Polls, Politics, And Bare Knuckles

There’s a great line in ‘Enter The Dragon’ where Bruce Lee, at the island martial arts tournament that figures in the film, is preparing to fight the big, scarred, violent-looking martial artist (Bob Wall) who killed his sister.

Wall tosses a board up in the air, and shatters it midair with a blow.

Lee looks at him, smiles slightly, and says: “Boards don’t hit back” and then proceeds to do a martial arts clinic on Wall’s body.

I actually got to use a line like that once…

Looking over at Atrios’ site today, I notice him rhapsodizing about this map, over on Daily Kos – showing the depth and geographic spread of national disapproval of President Bush.

The first thought I had when I saw it was “Polls don’t pass laws.
Yes, Bush and his administration are struggling with their popularity. But the Republican Party is likely to survive the mid-term elections with control of Congress (thanks in no small part to gerrymandering), and it is likely that the GOP will continue to control the apparatus of power until 2008.

Now polls do matter – just as breaking boards in midair matters in demonstrating martial arts expertise.

But the problem with approval/disapproval polls is that they don’t factor well for people like me – who didn’t approve much of what Bush had done in 2004, but when looking at who he was running against, approved even less.

As an example, Kaus points us at some recent California polls (where the Governator is doing about as badly as Bush in the polls) for two of his possible rivals -

They don’t like you! They really don’t like you! Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner aren’t nearly as popular as their backers thought they were, according to the latest Field Poll. Beatty’s rating is 40% unfavorable/27% favorable–among Democrats! Yikes. .. Reiner is at least more popular than unpopular within his own party, but overall his unfavorables outweigh his favorables among independents (34/24) and overall (41/25). …

So I keep bringing it home to two simple points:

# I’m not so convinced that “Not Bush” is a winning campaign strategy; can we possibly come up with some better ones?

# And I’m absolutely convinced that if we could win an election with this, it’d be a recipe for disaster as a strategy for governing.

Update: Actually, there’s a great article in the Bee by Dan Walters that amplifies Mickey’s point, and extends it to the Governor’s other two Democratic challengers, Phil Angelides and Steve Wesley:

And actor-directors Rob Reiner and Warren Beatty, who have been politically active of late and have been the subject of much speculation as potential Democratic challengers to Schwarzenegger, are also well-known, with roughly two-thirds of those surveyed holding opinions about them. But their images, if anything, are less favorable than Schwarzenegger’s with just 25 percent being positively disposed toward Reiner and 16 percent toward Beatty.

Angelides and the other Democrat who’s publicly announced for the governorship, Controller Steve Westly, generate name-identification levels at half, or less, of those held by Reiner and Beatty and positive ratings equally as low – substantially lower than Schwarzenegger’s. Just 23 percent of voters hold a positive opinion of Angelides and 18 percent of Westly.

As I said before…”polls don’t pass laws.”

44 thoughts on “Polls, Politics, And Bare Knuckles”

  1. You are right about winning and governing w/ that strategy. Bush lied was the worst meme possible. The Bush administration is _INCOMPETENT_ is not(Brownie, Miers, Rumsfield, Myers mlle). The information about the invasion of Iraq is misleading after the intial results is not(Mission Accomplished, “We don’t do nation-building”). The administration and is unethical and corrupt(Frist, Delay, Ney, Abramhoff, Rove). The adminstration aids and abets _TREASON_(Libby, Rove-if you disagree ask Bush Sr). They can not provide government services in even a limited fashion by their own definition(Katrina, Wilma, Rita, FEMA). They have destroyed America’s standard of _JUSTICE_ with their insistence on the use of hidden jails and torture for the Jihadists(America is not so insecure that we can not have a debate about what to do with them). In short the perfect wave has crashed upon them.

    Their boat only floats because the Democrats have not articulated a strategy that tells the American public and electorate that as a party they are understand when you are attacked you fight back in a measured way with all your available weapons and resources at your disposal. When that happens good bye Republicans. Having marched in lockstep w/ the administrations proposals as though they were passing a five year plan for the Politiburo gerrymandering will not save them.

