“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."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Catastrophic Leadership of George W. Bush

Economic strength is the source of American power. Wealth and the exercise of power is not something to be frittered away in an unbalanced exchange of risk to reward. History will judge George W. Bush without passion or rancor or kindness. I am not capable of such restraint.


Bush Has Made Us Vulnerable

Two incompetently prosecuted wars have undermined our deterrent power.

By MARK HELPRIN Wall Street Journal

In his great Civil War history, "Decision in the West," Albert Castel describes the last Confederate hope of victory. If in 1864 the Confederate armies continue to exact a steep cost from the North, "the majority of Northerners will decide that going on with the war is not worth the financial and human cost and so will replace Lincoln and the Republicans with a Democratic president and Congress committed to stopping hostilities and instituting peace negotiations." He cites the resolution of the Confederate Congress that: "Brave and learned men in the North have spoken out against the usurpations and cruelties daily practiced. The success of these men over the radical and despotic faction which now rules the North may open the way to . . . a cessation of this bloody and unnecessary war." Plus ça change . . . .

The administrations of George W. Bush have virtually assured such a displacement by catastrophically throwing the country off balance, both politically and financially, while breaking the nation's sword in an inconclusive seven-year struggle against a ragtag enemy in two small bankrupt states. Their one great accomplishment -- no subsequent attacks on American soil thus far -- has been offset by the stunningly incompetent prosecution of the war. It could be no other way, with war aims that inexplicably danced up and down the scale, from "ending tyranny in the world," to reforging in a matter of months (with 130,000 troops) the political culture of the Arabs, to establishing a democracy in Iraq, to only reducing violence, to merely holding on in our cantonments until we withdraw.

This confusion has come at the price of transforming the military into a light and hollow semi-gendarmerie focused on irregular warfare and ill-equipped to deter the development and resurgence of the conventional and strategic forces of China and Russia, while begging challenges from rivals or enemies no longer constrained by our former reserves of strength. For seven years we failed to devise effective policy or make intelligent arguments for policies that were worth pursuing. Thus we capriciously forfeited the domestic and international political equilibrium without which alliances break apart and wars are seldom won.

The pity is that the war could have been successful and this equilibrium sustained had we struck immediately, preserving the link with September 11th; had we disciplined our objective to forcing upon regimes that nurture terrorism the choice of routing it out with their ruthless secret services or suffering the destruction of the means to power for which they live; had we husbanded our forces in the highly developed military areas of northern Saudi Arabia after deposing Saddam Hussein, where as a fleet in being they would suffer no casualties and remain at the ready to reach Baghdad, Damascus, or Riyadh in three days; and had we taken strong and effective measures for our domestic protection while striving to stay within constitutional limits and eloquently explaining the necessity -- as has always been the case in war -- for sometimes exceeding them. Today's progressives apologize to the world for America's treatment of terrorists (not a single one of whom has been executed). Franklin Roosevelt, when faced with German saboteurs (who had caused not a single casualty), had them electrocuted and buried in numbered graves next to a sewage plant.

The counterpart to Republican incompetence has been a Democratic opposition warped by sentiment. The deaths of thousands of Americans in attacks upon our embassies, warships, military barracks, civil aviation, capital, and largest city were not a criminal matter but an act of war made possible by governments and legions of enablers in the Arab world. Nothing short of war -- although not the war we have waged -- could have been sufficient in response. The opposition is embarrassed by patriotism and American self-interest, but above all it is blind to the gravity of the matter. Though scattered terrorists allied with militarily insignificant states are not, as some conservatives assert, closely analogous to Nazi Germany, the accessibility of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons makes the destructive capacity of these antagonists unfortunately similar -- a fact, especially in regard to Iran, that is persistently whistled away by the Left.

An existential threat of such magnitude cannot be averted by imagining that it is the work of one man and will disappear with his death; by mousefully pleasing the rest of the world; by hopefully excluding the tools of war; or by diplomacy without the potential of force, which is like a policeman without a gun, something that doesn't work anymore even in Britain. The Right should have labored to exhaustion to forge a coalition, and the Left should have been willing to proceed without one. The Right should have been more respectful of constitutional protections, and the Left should have joined in making temporary and clearly defined exceptions. In short, the Right should have had the wit to fight, and the Left should have had the will to fight.

Both failed. The country is exhausted, divided, and improperly protected, and will remain so if the new president and administration are merely another face of the same sterile duality. To avoid the costs of a stalled financial system, the two parties -- after an entire day of reflection -- committed to the expenditure of what with its trailing ends will probably be $1.5 trillion in this fiscal year alone.

