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April 05, 2007

Comments

I guess, for Bush and the Base, a "coward" is worse than an idiot who doesn't know how to fight.

Where was I when the hippies took over the CIA and the sexist neos took over the Washington Post editorial page?

So this is it, huh? The entire eight years of the Bush Administration has been a calculated effort to plant political and diplomatic IEDS under all of the roads and bridges and in all of the baby carriages leading into the next administration and the American future.

The expiring tax cuts, the War in Iraq, the entire edifice of Middle East catastrophe, the hollowing out and corruption of every single agency of the U.S. Government.

Gee, I hope someone is going to check those file cabinets at Treasury that hold the Social Security "IOUs" and all of the trust funds before these guys leave, because I smell an Ocean's 11 heist.

I ask again: Who are these people? What do they want?

the “shot clock” strategy has also been adopted by DOJ

Leahy is noticing that too.

You would not tolerate this kind of response time in a Justice Department investigation where months go by without answers and when those answers are finally provided they are outdated or superseded by events. That is not conducive to effective oversight.

I'd like to think that this has gotta sting, but I'm sure it doesn't.

What does this have to do with Kentucky sending Tubby packing?

i thought we were going to get donovan, but no dice apparently

It's a tough place to coach. You know those rabid, hair-triggered and shrill Kentucky fans ;)

It's all because their philosophy, insofar as they have one, is "never admit a mistake." As soon as they admit a mistake, they'll start losing the 28 percenters, and then they are well and truly screwed.

Gus, I'm not a Kentucky fan by any means but that is pretty harsh...

LOL. I missed where the thread was going. Besides I'm a U of MN alum, so I'm glad they got rid of Tubby.

This may be kinda funny for an anonymous blogger/commenter to say ... but I'm not really impressed with what an anonymous "editorial board" editorial says.

If they all had code names or something & signed each one, that would be fine. But I don't know who wrote the Pelosi-bashing editorial ... who approved its appearance ... apparently I'm just supposed to take its authority as emanating from the WASHINGTON POST itself.

Which is to say, a lot less than the credibility of some anonymous bloggers I read.

Should be fun to see what Dan Froomkin says about it ...

LOL. I missed where the thread was going. Besides I'm a U of MN alum, so I'm glad they got rid of Tubby.

I don't know, if Tubby couldn't build a winner at Kentucky, I doubt he'll do much better in Gopherland.

Same deal for the Pelosi visit. In the abstract, I would be inclined to agree that it’s not ideal for Congressional members to take the lead on diplomacy. But in the world as it exists -- the world in which the executive has abdicated his responsibility and has stopped even trying to make things better -- it’s a good and necessary step.

This is a little scary to me. You are inclined to think that something must be done, but doing nothing is also doing something. I am not saying that Bush’s policy is correct, or that I necessarily agree with it. But I’m a little shocked at how many people think it is just fine for the House to usurp power in this area. You don’t agree with Bush’s foreign policy therefore it is OK for Congress to implement their own?

Do you really want 435 + 100 Congressmen conducting foreign policy? Directly meeting with foreign governments and conveying messages that may seem to have the full blessing of the country behind them? There is at least a question of whether she relayed the correct Israeli message in this case. At least, Olmert felt the need to immediately issue a clarification. Yes I know Republicans went too. I don’t agree with that either, but they didn’t offer policy changes to my knowledge. And for the record I have never liked Congress critters meddling directly in foreign policy, under any administration, regardless of party.

Should we just bag the Sec State position?

I’m a little surprised that folks who have been screaming about expanded executive power now seem fine with Congress branching out.

The House can pass all the resolutions they want urging the president to do this or that and the Senate gets to give advice and consent on treaty ratification, not make them. Democrats can nominate the candidate they want for the new executive. But I think this is wrong.

There is a reason for the Logan Act.

"Should we just bag the Sec of State position?"

.... said Colin Powell to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush in January of 2001, when they handed him the Department of State portfolio, a single, blank sheet of paper.

;)

Publius, I think your post is more 'over the top' than the editorial. I don't see anything sexist there, and I don't know where you get that from except for the fact that Pelosi is female.

Yes, the Post mocked Pelosi, but she seems to have really gone off half-cocked -- "ready to talk peace" suggests that there are no preconditions to talks, which is not at all what Israel was, apparently, ready to say. Perhaps they should be, but they're not. Nor is "ludicrous" too strong a word for the suggestion that Assad is a likely peacemaker in the region.

Your points about the Administration's lack of strategy are quite correct IMO, and the editorial would have been much better if it had made clear that Pelosi was trying to fill a horrible void. But, durnit, bottom line is that she blew it, and it's not wrong to say so.

Ugh, you don't understand the futility of Gopher's basketball the last few years. Maybe Tubby couldn't build a winner by Wildcat standards, but the Gophers haven't sniffed an NCAA tourney for a decade. I'll take a tourney appearance even if it's a first round loss over what we've had in Minnesota recently.

