True, I've Been Slammin' Obambi, but plenty of blame on us...

Discussion in 'Bill Archer's Guestbook' started by Karl K, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    OK, I admit. I've been over the top on the Mutt. At least some of the time. Or some percentage over 50.

    Anyway, being the large soul that I am, I am not above/beneath (or whatever direction is necessary) raising my hand when the guy with the whistle and the bulging arms say, "Who did that?"

    Fortunately, those of us who have a conservative/libertarian streak have PJ O'Rourke to help us put this in perspective.

    Yes, righties and lefties, read the whole thing.

    We may be entering the Obama age. If it's like the age I think it might be, God help us. But, in part, the entry into this age is our own godd--m fault (to borrow a pity phrase from the Reverend Wright).
  2. bojendyk

    bojendyk New Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    South Loop, Chicago
    That's not a bad article, and I loved this line: "Get a pro-life friend drunk to the truth-telling stage and ask him what happens if his 14-year-old gets knocked up. What if it's rape? Some people truly have the courage of their convictions. I don't know if I'm one of them. I might kill the baby. I will kill the boy." This was verified a couple of years ago in South Dakota, when the voters overturned the legislature's ban on abortion. Turns out that people weren't as rabidly pro-life when hidden behind the curtain of the voting booth.

    I also agree that the Farm Bill is a disaster and that ethanol subsidies need to end. I would have liked to have seen O'Rourke take on the military industrial complex, which produces a multitude of expensive, crap weaponry that the Pentagon doesn't even want. You want to find the pork in our budgets? Look no further.

    But I cringed when he talked about Hyde Park and the south side of Chicago, where I am right this moment. Leo Strauss, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Allan Bloom, Scalia, Richard Posner, etc. etc. The University is about to open the Milton Friedman Institute, and let's not forget about the law, economics, and business schools.

    Dohrn and Ayers are definitely quite active in neighborhood politics down here, but you know how big their institutional footprint is down here? It consists of this: Experimental Station, a single square block of offices (including The Baffler), a bike shop where inner city kids learn to repair bicycles in exchange for credit toward their own bike, a (really good) coffee shop that sells books about the Haymarket Riots, and a small farmer's market. That's it. That's O'Rourke's "radical" Hyde Park.

    Dude likely hasn't been here.
  3. HerthaBerwyn

    HerthaBerwyn Member+

    May 24, 2003
    We railed at welfare and counted it a great victory when Bill Clinton confused a few poor people by making the rules more complicated. But the "French-bread lines" for the rich, the "terrapin soup kitchens," continue their charity without stint.

    The sludge and dreck of political muck-funds flowing to prosperous businesses and individuals have gotten deeper and more slippery and stink worse than ever with conservatives minding the sewage works of legislation.


    There are, unfortunately, only two parties. One of them stands for doing just this. Whatever their platitudes about 'Freedom' and 'Self Responsibility and 'Family Values' This is what the bottom line is for the Republican Party and the conservative movement. This is what Progressives have been railing against for years. This is what drove the electorate to the only alternative.

    Despite all the distractions about Wright and Ayers and Messiah and all the breathless screaming of the Limbaughs of the country this is the reason the Republican Party lost. Their hidden agenda isnt so hard to see as they would like.
  4. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    Yep. I always get a kick out of P.J. He is a funny guy.

    The early part of the article focuses too much on simply keeping power and political strategies. Then he gets to the meat and potatoes. The sad truth is that Republicans had a hell of a run from 1980 to 2008. They had control of one or both houses through most of that period. They had favorable presidents, including Clinton who was possibly the most favorable democrat that republicans could hope for in terms of policy.

    And yet, at the end of this run, we have a total lack of fiscal responsibility, a bloated government and now, a federal government snapping up private assets and debt obligations that truly smacks of socialism.

    Power corrupts and it all went pear shaped when republicans hit on the formula for keeping power that had nothing to do with fiscal conservatism and everything to do with preventing gays from marrying or outlawing abortion or targeting the national endowment of the arts.

