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December 30, 2004

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And how about this from the Times:

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 Billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

Is there a list of the value of the non-cash aid the U.S. is donating? I seem to recall reading somewhere that the U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier group and additional ships (hospital ship maybe?) to help, those aren't the least expensive things to run.

Good point Ugh.

I'm certainly not trying to build the argument that the US government is not working hard on this, just that they can't seem to get out ahead of the story PRwise.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier group

Yep, any nation that aids or abets a tsunami is going to feel the full wrath of the United States military. Seriously though, the problem is that the current administration does not know how to project soft power. A tsunami? Send in the troops!

It's simply amazing. I have some little inside information on the scope of the Admin's activities wrt tsunami relief, and it is truly impressive.

The great skill that the political people at the WH have shown in sending subtle, and sometimes not subtle, messages to their base on topics of interest to their base is also truly impressive.

What I think is happening here is two things. (1) There's somehow just less interest in trying to communicate what they're doing to people not in the base -- as if the Admin sees its job in terms of serving those who support it, only, and who cares what everyone else thinks. (2) There are some among the Admin's base who do not appreciate foreign aid, even in the face of a disaster like this. Not a majority, certainly. But enough to be taken into account -- when aroused -- so the WH would rather not blow it's horn, even when it's doing what I'd consider truly impressive work.

Maybe, we should redirect all the money spent on AID's and cancer research and redirect it to Tsunamic warning system.

Maybe, we should redirect money spent on Welfare to Tsunami relief.

Maybe, we should fire the 5,000 sailors we are sending there and just send money instead.

Bitch, gripe, whine...

thanks for the insight Charley...that certainly explains a lot

Maybe you should re-read the post, smlook.

(1) There's somehow just less interest in trying to communicate what they're doing to people not in the base -- as if the Admin sees its job in terms of serving those who support it, only, and who cares what everyone else thinks.

That'd fit in with the House Republicans' apparent attitude, as outlined in this post.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/30/103814/07

Number of deaths due to four Florida hurricanes in 2004: 117

Number of deaths due to Aceh earthquake and tsunami in 2004: 120,000+

Homeless due to Florida hurricanes: 11,000

Homeless due to Aceh earthquake/tsunami: 5,000,000

US government aid to help Florida hurricane victims: $2.04 billion

US government aid to help Aceh earthquake/tsunami victims: $35 million

Estimated cost of George Bush's upcoming inaguration celebration, not including security costs: $40 million

US government direct cost, per hour, of the US war in Iraq: $9 million

That's devious Josh. And makes perfect sense.

This PR situation has arisen because it plays into the flaws of the Bush administration. For all their political skill, they are not politically nimble. This episode is somewhat reminiscent of the kerfuffle over the arsenic standards for drinking water from early in the first term, where they looked like they couldn't punch their way out of a wet paper bag. For all its strengths, this administration appears to work very well with a formal playbook, but very poorly where improvisation is required.

While I understand the benefits of a grand gesture, I suspect that money is flowing in more quickly than it can be put to use right now - hundreds of millions of dollars. Providing money for food, medicine and other disaster relief supplies faster than those things can be purchased and delivered doesn't improve the situation on the ground.

If the administration and the Congress put together a thoughtful, comprehensive, generous aid package within a few days, I'll be satisfied.

More to Morgan's point about the grand gesture, Bush needs a PR coup on the world stage. This one was a no brainer to me...unless...the more I think about it, the more Josh's suggestion best explains it all, although I think etc.'s observation is on the money as well.

I'm surprised that Condi Rice, who seems so focused on message discipline, missed such a major PR opportunity. While the various entities (PACOM, the Pentagon, USAID, and the State department) were doing lots of work from the beginning, the NSC didn't get into gear until yesterday. I just don't get it.

The word pitiful keeps blistering up through the puss of much of your puny positioning. We could have a Vesuvius pile of cash sitting at the ready and nothing could be done with it at the moment. Edward, we've had some decent arguments, and I realize I'm a minor character in this particular blog neighborhood, but you're efforts to dredge up the worst posts regarding what our country will ultimately mean to the efforts needed saddens me. The New York Times for Christ's sake. Many of the world organizations that will respond to this horrible crisis are 40 to 60 percent funded by our wonderful country. Many of the on the ground expertise and logistical efforts will be provided by our country. All you and those who provide you with MSM tidbits can think to do is trash our administration and our country with your persistant negativity and vitriol. I know you have the right, and I'm proud to support your right, but it saddens me still. A marriage license can't be that symbolically important to you to hold so much rage against one man. And he's not even the one you have to convince. Saddened! I'm truly saddened. Have a Happy freak'n New Year.

Many of the world organizations that will respond to this horrible crisis are 40 to 60 percent funded by our wonderful country

read what he wrote, not what you want him to write.

The word pitiful keeps blistering up through the puss of much of your puny positioning.

awesome alliteration blogbudsman, but the rest of that comment is total hogwash...really, drop the "must defend Bush at every turn" armor and re-read the post.

