The Converse of Obama’s Problem

You know what: When the Wall Street Journal has a column about the Republican nominee for the president with the headline “Is John McCain Stupid?“, it suggests to me that one of the presidential candidates has an image problem with the people he actually needs to have elect him, and it’s not the one currently being being castigated for being “too popular.”

I can’t wait to read the spin on this: “The Wall Street Journal is just another organ of the liberal mainstream media!” Yes, that’s it.

116 thoughts on “The Converse of Obama’s Problem

  1. Oh this is going to be interesting, John. Perhaps I’m in the minority (and based on the number of winning presidential candidates I’ve supported, that seems to be the case), but I don’t want a president who would be fun to meet down at the pub for a pint. I want a president who is smarter than me and more driven than I am. I want the guy who excelled in school, wasn’t the model for a character from Animal House, and really has his shit together.

  2. I like the bit about “extending White House rule” in the editorial myself. You don’t get to rule the White House. Sounds like someone’s pining for a monarchy…

  3. I really like the way Obama is running his campaign. He’s travelling to Europe and the Middle East, listening to other leaders and reassuring the people in those countries. Back home, he’s meeting with the FED to discuss the economy. He’s showing the American people what a president should look like. It makes McCain’s criticisms about not visiting the troops in Germany look petty.

    While McCain is running the campaign of old politics, Obama has already made our foreign relationships a bit stronger. It’s almost like he’s the acting-president.

  4. I think very few politicians are actually stupid. From where I sit (at the moment, 4 blocks from Capitol Hill), politicians suffer from two traits that superficially resemble stupidity:

    1. Pandering (see e.g. McCain, Pelosi)
    2. Stubbornness (see e.g. Bush, Teddy K.)

    It is not that they lack the intellectual capacity to know, it is that either a) they value their career advancement above knowledge, or b) they are simply not curious about why other people think differently than they do.

  5. This is a good example of the fundamental difference of internal group interaction b/t Reps & Dems. Often (not always) Republicans tend to have big, public internal fights, and then fall in line behind the winner. Democrats tend to avoid the internal fights and then seem surprised when the other team wants to attack their guy. I’m not sure that either strategy works better. However, I think the Republican way makes defection and internal sabotage less likely, because everyone gets their licks in, a winner is picked, and then they grumble their way into voting for the winner. Also, Republican presidential candidates tend to rise in the polls after the primary, while Dem candidates not so much. I believe because of this same trend.

    Again, I’m hugely overgeneralizing. Obviously, some Reps snipe and sabotage each other, and there have been some internal prize-fights between Dems. On balance, though, WSJ is far more likely to dress down a Republican candidate than NYT is to do the same to a Democratic candidate.

  6. Democrats tend to avoid the internal fights and then seem surprised when the other team wants to attack their guy

    You _were_ following the Democratic primary campaign, right?

  7. Wow, look at what happens when McCain stops being the darling of the media! He is portrayed as he really is. This is exactly the reason why the conservative base of the party doesn’t like him. He has always been all over the ideological map; however, his willingness to work with other side has been seen as progressive to everyone but the conservative side of the Republican party. To the conservatives, it seemed like pandering for power. Now, it seems like his age and his intellectual laziness catching up with him.

    It amazes me that he got the nomination. It’s as if the Republican party knows they won’t win. So, they put him up there to get him to shut up.

    BTW, I love the following quote. I think it’s dead on about all senators. Most people that I know agree with this statement regardless of political affliation or lack thereof.
    “There is a reason the American people the past 100 years elevated only two sitting senators into the White House — JFK and Warren Harding. It’s because they believe most senators, adept at compulsive compromise, have no political compass and will sell them out.”

  8. “it suggests to me that one of the presidential candidates has an image problem with the people he actually needs to have elect him”

    You’re only noticing this now? Where have you been, clinging to Master Gilderoy Lockhart Obama’s coattails like all his other groupies? Those who have been paying attention to the Republican side of the race have known for months that the Republican base is unhappy with McCain. Gilderoy is lucky — his party doesn’t actually care about his policies. They’ll vote for him just because he’s young, good-looking, and has a D after his name. But many Republican voters actually think about the issues and the candidate’s stand on them — and they do not like McCain’s stand on several very important issues. On top of that, they see Gilderoy making blunder after blunder in his campaign, and McCain unwilling or unable to take advantage of those blunders.

  9. Wolfwalker, thank you for telling me why I like Obama. Next why don’t you tell me why you’re utterly wrong.

  10. I can’t wait to read the spin on this: “The Wall Street Journal is just another organ of the liberal mainstream media!” Yes, that’s it.

    Because everyone knows that Rupert Murdoch is really George Soros in disguise, eh?

  11. Now, now, everyone. Wolfwalker was making a funny. Let him be. I thought “Gilderoy Lockhart Obama” was pretty clever, myself.

    As it happens, I have noticed before “the base” is not thrilled with McCain. Quite a lot. I just like mentioning it afresh from time to time. Also, I suspect your estimation of the motivations of people voting for Obama are off as well, but, you know. That’s okay.

  12. Wolfwalker #8, “They’ll vote for him just because he… has a D after his name. But many Republican voters actually think about the issues and the candidate’s stand on them.”

    Uhm, yeah. That’s why there are Reagan Democrats. I don’t seem to recall any Clinton Republicans.

  13. There are moments–recently in particular–where I’ve wondered if McCain is intentionally trying to blow the run for president. I know, I know, that’s really odd, but sometimes he says things that seem weirdly ambivalent about the job (which shows a surprising intelligence, but one not usually seen in people running for the office). It’s sort of like, “Oh, man, I’m tired, I’ve got a good job, a hot wife, a ton of money in the bank, what the hell am I putting myself through this shit for anyway?”

    Either that or there’s an unexpected level of incompetence on the part of McCain and his campaign staff.

  14. “The worst thing you could do is raise people’s payroll taxes, my God!” Then he was asked about working with Democrats to fix Social Security, and he repeated, “everything has to be on the table.” But how can . . .? Oh never mind.

    Yesterday he was in Aurora, Colo., to wit: “On Social Security, he [Sen. Obama] wants to raise Social Security taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes.”

    OK, what’s inconsistent with these statements.

    While everything is on the table, he would prefer not to raise payroll taxes.

    Personally, the only plan for SS that makes sense is to peg raises to inflation (not wage hikes,) and to do a means test to determine if you’re even eligible.

    Then we have Obama who’s going to raise taxes, then give everyone a $1000 rebate, paid for by his raising taxes even more on oil companies, who’s profit margins are not the highest in the land. BOHICA

  15. McCain doesn’t excite Republicans the way Obama excites Democrats. And that’s the bottom line, and why, barring a colossal fuckup, Obama will win.
    Again, the Republicans are very much a “My turn in line!” party, whereas Dems are almost a, “Once you lose a Presidential election, you’ll never get another shot at it, ever!” kind of party.
    Republicans need to spend the next four years figuring their shit out. They’ve fractured and fallen apart somewhat, and need to re-invent. Frankly, I think they’d be smart to ditch the Evangelical quotient, suffer through losing without them, and try to come back as a solid-core libertarian (small-l) and fiscally responsible government party. Hammer on bloated budgets and debt and deficit, hammer on overreach. Forget the “moral defenders of the universe” stance. That’s been a poor sell for ten years now, and will probably continue to be a poor sell.

  16. It’s quite possible – depressing, but possible – that McCain is exactly the right President for America at this point.

    There is nothing in the current US zeitgeist that favors an intelligent, forward-looking, self-confident, vigorous President who deals with reality rather than self-serving self-contradictory fantasies.

    McCain, with his deliberate dishonesty and mental befuddlement, his Rovian spinmeisters and “Imagine America in 2012″ cotton candy fantasies, exemplifies what the US has become.

    just cut to the chase and adopted “McCain 2008: Just Get it Over With” as his campaign slogan.

  17. Oops – bad bit of editing there.

    The last line should read “McCain would win in a landslide if he cut to the chase and adopted “McCain 2008: Just Get It Over With” as his campaign slogan.

  18. CV Rick @ 1

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but for those reasons you’d vote McCain over Obama? Let’s not forget who went to Harvard and who graduated 4th from the bottom of his class from the Naval Academy. McCain, also, wasn’t thought too highly of while in the military and it’s that reason that many think he turned to politics, rather than staying in the military as was family tradition.

  19. I’m curious to see how a “John McCain Spent Four Years in a Viet Cong POW Camp” campaign strategy would work, given the (apparently) hostile-y public attitude towards the Iraq War. I seem to recall John Kerry’s campaign had a lot of veteran stuff, and he lost; are the American people all militaried-out?

    I’m Canadian, so I’m not as privy to your infernal Yankee doodling as yourselves.

  20. I have heard it suggested that McCain simply doesn’t have experience campaigning against a strong opponent. In his first election to Congress he had the advantage of his wife’s money, his (ahem) celebrity as a former POW, and the connections he had developed in DC. When he first ran for Senate, he beat his Democratic opponent by 20 points. In the recent Republican primary, he benefitted from the party rule that if you win a plurality of votes in a state you get all its delegates; all he had to do was keep out of the way while Romney and Huckabee beat each other to a pulp.

  21. Tim @ 22

    He’s been toting his POW experience as “I know what sacrifice is like.” I have no doubt he suffered some truly horrible things, but I feel that it cheapens whatever sacrifices he “made”.

  22. Strangely, I think the answer the Wall Street Journal provides is, “No, but somebody forgot to turn him on.” Not that McCain’s current listlessness earns him the robot of the decade award (Kerry still gets that one). It’s just… somebody forgot to tell him that the Democratic Primary ended, and that people are watching him again.

    None of the things there look like “dumb” they look like, “I’m not paying attention.” Which is not… you know… sharp for a candidate.

    FWIW, I think that McCain became the Republic Presidential candidate the same day he shook hands with Bush on torture.

  23. Mr Wolfwalker, as an election official in a state that has a large republican majority, I can assure you that a large number of republicans will vote for anything with an R after his name (or rarely her name). No thought is involved. That is the only possible explanation for a lot of our state legislators.

  24. About the only areas where John McCain has remained consistent are

    a.) his desire to throw Russia out of the G-8 (a pointless move that will only provoke Moscow and the Russian people)

    b.) the formation of an “alliance of democracies”– a move sure to bring about further confrontations with Russia *and* China, and

    c.) the expansion of our military commitments in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

    The items cited in the WSJ article are just of the issues on which McCain has flipflopped.

    For example, McCain originally supported a bill that would have provided amnesty for illegal aliens. Then after extensive public outcry, he acknowledged that enforcing the integrity of our national borders might not be such a bad idea afterall.

    This is my favorite McCain flip-flop, but there are plenty to choose from.

    I agree with Henninger’s closing prediction. Barring an extreme turn of events, McCain will likely get trounced in November.

  25. Well, absolutely no one is going to deny that Obama is more charismatic than McCain. But smarter? It’s really hard to get a measure for that, and there’s plenty of differnt types of intelligence. There are people who’re smarter than both of them who’d be absolute disasters at running the country.

    One of the reasons I like Obama because I think he’s able to motivate people to work together, as oppsed to the scorched earth “destroy the enemy liberals” politics of the GOP we’ve been seeing for the past ten years.

    His record on getting diverse communities to work together is compelling. McCain? Not so much. He’s like Bush – he enjoys sneering at the enemy (liberals) and grinding them under foot.

    That said, in terms of the original question, is he too stupid? His mis-statements have been getting a lot of media play. But being portrayed as an incompetent half dazed ex frat boy didn’t hurt Bush any.

    I don’t think portraying McCain as stupid will help Obama any. Is he stupid? I don’t think so. I do think Obama is more agile in terms of thinking on his feet while engaging in public speaking.

  26. For the record, I personally don’t believe McCain is anywhere near stupid.

    I don’t think he’s had his best side come out, intellectually-speaking, in the current campaign, however.

  27. David@6 & Steve @14:

    I may be guilty of some overreach, as I said in the 2nd paragraph. The point I was trying to make is that the WSJ has no problem calling out Republican candidates, whereas I have not observed the converse — media outlets as reliably liberal as the WSJ is conservative calling out their candidates. (Not that the WSJ never engages in spinning for Republican candidates. It does.)

  28. But many Republican voters actually think about the issues and the candidate’s stand on them

    wolfwalker, as a Republican, I have to ask you to knock off the sock-puppetry of pretending to say nice things about Republicans, while really intending to make Republicans look like fucking idiots.

    And clearly, the WSJ reporting is an organ of the liberal media, when one defines “liberal” as “anything to the left of the WSJ editorial page”.

  29. Wolfwalker – ROFL!

    This is my favorite McCain flip-flop, but there are plenty to choose from.

    Thus the WSJ’s comments. McCain’s not a conservative, he just plays one when running for office.

  30. Wolfwalker @8

    The divisions in the democratic party are there, and come out a lot more visibly at non-national levels. Factions within the democratic party don’t get the same press as the Evangelicals do on the republican side, largely because other than Labor there isn’t any one constituency that holds as much perceived sway over things as the Evangelicals do.

    In fact, when Democrats have big divisions over who to nominate for local office (and in this case, US House races can count in this), they’re more likely than their Republican counterparts to run to 3rd parties. Democrats lose more voters to the Green party than the Republicans lose voters to the Libertarian party, especially when said 3rd party candidate has something better than a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected. This explains Gov. Ventura in MN, as the Democratic candidate in that normally blue state was a dull dull dull party insider. Also, for a while there the City Council in Minneapolis had a lot of Greens on it.

    As for voting… many of my Democrat friends were not entirely happy with who we’ve had for Prez. in the past. A few I can think of only voted for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry because the alternative was worse. One or two voted for Nader in 2000. For a long time the radical edges of both parties have been voting against the other guy more than they’ve been voting for their guy.

  31. Scalzi @29

    For the record, I personally don’t believe McCain is anywhere near stupid.

    I don’t think he’s had his best side come out, intellectually-speaking, in the current campaign, however.

    Wait for the debates.

    Especially the Town Hall Meetings.

    Assuming Obama will agree to such a format.

    Corwin

    Factions within the democratic party don’t get the same press as the Evangelicals do on the republican side, largely because other than Labor there isn’t any one constituency that holds as much perceived sway over things as the Evangelicals do.

    You mean Trial Lawyers, the NEA, and radical Environmentalists are under the RADAR?

  32. Whether or not the WSJ gets branded as liberal, whether or not McCain gets branded for the moment as stupid, it doesn’t seem to matter, since the past couple of Presidential elections have proven that the damnedest sort of crap is convincing in electing a president, and that same damned crap is being propagated at ever-escalating rates, because it continues to work.

    This whole “presumptuous” meme that’s being wallpapered onto Obama by the MSM is another example. What they call arrogance, I see as welcome dignity, especially vis-a-vis foreign dignitaries. And the “he’s acting like he’s already president” thing is also nonsensical, because the worst thing I can think of is a candidate who would regard the presidency as something to be approached in an impromptu fashion, like a theater troupe calling for suggestions from the audience.

  33. Frank @36:
    Trial Lawyers, the NEA, and radical Environmentalists don’t have anything like the influence over the Democrats that the Christian Right has over the GOP. It’s not Trial Lawyers that kept Edwards’s campaign alive, and I don’t see any NEA or radical Environmentalist candidates out there, certainly not with a performance in the primaries like Huckabee’s.

  34. Frank:

    TRIAL LAWYERS are reliable Democrats? Wtf? Clearly the law firms you spend time in are different from the ones that I work in where I’m scared to raise my liberal head for fear of being shot [this is known as hyperbole, in case anyone feels like taking me 100% seriously].

  35. I was listening to that other great war vet Rush Limbaugh, oh that’s right, he couldn’t make Vietnam, forgot…..never mind, talk about the doubts and limitations of Obama that the gop is trying to genereate when this idea hit me. Let’s have Obama and McCain (and if you want to make it really fun include W. too) take a test that evaluates political, social, world, etc knowledge, followed with a problem solving section. No need for political leanings or ethical opionions; just knowledge and problem solving skills. Let’s see John put his money where his mouth is. I would find this fascinating, especially if they can get the old woodchopper into it. I think it’s a marvelous idea, and again, I give all credit to Rush Rambo Limbaugh. Hail, oh great one.

  36. Eddie: by “trial lawyers,” Frank means “lawyers who represent people in lawsuits against generous corporate donors.” Defense lawyers who do the exact same job on the other side are not “trial lawyers”, no matter how much trial work they do. That’s because this is a buzzphrase intended to convince voters that only lawyers who give money to Democrats are the scary, evil kind that might sue you.

  37. Thanks for the clarification, Mythago. I will now parse “trial lawyers” as “personal injury lawyers and labour-side employment lawyers”. That makes things make much more sense because I can tell you, from personal experience, partnerships of highly paid corporate lawyers are NOT hotbeds of liberal sentiment.

  38. mythago @43:

    Well, there is a large block of lawyers who make their living representing Plantiffs who initiate civil actions against companies large and small. Many of these lawyers would make less money if tort reform limited maximum damages. Tort reform is most often supported by Republican candidates. This block of lawyers are referred to as Trial Lawyers… because their largest lobbying organization is the American Trial Lawyers Association, which opposes tort reform. This also leads the ATLA to encourage its membership to give to those who oppose tort reform (usually Democrats). Thus the “Trial Lawyers” are reliably Democratic donors.

  39. *grin* Brett L, in New Zealand there is no personal injury tort industry. Why? Because we have a public personal injury insurance system. It’s no fault, and you can’t sue for personal injury. Think the Republicans would be up for that as a ‘reform’ option? If you don’t replace torts with some other system for compensating those who are injured, then those who are injured lose out at the expense of the negligent people who injure them.

  40. Having represented defendants against a number of so-called “Trial Lawyers,” let me please assure you that plaintiffs’ side class-action lawyers come in all shapes, sizes, and political leanings. Really.

    In fact, I recall a very recent anti-trust class action I worked on in which, on both sides of the case, the older white male lawyers were quite reliably, with only one or two exceptions, Republicans, and the younger attorneys on both sides were mostly Democrats.

    My god, what would you people do with a blue-collar raised, evangelical Christian woman who is an NEA member and also an NRA member, stands to inherit a substantial estate, is married to a plaintiff’s side class action lawyer, supports broad-based sex education and is pro-choice, and who attended Harvard on scholarship? Who might also have some views that were developed on her own due to, you know, thinking, unrelated to any of those categories?

    Because that’s how MOST people’s lives are. Varied. Multi-faceted.

  41. Was “you people” directed at me? Cos I’m a laywer and I agree that they come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and political leanings. I apologise if I gave any other impression. The only thing I’m qualified to say is that lawyers in large, corporate firms, where I and my friends tend to work, are overwhelmingly right wing, with the odd exception.

    ….kinda like the WSJ :).

  42. prhm @47:

    You are, of course, correct. I, personally, was explaining how “Trial Lawyers” became a bogeyman term on talk radio associated with Democrats, not trying to pigeonhole individuals. I apologize if I caused offense. And trust me, if I’m injured due to corporate negligence or malpractice, you can bet I’m gonna find me the biggest, baddest “trial lawyer” in all of Florida who will take my case.

  43. I wasn’t offended, and it actually wasn’t directed directly at anybody, except for the imaginary talking heads on television that perpetuate this kind of crap. :) I’ve gotten myself in a snit over the past couple of days.

    Sorry if it was too strident. I just feel confused. I’m not sure what the media expects from me. I’m not a soccer mom, because my kid plays hockey. And I’m a single mom, but I’m also a defense lawyer. :)

  44. Oh and Eddie: Most of the lawyers at my firm are Republicans, too. Except that the Ann Arbor office has an abnormally high percentage of Democrats compared to the rest of the firm. I can’t tell if it’s Ann Arbor turning people into Democrats or that Democrats are attracted to Ann Arbor.

  45. In law school, most people are Democrats. If you don’t believe that, flash back to Con Law. Whether they change after they go to K Street or just shut up about their personal preferences in from of the clientelistas and rain-makers, I don’t know. I suspect they just don’t mention them in front of clients.

  46. LOL PrivateIron, I’d suggest the opposite is true. Law School is mostly liberal because most law professors are liberal – this doesn’t reflect at all on their students though. My conservative friends bit their tongue in Con law, and are now quite happy to be open about their political leanings. Not in front of clients, that’s unprofessional, but in the inner workings of a private firm, yes.

    Anyway, this is veering wildly off topic. WSJ! McCain Stupid! Maybe!

  47. That was an op-ed piece, and therefore, ipso facto, to the right of the editorial page.

    There is nothing to the right of the WSJ editorial page.

  48. Well, unless the WSJ editorial are printed on the left side of the newspaper page. Which may be what Steve Downey was puckishly trying for.

  49. JS: I can’t wait to read the spin on this: “The Wall Street Journal is just another organ of the liberal mainstream media!” Yes, that’s it.

    Al Pacino (as Lowell Bergmann) in The Insider:

    The Wall Street Journal, here: not exactly a bastion of anti-capitalist sentiment, refutes Big Tobacco’s smear campaign as the lowest form of character assassination!

  50. Steve Buchheiton #15
    Uhm, yeah. That’s why there are Reagan Democrats. I don’t seem to recall any Clinton Republicans.
    My dad is one. Genetically Republican from the beginnings of the party, first voted for a Democrat, Clinton, in ’92.

  51. While it can help, “Smart” is not necessarily the best qualification for President. Heck, Carter was a nuclear engineer (and he could pronounce it correctly too!) but very few people I know consider him a capable President. In fact, up until the turn of the century, most people regarded him as the best ex-president ever.

    Andrew

  52. Andrew:

    “While it can help, ‘Smart’ is not necessarily the best qualification for President.”

    However, being stupid is never a qualification, or at the very least, ought not be.

    Also, Carter’s reputation as the best ex-president ever still stands, except to the sort of folks who hated him as a president.

  53. Oh, I think a lot ofhis actions and comments with regards to the Venezuelan election and in particular Israel lately have changed a few folks minds…

    I was to young to remember the Carter Presidency that well, but my Mom does. She supported him, campaigned for him, and hasn’t voted Democratic since. Course,she hasn’t voted Republican either.

    So Barr is getting at least one vote in Georgia :-)

    Andrew

  54. I don’t know if McCain is stupid, but lately he is appearing either ignorant or senile. I am refering to his confusion of Shiite/Sunni, Iraq and Iran, talking about the Iraq-Palestinian border,etc. This is from the candidate who supposedly has the foreign policy experience.

  55. I have to agree (mostly) with wolfwalker.

    But those people that think Obama is gonna win by a landslide must not be paying attention. Despite Obama’s “World Tour” he hasn’t got any obvious boost in the polls. In fact, today one poll actually reported an exact tie (although I wouldn’t take that to the bank). The most likely truth is that Obama currently holds a slight edge among eligible voters, but that edge (3% to 4%) is within the margin of error for most of the polls I’ve seen. Also most of those polls are not adjusted for ‘likely voters’. Also Republican candidates tend to under-poll and over-vote, while the opposite is true for Democratic candidates.

  56. While McCain may or may not be smart, what I have seen for a long time from him is a large amount of intellectual lazyness. He seems not to care if he is right but rather it’s all about what is easy.

  57. John @ 60

    Smart or not, Carter’s reputation as a president (rather than ex-pres) has been tarnished by a lot of issues beyond his control. Such as the hostage situation wherein a diplomatic outcome was taken out of the picture by the “sainted” Reagon’s back door dealings to keep the hostages in place so they could be used as a political issue.

  58. Scott@25:
    FWIW, I think that McCain became the Republic Presidential candidate the same day he shook hands with Bush on torture.

    Which is the exact point where he went – at least in my estimation – from a “moderate republican who might actually be tolerable as president” to “Just another lying hypocritical piece of scum that’ll just be an extension of the Bush disaster”

  59. Josh Jasper@28:

    [Obama's] record on getting diverse communities to work together is compelling. McCain? Not so much. He’s like Bush – he enjoys sneering at the enemy (liberals) and grinding them under foot.

    That’s probably a strategic choice by now – by making his world tour, Obama is sending the message that he feels rebuilding and strengthening ties with America’s traditional allies in Europe is one of the bigger challenges the next president will face after the way Bush chimpface-smirked while pissing all over them.

    But that leaves McCain the opportunity to bid for what I termed the “shithead vote” – the belligerently nationalistic segment of the population that actively resents any suggestion that the opinions of the rest of the world matter or that the USA should care about anything they have to say. Hey, it worked for Bush in 2004…

  60. A quick note in general response:

    Those who read my first comment carefully might have noticed I said “many Republicans,” not “all” or even “most.” The word choice was intentional. Yes, there are yellow-dog groups among the Republican base. The Religious Right is the most obvious such group, but there are others. However, a large part of the so-called Republican base vote actually comes from borderline-libertarian voters — what I usually call the “leave-me-alone right.” Those are the people who think about the issues and the candidates’ stand on them, and eventually reject the Democrats because Democrat politicians favor intrusive big government far more than Republicans do. They’re also the people who turned away from the Republican Party in 2006 because the Republican national leadership had abandoned its small-government principles and turned the party into D-Lite.

    When I roam around the blogosphere, I see Republicans arguing about issues: the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, energy policy, financial policy, economic policy, etc. Do I see Democrats arguing about these things? No. I see Democrats spending most of their time personally attacking Bush, inventing nutty conspiracy theories about big business, and advocating a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem: socialize it, nationalize it, let the government run it all. I haven’t seen an intelligent debate on any issue from any Democrat leader in years. They pick a position based on their ideology and stick to it, ignoring all contrary data, and enforce party discipline so rigidly that dissenters become non-persons before you can blink three times. Many Republicans are equally dogmatic, yes, but the Republican Party doesn’t actively repress debate about it. And you at least have a chance of convincing the average “leave-me-alone” Republican with facts, data, and logical arguments. But the Democrat Party will have none of that. It represses dissent to a degree that the Inquisition would be proud of. One need only look at the current brouhaha over energy policy to see that. Pelosi knows that a majority of Americans and a majority of House members want offshore drilling. Does she negotiate with them? No, she bans the topic from the agenda and then flees DC for the safety of her home district.

    This year’s primaries are a perfect example: after the no-hopers dropped out, the Republicans had four or five candidates who differed strongly on critical issues and debated them equally strongly, while the Democrats had three with almost-identical policy positions who were distinguishable only by their appearance.

    So yeah, I view Democrats in general, and Gilderoy’s supporters in particular, as groupies. Bewitched by his appearance, hypnotized by his celebrity status as the first serious black candidate for president in American history, and totally unable to intelligently consider his policy positions. Insulting me ain’t likely to change that; I’ve been insulted by some of the best in the business, and they couldn’t do it, so this lot of amateurs hasn’t got a clue. You might get me irritated that way, but you won’t get me to change my mind.

  61. Rens @66
    Yeah, me too. It was a big turning point for me regarding McCain. Before he went down that road, I was really hoping he’d stand up like a decent human being who happens to have a political office. Which is what he used to pitch himself as. Now, as far as I can tell, he’s pitching himself as a crabby old man who’s been in the Senate so long that he deserves to be President. Which is a nonsense position to take. *shrug*

  62. >>wolfwalker
    While I understand your use of the “Gilderoy” moniker as a way of efficiently stating how you feel about Obama, it’s still name-calling and comes off as a tad childish, undermining your arguments.

    I didn’t see people in this thread calling McCain “Old Glory” or anything. Unless I missed the silly names, but I don’t think I did.

    Let’s make up an appropriate Harry Potter-themed nickname for John McCain!

    John Riddle?
    Lord McVoldemort? (He leaves burger-shaped scars on boys’ foreheads.)
    Lucius McCainfoy?
    The Basiliscain? (This one might be best, to keep in mind the Chamber references.)

  63. When I roam around the blogosphere, I see Republicans arguing about issues: the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, energy policy, financial policy, economic policy, etc. Do I see Democrats arguing about these things? No. I see Democrats spending most of their time personally attacking Bush, inventing nutty conspiracy theories about big business, and advocating a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem: socialize it, nationalize it, let the government run it all. I haven’t seen an intelligent debate on any issue from any Democrat leader in years.

    Republicans still effectively run everything right now, they’ve failed miserably at almost everything they’ve done, and as far as any Democrat can tell, any Democratic policy you can name is going to be better than the Republican equivalent. Quibbling over details is for later.

    When did Democrats most recently argue with each other about policy a lot? During the Clinton years, when they ran the government. First you win.

    As for the one-size-fits-all solution, I think a lot of Democrats tend to look to Northern Europe. In Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, they really like nationalizing things and socializing things and letting the government run everything. Their income taxes are confiscatory and their government handouts available to the undeserving lazy. And–in stark contrast to the way Americans have believed the world works ever since Reagan–they’re healthier than we are, they’re less paralyzed by fear, they have more social mobility, their economies are stronger than ours.

    Or look to American history. We have an idea that–at least if you were a white man, and could ignore Cold War threats–the period from about 1954-1963 was a pretty great time on the whole, an era of placid prosperity and optimism after the world wars but before the social shocks of the 1960s blew everything apart. But that wasn’t an economically libertarian era. It was the opposite. The top marginal income tax rate was 91%. Massive government programs like the highway system and the GI Bill and the beginnings of the space program were the order of the day. Somehow that got lost in the conservative movement’s paeans to those happy days. Social-democratic tendencies in the US get blamed for what followed, but not praised for the good things that happened.

    Of course all this is arguable as to cause and effect, but it doesn’t strike me as insane; it’s really not hard to understand why some crazy liberals might have these tendencies.

  64. nsulting me ain’t likely to change that; I’ve been insulted by some of the best in the business, and they couldn’t do it, so this lot of amateurs hasn’t got a clue. You might get me irritated that way, but you won’t get me to change my mind.

    The I’m-A-Big-Fish-In-A-Little-Pond-Approach. Excellent.

    It’s kind of interesting because the above translates as “A lot smarter people than y’all have found that I require insulting” and wolfwalker holds this up as something by which we should be impressed.

  65. “Those are the people who think about the issues and the candidates’ stand on them, and eventually reject the Democrats because Democrat politicians favor intrusive big government far more than Republicans do.”

    I’m not an American, so could someone tell me when this was ever true? As far as I can see, Bush, Reagan, and Bush II all ran big, intrusive governments. Particularly the latest Bush, and I don’t think it shows that he “turned the party into D-Lite.” If nothing else, his government’s attacks on civil liberties, many of which started before 2006, do not seem to mimic Democratic politics or support small government.

    I don’t think history (outside of FDR, perhaps) supports this weird idea the Republicans support small libertarian governments and Democrats support big, socialist ones. Especially considering the decided lack of socialist values in the Democratic party.

    And I wish people would stop saying various conservative leaders aren’t real conservatives the moment they become unpopular. But at this point I’ve gone from contributing to complaining, so I’ll stop here.

  66. I’ve been favoring “McSame” or “McShame” for the GOP candidate, seeing how all his policies seem to be “The same thing Bush is doing, only HARDER!”.

  67. “The Wall Street Journal is just another organ of the liberal mainstream media!”

    My father came to feel that way. He was a 2nd generation Wall Street Conservative Republican, and perturbed that WSJ and the Conservative Movement and the GOP had all gone so badly off the track during the GWB administration.

    My paternal grandfather was BY DEFINITION a Wall Street Conservative Republican, having literally worked his way up from the broom-boy in a haberdashery to the founder of a stock brokerage and owner of a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, at whose home the mayor of New York City and the Governor of New York State often dined.

    Sometimes he made large donations to the looniest Democrat in NY primary elections, to help the conservative GOP candidate in the general election.

    My mother was a Left Liberal Democrat, and the conversations at the dinner table were interesting to me as a child… I kept going to Heinlein novels to clarify matters.

  68. I was just looking at an electoral map clicker. By my reckoning, McCain’s maximum possible total is 280 (you need 270 to win.) Obama’s is 329. McCain has got to convince everybody who would possibly vote for him to vote for him: Iowa, NH, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, WV, NM, everybody. Obama might skate by without Ohio or Florida, but probably not without both. With Florida, Iowa, NM and Nevada, I think Obama can even afford to lose WV and KY, but really who wants to do that. (It would be nice to dream that VA, NC and MO are in play, but I will believe that when I see it.) My guess is that McCain squeaks out wins in Ohio and NH, and Obama wins in the 290′s.

  69. Brett L: ATLA changed its name to the “American Association for Justice”, oh, about two years ago. I was disinclined to vote for the change, but when I saw the apoplexy it was giving the Chamber of Commerce crowd, I thought maybe it was a good idea after all. But the term “trial lawyers” never referred merely to attorneys who were members of that organization; it’s something the corporate-welfare crowd uses to refer only to plaintiff attorneys who represent consumers. If your clients are big IT firms and you’re a litigator who represents them in suing other IT firms for patent infringement, say, you aren’t a “trial lawyer”.

  70. Tribar @ 63,

    Um, the electoral system in America doesn’t work that way. Even if the popular vote is close, and a look at the aggregate suggests a solid five point margin for Obama*, the popular vote isn’t what decides elections. Go on over to http://www.pollster.com/ and look at the current state of the electoral vote. If, for the sake of argument, you divide the tossup votes evenly you get a 337-201 Democratic victory. I don’t know how you define landslide, but two thirds majority works for me. Now admittedly, if all of the tossups break McCain then Obama will only win by 34 electoral votes–not a landslide, but still not a bad margin.

    *which, by the way, would be the biggest Democratic margin since 1964 if it holds.

  71. WSJ is a conservative paper. More conservatives are standing behind McCain today including evangelicals now that Dobson has indicated he will support McCain
    .
    Conservatives are now uniting with Democrats who did not drink the Obama koolaid: the 18 million Dems voted for Hillary, and now thanks to PUMA and JUST SAY NO, we are effectively organized, networking, and voting for McCain. We’ve met with him, we trust him more than we will ever trust Obama.

    We will NOT let Obama – the man “selected” by DNC & not ELECTED by the people, to become President.

    His European trip to become President of the World did NOTHING for him back home he, has admitted to lying in his autobiography, has flipflopped on every MAJOR position he held starting with FISA and as of 2 days ago offshore drilling, He’s gone on record as stating he WILL create a well funded well ARMED CIVILIAN army.

    He explained in detail to the Military Times exactly what that entails, and HOW he will create it – which should have all intelligent Democrats frightened since what he outlined came from the SS playbook.

    The fact is that Obama is advocating a parallel organization that in the end will be a major rival to the
    U. S. Department of Defense for budget, areas of responsibility, influence and God only know what else.

    The analogy to the SS is relevan in that the SS competed with the German Army for influence and weapons and did not report up the same chain of command as the German Army. Hitler’s contempt for his Army generals is well known. Anybody even remotely familiar with the history of World War II should recognize the threat that a civilian army poses even today.

    Obama’s association with the highly anti-Semitic Professor Rashid Khalidi, now of Columbia University, his association with (now deceased) Prof. Edward Said, the individual who literally turned Middle East Studies at American Universities into a bad joke, and then his association with the racist pastor Jeremiah Wright speak to who Obama really is!

    A person is known by the company he keeps, and Obama is no different. Obama may have thrown some of these folks under the bus for now, but will he go back and bring them on board in his administration if he is elected president? I don’t know – no one knows. I was not satisfied with his obfuscation on his involvement with these individuals as were millions of other Americans. Now we literally don’t know where he stands on any of the major issues facing Americans in the upcoming presidential election since he keeps changing his position for no reason OTHER than a need to be liked. A need he vocalised to the European press as he begged ” I want you to like me” The President of the United States is not involved in the “Mr Congenality” contest!!

    McCain did not flip flop amnesty. Republicans started a grassroots campaign which reached out to dems, and collectively WE the citizens, prevented this disgraceful bill from passing. McCain was disappointed, and has RELUCTANTLY agreed to build a wall, and to work to redraft acceptable changes to Immigration Laws.
    We are TIRED of failed policies of providing illegals with citizenship, while others who take the legal road to citizenship are punished, not rewarded. Amnesty was started by Reagon, continued by Clinton and has FAILED.

    Democrats, as well as Republicans, are furious with sanctuary cities that are allowed to exist, especially in light of the recent MURDERS in San Fran and we will make sure Gavin Newsom pays for this politically and hopefully legally!!

    But first, we DEMOCRATS will get McCain elected.

    Not all of us have sipped the kool aid and believe Obama to be the Messiah, we see him for what he truly is— a narcissist who craves love and demands idolation.That was especially evident in Germany.

    Bashing America, choosing to workout instead of visiting wounding soldiers, a plan to create a funded, armed civilian force, 20 yrs in a church that preaches marxist socialism, friendships with terrorists, socialists, anarchists, flip flopping on every major issue, and a voting record that is weak and unimpressive, and his way to handle the energy crisis is to lecture to us about inflating tires and regular tune-ups ….until two days ago…when he realised what a freaking stupid and condenscending “policy” that was and that he had insulted the intelligence of Americans( other than his diehard acolytes) and then decided that he would support offshore drilling.

    Sen McCain had already expressed his full support for “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” TWO months earlier.

    McCain has served his country in the Military, and refused to leave a POW camp where he was tortured -unless his men could also be freed. He has served his country in Congress for decades, understands the security threat we face, and is willing to face it head on, and was right about the surge—–the surge that Obama voted against, then had the audacity to embrace as his own idea in his speech in Germany, and NOW wants to implement in Afghanistan, yet still denying to the Media that it was effective and expressing the view that the lives of 25 million Iraqi’s was irrelevant.

    By the way – the Arab press – not so in love with “The Messiah” any more, and neither is Andrea Merkel or Nicholas Sarkosy.

  72. and now thanks to PUMA and JUST SAY NO

    PUMA was started by a McCain supporter, not a disgruntled former Clinton voter. You need to tune up your talking points a little, but thanks for playing.

  73. Mmmm… random capitalization. Always a sure sign of a sound argument.

    A question for Democrats who don’t like some of what Obama’s said: who else are you going to vote for? In a two-party system there’s not really an option if you don’t like your party’s candidate, other than voting for the other guy.

    And if you identify with “Democratic values”, whatever those are, how can you in good conscience vote for a Republican?

  74. Existing government-supported civilian army and inteligence arm? Try Blackwater: run and owned by a publicly avowed fundamentalist, dominionist, neocon.

  75. Nargel #84: C’mon. Blackwater is a company hired to provide security. Obama’s civilian force will be a new gov agency formed as a means to keep our own military in check, if not eventually fight against for the big prize. Apples and oranges.

  76. Pat Smythe @ 86

    Blackwater is an organization of mercenaries that have not only acted as if they were above any law but have killed civilians that were known to be not a threat. Do you not remember that utube video from a couple of years back that Blackwater mercs made showing their brag that they could shoot civilians for fun and get away with it? Or the unprovoked mass killing spree Blackwater mercs went on in an Iraqi market a year or so ago?

    This company started as Bush paying back a prime political donor with no-bid contracts for stuff that was traditionally service based – embasy guards (Marine) for one. Blackwater has been expanding strongly stateside (large East coast base/facility, a large complex near Chicago and several attempts to place a large base near San Diego) and was even used illegally to impose martial law in the at-that-time peaceful city of New Orleans.

    Right. A security firm with it’s own CIA arm.

    I have found 2 interviews with Obama in the Military Times, neither one discusses some new civil based military arm. Could you show me a link to this discussion?

    Blackwater and it’s “untouchable” behavior exists now and is protected by this administration now. I find this existing fact a lot more disturbing than any vapor trail fainting couch hysteria about something I havn’t even found yet.

  77. Pat Smythe

    I posted the above, don’t know where my sig went ;)

    BTW, you never addressed any of the facts I backed up my statements with in the thread we had our…. discussion in. I give you the same offer. You have trouble finding a specific point I make, ask. I will try to help you find a link to what I clearly remember.

  78. Julianna @#80:

    Nicely written. Good comprehensive study of why you’re objecting to Obama. About the only thing you neglected to point out are the parallels between him and the charismatic leader from the book of Revelations.

  79. Upon reflection, the utube video I mentioned may have been by mercs working for KaKi(sp?).

    O.K., that would mean 2 non-service mercenary groups of above the law killers (one partially owned by Dick Cheney) being run by this administration.

    My bad.

  80. The simple fact is, when you reduce the military down to the size it is, there are jobs we simply cannot due ourselves.

    Blackwater USA was formed in 1997 to provide training support to military and law enforcement organizations. In 2002 Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) was formed. It was one of several private security firms employed following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. BSC is one of over 60 private security firms employed during the Iraq War to guard officials and installations, train Iraq’s new army and police, and provide other support for occupation forces.[14] Blackwater was also hired during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the Department of Homeland Security, as well as by private clients, including communications, petrochemical and insurance companies.

  81. BTW the use of contractors in war goes way back, to the Revolutionary War. If you want to read a good paper on the most recent use of contractors, from Vietnam to now, see here…

  82. So, let’s talk about Obama’s plan to charge oil companies a tax on “windfall profits”

    What exactly is a windfall profit, since he hasn’t defined it yet. The WSJ can’t seem to figure it out either, since there are companies, and industries whose profit margins far exceed those of oil companies, and they aren’t being targeted (yet) for additional taxes.

    Take Exxon Mobil, which on Thursday reported the highest quarterly profit ever and is the main target of any “windfall” tax surcharge. Yet if its profits are at record highs, its tax bills are already at record highs too. Between 2003 and 2007, Exxon paid $64.7 billion in U.S. taxes, exceeding its after-tax U.S. earnings by more than $19 billion. That sounds like a government windfall to us, but perhaps we’re missing some Obama-Durbin business subtlety.

    Maybe they have in mind profit margins as a percentage of sales. Yet by that standard Exxon’s profits don’t seem so large. Exxon’s profit margin stood at 10% for 2007, which is hardly out of line with the oil and gas industry average of 8.3%, or the 8.9% for U.S. manufacturing (excluding the sputtering auto makers).

    If that’s what constitutes windfall profits, most of corporate America would qualify. Take aerospace or machinery — both 8.2% in 2007. Chemicals had an average margin of 12.7%. Computers: 13.7%. Electronics and appliances: 14.5%. Pharmaceuticals (18.4%) and beverages and tobacco (19.1%) round out the Census Bureau’s industry rankings. The latter two double the returns of Big Oil, though of course government has already became a tacit shareholder in Big Tobacco through the various legal settlements that guarantee a revenue stream for years to come.

  83. Keith_Indy, how many times do I need to ask you to put all your responses into a single post?

  84. Sorry… I really meant to the second time, but hit submit instead of preview, and this site doesn’t have an edit button for comments.

    Would it help to say I snagged a paper book copy of “The Last Colony” on Friday. :D

  85. Keith_Indy @ 92

    I read your linked report. AFIK the “contractors” noted in the Vietnam era were regular service members seconded to Vietnam for training and tech support services. Not armed mercenary units slotted-in in whole units. As even this report admits, the practice of using such units (especially in traditionally service-only roles) only started during Bush’s Iraq Occupation debacle.

    Note also that the explicit placing of these mercenary businesses beyond any law started with the Iraq debacle.
    Therefore, the unrestrained and unsupervised usage of armed mercenaries in a combat theater was started by and only under the current administration.

  86. Julianna @ 80:

    Your TIMELY use of capitalization convinces ME. Where I was GOING to vote for obama I SHALL now vote for MCCAIN!

    If he isn’t toast already, the debates will finish McCain. I am already cringing at the embarrassment I expect to feel for him.

  87. As I recall, the primary contractors in the Revolutionary War were called “Hessians” and rated a shout-out in the Declaration of Independence. Don’t blur the distinction between mercenaries and civilian contractors in general, not to mention that hiring your own veteran soldiers as mercenaries is like paying top dollar to eat your own seed corn.

    Keith Indy wrote: The simple fact is, when you reduce the military down to the size it is, there are jobs we simply cannot due ourselves.

    Given that Secretary of Defense Cheney started cutting the size of the army after the fall of the Soviet Union, it sounds like our best bet to supplement the size of US forces would be to bring along the armies of other countries. Even third world forces can act as auxiliaries, guarding weapons depots, preventing the looting yellowcake uranium, and preventing tons of high-grade explosive from making it into insurgent hands.

    Any ideas what we could have done to bring some more allies with us into Iraq, as was done in the first Gulf War? Hint: it rhymes with “Hepons Linspectors”.

  88. Yes, Cheney started it, and then Clinton just kept slashing so the “peace dividend” could be used for other things.

    Somewhere between where we were in 2003 and where we were in 1990, would be the optimal size.

    But in the end, we have to choose what is given priority. Do we want to pay top dollar and have soldiers dishing out meals, or do we pay a contractor? Go down the whole list of tasks the military performs, and you would have a more optimal size for our military forces. But that’s not what was done. The Clinton years didn’t prepare the military for the type of activities we are engaged in now, and that was with the lessons of Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, etc.

    Coulda, shoulda, woulda… there’s plenty of blame for everything to go around.

    It doesn’t change where we are, or how we get where we want to go. It can only inform us in the future of what we should consider.

  89. Keith_Indy @ 100

    The point you keep whistling by is that there is a big difference between explicitly-above-the-law armed and equipped to the teeth mercenary forces and the typical civilian contractor that handles ancillary tasks like cooking, cleaning, road repair, etc.

    (Note the recent stories leaking out of the Pentagon’s wall of silence about: KBR electricuting soldiers in the showers and burning down bases with shoddy electrical work, etc. Even the unarmed ones stealing millions for work not or poorly done are killing people.)

    Also, since when were our service folks being paid even a fraction of what we are wasting in treasury give-aways to favored criminal enterprizes like KBR? Claiming that the contractor industries are aimed at saving money is so wrong headed it boggles.

  90. The investment in a soldier goes far beyond their salary.

    I’m just saying, this isn’t a brand new situation. For instance, KBR was used heavily during the Clinton administration.

    The controls for these groups, whether armed or not, haven’t been worked out. Even though their use has stretched out over decades (and taken in it’s broadest context, centuries.) You can’t lay this entirely at the feet of the current administration. That’s what I mean by there’s plenty of blame to go around. The problem is much broader then any one administration. Which is really the only point I’m trying to make.

    And frankly, if you look at the problems with some UN peace keeping missions, you wouldn’t be all that gung-ho about trusting them to be better then paid contractors.

  91. Keith_Indy

    No. You are wrong.

    The use of, and I say this *again*, armed Explicitly-Above-The-Law forces in a combat theater is unique (at least since the civil war) to the current administration.

    It has been over 6 years and you posit the “the controls haven’t been worked out”? Just how long do you think it is suppost to take?

    I never brought the U.N. forces into this and I would thank you not to make strawman arguments.

    For that matter, I do not suggest unarmed civil contractors be used in a combat theater either. Civilian contractors are useful stateside or out of the zone only.
    For a case in point, I remind you of the part played by the support troops during the battle of the Bulge. Imagine that those people were all unarmed and untrained.

    Last but not least, the bloated amount the Blackwaters, CACIs, etc. make on a per person basis is far beyond what a comparable service member would command (training costs and all). This does not even touch on the costs of divided comand issues, unneeded incidents caused by pay-issue rivalry or other matters.

    KBR was used heavily during the Clinton admin? For what? And *why* is it that every time a GOP apologist runs out of talking points, they invoke Clinton??

  92. Nargel,

    KBR was used heavily during the Clinton admin? For what? And *why* is it that every time a GOP apologist runs out of talking points, they invoke Clinton??

    Because in this case it is germane: Clinton’s “surplus” came almost entirely from the reduction of the number of men and women in the armed services. So how does one continue the mission, which did not change, with fewer people?

    Well first you preserve the tip of the spear but out-source some of the shaft. That would be the support units. That would be KBR.

    And you simply can not afford to have highly-trained SOF folks waisting their time protecting dignitaries and diplomats. As a result such personal protection services need to be found elsewhere.

    And Blackwater just happens to be the biggest and most respected elsewhere around.

    And just in case you missed it, I believe Keith_Indy’s point was that neither KBR or Blackwater are a consequence of Bush.

    They are, however, a consequence of the Peace Dividend and the fact that SOF operators are otherwise engaged.

  93. KBR, as it currently exists and operates, is a consequence of the current admin. Not until this administration were they provided with the grotesqe no-bid, cost-plus, no-oversight, hands-off environment that they have been profit bloating within.
    Under Clinton, we were not in an ill advised adventure without a defined objective other than “if i’m a war presnit ah’ll get reelected” that would overstress the services so I seriously doubt that KBR had that much of an impact. At least I know they weren’t electricuting troops and burning down bases with impunity.

    Look at Blackwater’s pre-war size and current size and tell me that the war isn’t responsible. Also, respected? Are you kidding me? By who? Certainly not the civilians they shoot up for no rational reason. Or the Iraqi government and our FBI that aren’t allowed to investigate the crime.

    Just to make it clear, I will restate my difference with Keith_Indy’s point: Blackwater and it’s ilk (explicitlly-above-the-law armed units in a combat zone) and the unsupervised cash-scamming “contractors” like KBR and others have become (ref:disaster capitolism) are a creation of the policies and intentions of the current administration. Not the franticly reputiated policies of the Clinton admin.

    I have my issues with Clinton but they pale against the current crooks.

  94. Frank wrote: Because in this case it is germane

    No, I’m with you there, it is germane.

    Clinton’s “surplus” came almost entirely from the reduction of the number of men and women in the armed services.

    Except that it didn’t. Taxes were increased, and there was an economic expansion.

    So how does one continue the mission, which did not change, with fewer people?

    Greetings, dimensional traveler! In our world, Buzz Armstrong was the first man on the moon, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 changed the mission of the US military.

  95. the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 changed the mission of the US military.

    And yet, they were not trained, or equipped for “this mission,” nor did any serious planning occur to make sure the force was properly sized for future missions. Nor was the rest of the government overhauled to handle this new mission. So, where does the blame for that lie???

    My answer the Congress, President and people during the years 1992-2001. All was well, except for the occasional terrorist bombing, so who cared, other then a few serious counter-terror and military analysts.

    Some interesting stuff here about KBR.

    “[H]alliburton Is In Iraq Primarily Because In 2001 It Won A Competitive Bidding Process To Administer The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, A Multiyear Contract To Supply The Army.” (Max Boot, Op-Ed, “Don’t Blame Halliburton,” Los Angeles Times, 4/22/04)

    Halliburton Received No-Bid Contracts During Clinton Administration For Work In Bosnia And Kosovo. “Halliburton has also gotten some no-bid jobs in Iraq, just as it did in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, and for the same reason: Not a lot of other firms have similar expertise in supplying the U.S. military, and with a war on there’s no time to stage a lengthy bidding process.” (Max Boot, Op-Ed, “Don’t Blame Halliburton,” Los Angeles Times, 4/22/04)

    During Clinton Administration, Halliburton Received $2.2 Billion From US Government For Work In Kosovo. “Between 1995 and 2000, while Democrat Bill Clinton ran the country and Republican Dick Cheney ran Halliburton, there was no talk of favoritism or political ties as the Houston-based company billed the government $2.2 billion for its work in Kosovo.” (James Rosen, “Is Iraq’s Reconstruction Rigged?” The [Raleigh] News & Observer, 10/5/03)

    Look, I’m agreeing that the whole subcontracting thing is a complex question, both armed and unarmed. If the Federal bureaucracy hasn’t fine tuned the use of unarmed contractors over the last 30 years, why is there such SHOCK that they haven’t figured out a better way in the last 8 years. Our government has always been slow to change. That’s one of its strengths, and one of its weaknesses.

    #
    # FungiFromYuggoth @99: Any ideas what we could have done to bring some more allies with us into Iraq, as was done in the first Gulf War?

    Hence my bringing up the example that relying on allies, doesn’t necessarily get you a better result. It all depends on the quality of the allies. So, not exactly a straw-man, just a semi-related stray thought.

  96. What Keith_Indy said, plus

    Nargel @105

    Look at Blackwater’s pre-war size and current size and tell me that the war isn’t responsible.

    The need for private security increased because of the war, so yeah. What of it?

    Also, respected? Are you kidding me? By who?

    By people who want to be protected. Clearly they do what they are hired to do: i.e. deliver the service to the customer. If they weren’t any good at what they do they would have grown as much as you yourself pointed out.

    There are other companies that provide this service. There are other private protection services in Iraq. Blackwater is the biggest because they are the best.

  97. Keith_Indy @ 109

    Cherry picked articles from 2003 brought forth by the RNC and Free Republic are your sources? No wonder you can’t see what these firms have been responsible for.

    You don’t seem to understand my point about Blackwater/CACI/etc. What part of ARMED EXPLICITLY-ABOVE-ANY-LAW don’t you understand?

    Frank @ 110

    see above.

    And it should be very easy to place these out of control organizations under the law without taking years to do so.

  98. Well, it was in the top 10 articles when I googled it. So the LA Times is a bastion of Republican propaganda I suppose.

    And the facts are the facts with regards to KBR. You can look them up yourself, and it’s not the one-sided story you presented. But that is besides the point.

    Would you operate in a warzone if you could be prosecuted at the whim of a government that didn’t even exist at the time of signing the contract?

    How much leeway do you give people who are protecting our diplomats? Would these incidents been any different if foreign soldiers had been behind the guns? Or our soldiers?

    Not saying it’s right, just that’s the way it is.

  99. Keith_Indy @ 112

    You start the contract with them under UCMJ rules and oversight. Now, that wasn’t hard was it?

    I followed the link and it went to a collection of snippets from newspaper spin from 2003 and early 2004 that had Free Republic and RNCResearch headers. Not quite the LA Times nor indicative of what was discovered when the investigations were actually done.

    I also note that my comments about electricuting service members and burning down bases with shoddy work seem to be, shall we say, non-germane to your discussion.

  100. There are reports coming out of Georgia (the country) that some of the forces involved in the fighting on the Georgian side have left casaulities ” that had American emblems on the forearms and they were in black uniforms. ”

    If correct, under Protocol I (1977)to the Geneva Conventions, the troops (if Blackwater as seems) are incontestably mecenaries.

    Art 47. Mercenaries

    1) A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.
    2) A mercenary is any person who:
    (a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
    (b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
    (c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
    (d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
    (e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
    (f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

    I wonder if they are shooting unarmed civilians now.

  101. My Gov’t prof told us (since we have to read a “big city” daily) that the WSJ was a good paper for conservatives to read.

    This could be a problem for McCain.

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