OCSteve, I am not aware of any policy changes promoted by Pelosi, are you?

Gus - This native Iowan just might take some perverse pleaser at the Gophers' futility. ;-)

There is a reason for the Logan Act.

According to the State Department (of course, this was 25 years ago in the reality-based community) the Logan act did NOT apply to duly-elected members of Congress, and couldn't possibly do so.

Your objection is rubbish. Congressmen have been doing this for decades, and you're trying to tell me that NOW it's immoral, but in 1995 it wasn't? Or that now it's just too much to take, but in the 80s it wasn't?

Please.

The Logan Act says no citizen "without authorization from the United States" may negotiate with other countries on the US' behalf. The Act doesn't say what constitutes such authority, nor whether such authority rests only with the Executive Branch.

Also, it's been made clear - among other places, in the Washington Post's news pages, in contrast to Hiatt's inaccurate bloviatings on the Op-Ed page - that Pelosi said nothing contrary to official US policy.

Obviously, it's a bad idea for random politicians to decide to carry out their own foreign policy. But Pelosi wasn't doing that.

Also, we're in a strange place, foreign policy wise: I don't know when we've ever had a situation in which the White House had so deliberately and thoroughly undermined America's strategic, diplomatic, and military power. I, for one, am relieved that the world is inclined to talk to Pelosi. It makes me hope that, once the Bush nightmare is behind us, we may be able to mend fences.

Yes I know Republicans went too. I don’t agree with that either, but they didn’t offer policy changes to my knowledge.

What policy changes do you believe Pelosi offered? I'm not aware of any. In fact, it seems she took great pains to reaffirm that she's not speaking with Syria about anything except topics on which she and the White House are in agreement.

It's like a model of statesmanship, particularly compared to the Republicans who are currently visiting and being quite openly disdainful of White House policy towards Syria, not to mention shenanigans like what Denny Hastert pulled during the Clinton years.

I know your objection is stated in the utmost good faith, OCSteve. But I also know the White House's objection is not; since they make no fuss about the fact that these sorts of visits happen all the time, and they express no issues when countless members of their own party do the exact same thing - even when those members are far more critical of the administration than Pelosi has been during her visit.

I completely agree that in a perfect world, we should let the executive branch speak to the world with one voice and that's that. But given the current state of affairs, I believe the world is far too dangerous to not even have a dialogue with a nation like Syria - even if that dialogue is necessarily constrained by the fact that Democrats can't offer a foreign policy that substantively differs from the administration. But there's no harm in talking. The same people who think it's outrageous for us to talk with Syria are the people who thought Reagan was soft on Communism because he talked with the USSR.

Republicans have a long history of refusing to grant Democrats any role whatsoever in foreign policy. Look at Iran-Contra, a covert operation designed to circumvent laws passed by Democrats in Congress. Look at Hastert, urging Colombia to ignore Clinton and negotiate deals directly with Congressional Republicans. Two wrongs don't make a right, but there's no reason to believe the Republicans would ever stop this practice regardless of what Nancy Pelosi does, and that serves to make the whole controversy rather silly.

The entire eight years of the Bush Administration has been a calculated effort to plant political and diplomatic IEDS under all of the roads and bridges and in all of the baby carriages leading into the next administration and the American future.

A lot of people who spent a lot of time trying to impeach Clinton, mostly in the House, couldn't understand why the GOP senate wasn't taking the process seriously.

I am convinced that the whole purpose of the farcical attempt to impeach and remove Clinton was not to impeach and remove Clinton, but to thoroughly discredit the process of impeachment itself.

Similarly, a lot of peple in the GOP aredistressed that over the last six years the government hasn't been run in one particular way they imagine as optimal.

What if handing over a rudderless, bankrupt, unpopular burning wreck of a central government to the next administration is, if you fundamentally don't believe in government at all, not some terrible outcome to be regretted, but the actual goal?

Criminals don't want a well-run police force, that much is obvious, but that doesn't mean they want a badly-run one, if they can get no police force at all.

Olmert felt the need to immediately issue a clarification
"Immediately" meaning as soon as Bush expressed his opposition, not as soon as Israel was aware of the situation.

Finally, I can use my expertise as a graduate of a MN college and the UK law school. I am so glad Tubby is going to MN. They will better appreciate him.

KY is rabid about basketball b/c they have nothing else to brag about anymore. Thoroughbred dominance seems to have gone elsewhere, tobacco is a dirty word just like coal, and the only other big ticket item, bourbon, is not any one's first adult beverage of choice. Keep trying to figure out how they're going to attract first rate basketball talent that's not going to jump to the NBA and I just don't know. Waxing nostalgic about their history of basketball championships is a little like singing "My Old Kentucky Home" at the Derby. No one knows the words to the song until the end.

Though I may have a mint julep anyway the first Sat in May if the sun's out up here.