    You can complain about liberals all you want, and rush can bloviate about how all of our problems are the fault of the democrats but the truth is that republicans have had the lion share of control in this country and they do indeed need to own their record.

    As I like to say, I cast my first ballot for Ronald Reagan in 1984. I voted Perot in 1992 and was not exactly crying tears of sorrow when the contract with America was successful in 1994. I would call my self firmly independent back then. I wanted a responsible government and I would support whoever would give it to me even if that meant voting one party for president and the other for my senators and representatives.

    Over the past decade, the republicans literally gave up on the notion of fiscal responsibility. I love how O'Rourke says that we shouldn't talk about tax cuts we should talk about spending. Once you have elimintated the need for additional tax dollars, then you cut taxes.

    Finally, the point that he doesn't really make (although he alludes to it with the Wall Street greed discussion) is that simply being hands off on all issues won't work. Republicans trashed Hillary's health care plans in 1993 and frankly, that was probably a good thing. But then, they did nothing. Costs of health care are killing companies like GM and Ford now. Had they and the republicans embraced the need to do something (above and beyond the one talking point of tort reform) they could have been heroes to Americans who are now in a bind over health care.

    Similary, industry always resists regulation, but looking back, wouldn't a little more regulation have been a good thing? For the housing market, for the auto industry, for wall street?

    Again, I am not a big government guy but the problem is we need some government and the republican party quashed any voices that were not in lock step with the mantra, cut taxes and less government and less government regulation.

    That is why I think Obama has the chance to be a great president. Despite the campaign rhetoric, he is not a socialist. He is a pragmatic politician. Can he pull of things like bringing more efficiency to government? I know most in here are skeptics, but my feeling is if anyone can he is the one.

    So, it is time for the republican party to re-group. The voices saying, "we lost because we abandoned our principles" will only lead you to a deeper hole. You need to drop the wedge issues, be the party of fiscal responsibility and embrace limited policies to make peoples lives better. In short, the republican party needs to adapt to circumstances. This is not 1980 and simply copying a successful Reagan won't work in 2010. By re-branding as a fiscally responsible party who will do limited things to improve the lives of Americans, the Republicans might be able to make in roads with African Amercians, Latinos and young voters.

    If they veer hard right, they will basically be the party of the CSA.
  5. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    One more quick example of why running a 1980 campaign makes no sense. For the better part of the last two decades, republicans have politicized climate change and have firmly supported our current oil based system.

    To simply say, "let the market take care of our energy needs" by assuming everything will be peachy until alternative sources are available will cause problems on the environmental, economic and security fronts.

    I found it fascinating that a good, loyal republican had to take to the airwaves in his own personal campaign for a new energy policy this year. You know T. Boone pitched his ideas to people in the party he has supported for years. And yet, there he is on tv and getting the more positive response from Obama than from McCain.

    If McCain and republicans were more forward thinking, they could have embraced some modified version of the pickens plan. That would require . . . wait for it . . . . yes a large government expenditure to rebuild our grid to make it efficient for wind and solar to be transferred from the midwest outward. It would require some sort of government assistance in converting our fuel delivery and cars and trucks to natural gas. It also would have been forward thinking and presented the American people with a party that has a vision -- one that will make for a better and safer life for them AND create a ton of jobs along the way.

    I do think that Romney could have been the messenger. He has the business sense to know when spending is actually an investment that will pay off in spades in the future. The problem was either with his campaign or the party. For some reason, he felt that he had to veer hard right from the moderate governor he was to try to win the nomination. With 6 other candidates running hard right, you would THINK that there was a niche for a moderate, pragmatic republican. Perhaps that is what helped John McCain.

    Nevertheless, it is time for the republican party to recognize the "vision thing" that bush senior had so much trouble with. Stem cells and gay marriage are not going to carry the day anymore.
  6. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Some general comments, in no particular order of importance.

    First, the real killers of the Republican party weren't the George Bushes or the Dick Cheyneys (though they get their share of the blame) but rather the Tom DeLays and the Ted Stevenses. They are the exmplars of the out of touch White Guys gorging themselves at the trough.