    Dan Darling wrote a number of insightful pieces tying toghether in a coherent fashion the alliances between the Jihadists and Saddam’s Iraq. I put aside my rancor at the Republicans because I believe the invasion was and is the right thing to do. It is clear however that this administration has at the highest levels of government mismanaged this into near defeat and refuses to take any public responsiblity for it. This situtation can not stand. I am waiting to see what the Democrats do. In the mean time I am doing everything possible to change the thinking of the Democrats and see the Republicans are not reelected

    I do know if there is another Jihadist attack on American soil every politician, including the dog catcher, will be hanging from a tree for having failed to protect the American people.

  2. I think you tend to a little hyperbole and rancor in your assessment, but I’ll say this. If some Democrat can put forward a plan that makes me think that that candidate might do better on either the domestic or foreign front (or preferably both), I’d vote for them.

    I think it would be a serious mistake to imagine that conservatives ever were backing Bush as much as they were opposing his opponents. Life long Republican than I am, I very nearly voted for Gore – on the grounds that he was said to be extremely pro-science and pro-technology and I found Bush’s past distasteful and his science policy a mess – but after listening to him for sometime I found that Gore never articulated much of a position on anything. He failed to distance himself from Clinton (who I despise as much as you seem to despise Bush), and he failed to present himself as anything other than another dishonest and clueless Democratic politician singing the same tired old memes.

    One thing that the Democrats seem to fail to understand is that they’ve already missed thier chance to successfully run against Bush. Bush won, and he won’t be running again in 2006 or 2008. They might as well give up on running against Bush because it didn’t work even when they were running against Bush, and its going to work less well when they go up against someone like Rudi who can honestly say that he has some degree of disagreement with the Bush administration.

  3. It’s true that the Democrats would have a hard time fighting someone like Rudy Giuliani, but it’s not clear that the Republicans, given their social conservatism, would choose him as their candidate.

    I do know if there is another Jihadist attack on American soil every politician, including the dog catcher, will be hanging from a tree for having failed to protect the American people.I do know if there is another Jihadist attack on American soil every politician, including the dog catcher, will be hanging from a tree for having failed to protect the American people..

    Why would we do that?

    The only people who are to blame for terrorist attacks are terrorists. Even if the government turned our nation into one giant panic room, terrorist attacks couldn’t be avoided. There is no way that anyone can guarantee safety from terrorist attacks. So why should we hang the dog catcher?

    I disagree with Bush’s strategy, but responding to a terrorist attack by attacking the leaders who command the world’s strongest military force during a time of crisis would be the worst possible response.

  4. “It’s true that the Democrats would have a hard time fighting someone like Rudy Giuliani, but it’s not clear that the Republicans, given their social conservatism, would choose him as their candidate.”

    Besides that, it’s not even clear he wants it. I haven’t seen anything to indicate to me that Giuliani has any intention to run.

  5. “It’s true that the Democrats would have a hard time fighting someone like Rudy Giuliani, but it’s not clear that the Republicans, given their social conservatism, would choose him as their candidate.”

    That’s probably true, and I honestly don’t know who will win the GOP nomination in 2008. It should be a very interesting primary season.

    But its also true that many of peoples disagreements with Bush are disagreements with Bush from the Right. In other words, while disapproval of Bush is at an all time high at the momment, its not at all clear to me that many people who disapprove of his performance (such as myself) disapprove because they feel he’s governed too much from the middle, ran his domestic policy too far to the left, and not been Hawkish enough.

    So do not suppose – as Kos does – that disagreement with Bush automatically indicates acceptance of a Leftist criticisms, much less Leftist agenda. There have been alot of Rightist criticisms of Bush from the very beginning. Bush’s platform may be losing to the nebulous platform of a savior figure, but what that platform looks like and what form of leadership changes people are expecting differs widely across the range of people who are unsatisfied.

    So far the trend amongst Democrats has been for years now, that whenever they see Bush’s popularity sagging they turn hard to the Left. But ultimately, this has just propped up Bush’s support. If you read National Review or listen to Rush Limbaugh way back to 2000, you won’t come away with the impression that the Right has always unconditionally supported Bush. Quite the contrary, the Right has never given unqualified support to Bush and has always vehementally opposed almost the entirety of his domestic agenda. But the Right has given unqualified rejections of whomever the Left has nominated, and so far the swing voters in the middle have gone along with it.

