Sunday, October 15, 2006

There's A Better Question Here

The Chron's question: Has the mayor's new girlfriend, who is only 20, been drinking?

My question: Should I care?

Though, in all seriousness, this does raise an important question about the Mayor's taste in women. Apparently, chickie had a myspace page that magically aged her from 19 to 26 overnight. Don't date people with myspace pages who are too politically naive to know that said page will be sought out and used against her - and him - in a court of public opinion.

Dear world: myspace is a public website. Anything you say there can, and will, be used against you in every way possible.

Back to the original question - I suppose the dutiful public servant's response is to decry her actions and pledge anew to uphold the rule of law. But the Italian in me says, honestly? Is this what we're going to use against him? Or her for that matter?

Which, by the way, reminds me: I really hate that the stupid pagegate situation is going to work possibly to unseat and disgrace some Reeps. "What did you know and when did you know it" seems so much more appropriate question about, like, say, I don't know, the f*cking Iraq war and our reasons for starting it? But sexy chat messages are so much easier to understand, condemn, and discuss. To my elementary school teachers who stiffed me on my "effort" grades (the achievement grades were As, thank you very much) - SEE! I told you so. The real rewards go to the easy winners - the ones who can convince us to focus on the dancing idiot and ignore the people killing hundreds of thousands in the name of . . . . hell, something, I can't remember anymore. I will thank my math teachers, however, for teaching me how to find the lowest common denominator. This is apparently the most important skill to getting yourself ahead in media and politics these days.

Thank god I don't have to think about foreign policy anymore.

15 comments:

doughnut70 said...

I don't think in the end it will really make a difference in the election, but I think you underestimate how important the "Pagegate" scandal really is.

If someone is willing to ignore another congressman who is doing something like this which clearly qualifies as evil because it might impact their political power, then clearly they are not going to blow the whistle on anything remotely close to the edge that might affect their future. It says perhaps more than anything else about the type of leader that person is. Political decisionmaking is still more often affected by questions on small things that add up over time than it is over the so called "Major issues" of our time and "Pagegate" says that a lot of people who have to make those decisions will instead not do so because of the possibility of political trouble.

On a different note, but on the same train of thought, I also think you continue to miss the main point about the discussion that goes into the so called "weapons of mass destruction".

Bush's politcal argument has always that Democrats will take so long jumping through legalistic hoops that are put up by the international community to the point that they will endanger the security of the United States (and the rest of the world) rather than take a tough step that might cause some political problems at home. In other words, they will look for any excuse to avoid tough actions even when they involve the security of the United States. He has admitted that his information on Iraq may have been wrong and admitted that we will never be sure, while pointing out that a reasonable number of sources did believe Hussein had the weapons.

But his main point which has nothing to do with whether or not the weapons existed, it was that he had to act quickly because of the danger to us and the rest of the world and that the risk of being wrong about the weapons was overweighed by the risk the weapons might pose to our own security. Beyond that, he is arguing that trying to go the UN as many other countries have said we should have done, would have jeopardized the chances of US success in going after the weapons. He does add that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. but mostly he is just saying that he had to go in for our security and that although things are tough for us, we have to deal the cards we were dealt and that even though this has been a rough situation in Iraq, overall the country and world are better off with an America that will unequivacally protect its intersts. The main issue between Bush and the Democrats is the question of whether or not we can trust the international community to take real steps to protect the peace, when those steps require some short term political sacrifice for the countries involved.

