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March 08, 2008

Comments

clarice

Patton in the morning..Better than granola and herbal tea.

kim

The trouble is that MSM will make sure that the public understands it was Bush's Three Trillion Dollar error which explains why Social Security isn't very secure, nor their homes and jobs. Bad times ahead.
==============

anduril

I think it's a very effective ad. It appeals to American history and it appeals to American optimism and preference for victory.

That said, specific issues will arise during the campaign and afterwards--issues for which rhetoric alone or mere optimism and desire for victory will be no solution. One of those issues is sure to be Iran--as it has been since the Carter years. Iran Holds the Key to Afghanistan, says Richard Fernandez. However, as his article illustrates, it holds the key in several other areas, including freeing Europe from Russian energy blackmail.

ben

Cod liver oil again? We already know who liked it and who didn't (Clarice liked it, Ben didn't)
I think maybe champagne versus snake oil would be a better analogy.

kim

Imagine the face of South and Southwest Asia if we did not presently have a presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
===========================

anduril

kim, I have ALWAYS assumed that the invasion of Iraq was largely a matter of geostrategic positioning. The question is: was it well thought out--worth the price we've paid? Were there alternatives? No answers, just questions.

Jane

Who would have predicted. We thought we saw the demise of the democrat party in 2004 with Kerry. That appears to have been a warm-up for today.

kim

What good is a cop not on the beat?
======================

anduril

Well, a very timely article by Jefferey Bell: The Politics of a Failed Presidency:
How John McCain and the Republican party should deal with the Bush record.

I haven't read it, so am not sure to what extent I agree, but it raises perhaps THE central issue of this campaign. Here are the opening grafs:

The failure of the Bush presidency is the dominant fact of American politics today. It has driven every facet of Democratic political strategy since early 2006, when Democrats settled on the campaign themes that brought them their takeover of the House and Senate in November 2006. Nothing--not even the success of the American troop surge in Iraq--has altered or will alter the centrality of George W. Bush and his failed presidency to Democratic planning in the remainder of 2008.

Until very recently, it was in the Republicans' interest to find ways of sidestepping or finessing this central political fact. Congressional Republicans sensed that open acknowledgment of the failure of the Bush presidency could cause a collapse in floor discipline, perhaps leading to a series of veto overrides and even forced surrender in Iraq. Candidates for the Republican presidential nomination had to deal with the fact that in our polarized politics, Republican primary voters are still predominantly pro-Bush. From the beginning of this cycle, GOP campaign strategists were aware that presidential candidates openly contemptuous of the Bush administration would go nowhere in the primaries (Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo) or prove to be nonstarters (Chuck Hagel).

John McCain's clinching of the Republican nomination changes many if not most of these GOP calculations. If Republicans are to accomplish the unusual feat of winning a third consecutive presidential election in the context of an unpopular administration of their own party, they will have to develop a narrative that takes into account the failed presidency in their midst
while at the same time making a plausible case for a new Republican presidency and continued Republican strength in -Congress. This in turn requires an understanding of Bush's failure that is not self-discrediting for Republicans.

In this context, Steve Sailer has an interesting blog today that should appeal to number crunchers: Will family formation determine the 2008 election?"

Here's a graf that could as well be raised in Bell's article:

It's not exactly clear what, besides decent judicial appointments, the Republicans are doing to merit the support of family-oriented voters and how long they can keep harvesting these votes without doing much in return.

The question Sailer raises is, put slightly otherwise: is not being a Democrat sufficient for the Republicans to keep winning. The obvious answer is: only for a time, because they are not engendering deep loyalty. But then the Dems will have to find a way to appeal to this block of voters, and so far they've done everything in their power to alienate them.

kim

The Bush presidency has not failed. Journalism has failed itself. Don't mistake its psychotic perceptions for reality.
==========================================

anduril

test

clarice

I don't know about family formation. I do know that our big cities play a large role in the outcome of national elections and they are increasingly populated by singles. Yesterday the WaPo published this astonishing fact: 75% of DC residents are single.
Single people, renters--not reprsentative of the average American, but these urbanites play a major role in elections.

(Now the article did not discuss how many of these residents are gay--but I have read that proportionately DC has more gays than any other city in America.

anduril

Sorry for screwing up the previous post. Here's the Sailer portion again:

In this context, Steve Sailer has an interesting blog today that should appeal to number crunchers: Will family formation determine the 2008 election?

Here's a graf that could as well be raised in Bell's article:

It's not exactly clear what, besides decent judicial appointments, the Republicans are doing to merit the support of family-oriented voters and how long they can keep harvesting these votes without doing much in return.

The question Sailer raises is, put slightly otherwise: is not being a Democrat sufficient for the Republicans to keep winning. The obvious answer is: only for a time, because they are not engendering deep loyalty. But then the Dems will have to find a way to appeal to this block of voters, and so far they've done everything in their power to alienate them.


Lisa Schiffren at The Corner addresses Sailer's question, sort of, as to what Bush has done for the family forming voters who supported him:

Polygamy Here and Now [Lisa Schiffren]

My piece here tells the story of Moussa Magassa, an illegal immigrant from Mali of various occupations, who came to the attention of the New York media, city government and readers nationally last year when he lost several children in a tragic fire exactly one year ago. It turned out that he had been living quite nicely, with both of his wives and all of their children in the house that burned. Mr. Magassa's family has grown quite a bit in the intervening year — and not just the usual ways.