    Maybe the GOP won’t nominate Gullianni (though I have a feeling that many in the GOP would vote for ANYBODY they felt could be Hillary), but its not clear that whoever the Dems nominate that the same calculus as applied to Bush v. Gore and then Bush v. Kerry will apply. I voted for Bush on both cases by holding my nose and picking the lesser of two evils (again not that I necessarily agree with the common criticisms of Bush), and I imagine that alot of the GOP did the same. I suspect that – unfortunately – the same will be true in the next election.

  6. The Dems need to run against Washington, not GW. The same polls that show Bush in the tank show that people don’t care much for congress either. The Dems need an outsider — perhaps somebody like our own Governor Warner here in Virginia — to run against the establishment.

    Being anti-war and anti-Bush is not a platform that is going to motivate the center. It just keeps the partisans happy. Somebody is going to have to shift the discussion.

  7. >>I do know if there is another Jihadist attack on American soil every politician, including the dog catcher, will be hanging from a tree for having failed to protect the American people.

    Not they won’t. The sheeple will once again rush to them for protection, giving up even more of their money and liberty.

    “It works the same in any country”

  8. Bush doesn’t have to be great, just better than what the democrats have to offer. Same with the next candidate, whomever it maybe. I am a social conservative, against abortion, same sex marriage (though civil unions are fine), fiscally conservative, and hawk. I’d vote for Giuliani even though he’s pro choice. Abortion is an important issue but the war on Islamist Fascists is more impt. And while Hillary talks tough, I see the same retreads from the 90’s either taking positions or having thier proteges take positions in the cabinet and that’s a decade that was nice but we were asleep at the switch, lulled by a humming economy and the sweet talk of the man from hope. And I just don’t get the impression that anyone on that side has learned anything. I see Dean and Biden and Kerry yammering on and on and I think these people are fools. They love the sound of thier own voice and are greatly impressed by thier own rhetoric. This administration at least gets the idea that there is an enemy and its not us. They do things wrong by omission and commission. But the Kossacks, Deaniacs et al make me grit my teeth and say grow up. Will the democrats ever be responsible with foriegn policy?

  9. “This administration at least gets the idea that there is an enemy and its not us. ”

    That’s a very intereresting thing to say. You might have a different perspective if you were among the large fraction of Liberal and Democratic Americans whose character, judgment and patriotism Messrs. Cheney and Bush and legions of other administration mouth-pieces regularly impugn.

    And you only need to spend 2 or 3 minutes at any hard-Right sight to see what the effect of this rhetoric is on Neocon administration supporters. It is ugly, and it is directed at other Americans.

    And it is not justified.

    “And I just don’t get the impression that anyone on that side has learned anything.”

    Only someone who has a unipolar exposure to political news and information would even utter something like that.

    Democrats originated the idea of the Department of Homeland Security and regularly call for increasing spending on port security and other important domestic efforts.

    Republicans, OTOH, try to cut money promised to New York City after 9/11, and vote down funding for Avian Flu preparedness. They began to divert funds away from the pursuit of bin Laden and Afghanistan to prepare for Iraq a year before the invasion.

    A good case could be made that it is the Republicans who have not learned the lessons of 9/11 well.

  10. #2

    “If some Democrat can put forward a plan that makes me think that that candidate might do better on either the domestic or foreign front (or preferably both), I’d vote for them.”

    I have heard this statement before and am honestly curious about what you think a Democratic candidate would have to say or do in order to cross this threshold?

    And is there anyone out there who you forsee could fulfill this role?

  11. “..Democrats originated the idea of the Department of Homeland Security and regularly call for increasing spending on port security and other important domestic efforts…”

    Yeah. That’s kind of the problem. Dems want to play defense instead of offense, and see every threat as an opportunity for more government union workers. Terrorism is just another word for federal works projects.

    I’m not saying that’s true, I’m saying that is the perception by some. I’m afraid that the Dems are incapable of fighting a shooting war. That’s not fair to the voters, who are only left with one party. I grew up a Dem, and hope to get back to my party one day when it comes to its senses. So far, I don’t see it happening.