Bush says "No", end of story and argued that because of waffling by Democrats in Congress and President Clinton, our country is much less safe. Iraq is rough, but in the long run we are better off. Democrats on the other hand don't have a clear and consistent message. I wish they would talk more specifically on how they would get the international community involved and more on point that they would talk about how Bush has isolated us so much from the rest of the world that in cases like North Korea we are not getting the help we need and that endangers our security more than anything else, but to many political insiders that means political risk that they don't want to take, because Americans still like the idea that we can go it alone, not realizing that shouldn't mean we have to. The choice in this election on foreign policy is which policy do the American people feel is better for this country. Sadly while most polls show people are unhappy with the current administration, they also show that undecided voters are unsure if they can trust the Democrats to keep them safe and they are starting to break Republican. This clearly should be a huge Democratic year and I think most people on both sides would have bet money on huge gains a year ago for Dems. But right now I think there is a real chance that Republicans are able to limit their losses and keep both the house and Senate both because Democrats don't come across as credible on security and also because Democrats have not been able to push the issues back to the domestic agenda. One of the basic rules of politics is you don't let the media control the agenda, you push it to your areas of strength which for Democrats are things like the high cost of medicine, how people will survive on retirement, things like that. Instead, Democrats are letting the news media control their message and that means they are fighting completely on Republican turf and unless that changes, this will not be the kind of year we are hoping for. JMO!

cd said...

Are we back to this again? Your comment doesn't really deserve a response since you ended it with "JMO." You know how I feel about that. I KNOW it's your opinion since you posted it under your name, but anyway . . . .

I'm not underestimating anything. I can big it up to have the same meaning and ramifications as your second graf implies it has. But see, we probably do already know some won't blow the whistle on bigger problems. That's my whole point. We - the Dems - are willing to call for heads on sticks over THIS - but we don't really get our panties into a public bunch over the war. Not enough to - say - vote no on things or impeach the president anyway.

Frankly - poor Denny Hastert. Brought in as the plain vanilla option to Newt's disgraced, well, everything. He's been the great coach and leader and yeah yeah, but man, does he get to take the fall fast on some small shit or what.

Is there a place for a misbehavin' congressman in our government? No. But we let so much go with the wink-wink-nod-nod-stay-away-from-him in nearly every arena of life, I think this rings a bit hollow. Many wrongs don't make Foley right - but going after one wrong while much bigger wrongs go unchecked doesn't earn anyone a cookie either.

I don't have the energy to address the rest of your comment right now - I'll get to it later.

cd said...

Okay, have read it now and I reject your premise, and thus the argument based on it.

I think your explanation of Bush's reasons for entering Iraq prove why we're probably doomed - you've given just the revisionist reason they want you to give. The one - as you point out - we can't argue.

We will continue to lose if we accept Bush's cooked up reasons as fact and then argue against them. If we call him and his out for the liars they are - perhaps we'll have a chance. But THAT is what we cannot seem to do.

Shame really - because it's such a nice country otherwise.

doughnut70 said...

I don't know which part you are calling revisionist history, but as far as the overall argument, that has been the clarion call for the so called "Neo Conservative" foreign policy movement from the start.

The book "Rise of the Vulcans" which covers their history back to the 1980's is considered the seminal book on the group currently running our foreign policy and although I may not agree with them, I don't see anything revisionist in what they have argued for. Maybe a little political backtracking around the edges, but nothing major has changed from the start.

Their whole argument has always been that our security often can't wait for international consensus and that we will need to go it alone whenever necessary. This argument didn't start with Iraq, Bush himself said on the campaign trail that there would be possibilities of mistakes and also in his opinion possibilities of short term losses in international prestige, but as he put it, never a loss of respect. This was a point of view Bush embraced openly in his first Presidential campaign and has followed in his tenure as President.

The book I mentioned, touches on how several people who are now major players in this Administration argued for the same concepts when they worked for Bill Clinton and had actions they recommended turned down for reasons having to do with international opinion and our dealings with International organizations. The fact that there is this history is a large part of what gives Republican arguments resonance that has to be overcome. The harshest attack on Democrats this cycle came from that Disney TV show precisely because it purported (falsely) to show Democrats making numerous mistakes because they were overly worried about political considerations and world opinion. That is and always has been their argument.

