Friday, November 28, 2003

King Bush?

Matthew Yglesias isn't very charitable about President Bush's little trip to Iraq:

Scanning around the web, it seems to me that too many of my liberal colleagues are willing to give the president credit for today's little stunt supporting the troops. Consider, however, whether you think that the leaders of the Democratic Party would have been wildly opposed to taking a little Thanksgiving-time trip of their own to pose with the troops for photo ops. Seems to me that they would love to have done that. But they weren't invited. And not only were they not invited, but the planning for the trip was kept secret so that they couldn't protest at not being invited. Result: Many photos of GOP supporting troops, zero photos of Democrats supporting troops. Very good outcome for the president.
Matt has a point, but the problem is endemic to the system, not to Bush himself. Bush was visiting them as a candidate next year, yes, but also as the President of the United States, with all the ceremonial importance that that entails. It's not that different from when the royal family met with people in the rubble of London during the Blitz, and the Queen Mother was (justifiably) adored for that.

The problem isn't the visit. The problem is that you can't extricate the President's role as Head of State from his role as Head of Government, so every ceremonial duty and benefit that accrues from the former can be used to aid his use of- and retention of- the power of the latter. Were the presidency a symbolic role like the British Queen, it wouldn't be an issue, but the symbolic leader and the man who gives the military its orders are one and the same. It wouldn't matter whether his name is Bush, Clinton, Kennedy or Washington.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Bush in Baghdad

Well, I'll give him one thing- it's a damned good trick that he pulled off, going to Baghdad. It even had that theatric aspect that seems to be increasingly characteristic of the administration:

he troops had been told only that they were gathered for Thanksgiving dinner with a VIP guest in the mess hall at Baghdad International Airport.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, added his own drama to the surprise. Billed as the special guest along with coalition forces commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Bremer opened the program by telling the soldiers it was time to read the president's Thanksgiving proclamation.

He asked if there was "anybody back there more senior than us" to read the president's words. Bush emerged from behind a curtain as cheering soldiers climbed on chairs and tables to yell their approval.
There's no doubt whatsoever that this will end up in RNC ads just as soon as they can edit the tape together.

The real question, for me, is what prompted this visit. Was it simply a political stunt, or is Bush actually concerned about what is going on over in Iraq? It's probably more the former, but I think there may well be an element of the latter as well. The about-face on Iraq was sudden enough and jolting enough that it may well have been, amazingly enough, Bush's own idea. I have no doubt he's been fed nothing but spin since the get-go. Even if he had access to real information, though, it seemed as if he had convinced himself (or had been convinced) that things were fine.

After the CIA report and Bremer's trip to Washington, could it be that Bush's illusions were shattered, and that he himself is trying to improve the situation? Seems unlikely, but it's possible, especially if he knows things, bad things, that we don't.

Anyway, interesting factoid from the article:

When Bush's father visited U.S. troops at a desert outpost in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day 1990, in the runup to the first Gulf War (news - web sites), he became the first U.S. president to visit a front-line area since President Nixon went to Vietnam in 1969.

Dwight David Eisenhower, as president-elect, visited Korean battle fronts in December 1952 and President Lyndon Johnson made two wartime trips to Vietnam.
Bush-the-Elder visited before his war began; Nixon and the rest visited when their wars was already going downhill. Needless to say, a presidential appearance does not mean that the war is going swimmingly; indeed, considering the record of the wars mentioned, it would imply that things really aren't that good.

Not that there's much controversy over that, but it'll be useful when the RNC ads come up and the rolling re-election squad start lauding Bush for his bravery and thoughfulness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Matt and Canada

Don't get me wrong, I like the work, but I've gotta ask... why has Matt Yglesias become so interested in Canadian politics over the last little while? Especially considering that, well, he just moved to DC?

(Or did he move again to Ottawa and nobody told me?)

Due South

Can't remember who originally linked it (CalPundit, perhaps?), but there's a new group blog focusing on South American issues called Southern Exposure that has just started up.

