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Friday Talking Points [29] -- Pennsylvania Fallout

[ Posted Friday, April 25th, 2008 – 15:47 PDT ]

It was a telling sign that neither Democratic candidate saw fit to visit Punxsutawney before the Pennsylvania primary. Nobody wanted the press to remember Bill Murray's Groundhog Day in any way, shape or form. But even without stump speeches next to Punxsutawney Phil, it's hard not to think of living the same day over and over and over again when looking ahead to the nine contests that remain. Because nothing much is likely to be decided by them.

I wrote yesterday (sorry for the blatant blog plug) a detailed analysis of why I don't think the remaining primaries are going to be all that important, and how I think Barack Obama is going to "close the deal" -- when he passes Hillary Clinton in the superdelegate count. But, unlike the primaries, this is not a scheduled date. It could happen very soon, and then again it could happen after June 3rd, when the last primary takes place. It might not even happen at all -- maybe Hillary will miraculously survive until the convention. But I don't consider that likely.

So while the media continues its unadulterated glee at having more and more (and more!) primaries to report on, keep a close watch on the superdelegate gap between the two candidates, because in the end it's going to be the deciding factor, in my humble opinion.

Since the campaign dominated the week's political news cycle, it shouldn't be too surprising that both awards come from the campaign trail this week. So, without further ado....

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean generated impressive headlines last week ("Reid, Pelosi, Dean may intervene in nomination"), when you read the fine print, it amounted to nothing more than a weak suggestion that they'd all get together and draft a strongly-worded letter to the superdelegates... at some time in the future. Sorry, guys, but you're going to have to do better than that to win the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Maybe there are some back-room discussions taking place which the public is unaware of, but a three-way tie for the award will have to wait until such arm-twisting actually sees the light of day.

No, the winner of this week's MIDOTW is none other than Senator Hillary Clinton. Or, to be precise, Clinton's margin of victory in Pennsylvania. The media was ready to pronounce (once again) her candidacy dead if she had posted a five-point win or less, and the exit polls showed her winning by a scant four percent. But as the night wound on (blatant plug number two: I attempted "liveblogging" during the returns for the first time), it became more and more apparent that her margin was going to almost reach the "double-digit victory" bar that some had drawn for her. Her margin wound up being fractionally over nine points, but that was close enough for most lazy journalists to call it a "ten point" victory.

Love her or hate her, you've got to admit that Hillary Clinton made an impressive showing in the Keystone State. And for that alone, she gets the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

But wait!

For only the second time in this column's history, Hillary Clinton has pulled off a "sweep" of this week's awards, since she has also earned the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, as she did for the first time a few weeks ago -- and for virtually the same reason.

Her campaign tactics in general have outraged many Obama supporters, but she hit a new personal low this week with her last television advertisement in Pennsylvania. Dictionaries are being updated even as I write this, to make this ad the new definition of "fear-mongering."

Not only did it feature Osama Bin Laden, it also featured scary stuff all the way back to World War II and beyond. Pearl Harbor next to the 1929 stock market crash next to gas lines from the 1970s next to the Cold War next to 9/11 and Bin Laden, in video cuts so fast they border on subliminal. Unbelievable. The ad's script included the line "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," but what Hillary is obviously doing in that kitchen in the first place is ripping out the plumbing in order to hurl the kitchen sink (and the dishwasher, and the fridge with the icemaker) at Obama.

If you really want a laugh, check out Clinton's new campaign head defending and justifying this ad in a Washington Post opinion article. See, it's all Obama's fault for being "unfair," and the ad can't even be classified as "negative." To this I reply: "Wake up, Dorothy, you're dreaming..."

For this ad alone -- conflating the possibility that President Hillary Clinton will take on the dreaded Japanese military, along with today's scariest terrorist (while, no doubt, solving high gas prices before breakfast) -- Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

Have you no shame, Hillary?

 

Getting away from the campaign trail, here are this week's Friday Talking Points, provided (as always) as a public service to any Democrats appearing in media interviews this weekend.

Friday Talking Points

Volume 29 (4/25/08)

 

1
   Attacking Iran = $8.00 a gallon gas

The Bush administration, abetted by the Pentagon, has started some serious saber-rattling towards Iran once again. As if two wars at a time weren't enough.

This needs to be put in the proper perspective. Here is a headline which does just that: "US Ship Fires On Iranian Boats, Oil Prices Rise." This is just from a few shots across the bow, mind you. Actually attacking them would make things much worse.