It also turns out that there is a large community of West Africans here in New York who have brought with them their Islamic practice and tribal culture of polygamous marriage to the U.S. They bring in additional wives on false visas, they hide the practice, and the mediating institutions of the state, which should be inculcating our cultural practices and laws— welfare bureaucracies, schools, fire departments — turn a blind eye because they do not wish to deal with this practice, despite the harms and loss of freedoms to at least some of the women involved. Why not? Because acknowledging the practice would require legal action: polygamy is grounds for deportation, (and a jail sentence.) This willing disregard of the law by everyone from the Mayor on down is a step by step enactment of "Sharia creep," as Mark Steyn calls it. It is also a direct result of the government's complicity in illegal immigration.

The 1856 GOP platform spoke directly of the "twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery." We fought a bloody war to end slavery, and the federal government undertook a decade's long legal enforcement effort to eradicate polygamy among Mormons a few years later, capped by the 1879 Supreme Court case Reynolds vs. the U.S.. To this day, when the government uncovers cases of slavery, it takes vigorous action, including jail time and deportations. Unless we wish to become like Western Europe — colonized, and forced to support, with our tax dollars, laws and practices we find abhorrent — it's time to take similar action when we uncover cases of polygamy.

anduril

Since religious folk, especially Christians, are so important to the GOP's prospects, here's an interesting and seasonal article: Evangelicals' new twist on Lent:
Catholic traditions adopted as 'worship renewal'

that gives some insight into what moves and shakes them. (h/t bro)

Rick Ballard

"The Bush presidency has not failed. Journalism has failed itself. Don't mistake its psychotic perceptions for reality."

You mean we shouldn't fall prey to the ignorant just because we like the sound of the drum that they're beating?

What an odd concept - it's as if Johnny one notes like Sailer were generally ignored for a reason.

I believe that McCain's response to the BHO Magic of Si se puede! is fairly effective for a target audience of over 40's. He's shooting for the what were once called 'Reagan Democrats' and I think he's on target.

hit and run

OK, I love the ad.

One thing pops to mind. If I'm not mistaken, some of the audio of McCain in the commercial, off camera...is from his victory speech in NH -- where we here were saying at the time that it was weak, because he was reading it.

I'm going with my gut on that, I won't do the research.

[VIMH: Why not? Because you're afraid you'll be proven wrong?]
No. Because I'm lazy. Or a sloth, to use MichellO's word.

Rick Ballard

Barone elucidates the point concerning Reagan Democrats -

In contrast, Obama's demagoguery on trade failed to attract white working-class voters: He ran far behind Clinton in Mahoning County (Youngstown) and the west side of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). In southeast Ohio, settled originally by Virginians and still Southern-accented today, Clinton carried all-white counties with 70 percent to 80 percent of the vote -- more than she was carrying nearly all-white counties in central Texas. That raises doubts that Obama could run well in these counties, which provided critical votes in Bill Clinton's wins in Ohio in the 1990s and Jimmy Carter's narrow win there in 1976.

If BHO is the candidate then McCain has a good shot at those folks, RW has a better chance of holding them but I'm counting on the Harpy's Screech to drive them to McCain.

Other Tom

I'm still holding with McCain at 300+ EV's if his opponent is Obama. Haven't come up with a figure yet if it's HRC.

Other Tom

Barone:

"Her only plausible path to the nomination is to win a majority of super-delegates (party and public officials) and, perhaps, to reverse the party's decision disqualifying the Michigan and Florida delegations -- i.e., overruling the voters in one case and changing the rules after the game has been played in the other.

"This might pass muster if the nation al polls show an unambiguous and substantial move toward Clinton. Otherwise, in more likely and ambiguous circumstances, a Clinton nomination will seem illegitimate to many who have been swooning over Obama and streaming into polling booths because he alone offers hope.

"The March 4 exit polls show increasing percentages of Democratic primary voters unwilling to accept the rejection of their candidate. Both candidates have an incentive to attack on grounds that will weaken the other in the general election, as Clinton has already started to do with her 'red phone' ad."

clarice

Levin said today there's no way MI can have a do over primary. (As I recall it's an open primary by state law , and I cannot see how this could be done.)
So, in sum, these geniuses have designed a primary system that is guaranteed to destroy their own party and make them the world's laughing stock and they want US to put them in charge.
Pass.

anduril
"The Bush presidency has not failed. Journalism has failed itself. Don't mistake its psychotic perceptions for reality."

You mean we shouldn't fall prey to the ignorant just because we like the sound of the drum that they're beating?

What an odd concept - it's as if Johnny one notes like Sailer were generally ignored for a reason

Rick:

1. your statement: it's as if Johnny one notes like Sailer were generally ignored for a reason. doesn't constitute an argument.

2. Sailer did not describe the Bush presidency as "failed"--that was Jeffrey Bell in the Johnny one note Weekly Standard--and, yes, perhaps there are reasons for ignoring the Weekly Standard, but I prefer to seek truth where it can be found. (I still haven't read the article--too busy on other things.)

3. Sailer's observation was that GOP has done little enough for family formation voters (who constitute the core of their support) beyond sensible judicial choices. Other posters here, such as OT, are basing their entire support for McCain on the issue judicial appointment--which leaves open the question that Sailer raises: just what else has the GOP done for the family formation voters? Restrained government spending? Protected free political speech? Protected the family structure--see Schiffren's observations!

