February 22, 2006

More on Mora

From a must-read Jane Mayer piece in the current New Yorker:

Just a few months ago, Mora attended a meeting in Rumsfeld’s private conference room at the Pentagon, called by Gordon England, the Deputy Defense Secretary, to discuss a proposed new directive defining the military’s detention policy. The civilian Secretaries of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy were present, along with the highest-ranking officers of each service, and some half-dozen military lawyers. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, had proposed making it official Pentagon policy to treat detainees in accordance with Common Article Three of the Geneva conventions, which bars cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, as well as outrages against human dignity.Going around the huge wooden conference table, where the officials sat in double rows, England asked for a consensus on whether the Pentagon should support Waxman’s proposal.

This standard had been in effect for fifty years, and all members of the U.S. armed services were trained to follow it. One by one, the military officers argued for returning the U.S. to what they called the high ground. But two people opposed it. One was Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of defense for intelligence; the other was Haynes. They argued that the articulated standard would limit America’s “flexibility.” It also might expose Administration officials to charges of war crimes: if Common Article Three became the standard for treatment, then it might become a crime to violate it. Their opposition was enough to scuttle the proposal.

In exasperation, according to another participant, Mora said that whether the Pentagon enshrined it as official policy or not, the Geneva conventions were already written into both U.S. and international law. Any grave breach of them, at home or abroad, was classified as a war crime. To emphasize his position, he took out a copy of the text of U.S. Code 18.2441, the War Crimes Act, which forbids the violation of Common Article Three, and read from it. The point, Mora told me, was that “it’s a statute. It exists—we’re not free to disregard it. We’re bound by it. It’s been adopted by the Congress. And we’re not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have U.S. officials arrested.”

Not long afterward, Waxman was summoned to a meeting at the White House with David Addington. Waxman declined to comment on the exchange, but, according to the Times, Addington berated him for arguing that the Geneva conventions should set the standard for detainee treatment. The U.S. needed maximum flexibility, Addington said. Since then, efforts to clarify U.S. detention policy have languished. In December, Waxman left the Pentagon for the State Department.

To date, no charges have been brought against U.S. personnel in Guantánamo. The senior Defense Department official I spoke to affirmed that, in the Pentagon’s view, Qahtani’s interrogation was “within the bounds.” Elsewhere in the world, as Mora predicted, the controversy is growing. Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Commission called for the U.S. to shut down the detention center at Guantánamo, where,it said, some practices “must be assessed as amounting to torture.” The U.N. report, which the White House dismissed, described “the confusion with regard to authorized and unauthorized interrogation techniques” as “particularly alarming.”

Mora recently started a new job, as the general counsel for Wal-Mart’s international operations. A few days after his going-away party, he reflected on his tenure at the Pentagon. He felt that he had witnessed both a moral and a legal tragedy.

In Mora’s view, the Administration’s legal response to September 11th was flawed from the start, triggering a series of subsequent errors that were all but impossible to correct. “The determination that Geneva didn’t apply was a legal and policy mistake,” he told me. “But very few lawyers could argue to the contrary once the decision had been made.”

Mora went on, “It seemed odd to me that the actors weren’t more troubled by what they were doing.” Many Administration lawyers, he said, appeared to be unaware of history. “I wondered if they were even familiar with the Nuremberg trials—or with the laws of war, or with the Geneva conventions. They cut many of the experts on those areas out. The State Department wasn’t just on the back of the bus—it was left off the bus.” Mora understood that “people were afraid that more 9/11s would happen, so getting the information became the overriding objective. But there was a failure to look more broadly at the ramifications.

These were enormously hardworking, patriotic individuals,” he said. “When you put together the pieces, it’s all so sad. To preserve flexibility, they were willing to throw away our values.”

Yoo. Addington. Haynes. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Gonzalez.

Wrong on the law. Wrong on our values. Wrong for America.

Some Republicans like Mora (Frank Carlucci supported him for the GC-Navy job) and Jack Goldsmith (a conservative lawyer who ran OLC after Yoo was deputy there, now at Harvard Law School) get this. But from comments left at blogs and general insouciance on the issue I think we've lost a good swath of the party, call it the Hannity-Coulter wing, who are happy to give the 'ragheads' their due and joke on about panties like rank fools. We need to reclaim our party from these ignorant primitives, if at all possible, but the task will not be easy--as even opinion 'leaders' (what passes for them, these days) get all giggly about torture at places like NRO (there is also, of course, the fear resulting from 9/11, tinged with Islamophobia and suspicion of the 'other', that has amply facilitated the de-humanization of Middle Easterners and South Asians so as to facilitate the cheer-leading of their mistreatment).

One last point. It's pretty clear that Haynes played pretend listen to Mora to the extent he didn't want Mora to put a dissent in writing, but then abused that trust (Haynes is an Addington protege, so I'm not surprised), by not letting Mora know that overarching OLC guidance was going to allow for beyond the pale detainee interrogation tactics that Mora had thought resigned to the dustbin. But the bureaucratic gaming about got worse, and with the stakes this high, I find the entire tale of duplicity deeply disturbing and reprehensible. From the New Yorker piece (note this is all, pretty much, in Mora's memo too, which I recommend you read in toto, see my two immediately preceding posts for links to it and discussion):

In June, press accounts asserted that the U.S. was subjecting detainees to “stress and duress” techniques, including beatings and food deprivation. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking for a clear statement of the Administration’s detainee policy. Haynes wrote a letter back to Leahy, which was subsequently released to the press, saying that the Pentagon’s policy was never to engage in torture, or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment—just the sort of statement Mora had argued for. He wrote in his memo that he saw Haynes’s letter as “the happy culmination of the long debates in the Pentagon.” He sent an appreciative note to Haynes, saying that he was glad to be on his team.

On April 28, 2004, ten months later, the first pictures from Abu Ghraib became public. Mora said, “I felt saddened and dismayed. Everything we had warned against in Guantánamo had happened—but in a different setting. I was stunned.”

He was further taken aback when he learned, while watching Senate hearings on Abu Ghraib on C-SPAN, that Rumsfeld had signed the working-group report—the draft based on Yoo’s opinion—a year earlier, without the knowledge of Mora or any other internal legal critics. Rumsfeld’s signature gave it the weight of a military order. “This was the first I’d heard of it!” Mora told me. Mora wrote that the Air Force’s deputy general counsel, Daniel Ramos, told him that the final working-group report had been “briefed” to General Miller, the commander of Guantánamo, and General James Hill, the head of the Southern Command, months earlier. (The Pentagon confirmed this, though it said that the generals had not seen the full report.) “It was astounding,” Mora said. “Obviously, it meant that the working-group report hadn’t been abandoned, and that some version of it had gotten into the generals’ possession.”

The working-group report included a list of thirty-five possible interrogation methods. On April 16, 2003, the Pentagon issued a memorandum to the U.S. Southern Command, approving twenty-four of them for use at Guantánamo, including isolation and what it called “fear up harsh,” which meant “significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.” The Defense Department official told me, “It should be noted that there were strong advocates for the approval of the full range of thirty-five techniques,” but Haynes was not among them. The techniques not adopted included nudity; the exploitation of “aversions,” such as a fear of dogs; and slaps to the face and stomach. However, combined with the legal reasoning in the working-group report, the April memorandum allowed the Secretary to approve harsher methods.

Without Mora’s knowledge, the Pentagon had pursued a secret detention policy. There was one version, enunciated in Haynes’s letter to Leahy, aimed at critics. And there was another, giving the operations officers legal indemnity to engage in cruel interrogations, and, when the Commander-in-Chief deemed it necessary, in torture. Legal critics within the Administration had been allowed to think that they were engaged in a meaningful process; but their deliberations appeared to have been largely an academic exercise, or, worse, a charade.

