September 17, 2006

"What Would the Democrats Do?"

Honestly, though that title for a Week in Review piece by John M. Broder grabs me, it was the illustration by Steven Brodner that made me want to open the old "create post" window. I love this exuberantly distorted image of various Democrats ... though I had to read the caption to tell that was supposed to be Biden. It kind of looked like Henry Jackson. What would Henry Jackson do in the current situation? I wonder. The James Webb caricature is especially cool, reminiscent of John Tenniel's Tweedledee (or is it Tweedledum):



John Kerry's head has the look of a toby jug, set off in the background. Hillary Clinton has Little Orphan Annie irisless eye dots. And Ned Lamont -- hilariously drawn with a long neck and a pointy nose -- stares off to his right and points left.

But let's see what Broder has to say:
“It’s a dog’s breakfast,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which has done extensive polling on public attitudes toward the war. “The reason that Democrats aren’t talking about specific plans to end the war is because it’s hard to figure out what to say without alienating a broad swath of the electorate.”
Distractable me: What exactly is "a dog's breakfast"? According to this, it's a poor job, a mess. Presumably, it's a wisecrack about how bad dinner is, right? One source says it's a variation on "a dog's dinner," but here we see that "a dog's breakfast" and "dog's dinner" are two completely different phrases. "The dog's dinner" means "Dressed or displayed in an ostentatiously smart manner." (Can't say that about the Dems plan for Iraq.)
Why a dog's breakfast is synonymous with mess or muddle and dog's dinner with smartness isn't at all clear. It appears that the two phrases were coined entirely independently of each other.

'Dog's dinner' is first cited in ‘C. L. Anthony's play 'Touch Wood', 1934:
"Why have you got those roses in your hair? You look like the dog's dinner."
See also: the dog's bollocks.
See also the dog's bollocks? Really! No Clinton jokes! "The dog's bollocks" means excellent. Just an update on "the bee's knees." Would that the Democrats had some ideas that were the dog's bollocks. We're advised at the link that polite -- and rhyme-loving -- folks can say "the mutt's nuts."

But enough of this linguistic digression. We can't be all scholarly all the time here. We've got to pay some attention to the goofy world of politics some of the time. (And lord knows, it does bring the linkage.) So, back to Broder:
Among the Democrats trying to find the right message on Iraq is Eric Massa, a United States Naval Academy graduate who spent 24 years on active duty and then worked as a staff member in Congress. He is challenging a freshman Republican representative, John R. Kuhl Jr., for a seat in western New York State. Mr. Massa offers a thought-out critique of the Bush policy in Iraq, based on his years in uniform and his service as a senior NATO officer dealing with the civil warfare in Bosnia.

“We will never be successful in creating a Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq at the tip of a bayonet,” he said. “That’s a fool’s errand. The longer we try it, the more dire the consequences.”
Linguistic detour: "a fool's errand."
The Kuhl-Massa debate, if you can call it that, illuminates the difficulties at least some Democrats are having talking about Iraq. The more specific they are in proposing solutions to the impasse in Iraq, the more they open themselves to Republican charges of defeatism, or worse....

A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that Democratic candidates attract strong support among Democratic voters by advocating immediate withdrawal, but that position tends to repel independents. The safest position appears to be supporting a timetable for withdrawal, which independents favor by 35 to 20 percent.
Calibrating your policy like this doesn't really inspire us moderates.
Bruce W. Jentleson, a professor of public policy at Duke University and an official in the State Department’s office of policy planning under President Bill Clinton, said ... “Many of them think it’s enough to run on negativity on the Bush policy. I’m not convinced that’s true. That feeds the perception that Democrats know what they’re against but not what they’re for.”
So, yeah, it's a dog's breakfast.

80 comments:

dave said...
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JSF said...

The reason the Dems will not repeat their earlier performances is because the country has moved right since Carter. From 1932 - 1994, there was a generation who grew up with FDR and the Great Deppression. Most of that generation is dying out. Anyway, when JFK said "Pay any price, bear any burden" is not talking about the Kossite Democrats. And that is no dog Bollock.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave's a Karl Rove plant.

Ann Althouse said...
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noah said...
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JSF said...

Ann, these new democrats think since they defeated Lieberman, they have discovered the wheel. All they do is attack with cliches and never enter the battle of ideas. If you are a Republican you are considered "stupid, nazi, etc." Until the adults re-enter the Democrat party and realize some issues are not partisan, they will never regain the majority

Gahrie said...

There are two current problems with the Democrats:

1) They have no firm political bedrocks except class warfare and abortion on demand. (both of which the American public are increasingly disenchanted with) They are forced to substitute polls for ideas. (yet another destructive legacy of Pres. Clinton)

2) As they continue to lose, they become increasingly strident, angry, dismissive, and engage in insulting and over the top rhetoric.
(see dave above)

JSF said...
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Gerry said...

I think these articles about the Democrats supposedly not knowing what they are for is so much hogwash.

The Democrats are for exactly what their most passionate advocates are for-- complete and immediate withdrawl from Iraq.

The only reason things appear muddled is because they know that this view won't sell beyond their advocates.

They are hoping independents will give them the benefit of the doubt. Of course, they are also hoping their advocates will keep their yaps shut. But people like dave, who are the heart and soul of the progressive movement embodied by the Democrats, cannot help but let the gag slip.

Gerry said...

"Dave's a Karl Rove plant."

Howard Dean certainly hopes that independents conclude such, when encountering a dave.

It might be a more persuasive assumption if not for the rhetoric of Dean himself, and of Kos, and of Atrios, and of...

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, how much longer are you going to put up with abuse by this character "dave". He is full of hate not argument."

He makes an argument by example. Plus, it amuses me today to make fun of him. It's easy, but it's Sunday, and I'm trying to relax... in my own special way.

Ed said...

You know, if the Democrats' international relations position didn't so much resemble that of a "catcher" in a bath house, they might actually stand a chance of getting back in control of Congress.

Fenrisulven said...

“The reason that Democrats aren’t talking about specific plans to end the war is because it’s hard to figure out what to say without alienating a broad swath of the electorate.”

And this is what stands as LEADERSHIP for the Left - cowardly selfish weasels more concerned with polling data than intelligence estimates.

Is it any wonder that their activists are gutter-trash brownshirts like dave?

Old Dad said...

Modern politics strongly favors the incumbent. Voters may not agree with the incumbent, but at least there is the perception that he stands for something.

Challengers have the daunting task of somehow communicating an alternative vision in the age of sound bites. There are no more Lincoln Douglas debates because we don't want them, and probably don't really care enough to invest the intellectual energy that it would take to follow one.

So opponents, in this instance, largely Dems, must craft tactics, not policies, and sound bites that might, just might catch our attention. It's hard to do well. You often come off as unserious and shallow--like Howard Dean.

But we apparently are satisfied with unserious and shallow representatives. We keep voting for them.

chuck b. said...

Funny--I just read "a dog's dinner" [apparently misused] for the first time in the newspaper yesterday:

"After driving by to check, she confirmed that one client's purple bougainvillea does indeed hold onto its bracts, rendering it 'about as attractive as dog's dinner,' while ones of other colors in the neighborhood have long since shed their bracts."

Regardless of proper usage, I like dog's dinner better, because breakfast is a bit of a mouthful and dinner aliterates.

Is phrases.org.uk the last word on the subject?

J. Peden said...

dave, I think someone is trying to poison you. When the physical projectile vomiting starts, don't just ignore it as merely dog's breakfast, dinner, or rancid snack. What's already emitting from your mouth is a bad enough sign, as is.

Bruce Hayden said...

Of all the Democrats discussed, Biden is the only one who came across to me as serious about the issue. His plan is not suicidally infeasible.

Before I reread the post, I thought that he was calling for partition. And that would be a disaster for three reasons:
1. Iraqi's neighbors with significant Kurdish minorities would not stand for it. In particular, Turkey (a NATO ally) has made it plain that it would likely invade if the country were partitioned. Iran is also an issue, but not, IMHO, as much Syria.
2) Who gets the oil? Unfortunately, it is almost all in Kurdish and Shiite areas.
3) What about Baghdad? The ethnic violence there now is precisely because it is so ethnicly mixed.

But Biden is calling for three semi-autonomous areas, which might work. The Kurdish region is already that way, and the Kurds are happy to just sit up there and shoot any terrorists who try to sneak in. You still have the problem of Baghdad, but the other problems are much lessened this way.

A time table just gives the enemy a time line for how long they have to hunker down before we leave. Expect that if we announced such, that violence would significantly diminish for that period of time, as they marshal their resources, marking time until they can make their move after we finish our cut and run. And then the bloodbath.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann,

Thanks for the change of pace here. I think a lot of us, including apparently you, were exhausted in the discussion about breasts and Clinton. Fun every once in awhile, but I like this sort of thing much better.

J. Peden said...

And whatever you do, dave, don't eat it again. Let the dog have it this time. Then take a look at who's feeding you this crap to begin with.

Clampett said...

That's right, keep demoralizing each other.

the Republicans called a cease-fire long ago..'though shall not speak ill of another republican'.

Their adminstration is seated in the congress, White house and supreme court for a reason.

Har-har-har.

Bruce Hayden said...

Noah,

I am not sure that dogs are really omnivores, in the same way that we are. I would put them between cats on the one hand, which actually need meat to be healthy, and humans and pigs on the other, whose natural diet is a decent mix between plant and animal. In the wild, dogs are primarily carnivores, as evidenced by their teeth.

That said, I have a memory of my mother never quite understanding my logic when I was assigned the duty of sweeping the floor after dinner. Instead, I would let the puddle in, and she would do a better job than I would.

Also, we could tell when she was getting into the cat's food (served on the top of an upright freezer for just this reason), because we would invariably have a lot of dead birds in our yard, which my mother also didn't approve of.

We always attributed this to the fact that she had been spayed after two litters (we were somehow under the misguided impression that someone in their right mind might want to pay for a poodle, even with a good pedigree).

Bruce Hayden said...

I should have been more precise, it was the poodle that was spayed after two litters.

Semanticleo said...

Outhouse;

It is rank irony which compels me to call out your 'tweedledum and tweedledee' projection fantasy.

"`I know what you're thinking about,' said Tweedledum; `but it isn't so, nohow.'

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'

If that is not inimical of the Plausible Denialists and their Bush enabling choir, there is no logic.

Old Dad said...

Semanticleo,

"inimical"

You might want to look it up.

Zach said...

I always figured that a dog's breakfast was whatever disgusting detritus that remained on the floor in the morning. Like a more disgusting version of the proverb : "As the dog returns to its vomit, so the fool returns to its folly."

In my experience, it was Kerry's incoherence on the war that really soured me on him. More precisely, it was the appearance that his incoherence was strategic, because he wanted my vote along with the votes of the strident anti-war activists, who have a fundamentally different view on the war than I do. Only one of us could possibly be happy with the policy he would adopt, so why not tell us which one?

I'd see Kerry talking to his supporters in perfect mushmouth and getting huge roars of approval. I'd think "Man, those guys are going to be pissed off on January 21st, when President Kerry continues fighting the war with minor changes in strategy!" I think you see the irony there. I certainly did.

I can't see how this kind of coyness could possibly pay off in the long run.

Zach said...

I always figured that a dog's breakfast was whatever disgusting detritus that remained on the floor in the morning. Like a more disgusting version of the proverb : "As the dog returns to its vomit, so the fool returns to its folly."

In my experience, it was Kerry's incoherence on the war that really soured me on him. More precisely, it was the appearance that his incoherence was strategic, because he wanted my vote along with the votes of the strident anti-war activists, who have a fundamentally different view on the war than I do. Only one of us could possibly be happy with the policy he would adopt, so why not tell us which one?

I'd see Kerry talking to his supporters in perfect mushmouth and getting huge roars of approval. I'd think "Man, those guys are going to be pissed off on January 21st, when President Kerry continues fighting the war with minor changes in strategy!" I think you see the irony there. I certainly did.

I can't see how this kind of coyness could possibly pay off in the long run. The image of a dog returning to its vomit seems very apt.

J. Peden said...

11:18am, Bruce Hayden, I agree, with a twist or two. A timetable only gives us and the Iraqis two more ways to lose: 1] we fail to meet the benchmarks, hard achievements, because of increased terrorist/sectarian activity - they know what the benchmarks are - leading to a critical mass of anti-war sentiment; and, as you suggest, 2] we meet the timetable due to an unreal, temporary cessation of terrorist activities, which then resurges later as a stronger force towards defeat. Mere perception of success is not success, or very unlikely to be so. Why would anyone want it?

The call for timetable with benchmarks also ignores the dramatic achievements already made, or as Dr. Sanity says, the development of affairs that fulfill the Democrats' "wildest nightmares", as well as being quite beneficial to Iraqi freedom.

And I take the Biden plan as only another Bidenism, that which sounds intellectually advanced, but is not: how is the development of three semi-autonomous regions any different from partition, which itself looks impossible, or at least much less possible to achieve than what we are now doing?

Strategically and practicallly, partition would lead to three Iraq problems.

And just how do you separate people, anyway, and then keep them separated? For whatever reason, we can't even close our own borders to illegal immigrants who only want jobs or benefits vs people who want to kill each other, control the oil, or even rule the World.

Iraq needs to be unified, imo. The oil and Bagdad problem are further reasons why separation or division of Iraq is only another magic "pie in the sky" impossiblility. Given my limited understanding of everything, I also tend to defer to the Bush Administration on these practical matters. The Democrats have absolutely no credibility at all, and it's their own fault. They done been hijacked by lunacy.

Zach said...

Oops, double post.

J. Peden said...

"Outhouse;

"It is rank irony which compels me to call out your 'tweedledum and tweedledee' projection fantasy."

Well, semanticleo, you are rank. No need to read minds on that score. And irony as person, to boot. What kind of *feeling*, sigh, is that combo?

Fenrisulven said...

Semanticleo: If that is not inimical-

Old Dad: "inimical" You might want to look it up

Semanticleo: - of the Plausible Denialists and their Bush enabling choir, there is no logic

Semanticleo, if you're going to try logic, you might also want to look up "Argument by Assertion".

Here, I'll do your research for ya:

Argumentum ad Assertion Allopecia
(np) 1. The argument that what one says is self-evidently, irrefutably true, and therefore one need provide no supporting evidence. Often combined with Argumentum ad CAPSLOCK, and/or as the opening shot in a round of A rgumentum ad Assertion Repetitio ad Nauseam.

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/jargon/jargonfile_a.html

Zach said...

Would the Iraquis go for a triple partition at this point? That would involve junking the constitution they spent so long writing and upheld in a national referendum. Same goes for the rest of the political process, which would have to re-form around the new constitution.

If you junk your commitment to the results of the existing Iraqi political process, don't you a) give up your claim to democracy and the moral high ground, and b) delay the formation of a politically stable Iraq that can protect itself for several more years?

Jim said...

The Democrats do have a record of fiscal responsibility under the last Democratic president as opposed to the compassionate conservative deficits incurred by granting large tax cuts during this war called "a struggle for civilization."

Freder Frederson said...

Given my limited understanding of everything, I also tend to defer to the Bush Administration on these practical matters. The Democrats have absolutely no credibility at all, and it's their own fault. They done been hijacked by lunacy.

Give me a freaking break. From the minute that George Bush decided to invade Iraq, the war has been marked by nothing but lunacy, incompetence, dishonesty, unrealistic goals, outright denial, and refusal to deal with the facts on the ground.

None of the reasons Bush cited as reasons to go to war turned out to be true. None of the predictions they made about a post-war Iraq have come true. They had no plan for post-war Iraq. They have no plan for dealing with the current situation in Iraq. They have no plan for improving the situation in Iraq.

The president has as much as admitted that his plan is maintain the status quo until he is out of office and let his successor fix the mess he has created. In other words, he plans to cut and run from his responsibilities. Problem is, neither Iraq nor our military can maintain the status quo for another two years. So unlike all his failed businesses, George Bush is actually going to have to take responsibility for his incompetence for the first time in his life.

Gahrie said...

as opposed to the compassionate conservative deficits incurred by granting large tax cuts during this war

You seemed to have missed the news that the tax cuts had exactly the effect that was predicted, they have produced record increases in the amount of tax money collected.

MadisonMan said...

Gahrie, I will note that there's no way of knowing how the economy would have progressed had the tax cuts not been granted.

I'm assuming you have missed the news reports about the skyrocketing budget deficits and entitlements? The Republicans who control the Legislative and Executive branches behave as if a fire hose spraying money can solve any problem. Is it disgraceful. We're in a war for civilization, the President tells us, and not one mention is made of any kind of sacrifice.

monkeyboy said...

"democracy at the point of the bayonet"

When did democratic foreign policy become based on Kipling's "White Man's Burden"?

While those that may wish to be at the top may try to prevent democrazation, I do think that the average arab wants to be free and left alone in the same manner the average Czech in 1968 or Virginian balck in 1858 did.

"Wogs can't handle democracy" is not a good position.

Balfegor said...

The Democrats do have a record of fiscal responsibility under the last Democratic president

I think it's more "Divided Government has a record of fiscal responsibility." There was that thing where Newt Gingrich decided he was going to try governing from Congress, and shut the whole government down, after all.

Taxes and budget have to come through Congress. When it was a Republican Congress intent on frustrating the plans of a Democratic president (or at least, the Democratic plans of a Democratic president -- right-wing stuff like welfare reform, NAFTA, and the Defense of Marriage Act were all right by them) it's only natural they would be parsimonious with our tax money.

The incentives didn't quite line up the same way when it was a Republican President and a Republican Congress. And there's not the slightest reason to believe they would line up any better with a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.

That said, they might line for fiscal prudence and ratcheting down government bloat if we have a Democratic Congress (or even just a Democratic House) and a Republican President.

Gahrie said...

I'm assuming you have missed the news reports about the skyrocketing budget deficits and entitlements? The Republicans who control the Legislative and Executive branches behave as if a fire hose spraying money can solve any problem. Is it disgraceful. We're in a war for civilization, the President tells us, and not one mention is made of any kind of sacrifice.

These are entirely different things than the tax cuts, and frankly I agree with you about them.

nedludd said...
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dick said...

I guess they also forgot the reports from the CBO and the OMB that the deficits as a percent of the whole economy are lower than they have been in 20 years, including the Clinton years. For some reason the news reports didn't mention that except in passing and then threw some other stuff in to mask it. Funny how that works!!

JorgXMcKie said...

Ahh, semanti Cleo wandered over here from JustOneMinute where he's still insisting that "Karl Rove did, too, damnit, out the super-duper double secret agent Valerie Plame, our top James Bond type 007, in order to get payback at the notably truthful Joe Wilson, and I don't care how many times Armitage says he did it or how much evidence says Plame wasn't covert and no actual crime was committed, so there!! And my mom, does too love me, she's just too busy for the past few years to see me or answer my calls."

Personally, I'd be willing to seriously consider any potential policy change the Dems would put forth, IF they would at the same time promise to own the results without whining or blaming Bush.

Finally, Ferd, Bush *and* the vast majority of Dems in Congress listed, literally, 23 causes for war with Iraq. The only one you can marginally argue about it WMD, and while no large amounts have been found some have, and it's pretty much an open question as to their existence at that time. Unless, of course, you want to consider the stance of EVERY SINGLE leading Democrat at the time. Nice try, though.

nedludd said...
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Fenrisulven said...

nedludd: Some blogger (I'm sure someone will post) stated that the GOP deserved to lose, but the Dems didn't deserve to win.

"The only way the GOP will lose is if they run unopposed" - ?

ie. the Republicans look horrible, until their opposition takes the stage.

The Dems won't present a coherent foreign policy platform. For them, polling data trumps national security every time - just look at how Clinton responded to Al Queda attacks before 9-11. Popularity was more important than making hard choices.

I hope Newt runs. At the very least, he will affect the dialogue re islamic terrorism. Like Reagan, he has the communication skills that are Bush's major weakness. And if Bush says "its hard work" one more time, I might just jump off a bridge.

vnjagvet said...
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nedludd said...

Here is two serious questions for the Dems on the board.

1) I keep hearing that Bush is a complete brain dead pantload, but I also hear on various issues how he tricked the Dems. If you keep getting tricked by a complete moron, at what point do you turn in your Mensa card?

2) I also hear that the country agress with the Dems, But the Dems have only been able to poll a majority for Pres twice in the postwar era, and one of those times was Carter and he just barely (LBJ in 64 was the other). By contrast, the GOP scored majorities in 52, 56, 72, 80, 84 (to this day no on ehas topped Reagan's totals), 88 and 04. If your ideas are so great, how come you can't get elected with them? (Please note two things, Gore had more votes in 00, but not over 50% and most of these elections were prior to Faux News and the vast right wing conspiracy).

Thanks uin advance

vnjagvet said...

I share your political views. It's GOP by default. When the NYT is putting out a story like the one Ann features, you know the situation in the democratic party is dire.

The daves of this world have taken over the democratic party. They are so certain that because they are intellectually and morally superior to all others, they will win.

But they have not ever been able to get over 40 percent of the country to support their views.

Ann and Roger Simon are examples of disaffected democrats who have expressed frustration with dave-like political views and tactics.

dave and his gang don't like them at all. Which makes me like them all the more.

Freder Frederson said...

By contrast, the GOP scored majorities in 52, 56, 72

Are you suggesting that the GOP of 52 and 56 (remember Ike's warnings about the military industrial complex or some of his appointments to the Supreme Court) or even 72 (Nixon had just created the EPA and would soon impose wage and price controls) even remotely resembles the weird libertarian/fundamentalist/oligarchy Republican party of today. What a laughable concept.

Also, remember that the '68 election is the first election in this country where the franchise was truly open to all citizens of voting age. Until that time, about ten percent of the eligible population was effectively denied the right to vote.

Freder Frederson said...

The daves of this world have taken over the democratic party. They are so certain that because they are intellectually and morally superior to all others, they will win.

As much as the Republicans would like people to believe the Democratic party has been taken over by people like dave, this of course is not true. If it were, at least it would have the guts to stand up for something.

This shying away from the debate on the treatment of detainees is a case in point. The Democrats are content to sit back and let the Republicans fight among themselves. If the Democrats had a spine, they would stand up and say, "agreeing with the President, means you are agreeing with a war criminal who wants to torture people. If the president has his way, we are no better than Saddam Hussein or the any other dictatorial regime that resorts to torture."

That is what the Democrats would be saying if the daves of the world had taken it over. They wouldn't be sitting back afraid to say anything because they will be accused of being weak on terror.

Fenrisulven said...

As much as the Republicans would like people to believe the Democratic party has been taken over by people like dave, this of course is not true

I have to disagree. I was a liberal Dem who came over with Noonan during the Reagan Revolution. I've witnessed the Democrat Party slowly devolve into a nightmare - its no longer the party of Paul Wellstone, Zell Miller, or Joe Lieberman. Kennedy would stand against it.

Very bad for the nation. Both parties have strengths [domestic vs foreign policy] that compliment each other's weaknesses, much like a marriage. But right now, our spouse is off in the woods having a nervous breakdown ...while we are at war with fascist theocracy that seeks to convert/destroy the West.

If the Left wasn't indulging their little temper tantrum, we might at least have an alternative policy to compete with Bush's.

Fenrisulven said...

I also have to take issue with your comments re Bush and torture. His point is that the bill is so vague [cannot "demean" or "humiliate"] that it prevents all efforts to interrogate captured terrorists.

A mulsim male considers it "demeaning" to be questioned by a woman. Under the proposed law, allowing a female officer to interrogate Al Queda would be a "war crime". LOL.

Freder Frederson said...

I was a liberal Dem who came over with Noonan during the Reagan Revolution.

That is the most oxymoronic statement I have ever read in my life. How on earth could someone be a "liberal Dem" and come over with Noonan during the Reagan Revolution? Apparently, you don't know what "liberal Dem" means, especially if you think Zell Miller ever belonged in the post-voting rights act Democratic Party.

Fenrisulven said...

How on earth could someone be a "liberal Dem" and come over with Noonan during the Reagan Revolution?

Jimmy. Carter.

Freder Frederson said...

I also have to take issue with your comments re Bush and torture. His point is that the bill is so vague [cannot "demean" or "humiliate"] that it prevents all efforts to interrogate captured terrorists

If he actually wanted the rules clarified and say, was asking to have the new Army FM on interrogation codified, I would believe him. But he is merely asking for one vague standard (demeaning and humiliating) replaced with another looser, but just as vague one (techniques that don't "shock the conscience" are okay).

So he is just lying when he claims he is asking for a clear standard. He is asking for permission to torture, and to be indeminfied for past acts of torture.

altoids1306 said...

Dave:

I think if someone had sufficent time to comb through the Althouse archives, you could come up with a reasonably convincing case for a slight right-ward shift in Althouse. That's just my sense. She has less patience for Democratic/Media BS than before.

The real question is, why? Single professional woman, went to art school - this is your core demographic. The reason is people like you.

Freder: We're in a war for civilization, the President tells us, and not one mention is made of any kind of sacrifice.

Something I agree with you on. But I don't believe liberals believe this is a war for civilization ("It's a law enforcement problem!" - Kerry), and don't believe in sacrifice either.
------------------------------
WRT Topic at hand:

Gahrie is right. Other than race, class, and gender divisions, the modern Left has nothing to offer.

This phony "if we torture, we're just as bad as they are" is complete idiocy, and all but the most seriously deluded Democrats know it. You're going to tell the American people that we are the moral equivalent of Al Qaeda, or Hezbollah? Good luck.

America is an Enlightenment country at heart. We believe the world can be improved, problems can be solved. The Democrats must first believe in our moral standing to exist, and thrive. That power itself is not shameful. They must offer more than mere survival - we cannot forever be tip-toeing around, second-guessing, apologizing for our bulk, concilating and mediating with every discontent under the sun. Democrats must offer a vision of an America, firm in purpose, generous to friends, patient to the unreasonable, and lethal to enemies. There is a good reason why the Great Seal of the United States has olive branches and arrows. Friendship and peace are not intrinsically moral. A sycophant may have many friends, yet he is not moral. Morality requires the fortitude to make enemies if necessary.

Freder Frederson said...

Morality requires the fortitude to make enemies if necessary.

Morality also requires the recognition that certain techniques of interrogation are immoral, no matter how evil the advesary.

altoids1306 said...

Morality also requires the recognition that certain techniques of interrogation are immoral, no matter how evil the advesary (sic).

No it doesn't. Tell me why quarter should be given to an completely immoral enemy. There may be honor among theives, but there is none among terrorists. They hide behind children, rejoice when the children are hit instead of them, and parade the little bodies in front of fawning cameras. Why should mercy be shown?

There is nothing immoral about crushing the enemy. Socrates himself served as a hoplite in the Athenian army, saving the life of his friend, pupil, and brother-under-arms Alcibiades, at Potidaea. He did not save him with sophisticated rhetoric or charm, he saved his friend by disemboweling the enemy with his bronze spear, knocking them to the ground with his shield, and trampling them underfoot.

(Given your previous response, I fully expect you to ignore my entire post, choosing instead to create some trite objection to one sentence . But I'm not writing this for your benefit anyways.)

Freder Frederson said...

There is nothing immoral about crushing the enemy. Socrates himself served as a hoplite in the Athenian army

You talk about the enlightenment and then you say we should adopt the moral values of the Ancient Greeks. I really can't present a cogent counter-argument to someone whose philosophy and morality is so all over the place. Are you a Christian? If so, the answer is obvious. Do you believe in the Constitution and that the president should follow our laws? Well, then there are existing laws that prohibit the use of torture (regardless of the status of the person being tortured).

Fenrisulven said...

Well, then there are existing laws that prohibit the use of torture (regardless of the status of the person being tortured0

And if those laws [or the Geneva Convention] is too outdated to apply to the current world? The was a time when the Law of War insisted both armies march rank & file towards each other. The Brits maintained that order even as they were mowed down by American snipers in the treelines.

Is Geneva written in stone? And isn't the whole point of Geneva to limit atrocities to civillian populace and infrastructure during a war? Now we're affording Geneva protections to the very people Geneva was designed to prevent.

Sadly, we're going to have to lose a major metropolitan city before the Left wakes up. Maybe LA or San Fran.

Can you hear it? Bush announces that although we have the plotters in custody, we cannot torture them for the location of the dirty bomb, so he is ordering the immediate evacuation of all cities on the West Coast.

The Drill SGT said...

Though I respect John McCain's sacrifice and service to the country, I am unconvinced about the argument that a conservative (e.g. traditional and broad) common Article 3 of the Geneva Accords is needed to protect our soldiers in a future war. it was passed in 1949. Let's score our opponents since 1949 on their compliance:

North Koreans 1950-53: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Red Chinese 1950-53: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
North Vietnamese 1963-1975: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Viet Cong 1963-1975: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Pathe Lao 1963-1975: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Iraqi's I 1990-91: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Serbians 1995-96: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Somilis 1993: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Al Qaeda 1995- present: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs
Iraqis Resistance II 2002-present: Nope, torture, kidnap and murder of real POWs

looks like the folks we fight aren't impressed by our compliance, oh and that was long before Bush stretched the envelope.

Go back before 1949:
Japanese WWII 1941-1945: Nope, torture, and murder of real POWs
Germans WWII1941-1945: Nope, torture, and murder of real POWs

I think we need to go back to Germany in 1918 to find an opponent that fought within what would be classed as civilized treatment of POWs.

vnjagvet said...
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Henry said...

it’s hard to figure out what to say without alienating a broad swath of the electorate -- Kohut.

A broad swath of whose electorate?

Fenrisulven said...

altoids1306: The Democrats must first believe in our moral standing to exist, and thrive. That power itself is not shameful. They must offer more than mere survival - we cannot forever be tip-toeing around, second-guessing, apologizing for our bulk, concilating and mediating with every discontent under the sun. Democrats must offer a vision of an America, firm in purpose, generous to friends, patient to the unreasonable, and lethal to enemies. There is a good reason why the Great Seal of the United States has olive branches and arrows. Friendship and peace are not intrinsically moral. A sycophant may have many friends, yet he is not moral. Morality requires the fortitude to make enemies if necessary

That deserves a bump. If there was only one sentence I could take from this discussion, that would be the money quote. You've managed to encapsulate the achilles heel of both Europe and the American Left. Nicely done.

noah said...

Second the motion. Very powerful Altoids.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder's comments take no position on dave's intemperate outburst, but rather focus on those of us who lament the influence of his kind in democratic circles.

Yeah, that's rich. I'm supposed to take a stand and condemn some blogger on a predominately rightwing blog (whose moderator falsely claims to be a moderate} because the rightwingers have all ganged up on him as an example of a "typical" Democrat.

Of course Republicans are the voice of reasonableness and moderation. Yet from Coulter to Limbaugh to Hannity, the rightwing media is full of pundits who do nothing but spew nothing but the kind of language that dave does. And we won't even go near blogs like LGF, Malkin or Atlas Shrugs.

The Democrats must first believe in our moral standing to exist, and thrive.

Our moral standing? Aren't the Republicans the ones who constantly complain about the moral relativism of the Democrats. What is more morally relative than justifying torture because our cause is more just and moral than that of the terrorists?

Bruce Hayden said...

Freder,

You go overboard a bit here. No major Republican leader is supporting torture, at least as applicable under treaty. Of course, you could extend the concept of torture to the point where merely having females interrogate Islamic prisoners is torture because in their belief system, it is demeaning.

What we are talking here is treatment more akin to what is routine in many police forces across the country, and is significantly less onerous than what is voluntarily undertaken by some of our military to prepare themselves for the significantly more brutal interrigation and incarceration that they can expect (before possible behading) should they be captured.

So, please don't blytely, blindly, and misleadingly use the word "torture" here. If you want to use that term, could you at least relate the treatment being discussed with the level of treatment that is proscribed in the treaty on torture that we have signed?

noah said...

Freder, there is a kind of sickness on your side. I don't agree that Ann is any kind of a right-winger. You should go see and listen to her at bloggingheads.tv. She comes across as reasonable and bright and says that the only Republican she has ever voted for is Bush in '04.

You? You don't come across as reasonable. You have a patina of reason. But like the crassest moonbat, you quickly change the subject when you are called on your bullshit.

Freder Frederson said...

So, please don't blytely, blindly, and misleadingly use the word "torture" here. If you want to use that term, could you at least relate the treatment being discussed with the level of treatment that is proscribed in the treaty on torture that we have signed?

The president is being coy about the techniques he wants permission to use (otherwise the terrorists would be able to protect against them), but apparently the methods that he thinks are effective include waterboarding, extended sleep deprivation, exposure to harsh temperature extremes, witholding medical care and food, and exposure to loud noises, bright and flashing lights and other well known psychological torture methods. These methods constitute cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment, if not outright torture, in my book (and also under the new Army field manual on interrogation--the old one too--U.S. courts and the definition of such treatment in the international treaties that we are a party to and are a part of U.S. law).

It is not merely a question of allowing women to interrogate male detainees. To argue that this is all the president is asking for is simply disingenuous. Actually, it is more than that. It is a lie. He is seeking for Congressional permission to torture and to be indemnified for past acts of torture.

He is probably worried that he may face a Democratic Congress in January and may have to answer for his actions. After all, Rumsfeld has already publically admitted to at least one war crime, and implicated Tenet in the same crime. Rumsfeld admitted to hiding detainees in Iraq from the ICRC at the request of George Tenet. That is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions (which the President said were fully applicable in Iraq). Yet even after Rumsfeld admitted this serious breach in a press conference, the president did nothing about it.

Freder Frederson said...

She comes across as reasonable and bright and says that the only Republican she has ever voted for is Bush in '04.

So you are saying that being "reasonable and bright" precludes one from being a right-winger? I would have to agree with that sentiment ;)

Freder Frederson said...

She comes across as reasonable and bright and says that the only Republican she has ever voted for is Bush in '04.

So you are saying that being "reasonable and bright" precludes one from being a right-winger? I would have to agree with that sentiment ;)

Retief said...

Don't know what to do in Iraq. Why is that a problem for Democrats again? Republicans are the ones running this war and have been for more than three years. And their answer is: fail to accomplish anything for three years and then whine that the opposition doesn't have a plan. Or was it: ignite a civil war and then referee it for a decade. Nice plans.

If you want to see a dog's breakfast, look at what Republicans have created in Iraq. Put down your dog-eared copy of the GOP rhetorical dodges manual and admit that Bush's usual dog-and-pony show is not going to make palatable the dog's meat that is the debacle Republicans have made of Iraq. Republican leadership has brought us a situation where we've got barely a dog's chance of anything positive coming out of this adventure by starting a war and then unremittingly dogging it. Republican's Iraq adventure has gone to the dogs and Americans are dog-tired of the lies. Whining that Democrats don't have a unified plan to fix the dog's dinner that you've made in Iraq is about as fresh and original as dogs playing poker. And doing so while our service men and women keep dying there to no purpose is purely dog-hearted. After three and a half years we can be certain that Republicans have no new plans for Iraq other than keep dog-paddling and hope a tree floats past, so refusing to hand the reins to this dog cart to someone else is simple dog-in-the-mangerism. The dog tags on this unmitigated screw-up read “Republican” and no amount of barking will change that.

Revenant said...

Germany and Japan ultimately adopted democracy when they saw it was the only path forward. It was not imposed.

Just because the nations went along with it doesn't mean that it wasn't imposed. We didn't give them a choice of government type.

The big difference between now and then is that we had completely broken the German and Japanese people. They knew that we would have no problem killing millions more of them if they got out of line. Iraq, in constrast, has felt our power, and the Iraqi people know that when push comes to shove we're not willing to engage in the kind of total war necessary to force them to bend to our will. That's why we're having trouble imposing democracy on them... because we're not willing to back up the imposition with force.

altoids1306 said...

Fenrisulven, Noah:

Thanks. I have a penchant for being a little dramatic at times, but occasionally it actually works well.

Freder: You talk about the enlightenment and then you say we should adopt the moral values of the Ancient Greeks.

And just where, exactly, do you think Enlightenment values come from? (Hint: It rhymes with 'ancient freak'.)

---------------------------
WRT the topic:

I think it is possible to have a principled anti-war stance. It would have been possible to say, "No, we should not invade Iraq, it is far better to deploy 150,000 men and spend 1 trillion USD on a case-by-case basis, hitting terrorist bases as intellegence arises." But the time to say that was 2003, not 2006. Congress unanimously voted to depose Saddam - in 1999, under Clinton.

Today, in 2006, a principled anti-war stance would be to figure out an exit strategy that does not damage US interests. Having rejected the chance to object to the war before it was started, the principled anti-war stance is to figure out how to end the war quickly. To end the war we must either win it or lose it. The principled anti-war stance certainly would not be advocating the defeat of its own nation, so the only alternative to figure out the fastest way to win. This is important - anti-war should not mean hoping we lose. What does "win the war" mean? Stabilize Iraq, create conditions that allow for US troops to leave without leaving chaos behind.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, and for our nation, I don't think they have much credibility on this issue, at a time when we need alternatives to the Bush plan.

Retief said...

Why do we need alternatives to the Bush plan? Oh yeah, because the Bush plan is to lose slowly. But what if there is no way to win quickly? What if Bush has gotten us into a situation where we can't win quickly? Then what is your principled anti-war person, or just a principled American, supposed to support? What if the Iraq War is already over and Iran has won? What if their victory gets bigger the longer we stay?

(Regarding Congress Saddam and Clinton: Yes Congress voted to remove Saddam, if it was convenient. Neither Clinton nor Congress in 1999 invaded Iraq to do it, as, of course, you very well know.)

Fenrisulven said...
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Fenrisulven said...
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Fenrisulven said...
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Fenrisulven said...

/I attribued the 5:43 post to Clinton 1998. That is NOT correct.

Here we go:

"Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave the lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports. For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM. In 1995, Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law, and chief organizer of Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program, defected to Jordan. He revealed that Iraq was continuing to conceal weapons and missiles and the capacity to build many more. Then and only then did Iraq admit to developing numbers of weapons in significant quantities and weapon stocks. Previously, it had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth."

"We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century," he argued. "They will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."

http://www.reasons-for-war-with-iraq.info/weekly-standard_9-16-2002.html

So does this, along with Clinton's remarks about the Iraq Liberation Act, indicate he was for regime change?

Revenant said...

What if the Iraq War is already over and Iran has won?

How can the Iraq war be "over" and Iran have "won" when (a) we haven't even started fighting Iran yet and (b) we retain the capacity to annihilate them through either conventional or nuclear means?

We lost the Vietnam war because North Vietnam had the backing of a nuclear power; we could attack North Vietnam, but we couldn't risk attacking its backers in China and the USSR. The backers of the Iraqi insurgency, however, are just a bunch of pissant Muslim oil states with no nukes as of yet.

Granted, it may ultimately turn out that we're not willing to kill Iranians in order to support Iraq, in which case Iraq will remain a mess indefinitely. That scenario could, indeed, be classified as a loss. But given that the Iraqi government has only been in place a few months, it is awfully early to be waving the white flag.

Fenrisulven said...

We lost the Vietnam war because North Vietnam had the backing of a nuclear power

We also lost because they ran a propaganda war through our media, targeting our Left flank and sapping our will to fight. That lesson has not been lost on Al Queda, Hezbollah, etc.

Fenrisulven said...

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