But this needs to be forcefully and repeatedly pointed out, so Americans everywhere immediately conflate the two.

"President Bush and John McCain think that paying $4.00 a gallon for gasoline isn't enough. They both are strongly supportive of military action against Iran at some point in the near future. McCain has even joked about it on the campaign trail. But it's no joke. If America attacks Iran, we could easily be faced with a doubling of gas prices in this country. And that's definitely no joke at the gas pump."

 

2
   That was eight dollars a gallon

You know what? This one is so important, it gets two talking points. Here's another way to put it:

"Americans were lied to by President Bush about the costs of the war in Iraq. And look where we are as a result. So if Bush -- or John McCain -- stands before the American people and tries to convince the public that bombing Iran would be a good idea, here's the question that supporters of such a policy should be asked: If you support attacking Iran, would you be willing to pay $8.00 a gallon for gasoline as part of the price of such an attack?"

 

3
   Flip-Flopper-In-Chief McCain

I devoted all last week's Talking Points to a flip-flop ad for John McCain. The ammunition for creating such an ad just keeps coming.

From a Washington Post article, which focuses solely on McCain's economic flip-floppery:

McCain's concerns -- about budget deficits, unanticipated defense costs, an Iraq war that would be longer and more costly than advertised -- have proved eerily prescient, usually a plus for politicians who are quick to say they were right when others were wrong. Yet McCain appears determined to leave such predictions behind.

"He's looking forward, not back," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior policy adviser.

Everybody got that? McCain used to be right, but now he's pandering for votes, so he's saying things he knows deep down are just flat-out incorrect. This is such a HUGE weak spot for McCain, it's a wonder Obama and Clinton haven't picked up on it.

"John McCain will change any position and say anything, just to get elected President. His flip-flopping on issues large and small should be exposed to the American public for what it truly is: pandering for votes. I just wish the media would give him the same level of scrutiny they routinely give to every word that Democrats say. Let's end the free ride in the media for McCain. We don't want a Flip-Flopper-In-Chief, we want a president who says what he means and means what he says. A real 'straight talker,' not a flip-flopper on an express bus to Panderville."

 

4
   Heckuva job, EPA

This Earth Day week, we found out that hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of scientists working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that their work has been subject to political pressure from the Bush administration. So happy Earth Day from the White House!

"I guess putting politics above competence worked out so well for President Bush when FEMA tried to deal with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that he is using the same model to run the EPA. It's no wonder that nobody believes a word he says about fighting global warming when his political minions won't let EPA scientists do their jobs in telling us how bad things are. Good enough for FEMA, good enough for the EPA, as far as George Bush is concerned. Heckuva job, Georgie."

 

5
   "Military" or "propaganda" expert?

This one should be filed under "attack the media messenger." It's a dodge to any question asked of any Democrat by a member of the media this weekend. Especially the big television news networks. Because they have collectively decided to bury this story as deep as they can -- while continuing to use "military expert" consultants who are nothing more than propaganda agents for the Pentagon. So when any unfair question (especially on foreign policy or war issues) crosses the lips of some television talking head, the proper response is:

"Did you get that question straight from the Pentagon? I find it incredible that a story broke last week about your so-called 'military experts' which showed how they profit from parroting the Pentagon's talking points. You pass them off as some sort of independent analysts -- and your own news organization was not only silent on this story, you seem to still have the same retired generals on your payroll. Maybe you should put up a graphic whenever these generals appear which says not 'military expert,' but rather 'paid propaganda from the Pentagon.' It would certainly be more honest."

 

6
   The "bad apples" were at the top of the barrel

Attack the media messenger, part 2.

The highest levels of government were involved in approving specific torture techniques for prisoners held by the United States. The president didn't even deny that these meetings happened. He said he approved them.

You'd think that would be an explosive story. Once again, thanks to the mainstream media, it wasn't. It barely registered. Now, some of this is sheer Bush fatigue -- measuring up the most recent disgusting evidence that Bush's White House is dangerously criminal against the mountains of previous evidence. But you would think the American media would actually ask a few more questions about this. So, once again, if asked about "Obama said / Hillary said" nonsense on the air this weekend, the perfect rejoinder would be:

"Do you actually think the American people care that much about this non-story? Perhaps you were too busy following this monumentally trivial so-called 'news' to follow up on how torture was approved by meetings which held numerous Cabinet members from the Bush administration, and that Bush himself approved? John Ashcroft even said during one of these meetings 'history will not judge this kindly.' Answer me this -- how much reporting did you do on this story versus how much you did on what you just asked me about? The American people deserve better from their media than they are getting."