I'm not questioning the effort. As Charley points out, behind the scenes it's apparently awesome.

I'm questioning why the Amdinistration isn't getting the same kind of headlines for its efforts that other nations are.

Really, it's that simple. And it's worth discussing

Oh, and this:

A marriage license can't be that symbolically important to you to hold so much rage against one man.

This is way beneath you. Really, even if you don't think so yourself, it is.

"The word pitiful keeps blistering up through the puss of much of your puny positioning"

You can do better. Try. You can disagree with Edward without attacking him.


Was it always like this? I start to see where Moe was coming from. Time away doesn't actually help. It just makes the crap even more stark when you come back to it.

Was it always like this? I start to see where Moe was coming from. Time away doesn't actually help. It just makes the crap even more stark when you come back to it.

Suggestions are welcome.

Suggestions are welcome.

How about actually banning some people? Or, better yet, take a cue from Teresa Nielsen Hayden and remove all the vowels from less-than-civil posts. It's easy to do automatically, and it gets the point across.

Ban him and Stan.

Ban him and Stan.

No good purpose will be served. Heck, I wouldn't even suggest banning Tacitus whose posts have generally been more insulting and offensive.

Back on topic: anybody notice those socialists from Spain are chipping in with 50M Euros? Despite the fact Spanish casualties in the disaster are estimated to be under a dozen?

How about actually banning some people?

We have, but we don't like to let it come to that.

Believe it or not, there are many commenters still on this site who someone on the ObWi board has suggested be banned at one point or another. It goes with the mission of trying to welcome all points of views. We often debate it behind the scenes, and generally we decide to keep the banning at a minimum.

If we were just dedicated to the left or dedicated to the right POV, there would be more bannings. But what seems outrageous to me, often seems acceptable to one of the rightwing authors, and visa versa.

In the end, of course, we risk alienating the commenters who participate within the spirit of the site, but we've also watched someone who started off offending half the regulars turn into a welcome addition (after a bit of subtle nudging).

What I'm getting at is that we're never going to accomplish the goal of civilized discourse across the political spectrum if we can't keep a balance of POVs. It ain't easy, but I at least think it's worth it.

What I'm getting at is that we're never going to accomplish the goal of civilized discourse across the political spectrum if we can't keep a balance of POVs. It ain't easy, but I at least think it's worth it.

You'll note I didn't name any names. I can think of people on both sides who deserve to be banned.

But this is why I prefer the solution of removing vowels. It's a far more precise tool than banning, and if people want to go to the effort of reading the offending bit, they can.

Honestly, though, some action is required. Right now it looks like bad behavior merits only a slap on the wrist, nothing more.

I think Charley's post and Josh's link tell pretty much the whole story. To me, it is just more evidence the political arm runs the whole shebang.

"Heck, I wouldn't even suggest banning Tacitus whose posts have generally been more insulting and offensive."

There's a difference between personal insults and dripping condescension. AFAIK, Tacitus only takes issue with people's arguments and ideologies, and it's fairly amusing in any case. Calling people "homo" and mocking their grandparents' maladies, on the other hand, is certainly against the posting rules. But it's not my site.

Calling people "homo"

Where?

mocking their grandparents' maladies,

The target of that let it slide. The person who made the comment explained, without malice, what was meant.

But it's not my site.

As a regular, though, it is. We do seriously consider all suggestions for banning. Truly. But, again, we work hard to keep them to a minimum.

What ends up disuading us usually is that most often its those on the opposite side of the fence calling for someone to be banned. If someone on the same side of the fence called for it, we'd be more likely to heed the call.

"It goes with the mission of trying to welcome all points of views."

Animosity isn't a point of view. There are people from all shades on the spectrum who can more or less keep it constructive and people from all shades who more or less can't. Anyway, my personal soul searching on the tenor of online political debate is really, really off topic, so on topic:

There seems to be a disconnect between those who look down on Presidents making PR decisions as inauthentic posturing and those who think that PR decisions are part and parcel of leadership. I tend to fall into the latter. Standing up and giving a speech about how horrible and important something is and asking your citizens to do their part is exactly what a president is supposed to do. He's not just an executive, he's a statesman. Or at least he's supposed to be.

Well, to try and steer the comments back on topic --

Does any rightie care to comment on this cheap shot from a WH mouthpie- er "source" regarding Bush waiting 3 days to make a statement :
"The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

Why say this? What is the point? WTF? Again, Charley's comments spell it out. They will miss no opportunity to play to the base. Ever. With that sort of playbook, the opposition can't assume the WH is acting in good faith b/c apparently, good manners and compassion for people killed in a disaster annoy the base.

In the Bad at Diplomacy thread, both Sebastian Holsclaw and Stan LS appeared to be positively defending the Bush administration's response to the disaster. (By "positively defending" I mean that, rather than sniping at people criticizing Bush, they were arguing that Bush's reaction was the right way to respond.)

So I'd be interested in seeing, in this thread (or in a new post from Sebastian) why they see this apparent PR failure as the correct reaction.