Dirty pool happens and tough bureaucratic battling is par with the course in Washington. But this is different. This is purposefully, methodically dishonest. This uses people, via charades and make-belief theater, crudely and insultingly. This does smack, as Larry Wilkerson has stated, of "cabal" like behavior. That Bush, whether consciously or via ignorance, has allowed such dishonest chicanery to occur under his watch, on an issue of such immense import, is yet another reason that I view his Administration as increasingly discredited. And I say this as a Republican, one who endorsed him in '04.

The sad reality is, even after passage of the McCain Amendment, I simply don't trust some of these individuals anymore. I believe torture or serious abuse of detainees could still be occurring as I write, with various Administration players relying on the McCain Amendment signing statement and other loopholes, real or imagined. Yes, this is painful for me to write, but at least it has the merit of being sincere.

Vilgilance is the watch-word now, not only re: our many enemies abroad, but also with regard to key administration actors who would eviscerate the moral fiber of what this country stands for. This last is a perilous threat as well--because despite their arguably good intentions--they don't get the moral stakes, they don't get the law, they don't get the inefficacy of the enhanced tactics they are so obsessed with enshrining in law, and they don't get the damage this has done to our international position generally.

With an often meek opposition party (the Democrats have few, if any, standard-bearers who have really grappled with the torture issue seriously, and this includes Al Gore's sour grapes and poor venue selection for hyperbolic showmanship), people like me increasingly have no party to turn to. We recall the Clinton years with dismay, given his episodic and ineffective reaction to al-Qaeda as it grew in strength, culminating in the 9/11 attacks--as well as his morally bankrupt inattention to genocidal action in the Balkans pre-Richard Holbrooke's insertion in '95. We continue to be fearful the Democrats don't understand the full panoply of stakes with regard to the war on terror, and will over-compensate for what they too simplistically deride as Bush's unilateral militarism, and replace it with an overly supine resort to treating terrorism as a criminal law issue, so as to likely revert to a more isolationist posture at a time when continued major American involvement is absolutely critical on the world stage.

And, yet, we have certain elements in this Administration that have dishonored the nation, and continue to be in a position to do so, on issues like detainee policy, handing an unnecessary propaganda victory and recruiting tool to our enemy. We, in short, urgently need new leadership, most likely someone whose competence is near unimpeachable (think Rudy) or can much better balance our national security imperatives with our moral values (think John McCain). But we can do more than sit around and wait for 1,000 days. We need to monitor, very, very closely, the machinations emitting from certain quarters of the Executive Branch through the end of Bush's term. There are many smart, honest, fair, moderate Republicans fighting the good fight internally, the Mora's have shown us, and we need to do our part to bolster them however and whenever possible. The stakes are too high, and some of the key players, alas, we've now learned beyond any doubt, will stoop to very mendacious behavior indeed in pursuit of their misguided goals.

Posted by Gregory at February 22, 2006 06:29 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

I view his Administration as increasingly discredited

I like that. Precisely what would the Administration have to do to be fully discredited in your eyes? Does such an act exist?

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim at February 22, 2006 02:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We continue to be fearful the Democrats don't understand the full panoply of stakes with regard to the war on terror, and will over-compensate for what they too simplistically deride as Bush's unilateral militarism, and replace it with an overly supine resort to treating terrorism as a criminal law issue, so as to likely revert to a more isolationist posture at a time when continued major American involvement is absolutely critical on the world stage. "

I take it you will remain open to what Hilary Clinton, joe Biden, evan Bayh, and Mark Warner have to say?

Posted by: liberalhawk at February 22, 2006 04:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry my friend, we're trapped. Take it from me, a former resident of New Orleans, who saw catastrophe coming, wailed incessantly about incompetent leadership, stood dazed as one corrupt administration ater another assumed city leadership from 1980 to 2005, and moaned the whole time about the lack of any decent alternative.

The population of New Orleans was simply too stupid to maintain its viability.

Now as I sit in exile haggling with insurance companies, I realize that the USA as a whole is just about where New Orleans was in 1985. Expect the worst.

Posted by: Martin Morgan at February 22, 2006 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mora and GD are both wrong on the law AND morality. The ENTIRE geneva convention regime is morally and legally based on reciprocity. Signatories promise each other the spirit of humane treatment, in exhange for a reciprocal promise. Non-signatories should receive humane treatment IF they act in accordance with the Conventions despite being non-signatories. AQ operatives VIOLATED all of the major tenets of the GCs: they intentiaonally target civilians; they put their compatriot civilians at risk by refusing to wear uniforms and otherwise identify combatants; they take civilian hostages and torture and murder them etc etc etc. Hence we owe no legal or moral duty to any AQ anywhere. The ONLY ISSUE is what code of conduct do we place on ourselves. The Administration --in light of 9/11 and AQ's proven lack of limits-- rightly decided that would depend on the circumstances. The harsh and cruel methods at Gitmo in 2002/2003 -- fake blood, putting a detainee in panties, and finally the waterboard for a smal number of detainees with potential do not shock the consensus of Americans' consciences -- they are not torture. As for you critics, I'll take you seriously when you agree to give up your loved ones in sacrifice for the terror attcks that would result from hamstringing ourselves like 1993-9/10/01.

Posted by: NK at February 22, 2006 06:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But from comments left at blogs and general insouciance on the issue I think we've lost a good swath of the party, call it the Hannity-Coulter wing, who are happy to give the 'ragheads' their due and joke on about panties like rank fools.

From the volume of comments it seems your own "fools" are among those lost.

Look, I respect a man for changing his opinion ("When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" - JM Keynes). But weren't these flaws in the Bush administration obvious during his first term? In 2000 I wasn't sure whether to support Bush or Gore. But it didn't take me 6 years to figure out that Bush has little character and virtually no capacity for intellectual thought.

There's no shame in doing what Andrew Sullivan does: Take yourself out of the Republican column altogether. You're far too knowledgeable to be a Republican anyway.

Posted by: Mads Kvalsvik at February 22, 2006 06:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NK, you mention "fake blood, putting a detainee in panties, and finally the waterboard for a smal (sic) number of detainees", but leave out the 8 to 12 people who have been tortured to death and the 98 people who have died in U.S. detention since 2002 (Human Rights First). If you are going to embrace this treatment of detainees, at least acknowledge what's really happening to them. If you think fake blood and panties on the head are all that's happened, then you haven't read any of the official reports. You also say, "The administration . . . rightly decided . . . ." It now appears, however, as this blog discusses, that the administration ignored its own military legal experts, and was, in fact, duplicitous in how it arrived at this policy. As Mora put it, "To my mind, there's no moral or practical distinction. If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America — even those designated as 'unlawful enemy combatants.' If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles. It's a transformative issue."

Posted by: Mike at February 22, 2006 08:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Face it Greg.....

FOr the last five years, you have existed in a fantasy world --- a world where you saw what you wanted to see, instead of seeing what those of us on the left were seeing and trying to warn you about.

Now, thanks to your stupidity (and yes --- Bush was so obviously a disaster in the making that willful stupidity is the only possible reason that someone would have supported him) we are in the midst of a foreign policy disaster whose ultimate impact will be the end of the successful "American experiment".

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 22, 2006 09:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've agreed with you that Rumsfeld should have been sacked promptly after Abu Ghraib. I've recommended that the Republican Caucus in the Senate issue a clear statement that they will pursue any officer in the chain of command that has violated, by commission or omission, Article III of the Geneva Convention in Iraq. (Rumsfeld has repeatedly stated that Iraqi combatants are covered by Geneva.) Grainer and England are serving prison terms. Karpinski and the rest of the weak links should be tried as well.

That said, I think you overlook the nature and character of this war. I've written before of my exposure to Sami Al Arian's contempt for our legalisms, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Kalid Sheik Muhammad shared his smirking assurance that he would be able to manipulate our rule books and doctrines to his benefit. War is hell and you can't refine it. If our "friends" in the intelligencia want to focus on the mote in our eye and ignore the beam in our enemy's eye there is nothing we can do about it.

