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Friday Talking Points [32] -- Democrats Throw Bush A Few Elbows

[ Posted Friday, May 16th, 2008 – 13:56 PDT ]

Borah Peak, at 12,662 feet high, is the highest point in Idaho.

[That may sound like a strange place to begin this column, but please bear with me.]

It was named for Senator William Borah, known as "the Lion from Idaho." He had an impressive political career, even running for president at age 71, the first Idahoan ever to do so (of any age). Borah was a progressive, and clashed with his party over his often left-wing stances. He was even friendly toward Russian communists, while he was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also a Republican.

But we speak of Borah today not for his lofty namesake peak, but because he also set the mark for senatorial shame from Idaho. Not even Larry Craig, the sitting (with a wide stance, no doubt) senator from Idaho is a bigger black eye for the state, in one respect. William Borah actually fathered a child with Teddy Roosevelt's daughter -- while they were both married to other people. Top that, Senator Craig!

Sexual escapades aside, Borah is currently being vilified (by a member of his own party, I should point out) for reportedly saying, after Hitler had started invading other countries, "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer loves to quote this line, as an example of "appeasement" and everything that's wrong with it.

Which is why we're talking about William Borah. Because President Bush has been using the line. And a few others. Bush wants warn the world of the dangers of any politician (cough... Barack Obama... cough, cough) reckless enough to talk with anyone Bush has labeled an enemy.

Here is the entire (lengthy) passage from Bush's speech, from the official White House transcript, so you can see the full context.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli's [sic] leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction. (Applause.)

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve. (Applause.)

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you. (Applause.)

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

He gave this speech, complete with Hitler reference, in a speech to the Knesset, Israel's governing body. This isn't the first time he's dragged Hitler into a political speech, as I pointed out last November. But it is the first time he's used the Hitler argument in Israel, to the best of my knowledge.

So we will call this the "Knesset Corollary" to Godwin's Law (more precisely, to the Reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy). Properly stated: "Bringing up Hitler in an argument on a blog comment thread is one thing, but bringing up Hitler to bolster your argument in front of the Knesset is a whole different ballgame."

The most ironic thing in this whole sorry episode is what Bush said in Israel before he gave this speech:

"Mr. President, and Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for inviting me to speak at the Knesset tomorrow. I hear it's a place of many a sharp elbow. (Laughter.) I'm looking forward to giving my speech. (Laughter.) I'm not going to be throwing any elbows."

Maybe he just hadn't read what his speechwriters told him to say at this point, I don't know.

Maybe he was just ignorant of the entire history of diplomacy in the world. Who knows, with Bush?

But this long introduction has a purpose. And that is to point out that this time, Democrats threw some elbows right back. For once, Democrats needed no prompting to come out with both barrels blazing. Note to Democratic candidates for office: this is the correct way to react when someone questions your sanity or patriotism. Strongly denouncing such idiotic statements is the one way to make the other side think twice about making them in the future.

And Democrats did so this time around. Democratic voters should be proud.

Because there were so many good responses to Bush's idiocy from Democrats this week, for the first time in this column's history, I have no better talking points this week than the ones already spoken by many prominent Democrats. So we turn over the entire rest of the column to these responses.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

The sentimental choice for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week was Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, who showed up in the House to vote one day, and the next day gave birth to a baby. Congratulations, Congresswoman Gillibrand!

Two other strong contenders for MIDOTW were John Edwards and "all the superdelegates who have been getting off the fence and making their endorsement known." Almost 600 superdelegates (out of 800 total) have now done so. But I couldn't quite hand them this week's award, because I'm still miffed at Edwards and the supers for taking their own sweet time to get to this point.

Which is why the MIDOTW award goes to none other than Joe Biden this week. Biden's response to President Bush's Knesset speech was the best of anyone's. Sure, he actually (gasp!) used profanity, but there are times when you've just got to call a cowpie, you know, "a cowpie." This is one of them, and Biden knew it.

"This is bullshit. This is malarkey. This is outrageous. Outrageous for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, sit in the Knesset…and make this kind of ridiculous statement," Biden said angrily in a brief interview just off the Senate floor.

"He's the guy who's weakened us. He’s the guy that's increased the number of terrorists in the world. His policies have produced this vulnerability the United States has. His intelligence community pointed that out not me. The NIE has pointed that out and what are you talking about, is he going to fire Condi Rice? Condi Rice has talked about the need to sit down. So his first two appeasers are Rice and Gates. I hope he comes home and does something."

He quoted Gates saying Wednesday that we "need to figure out a way to develop some leverage and then sit down and talk with them."

C'mon, Joe... tell us what you really think!

Heh heh.

Later, Biden tried to walk back his choice of language a bit, but he still blasted Bush while doing so:

In a conference call with reporters later in the afternoon, Biden said his initial word choice was "not very eloquent" and said he should have just stuck with the word "malarkey." Biden said he "reacted viscerally" when asked about Bush's speech after stepping off an elevator.

However, Biden again did not mince words when discussing Bush's remarks, accusing the president of engaging in "long-distance swiftboating" with his speech in Israel. Biden also cited numerous examples of the Bush Administration reaching out to unfriendly regimes in Libya, North Korea and Iran, arguing that Bush's insinuation that the Democrats were soft on terrorism was "truly delusional ... and truly disgraceful."

Biden even told Bush to "get a life."

"This is the same president, who talks about appeasement, the same one who asks me to get on a plane and talk to Qaddafi," Biden said. "The same president who made a deal with Qaddafi. He writes letters, 'Dear Mr. Chairman' to Kim Jong Il.

"He oughta get a life here … Under George W. Bush’s watch, Iran, not freedom has been on the march … They’re a lot closer to the bomb… He calls Maliki our guy … Whose policy produced that? Whose watch was that? … Iran’s proxy Hezbollah is on the ascendancy. Don’t take my word for it, look at NIE … Afghanistan, Pakistan, Al Qaeda is stronger now.

"We should take zero backseat to this pres, talking about appeasement. … Under him, Israel is less safe."

So this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes to Senator Biden. A special statuette of Biden chucking a cowpie at Bush will be struck for this week only, to honor Biden properly. Well done, Joe!