But I also think at some level the American people know deep down we can't be the worlds policemen and that cutting ourselves off the way we have from everyone else is not in our own long term interests. I think the American people know Bush is wrong in his policy and want a change in direction, but I think they are scared that he might be right in what he thinks of Democrats and a large part of what happens in this election will depend on whether or not we actively convince the American public that he is wrong.

The problem however is that here is no history of us lately standing up for what we believe in when times are tough or of us showing a trust in the American people to figure out that our elected officials really are working for them with the hope of making the world a better place instead of simply holding on to a job. To give an example of what I mean, when France opposed the war in Iraq, the Administration not only criticized them, but put them down verbally. We actually had government officials making sarcastic comments about "Freedom Fries" and talking about how France should blindly back us because we bailed them out in World War 2.

At the time, France was donating troops, weapons, airspace for our planes and many other things to the war in Afghanistan. They were not major players and also probably could have done more, but they were helping. If a Democratic leader had stood up and strongly denounced the administration for grandstanding and said that their comments were hurting our efforts to build international support for what we were doing in Afghanistan, then I think whichever politician spoke first, would have taken a small temporary hit politically, but I think all Democrats would have been better off in the long run because it would have come across to people that we really are thinking about how America can and will exist in a world where nuclear weapons are gradually becoming more and more available. They won't trust us with a leadership role unless they believe at some level that we have a plan to deal with the problems of the world. The fact we haven't been showing a record that indicates a level of leadership and the fact that we also haven't been able to turn any kind of s spotlight to domestic issues where we are doing dramatically better than Republicans is exactly why polls are showing Republicans are starting to gain ground in state after state where Democrats haven't closed the deal and undecideds are starting to stick with the devil they know instead of the one they don't. This will be our year, almost no matter what, but if we don't do something to answer the questions people have about what we are doing to protect them, we will not have anywhere close to the kind of year we should.

Toothless Bulldog said...

Sorry we in Britain can't help you blockade North Korea now that we no longer have a navy and our remaining reluctant army is fragmented while putting out fires started elsewhere by misguided boys with matches. However, as of last night (BBC Panorama) it will be increasingly ok for police to shoot random individuals as a side effect of the fight against(?) terror.

cd said...

The argument offered - the longer one you correctly site as being patent neocon warmongering - is accurate (I mean, accurately theirs, not factually or reasonably). My revisionist comment was more about the wide-spread acceptance of this revised public reason for going to war. There was a time, though it may be hard to remember, when it was because of WMD and that's all. They were going to get us (or some of our friends) and fast.

The UK PM sold the Brits on the notion that WMDs would take a scant 45 min to make landfall.

Then - poof! - no WMDs - surprise surprise - and we need another reason.

So we as Dems have gone with that other reason and instead of trying to unwind ourselves from the entire pile of lies, try to combat unreasonableness with reason - which pretty much can't work (see e.g.: 2002, 2004, and soon, 2006 most likely).

That's my problem. We're affording Bush face value on his arguments. It hasn't worked yet, why continue?

cd said...

P.S. Welcome Roundup readers and I can't believe I have a swear work on a post with such a high-profile incoming link.

I'm usually much less of a potty mouth on the blog (than in real life)- thanks for stopping by.

doughnut70 said...