  12. Of course, we are all assuming that the sociopolitical circumstances of 2005 will also prevail in 2008.

    That won’t necessarily be so.

    What if Osama, Zawahiri and Zarquawi are all captured/confirmed dead by then? A lot of people, for whom the GWOT is “strictly personal” will (mistakenly) assume that our work is done and may want to “move on” by voting for a Democrat that promises a return to “normalcy”.

    I won’t make any predictions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Democratic ascendancy by then. The only question is: Would it be a renewed Dem party or a Bourbon Restoration?

    Based on what I’m seeing from Chairman How (Long Live the Little Helmsman!) and the rest of the Dem leadership, I’m gonna go with Bourbon Restoration.

    In the short run, it may not matter; in the long run, it’ll be a disaster for the Dems.

  13. when prominent democrats start advocating cut and run policies, it shows me that they have not learned anything from Viet Nam, Lebanon, Somalia et al.

    The department of Homeland Security. And as I remember correctly they spent a good deal of time trying to make sure it was unionized thereby making it more difficult to fire the inept.

    I could have voted for Joe Lieberman. So there is one right there.

    The lesson of 9/11 for Democrats -its all about Bin Laden. The lesson learned about 9/11 is that its the region and the oppression and the status quo is no longer working. Changing the conditions on the ground in the Middle East will go a long way to solve islamic terrorism. We have also created a situation where Jihadists poured into Iraq to be slaughtered as opposed to coming to America. While this was never a stated goal, its a nice side benefit.

  14. “Yeah. That’s kind of the problem. Dems want to play defense instead of offense…”

    I never got that impression, although certainly the TYPE of offense differs (big invasion vs. targeted strikes). And, I should think it perhaps more foolish to want only to (apper to) play offense and NOT defense. Because that is what this adminstration is doing. I say “appear to” because giving up the chase for bin Laden and invading a country that at best was a second-tier global terrorism sponsor kind of argues against the idea that this is really their policy as well.

    “Terrorism is just another word for federal works projects.”

    C’mon, Daniel. Is that worse than seeing terrorism as just another word for Corporate Cronyism?

  15. “Liberal and Democratic Americans whose character, judgment and patriotism Messrs. Cheney and Bush and legions of other administration mouth-pieces regularly impugn.”

    Please show me one example of Bush or Cheney impugning the character or patriotism of a democrat. Questioning their judgement is entirely proper, though democrats seem to equate that with questioning patriotism as we can see in this very thread. When did dems become such pampered princes that they cant bear to have their ideas challenged without taking it personally and crying to mommy (the NYT).

  16. #13

    Kevin, kevin, kevin. DHS is a federal agency. Federal employees are allowed to be unionized if they want. Americans have a right to organize. This has nothing to do with “firing inept” workers and everything to do with corporatism, cronyism and Neo-con ideology. Do you really think unions are the only or main source of institutionalized incompetence in the US? Have you looked at the roster of political APPOINTEES in the Bush govermnent? Does Michael Brown ring a bell? Please.

    “…when prominent democrats start advocating cut and run policies…”

    Let me see if I understand your point. If “Republicans”:http://www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=9038 call for troop withdrawals, you view this as normal reductions/adjustments, but if Democrats advocate the same thing, it is “cutting and running”, even if “military leaders”:http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/18/iraq.plan/ agree?

  17. “I have heard this statement before and am honestly curious about what you think a Democratic candidate would have to say or do in order to cross this threshold?”

    Off the top of my head, the candidate would have to advocate some portion of the following:

    1) Fiscal responcibility and a balanced budged without talking about ‘rolling back tax cuts for the rich’ and other clearly clueless trite DNC memes. The budget has grown 35% in the past 5 years, yet less than 1/3rd of that has to do with national security in any form. Something is big time broken there, and there are alot of Bush era expansions (No child left behind, Prescription Drug Benifits, Farm Subsidies) that just need to be immediately ended.
    2) Tax reform, meaning less of our nation’s mental resources tied up in figuring out how to evade taxes and/or how much we owe, and less incentives for corporations to move assests overseas, and not merely a covert term for a tax hike.
    3) Immigration reform with a zero tolerance policy for illegal immigration. I’d support things here that would send the ACLU into coniptions, but that’s just me. I don’t think the rest of the US is quite to the point that I am, but to be frank I’m afraid that if someone doesn’t take this problem seriously soon that in not too many years the pushback will be so hard I’ll be considered a liberal softy.
    4) Moving more money out of straight up entitlement programs and subsidies and more money into real infrastructure construction (hense jobs) and worker support programs (for example subsidizing daycare or job training).
    5) An active energy conservation program based on real science and not the Green parties mythicism or subsidizing some corporations dead end research. And an admission that conservation alone won’t solve the problem, merely give us some time to devolop true long term solutions. And for the love of God, would someone please standup and admit that ‘hydrogen power’ is based on bad science and represents the opposite of a solution to our current energy worries.
    6) A return to the pre-Clinton 15 active division US army. I said then that we hadn’t reached an end to history and we were going to find we suddenly needed the troops to fight either a large scale war or two smaller ones at the same time, and I think events have basically proven me correct.
    7) Honest debate on fixing social security. I’d like to see some politician admit that the SS trust fund doesn’t exist, and that its contents were stolen long ago, without some Democrat pretending that the messenger is the thief. Heck, I’d like someone to admit that Social Security – whether in corporate pensions or government entitlements – might well be an unworkable concept.
    8) Honest debate on fixing medicare.
    9) National tort reform, either as a federal plan or pushing Governors to do so. Less of our nations resources tied up in litagation attacks and defences. For example, I’m skeptical of the value of class action lawsuits and do not believe that you ought to be able to legally undertake to sue someone on the behalf of some who has not given you consent to do so.
    10) A show of respect for libertarian and federalist and other central principals of American philosophy and governance, even if qualified by the fact that libertarianism and federalism aren’t a cure all for everything (with which I could well agree).
    11) A realistic understanding of the threat to US security and Western civilization presented by radical militant Islam. You don’t have to sound like Charles at LGF, but I shouldn’t have to wonder whether you think that the Republicans are more evil than say the Taliban.
    12) An understanding of warfare that doesn’t seem to be wholly colored by thier perceptions of Veitnam. If you are going to be a liberal, be a John Locke, Wilsonian, JFK sort of liberal, and not a Karl Marx or Noam Chomsky sort of liberal.
    13) A pro-research, pro-space, pro-science policy which recognizes that the only thing government can do to ensure the long term success of the US economy is make sure that we perpetually stay at the front of research so that there is always things we can do that no one else can. We’ve got to get away from this notion that globalization is an option or a policy. Whether its bad or good is irrelevent, because its inevitable.

    “And is there anyone out there who you forsee could fulfill this role?”

    Not really. Basically, I’m asking the Dems to drop thier bankrupt talking points of the last 30+ years. Leiberman perhaps, but he only got 3% of the Democratic vote in their last primary. Then again, I don’t foresee anyone being offered by the GOP really making me happy either.

  18. The Dems need to run against Washington, not GW. The same polls that show Bush in the tank show that people don’t care much for congress either. The Dems need an outsider — perhaps somebody like our own Governor Warner here in Virginia — to run against the establishment.

    Someone like Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) or Governor Phil Bresden (D-TN) would also be very formidable. Right now Republicans are vulnerable on the issue of over spending and the deficits but (fortunately for them, unfortunately for the country) Congressional Democrats have shown that they’re even worse on the issue. Best bet for a Democratic President in 2008 is a moderate governor from the South, West, or Midwest with a history of making tough choices to balance his or her State budget even while taking on popular programs and their constituencies.

  19. Walter’s Ridge: You’re linking to aljazeera for the state of domestic politics? You’re asking for grief.

    Personally, I’m critical of the Senate resolution that some Republicans supported last week, but I don’t know of any Republicans supporting Rep. Murtha’s calls for immediate redeployment of U.S. troops outside the country. And yes, I think when Murtha calls for “immediate” redeployment of 1%-2% of force strength to Kuwait and the rest going home, he is advocating “cutting and running.” Its not clear to me in the dust-up how many Democrats actually support that.

  20. #16

    I cannot quickly find a reference to support my claim so will withdraw it.

    #18

    Thanks. I agree with a lot of your points, but perhaps might differ on the approach to achieving them…but maybe not, who knows? Unfortunately, this is a much bigger issue than I have time to engage at the moment, even though it would be a lot of fun to do so.

    One note, however. Although I agree that “talking points” can be off-putting, you must realize of course that politics is all about the sound bite (we have the patient geniuses guarding our access to public broadcast resources to thank for this) and most successful politicians are usually good at spewing them over and over. On top of that, a perusal of your own post will reveal several phrases that could be so classified. Sometimes the discourse necessitates that shorthand to be used where volumes might be required. So I don’t think it’s fair to hold Dems more at fault for using them any more than anyone else.

  21. “Someone like Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM)…”

    Richardson-Leiberman would be extremely formidable, and even if I wasn’t voting for it I probably wouldn’t dread losing to it.

    But I suspect that 2008 will be Hillary-Obama, which will be a strong ticket but one subject to the normal institutional weakness of the Democrats. Obama has been really shooting his mouth off lately, greatly harming the chances of what might have been an otherwise unbeatable ticket. The Democrats continually run to the left of about 70% of America and then wonder why they lose elections.

  22. AL

    Did anyone really think that either Warren Beatty or Rob Reiner were really going to be running for anything? Much less President?

    Well, other than Mickey? And doesn’t that say a heck of a lot about Mickey?

    Sort of a Quasi Gossip Columnist/Political Pundit/Car Reviewer?

    Heck I give Rod Dreher more respect as a pundit and he’s just a recycled movie critic.

  23. celebrim

    bq The Democrats continually run to the left of about 70% of America and then wonder why they lose elections.

    Actually I’d say you are probably right there, at least about the percentages if not the result.

    Considering the political breakdown of America, I’d say the Dems are further to the left of about 65% to 70% of the Nation while the Republicans are to the right of approximately the same percentage.

    Right now you’ve got a pretty even split of 30% Dem, 30% Republican and the rest independant.

    http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=750

  24. Please show me one example of Bush or Cheney impugning the character or patriotism of a democrat.

    How’s this for a very recent example.

    “The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone,”

    Especially given the speaker and the person that the speaker is obviously referring to.

    Frankly he should consider himself lucky that the person the remarks were obviously directed at didn’t yank out Dick’s backbone, if it indeed exists, and wack him about the head with it.

  25. “The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone,”

    That is tantamount to saying a someone is a bad person? Or doesnt love their country?

  26. I guess if playing loud music at someone is just as much torture as cutting their thumbs off, than saying they have a short memory is no different than accusing them of hating America.

  27. “The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone,”

    That is tantamount to saying a someone is a bad person? Or doesnt love their country?

    It’s tantamount, no, it’s exactly the same as calling someone a coward. Which in my world is attacking their character.

    As to this.

    I guess if playing loud music at someone is just as much torture as cutting their thumbs off, than saying they have a short memory is no different than accusing them of hating America.

    I don’t recall anyone ever claiming that playing loud music at someone is torture.

    I have seen a lot of folks tossing that around however, along with female undergarments, in a desperate, and frankly dishonest attempt to claim that other methods which have resulted in 27 deaths of detainee’s being ruled murders out of a total of 108 detainee deaths is really no big deal.

    I’m fairly sure none of these died of excessive loud music or accidental strangulation by lingerie.

    And frankly, at this point one would need a serious supply of Oxycontin and Crown Royal to continue on that track.

    But hey, it’s 5:00PM somewhere right?

  28. AL

    And Robin Williams name has been tossed about as well. Let’s just say I’m skeptical.

    And isn’t Gary Coleman the heir apparant for that spot?

    ;0)

  29. “It’s tantamount, no, it’s exactly the same as calling someone a coward. Which in my world is attacking their character.”

    If you dont know there is difference between political cowardice and personal bravery… well i guess thats why you’re a democrat.

    “I have seen a lot of folks tossing that around however, along with female undergarments, in a desperate, and frankly dishonest attempt to claim that other methods which have resulted in 27 deaths of detainee’s being ruled murders out of a total of 108 detainee deaths is really no big deal.”