[Congratulate Senator Biden on his Senate contact page to let him know you appreciate what he said.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

I would have awarded Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week to Joe Lieberman, for his brown-nosing response to Bush:

"President Bush got it exactly right today when he warned about the threat of Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is imperative that we reject the flawed and naive thinking that denies or dismisses the words of extremists and terrorists when they shout "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," and that holds that -- if only we were to sit down and negotiate with these killers -- they would cease to threaten us. It is critical to our national security that our commander-in-chief is able to distinguish between America's friends and America's enemies, and not confuse the two."

Alas, Lieberman is no longer a Democrat and therefore ineligible for the MDDOTW.

Instead, a group award is given to all remaining uncommitted Democratic superdelegates (with the exception of those from states who have not yet held primaries). It is time to get off the fence. There's no excuse anymore for waffling.

So to the more than 200 super-timid superdelegates in our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week group -- stand up and be counted, already!

 

Which brings us to the Talking Points part of the program.

In another first, since there were so many good talking points coming out of the mouths of Democrats in the past day or so, this column will run to an unprecedented eight items this week, instead of the usual lucky seven.

(Sniff)... I'm just so proud of you guys this week!

OK, enough of that. Onward to Democratic leaders showing me (instead of the other way 'round) how to do talking points right.

[Click on the person's name to see the article where the quote came from.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 32 (5/16/08)

 

1
   Senator Barack Obama

"It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel," Obama said in a statement. "Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power -- including tough, principled and direct diplomacy -- to pressure countries like Iran and Syria."

The Illinois senator added: "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

From a separate article, also worth reading:

"I'm a strong believer in civility and I'm a strong believer in a bipartisan foreign policy, but that cause is not served with dishonest, divisive attacks of the sort that we've seen out of George Bush and John McCain over the last couple days," Obama told about 2,000 voters at a town hall-style meeting in a livestock barn.

Obama said McCain had a "naive and irresponsible belief that tough talk from Washington will somehow cause Iran to give up its nuclear program and support for terrorism."

During his swing through South Dakota, the Democratic front-runner said he had intended to focus on rural issues, but felt compelled to respond to the criticism from Bush and McCain.

"They aren't telling you the truth. They are trying to fool you and scare you because they can't win a foreign policy debate on the merits," said Obama. "But it's not going to work. Not this time, not this year."

 

2
   Senator Hillary Clinton

"President Bush's comparison of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is offensive and outrageous on the face of it, especially in light of his failures in foreign policy," Clinton said. "This is the kind of statement that has no place in any presidential address."

When a reporter reminded the New York senator that she too has criticized Sen. Obama for his statements on meeting with Iranian leaders, Clinton said, "I have differences with Sen. Obama on certain foreign policy matters, but I think we are united in our opposition to the Bush policies and to the continuation of those policies by Sen. McCain."

Clinton continued, "I disagree that any president would ever meet with a leader of a country which we have such deep and profound differences as Iran, for example. However I believe there should be diplomatic engagement, which President Bush has resisted from the very beginning. So I think that I have more in common with Sen. Obama and the Democratic position in our understanding of what we have to do to re-engage with the world."

 

3
   Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

[This one's even got video footage, if you want to watch.]

"You know, we have a protocol, sort of, a custom, informally, around here that we don't criticize the president when he is on foreign soil," Pelosi told reporters this morning. "One would think that that would apply to the president, that he would not criticize Americans when he is on foreign soil.

"I think what the president did in that regard is beneath the dignity of the office of president and unworthy of our representation at that observance in Israel, and I would hope that any serious person would disassociate himself from the president's remarks, who aspires to leadership in our country."

Asked if she was referring to McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, the California Democrat repeated: "Any serious person. Any serious person."

 

4
   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

"The engineer of the worst foreign policy in our nation's history has fired yet another reckless and reprehensible round," the Nevada Democrat said. "More than seven years into his Presidency and in the sixth year of the directionless Iraq war, President Bush has yet to learn that his brand of divisive partisan rhetoric is precisely what has made America and our allies less secure. And for the President to make this statement before the government of our closest ally as it celebrates a remarkable milestone demeans this historic moment with partisan politics.

"President Bush's own actions demonstrate that he believes negotiations -- at the right moment, under the right conditions and with the right leaders -- can both show strength and produce results," Reid continued. "He has relied on negotiations with North Korea and Libya, two state sponsors of terror. And by conducting discussions with Russia, China, Libya, North Korea and Iran in recent years, President Bush has demonstrated his belief that negotiations can be a tool to advance America and Israel's national security interests."

Reid called on Bush "to explain the inconsistency between his Administration's actions and his words."

 

5
   Senator John Kerry

In a separate statement, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said that Bush "is still playing the disgusting and dangerous political game Karl Rove perfected, which is insulting to every American and disrespectful to our ally Israel. George Bush should be making Israel secure, not slandering Barack Obama from the Knesset."

 

6
   DNC Chairman Howard Dean

"Bush's outrageous comments are an embarrassment to our country, not based in fact and bring us no closer to our goal of ending terrorist attacks against Israel and bringing peace to the region," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said in a statement. "If John McCain is really serious about being a different kind of Republican, he'll denounce these remarks in the strongest terms possible."

 

7
   Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin

The White House insists that Bush wasn’t referring specifically to Obama, an argument that Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called "baloney."

"There is no escaping what the president is doing," said Durbin, who supports Obama. "It is an attack on Sen. Obama’s position that we should not be avoiding even those we disagree with when it comes to negotiations and diplomacy."

Durbin called Bush's remarks "unfair and really unfortunate."

 

8
   Representative Rahm Emanuel

"The tradition has always been that when a U.S. president is overseas, partisan politics stops at the water's edge. President Bush has now taken that principle and turned it on its head: for this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge, no matter the seriousness and gravity of the occasion. Does the president have no shame?"

I saved Rahm for last, because he's also head of the House Democratic campaign committee, and he put the icing on the cake this week by visiting the Republican campaign committee and not being too smug when he told them that they're in a ditch, and they might want to think about not digging it any deeper.

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

47 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [32] -- Democrats Throw Bush A Few Elbows”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Oh where to begin.. :D

    I'll address the talking points later..

    I just had to point out that the Bush speech wasn't a reference to Obama...

