One Week and Counting…

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I have to say that I like this John Kerry a lot better than the one we saw until last Monday. A reader complains that I should not have bought the Bush campaign's line that Kerry was a flip-flopper on Iraq, pointing me to a San Francisco Chronicle news analysis that sets out to refute this charge but in the end reinforces it. The piece closes with a quote from radio host Don Imus, who asked Kerry to explain how he could vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, stand by the vote, yet oppose the war:

Kerry responded with a 324-word answer, including a discussion of no-fly zones and Iraqi tribal separatism.

The response left Imus–a self-described Kerry supporter–perplexed.

"I was just back in my office banging my head on the jukebox," Imus told listeners when the interview was over. "This is my candidate, and…I don't know what he's talking about."

The essence of the flip-flopping charge is not that Kerry actually keeps changing his mind but that he wants to have it both ways, which leads to the sort of obfuscation that befuddled Imus and to seemingly contradictory remarks, depending upon the audience and the circumstances. In the last week or so, however, Kerry has been clear, forthright, and consistent.

I don't know how long it will last, but the strength of this approach can be seen in the lameness of the Bush campaign's response to it. A campaign spokesman told The New York Times "John Kerry will say anything he thinks benefits him politically, regardless of its effect on our troops in the field and our allies fighting alongside them." In other words, anyone who criticizes the war is undermining the morale of our boys and should keep his mouth shut for the good of the war effort.

NEXT: The Roger Corman of Bloggers (Swipe at NY Times)

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  1. I wonder if knowing that Osama is still at large is good for their morale.

    I wonder if being shot at by foreign terrorists who crossed unguarded borders is good for morale.

    I wonder if being sent to storm a city when there’s no military logic in doing so, taking the casualities, then being called off at the last moment, is good for morale.

    I wonder if watching casuality rates rise while the president talks about how well things are going is good for morale.

  2. Um, 324 words is a mere page and a-half of 12-point, double-spaced print. That’s hardly an unreasonably long answer to a complicated question.

  3. That Kerry changes his views on important issues regularly is a fact. Why he does it is the issue. Those who oppose him believe he changes his views opportunistically to advance his personal political advantage.

    Regarding the comment posted about the wisdom and impact of Kerry’s comments on the war in Iraq, I think that one could comment in a way that is constructive. But Kerry continues make statements about how he would extract us from Iraq. At this sensitive time in the conflict it is not in the United States interests to make these statements. It only emboldens our enemies.

    Regards,

    Glenn

  4. That Kerry changes his views on important issues regularly is a fact. Why he does it is the issue. Those who oppose him believe he changes his views opportunistically to advance his personal political advantage.

    Regarding the comment posted about the wisdom and impact of Kerry’s comments on the war in Iraq, I think that one could comment in a way that is constructive. But Kerry continues make statements about how he would extract us from Iraq. At this sensitive time in the conflict it is not in the United States interests to make these statements. It only emboldens our enemies.

    Regards,

    Glenn

  5. That Kerry changes his views on important issues regularly is a fact. Why he does it is the issue. Those who oppose him believe he changes his views opportunistically to advance his personal political advantage.

    Regarding the comment posted about the wisdom and impact of Kerry’s comments on the war in Iraq, I think that one could comment in a way that is constructive. But Kerry continues make statements about how he would extract us from Iraq. At this sensitive time in the conflict it is not in the United States interests to make these statements. It only emboldens our enemies.

    Regards,

    Glenn

  6. That Kerry changes his views on important issues regularly is a fact. Why he does it is the issue. Those who oppose him believe he changes his views opportunistically to advance his personal political advantage.

    Regarding the comment posted about the wisdom and impact of Kerry’s comments on the war in Iraq, I think that one could comment in a way that is constructive. But Kerry continues make statements about how he would extract us from Iraq. At this sensitive time in the conflict it is not in the United States interests to make these statements. It only emboldens our enemies.

    Regards,

    Glenn

  7. “That Kerry changes his views on important issues regularly is a fact.”

    I’d say it’s more of a “fact,” or possibly a factoid, than an actual fact.

    Example, please?

  8. joe-
    Then why not add more to the shit pile! Durring a phsyc. rotation through a VA hospital my wife attended group therapy for Vietnam vets. Most were emotionally unstable, alcoholic, crippled, chronically ill, and some homeless. One reoccurring topic, and the most upsetting, was a lack of popular support during and after the war. Supporting soldiers isn’t repeating ‘we support the troops’. My brother-in-law is a marine about to ship out to Falluja. It is notably un-supportive to send him off to the tune of ‘a pointless war, an evil war for oil’. I am opposed to this war, however, I wouldn’t dare breath a word of it to my brother.

  9. Kerry, it is all in the nuance. Nothing more nothing less. Bask in the nuance. Let it flow over you and embrace it for it is your destiny.

  10. “It is notably un-supportive to send him off to the tune of ‘a pointless war, an evil war for oil’.”

    Kerry has never said either of these things.

    You really think echoing the military’s critiques of Bush’s prosecution of the war undermines the military’s morale?

  11. joe-
    I misunderstood your point. However, Kerry has gone further than echoing the military internal critique.

  12. If you can’t describe your position on any given issue in less than 5 words you don’t belong in a political campaign. End of story.

  13. Frobenius, Truth is the best thing for morale.
    I marched on the Pentagon in 1968 along with Norman Mailer shortly before I served 13 months as an infantry officer in Vietnam.
    Even today, I am clean-shaven, short hair, reasonably clean and not homeless.
    I’m pretty sure I’m not that unusual.

  14. If you want to screw up soldiers’ morale, just send them over there. Here’s an article from the Post Dispatch today: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/nation/story/269465499F9B8E5E86256F1C001AD35C?OpenDocument&Headline=Battle+tested+and+scarred

    “Unlike their first stint in Iraq, the Marines look back on their second tour in frustration and anger. Most interviewed felt they accomplished little, if anything – other than staying alive.

    “I feel like I wasted my time, caring about something that doesn’t have any meaning anymore,” Risner said. “I felt like I was wasting time and the taxpayers’ money.”

  15. It only emboldens our enemies.

    glenn, i’m sorry, but this is a treasonable copout. because the white house has fucked it up grandly, we can’t talk about it? quite the opposite, i should say.

    i would note anthony zinni’s analogy of the faulty rifle. the only sensible, patriotic thing to do now is examine every option in public debate in an effort to find a way to limit or reverse this disaster. that certainly includes discussing withdrawal — which, i agree, emboldens our enemies, and has been emboldening them ever since bush and his kids at the pentagon made clear that they would not be staying long.

  16. Kerry embraces things like we do…tentatively if at all. A president however has to embrace ideas firmly and not let go. This is almost always at our peril, of course, but that’s been the case for every president we’ve ever had. The presidency is not a tool of populism, nor should you ever expect it to be. It runs the executive branch, not the legislative. Kerry’s trying to be man of the thinking people, and that doesn’t mesh very well with the whole idea of being president.

    A humorous aspect of this brief slice of time has been the left’s notion that Bush – an idiot by their accounts – “fooled” the left into voting for war (ignoring, for the sake of validating their argument at all, that they had made exactly that decision with the Dem administration previous). In the words of Sir Alec Guinness as Obi Wan, “Who’s the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?” I think the anti-Bush camp is filled with more latent self-loathing than it would care to admit.

    I wonder if knowing that Osama is still at large is good for their morale.

    We’re not fighting Osama bin Laden, he is nothing but a figurehead. We are fighting a philosophy, of which al Qaeda as a whole is an active supporter. In what are doubtless the words of countless others, Osama can fuck himself in whatever cave that pussy is hiding out in. His being alive I would think drive more of these boys and girls to kill, which is if you remember the primary purpose of an army: to kill people.

    I wonder if being shot at by foreign terrorists who crossed unguarded borders is good for morale.

    I wouldn’t say it has any effect on morale; you’re making a statement as to the nature of the enemy. The Arabs (pardon the blanket) know they cannot win an all-out battle, not if every last one of them converged on a single city. I think the most morale-damaging aspect of warfare is the need to satisfy PR demands to keep the whiners happy. It’s war, and people die. If we kill more people now, we won’t have to spend 3 years killing them later anyway. Those Marines want to kill, and we’re not letting them…THAT fucks with morale more than, awwww, they’re not playing by the rules.

    I wonder if watching casuality rates rise while the president talks about how well things are going is good for morale.

    Things are going well, if you don’t count the leash. This is an army that is actively engaged. When you engage the enemy there is an increased chance of being killed. You are impatient; it has only been 16 months since that “end of major combat” thing.

  17. Uh, it depends on HOW you criticize Bush’s handling of the war. Kerry lost my vote during his Convention speech, when he implied that Iraqi firefighters and policemen were a bunch of welfare leeches sponging off the US taxpayer. Any candidate who would pander to such a vile sentiment simply isn’t serious about the war and deserves no respect.

  18. If we kill more people now, we won’t have to spend 3 years killing them later anyway.

    Talk about zero-sum views! Can you not allow any variation in the number of people who need dying? Possibly our enemies numbers is a function of how dissatisified the people of Iraq are with our occupation? Possibly the amount of dissatisfaction is a function of the number of people we kill?