 

7
   Rush Limbaugh's dreams

Speaking of evidence of dangerously criminal behavior, Rush Limbaugh has admitted he is "dreaming" of riots in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. He thinks its the best thing that could happen to the country, and urges his listeners to make sure riots happen.

I wish I were making this up, but I'm not. Limbaugh's explanation? "Riots in Denver, at the Democrat [sic] Convention, would see to it that we don't elect Democrats."

This one is so easy to grandstand that a sixth-grader running for student council president could easily knock it out of the park:

"Rush Limbaugh said recently that rioting in the streets of Denver would be quote the best damn thing that can happen to this country unquote. I immediately call on John McCain, President Bush, the National Republican Committee, and Republicans everywhere to denounce Limbaugh's dangerous and idiotic remarks. By standing silently by while a right-wing mouthpiece publicly incites riots in an American city as a desirable thing to happen -- something he is apparently quote dreaming unquote about -- means Republicans approve of his remarks. So I look forward to the immediate denouncement of such criminal remarks by Bush, McCain, and all other Republicans. Or are they not the 'party of law and order' anymore?"

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

16 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [29] -- Pennsylvania Fallout”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This week and once again, the Sunday morning talk shows were nothing to write home about. That was certainly true about Friday Talking Points #1 and #2. However, I was struck by how this campaign has really “dumbed-down” many of the so-called foreign policy experts who are now supporting either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. Susan Rice (Obama advisor) and James Rubin (Clinton advisor) had a completely disingenuous and trivial debate (on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer) about which candidate would best navigate the dangerous waters of US foreign policy. They argued over semantics about saber-rattling on Iran and judgement on Iraq and who has demonstrated the right temperament to make sound decisions.

    But, when all is said and done, it remains clear that the Democratic nominee will be challenging John McCain on these foreign policy issues, and others, from a position of weakness which is, considering the critical nature of these issues, a very dangerous proposition. I say this not because the McCain world view and understanding of these issues is superior because it is not. I say this because Clinton and Obama lack the necessary and fundamental understanding and judgement - foreign policy prowess - that will be required to counter the very strong (but wrong) arguments that McCain will make and that will dominate the general election campaign.

    Take all of the saber-rattling on Iran as a case in point. There has only been one elected US official to have declared, explicitly - within the context of a presidential debate, no less! - that the military option, as far as Iran is concerned, is very decidedly OFF THE TABLE! The obvious implication was that only an idiot would dare to think otherwise, considering all of the extenuating circumstances. Unfortunately, idiots abound in this administration and a US military confrontation with Iran is certainly not outside of the realm of possibility, if not probability, within the next several months.

    By the way...three guesses as to who that US official is and the first two don't count! :-)

    It would have to be someone who really understands the situation at hand and who is politically courageous enough to act and speak on principle with honesty, integrity and intelligence... and, it would need to be someone who has the impeccable and unimpeachable foreign policy and national security credentials to back it up!

    But, I digress. Bottom line - if the Democratic nominee is interested in becoming the next POTUS, then they had better choose their running mate very carefully. This choice should amply compensate for their own paucity of foreign policy experience and superficial understanding of what will be required to implement a smart foreign policy agenda, especially considering the difficult challenges in this arena that the next President must meet. Any suggestions?

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, here we go with the rebuttal... :D

    1. {sigh}.... Yes, things MIGHT get bad if we attack Iran.. But I can guarantee you that things WILL go a LOT worse if we allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.. I am sure I speak for many people when I say that I am more than willing to pay $4 per gallon for gas if it will help prevent a nuclear armed Hamas or Hezbollah being loosed upon the earth...

    2. Americans were lied to by President Bush about the costs of the war in Iraq {sigh #2} Yea, and I "lied" to all my friends when I said the Jags were going to the Super Bowl last year... I didn't lie.. I was just wrong. So was Bush.. Being wrong does not a lie make...
    By the bi, the Jags are going to the Super Bowl THIS year.. :D Bashing Bush in this election year will backfire on the Dems.. It will force McCain to distance himself from Bush which McCain can do QUITE effectively...

