate. Kerry seemed weak to me but I must admit, I'm distrubed by some of the things Bush has said. Mainly about the drugs from Canada and the pro-life policy and what not. I also lost some respect for him when he lied about being involved with the Timber company (did he not know they could check that out on the 'internets' ?)

I will give props to Kerry for dropping the term 'Orwellian' into the mix. At least one candidate has made an effort to raise the intellectual level of these debates.

Posted by: Epitome at October 9, 2004 02:13 AM

Michael, I think the president has been clear, at least recently, about who we're fighting and why. The enemy is a group of crazed fanatics driven by an ideology of hate; we call them "islamo-fascists" but he can't use that term because it would be spun into anti-Muslim bigotry by the Kerry machine. More specifically, he says we're fighting to keep WMDs out of the hands of these people, which means going after the terror-coddling states who maintain friendly relations with our enemies. He also said that Sept. 11 caused us to deal with risks that we thought tolerable beforehand, which is a pretty fair summary of what Tony Blair has said about the rationale for liberating Iraq.

The American electorate is a pretty dim crew, so he has to express these things in small chunks of small words, delivered very slowly and deliberately, so it's easy to tune out if you already know the answer.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at October 9, 2004 03:36 AM

Epitome,

Mainly about the drugs from Canada

What Kerry is proposing is back-door, socialist price controls. I hope the citizens of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are paying attention. It will be a disaster for the pharmaceutical industry and a tremendous blow to the economies of these two post-industrial states.

NJ and PA are in the heart of old industrial corridor. The pharmaceutical industry is the only cutting edge industry that are still centered in this region. Kerry's back-door price control scheme will be a tremendous economic blow to the citizens of PA and NJ.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 04:02 AM

Is anybody else sick of Kerry talking about "plans?"

This guy has more plans than Lenin. He has a plan to make more plans. His plans have plans.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 04:10 AM

Epitome,

I also lost some respect for him when he lied about being involved with the Timber company

According to factcheck.org Bush had $84 dollars in royalties from a timber entrerprise:

President Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise.

http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx@DocID=265.html

Yeah, Bush is a big timber tycoon. notice the absense of any zeroes in that number. Do you honestly believe that Bush had any idea about this?

You know, John Kery and his wife have a billion dollar fortune. I guarantee you that the Heinz-Kerry fortune has invesments in every sector of the US economy, and probably even timber interests. I'd be willing to bet that the Kerry family probably made more money from the timber industry than Bush by several orders of magnitude.

I can't lose respect for John Kerry. I'd have to have some to do so. But the fact that he even made such a stupid and demagogish point reaffirms what a sleazy bastard he is.

I have this mental picture of Kerry's oppo researchers poring over Bush's financial statements and shouting "Eureka!" when they found this ridiculous item. How did such an absurdity even make it into Kerry's debate points? Did somebody think this was important?

Of course they didn't. They knew this was a stupid point. But that doesn't matter. What they found was a molecule of "truth" around which they could build their mountain of lies. It is pure demagogery and Bush nailed him on it.

And this is Kerry's debate "plan." All of his comments are drive-by shotgun demagogery that cannot be responded to given the format of these debates. And I think for the first time, Kerry sensed that it wasn't working any more. People are starting to see through his bullshit and he knows it. You could see it on his face towards the end of the debate.

The only thing Orwellian in this debate was Kerry's demagogery.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 04:36 AM

Last nights debate finally showed us two very different candidates. Wherever your politics lie and whatever issues are most important to you, you finally have a choice. I sympathize with your position Michael. I'm not yet willing to call myself an independent. I'm still a democrat and I'll still vote for Bush. Can I ask why you've decided your an independent? Is it because of the online atmosphere or is it really core party beliefs?

I did a summary like the VP summary I posted the other day. I felt the same way you did - disgust-at the talking points. Nothing new for me except the last question on mistakes. This reply....
"Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV." ...is the only one I would like Bush to elaborate on. I think this answer was the most important revelation of the night.

Posted by: Kim at October 9, 2004 04:42 AM

Epitome,

BTW, when is Te-RAY-za gonna release her financial statements?