I didn't follow this one that closely. However, I'm not aware that Pelosi tried to set her own policy, or anything. And I think that's crucial: it's not at all exceptional for a Congresswoman to visit another country and meet with its leaders, but it is exceptional for her to e.g. try to negotiate with them on her own, without government approval. If Pelosi had done that, then it would be worth asking what "the government" means in this context; but since I don't see that she did, I don't think we have to get into that.

Nor would I be a bit surprised to learn that she had given the Israeli message exactly as intended, and Olmert's clarification (which does not appear to contradict anything she actually said) was for domestic Israeli consumption. That stuff often happens, and I normally think the key is to see whether there's any actual contradiction alleged.

I do know of this account of her trip, which cites a Republican Congressman who was there:

"U.S. Rep. David Hobson on Wednesday rebuffed Bush administration criticism of his trip to Syria with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she has reinforced Bush administration policies in the region and possibly made progress toward peace in the Middle East.

Hobson of Springfield, the lone Republican on a seven-member tour of the Middle East led by Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the speaker strongly reinforced Bush policy on Syria, urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to work to lessen the influence of terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah in the region, to stop the influx of suicide bombers into Iraq from Syria and to "not fall into the trap of being dominated by Iran."

Though the administration does not currently talk to Syria, Hobson said the delegation was adamant in urging Assad to support administration policy in the Middle East.

"I think we played a useful role," Hobson said in a phone call from Saudi Arabia. "We reinforced the administration's positions and at the same time we were trying to understand and maybe getting some voice to some things people wanted to say that maybe they were not comfortable saying to the administration. The jury's out ... but this was not an anti-administration trip at all."

Hobson, who has been generally supportive of the war in Iraq, said the war was not the subject of discussions in countries that also included Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Israel."

That story was cited in this post from a blog at the Chicago Tribune, which I found quite informative.

john miller: I am not aware of any policy changes promoted by Pelosi, are you?

Our official policy as I understand it is that there will be no high-level contacts with Syria, that they are to be isolated, until they stop supporting terrorism, blah, blah, blah. Axis of evil. Lebanon. Right or wrong, that is the official policy. (Again I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I don’t get a vote.)

Peolsi: "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace"

That would seem to indicate that rather than isolation, she considers Syria an integral part of any ME peace process. (So do I, but it is a change in our official policy.)

And Israel felt that she misrepresented their position enough that they issued a clarification. That is two countries.

News on in the background right now: (paraphrasing) Syrian Muckity Muck: Now that the speaker has made this high level visit, we are not isolated any more. You (the EU) should not consider us isolated.


Morat20: Your objection is rubbish. Congressmen have been doing this for decades, and you're trying to tell me that NOW it's immoral, but in 1995 it wasn't? Or that now it's just too much to take, but in the 80s it wasn't?

My specific statement, rubbish or not, was: “And for the record I have never liked Congress critters meddling directly in foreign policy, under any administration, regardless of party.”


CaseyL: The Logan Act says no citizen "without authorization from the United States" may negotiate with other countries on the US' behalf. The Act doesn't say what constitutes such authority, nor whether such authority rests only with the Executive Branch.

IANAL. I didn’t say that she should be prosecuted under the act. I meant that the intent of the act as I understand it is that the country should speak with one voice. It is there for a reason.


Steve: Other than the policy bit above, I can’t disagree with anything you said. Well said at that.

Olmert's clarification (which does not appear to contradict anything she actually said) was for domestic Israeli consumption.

IIRC, Olmert claims he said that if Assad renounced violence & stopped supporting terrorism, they could talk; Pelosi says she told Assad for Olmert that Israel was "ready to talk peace." Very different messages.

You could be right that Olmert's denial was sheer theater, although it seems uncommonly stupid of him to mousetrap the Speaker of the House. Unless that was the result of Bush calling in a favor, I suppose.

I meant that the intent of the act as I understand it is that the country should speak with one voice.

IANAL, either, but my understanding of the Act is that it's meant to prevent private citizens from negotiating/signing actual trade agreements, treaties, and the like with other countries all on their own recognizance. The idea being that foreign policy should be negotiated by authorized officials because agreements, treaties, etc., at least theoretically, are supposed to benefit the country rather than a particular individual, their family, or their company.

The Act was first passed in 1799, after all, when who had authority to conduct relations with other countries was very much an open question - IIRC, there were actual cases of private citizens carving out separate agreements with other countries.

Also IIRC, the 1994 amendment was meant to prevent things like private citizens funding armies to overthrow governments in other countries - and that probably came out of Iran-Contra, when Richard Secord, at the conspirators' behest, funded and ran his own army in Nicaragua.

OCSteve- I don't agree that Nancy Pelosi is undermining President Bush's foreign policy, but I do think she certainly should be. She's not just some congressman she is the Speaker of the House. And as Hilzoy points out Bush's run out the clock policy is wrong. I like that the Democrats are better than Republicans, but sometimes we have to decend to their level.

