“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Softspoken, Kind, Tolerant, Bi-partisan

Referring to the expected veto of Democrat legislation setting a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq to begin October 1 and be completed six months later, Harry Reid yesterday said:

"If the president disagrees, let him come to us with an alternative. Instead of sending us back to square one with a veto, some tough talk and nothing more, let him come to the table in the spirit of bipartisanship that Americans demand and deserve."

I guess that "spirit" was not what Reid was thinking about when he also said:

"No more will Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration's incompetence and dishonesty.

It is a sad commentary on our society and culture when the Majority leader in the Senate resorts to such vile disrespect simply for the purpose of pandering to the base of his party. Evidently he has done the political calculus and determined that there is no political price to be paid for calling the President of the United States an incompetent liar living in a state of denial. He may wish to recalculate when he sees that Senator Chuck Hagel, R, Nebraska is 9 points behind in his Senate race. Evidently, Nebraskans do not approve of the anti-war Republican and only 37% think he would make a good President. But back to the Senate Majority Leader - Perhaps the "distinguished" Senator from Nevada feels that he is speaking in measured, moderate, bipartisan terms. After all, by the standards of his Democrat constituents they probably are moderate and measured. Call me old fashioned, but when the Senate leader also refers to the Vice-President as the president's "chief attack dog," I shudder for the future of our society. But why shouldn't we expect to hear this kind of language from the Democrat leadership? In March, Charles Krauthammer addressed this new low in society when he wrote about a 2,000 word New Republic article making the case that Vice-President Dick Cheney was demented as result of his heart condition.

According to Krauthammer, the NR article offered the following evidence of the Vice-President's dementia:

(a) Using a four-letter word in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy. Good God, by that standard, I should have been committed long ago and the entire borough of Brooklyn quarantined.
(b)"Shoot a man in the face and not bother to call your boss 'til the next day?" Another way of putting that is this: After a hunting accident, Cheney tried to get things in order before going public. Not the best decision, as I wrote at the time, but perfectly understandable. And if that is deranged, what do you say about a young Teddy Kennedy being far less forthcoming about something far more serious -- how he came to leave a dead woman at the bottom of a pond? I am passing no judgment. I am simply pointing out how surpassingly stupid it is to attribute such behavior to mental illness.
(c) Longtime associate Brent Scowcroft quoted as saying, "Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." Well. After 9/11, Cheney adopted a view about fighting jihadism, America's new existential enemy, that differed radically from the "realist" foreign policy approach that he had shared a decade earlier with Scowcroft. That's a psychiatric symptom? By that standard, Saul of Tarsus, Arthur Vandenberg, Irving Kristol, Ronald Reagan -- to pick at random from a thousand such cases of men undergoing profound change of worldview -- are psychiatric cases. Indeed, by that standard, Andrew Sullivan is stark raving mad. (OK, perhaps not the best of counterexamples.)
At one time, the New Republic was the left's version of National Review. Now, it is simply a far-left rag. Maybe it still represents the mainstream thinking of liberal America. If so, God help us because we are seeing the beginning of a not so kind, not so tolerant, not so bipartisan America. Liberals will present their counter arguments and examples but those don't change the fact that our society has coarsened a little more with each successive, post WWII generation. Harry Reid is just "keeping it real" for his posse.


  1. I'm still waiting around to hear some dem, any dem, to say what will happen if and when we pull all the troops out,and whether that happening is good or bad, and what contingency plans they may have in mind if it goes really bad. Waiting.

    I'm not sure if political dialogue has gotten a lot worse lately. It seems so in some ways. Cerainly the culture is a lot more crass than it was in the fifties, say. On the other hand, if you go back in our history, you can find instances when it would seem the dialogue couldn't get much lower.

    The dems are just 'using' the war, seems clear enough to me. They never answer the harder questions.

  2. Politics, wow, get down with the pigs and wallow in it. I guess we Americans are destine to be in our rowdy'tudes when the WH is on the line.