But the costs of not reacting to China's military expansion, which could lead to its hegemony in the Pacific; or of ignoring a Russian resurgence, which could result in a new Cold War and Russian domination of Europe; or of suffering a nuclear detonation in New York, Washington, or any other major American city, would be so great as to be, apparently, unimaginable to us now. Which is why, perhaps, we have not even begun to think about marshaling the resources, concentration, deliberation, risk, sacrifice, and compromise necessary to avert them. This is the great decision to which the West is completely blind, and for neglect of which it will in the future grieve exceedingly.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt).

About the Claremont Institute:

The mission of the Claremont Institute is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. These principles are expressed most eloquently in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that "all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." To recover the founding principles in our political life means recovering a limited and accountable government that respects private property, promotes stable family life, and maintains a strong defense.

Founded in 1979, the Claremont Institute publishes the Claremont Review of Books, sponsors Publius and Lincoln Fellowships for rising young conservative leaders, and administers a variety of public policy programs, including Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, our Ballistic Missile Defense Project, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, the Center for Local Government, and the Salvatori Center for the American Constitution.


  1. Ditto

    Mr Bush still has a month, to make habu's predictions true.

    To close out his term as the man habu always wanted him to be.

    Someone Mr Bush never was,
    nor wanted to be.

    Mr Helprin, just another burka wearer?

  2. With topics like these, no wonder the blog formerly known as Observanda calls this place the RINO Bar. Your Bush kool aid is wearing off, Deuce!

  3. Find one post where I ever drank Bush Kool aid and I'll send you a case of it. If you want a cheering session for the financial and diplomatic wreck of the US, I am sure you can find one somewhere.

  4. Look at the video and listen to the radio talk made by George Bush on fannie and freddie. These are his words, his compassionate conservatism, his inane drivel. He is the tillerman.

  5. The previous posts and quotations from Pat Buchanan and this article fairly represents the legacy of the last eight years. Bush wrecked the Republican Party< rhinos and all.

  6. In fact this is worthy of a second post:

    Obama's War
    by Patrick J. Buchanan
    Posted 12/19/2008 ET

    Just two months after the twin towers fell, the armies of the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul. The Taliban fled.

    The triumph was total in the "splendid little war" that had cost one U.S. casualty. Or so it seemed. Yet, last month, the war against the Taliban entered its eighth year, the second longest war in our history, and America and NATO have never been nearer to strategic defeat.

    So critical is the situation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in Kandahar last week, promised rapid deployment, before any Taliban spring offensive, of two and perhaps three combat brigades of the 20,000 troops requested by Gen. David McKiernan. The first 4,000, from the 10th Mountain, are expected in January.

    With 34,000 U.S. soldiers already in country, half under NATO command, the 20,000 will increase U.S. forces there to 54,000, a 60 percent ratcheting up. Shades of LBJ, 1964-65. Afghanistan is going to be Obama's War. And upon its outcome will hang the fate of his presidency. Has he thought this through?

    How do we win this war, if by winning we mean establishing a pro-Western democratic government in control of the country that has the support of the people and loyalty of an Afghan army strong enough to defend the nation from a resurgent Taliban?

    We are further from that goal going into 2009 than we were five years ago.

    What are the long-term prospects for any such success?

    Each year, the supply of opium out of Afghanistan, from which most of the world's heroin comes, sets a new record. Payoffs by narcotics traffickers are corrupting the government. The fanatically devout Taliban had eradicated the drug trade, but is now abetting the drug lords in return for money for weapons to kill the Americans.

    Militarily, the Taliban forces are stronger than they have been since 2001, moving out of the south and east and infesting half the country. They have sanctuaries in Pakistan and virtually ring Kabul.

    U.S. air strikes have killed so many Afghan civilians that President Karzai, who controls little more than Kabul, has begun to condemn the U.S. attacks. Predator attacks on Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan have inflamed the population there.

    And can pinprick air strikes win a war of this magnitude?

    The supply line for our troops in Afghanistan, which runs from Karachi up to Peshawar through the Khyber Pass to Kabul, is now a perilous passage. Four times this month, U.S. transport depots in Pakistan have been attacked, with hundred of vehicles destroyed.

    Before arriving in Kandahar, Gates spoke grimly of a "sustained commitment for some protracted period of time. How many years that is, and how many troops that is ... nobody knows."