    Second, libertarian minded folks like me have ALWAYS been very uncomfortable with the social conservatives, the anti-abortionists and anti gay marriage folks. As O'Rourke says, give it a rest. This particular wing of the electorate has, in one respect, a Hamas like attitude toward certain social developments: as Hamas simply can't get past the fact that Israel is here to say, and thus they should get over it and make the best deal possible, so too the religious right can't get over the fact that abortion is here to stay and gays want to be monogamous. Time to move on and focus on more important things.

    Third, defense spending should be fixed at a percentage of GDP. We can afford it, really, and the work we do there does pay huge benefits down the road is many ways. For example, the new trauma techniques on the battlefield will pay large dividends. Drone aircraft, simulation technology, avionics, materials science, robotics -- all of this will redound to our benefit Plus we are THE United States of America, and as the best damn nation on earth we SHOULD and MUST project our power around the globe. You want the Russians to do it ??(oooh...they'd love to). Or the Chinese??

    Fourth, I remain highly skeptical of big government programs designed to remake our social and economic structure. Take the Pickens plan. We have ZERO idea of the economic discounted cash flow benefit of this plan (except for Pickens natural gas companies, who will do extremely well under this plan). I have no doubt Boone's heart is in the right place, but here's one where market forces need to work, not Boone's grand vision (funded by the good ol' US of A). Meanwhile, only two major government infrastructure programs have been spectacular successes: the interstate highway system, and the Internet. And why where these entities built? For move troops around in the case of the highway system, and to move communications around in the case of the Internet. The law of positive unintended consequences.

    Fifth, global warming. I remain skeptical because consensus model driven science isn't science and the eco-nazis are your classic anti-progress luddites. Still, it's probably not a good idea to fill the air with carbon dioxide. But let not screw our economy up by imposing draconian constraints which, in truth, we have no idea will work.

    Sixth, regulation. I have no problem with regulation, if it is EFFECTIVE regulation. Right now, in some states, you have to get a LICENSE to be an interior designer to tell people to move their couch to the other side of the room. Good God. Sometimes no regulation is better. Sometimes strong regulation is good. But it had better be really good important regulation that doesn't hamstring entrepreneurship.

    Seventh, and finally, health care. The problem with health care is not lack of's COST. The health care systems needs to get to economies that are typical in every other industry -- better quality at lower cost. Our TVS are better, and cheaper; our computers are better (and cheaper); so many things we buy today are better and cheaper. Health care is better (or at least it can attack more problems that it could, say 20 years ago) but it has become phenomenally expensive.
  7. bojendyk

    bojendyk New Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    South Loop, Chicago
    Obviously, I agree with you here. One of the more interesting bits of poll data from the recent Proposition 8 vote was that the division in votes was almost entirely generational. Gay marriage will become a reality as the oldest generations die off.

    I'm specifically referring to pork barrel projects that the Pentagon doesn't even want. I believe the B2 bomber is one of the more famous examples. Making the defense budget a fixed proportion of the GDP is, however, and interesting idea--and one that may force Congress to eliminate the wasteful pork projects that the House loves.

    Cap and trade seems to be the way to go.

    I believe you're mixing up interior designers with interior decorators. With the former, you're dealing with lighting, etc. But don't quote me on that.
  8. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002

    Good points all around even if I don't entirely agree. I wanted to address these two specifically.

    On fourth, I think there has to be a jump start from the government. Wind and solar can produce tremendous amounts of energy but on the current grid, we can't efficiently get it to the end users. I'm not an expert, so I don't know the costs of revamping the grid and the expected benefits but the concept seems worth pursuing. Our energy grid was exposed a few years back as being antiquated and woefully inadequate, so it seems like a win win.

    Second, I like what I have heard about natural gas for cars and trucks. Letting the market take care of a conversion, however, will compound our current problems with oil. Again, whether it is through tax credits or some other mechanisms, we need to provide incentives to gas stations and consumers to make the switch so that there is wide spread availability and sufficient production of the cars to run on natural gas. I would argue that this is a defense -- or at least security -- issue.