As a starting point, I like the comments that Stephen George made about Lula's difficulties in Brazil. He reveals the difficulties that Lula is having in getting his agenda passed, and they're doozies, not the least of which being the rock-solid belief of many on the left (Brazilian and otherwise) that "ought implies can" need not apply if the situation is sufficiently bad or if you're sufficiently passionate. The situation is dire, no doubt, but Lula is the best hope the MST (landless) in Brazil have. Especially considering that, no, there ain't gonna be no revolution. We've got to play the cards we're dealt.

Monday, November 24, 2003

"Poor and Stupid" once again lives up to its name

First, somebody should let Donald Luskin know about a few key facts:

From there it was only a short time until it was a scandale -- and it went beyond the usual Krugman-watch suspects. Even the anonymous ultra-leftist 'Atrios' commented on it critically on his Eschaton blog. What could even he say but, 'Now This is Shrill!' On Thursday it broke into print, with Josh Gersten's front-page story for the New York Sun. So what could the Times do but put some distance between itself and Krugman?
By no stretch of the imagination is Atrios an "ultra-leftist". Luskin wouldn't appear to have the faintest concept of what a radical leftist actually looks like, but here's a hint: Atrios ain't it. (Neither is Krugman, as is readily obvious when one compares Krugman and pretty much anybody on the radical left, many of which hate him.) Even if he were an ultra leftist, though, calling Krugman "shrill" is a joke. It's intended to satirize the attitudes and language of the hard right, and obviously does so quite well.

Second, I'd just like to point out that the flap over the cover is abominably stupid. Donald Luskin writes for the NRO, which prominently features Ann Coulter's book. Ann, of course, will pack more hate into one column (the latest features accusations that the Democrats are genocidal) than an entire bookshelf of Krugman covers. (He's also drawn the comparison between Krugman and Hitler on his own site. Don't have a link, but I may add one later.) He who is without sin...

In any case, this is all meaningless folderal. It's a game, and the name of the game is "invalidating criticism of the President". We've already seen it with the full-court press against "Bush haters", and attacking this cover is merely another tactic supporting the overall strategy. The idea that someone may legitimately hate Bush for what he's done or what he represents goes unmentioned, and for a good reason: they know that most people are probably divided on Bush, believing that he's screwed up but also believing that he's the best choice to deal with the terrorist threat. By trying to play up critics as irrational, they make the latter aspect look like the more rational one, and allow people to reconcile their conflicted attitude towards the president by saying "well, I'm a rational being, and if that attitude's irrational I can ignore it". The funny thing is, it's like a chinese finger trap, because the more Bush screws up, the more strident the criticism, and the easier it is to attack them for being "irrational".

Coupled with the natural forgiveness that the American public has towards the president due to the ceremonial aspects of the role of Head of State, and you've basically got Bush's reelection strategy. You've also got the core of the Dean strategy: harness the anger to get volunteers on the streets and the base to the voting booths, and rely on the low turnout of swing voters to keep them from voting against him due to the fear of his strong stand. To extend the analogy, he intends to snap that trap in two.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Just busy, not dead

Sorry about the lack of posts, although I do have to admit not being overly predisposed to paying much attention to the Jacko story... not that I'm overly fond of what he is accused of doing, but I doubt that there's anything to be said that hasn't aready.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Heads of State Aren't Made Alike

From CNN:

The last time he dined with the Queen in 1992- at his father's White House, wearing cowboy boots emblazoned with GOD SAVE THE QUEEN- he asked if she had any black sheep in her family. 'Don't answer that!' his mother Barbara interjected, trying to avoid embarrassment.
It's like living in a twilight zone episode, isn't it?

Sunday, November 16, 2003


17 more dead soldiers, due to two Black Hawks colliding while trying to avoid ground fire.

Five additional soldiers were injured; I just hope that it was "sprained ankle" injured and not "need the kind of wheelchair with a joystick" injured.

Bush Bails

There's little reason to describe this any other way:

Iraq's Governing Council and the American occupation authority agreed Saturday on the terms of a radical new plan for the country's political transition that would end the U.S.-led occupation by July 1 and could facilitate a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops next year.

In a major revision of the Bush administration's earlier political blueprints, the new plan authorizes the creation of a provisional national assembly that would assume sovereignty and serve as Iraq's interim government until a constitution is written and elections are held. The administration had demanded that a constitution be drafted and elections convened before a transfer of power, a process that could have stretched into 2005.