    In short, can you not imagine any scenario where we are safe without killing every last person who disagrees with us?

  19. rst says “We’re not fighting Osama bin Laden, he is nothing but a figurehead. We are fighting a philosophy, of which al Qaeda as a whole is an active supporter.”

    First he’s Wanted, Dead or Alive, now he’s no big deal.

    Flip-flop, flip-flop.

  20. Talk about zero-sum views!

    Whether you understand it or not, everything you know on this little blue ball is zero-sum. The trick is where you put the zero, and whether the scale is x, dx/dt, etc.

    Can you not allow any variation in the number of people who need dying?

    Sure. And they wouldn’t all necessarily have to die today, either. That’s a function of where the bombs are dropped.

    Possibly our enemies numbers is a function of how dissatisified the people of Iraq are with our occupation?

    It is possible, but there are also overwhelming “fudge” factors: errors in headcount (how do you know exactly how many non-uniformed illegal combatants roam the streets?), fear of damnation by a desert deity (“Jihad: it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law”), Sunni contentment with Hussein and the resentment of a government that is not dominated by their interests, infiltration of foreign fighters and government interests, etc. You want to imply a direct relationship where none exists.

    In short, can you not imagine any scenario where we are safe without killing every last person who disagrees with us?

    Disagreement is an innoccuous and all-encompassing phenomenon. Rephrase your question.

  21. “Possibly our enemies numbers is a function of how dissatisified the people of Iraq are with our occupation?”

    I think there is a long way to go in showing this is an insurgency with popular support. Take your best shot.

  22. Jacob sez:

    I don’t know how long it will last, but the strength of this approach can be seen in the lameness of the Bush campaign’s response to it.

    Playing the devil’s advocate for a moment, perhaps the incumbent campaign doesn’t specifically address the justification for starting the Iraqi war because of the large majority of voters who support it.

    Unfortunately Jacob, you and I are in a small minority on this issue. I’d really like to know why Kerry is a better candidate than Dean now. I thought the Democrat core picked Kerry because he was hawkish.

  23. how about an insurgency without enough popular opposition?

  24. “how about an insurgency without enough popular opposition?”

    Intimidation and murder of police and aid groups; the single greatest complaint about the occupation is security, interestingly not the occupation itself. (assuming oxford research got it right)

  25. insurgent: n.; a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent

    It’s not an insurgency. There is no civil authority or established government. It seems more like a civil war muted by our enormous presence. Our presence may keep a lid on a full civil war until a consensus government emerges. Such would reduce the aggregate dead in a longer view.

  26. First he’s Wanted, Dead or Alive…

    You’re thinking of the FBI and transferring it onto me. Regardless, putting OBL on an FBI wanted poster (the culmination of a criminal complaint) has nothing to do with the overall military tactical approach in liquidating militant Wahhabists. The FBI should be looking for Bin Laden; the military should be killing, and when they’re done killing, they should kill some more.

  27. You know, I’m willing to accept, at least for the sake of argument, that Kerry does indeed have a consistent position on Iraq, and that all of his nuanced statements, when taken in context, will add up to a complex but consistent position.

    I can even admire such a complex position. I mean, I’m a physicist, and I routinely deal with some pretty complex and nuanced notions (entropy, anybody?).

    HOWEVER….

    Kerry has not articulated his message in a consistent manner. Your message is not the same as your position. Your message is the way you summarize and communicate your position.

    The Bush administration understands this. No matter how many contradictions one might point to, the Bush administration knows how to stay on message. Iraq is part of the war on terror. Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. We’re defending the American people.

    The details might change. They used to mostly discuss WMD, and now they talk about democracy and freedom in the Middle East. At one point Bush said something vague like “In the war on terror you can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam.”

    But the basic message is ALWAYS the same, and it’s ALWAYS front and center. You have a contradiction you want to point to? Doesn’t matter, because Iraq is part of the war on terror and that’s what it boils down to. What are you saying about mismanagement? Doesn’t matter because in the end the American people are safer, and that means it was managed well enough. Diplomatic fallout? Look, we removed a madman from power, and you can’t put a price on that.

    See how it works? Every piece of criticism is handled by staying ON MESSAGE, not by pointing to some new argument, some new nuance we hadn’t dealt with before.

    Kerry may very well have a consistent position, and perhaps in light of all of the nuances his statements can be shown to be consistent. However, he is constantly reaching into a large and complicated bag of tricks, rather than sticking to a single message. You can always massage the message to deal with the topic du jour, but don’t fundamentally change the message.

    One might argue that this sort of focus is a bad way to govern if it means you never change your mind to correct a mistake or respond to new information. Maybe. But it’s an excellent way to win (notice how I put the bold print on the high impact word, rather than on a long paragraph?), and the Bush team knows it.

    Then again, maybe I’m full of shit here. It’s not like I’ve ever won an election. Anyway, just my $0.02 worth.

  28. “I think there is a long way to go in showing this is an insurgency with popular support. Take your best shot.”

    How about a kid throwing a molotov at a US Army convoy in Sadr City? How about a US general saying that pretty much the entirety of that neighborhood (about a third of Baghdad’s land area) supports the insurgents?

  29. Comparing the war on terror to the war on drugs:
    Would you call drug dealers in my ‘hood an “insurgency” with? or without? popular support?
    Makes no difference. The problem is the cops being ordered to fight an impossible to win situation.

  30. thoreau, Kerry has tightened his message up, gone aggressive, and has begun sticking to his script since Labor Day.

    It’s as if he spent six months playing rope a dope, cruising up and down the river in plain sight while the Bush team expended their ammo trying to sink him.

    Well, they didn’t sink him, the race is nearly tied. The momentum is in Kerry’s direction. And now, with six weeks to go, Kerry turns right at the amBUSH and lets them have it.

    I wonder if anyone predicted that this would happen.

  31. Wow, joe. And people say the Bush administration puts too happy a face on the situation in Iraq!

  32. Hey Joe, no fair hogging the premo stash… pass some around!

  33. A campaign spokesman told The New York Times “John Kerry will say anything he thinks benefits him politically, regardless of its effect on our troops in the field and our allies fighting alongside them.” In other words, anyone who criticizes the war is undermining the morale of our boys and should keep his mouth shut for the good of the war effort.

    In OTHER other words, if one political candidate makes reckless statements that really do negatively impact the troops or our allies, his opponent should keep his mouth shut about the issue. Nice.

  34. “As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror…”

    Forgive me if my grasp on the relevant history is a bit superficial here, but wasn’t this basically Kennedy’s strategy in 1960? That is, rather than opposing Republican policy in the Cold War oughtright, saying that they weren’t fighting hard enough?

    Whether Kerry actually means it or it’s a matter of simple political calculation aside, I think it’s a pretty good point. I know plenty of people opposed to the war in Iraq (I’m one of them)…but to my knowledge, none of us have a problem with hunting OBL and AQ to the ends of the earth.

  35. “As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror…”

    Forgive me if my grasp on the relevant history is a bit superficial here, but wasn’t this basically Kennedy’s strategy in 1960? That is, rather than opposing Republican policy in the Cold War oughtright, saying that they weren’t fighting hard enough?

    Whether Kerry actually means it or it’s a matter of simple political calculation aside, I think it’s a pretty good point. I know plenty of people opposed to the war in Iraq (I’m one of them)…but to my knowledge, none of us have a problem with hunting OBL and AQ to the ends of the earth.

  36. I marched on the Pentagon in 1968 along with Norman Mailer…

    In 1968? Mailer was there in 1968?

  37. Rasmussen’s been down to a point or less for the past three days, with the EC race at 213 Bush, 211 Kerry. This is a recent development, as Ras tracked the Bush bounce and had him way ahead in the EC. Remind me again, do undecided voters bread towards the challenger or the incumbent?

    You all keep your grubby paws off my sack.

  38. D Anqhelone,
    Would 1967 work better for you?
    It was one of the two.

  39. Joe, I would laugh at someone who painted so rosy a picture for Bush, and he’s the one with 5-point national lead fighting all his battles on 2000 blue states.

  40. “How about a kid throwing a Molotov at a US Army convoy in Sadr City?”

    I burned all kinds of crap with Molotov cocktails as a kid, blew up a lot of shit with pipe bombs. All that makes me was a destructive kid.

    “How about a US general saying that pretty much the entirety of that neighborhood”

    That is one neighborhood in one town. With that same poor logic I could point to the relatively peacefull Kurdish region and say that there is no such thing as an insurgency, only foreign fighters trying to derail free elections. Address how quickly al-Sadr was shut down in the Ali shrine(by popular demand). al-Sistani is a good example of real popular support, not Sadre city.

  41. A president however has to embrace ideas firmly and not let go.

    Like the idea of democracy.

    President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, standing shoulder to shoulder at the White House, vowed Thursday to cleanse the war-torn country of insurgents who are threatening the drive for a new democracy. (Knight Ridder papers)

    Bush is a veritable terrier when it comes to embracing the idea of democracy with his teeth and shaking it till its spine is broken.

    Who is the staunchest Muslim ally of the US in the region?

    Mr. Musharraf or General Musharraf?

  42. Raymond-
    Democracy for those that wont cooperate, foreign aid for the rest.

  43. In other words, anyone who criticizes the war is undermining the morale of our boys and should keep his mouth shut for the good of the war effort.

    No.

    If you honestly think the war is bad, fine — condemn the war. If you honestly think we shouldn’t have allies, fine — try to convince our allies to abandon us. You’re obviously a fool, but at least you’re a fool with good intentions. But stabbing your own nation in the back just to get yourself elected? That’s pretty contemptable.

    Of course, John Kerry’s built his whole career around fucking over the United States and the people who defend it. It’s probably too much to ask him to change tactics now.

  44. Jesus Christ, it’s like a little nest of fascists wandered in.

    Newsflash: Theoretically, our military exists to safeguard our freedoms, which include — last I checked — the concepts of “freedom” and “democracy”.

    Which means it’s retarded in the extreme, not to mention rather insulting to the very ideals we make our troops adhere too (remember that bit about upholding the Constitution) to imply that John Kerry stating — either implicitly or explicitly — that Bush is fucking up the war and getting soldiers killed is somehow a “bad” or “unAmerican” thing.

    Critizing the President — during war or during peace — is the second most Democratic thing I can think of. The most Democratic being, of course, tossing him out on his ass — in war or in peace — for presiding over a giant fuck-up that’s killed thousands.

    George Bush is a fool. That he’s desperate enough to equate criticism with his decisions with pseudo-treason (or at least an appalling lack of patriotism) shows he’s a dangerous one, who doesn’t give a shit about the basic concepts this nation was founded on.

  45. “Democracy for those that wont cooperate, foreign aid for the rest.”

    What kind of weapon is democracy?
    A “big stick”?
    A stun gun?
    Smart bombs?

    Exactly who does the US government need to aim it at? What percent of a population?

    Or is democracy more like a threat? Like prison?

    Any of the above descriptions of democracy are not how my 6th grade teacher described it.

  46. Currently it is a threat.

  47. We lack meaningful metrics to tell how we are currently doing in Iraq. I assume folks on both sides of the great divide will continue to quote anecdotal evidence to support their position.

    It’s a stretch to claim that Bush and his campaign are off target by stating that nuttering nabbobs of negativism should tone down partisan rhetoric viv a vis the war in Iraq. Unfortunately the repugs brought this upon themselves when Billy Jeff had his clean war to save muslims in Yugoslavia.

    Should we cut our losses and leave the field, or stay the course? I can’t pretend to know the answer and doubt that our political leaders know the best answer either.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming:

    “Jane, you ignorant slut…”

  48. I disagree: We have very pertinent metrics to tell how we’re currently doing in Iraq.

    Try “Number of American soldiers dying daily”. Or, perhaps, “Number of troops we have in country” or “Number of attacks against American troops a day” or “Areas of Iraq that won’t be voting, because we don’t dare go in without taking a brigade with us….”.

    I’m not sure how anyone could look at the information coming out of CENTCOM and even conclude that things are “getting better”, much less conclude that things are “going well”.

    From CENTCOM reports we’re losing almost 2 soldiers a day, facing upwards of 60 or so attacks a day, and vast areas of Iraq (including major cities like Fallujah and Ramdi and a good chunk of Baghdad) are simply off-limits. When American troops go there, it’s for quick patrols or to hunker in heavily-fortified enclaves.

  49. Like the idea of democracy.

    Democracy is just another system. Better than any other it seems when it comes to the preservation of personal liberty, capital, property, etc., but as we’ve all seen just as prone to the idiocy of the human animal as any other system. He could hold fast to fascism for all it matters, the point is not what he holds to but that he holds to it as unwaveringly as possible. Your political totems do the rest.

  50. That he’s desperate enough to equate criticism with his decisions with pseudo-treason (or at least an appalling lack of patriotism)

    Well, it’s a good thing that criticism of any stripe against Jewish, black, and homosexual aspects of human culture escapes being labeled as anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic…

    Theoretically, our military exists to safeguard our freedoms, which include — last I checked — the concepts of “freedom” and “democracy”.

    And theoretically, the evils of capitalism are wholly balanced by positive acts of beneficience. An army exists to kill. When it’s not killing, it’s training to kill.

    “Number of American soldiers dying daily”

    It is a continuing armed conflict. In case you were unaware, soldiers die in armed conflict.

    “Number of troops we have in country”

    Unless contrasted against a deployment projection over time, your metric has no meaning as it is not expressed in a relevant unit.

    “Number of attacks against American troops a day”

    Again, a component to a war. You didn’t expect everybody in Iraq to be happy, did you? It’s a low cost, high percentage shot to drive a truck with filled gasoline containers into a National Guard recruitment office. You could do it in the U.S. if you wanted to.

    “Areas of Iraq that won’t be voting, because we don’t dare go in without taking a brigade with us….”

    That sounds like a domestic problem to me. A bit premature for the label of course given the woeful lack of security, but I’m trusting that Iraqis in those areas will know – read: be told – that they will be disenfranchised from selecting their government by the freedom fighters that hold their neighborhoods hostage. At least, that’s the spin I’d put on it.

  51. Earlier this year my prediction was:
    Bush 55% Nader 2% Kerry 45%?with a possible Senate pick-up of three for the Dems, combined with significant gains in the House.

    That was a Democratic Default?even Dean would have done nearly as well, and all the more serious candidates (Clarke, Edwards, Gephardt and Lieberman) could have assumed about as much.

    But that was Anybody-But-Kerry? the worst candidate the Democrats have run in my lifetime, and locked into a mindless Hate-Bush strategy that will likely confine him to about ten states and the District of Columbia. Bush will not win the customary “land-slide” 60%, or 49 states? the economy is sluggish, and Iraq is not pretty? but Bush will spank Kerry decisively, and probably pull some Senate races and a slew of House contests into the Red.

    57% Bush 2-3% Nader 39/41% Kerry?with a net pick-up of two Senate races and every open seat in the House, as well as anything up for grabs at the state level (ANYWHERE).

    The states Kerry is sure to win are Hawaii, California, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware and New York?all states that have voted Democratic in every Presidential election since 1984, and where the Democratic state machines dominate the local terrain.

    Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida are all in play?and Kerry is the clear favorite only in Washington State. The rest of the nation is Red?period. Kerry needs to win virtually all of these states, and if he tanks in the debates (he will!), he may not win any of them. (And, curiously, he would “steal” the race with less than a popular majority, anyway.)
    Kerry himself is half the problem. Kerry is a figure familiar to Europeans but nearly unrecognizable to Americans: the Ruined Aristocrat. An offspring of yesterday’s gentry, heir to an unearned snobbishness and narcissism (unsupported by actual accomplishment)?who has kept himself afloat by marrying into Big Money, while retaining the preening vanity, arrogance and superior manner he takes for his birth-right.
    If Americans knew and understood him better, they would like him even less (they like him little enough, as it is) and it is unsurprising that Europeans? who know this sort all too well? would wish him on us, as they wish us ill.

    But it was Democrats who chose Kerry, and who supplied him with his squalid “theme” (Anybody-But-Bush) and this is where they betray their problem. In my lifetime the Democrats have failed to take the White House from an incumbent President twice (1972, 1984) and have succeeded twice (1976, 1992)? they have succeeeded in taking the White House from a succeeding Vice President once (1960) and failed to do so once (1988).

    What would you guess was the difference between these campaigns? When they cry and throw tantrums and sneer at the opponent?do they win?

  52. I think there is a long way to go in showing this is an insurgency with popular support. Take your best shot.

    i’m a bit appalled that there are still intelligent people who 1) don’t think we’re seeing a broad-based insurgency against the american presence and 2) that things aren’t astoundingly bad and getting worse.

    what does one imagine constitutes the 20-40,000 insurgents? putting aside the paper-thin propaganda about “foreign fighters” — who are certainly there but certainly in diminutive numbers relative to 20,000 — they are religious partisans and nationalists and anarchists, a swirl of flavors each operating in their interest. but who they are isn’t the important part.

    the important part is how we’ve chosen to fight them. 500-pound bombs kill everyone within 100 yards — we drop these things on insurgents in neighborhoods, and kill everyone in the neighborhood. we intentionally choose these minimum-contact strategies to suppress our body count, but we’ve demonized ourselves in the process by rapidly inflating the innocent iraqi body count. i would agree, rst, that soldiers die in armed conflict — but the pentagon disagrees, would rather kill their civilians than our soldiers and that now is fuel for the insurgency.

    by killing so many iraqi urban civilians in this random fashion (regardless of the actual number, it’s certainly an intolerable total well over 10,000 and possibly over 20,000), we’ve built for the insurgents a popularity base that they’d never have been able to build themselves — and created a growing population of willing martyrs out of iraqis who once would’ve been our allies. for every insurgent we kill with a bomb, we kill two or three innocents and thereby create two or three families of american-killing zealots. this is the *opposite* of how you fight an insurgency — instead of removing routes to popular sympathy and support, we’re reinforcing them. all is lost if we continue in this way — if it isn’t already.

    and that’s why things are getting worse. parts of the country (notably kurdistan) are stable, but much of the rest is not — and entire sections of the country are effectively off-limits to american armed forces. that is a serious decline from a year ago, and it indicates the expansion of size and intensity of the insurgency — as does the accelerating death rate of american soldiers, the fastest yet being this month’s pace.

    no rational observer (of which there are few, it seems) can sugarcoat it — things are spiralling down. even the ardently pro-war economist now admits that iraq is in chaos and possibly on the way top civil war. the national intelligence estimate says as much as well. senators on both sides say the same. the only group holding out against the obvious is the white house (for plain reasons) and their supporters (for less plain reasons).

    so let’s at least understand what we’re facing so that we can deal with it. simple recognition shouldn’t be a partisan point with something so important, it seems to me — but, in an election year, i suppose nothing is non-partisan. too bad for the american solider. while we propagandize and lie and dither and deflect, he dies for lack of an honest admittance or a decent plan in washington.

