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May 30, 2008

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"Talk about a political stunt, it's sending out campaign surrogates to parse words about a topic Barack Obama has no experience with, and has shown zero interest in learning about."

WTF does that even mean? What topic are they talking about? Iraq? Troop levels? Traveling to Iraq? Traveling to Iraq with McCain? Meeting with Petraeus?

It's like they've got a bunch of press-release macros, they just punch in the topic and the macro spits out the press release.

If Sen. McCain and his team are this clumsy on message already (while the Obama campaign are not yet at full-strength against them) then all I can say is...

double order of popcorn. and to uphold my leftie street cred, top with yeast and tamari, or parmesan and oregano. thanks.

did Howard Dean get the number of troops wrong in an interview back in 04 ? and didn't we hear for days and days that how this proved how unfit he was ?

ah yes, here it is.

As I remember it Dean *didn't* get the number of troops wrong--he gave a range which was correct but was hammered for not giving an exact number that, because of the fluctuating situation, would have been incorrect.

YOu have got to love the argument over "tenses." This reminds me of Jon Stewart's brilliant insight that everything that Bush says will be true if we don't invade Iraq comes true if we do ("a middle east in chaos!, thousands of lives lost! hatred fomented in the heart of a muslim country!") so that he's got hindsight for the future. If this McCain "yesterday, today, tomorrow, whatever" story gets to Jon Stewart he's toast in any tense.

aimai

As I remember it Dean *didn't* get the number of troops wrong--he gave a range which was correct but was hammered for not giving an exact number that, because of the fluctuating situation, would have been incorrect.

YOu have got to love the argument over "tenses." This reminds me of Jon Stewart's brilliant insight that everything that Bush says will be true if we don't invade Iraq comes true if we do ("a middle east in chaos!, thousands of lives lost! hatred fomented in the heart of a muslim country!") so that he's got hindsight for the future. If this McCain "yesterday, today, tomorrow, whatever" story gets to Jon Stewart he's toast in any tense.

aimai

"Clearly John Kerry and Barack Obama have very little understanding of troop levels, but considering Barack Obama hasn't been to Iraq in 873 days and has never had a one on one meeting with Gen. Petraeus, it isn't a surprise to anyone that he demonstrates weak leadership."
Chewbacca! What a wookie!

How many days has it been since FDR has been to the Western Front in France and Germany to inspect the progress of the fighting?

According to my calculations it has been 23369 days since D-Day in Normandy, and we are still waiting. This is obviously no way to win a war, with weak leadership like this.

How can our troops win if the President has no idea what is going on at the front lines? It's not like he has generals who can tell him or anything.

As Mark Kleiman put it more pointedly, “How clueless is John McCain? He doesn’t have a clue. He’s never had a clue. He couldn’t get a clue if he waited for the clue mating season, found a group of horny female clues, sprayed himself all over with clue pheromones, and did the clue mating dance.”
http://www.samefacts.com/archives/campaign_2008_/2008/03/retraction.php (italics in original)

"If he had said 'we'd drawn down,' he'd be accurate," Scheunemann said.

Really? How does that work?

Hang on, isn't it 2013 now? And the war has been won? So of course troops levels are pre-surge.. they've been that way since early 2011.

Here are some segments of an advance copy of Obama's speech for tonight, where he is going to address a few of the issues Hilzoy brings up.

It's gonna be interesting to see just how often McCain tries to fit those buzzwords in, even when they have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. And bonus points for doing it in the most dickish and condescending manner possible.

"My friends, the fact that Senator Obama ordered orange juice instead of coffee just proves that he lacks the experience and understanding to be fit for the role of commander in chief, and will no doubt be a weak leader."

McCain’s mind defers to his pilot training. He thinks in black and white. Black is ‘violent Islamic extremism’ in McCain’s mind. White is ‘moderate Muslims’.

We don’t need a fighter pilot in this war. We need a John Quincy Adams or a Winston Churchill. Someone who takes the time to study and understand the texts and history of Islam.

He would come to the same conclusion that the Shah, Saddam, Tito, Dracula, Musharraf, Ataturk, and every other successful leader in that part of the world had come to. The only alternative to an Islamic theocracy is an oppressive dictatorship that punishes Islamists by wiping out their bloodlines.

The correct strategy is to move our forces to a remote airbase, allow the biggest and meanest Iraqi take charge of the people of Iraq, and then cut a deal with him. The goal is to prevent the Russians or Chinese from taking the Iraq oil.