    3. If the Dems want to the Press to quit giving McCain a "free ride", it's easy to do.. Get Hillary to bow out.. Oh wait.. Did I say it was "easy"??? I ...er... lied.. :D Meaning, I was wrong...
    As for McCain being "eerily prescient", I think we have established that he is with his Patraeus "gaffe", eh? :D

    4. Oh I see how it is.. Political pressure is fine if it comes from the Goreacle and his minions.. But it's NOT fine if it comes from the Bush Administration, eh?? Well, the only thing I can say to that is, "Heckuva job, Gore.. You not only created the Internet, but you are also responsible for massive world-wide food shortages.. Heckuva job.." That was sarcasm, in case ya'all missed it...

    5. If there is proof that the reports coming out of the Pentagon are just propaganda, I would love to see it. But to write things off as "propaganda" simply because the report is not what the Left wants to hear is just wrong..

    6. This "torture" issue is a dead issue. No pun intended... The GOP, the Democrats AND the American public have all signed off on the fact that, they don't care if terrorists are tortured if it will save innocent lives... I realize there are some people (our gracious host included) who take this issue to heart.. And, while I agree with Ashcroft that "history will not judge this kindly", the simple fact is, we are at war and terrible decisions must be made.. Remember, "No country has ever been saved by 'good' men"... History didn't judge kindly Abraham Lincoln's actions during the Civil War. History didn't judge FDR's actions during WWII.. And yet, both men are revered today as great leaders.

    7. In this case, Rush is a putz.... :D

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, Michale!

    double sigh (#1, #2)...You’re not saying that you believe war with Iran is inevitable or that the only way to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is through US military action, are you?...and you can be sure that the US would indeed be alone in this endeavor...well, save our friends in Israel...or heck, maybe not even them! As far as President Bush is concerned, you may be right about just being wrong...kind of like when any religious zealot is wrong but they can’t see it because they are on a divine mission, for God’s sake! As for the real power and heft behind the Bush-CHENEY regime, understanding where the Veep is coming from requires a whole other kind of explanation, no?

    As for #3, McCain sure as heck does not have the market cornered on pandering. Heck, this ENTIRE primary season and coming general election campaign is all about pandering and not much else. I think I’m agreeing with you on this one!

    I was saving #4 for a post of its own, but...we all know, do we not, that it was NOT Hurricane Katrina that was responsible for the terrible tragedy that manifested itself in New Orleans almost three years ago? I’m new here...so please, give me some fair warning if Gore is considered the best thing since sliced bread around here...if that is the case, I may have to post only under the cover of darkness!

    The Pentagon and propaganda? I think you may give that institution too much credit. Much of what has been coming out of there these past several years is not so much ‘propaganda’ as it is just plain nonsense.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if many people really do believe, in their heart of hears, that torture is an effective, if not desirable, way to retrieve the kind of information from terrorists that would save innocent lives. But that premise is just flat out wrong, in my not so humble opinion. And, if the US hopes to regain and maintain its credibility in the world and its global leadership role, then it had better re-evaluate its use of torture and other self-defeating tactics in the effort to make America and the world safe.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hi Elizabeth.

    As John McClain said in DIE HARD
    "WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL!!! :D

    You'll learn that I love to sprinkle in movie and TV quotes quite liberally. :D

    In any case, moving on...

    If Iran continues to try and develop nuclear weapons, then yes.. War with Iran is inevitable. I don't think that a surgical strike, al'a Osirak, will go unanswered by Iran. That will invite our retaliation of their retaliation and so on and so on.. Hell, a good case can be made that we are already at war with Iran, thru their proxies in Iraq...
    So, barring a massive upheaval in the government of Iran, I don't see ANY indication that war is avoidable. And that's the case regardless of WHO takes the White House in November...

    It used to be said that Rove was the power behind the throne. Then when he left, Cheney became the "diabolical mastermind". Isn't it slightly possible that neither is the case. Isn't it possible that there is no grand conspiracy and the government is simply doing what it was elected to do. Battling all threats, foreign or domestic??

    Sadly, there is a huge tendency to vilify those we disagree with, rather than simply acknowledging that there is disagreement. Do you watch 24?? I don't recall which season, but there was the one were David Palmer was President and there was a move by the VP to remove Palmer because it was felt he wasn't responding forcefully enough to the given crisis. The whole thing played out over several weeks and it was intimated that there was something nefarious afoot.. As it turns out, there wasn't.. The VP was simply doing his duty as HE saw fit. The VP had the purest of motives, but he simply turned out to be wrong. Now, while that is really disappointing in TV Land, it's usually how things are in real life...