Although the creation of the assembly will result in the dissolution of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, its leaders nevertheless hailed the accelerated handover of sovereignty as a victory for Iraqis. "This is a feast for the Iraqi people," said Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader who holds the council's rotating presidency. "This is what Iraqi people were dreaming to have."
The Iraqi people... and the guerillas. I have little doubt that this will be seen in the Middle East as a major victory by anti-American forces. They got what they wanted: they wanted the Americans out, and the Americans are getting out, far quicker than that "long hard slog" rhetoric ever suggested. It's fair to say that the U.S. won't get everything it wanted, either:

But just as it speeds up the political transition, the process will introduce a new level of uncertainty for the U.S. government. By ceding sovereignty to a provisional administration, the United States will lose veto power over the content of Iraq's constitution and the shape of the government. The Bush administration also will have no guarantee that formerly exiled Iraqi political leaders, with which it has long cultivated ties, will be chosen in the caucuses.

"When sovereignty is transferred, sovereignty is transferred," a senior White House official said. But the official added that the administration expects to have "a good working relationship" with the provisional government.

Talabani said U.S. troops would remain as "invited guests," but he added that precise details on the size of the force and its role would have to be worked out with the U.S. government. Adnan Pachachi, another council member, said the negotiations would be "between two sovereign powers."
"Expects" doesn't cut it in heavy traffic: this leaves the Iraqis open to pretty much do whatever they wish, including (if necessary) the nationalization of oil. This is, obviously, not what the U.S. was going for. It's excellent news for the Iraqis, as they'll regain the sovereignty they wanted so badly, but there are probably a lot of very angry people in the Pentagon right now.

Why did this happen? It's pretty obvious:

The midyear handover would enable President Bush to head into the 2004 election with a much smaller -- and less vulnerable -- contingent of U.S. forces in Iraq. Under Saturday's accord with the Governing Council, the United States would sign an agreement with the provisional government that would stipulate the size and function of the U.S. force in Iraq after June, although U.S. officials expressed confidence that the new government would endorse a continued U.S. military presence. Pentagon officials have said they want to base tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq for the next few years.
This is what this is all about- the most politically conscious White House in recent memory strikes again. With the economy (perhaps) improving, Iraq was the big sticking point for the Bush administration, and they needed to do something to alleviate the situation. This is exactly the timing they need... a pullout early enough so that it'll be done with in time for the election, and late enough so that it won't

a) fade from memory
or b) leave Bush holding the bag for whatever nasty consequences follow the pullout.

Indeed, there may be a plan to go right back in after the election; I wouldn't be surprised.

In the balance, however, this could be welcome news. "Could be" because the whole thing sounds hasty as usual and that could backfire... but hopefully, it'll be the first step towards a truly free Iraq.

Edit: On the other hand, according to CNN, Rummy insists that "The timetable or the way ahead that the (Iraqi) Governing Council has been describing relates to the governance aspects of the country and not to the security aspect... [t]hat's on a separate track."

So maybe things won't be so different after all. Or maybe the divide over Iraq is reaching a breaking point. Thing is, if this is a contest between Rummy and Rove, Rove will win. No question.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Swing Voters: RIP?

There was a short blurb on CNN'swebsite a few days ago about the off-year elections, and the further polarization of voters.

The results of last week's off-year elections gave both parties something to cheer about. Republicans accelerated their conquest of the nation's governorships, particularly in the South, with victories by Representative Ernie Fletcher in Kentucky and Haley Barbour in Mississippi.

The Democrats gained control of the New Jersey legislature and saw John Street win re-election as mayor of Philadelphia. Together, the results sketched in sharp relief the emerging political landscape.

The country remains closely divided between the two parties, with partisanship more pronounced, and the South, in particular, becoming hostile terrain for Democrats.

"This is a very different political climate than it was even a year ago," says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which released a study showing the country more polarized than it has been since 1994, when angry voters put the Republicans in control of Congress.