    On the last point, I think we all agree. It would be nice to have our current system at half the cost. The question is how do we get there. The market is not working. I'm even willing to throw tort reform on the table as part of some larger package (even though I don't think limiting malpractice awards will make a huge difference in costs). I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how we get there. I think McCain's plan was not only woefully inadequate, it would have provided incentives for businesses to stop providing coverage.
  9. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    "Jump starts" from government are just a stone's throw away from centralized industrial policy -- bad, bad, bad in general. Government incentives have a serious risk of subsidizing inefficiencies -- looks like we will soon see this with General Motors to protect the jobs of guys who want to smoke on the assembly line.

    By the way, I do exempt financial institutions from this idea, not because I like the idea of bailing out banks, but because the financial system, as Krauthammer has rightly said, is a utility that has grown around us. It's how we move money around, and money has to be moved around. We need this. On the other hand, we don't NEED General Motors.

    As for energy, markets have a way of taking care of things. Guess what? Oil is heading back to $30 a barrel. But we're never going back to gas guzzlers again. Also, we need oil, and will need it for the next 50 years minimum. The eco nazis who want to prevent us from tapping our resources are foolishly short sighted. Meanwhile, the issue with solar is manufacturing costs and efficiencies. Guess what? People are working on inkjet technologies to manufacture to drive costs down. It's going to come.

    On health care, I actually thought McCain's plan had the right philosophy behind it -- getting people to be price sensitive and shop for for insurance -- though some of its particulars were goofy. Obama's employer mandates are hideous -- all it will do is keep small businesses really small. It may or may not be astonishing to you, but it never ceases to amaze me that people will do hours of research trying to figure out what's the best flat screen TV for the family rooom, but somehow, the lefties out there think the same sensibility won't apply to health care, and that government just HAS to make sure everybody is covered to the nth degree.

    Well, it doesn't astonish me, on second thought.
  10. Microwave

    Microwave New Member

    Sep 22, 1999
    Ron Paul would have been the best candidate but talking about real issues is boring to people. Have you read "On the Wealth of Nations" by O'Rourke? He pretty much agrees with Paul on everything anyway.

    Chris, Democrats have now won 2 rounds of elections, it's a little early to bury the Republican party....and the first round was when the Iraq war was going badly and the second round was right after a financial crisis...people were voting against Republicans more than voting for Democrats. Polling data even suggests the Republicans lost because conservatives who voted for Bush stayed home - and not a bunch of new voters registered for Obama (I'll dig up the CNN article If you make me). Republicans thought they buried you lot for good a few years ago. If the economy doesn't improve in the next 4 years then Obama will be tossed out. People are sheep, people believe whoever the President is is entirely responsible for the economy. When people like Ron Paul talk in length about the Federal Reserve and the Inverted Yield Curve and Spending Cuts.....people turn the channel.
  11. Microwave

    Microwave New Member

    Sep 22, 1999
    ...and further to my point....Obama was elected because he is a rockstar with a message of hope and Palin was thrown in there for the same shallow reasons.

    When the moderator told Obama and Mccain both their plans to fix things would push the U.S. further into debt both Obama and Mccain changed the subject and didn't say a word about it.

    There wasn't much substance in the debates or in either campaign. Ron Paul had alot of substance but was short on the celebrity aspect.

    The problem isn't conservative idealogy, it's that people in America are sheep and don't want substance driven campaigns. They want catchy slogans and pandering to ease their fears.
  12. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I am sorry, Ron Paul is a buffoon.

    His goofy ideas about abolishing the IRS, pulling out of the UN, following a foreign policy of extreme isolationisim, closing down our intelligence agencies, blaming 9-11 on the fact we had troops in Saudi Arabia (in effect, giving credibility to Bin Laden's "excuse") were complete non-starters.

    While I am very sympathetic to Paul's notion of a limited constitutional government, and give credit to him for being completely consistent in his ideology and his constant warnings about our teetering financial system, his entire approach to presenting those sensible ideas are couched in the persona of an angry deranged crank, reaching its nadir when he dismissed the threat of Iranian speedboats during that one debate, as though he completely forgot or ignored what happened to the USS Cole.

