« Saving Money By Cheating Vets | Main | Down The Memory Hole »

May 16, 2008

Comments

The Bush Administration makes much more sense if you view its goal as a giant U.S. military trump card in the middle east for the foreseeable future. In that view, sowing chaos makes perfect sense.

Obama hit upon some of these same points in his speech today.

The only way to describe the Bush-McCain approach to foreign policy is: boneheaded. McCain's "experience" really is a double-edged sword here. He's got a lot to explain.

I can’t figure out if the President has some concealed agenda or if he really believes his own words. It may just be denial.

He still quotes 5:32 but refuses to consider the very next verse. And all the other verses. And all the Imams who call for the end of the Great Satan that are backed up 100% by those verses. He can’t find a ‘moderate’ Muslim for his photo-ops that doesn’t have ties.

Democracy is incompatible with Islam. He refuses to acknowledge it, even now. Part of me thinks it may be some arrangement with the House of Saud. I hope they just pissed the President off.

As an aside, members of the House of Saud drink Jack Daniels and live decadent lifestyles. They use Islam to suppress the population. It is a powerful tool for autocrats.

To me, the misuse of the prestige of the international stage for a U. S. president to take an intramural snipe at a political opponent, regardless of the ridiculousness of the point of the snipe, is the most offensive aspect of this action. He, and his advisors have shown great disrespect for the Presidency, the Flag, and all international efforts at diplomacy. Just when I was starting to think he would just fade away....

Shame, shame, shame....

Have to admit, no matter how low I set expectations, Bush always seems to be able to undershoot them. This electoral potshot while abroad was quite something.

Can anyone think of another example of a president saying anything of the kind while abroad in his official capacity?

Joesph Welch wouldn't even have bothered to ask Bush the question. The answer is so obviously "Nope, not even a little bit".

"-- As an aside, members of the House of Saud drink Jack Daniels and live decadent lifestyles. They use Islam to suppress the population. It is a powerful tool for autocrats. --"

Hmm... let's try changing that around a bit.

"-- As an aside, [Republican] members of the House of [Representatives] drink Jack Daniels and live decadent lifestyles [that involve propositioning under aged boys and taking millions in kick backs from friendly government contractors]. They use [Fundamentalist Christianity] to suppress the population. It is a powerful tool for autocrats. --"

Hey! Still works!
It's worth noting that Wahabism is on par with Mormonism in terms of its relation to its primary religious root. Foreign theocracies generally look on the House of Saud and its puppet religion as the blasphemy that it is.

This, ultimately, has nothing to do with your flavor of religion. Islam is no more or less compatible with Democracy than Buddism or Hinduism or Catholicism (omg! You only obey the Pope!) I just think that is worth mentioning.

As it happened, I read James P. Rubin, and John Dickerson, earlier.

"Democracy is incompatible with Islam."

It's not worth taking this sort of thing seriously, but: Turkey, Indonesia, and so on. Bill has had these points made to him numerous times by now. He's not interested in dialogue, and doesn't respond. (Hey, Bill, what are your top five sources of info and news? Did you ever answer me that? If so, apologies for having missed it.)

At this point, given how many times Bill has had it pointed out to him that claims without links aren't worth reading, and that his cites are almost always to anecdotes, rather than data, and that all the major religions' text are filled with such threatening language, and that how actual people behave is what's relevant, not his fantasies, his endless repetition is difficult to distinguish from trolling.

Call me cynical, but I'm inclined to guess Bill doesn't have many Muslim friends to actually talk to, to actually find out what they think, and isn't terribly interested in actually finding out, since it's not particularly difficult.

Also, there's a strange lack of American Muslims running around committing acts of terror. I guess they're just biding their time until The Takeover.

One of the ways that people that commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam are rehabilitated in prison is to give them a copy of the Koran.

Seriously.

The vast majority of terrorists have a very limited, shallow knowledge of the religion and its texts. So when they actually read the Koran, they tend to realize how misguided and perverse their actions and mindset have been.

Eric,

That's a surprising result (to me). Do you recall where you heard that claim? I'm not questioning the veracity of the claim, I'd just like to learn more.