Sara

One of those issues is sure to be Iran--as it has been since the Carter years. Iran Holds the Key to Afghanistan, says Richard Fernandez. However, as his article illustrates, it holds the key in several other areas, including freeing Europe from Russian energy blackmail.

But, but, Anduril, Iran was our friend and ally, doncha know. Yes they were until "W" pissed them off and they don't want to be our friend anymore. Bad "W" is responsible for the rift. At least that is what Barack NMN Obama's senior military adviser, General McPeak has told us.

Other Tom

"Other posters here, such as OT, are basing their entire support for McCain on the issue judicial appointment--"

Simply not so. I do, indeed, maintain that judicial appointments by themselves are enough to warrant strong support for McCain over any living Democrat. But there are other, vitally important reasons, starting with Iraq and the war against jihadism.

Jane

Don't forget earmarks.

Other Tom

"...the question that Sailer raises: just what else has the GOP done for the family formation voters? Restrained government spending? Protected free political speech?"

I, for one, have never seen the phrase "family formation voters" before today, and have never used it until just now. Because I'm not sure just who such voters are, I have no idea how they would be helped by restraining government spending or protecting free political speech, and more than non-family-formation voters like myself would be helped.

Other Tom

"any more than"

clarice

I think I'm sick of the family values voters demands many of which are not supportable under the constitution or unattainable within the present political landscape.


It seems to me the family values voters should be for smaller govt but then they rushed out to support Huckabee who seems never to have seen a govt spending program he doesn't like.

A great deal of what they want are more attainable at the local than the national level which is where our school policies, for example, still are largely set.Want education to be more affordable at the college level--then organize for some watchdogging of the waste and misspending at all the state universities. Instead, they seem to be more than happy to join the crowd demanding Congress provide more federal loans and scholarship funding which only exacerbates the problem

clarice

****"A great deal of what they want IS more attainable"*************

hit and run

The only necessary basis for my support of McCain is that he will be running against Barillary Clintama.

There are those that may think that McCain is bad enough that turning over the country to Obama or Hillary is to be preferred.

I'm not among those.

anduril

OT, I based my statement on recollection of previous conversations. So be it. Sailer's view DOES represent the view of more than a few--but not you, except as stated in your post.

Sara, the article I linked to was to the Neocon Pajamas Media, and was written by Wretchard, aka Richard Fernandez, of Belmont Club: not otherwise known to be an advisor to Obama or any other Dem. It's good to either read the article or at least check its authorship before commenting.

Jane, earmarks are fine as an issue. If McCain does something about spending that will be a legitimate reason for supporting the GOP, but their track record for the past 8 years hasn't been encouraging--that's Sailer's point. His argument is not directed at McCain but at the past 8 years. Re political speech, I was blaming Bush's gutlessness as much as McCain's idiocy.

Sara

Anduril, I was being sarcastic about Obama, not disagreeing with you.

anduril

OT, I didn't intend my post to include you as a "family formation voter," simply as one who placed primary or at least very heavy emphasis on judicial appointments in this election. As for the meaning, follow the link to Sailer's blog.

Sara

Oh, and BTW, I read Belmont Club every day.

anduril

Sorry, then, Sara, but you addressed me directly and so...

boris

So called family voters may need find a way to do something about wholesale state reprogramming their offspring into big city unmarried dimorat voters.

Other Tom

Just so there's no doubt, I've been infurated by McCain just as much as anyone here for a number of years, McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy being just two examples of many. (Others would include his gooey friendliness with John Kerry and his derogation of the SwiftVets.) In general, there's been the evident delight he takes in breaking ranks with Republicans. I don't like any of that one bit, and it still rankles.

But every election is unique, and I think in 2008 the only GOP candidate who can possibly win is one who has a great deal of cross-over appeal to moderates and independents. In a perfect world, we could field a Ronald Reagan every eight years, but let's face it, Ronald Reagan ain't walking through that door. And in fact if he did, 2008 might not be a good year for him--we've had eight years of a president who is now wildly, almost unprecedentedly, unpopular, whether deservedly so or not. The GOP brand is just plain tough to sell right now.

So in the circumstances that present themselves, I decline to let the perfect be the enemy of the barely OK. Either of the Democratic candidates would be disastrous for the country, and McCain, while highly imperfect, wouldn't. For me, it's an easy choice.

Other Tom

Anduril, I followed the link to the Sailer piece, but had to stop when I got to the table of correlation coefficients. I just don't know waht "Years Married Whites" and "Total Fertility Whites" mean.

His thesis that the Red-Blue divide is set in stone was disputed, incidentally, by Michael Barone within the past week.

Sara

Anduril, this is what I was referring to. I posted it the other day:

According to General Merrill McPeak, Iran was our ally until “W” hurt its feelings:

“They were a big enemy of the Taliban,” said the retired four-star general. “They cooperated with us quite completely in the initial phases of our Afghanistan operation. And it was us that insulted them by including them in the ‘axis of evil’ and making sure they understood we didn’t like them very much.”

McPeak, an Obama campaign co-chairman, was referring to Bush’s post-September 11 speech in which he referred to North Korea, Iraq and Iran as an “axis of evil.”

“That drove us apart,” said McPeak. “Obama’s idea is, why not talk to them. Why not see if there isn’t some common ground. Certainly, the fight against al Qaeda would be one of them.”