    If they were ruled murders than by definition it was a crime and not policy. If you look at the exact practices being pointed at by Congress and the the rights groups, they are disorientation (heat/cold, music, isolation) and waterboarding. Those things havent killed anyone, practices that do are already outlawed.

  30. Cowardice is cowardice I’d say.

    If they were ruled murders than by definition it was a crime and not policy.

    Normally I’d agree here. However, consider the cases in Bagram. One death where, had the patient survived he would have needed to have both badly crushed legs amputated, where the military medical examiner initially ruled the death to be from natural causes. The commander of Allied Forces in Afghanistan denied the allegations of the treatment of the prisoners.

    It was only until the press, in this case the dreaded New York Times, reported on it that the Army came clean and charged one soldier with assault.

    What about the military ME that ruled it natural causes? A courts martial? Or even a letter of reprimand? Nope.

  31. AL and WOC staff

    Sorry for letting this get so off topic. Especially it moving into this topic which is always a no win for all sides in this debate.

  32. If you are talking about the cabdriver named Dilawar, 7 soldiers were found complicit and charged in his death and the doctor who performed the autopsy had the cause of death as blunt force trauma. If there was a conspiracy no-one has presented any proof of it.

  33. Davebo,

    Re: torture. I was watching the History Channel a while back and caught a show about Ceasar’s conquest of Gaul. There was a point where the Romans had the Gauls holed up in a little Gaulic village the name of which escapes me at the moment. The Gauls were running out of supplies, so their leader, Vercingetorix, sent all non-combatants in the village out into the Roman lines. He assumed the Romans would capture them and sell them as slaves. They’d be slaves, but at least they’d be alive. Ceasar slaughtered every last one of them. That, my friend is why the Roman empire lasted 1000 years. Not necessarily because they slaughtered women and children, but because they did what was necessary however brutal that necessity might be. And that’s why the jihadis will eventually beat us. They will do whatever is necessary no matter how brutal, and we won’t. Like Ford Prefect said in _Life the Universe and Everything_, “You can’t fight an obsession. They care. We don’t. They win.”

  34. Actually, I would amend Ford’s comment thus, “You can’t fight an obsession unless you’re equally obsessed.” We are clearly not.

  35. Robert M —

    The traditional FDR style approach would be to offer up a “we do big government right” solution for what would be posed as a set of problems (terrorism, a broken ME, economic slumps, ineffective government) that only big government can solve.

    However the Dem Party is not the party of FDR, but Babs Streisand. Babs and her pals deny there is a problem, the statement “we are living in fear” and “we must understand terrorists, they are not evil just hold a different point of view” comes from everyone from Jimmy Carter to Babs to Chris Matthews. There is no desire to address the fundamental problems merely say that Bush’s underlying assumptions are all wrong and we need to go back to Clintonism.

    [Bush’s assumptions: 1. Terrorism is escalating, dangerous, and can’t be dealt with by the old Clinton-to-Nixon “law enforcement” model; 2. Terrorism comes from a broken ME unable to fix itself; 3. In order to be safe America must ultimately “fix” the ME for Middle Easterners themselves since they can’t fix it and export their problems to lower Manhattan and elsewhere; 4. As part of fixing the ME pre-emptive military action must remain a US option. These base assumptions seem reasonable to me.]

    Babs really DOES reflect the thinking of most Dems in CA; and I have no doubt that if Beatty wants the nomination it’s his for the asking. Guys alone can be counted on to really resent him and vote against him; there is nothing guys hate more than an aging, self-righteous lothario who refuses to grow up and be a man. Arnold’s eighties action movies were popular for a reason; they reflected the ordinary guy’s desire to see heroes beat bad guys. Beatty appealed to women hoping to “tame” a bad-boy [Back in the Seventies and about 30 face-lifts ago].

    Much of the Dem Party seems “That Seventies Show” with bad Seventies re-runs including learned helplessness in the face of terror. Quck name a Democratic proposal to deter terrorism in the US? They have nothing to offer against the Republicans, who will at least FIGHT somewhere. Dems won’t fight anywhere.