This hardening of attitudes also helps explain why the swing voter, so sought after during the 1990s, is getting less attention. The name of the game for both parties is getting their core voters to the polls.
Bolding mine. Liberal bloggers (especially the Dean set) have been discussing this for a while, and it's important for Democrats to avoid "fighting the last war". Considering that "Democrats=traitors" memo, it looks like the Republicans are well aware of what next year is going to look like, and are already preparing. With Dean a more likely candidate than ever, it seems inevitable that the Dems are going to move in the same direction.

On the one hand, it's refreshing to see that the cult of nonsensical "bipartisanship" that was hampering Democrats (and American democracy) for ages is finally ending. On the other hand, I worry about just how far this will go. That "death to Dems" fantasy may not be one forever. Just ask Timothy McVeigh.

Friday, November 14, 2003

StrawBear, anyone?

As another example of what I was referring to in my previous post, I give you the comments section for this post. It is not just filled with strawman arguments about "the left" and "liberals" (as well as every other kind of logical fallacy classified by man) but some sentiments which, when understood properly, are profoundly disturbing. Witness this one post by one "section9":

Where this all leads to is a bottom line. Not only is the Left not capable of governing this country, it is certainly not capable of winning this war. That will make all the difference in an election that will be conducted in the middle of a war. I strongly suspect that the American people will not want to change horses in midstream.
Leave aside the nonsense about "the American people", and look at what this guy is really saying. He's saying that the left is incapable of running the country or winning the war. Since there is no doubt whatsoever that he has conflated the War on Iraq with the War on Terrorism, and considers the latter a war for survival, I can't help but conclude that he believes that liberals cannot be allowed to govern the country. At any cost.

This isn't a new argument, of course. It's incredibly common. It is, naturally, profoundly anti-American. That's the nice thing about wrapping yourself in the flag: you can get away with wiping your ass on it at the same time, because nobody can see you do it.

(Edit: it has now degenerated into Randroid propaganda. What is it about political debate that compels people to switch to rants about economics whenever possible?)

Creepy Fascism?

Edit: I meant "creeping"... but you want to know what? It works either way.

Perhaps, as Orcinus lays out. He makes the point that the Bush administration isn't acting especially fascist, but that those that support it are slowly embracing the "liberals are traitors" line and are starting to be quite vocal about their support for an extreme and "eliminationist" (in Orcinus' words) response.

Once such response is quoted by Jesse:

WASHINGTON-January 6, 2004. A paramilitary organization calling itself the Christian Liberation Front changed the balance of power in Washington by a pair of brutal attacks this afternoon. A force estimated at about 200 CLF commandos stormed the Supreme Court building, killing 35 people, including five Supreme Court Justices. At the same time, a contingent of 1,000 CLF paramilitaries attacked the Hart Senate Office Building, where a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting was being held. Approximately 50 people were killed in the attack. Once the commandos had seized the building, they systematically killed Democratic senators from states with Republican governors. Here is a list of the 21 senators killed

Daniel Akaka Byron Dorgan Mary Landrieu
John Breaux Bob Graham Blanche Lincoln
Hillary Clinton Ernest Hollings Barbara Mikulski
Kent Conrad Daniel Inouyye David Pryor
Tom Daschle Tim Johnson Harry Reid
Mark Dayton Ted Kennedy Paul Sarbanes
Chris Dodd John Kerry Chuch Schumer

Joe Lieberman was campaigning in South Carolina, and missed the assassins. The attackers turned themselves in to police, and are proudly confessing their crimes, cooperating with authorities.

If the governors appoint Republican replacements, there will be 72 Republicans in the US Senate until replacement elections can be held. Even if a few Democrats are named, there will be likely at least 60 votes to vote for cloture and appoint replacements for the slain Supreme Court justices, changing the balance of power on the court.
The original source, predictably, couches the whole thing in hypotheticals and goes on about it being "in the darkness of his mind".

Problem is, it's in the darkness of a lot of minds (witness the "lined up and shot" quote), and these sorts of things have a way of moving from thought to action. Then, of course, you end up with Germans breaking glass, or Hutus picking out machetes.

"First they came for the liberals...."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Now I can call the site "the award-winning" Shadow of the Hegemon

I received notification from the Blogger Forum that I just made their list of "top 10 Blog*Spot sites".

Must be the titles.