You constantly spurn those of us who object to your conflation of panties on the head, menstrual blood, etc, with baseball bats accross the shins. I can't comprehend your obstinate refusal to make such a distinction. Every post I've read that you have written on this issue has this intentional obsfucation of terms, I think this form of uber-passionate avocacy, to the point of obscuring critical facts, puts you closer to John Yoo than you realize.

Posted by: wks at February 22, 2006 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think you guys are being incredibly unfair to GD.

Look, the guy is a Republican. Don't be suprised if he votes Republican.

At least he's willing to point out the hypocrisy of his party and attempt to influence positive change.

Posted by: Davebo at February 22, 2006 10:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The ENTIRE geneva convention regime is morally and legally based on reciprocity. Signatories promise each other the spirit of humane treatment, in exhange for a reciprocal promise. Non-signatories should receive humane treatment IF they act in accordance with the Conventions despite being non-signatories.

Quite aside from NK's minimizing what has actually been done, his entire argument rests upon the assumption that the detainees are, in fact, members of al Qaeda. It is becoming increasingly clear that most of them are not. A recent report showed that even a majority of those in Guantanamo, to say nothing of Iraq, have no connection to al Qaeda and are probably innocent of actions against the US altogether.

The vast majority of our prisoners have not treated anyone in any way that violates the Geneva Conventions. The argument for stripping them of its protections is patently false.

Posted by: J. Michael Neal at February 23, 2006 12:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find it quite amazing that having once mentioned Steven Cambone in this post that that is where it ends. For more see http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair02072006.html

Posted by: Deleterious at February 23, 2006 01:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you want this seriously investigated, the Democrats have to take over a house of Congress. It's really as simple as that. McCain and Graham talk a good game, but they reliably vote against all investigations, and Graham may succeed in turning GTMO into a black hole forever. You need to support the Democrats in the midterms if you're serious about this issue. Durbin, Markey, Feingold, Levin and the rest of the folks who are doing all they can are not going to get anywhere without control of some committees. Subpoena power.

Posted by: Katherine at February 23, 2006 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look, the guy is a Republican. Don't be suprised if he votes Republican.

Why the heck not? I mean, seriously, if the Democrats were running this administration, I'd permanently, permanently disavow any allegiance to them. The fact that GD is thinking about voting for McCain(!) or Guliani (!) (not that either of them could win the nomination in today's GOP) just speaks to his willful blindness about what his party has become. I'll can only echo an earlier commentator -

"Precisely what would the Administration have to do to be fully discredited in your eyes? Does such an act exist?"

If GD is seriously contemplating voting for any Republican right now, given the truly superlative job the party has done in running the country into the ground over the past six years, he's no better than the "ignorant primitives" he so derides.

Posted by: shinypenny at February 23, 2006 02:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That Bush, whether consciously or via ignorance, has allowed such dishonest chicanery to occur under his watch, on an issue of such immense import, is yet another reason that I view his Administration as increasingly discredited. And I say this as a Republican, one who endorsed him in '04.

The sad reality is, even after passage of the McCain Amendment, I simply don't trust some of these individuals anymore.

Well, too damned bad. You had all the evidence you needed back in the summer of 2004. And you chose Bush. You endorsed him publicly. With all that we knew then.

I, too, am a Republican and I voted for the stupid bastard in 2000. It was the worst political mistake I have yet made as a citizen and I rued it loud and long and publicly in 2004. I didn't repeat the mistake. For me, country was more important than party.

Such an awakening fourteen months too late, is pretty thin gruel. We have Bush as President until January 2009. And Belgravia Dispatch helped re-elect him.

Posted by: stickler at February 23, 2006 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We fight an invisible enemy that views civilisation as decadence and willfully manipulates any sense of humanity or respect. We must become Shiva to deal with the barbarians, and need to bring the war to many para-military groups in many non-hostile or even friendly countries.

We should remember the failure of Northern Ireland, that by dealing with your enemies you will lose. They need to be given the sword and only the sword, forever.

If you want to leave and join the surrender caucus, go right ahead. See how well that works for you with the Shariah chorus. As an infidel, you'll be beheaded just like anyone that actually stands up to them. Call me whatever names, denounce my methods, but we will do what must be done to protect the West, whatever the cost.

Can we expect your denunciation of nearly every tactic in WWII next? How the SS were treated? How many prisoners were taken by units that liberated the camps? Total war requires intense methods, you just haven't accepted that we are totally at war, and will be for generations.

Posted by: Hey at February 23, 2006 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, you're a smart guy, and I appreciate your sincere moral concern.

However, you should look back at your own comments on the Democrats, and being a smart guy, appreciate them as the half-assed, tossed-off collection of sloppy stereotypes based on minimal and casual information. Russ Feingold, to pull just one example out of thin air, has been one hundred percent as consistent and determined a critic of human rights violations as this Congress has ever seen. Notice which party he's in? Got anyone to match him on the Rethug side?
Personally, I think many Democratic senators are hopelessly compromised chickens, but politicians are responsible to their constituents, right? Which party has the Hannity/Coulter wing in it, and which party has a constituency that's been beating the drum against militarism since the summer of 2003? So which party is more likely to safeguard these values, eh?

Last but not least, what the fuck is this "overly supine resort to treating terrorism as a criminal law issue", and how exactly do you justify equating it with increasing isolationism? You know you swallowed that meme from George Bush himself? Yes? You act like you'd like to dissassociate your own beliefs from the monumental disasters your party has implemented - when will you understand that treating terrorism like a civilizational invite from the Muslims to WWIII is the disasterous policy, not treating terrorism like a criminal law issue?
You're on the side of defending civilization, not tearing it down- right?
Right? Isn't your father a diplomat? Haven't you learned somewhere that treating war as inevitable is a self-fulfilling prophecy?
If terrorism isn't a law enforcement issue, it's a war issue. Do you see the war you're enabling as making America stronger, or is it more likely to degrade everyone involved?

You moan about how dare John Yoo go behind Jim Mora's back at the Pentagon, but I've heard hardly a word from you on our President's willful and systematic violation of Congressional Statues against wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrants. Honestly, I expected something more from this blog than laundry lists of insider dirt. I don't give a rat's nest about the wrenching moral agony undergone by DoD bureaucrats as they are 'forced' to be complicit in these morally heinous actions. Has Jim Mora taken a courageous stand, or has he gone off to make a jillion dollars at Wallmart? Hero, my ass.

I'm being pretty high-handed, and I'd be the first to admit it, but you can't see the forest for the trees, Greg. I'm glad I'm not in Washington tonight.


Posted by: glasnost at February 23, 2006 03:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, "hey":

Total war requires intense methods, you just haven't accepted that we are totally at war, and will be for generations.

Does "total war" require taxes to pay for it? Oversight by the legislative branch? (Read up on how Senator Truman got famous -- it's a pretty cool story, and it took place in World War Two!)

Or does "total war" require that the executive exercise at least minimal competence in warmaking, contingency planning, and troop support?

Oh -- maybe "total war" requires that citizens of a free Republic shut their mouths and do as they're told without questioning.

Must be one of those, right?

Posted by: stickler at February 23, 2006 04:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We should remember the failure of Northern Ireland, that by dealing with your enemies you will lose. They need to be given the sword and only the sword, forever."

I wonder which enemies you are referring to here, Hey ... the IRA, the UDA or who?

Nice post, Gregory. You guys really do need to get rid of the Hannity-Coulter wing of your party, which may not be the majority but which is certainly driving the debate in the media.

Bad news for you, IMO, is that I think some bad losses in elections might be the only thing that would convince Republicans that it's time to clean house and move away from hysterical invective.

Posted by: AssParrot at February 23, 2006 05:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

. That Bush, whether consciously or via ignorance, has allowed such dishonest chicanery to occur under his watch, on an issue of such immense import, is yet another reason that I view his Administration as increasingly discredited. And I say this as a Republican, one who endorsed him in '04.


There are a LOT of us out here who saw through Bush in 2000.