It would actually be highly inappropriate for someone in Obama's position, the presumptive nominee for the party in opposition, to go to Iraq now. Think of the position that puts the senior commanders he would meet with in: forced to gladhand and host the person who may well soon be their boss, but who very publicly disagrees with their current boss. Not to mention what discussions he may have with local leaders - have we all forgotten Nixon and Dr. K tell the South Vietnamese government to reject Johnson's peace plan before the 1968 election? Whatever might transpire, each faction will be convinced he cut a deal with their opponents; no meeting of the future president with some bigshot will pass without endless rumours and conspiracy-making, this is the Middle East after all. I would think the last thing American officials would want is Obama visiting and reminding everybody that it's not worth their while making any deals or concessions to American wishes until January -- whatever progress you argue has been made, it would grind to a halt as soon as he arrived.

Of course, if Obama does visit Iraq, you can expect the republican attack machine to go into a frenzy accusing him of undermining US efforts there. In fact, I realise now that's obviously the trap they are trying to lay.

This whole thing is so contrived, although sadly that doesn't necessarily mean it won't work politically.

Luckily Axelrod seems as smart as Admiral Akhbar.

"Eventually there will be no US troops in Iraq."

after the rapture? otherwise, where the hell did you get that idea?

McCain also came out against McClellan's book, saying that it's a product of the same poor judgment he showed during the Peninsula Campaign.

"Someone who takes the time to study and understand the texts and history of Islam."

Oh, like you, eh, Bill?

The guy who can never answer the simplest questions about Islam?

Where are all the cut-off hands and feet, Bill?

Does the genetic defect that afflicts Jews and liberals prevent our seeing them?

"He would come to the same conclusion that the Shah, Saddam, Tito, Dracula, Musharraf, Ataturk, and every other successful leader in that part of the world had come to."

Say, what "part of the world" is that, that includes Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Yugoslavia? Is that the continent of Euroasiafrica?

The part of the world that is on three separate continents?

And, say, which one of those "leaders" is unlike the others? Hmm? Which one is fictional?

Or were you referring to Vlad Ţepeş?

"The only alternative to an Islamic theocracy is an oppressive dictatorship that punishes Islamists by wiping out their bloodlines."

Oh, yes, it certainly helps to know the history of Islam. It might prevent clueless statements like the above.

Or thinking that Pakistan and and, say, Wallachia, are in the same "part of the world."

Jeebus.

For those not following along, Bill has been not answering simple questions for many months now, ever since he showed up. He isn't quite a troll, but he's fairly robotic.

By last November, it was already old.

But his research skilz are teh awesome.

I'll leave citing the last time Bill believed Pakistan was in "the Middle East" for another time.

"Luckily Axelrod seems as smart as Admiral Akhbar."

Ackbar.

I'll leave citing the last time Bill believed Pakistan was in "the Middle East" for another time.

To be fair to Bill, it's perfectly acceptable to speak of Pakistan being in the Middle East.

Also, I was using the transliterated Iraqi pronunciation of the rebel admiral in question.

""Luckily Axelrod seems as smart as Admiral Akhbar."

Ackbar."


You walked right into that one Gary, byrn set you up. Twas a trap.

"To be fair to Bill, it's perfectly acceptable to speak of Pakistan being in the Middle East."

Pakistan is, of course, part of the Indian subcontinent, along with the rest of India. It is part of South Asia. Islamabad is 2198 miles from Jerusalem. It's 2458 miles from Cairo.

Certainly people use some of these terms very loosely, but find me Pakistan on this map, and tell me how India is also part of the Middle East, and I'll start asking why we don't bother to include China, and South Africa, and Sweden, too?

Paris is only 1997 miles from Cairo: isn't it therefore also part of the Middle East? Hell, Berlin is only 1798 miles from Cairo, and 1805 miles from Jerusalem. I guess Germany is also part of the Middle East.

Hell, Oslo, Norway, is only 2247 miles from Jerusalem.

Turns out most everywhere is in "the Middle East," apparently, if we're being loose enough. Woo-hoo! This is really useful for giving people a grasp of basic geography.

Please let my comment go.

Never mind. Typepad said it was rejected as [s word], but there it is.

Then it rejected this comment, for having s and p and am used as a word.

"Twas a trap."

The force screen will be down in moments.

Gary, your condescension is misplaced, you're simply wrong for obvious reasons. While the region's core is the Eastern Med and the gulf, and this would be what first comes to mind for most people, it's not unusual to find articles on countries north of the Sahel like Mali, Chad, Sudan, or the Caucuses or even as far as Muslim Central Asia in Middle East journals.

BOB:
Assorted BOBeries

Shorter BOB:
"You have to understand the Arab mind. The only thing they understand is force -- force, pride and saving face."

"The three things understood by the Arab mind are force, pride, and saving face - and fear. The *four* things... no... *amongst* the things understood by the Arab mind are force, pride, saving face, and fear - and an almost fanatical devotion to the Prophet. Amongst the things understood by the Arab mind... are such elements as force, pride... I'll come in again."