Brick Oven Bill seems to understand that the Right has its own brand of political correctness. Dubya does not denounce Islam because, in the strictest and most literal meaning of the term, it would be politically incorrect to do so. Not because it might annoy the whiskey-sipping Saudi royals, but because it might annoy our own, homegrown Christianist mullahs -- "people of faith" who fear and despise secularism even more than they fear and despise Islam. Dubya dare not denounce ANY faith, lest he shatter the pretense that faith per se is a virtue.

A fervent and militant Islam is exactly as incompatible with democracy as a fervent and militant Christianity would be and has been. It's the fervor, not the faith, which causes trouble. An Islam watered down to about the fervor of the Church of England would be more compatible with democracy than the Falwell-Robertson-Dobson-Hagee brand of Christianity is.

-- TP

There's a school of thought that Bush's "appeasers" bit wasn't aimed at Obama, but part of greenlighting an attack on Iran (by Israel or the U.S. military).

I'm not going to be able to reduce my level of dread about such an attack significantly until after January 20 of next year, if then, but my sense is that this was as much for domestic consumption as it was for the most aggressive elements of his Israeli audience (like the National Union MK's who walked out on Olmert, telling him that he should take lessons in Zionism from Bush).

Turbulence,

It's in Marc Sageman's new book (Leaderless Jihad) which I'm currently reading and couldn't recommend enough.

His first book, Understanding Terror Networks, is one of my bibles.

Eric,

Thanks a lot for the pointer!

Turbulence;

I’ve got a better reference. Read the Qu’ran. Start with Chapter 9. I still haven’t found the part about leaving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Then go to Chapter 5 then read the rest.

The Bible has calls to kill adulterers and homosexuals. The Bible references God in limited battles for limited time. Christians are not directed that they have a holy and unending duty to kill, convert, or subjugate the whole world. Equating the two texts would sound silly to anyone who objectively sat down and read both of them.

Bill says: “Beware the civil servant who leaves his government job to work at a think tank writing books unless you know where that think tank’s money comes from. Stick with core texts.”

"Stick with core texts" would be the whole of the discussion if peoples of faith understood and lived their faith entirely, to a person, by the exact contents of those texts. But they don't. So the discussion, while it may include those texts, does not shrink solely to fit them.

Once again proving that a (very) little knowledge is a dangerous thing...

This is extravagant folly on Bush's part - politically. I'm inclined to believe that he's so insulated in his bubble that he does not realize just how radioactive he is, and that anything he says to attack Obama on McCain's behalf is only going to redound to the former's benefit. George, more than half the country figures if you oppose it, it can't be wrong. Maybe it's time to shut up.

One of the ways that people that commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam are rehabilitated in prison is to give them a copy of the Koran.

Seriously.

Four years ago.

Read the Qu’ran. Start with Chapter 9. I still haven’t found the part about leaving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Then go to Chapter 5 then read the rest.

Wow, Bill. Despite those inescapable, unambiguous injunctions to warr, subjugate, and kill, all but a tiny minority of the world's Muslims live perfectly peaceful lives and have no more interest in blowing themselves up than you or I do. A good 500,000,000+ of them even live in functioning democracies. What's wrong with those people? Don't they take their religion seriously? Don't the ones in Turkey, Indonesia, India, Morocco, etc. know that Brick Oven Bill has decreed that it's incompatible with democracy?

Read the Qu’ran. Start with Chapter 9. I still haven’t found the part about leaving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Then go to Chapter 5 then read the rest.

Wow, Bill. Despite those inescapable, unambiguous injunctions to warr, subjugate, and kill, all but a tiny minority of the world's Muslims live perfectly peaceful lives and have no more interest in blowing themselves up than you or I do. A good 500,000,000+ of them even live in functioning democracies. What's wrong with those people? Don't they take their religion seriously? Don't the ones in Turkey, Indonesia, India, Morocco, etc. know that Brick Oven Bill has decreed that it's incompatible with democracy?

"That's a surprising result (to me). Do you recall where you heard that claim?"

See my above link, though you should be able to find plenty more about this sort of thing with a minute or so of googling. It's hardly new news.

To quote Nell: "Have to admit, no matter how low I set expectations, Bush always seems to be able to undershoot them."

I thought she was going to refer to Bill, but then my expectations of Bush are now non-existant in terms of him ever, at any place, time, whatever, saying anything that has any existence in reality.