We tried to tell people like you that he was unfit for office, and all people like you could do is natter on about how Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet (he never said that).

The Supreme Court installed Bush in the White House in a coup, and people like you chose to look the other way and berate any of us who tried to point out that Bush stole the election, as 'conspiracy kooks' and 'Sore Losermen'.

And despite the lies, incompetence, profligate borrowing-and-spending, and abundant evidence of his tyrannical, Constitution-trashing tendencies, people like you fell for the Swift-boat crap, ignored us once again, and voted for Bush AGAIN.


And barely a year later, all sorts of folks like you are regretting what you did.

I should be gracious. I should welcome the belated shedding of your blinders.

But I can't be. It's not what I feel.

What I feel for you is a cold, bitter contempt.

It should have been obvious, it was obvious to all the blue staters and pretty much the rest of the world outside our borders, that Bush was a moron, an embarrassment, unfit for office, a war-mongerer, the embodiment of the worst tendencies of the right-wing and few, if any, of the best.

We told you so. And only now you see what was blindingly obvious to the rest of us?

We don't have many options left now. The last one is, to elect a Democratic Congress, one with hopefully enough spine to impeach Bush beginning the day after this November's election day.

But in order for that to happen, in order to begin restoring this country to a constitutional republic rather than a dictatorship based on perpetual war, people like you have to vote for Democratic House and Senate candidates.

But, you won't. You'll mutter to yourself (once again) that as bad as the GOP is, the Dems are worse.

You'll keep trying to have your cake and eat it too. You'll complain bitterly about Bush, long after you did everything you could to enable him to drive the country into a ditch.

It's a little late at this point to bemoan your poor choicesand look for sympathy with your mea culpas, don'tcha think?

Congratulations for finally pulling your head out of your ass, but you know what? You and millions of people just like you had plenty of chances to do that before November 2004, but now it's pretty much too late.

You helped make this bed - not once, but twice.

And now we all have little left to do but sleep in it.

You get no sympathy from this corner. Just my cold, bitter contempt.

Posted by: renato at February 23, 2006 06:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I dunno, I voted for Bush twice and I feel now pretty much now like GD. I think there are a lot of neocons turning on Bush. For me it was the torture issue, especially hearing from Capt Fishbeck and realizing that once you start down that path you can't contain it.

This comment column interestingly contains all the reasons why Republicans may be openly reluctant to admit they were wrong about Bush. It seems way to easy for the Democrats to admit that they have been gorging a literal sewerage of propagandistic conspiracy theories, supporting morons of their own like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan, Bush lied about WMD, and saying stupid stuff like when we finally connect 9/11 with Enron we will know the truth. There isn't credible evidence that Bush has done anything other than fight the war to fight terrorism, and that it has been terribly misguided and done incompetently. In that way it reminds me of vietnam a lot.

So rest assured, many Democrats will immediately leap on you as soon as you face the mistakes of the Bush administration and demand that you believe the rest of their propaganda as well.

The Democrats have done a great disservice to this county as well by being so hyperbolic in their criticism, ie Dean and Kennedy for two of many, that they created an atmosphere where it was difficult to get to the truth. When someone is screaming all the time things like Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world, Bushhitler, etc, their credibility is more shot than Bush's.

They should have stuck to the truth themselves and it would have ironically made their genuine criticisms of Bush a lot harder for the Hannity/Coulters of this world to ignore them.

It is also interesting that the leading Democrats were so busy playing politics themselves that they did not say what needed to be said. One possible exception is the much maligned Hillary Clinton, one of the few who called for more troops, exactly what was needed and exactly one of the hugest mistakes Rumsfeld made in failing to secure the country. The rest of the Democrats were too scared to offend their base.

That is the really scary thing right now. We have the loss of credibilty of the Bush Cheney Rumsfeld administration, then you look at the Democrats and they are, incredibly, even worse. One would not think that possible, but there it is.

I am all set to vote for a Democratic. Please give me someone I can at least stomach. Please.

Posted by: napablogger at February 23, 2006 07:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And note to Republicans still arguing for torture: you don't torture innocent people, who are most of those we have tortured or treated cruelly. Also, you cannot contain it, once it starts it goes all the way through the military organization. We have now proven that. It is like trying to be an ex smoker and think you can have just one cigarette. You can't.

One thing that the torture Republicans have said about the deaths of American soldiers is that it is a war and you have to expect some casualties, and after all that is a soldiers job. Well, the same thing applies to not torturing as a method of war. Some people might get killed, especially some soldiers might get killed in order for you to maintain who you are, Americans who don't torture people as a matter of principle. But it is worth the sacrifice to maintain our identity as the morally superior force. Otherwise we have no business fighting this war to stop morally heinous things. One has to draw a line somewhere, and ironically some Republicans are now arguing for moral relativism when it comes to torture. What happened to your eternal human values, God given and all?

Posted by: napablogger at February 23, 2006 08:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The Democrats have done a great disservice to this county as well by being so hyperbolic in their criticism, ie Dean and Kennedy for two of many, that they created an atmosphere where it was difficult to get to the truth."

I don't know whether this is merely sad, or downright pathetic. Greg frankly misses the key point as well. We have a Constitution that vests most of the power in the people's representatives, elected to Congress. The Republican majorities in Congress have the constitutional duty to oversee the activities of the Government. The country managed to survive the Civil War, World War II and the Cold War because of, not in spite of, our system of checks and balances. Blaming the minority party for failing to monitor the Government's abuse of power is not just a lame excuse, it's an attempt to obscure where the responsibility truly lies, namely, with the Republican Party. If the Republicans who control Congress are unwilling to exercise the power the Constitution gives them to return the Government to the rule of law, then the people have little choice but to elect representatives who will do that. If the Republicans in Congress don't have an epiphany between now in November, anyone who has the courage of his convictions as expressed by Greg will be voting for the Democrats.

Posted by: DeWitt Grey at February 23, 2006 11:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

napablogger,

I agree that we probably will now have to suffer unnecessary casualties to atone for the hubris and stupidity of these policies. I agree that without our values the terrorists have won. I am a rock ribbed Republican, yet long time readers of this comment section will remember I was willing to give up my preferences on domestic policy and the Supreme Court for a generation if the Democrats had run Edwards or Gephardt (hell, who knows, maybe even Dean) against the Dear Leader. I could not vote for a feckless jellyfish like Kerry. If the Republicans do not clean up their act, I could envision a circumstance where I hold my nose and pull the lever for Hillary.
This "torture" meme has hurt our country deeply, but the question remains, what is torture? Is disorentation torture? Is inconvenience torture? This is not just mixing apples and oranges, this is not being able to distinguish between lighting a candle or lighting a stick of dynamite. I wish Greg would answer this query because it has been put to him many, many times (not only by me) in the last months as he has written about this issue.

Posted by: wks at February 23, 2006 02:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"There isn't credible evidence that Bush has done anything other than fight the war to fight terrorism, and that it has been terribly misguided and done incompetently. In that way it reminds me of vietnam a lot."

Yeah, well the recent revelations about the Tonkin Gulf "incident" show that our troop escalation in Vietnam wasn't just "misguided" but a calculated lie. What does that remind you of?

"So rest assured, many Democrats will immediately leap on you as soon as you face the mistakes of the Bush administration and demand that you believe the rest of their propaganda as well."

Oh, baloney. First, there are plenty of Democrats who have bent over backwards to give the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt in the face of mounting evidence it is mendacious and incompetent, especially after 9/11. If you're talking about Democrats in the blogosphere, well, yeah, but this a more vitriolic venue than elsewhere, so the hyperbole flows thicker from both sides. While it's enticing to mire oneself in those hyperbole wars (I do it all the time), most liberals and conservatives in the real world have a much more moderate attitude towards each other. At any rate, the first stage of finding common ground is expressing where you're coming from politically, so consider this post by Gregory and its comment thread a start.