    Gen. McKiernan says it will be at least three or four years before the Afghan army and police can handle the Taliban.

    But why does it take a dozen years to get an Afghan army up to where it can defend the people and regime against a Taliban return? Why do our Afghans seem less disposed to fight and die for democracy than the Taliban are to fight and die for theocracy? Does their God, Allah, command a deeper love and loyalty than our god, democracy?

    McKiernan says the situation may get worse before it gets better. Gates compares Afghanistan to the Cold War. "(W)e are in many respects in an ideological conflict with violent extremists. ... The last ideological conflict we were in lasted about 45 years."

    That would truly be, in Donald Rumsfeld's phrase, "a long, hard slog."

    America, without debate, is about to invest blood and treasure, indefinitely, in a war to which no end seems remotely in sight, if the commanding general is talking about four years at least and the now-and-future war minister is talking about four decades.

    What is there to win in Afghanistan to justify doubling down our investment? If our vital interest is to deny a sanctuary there to al-Qaida, do we have to build a new Afghanistan to accomplish that? Did not al-Qaida depart years ago for a new sanctuary in Pakistan?

    What hope is there of creating in this tribal land a democracy committed to freedom, equality and human rights that Afghans have never known? What is the expectation that 54,000 or 75,000 U.S. troops can crush an insurgency that enjoys a privileged sanctuary to which it can return, to rest, recuperate and recruit for next year's offensive? Of all the lands of the earth, Afghanistan has been among the least hospitable to foreigners who come to rule, or to teach them how they should rule themselves.

    Would Dwight D. Eisenhower -- who settled for the status quo ante in Korea, an armistice at the line of scrimmage -- commit his country to such an open-ended war? Would Richard Nixon? Would Ronald Reagan?

    Hard to believe. George W. Bush would. But did not America vote against Bush? Why is America getting seamless continuity when it voted for significant change?

  7. Bush didn't do it all singlehandedly, Deuce. The GOP controlled the House from 1994 to 2002 and they gave us bridges to nowhere and highway bills laden with so much pork they'll need to sand the roads to keep people from slipping on the pig grease. There's no ideology anymore, just blue and red teams.

  8. seems to me the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

    buy trying to "help" the un-deserving poor we all got the shaft...

    the reason MOST people are "poor?

    personal choices....

    WHEN it becomes the goal of the government to help minorities OWN homes by lowering standards, you get people WITH lower personal standards...

    WHEN you lower standards for colleges to HELP those WHO DID NOT MAKE THE CUT to get in and get jobs they DID NOT DESERVE you LOWER the QUALITY of ALL...

    This was NOT JUST BUSH's creation...

    We are all to blame...

    However the ACTUAL minority groups are to BLAME as well...

    70% of all African American births are bastards....

    African American culture promotes gangsta rap and pro-sports as role models...

    In America we even have tried to give them a "Black History Month" to build up their self esteem

    How bizarre...

    Maybe it's time we become honest.

    It's all personal choice...

    Now credit markets have corrected...

    No more cheap money for cars, credit cards & homes for those who have CRAPPY credit...


    If you dont LIKE your crappy home?


    No more from the government screwing with social engineering...

    The example of how to be a decent person are everywhere.

    Now that the MESSIAH has been selected to become POTUS it's time for the "minorities" to stop say they are being help back by the man....

    they are the MAN..

  9. Pat Buchanan?? Fuck the Nazi bastard. He's an embarrassment on Republicans, everywhere. The wannabee goosestepper is infected with the same disease as Al Gore. His Presidential aspirations were dismissed with a bemused giggle by people everywhere, and he's never recovered. He's, quite simply, barking mad.

    Bush has done a hell of a job in keeping us safe, and prosperous. When the financial system went wobbly, as it does from time to time, his response was swift, and decisive.

    Bush has us on our way to adapting to the end of cheap oil, and has given us a military such as we've never had before. He's engaged the crazies in a way that makes another 9-11 much more unlikely than ever before, and he's protected our lifeblood (oil) from the possible threat of a crazed, nuclear-armed Saddam seizing 40% of the world's most necessary commodity.

    He fought for Missile Defense, Trade, and Low Taxes while trying to help the less-advantaged move forward. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of older citizens no longer have to decide between their medicines, and food. Reading, and math scores are up. Al Queda is stuck in a cave on the other side of the world.

    I wish him well. He's done a hell of a job.

  10. Pat Buchanan?? Fuck the Nazi bastard. He's an embarrassment on Republicans, everywhere. The wannabee goosestepper is infected with the same disease as Al Gore. His Presidential aspirations were dismissed with a bemused giggle by people everywhere, and he's never recovered. He's, quite simply, barking mad.

    Bush has done a hell of a job in keeping us safe, and prosperous. When the financial system went wobbly, as it does from time to time, his response was swift, and decisive.

    Bush has us on our way to adapting to the end of cheap oil, and has given us a military such as we've never had before. He's engaged the crazies in a way that makes another 9-11 much more unlikely than ever before, and he's protected our lifeblood (oil) from the possible threat of a crazed, nuclear-armed Saddam seizing 40% of the world's most necessary commodity.

    He fought for Missile Defense, Trade, and Low Taxes while trying to help the less-advantaged move forward. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of older citizens no longer have to decide between their medicines, and food. Reading, and math scores are up. Al Queda is stuck in a cave on the other side of the world.

    I wish him well. He's done a hell of a job.

  11. The accepted mission is to win by destroying the enemy, ASAP, not rebuilding societies and cultures with Combat Arms.

    Sat Dec 20, 05:35:00 AM EST

    Spare me the sanctimony. Combat Arms folks have been doing more than trigger-pulling since at least WWII. There are primary missions and then there are tertiary missions and these are not incompatible, either in traditional doctrine or within the context of a more contemporary view of conflict encompassing military operations.

    Liberals have their fantasy wars. So, too, conservatives. I wouldn't pay for the counsel of either at this point.

  12. There is no doubt that the missions of the Combat Arms have expeanded, since WWII.

    The US has not won a war, since then, either.

    The two go hand in hand.

  13. Guess that means ol' Pat does not qualify as a Republican, either, anymore.

    Even if the expanded job discription of the Combat Arms had been successfully accomplished, proven by performance in the field.
    The timeline required for the 'new' "Long War" strategies fail on the home front.
    The real lessons of Korea, Vietnam and Iraq become lost in a binary argument. When the arguement is not binary, at all. It is about strategy and technique, devising one that supplies the victories on the battlefield required to maintain morale at home.

    All the more important when the institutional biases of the punditry and media are factored in.

  14. The US has not won a war, since then, either.

    The two go hand in hand.

    Sat Dec 20, 12:19:00 PM EST

    Actually, Rat, for our entire history we have engaged in an endlessly entertaining variety of conflicts, and in none of them were the shooters strictly confined to shooting. (Maybe they'd like to organize a union: I am a tanker; I will tank, but I will not do anything else.)

    Since WWII we have fought two primarily conventional conflicts - Korea and Desert Storm - so the apples-to-oranges problem looms large.

    The real question, however, is: When since WWII have we failed to achieve our objectives?

  15. "Guess that means ol' Pat does not qualify as a Republican, either, anymore."

    Paleo Pat? The Republican Party, like its Democrat counterpart, is a big outfit, not some boutique concern, so it entails wildly diverse views, often hanging simply on the hook of the moment. What makes one a Republican? If you say you are, you are. It's not like being a vegan; there are no rules. There is no orthodoxy.

  16. The Republican Party is a lot like Ruby, holding every conceivable opinion under the sun, many of them all at once and in the same head. It merely retains the virtue of having never changed its name.

  17. I think George is getting more blame than he deserves.

    All this Freddie and Fannie stuff was the democrats making over the years.

    He's basically won in Iraq, as of now. There's more killing going on in Chicago.

    Afghanistan is a bitch. The Taliban have reconstituted after an initial shock. It's a big country, mountainous, insane. With Pakistan next door. Anybody have a better idea what to do?

    He lowered taxes.

    We haven't had another 9/11.

    He didn't get blow jobs in the White House.

    I'm with Rufus. He hasn't been so bad.

  18. Obama's going to nix the missile shield, no? He'll raise taxes, one way or another. Slowly but surely your right to keep your gun will come under attack. We'll have a bunch of money wasted on many a worthless social program.

    Ah, heck, and all the other things Ruf has mentioned over the last months, too.

    Damn my gout, I got to go hobble to Safeway and get some cherry juice. Another winter storm warning here today, too.

    At least Bush didn't come from the criminal sewer of Chicago, and is eligible to be President.

  19. Looks like it's for me to defend Bush. I think the problem with Bush is that he just didn't engage the problems. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe he just doesn't care anymore. Maybe he saw the corruption and deliberate mismanagement, and decided the system is beyond repair. Maybe he's right. But even so, he should be fighting against such. I know I would. I'd never rest, no matter the odds.

  20. George warned against Freddie and Fannie on numerous occasions, but, you got the dems in the Senate.

    He didn't sell out Israel, as these new turds are going to do.

  21. He didn't sell out Israel

    That's true. Bush should be commended on that.

  22. bobal Damn my gout, I got to go hobble to Safeway and get some cherry juice. Another winter storm warning here today, too.

    try using advil in doses of 4-6 at a time.

    drink lots of water and of course anything to lower the blood of uric acid is good.

    the big thing is to keep the sweeling and inflamation down, hence the advil..

    worked better than cochcine for me...

  23. Mətušélaḥ said...
    He didn't sell out Israel

    That's true. Bush should be commended on that.

    and yet bush advocated, for the 1st time an independent Palestinian state...

  24. Exactly, wi"o", another incremental step, one that now, cannt be withdrawn.

    In Iraq, trish, the latest and most costly conflict, we totally failed in the post invasion mission, The society of Iraq has not been reorganized. The Tribes have not been replaced. They've been co-opted, which they could have been, from the beginning, but for US.

    Total failure on that mission.
    Though taking down Baghdad went off almost flawlessly.

    In Afghanistan, mission failure, from the get go. Tora Bora being the capstone of early failure, there.

    Vietnam, mission failure at every level.

    Korea, depends upon the Mission opted for. A marginal success.

    The little missions, the Panamas & Grenadas and such, all went well for the most part.

    Though Lebannon, under Reagan, became a rout. Totally mismanaging the threat assessment and thusly the defensive posture taken by the Marines.

    Desert One ...

  25. Look at the lack of traffic on the Strip in Las Vegas--Drudge

    Wynn's Gonna Double Down

    Hope he loses his ass, couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

    Maybe the Government should send out "Gamiing Industry Stimulus Checks" to one and all, good only for casino chips, to jump start Vegas:)

  26. Somolia ... Blackhawk Down ...

    The list of not meeting the objectives is long, often obscured by movement of the Goal Posts.

    As bob would have US believe of Iraq. Where there still are over 135,000 US ground forces deployeed, in a combat ready organizational stance.

    But training and working daily to be policemen, not soldiers.

  27. Approval of Congress Drops to Single Digits Again

    Approval of Congress' job performance is down to single digits again for the first time since early September. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters found that only nine percent (9%) give Congress good or excellent ratings, while 54% give the legislature poor marks. Just one-out-of-50 voters (2%) think Congress is doing an excellent job.

    Rasmussen Reports

  28. Westhawk wrote:

    Counting up the losses

    U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen expressed his concern last week about the deteriorating security conditions on the main supply route through Pakistan into Afghanistan:

    “I've had a concern about this for months. I mean, even without the incidents, it's a single point of failure for us,” he told reporters during a Pentagon news conference Dec. 10.

    “Clearly we've engaged heavily with the Pakistanis to ensure the safety there and the ability to move so much of our vital capability through Pakistan to Afghanistan,” he said. “And with the increase in incidents, we're all increasingly concerned.”

    Mullen said the United States has worked to develop alternative logistics options, “so that we're not tied to a single point of failure.”

    “We've actually made a lot of progress, with respect to that,” he said. “I recognized the vulnerability that's there, and I'm confident that … we'll be able to sustain our effort.”

    Diversify away from that “single point of failure” will mean ceding political leverage to Russia, a problem I have discussed numerous times, mostly recently here.

    Just how bad is the problem on the Pakistan MSR? The Pentagon’s spokesman finally revealed some hard data:

    Taliban militants reportedly have torched about 300 trucks laden with supplies, including military vehicles, in five attacks last week alone. But roughly 150 truckloads of supplies continue to traverse the route each day, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today.

    Did Mr. Whitman mean that 150 vehicles attempt to traverse the route each day? Or that 150 vehicles survive the journey each day? Doing the math, last week the Taliban destroyed either 22% or nearly 29% of the supply vehicles bound for Afghanistan. And this is before the 2009 U.S. “surge” into Afghanistan begins, which will require a one-third increase in daily shipments.

  29. Iraq: What was the post invasion mission? It certainly was not to replace the tribes. OTOH, to say that Iraqi society has not been reorganized is full-on senile

    Afghanistan: The Taliban was routed. You're confusing Tora Bora - which was all about bin Laden, not the Taliban - with that mission. The Taliban have since been let back in. But mission failure from the get-go is a wildly inaccurate characterization.

    Korea: We brought you the status quo, pushing the North Koreans and the Chinese out of the south.

    Lebanon was a rout? New to me.

    Vietnam was a failure...of Congress and the American people. Not holding that bag.

    (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia. Please weigh in.)

    ("Who IS this guy?" "Yyyyyyeah.")

  30. And as luck would have it, NATO just reaffirmed its relationship with Russia yesterday.

    Where there's a will, there's a way around.

  31. Off topic but Here's an interesting item from Ace of Spades courtesy of Maggie's Farm about global warming, cooling.

  32. 30,000 More US Troops To Afghanistan?

    Would that do it? How many did the Russians have? A hundred and some thousand, wasn't it?

  33. Bibi Netanyahu liked to say "the middle east is alike a tight chess match, however there are moments when the board is slapped and the pieces come down in completely different places..."

    Bush raised the stakes with the fake nationalistic people called palestinians by advocating a truly independent sovereign state, what he also made as a condition was that the leadership of this state cannot be tied to terror and must accept Israel's right to be a Jewish state...

    Of course the fake "people" called "Palestine" only listened to the 1st part and ignored the latter...

    (btw) there is NO P in arabic.. wonder WHY they even call themselves "Palestinian"....

    The middle east is about to have a board slapping moment...

    No one actual could predict the outcome...

    However just a few interesting pre-slap points of interest...

    Hezbollah now has over 40,000 rockets, many being long range ones...

    Also it now has control over a major portion of Lebanon and it's government. Thus making the UN resolution 1701

    The Resolution

    The Resolution demands:[1]
    Full cessation of hostilities (OP1)
    Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon in parallel with Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout the South (OP2)
    Hezbollah to be disarmed (OP3)
    Full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon (OP3)
    No paramilitary forces, including (and implying) Hezbollah, will be south of the Litani River (OP8).
    The Resolution at the same time also emphasizes:[1]
    The need to address urgently the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, that have given rise to the current crisis.
    [edit]Disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon

    The Resolution calls for "full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state."

    Thus Israel has announced that lebanon's TOTAL being is now a legit military target in the event of a new outbreak of war...

    Hamas has used it's HuNDA to re-arm and upgrade it's forces in Gaza, they have stockpiled thousands of gallons of fuel, tons of food for their fighters and thousands of iranian rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns...

    Syria has upgraded it's tanks with a grant from Iran to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars of russian bought weapons

    Iran has increased it's rockets depth and even has stated that it now has solid fuel rockets that can be launched with little staging time...

    Iran now runs power shortages and with the price of oil dropping faces severe unemployment issues and riots all pointing to a potential strike out to CAUSE oil to rise dramatically...

    Yes. Bush called for an independent state... But again what can happen in the middle east can be totally changed in a flash...

    What if Egypt goes Islamic?

    What if King Abdullah of Jordan is murdered?

    alot of what if's........

    One if is how will Israel respond to a Iran that is going nuclear?

    change is coming.....

    dont know how many will suffer but according to my sources Israel EXPECTS to lose 600,000 citizens in a wmd attack.

    the result of which will be the end to middle east oil and most of the arabs & persians of the world...

    Maybe the price collapse of oil can prevent this...

    but as we speak russia is arming the iranians with sa 300's..............

  34. Most of those small nations you mention, trish, have been in the continued ebb and flow of US policy in the region, for well over ohe hundred years now.
    No major success to speak of, in any of them. The situation in Colombia is improved, but still the source of the majority of the processed cocaine that enters the US, as well as a third of all conterfiet US tender, in circulation the US. Meanwhile the US position in Colombia is extremely fragile, or so our correspondent there, you, reports.

    The post invasion mission in Iraq was to establish a civil society that was not tribal based. This was Mr Bremer's plan, Mr Bush's plan, such as it was articulated.
    The War policy failed, the strategies failed. Because it was beyond the miltaries capacity or capabilities. The best the military could do, get US back to 23Jun03, reduced violence and local elections.

    The Vietnam failure is squarely on the militaries back, like it or not. That you prefer to abandon that duffel bag, proves the point, entirely.

    The object in Korea was not to leave the North nuclear capable, which they are. So the War and continued cease fire have proved to have failed. The enemy was not defeated and continues to cause US trouble. Failure in the first place has led to further failures in the second and third.
    There was no victory.

    The Marines loaded the boat and sailed out of Beiruit, not to return. That was a rout of the US military. No victory against HB, there, or any where.

    Without victories that can be percieved by the public, here at home, there are only defeats. Argue at the margins, but that is the public's perception, their reality.

  35. I can't see that Vietnam was a military fault. Congress finally cut off the money. And before that, President Johnson was calling all the shots. Not to get into the pros and cons of the situation, I think it was politics here at home that determined the outcome.


    "We are doing this because we want to ensure better flow of information," Athman Said, an under-secretary in the Ministry of Heritage, told the Obama family in Kogelo.

    Kenyan Government Imposes Gag Order On Obama Relatives


  37. "The post invasion mission in Iraq was to establish a civil society that was not tribal based.The post invasion mission in Iraq was to establish a civil society that was not tribal based."

    No. It wasn't.


    Rat, this conversation is not going to benefit either of us. You have a mighty wild hair up your ass when it comes to the US military, among much else; that I can't help. And I don't happen to think it's really *about* the military. Nor the Federal Socialists, nor whatever other peevishly named conglomeration strikes your fancy.

    I leave you, therefor, to chat contentedly with others.

  38. this seems appropriate for today's post:


    From Saturday's Globe and Mail

    December 19, 2008 at 10:47 PM EST

    The economic tsunami now battering the world began in the United States, where it has supplied a perfect metaphor for the Bush administration.

    Americans have overwhelmingly passed judgment on George Bush, consigning him to the dust heap of awful presidents. But have they passed sufficient judgment on themselves? Americans elected Mr. Bush twice and, even today, amidst the economic ruin of his policies, still seem wedded to the triumphalist national narrative he evoked.

    There is much pain in the United States today, but not much humility. Nor is there prudence.

    Had prudence been America's guide, the credit-card splurges, the bingo capitalism, the Wall Street greed, the executives' grotesquely inflated payments, the personal and national indebtedness, the fiscal deficits and all the other symptoms of a society living beyond its means that marked the Bush years would never have occurred.

    There was a time, back in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Republicans believed in prudence, or at least thought they did. In those years, they stood for a strong defence, anti-communism, small government, low taxes and a balanced budget. Spend what you have, and no more, was a bedrock Republican idea.

    Then came the intellectual revolution of Barry Goldwater's rage against the state, social conservatism, Arthur Laffer's curve, and the idea that ever-lower taxes would bring ever-higher revenues, so that budgets could and would be balanced by some miracle that had previously escaped economists and, indeed, previous generations of sound-money, balanced-budget Republicans.

    Mr. Bush epitomized and practised all these ideas, with the result that he presided over tax cuts that disproportionately favoured the already wealthy, deficits in every fiscal year, more national debt, and wars abroad without revenue at home to pay for them. His answer, after 9/11, included the advice to Americans that they could fight terrorism by going shopping.

    As the rich got richer, some got more venal, or at least practised venality on a vast scale. On Wall Street, and beyond, the prevailing attitude was to get rich as quickly as possible, since everybody else was doing it, and tax rates were so low on the wealthy that you really could - and should - keep almost all of what you earned.

    The greed grab led to hedge funds, demand for instant returns, cutthroat attitudes and executive compensation of breathtaking size - while the wages of ordinary Americans stagnated. The resulting inequalities were staggering, and the debt loads immense, but entirely in keeping with a trickle-down theory of economics that had implanted itself in Republican theology once prudence and balance were abandoned.

    In the Bush narrative, everyone would get ahead in the transcendentally powerful United States, the envy of the world, whose economy could not fail and whose houses and stocks and investments of all kinds would just keep rising. The country could fight two wars without taxing itself to pay for them, and spend at home far more than it earned, and borrow from the Chinese, who depended on the U.S. consumer to buy China's products.

    As the debts grew, rather than whistles being blown at the White House and the Federal Reserve, new and increasingly incomprehensible financial devices were invented to bundle debt and sell it to someone else who might, in turn, repackage and sell it, so that the financial services industry increasingly defied transparency and took on the shape of a vast pyramid scheme. But the United States, Mr. Bush kept saying, was the land of freedom and free markets, a light unto the world, even though in most corners of the planet, the country's reputation had darkened under the Bush presidency.