    It was a reference to Carter who was talking to a terrorist group.. Who does believe (apparently) that talking to terrorists is a worthwhile endeavor..

    Now, this reaction does beg the question...

    Do you (Democrats) believe it IS a good idea to talk diplomacy with terrorists??

    No???

    Then I guess that means you agree with President Bush, right???

    Michale.....

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'll also point what utter hypocrisy it is to have Dems complain about overseas political posturing, when the likes of Pelosi, et al go to terrorist strongholds like Syria and bash Bush...

    Forget all the political crap and just look at what was said..

    What was said is that it's a BAD idea to think that one can change terroristic and fascist ideology by appeasement..

    Now, does ANYONE disagree with that sentiment???

    Anyone??? Anyone??? Buehler???? Pelosi??? Carter??? Obama???? Emanuel??? Clinton????

    ANYONE????

    No???

    Didn't think so....

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Oh, I beg to differ. White House aides were "leaking" all over the place last night that it was indeed pointed at Obama. They changed their tune today, and decided to bring up Carter instead. But that rabbit's already out of the bag, over the field, and into next week. Little late on the spin there, eh?

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    Thatcher wrote:

    Michale -

    There is a huge difference between appeasement (Neville Chamberlin) and diplomatic talks (Nixon, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton). If you need a primer: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/24655385#24655385

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    No... When it comes to dealing with terrorists, the LAST thing I need is a primer...

    And I also know that ANY talks with terrorists is a bad idea..

    I just want to know if anyone here feels differently...

    @CW

    You'll have to cite examples of the "leaks" regarding that this was references to Obama.. I was pretty up on the news coverage right from the get go and it was made clear initially that Obama was not the reference to this.. Sure, Obama yelled first and loudest, but I think that was more of a case of "thou doth protest TOO much"...

    I'll ask again and hope for a straight answer...

    Does ANYONE think it's a good idea to talk with or appease terrorists???

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Thatcher wrote:

    Michale -

    Diplomatic talks before force is taken is normally the best idea.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Thatcher

    "Diplomatic talks before force is taken is normally the best idea."

    Really???

    So, if you have some psycho gunman who has killed hundreds of other people and he has a gun to a 10yr old kids head, are you going to want to talk to him??

    Or are you going to get your best sniper out there and take him out at the first available oppurtunity??

    Or, let's go with the "Bush Scenario"...

    You know what Hitler is going to do... You have the opportunity to be with him in late 1938..

    Are you going to appeal to his "better nature" and ask him not to commit gross murder on a grand scale.

    Or are you going to take a Bowie knife and gut the son of a bitch???

    Are you advocating talking in each and every situation???

    Or are you going to be realistic and understand that, in SOME situations, talking only makes matters worse??

    Michale....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Or, actually, the better question is....

    If it was Obama that stood in front of the Knesset and said it's a bad idea to engage terrorists in dialog....

    Would anyone have said "boo"???

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I gotta run, sorry for a quick reply. Go up (on the left edge of this page) to "Links -- News" and click on Dan Froomkin's column today. He devotes the first few paragraphs to exactly the cites you are looking for.

    -CW

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    May I say...BLESS YOUR HEART! I just knew that you would hand out the MIDOTW award to Biden. I should post the link from chrisweigant.com over here on Biden's blog post about McCain...I will!

    I don't know if you've had a chance to check out much of what is being said about his comments around the blogosphere but I took a quick look at politico.com this morning and was pretty much in deep depression for the rest of the day after reading comment after comment disparaging Senator Biden. Well, I guess I don't have to wonder anymore about what happened in Iowa.

    I noticed something today that hit me like a ton of bricks - the media that I saw was blatantly enticing the kind of reaction I witnessed in those comments. They highlighted the understandable and warranted "profanity" at every opportunity and they got the reaction from their audience that they wanted. Is this some feeble attempt on the part of the media to absolve themselves for having completely ignored or dismissed Senator Biden as not being a serious candidate or even a serious foreign policy thinker? It seems to me that they have set out, over the years, to create a Biden caricature that could be both easily dismissed as not serious and someone they could always turn to when they need an intelligent answer. Would they have paid any attention to Biden's remarks if he had just said 'malarkey'? I have to think not! I don't know...but, I'm rambling and I digress...

    Anyway, for now, I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart - why can't more journalists see the universe as you do? WHY? I trust you will be heading to the Democratic convention because I and so many others are looking forward to your reports.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    P.S. Thanks for letting me vent without having to post in parts!

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    Somehow I knew you'd like today's column.

    Really? The media was "tsk-tsk-ing" about Biden's comment? I didn't see any of that, but OK, I would have to say "let he who has never uttered the word 'bullshit' in his entire life cast the first stone."

    Puh-leeeze.

    Wait a minute, you said the "blogosphere" is castigating him?!? I just re-read your comment. Oh, that deserves another big "Puh-LEEEZE!" from me.

    Sheesh. I mean, really.

    Sometimes, as I said, you've got to call a cowpie a cowpie. And when the President of the United States utters such a cowpie, it is that time.

    I was heartened by ALL the strong comments coming from Democrats this week on the subject. I was impressed that Hillary lept to Obama's defense, to give her credit where credit is due.

    Mostly, I was impressed that Democrats didn't collectively retreat into a corner and whimper, the way they have been wont to do in the past when attacked on "national security." The correct way to answer such attacks is immediately, forcefully, and in no uncertain terms. "You know what? I love America, and I will keep her safe, and anyone who tells you differently is a liar." That's the way to respond to scurrilous attacks. By smacking them down right away.

    I watched a soundbite or two of Obama's response, and couldn't help thinking "wow, I wonder what would have happened if Kerry had done this." He was especially brilliant to use Reagan's name, too.

    But most of all, I was proud of Biden for calling Bush's bullshit by its proper name.

    THIS is how you get the "working class white male" vote. By standing up for yourself, and by showing that you are offended when people directly challenge you. People want to see strength in a President. Not necessarily belligerence or cowboy recklessness, but strongly standing up for who you are and what you believe. Democrats have mostly missed this boat for a long time, and it is good to see that they've decided to try something different this time around. Let's hope they keep doing this until election day....

    And MY hat, at least, is off to Joe Biden. Tell it like it is, Joe!

    -CW

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Please ignore all the MSM spin and just look at the facts..

    Ignore all the political crap and look at things logically and rationally...

    What was "bullshit" about what Bush said???

    Bush said:

    A> It's wrong to engage terrorists in dialog and diplomacy..

    and

    2> Some people are wrong to advocate that..

    So, I have to ask again..

    Does ANYONE disagree with those two statements???

    Come on, people.. Ya'all beech and moan about how the media is totally whacked and then turn around and buy in to their REAL bullshit...

    The simple fact is, Bush was right in what he said..

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    As much as I admire Obama, he is being pretty inconsistent in his "diplomacy" message..

    On the one hand, he says he WILL talk with terrorist supporters such as Iran etc etc..

    But he is on record as stating he will not talk diplomacy with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda..

    So his method of differentiation seems to be Nation/States vs organizations..

    What about the Taliban? Would he have gone after the Taliban after 9/11?? Or would he have used diplomacy??

    What about Hamas?? They are a freely elected government of a Nation/State.. Yet, Obama has stated he won't use diplomacy with them because they are a terrorist organization..

    Obama needs to clarify his position in this matter...

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale (#1) -

    Here's a good example of some Bush bullshit, one that few in the media even bothered to address:

    "Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away."

    OK, to begin with, Bush is using a big no-no, which is the infamous "some people say". This is a weaselly way of attributing something to some ill-defined someone, without any accountability. A reporter actually asked Dana Perino afterwards, "Can you give me one example of anyone who actually says this?" Perino's response "I'll have to get back to you on that." Um, yeah, Dana, I won't hold my breath waiting....

    Tell me one serious politician in America who would agree with that statement, Republican or Democrat. Just ONE example of anyone proposing what Bush just said as a foreign policy. Not some wingnut from the right OR left, but a serious politician.

    You can't, because there aren't. They don't exist. And yet our president stands up in Israel and tries to fear-monger them the same way he fear-mongers American citizens. He tells them, as if it has any basis in reality, that there is a political argument underway in America, and that the ghostly "some" say that we should just cut all ties to Israel tomorrow. Say you were an average Israeli citizen and knew nothing about American foreign policy (there, I'm guilty of the "some say" fallacy myself, because the average Israeli citizen knows more about American foreign policy than most Americans!). But postulating that such an average Joe Israel exists, and he hears Bush say that -- what does he think? "Wow, this guy is leading a fight within America to keep America Israel's ally. That must mean whoever his opposition is wants to cut all ties with Israel."

    Which is why that statement is pure and unadulterated bullshit.

    But to turn your question around a bit, should we negotiate with someone who has an enormous amount of weapons of mass destruction (real ones, not fantasy ones -- thousands of nukes, say)? Some entity which has sworn to wipe out America and the whole West? Some entity which has worked actively to overthrow governments of our allies, as well as our own? And some entity which our president labels "The Evil Empire"?

    Well, Reagan did that. And he was the one who called the USSR the "Evil Empire" in the first place. And the Cold War ended, although historians debate how influential Reagan, or America, was in the crumbling of their system.

    But the fact remains, "you don't negotiate with your friends, you negotiate with your enemies."

    And just talking to them is not "appeasing" them in any way shape or form.

    -CW

  16. [16] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale (#2) -

    I wanted to answer your above comments separately, because you raise a good point in your second one.

    I agree that this is a debate worth having. Is "nationhood" a different thing when it comes to who we will and won't talk to? Your Taliban example was a good one, too, as it sharpens the focus of the issue you're raising.

    I agree that Obama should answer questions on this subject. But I also think McCain and Bush should answer the same questions. Our foreign policy, currently, is kind of "situational" in that we love those stirring speeches about "freedom's on the march" and all that (from any politician), but when you look at how we deal with the world, it is, as Spock would say, "illogical."

    So, while trying to remain neutral here, I propose a few questions Obama, McCain, and Bush should answer. Problem is, nobody's ever going to ask them, but there's always hope, right?

    * Where do you draw the line between groups of people we will negotiate with, and those we won't negotiate with? Is it statehood? Then what about the Taliban?

    * When a nation has a government that is quite obviously evil, how should we deal with them? Examples: Burma, the Taliban's Afghanistan

    * When a nation elects a group into power that we consider "terrorist" what should we do? Example: Hamas/Gaza

    * Should we tie human rights to our foreign policy? Example: China

    * Please explain the difference in the way we treat China and Vietnam (both communist countries) and the way we treat Cuba. In small words. (Remembering, we fought a war against Vietnam, and now trade with them.)

    * If "democracy" and "freedom" is our shining gold standard for declaring other countries "friends", please explain the following: Saudia Arabia, Taiwan, Russia, Gaza, Venezuela

    * What would you do to pressure Saudi Arabia's leaders to change their ways? Please address: Wahabiism and its poisonous influence on the Muslim world.

    * If you could wave a magic wand and bring full-on democracy to every country in the Middle East in the blink of an eye, but you knew that the likely result in many of these countries would be popularly electing governments that we consider "terrorist-linked" or at least "terrorist-sympathetic", or maybe just plain "anti-American," and who would lessen America's influence in the Middle East, would you do it? Why or why not?

    * Explain how negotiating with Iran or Syria is any different than negotiating with South Korea, Pakistan, or Libya. Explain why we should not negotiate with the first group, and why we should with the second. You will be graded on the logic of your answer.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but, like I say, it is a valid issue. I wish more reporters would point out the obvious contradictions in America's foreign policy, just to hear the politicians' answers to these simple questions. Of course, it's hard for any politican to say "all that 'freedom' talk is malarkey -- we deal with the world on a situational basis. If a country has oil, that matters. If a country has nukes, that matters. If a country is trying to get nukes, that matters. If the country's leader happens to be named 'Castro' that (for some bizarre reason) matters. If a country is the enemy of our biggest trading partner, that matters -- and we'll even go along with them and not even call the enemy a 'country.' It all just kind of depends, you know? Democracy and freedom and human rights are all great for speeches but where the rubber meets the road, it's all about other priorities."

    But they don't, because they want to get elected.

    So, like I say, I'm with you on this one Michale. I don't really have a dog in the fight -- I would like a true, serious discussion of what American foreign policy is, where it has been, and where it should go in the future and why. The responses which we would be looking for from these questions may be different, Michale, but I think we can agree that they are valid questions which should be asked. As well as others -- these are just the ones that struck me as being the most illogical off the top of my head. Which doesn't mean I've missed other valid subjects (feel free to post your own questions, everybody).

    This is why I responded seperately, because I think the issue is worthy of consideration on its own.

    -CW

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Regarding your first point.. I was only referring to Bush's claim about not negotiating with terrorists, which seems to be the biggest thing that the Left is jumping on..

    If one gets past the political rhetoric and posturing, they would say, "Hay, wait a tic.. The guy's right!"

    Again, with regards to the statements that:

    A> Negotiating with terrorists is a bad idea

    and

    2> People who say we should negotiate with terrorists are flat out wrong..

    Bush is dead on ballz accurate...

    As to your second point, I agree wholeheartedly with your agreement of me. :D

    I think the issue as to what constitutes a terrorist group/nation/state is along the lines of the age old axiom of the old New York beat cop's response when asked to identify what pornography is.

    "I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it.." :D

    The problem there, though, is it smacks too much of the other old (and dead wrong) axiom that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

    I too, would like to see ALL candidates answer your questions.. Answered unequivocally in such a way that is BINDING on all their future actions...

    Yea, and maybe pigs will fly outta my butt too!! :D

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Bush-fulfilling Prophecies and other Interesting Bushit (sorry, I couldn't resist - I'm just not that strong)

    "We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights", said the President.

    But 'we' refuse to even consider a democratic result that inserts into power a government we recognize as a terrorist entity, much less attempt to deal with the ramifications thereof. It's just too complicated and it gives 'us' a headache.

    "The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies", said the President.

    Just one question for those who “defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth”...do those ideals include torture?

    "Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument..." I've got news for the President - this is not only a tired argument but implies an equally false choice - both of which have become hallmarks of President Bush and his foreign policy team...in fact, they have a bloody doctrine out of the false choice.

    "For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." I wonder, would the President favor a Middle East that is a nuclear weapons-free zone, d'ya think? ...just wondering...

    I would just add that President Bush, far from acting to ensure the security of Israel, has done more than any other American president - more than all of them combined, even - to embolden Israel’s mortal enemies. You might say that, with friends like President Bush and his foreign policy team, Israel doesn’t need any enemies!

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    That was a very interesting list of questions. But,I agree that such a penetrating and thought-provoking inquiry would certainly never be undertaken by any national mainstream media type I know about.

    And, actually, that would be a good thing! Because I'm not convinced that Bush, McCain or Obama could produce a cogent answer capable of demonstrating that they understood the first thing about how to conduct a smart foreign policy that would protect US interests, much less restore US credibility in the world, regain America's global leadership role, or make America safe.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    "Just one question for those who “defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth”…do those ideals include torture?"

    If necessary....

    "No country has ever been saved by 'good men' "

    I have asked this questions countless times and no one has ever provided an answer..

    Does ANYONE have a problem with torturing terrorists if such actions lead to saving the lives of innocent men, women and children??

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    That is also a very interesting question and one that deserves some serious debate.

    First off, I am not convinced that any information gleaned from torture would provide the kind of reliable and 'actionable intelligence' that would lead to the outcome you suggest. And, besides, the almost total ineptitude and incompetence that has characterized the behavior of the Bush administration doesn't exactly invoke even a modicum of confidence that this crew would be modestly capable of overseeing such a enterprise.

    More than that, great nations lose their moral authority AND "clarity" when they engage in actions - such as torture - that diminish their standing and respect throughout the world and, as a result, severely limit their ability to attract the kind of support from friends and allies that WILL be required to prevail over the threat of terrorism and other forms of extremism.

    "No country has ever been saved by 'good men'"

    Well, I would agree that it takes far more than the efforts of good men with good intentions to save a country...or to conduct a smart foreign policy, for that matter. Indeed, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    First off, I am not convinced that any information gleaned from torture would provide the kind of reliable and 'actionable intelligence' that would lead to the outcome you suggest.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but what practical experience do you have that leads you to this conclusion?

    And, besides, the almost total ineptitude and incompetence that has characterized the behavior of the Bush administration doesn't exactly invoke even a modicum of confidence that this crew would be modestly capable of overseeing such a enterprise.

    And yet there has not been a successful terrorist attack on US proper in the last 6+ years. That hardly indicates "ineptitude" and "incompetence".

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    But let's get back to my question...

    If you could be assured that torturing a scumbag terrorist would produce actionable intelligence that would save innocent lives, would you advocate it??

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I have ZERO practical experience that would lead me to the conclusion that no reliable information has ever been extracted from a terrorist with knowledge of an imminent attack on innocent lives. I base that conclusion simply on the fact that I am aware of zero evidence of that particular scenario ever playing out...in real life, I mean!

    Having said that, though...I do realize that my argument is very circular and that there is no easy way to prove that it has never happened and, even if it had, you and I would be among the last people on the face of the planet to know.

    Of course, you are right...the ineptitude and incompetence that I speak of is completely unrelated to the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks inside the US in more than six years.

    Now, your question...first, let me say that I am reminded of the "One Percent Doctrine" that the Bush administration has developed, adopted and followed in their conduct of foreign "policy" over the course of their term in office, particularly post-2002. You know, this is the MO that Ron Suskind wrote about in which the administration bases the actions it takes on the assumption that those actions are necessary to prevent the worst case scenario from occurring, even if the probability of that scenario is 1% or less.

    Okay, Okay...to the question...if it sounds like I'm trying to avoid it, I am! However, it deserves an answer...but, what is the right answer?...I'm going to have to get back to you...duty calls, as they say...

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    I base that conclusion simply on the fact that I am aware of zero evidence of that particular scenario ever playing out…in real life, I mean!

    Ahhh, but there IS evidence.. Much evidence.

    The British Airlines plot comes to mind as the most vivid example..

    The plot was exposed when a low ranking Al Qaeda operative was captured by the Pakistani Security Service. Now, I have some personal experience with that organization and I can assure that the Al Qaeda operative was tortured to reveal some details of the airlines plot and they (the Security Service) then passed that info on to MI-6 which infiltrated the terrorist cell.. I can tell you that the Al Qaeda operative was tortured as sure as I was sitting there and witnessing it first hand.

    You have to realize that what filters down to us is a mere speck of what goes on that is never reported on.. You can bet that the success that the Bush Administration has had with preventing terrorist attacks on US proper is due in a large part to the ability to benefit from intel gleaned from... shall we say coercive means. In short, torture..

    Of course, you are right…the ineptitude and incompetence that I speak of is completely unrelated to the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks inside the US in more than six years.

    You miss my point.. :D How can you label the Bush Administration as incompetent and inept when it has prevented terrorist attacks on US proper for 6+ years. This, despite the many attack attempts that have been reported. And you can bet that, for every unsuccessful attack reported, there were probably 3 or 4 MORE that didn't make the news..

    As far as the 1% Doctrine.....

    When we are dealing with the fact that the attack may come in the form of a nuclear cloud over New York or Los Angeles, wouldn't you agree that the "1% Doctrine" makes a helluva lot of sense?? Don't you??

    You seem to have a logical and rational mind. That is rare, especially in passion filled discussions such as these. Although, to be fair, there seems to be more of that here than on any other forum I have been banned from.. :D hehehehehe

    So, while you are chewing over the first question, here's another one for you...

    You are faced with a dilemma.. You have 1000 men. 999 of them are completely innocent of ANY wrongdoing. However, one is a terrorist who is going to put into motion a plan that will detonate a nuclear bomb over San Diego, CA thereby killing millions.. You have NEST teams in the area, but they need a week to locate the terrorist device...
    Here's your dilemma. Do you incarcerate ALL 1000 men for a week, knowing that only ONE of them is guilty and all the rest are innocent?? Or do you hold true to the "principle" that better 100 guilty men go free rather than one innocent man be jailed and refuse to incarcerate any of the 1000 men.
    If you choose the former, you prevent a nuclear nightmare on Southern California. If you choose the latter, your conscience will be clear (insofar as holding to your principles are concerned) but you allow San Diego to go up in a nuclear cloud..

    When I attended OCS, questions like these and many more were part of our "ethics" course. Remind me to tell you about the enemy control center in the basement of a schoolhouse...

    In any case, my point with these questions is to illustrate that the high-minded principles that we all hold dear have real world consequences. While it's nice and pretty to be able to hold to these principles, IN THEORY.... When it comes to actual practice, there may be a very high price to pay. With these questions, I am inquiring if ya'all are willing to pay that price??

    As I am found of saying, the US CONSTITUTION is not a suicide pact... It must be viewed with the cold eye of logic with a mind towards the realities of today's world we find ourselves in.

    Failure to do so would result in the destruction of the very country we are trying to save.

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    A. Negotiating with terrorists is a bad idea

    and

    2. People who say we should negotiate with terrorists are flat out wrong..

    Bush is dead on ballz accurate…

    OK, so what about Libya? Terrorists, support terrorists, Lockerbie. Bush brought them back into the community of nations. So why was he right to do this, but right not to talk to others who might change their ways?

    Or was he wrong to do so with Libya?

    You can't have it both ways. Either Bush handling Libya was right, and he's wrong now; or his handling of Libya was wrong, but he's right now.

    Which do you agree with?

    -CW

  27. [27] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    You seem to have a logical and rational mind. That is rare, especially in passion filled discussions such as these. Although, to be fair, there seems to be more of that here than on any other forum I have been banned from.. :D hehehehehe

    Isn't that something like Groucho Marx saying:

    "I would NEVER belong to a club that would have me as a member!"

    Heh heh.

    -CW

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    I believe Bush was wrong to negotiate with Libya if they were still a "terrorist nation". But, if I recall correctly, Libya had renounced terrorism prior to diplomatic contact. I may be wrong, but I thought that is how it went down. If that is true, then I don't have a problem.

    The Bush administration has stated that they would be willing to negotiate with Iran, Syria and even Hamas. But those countries/entities MUST renounce terrorism, refuse to support terrorism and must acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

    Of course, these countries/entities would have to match words with deeds...

    Under those conditions I would not have (much of) a problem with direct negotiations..

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    ""I would NEVER belong to a club that would have me as a member!""

    Troo dat! :D

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Sorry for the delay, but I've been trying to avoid your question! I have decided not to answer it...it's just too damned hard and it gives me a headache...I'm kidding!

    In his book, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, Michael Ignatieff delves into the 'lesser evil morality' and attempts to answer the question: How can liberal democracies resort to the lesser evil (the use of violence, coercion, secrecy and deception, violation of rights) without succumbing to the greater evil (destroying the values for which they stand)? And, how is the argument of the ends justifying the means affected by the very real threat of the worlds most dangerous weapons falling into the hands of the worlds most dangerous people? Needless to say, this book is an absolutely, if I may use that term here, fascinating read!

    Okay...to your pending question...

    First off, I am sure that you would agree that good and well-informed people will necessarily disagree when it comes to what the facts are of any given terrorist emergency simply because these facts are rarely going to be clear cut or without various interpretations or completely divulged to the public. And then there is the added circumstance of the state we find ourselves in currently where there is so little trust in the competency of our government officials, either to provide as honest an assessment as possible of the emergency or to act in an intelligent way once that case has been made, whether in public view or not. In other words, nothing is easy about any of these kinds of questions, in this day and age or, I suppose, at any other time in human history.

    I tend to agree with the concept of the lesser evil morality that Ignatieff describes, in part (p.8): “...necessity may require us to take actions in defense of democracy which will stray from democracy’s own foundational commitments to dignity...the best way to minimize harms is to maintain a clear distinction in our minds between what necessity can justify and what the morality of dignity can justify, and never to allow the justifications of necessity - risk, threat, imminent danger - to dissolve the morally problematic character of necessary measures.” In other words, political ethics in an age of terror involves the balancing of rights, dignity and public safety and neither can trump the other.

    I would agree that, under a terrorist emergency, we may have no choice but to resort to a measure of lesser evil. But, we have to ensure that by resorting to that measure we don’t put ourselves on a path toward the greater evil. I will admit that I still find questions, like the one you pose, to be extremely difficult issues to completely resolve in my mind.

    However, I completely disagree with those who argue that there are circumstances in which the use of torture is justified. I firmly believe that torture should NEVER be legalized or regulated. There are some principles that a liberal democracy cannot sacrifice in the name of a war against terrorism, even in the extreme case of preventing an imminent terrorist attack.

    Having said that, I can certainly imagine that there could be a situation, such as you describe, in which interrogators may come to a conscientious conclusion that their absolute last resort to save innocent life is to engage in torture. In this case, the exigent circumstances could be used to mitigate, in a court of law, the use of torture but NEVER to condone or justify it or to call it anything but the evil it is.

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    A very well posted argument. My compliments..

    That book does sound like a great read, I'll definitely have to look for it..

    I understand and agree with the conclusions of the book as you have put them forth. Towhit, we must ensure that, in fighting the monster, we do not BECOME the monster..

    I would submit though that up to a point, what determines whether or not we become the monsters is the intent..

    In other words, as much as it gets a bad rap, the axiom of "The End Justifies The Means" is valid, especially in the realm of CT operations.

    As I said, up to a point. And that point would be terrorism itself.

    With regards to your final point regarding torture, it is as CW has postulate earlier. Keep torture illegal and then allow the courts to examine the mitigating circumstances..

    But I put forth (as I did then) that, while that sounds good in theory, we have seen that in actual practice, it does not work. Because the process becomes a political circus that is manipulated for political gain. No where was this more evident then the recent Telecomm hearings. They thought that they were doing the right thing and figured that public opinion would protect them because they did the right thing. As we saw, the entire thing became a partisan circus..

    So, is it truly fair to ask our intelligence people and our soldiers to put their lives on the line and their only reward would be a public lynching??

    I think not...

    Michale.....

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    On another note....

    'We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK'...

    As much as I admire Obama, statements like this are going to get him into trouble with Americans..

    I'll be damned if I am going to let some other country sit in judgment of whether or not I drive an SUV or whether or not I have a Big Mac..

    Stuff like this is going to all but insure a McCain victory.

    It is possible to take diplomacy TOO far...

    Can you imagine??

    Prime Minister Putin:"You know, President Obama/McCain. You Americans are pretty fat."

    President Obama:"Yea, I know.. I have been trying to get my fellow Americans to cut back, but ya know. They just love their freedom.. If you have any suggestions on how I can rule my country, please let me know.."

    President McCain:"Yea?? How about I shove my fat boot up your skinny ass!!?? HAY SECDEF!! RELEASE THE HOUNDS!!!"

    :D

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    Michale wrote:

    Is it just me???

    Or is Cindy McCain REALLY hot??? :D

    Michale.....

  34. [34] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Sorry, but the hotness award on the campaign trail already went to Elizabeth Kucinich.

    An astute reader pointed out to me recently a longshot for McCain's Veep, the governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. GOP hotness from the frozen north!

    OK, I'll stop now. I'm probably already in trouble...

    Heh heh.

    -CW

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    "OK, I'll stop now. I'm probably already in trouble…"

    No doubt.. :D

    Yea, Kucinich is pretty hot. I love red hair.. Palin is pretty easy on the eyes as well.

    Oh god, don't let Hillary or Taylor read this!! We'll be banished to the realm of Sexist Pigdom... :D

    Michale.....

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    You make a very good point about the political circus surrounding the telecom issue - it is not right to ask our intelligence people and our soldiers to put their lives on the line only to be subjected to a "public lynching", as you say.

    You know, none of this torture business is any easier to deal with when you have a government that attempts to operate outside the rule of law and light of day, without checks and balances as the Bush administration has done. But, it is PRECISELY for this reason that torture should never be legalized or regulated.

    I just wanted to leave you with a couple of quotes, one from A Lesser Evil and one from the Israeli Supreme Court. I found both very interesting, given all the experience Israel has had dealing with terrorism, up close and personal...so to speak. I think the Israeli experience can be instructive to us all.

    “The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that an agent of the state may make a defense of necessity is accused of torturing someone: this excuse might mitigate the penalty for violating the law, but it would not excuse the torture itself, which remains criminal.” Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil, p.13

    “Moreover, the “necessity” defense has the effect of allowing one who acts under the circumstances of “necessity” to escape criminal liability. The “necessity” defense does not possess any additional normative value. In addition, it does not authorize the use of physical means for the purposes of allowing investigators to execute their duties in circumstances of necessity. The very fact that a particular act does not constitute a criminal act (due to the “necessity” defense) does not in itself authorize the administration to carry out this deed, and in doing so infringe upon human rights.” Israeli Supreme Court Judgment on the Interrogation Methods Applied by the GSS (Israel’s General Security Services), September 6, 1999

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    Is it hot in here, or is it just me! Ha! I've been out of the loop for 5 minutes and what...everybody's in trouble? Am I missing something?

    Anyway, speaking of hotness...I just have one question for you...

    Call me an idiot but what does one have to do around here to add bold print and italics to their posts...you know, to make them look prettier...

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Elizabeth

    I agree that the "necessity defense" would be a good thing...

    But again, the problem with it is that the action would become a political football and the "necessity" would become irrelevant.

    Us Americans are very immature in that way.. Of course, it DOES work in Israel because the mentality is a LOT different. If we had in America what the Israelis have, then I would be willing to wager that most, if not all Americans would DEMAND torture of terrorists...

    when you have a government that attempts to operate outside the rule of law and light of day, without checks and balances as the Bush administration has done.

    Again, I am not trying to be snooty or arrogant (at least not TOO much) but Counter Terrorist ops, MUST be done in this fashion.. Or else they are completely ineffective...

    Call me an idiot but what does one have to do around here to add bold print and italics to their posts…you know, to make them look prettier…

    I can't actually SHOW you because it won't actually print the characters necessary..

    But, what you want to do is put the quotes in brackets, using the GREATER THAN/LESS THAN symbols..

    For BOLD it would be LESS THAN B GREATER THAN blaa blaa blaa blaa LESS THAN /B GREATER THAN

    For ITALICS it would be LESS THAN I GREATER THAN blaa blaa blaa blaa LESS THAN /I GREATER THAN

    That's the best I can explain it since I can't actually type the characters...

    Michale.....