I think this is ludicrous and as I said in a blog post:

"What is frightening is not that there are moonbats out there who believe this crap, but that one of them is being considered for the presidency of the United States. This is lunacy and apparently Obama doesn’t even recognize it as such."

kim

It's nice to read that OT. A lot of my resentment with him is about the Swifties, who he denounced impulsively and without possession of the facts. He's still not apologized.
================

Other Tom

McPeak is a certifiable flake. He worked first in the Howard Dean campaign, then switched to Kerry when Dean went starkers in public. Obama can only survive so many weirdo advisers before we begin to smell the toast.

sbw

Anduril: I have ALWAYS assumed that the invasion of Iraq was largely a matter of geostrategic positioning.

Funny, I always assumed the invasion of Iraq was largely a matter of a corrupt, unprincipled, and ineffective United Nations.

anduril

OT, I'm with ya on the correlation coefficients. Nor do I say that the red-blue is set in stone. However, since the factors involved have been present in a number of election cycles it seems worth checking in to if we're interested in predictions.

Sara, McPeak's factual assertions have been widely reported in interviews with former administration officials who were involved at the time--there is no reason to suppose that they are not factually correct: Iran provided crucial assistance to us in the Afghan phase of the GWOT. It was obviously in their interest to get rid of the rabidly Sunni Taliban and al Qaeda from their own (Iran's) backyard.

It is also reliably reported that, following the initial phase of the Afghan operation, Iran proposed (through the Swiss, who represent us to Iran) a global resolution to our differences to be achieved by negotiations (at least initially) through intermediaries. You can read (in the book I reference below) their suggested negotiating topics which were submitted to the US through the Swiss and decide as to their reasonability. The WH rejected the idea of negotiations out of hand, reportedly saying: we don't negotiate with evil.

None of that means that the Iranians are our friends or that we have to like them--it simply means that they recognize that it is in their own interests to come to some modus vivendi with the US. Personally, I would not commit myself to such talks, but neither would I rule them out. If such talks were in the interest of the US, I would consider them.

The fact is that the US, Israel and Iran have long had secret dealings. You can read all about it in Treacherous alliance : the secret dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States (Trita Parsi).

The George W. Bush administration failed to enter into negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme in May 2003 because neoconservative zealots who advocated destabilisation and regime change were able to block any serious diplomatic engagement with Tehran, according to former administration officials.

The same neoconservative veto power also prevented the administration from adopting any official policy statement on Iran, those same officials say.

Lawrence Wilkerson, then chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, says the failure to adopt a formal Iran policy in 2002-2003 was the result of obstruction by a "secret cabal" of neoconservatives in the administration, led by Vice Pres. Dick Cheney.

"The secret cabal got what it wanted: no negotiations with Tehran," Wilkerson wrote in an e-mail to IPS.

The Iranian negotiating offer, transmitted to the State Department in early May 2003 by the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, acknowledged that Iran would have to address U.S. concerns about its nuclear programme, although it made no specific concession in advance of the talks, according to Flynt Leverett, then the National Security Council's senior director for Middle East Affairs.

It also raised the possibility of cutting off Iran's support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad and converting Hezbollah into a purely socio-political organisation, according to Leverett. That was an explicit response to Powell's demand in late March that Iran "end its support for terrorism".

In return, Leverett recalls, the Iranians wanted the United States to address security questions, the lifting of economic sanctions and normalisation of relations, including support for Iran's integration into the global economic order.

Leverett also recalls that it was drafted with the blessing of all the major political players in the Iranian regime, including the "Supreme Leader", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Realists, led by Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, were inclined to respond positively to the Iranian offer. Nevertheless, within a few days of its receipt, the State Department had rebuked the Swiss ambassador for having passed on the offer.

Exactly how the decision was made is not known. "As with many of these issues of national security decision-making, there are no fingerprints," Wilkerson told IPS. "But I would guess Dick Cheney with the blessing of George W. Bush."

As Wilkerson observes, however, the mysterious death of what became known among Iran specialists as Iran's "grand bargain" initiative was a result of the administration's inability to agree on a policy toward Tehran.

A draft National Security Policy Directive (NSPD) on Iran calling for diplomatic engagement had been in the process of interagency coordination for more than a year, according to a source who asks to remain unidentified.

But it was impossible to get formal agreement on the NSPD, the source recalls, because officials in Cheney's office and in Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans wanted a policy of regime change and kept trying to amend it.

Opponents of the neoconservative policy line blame Condoleezza Rice, then the National Security Adviser, for the failure of the administration to override the extremists in the administration. The statutory policymaker process on Iran, Wilkerson told IPS in e-mail, was "managed by a national security adviser incapable of standing up to the cabal..."

In the absence of an Iran policy, the two contending camps struggled in 2003 over a proposal by realists in the administration to reopen the Geneva channel with Iran that had been used successfully on Afghanistan in 2001-2002. They believed Iran could be helpful in stabilising post-conflict Iraq, because the Iraqi Shiite militants who they expected to return from Iran after Hussein's overthrow owed some degree of allegiance to Iran.

The neoconservatives tried to block those meetings on tactical policy grounds, according to Leverett. "They were saying we didn't want to engage with Iran because we didn't want to owe them," he recalls.

Nevertheless, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad was authorised to begin meeting secretly in Geneva with Iranian officials to discuss Iraq. The neoconservatives then tried to sandbag the talks by introducing a demand for full information on any high-ranking al Qaeda cadres who might be detained by the Iranians.

Iran regarded that information as a bargaining chip to be given up only for a quid pro quo from Washington. The Bush administration, however, had adopted a policy in early 2002 of refusing to share any information with Iran on al Qaeda or other terrorist organisations.

On May 3, as the Iranian "grand bargain" proposal was on its way to Washington, Tehran's representative in Geneva, Javad Zarif, offered a compromise on the issue, according to Leverett: if the United States gave Iran the names of the cadres of the Mujahideen e Kalq (MEK) who were being held by U.S. forces in Iraq, Iran would give the United States the names of the al Qaeda operatives they had detained.

The MEK had carried out armed attacks against Iran from Iraqi territory during the Saddam regime and had been named a terrorist organisation by the United States. But it had capitulated to U.S. forces after the invasion, and the neoconservatives now saw the MEK as a potential asset in an effort to destabilise the Iranian regime.

The MEK had already become a key element in the alternative draft NSPD drawn up by neoconservatives in the administration.

The indictment of Iran analyst Larry Franklin on Feith's staff last year revealed that, by February 2003, Franklin had begun sharing a draft NSPD that he knew would be to the liking of the Israeli Embassy.

(Franklin eventually pled guilty to passing classified information to two employees of an influential pro-Israel lobbying group and was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison.)

Reflecting the substance of that draft policy, ABC News reported on May 30, 2003 that the Pentagon was calling for the destabilisation of the Iranian government by "using all available points of pressure on the Iranian regime, including backing armed Iranian dissidents and employing the services of the Mujahideen e Kalq..."

Nevertheless, Pres. Bush apparently initially saw nothing wrong with trading information on MEK, despite arguments that MEK should not be repatriated to Iran. "I have it on good authority," Leverett told IPS, "that Bush's initial reaction was, 'But we say there is no such thing as a good terrorist'." Nevertheless, Bush finally rejected the Iranian proposal.

By the end of May, the neoconservatives had succeeded in closing down the Geneva channel for good. They had hoped to push through their own NSPD on Iran, but according to the Franklin indictment, in October 1983 [sic], Franklin told an Israeli embassy officer that work on the NSPD had been stopped.

As you can see, the Iran situation was quite possibly involved in the background to the Libby case--to the extent of explaining State's hostility. It was front and center to the Franklin case.

anduril

McPeak is a certifiable flake. He worked first in the Howard Dean campaign, then switched to Kerry when Dean went starkers in public.

OT, I know nothing about McPeak. However, by your account he should at least be given credit for having the sense to leave a sinking ship. :-)

anduril

sbw we have different assumptions. I assumed from the get go that the Administration was seeking to surround Iran, as indeed they have. In addition, it placed us strategically in the middle of the Middle East--with all the many strategic benefits that flow from that.

Syl

It seems to me the family values voters should be for smaller govt but then they rushed out to support Huckabee who seems never to have seen a govt spending program he doesn't like.

Though I agree about the family values voters' demands, I think you are exaggerating on your Huckabee comments. I hear too many criticize him for his 'populism' message when they haven't actually listened to it.

Huck's message is not about government programs, it's about getting government off your back.

clarice

Listen again,Syl.

anduril, I'd take everything Parsi says with a giant grain of salt.

http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:jAMNvGAQ9VMJ:www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp%3FID%3D29211+ledeen+trita+parsi&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7&gl=us>Front man

kim

So what secret cabal kept Iran from dealing with the Clinton administration?
============

Syl

Besides, Huckabee is teachable.

anduril

From a link in the Timmerman article:

Tehran’s faith in Parsi was so profound that in 2003 when Iran decided to send a highly secret proposal for negotiations to the White House, Parsi was called on to arrange the delivery of the message through Bob Ney to Karl Rove.

Thus Frontpage appears to confirm Parsi's account, in his book, of the Iranian proposed negotiations--something that Sara and OT appear to have been disposed to deny out of hand. Parsi is, of course, only quoting Powell's former staffers, like Wilkerson and the others. Since neither Powell nor Armitage have (to my knowledge) denied anything that Wilkerson has said on that scored, it's no stretch to suppose that his account is factually correct.

clarice

Given what I know of the Libby affair, if my life depended on it, I could not make a credibility resolution in favor of Powell-Armitage and Wilkerson.

anduril

kim, Parsi's contention is that Iran wants to be top dog in the Middle East. During the Clinton administration they may have believed they could succeed without regard to the US. The situation changed when the administrations changed. This is the way much of the world, and certainly the Middle Eastern part of the world, works.

clarice

SYl--you may be right on Huck. I went searching for some of his earlier statements and say things like stopping CEO greed and high bonuses, etc..but when pressed he denied he wanted to deal with these things thru govt programs.

Undoubtedly, one cannot win an election in states like Arkansas without sounding like a human cornucopia..maybe he's less like Huey Long than he sounds at first blush.

anduril

I should note that Parsi interviewed an impressive list of top Israeli leaders for his book. If they were willing to talk to him--and with remarkable frankness--I think it's OK to read his book and ponder the complexities of Middle East policy.

sbw

Anduril, I don't think the US wanted to go into Iraq, hoping that the U.N. would hold Saddam to the requirements of the ceasefire after the first Gulf War -- transparently non-nuclear, not a threat to its neighbors, and not within the sphere of Iran. I think that the U.S. was a reluctant warrior, which is not evident from your characterization.

But, considering the collapse of the sanctions, and Oil-for-Food's undermining the U.N.'s resolve to assure a non-nuclear, non-terror Saddam, that -- as you suggest -- the attempt at boldly establishing a different and democratic Iraq was the most appealing of unappealing alternatives.

kim

Timmerman doesn't think much of Parsi. And I don't think much of the bona fides of the Persians.
====================

anduril

I don't doubt that "the U.S." was reluctant to go to war in Iraq--if by that you mean the general population. I wouldn't say that regarding the neocons--they were clearly enthusiastic. That doesn't mean they were wrong, nor that I would have done differently. I'm of several mind on these issues and cannot claim to be privy to all the facts nor to have the benefit of the best advice.

As an example of facts that I didn't know about, I would cite the fact that I had no idea of our secret Geneva talks with Iran until I read Parsi's book. I hope you'll agree that's an interesting fact to have in your possession when considering what our ME policy should be.

anduril

kim, nobody said you should trust them. But there are a lot of untrustworthy people in this world that we still have to deal with. Despite our lack of diplomatic relations with Iran, we've obviously continued to deal with them because there's really no way around it--one way or another.

kim

What do you think of Ahmadi-Nijad's visit to Iraq?
===========================

Neo

facing whichever Democratic candidate emerges from their death-dance

I read this line and it occurred to me that they need to have a "steel cage" match in Denver.

And who said party conventions have to be boring.

anduril

Relations between Iranians and Mesopotamians of whatever variety go back about three millenia. Neither Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Mongols nor British have changed that fact of life, so I don't imagine our presence to change that either. But perhaps we can shape the dynamics of the situation. It appears that the Iranians were open to that possibility (US involvement) and may still be. If I had the facts I'd be more inclined to offer an opinion.

anduril

OT

Earlier this week the WSJ had an editorial that gives a glimpse of the political and fiscal environment that Obama comes from--and that we can expect in the unlikely event that he gets to the White House:

Second City No More
March 5, 2008; Page A16

Over the weekend, Chicago lifted itself to the top of a tax dishonor roll: The city's cumulative sales-tax rate is now the steepest of any major metropolitan area in America, at 10.25%. That blows past the former valedictorian, Memphis (9.25%), as well as New Orleans (9%), Denver (8.6%), and even New York and Los Angeles. Congratulations.

After five months of budget skirmishing, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the new sales tax, to 1.75% from .75%, by a single vote. That's on top of Illinois's 6.25%, municipal Chicago's 1.25%, and a 1% transportation sales tax for Cook and the collar counties that takes effect later this year.

This is only the latest in a succession of Chicago tax increases: a November 2007 "fee increase" of some $270 million, a January 2008 real estate tax totaling $530 million, not to mention Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's $717 million in proposed tax increases statewide. Supposedly the deal -- Board President Todd Stroger was pushing for an increase twice as high -- will reduce the county's $234 million deficit.

Not so coincidentally, the $426 million that the county optimistically expects to collect each year will also fund somewhere between 700 or 800 new patronage jobs, and maybe more, which were lobbied for by the public-employees unions. A scathing report from a federal court monitor, released Friday, depicts rampant abuse in county hiring practices.

hit and run

Neo:
I read this line and it occurred to me that they need to have a "steel cage" match in Denver.

The only problem with that analogy is that a "steel cage" match is where two people enter the ring, and one leaves -- where lots of spectators cheer on their favorite fighter.

But we've already seen the calls for Recreate '68...

We're dealing with a situation where there is no cage -- and there may not be sufficient security to keep the spectators out of the ring.

It's a Free-For-All!!!

Forget all these conservative calls for more popcorn (I'm guilty of that)...go long pitchforks, torches and bullhorns...if you're a greedy capitalist rethuglican, anyway...

anduril

OT

Earlier this week the WSJ had an editorial that gives a glimpse of the political and fiscal environment that Obama comes from--and that we can expect in the unlikely event that he gets to the White House:

Second City No More
March 5, 2008; Page A16

Over the weekend, Chicago lifted itself to the top of a tax dishonor roll: The city's cumulative sales-tax rate is now the steepest of any major metropolitan area in America, at 10.25%. That blows past the former valedictorian, Memphis (9.25%), as well as New Orleans (9%), Denver (8.6%), and even New York and Los Angeles. Congratulations.

After five months of budget skirmishing, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the new sales tax, to 1.75% from .75%, by a single vote. That's on top of Illinois's 6.25%, municipal Chicago's 1.25%, and a 1% transportation sales tax for Cook and the collar counties that takes effect later this year.

This is only the latest in a succession of Chicago tax increases: a November 2007 "fee increase" of some $270 million, a January 2008 real estate tax totaling $530 million, not to mention Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's $717 million in proposed tax increases statewide. Supposedly the deal -- Board President Todd Stroger was pushing for an increase twice as high -- will reduce the county's $234 million deficit.

Not so coincidentally, the $426 million that the county optimistically expects to collect each year will also fund somewhere between 700 or 800 new patronage jobs, and maybe more, which were lobbied for by the public-employees unions. A scathing report from a federal court monitor, released Friday, depicts rampant abuse in county hiring practices.

clarice

Madasahatter's visit to Iraq a big flop>>

http://www.nypost.com/seven/03082008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/ajads_endless_iraq_debacle_100962.htm>Flop

centralcal

Thanks for that link about the mad hatter, Clarice!

At lunch the other day, we were talking the candidates to date. I said I don't "hate" Obama or Shrillary -- I just hate everything they stand for. I really, really do detest John McCain and, yet, I will be forced to vote for him because he has a few, miniscule areas where he may help the conservative side.

Sad to say, I am not convinced yet that McCain will do very much good. However, I know that He Whose Middle Name Shall Not Be Spoken and the Red Witch will certainly do much harm.

What a lousy state of affairs.

anduril

I finally got around to reading Jeffrey Bell's The Politics of a Failed Presidency: How John McCain and the Republican party should deal with the Bush record.

I've linked it again because I want to highly recommend it to one and all as an acute review of the Bush administration: an analysis of where the GOP stands now and how it got there as we go into this 2008 election. This is a quite lengthy article--it appears to be the cover article for the Weekly Standard--and cannot be easily summarized.

Here's an interesting passage re Iran and its effect on our politics:

In retrospect, a fateful turning point for Bush's credibility was the elevation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of Iran in June 2005. Unlike his predecessors in the Iranian presidency, Ahmadinejad was not a cleric but a politician allied to radical, terror-sponsoring elements in the regime. From his first weeks in office, he was provocatively anti-American, publicly flaunting Iran's drive to acquire advanced nuclear and ballistic missile technology and making Holocaust-denying, genocidal threats against Israel with alarming regularity.

Ahmadinejad seemed so unafraid of military confrontation with the United States that his background as a believer in a Shiite apocalypse involving the 12th Imam was widely analyzed. He held rogue-state summits and encouraged Syria to resume its secret-police assassinations of pro-Western elected officials in Lebanon. He pushed Hezbollah into a phase of unprovoked kidnappings and attacks that led to a war with Israel. He crossed sectarian lines, arming the Sunni Palestinian terrorists of Hamas and sharply increasing Iran's export of road bombs to al Qaeda in Iraq as well as to antigovernment Shiite militias. It was almost as if he wanted to test whether such central Bush Doctrine features as preempting threats, denying nuclear weapons to rogue states, and holding rogue-state hosts of terror organizations accountable as enemy combatants had any further real existence.

Though never formally repudiated, to all intents and purposes it appears that they do not. Probably the final interment of the Bush Doctrine came from the recent National Intelligence Estimate, which pompously and absurdly informed Bush and the American people that Iran has not posed a threat of acquiring nuclear weapons since 2003. Ahmadinejad welcomed the report as the greatest triumph for Iran in the past hundred years and last week scoffed at a third round of U.N. sanctions as meaningless.

In terms of the political debate, all this leaves the president with just about the worst of all worlds.

I'll offer a tentative interpretation. It is possible that the mullah's chose Ahmedina-wack-job because they had decided to pursue a deliberately confrontational policy toward the US--after their attempt at detente (detailed above) was summarily slapped away by the Bush administration. This was a failure of strategic thinking. Iran could potentially have provided invaluable help in the GWOT.

Be that as it may, Bell is a supporter of the GWOT:

The temptation for Republicans trying to climb out of the wreckage of the Bush war presidency in 2008 will be to focus too intensely on Petraeus and his success in Iraq. It is true that the success of the surge is a precondition for GOP recovery in 2008; after being the greatest embarrassment, Iraq has emerged as the safest Republican talking point in all of foreign policy. But without a refocus of voters' attention on the larger global war against jihadism, the Democratic narrative will continue to have life: If invading Iraq was a mistake, even our improved prospects there can be seen as a lucky sideshow to overall Republican blundering.

It is thus essential for McCain and other Republican candidates to point out the violent activities of jihadists all over the world. If these activities are real, and they are, voters can be not so much convinced as reminded that the American response to 9/11 was right. Mistakes by Bush or Tony Blair or any other war leader do not make the threat of mass murder any less real.

The global war on terrorism is not a mirage or a bumper sticker, but a necessity. So is the promotion of democratic values around the world. That is the true alternative to jihadism, not American retreat, and not a rush to hold photo ops with rogue-state dictators who say it is America that causes the problems of the world.

sbw

One cannot read that excerpt in a vacuum, without the political counterpoint of a Democratic Party so bound and determined to do and say anything to get elected that they would mortgage foreign affairs for their venal quest.

Far from a failure of the Bush administration, this seems a miscalculation of ginormous proportions in the Democratic Congress.

anduril

Hmmm. My brother thinks the WSJ may have been unfair to Chicago. He says the Chicago sales tax has to be seen in combination with other taxes--especially state and city income taxes. He points out that Chicago has no income tax and IL has a relatively low 3% income tax. By contrast, Philly has a 4% city income tax as well as some sort of sales tax--and I assume PA has an income tax of some sort, too.

narciso

A bizarre cross section, into the thinking
(such as we could call it) of the intelligentsia, is seen in a preview of
Nicholson Baker's next tome in the NY Times.
Baker. Baker, for those who fortunately scoured their memories clan, was the composer of the earliest iteration of BDS
assasination porn, Checkpoint. Not long after followed by Charlie Booker's plea for an Oswald in the Guardian. the NY Times kind reverie on the disposition of McKinley,
Sarah Vowell's scrapbook of presidential assasins, and last but unfortunately not least, "Death of A President"
Naturally,"Up in Smoke' or some such thing, his take on World War 2, takes a dim view
of Churchill, the man who warned Europe of the oncoming abbatoir, and a kind view of
the anti-war activists, who were kind to the refugee problem. Forget the fact, that without Churchill and his acolyte,Franklin Roosevelt, there would have been no place for the refugees to go; well besides Belsen,
Dachau, Jasenovac, you get the point)Churchill in Baker's eyes was too much of a warmonger,

Now on to the most ill-considered and unethical thing ever written in the Weekly Standard, the closest thing to a old fashioned Luce publication, we're ever likely to see. Jeffrey Bell, having been an artillery man in Vietnam, before his work began appearing in the Nation and National Review; should know better than to throw the term 'failed presidency' around. The
template for same, under either Nixon or Ford, featured the retreat from Vietnam, under the sham of 'peace with honor' (an example that informed Ambassador
Negroponte's stints in Central America & Iraq, among others) the subsequent Cambodian hecatomb, the surrender of the impoundment power over congressional spending; the immoral equivalency
of 'detente; the subsequent collapse of the Safavid Pahlevis in Iran, and the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. The dismantling of the entire structure of the national security apparatus (FBI,NSA,CIA under Att. General's Levi's directives, FISA, Church Commitee, and the subsequent purge of the most gifted covert operators, under Admiral "Ahab" Turner, among them the late Gus Avrokotos, of the Afghan supply network.

Would someone like Mukasey, who refuses to conduct a witchhunt against the rendition team, have ever had a chance in the Ford interregnum. Would the Military Commissions
Act have likely stood a chance in 1975. The
Terrorist Surveilance Program, would have been dismantled under such a transitional regime. There was of course, Team B, but the fruit of their labor wouldn't be seen for nearly five years. There are rogue military; like the Admiral's Moorer's spy ring, represented by the likes ofPersophile Admiral Fallon, and Gitmo parole officer Admiral Mullen; but can they really be considered influential in theadministration.
Defense Secretary Gates, a detentist of the ISG type, was unable to stop the surge, the Cambodian incursion of its time, his deputy Englund, had been undermined by his over-reliance on the shadowy Mr. Hesham, liason to the Moslem Brotherhood. Now Gen. Hayden, a mon really trying to grasp the dubious title of the second coming of William Colby, complete with a trip down the memory of the "Family Jewels" and an executive assistant with a penchant for translating Chomsky into English, is a concern. The administration's key fiscal legacy, tax cuts, would likely remain under McCain, as would the current deployment in South West Asia. That was the real substance of Samantha 'Danger' Power's advisory career; as one wag would put; 'the shortest executive career since that Pope that got poisoned'.

This is exactly why any reversion to the Muskiesque Clinton (emotionally overwrought
and empty)or missionary zeal of Obama, must
be resisted at all cost. A Rwanda or even a Somalia in the resource rich Arabian
crescent cannot be even a possible option.
One recalls, that the real touchstone for jihad, was the Siege of the Grand Mosque, under the first of the new generation of Wahhabis, the partnership of Ilkwan Guardsman Uteibi "the Mahdi" and 'preacher'
Quahtani, kinsman of a generation of future
jihadist. According to Trofimov, the latest
chronicler of the event, it arose out of
the Ilkwan's surprise at the weak US response to Iranian provocation. Most distressing was a little known Shiauprising offshoot of the event, which struck the real 'third rail' of Saudi society, the quietist Shia populations of the Hasa (Ras Tanura) and Yambu oil rich regions.

The rise of Ahmadinejad, kidnapper,(US Embassy)soldier, (Quds force) assassin,(Quassemlou in Vienna) torture center
warden (Evin prison)legitimized by a reign of terror and franchise irregularities that would make Al Gore, sweat carbon dioxide; is
an interesting but largely unconnected sidelight. Imagine a Western parallel, a real life version of Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne, with a track record that would confound Elliot Ness, were to rise to the
top of the executive. We see a tiny example of the double standard with the 'digital
lynching' Gen. Jerry Boykin, a veteran of the world's most intractable battlefields
(Iran, Colombia, Somalia) for some off
the record statements of faith; not public
statements. It is only by the rearguard CWA
or every conceivable aspect of Mahmoud's real life 'Black Legend' by the Security
services, topped off by the most irrelevant
NIE since the September '62 one, that considered the Russians were "unlikely to place missiles in Cuba" ignoring the very real evidence that they were already there.

RichatUF

test...

kim

narciso, sometimes you are just plain balm for the soul. Tonight, I especially like Gore sweating CO2. Thanks, and happy birthday whenever it is; may it return often.

Clarice, thanks for the Ahmadi-Nijad link. It ties in with my belief about Sistani being the heart and soul of Iraq. But is he ailing?
========================

kim

er, many times instead of often.
====================

Elliott

What struck me most about McCain's video is the reminder of McCain's courage as a POW. I think a goal of the ad is convince the viewer that his support for the surge is an act of political courage that is a natural extension of the mental and physical courage he showed then.

I was reminded skimming the comments at Althouse that the presence of TR, both his inclusion in the ad and the title "Man in the Arena," is probably a result of McCain's admiration for him.

I think there is a bit of implicit criticism in the title of the ad (here's the famous part of the "Man in the Arena" speech) for both Clinton and Obama. Was Obama, who didn't have a vote on the AUMF, "in the arena" when he made his anti-war speech in 2002? How about Hillary when she was FLOTUS?

Also, the reference to the Roosevelt speech can be read as an attempt to put the fiasco that was comprehensive immigration in the best light ("and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"), though I'd say that after the confrontation with Cornyn, "fails while swearing greatly" would be the more apt description.

sophy

Please do not hesitate to have twelve sky Gold . It is funny.

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