Because I agree with Edward: I think this is a PR failure on Bush's part. But Sebastian and Stan don't appear to feel that PR or diplomacy are important.

Oddly enough, for something of this magnitude, I find myself in sympathy with that idea - it's far more important to help than how the help is offered. But it does seem to be symptomatic of a particular style of Republican government: not just in response to a massive disaster, but in general, that the response is Who cares what you think?

So I'd be interested in seeing, in this thread (or in a new post from Sebastian) why they see this apparent PR failure as the correct reaction.

Well, Sebastian did say it would be disastrous if the media accused Bush of "grandstanding."

Lord knows putting on a flightsuit and proclaiming the war was over wasn't grandstanding.

So let me get this straight...

We should use this tragedy to gain PR points.

We should rush in and start throwing money around without planning first.

I guess when you build your house on sand one can only expect such much.

smlook-
This has been explained to you before, please go back and read the other post. It isn't called "PR", it's called "leadership".

I will, however, address this silly notion that money spent now is wasted. Fact is, some of it will be used inefficiently but that is the nature of the beast. It will be misdirected, spent on items that are never used, and go in the pockets of criminals. Tough tittie. Some of it will be spent in a way that saves lives, that is the whole freakin' point. "Bang for the buck" needs to take a back seat to immediate need.

So, the need for money is now. There isn't enough fuel to get material and personel to the remote areas where many are dead and dying. Communicable disease is breaking out in the hospitals and there isn't enough medical supplies and doctors to go around. Children are orphaned, people are dealing with loss, and homes are destroyed. There isn't enough housing and social services to deal with those problems. Money will help all of those things TODAY.

I'm beginning to get the feeling the disgust shown by some here is a reaction to those smelly Europeans trying to show us up by giving more and reacting more quickly.

Also, no comments on my request a few posts up?

Jesurgislac's link is interesting and may lend some clue even to me of why this discourse has bothered me so...

"Our opinion? There are plenty of traditional outlets for expressing dissatisfaction with the policies and actions of elected representatives, but ... telling him he's doing a lousy job isn't one of them. Such behavior demonstrates a lack of respect for the office of President of the United States, an honor that should be maintained ..."

My editing changes the content a bit, but not too much I hope.

Ironically, the way the President is forced to play his hand may be his only recourse given the obvious intent of many Democrats the next four years. By remaining low key, regardless of the great potential for photo ops, and thereby opening himself to under spin criticism, most liberal complainers are more likely to come across as ridiculous whiners. If the minority party won't let you take any credit for anything, then let them pull themselves down with manic negativity while solid action plans are put into place below the din. There's a certain dignity to that. People feel it. And Edward, I appreciate your comments regarding banning. Choirs bring forth a comforting sound. These are not comforting times.

Eddie, I just skipped over the comments but please note the differences between a parlimentary system and ours (such us who controls the purse) JFTR.

Now what is the daily costs of operating two USN assault groups in the Pacific?

"may be his only recourse given the obvious intent of many Democrats the next four years."

It's not a compliment to suggest the President is letting crass domestic politics dictate his response to global crises. And without a re-election to worry about, no less. Is he really so weak?

"Choirs bring forth a comforting sound. These are not comforting times."

Sorry, you don't get that easy defense. Nobody recommended to anybody banning on ideological grounds. People ought be banned for being habitually rude and hostile towards other commentors. Don't you think?

--
Now what is the daily costs of operating two USN assault groups in the Pacific?
--

Were they going to be in drydock instead, without a crew? This is what you call a "sunk cost". It is going to help for sure, but many other countries are sending naval forces (and food aid in the case of India). Commendable but expected.

but many other countries are sending naval forces

Name them.

So you don't uderstand the difference between operating cost and fixed costs, here is some help, after you buy car (fixed costs) you have to pay for fuel and maitenance (operating costs). You also pay the drivers of the ship, the Marines who will provide the manpower, aviators, engineers.....you get the picture.

I was about to post here a comment much along the lines of my comment below, but I was diverted at Tacitus by Harley. He was the first commenter I've read, out of probably hundreds of comments on this topic on various sites over the past day or two, to point out the obvious -- the comparison shouldn't be between Bush and Clinton but Bush and Reagan (and Bush 41 I might add).

So I'm taking the liberty of contributing my previously posted Tacitus comment to this thread -- for which it had originally been intended -- with a request for your understanding that its style was adapted for the Tacitus audience. (You can go there for Timmy's reaction, my response etc)

***********

To Harley -- It's remarkable that it took 98 comments [his was the 98th in the Tacitus thread] for the real kicker to be mentioned, and by a Democrat.

Ronald Reagan would have said something fast and appropriate. It would have extended America's sympathies and solidarity with those suffering. It would have said we were going to do everything in our power to help. He wouldn't have mentioned dollars at a time of such pain and ongoing catastrophe. He just say that he'd told his folks to raise heaven and earth to get that help there as fast as possible.