"The Democrats have done a great disservice to this county as well by being so hyperbolic in their criticism, ie Dean and Kennedy for two of many, that they created an atmosphere where it was difficult to get to the truth. When someone is screaming all the time things like Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world, Bushhitler, etc, their credibility is more shot than Bush's."

DeWitt Grey nails it in his rebuttal of the idea that the minority party somehow drives the debate, let alone the policy. I'll add that "Bushhitler" (or variations thereof, I don't think I've ever seen that actual construction) is a fringe protesters' slogan designed to get attention and in no way reflects the beliefs of the vast majority of Bush opponents. To bring it up, though, is typical of the conservative movementarian strategy of tarring the liberal majority with the sins of its most obscure fringe elements. See Churchill, Ward for the classic example of this.

"They should have stuck to the truth themselves and it would have ironically made their genuine criticisms of Bush a lot harder for the Hannity/Coulters of this world to ignore them."

Yes, reasonable and moderate opinion is SUCH a valued quality in guests/subject matter of those types of media figures. Did you ever stop to think that there's a reason a Hannity stacks his show with fringe figures from the left? He clearly wants viewers to associate criticism of Bush/liberalism with extremist views.

"It is also interesting that the leading Democrats were so busy playing politics themselves that they did not say what needed to be said. One possible exception is the much maligned Hillary Clinton, one of the few who called for more troops, exactly what was needed and exactly one of the hugest mistakes Rumsfeld made in failing to secure the country. The rest of the Democrats were too scared to offend their base."

Kerry called for more troops and he was the Democratic nominee for president! What are you talking about? The Atlantic's James Fallows has consistently and thoroughly criticized Rumsfeld and the White House on this, both in the leadup to the invasion and after. The idea that Hillary has been some lone voice in the wilderness on this issue is preposterous.

Posted by: AssParrot at February 23, 2006 02:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"This 'torture' meme has hurt our country deeply, but the question remains, what is torture? Is disorentation torture? Is inconvenience torture? This is not just mixing apples and oranges, this is not being able to distinguish between lighting a candle or lighting a stick of dynamite."

Sticking glowsticks up people's asses is torture. Waterboarding is torture. Siccing dogs on people is torture. Beating people to within an inch of their lives (and sometimes forgetting to pull up short) is torture.

Injecting "disorientation" and "inconvenience" into a debate about those things is dishonest.

Posted by: AssParrot at February 23, 2006 02:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

napablogger, I was going to respond to your comment quote-by-quote, but I just can't because it would take an hour to do it, there's so much crap in there.

The GOP controls all 3 branches of government, but somehow it's the Democrats' fault we're in this mess?

The right-wing controls the media but it's Howard Dean's fault and Ted Kennedy's fault that Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter haven't reconsidered their positions?

Do you really believe that Hannity and Coulter have any interest whatsoever in where the truth lies?

Good god, are you a loon or even more of an idiot than Bush?

You haven't learned a damn thing.

In Soviet Russia, there are still people who claim that Stalin was a great man and any atrocities committed during his reign were done by his underlings, and Uncle Joe knew nothing about them and was failed by his people.

Denial is also alive and well in the USA it seems.

Posted by: renato at February 23, 2006 02:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, perhaps the lesson for Greg and other Republicans from all of this is "Know who you are voting for".

Because honestly, none of them really did in 2000. They knew they were voting for the figurehead George Dubya Bush, but I seriously doubt many of them really believed he would be "in charge".

At least I hope not. Perhaps I'm giving them too much credit.

Posted by: Davebo at February 23, 2006 02:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you don't like the candidate, vote for the system.

The system depends on checks and balances. The system's Achilles' Heel is when one party controls the Executive and Legislative at once.

The only *real* check on political abuses is the real threat of loss of that political power. To clean out the party, they have to take losses at the polls. Real losses that really, for sure, knock them out of power.

Parties in power have no reason to change and every reason to keep covering shyte up. Parties NOT in power have every reason to change and clean up their act.

I'm here with the vote of disbelief. Voting Dem isn't Kool-Aid in a cup. None of these bogeyman fantasies -- even the realistic ones -- about Dem majorities will come close to passing without Dem control of all three houses. Remember -- the Dems are inherently a less cohesive coalition than the GOP. Odds of this happening are not only slight-to-none, it's also the fallacy of comparing future possibilities with present realities.

The present reality is that the shit does stink.

And the choices here are really, really, really simple.

GOP maintain majorities in '06 -- not a thing changes. Not a damn thing. Lots of hot air, lots of promises, lots of enthusiasm and pie-in-the-sky from blogs like this, and it goes exactly NOWHERE. Hah, screwed again.

GOP loses House or Senate in '06. Shit changes. And there's two years there for the responsible, engaged (etc) GOP to find itself, kick out the Hannity/Coulter crowd, and find its voice for '08.

Thousands of years of recorded human history tells you this is the case -- internal change does NOT happen quickly, particularly if there's (a) no real external impetus, and (b) entrenched interests in maintaining the status quo. This will be *particularly* true if the majority currently sees itself and its power threatened.

Talking the talk is great. Hallelujiah. Now how about taking some real action? Since you're a GOP guy, things are even simpler. Either vote GOP in the fall (and fail to follow through on your convictions), or DON'T vote GOP in the fall. You don't even have to vote Dem -- not voting for either is still as good as 1/2 a vote against.

Posted by: KenL at February 23, 2006 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

From one Republican to another: Welcome (back) to the Enlightenment-based community.

From one smart guy to another: What in pluperfect hell took you so long?

You can now expect to be castigated more thoroughly by other Republicans, but I'll stop here.

Posted by: Lex at February 23, 2006 06:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

GD,

I have often noticed in your posts a yearning for a spark of nobility in Bush's soul. In vain...

Posted by: constate at February 23, 2006 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My point is not that the Democrats are to blame, the Republicans and especially Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a few others are to blame for the terrible execution of the war.

But, the fact is that the majority party has its job, to lead and set policy, and the minority party has its job, to critique and oppose anything that they feel is a mistake.

They have both failed to do their jobs as far as the Iraq war goes. The Democrats have failed because their rhetoric was so crying wolf over the top hyperbole that they lost all credibility to critique Bush.

You have US Senators saying dishonest propagandistic statements just to pander to the Democratic bases hatred for Bush---not to honestly critique him and his policies. You have Barbra Boxer, Kenndey, Schumer, on and on. You do not see the Republican Senators engaging in that kind of rhetoric, that is left to the Hannity/Coulters, and it is a huge difference when you have outrageous statements coming from partisan TV talking heads as opposed to US Senators.

Michael Moore sitting with Jimmy Carter at the convention? Even Kerry promoted this whole lie thing, by using the line "misled us into war", which is just about saying he lied. Then we have every government commission that studied it, and also both Clintons, Albright, and Gore saying that they thought he had WMD too. Yet Kerry keeps trying to say he lied. That destroys Democrat credibility. If they just let the yahoos say it, it would be different but we have the top people in the party repeating this moveon.org crap. The Republicans do not do that, and even if they did then they would be wrong too.

So we have a choice between a guy who has spent his whole career trashing the military, and a guy who uses a bazooka to swat a fly, and we are in the middle of the war of a generation. I would still vote Bush today, even though I think he is incompetent because unfortunately, as I said, the Democrats are even worse.

The Democrats have got to grow up. We need them. I voted Democrat for twenty years and basically are sympathetic, but they have gotten so out there that they are scary.

The fact that Kerry said we needed to increase troops was good, but unfortunately he was lacking in credibility, and his whole base was screaming let's withdraw, that who could trust it? I actually think Hillary could have pulled it off, but Kerry, he would just be another Bush problem without the balls.

The point I am really trying to get across to the Democrats is that your approach sucks. You read all this stuff about Lakoff, Dems are not getting their message across, and they think they need to be more strident. Well, it is the opposite, you have to stop being so in love with your outrage and your (often funny, I will admit) character smears and stick to facts and actual problems.