  53. OOps…53% in the first set of figures.

  54. Bush ghajtaH ghobe’ quv!

    (Bush has no honor!)

    Or course neither does Kerry. 🙂

    Andrew,

    What, are you Nostradamus now?

    rst,

    A Sunni boycott would also throw a spanner in the works.

  55. And it IS demoralizing, unpatriotic and defeatist to beliitle our allies and run down the performance of our troops IF you do not particularly have a policy alternative.

    Kerry doesn’t. Because his “point” is that he would be a “better” President (and things would somehow be “better”) because he is Kerry (smarter, more beutiful, and with a more attractive case of medals) NO MATTER WHAT POLICY HE CHOSE TO PURSUE.

    This point is delusional…unique to the Private Worlds of Kerry, Michael Moore and leftist trolls like joe. It is “the little man who isn’t there” for the American electorate.

    This is why Kerry doesn’t feel he needs to have one Iraq policy…he thinks he beats Bush on ANY policy- cuz he’s just betta, that’s why.

    Meantime. Dean or Clarke could have made a rational case against the war on half the “trouble” (ANY mess wasn’t worth it if the war was a mistake…and twice this would be worth it if the war is a good idea.)

    Edwards could have said “Me Too, and about the economy…” And Lieberman and Gephardt could have run to the right.

    But kerry has to prove Kerry is Beautiful and Bush=Hitler/Bush=Buffoon, independent of ANY policy position.

    A sure way to lose. And merely damaging to the prospects of American success on the policy we have, and will have for some time yet.

  56. A man once said; “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the American Public”. One can substitute “lost an election” for “went broke” and you pretty much have it.

    Bush is WELL scripted and has quick, fascile arguments that anybody can understand. Their accuracy and/or completeness is a different thing entirely and one that he does not deal with. Kerry, on the other hand, just doesn’t get it and thinks people really want to understand the details. The fact is that folks just want to be re-assured and given an answer that is, short, to the point and easily understood. In this context accuracy is not the issue and answers of ANY complexity are a gross error in judgement.

    Kerry doesn’t seem to get this and his mouth is losing him the election.

  57. I’m realizing now why Kerry is such a weak candidate on the national scene.

    A lot of people focus on how well Kerry has campaigned in past elections for Senate. Kerry might do great in Massachussettes because, well, a lot of people agree with him there. I’m not trying to play any culture wars stuff, it’s just a fact that a lot of people agree with him. If he can get out and make that point and make it well, and persuade the swing voters that he isn’t too extreme for their taste then he’ll be able to pull out a victory at the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and 2 strikes.

    But on the national stage, there is no consensus in favor of the left, the right, or the center. You can’t possibly persuade enough people that you share your views. That’s why Presidential elections are about personality as much as anything else.

    So let’s look at how they present themselves.

    Bush does a great job at always returning to certain basic points. He may be 100% wrong when he asserts that his policies will advance those goals, but he always returns to them. A lot of people focus on the supposedly shifting rationales for invading Iraq (first WMD, then ties to Al Qaeda, now it’s freedom in the Middle East). What they don’t catch, and what I’m finally realizing, is that Bush never made any of those concrete positions his central point about invading Iraq.

    Bush will take the reason du jour for invading Iraq (WMD, democracy, whatever) and run with it, but at the end he always goes beyond those things to his basic themes: This is part of the war on terror, we’re making the American people safer, and Saddam was a bad guy. It’s simple. It transcends whatever the latest details might be. It sounds reassuring.

    Yes, I know, many people might say he’s wrong about those things, but that’s not my point. My point is that he is able to sell his policies because he always returns to some basic ideas that reassure people.

    What about Kerry? Well, I really do believe that Kerry wants Americans to be safe. I really do believe that Kerry wants to win the war on terror. And I am confident that Kerry knows Saddam is a bad guy. (I might not be convinced that Kerry will achieve those goals, but I’m sure he shares those goals.) Big deal. Kerry doesn’t talk about those goals. Kerry is like the blogosphere. He’s talking about some detail of whatever the current debate is. First he’s saying that he would vote again to invade Iraq. Then he’s saying it was the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong way. Then he’s saying something else.

    It all fits together, just like our obsessing over Valerie Plame, proportional fonts, and a holiday in Cambodia are all part of a bigger picture. But Kerry isn’t good at relating it to the big picture.

    Don’t get me wrong, Bush may or may not be doing a bad job at governing, but he’s good at wooing enough people that ultimately he’ll be able to pull this off and win a second term.

    And that really worries me.

  58. After posting this, I saw metoo’s excellent post. Metoo is clearly more like Bush, and I am clearly more like Kerry.

    Or, perhaps it would be most accurate to say, from the experience of my career, that metoo embodies the basic speaking qualities of George Bush. I, on the other hand, tend to go on and on in a more professorial style that is reminiscent of John Kerry. That style has served me well in the trenches of academia, I can think of many a session as a TA for freshman physics where I had to fill time and found that the ability to hold forth at length was crucial. It’s even served me well as I finish my final project before I start my dissertation writing, where I’m providing some people in industry with data that they need for their own projects. They need the details, and I’m able to give them. However, it would serve me ill if I were to ever, with the support of my wife and due consideration of all factors, run for public office.

    😉

  59. “A man once said; “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the American Public”. One can substitute “lost an election” for “went broke” and you pretty much have it.” Aaaaawwwwwwww, poor babeeeeee… bitter words from the side that’s losing, be it Badnarik or Kerry. Let’s hope you’re a Kerry supporter. A Badnarik supporter really can’t knock the voting public. That’s what LOSERS do when they’re losing, they blame the voting public/consumer. My side did it from 1992 until 2000, the Democrat’s did it from 1980 until at least 1988 and are now doing again. When you offer Horsehit candy and no one buys it, you tend to blame the consumers, “Why this is GREAT horseshit candy. Darn those consumers for not choosing my product.” We learned, I hope, our lesson in 2000. Don’t whine, be upbeat and positive, change your product and sell it better, don’t bitch and moan that no one is smart enough or sophisticated enough to appreciate youtr offering. And that goes for Badnarik OR Kerry.
    I’m gonna crow… My side is up by 8-13 points. We own up to 295 Electoral Votes, now and Kerry is abandoning several battleground states. As someone said, Dubya is campaigning IN KERRY”S backyard, I don’t know what “Joe” is talking about in his first posts… You mean Kerry WANTED to be down and fighting in states that Gore won?

  60. Joe L.-

    I don’t think people are stupid. I think people are just demanding and expect the candidates to make things simple. It’s the same reason why people like graphical user interfaces, cup holders in cars, Lunchables, and pizza delivery. In the marketplace we expect businesses to make things simple for us because we’re paying them. Likewise, in the political arena we prefer politicians to keep it simple. We figure that they’ll break any detailed promises that they might make, but they might stick to the nuts and bolts underlying their ideas. (Well, at least that’s what we’re hoping.)

    Nobody has ever gone broke by keeping a product simple. Nobody has ever lost an election by focusing on fundamentals rather than details.

  61. Speaking of the Sunnis possibly boycotting the Iraqi vote throwing another spanner in the works over there.

    Just when I was thinking we anarchists could toss a spanner of our own here, I read about that dadburned anarchist “convergence” in Athens, Ohio, getting weak in the knees and agitating to vote for Kerry.

    Nobody has principles anymore.

  62. Non-sequitor:

    Kerry is living in la-la land though if he somehow things that Europe is going to throw in and ride to the rescue. Not gonna happen. Indeed, it would it would take a flip flop of major proportions for either Schroeder or Chirac to commit military resources to Iraq. Furthermore, most European governments (whether they opposed the Gulf War or not) are pretty much betting Bush will win right now, so they are apt to ignore Kerry’s yelps.

  63. I should add to remarks that even those European countries which supported the war in Iraq aren’t going to throw in anything more substantive; they either can’t or they won’t.

  64. Nobody has principles anymore.

    Kerry is the Anti-Bush. He’s the ultimate temptation to give into the mathematics of the exercise. That’s a tasty looking apple.

  65. rst,

    Isn’t anyone who opposes Bush by definition “the Anti-Bush?”

  66. I don’t think people are stupid.

    you’re a step more idealistic than me then, thoreau. the people are dumb. it’s a fact, and it has nothing to do with who’s beating who. they’re just simpleminds.

    http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_5313.shtml

  67. A president however has to embrace ideas firmly and not let go.

    He could hold fast to fascism for all it matters, the point is not what he holds to but that he holds to it as unwaveringly as possible.

    Nobody has principles anymore.

    the people are dumb. … they’re just simpleminds.

    With all these things in mind…

    Musharraf is not a democrat. He’s a military dictator.

    The only idea Bush embraces firmly and unwaveringly is that of his own reelection. To achieve this end, all means are acceptable. Supporting tyrants, lying, putting Americans needlessly in harm’s way and causing them to die, using torture, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, selling the idea that “Anti-Bush” = “Anti-American”.

    Other ideas – ones he does not hold to unwaveringly but pretends to when it’s convenient to do so:

    ? Fundamental Human Rights

    ? Democracy

    ? Free trade

    ? the Rule of Law

    He’s your agent.

  68. ?people are dumb. it’s a fact, and it has nothing to do with who’s beating who. they’re just simpleminds.?

    This is true, in a relative sense. If I am correct thoreau is a physicist and as such is regularly surrounded by other people of the same relative intelligence. I also would dare to venture that most of the posters on this board are more intelligent than the average person. Most people, I believe, no matter how intelligent are limited by their surroundings in such a way that gives them a poor perspective on what constitutes average. If the IQ scale is linear and effectively measures problem solving we can say a few things about the perspective of an average person. Take for instance thoreau and his colleagues. The average IQ would likely be about 130 and most certainly the low end is above 120. So, thoreau or one of his colleagues observing the problem solving skills of an average person would be directly analogous to an average person observing the problem solving skills of someone with a 70 to 80 IQ. I believe 80 is considered borderline retarded.

    ?i’m a bit appalled that there are still intelligent people who 1) don’t think we’re seeing a broad-based insurgency against the american presence and 2) that things aren’t astoundingly bad and getting worse.?

    Don?t be appalled, reconsider your position.

    ?The only idea Bush embraces firmly and unwaveringly is that of his own reelection.?

    You are wrong, he actually firmly believes in his cause and methods. This doesn?t make him any less of a jackass.

  69. ?He’s your agent.?
    This is exactly why we need a strong constitution. Congress was asleep at the switch when they wrote him a blank check for. And Kerry thinks this gets him off the hook.

  70. Kerry does not have any “details” that reconcile his contradictions, and fill in all the white spaces in his positions. Kerry flip-flops because he thinks the voters are too stupid to follow his tap-dance, and will give him the benefit of the doubt. In the case of Me-too and Thoreau, he appears to be right.

  71. Andrew,

    You’re the one who is stupid if you think that thoreau’s comments can be truthfully characterized as you claim.

    And on the flip-flop issue, Kerry and Bush are like mirrors reflecting one another.

  72. Anyone want to know what really scares me? More than the 1000+ dead soldiers. More than the 20000+ dead Iraqi civilians. More than the billions of dollars wasted or the increasing danger. More than the hypocrisy.

    What scares me is that there is going to be a draft.

  73. Don?t be appalled, reconsider your position.

    i do, often — i’m open to consider that we aren’t faced with antiamerican insurgency and that things are really pretty good in iraq — but i can find little i consider credible to back the opposing arguments, even though they are forwarded with tedious regularity among many well-indoctrinated americans.

    instead, i find once optimistic sources (like the economist, the senate and several american conservative publications) getting more dour by the day — and the only optimists left are the ones who have no choice but to be: the white house and fox news.

  74. raymond-
    Give me a fucking break! There is not going to be a draft. You have absolutely no understanding of how the draft sits in the American psyche. The left as a scare tactic occasionally raises the question of the draft. The closest thing going is involuntarily holding national guardsmen over their commitment. I live in very conservative Utah, which has sent a great number of guardsmen. The involuntary retention has been an extremely sore point here, sore enough to hurt Bush. We have an all-voluntary military and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. You can save the histrionics, as wars go this has been the most painless one America has fought. As far as 20,000+ dead Iraqis, if we were to believe those on the left that were begging to end sanctions more were dying from withholding medicines and food under the ?UN profits for oil program?. If we are to believe those on the right more were dying in Sadam?s death camps (here there are mass graves that reflect some of this). Worldwide deaths due to conflicts are down including the Iraq war, a trend that has continued for the last decade. None of this justifies the war, but your theatrics aren?t helping anyone.

  75. ?i’m a bit appalled that there are still intelligent people who 1) don’t think we’re seeing a broad-based insurgency against the american presence and 2) that things aren’t astoundingly bad and getting worse.?

    ?they are forwarded with tedious regularity among many well-indoctrinated americans.?

    Appalling, indoctrination; these are the comments of someone entrenched in their opinion.

  76. “What scares me is that there is going to be a draft.”- So there it is… It’s all about YOU right? Everything else is window dressing. YOU don’t want to be drafted. So let me ask, If Bush says I swear that I will resign before instituting a draft would you vote for him? After all, you’ll be safe from the draft… I mean what we have here is the same sort of Leftist B.S. from the 60’s, “Don’t draft me man”…
    That of course ignors the REALITY that from President down to Service Chiefs, NO ONE WANTS A DRAFT!!! The ONLY people pushing for a draft are leftists/Progressives attempting to stir up the ‘ute vote. Charlie Wrnagel is pushing a draft, Kerry intimates that there COULD be a draft. The people out of power talk about the draft. The people WITH the power don’t, but you’re worried about Bush-Cheney. My advice is engage your brain and see who is really discussing the draft. Though to be fair to Wrangel et. al. the “draft” is just a political tool to them to spark increased opposition to the war, if they had the power I don’t think they’d institute it either.

    “Anyone want to know what really scares me? More than the 1000+ dead soldiers. More than the 20000+ dead Iraqi civilians. More than the billions of dollars wasted or the increasing danger. More than the hypocrisy.”-Good thing you weren’t around from 1861-1865 then, Ray me old son, THAT war claimed something like 2.5-5.0% of the US population, in modern terms that would roughly be 7.5-15 MILLION dead. Or glad you weren’t around on 6 June 1944, Omaha Beach claimed more dead, in one day, than OIF has in its entirety. Goo thing you weren’t around for the rest of the Second World War when casualties AVERAGED 900 KIA per DAY. Raymond wars cost lives, it’s why we do try to avoid them, but it is the price we ahve to pay.
    And the 20K casualties you quote from the Iraqi’s that is a number that includes the INSURGENTS AND THEIR VICTIMS, right? Because 20k “innocent civilians” haven’t been killed, sorry, no one can support that number. the high numbers contain these numbers, Mustafa and pals plant a car bomb that kills 100 people, then mustafa and his 10 insurgent buddies get killed in a firefight, the body count 110. It’s an odd way to count when the victims and criminals all get lumped in and then the number gets thrown in someone’s face to justify or demand withdrawl from Iraq. It’s akin to tabulating all the people that died in the Liberation of France, German and French and then arguing that the cost of libertaion was too high.

    But really you just worry about being drafted…The world can go to Hell in a hand basket, but if Ole Ray is safe from the draft it’s OK.

  77. Kerry does not have any “details” that reconcile his contradictions, and fill in all the white spaces in his positions. Kerry flip-flops because he thinks…

    and may i impart a bit of good advice that is sure to go ignored, not to or by andrew specifically but generally?

    one of the cardinal rules of management is to ensure that you put effective managers in positions of responsibility. when managers exhibit incompetency repeatedly, fire them. to do otherwise is to court bankruptcy. it breeds a culture of irresponsibility.

    we are faced, ideology aside, with a current political situation where this is occurring on two levels: bush will not fire rumsfeld despite a patently horrid plan of operation (as sharply pointed out by his own generals and informed observers from all quarters), and at least 45% of americans will not fire bush despite his failure to effectively manage rumsfeld, iraq, and the budget.

    it’s very similar to the situation in the late 1990s, when clinton, whose policies and talent i admire, lied under oath to federal prosecutors — a felony offense — and yet was supported by 60%+ of the american public throughout against any attempt to hold him formally accountable. that is an offense that must — *must*, for the credibility of the office — be punished severely. (and, to be fair, clinton was eviscerated in the press, lost his agenda in congress for his last two years and formally censured — though the people would have rathered that even that had not happened!)

    it’s said that, in the end, you get the government that you deserve. the american people, by willfully ignoring gross mismanagement in the white house and in fact often vehemently supporting it (for what reasons i fail to imagine), creates unaccountable government and invites decline.

  78. Because 20k “innocent civilians” haven’t been killed, sorry, no one can support that number

    joe L., i suspect that the number of actual innocents killed is 20,000 and possibly much higher. i don’t say this as a political attack but as an honest assessment of the way we’ve operated there.

    you can’t expect to use as your method of intervention warplanes dropping bombs on insurgents who use populated neighborhoods as bases of operation and simultaneously hold down civilian casualties. does a day go by when you don’t read “american warplanes bombed insurgents…”? the pentagon has decided willfully, as part of its low-manpower/low-casualty strategy, to escalate the civilian dead and wounded to save american soldiers from rooting out insurgents door-to-door.

    one of the great tragedies of this war/occupation has been the unwillingness — for all the bravado of republicans at home and stern words about our heroes in the field braving danger, which they do — of the american civilian planners to engage the enemy with manpower. for it means a much higher death toll among the innocent and the once-friendly. it has done much, imo, to feed the insurgency.

    equally tragic is the blindness of the american public — be it from deceit, arrogance or well-intentioned patriotism — toward this methodology and its moral difficulties.