And that would have limited the finger-pointing at early small $s, because it would have been clear that the first $s were just emergency pots we already have on hand, and more would come once the countries affected were able to say what they needed. It also would have pointed to the massive logistical resources of PACOM being on the case.

The international assistance efforts are going to be doled out over months or more. No one is going to be paying attention to the precise final figures or exactly what the US navy did or didn't do. The important thing from the President -- and what it means to show leadership -- is to demonstrate solidarity of America with those who need help in their time of need.

In November, people around the globe felt that they had something at stake in our Presidential election, because, like it or not, our President is also the most powerful leader in the world. So in effect we were electing their leader, not only our own. Many of them have an emotional connection with the US president that's unlike their attitudes toward any other foreign leader. Reagan understood that. Bush's father understood that. Clinton understood that. Why Bush 43 doesn't is totally beyond me.

Aside from Bush 43's lousy instincts by comparison with his predecessors, this has been a remarkable demonstration of what's wrong with this Admin in the field of public diplomacy. We just had a major study published that was a full-scale indictment of "strategic communication" from the Defense Science Board. Everyone nods sagely, agrees that we're not doing a great job communicating what's good about America, that this is a serious priority on par with improving our intelligence capacity.

But here's this terrific opportunity to combine facts -- major contributions no other country can make -- with global recognition of how important it is for the US to take the lead, and how willing the US is to step up to the plate.

And they blew it. They blew the chance to communicate something real -- not spin, not propaganda. Real stuff that the US does that's really, really good.

That's potentially a whole lot more valuable than spending money on Arabic language radio stations or Cuban broadcasting. But they just don't get it.

Facts are facts, but perceptions are reality.


turn off ital?

does this do the trick?

The target of that let it slide. The person who made the comment explained, without malice, what was meant.

I'd suggest that is one of the problematic points. If you let this kind of behavior slide, it virtually requires future victims to be let things slide or risk being called thin-skinned.

I also think you should establish some procedural standards, for ex. giving people a break when they start dumping multiple 3 or 4 line posts that are simply snark, or flagging people when they change the subject. I seem to recall a classroom experiment where the teacher, as an illustration, started putting limits on how much students could say and slowly racheting down those limits, and what it ended up was the same situation that comes about here, where it is simply trading barbs. I also think y'all should make people apologize. I know it's like being on the playground, but if people could internalize this, we might have a decent conversation on some of this issues.

Hope that works

btw, nadezhda, I loved the Sontag post that praktike passed on here.

Many thanks! (for both getting rid of the ital and for the kind comment)

--
Name them.
--

From wikipedia:

"Japan will provide USD 30 million in aid to affected countries, and will send three navy vessels to waters off Thailand to help search for missing people.

India ... The federal government has pledged INR 1 billion (US$ 23 million) to Sri Lanka and Maldives in addition to warships and aircraft to distribute relief supplies. A federal budgetary allocation of INR 7 billion (US$ 160 million) has been earmarked for immediate distribution to affected Indian provinces."

Australia ... "Three Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules were immediately dispatched, laden with essentials such as medical supplies, water purification units, blankets and bottled water. Two more Hercules are on route, and once supplies are delivered, they will remain in the region to ferry more supplies to the affected areas. Ten medical specialists are also on board. Two AFP body identification teams, diplomatic staff and medical supplies are on route to Thailand aboard a donated Virgin Blue flight. Teams of medical and emergency professional are being continuingly sent."

Germany ... "On December 30th one unit with 23 members of the THW is sent to the Maldives to generate purified drinking water. According to the government, other military units are on stand by for humanitarian support."

Greece ... "two planes will carry to those countries over 6 tons of humanitarian materials."

Also Spain, Norway, Brazil are sending military units.

Of course the US sends much more --
"The United States has dispatched several C-130 cargo planes containing disaster supplies, six P-3 Orion aircraft for search and rescue support, and several teams from the State Department and the Defense Department to coordinate additional assistance. They are using Utapao Naval Air Base in Thailand as their regional hub. Additionally, the United States has offered assistance from its troops stationed in Japan. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which was in port in Hong Kong, and a five ship fleet led by the USS Bonhomme Richard, scheduled for a port call in Guam, were dispatched to render assistance."

This is not a pissing match, I'd like to point out. We have much more resources, we should give more. My point is that the fact we are sending military units is not unique.

Yes, I know it what operating costs are. Do you seriously think those units, already in the sea, would not have cost us a penny? Would those engineers not have been paid? Were they hired yesterday? I know that isn't your point. It will cost more to deploy them to the areas affected than wherever they were supposed to be, but not an order of magnitude more. We can afford it.

Just posted this in another thread, but after reading lj's latest, I'm posting it here too:

Hi. I was away until yesterday night, with a brief flicker of internet access in the middle, which did not allow me to play bad cop. So I have no idea who started what, and I really don't want to read all the comment threads to find out. So:


People. Stop it. No more snarks about people's disabled relatives, how long anyone has been in the country, etc., etc. Make points. Argue your cases with passion. Care deeply about the issues, and let this shine through in your posts. But leave the insults out of it.