Bill is, up to now, another story.

The politicizing of the Knesset speech was a new low for a groundless president.

I then watched with mixed emotions as the president's Saudi buddies refused to help him out on high gas prices. I have a twisted amusement for seeing him fail, but then again, I could really go for some low-priced gas!

Bobby
http://www.idlewordship.com

totally OT:

but check out this little bit of snooping on H44

"but check out this little bit of snooping on H44"

Cleek, are you pointing us to a particular post, or the whole blog, or what? I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be interested in there: could you be a bit more specific, please? What is this blog, and what is it we should be looking for there? Maybe it's just me that has no idea here, but there's no immediately visible info there as to what the blog is, who the people are, and what makes it more than a random subliterate blog, and what it is we should find interesting about it. Apologies if everyone else already knows all this stuff.

If I was on a boat with Winston Churchill, John Quincy Adams, and Sageman Consulting, LLC; and had to throw one of them overboard, it wouldn’t be Winston or John.

Here’s a networking website called United Nations’ Jobs. Sageman has his own page:

http://unjobs.org/authors/marc-sageman

Yeah, if someone needs to be thrown overboard and the only people on the boat are Churchill, Adams, one of the better analysts writing today, and Bill, I'm sure the esteemed company would pick Sageman. Yup. He'd be it. Churchill and Adams couldn't bear the thought of depriving the world of Bill's, ah, um, wisdom. Yeah, that's it!

I tell you what Bill: instead of telling us that you think Sageman is an idiot over and over, why don't you tell us why you think he's an idiot. I don't mean to imply that you've failed to convince anyone with your clever argument by repetition, but you've failed to convince anyone.

Sageman is not an idiot. He’s got people buying his books. I’m just sitting here watching the world go round and round.

The Bible has calls to kill adulterers and homosexuals.

And also women who aren't virgins when they marry (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21). And those who blaspheme the name of God (Leviticus 24: 16). I can't be bothered to go through all the many other categories of those who the Bible commands to be stoned, but how many of the American population do you think would be left dead under a pile of rocks based just on these?

cleek:
Pretty funny. I liked http://hillaryis44.blogspot.com/2008/05/keep-contacting-those-supers-hags.html>this exchange from a SuperDelegate to a "little birdie":

The truth is that I lost my temper after having my e-box overloaded with the same message time and time again. So they will vote for McCain, they all say. What possesses an individual to think this is an argument a Democratic activist or office holder will respond positively to?

My goodness, at least pretend to be a loyal Democrat!

I'd like to know how the SD is, so I could e-mail a "You tell 'em!" to them!

BTW, I disagree with "Wonk"'s decision to call the Big Pink supprters Hill "Hags". I've never liked that term, and don't like it here, either.

Gary,

I thought this post was pretty interesting.

$250K "bundler" for Clinton is bragging about using other peoples' names to donate more.

This thread's a good example of why I wasn't responding to Bill. Please DNFTT, y'all.

To return (mostly) to the original topic,

In prior ObWi threads we've discussed Harry G. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" and its applicability to President Bush.

Whenever analyzing a speech by George W. Bush it's a good idea to ask oneself, "what buttons is he trying to push?" Now to some extent this is true of any political speech -- political speeches are often calculated to advance the goals of the speaker. But President Bush is an extreme example of this phenomenon.

"Hypocrisy" (or even "lies") may well apply but the real purpose is to create a desired result in the audience (both the immediate listeners and the broader reporting). This is just an egregious instance. Also, the "some seem to believe" locution is a dead giveaway of this tactic.

[Gary, thanks for the pointers, very good reading.]

"I thought this post"

Thanks. I'm afraid I'm still clueless, though, as to what that blog is, and who "wonk" or "ann" are. I suspect some clue as to context would make looking at the post greatly more explicable.

Seeking clues, I hit the links in that post, and immediately read this: "Now, I don't consider myself an internet expert or anything, but I didn't fall off a turnip truck, either. Even I know that when you post on internet forums, you shouldn't use your real name,"

Uh, what? Wtf?

"Because otherwise, someone might be tempted to do what I did, and Google you."

Oh, the horror.

