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March 12, 2006

Comments

I dunno, Charles. It's very hard to communicate inherently bad ideas to the public. While you might think "govern as a conservative" is part of the solution, I think "govern effectively" would be a good first step. Too little too late, alas.

For the 2006 political season so far, they're either unable or too afraid to put forward their own ideas or alternatives

Newt & Co released their Contract with America on September 27, 1994, five weeks before the November election.

Now is not the time to distract voters with manifestos. Now is the time to bash the other fella -- and keep on bashing until he's an unrecognizable pulp.

When that's done, then its time to offer a new face.

(Still, to build buzz, and to enhance the impression that the GOP is the party of Can't-do Americanism, run by leaders without any Know-how ("Don't-Know-Hows," and the "Nobody-Could've-Knowns"), Democratic policy proposals might be "developed" over the summer during several high-profile conferences or summits involving policy experts across the spectrum, like Clinton used to do: "Working overtime to Restore the American Dream.")

A good place to start is to actually govern as a conservative and then tell the American people about it.

There's is a reason this hasn't happened. The numbers would be even worse if they actually came right and told the American people how they were governing.

Charles, a question:

Instead of pointing fingers at who, on the inside, is to blame for the mess this administration has created why don't you take some responsibility yourself for putting these people in office in the first place? Shouldn't you admit that you were wrong for supporting Bush and voting for him?

Let me be a little clearer, perhaps Bush was not wrong for conservatives, but he is without a doubt the wrong person for America, so my question to you is in the perspective of one American to another. You guys put him in office. Are you ready to take responsibility for that mistake?

And if so, what amends are you prepared to make?

"Non-conservative"?

Oh, this is priceless. Bush isn't a conservative? Let's see...

Tax cuts? Check.

Opposes "special" (i.e., equal) rights for gay people? Check.

Supports recriminalizing abortion? Check.

Advocate of US exceptionalism? Check.

Thinks diplomacy in general and the UN in particular are for limp-wristed sissy liberals? Check.

Gets government out of the business of protecting the enviroment, helping the disadvantaged, and regulating corporations? Check.

Gets government into the business of mandating sexual behavior and surveilling personal life? Check.

Transfers public monies to the private sector? Check.

Thinks religion should be the basis of public policy? Check.

Yet suddenly he's not a conservative?

Bush is going down, and the ones who supported him while he was Tall in the Saddle have now decided - now, long after the damage is done, long after Bush has left a smoking ruin where our Treasury, our military, our national reputation, and our system of checks and balances used to be - that they better disassociate themselves from him and say he's not a conservative after all.

And why?

Because he's spying on Americans with no oversight, no warrants, and no straight answers as to who exactly he's spying on and why? No.

Because he's broken the law, announced he would continue to break the law, and the Conservative GOP-controlled Senate is protecting him? No.

Because he launched an unprovoked war over a threat that didn't exist and that didn't, in fact, lead to any of the wonderful things he said it would? No.

Because he has used that war - a war begun and waged without a Congressional declaration, without a defined achievable end, and one without even a specifically named opponent - to unilaterally decided he has supreme authority to break the law, indefinitely detain people without charges or counsel (and keep them detained even after it's been proven they did nothing wrong), and allow torture of prisoners of war? No.

Because he let an American city drown? No.

No, it's because of a port deal. A port deal that would have given an Arab country control of 21 ports. Arabs - you know, the same people Bush's supporters have been advocating an all-out war on? The same people whose cities and holy places Bush's supporters have suggested nuking, just to show them we can? Suddenly, Bush's supporters are over there with the liberals singing "The Arabs Are Our Brothers?"

It is to laugh. It is to guffaw. It is howl and roll around on the floor clutching one's stomach.

And it gets even better:

"Bush has to get to work, not just to resuscitate his failing presidency but also for the benefit of his party."

Wow. Nothing in there about 'for the benefit of the country.'

But this isn't about the country. CB makes it clear what straw broke the camel's back and made it necessary to retroactively define Bush as not-a-conservative: the GOP must be protected from the consequences of having given George Bush every single damned thing he ever asked for when what he wanted was more power, more war, more money for his (and their) cronies, and SCOTUS justices who can be relied on to uphold Bush's policies.

Sorry, CB. Your Party not only put lipstick on this pig, your Party dressed it in a pretty frock and took it to the Ball. Your Party not only took this bedizened pig to the Ball, your Party married it and had its babies.

Now it's the morning after, and the polls are falling. Now it's the morning after, and the Party's been caught in bed with the pig. Now the Party's gonna try chewing its arm off and say "That pig ain't mine"?

The Politburo-style relabeling doesn't wash. Conservatives and the GOP made Bush; conservatives and the GOP protected and covered up for and enabled Bush every step of the way: Bush is what Conservitism passes for these days, and Bush is the GOP.