And how do you think Bush's $84 dollar windfall compares to the millions his running mate has made as a trial lawyer? While Kerry is demagoging Bush's timber empire, his running mate is putting doctors out of business. The effect of litagation abuse has been a disaster for doctors and patients:

Last fall, a study found up to one-fourth of obstetrician-gynecologists in some crisis states had stopped delivering babies or planned to do so because of unaffordable premiums. Other doctors in crisis states are retiring early or moving where premiums are lower.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/03/health/main539094.shtml

Is this part of Kerry's health-care "plan?" I suppose if you can't find a doctor, you're health care costs would go down. Cabbies are much cheaper than OB/GYNs.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 04:48 AM

Here is some TREMENDOUS news:

http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2004/results/

John Howard is on his way to victory in the Australian election!!!!!!!!!!

This is huge. Kerry sent his sister to torpedo Howard's campaign so that if Howard lost, Kerry could smear Bush for losing allies. Kerry's effort to undermine our Australian alliance in a time of war is without a doubt the single most disgraceful thing he has done since he met with the Vietnamese commies and smeared Vietnam Vets.

Fortunately, his effort failed. Thank God. And thank you AUSSIES, you croc-hunting mates!!!!! You didn't let us down. I pray that America doesn't let you down by voting for Kerry in November. And if we do, I aplogise in advance.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 04:55 AM

MJT,

The importance of the Howard victory cannot be overstated! The world is engaged in a life-and-death struggle between barbarism and civilization. And the line between victory and defeat is manned by the Anglosphere. Australia is the left flank, America is the center, and the UK is the right flank.

In this election Australia had the choice between manning the barricade, and retreat and appeasement. Australia chose to stand and fight!!!!!! God bless 'em! They weren't suckered in by an anti-American socialist!!!

America's turn is next. Australia held firm. We MUST stand firm with them. We are faced with the same choice in November as the Aussies. I hope we are as wise and brave as they have proven to be. Will we vote for weakness and appeasement and choose Kerry? Or will we vote for firmness and resolve and choose Bush?

The Aussies have proven that they are Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top. Will America prove to be Winfield Hancock at Cemetery Ridge? The center MUST hold. We'll know on November 2.

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 05:32 AM

"still can't explain who we are fighting and why even after all this time"?

Reread some of Bush's past speeches since 9/11/2001.

That said, Bill Whittle at eject,eject,eject.com has an excellent essay on who and why we are fighting this war.

Posted by: syn at October 9, 2004 05:57 AM

This nation is pregnant with a new political ideology. I see it EVERY DAY. MOST people I talk to about politics are FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE and SOCIALLY MODERATE TO LIBERAL.

The party that grabs that mantle will become the new majority party, IMHO.

Right on. Both parties have elements that think this way, but overall both parties are stuck in the past -- the GOP is the party of the 1950s and the Dems are the party of the 1960s. Clinton, IMHO, came the closest to a new paradigm for the 21st century with his "third way".

I wish the politicians I admire most could break away and form a new party. And Ahnuld would be president.

Posted by: Oberon at October 9, 2004 06:03 AM

I enormously regret that neither Bush nor Kerry came out for the legalization of mind altering drugs. This is one of the key reasons why the Islamic nihilists continue obtaining the funds to support their jihad against us. However, a Republican leader is more likely to pull off a Nixon to China on this particular issue.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 9, 2004 06:06 AM

“The enemy is a group of crazed fanatics driven by an ideology of hate; we call them "islamo-fascists" but he can't use that term because it would be spun into anti-Muslim bigotry by the Kerry machine.”

Amen. The liberal media are on the side of John Kerry. They are doing everything they can to defeat President Bush. He would indeed be crucified for referring directly to the Islamic nihilists. There is only reason why this election is so close: the dishonesty of the MSM.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 9, 2004 06:15 AM

Bush has explained who the enemy is and why we are fighting. He has done it repeatedly and, at times, eloquently.

He has not been able, however, to successfully turn it into a sound bite.

Posted by: Priscilla at October 9, 2004 07:29 AM

Kerry's attack on the President owning a timber company was un-American. He should have simply responded like ketchup woman when she came unglued - Shove it!

Posted by: d-rod at October 9, 2004 07:35 AM

HA, I just read the news from Aust. Not only did Howard maintain support he GAINED support!

Posted by: Cathy at October 9, 2004 07:53 AM

Hurrah for Howard and the Aussies. I hope, when the UN finally implodes, an Anglo-American-led alliance prevails that includes US, UK, Australia, Poland, Italy and eventually India and stable regimes in the ME.

Posted by: Zacek at October 9, 2004 08:12 AM

Didn't Kerry denigrate Australia again last night by saying Missouri was bigger or something? Why didn't he just go off like Howard Dean... and California and New York and Florida and Ohio and Iowa and... YEEEEAAAAAAGHH!!

Posted by: d-rod at October 9, 2004 08:21 AM

The Howard victory in Australia is a good sign. The voters apparently made their decision based on the war on terrorism. More specifically, the war on terrorism in Iraq. The same will likely hold true in the United States. I predict at least a six point victory margin for Bush.

John Kerry is an appeaser. The man’s whole career has been one of wimping out when it comes to defending America. And one does not have to be a Karl Rove clone to point out the obvious. Just look at the evidence. It’s enough to choke a horse. Might someone disagree with my point of view? Nope, not if they wish to claim to be a rational human being.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 9, 2004 08:21 AM

"Might someone disagree with my point of view? Nope, not if they wish to claim to be a rational human being."

Wow.
I guess we can see now what respectful intellegent discourse means to a right-winger!

Posted by: Tano at October 9, 2004 09:00 AM

“Wow.
I guess we can see now what respectful intellegent discourse means to a right-winger!”

It seems that you failed to read my previous post calling for the end of our insane war on mind altering drugs. I am also a theological modernist. The justifiable demand that one behave respectfully towards others does not mean that I am obligated to ignore well established facts. John Kerry is a proven appeaser. Thus, someone disagreeing with me literally does not have a rational leg to stand on.

Why would anyone ignore the obvious? That is an easy question to answer: they intensely despise George W. Bush. Their rage is out of control. It prevents them from being able to follow a logical argument.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 9, 2004 09:42 AM
John Kerry is an appeaser.

I wouldn't go that far. But I WOULD day that he believes in plurality before acting, which when working with someone who is behaving like a horse's backside (e.g., Saddam, Kim and the Mullahs), it means granting concessions to create "concensus" (which is why I'm having fits over him wanting to have bilateral talks with Kim). In short, he's transfering his M.O. of navigating the senate onto the world stage.

What's worse, he seems to hold that the French and UN are in the same party as he is as opposed to the UK and Australia and the rest. His idea of "multilateralism" reminds me of the lamer lines from Rush when he says that "the Democrats define 'bipartisanship' as agreeing with the Democrats."

In otherwords, he's running to be a senator in the "global senate."

I;m normally biased against legistlators over governors, and Kerry is showing the nastier side of my argument. (Normally I just cite going from being a member of the herd, with all its perks & pitfalls, to being the singular decision maker. Some make the transition, given Kerry's extended tenure in the Senate and his less than stellar record as a leader, I am not confident that he could be one of them.)

Posted by: Bill at October 9, 2004 10:46 AM

“I wouldn't go that far. But I WOULD day that he believes in plurality before acting”

This is just another way of saying that we should talk forever about military action---and then decide to act “prudently” and end up doing nothing. This is the standard operating procedure of the United Nations. Is John Kerry as bad as Dennis Kucinich? No, the Massachusetts senator is two steps to the right of the latter gentleman. But so what? That’s not saying very much. We live in dangerous times. John Kerry is a flip flopper (yes, a flip flopper!) on national defense issues. Such a man must not become our commander in chief. Is President Bush the perfect candidate? Not in the least. He’s merely the lesser of evils. Life sucks, and then we die. Nobody should have promised anyone a rose garden.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 9, 2004 11:01 AM

HA,

Can you please explain how Kerry's plan regarding drugs from Canada would be " back-door, socialist price controls'? Perhaps you know something I don't but it seems all he's said is that he will allow you to buy prescription drugs from Canada while Bush will not.