"So this person just admitted - with an electronic "paper trail" linking to her real identity - that she violated campaign finance law. So much for an Ivy League education."

Right, that's a correct call.

But "when you post on internet forums, you shouldn't use your real name"? It helps when making fun of someone on the internet not to reveal in the same post that you have no idea whatever as to what you're talking about. What, were those rules taught on AOL after Endless September?

I take it "Hillary is 44" is a popular pro-Clinton website? I'm afraid I don't know from partisan blogs. Is the point that a lot of pro-Clinton supporters post there, and the other blog makes fun of it, then? Ok.

But: "Are these the kinds of people we want in our government?"

Is there some presumption that commenters at "Hillary is 44" will get government jobs if Clinton had become the nominee and President? Or what? Because I'm not understanding the presumption there, otherwise, and if that's what's meant, why?

Anyway, thanks for the additional clue. I don't have remotely enough time to follow 1/10th of my ordinary level of news reading, let alone other reading, in the past couple of months, and now, so I'll have to rely on others to go trolling through blogs for amusement, but now I at least have some idea of what you were referring to, whereas previously I had absolutely no idea what the point of that blog was, or what you were pointing to it for. Thanks.

"[Gary, thanks for the pointers, very good reading.]"

You're most welcome, arr ay ell.

Dear Eric. I hope you are well.

Sorry, I disagree with you and agree with Pres. Bush. You CANNOT negotiate with terroists. Only kill them.

Sincerely, Sean

So Sean, are you saying that terrorists are worse than the Soviet Union? Because, I hate to tell you this, but we negotiated with the Soviet Union. Also, we supported and assisted IRA terrorists for quite some time. We did not "kill" them at all. Did you complain when the government did that or do you think that one cannot be a terrorist if one is sufficiently white and anglo-saxon?

"Because, I hate to tell you this, but we negotiated with the Soviet Union."

How about the CIA-PLO agreement that the PLO wouldn't attack Americans? Does that count?

I guess that never happened.

So how about these terrorists? Still terrorizing?

Dear Turbulence.

Thanks for your note. I'll try to make my views clear.

First, the US has no choice in this wicked world but to do business with frequently distasteful REGIMES. You mentioned the former USSR as an example. I freely admit the US had to deal with that evil and vile regime. DESPITE knowing quite well the USSR patronized or subsidized many terrorist groups directly or indirectly over the years.

Second, I stand by my view that you can ONLY destroy terrorist GROUPS. Current examples being Al Qaeda and Hezbullah. You CANNOT negotiate with people who implacably hate you and wish you dead. AND do their best to carry out their wishes.

Sincerely, Sean

And whatever happened to these terrorists?

Ah, Gary got to the IRA before I did, I see.

You can negotiate with terrorists: it's obviously possible. The question is, is it a good idea?

If a terrorist organization looks as though it might want to transform itself into a political party, then why on earth would one not negotiate with them? It would have been beyond stupid for the Brits to refuse to negotiate with the IRA, or people who could speak for it.

The reason not to negotiate with Al Qaeda is that there is no earthly reason to think that they're trustworthy, or interested in giving up terrorism, or anything like that. Hamas, by contrast, is now in (partial) control of the Palestinian Authority. Whether that makes them the government of a state or not I leave to others; it plainly does put them in a different category from, say, AQ.

I would negotiate with the government of the PA, not with the party per se, if it seemed likely that any good would come of it. Obama, let's not forget, would not. And let's not also forget whose insistence on holding an election, over the objections of the Israelis and Abbas, is responsible for Hamas being in power in the first place.

Hamas' worst nightmare, indeed. George W. Bush handed them the opportunity they needed. Ditto for the Iranians: they are the obvious beneficiaries of our invasion of Iraq, and that was predictable, and predicted, beforehand. They continue to benefit as long as we're pinned down right next door to them.

So for the Republicans to criticize Obama on this score is, to me, pitiful.

Sean,

Can you explain why you think Hezbollah is not a government? I know they don't have embassies, but in a large chunk of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah picks up the garbage (literally), pays old age pensions, runs 'government' services like schools and medical clinics, runs courthouses, and most importantly, defends people against foreign invaders trying to kill them. Everyone pretends that Hezbollah is not a government, and they're clearly not in a dejure sense. But in practice, I don't see how you can claim they're not a government.