Sheesh Charles, haven't you learned. When you pander to the left all you achieve is pie in the face. Did you sign some sort of pact with hilzoy that in order to post here you had to join the monkey gallery. Bush comes out of this deal smelling like a rose. Let's see now, what global sized company, with international connects could possibly swing the size of deal required to divest the American ports from UAE - Halliburton? That'd be a hoot, wouldn't it. Bush held his ground. Stayed out of the business deal, responded to the politics and backed UAE to the hilt, against his own political popularity (which you may notice is his legacy). I don't know how much Mr. Clinton was paid, but I'm thinking UAE thinks they got the best of this deal - and they know who was responsible.

I blame Karl Rove.

Rove is a symptom (let's say, a festering, oozing boil), but he's not the disease. The disease is the fact that the Republican Party has jettisoned governance in favor of non-stop electioneering and shameless self-enrichment. In a rational world this sort of behavior would be unsustainable.

"Occasional communicator", my foot. All this dweeb does is make political speeches, when he's not vacationing. He makes them as fast as they can set up pretty facades for him as backdrops. It would be better for him if he stopped communicating, and actually did some work governing.

Bush's lack of political goodwill is going to limit our options on the international scene and domestically.

you sound like John Kerry.

Well, HoCB is there for pies in the face of Chas. Flavor of the day is banana cream, sure to be a hit with the 'monkey gallery', as bbm calls it.

CaseyL hits one out of the park.

and then...

Bush comes out of this deal smelling like a rose.

sheer idiocy. Bush and his minions have spent the last 4 years feeding the party faithful a steady diet of jingoistic anti-A-rab slop. and he's forced to eat the results.

Bush comes out of it looking like an out-of-touch (he didn't even know about the deal, did he? and he certainly misgauged the public reaction), blustering flip-flopper (where's that veto, george?).

It would be one thing if Bush governed effectively, but failed to communicate that fact. Then I might be inclined to blame Karl Rove and Bush's own 'communications problems'. On the other hand, cases like Katrina, in which what really matters is not giving speeches but the amount of time a leader has spent actually doing the boring, grubby work of governing -- making sure competent people are in charge, setting up good policies, and then, when the worst befalls, riding herd on people to make sure things actually go right -- would then have made it clear that all we had was a communication problem.

Actually, we have a variety of problems: inept governance, contempt for the law, and also contempt for the whole idea of trying to build up stocks of good will internationally.

I quite liked this para. of Charles':

"The more serious cost, however, is downstream, when decisions more vital need be made. What happens if or when there is confirmed actionable intelligence that Iran has weapons-grade uranium? Bush's lack of political goodwill is going to limit our options on the international scene and domestically."

Whenever liberals talk about international good will, some conservatives seem to think that we are motivated by a terrible fear that someone, somewhere will dislike us; by a sort of desperate need to please that makes us unwilling to stand up for our own interests. But this is wrong (for many of us, at least.) We need international good will on any number of occasions. We also need international trust, so that if we have actionable intelligence, we can rally other countries to our side. International good will is a strategic asset, and not recognizing this is as silly as not thinking that, say, the army is not a strategic asset.

We already blew our credibility by hyping the intelligence on Iraq. Some of us said, at the time, that we should be very careful about making claims based on intelligence, since if we cried wolf this time, we would not be trusted later. For our pains we were called appeasers who just didn't care about the plight of ordinary Iraqis, or who didn't see what a horrible threat Islamofascism really was.

Likewise, some of us opposed Bolton's nomination on (among other things) the grounds that he had a history of making needlessly inflammatory statements, and this would make a miserable diplomats. "Needlessly inflammatory statements" are statements that burn up our reservoir of good will without getting anything in return. That's as dumb as giving away a division of your army. For this we were called wimps who only cared about whether e.g. the French liked us.

I'm glad to see that Charles has come round to appreciating the value of international trust and good will. I hope others will follow him. I am, however, amazed that what did it was the Dubai ports deal.

(N.b.: I haven't written about this mostly because I am not sure there's anything wrong with the deal. I do find it funny that Bush's habit of conflating all Arabs -- most notably Saddam and al Qaeda -- has finally come back and bit him.)

And blogbudsman: who, exactly, is the "monkey gallery"? Which of us are monkeys?

hilzoy, I changed the category of your Maher Arar post of Feb 17 to "Maher Arar" from "Torture and Detention", which I probably ought not to have done without permission, but...well, I wanted it to be in the Maher Arar category because of this. I couldn't figure out how to assign multiple categories to it, even after accessing typepad's help feature.

I'm a little bothered by people who think that because they have an ideological disconnect with someone else, that automatically disqualifies anything that someone else says, and I wanted to point out that there was a great deal of informed discussion on the topic. It's damned hard for me to avoid such behavior, though, so I'm keeping my hopes low.

Also, I cleaned up a great deal of spam posts dressed up as legitimate posts. I guess there are some spambots out there that are smart enough to clone other people's posts and even paste bits of the cloned posts together, as a kind of camouflage. Still not smart enough, though, to change their names from things like online-backgammon dot com.

Lots of people who've bought a used car knows that "trust me" means "up yours."

Yet suddenly he's not a conservative?

Tariffs? Check.

Part D? Check.

Neglecting to use his veto power to reject mountains of pork? Check.

It's not so much that he's not a Conservative anymore, it's that he (and many Conservatives) aren't conservative, period.

Charles: Likewise this year, when Bush said "trust me" on the Dubai port deal, the Republican wing of the party didn't.

This actually makes no sense - there is no "Republican wing". There is the Republican party, and doubtless there are different wings of the Republican party. Which "wing" are you identifying here?

I actually agree with Charles on the UAE ports deal. The initial shockline of the story was "ARABS?! CONTROLLING our PORTS?!" and it was flat-out ignorance, xenophobia and demagoguery from both sides from that point out - even coming from a host of commenters I usually respect. The naysayers never drew a meaningful connection between Dubai and terror, or between DPW and port security for that matter. Their arguments consisted almost entirely of winks and sneers and strawmen while attempting to substitute everything from anti-globalization fervor to Israel demagoguery for an actual security concern. They got everything they wanted, down to the 45-day review, and then rejected that anyway because goddamn it, you don't let Arabs near anything the public might mistake for anything important. The most damaging thing about the whole debacle is that most people now think we've dodged some kind of bullet when port security is as pathetic as it's ever been.

The "Party of No" crap really has to stop, though. When your side is the "Party of Yes," and "Yes" means nodding along to unchecked executive power and rampant civil war in the mideast, you need to start fixing up your own glass house before chucking rocks at the neighbors.

It is an odd phenomenom in politics that people can get away with all kinds of shit and suddenly get screwed for the wrong thing. The Dubai port deal was, as far as I can tell, actually a good thing. The hyperventillating fear-of-raGHEADS RESONSE IS ONE< THAT bUSH BROUGHT ON HIMSELF. aFTER ALL SUPPORT FOR THE WAR In Iraq IS MOSTLY A FACTOR Of aMERICANS WHO THINK OF MUSLIM PEOPLE AS IF THEY WERE A SINGLE MONOLITHIC CULTURE , tHE 3OPLUS PERCENT WHO STILL SUppORT THE WAR ARE MOST LIKELY THE SAME FOLKS THAT THINK sADDAM WAS BEHIND 911 OR THAT TERRORISTS IN ONE ISLAMIC COUNTRY CAN BE DETERRED BT ATTACKING ANOTHER COUNTRY< SINCE AFTER ALL THEY ARE ALL MUSLIMS>. bUSH HAS BEEN PROMOTING FEAR AND JINGOISM FOR YEARS; NOW HIS OWN PROPAGANDA HAS BIT HIM IN THE BUTT. pLEASE EXCUSE THE ALL CAPS--i'M NOT SHOUTING. I have really screwed up vision right now. I just noticed the caps and I don't feel like startng over.

hilzoy, I can't be completely sure which of us are members of the monkey gallery. But I know it exists and I know there are some among us that are. And there are some among us who play to them - play to them in order to mold their opinion, take advantage of their ignorance or idealism, and even echo back false positives in order to justify the ends. I know you know I'm not calling you or anyone else here a monkey. I know your intelligence transcends that. And I'm not taking the bait. But I said what I said, and I meant what I said (P.E. Sailor). Charles' Katrina inference was a prime example - ignoring the truth to appease the popular opinion molded by the media - playing to the monkey gallery.

IL, I can see your point, but with me it's the Bush Doctrine: "If it can be FUBARed at all, Bush will find the way." If the port deal was done right there would be no danger (but what were the odds of that?), but there were also no benefits I could see except some wealthy people here and in the UAE getting wealthier.

Charles,

You talk of Bush's

"mediocre to substandard performance in areas not pertaining to national defense."

Are we to conclude from this that you think his performance on defense has been good?

There are, of course, any number of reasons to think that his performance on defense has been terrible. You may disagree with some, but there is an important one you yourself cite:

The more serious cost, however, is downstream, when decisions more vital need be made. What happens if or when there is confirmed actionable intelligence that Iran has weapons-grade uranium? Bush's lack of political goodwill is going to limit our options on the international scene and domestically.

In other words, Bush has severely damaged our ability to respond to a serious threat to our security. Why is this not "substandard performance" or worse?

IL, I can see your point, but with me it's the Bush Doctrine: "If it can be FUBARed at all, Bush will find the way."

True, but this is why it was pretty comforting to me to learn that Bush and his various flunkies really had nothing much to do with the deal itself. It was pretty much put together by lower-level career technocrats from various federal departments and rubber-stamped long after it'd been solidified.

Reflexive distrust of George Bush has its value - as does distrust of the American government in general - but in this case it wasn't warranted. Bush no more had his hands on the inner workings of this deal than DPW would've had its hands on the guts of port security.

I don't feel strongly about the deal one way or the other, and I'm sufficiently creeped out by the xenophobic undercurrent to the whole thing, but the part of the deal that makes me uneasy is that DPW is a state-owned company. Granted, Dubai isn't Uzbekistan, or even Saudi Arabia. There are far worse nations to allow to control key points in our national commercial infrastructure, but it still seems like a strange message to send to the world.

Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon Her, was a woman


There is a growing amount of evidence that The Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon Her, was a woman. I recall talking to my young niece, a strong believer in the Prophet, peace be upon Her. My niece became very excited and exclaimed, “You mean that the Prophet, peace be upon Her, is a chick?” Yes I replied. I also said that the Prophet, peace be upon Her, would probably prefer being called a woman, not a chick.

http://mohammedpeacebeuponherisawoman.blogspot.com/

During Ariel Sharons peace expedition to the Temple Mount in 2000, several Palestinian rockets were fired at the Dome of the Rock. In the rubble of the Palestinian induced violence against the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon Her, a portrait of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon Her, was recovered. This portrait clearly shows that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon Her, was a Jewish woman.

Daniel Pipes appears to be giving up on Iraq:

"I cheer the goal of a 'free and democratic Iraq,' but the time has come to acknowledge that the coalition's achievement will be limited to destroying tyranny, not sponsoring its replacement. There is nothing ignoble about this limited achievement, which remains a landmark of international sanitation. It would be especially unfortunate if aiming too high spoils that attainment and thereby renders future interventions less likely. The benefits of eliminating Saddam's rule must not be forgotten in the distress of not creating a successful new Iraq.

Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition's responsibility nor its burden. The damage done by Saddam will take many years to repair. Americans, Britons, and others cannot be tasked with resolving Sunni-Shiite differences, an abiding Iraqi problem that only Iraqis themselves can address."

Link:

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3423

Shiva H. Vishnu, Slarti . . . that Jeff Goldstein codswallop you linked to . . . he links to someone trying to blame the "anti-Muslim bias" which arose at the outset of the DPW story to the media's anti-war coverage. Yes, because the media only covers bad news from Iraq, Americans think Muslims are a bunch of violent savages. Not because of the Bush administration's 24/7 War On Islam PR campaign since 9/11, no sir.

CaseyL,

I think a case can absolutely be made that Bush is not governing as, or acting as, a conservative in important ways. Mind you, he still has overlap with traditional conservative principles in ways that both many liberals. But in other areas, Conservatives are just as angry at him.

Imagine if, say, Ted Kennedy cam out in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy and increasing military spending. Liberals might well suddenly question whether he's fit to be called 'Liberal,' but conservatives would likely say, 'Look, folks. Kennedy is still a liberal.'

I blame Karl Rove. While the advisor has been adept at formulating the right messages during campaigns, he has been horrible when it comes to messages during governance.

Charles, I think you're misunderstanding the problem. Rove is excellent as a guiding hand during campaigns: that is a time when 'message' is all that matters. The mistake (if you can reduce it to just one) was to continue in 'campaign' mode after election season was over. Compulsive blame-shifting, and compulsive pronouncement-without-follow-through has been crippling. The last eight years have seen the perfect art of the 'eternal campaign,' which is interesting for students of political science but disastrous for those who just want to see effective government.

First of all the ports deal was not completely clearcut either way.

Dubai is a wide open nation, a center of smuggling, criminal activity and a conduit for weapons, the wild side of free markets. It does have people who sympathize with our enemies. And whether or not they are formally aligned with security, a niche such as they took gives opportunities.

Conservatives would be the first to claim that alleged union ties with mafias provide smuggling opportunities.

This thing was also rammed through, a sign of an imperialist presidency. The ports are sensitive, a sore spot since Republicans argue that 40 million spent there is unproven unlike 10 billion on star wars.

So boom and yes irrational. No analysis.

But it fed on the sentiments Republicans have been exploiting.

The last eight years have seen the perfect art of the 'eternal campaign

This is exactly the problem. Take Bush's Social Security Reform Plan (and I use that word loosly) which consised of speechifying and some vague idea provate account. Little noticed in the media was that fact that he never actally had a workable plan, not even a first draft. Not even a sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin. And then he told everyone to get behind his 'plan' No wonder it failed.

Little noticed in the media was that fact that he never actally had a workable plan, not even a first draft. Not even a sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin. And then he told everyone to get behind his 'plan' No wonder it failed.

... for all values of "it".

I wanted it to be in the Maher Arar category because of this.

Slarti,
I'm a bit confused about this. Are you linking to the post or the comment? And if it is to the comment, why would the comment of someone who I don't think has ever commented here, and who I really don't know serve as an opportunity to complain about partisanship in the political discourse? Here's a link to the comment as it appears on the guys blog. A science fiction writer apparently, so I'm assuming that Gary has some dirt on him.

Seems to me the REpublican party has always been the robber baron party, dependent upon fear tactics or hate mongering to get the non-robber baron vote. I'm thinking clear badk to the Johnson County War, Teapot Dome, Harding...not that the Democraats of that era were anyting to cheer about. The difference is that t his Republican party invited the religious fanatics in at the grassroots level, thinking t get thier voes, not realizing that they, the mianstreamers, would lose contorl of the aparatus to the fringers. At the same time the Party sold its soul to KStreet, thinking oall the campaign cash they'd get, not thinking, apparently of all the porkbarrel cash hty
'd be expected to deliver. Now the Republican partry is religious nuts at the stae and local lefvel and Kstreet employees at the natiional level. I guess that could be called a sell out of conservative principles, but i don't think so. I think it's just the logical extention of traditional Republican realpolitick.

Here's a link to the comment as it appears on the guys blog.

Yes, and you'll notice me there at the end of the comments section.

And, yes, this was way OT. I just don't have access to hilzoy's email address at home, you see.

Yes, and you'll notice me there at the end of the comments section.

Sorry, I didn't see that. Thanks for the correction and taking the time to comment there.

I heart Slarti.

The only thing I'll say for the nonce is this:

The only thing saving Bush right now is the ineptitude of the Democrats and their continuing practice of being the Party of No...

Repeat after me, Charles: Repeating a lie does not make it true.

"Repeating a lie does not make it true."

It does if no one is willing to call you on that. Unfortunately for Charles, that is not the history at this site.

So Charles, which of the following explains why you keep referring to the Democrats as the Party of No, even though in every thread you have mentioned it, you have eventually backed down to say the Democrats do have substantive ideas of their own:

a. you are hoping we won't remember past discussions.

b. you are writing this piece for multiple audiences, and at another site no one has pointed out the flaws in the argument.

c. when you backed down before, you had your fingers crossed, and did not really mean it.

d. when you say the Democrats have no ideas, you really mean they aren't communicating them well, and so the words have different meanings for you.

e. none of the above (please specify the intended meaning).

Thanks to Dantheman there for saying what I was untactful enough not to be able to say. I'll be very interested in the response.

To more substantive points. First, there seem to be a lot of middles being muddled, if not outright excluded, here:

On Iraq, there are multiple camps: the Murtha-Pelosi cut-and-runners...

This would include the majority of the American people as well as the Bush Administration, correct?

the Kerryites who want timetables (for success!)...

Is the parenthetical supposed to illustrate that you think the "Kerryites" are advocated timetables... for FAILURE?!?! If not, what on earth is it supposed to mean? Are you also implying that the Bush Administration doesn't have timetables, thus rendering the "Kerryites" unique in some way?

...and those who support drawdowns as competent Iraqi troops increase in number.

As opposed to those who support drawdowns only as incompetent Iraqi troops increase in numbers? Cause that, too, could describe the Bush Administration.

Also, I think you're missing a qualifier here -- probably along the lines of "who support drawdowns only as competent Iraqi troops increase" -- otherwise your supposedly-disjoint classes suddenly lack distinction. As written, some 99%+ of Americans likely fall into your third category; the issue is whether it's worth waiting for the number of competent Iraqi troops* to rise significantly -- which won't happen spontaneously, only with training, which in turn makes spartikus' point above about competency all the more relevant. Of course, part of the reason for this confusion, both from the Democrats and from you, is that we still don't have clear or well-defined exit conditions from the Bush Administration, which is yet another charge of incompetency that can be laid at their feet.

* Another caveat you've omitted: competent Iraqi troops who are loyal both to the government of Iraq and the ideals of a free and democratic state. It seems like a silly distinction, but given some of the reports out of Iraq I think it's well worth making explicit.

I call it badly-spun spin because they have no discernible agreement on the best course of action on this top-five issue.

This I completely agree with: the lack of message discipline within the Democratic Party is a real problem. Of course, I vastly prefer (at a personal level) this kind of chaotic disagreement to the perpetual blackwhite that message discipline within the GOP requires, but that doesn't mean it's the best of all possible options by any stretch.

And finally:

A good place to start is to actually govern as a conservative and then tell the American people about it.

I agree that GWB has not been a model conservative in governance. I am, however, confused along much the same lines as CaseyL above: in what way could he not be considered primarily a conservative? He's ballooning the size of government, true, but a) so did Reagan and b) he's doing so in the service of what are at least ostensibly conservative ideals (albeit horrifically ineptly).

This really does look similar, if not identical, to the notion of the perpetual rectitude of conservatism noted on other sites, the notion that if something goes wrong it can't have been conservative to begin with. If you've the time, I'd be interested in your response to CaseyL's points above -- not listing examples of Bush's lack of conservatism, which are pretty obvious if you take "small government" as an essential part of conservatism*, but addressing the wealth of examples in which he has been (or attempted to be) conservative.

* Which it isn't, and never really has been, IMO, but that's probably a discussion for another time.

why don't you take some responsibility yourself for putting these people in office in the first place? Shouldn't you admit that you were wrong for supporting Bush and voting for him?

How do I "take responsibility", Ken? Votes can't be taken back, not that I would have anyway. Granted Bush has been substandard in his second term, but I chose the least worst out of two viable candidates in 2004, and Kerry has done nothing since November 2004 to convince me that he would be a better president. As for "amends", I'll support McCain or Giuliani in 2008.

When you pander to the left all you achieve is pie in the face.

bbm, could you be any less serious? I am left to assume that you missed my comments on the Democrats. Bush mishandled the port deal from the get-go and it's a huge embarrassment for him. As for your later reference to Katrina, I've been pretty clear that the failures apply to all levels of government, including federal. Bush is to blame for hiring an incompetent FEMA director, and for not responding quickly enough when it was clear that the state and local response had disintegrated. If you think the federal government bears no responsibility for how it conducted itself after the levees broke, then by all means call me a monkey.

Oh, this is priceless. Bush isn't a conservative?

He's espoused plenty of conservative views, but he hasn't governed as a conservative, Casey. There's a difference.

Fiscal restraint? Nope.
Vetoed the farm bill? Nope.
Vetoed campaign finance reform? Nope.
Vetoed a poorly conceived Medicare bill? Nope.
Free trade on steel? Nope.

The list goes on.

Nothing in there about 'for the benefit of the country.'

Tell me how a failing presidency is good for the country, Casey.

Repeat after me, Charles: Repeating a lie does not make it true.

So the Democrats are being competent, Anarch? I wrote an opinion, not a lie.

I'm glad to see that Charles has come round to appreciating the value of international trust and good will.

A misimpression, Hil. I didn't just "come around" to it.

Are we to conclude from this that you think his performance on defense has been good?

Iraq is a work in progress, Afghanistan is going reasonably well, terrorists are getting UAV'd in Pakistan, and al Qaeda suspects have to lay low in fear of getting whacked. If the security situation in Iraq were better, he'd be clearly above mediocre on defense, Bernard. On Iran goes, the EU3 has done their own share of FUBARing by soft-pedaling with the mullahs.

The mistake (if you can reduce it to just one) was to continue in 'campaign' mode after election season was over.

Bill Clinton was prescient, Jeff. In today's modern American politics, the campaign is never over.

...you have eventually backed down to say the Democrats do have substantive ideas of their own...

Wrong premise, because I never wrote that the Democrats didn't have ideas of their own, Dan. Re putting forth their "better ideas", this isn't just me saying this. Plenty of Democrats are of the same mind.

Charles Bird: Granted Bush has been substandard in his second term, but I chose the least worst out of two viable candidates in 2004, and Kerry has done nothing since November 2004 to convince me that he would be a better president.

And what, exactly, has Bush done that convinced you he is a better President?

Please specify:

(1) what achievements you ascribe to Bush since November 2004 that you are confident that Kerry would not have accomplished, and

(2) what part of Kerry's behavior since November 2004 leads you to believe that he would have failed where Bush has succeeded.

Thank you.

So the Democrats are being competent, Anarch?

I presumed you'd've realized that I was referring to "The Party of No" given that this is now the fifth time I've called you on that BS (although it may be more, I've lost count).

I wrote an opinion, not a lie.

"The Party Of No" is as much an "opinion" as "The Earth Is Flat", and worthy of as much respect. Every single time you bring this up, you get smacked around by literally dozens of citations proving the contrary; every single time you slink off, leaving the vast majority of these citations unanswered, let alone un-rebutted; and every few months later you decide to resurrect the trope, beginning the cycle anew.

So while I'm vaguely amused that your notion of factual relativism extends to calling what you've just said an "opinion" -- a use of the word that renders essentially anything an opinion, and hence renders the word itself vacuous -- I'd really prefer you'd either a) rebut the literally dozens of citations proving you wrong, or b) drop the "Party Of No" schtick [especially if, as I suspect, you keep it around partly because you think it's cute] and stick with "opinions" that are actually colorable.

[I mean, hell, would you say it was an "opinion" were I to persistently refer to the Bush Administration as "a textbook example of small-government libertarianism" after being proven wrong every single friggin' time? Sheesh.]

And as an aside:

Bill Clinton was prescient, Jeff. In today's modern American politics, the campaign is never over.

This seems akin to saying "In today's modern cancer-riddled husks, metastasization is never over."

Anarch- I suggest you should always refer to the Republican party as the party of liars, crooks, and traitors. Much more valid than the way Charles colors the Democratic party, and more fun to boot.

"The Republican Party: The party of corruption, cronyism, and criminal abuse of power" works pretty well for me.

Thanks for answering Charles. I don't think, if you are honest, however, that voting for another Republican is going to put things right after having those same Republicans screw things up so much in the first place.

For example, it is without question true that tax cuts lead to lower revenue. Thanks in part to your vote for Republicans our country is going bancrupt. Tax increases are the responsible thing to do and we all have to face it.

My question to you is are you grown up enough to admit that you helped put the country in this mess and are you willing to admit the need to increase taxes to get us out of the mess you are responsible for creating? (Not you personally but in the sense that we all have to take responsibility for the consequences of our votes)

The Party of No

Nothing like using your posts to behave like a troll -- just more fact-free spinning.

The problem with Bush and conservatives over the last several years is that their ideas stink, and the last five years of failure have shown that to be true. It laughable to see Charles now pretend that Bush is not a conservative or that his alleged failing is a result of his infrequent fireside chats.

The problem is that the ideas trumpeted by Bush and by Charles, which are frequently the same, are a failure. Talking them up more frequently is not going to make them better.

Bill Clinton was prescient, Jeff. In today's modern American politics, the campaign is never over.