    I don't see any evil intent in the actions of the Bush Administration. I do see certain levels of incompetence that the Left tries to attribute to evil intent. The old "BUSH LIED" mantra is a lie in and of itself.. It's a political accusation, as far removed from reality as can possibly be...

    As for McCain's pandering, yea.. No one is innocent of that. However, with Obama, I see LESS of it.. Obama panders like an adolescent amateur.. And you know what?? That is why he appeals to me.. He doesn't play the quintessential politician very well and that is a GOOD thing, in my book....

    Again, referring to fiction, I see Obama as "Jack Ryan" in Clancy's EXECUTIVE ORDERS.. Neither of them are politicians and the status quo uses that to denigrate them.. But I think of it as a compliment..

    Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for the disaster that followed.. And where do you think most of the fauly lies?? I'll give you a hint.. It's NOT with the Federal Government.. The state and local governments are the ones who failed the people of New Orleans.. Granted, the Federal Government's response could have been better. But, just as it was Katrina itself that caused the problems, but rather the secondary effects that were the issue, so it is with the response. The Federal Government shouldn't have had to come in as they did.. It was a state and local matter and only when the Feds realized how woefully inadequate the response was by state and local authorities, did the Feds deign to step in.. But consider another possibility. Had the Fed muscled in earlier, the Left would have accused the Bush Administration of interfering and all the accusations from the Left would STILL be flying back and forth...

    As far as Gore et al, it's not a forbidden subject around here, but it certainly isn't encouraged.. :D I have my own beliefs as to why that is, but it's not my place to say... Suffice it to say that there are some Gore'ilites who post now and again, but I usually pounce on them quite quickly and they don't hang around too long. Which is a shame, because it's one of the two subject matters that I really enjoy...

    As far as the Pentagon and propaganda, I would have to disagree. What comes out of the Pentagon is usually logical and rational, if one takes the framing in mind.. For those who have decades of military, LEO and Security experience (such as moi) the briefings out of the Pentagon makes perfect sense. One perfect example was a recent McCain "gaffe"...

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/index.php/2008/04/15/some-real-news-from-the-campaign-trail/#comments

    Now, don't get me wrong.. There is nothing wrong with ignorance...

    "You mean to insult me? There is no dishonor in not knowing everything."
    -Subcommander T'al, STAR TREK

    But to call something propaganda just because one can't make any sense of it is disingenuous..

    As far as torture being effective, I can assure you that it is.. Certainly not all the time and certainly not in every circumstance.. It is merely a tool that is limited in effectiveness, but not so limited as to get rid of it..

    Think of torture as a cop's gun. Only 4% of police officers nationwide have ever used their weapons in the line of duty. That's a 1990s stat, but sufficient for our purposes. Now, using the "logic" of the Left, we should not give cops guns, because they are used so infrequently..

    A police officer may never have to use his weapon ever. However, it is infinitely better to HAVE it and not need it than to NEED it and not have it. I am sure you would agree..

    So it is with the torture issue.. It's infinitely better to HAVE the option and not need it, than to NEED the option and not have it...

    You will notice that I did not touch on the "moral" aspects of torturing terrorists.. This is because I really don't give a rat's ass about that. As far as I am concerned, terrorist gave up their human rights when they became terrorists.. They are no better than a rabid bear or dog that needs to be put down immediately and without reservation or compassion. However, if they can be...er.. encouraged to give up intel that might save innocent lives, then I am all for it...

    Once again, welcome to the party. :D

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Thanks, Michale...for the very warm welcome. I can tell you that I’m lovin’ it here already!

    Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty...

    Are you a regime change kind of guy or a conduct change man? The problem as I see it with the current administration is that they seem to be fixated on regime change as the only tool at their disposal...which would be OK, I guess, if they knew what the heck they were doing!

    I’m no conspiracy theorist and I don’t believe that the Vice President is a “diabolical mastermind” or that this administration is evil with malign intentions. I just think that they are terribly misguided and that their national security strategy has been an abject failure.

    I think you may be short-changing Senator Obama...he has the art of pandering and of being a quintessential politician down pretty darn good. And, given the choices that are left, I would be inclined to support the Obama campaign if it were not for the fact that he has been completely disingenuous with respect to his public views on Iraq. In short, suffice to say that he has not demonstrated that he understands the first thing about what the October 2002 senate resolution authorizing the use of US military force in Iraq was all about. He has, time and again, equated a vote for this resolution as the equivalent of a “vote for war”. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, he has used this mantra exceedingly successfully to compensate for his own paucity of foreign policy experience and judgement.