@byrningman:
No, that would be ridiculous. The "Muslim world" and the "Middle East" are not synonymous. While most of the middle east is peopled by followers of Islam, any place that is majority Muslim is hardly automatically in the middle east. It's the same dumb mixing of categories that leads to people to say "Muslim" = "Arab". "Arab" is an ethnic group and "Muslim" is a religious group - they often overlap, but that doesn't mean you get say they're the same thing.

I've seen some call Pakistan ME and some call it WA. Usually the latter, though. USDoS agrees. Wikipedia more or less concurs.

Ah, sweet, sweet pedantry...

While most of the middle east is peopled by followers of Islam, any place that is majority Muslim is hardly automatically in the middle east.

Like Indonesia, right?

Gary, for the record I am a big supporter of Israel and admirer of Jews.

Upon reflection though, ‘defect’ was probably not the best word. A better word would be ‘outmoded’. In an agricultural society thousands, or even hundreds of years ago, a compassionate genetic code could propagate itself efficiently. I believe that this is probably based in the need for people to be dependent on each other for irrigation.

So the compassion gene would have been a good gene to have back then for irrigation farmers. This same gene would have been a bad gene for raiders of caravans. This is my theory as to why Israel keeps giving food and money to Arabs who shoot rockets at Jewish children. Or why the ACLU would defend CAIR.

I’ve been to Israel and there are plenty of Israelis who have don’t have this gene or have learned to suppress it. This gene that was useful in the past doesn’t do much good in 2008, as far as gene propagation game goes. I don’t know if it is Darwinism, or Biblical prophecy, but humans tend to become acclimated to their environments over time.

Read Zechariah. If you’re lazy start with Chapter 13. If you’re really lazy start with 13:7.

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.

On behalf of everyone who knows, well, anything at all about genetics, I beg you Bill: please stop talking about genes. You don't know anything about how genes actually work so your writings on the subject are physically painful to those of us who do. What heinous crime did biologists ever commit against you?

"As Mark Kleiman put it more pointedly"

Not exactly original to Mark, you know.

I wouldn't want to have to use a clue-by-four on anyone: it's Be Kind To The Clueless Month.

I don’t know if it is Darwinism, or Biblical prophecy, but humans tend to become acclimated to their environments over time.

Close, but not quite. It's Lamarkism.

I work with some Mayans. They’re not tall people. I suspect that this is because their ancestors competed for survival in dense undergrowth. That’s about the limit of my knowledge. So I’ll be quiet.

BOB, I'll be clearer. What you're proposing above is at the very least some of Ye Olde Superbly Credible Evolutionary Psychologie, and possibly even a Lamarkian interpretation of EvPsych, if I'm not misreading what you wrote above... but for your sake, I certainly hope I am.

Some of you are being way too hard on the BOB. That 10:42 post has got to be the Best. Post. Ever.

I could tell it would be something special as soon as I read his opening line:
"Gary, for the record I am a big supporter of Israel and admirer of Jews."

Frankly, I think some of you have been working too hard at suppressing your compassion genes.

I work with some Mayans. They’re not tall people. I suspect that this is because their ancestors competed for survival in dense undergrowth. That’s about the limit of my knowledge

May I suggest that your knowledge is even more limited than you think? And that if you can get the objective part of the world so badly wrong, that you want to rethink your views of the world?

Wouldn't it be great if BrickovenBill turned out to be a pseudonym for John Thullen? This only occurred to me because they both make me laugh in amazement at the creativity of the human mind - or should I say, creative gene?

No, that would be ridiculous. The "Muslim world" and the "Middle East" are not synonymous.

No of course not, but it is not exceptional to speak of Pakistan being in the Middle East. It is a very valid categorisation depending on the context. It is certainly the last thing I would criticise Bill for...

What you're proposing above is at the very least some of Ye Olde Superbly Credible Evolutionary Psychologie, and possibly even a Lamarkian interpretation of EvPsych, if I'm not misreading what you wrote above... but for your sake, I certainly hope I am.

Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater: I think Lamarck is unfairly slandered and contemporary epigenetics is a quite plausible and interesting angle. And while people love playing fast and loose with EvPsy, that doesn't discredit the discipline as a whole.

"No of course not, but it is not exceptional to speak of Pakistan being in the Middle East. It is a very valid categorisation depending on the context."

Unless you want directions on how to get there. I'd love to know how Pakistan is part of the "Middle East," and India isn't: how does that work?

"It is certainly the last thing I would criticise Bill for..."

Points for consistency, since you didn't do so.

I work with some Mayans. They’re not tall people. I suspect that this is because their ancestors competed for survival in dense undergrowth. That’s about the limit of my knowledge. So I’ll be quiet.

This comment is the most wonderful thing I have read this year.

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