The reason you have to take the President's word at face value is because he is the President and he still has his finger on the trigger (without trying to sound too naive, access to all sorts of secret information we don't have). But more importantly, the old saw about "what are you going to do?' still applies. Beyond the fact that the American people hate personal attacks on any President, George Bush is not going to be on the ballot in two years. In the sense of anything we can control, he is over, done, finis. Right now it looks like the Republican nominee is either going to be Rudy Guiliani or John McCain, both candidates with long records of independence from the Bush Administration who will be judged by the American people who still believe politics is about individuals more than parties. The question Democrats have to answer as we try and come up with our nominee is what kind of an alternative to the Republicans is what kind of alternative will we present and how will we deal with the problems this country is facing worldwide, not what problems from our past do we hate. As to the WMD, I still think you clearly understand the argument, but don't get that the American people understood it at the time and by and large accept that the President, mistakenly believed there was a direct threat to security. You can go conspiracy and say that all of those people knew better and for whatever reason (oil?) used an excuse to invade, but if you expect people to accept that, then it certainly is a message that has to come from someone with a long history of credibility and consistency, not a political leader with no real record on National security or worse, someone who like many of our current leaders, has a record of waffling or flipflopping as the political winds have blown. The key point is simple. Over the last year, I have read perhaps a dozen comments in books or newspaper articles where major former government figures of all backgrounds and beliefs(Including Warren Christopher) have stated that they believe sometime in the very near future, a major city will get hit with an explosion from a low yield atomic weapon of some type being used by a terrorist group. Most of the comments have said directly that they expect it to happen to an American city, because we have become the focal point of so much hatred in other parts of the world. They have also said that it is going to be next to impossible to stop it from happening, because the materials necessary to make a so called "dirty bomb" have already been available for too long and too many people have had access to them. The American people at some level get that, understand it and are very concerned and are trying to decide how our country should deal with the danger. They have shown if you believe poll numbers, that they don't think George Bush is doing the right things to deal with the problem and they are looking for an alternative. You want to go back and say Bush lied and beat up on him, when it really doesn't matter. People don't think he is on the right track. The question they have is whether or not he is the lesser of two evils. Until Democrats show an ability to deal with the terrorist issue, they will always be struggling politically, even in a time like this when everything should be going there way.

cd said...

You've exemplified why we'll keep losing and why we'll probably lose much more than elections in the long run.

They IMPEACHED our President for screwing around with an intern. THIS President gets off scott free. That will never be okay with me. I don't accept. I don't think "what can you do?" is a morally acceptable response. I don't think John McCain has lived up to all his potential - when the going gets tough, he backs Bush right up every. time. period.

We haven't even TRIED to deal with the terrorist issue because we have yet to start talking frankly about the trumped up reasons for going to war. We have yet to start saying no, we will no longer allow Bush et al to link 9/11 with Iraq. We have yet to use anything useful from recent disclosures that the war in Iraq has led to an increase in terrorist activity, has introduced Al-Q to Iraq, has made us all markedly less safe - at home and everywhere on earth. We have yet to do that because we're too busy going for the low-hanging Foley fruit.

Bush lied. Others knew and helped. He used on excuse and then when it didn't bear out, he spun others. He falsely links 9/11 and the Iraqi people - whose deaths now may total as many as 600,000.

They day may soon arrive where American mothers have to send children to school on separate buses. And that would be 100% Bush's fault - except it really will be OUR fault for letting it happen.

Enough enough enough. Enough.

doughnut70 said...

A politician is not supposed to be an educator, they are supposed to act as an agent for the people who elected them and then they are supposed to be accountable at election time. If people want to lynch George W. Bush, they can do it, or they can make him king, but you are right about one thing, it is there choice as to how we are governed and just as they punished Republican Congressional members for impeaching Clinton, they have the option to decide how accountable they want to make W for the War in Iraq. Of course they could also punish the South for slavery or the west for what happened to the Indians or me for shooting a spitwad at Cathy Sherman in the fourth grade. They can do whatever they want, but the purpose of blogs like this is not just to expose the truth, but also to compare notes on the best way to get a message out for a different way of doing things. I merely pointed out that for all of their talk about how bad Iraq is, Democrats by and large still haven't answered the question of where they stand on what polling shows is the biggest question in the minds of American voters today. How will you keep us safe in the near future. Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. There is not a connection between Al Quaida and Iraq though, but there is with 9/11. Bush says we can't wait and we have to go on the offensive wherever these people might be. That is all he has ever claimed. You can say he used the excuse to steal their oil or whatever, but I still don't see how that changes anything. People are not happy about what he has done, but every poll that I have seen says they also want to believe that Democrats will do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe and that they are not sure of that fact. No one has to convince them of anything except that we can handle the job. They think Bush is causing some damage, but they think it is damage we can survive, they literally think that Democrats might risk everything for political reasons. One other point. If you check, I think you will find that nowhere in the United States is an elected official in trouble who strongly supported Israel's invasion of Lebanon (Unless you count Lieberman, but Lamont supported it also). It's a factor almost universal to Democrats in marginal races who are running away with their contests. Why, because Israel was right in most peoples eyes, but more than that, even the people that disageed with them on the issue respected the fact that they would stand up on a tough issue that could conceivably hurt them politically in the future. All voters want is an assurace that Democrats will do the right thing when they have to and all you are talking about is bashing someone for decisions already made. Decisions by the way which Guiliani or whomever the Republicans nominate will take steps to distance themselves from if they think it is necessary. It's time to stop fighting yesterdays battles and move on (no pun intended) to the fight for our future.