    He's the Dennis Kucinich of the opposite side of the spectrum.
  13. IntheNet

    IntheNet New Member

    Nov 5, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Blackburn Rovers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Our Founding Fathers were very wise; good counsel to allow a couple months between presidential election and presidential inauguration so as to heavily criticize the presidential elect and all who voted for him. However, once he takes the oath of office he will be president for all and I, for one, plan to support him then and hope to God that he is half as good as what is billed or at least half as bad as I expect him to be. In the meantime there are weeks left to slam Obama so we should all indulge.
  14. Microwave

    Microwave New Member

    Sep 22, 1999

    Allthose goofy ideas would have been supported by the majority of the framers of the constitution and I support all of them.
  15. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Well, Thomas Jefferson sent the US Navy -- in a stroke of Bush like "pre-emptive" foreign policy -- to the Mediterranean to smash mouth the Barbary pirates, a bunch of "non-state" actors.

    Ron Paul would have been against that for all the reasons you support him, and he would have been wrong then, as he is wrong now.
  16. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    Have you been hangin' with Nancy at some seances? ;)

    Seriously, the argument regarding the intent of the framers is far too simplistic and in many ways irrelevant to the current state of our country. You will notice that the Constitution and its amendments are not a tremendously large document.

    The body of the constitution is a framework for government and essentially limits the power of defined branches to certain things. The bill of rights set forth protections of individual freedoms.

    It was not, however, hugs and kisses all around in Philadelphia. It was in essence a legislative process. There are provisions in the Constitution that likely did not have a majority of support, however, are included through compromise. In other words, there are parts of the Constitution that are not necessarily what the framers WANTED but rather what they would ACCEPT.

    If you take the big bargaining chip of slavery out of the Constitutional convention, you likely get a different document then the one ratified.

    This from Ben Franklin. A speech given within the walls of the convention and not meant for the outside world. A speech given to get those present to drop their protestations regarding certain aspects of the document and to leave the room with a united front as the ratification process would demand it.

    I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. . . .

    . . . In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

    I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

    Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity.

    Second, the genius of the document is its flexibility in both its ability to be amended (although and rightly a difficult process) and flexibility in its interpretation. Let's take one that conservatives and Libertarians hold dear. The Second Amendment. Not one of them in that room could have understood where weapon technology would lead or how weapons would be used in our society beyond the time they lived.

    Guns held a different role at the time where the "nation" had nothing more than a loose confederation of an army and lots of citizens living in areas where guns were used to provide for families and to protect against wildlife.

    That second amendment -- even with the militia language -- has properly been interpretted to mean that Americans possess a right to own guns. Like all rights, our government and our state and local governments also have the ability to regulate those rights when there is a compelling state interest to do so.

    The result is that cities have some leeway to try to regulate weapons to address issues of urban violence. In Montana, those restrictions make no sense at all.

    The result has been pretty good even with the controversies we often face on gun issues. As much as he screams about it, ITN has been able to go out and buy just about any kind of firearm he wishes. Yet, there is still a system of checks and balances to protect the right while governments try to protect compelling interests. We saw the process at work when the recent hand gun ban in DC was "shot" down by the Supreme Court.

    The system works -- not because we ask ourselves what Thomas Jefferson would have done -- but because we have a document that allows for a natural tension between individual liberty and state interest.
  17. Smiley321

    Smiley321 Member

    Apr 21, 2002
    Concord, Ca
    While alot of what Ron Paul says appeals to me, the thing that troubled me the most about him was his reasoning for opposing the Iraq fiasco. On alot of the issues in the middle east, he seems to give inordinate weight to whether it makes the muslims in the middle east hate us or like us.