Actually, its probably nothing that a good spray of birdshot wouldn't fix. :) Just had to work that in somewhere.

And to him who asked what took me so long? This is why, the Democrats have so little credibility I assumed against them. I mean, I am sitting in my bedroom behind a computer somewhere, I am not in Iraq so what do I know? Only what I believe from the massive info out there that is all partisan. And the Democrats are so consisitently over the top on so many issues, not just Iraq, that they have a huge credibility problem. I don't like Hillary, but like wk I may end up holding my nose and voting for her because she at least seems to understand that much.

Posted by: napablogger at February 23, 2006 09:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Napablogger, in a game-theoretical sense I appreciate your point about the Dems' hyperbole, but it's a bit much to expect of the real world.

Your 2d comment hits closer to the mark, I think. For whatever myriad of reasons---because the Dems COULDN'T have just one reason for ANYTHING---the Dems have lost all faith in what they stand for and all ability to articulate that message. And America is paying the price.

Posted by: Anderson at February 23, 2006 11:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Napablogger,

I castigated Greg for tossing out weak stereotypes about Dems, but when I apply it to you, I see you as an example of "the general American audience", so it doesn't piss me off so much. You know what? You have a point. It's weak, but it's not nonexistent. There are fringe elements in the Democratic side. But this is a pretty poor way of judging the entirety of the movement - the Republicans have their freaks too, as I'm sure you know, the difference is that they're the stars of the show in their party.

When you name a Democratic figure who has called for the asassination of leading conservative figures the way, say Ann Coulter has, you'll convince me that Democrats are on the losing side of the fringe comparisons. But more productively: flakes know no political boundaries.

The Democrats absolutely need to be more strident, whether you agree with it or not, but they also need to be a lot stronger with the bold positive ideas, taking the crap head on and wearing it down. Jack Murtha's plan was one such bold idea, and it was a good one. Most of the country agrees with it. The idea that more troops would have solved the dynamics of that country is a foolish one: Vietnam should have taught you that much. The war would never have started if Bush had needed to impose a draft to go in, and there are not enough combat troops in the army to add enough people to make a difference, either way.

Saying "Bush should have sent more troops" is an intellecutally lazy exercise in wishful thinking. It wasn't politically realistic, and once the dead-enders were organized it became too late. The war was a bad idea.

A bold foriegn policy vision from the Democrats could have been a detailed and sweeping vision of how to win the War on Terror through diplomatic and economic realignment along with internationalist agreements expanding the reach of our global war-in-the-shadows:
A law enforcement/Spec Ops approach that would not have required invading any countries and making ourselves big, obvious symbolic bullseyes.

In a political environment not dominated by chest-beating belligerence from the Republican party, it might have stood a chance of being proposed. The Democrats are, if anything, too timid.

If you want to get back in touch with the reality of intelligent, non-hyperbolic Democrats that exist everywhere out of the glaze of CNN lights, I suggest The American Prospect.
http://www.prospect.org/web/index.ww


Posted by: glasnost at February 24, 2006 01:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Glanost, Thanks for the suggestion with the Prospect. When I say less strident I mean less "no blood for oil, less " "Bush is a moron" and more debateable arguments along the lines that you are giving. Let's have a debate about more troops, good or not good, that would be perfect. Let's not have a debate about whether thirty years ago Bush got a sweetheart deal with Arbusto oil from a guy who was an accountant for the Carlisle group, who the hell cares?

Ann Coulter and her ilk are terrible and are not helping anything, but the big difference I see is that you have Senators and top Dem leaders acting like her from the mirror side. You have Jimmy Carter trashing Bush at a funeral, you have Al Gore acting like he just got out of a mental hospital screaming lies about America to Saudi's---what the hell is he doing giving speeches in Saudi Arabia anyway if they are supposedly the ones according to so many Dems we are supposed to be fighting???

We have to have a Democratic leadership with their feet on the ground we can trust. I agree that they need to be more strident in pushing REAL issues---like how to deal with Iraq now that we have figured out that Rumsfeld is out of touch with reality. I think they should be making huge hay out of this torture issue. And btw, torture means putting a prisoner into any kind of physical pain on purpose, other than for the purpose of needed restraint. They should have the same rules as the police do here in the US.

As far as Hannity and Coulter, and Rush, and etc being the stars of the show in our party, I dunno. Even before I lost faith in Bush Hannity pissed me off a lot. I hated every time he called a liberal a socialist, or slapped labels like that on people. Just because you want higher taxes, for example, doesn't mean you are a socialist. I just took Coulter as a joke, she is very funny if you look at her that way. But too many people take her seriously so she is a problem, and you know what, a lot of conservatives have had it with her, especially since she referred to Muslims as ragheads.

But again, the big problem is that Coulter is not a US Senator. Kennedy and Boxer are, and Dean is the head of the Democratic party, and they are sometimes saying things that are just about as bad as her.

Posted by: napablogger at February 24, 2006 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

i was directed to this posting by the cunning realist, and i'm struck by the high level of content that the comments contain: except for napablogger.

you've got to be frickin' kidding us, pal: you aren't in any realistic sense trying to compare the rampant idiocy of Ann Coulter, the way she accuses everyone to her left of treason, the way she makes a joke about killing supreme court justices, and detailed, justified critiques of the failures of the bush administration by Kennedy, Boxer, and Dean are you? tell us you're just kidding, because if you aren't, then you have a lot of remedial work to do.

i gather the author of this blog is Greg, and to Greg i say better late than never: the republican party is not a party of conservatives, it is a party of dangerous right-wing radicals. If all you can do is walk away from it because you have a false sense of the democratic party, it's a start.

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2006 04:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, the continuing quest for the mythical conservative president who can cut taxes without breaking the bank while maintaining a global military presence all at the same time.


Me? I wish I had a pony.

Posted by: Fledermaus at February 24, 2006 05:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We recall the Clinton years with dismay, given his episodic and inneffective reaction to Al-Quada as it grew in strength."
When are you Republicans going to face the fact that it was a Republican president and a Republican congress that were asleep at the wheel when those monster psychopaths hit us on 9/11? Despite all warnings and briefings about Muslim terrorists from the outgoing administration, the Bushistas decided Al-Quada was not a big threat. Indeed, Ashcroft, as AG, had them placed on a priorities list well below pornography and prostitution. You just never admit it. Instead you just keep blaming Clinton. Or Michael Moore. Or Al Gore. Or Maureen Dowd. Or any other Dem who happens to be handy.
What else exactly do you recall with dismay from the Clinton era? Was it the robust economy? The projected surplus? The successful conclusion to the Balkan affair ( which however belated, was due more to European reluctance than Clinton foreign policy)? The general respect of the world? The efforts at peace talks between Israel and Palestine (which the Bushies, at the onset, decided to ignore because it was, according to Bush, a "no-win" situation).
You f88king losers have ruined our once glorious nation. I hope you all burn in hell.

Posted by: Rob at February 24, 2006 07:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I fail to understand why it is so hard for Republicans to admit that when the shiny, new Bush Administration came to power they were unconcerned about terrorism, and the country wasn't all that concerned either.

They wanted more than anything to be Reaganesque and concentrated instead on missle defense. That's how Condoleeza Rice got her job. She was not a terrorism expert, she was an expert on the old Soviet Union and the Cold War.

In retrospect it's clear Clinton didn't do as much as he should have about Al-Qaeda, but he didn't ignore terrorism. Bush's Terrorism Task Force, headed by Dick Cheney, never met prior to 9/11. Yet, somehow, Republicans have succeeded in convincing themselves that all the blame for 9/11 should be on Clinton, as usual. In fact, Bush, Cheney and Rice were all asleep at the wheel.

Posted by: Pug at February 24, 2006 03:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That little light at the end of the tunnel for the mad-dog Republicans who are currently running the joint is the train of public opinion, and it's headed for the RNC. Go ahead, sell off our ports, outlaw abortion, break the federal budget, and start another bloody war based on lies. It'll be your asses being shoved out the door by the voters, and we're not going to let you back in until the adults show up again.