  39. [39] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    You can use many standard html tags in these comments. These are surrounded by angle brackets -- hold down Shift and type a period and a comma, and those are angle brackets. I can't use them in examples here, because they'll be read as html tags and won't appear to you. So I'm substituting braces {} instead. Just type the following, with angle brackets instead of braces. And always use the closing tag at the end of what you want to highlight.

    Italics (either works):
    I want to {em}highlight this text{/em} only.
    I want to {i}highlight this text{/i} only.
    Becomes: I want to highlight this text only.

    Bold (either works):
    I want to {strong}highlight this text{/strong} only.
    I want to {b}highlight this text{/b} only.
    Becomes: I want to highlight this text only.

    To insert a link:
    Link to {a href="http://www.chrisweigant.com"}my site{/a}.
    Becomes: Link to my site.

    Check out any standard list of html tags to see others. Not all of them work, for security reasons, but many of the common ones do.

    -CW

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I think the assumption here is that the “necessity” defense would be used rarely - one would hope - and that it could not be used as an excuse for engaging in torture or as a justification to escape criminal liability for the use of torture. This is what the Israeli Supreme Court has determined.

    Hey, you can be as snooty and arrogant as you like...but I wasn’t talking about special ops or counter-terrorism ops being subject to public scrutiny. I am talking about a government who seeks to put itself outside of the rule of law and to operate without the proper checks and balances. Of course, there are many reasons why there cannot be complete transparency - as far as the public at large is concerned - as a government deals with the challenges of terrorism. But there are proper judicial and legislative checks and balances that must be in play, no?

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    Thank-you, thank-you very much...I will put them to use at the next available opportunity.

  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hey, you can be as snooty and arrogant as you like…but I wasn’t talking about special ops or counter-terrorism ops being subject to public scrutiny. I am talking about a government who seeks to put itself outside of the rule of law and to operate without the proper checks and balances. Of course, there are many reasons why there cannot be complete transparency - as far as the public at large is concerned - as a government deals with the challenges of terrorism. But there are proper judicial and legislative checks and balances that must be in play, no?

    There can't be...

    Let me put it this way..

    Let's say that we announce to the world (thru leaks in the courts) that we will afford terrorists all rights as American citizens..

    How long do you think it would take the terrorists to incorporate that into their game plan?? How long til we have terrorists demanding free lawyers etc etc??

    The war against terrorism simply cannot be prosecuted in the clear. By definition it MUST be shrouded in secrecy.. Or it will be completely ineffective..

    The issue with the telecomms is a perfect example.. That was a masterful operation that produced excellent intel... Until it was blown open and used for political purposes by the Democrats.. Do you HONESTLY believe that the Bush Administration is interested in Aunt Matilda's brownie recipe?? Or that Guy A is humping Girl B?? Or Guy C??? Of course not... Tapping the lines that go thru US Soil was a boon to intelligence gathering. And that all dried up when the Democrats decided to play football with the issue..

    You can't prosecute a war by committee.. Especially not such a shadowy war as the war against terrorism..

    It's a lesson that Obama MUST learn if he is to be an effective CnC....

    I am reminded of a debate I had over on HuffPo... A guy was all indignant about a incident that happened in Vegas, 2004 (I think) Towhit, it was discovered that authorities had learned of a possible terrorist plot against large Vegas hotels involving biological or chemical WMDs.. Authorities quietly and urgently began systematically scouring hotel records for clues to possible suspects. There was a whole PBS documentary about how people felt "violated" and such.. So I asked this guy if he would have felt the same if the police and feds scoured the hotel records AFTER a devastating terrorist attack that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children?? Of course not... AFTER the fact, it's just good police work...

    So, this begs the question... If it's perfectly OK and justified to do something in RESPONSE to an attack, it seems to me that it would be even MORE justified to do the same thing to PREVENT the attack, no???

    This takes us back to the consequences of our principles.. Are the Democrats willing to fight for their principles, even if by doing so, it could cause the deaths of hundreds?? Or thousands?? Or millions??

    Color me cynical, but I am not egotistical enough to think that my principles are worth that..

    Michale.....

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey Michale,

    I just wish that I had some confidence that the next POTUS, and leader of the free world for crying out loud, will be well enough equipped to prosecute the real global war on terror and conduct a smart foreign policy, in general. It is clear by now, that will not be the case, in my not so humble opinion.

    Is it too much to ask for a little bit of real presidential leadership, especially now!?

    Are you any more optimistic on that front than I am?

  44. [44] 
    Michale wrote:

    Are you any more optimistic on that front than I am?

    Yea, but I have always been a Pollyanna "Cup Is Half Full" kinda guy... :D

    What I liken it to is a Fire Department..

    You have fire fighters that are highly trained and well equipped to do their job. Which is, obviously, to fight fires..

    Now, let's say you have a certain group within the community that doesn't like the fire fighters. For whatever reason this group doesn't like the fire fighters and castigates them at every opportunity.. Yet, the group itself doesn't know how to fight fires, doesn't know a THING about fire fighting or what it takes to be a fire fighter. Yet this group still feels that they are qualified to sit in judgment of the firefighters..

    Now to be fair to the group, the Fire Department has made some bone head moves. Going to the wrong house , starting a "control" burn that was anything BUT controlled, etc etc. So there is SOME legitimate concern about the Fire Department.

    But these concerns do not negate the fact that the fire fighters ARE the professionals. And they should be allowed to accomplish their mission with a minimum of interference..

    Failure to do this will result in the whole damn town being burnt up...

    That's how I view things. We can sit and prattle on all we want. But we are completely ignorant of the true facts... So, how can we possibly feel qualified to judge?? We should let the professionals handle things. After all, we entrusted them with this duty when we elected them. If they don't do a good job for us, we can fire them...

    But what we can't do is elect them to do a job and then stand in their way when they try and do it to the best of their ability...

    Michale.....

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale, you really are something else! And, I mean that only in the very best of ways.

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Elizabeth

    Thanx. :D

    I am the token warmonger around here...

    But truth be told, if we discuss issues unrelated to National Security, Self Defense, Law Enforcement, Illegal Immigration or Global Warming, I am probably the most liberal one here. :D

    Michale.....

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    You forgot to say that you are the reigning 'King of the Analogy'. Bill Maher has NOTHING on you!

    :-)

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