cd said...

A.) I get to say what the purpose of this blog is.

B.) Statements like this: "Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. There is not a connection between Al Quaida and Iraq though, but there is with 9/11. Bush says we can't wait and we have to go on the offensive wherever these people might be. That is all he has ever claimed." are endangering your credibility here for me. What, pray tell, is the connection between 9/11 and Iraq? And how could you connect them by just not factoring in the perps?

I never said anything about stealing oil. I don't give a shit about oil - though protecting the source is a nice bonus. More likely, this whole thing is a lovely little crusade. Nation building. Vengence. What Jesus said to do against the infidels. Who knows. But I don't think I've ever said this was all about the oil.

The Reeps have wholesaled and most media have bought and resold the notion that Dems haven't given us better strategies for keeping safe. If you accept that the main question needs to be "what are you doing to keep us safe" then, yes, we lose. If you reject that notion and call it out for what it is: an excuse meant to stymie us in in-fighing and inaction, then start digging out from there, we can get to a point where there would be a valid argument available as to why we're a legitimate alternative.

As for the Israel point: well, I don't get your point. Blind support of Israel has never been a liability for American politicians.

I'm not fighting yesterday's battles because they aren't yesterday's. They never ended. They continue so long as you and others blithely toe their party line.

Well done.

doughnut70 said...

A. I did not mean to step on your ownership of the blog. If I stepped over a line, I apologize.

B. I don't get this one at all and maybe I am just not understanding your response in some way. If you read "Behind the Oval Office" which was written long before 9/11, Dick Morris talked about how he and Clinton discussed the fact that ending the threat from international terrorist groups was the greatest challenge his administration would face. This whole issue is not new. But what is new (I think) is the consensus since 9/11 that we can't simply ignore those people and hope they go away, we have to have a strategy equal to the threat which is obviously very real. Bush is saying we need to play cop. I would like to think the Democrats are saying we need to pressure the rest of the world to help be cops and push them in that direction and I think we are doing a poor job of being forthright on that and that makes people question our resolve. Do you see us as having a different strategy that I am not understanding.

As far as factoring in the perps, I don't think the specific group is anywhere near as big an issue as the question of how we deal with the issue, because it is an issue we will continue to be facing with a lot of different "perps" in the future, just as Europe has had to face them for years. There are literally hundreds of groups that wish to destroy our way of life. Make no mistake about it, most of them hate Jews in general and would like to destroy Israel also, but that has never been their only focus. Most of the members of these groups view us as promoting a lifestyle that they think is destroying the world and think they need to stop us. Their politics is in some ways similar to the religious right in this country, but at a crazier level.

D. I apologize again for mentioning oil, I only did that because that is the most common reason people give for why they think we invaded Iraq if they are against the war. I am not saying they are wrong, but our country (and every other one on earth) has done a lot of unethical things through the years. I don't think most people support those things, but I also don't it's worth debating, because if Bush's main point is right, then we really did have no choice and if as I think it is wrong, then the question is will the alternative work. The rest will sort itself out.