As hilzoy and Gary have explained, Sinn Fein and Hamas are governments. Certainly, Musharraf's regime and the House of Saud comprise governments that have done a great deal more to harm the United States than either Hezbollah or Hamas.

Finally, can you explain why Hezbollah wants the US dead? I thought they were primarily concerned with Lebanon.

Sean,

Gary, Hilzoy and Turbulence handled my response for me.

I never suggested negotiating with al-Qaeda. There is no compromise position to be found in such negotiations.

Hezbollah and Hamas are different. There is a possibility of coming to an acceptable modus vivendi, or at least de-escalating tensions until such a modus vivendi is possible down the road.

The Bush administration has labeled Iran and North Korea "terrorist states" and yet has negotiated extensively with each.

Further, the Bush administration has negotiated with Sunni Iraqi groups that it considers "terrorists" in order to peel them away from al-Qaeda.

By your standards, Bush doesn't even believe what Bush believes.

Eric, what's up with American Footprints? Three times in the last ten days it's a blank screen when I go there -- but it's intermittent.

Nell, we've been having some server issues. We're in the process of upgrading drupal versions, and so there's going to be some intermittent problems. If you reload, or go back later, the site should come back.

Thanks, Eric; best wishes for the transition, and I'll keep trying.

"Hamas, by contrast, is now in (partial) control of the Palestinian Authority."

They are? Since when?

They're in control of Gaza, but in what way, since when, do they have even the slightest control of the PA?

The PA is entirely in the control of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah and his/their supporters and their small-sizced allies (the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the he Palestinian People's Party and a smattering of independents, basically) who are staunch enemies of Hamas and vice versa, with battles between them rising to just below the level of civil war.

Are you perhaps not referring to the PA, but to the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council)?

Hamas won a plurality of votes in the PLC, but Abbas and Fatah and allies remain in majority control of the PLC, and total executive control over the PA is solely in their hands, with Hamas having zero control or influence over the executive offices of the PA, just as the PA has zero control now over Gaza and continues to have zero control of Hamas.

"As hilzoy and Gary have explained, Sinn Fein and Hamas are governments. "

I didn't explain that, and it isn't true. Sinn Fein is in government, but is not itself a government, any more than the U.S. Democratic or Republican parties "are governments," and Hamas isn't even in any government, other than their powerless representatives in the PLC; they're simply in defacto control of the territory of Gaza. They're certainly not a legal, de jure, government of anything. They do act in practice in Gaza as the closest thing that exists to a government, but if a government isn't de jure, it's not a government, but something close, at best. A government has to be officially recognized by at least one country somewhere in the world as a legal government, or it just isn't one. No one has a Hamas or Gaza passport, and they don't pretend to issue one. Nor currency, nor any of the trappings that make up a government, including such minor details as a government: executive offices, a legislature, ministries, embassies, a legal system, laws, etc.

A gang in charge of some territory doth not a "government" make. Hamas may eventually turn into a government, but it isn't one until it does so, and creates those things, and has them recognized by someone, including themselves. Basically they're rebels who are managing to rule some territory; that doesn't make them a "government" in any of the usual meanings of the term, other that the way one typically refers to a rebel or guerilla force that controls some territory somewhere.

Dear Eric. I hope you are well.

Trying to belatedly catch up with notes sent to me.

I never meant to imply you wanted the US to "negotiate" with the Al Qaeda scum. I mentioned it merely to cite a clear example.

But I still disagree with you about Hamas and Hezbullah. I thought Gary's comments about why Hamas is not a real gov't very true. And that argument applies to the equally violent and illegal usurpation of power by Hezbullah in soutnern Lebanon.

I continue to believe we cannot negotiate with Hezbullah because the end they want: the DESTRUCTION of Israel, is impossible for the US (never mind Israel!) to accept.

And Hezbullah, being the creatures and clients of Iran, makes it doubly impossible to negotiate with them.

Please recall my mention of the vile and unlamented USSR. That too was a regime which sponsored terrorism. BUT, I have admitted the US had no choice but to do business with the USSR. And, that applies by analogies to the examples you cited.

But it's late. Logging off now!

Sincerly. Sean

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad