Foreign Policy

George Will on What to Look for in Obama's Speech

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George Will has a tough column on Barack Obama that is sort of the inverse of Steve Chapman's. Where Chapman counsels "it could be worse," Will says don't bet on that.

A snippet from Will, who notes that Obama is weak on foreign policy, bad on NAFTA and trade, big on paying teachers more for no clear reason, bent on tax increases, and more. But mostly, Obama loses people when he descends from the rhetorical clouds and starts talking about more down-to-earth things:

Obama's rhetorical extravagances are inversely proportional to his details, as when he promises "nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy" in order to "end the age of oil." The diminished enthusiasm of some voters hitherto receptive to his appeals might have something to do with the seepage of reality from his rhetoric. Voters understand that neither the "transformation" nor the "end" will or should occur. His dreamy certitude that "alternative" fuels will quickly become real alternatives is an energy policy akin to an old vaudeville joke: "If we had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs, if we had some ham."

Will, an anti-Iraq War conservative who favors a strong defense, continues:

When he speaks Thursday night in a venue consecrated to the faux combat of football, the NATO alliance, which was 12 years old when he was born, may be collapsing because of its unwillingness to help enough in Afghanistan and its inability to respond seriously to Russia's combat in Georgia. It is unfair to neither NATO nor Obama to note that the alliance is practicing what he preaches: It is preaching to Vladimir Putin, who is unimpressed. NATO, said Lord Ismay, speaking of Europe in 1949, was created to "keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out." That Germany's appeasement reflex is part of NATO's weakness is perhaps progress, of sorts.

Journalism often must be preoccupied with matters barely remembered a week later. But decades hence, historians will write about today's response to Russia by the West, perhaps in obituaries for the idea of "the West." If Obama does not speak to this crisis Thursday night, that will speak volumes.

I'm not convinced of the above, but it does point out the mixed messages on foreign policy that have been emanating out of Denver. Are the Dems hawks or doves, after all? And if they are Albrightian war-mongers (recall that Bill Clinton ordered more military interventions[*] than any other recent American president), can we get some specifics on when and how often they're going to be dropping bombs and boys overseas?

The Will column is well worth reading in full. More here.

[*] Update: See "Mad Bomber in Chief," from the February 2001 issue of reason; Bill Clinton ordered 25 major troop deployments in eight years, twice as many as Ronald Reagan. Also, "A Hollow Debate on Military Readiness."

NEXT: Obama and Big Government

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  1. “recall that Bill Clinton ordered more military interventions than any other recent American president”

    Is this true? I’d like a link or something. I lived through Reagan and remember Lebanon, Grenada and Libya (and kind of the Iran-Iraq war where our navy was deployed). George I had three rather major military interventions, Somalia and Panama (both involved the actual “invasions” of nations) and of course Gulf War I. And of course our sitting President has invaded and occupied two nations. I can only recall the Serbian episode with Clinton, and I guess when he ordered the missle strike on the aspirin factory in Sudan.

    Even if it were true I don’t think anything Clinton ordered can match the 3 invasions of other nations that Bush I and the 2 that Bush 2 ordered. I’d like to hear arguments otherwise…

  2. I remember Haiti on Clinton’s watch.

    Haiti? That and Serbia Versus Panama, Gulf War I, and Somalia? Of versus Iraq and Afghanistan? You’re kidding right, Nick?

  3. When he speaks Thursday night in a venue consecrated to the faux combat of football, the NATO alliance, which was 12 years old when he was born, may be collapsing because of its unwillingness to help enough in Afghanistan and its inability to respond seriously to Russia’s combat in Georgia.

    Funny, the NATO alliance was at its peak of strength and unity in 1999-2000. And now it’s about to collapse, you say? Hmm. Must be the Democrats.

  4. strength and unity don’t mean much, joe, if your fellow “united” allies won’t fight when you’re attacked or handle problems in their own backyard.

  5. TAO —

    What on earth are you talking about? The Bosnian War was handled by NATO troops with NATO support.

  6. “Exxon Mobil does make $1,400 a second in profits…but pays $4,000 a second in taxes and $15,000 a second in operating costs.”

    Hate to quibble, but Will makes it sound like Exxon Mobil is losing $17,600 a second. Maybe “profits” doesn’t mean money left over after you’ve paid your bills. I’m so confused. Why is Exxon Mobil evil again?

  7. strength and unity don’t mean much, joe, if your fellow “united” allies won’t fight when you’re attacked or handle problems in their own backyard.

    That’s why I picked 1999-2000, because that’s precisely when we were able to get NATO to get off it’s ass. The Balkans Wars were a lot of things; among them, they were a turning point for Western Europe. Germany sending peacekeepers beyond its borders, for example.

    In 2001, the Europeans invoked the NATO Charter and offered troops for Afghanistan. It’s subsequent to that, since the Iraq War, that they’ve been moving away from us and shirking their responsibilities in Afghanistan.

  8. “Why is Exxon Mobil evil again?”

    OMG. OMG. OMG. you don’t know??? mein gott.

    Hay – Trudi – “ed” doesn’t know why.