Soros and the Dems

The Democrats have made a very, very useful friend: George Soros, whose dedication to defeating Bush has already benefited and the umbrella group America Coming Together (ACT) to the tune of $5 and $10 million, respectively. The story behind his decision to underwrite the fight against Bush is interesting as well:

In past election cycles, Soros contributed relatively modest sums. In 2000, his aide said, he gave $122,000, mostly to Democratic causes and candidates. But recently, Soros has grown alarmed at the influence of neoconservatives, whom he calls "a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of social Darwinism."

Neoconservatives, Soros said, are exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a preexisting agenda of preemptive war and world dominion. "Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God," Soros said. "He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence."

Soros said he had been waking at 3 a.m., his thoughts shaking him "like an alarm clock." Sitting in his robe, he wrote his ideas down, longhand, on a stack of pads. In January, PublicAffairs will publish them as a book, "The Bubble of American Supremacy" (an excerpt appears in December's Atlantic Monthly). In it, he argues for a collective approach to security, increased foreign aid and "preventive action."

"It would be too immodest for a private person to set himself up against the president," he said. "But it is, in fact" -- he chuckled -- "the Soros Doctrine."
The nice thing about Soros' support is that the Republicans, really, can't do very much to stop him. Any attempt to attack Soros will run up against their own shadowy supporters, especially the notoriously publicity-averse Richard Mellon Scaife, and the reality that the left is quite willing and able to match them shot-for-shot in any war over financial backing.

It also means that the Republicans are in a tricky position vis a vis fundraising. Scaife's support will blunt Bush's primary funding advantage, and can be used to underwrite criticism of the Bush government, using the same techniques that Scaife employs for the right. In turn, this will allow Howard Dean (and the other candidates, but especially Dean) to employ small-amount supporters specifically for positive and comparative advertisements- the kind of stuff that Soros won't be allowed to touch. Soros' book and notoriety will ensure that any organization he underwrites gets free media attention and a fair shot at influencing the public discourse. Assuming that the grassroots Dean support remains as an ABB group even if he doesn't win, neither Soros' nor the candidates' money will need to go to GOTV efforts, because there will be volunteers aplenty, and they'll be swimming in money to support their efforts.

Karl Rove has just had a very bad day.

The Sideshow, Dean, and the "Stars and Bars"

I had been asked a little while ago what I thought of Dean's little screwup over the "people who paint Confederate flags on their cars" line. Personally I found it to be bad politics, because Dean is more likely to alienate people than attract them with that sort of line. Avedon Carol, however, disagrees, and I have to admit that she makes a pretty good case.

Dean could have been smoother (like including the context that gives the remark it's weight), but he was right in essence; one of the things people like me despise about the current occupant of the White House is that he is not a president for the whole country, but just for his narrow range of supporters.

As a Democrat, I already understand that not everyone in the party agrees with each other, so Confederate flags by themselves don't get my blood up much. What interests me is policies that will work for us all, and the guys with the Confederate flags actually have nothing to lose by abandoning the Republican Party, and Democrats lose nothing by letting those guys feel like they can be Democrats. The trick is to stop pretending that those damn flags are more important than whether people can feed and clothe their kids, plan for their futures, and take advantage of being citizens of the richest country in the world.

Meanwhile, blacks don't benefit from losing elections over trivia like flags and decals and then ending up with their economic choices and chances being slashed. The food on the table, the roof over your head, the places in the classrooms, the jobs - those are the things that matter. Crap like the Confederate flag is a distraction, and makes people take their eye of the ball.
Now, I'll admit that Avedon does have a point, but one of the things that people tend to forget about politics is that it isn't simply economics wearing a different mask. Politics is politics, and economics is economics... and although they overlap, trying to make them out to be the two faces of Janus is a bad idea. It isn't just about "economic choices", it's also about the social and political environment that you live in. That environment consists largely of symbols- politics is rife with the things, and anybody who has spent any time in the company of a fierce monarchist in the U.K. or a proud American (with their constitution) can understand just how powerful these symbols can be. The whole point of painting a confederate flag on ones car (or hanging it over your bedroom wall, or whatever) is its symbolic value.