Posted by: Epitome at October 9, 2004 12:54 PM

The Howard victory in Australia is a good sign. The voters apparently made their decision based on the war on terrorism. More specifically, the war on terrorism in Iraq.

That's not really true, David. The parties did have different positions on Iraq, but not on the war on terror generally, and the campaign was fought almost entirely on economic issues.

Posted by: Mork at October 9, 2004 06:08 PM

Epitome,

Canada has a socialist health care system with price controls on drugs. That is why drugs are cheaper in Canada. If Americans pay Canadian prices, they are paying prices set by price controls.

The whole proposal to reimport drugs from Canada is ludicrous. In order to re-import the drugs from Canada, either the drug companies would have to ship into Canada a supply of drugs that exceeds Canadian demand so that there is an excess to sell back to the US, or Canada would have to sell drugs to Americans that would otherwise have been needed to meet Canadian demand.

Obviously the drug companies are not going to ship an excess supply into Canada just to cannibalize their domestic market. And Canada is not going to stand by and do nothing if they face a shortage of pharmaceuticals. They will simply ban selling of drugs back into the American market. The other alternative is that the Canadians will reserve legitimately manufactured drugs for their own market, but that Canadian middle-men will purchase illegal rip-off drugs from third world suppliers and sell them into the US market. That would be a get-rich quick scheme for Canadian con artists, and a health risk for American consumers. It is a good reason for the FDA to be cautious. But not good enough for John Kerry.

The Democratic proposal to reimport drugs from Canada is yet another example of them selling false hope and easy answers to difficult problems. It simply won't work. And they obviously must know this.

P.S. Speaking of Canadian con artists, do you remember the Bre-X scandal? If there was ever a hollywood movie waiting to be made about a scandal, this is the one. Its got gold. Its got people tossed out of helicoptors. Its got international intrigue. But most of all, its got a connection to the Bush family. I'm surprised Michael Moore isn't all over this one:

Barrick's advisors, among them former president George Bush and ex-prime minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, also favored this scheme.

http://geology.about.com/cs/mineralogy/a/aa042097.htm

Posted by: HA at October 9, 2004 06:24 PM

The contrast between a man who can make an argument and one who can simply assert what he believes to be a truth was striking.

Mork,

what argument is that? That Kerry would have dont Iraq differently by going through the French? Or that he has a secret plan for beating the insurgents? He doesn't.

Criticizing without offering anything in return isn't making an argument, it's simply asserting what he believes, and even that is questionable.

Posted by: David at October 9, 2004 06:48 PM

Re: Howard

It's funny, but a week or so ago, when the MSM thought Howard might lose, they emphasized the promise of his opponent to cut and run from Iraq. Now that he has won in a lnadslide, the campaign was fought on other issues? The Press has no shame. I have never been prouder of our proud Australian allies. They have stood with us through thick and thin in every conflict. They are true allies. In the words of my hero Winston Churchill, we must maintain an alliance of the "English Speaking Peoples." In 1950, this meant the U.S., Britain and Australia. Today we can add all the free freedom loving nations of the world and exclude all the jackals, villains and weasels who will go unnamed.

Posted by: Doug at October 9, 2004 07:29 PM

HA:

Is anybody else sick of Kerry talking about "plans?"

Yes. To repeat to you audience that you "have a plan" only dilutes the promise.

I liked Kerry's comment on the Patriot Act. Instead of the classic "the president is ALWASYS screwing up", he actually spoke in positive terms.

I'd be surprised if Kerry wins though..

Posted by: Norm C at October 9, 2004 10:44 PM

Doug,

In 1950, this meant the U.S., Britain and Australia.

Don't forget Canada. The loss of Canada is heartbreaking. Canada used to be a proud member of the Anglosphere with a military that pound-for-pound was among the best in the world.

Alas, Canada has gone to the dark side never to return. Canada has become the toehold of the E.U.S.S.R in North America.