Next time, I will name names and snarl and growl and do my very best alpha bitch imitation. If that doesn't work, I should warn you: I have been with my nephews, and that means I have just spent a week or so remembering my entire stock of knock-knock jokes. With time on my hands and such lethal weapons, it won't be pretty. Spare yourselves and your fellow commenters. Be civil.

but many other countries are sending naval forces

Name them

Well, Australia for one. (Ah, beaten by heet. The point still stands).

It's interesting to see the how the response from our conservative government, which usually parallels yours in so many respects, differs in this instance. Of course, we do live a lot closer to the disaster.

The PR value of immediate response should not be underestimated. Despite my usual cynicism about the actions of our government, the fact we have immediately given $AU35 million has raised my opinion - even against my own better judgement. I think the US missed an opportunity here to regain some goodwill from the international community.

This is not a pissing match, I'd like to point out.

Actually, it has been from the very beginning (unusual for Eddie btw). Style over substance is the best way to describe it or Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" is a better description. The amplification is what the left seeks, the constancy of the reverberations is actually amusing, so please keep it up, your dignity is slipping badly.

Timmy: blanket claims about what 'the left' or 'the right' wants are a violation of the posting rule. Stop it.

Knock knock
Who's there?
Duane.
Duane Who?
Duane the bathtub, I'm duowning.

I told you it wouldn't be pretty.

Your metaphor is good but overwrought. I'm not going to lie to you and say there is no political point-scoring going on but c'mon, is that all you got? I'd still like to hear how this was NOT a missed opportunity besides "who cares what they think" (fatally flawed) or "substance counts more" (debated here and elsewhere, guess where I stand?).

hilzoy, I suggest you look at the post(s) and then the comments and then Phil's "Wall of Sound".

We never wanted Bush to be President
yes, yes
Bush never liststens to us
no, no.

PR is so important
Europe is so upset
India, Japan and Australia
We prefer France and Germany
Why isn't Kerry the President
He done it right
The dog and pony show
Would have dominated the nightly news

We never wanted Bush to be President
yes, yes
Bush never liststens to us
no, no.


Form over substance, can you sing the tune hilzoy?

My favorite is really meta knock-knock joke"

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Interrupting Cow.

Interruptin..(MOOOOOOOOOO!)

Last time I told it it went:

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Interrupting Cow.

That's not funny.

Timmy: As I said in my first, general threatening post, I am not going to read everything and figure out who said what first. I am starting now, and alas you happened to step over the line first. Further violators will be dealt with with further annoying posts.

Timmy -- I like that one better than "Shaddup You Whiney Hippie! (and Get a Job)." It has a better beat.

I'm not going to lie to you and say there is no political point-scoring going on but c'mon, is that all you got?

Well of course you aren't going to lie, point-scoring has dominated wings on this topic (again, unusual for Eddie). Given hilzoy's warning along with normal civility, I have more but it would definitely violate the posting rules.

Over at Tac before the election, Traveler raised the issue if those of us on the right would give Kerry the chance to govern. Traveler was surprised by the response, we had certain issues (Iraq and SCOTUS justices) we were ready to pounce upon but style (PR)wasn't one of them.

Style over substance and Phil's "Wall of Sound" describes the post and the conversation to a tee.

Arrgh. With the bickering and what-not, I forgot my original purpose in checking out ObWi today.

Namely: so Jeb Bush has been named as part of the US delegation to the region, and I'm afraid I don't know enough about the political subtleties of the situation to determine where to stand on the matter. Leaving aside the matter of him being the President's brother: is the Governor of Florida an appropriate personage to send in this situation? (From a PR point of view, since that's what the thread's about.)

President's Brother carries some weight -- particularly in the 2nd/3rd world, where that sort of thing matters more. I suppose you could make the argument that he has experience with natural disasters, but the comparison with Florida would probably just be insulting to the millions of people affected.

As I said in my first, general threatening post, I am not going to read everything and figure out who said what first.

Not for nothing hilzoy, you are about three posts late on this particular subject. As I noted to Von over at Tac, Wings is starting to look more and more like the Kingdom of Kos.

Ok, Timmy, this one's for you. I'm going to hate myself in the morning BUT --

Jeb may actually be a good choice. He is governor of a state that has had several humanitarian disasters in the past year. Different scales and different problems (insurance payouts vs. cholera) but experience that is appropriate.

hilzoy, cept for no vulgarity.

Well heet, Jeb probably makes for a better photo-op, the PR thing, but I would have preferred more Marines, front loaders and water purification units, limited dog and pony opportunities though.

Well, of course I'm late; I was out of town, and then spent today in a futile quest for a bird. (But I did see a great bumper sticker: in tiny letters, it said:

Are you following Jesus this close?

I was behind it at a red light, not tailgating, I hasten to add.)

In general, I have tried to be even-handed in enforcing the rules. As I said, it was just that you were the first person who stepped over the line after my warning post.

Timmy, if I am interpreting your post correctly, you are way out of line. Hilzoy gave her reason for not being involved and you seem to be calling her a liar. Take a break and come back next year.