The problem, though, is that nobody gets to control what that symbolic value means to other people, and with the confederate flag, that symbol means- and always will mean- support for racism, on one level or another. Like the swastika, any benign meaning it might once have had has been wiped clean away by the odious and racist acts that were perpetuated under its symbolic watch. Ignorance could be an excuse, but "heritage" definitely isn't, because that heritage is irrevocably tied up with one of the worst crimes against humanity that North America has ever been witness to. (Not the worst anywhere, and probably not even the worst in N.A., but awful enough to recoil from).

So, no, Avedon, there is something about "that damned flag". Not economically, but politically.

(That being said, I agree absolutely with Avedon that northerners do themselves no favors, politically, by lording "our middle-class tastes over those Hustler-reading, pick-up truck-driving, smoking drinkers of lager". That being said, its not like the judgement goes one way, and I'd say the South has had a lot more influence on American political culture lately than the North has.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

No Crimethink here!

About the only good thing about this story is that it finally and completely kills the "liberal media" spin. It's good to know that in the face of RNC pressure, CBS is more than willing to cave in.

(Keep in mind, it's not like the RNC is a big sponsor or anything like that. Nope, they're just politicos. They just happen to be politicos who, apparently, get to censor what we watch. Doubleplusgood.)

Chaos doesn't begin to describe it

I was planning to write a post about these attacks on American soldiers, and then I find out that Spain is apparently pulling out its diplomats, despite the inevitable American wrath this will incur. All this after a previous roadside bomb attack today took its toll of lives (and, likely, limbs).

Coupled with the economic news, it looks like we may be in the fantastic situation where Bush is running on his economics and trying to stay away from Foreign Policy. Which, honestly, is somewhat bad news: Americans tend to rally 'round the president a lot more when his foreign policy is weak than when the economy is weak.

Doubt it'll make much of a difference to the dead American soldiers, though. Them, and the dead Iraqis that we never hear about.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Titles Added

Um, read the title. Which you can now.

(I'm liking this "Blogger as Blogger Pro" thing more and more. Almost makes me not wish I had one of those fancy Movable Type sites.)

(Edit: This is kind of fun. I might go back and start adding titles willy-nilly to my old posts. It'll be a good dry run for that massive indexing exercise that I really have to get around to, sooner or later. Unless somebody knows of an indexing tool for blogs, perhaps?)

Reagan and the Cold War?

One of the responses to my earlier piece about FDR and Reagan argued that Reagan didn't win the Cold War- that it was a "45 year bipartisan effort". This is wrong.

It was neither a "bipartisan effort" that won the cold war nor the actions of one man. It was a war that was never won at all. The Russians decided to turf it, largely because it simply didn't work. The end of the Soviet Union was at heart an internal matter, which is why nobody was able to predict it beforehand. (Please don't mention Reagan and Thatcher. That was bluster, not prediction.)

As for the annihilation I predicted- no, that is not speculation. Prior to Gorbachev, the Soviets were in disarray- Reagan was able to act tough due to the leadership problems. Gorby ended those, but Gorbachev was only one man. The reason his reforms failed was because of the tension between reformers and conservatives within the Kremlin, including between his close advisors. One conservative named Ligachev came very, very close to taking over. The rhetoric was crystal clear: were they to take over, the Soviet Union would no longer be as conciliatory as it is, Perestroika and Glasnost would have ended, and the devolution of power that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union would have been immediately halted.

After that, of course, Reagan's belligerence would have been answered by belligerence in triplicate. And, quite possibly, nukes, as the Russians remained quite paranoid about their American counterparts.

I maintain my position that there was only one man who ended the Cold War, and his name was Mikhail Gorbachev. He didn't intend for it to end the way it did, but he was responsible nonetheless. Reagan's role was, at best, subsidiary. More likely, it was entirely counterproductive.

Matt weighs in

Hmm... the title field isn't showing yet. I'll have to fix that.

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias had a nice piece on the debate over the Democrats I mentioned below.

Kevin Drum's got himself embroiled in a quagmire-like debate with hawkish liberals or ex-liberal hawks or whatever you want to call them.In response, some things to consider doing before you defect from the Democratic Party:

Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Take another deep breath. Look at some photos of your liberal friends and family. Ask yourself:

-Do you really believe that they opposed the Iraq War because they wanted Saddam Hussein to stay in power; do you really think they don't care if your hometown gets destroyed by terrorists?

-Try reading some actual policy statements put out by Democratic foreign-policy hands, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and members of the Armed Services Committee. Ask yourself: Do the views expressed therein really sound like the characterizations of them you've read on NRO and the hawk blogs?

-Look again in the mirror, focusing this time on your hairline and that little space next to your eyes that gets wrinkly when you squint. There's no easy way to say this, but . . . you're getting old. I am too. It's scary, it happens to us all. Ask yourself: Has the left really changed, or am I just that cliché guy who stopped really caring about the poor as I aged?

-Take a look at the transcript of the latest White House press conference. Find some other examples where the president had to respond on-the-fly to questions. Ask yourself: Given the perilous international situation, am I really comfortable with the fact that a total moron is president of the United States.

Read this post again. Consider the condescending tone, the cheap psychoanalysis, the refusal to confront your actual arguments. Ask yourself: Isn't this exactly what I've been doing all this time?

Just an exercise.
Nicely said. I'm much meaner, as I tend to label such people as either "suckers", "tools" or "sadly mistaken" (depending on my mood at the time) but he makes an excellent point. Look, the whole reason that neo-conservatives play nice with some liberals is precisely so that these divisions will happen. It's a game; we're the pieces. Somehow, though, it's a game where we lose every time.

Liberal Cage Match

Calpundit wonders why Armed Liberal took him to task for an earlier entry about terrorism; he believes it to be his tone.

The problem here isn't your tone, Kevin, it's AL's. His gratuitous and senseless attacks on the Democrats for disagreeing with his own position deserves criticism, even if the prescriptions he comes up with are correct. It's the old "gain credibility with the right by attacking the left" game, and its no more palateable when being done by AL than MK. Less, actually, because AL has a lot more credibility.

There's no reason whatsoever that a Democrat couldn't adopt most of the suggestions that AL brought up (the extra division might be a hard sell, but other than that) but they're bringing up a problem that he isn't: that his proposals won't make a bit of difference unless America does three other things.

First, it needs to recultivate alliances with traditional allies that have been alienated by the "war of civilizations" rhetoric. Attacking Islam isn't going to sell in Europe, where Muslims are a significant minority, and alienating Europe is bad strategy if you're trying to play the "West against the rest". Second, it needs to rebuild its soft power assets through actions that demonstrate integrity and consistency in its foreign policy that goes beyond self-interest. Third, it needs to be completely decoupled from conservative government-hating bullcrap, which is the only reason I can see that his sixth recommendation about moving away from "big bureaucracies" exists.

The problem here is that old Republican game of believing that there's only one way to look at foreign policy, and it's theirs. The comments on AL's page are filled with "ooh, you've spoken Truth, but those nasty Dems won't ever understand it". Please. Not only does that make you either a practictioner or a tool of the post-structuralist "define the debate the way we want it" games that define neo-conservatism, but it's simply not true: the "lefty critique" has a lot to recommend it even if you don't like it because it challenges your worldview. It can be countered, but I've never met a response to that critique yet that wasn't a pathetic exercise in knocking down strawmen. (Or "Fisking", which is just a strawman turned on its head.)

(It's like how the right tries to defend Iraq nowadays; a pathetic exercise in namecalling barely worth the effort of reading, much less response.)

Like I said, I like a fair bit of what AL has had to say, but he's Kausing it up whilst knocking down strawmen. It needs to stop. We've all got better things to do.

Titles! And Sponsor!

Ok, I switched one thing with the site... I added titles. It should make RSS aggregation a little easier, and make the whole thing look a little better.

(The only problem is that now I have to come up with the damned things all the time.)

By the by, thanks again to my new sponsor (that you can see over to your left). Kindly click to find out all about how we ended up in Iraq, and (perhaps) how we might get out of it.

If anybody else wishes to sponsor Shadow of the Hegemon, just click over on the adstrip. Or here. Or try the Paypal link.

While I'm not going to go any sort of sad sob story (how could you verify it?), rest assured that support would be truly appreciated and extensively lauded.