I also meant to say that it bothers me that Republican complain either way it goes. If the Democrats aren't engaged in foreign policy "they have no plan" but when the Democrats do engage all of a sudden the are exceeding their authority. Nice double standard there buddy.

I suppose in one way I’m looking to return a volley. After defending executive privilege (NSA) what I most heard was, “Do you want President Clinton to have those expanded powers?”

So now: “Do you agree that it will be fine for Senator McCain to go to Iran and tell them X, Y, or Z when President Obama is in charge of foreign policy (in disagreement with President Obama’s policy)?”

Petty I know - it is a character flaw. But I may have years of this. Ban me now Hilzoy!

I’ve gone 2 days and 20 rounds with Jes. I’m whooped (in an online way). I should not have dipped my toe in here tonight.

OCSteve, I'm sure Republicans will indeed continue to do what Perle, Hastert, and Burton did; i.e., sabotage the peace talks in Vietnam in 1968 by saying the North would get a better deal than Nixon; undermine Clinton's negotiations with Columbia; and take money from Slobodan Milosevic in return for opposing the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia.

And, no, I don't think it's OK, nor do I think it will be OK in the future.

Now, if you'd be kind enough to point out what negotiation, peace treaty, or war Pelosi undermined by talking to Syria, then maybe we can talk equivalency.

...er, that should be "by saying the North would get a better deal under Nixon."

OCSteve- Here's the thing Senator McCain or Senator or Congressman X (R) is going to do that anyway, regardless of my opinion, and would have no matter what Pelosi does here.

But ok I'll bite if President Obama ever starts an unnecissary war and begins destroying the army while running out the clock, then I'll approve of the Republicans being their usual selves.

I see Bush's foreign policy as singularly irresponsible, by the way. If it were any other Republican President, I might or might not be a fan of his foreign policy, but I'd respect the fact that he calls the shots.

With Bush, it isn't so much as I disagree with his policy, as I see him having completely abdicated it. Any country that poses a problem for us - they're bad people, so we can never ever talk to them! And Iraq has just hurt our standing in the world way too much to wait until 2009 to have a dialogue with anyone.

We're no longer a 50/50 nation when it comes to Bush. People are just plain done with him. Clinton did what it took to keep the Presidency relevant; Bush hasn't and never will, sadly.

OCSteve: The only policy disagreement I see is on the question whether there should be contacts with Syria. And here that admin's position is that it will not have such contacts, not (e.g.) that citizens are banned from doing so, or that travel to Syria is forbidden, etc. Except on the issue of whether or not to talk, Pelosi seems to have stuck to the administration's policy. This matters to me -- if she were actually negotiating a treaty or something, I'd be right there with you -- even though I am in more or less complete disagreement with this administration's policy.

Let's begin with the obvious: the Republicans who criticize Ms. Pelosi's actions are the grossest of hypocrites. They have done the same before and they'll surely do it again.

Now let's turn to the complaints about CongressCritters talking with foreign leaders. The argument here is that we need to speak with one voice. That's a good argument -- but it doesn't apply here. We can be certain that Ms. Pelosi did not shake Mr. Assad's hand and say, "I represent the government of the United States of America". And I don't think that Mr. Assad is so ignorant as to think that Ms. Pelosi represents anything more than her position as Speaker of the House. She represents herself -- what's wrong with that? She can go and talk to anybody she wants to. And if she discusses politics, and offers a point of view contrary to official policy, so what? Assad probably knows by reading the newspapers that there are some differences of opinion in this country. Ms. Pelosi is not going to give him any surprises.

The official policy of the United States Government to isolate Syria has in no way been broached by Ms. Pelosi's visit. The United States Government is still refusing to engage in discussions with Syria. She does not represent the United States Government, so her visit does not compromise that policy.

The notion that we all have to fall in line behind the President is antithetical to the spirit of a genuine democracy.

Seems pretty likely that Olmert used Pelosi as a plausibly-deniable back-channel to the Syrians, and subsequently plausibly denied it. Or not so plausibly, since doing so would be consistent with the noises he's been making lately. Tel Aviv is clearly testing the Arab waters these days.

byrningman, there are two problems with that theory:

1) Why use Nancy Pelosi, of all people, to open a back-channel w/ Syria? Why not Jimmy Carter? He at least knows better than to trumpet the substance of negotiations to the press. Or just some anonymous Likud drone who wouldn't capture much press attention, but could stick around and continue negotiations if useful?

2) Why then turn around and mortally offend the Speaker of the House, responsible for your foreign aid appropriations? Just to plausibly deny what you could have done better another way? Or are you suggesting that Pelosi knew he would repudiate her, she would look like an idiot in front of the whole world, and she was ok with that?

OTOH, it does seem equally unlikely that Pelosi was stupid enough to imagine that she had been given a non-existent message. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between -- something like, Pelosi, who is not a diplomat, missed the point and overstated her message, and Olmert, who is not subtle, overdenied.

I seem to remember Bush and Rice approving of talsk about Iraq in Iraq with Iraq, US , Syria and Iran. Not totally isolating.

Secondly, I believe we have an embassy in Syria. Not totally isolating.

Thirdly, we have rendered terrorist suspects to Syria. Not totally isolating.

For all the talk, Bush's actions have not backed them up.

And since while visiting, Pelosi basically reaffirmed both this administrations policies and Israel's, there isn't much of a problem.

And sicne there was en exclusively Republican congressional group in Syria the week before, photo ops and all, with people who o0penly say that since this administration isn't doing anything somebody has to, and there was no complaint, it is pretty obvious that the only thing that is upsetting to them is that some democrats are showing a positive interest, with possibly positive outcomes, in interacting with Syria.

trilobite, nothing that Olmert said contradicts anything Pelosi said. Olmert has already openly said he is interested in peace talks with Syria, as long as Syria mets some conditions. How do know that isn't exactly what Pelosi told Assad?

There is a reason for the Logan Act.

Really? Then why, in all the time it has been in force, has only one person ever been charged under it, and no one ever convicted? I suspect the reason for the Logan Act is to take up space in the US Code and give shills something stupid to try to divert the conversation with.

As a foreigner, might I say that this whole affair makes the US look very bad. I'm not saying this is Pelosi's fault, it already looked bad before she went because of the administration's inability or unwillingness to conduct even basic diplomacy in the ME. Yet, I can't think of many countries were differences over foreign policy are acted out in such a way - why don't the Dems challenge Bush openly and aggressively over his non-existent foreign policy in debates at home?

I think what I'm trying to get across here is that foreign governments, even if they wildly disagree, like to know what they're at with the US. Both the Bush admin's refusal to stake out a clear policy and conduct diplomacy in a normal way, as well as opposition leaders and congressmen sending mixed signals with or without the backing of the WH, are making a messy situation worse because of the insecurity and confusion this creates among those countries having to position themselves towards the US.

why don't the Dems challenge Bush openly and aggressively over his non-existent foreign policy in debates at home?

In a parliamentary system, they'd have that chance. In our system, if Bush doesn't volunteer it, they don't. And given that he won't volunteer, the only recourse the Dems have is a tit-for-tat in the media.

novakant: again, I'd feel differently if there was any evidence that Pelosi had said things that were not official US policy. According to the Chicago newspaper blog I linked above, she and the others in her delegation were briefed before they went, and there was a State Dept. person with them throughout, and the Republican who was with them said that they just stated US policy. So I don't see this as Pelosi doing foreign policy freelancing. (With the possible exception of agreeing to carry the message from Israel, but surely that's what allies do for one another, no?)

I'm pretty much with hilzoy on this one. And also with CaseyL, incidentally.

I know, I know: an independent free-thinker, that's me.

The administration’s refusal to engage Syria is simply an attempt to ignore complex problems until the shot clock expires.

Baby Assad assassinates Lebanese democratizers for fun & profit, and facilitates the influx of jihadists into Iraq. Nothing complex about it.

so we should not engage putin then either? ignore china?

The "reason" for the Logan Act is the same as the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed by the same administration. It was a power grab and an attempt to suppress dissent, in particular dissent against warmongering (the target was a Quaker who attempted to prevent war with France). It's blatantly unconstitutional (free speech violation) which is probably why nobody's ever been convicted with it. Various administrations like to threaten it to impugn opponents and they know if they ever tried to convict with it the Supreme Court would smack them down. In any case, nobody pays any attention to it - scarcely a week has gone by in my lifetime without a foreign junket involving some Congressperson meeting with a foreign government.

If somebody really thinks this unAmerican act should be enforced, they'll need to start with Jimmy Carter. Good luck with the jury trial!

"Shameful editorial"?

Your argument is laughable. Assad richly deserves his reputation as a vicious murderer and State sponsor of terrorism. That the WaPo should take Pelosi to task for powdering his ass in public is a telling indication of just how out-of-line her "diplomatic" efforts are. I won't even dwell on how stupid she also looks screwing up the supposed "peace" message from the Israeli Government. Henry Kissinger she ain't.

Seems to me Pelosi is trying to run an incompetency contest with the Bush Administration, and giving them a run for their money!

Republican warmongers visiting (Dana Roharabacher giving his blessing to the Taliban): business as usual.

A Democratic (gasp!) woman (gasp! faint!) Speaker of the House, trying to clean up the place? Treason! Treason, I say! Treason!

I'm guessing this post was linked to from BizarroWorld...

I'm trying to figure out how we got to the razor's edge with Syria. I thought that if they pulled any Al Queda stunts, we know where they live, but apparently, Assad has his finger on some button, and even though we have rendered prisoners there, we are facing an existential crisis. I guess I'm just longing for the days that a representative going to some country we didn't think much of didn't have us on the brink of WWIII...

I'm trying to figure out how we got to the razor's edge with Syria.

i don't think we are - it's just more FUD from BushCo Ltd.

So how does it feel, and has anybody read a NY Times editorial lately ?