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2004 03:45 AM

Bush did not explain clearly why we are fighting in Iraq (which is, after all, mainly where we're fighting) because the forum and the political context did not permit it. The ostensible reasons no longer withstand factual scrutiny, and it now appears that they never really did.

And the real reasons don't withstand moral scrutiny. No enterprise on the scale of international warfare lends itself to any line of reasoning except amoral national-interest geopolitical reasoning. And you can't trot that out in front of the voters.

Kerry can get away with bashing away at Bush as being incompetent, but surely he knows these reasons as well as anyone. Ultimately, we can't 'win' a 'war' on terror (except pyrrhically) any more than we can 'win' this supposed 'war' on drugs. What we can do is safeguard some portion of Mideast oil reserves in the event that islamo-fascism sweeps much of the region. Can Kerry say that? Of course he can't. Why, that would be ... calculating. Or something.

George Washington said that no war can be sustained on patriotism alone, and all this crap about democratizing Iraq amounts to projecting our patriotism in a distinctly unwelcome manner. Ultimately, it's got to be about national interest. And ultimately, in this case, it is. America has a national interest in Mideast oil supplies. Everything else is ideological window-dressing.

In this view of the matter, things aren't really going so terribly poorly. If all else fails, there will still be a relatively stable Kurdistan that can, over a decade, yield about a trillion dollars worth of oil in today's prices (which will probably not drop much, if at all during that decade. More likely, prices will go up.) U.S. GI casualty rates? As Paul Bremer pointed out, when he was Kissinger's understudy in the Nixon White House, Nixon was signing hundreds of widow-condolence letters per week. These people are hardened to such lamentable facts, and were hardened to them long before some people who post to this forum were aware of politics at all (if they were even born yet by then.)

Explain it all on TV? Yeah, right. It would take too long, and it would be political suicide anyway.

Posted by: Michael Turner at October 10, 2004 04:12 AM

Kerry's position on federal funding of abortions is absolutely stunning, but seems to be getting little attention:

http://www.kait8.com/Global/story.asp?S=2408413

Senator John Kerry says he'd support federal funding for abortions because he wouldn't deny a poor woman the right to secure a constitutionally protected right that someone else can afford.

First of all, the Constitution says nothing about abortion. The right to an abortion was legislated from the bench.

Second, the Consitution does say something explicitly about the right to bear arms. Using Kerry's logic, the government should also pay for firearms for poor people to secure a constitutionally protected right that someone else can afford.

Who chooses which Constitutional rights will be paid for by the government, and which ones will not? If ANY rights are to paid for by the government, then ALL rights must be paid for by the government. Otherwise, we don't have the rule of law. We have arbitrary rule by which ever party is in power. And they pick and choose which rights we'll enjoy.

Where does all this end? Let's say the Democrats manage to push through a government run health-care system. Then what? Will they be satisfied? Of course not. They will then look at society and still see inequality. The New Deal didn't eliminate inequality. The Great Society didn't eliminate inequality. Government health care won't eliminate inequality either. And then they will demand yet another government solution in a fruitless quest to achieve their ideas of distributive "justice." In the end the only thing eliminated will be economic liberty itself. It ends in tyranny where the government decides arbitrarily how much of your property you get to keep, and how much will be seized by government and redistributed.

Democrats like to call themselves "progressives" these days because "liberal" has become synonymous with "socialist". I have to ask, what would they have us "progessing" towards? Its called socialism. And socialism isn't liberal or progressive. It is anti-liberal and regressive. Democrats should stop lying about what they are.

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2004 05:00 AM

Michael Turner,

Look who's back! Hey, where is that Afghan pipeline you promised?

Don't you think that if Bush was only interested in securing the Iraqi oil facilities, that he would have sent in enough troops to actually secure the oil facilities? Maybe that was all part of Bush's evil master "plan" to drive oil prices to $53 a barrel just in time for the election. Now that's a winning "plan!" And Kerry says Bush didn't have a "plan." Thanks to you, we now know better.

Your stupid arguments about Iraq make as much sense as your stupid arguments about Afghanistan. Maybe you should crawl back under your rock before you embarrass yourself again with your LaRouchian insanity.

Explain it all on TV?