    Just to add a wee bit of perspective this election may not be as rough and tumble as others have been.

    The election ususally cited by historians as THE BAD BOY,
    of elections was the one in 1800.
    Jefferson, John Adams, Aaron Burr, Charles Coatesworth Pinkney.

    Members of Congress actually beat each other with fireplace tongs and fists. Name calling, yo Momma. Name calling was stuff like traitor,shithead, etc.

    The mechanics of the election process had Jefferson and Aaron Burr in an Electoral tie. Hamilton who opposed Jefferson's ideas liked Burr even less and help realign the stars to fall on Jefferson.
    Burr never forgave Hamilton, called him out within a short time and although Hamilton let Burr's second know that he would throw away his shot (not aim to hurt or kill) Burr was at the pistol range daily with death in his eyes. Sure enough Hamilton honored his word and didn't come close to hitting Burr. Burr killed Hamilton with ease, knowing Hamilton was a sitting duck. Burr was known as an asshole and later went on to do very little, having killed a very good statesman.

    It's a very interesting election to study. Lots of really,really bad behavior.
    Wikipedia does an OK job with the surface stuff, enough so to give one the flavor, but if you really want to know about a nasty,nasty election read up on 1800 Presidential election.

    1800 Election

  3. Yeh! That's the kind of stuff I was thinking of, Habu, dueling and all. Maybe we should bring back dueling. Be kind of fun, to watch MGM Grand Harry line up with, well, pick your opponent. After all, a duel is just a contract between two free individuals, why should the state be involved? Would separate out those who talk the talk from those willing to walk the walk, and fast.

  4. Bobalharb: I'm still waiting around to hear some dem, any dem, to say what will happen if and when we pull all the troops out,and whether that happening is good or bad, and what contingency plans they may have in mind if it goes really bad. Waiting.

    We don't have troops in Sudan, things are really bad there. We don't have troops in Iran or Somalia or Nigeria, and things aren't going good there either. China doesn't have troops in Saudi Arabia, but they still somehow manage to get their oil, no problem. But we have troops in Iraq and every week we lose 15 or 20 of them, and the Iraqs lose 500 civilians.

  5. So much for being in favor of the commanders.

    We have a civilian-led military for a reason, and military leaders are especially loathe to admit defeat. Nonetheless, some more electioneering rhetoric bites the dust.

    "The war is lost," but lest the non-interventionists get too happy, we find out that the war isn't necessarily lost, if we "change course." Nevermind the propaganda value of the first statement, assuming you actually believe the second.

    Politics gets so confusing when your base can't wait to not only see the United States lose, but canonize the defeat.

  6. Michael Kelly was the editor of TNR about a decade ago.
    Don't think he would have run such a goofball article.

    David Halberstam survived years in Vietnam to die in a Car Crash, Michael Kelly drowned in a Hum Vee accident in combat in Iraq.

    But we do still have Katie Couric, at least.

  7. In related news, the man who would be President humors some 9-11 truthers.

  8. After all, we can't afford to alienate any potential voting bloc.

  9. Michael Kelly moved on to the editorship of The Atlantic and was single-handedly responsible for pulling it back from the brink of sorry oblivion. Good man.


  10. I think it only fair that the announced candidates, once John McCain formally announces go through a month of confinement and daily torture in a Hanoi-like Hilton facility overseen by the League of Lemon Voters, I mean Women voters of course.
    Racking,watery soup with cockroaches and sawdust "wheatbread" diets.
    Once a week for the month they are paraded down the Capitol Mall in DC with Reps on one side , Dems on the other. McCain would be exempt.
    Of course their arms would have to be broken and reset improperly.

    All this in the spirit of "fairness" and to provide those who would use power to have a respect for it.

    Hillary would need a roomy so the natural, Gran Nan Pelosi could "buddy-up " with her.