    If the truth be told, Hurricane Katrina practically missed New Orleans - it hit the eastern outskirts - and if the levees had held, then the worst that would have happened, to paraphrase one of the experts (sorry, no link...just working on memory here) was that the residents of NO would have gotten their ankles wet! The fault for this tragedy traces its origins back to the US Army Corps of Engineers and poorly designed and constructed levees. The levees were supposed to withstand a Cat 3 storm and, by the time Katrina reached the outskirts of the Crescent City, it was a weak Cat 3, at best.

    The fault also lies with the government - all levels of it - for failing to act, long before Katrina, to restore the coastal wetlands and barrier islands of southern Louisiana. Absent a firm and iron-clad commitment from the federal government to get serious about implementing a comprehensive plan for coastal restoration, encouraging residents to return to rebuild their homes and their city is just inviting another disaster and nothing short of criminal negligence and a reckless disregard for human life.

    Of course, the response to Katrina by all levels of government is fodder for a whole other post!

    On to the Pentagon! My only point is that the President has not been very well served by his first Sec Def or by the uniformed leadership of the military. I base that observation on the facts on the ground in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

    How could I not agree with you that, in your analogy, a police officer is infinitely better off having a gun at his disposal and not needing it than to be in need of the gun and not have it. That makes perfect sense to me. However, I would take issue with the analogy itself - I just don’t find any relevance to the issue of torture. I think of torture as one of the surest ways toward impotence and irrelevance for the US as it concedes its standing in the world as a global leader. And, that would be very dangerous for us all, considering the world in which we live.

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    "Are you a regime change kind of guy or a conduct change man?"

    Depends on who is in charge of the regime.. If you are dealing with the likes of Ahmenjandi (or whatever), Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin et al, then a "conduct change" makes no sense. History has certainly shown that conduct change had no effect on the latter 3.. I can't think of any logical or rational reason to expect that Ahmenjihadii would be open to changing his ways... It is a shame that the Iranian people will have to suffer, but as is so often is the case, the people bear the sins of their leaders...

    "I just think that they are terribly misguided and that their national security strategy has been an abject failure."

    Ya know, during his term of office, Lincoln was thought of in a similar manner than Bush is today.. The comments and attacks against Bush today are eerily similar than they were against Lincoln.. And yet, Lincoln is revered today as one of our greatest leaders. Even did a guest stint on Star Trek.. :D

    Wouldn't it be fascinating to peer ahead 100 years and see what future history says about Bush? :D

    Regarding Obama.. Ya know what his SMARTEST move would be?? To pick the most ardent and vocal backer of the Iraq War and make him the Secretary of Defense.. When I was an EllTee during the first Gulf War, I always made it a point to choose, as my immediate subordinate, the person who disagreed with me the most.. A person who has the moral courage to invite dissenting opinions is truly a great leader.. Whoever the elected President will be, he (or god forbid, SHE) will do this country a grave disservice by choosing party loyalty over all else...

    A note of explanation about the "SHE" comment. I have no problem with a woman as President. Just not THAT woman...

    As far as Katrina goes, being in the bullseye yearly (FL resident) I have done my homework about hurricanes. And I can tell you that the greatest danger from a hurricane is not a direct hit from the eye, but rather an oblique hit where you are just offset from the eye.. We have been lucky here in St Augustine.. We haven't seen a direct hit since 1964 (Dora Cat 3) although Floyd came pretty close in 1999. We lived about 4 blocks from the ocean on a barrier island at the time.

    Suffice it to say that New Orleans was in the WORST possible place to be when Katrina made landfall.. The natural geography of the area did the rest...

    I agree with you. There is enough blame to go around.. My beef is with people (present company excepted) who insist on blaming the Bush Administration and forgetting it was the state and local government's lack of planning that was the biggest contributing factor to the hell that was New Orleans..

    Regarding torture, your attitude is the one shared by liberals and, with all honesty, it is unrealistically idealistic.. Don't get me wrong. With the exception of self-defense and national security, I am probably the most liberal person to populate this forum.. So, I understand where you are coming from. But, as I stated, having decades in the field, I can tell you that
    1. Torture does happen a lot more frequently than reported..
    and
    2. It's extremely effective if done correctly.