Maybe you should try explaining it with a billboard and a bullhorn on a street corner like the rest of the LaRouche loonies.

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2004 05:19 AM

HA, who never leaves, says:

Don't you think that if Bush was only interested in securing the Iraqi oil facilities, that he would have sent in enough troops to actually secure the oil facilities?

Securing "oil facilities"? Quite beside the point - you need to secure vast swathes of the country. The oil is mostly in the ground after all. That's the point: Iraq has second largest oil reserves inthe world (unless you count Canada's tar sands, recently bumped up to that ranking by oil prices going well over $20/bbl.) You can't just secure facilities. It's certainly not enough to secure the oil ministry, though that site did get quite a bit more U.S. security support than the beleaguered population (and was one of the few government sites spared bombing.) You need territory. You need a supportive government. And at minimum, Iraq already has that: Kurdistan. Exit strategy, all wrapped and tied up with a bow, if needed.

Bush has no "evil master plan" to drive oil prices up. He and his coterie have, rather, a plan to insulate America and its allies from the inevitable oil shock of half the muslim world going to over to islamofascism of one sort or another. If anything, this is a bid to keep oil prices from going up much further, with the inevitable political repercussions for both parties.

And let's not forget natural gas - Iraq has a lot of that too. As for that oil pipeline across Afghanistan, that'll happen if they ever stabilize Afghanistan. That was Unocal's precondition, and it still hasn't been met, so they aren't in there.

How any of this makes me a LaRouchite is beyond me. It's just a matter of calculation - using numbers that can be found on U.S. government websites and assumptions stated on those same websites. Iraq is nothing if not a whole bunch of fossil fuel.

If anything else mattered so much, why don't we have troops pouring into southern Sudan, or North Korea?

We love freedom? We hate tyranny? So much that we're willing to sign up and fight in great numbers? Um, yeah, right. Wake up: it's the economy, stupid. It always has been. Otherwise, Michael Totten would be in uniform, right now, patrolling Baghdad (the parts under U.S. "control", anyway.)

Posted by: Michael Turner at October 10, 2004 09:35 AM

Good article by Kagan...of course, it is pre-war, but is still relevant. Clearly, Kerry has not figured it out...

Jim

Posted by: jimf at October 10, 2004 03:48 PM

I think there's another view (besides Professor Kagan's) about the relationship between the U.S. and Europe, but I can't tell you anything convincing about it until late November, when a book by Timothy Garton Ash called Free World arrives in my mailbox.

I can only give you my own embryonic opinions, which, I'm only guessing, might slightly resemble the mature opinions expressed by Timothy Garton Ash.

The United States is the most powerful nation in human history. Contrary to popular belief, American supremacy is good for America and good for the world. Noam Chomsky's book is entitled "Hegemony or Survival", but if I could write a book in response (I couldn't) it might be called "Hegemony FOR Survival."

Still American supremacy is inevitably a temporary phenomenon. Howard Dean was right: "We won't always have the strongest military." So my question is this: how can we use the current situation to prepare for the next situation?

My answer is that American supremacy gives the U.S. the opportunity to reshape the world, in order to make the world (and America) safe for the inevitable end of American supremacy. In my view, this requires both the strengthening of international institutions as well as the promotion of economic prosperity and political liberty throughout the world.

But as President Bush might put it, this is "hard work", and we simply can't do it alone. America needs partners who will help us promote liberal democratic ideals.

What better partner for the U.S. in this task (besides always-admirable-Australia) than Europe, with whom the U.S. shares both liberal democratic ideals and a common (Western) cultural heritage?

I might be accused of hypocrisy, since I will confess that although I am an American, I have no desire to abandon my own particular cultural heritage, which is explicitly non-Western. Still, my point is that the shared cultural heritage of most Europeans and most Americans might allow for a strong U.S.-Europe partnership that can could transform the world.

Posted by: Arjun at October 10, 2004 08:22 PM

You might want to read this book.
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Epitome,

This NY Times article brings up the issues I raised about drug re-importation from Canada:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/16/business/16drug.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5090&en=415c8c054fa9c606&ex=1255579200&partner=rssuserland

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