    Get Norbert and the Noam Chomsky Blow Up Doll and teach him a lesson!

  9. “Hate to quibble, but Will makes it sound like Exxon Mobil is losing $17,600 a second. Maybe “profits” doesn’t mean money left over after you’ve paid your bills. I’m so confused. Why is Exxon Mobil evil again?”

    They aren’t evil at all. But the Democrat blowhards need a whipping boy to divert attention from the fact that they continue to stand in the way of increasing our oil and natural gas supplies by drilling in our own territory.

  10. Because they risk their own money on exploration and deliver a product Americans want and dare to keep a little for themselves? Am I close?

  11. Pointless foreign interventions are good only if they occur under a Democratic president. Got it. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Expecting a rational foreign policy these days under either Democrats or Republicans is folly.

  12. Regardless of ideology, you’ve gotta love Will’s ongoing tendency to slip in a little bashing of the ugly spectacle of American football:

    When he speaks Thursday night in a venue consecrated to the faux combat of football,

    Football is a circus. It’s a freakshow. And, yes, it’s ugly. Good on Will for calling it out whenever he can.

  13. Pointless foreign interventions are good only if they occur under a Democratic president. Got it. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I think his point was they were on entirely different scales.

  14. I know I’m moved to cede the moral high ground to people who pat themselves on the back for pretending there’s no difference between launching a war and guarding food convoys.

    Between adding a province to the empire and stopping a genocide.

    Between squabbling over oil and capturing bin Laden.

    Isolationists are the international equivalent of the Brady Center. ZOMG! it’s a gun! That’s all I need to know, because I’m better than you.

  15. In 2001, the Europeans invoked the NATO Charter and offered troops for Afghanistan. It’s subsequent to that, since the Iraq War, that they’ve been moving away from us and shirking their responsibilities in Afghanistan.

    So, what part of the NATO charter or pact or whatever permits allies to shirk responsibilities because a member is engaged in behavior that the others disagree with?

    Blaming Republicans for NATO falling apart is more partisan hackery. NATO needs to do what it promised to do, regardless of Iraq.

  16. Pointless foreign interventions are good only if they occur under a Democratic president. Got it. Thanks for clearing that up.

    If you’re joe, genocide by a democrat party person is a good thing. It’s that fuckwittery in action.

  17. “Needs to?” You mean, like, “Shoulda?” Grow up.

    NATO is going to be a better partner when we have more give and take and show them more respect, and less when we insult and deride its most powerful and influential members.

    You want some partisan spin? Pretend that there isn’t any difference between NATO’s helpfulness before and after the Iraq War.

  18. “The Will column is well worth reading in full.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. George Will sounds like an old man pissed that these young whipper-snappers are running things. The “faux combat of football”? Give me a fucking break. What does George Will know about combat? Not a goddamned thing. Whining that NATO is falling apart because Europeans don’t want to invade Russia is whining for the sake of whining.

    As for the “decline of the West,” forget it. The West is in great shape. It’s George who’s declining. Someone give that self-important, neo-Burkean pill a shot of sour mash laced with seconal and shut him the fuck up.

  19. Other Matt, haven’t you figured out that nobody wants you here?

    You never add anything to any thread beyond your creepy obsession with me.

    Kindly fuck off.

  20. So, what part of the NATO charter or pact or whatever permits allies to shirk responsibilities because a member is engaged in behavior that the others disagree with?

    The far better question is: what part of the NATO charter requires member nations to up and help invade a country just because a member decides to engage in an unprovoked war?

  21. Afghanistan was unprovoked?

  22. Football is a circus. It’s a freakshow. And, yes, it’s ugly. Good on Will for calling it out whenever he can.

    “Violent ground acquisition games such as football are in fact a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.”

  23. Maybe he meant Iraq?

  24. jKindly fuck off.

    After you, fuckwit.

  25. “The football team at my high school, they were tough. After they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family.”

  26. Afghanistan was unprovoked?

    No, Other Matt seemed to be bitching about our allies’ reticence in Iraq, 2003. That’s what I was referring to.

  27. “Violent ground acquisition games such as football are in fact a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.”

    After watching Any Given Sunday, I’d totally buy that.

    Hey, didn’t Carl Sagan write something to this effect in one of his later books?

  28. “Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.”

  29. His dreamy certitude that “alternative” fuels will quickly become real alternatives is an energy policy akin to an old vaudeville joke: “If we had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs, if we had some ham.”

    OH, SNAP!

    Will went after Obama 1890s style! Next he’ll bring up his mother’s inability to negotiate rutted city streets on a velocipede!

  30. LMNOP, if you haven’t seen the movie that that quote is from, you need to go to Netflix. Right now.

  31. “Violent ground acquisition games such as football are in fact a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.”

    Strained sports-political metaphors may indeed be funny. But it doesn’t mean that football doesn’t suck and isn’t ugly and isn’t a goofy freakshow.

  32. “Have you ever played baseball?”

    “If by ‘played’ you mean ‘drunk deep the…'”

    “No no no! Have you ever PLAYED the GAME?”

  33. They aren’t evil at all. But the Democrat blowhards need a whipping boy to divert attention from the fact that they continue to stand in the way of increasing our oil and natural gas supplies by drilling in our own territory.

    Typical and complete ignorance from the misinformed right-wing.

    We drill all over the US. According to World Oil, there are 506,000 active, productive rigs in the US. The beaches in some states are off limits, but the Rush/Sean assholes keep pushing the canard that a future (3-7 years) 1% increase in domestic production will impact prices NOW – when the increasing strength of the dollar changes real crude prices 2% WEEKLY since the dollar hits its nadir two months ago.

    Second, the oil companies ARE evil – but profits are not. Bush’s own Treasury Secretary wrote about how they colluded with Cheney to carve up Iraq’s oil fields among the top four of them prior to the twisted intel Cheney demanded from the CIA.

    Finally, as an energy investor, solar will crush the profits of the carbon based energy companies in the long run. But last month the GOP Senators refused to allow the renewal of a tax break (ITC) for solar investment which expires at year end. Solar is renewable and free as long as the sun shines – but is front-end loaded in terms of investment – it can’t live without the ITC. Once again – the fingerprints of Exxon and Cheney are on the smoking gun pointed at competition.

  34. As for the “decline of the West,” forget it. The West is in great shape. It’s George who’s declining. Someone give that self-important, neo-Burkean pill a shot of sour mash laced with seconal and shut him the fuck up.

    Wow, sounds like you need some of that yourself.

    As for foreign interventionism, I think the salient point is that both parties are firmly in favor of it. Bush I and Clinton were willing to throw other people’s children and tax dollars into harm’s way for the purpose of “looking tough” and “acting presidential.” Bush II merely upped the ante by several degrees.

    The opposite of interventionism is not necessarily isolationism. We can (and should) remain engaged in the world without engaging in either the hard form of neo-imperialism practiced by Bush II or the soft form practiced by Clinton and Bush I. It’s not our job to save the unfortunates of the world, and I’m sick of our dollars and lives being wasted in futile attempts to do so.

  35. Hey shrike, you forgot to take your lithium. Wash it down with some tequila, will ya?

  36. Considering his string of absolute nonsense, I’d say he’s been taking LSD instead.

  37. Bush II merely upped the ante by several degrees.

    A few hundred thousand additional dead, a trillion more in economic costs, gets a “merely?”

    I can respect a pacifism, a non-interventionism, that actually puts humanity and avoiding the horrors of war front and center, but if you’re downplaying the difference between Bill Clinton and George Bush’s foreign policy, you aren’t doing that. You have to work damn hard to shove all those extra bodies off stage to try to create any kind of equivalence.

  38. “It’s obvious whoever wrote this knows absolutely nothing about Kurt Vonnegut!”

    Epi, *of course* I’ve seen Back to School. I was riffing on the point behind the quote, which, while dolled-up with intellectuobabble, has some actual not-crazy content.

  39. This is all very nice, but you all missed the real news of the day.
    The Taco Trucks win!

  40. “Fuck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips? Fuck you! Next time I’ll call Robert Ludlum!”

  41. Actually, Shrike (in his first two paragraphs), makes some decent sense. I disagree on the profitability/sustainability of solar power (since production costs/materials/maintenance has been and probably will continue to be a bitch), but try not to dismiss a guy out of hand just because he’s *usually* shrill.

  42. Whereas Gil is his usual disaster.

    Exxon, Shell, and Amoco can’t be evil. The people who drill in the Nigerian delta and run death squads can’t be evil. After all, they’re rich!

  43. First, NATO came together for the Balkans because it directly affected the members and since it was defending Muslims it didn’t antagonize their Muslim minorities. None of them wanted more Balkan refugees. NATO has been completely unwilling to deal with any threat outside the Balkans. Further, the NATO militaries are shot. None of them are capable of fighting effectively with the US. The Brits performed horribly in Basra and they are the best of the lot. The Canadians still have some wonderful snipers but not much more. NATO isn’t supplying its share of forces to Afghanistan because it doesn’t have them.

    Beyond that the decision to go to war over Kosovo is looking worse and worse every day and I say this as a person who supported the war at the time. Bill Clinton managed to make mortal enemies out of Russia and give them an excuse to forcibly separate every Russian enclave in the old Soviet Republics, acted completely outside of the UN Charter, and encouraged nationalist separatism and for what? To let the Kosovar Albanian mafia create a criminal state? To prevent a genocide that we now know wasn’t happening and that Madeline Albright lied about? On top of that, it was vicious cruel war where we basically bombed Serbian civilians into throwing their government out of power. It is just a fucking mess.

  44. You have to work damn hard to shove all those extra bodies off stage to try to create any kind of equivalence.

    I was trying to be understated. But I do think that Bush’s policies were different in degree (albeit it severely so), not in kind. He was faced with a different foreign policy atmosphere after 9/11 than what Clinton faced during the “holiday from history,” and it will always be interesting to speculate how other presidents would have handled the situation.

    Out of curiousity, do you/did you support the Afghanistan war? I think most people on this board (myself included) would agree that Iraq was a monumental blunder. I confess to having supported the Iraq war at the outset. Seeing it unfold made me believe that the U.S. needs to get out of the ‘world police’ business altogether. We’re simply not cut out for the imperialism business.

  45. To prevent a genocide that we now know wasn’t happening and that Madeline Albright lied about? John, do I have to go back and repost all those links about the mass graves in and around Kosovo again? Are you lying, or have you managed to forget that you were thoroughly refuted on this point already?

    Chris O,

    I supported invading Afghanistan to rout al Qaeda and deny them a sanctuary.

  46. Chris O,

    I don’t think we should have any kind of imperialist project in Afghanistan. I don’t think the Republicans fell the same way, though.

    When I thought we were going through the Taliban because that’s what we had to do to get al Qaeda, they were going after al Qaeda because that’s what they had to to to overthrow the Taliban and turn Afghanistan into a client state.

    That’s why there were 30,000 troops garrisoning Kabul the day bin Laden was escorted out of Tora Bora by those Tali-buddies.

  47. Joe,

    Most of the mass graves were Serbs killed by the KLA after the Serbian Army left. We actually got a lot of people killed when we forced the Serbs out and then were unable to get ground forces in place before the KLA. Further, the extent that the Serbs did do mass killing it was after we started bombing.

  48. That’s not what the UN reports, and that’s not why there were sites that were dug up and their contents moved into Serbia proper.

    It is true that the Kosovars engaged in revenge attacks afterwards, and we didn’t have troops in place to stop it – which is certainly is a fair knock against how Clinton fought that war. Though your assertion that they were filling mass graves is false – they generally ran people off, not surrounded the villages and killed everyone like the Serb militias that had practiced in Bosnia were doing.

  49. collapsing because of its unwillingness to help enough in Afghanistan and its inability to respond seriously to Russia’s combat in Georgia.

    How does Will think we should respond seriously to the Georgia incident? Did he support invading Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968? For a guy railing against Obama (justly) for spewing vague rhetoric, he sure likes to do it himself. Oh wait, speaking of the Cold War…

    But decades hence, historians will write about today’s response to Russia by the West, perhaps in obituaries for the idea of “the West.”

    Sounds familiar…oh yeah! That’s what Will was writing after Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to nuclear arms reductions back in the 80s.

  50. Will is a right-wing hack with less actual insight into anything than a slug.

  51. Will is a right-wing hack with less actual insight into anything than a slug.

    He misfires some, but I certainly wouldn’t call him a hack.

  52. “””Second, the oil companies ARE evil – but profits are not. Bush’s own Treasury Secretary wrote about how they colluded with Cheney to carve up Iraq’s oil fields among the top four of them prior to the twisted intel Cheney demanded from the CIA.””””

    Not saying I believe the above or not, but I’m really curious if Cheney got what the wanted out of that 2001 energy meeting he fought so hard to keep secret.

  53. “Whereas Gil is his usual disaster.”

    Not on your say so, boy.

  54. I’ll take Kosovo 1999 over Iraq 2002 any day of the week even if I’m not big on either.

  55. “”if Cheney got what the wanted out of… “””

    Should say “got what he wanted out of…

  56. John McCain WILL start a new Cold War with Russia, make no mistake about that.

  57. The Bush administration has achieved the twin heights of incompetence and disregard for the Constitution, no doubt. But in comparing what happened in the last eight years to the previous two presidents, let’s not downplay the seriousness of the 9/11 attacks. Very few presidents would not have invaded Afghanistan, and, frankly, I think the realpolitik elements found in administrations of either party would’ve put tremendous pressure on the president to take a more aggressive stance in the Middle East in general. Maybe Al Gore would’ve invaded Afghanistan and dropped bombs on Iran, but I bet he wouldn’t have avoided some of the same massive entanglements we have today, even if we’d messed with a different country. But the 90s and the Oughts are two totally different times. And, of course, there’s the argument that Bush and Clinton helped set the stage for what happened in 2001.

    I’d prefer that we act smarter to anticipate and fend off the need to go to war, and that we only go to war when there’s a compelling interest to do so. A really, really compelling interest. Even if Iraq turns into Sweden, it doesn’t change the fact war is not the most efficient method for improving the world. It’s too expensive, for one, and there’s that whole dead people thing, too.

    By the way, speaking about Georgia, I think the most appropriate response for the West is to continue to help Georgia be an alternative route for Asian oil. Russia is far too aggressive about turning off pipelines when it wants to get its way. Not acceptable, at least, not for Europe.

  58. I know I’m moved to cede the moral high ground to people who pat themselves on the back for pretending there’s no difference between launching a war and guarding food convoys.

    Between adding a province to the empire and stopping a genocide.

    Between squabbling over oil and capturing bin Laden.

    Isolationists are the international equivalent of the Brady Center. ZOMG! it’s a gun! That’s all I need to know, because I’m better than you.

    You feel a moral obligation to accomplish those goals by force of arms? I can respect that.

    Now grab a bunch of like-minded friends, get some rifles and grenades, and hop on an international flight to the humanitarian crisis of your choice. There’s a long and storied tradition of Americans fighting for what they believe in even when the armed forces aren’t deployed.

    Well, unless you just want other people to have to risk their lives to soothe your conscience, in which case…

  59. So, what part of the NATO charter or pact or whatever permits allies to shirk responsibilities because a member is engaged in behavior that the others disagree with?

    Georgia is not a member of NATO.

    If Georgia were a NATO member, their actions in South Ossetia would have violated Article 1 of the NATO treaty anyway:

    http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/treaty.htm

    The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    Article 5 of the treaty explicitly obligates the parties to material military aid only in the event of attack by a non-member in Europe or North America. The territory involved in the conflict is in Asia.

  60. Fluffy, depends on who you ask. Some say since Georgia is west of the Urals, it is still in Europe.

  61. The territory involved in the conflict is in Asia.

    “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

  62. Now grab a bunch of like-minded friends, get some rifles and grenades, and hop on an international flight to the humanitarian crisis of your choice. There’s a long and storied tradition of Americans fighting for what they believe in even when the armed forces aren’t deployed.

    Doesn’t sound like a good idea.

  63. Article 5 of the treaty explicitly obligates the parties to material military aid only in the event of attack by a non-member in Europe or North America. The territory involved in the conflict is in Asia.

    Wait, NATO member Turkey is almost entirely in Asia. So if they’re invaded, they don’t necessarily get any assistance?

    And BDB is correct; at least when I was in school during the 80s, the entire USSR west of the Urals (of which Georgia was then part) was considered to be in Europe. I imagine the same was true in 1947 when the NATO Charter was drafted.

  64. Even if Iraq turns into Sweden, it doesn’t change the fact war is not the most efficient method for improving the world.

    If Iraq *did* turn into Sweden, I’d worry strongly about the integrity of local space-time and dimensional stability.

  65. “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

    Well, at least neither Medvedev nor Putin are Sicilian.

  66. Tulpa:

    When one speaks of Turkey as a European power, it is due to the sliver of territory Turkey possesses on the northwest side of the Dardanelles.

    The main body of Turkey is in the Levant, which is part of Asia.

    If everything “west of the Urals” is Europe, no matter how far south you go, than Syria is in Europe. Jordan is in Europe. Israel is in Europe. Etcetera.

  67. it doesn’t mean that football doesn’t suck and isn’t ugly

    Why, what’s not to love about a sport that takes three-and-a-half hours to play but is only an hour long, is repeatedly interrupted by truck commercials with rednecky soundtracks, and stops right in the middle for a half-hour break?

  68. Fluffy-

    Some consider Turkey to be in Europe, too. The geographic boundaries aren’t exact, but the most extensive definition of Europe is everything that’s not Arab west of the Urals.

  69. I’m still waiting for some link for that “Clinton engaged in more interventions than any recent President” comment. Is it complete bs? Is it derived from taking the number of any order of the military to do anything in any foriegn nation? If that’s so that’s pretty misleading. Again, if I remember correctly Clinton had Haiti, Serbia and a strike in Sudan that initiated during his watch. That strikes me as no greater than Reagan’s involvement in Grenada, Lebanon, Libya and the Iran-Iraq war and certainly lesser than Bush I’s actions in Panama, Somalia and Gulf War I and Bush II’s Afghanistan and Iraq adventures…

  70. Tulpa,

    You feel a moral obligation to enforce property rights and detain those who assault others? Fine, grab yourself a gun and open up a jail.

    Oh, wait, you mean you feel a moral obligation to have others blah blah blabbity blah…

  71. I like Will and agree with LMNOP he is no hack.

    On the other hand his anti-football comment is just prickish and whiny.

    I remember that SNL skit with Will and the baseball themed game show.

    “Throw the ball George”

  72. The linked article contains a bare assertion without evidence.

  73. Well, at least neither Medvedev nor Putin are Sicilian.

    Yet they still act like capos.

  74. Can we please, please drop the fiction that Georgia is a liberal democracy and their President is some kind of George Washington?

  75. What does being in Europe have to do with this? Isn’t the issue is NATO membership, which Georgia does not have.

  76. College football starts tonight (NC State vs. SC on ESPN).

    Hell yeah, STICK it up your ass Will.

    Faux-combat indeed.

  77. “””I’m still waiting for some link for that “Clinton engaged in more interventions than any recent President” comment. Is it complete bs?”””

    I would very much like to see that too.

    I was a Marine in Reagan’s days. He seemed to keep us busy. My vote goes to him.

  78. Faux-combat indeed.

    But it is faux combat. I mean, whether you love the sport, or think it’s goofy like I do, it’s faux combat nevertheless.

    Diehard fans not only don’t deny that — they relish the idea. They call players “warriors” and speak of the game as a battle. Hell, the game itself uses terms such as “blitz.”

  79. “The precision-jack hammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Minnesota Vikings today by stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another up the middle, mixed with pinpoint-precision passes into the flat and numerous hammer-jackstops around both ends…”

    What’s not to like?

  80. Football is the only American sport I like watching more than I like playing. (Keeping in mind that Golf *is not* a sport, whatever else it may be.)

  81. Football is the only American sport I like watching more than I like playing

    Whaaa? You get to smash into people, beat them to the ground, trip them, and take their legs out from under them. And it’s all legal! When I do that stuff in soccer I get yellow carded. That’s why I wait for the ref to look away.

  82. A few hundred thousand additional dead, a trillion more in economic costs, gets a “merely?”

    I call hypebolic bullshit. You got a link for that number? 300,000+ war deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq?

  83. Epi —

    You forget hockey, which is infinitely superior in all the aforementioned ways.

  84. Finally, as an energy investor, solar will crush the profits of the carbon based energy companies in the long run. But last month the GOP Senators refused to allow the renewal of a tax break (ITC) for solar investment which expires at year end. Solar is renewable and free as long as the sun shines – but is front-end loaded in terms of investment – it can’t live without the ITC. Once again – the fingerprints of Exxon and Cheney are on the smoking gun pointed at competition.

    So it’s evil if an oil company makes use of government welfare, but not if a solar company does? I can’t wait for the time a few decades from now when Big Solar is the boogeyman.

  85. Hockey: The Greatest Scam Ever Created By Dentists

  86. The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    This does not abrogate the right to self-defense. No NATO country is obligated to stand down its military until the UN gives the go ahead, in response to attacks by internal separatists or the army of another nation crossing its borders.

    Not to mention that Georgia’s troubles with separatists in sovereign Georgia are not international disputes.

    So, if Georgia had been a member of NATO, I don’t think the events of the last month would have violated its NATO obligations.

  87. MNG
    Sometimes, you are alright.

    Tom, your hatred for the game is disproportionate to anything reasonably attributable to the game in its faults.

    Did football kill your dog?

    Usually, disproportionate responses involve some form of envy, like (sarcasm tag) my hatred of Margret Cho for her superior comic talents (/sarcasm tag). You don’t throw like a girl, do you?

    Is any football fan as obnoxious as a typical soccer hooligan from Manchester?

  88. Are the Dems hawks or doves, after all?

    They’re dovish in their hawkishness.

  89. I’m with Tom. What’s anti-football about calling it “faux-combat”? He didn’t call it “quasi-sport” or “combat-for-sissies”, he called it a sport that simulates combat, like faux-wood simulates wood. Are you saying football is actual, literal combat?

    Dial down the vitriol long enough to break out the dictionaries please.

  90. You forget hockey, which is infinitely superior in all the aforementioned ways.

    “You have sucky white skates like figure skater.”

    “You have black ones like a ref. At least figure skaters can skate, eh.”

  91. Is any football fan as obnoxious as a typical soccer hooligan from Manchester?

    See: Austin, TX This Saturday

  92. Tom, your hatred for the game is disproportionate to anything reasonably attributable to the game in its faults.

    Did football kill your dog?

    No. In fact, my dog pees on football.

    If my “hatred” seems disproportionate on its face, then consider it in the context of football’s huge popularity. Yes, I don’t really like the game to begin with, but my angst is only truly compounded by having watched, with frustration and sometimes bafflement, as it has become the country’s favorite spectator sport during my lifetime.

    It’s sort of like… OK, let’s say you didn’t care for hip-hop music. If it were just some fringe thing, you probably wouldn’t give much thought to it — you’d pretty much just keep on not-caring-for-it. If, however, you watched in bewilderment as it become the most dominant popular-music form, taking over the culture and the conversation, then your dislike would probably become more vocal once in a while.

    That’s all it is.

  93. I agree with Tom’s analogy; the drunker I am, the more I enjoy football and hip-hop.

  94. Tom, try some co-ed football. You’ll start liking it then.

  95. What does being in Europe have to do with this?

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure NATO would come to Canada’s defense. Did I mention that western European countries invoked the NATO charter in response to 9/11?

    J sub D,

    There are sources all over the internets on casualties in Iraq, and the plausible ones range from 100,000 to close to half a million.

  96. SugarFree,

    Looks like we have a new Best Album Ever. Suck it, Revolver.

    Ha!

  97. takes three-and-a-half hours to play but is only an hour

    Snap-to-whistle, the average pro game is about fifteen minutes long.

  98. Did you download the mp3? Surprisingly good.

  99. Football games are short–just ask TiVo.

  100. Will is a baseball turd. Gridiron is simulated combat disguised as a sport, what about it? The NFL 100000x more entertaining than baseball (yes, the math checks out) and I watch both.

    Donkeys like war just like the rest of ’em. Sorry its true. There is suffering and death all over the globe. Some of our best friends are despots. Are we going to F with China or Saudi Arabia? I think not.

    joe, seriously what’s your barometer for intervention? with the huge deficits the US gov’t is running, how can we afford to intervene (even if justified)?

  101. idiotface,

    I believe in plucking the lowest hanging fruit. Even then, there is probably more low-hanging fruit than we can plausibly pick – as you say, the world is a full of misery.

    Modesty and cherry-picking have the twin virtues of creating a high rate of success, a low rate of disaster, and imposing low costs on the occasions that things turn out badly. .

    That’s the best I can do for ya, sorry. It’s sort of like charity. How much? As much as makes sense. It’s triage

  102. idiotface,

    Are we going to fuck with China? Well, there’s Taiwan.

    Do you think it was a bad idea for Clinton to send a fleet into the Straits when China ran that “exercise” with the missiles a few years back?

  103. On Clinton it depends on how you count each act of military use overseas… Off top of my head I can name Somalia, Iraq (yes we bombed stuff in Operation Desert Fox), Afghanistan (cruise missiles at Bin Laden), Sudan (Aspirin Factory), Yugoslavia, Haiti…. So while a large number all pale in comparison with Iraq OR Afghanistan.

    I supported denying Al-Q a safe haven and going after bin Laden, but in general I am opposed to use of military force….

    As for Georgia: they started it and provoked the Russians and miscalculated the Russian response. Also, Georgia is not exactly the kind of state we want as a close ally anything.. they are just inconveniently located between the oil rich caspian and Turkey and the Black sea……

  104. On Taiwan, they’re an ally and seem to be more free than China. But, I sorta see China’s claim on them. As much as the Taiwanese hate to admit it, they’re Chinese. I’m really mixed on that issue.

    I understand the “low-hanging fruit” theory, but I fear the law of unintended consequences.

  105. China isn’t even remotely justified in claiming Taiwan. By that reasoning, we need to report to the Queen for a spanking. And Taiwan is democratic and a free-market society and has been for a while. It’s a gigantic blackmark on the U.N. and most of the world that we threw Taiwan under the bus in the rush to open the door to China.

  106. Between adding a province to the empire and stopping a genocide.

    Which genocide under Clinton was that?

    Oh yeah the smaller white one…now I remember.

  107. idiotface,

    I certainly fear the Law of Unintended Consequences, too, and treat it as a limiting factor. Like I said, it functions for us idealistic Democrats to impose modesty of both thought and, more importantly, action.

    This is why I think that liberals (even relatively hawkish ones) and non-interventionists are a much more natural alliance than either would be for neoconservatives like McCain.

    We believe that, all else being equal, it is better to avoid war. McCain, Victor David Hanson, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol and that lot believe that, all else being equal, it is better for us to be fighting. They think that the mere fact that Americans are fighting “bad guys” is a force for good, in the world at large, and in terms of the social and political effects on our society. They not only have a much grander vision of what military force can accomplish, but also consider warfare to be good for the soul. Lest you think I’m making this up, check out some 2002-2003-era issues of National Review or the Weekly Standard. They make this case explicitly.

  108. The people who drill in the Nigerian delta and run death squads can’t be evil.

    Yeah the death squads in Nigeria are there because Exxon is.

    But it makes me wonder…we have Exxon here…but where are the death squads?

  109. joshua, have you ever heard of GDS?

  110. Snap-to-whistle, the average pro game is about fifteen minutes long.

    Indeed. I was being charitable in my prior description. Three-fifths of the show is replays. One-fifth is commercials. The rest is mouth-breathing “commentary” interlaced almost apologetically with the “game” itself. It’s the perfect sport for drinking, pissing and not really paying attention.

  111. That’s crazy, ed! Football is by far the most cerebral of the major sports, even though it’s the most violent. The plays are vastly more complex than baseball, soccer, hockey, or basketball. The players need to be aware of many more variables in real time. Why is so much clock spent spent preparing for a play? Not because the batter and pitcher are having a time-wasting contest, I’ll tell you that, but because there’s something complicated being schemed.

    Not to mention, it is the second greatest spectacle ever conceived by the mind of man, behind only Women’s Beach Volleyball.

  112. Hockey is my favorite sport, but I have to agree with joe here that the reason football has delays is because it’s by far the most complex of the sports.

    There’s a lot of commentary because it’s the perfect sport for TV commentary. There are 22 different stories going on in every play, and a camera on each of them. I love hockey but years of watching have made me grudgingly concede that its fluidity and formlessness means there’s really no need for color analysis beyond “Ya gotta crash the net!”

    There’s a lot going on in baseball too, but it’s focused in a narrow area most of the time and the “action to waiting” ratio is even worse than football’s.

    Don’t like to wait 30 seconds between plays? Get the NFL Network and watch NFL replay.

  113. Football also has multiple modes of attack. In soccer you score by kicking the ball in the goal. In hockey you slap the puck in the goal. In basketball you throw the ball in the basket.

    But in football, because it is a violent ground-acquisition crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war, you can advance through running the ball, throwing the ball, or kicking the ball. This adds a lot of variety and unpredictability, which is good for watching.

  114. As for Georgia: they started it and provoked the Russians and miscalculated the Russian response.

    Probably not. As I have posted before, on-the-ground reporting indicates that the South Ossetians fired first, after the Russians conveniently relocated a bug chunk of their army into the neighborhood for “exercises.”

  115. Not to mention, it is the second greatest spectacle ever conceived by the mind of man, behind only Women’s Beach Volleyball.

    There’s my weekly agreement with joe, right on schedule.

  116. I hate to do this, but I can’t help but feel dubious about this altruistic motive of Russia’s. It just keeps reminding me of what Hitler said about the poor Germans in Czechoslovakia.

  117. John McCain WILL start a new Cold War with Russia, make no mistake about that.

    Russia would win the next one. Russia has money again, the US is broke.

  118. Russia’s got all sorts of problems, and all its money comes from oil. We’re still the biggest economy on Earth. We may decline, but it hasn’t happened just yet. It’s economic competition we have to worry about, anyway.

    Besides, I don’t see a Cold War with the Russians coming about anytime soon. Russia is always a pain in the ass when it’s in imperial mode, but that doesn’t make them our enemy. Just another competitor.

  119. I gave up on the NFL about 6 years ago. The games just take so goddamn looong. Used to be a game lasted about 2:45 unless it was in overtime. Now 4 quarters last at least 3:30 and pretty soon we’ll have teams of lawyers arguing their cases in front of a panel of referees bringing us to football-game-as-miniseries.

    At least baseball games still last around 3 hours – unless FOX is broadcasting it.

  120. Fluffy-3:08

    Football, I agree is by far the most complex of the team sports. That is why I have always thought that Goerge Carlin’s basball/football routine is a big, giant disconnect and therefore, not funny. Football demands so much more mentally than all the other team sports.

  121. Ever seen a football teams playbook? There’s nothing like that in baseball…

    I still can’t find anything remotely like evidence of the claim about Clinton. In the Reason article it mentions 25 interventions and then in the Cato one it mentions 40+. The Reason one refers to the Cato one which footnotes the specific claim.

    I imagine they were not listed because people would laugh and laugh at the crazy operationalization of “major military intervention.”

    Once again:

    Bush I invaded and regime changed Panama. He invaded Somalia. He fought Gulf War I.

    Bush II invaded and regime changed and then occupied Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Clinton? Led NATO airstrikes and then peace keeping forces in Serbia, ordered a missle strike in Sudan and deployed forces in Haiti in a deal we brokered.

    WTF? These are not even close to being analagous. C’mon Nick, don’t repeat something some f*cking think tank analyst wrote without checking that shit out big time (I say this as a BIG fan of Nick Gillespie, PHD [probably the only one on Reason’s staff) mofos!).

  122. Shrike,

    You have been woefully misinformed by the democrat demagoguing of the oil companies. Your points in blockquotes.

    We drill all over the US. According to World Oil, there are 506,000 active, productive rigs in the US. The beaches in some states are off limits

    Flatly wrong. Drilling is allowed in a restricted area offshore Texas and Louisiana, nowhere else. Vast areas of federal government land onshore in the continental US is also off limits to drilling.

    Many of the areas most likely to contain large deposits of petroleum are placed off limits by government fiat.

    Finally, as an energy investor, solar will crush the profits of the carbon based energy companies in the long run. But last month the GOP Senators refused to allow the renewal of a tax break (ITC) for solar investment which expires at year end.

    If solar was an economical competitor for petroleum it would not be a need a tax credit.

    No tax credit means solar will be installed in areas an situations where it makes technical and economic sense. Research in solar will continue to be very active and well funded because massive financial rewards await any company or venture capital funding group that brings workable technology to market.

  123. The democrats in congress put their nuts in a slow motion vice when they decided to get in a bit of demagoguing and brought in the oil company executives for a show trial.

    Accusing the oil companies of not doing enough to produce domestic oil provided the oil companies with a great opening to point out that they could not do more to produce domestic petroleum because the government made producing petroleum a forbidden activity in the areas that were most likely to contain petroleum.

    This also provided the republicans with an opportunity to launch their drill now movement.

    These were the two jaws of the vice and public discontent over high gas prices turned the screws closing the jaws of the vice. None of this would have been possible without the democrats and their show trials.

    Always good to have a show trial blow up in the inquisitions face and it could not have happened to a more deserving bunch.

  124. No tax credit means solar will be installed in areas an situations where it makes technical and economic sense.

    Let’s undo the massive subsidies fossil-fuel based electrical generation received via the granting of monopoly status to utilities, as well as the massive subsidies provided to the oil industry via state sponsorship of its prime customer, the automobile. After all that stuff is ripped up and paid back, we’ll then see where it “makes sense” technically and economically to burn fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation.

    If you can’t unring that bell, I don’t want to hear any complaints about subsidies for competitors to the fossil fuel based industries.

  125. Fluffy,

    If you hit your thumb with a hammer the commonsense thing is to stop hitting it.

    The same thing applies to subsidies, just end them.

    The idea that the solution to market distorting subsidies is more market distorting subsidies is lunacy.

  126. Alt energy subsidy supporters should pay attention to the ongoing (government subsidy caused) biofuels debacle.

    A technology that alt energy boosters assured us would help replace petroleum and reduce carbon emissions accomplished the following.

    1. Probably increased overall petroleum consumption through farming inputs and energy usage at the ethanol plants.

    2. Increased carbon emissions.

    3. Caused massive amounts of environmental destruction in the process.

    Energy subsidies and mandates are bad business and need to be ended not increased.

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