Your point is well-taken, Charles, and I don't mean to imply that the Bush administration has some sort of patent on political angling. I think an honest look at the history of this administration, though, reveals that it has perfected the art of the perpetual style-over-substance campaign. You yourself noted Rove's influence: his history is one of political hardball for its own sake. His track record with the adminstration (and earlier) reveals the kind of person who can be a valuable asset politically, but can never really be a guiding force for policy or philosophy. The influence he maintained after the campaign was over speaks volumes.

Your frustration with Bush over his pseudo-conservatism is something I share. I voted for him in '00, based on my willingness to hitch my wagon to the Compassionate Conservatism ideal. I was encouraged by the promise of the concept, and hoped that it would represent a genuine shift towards reuniting ideals of fiscal discipline with principles like compassion and societal responsibility (not JUST personal responsibility). In addition, I actually listened to his "No Nation Building" promise and felt it was an important shift.

I realized, after some bitter years defending him, that these were just a Missions To Mars; great campaign concept with no genuine policy beneath the pretty slogans. The degree to which the Republican and conservative blocs have continued to defend Bush is a mirror image of feminist defenses of Bill Clinton: having 'our guy' in control is more important than the principles we pretend are more important than personal power.

I am a pro-life Christian who was homeschooled, and spent my life voting Republican. This administration is the one that helped me realize the moral bankruptcy of the party and the political movement. I will never call myself a Democrat -- but neither will I call myself a Republican. Bush cured me of faith in the party of my youth.

Honest to god nobody will ever veto the friggin' farm bill. If that's the measure of a conservative than there aren't any elected to office anywhere.
Whicxh is an important point: the beliefs of true conservative philosopher are so far out of the range of the mainstream and so far out of the range of the politically possible that there really aren't any elected conservatives anywhere; to get elected one must be a Republican, not a conservative. Nowadays that means a panderer to religious fanatics and robberbarons. Nobody can get elelcted to state level or nationald office by genuinely opposing pork barrel spending for white constituents.
Jeez, who do you think represents most farm states? Friggin' Republicans.
Just imagine Sebastian running for office. (I hope I am correct i assuming that Sebastian considers himself to be a conservative). he'd get the votes of a certain type of intellectual but that's all. The "social conservatives" would hate him, the robber barons wouldn't trust him because he isn't corrupt, and he probably would veto the farm bill, so who'd vote for him?
Out in the real world of voters conservatism isn't a philospphy at all; its a set of emotional reactions, mostly negative ones like fear and self-interest. The "conservative" politician simply pushes the buttons. Bush is a genuine honnset to god conservative politician: he appeals to fear and selfishness, he advocates big government in voilation of the Constutution, he loves pork barrel spending and tax cuts. All classic conservative stuff in the real politick sense.

I'm as serious as a heart attack, bro' Charles. But let's not argue in front of the kids, they'll think we don't love each other.

Jeff Eaton: I will never call myself a Democrat -- but neither will I call myself a Republican.

Out of curiosity, why not? And perhaps more pointedly, what would the Democrats have to do in order to win your vote, if not necessarily your allegiance?

Out of curiosity, why not? And perhaps more pointedly, what would the Democrats have to do in order to win your vote, if not necessarily your allegiance?

Well, let me clarify. I voted for Kerry in 2004, even though I do not call myself a Democrat. I'm not suggesting that a principled person can't be firmly entrenched in a particular camp, but my experiences and observations lead me to believe that it's a heck of a lot more difficult.

In that sense, a new DNC platform could be announced tomorrow that overlaps 100% with my views and opinions. I would applaud this and support it vigorously, but I would hesitate to call myself a Democrat. My allegiance is to the principles and beliefs I hold, not to a party that happens to agree with me at the moment.

This, I think, is what's most disheartening to me about the union of mainstream North American Christianity and conservative Republicanism. These days, I can't belp but feel that a truly Christian political philosophy would look more radical and liberal than conservative. This is not to say that I believe 'Jesus was a liberal' or something like that. Rather, that core principles I see in Scripture, things I read as being essential to the Gospel, are considered 'liberal' in the present political climate. Many Christians have responded by treating these core elements of their faith with suspicion, rather than questioning their political alliances.

"Just imagine Sebastian running for office."

Please don't. It is painful even having other people imagine it. I hate to play the "other side too" game, but imagine Katherine running for office. That would so not work either.

A very serious problem is that Democrats want lots more social spending because they cater to a huge section of the public (probably more than 50%) who want such spending and Republicans want tax cuts because they cater to a huge section of the public (probably more than 50%) who like the idea of lower taxes.

Unfortunately those two sets of policy wants don't actually work. No successful Democrat talks about tax hikes large enough to cover the spending desires. No successful Republican talks about spending cuts to cover the tax cuts. Both sentences are true because the American public as a whole isn't realistic about how much it would take in taxes to cover their spending desires. Anybody, Hilzoy or Charles or Katherine or me, who takes that problem seriously is would have serious trouble in his or her respective party. That is a serious problem, but I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Well put, Sebastian.