    They hate us anyway. Changing our policies won't make them hate us significantly less. Iraq was a disaster for a number of reasons, but inflaming the natives isn't one of them. It's that aspect of Paul that made me dismiss him as a flake.
  18. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    You might agree with our Mideast policies, but I find it hard that you can disagree with Paul that those policies are what cause tension between us and the Middle east. They don't hate other anglo nations or Christian hispanic nations. They don't hate Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, South Africa, Sweden, Ireland, Cuba, and on, and on, and on. We are the staunchest supporter of Israel. That will cause tension and even hatred with the friends of Palastine. We maintain a military presence in Saudi Arabia and a heavy Naval presence in the gulf. These things cause tension and even hatred.

    If we had almost zero contact with the region, would they hate us? The biggest lie we were told -- okay, ONE of the biggest lies we were told -- by the bush administration and neocons everywhere is that they hate us for our freedom. It's our democracy they can't stand. Bullshit. There are huge democratic Islamic nations like Indonesia. If we weren't sticking our noses into the region, they wouldn't care if the US was communist, socialist, democratic or any other form of government.
  19. Smiley321

    Smiley321 Member

    Apr 21, 2002
    Concord, Ca
    I truly believe that they would still hate us. If we were as impotent as Belgium, they would hate us but regard us as unimportant. However, we can't just stick our heads back into the crowd and hide with the rest of the unimportant infidels and hope that they target somebody else. They need a villain to blame for their pathetic lot in life, and we're it.

    I'm not a big fan of Israel, but throwing them to the jackals at this point wouldn't be very wise, and it would be an amoral, cowardly thing to do. I don't even have optimism that Israel can survive long-term in that sea of barbarism, but I don't see how we can throw them overboard and let the savages win.
  20. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I may be wrong about this, but wasn't the US military mostly out of or on our way out of Saudi Arabia before 9-11? That was Bin Laden's major beef -- that the "infidels" were in the "holy places."

    And face it -- Arab states whip up their people about Israel and the "plight" of the Palenstinians largely to deflect the damage done by their economically backward and autocratic regimes.

    The fact is, the Middle East is now, and will remain, the most unstable of regions. It would likely be MORE unstable if Saddam were in power, and he felt the need to arm himself with nuclear weapons to counter Iran.

    One more thing. Up until the end of the campagin, when the economy took over as the central issue, Obama continued to use the following "logic" about the surge viz, I am still against it because we don't know how things would have turned out had we NOT done it and, presumably, exited.

    Of course, this particular thought process is a complete sack of drek. By that logic, I am glad we DID overturn Saddam, because I can make an argument that if he DID remain in power, we'd have a very nasty nuclear arms race IN the middle east.

    But, as we all know, seeing the possiblity of other, more onerous outcomes, is not a real strong suit of the left when they insist, arguably irrationaly, that they were right all along.
  21. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    Nope. We maintained a pretty consistent level of troops from the draw down of the Gulf war through 2003 when most of our troops were redeployed.

    That may be true but is kind of irrelevant. They do get whipped into a frenzy and the target is often Israel, so the underlying reasons don't really matter.

    Yes it is and will remain unstable but I couldn't disagree more with the rest of your point. Iraq is far, far from stable and will remain that way, with our without us. Just in the last few days we have seen increased violence. I guess that happens when a colonial power creates an artificial country with factions that don't really like each other. While it may have sucked for Shiite Iraqis, Saddam actually gave us a more stable middle east. He was the one natural foil for Iran. We also had him contained quite well and he was clearly decades away from a nuclear program.

    Well, I do think that Obama was constrained by the parameters of an election on what he could say about the surge. McCain was actually pretty successful in shifting any talk away from his horrendous support for the war from the beginning to focus on a last ditch strategy that was nothing more than what we should have been doing five years earlier.

    Still, Obama is correct in saying that we don't know what would have happened without the increased troop levels. McCain then wanted to expand the definition of "surge" to include the key elements in the better security situation -- the Sunni awakening and the stand down of al sadr's militia. Without those two things, the extra US troops would have been but a pimple on the big butt that was violence in Iraq. The best example is in Anbar. Even with the surge of troops, the number dedicated to Anbar would have resulted in only about 2,000 extra troops in the entire region (given the need for them to do things like sleep). If those insurgents didn't stop focusing their guns on us of their own free will through a political, negotiated agreement with them, then our extra troops would have simply been a couple thousand extra targets.