As far as the blame you cast on the media for selling the idea that Democrats don't have a better strategy for keeping us safe, that gets I think to the heart of the matter. I don't see a consistent position by a lot of Democratic elected officials and I guess you are saying you do. I look at John Kerry opposing the first Iraq war, then supporting the second one, then waffling during the campaign, but calling for a gradual pullout and now calling for a date certain and I not only don't see a consistent line of thought on the issue itself, I see changes that every step of the way looked like they were geared towards gaining political value. Opposing the first which was unpopular with liberals before it started, supporting the second when it mattered because the first had been such a popular action, waffling in the Presidential election but arguing strongly against a date certain pullout because that was the only way to keep together the coalition on the Democratic side and now calling for an immediate pullout because that is the popular position among activists who will vote in Democratic primaries. But he is not the only one, that applies to many, many top Democrats.

As far as an argument stymying us in infighting, I still don't get your point, although maybe I do in which case you would to me be backing up my main point which is that we are messing up because no one wants to take political chances. You speak of politicians as if they can be identified just by their party and I guess I would argue that in this country they are individuals first and one of the qualities Americans look for is someone willing to go against their own party on issues they think are important to the people they represent. But overall, it still goes back to the basic idea that you can't beat something with nothing. Polls show we don't have to criticize them, so I would suggest that what we do have to accomplish is offering an alternative.

As for Israel, I think the point was that you have many Democrats who supported the use of force by another country as an absolute necessity and since I think one of the doubts people have about the Democratic idea of global cooperation to deal with the terrorist threat, I think the stunning silence on an attack that I think virutally everyone agreed was appropriate served as a reminder of the whole Republican argument that the International community is too caught up in politics to take real action in a crises. But, for the Democrats who spoke out in support of Israel, there was a reminder to many voters that we as a party are not against all wars and that sometimes the use of the military is necessary, but we want it to be used carefully and judiciously. I don't think we have done enough to enunciate that concept and supporting Israel in the fighting in Lebanon was a litmus test in many voters minds and those that passed are suddenly much more popular with the electorate.

As far as fighting yesterdays battles, I will simply say that it's easy to criticize and harder to offer positive alternatives and what too many Democrats are doing is the equivilent of saying the world is too rough, so lets just complain about it, while expecting the American people to trust us with their future when we don't give them any idea of what that future will look like except to say it will be different. That clearly doesn't work.

cd said...

No need to apologize - you can't overstep, it's my blog.

I won't get into a discussion on how the term "international terrorist groups" is increasingly inapplicable. Extranational terrorist groups, perhaps. Part of the problem with Bush's public post-invasion reasons for war is that they ingore the non-state-sponsored nature of modern terrorism. Is it pan-arabic? Is it pseudo-Muslim? Just plain extranational? I don't know which if any of those might be accurate. But extranational seems to come closest.

I can't believe you can argue that the 9/11 sponsors don't really matter - who they were is inconsequential in terms of the larger dangers facing our nation? Seriously? That's just more "pay no attention to that terrorist cell behind the curtain" nonsense to get us to focus on our fear rather than its true sources. (p.s. Iraq did not = source)

And as for the rest of your comment - good lord man - do you write any fewer than like 50,000 word comments?

I will say your characterization of the Democratic reaction to the latest Israel actions is . . . well, at least you're consistent. I will be mulling "necessary," "carefully," and "judiciously" as you have used them here for quite sometime.

Basta.

doughnut70 said...

And you probably thought you wouldn't have to worry about foreign policy under this topic.

doughnut70 said...

I should add that Iraq may not equal source as you put it, but you are still not giving credit to the idea that there was any reason to believe Saddam Hussein might have had weapons. They weren't there and clearly careful checking would have shown that, but if you believe as many Republicans have stated they do, that you can't trust international inspectors to do their jobs correctly, then invasion was the only alternative. I think they are not only wrong in that belief, but dangerously wrong and that is shown by what it happening in Iraq. However you put down the intelligence of the American Voter when you try and deny it has any standing as an argument. JMO!