    I won't bore you with the details, but you can bet that many of the successes that have been reported in stopping terrorist attacks have been the direct result of coercive interrogations IE torture.. The Pakistanis are especially effective at it, as the successful break up of the Airlines Plot clearly demonstrates...

    Morally speaking, I see nothing wrong with it.. In this day and age, where nuclear terrorism is a real and distinct possibility, the old adage of "the end justifies the means" is dead on balls accurate....

    "It's an industry term"
    -Marisa Tomei, MY COUSIN VINNY

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    "My Cousin Vinny" quotes? OK, I challenge you to work positraction or limited-slip differentials into the dialog somehow. Heh.

    On the Katrina debate, I think you guys are missing my point somewhat. No matter who or what is to blame for the disastrous response, the issue is a winner politically for Democrats because it is the poster child for incompetence in the Bush administration. These are political talking points, remember, so of course they're going to be full of "spin." And Bush helpfully provided the quote "Heckuva job, Brownie" which any American hears and immediately remembers the entire Katrina tragedy from beginning to end. It's rare that a fuzzy concept (incompetence, political appointees who have no resume to speak of except loyalty) like this has such a great tag line, which is why I use "heckuva job" whenever possible to point out politics trumping competence.

    Brown even later laid out a pretty good case that it wasn't him or FEMA who screwed up so badly, it was Chertoff (his boss), who didn't get fired. Sour grapes, maybe, but who cares? The blame for Katrina, or whether Al Gore is right or not isn't the point -- the point is, it's an effective political tool to use for Democrats. Bush's ratings began their slide into oblivion after Katrina, and have never recovered. "Heckuva job" just reminds everyone of that.

    I have no problem when anyone in the global warming debate using political pressure from the outside looking in (Gore isn't in the Oval Office), but when they are in positions of power and are censoring government scientists who work for you, me, and everybody -- then I have a huge problem. I would have the same problem if Gore was in office and censored scientists who didn't agree with him. It's not the stance on the issue that is an outrage, it is the censorship of science that is. No matter who is doing it.

    And let me also say welcome to the site, Elizabeth!

    -CW

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale, just a couple more points, if I may...

    I don’t know whether it would be fascinating or utterly depressing to peer ahead 100 years into the historical interpretation of the Bush administration. I would only hope that people wouldn’t still be suffering from the long terms effects of it.

    I would strongly agree with you on the importance of inviting dissenting opinions and that it is a mark of great leaders. If you are suggesting that John McCain would make a find Sec Def in an Obama administration, then we are bound to have some very interesting “conversations”! But, Senator Obama would have to get himself elected first. And, therefore, I would say that his smartest move would be to ask Senator Biden to be his running mate. Of course, I don’t think Senator Biden should accept the position without being assured that he would be in complete charge of the Iraq file, no matter what the incoming SOS has to say about it. That is the only way Obama wins the general...no ifs, ands or buts about it.

    You will learn that there is no need for explanation about the “SHE” comment, or about much else. Like you, I love the give and take...and political correctness BE DAMNED! I also have no problem with a woman as President, but Senator Clinton had no business putting herself into this race much less treating her nomination as imminent or inevitable. I say this for one overriding reason: she doesn’t understand the first thing about what will be required to end the civil war in Iraq and bring the troops home without leaving a failed state in their wake. This fact alone should disqualify her from assuming the office of the POTUS. Of course, this should also disqualify Senator Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee. Don’t even ask where that leaves me...just know that my particular predicament has given frustration whole new meaning!

    One more note on Katrina...what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was most definitely NOT a natural disaster. No less than three independent forensic investigations have concluded that the US Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for the poorly designed and constructed levees which failed to withstand a weak Cat 3 storm. Remember, these levees were not breached - they collapsed as a result of structural failure due to flawed design and shoddy construction. As far as I know, the local and state governments did not have much control over the US ACE or funding their projects.

    Having said that, New Orleans is definitely in a precarious situation with respect to its geography. This fact has been known for a long time and scientists and engineers know what needs to be done to remedy the situation and how to do it. Time, however, is not on our side and it is imperative that a comprehensive action plan be implemented NOW to restore coastal Louisiana. Restore or retreat - those are the options, plain and simple.

    Unfortunately, for NOLA and other coastal cities throughout the US, there appears to be absolutely no political will and certainly no firm commitment to do this from the federal government on down. I guess it is just easier to allow a great American city to be completely devoured by the Gulf of Mexico but I have been unable to wrap my mind around that defeatist way of thinking.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, CW!