    As to Baghdad, we had already tried a surge a few years earlier, it just wasn't called a surge. We increased troops with a strategy to take, clear and hold neighborhoods. We would do the first two but with the Madi Army still operating at will, we were unable to hold any neighborhoods and keep them safe.

    While I don't think the extra troops hurt anything, there is a perception among the less informed voters here that the increase in troops was the sole cause of reduced violence. For the purposes of the campaign, there was no way for Obama to reduce his argument to a sound bite because it takes some understanding of all the factors in play.

    Overall, the strategies of David Patreus -- all of them -- are what contributed to a reduction in violence. We are all happy for that. Still, the amount of violence to be experienced in the future rests in the hands of those groups of former insurgents and followers of al sadr who have an uneasy agreement. If either or both decide to reengage us and the Iraqi government, there is not that much we will do with even 200,000 troops there.

    One final note on "stability." Even if we except your premise of greater stability without Saddam, it has come at the expense of stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and area that may have us longing for the good old days of 2005 Iraq. It of course also comes at the expense of $10 billion a month which I think was a number too large for most voters to wrap their minds around and that is why it was only a tangential argument when it deserved front and center status.
  22. VFish

    VFish Member+

    Jan 7, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    More on Iraq and Afghanistan, from a source that actually knows what is going on:

    The Iraq war is over. Barring the unforeseen, the darkest days are behind, though we are still losing soldiers to low-level fighting with enemies that are true “dead-enders.” Last month we lost seven Americans in combat in Iraq. Peace, however, is not upon us. Another thirty or so Iraqis died today in suicide attacks. Nobody suffers more at the hands of Islamic terrorists than other Muslims.

    A new President will soon begin to make critical decisions about Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis at home, and countless other matters. While the Iraq war began, then boiled and finally cooled before President-elect Obama will be sworn into office on January 20th, 2009, the Afghanistan-Pakistan spectacle is just getting started. He was always a fierce opponent of our involvement in Iraq. And, as with so many Democrats in the Senate, he argued frequently, during the campaign, that we should have been focused on Afghanistan all along, because it is the real incubator of the international terrorist threat. Timing being everything, our new President will get his wish. Afghanistan now moves to center stage. The conflicts in Afghanistan and between Afghanistan and Pakistan have the simmering potential to overshadow anything we’ve seen in Iraq. Here are a few things I hope he understands:

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  23. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Vfish quoted just the authority I was thinking of.

    Meanwhile, you get a D- in geo political strategy.

    While Afghanistan, as a failed state, harbored al Qaeda, AQ is now totally on the run.

    If you read The Looming Tower -- which I believe is required reading for anyone to understand the most basic contours of the Al Qaeda movement -- you will know that the Taliban, as medieval and antediluvian as they are, simply tolerated al Qaeda in their midst (although when pressed to turn him over, they looked upon us as a military that would inevitably fail, like the British or the Russians and thus felt no threat). The Taliban weren't interested in exporting terror to the west. Now, they may interested in taking over the lawless tribal regions of the border, and, perhaps allying with the fundamentalists inside Pakistan, but that seems so unlikely now.

    In contrast, Saddam ultimately was the REAL threat along with Iran. He had a standing army, which he tended to use from time to time. He was about to have sanctions lifted and get off the food for oil program (ultimately reaping the benefit of skyrocketing prices). He may not have had WMD "stockpiles" but he certainly had ambitions to develop them, as the Duelfer report made absolutely clear (a fact conveniently ignored by the great swath of unwashed anti-war folks). . . ambitions that would no doubt be stoked by Irans full speed ahead nuclear weapons program.

    As Obama was against the surge because we did not know what would have happened otherwise, I was for the war -- incompetently prosecuted as it was -- because we did not know what would have happened otherwise.

    If the Messiah can use that logic, so can I, and turn it on him.
  24. CUS

    CUS New Member

    Apr 20, 2000
    Oh come on Karl, no war is ever competently prosecuted.

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