  79. Well Gaius I see you proffer no EVIDENCE, merely a “belief”. I blieve in Magic Pony Land where all is good and happy and no one ever is sad or dies, but that don’t make it so.
    I simply point ut the imprecision of the language, “warplanes bombed”. Now that could mean:
    1) 12 AV-8B’s each with 24 mk 82 500 pound bombs delivered 288 bombs onto a grid square in downtown Fallujah; or
    2) one warplane delivered a 500 pound JDAMS on a house in Fallujah; or
    3) One warplane delivered a 500 pound BDU onto a house in Fallujah, BDU’s being inert concrete filled “practice ordnance” now being used in combat to minimize collateral damage; or
    4) One warplane delivered a Maverick or Hellfire missile onto a house in Fallujah.
    Option 1 results in massive destruction and massive loss of life, the other three options deliver far less devastation and death. Usually, focussed on the target not the neighbors. I tend to believe “american warplanes bombed insurgents” refers more to options 2-4 than Option 1. As buttressing evidence I present the dog that did not bark, IF Option 1 or options approximating 1 were chosen Fallujah would not exist, it would like Grozny. I note that it does not. I further note that AQ and the Ba’athists aren’t flooding the airwaves with the pictures of the “hundreds” of wounded civilians from the bombings. I don’t see them passing up the propoganda victory this would present UNLESS there aren’t hundreds of dead and wounded civilians. Just dead Jihadis.
    So Gaius BELIEVE what you want, but also examine your beliefs in light of reality as well.

  80. Isn’t anyone who opposes Bush by definition “the Anti-Bush?”

    No. Kerry is counting on having some percentage of voters who don’t want Bush and understand that Kerry is the only mathematically viable alternative given the way we carry out elections. The electoral college isn’t even available to fringe parties; for them success is double digit points in the popular tally. The term “Anti-Bush” isn’t from the point of view of the candidate to the voter, but from the voter to the process.

    Remember when Jennifer Hudson got booted from American Idol and black America (and Elton John) went up in arms? It’s called fractions, my brothers and sisters. Anybody with half a brain would have known that one of the 3 identically sounding divas was going to lose that day. Maybe fractions are culturally biased, though.

    I think for many the willingness to unseat Bush will surpass the desire to see their candidate get results of some greater-than-nil statistical significance.

  81. The more reliable polls have Bush’s lead at 2-4% and falling. Zogby (remember him, the one who keeps beating the big firms) has the EC at 213 Bush, 211 Kerry. The dynamics of this race are against the incumbant. Flordia, PA, Ohia are all in play. If Kerry can carry two of these, instead of the one Gore took, he can afford to lose a few smaller states that Gore took (which might happen). But keep in mind, a number of states Bush won in 2000 are still in play, like Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Arkansas.

    People want to fire Bush. They just aren’t sure Kerry is a responsible alternative. But if there’s one thing John Kerry is good at, it’s projecting responsibility.

    The big swing states are all very close, which means retail politics might tip the balance there. John Kerry has John Edwards in charge of shaking hands and eating rubber chicken at Rotary Clubs. George Bush has Dick Cheney in charge of that. Advantate, Kerry.

    Incumbant elections are not like boxing, where you have to knock out the champ. They’re like baseball, where the ties goes to the runner. If this is close, Kerry wins. And it’s getting closer by the day.

    Bush has the lead, Kerry has the mo’, these debates, especially the first, could very well be the ballgame.

  82. People want to fire Bush. They just aren’t sure Kerry is a responsible alternative. But if there’s one thing John Kerry is good at, it’s projecting responsibility.

    Says you. Advantage Kerry? Why, because he’s got some kid trial lawyer hanging with the rank-and-file instead of Cheney whom you despise? Edwards has been on the defensive for most of this time. Cheney gets laughs and delivers the same simple message to the simple folk: Kerry will make you unsafe, Bush will not. Edwards is treating his audiences like a jury, but they’re not there to think, they’re there to have a shot of hope in the arm.

    You really like this guy, joe. Your bias is convincing you to do more and more handwaving.

  83. The latest Gallup poll has Bush up 52% to 44%.

    Their sample is based on 43% Republicans, 31% Democrats, 25% Independents.

    Does that look right to ANYBODY?

    I guess to get the result they wanted, they had to squash not only Democrats, but also Independents, who are breaking for Kerry.

    It’s OK, we can trust Gallup.

  84. Joe, your guy is gonna lose and lose by 4-8 points… I can’t “prove” it now. Just come back on 3 November though and we’ll see who is smiling and who “wuz robbed.”
    And Kerry in debates…oh please… Dubya is no forensic expert, but then Kerry is a lifeless unlikeable manequin. I don’t think the dabates are going to do a THING for Kerry.
    And Edwards, Edwards, who has HEARD from Edwards… say what you will but unless he eats a MOUNTAIN of Rotary Club chicken and kisses EVERY baby in the Mid-West he ain’t doing much for Kerry either.
    Oh and I’d say Kerry is good at projecting an aura of an aloof patrician that isn’t particularly likeable. I note that when he’s NOT in the news his ratings seem to rise.
    Lastly, for a man with the big “mo” how come your guy is pulling out of states he used to compete in? That means Dubya can compete there with no problem and shift resources to other battlegrounds. And the scare tactics, the draft, disenfranchised blacks, social security, all those sound like the desperate measures of a campaign in deep kimchee.
    But I guess that Wednesday in November will tell us. Me, I’m betting I’m the one with the grin. If I’m not it’ll be painful but I’ll take it like a man. I only hope that the same can be said for you and your party.

  85. Yes, that silly bias that makes me think John Edwards is better at connecting with ordinary people than Dick Cheney. What could I be thinking?

  86. “for a man with the big “mo” how come your guy is pulling out of states he used to compete in?”

    You mean like New Hampshire, Colorado, and Nevada?

    “And Edwards, Edwards, who has HEARD from Edwards…” That’s the point, dipshit, he’s out shaking hands, not appearing on TV. Remember how Clinton came back in New Hampshire?

    “Dubya is no forensic expert, but then Kerry is a lifeless unlikeable manequin.” Expectations game. If Kerry avoids sighing and rolling his eyes, and manages to land a couple punches, he “wins.”

    Incumbants who win re-election have their opponent buried by now.

  87. For the Bushies shrieking that there won’t be a draft, here’s a relatively simple question: If he is sincerely opposed to reinstating conscription, why doesn’t Bush pledge that he won’t do it? (As Kerry, Nader, Badnarik and Peroutka have all done.) Also, Joe L., there’s no point in offering you links on Iraqi dead because, as they aren’t compiled at your God-king’s direction, you won’t believe them anyway. For others, though, here are a few links:

    http://www.iraqbodycount.net/ (12,000-14,000 civilian only)

    http://www.comw.org/pda/0402rm9exsum.html (11,000-14,000 civilian and military dead just during the period March 19, 2003 to May 1, 2003)

    http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=6963 (3,500 Iraqis killed from April 5, 2004 to Sept. 19, 2004)

    http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=6922 (IHRO estimate of 30,000 total dead, time period not given, but presumably through June, 2004)

    Thus 20,000 Iraqi dead is not an absurdly large estimate given these numbers.

  88. IF Option 1 or options approximating 1 were chosen Fallujah would not exist, it would like Grozny

    that’s certainly fair, but

    I tend to believe “american warplanes bombed insurgents” refers more to options 2-4 than Option 1

    if this is true, it must be understood that a 500-pound munition kills everyone within 100 yards and inflicts injury in a 500-yard radius (says United States Army Field Manual 3-19.40) — and you’re dropping these into city blocks, where the buildings instantly become shrapnel far more than protection.

    the united states has expended in excess of 30,000 such munitions in iraq.

    massive civilian casualties as a result are not only easy to imagine — they’re absolutely inevitable. and utterly real, to the extent that they’re a subject of military study.

    http://www.comw.org/pda/0402rm9.html

    i wholeheartedly encourage *anyone* reading this to take the time to read this searingly enlightening paper, which is wonderfully and thoroughly sourced. it closely examines how the united states has fought under the bush/rumsfeld administration — it articulates the horrifying (and almost completely undiscussed) result of rummy’s low-manpower/air-dependent “new warfare” strategy.

  89. Gaius, All I’m asking is if there are all these massive numbers of dead Iraqi’s from aerial bombardment where are the photo’s on Al-Jazeera. they aren’t there. I conclude that what is there is a lot of dead Jihadis.
    Go to “How to make war” a part of the strategypage.com. The Iraqis estimate 3800 dead Iraqi’s in Toto, this year. That includes Jihadis and their victims. 9% of Iraqi KIA are Women and Children, they make up 50% of the population. Women and children are NOT dying in vast numbers in Iraq. Certainly not under the remorseless aerial bombardment of the Bush-Cheney Administration. Women and children are dying, some from the cross fire and some from car bombs, but not in job lots.

    And SR, Iraqbodycount counts ALL Iraqi’s killed, since the inception of OIF, IIRC. In short, Pvt Mustafa of the 51st Armoured Brigade, Jihadi Mustafa of the Fedayeen Saddam, and little Mustafa victim of a car bomb are all counted on that page. It does not disaggregate the numbers of KIA. So it lumps the innocent and the guilty together all into one number and allows foks such as you to toss that number out as “proof” of a humanitarian disaster.