I think that if we focus on Bush's National Guard record we can get Kerry elected President.

When can we stop the worthless attacks? They didn't work during the election won't work now.

Hey everyone... guess what country supplied 40% of the money for disaster relief for the entire world last year?

You only get one guess. Answer can be found in the NY times.


Heet,

Your posts aren't really worth responding to. Bush sucks. Bush bad. Bush evil. No blood for oil. Why would one bother?


I think Jeb's a great idea, and not for the dog & pony business. Although from the gesture standpoint, it's good that the Prez is sending someone who is so personally close to him and will be reporting back directly to him, not as a bureaucrat but on a personal basis.

Jeb has had to coordinate with all sorts of levels, both government and private sector, and deal with the public communication aspects. He knows what the US gov't does well, what types of resources we might be able to deploy that would do the most good. He knows about priorities, critical paths, bottlenecks, etc.

A Marine may know how to get his particular piece of the puzzle done, but there's an overall executive function that the governors of states, especially those who have regular natural disasters, get to be pros at. The only folks who have comparable experience are certain parts of FEMA and the Nat'l Guard.

It's why praktike earlier suggested Zinni, since Zinni has the unusual experience of mobilizing to help the Kurds in particular as well as a thorough understanding of how the military operates.

lj: It's not clear to me what the post meant, so I'll let it pass.

liberal, I was very clear to note (as hilzoy noted herself) she was late to the party, which coverd more than just this particular post.

hilzoy, please note, I take no issue with your warning or how you are applying it, after all this is your blog and not mine.

Praktike,

No need to ban. All you need to do is ask me to leave and I won't overstay my welcome.

Edward,

calling people "homo" and mocking their grandparents' maladies, on the other hand, is certainly against the posting rules.

Can we ban some few of praktike's strawmen?

Since I waded in at this point, I should explain what got my dander up.

Not for nothing hilzoy, you are about three posts late on this particular subject.

I am trying to parse the 'not for nothing' comment. Obviously, something led hilzoy to comment now rather than earlier. I find it hard to parse this as a 'gee, how are your nephews', but that may just be me.

However, this seems to be an illustration of how shorter and shorter messages increase the noise. These threads have the potential of discussing how we measure generosity, how aid is disbursed, the unique nature of this disaster and how American foreign policy aims synch or conflict with aid. Thailand is the closest location and our ties with that country are the strongest, but it is the least affected of the nations. Somalia has been ignored, even though the opportunity to provide aid might deal with facts on the ground there. Indonesia is an obvious place where the Islamic insurgency could be dealt with in a way that would win hearts and minds, especially as the US military has ties to the Indonesian military. I personally wonder about the large number of identity documents that now available. The tension between supporting UN efforts and questioning the value/legitimacy of the UN is also interesting, but everytime someone suggests that the admin's response has been to avoid legitimizing the UN, we are treated with a rain of comments about oil for food, or North Korean refugees, or how we should sell the UN building and send the money to the tsunami victims. Pathetic, given that the holiday season doesn't end until after the new year.

See lj, if someone had posted or commented on those subjects, it would have been an interesting conversation but scoring points is what it (the three posts) has been all about.

Just one point, you've missed the efforts of this Admin with regards to India as well as Pakistan. Just as important, Indonesia just had a free election and a change of government. The American MSM don't cover these topics, resulting in the aforementioned gotcha game.

Timmy--
And we know you have never, ever ever ever tried to score points. How's the weather up on that high horse of yours?

Seriously, though. I admitted to trying to score points as a gesture of good will. You know as well as I that arguing in good faith AND scoring points are both possible. Why else do you post on these sites?

...it would have been an interesting conversation but scoring points is what it (the three posts) has been all about.

Mind-reading. Ten yards.

IOW: Give the lady a break, Timmy. It's the holiday season and she's trying to get some control over the melee that's broken out all over ObWi. Lord knows we need it.

And thank you, hilzoy, for trying. Ditto to all the moderators; you're all doing a fraught and (mostly) thankless job here at ObWi, and here's to hoping that a measure of equanimity will return to our little slice o' heaven once the year begins anew.

The American MSM don't cover these topics

That argument is tinfoil-hat type nonsense. MSM coverage of the Indonesian elections:

Fox
CBS
CNN
NY Times
BBC (oops, strike this one, you said American)
MSNBC
Washington Post
USA Today
CS Monitor

Unless you are getting your news from the placemat at Pizza Hut, the coverage is there if you want it.

Here's a useful mental exercise: of the 73 posts as of this writing, how many of them actually addressed the substance of Edward's post, as opposed to a) reading into it something that wasn't there, or b) engaging in same-old point scoring and penis wars with the Usual Suspects?

I just mentioned it on the Sontag thread, but the meta-blog discussion seems to be hotter over here, so:

I think ObWings needs a new mission statement and a new set of posting rules to support them. Von's description in the Sontag thread is a good start. If the purpose really is to foster discussion across the aisle, then let's see rules in place to encourage or enforce that, and the appropriate warnings and/or bannings for people who refuse to look past their own nose.