    As for missing the point you were making about Katrina...I have grudgingly come to accept the usefulness, limited though it may be, of political talking points and spin...and if the Katrina response doesn’t provide for that in spades, then I don’t know what does.

    But, I just think that any politician who resorts to the use of political talking points and spin, on any given issue, betrays their own incompetence and ability to “speak truth to power”, as they say, and to make a powerful stand based on the simple truth of the matter.

    Wouldn’t it be a far more powerful statement to clearly explain (1) that the response to Katrina was a dismal failure at all levels of government and showed a particular dysfunction within the federal government and (2) that all levels of government must get serious about the critical challenges facing New Orleans and, indeed, coastal cities throughout the US, and (3) that the federal government needs to make an immediate, firm and iron-clad commitment to implement a comprehensive plan of action to restore the wetlands and barrier islands of southern Louisiana and (4) that none of this will happen without the kind of strong and competent presidential leadership that I am prepared to provide to save a great American city.

    Thanks for the warm welcome...I haven’t been here long but I already know that this is a great place to be if you enjoy an informative, interesting and humorous debate on the important political issues of the day. I trust you will be reporting from the Democratic National Convention in Denver because your perspective will be an important counter balance to what we will most definitely be subjected to from the mainstream media. Best of luck!

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    "but when they are in positions of power and are censoring government scientists who work for you, me, and everybody — then I have a huge problem."

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5736103.html

    Your thoughts?? :D

    Elizabeth, I'll get to your points in a few. Just have time for a quickie hit and run right now and your comments deserve better...

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Elizabeth

    "I don’t know whether it would be fascinating or utterly depressing to peer ahead 100 years into the historical interpretation of the Bush administration. I would only hope that people wouldn’t still be suffering from the long terms effects of it."

    I think you give too much credit to Bush.. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus for American citizens and jailed American citizens for their disagreement with his Civil War policies.. FDR rounded up and placed in detention camps Americans whose SOLE crime was their ancestry.. Those actions are INFINITELY worse than anything the Bush Administration has done. I think it's safe to say that there are no "long term effects" from those actions by FDR and Lincoln..

    Just keep in mind one thing. While there is potential for abuse you, as an American citizen, have lost little or nothing in the way of rights or freedoms..

    "If you are suggesting that John McCain would make a find Sec Def in an Obama administration, then we are bound to have some very interesting “conversations”"

    I think that Obama declaring that, if he is elected POTUS, he would nominate John McCain as his SecDef would virtually guarantee Obama's election.. Conversely, if McCain were to declare that he would nominate Obama as his SecState, that would be equally impressive..

    Call me idealistic, but I like it when people makes friends out of "enemies"..

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Unfortunately, I don't think Senator McCain would accept such a proposal...even after Senator Obama becomes the President-elect. I just don't see it happening at all...McCain is too partisan, in that respect...just not in his DNA, so to speak.

    As for Obama as SOS, in anyone's administration...don't get me going!

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    "McCain is too partisan, in that respect…just not in his DNA, so to speak."

    I disagree... During the MCA hearings, McCain was heralded by the LEFT as a hero... The fact that he finally came to his senses and saw reason does not negate the fact that many Democrats feel they can work with McCain.. Granted, you probably won't hear that now, what with all the partisan chest beating going on...

    But if Obama is sincere about being a "uniter" that would be a mighty fine way to show it..

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    While I don't have a problem with Republicans in the Cabinet of a Dem President, I really don't think McCain's the right guy for the job. His temperment is what makes me say this. But maybe Chuck Hagel or someone of his ilk...

    Like I say, I don't disagree with the concept. But McCain wouldn't be my first choice. Interesting suggestion you had for McCain, though -- Obama Sec. of State. Hmmm... interesting...

    -CW

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    I can't think of a better choice for McCain's SecState than Obama....

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay! I'll bite...

    The next SOS should have a minimal understanding about what will be required to end the civil war in Iraq without leaving a failed state behind. This person should also have a clue about what the October 2002 resolution authorizing the use of US military force in Iraq was all about...or, at the very least, not be completely disingenuous about interpreting a vote in favor of it...and would also have to realize that, sometimes, you actually do have to read beyond the title of something to understand the complexities of it.

    Of course, wouldn't it be great if the next POTUS could fit this bill, too? We can dream...

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