  90. Have you ever actually read the IBC website Joe L.?

    From their FAQ:

    “If you want to submit news stories that could help us confirm an incident involving ***civilian deaths*** please email news item weblinks to news@iraqbodycount.org (the more specific and detailed, the better).

    We are not a news organization ourselves and like everyone else can only base our information on what has been reported so far. What we are attempting to provide is a credible compilation of ***civilian deaths*** that have been reported by recognized sources. Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths – which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every ***civilian death*** has been reported. It is likely that many if not most ***civilian casualties*** will go unreported by the media.”

    (emphasis added)

    From IBC’s Database page:

    “This is a human security project to establish an independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported ***civilian deaths*** in Iraq resulting directly from military action by the USA and its allies.”

    (emphasis added)

    They do not include the deaths of uniformed Iraqi military personnel during the invasion in their count. You are correct, however, that they include the deaths of Iraqis caused by insurgents.

  91. Well Sr, I concede your point about Pvt. Mustafa. However, you’re right I don’t accept their numbers. It’s the same crew is it not that produced the body Count for Afghanistan? And that methodology was flawed too. And it IS media reports… 75 people REPORTED dead and some of that 75 may have been double counted in a previous media report… The goal is to produce as “big” a number as possible.
    I owuld conced that it is difficult if not IMPOSSIBLE to create an accurate or exact counting methodology that works as “instant history.” But I do not think that Iraq or Agfghanistan body counts do a particularly good job of producing reliable numbers.

  92. It’s worth also pointing out that the CPA ordered Iraqi health officials to stop compiling information on civilian casualties:

    http://www.ccmep.org/2003_articles/Iraq/121103_iraq_halts_its_count_of_civilian.htm (reprint of LA Times article)

    And it should be noted that IBC has a database of 3,029 (through Sept. 12, 2004) specifically identified Iraqi civilian dead:

    http://www.iraqbodycount.net/names.htm

    It’s hardly implausible that 3 to 4 times as many others have been killed and not identified by name.

  93. There is not going to be a draft. … The left as a scare tactic occasionally raises the question of the draft.

    The people out of power talk about the draft. The people WITH the power don’t…

    Recent questions about a military draft may have been prompted by mounting evidence that the military, and especially the Army, is short on troops and hard-pressed to find more.

    Last Thursday, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) quoted a new report by a Pentagon-appointed panel as finding that U.S. troop numbers are insufficient to sustain current military operations and future missions.

    Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is one of few Republicans who have publicly entertained the idea of a draft. He said last April that conscription might become necessary depending on future military developments, and has expressed support for the idea that all Americans should “share the burden” of war. The Michigan Daily

    and

    At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week about post-occupation Iraq, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) thrust the issue of reinstituting a military draft right into the public debate. “There’s not an American … that doesn’t understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future. Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?” The Senator went further and argued that restoring compulsory military service would force “our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face.” Rock The Vote, 26 Sep 2004

    Presumably, then, Senator Hagel is from the “left, out-of-power wing” of the Republican Party.

    …from President down to Service Chiefs, NO ONE WANTS A DRAFT!!!

    These days it’s hard to tell the leftist kooks from the real patriots, but since I’ve heard this story from many sources, I have no reason to doubt the substance of it.

    The Bush administration has been so free with the truth that I wouldn’t bet my life (or the lives of people I might love) on anything he says about not wanting a draft. I may be histrionic, but I’m not naive.

    Remember: “I’ll do whatever it takes.” (GWB)

    And the 20K casualties you quote from the Iraqi’s that is a number that includes the INSURGENTS AND THEIR VICTIMS, right? Because 20k “innocent civilians” haven’t been killed, sorry, no one can support that number.

    Twenty thousand is a guess. Since in April 2003 the Pentagon was “unwilling to count civilian deaths“, there’s probably no way of ever knowing how many have been killed and how many of those were “innocent”. (I don’t do “innocent”, btw. Human is human.) Click for an idea of “Reported civilian deaths resulting from the US-led military intervention in Iraq“.

    Note this comment in the source of the page:

    We are not a news organization ourselves and like everyone else can only base our information on what has been reported so far. What we are attempting to provide is a credible compilation of civilian deaths that have been reported by recognized sources. Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths – which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war.

    Since over 1000 Americans have been reported killed (I suspect the number doesn’t include those who died in military hospitals in Europe or elsewhere, but that’s because I’m a cynic), I don’t think 20,000 is an unrealistic estimate.

    …wars cost lives, it’s why we do try to avoid them, but it is the price we ahve to pay.

    “We” is such a big word. What you really mean is not “we” but “mostly kids”.

    It’s all about YOU right?

    Spare me the altruist, who would enslave me to kill his enemies and to die in order to protect his notion of God and country.

    It’s all about me? You had better believe it.

  94. Andrew-

    I am not convinced that Kerry has a consistent position. In my first post I said:

    I’m willing to accept, at least for the sake of argument, that Kerry does indeed have a consistent position on Iraq

    That’s hardly a ringing endorsement or conviction. My main point was that even if he is consistent it doesn’t matter because he’s not conveying consistency. Kerry’s true positions are irrelevant to the campaign. All that matters in the campaign is what he tells people, and on that score he’s not giving a consistent appearance. Bush, on the other hand, can make any inconsistencies (real or alleged) seem irrelevant because he always returns to the same basic points.

  95. But I do not think that Iraq or Agfghanistan body counts do a particularly good job of producing reliable numbers.

    reliable numbers, i agree — but ballpark numbers are neither impossible nor difficult. and the ballpark is certainly 15-20,000.

    The Iraqis estimate 3800 dead Iraqi’s in Toto, this year. That includes Jihadis and their victims. 9% of Iraqi KIA are Women and Children, they make up 50% of the population. Women and children are NOT dying in vast numbers in Iraq. Certainly not under the remorseless aerial bombardment of the Bush-Cheney Administration. Women and children are dying, some from the cross fire and some from car bombs, but not in job lots.

    first off, iraqi numbers are american military numbers — there’s no difference. the iraqi gov’t operates exactly as independently as the indian gov’t did under the british empire. this much is obvious. so an impartial observer, in the interests of getting an actual idea and with appropriate skepticism toward numbers produced by parties who have an irresistable incentive to lie, must discount those numbers as hopelessly low.

    fwiw, even if you take iraqbodycount as high — that they are exaggerating for some ideological reason, which is not at all clear as they have far less at stake than the iraqi gov’t/united states military — they do take pains to state that a significant percentage of civilian deaths will not become known until after the violence has concluded, a truth of every war. they do not include such possible deaths, relying only on what they can cite. in this way, their figure is likely an systemic *under*estimation of somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2.

    food for thought.

    but, ignoring the estimates, one has to admit that the methodology of rumsfeld’s “new warfare” is in fact a *designed* inflation of civilian deaths and systemic damage in order to reduce the death rate of united states soldiers. it has been remarkably successful in reducing american deaths; it makes great intuitive sense that it is similarly successful in its other effect.

    i want to stress that point: this is a plan, a style of warfare, a *choice* made by rumsfeld and his planners. it has benefits for america — reduced death rate, smaller manpower requirements — and drawbacks.

    i would submit that the primary drawback now has been shown to be that increased levels of civilian casualties can spark insurgency among the population — not just insurgents, but the widespread public sympathy that any successful insurgency relies on. that is what we face now in much of iraq, and our continued reliance on these methods all but ensures the success of the insurgency.

    i want us to be successful in iraq — therefore, the application of rummy’s new warfare principles must stop!

  96. The need for more troops (if indeed that is a pressing problem) doesn’t necessarily require a draft, just a policy decision to upgrade recruitment, compensation, and number of active duty personnel as priorities in the military budget.

    Kerry wants to revise the budget to get more troops in uniform. Bush wants to build more destroyers and non-functional satellites.

  97. It’s hardly implausible that 3 to 4 times as many others have been killed and not identified by name.

    I’d say that’s hardly plausible. You’re saying that there are 9,000-12,000 additional people missing without reference or report of any kind. Think for a moment how absurd that sounds in a country of only 12,000,000 people.

    Moreover… the bodycount site “lists the names of 3,029 civilians killed as a result of the US-led military intervention in Iraq.” It’s the “as a result” thing that bugs me. Young Ali Abbas died from a car bomb. Infant Asmaa Almwan’s cause of death was “Died, no medical help”. A number were killed by the “Double suicide attack on two main Kurdish political party offices,” and then my favorite Mr. Hussein Awad al-Juwadi who died of “Severe atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease”. Yes, that’s right, we clogged his arteries.

    Remember, the difference between an armed rebel and an non-combatant is a gun kicked from view.

    Also, we should make only a tenuous distinction between armed rebels and the non-combatants who support and house them.

  98. who have an irresistable incentive to lie, must discount those numbers as hopelessly low.

    But you also have an irresistable incentive to lie; you want to paint a specific political picture with your estimates. As such your estimates can no more be trusted than those of the Iraqi government.

    relying only on what they can cite. in this way, their figure is likely an systemic *under*estimation of somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2.