See lj, if someone had posted or commented on those subjects, it would have been an interesting conversation

10:46 post on Bad at Diplomacy
Just to be fair, I'm sure that one problem is that the US has to equally aid the affected nations. I imagine the urge would have been to aid Thailand first, even though it is the least affected, because more Americans are there. Aid to Aceh and Indonesian areas where the Muslim insurgency is active could not only cause problems, but also may interfere in what Indonesia has planned. There is no easy way to incorporate the infrastructure that the US boasts of into the larger relief effort.

my 10:10 post on the same thread
I have to wonder if there is some resistance to giving money to international agencies on the part of the Bush admin. I have to think the four nation initiative that Bush touted (Japan, Oz, India and the US) is also a way to go around the various international agencies. Bush is not playing to the base of people who are isolationist, he's playing to the base of people who do not trust the UN, but he doesn't want to insult what I would guess would be the majority of people who think that the UN's work (through agencies like Unicef and the High Commission on Refugees) is admirable.

your 10:22reply
I'm just wondering what the High Commission on Refugees have done for the North Koreans in the PRC. I could also mention several situations in Africa but the PRC is more poignant.

Interesting definition of interesting.

I'm in complete agreement with KenB's point both above and in the Sontag thread (which will hopefully be the last there)

Wings is starting to look more and more like the Kingdom of Kos.

then away, and spare your shadow the displeasure of darkening these shores.

"scoring points is what it (the three posts) has been all about."

Aww -- why? WHY? Edward is one of the least point-scorey people I have ever virtually met.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Police.
Police who?
Police let me in; I'm freezing out here.

(It will only get worse.)

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Abe Lincoln.

Abe Lincoln who?

Do you really not know who Abe Lincoln is?

Aww -- why? WHY?

That's what I wanna know -- why, why do you punish the rest of us, hilzoy?

(You've seen Ted Barlow's warehouse of lightbulb jokes, right? Are we going to have to start up something similar for your knock-knock jokes?)

and heet: two wrongs don't make a right, and all that.

I had two main thoughts about your post,

As far as PR, yes it was bad to the world but will bolster the right wingers who don't like the UN ('How dare those jerks criticize us?'). I don't think it was planned that way though, I agree with you they just were asleep at the wheel (kinda like 9-11).

In reacting to disasters like these, what is the break-down between private and govenment donations amongst the worlds countries? I would think socialist type countries, their citizens would look to their governments to act for them. Here maybe different. IF this is the case then the UN official that complained may have been premature in his complaint.

In reacting to disasters like these, what is the break-down between private and govenment donations amongst the worlds countries?

This LAtimes article has a good breakdown of the figures involved, though this is not disaster aid, but general giving, I think (free registration is required)

And here is what some might say is an unwelcome geopolitical development, China is now ramping up its aid providing mechanisms. While the aid totals are a drop in the bucket (2-3 million), providing actual manpower will put a human face. Given that China is pursuing joint military exercises with India and Indonesia (often under the rubric of 'non-traditional security issues') one has to wonder what the shape of the future geo-political landscape there will be.

Mark Hamm,

Who was asleep at the wheel on February 26, 1993?

IF this is the case then the UN official that complained may have been premature in his complaint.

The UN official did not complain about the US specifically. He complained about "rich nations", including "socialist type" countries. One can trace the confusion back to the usual sources (when looking for where a media lie began, it is usually wise to start with Drudge).

As for private aid, the extent of it depends on the definition. Most (more than 50%) of what is termed US private aid to foreign countries is "personal remittances", i.e., money sent from US residents, legal or illegal, to family members in other countries. If this is what you are thinking about when you think of the term private donations, then the US is very generous. If by private donations to foreign countries you mean something other than a US resident helping to feed his or her family in another country, the US is not so generous.

As always, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Edward is one of the least point-scorey people I have ever virtually met.

Agreed, which is why his three posts have been so disappointing. You mix Eddies three posts with the Sontag comments and well, those posting rules prevent further comment.

I'll bet if this appointed administration could figure out a way for Halliburton to get a cut of the Tsunami Relief efforts, the money spigots would open wide.

Good god, now we are going to worry because China is going to help these people. Will the absudity never stop?

Just some perspective here... my Uncle was a millionaire... he paid for half my college education. I always wondered why he was so stingy and didn't just pay for the whole thing himself.

And for the love of God people... shouldn't there be a posting rule outlawing the term "appointed administration".

Must every discussion be dumbed down to Jadegold's misconceived notions of the election.


moving on from the posting rules flap and the knock-knock jokes ... I'll second nadezhda's comments about Jeb and Reagan and Zinni, and add this nugget -- the main reason that Operation Provide Comfort happened (and quickly) was that James Baker was there on April 5th, saw what was happening, snapped his fingers (more or less), and put the awesome wheels of the U.S. government in motion. He did it with particular aplomb because he saw the suffering of the Kurds with his own two eyes. That's important. So if Jeb is going to the region, he'll be able not only to have his brother's ear, but also to be his eyes on the ground. You can't get that from Washington (or worse, Crawford).

smlook, I was attempting to bring this to an area that might be interesting to discuss. I personally think that a discussion of the geopolitical problems involved is a topic worthy of discussion. As I live in Japan, I have been interested in the response of Asian countries to this disaster. China, despite a financially small contribution, has been very active in this area. They have certainly stolen a march on Japan. Here are some links
quick reaction of Chinese premier (note the date)
a second story
A third story.

As I believe you wrote, give credit where credit is due.

This is coupled with a new white paper on Chinese defense plans. There have also been a number of stories about various private donation campaigns in China. I believe that this is unprecedented.

Again, I am sympathetic to the 'tyranny of distance' that the US forces were operating under, but if you read Bush's speech it contains so many sour notes, from discussion of problems in Iraq, to whining about how moving assets costs money (a bit like your millionaire uncle complaining about how expensive it is to transfer the funds for your tuition) to the invocation of 2.4 billion (which, if you followed the discussions on social security here, was dismissed as a mere aperitif)

It's really hard to avoid the conclusion that avoiding any involvement with the UN was foremost on the minds of the admin (which, from your previous comments, is something you heartily approve of)

Timmy seems to think that three posts on this subject by Edward and the comments on another post add up to the Kossification of ObWi, which is surprising as I never thought he was so sensitive. I would like to think that we can agree (setting aside whether it is fair or not) that the perception of the US in the world is a problem. That Edward feels it is important leads him to post on it. Why is that so threatening to talk about it?

You mix Eddies three posts with the Sontag comments and well,

I'm really sorry this message hasn't translated well across the aisle, Timmy. It's something I feel affects all Americans, and it would very easily go away if someone would offer a rational explanation for why the Administration can't seem to get good press when they're clearly doing good work on this. Mentioning that perhaps it's to downplay the aid-to-foreginers that many on the right are unfond of got me a bucket full of "Partisan" comments on Tacitus...in fact any discussion of this at all, despite it being ALL OVER the MSM, raises calls of partisanship. Methinks some doth protest too much. Face it...it's a story. Some on the right are tackling it as well, suggesting it's the left taking advantage of a tragedy...fine, that's a good talking point as well...but I sure as hell didn't dredge it up out of thin air, as many here seem to be implying. It's in the press every day.

The Sontag comments? Come again? If you mean that I disagreed with Tacitus, well, I'm sorry...it happens.

Edward, stand strong my friend, this mentality will only get worse in the coming year so brace yourself.

To all, no matter what your political persuasion, Happy New Year. I'm off to relax in a house by the sea with an incredible bottle of St. Emillon and a nice bit o' bubbly for midnight and the company of people i love dearly. May you all have as much or more this weekend and all throughout the coming year.

Speaking of the "tyranny of distance," I heartily recommend this album to all right-thinking citizens of the world. I'm rockin' it right now on my new Christmas present.

it's the left taking advantage of a tragedy...

Nice cheap shot regarding "Bush inaugural festivities". Might want to mention that Democrats spent $33 million (which is 43.164 million in today's dollars according to this) on Clinton's inauguration party while somewhere in the world children starved.

I got this as a new year's present. Looks like a toy, but don't let it fool ya! Much to your disappointment I am now able to access this blog from just about anywhere :]

As for music, I've been pretty much bored ever since the last mix by Peter Rauhofer.

Let's see, why can't the Administration get good press? What is 'good press"? As far as the press is concerned, 'good press' are the videos of the powerful, destructive waves. They are gone now, but we'll see them repeated for a few more days now. 'Good press' will be the heaps of body bags. Just the overwhelming enormity of it will provide the press with 'good press' for a week or so. Sure there will be some token offerings of plane loads of food and supplies. Volunteers will catch some airtime if the people they are helping look like they're suffering enough, mostly children. Detractors are 'good press', retired Gererals are 'good press', poor folks that didn't get enough quick enough are 'good press'. They will be found, rather easily I'm sure. What the press will be searching for is the inevitable circumstances where some these hundreds of millions will be miss-spent or unspent or unaccounted for properly. There will be a token rebuilding story or two every now and then for the next year or so. Of course, no one will be satisfied with who got how much money and when. There will be corruption down the line, surely at the local level, and that will truly justify some 'good press'. The administration can only come out of this a couple different ways - place or show. They hope to respond 'adequately' so they can look in the mirror every morning and know they are doing everything they can do. But there are deadlines to make, shock stories to submit, blogs to respond to, books to write. If this administration is hoping for any 'good press' they will be sorely disappointed, because that's the price they pay for placing ahead of Dan Rather. I'll take results and real action over fake sincerity any day. What our leaders are getting done is pretty good public relations.

Well, the US just announced that it would raise its pledge 10 fold, to 350 million dollars and there is supposed to be an Annan-Powell press conference at 2000 GMT.

liberal j,

Who cares? . If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia...

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