    Walter — bin Laden very quickly and predictably ran to Pakistan and perhaps thence on to Iran. Goss said that the CIA knows very well where bin Laden is. Biden asked his supporters if they would support war against Pakistan to get bin Laden in a hypothetical and to a man they said NO. There is ZERO ZILCH NADA support in the Democratic Party to do whatever it takes to get bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda (invade one or both of Pakistan and Iran to get him and his remaining people). Iran is preparing nukes steadily and Dems … end up at Drum’s site saying Iranian nukes are justified (as the new President threatens to erase Israel from the Map and nuke us too).

    Dems see the problems as mostly all our fault, and therefore addressed by “negotiating” with bin Laden (as Dem think tank writers proposed in the LA Times) and some minor technology adds (but oh please never any profiling!). Reps see the problem as too long making it easy and painless to attack the US without consequences and try to show that it brings hurt (but without going all the way into Pakistan and Iran).

    If FDR were alive today he’d be proposing a great national mobilization to crush those nations and Al Qaeda there. It’s certainly different and more traditionally Democratic than “no blood for oil” but as I said it’s eternally 1972 for Dems. The desire to avoid as much military action as possible because they don’t think it’s winnable is case in point. “Limited strikes” have already been shown to be losers and Dems just simply are incapable of fighting a war to protect this country. Many of them like Babs or Warren Beatty don’t think the country is worth fighting for in the first place. Sigh. We need an FDR.

  36. celebrim writes:

    And for the love of God, would someone please standup and admit that ‘hydrogen power’ is based on bad science and represents the opposite of a solution to our current energy worries.

    You mean like Richard Smalley?

    Hydrogen is Big Oil’s scheme to head off measures to decrease petroleum dependence (near term, it gutted the PNGV; long term, it’s far more efficient to make hydrogen by reforming fossil fuels than from anything renewable).  It screwed the nation, though.

  37. Walter Ridge,

    WW2 was an abberation. Dems have been most often found aligned with the Copperhead faction.

    Copperhead movements retreat in the face of victory. See McClellan 1864.

    There is a year to go until the next American election. A lot can happen between now and then.

  38. Walter,

    I voted Bush in the last election.

    Lieberman was my prefered candidate. Unfortunately his name is toxic in Dem circles.

    Other than that I see no Dems who get the war and get economics.

    You ant more social programs? What is your plan for growing the economy. Lieberman at least understood that connection.

    Unfortunately there are no Dems in the wingslike him and even if there were he could not get the nomination.

  39. #39 EP,

    Thank God for American ignorance and the hydrogen boondoggle. It will give methanol/ethanol fuel cells time to mature.

    BTW we no longer need PNGV. The auto companies are making hybrids and they are selling well. PNGV was an excuse for GM and Chrysler to avoid developing a commercial hybrid vehicle.

    That is looking like a real smart decision.

  40. Smart decision?  Are you nuts?

    Toyota is going to sell more hybrids this year than all the other manufacturers combined.  They did this by being first with a four-door (the Insight doesn’t count).  The Japanese are cleaning up on their foresight, and all that money is flowing to Tokyo.  Had we kept up the letter and spirit of the PNGV, Detroit would have much better vehicles hitting the road and they’d be in a position to take market away from Toyota.

    Instead, Toyota has passed Ford and is about to pass GM in market share.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  41. #39 & #43

    The Japanese carmakers have taken advantage of 3 consumer trends in the past 30 years. First, providing high-mileage small cars during the 70s fuel crunch. Then, promoting passenger safety features in the 90s. Now providing high-mileage hybrid cars during the dawn of global peak oil production.

    Now, the free-market capitalists among us will say this is a good thing, that is how markets work. And they’d be right. But unfortunately, as you point out, in all cases it looks like American companies are on the losing end of the “competition”.

    Perhaps one answer to this might come from asking what Detroit’s corporate strategy has been in the face of shifting market forces. Rather than putting faith in the marketplace and developing new products to suit consumer demands, it seems to me thay have spent altogether too much energy on buying government intervention in the market place. As a result, while consumers demand higher mileage vehicles, Detroit wastes their energy lobbying the Feds (sucessfully) against increasing minimum MPG requirements.

    This is not pure capitalism, and it is not a healthy business strategy. It follows from this line of reasoning that the more corporations are insutated from market forces by government protection, the weaker they, and America, becomes, in the end.

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