Were I to draw a caricature of the one way street of liberal emotions I would not have matched this post. "Over the top", "sexist", and other bleatings of cruel and unusual journalism. The Post is painfully unaware I suppose that such language is to be used only on Republicans and not even on rare occasions turned against Democrats.

How dainty we are, how refined and sensitive. How adverse to insults, twisted assertions,denigration, or even criticism. Except when the media is ladling it out to the other guy, when it is not noticed other than to be enjoyed and offer inspiration to those needing a battery charge for their bile.

No wonder liberals can't stand Fox News.

School yard maturity should recall school yard sayings,"if you can't take it, don't dish it out". You have to start somewhere.

But until then let's concentrate on the Post's apostasy, no deviation from the line and speak no ill of the Left.

johnt, most of the commenters here have no problem with people, including other liberals, speaking ill of representatives of the left, when it is deserved.

The right appears to have a problem when someone thought to be from the right speaks ill of people on the right. The recent character assassination of Matthew Dowd is a prime example.

But until then let's concentrate on the Post's apostasy, no deviation from the line and speak no ill of the Left.

have you read a WaPo editorial lately ?

And Israel felt that she misrepresented their position enough that they issued a clarification. That is two countries.

We need to separate these two things. *If* Pelosi offered a different message than the admin's foreign policy (which, as pointed out above, is really not 'total isolation') to Syria, that's one thing.
Misstating a foreign country's policies isn't even theoretically a foul, though.

Our official policy as I understand it is that there will be no high-level contacts with Syria....[Pelosi] would seem to indicate that rather than isolation, she considers Syria an integral part of any ME peace process. \

I don't really see those as 'policies'. One is a process thing that doesn't seem binding on Congressional activity, the other is a general, almost philosophical position rather than a policy position (and, a position that is not as you suggest unequivocally rejected by the administration- I've heard plenty of statements by admin officials that Syria has a role to play in stabilizing the region).
If we had a specific policy that she was negotiating in violation of (eg if the admin said Syria had to give the Golan Heights back unilaterally & Pelosi was trying to work out a deal where Israel gave something up) I could at least understand the objection (if not necessarily agree with it). I could understand it even more if the admin was actually trying to *do something* and Pelosi was working at cross-purposes.
But Pelosi isn't obligated IMHO to stay on the reservation on issues like this. Imagine Bush said that our foreign policy is to not do anything about GCC- I still think it'd be fine for Congresscritters to go abroad and discuss GCC with other countries.

Assad richly deserves his reputation as a vicious murderer and State sponsor of terrorism.

Right. That's why the Bush administration thought Syria would be a good destination to send prisoners in need of some extra aggressive interrogation. Sigh.

Also, didn't Syria, the same Syria in fact, join our coalition in Gulf War I?

Regardless, we have had relations, negotiations, treaties and accords (to our enduring benefit) with many regimes that are/were far worse than Assad's.

What is it about his, though, that makes us draw the line in the sand? I wonder...

While the absolute truth is probably unknowable, the idea that Pelosi told Assad something different from what Israel wanted her to is looking more and more like total BS.

Regardless, we have had relations, negotiations, treaties and accords (to our enduring benefit) with many regimes that are/were far worse than Assad's.

Worse, yes. Less trustworthy as to the treaties and accords, possibly not. Pelosi's statement that "the road to peace leads through Damascus" was at best remarkably optimistic. While I consider the word "ludicrous" a bit rude for that particular venue, it is not unjustified. Certainly not "sexist."

johnt, a challenge: watch a week of Fox News, then watch a week of MSNBC. Or go through a week of WaPo editorials and compare to a week of Washington Times editorials. I think you'll be amazed by how much more polite liberals are towards conservatives and conservative points of view. You might even learn something about how to conduct public debate.

Now, I happen to agree with you that publius is over the top here. But you make far too much stew (or possibly, you stew far too much) from that one oyster.

Why use Nancy Pelosi, of all people, to open a back-channel w/ Syria? Why not Jimmy Carter?

We now have an answer to that question:

“I have known President Bashar al-Assad since he was a college student, and I thought it might be helpful if I went and urged him to support the peace process in the Middle East. But for the only time in my life as a former president, I was ordered by the White House not to go.”

(Leaving aside that Carter might be less popular w/ Israel after the "apartheid"
remark in his recent book.)

I am not saying that Bush’s policy is correct, or that I necessarily agree with it. But I’m a little shocked at how many people think it is just fine for the House to usurp power in this area. --OC Steve

The post was peculiarly schizophrenic. The bad approach was the hyper-touchy nonsensical sensitivity to the Washington Post editorial, which properly dissed Pelosi for barging into foreign affairs where she has no portfolio nor authority. The trip to Syria was a stupid idea. OC Steve's comment was precisely right. Perhaps Pelosi was imitating April Glaspie? Or Speaker Jim Wright from back in the 1980's?