    I suppose you have at least a model to back up this claim?

    You are correct, however, that they include the deaths of Iraqis caused by insurgents.

    From IBC’s Database page:

    “This is a human security project to establish an independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported ***civilian deaths*** in Iraq resulting directly from military action by the USA and its allies.”

    So which is it, deaths resulting directly from military action by the USA and its allies, or just everybody who hasn’t died of old age since the resumption of hostilities?

  99. But you also have an irresistable incentive to lie; you want to paint a specific political picture with your estimates.

    lmmfao!! rst, the bush admin has the most powerful political office in the world, billions in “lost” funds and possibly historican infamy to lose! i have nothing — i’m sitting in an office in chicago regardless. for my part, i’ve never felt a need to lie or even distort in trying to convey points — here, of all places! why would i bother? — call it self-confidence or ambivalence or whatever you like.

    equating a government’s incentive to lie with a melancholy office worker’s — rst, you certainly don’t mean to make the comparison, do you? that strikes me a bit silly….

  100. raymond-
    As I said before you have no understanding of how the draft sits in the American psyche. Limited troops with simply limit military engagement in other places. Troops can be pulled from all over the globe, the cold war is over.

  101. equating a government’s incentive to lie with a melancholy office worker’s

    You are angry, disillusioned, and want a change. You have no power but to vote and to convince others to vote with you. You want to believe that Bush is every bit as bad as you think he is. You will therefore give credence to any theory, founded or unfounded, that supports that belief. Calling it a motive to lie was perhaps unfair; I will call it instead a motive to accept as objectively accurate the data that most supports your prejudice, and to reject the notion that said data could be flawed either in calculation or interpretation, or both.

    There is plentiful temptation to add to figures hundreds at a time, such that 1,000 on Tuesday becomes 1,200 on Thursday, 1,600 on Saturday, and then 2,000 by the next Tuesday. That way, you can arrive at staggeringly idiotic figures like the notion of “5,000 Iraqi kids under 5 dying per day” as a result of sanctions. And then intelligent people will use them, not thinking for a second how utterly impossible (not to mention unsustainable) that rate is.

  102. I suppose you have at least a model to back up this claim?

    you don’t think it reasonable that 1/4 to 1/2 of all civilian deaths are not reported? i frankly thought i was being extraordinarily generous to our side.

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/nato/Natbm200-01.htm#TopOfPage

    read the human rights watch assessment of civilian casualties in the kosovo intervention. the united states admitted during the action 20 incidents of civilian casualties; it subsequently revised that number up to 30; hrw, with time after the fighting ended to gather physical evidence and names, totalled 89 — three to four times the “official” number.

    seeing as western media particularly is essentially having to regurgitate govenrment reports from the safety of a hotel in baghdad, i think this is a reasonable proxy for our current “awareness” situation.

    and this, as noted in my post above, was before the institution of rumsfeld’s “new warfare” strategy, which makes much less of a priority of averting civilian casualties in an effort to avoid sending us troops into firefights whenever possible.

  103. three to four times the “official” number.

    lmao…so you’re taking numbers from Kosovo on the order of 10^1 and applying the same ratio to figures on the order of 10^3. No, I don’t think that’s reasonable at all. I do think it’s funny however.

  104. You are angry, disillusioned, and want a change.

    i am? i do?

    You have no power but to vote and to convince others to vote with you.

    i have that much?

    rst, i’m crying laughing — really, that’s the funniest bit of psychobabble i’ve yet read here. for the record, i’m probably not voting at all, and i surely don’t give a f*ck how you or anyone else votes. i’m here because i like to debate — and, occasionally, watch people make fools of themselves.

    plentiful temptation

    indeed — if you care enough.

    my friend, i’ve rarely read a higher level or externalization. might i suggest some freud for your evening reading? your psychological slip is showing… 🙂

  105. As I said before you have no understanding…

    Well good then. In this, I’d rather be wrong.

    ———–

    How cavalier some of you are with the lives and limbs of others.

    And how silly I am for arguing about numbers. Twenty thousand or twenty, it makes no difference to the wrongness of the thing.

    Someone once said about the Holocaust that it wasn’t an accounting problem. I think he said it in response to a revisionist who argued against the figure of 6 million.

    And as I reread some of the posts here, I am suddenly very conscious that much of what I’m reading is revisionism.

    He’s your agent. You are responsible for these deaths.

  106. No, I don’t think that’s reasonable at all.

    hey, think what you want. the precedent is right there. i’m not here to try to convert the faithful. ifyou want to believe what your government is telling you, no one can stop you. an objective reader can easily see my case, i suspect.

    but you might ask yourself what you would have to encounter to change your views. bodies piled in your driveway? 😉

  107. i might ask, though, rst, what *you* believe is driving the insurgency in iraq?

    if i’m dead wrong about everything and you know it (or believe to), i’m sure you must have your own ideas that don’t jibe with mine. i’d be curious….

  108. First, rst, the population of Iraq is usually estimated at 25,000,000, i.e., twice as many as you just said. (Then again, that source is the tie-dyed, dredlock-wearing hippies at the CIA, so they could be deliberatley overstating it to make Bush look bad: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iz.html ) Second, you’re loopy if you think that *volunteers* in *combat zones* can manage to record all, or even the majority, of the names of Iraqi civilians who have been killed. The only explanation I can come up with for this incredible belief is that you’ve been spoiled by the Vietnam War Memorial, which creates the illusion that it’s possible to accurately tally and identify war dead down to the specific date and individual.

  109. Sorry, that should be “deliberately overstating”.

  110. ifyou want to believe what your government is telling you, no one can stop you. an objective reader can easily see my case, i suspect.

    An objective reader would never believe your argument, 1) because your statement lacks support of any kind and 2) you’ve applied an identical multiplier to figures which aren’t even in the same neighborhood, as if there’s no practical difference between missing or obscuring the loss of 50 lives under little scrutiny and doing the same for 12,000 while under the greatest scrutiny ever known in war.

    For a human interpretation the most objective basis available for a statement is that which can be corroborated to such a degree that its negation would be a statistical anomaly. As it stands, I’ll even give IBC a free pass on the fact that not only does its list include people killed by insurgents, but also folks killed by “Severe atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” and that number is only in the 3,000 range.

    How can you expect anyone to take your conjecture seriously? The government has nothing to do with this view; I am opposed to the very existence of the federal government qua legislative body and the primary reason I support this war is because I feel it is the necessary conclusion to a job the “international community” left unfinished 12 years ago. My own bias in this situation is simple: I prefer that action be taken on data that can be verified as being as accurate as possible, not what will grab the most attention.

    As far as motivating factors for insurgency, I listed some of them in this thread somewhere.

    Second, you’re loopy if you think that *volunteers* in *combat zones* can manage to record all, or even the majority, of the names of Iraqi civilians who have been killed

    The sources are media; it’s data gathering, not survey work.

  111. what *you* believe is driving the insurgency in iraq?

    And let me add to the list I put up wherever in this thread, “opportunism”. I think local groups see the potential to force regional and national Iraqi authorities to barter money, positions, and immunity for power (cf. Afghanistan). So long as the lines are not yet drawn, they are able to get their foot in the door using the means with which they are most comfortable.

  112. p.s. I will concede that 20,000+ Iraqi civilian deaths is a possibility, but it’s so many sigma out at this point that I won’t entertain it as any kind of politically actionable datum.

  113. fear of damnation by a desert deity (“Jihad: it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law”), Sunni contentment with Hussein and the resentment of a government that is not dominated by their interests, infiltration of foreign fighters and government interests,

    so you’d add opportunism to fear of religious authorities, sunni discontentment, foreign jihadis and iranian (i presume) interference. and i’d agree with all of those — but also include iraqi nationalism and anger at the occupation and its methods.

    even if, for purposes of this speculation, i was inclined to agree that civilian deaths are only 3,000 despite having dropped 30,000 munitions of 500 pounds or more — does not the bombing of cities in the manner prescribed by the rumsfeld system naturally feed iraqi anger and resentment against us? and does that not also lead to the close support so necessary to a healthy insurgency? though more is worse, what matter of the number if it is enough — and the manner of their deaths is enough — to fuel sympathy and aid for what rebels there are?

    and that certainly appears to me to be what we are faced with. how would you propose to defuse that kind of insurgency?

  114. aymond-
    A funny thing you mentioned the Holocaust. Many of the same arguments posted here arguing against the invasion of Iraq were used to argue against our involvement in the European theater. Things must be so much more simple when you only see in black and white! We see what we want, events are rarely clear for even those directly involved. A Dutch colleague of mine once remarked off hand about the Americans liberating Holland. Would you be surprised to find Iraqis as eager to forget the insurgents as my Dutch friend was to forget his Nazi grandfathers? Time will tell.

  115. I don’t know how many people have been killed in Iraq, but worrying about victims is the sort of fluffy stuff that hard-headed H&R posters won’t be concerned about anyway.

    Let’s stick to things that H&R posters can get upset about:

    Just think of all the private property that’s been damaged by the bombing! Not to mention the guns that have been confiscated!

    😉

  116. raymond wrote: (I don’t do “innocent”, btw. Human is human.)

    That’s why your ideas have no real world value.

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