And if another attack on U.S. soil happens, and martial law and the unlimited suspension of the Constitution occurs, there will be no safety for those in charge or those who support the regime. We didn't come this far to give it up to a bunch of white guys in suits who don't even know their history.

Posted by: a_retrogrouch at February 24, 2006 07:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We fight an invisible enemy that views civilisation as decadence and willfully manipulates any sense of humanity or respect. We must become Shiva to deal with the barbarians, and need to bring the war to many para-military groups ....

It isn't that bad yet. There's a chance we can just vote them out and then prosecute them.

It's far too early to call for armed resistance.

Posted by: J Thomas at February 24, 2006 07:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am all set to vote for a Democratic. Please give me someone I can at least stomach. Please.

If you can't stand the Democratic candidate, there's nothing wrong with voting Libertarian. Or Green. Or Prohibition, if you like the candidate.

In the long run we need something like Instant Runoff Voting. Vote for as many candidates as you like, in order of how much you like them. Then you can vote for third-party candidates and your vote still counts. If your first choice washes out your vote counts for your second choice. If your second choice washes out then the third choice counts.

The way it worked out, Nader hurt Gore and he hurt Kerry. But if people could vote for Nader and Gore too, would Nader have won? He would have gotten a lot more votes than he did, and probably more of them would have voted for Gore second than for Bush. The election wouldn't have been so close.

Similarly, Badnarik would have gotten a lot more votes if people could vote Republican too. It isn't impossible he might have won, though that seems unlikely to me.

Why should we be restricted to voting just for the second-worst candidate or throwing our votes away?

Posted by: J Thomas at February 24, 2006 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am all set to vote for a Democratic. Please give me someone I can at least stomach. Please.

If you can't stand the Democratic candidate, there's nothing wrong with voting Libertarian. Or Green. Or Prohibition, if you like the candidate.

In the long run we need something like Instant Runoff Voting. Vote for as many candidates as you like, in order of how much you like them. Then you can vote for third-party candidates and your vote still counts. If your first choice washes out your vote counts for your second choice. If your second choice washes out then the third choice counts.

The way it worked out, Nader hurt Gore and he hurt Kerry. But if people could vote for Nader and Gore too, would Nader have won? He would have gotten a lot more votes than he did, and probably more of them would have voted for Gore second than for Bush. The election wouldn't have been so close.

Similarly, Badnarik would have gotten a lot more votes if people could vote Republican too. It isn't impossible he might have won, though that seems unlikely to me.

Why should we be restricted to voting just for the second-worst candidate or throwing our votes away?

Posted by: J Thomas at February 24, 2006 08:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry -- "treating terrorism as a criminal law issue" sounds like a great idea to me. If this nation ever had any credibility, any power, beyond brute strength, it was because we practised the rule of law. We need more law, not less. The current Administration has managed to make that far more obvious than any previous one since a certin Reich whose mention invokes Godwin's law. No, AQ doesn't agree with me, but I don't hold it to any standard but the law of the jungle. The US on the other hand ... one hopes.

Posted by: janinsanfran at February 24, 2006 10:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

napablogger said:Even Kerry promoted this whole lie thing, by using the line "misled us into war", which is just about saying he lied.

Always fun to read comments like this, suggesting that it is gross hyperbole to claim that Bush misled the nation to war and then see notes like the ones taken down by Cambone on 9/11 when meeting with Rumsfeld which clearly state a commitment to practices which can only be meant to deceive.

One of the things I discovered after the 2000 election was that if you say things the right way enough times, it doesn't matter whether they distort the truth or not, people will still believe them. The fact that so many senators felt Saddam had WMD is as much a disservice to those who misled them as to the senators themselves.

And for what it is worth, Kerry said he thought Saddam had WMD when he voted for the AUMF and wanted to send in more investigators to check and see if this was right. He rightly, and consistently, threw an absolute fit when inspectors found nothing and Bush forced them out and invaded the country anyway.

Posted by: socratic_me at February 24, 2006 10:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Argh. Apparently I gimped up the tag. The link I was providing for Cambone's notes is as follows:

http://www.outragedmoderates.org/2006/02/dod-staffers-notes-from-911-obtained.html

Posted by: socratic_me at February 24, 2006 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am all set to vote for a Democratic. Please give me someone I can at least stomach. Please.

If you can't stand the Democratic candidate, there's nothing wrong with voting Libertarian. Or Green. Or Prohibition, if you like the candidate.

In the long run we need something like Instant Runoff Voting. Vote for as many candidates as you like, in order of how much you like them. Then you can vote for third-party candidates and your vote still counts. If your first choice washes out your vote counts for your second choice. If your second choice washes out then the third choice counts.

The way it worked out, Nader hurt Gore and he hurt Kerry. But if people could vote for Nader and Gore too, would Nader have won? He would have gotten a lot more votes than he did, and probably more of them would have voted for Gore second than for Bush. The election wouldn't have been so close.

Similarly, Badnarik would have gotten a lot more votes if people could vote Republican too. It isn't impossible he might have won, though that seems unlikely to me.

Why should we be restricted to voting just for the second-worst candidate or throwing our votes away?

Posted by: J Thomas at February 24, 2006 11:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Its refreshing to find my liberal self in agreement with a Conservative Republican. Both sides of this debate have been deluded with meaningless words like right/left. I can appreciate the idea of Conservative government and in light of the dictionary definition of Conservative can argue that Clinton, with his obsession for moderation along with the improvments that came from gridlock, was a more Conservative administration then the Bush train wreck. Fighting war with torture, extreem rendition, illegal wiretaps, (taxcuts, etc...and the list does go on), contradict the American values I was raised to believe in also. We used to win wars with our American values because they made us the good guys and we deserved to win becoming the envy of our enemies. Bush however, fights this war like Hitler, and frankly this is not how America succeeds, this is how empires fail. We are not all very different after all. You may have supported Bush in '04', but as for myself, that was the first Presidential election I ever voted in since Bush made me into a voter in '02' after being an apathetic non-voter my whole life.

Posted by: Davol at February 24, 2006 11:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

napablogger:

"...supporting morons of their own like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan,"

Assuming that Michael Moore (world famous MOCKumentary maker) and Cindy Sheehan (Gold Star Mother), are morons, what major countries did they end up as the leaders of, with consequent control of military and economic resources, after their last national elections?

I've forgotten. Please reinformationate me.

I can only remember seeing their films and supporting their anti-war efforts.

Posted by: Ritchie at February 25, 2006 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My critics seem to not be reading my posts. I don't want to be seen as a troll, so I will try one more time, but that's it because it is boring to most repeating yourself over and over.

I am not comparing Ann Coulter to Ted Kennedy. I *am* comparing Ted Kennedy, Dean, Boxer, etc, to Frist, McCain, whichever leaders of the Republicans in Washington you want. The Kennedy crowd gets their talking points from moveon.org. Frist and McCain are basically polite people who make political points, not nasty personal character assasinating slams that they either know are lies or never bother to back up with evidence. I completely disagree with McCain on a lot of things, but I have confidence in him as a basically decent person. I cannot say the same for Kennedy, Schumer, a bunch of Democrats including being fairly shaky on Hillary.

As a voter who is truly in the middle, who has voted for Republicans the last few go rounds, and now feels the need to vote Democratic, I look and that is what I see. It scares me to vote Democratic because they seem like off the wall nutballs. There are plenty of conservative off the wall nutballs, Pat Robertson and James Dobson scare me more than Coulter. But none of those people are running the national party. Dean and Kennedy are.

I don't think I can be any clearer than that, so hi de ho doods.

Posted by: napablogger at February 25, 2006 08:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great discourse and so polite and intelligent we all are today, a breath of fuckin' fresh air.