On the other hand: Yes, indeed, clearly, Bush is running out the clock so that the USA is on the ground in Baghdad through January 20, 2009. DoJ is also employing a "shot-clock" strategy in keeping the police-state detainee status quo. Bush and Cheney need to say to their paymasters that they followed the script and the plan unflinchingly, to their last hour in Washington.

Interesting piece from M.J. Rosenberg on the subject.

Perhaps Pelosi was imitating April Glaspie?

... or any of the five GOP reps who've been to Syria recently.

Tom Lantos sets the record straight.

John Miller, Cleek, Tribolite

John Miller, Yes John,but you see the headline for Publius's post says "Shameful" so you're off to a bad start. It seems there's a problem there and it's not from the right. I will add that the temperance you claim for the left has eluded me, the Wapo story being an example. My sympathies to Matthew Dowd but I would suggest my list of character assassinations is longer from the left then yours from the right. But then we would haggle over definitions wouldn't we?

Cleek, as for reading the WaPo recently, I tuck them under my pillow every night, often enough so that when I wake up in the morning it's still a liberal newspaper. Granted not as elevated or revered as the NY Times. I wonder why?

Tribolite, I might take up your challenge re MSNBC were it not for the excessive politeness of Keith Olberman, far to refined for me. But as a sharpie like you realizes partiality, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder.
I will however lay off the stew if you promise to lay of the sauce.

I would suggest that if the hour is not too late or the subject not to stale You might, all of you, visit the USA Today site, another apostate has joined the sparse ranks.

And Nancy did make a fool of herself.

johnt, are ou the guy who used to post long pieces here that had no punctuation?

You may add The Philadelphia Inquirer to the all too short list of papers that dared to speak the sin that traveled to Syria. Publius will lay an egg on this one.


I'd rather have a majority of the people on my side than a majority of the editorial boards, but you take what you can get.

The people already support Pelosi's trip. And when they hear the facts about Newt and Denny and realize that this supposed tradition of only the President conducting foreign policy is a complete fiction, the Republicans will lose yet another vestige of their credibility.

Someday, having exhausted all other alternatives, they'll decide to give honesty a try. But today doesn't seem to be that day.

Oh, I assume there's a reason you're not supplying links, by the way - should I assume you're referring to something I haven't seen from the Inquirer editorial board, as opposed to this op-ed piece from a neocon think tank, or am I giving you too much credit?

Wait, is some naff twit still trying to pretend there's a story here? As in, omitting the Republican trip to Syria possibly sponsored by the White House while ignoring the rich tradition of Republican foreign indiscretions?

Christ, what a bunch of wankers.

Oh, on the topic of civility: I have no problem being civil to people who make concrete, colorable arguments. People who vomit forth slander, though, deserve what they get.

wonkie, yes I'm the guy and of fond memory.
And who are ou? Note your spelling, an odd time to criticize, in ani kase guud luckk to ou.

Steve, yes the people, one vast homogeneous mass thinking with one mind, just the way liberals like it. I'll skip the part about fiction and allowing for minimal exceptions assume you confuse it with fantasy, although the two can be used together.

I am less sure then you that the people, that glued together singular identity, will turn to honesty. But when and if they do what third party will they turn to?

A moment or two of reflection will cause you to repent of any suggestion that the party of Clinton, Rep. Jefferson, Harry Reid, and escape artist Ted Kennedy would be that party but I may be mistaken in assuming you were thinking of them.

Steve, are there two of you or did you drink to much coffee? Not having said that it was the editorial board of the Inquirer I guess you are being dismissive of Ms Rossett. Does that mean you lend no credence to the points made. Is it possible that you haven't forgiven her for showing what a criminal charade the UN is, the angelic entity we ignored.

Remember you are the ones with the open minds, perhaps you could learn from Claudia.

Anarch, if you can get your mind off sex for a minute you will note that nowhere do I say or imply that the Pelosi or Lantos thing is the first and only time Congress has tread on grounds unsuitable.

Having cleared your mind of the fog of auto-eroticism perhaps you may even make distinctions between Columbia and Syria. I would enumerate such differences but one may do. Syria is actively engaged in the support of the killing of American military personnel, and we know how much those personnel mean to liberals don't we?

Re your post, I don't see much that you gave so I'm unsure what you mean by deserve, as to vomit, well you do have an unhealthy attachment to the less attractive bodily functions and pleasures, I trust your expression of these aren't mere transference.

nowhere do I say or imply that the Pelosi or Lantos thing is the first and only time Congress has tread on grounds unsuitable.

No, but you do imply that this trip -- for it's foreign trips we're talking about, not general Congressional malfeasance, though nice attempt at moving the goalposts -- is somehow especially worthy of condemnation. Funny, because you didn't actually offer any reasons why Nancy Pelosi "made an ass of herself", or why she was "the sin that traveled to Syria"; had you done so, I expect your conversations here would have been more productive.

Syria is actively engaged in the support of the killing of American military personnel...