I think an additional problem comes at the level of goals and desired outcomes. No matter where one sets the 'tax' bar and the 'spend' bar, there will also be constituencies that are at odds with oter constituencies about what even constitutes a legitimate end-goal.

I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Divided government seems to be helpful, though not a complete solution. A wiser electorate would be the best solution, but I don't know how we get that. In my dream system, you'd have to pass a little test before being allowed to vote, something to demonstrate that you have at least a passing familiarity with the issues and some notion of the tradeoffs that the real world demands.

I'm not suggesting that a principled person can't be firmly entrenched in a particular camp, but my experiences and observations lead me to believe that it's a heck of a lot more difficult.

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

kenB,

"A wiser electorate would be the best solution, but I don't know how we get that."

One suggestion, for both sides of the aisle, is that the politicians make the point repeatedly to their constituents that their preferences are not free, that they need to be balanced with real costs. For the Republicans, it would mean dropping the idea that tax cuts either pay for themselves or can be offset by reducing the famed trio of waste, fraud and abuse. For the Democrats, it means acknowledging the need for increases in taxes or offsetting budget cuts for new spending.

To considerable extent, that is what a number of politicians ran on in the recent past, from Ross Perot to Paul Tsongas to Walter Mondale. Notice the common thread about them? Being the only person in a race who won't promise free candy to the voters is a sure-fire way to lose the election.

I presumed you'd've realized that I was referring to "The Party of No" given that this is now the fifth time I've called you on that BS

You write as if 2002 and 2004 never happened, Anarch. But by all means, carry on! Hope you enjoy your long stay in the minority.

My question to you is are you grown up enough to admit that you helped put the country in this mess and are you willing to admit the need to increase taxes to get us out of the mess you are responsible for creating?

You talk as if the only option is that I must vote Democrat because a Republican who ran as a conservative failed to govern that way. I don't accept that logic, ken. The other and better option (at least to me) is to vote for a better conservative. Right now, that person is McCain.

But let's not argue in front of the kids, they'll think we don't love each other.

Just because we're fellow conservatives, doesn't mean we can't argue, bbm. In fact, the more intra-party arguing the better. I consider it a sign of strength, not weakness, that fellow conservatives can have strong disagreements and still be friends.

You write as if 2002 and 2004 never happened, Anarch.

Are you serious?

This is what passes for a response?

Serious question: do you simply not remember the last five times this topic came up? Are you repressing them, or in some other wise pretending that you "won" those past debates? WTF is going on here?

But by all means, carry on! Hope you enjoy your long stay in the minority.

Ah, the fact-free rejoinder of a right-winger who's cowering in the corner. Well done, Charles, you've confirmed everything I suspected in this thread. More's the pity, too, since your main post would probably have been worthwhile if you'd simply reined in your compulsion to "snark".

Charles,

"My question to you is are you grown up enough to admit that you helped put the country in this mess and are you willing to admit the need to increase taxes to get us out of the mess you are responsible for creating?

You talk as if the only option is that I must vote Democrat because a Republican who ran as a conservative failed to govern that way. I don't accept that logic, ken. The other and better option (at least to me) is to vote for a better conservative."

Unfortunately, the failure to govern as fiscal conservatives seems to affect the vast majority of Republicans, not just the one in the White House. Just yesterday, the Senate refused to restore the PAYGO rules. All 44 Democrats and 1 independent were in favor of restoring it, but only 5 Republicans. cite

So what is your basis to believe that fiscal discipline will return so long as Republicans remain in control?

Gregory Djerejian posts his mea culpa for supporting the War on Iraq. Not sorry enough to realize continuing with the war with the leadership we have is throwing good money after bad, but it's a start.

Serious question: do you simply not remember the last five times this topic came up? Are you repressing them, or in some other wise pretending that you "won" those past debates? WTF is going on here?

Fine, Anarch. You think you "won", I think I was one voice facing dozens in opposition. While you can rail about "fact free" content, please tell me how you could possibly believe that the prevailing Democrat message was positive in 2002 and 2004, containing actual alternative solutions to Bush's. I was there, and the predominant Democratic message was obstructionist and anti.

Charles Bird claims: I was there, and the predominant Democratic message was obstructionist and anti.

You were right there listening to the Republican campaign machine telling you that the predominant Democratic message was "obstructionist and anti". You were not right there actually paying attention to anything that Democrats were actually saying.

Indeed, your response to a Democratic military veteran who went to Iraq and came back with a positive, practical plan, was to call him a "loser-defeatist"...

Jes, you beat me to it, and more eloquently than I could do.

In 2004, and to a great degree in 2000, the party of anti was the Republicans. Everything (hyperbole but not by much)that Bush and Cheney, plus most of the other Republicans running for office, ahd to say was a negative attack on Democrats being weak on security and if we didn't vote the right way we could expect another terrorist attack.

Of course, all this was said without any supporting evidence. And when Kerry, or other candidates, came up with a real plan, such as healthcare, paygo, the war, etc, it was derided. Again they never spoke to the plan or the ideas put forth.

So CB, the real party of anti is the Republicans.

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