    This is not a McCain for President endorsement it's just a we know once you're in office you'll do a shit job pre inaugural initiation.
    Ok let's go 'round the room
    Possumtater ... expels gas, marked as a check

    Ok, a few more backers and we'll round 'em up.

  11. "China doesn't have troops in Saudi Arabia, but they still somehow manage to get their oil"

    Well, for God's sake, don't tell rufus.

  12. A tale of two cities (and two insurgencies)

    This is a short story about how two countries, facing a similar problem, are dealing with the problem in two different ways. The outcome of these two approaches may thus be a revealing experiment from which future leaders in similar situations might learn.

    Both countries are Moslem. Both governments are battling extremely violent, fanatical, and organized jihadist insurgencies. Both governments are receiving significant military and technical assistance from an outside country.

    But the government in the first country is approaching its insurgency problem with indecision, contradictory orders, and a muddled doctrine. By contrast, the second country’s government seems eager to escalate the violence and bombardment of its capital city in an effort to achieve a crushing result against the insurgency it faces.

  13. The objectives in Somalia and in Iraq are not the same, Doug. They never were. Hence questions regarding strategy rather than mere tactics.

  14. "The casualties and human suffering in Mogadishu are frightening. But at least those casualties and human displacements are the result of an attempt to achieve a decisive outcome against the jihadists."

    No. Westhawk misses the point. "At least" they're not ours. That's the thing. And I hasten to add that a decisive outcome is a very long way off there.

  15. I think at least two points are valid:
    They're not ours AND it doesn't make sense to "fight" as we have in Iraq regardless of the objectives.

  16. "it doesn't make sense to 'fight' as we have in Iraq"

    It doesn't make sense that we did it at all. It's hard enough to do it where you have to. It's impossible to do it where you don't.

  17. From Willisms quoting Joe Biden at an Al Sharpton dinner


    Republicans taking over Congress in 1994 led to pretty much everything bad over the past several years, according to Delaware Senator Joseph Biden.

    Check out this eye-popper of a quotation:

    "I would argue, since 1994 with the Gingrich revolution, just take a look at Iraq, Venezuela, Katrina, what's gone down at Virginia Tech, Darfur, Imus. Take a look. This didn't happen accidentally, all these things."
    - Senator Joe Biden, speaking before Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

    Joe pandering to the nappy headed nubians.

  18. The great humanitarian cannibal Idi Amin Dada was a Nubian.

    When he asked you come come for dinner, well, you were dinner.

  19. It's the endgame now, Trish, according to Red River:

    "Far from an adjustment, the movement into the countryside is one of desperation.

    Now the AIF will be busy moving around, trying to avoid detection by the locals, by the Iraqi Army, and by US Patrols.

    Like the Nez Perce, they will be harried into exhaustion.

    Telltales will be wholesale surrenders and mass encirclement coupled with very sharp firefights.

    This is endgame

  20. Broder: Dems should give Reid the hook
    April 24, 200
    7To the consternation of the lefty Think Progress, David Broder has joined the chorus of those suggesting it's time for Reid to be bounced: More

  21. Again, doug, if the President had real faith and trust in the military, it provides a good reason for US to take the POLITICAL inititive, in Iraq.

    Let the Iraqi control their cities, come '08. Announce it today, not as an admission of defeat, but an acclaimation of Victory.

    A real benchmark, in the military sphere, regardless of their political reconciliation. The target date would act like a deadline. The Iraqi politicos work well under deadline pressure.

  22. Reid is an idiot, all the Dems seem to be. Maybe Mr Biden is an excemption.

    Their disdain of Mr Bush leaves them advocating loss, when the "way forward" is success.

    Instead of claiming the war lost, they should declare it won. As per the Authorization. Most folk would agree, if the result was we began to leave.

    Nut Mr Bush in the position of saying the "war" is lost, or not yet won. Switch him up.

    The victory scenario would work for which ever side proposes it, first.

  23. Read recently that Reid used the phrase...Bush's war (his attempt to frame the debate).

    So easy to dance away...
    "We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."

    Senator Harry Reid - Addressing the US Senate October 9, 2002 Congressional Record, p. S10145

    How is it Bush's war if he was also calling for a resumption of hostilities?


    Basra splits between warring Shi'ites

    This may be interesting to mil-xmil on EB -
    Swarming and COIN

    and the discussion generated -
    Comments thread

  24. Oxygen suckers--Elijah, that sounds bad.

  25. My Pastor tells me, 'Bob, what we need is a world wide peace academy.' I'm beginning to believe him.

  26. But then, we simply can't live with an oxygen sucker gap.


    Big Lie Basics

    'mo Big Lie stuff..the basics..

    primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

  28. My post at 12:08 should read Partisan, not Bi-Partisan.

  29. Tell your preacher...

    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

    or you could utilize Reid's and Orwell's view...

    "The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it."

    Well, here u are Habu...



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  31. So what else is new, the Democrats are going to lie. That's sure a shocker, who'd have ever thought.

    The Insurgency is in its' last throes, and now we're in the "End Game".

    Phases and stages, scenes that we've all seen before.
    Tell me some more.

    How does the GOP take the initative?

  32. Afghanistan ‘will do all it can’ to stop fencing
    KABUL, April 24:
    Afghanistan will use all means to stop Pakistan erecting a fence on their border to stop the movement of Taliban militants, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

  33. Spinning the Fighting
    in South Waziristan

    Musharraf's government continues to promote its dangerous "peace deals."

    by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio

  34. Gulf Times: Women commandos get set to storm madrassa

    (To avoid a confrontation between the Women Commandos and the Women Students, Sharia was declared the law of the land!)

  35. No need to be concerned with Pakistan, I remember being told.

    Just because that's where the Muslim nuclear weapons are. That's where aQ has its' headquarters detachment.

    Dr Z is still in charge of Operations, at least video and audio releases. Osama is mythical, an Islamic Icon.

    Hard rain gonna fall

  36. Mr Gul is there to Rule, also.
    Says there are thousands of madrassas pumping out radical Jihadis daily.
    Don't take too much of that to make a bunch of Jihadis.

  37. Dangerous Assumptions
    From our own Steve Schippert last week in Dangerous Liaison:
    …gracing the pages of the New York Times’ International Herald Tribune is a commentary, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, by a researcher and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy which attempts to dispel the notion of al-Qaeda –Hizballah (and thus, Iranian) cooperation….
    Monday in the Times Online:
    AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first “large-scale” terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report. (emphasis mine)

    There is no shortage of articles and reports that attempt to dismiss connections between Sunni and Shia groups.

    Thankfully, those of us who assume the role of Devil’s Advocate have ample evidence from which to draw.

  38. Dangerous Liaisons
    Dismissing al-Qaeda – Hizballah Cooperation Fosters Dangerous Misconceptions

  39. China condemns Ethiopia attack

    BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing has strongly condemned the slaying of nine Chinese oil workers in Ethiopia, an attack that underscores risks associated with China's increasing dependence on shipments from sometimes unstable regions.

    Gunmen killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese on Tuesday in a pre-dawn raid that Ethiopia blamed on rebels backed by regional foe Eritrea.

    Even before the attacks, a top Chinese energy official warned that the rapidly growing industrial economy faces dangers as it pushes abroad for oil, the China Securities Journal reported on Wednesday.

    "The sources of China's oil imports are excessively concentrated in geo-politically complex and changeable regions," Xu Dingming, director-general of the Energy Bureau at the National Development and Reform Commission, told an energy forum

  40. Writing on the Wall

    Talking hardly ever persuades anyone, he says.

  41. Wiccan--a noble, peace loving religion, Doug, though a little unorthodox by most standards. Who would you want as a long term neighbor, a muzzie or a Wiccan?

    If they have died for the country, it seems they should get the headstone of their choice.