...which makes it all the more strange that the White House had multiple points of contact, including through Republican Congressmen, with Syria despite their adamant claims that no such contact is permissible.

Re your post, I don't see much that you gave...

Let's see: five factual links to your zero. First post had actual content; it took you... well, we're still waiting, actually. Mainly they're just childish insults being hurled about at random.

Sad, really. None so blind...

[And grammar flames from you? Wow. The chutzpah is breath-taking.]

well you do have an unhealthy attachment to the less attractive bodily functions and pleasures,

Let's see: I called people "wankers" -- I trust I don't have to explain that it's a generic insult, despite its onanistic origins? -- and described this scandal as "vomiting" forth. You opened all three paragraphs of your response with extensive ad hominems on the theme of bodily functions, spending your concluding paragraph on nothing but. There's certainly fixation here, but not on my account; you might want to get some help with that.

It might also be a good idea to seek help for your obvious need to open conversations with puerile antagonism, since that usually betokens some kind of deep-seated pain or insecurity. [Likewise your apparent need to feed on hostility.] But since I'm now bored with this conversation, that will have to remain between you and your shrink. Good luck with that.

Oh, and remember kids: DNFTT.

Not having said that it was the editorial board of the Inquirer I guess you are being dismissive of Ms Rossett. Does that mean you lend no credence to the points made.

It means you claimed the Philly Inquirer said something, when it was actually a neocon op-ed published in the Inquirer, and when given a chance to apologize for an honest mistake you demonstrated that it was no such thing. Gives people a good indication what to make of your arguments, that's all.

Here's some more background on our ongoing contacts with Syria, for anyone gullible enough to believe we actually have a foreign policy of not talking with them.

Anarch, To cut this short so you may concentrate on your reading comprehension course let me point out a few things; 1] "grounds unsuitable", as the only thing we have been talking about is the trip it would seem you are the one who moved the goalpost.
2] Republicans visiting Syria? Are they all Speaker of the House, a leader of the opposition, leading efforts to defund the war and set timetables for withdrawal. All of which send unmistakable signals to our enemies and the rest of the world. If they are all of those things then I don't like them either, but they can't be can they?

You see Anarch it's the combination of attempting to micro manage the war AND make this trip. You may and will blather all you want and hide behind what a handful of Republicans have done but I don't think it habitual to defund a war, set timetables and pull a Pelosi/Lantos. That my sharp witted friend is the issue, regardless of how much you pine for it.

3] Nancy didn't make an ass of herself? The totally botched and to her, incomprehensible, Olmert message. Ass enough.

4] Next time choose your insults more carefully. Ask a group of people what "wanker" means and I'm sure one definition will dominate.

As for the rest, what's to say little man? If bile is all you have no wonder you are bored, small minds get that way. Glad to see your stated desire to run away, just like the Democrats.

4] Last,

4] Last,

promises, promises...

Steve, while we are getting to know each other; you have made much of the fact that the Inquirer piece was not an editorial. But the Wapo piece is as is the USA Today piece. Yet they are faulted [remember, Shameful] while you kvetch about the Inquirer bit NOT being an editorial. What gives? Acrobatics will get you nowhere.

This qualifies as minutiae. It's not whether it's an editorial or not an editorial, it's about a Democrat heroine catching flak. Like I said in my very first post, it's about thin skinned liberals.

As to what to make of my arguments, they are here in part, and elements can be found in the WaPo and USA work, the latter of which you ignored.

I ask again: Who are these people? What do they want?

Posted by: John Thullen | April 05, 2007 at 04:23 PM

I thought it was obvious -- they want their property back. FDR stole the country from them and they're finally getting it back

Aaand, there he goes again. I suggest to johnt that the coservative commentariat is noticeably less civil on average than its liberal counterpart; in return, we get snark:

But then we would haggle over definitions wouldn't we?
***
But as a sharpie like you realizes
***
I will however lay off the stew if you promise to lay of the sauce.
***
And Nancy did make a fool of herself.

The only thing that makes it remarkable this time, is that the post elevating the level of rudeness in the thread comes in the context of a discussion about civility. The johnts of the world seem unable to stop being snarky even for long enough to dicuss what civil standards are. Or perhaps they just don't care to. Well, I made my effort for the month to try to teach a pig to sing, that'll do me for a while.

Just so it's clear, I have no great horror of snark, rudeness, or all-out attack. I can do all of the above, and sometimes do. I simply feel that they are out of place on this blog, or indeed in any discussion in which the point is to shed light rather than to generate heat. There are a considerable number of people who seem unable or unwilling to grasp that discussion can do that. For them, it's all-attack, all the time. The point is to exchange, not views, but volleys. I can't imagine what happens when they get on a jury.

I guess I'm just defining "troll." Not really worth doing, but the phenomenon has always puzzled me. What do people like that get out of it?

I am not by nature a violent person, but I do believe that there are people in the world for whom it would benefit all mankind if they were beaten with a sack of doorknobs.

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