Napa, just a coupla points: Frist is a liar, everytime I see him he lies about something. And more lately mcCain has taken up the trait in his protection of Bush--I'm disappointed in him but it seems they offered him a run in '08 and he doesn't want to jeopardize it by spouting off--which is what Dean does, and although he misses the mark sometimes, he has a record of spouting the truth more often than not.

As far as Moore goes, you seem to believe the rightwing spin machine a bit too much--altho I don't agree with every point he tried to make in 9/11, the movie was basically news clips strung together with some added history of the Bushes and Saudis (which is all true by the way) adding his little spin here and there (which was almost unnecessary). I could've helped make that movie better by just adding more news clips to tell a bigger story (he left quite a few good ones out) but I wasn't called in on the project.

Okay, that seems like 2 cents.

Posted by: stevie at February 25, 2006 09:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would hope and ultimately expect that there would be some serious conservatives still around who would be courageous enought to see and speak out against the faux conservatism of those running the federal government right now. Those same serious (for lack of a better word) conservatives would also be able to see that even many, perhaps most, liberals share many of the same values that we were all brought up to believe in, and that made the U.S. a respected brand, if you will: the rule of law, the generosity of its citizens, an abhorrence of torture, a reluctance to commit its soldiers to unfounded wars, etc. Frankly, I'll match my real patriotism against anyone's, anytime and anywhere.

The mistake made by many conservatives these days is that they fall into the trap of blaming bogeymen like Michael Moore and Howard Dean. However, the bottom line is that Moore and Dean are not elected officials like Frist and Bush or powerful appointees like Rumsfeld, who has literally the power of life and death as he jets around the planet in his flying headquarters, computers and cameras whirring, issuing commands to kill that person and bomb this town. Moore is simply a fat Midwesterner with a video camera and a bad wardrobe, and Dean is nothing more than a political cheerleader. But they make such luscious targets for those who need straw men to beat for the hoi polloi, eh?

Posted by: a_retrogrouch at February 25, 2006 03:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would hope and ultimately expect that there would be some serious conservatives still around who would be courageous enought to see and speak out against the faux conservatism of those running the federal government right now. Those same serious (for lack of a better word) conservatives would also be able to see that even many, perhaps most, liberals share many of the same values that we were all brought up to believe in, and that made the U.S. a respected brand, if you will: the rule of law, the generosity of its citizens, an abhorrence of torture, a reluctance to commit its soldiers to unfounded wars, etc. Frankly, I'll match my real patriotism against anyone's, anytime and anywhere.

The mistake made by many conservatives these days is that they fall into the trap of blaming bogeymen like Michael Moore and Howard Dean. However, the bottom line is that Moore and Dean are not elected officials like Frist and Bush or powerful appointees like Rumsfeld, who has literally the power of life and death as he jets around the planet in his flying headquarters, computers and cameras whirring, issuing commands to kill that person and bomb this town. Moore is simply a fat Midwesterner with a video camera and a bad wardrobe, and Dean is nothing more than a political cheerleader. But they make such luscious targets for those who need straw men to beat for the hoi polloi, eh?

Posted by: a_retrogrouch at February 25, 2006 03:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm sorry that Napablogger's good points are being ignored.

Here's something for my fellow Dems to ponder:

One of our big objections to Bush is his simplistic "axis of evil" thinking, his inability to consider shades of gray, his polarization of Americans into the virtuous Bush supporters and the treasonous Bush opponents.

**Should we really be trying to be like that?**

Kos posters often suggest that we have to turn the enemy's polarizing ways against him.

I don't think that deliberate obtuseness is anything Dems need to aim for. Americans appreciate self-professed moderation and reasonableness. They've seen precious little from either party.

Posted by: Anderson at February 25, 2006 07:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

i left this comment over on the poorman, but greg, you yourself say you aren't going to hang around "to be mocked."

i mock you, as below. but i must note, that whatever anger comes through in the post has been doubled, nay, tripled, reading some of the comments here, and actually bothering to read further and deeper into your oeuvre. to think that you represent some kind of sentient wing of the republican party is just shocking. i truly believe that ultimately people like you (smart, educated, somewhat self-aware) are the most dangerous people of all. i can't take someone like napablogger seriously--his claims that coulter et al have some sort of balance on the mainstream left are ludicrous and beneath rational discourse and its discontents (haha, just coined that one, kind of like it.)

so before we get to much further, don't read what i wrote below without imaging that you aren't just mocked--you are loathed. deeply. and now on to the comment.


yes greg, let the mocklehead begin.

i will point out that being left has meant being right about almost everything over the past several years. everything.

it could be a series of coincidences. it could be that yours are not the “true believers” that you projected them as being. but the greater likelihood is that our set of beliefs, our pattern recognition, and our hard-headed realism are just stronger than yours. more accurate than yours.

George bush, as has been pointed out many times in many places, was a failure in every area of his life. his grades in school, his life after school, his draft-dodgin’ and woman-chasin’ and drug-snortin’, his shitty nose for oil, his “lucky” kick-save-and-a-beauty he kept receiving from friends of papa’s…comethefuckon. the guy was and is and always will be a loser. rumsfeld was bad at his former jobs. cheney was bad at his former jobs. bush was putting cronies into important positions in 2001. bush lied and cheated and stole to get elected in the first place. and yet. the sun will also rise tomorrow. that you believe the latter but had to be led kicking and screaming into the former speaks very badly about your mental acuity. you put stupid ideological bias before intellectual merit, and thanks motherfucker, because my kids (and yours, you prickbag) are going to pay the price. and it is fucking steep. do you start, on some level, to understand the anger many of us good patriotic moderate lefties feel towards you and your ilk?

Posted by: robert green at February 26, 2006 01:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

oh, and to anderson--you might want to read howard dean's speech (excerpted on crooks and liars) before you bat around the crap about a lack of "reasonableness".

everything dean said was right. everything. he called the entire fuck up note for note. and he got nothing but vilification from "serious" people like greg d.

they are assholes, anderson. they lie and they justify other's lies in order to keep power. oh, and because they are afraid of their own shadows and they need daddy to take care of them. that intellectuals like greg provide them cover--well, i'm not going to break godwin's law, but damn am i tempted.

Posted by: robert green at February 26, 2006 02:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

oh, and to anderson--you might want to read howard dean's speech (excerpted on crooks and liars) before you bat around the crap about a lack of "reasonableness".

everything dean said was right. everything. he called the entire fuck up note for note. and he got nothing but vilification from "serious" people like greg d.

they are assholes, anderson. they lie and they justify other's lies in order to keep power. oh, and because they are afraid of their own shadows and they need daddy to take care of them. that intellectuals like greg provide them cover--well, i'm not going to break godwin's law, but damn am i tempted.

Posted by: robert green at February 26, 2006 02:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well. As a liberal, I welcome you to the world of traitors. Vaseline?

Posted by: scarshapedstar at February 26, 2006 07:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Shorter napablogger:

The Democrats failed in their obligation to criticize the majority party because they actually criticized the majority party.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at February 26, 2006 07:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmph. With apologies for piling on, I would just point out that all the mockery has a serious point. To wit, since you have, in fact, expended a good deal of effort over the past few years denying (at least implicitly) what you now concede, and since that denial has in fact led to what might reasonably be called horrifying and tragic consequences, a corresponding measure of humility might be appropriate.

It's not just a matter of schadenfreude, and it's not just a matter of inviting you into the reality based community. The embarassment would also be good for you morally and intellectually, in roughly the same ways and for the same reasons that the pain part of touching a hot stove is good for your survival. If it hurts this time then next time maybe you'll check whether the stove is turned on before you touch it. If it doesn't hurt you're liable to forget.

Your call of course...

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"We, in short, urgently need new leadership, most likely someone whose competence is near unimpeachable (think Rudy) or can much better balance our national security imperatives with our moral values (think John McCain)." How about Bush 3rd?:) Funny, ah? But I think Bush's brother has chances to win the coming elections.
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Posted by: Helen at May 11, 2006 11:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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