    Seldom, if ever, has one president so damaged his country's international profile; and seldom, with the possible exception of Herbert Hoover, has one president's economic policies so damaged his country's domestic capacities. But remember that George Bush merely practised a certain set of policies, and pursued a certain set of approaches, that reflected the intellectual revolutions that had transformed the Republican Party and, because it was the dominant party, transformed the United States into a debtor nation at home and a disliked one abroad.

    Having bequeathed such a disaster to the country, the unsuspecting might assume that Republicans would embark on a wholesale self-examination.

    Instead, the last election so shrank the party that its core of the elderly and the angry and the devoutly religious now control the intellectual and political leadership. The heirs of Mr. Bush, and of the thinking he practised, are in charge, having learned and forgotten nothing.

    The opponents of Mr. Bush, soon to be in charge, must add trillions to the country's existing debts, hoping to begin what must at some point, necessarily, be a return to some semblance of prudence and moderation and limits, or what we might call good old-fashioned, although recently out of fashion, pragmatism."

  39. Trish's military has a mission to accomplish, whatever it is. And if there's no mission, one will be found. Bankruptcy be damned. There's $1.4 trillion a year to spend, and god damn it, it will be spent!

  40. Nice propaganda piece there, Ash, but not a word about the democrats responsibility for the housing fiasco, which is where all this shit began.

    And the stock market fell beginning with the expectation that The Zero might win.

    Look for tougher times ahead.

    And, war in the mid-east.

  41. Tonight's drawing night at casino. Wish me luck. Later.

  42. Luck is for suckers, Bob. Best to get Paulson to ran the joint. Then everything will be Hanky dory.

  43. As often happens here, we anticipate events by a bit. The Sunday New York Times looks at the Bush administration policy towards the expansion of home owner ship (apropos the video):

    WASHINGTON — The global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse when President Bush and his economics team huddled in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing that, in the words of one participant, “scared the hell out of everybody.”

    It was Sept. 18. Lehman Brothers had just gone belly-up, overwhelmed by toxic mortgages. Bank of America had swallowed Merrill Lynch in a hastily arranged sale. Two days earlier, Mr. Bush had agreed to pump $85 billion into the failing insurance giant American International Group.

    The president listened as Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, laid out the latest terrifying news: The credit markets, gripped by panic, had frozen overnight, and banks were refusing to lend money.

    Then his Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., told him that to stave off disaster, he would have to sign off on the biggest government bailout in history.

    Mr. Bush, according to several people in the room, paused for a single, stunned moment to take it all in.

    “How,” he wondered aloud, “did we get here?"


  44. Hehehe..

    Overweight And Obese US Drivers Burn A Billion+ Extra Gallons Of Gasoline Per Year


    Defense officials: IDF to operate in Gaza soon

    Security establishment says Palestinian groups in Gaza have left Israel no choice but to launch broad military operation in Strip to quell incessant rocket fire. 'We will definitely pay a price, but we cannot allow the current situation to continue,' one of them says
    Ron Ben-Yishai

    Now if Hezbollah TRIES to play too?

    It's going to be interesting...

  46. Is the IDF out of artillery shells? What is the problem with these idiots.

  47. I didn't even win a partridge in a pear tree.

    Mr. Bush did foresee the danger posed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage finance giants. The president spent years pushing a recalcitrant Congress to toughen regulation of the companies

    What I read, though I don't have a link, is he brought it up over a dozen times, but could get no traction with the dems in the Senate.

    Everybody is to blame, perhaps. The wheels fell off in the last two years, when the democrats controlled Congress. And wasn't the Community Reinvestment Act their brainchild in the first place?

    Not to worry, we'll tax and spend our way out of this sucker.

  48. I don't understand why the Israelis don't turn the electricity off, for starters.

  49. It's minus 24 degrees in the back country tonight, the eagles are all down in the relative warmth by the rivers.

  50. I don't understand why the Israelis don't turn the electricity off, for starters.

    I agree. It wouldn't hurt to try. And to keep at it.

  51. We've got Bald Eagles all around here now, Mat. I saw one in a park, sitting on the top of a tree, right in town, the other day. The wife said he's or she's been there before. Has a good vantage point to look over the river. They are quite the bird, when you see them kind of close up like that.

    Ben Franklin wanted the national bird to be the turkey.

  52. I haven't seen an American bald eagle. Though I have seen lots of balding eagles, mostly Armenians. Impressive beaks. Or snouts. Depending or the terminology you care to use. :)

  53. Depending on the terminology..

  54. These guys say it better than I can--

    12. zeezil:

    DEMOCRATS - Aiders and Abettors of the Financial Crisis

    In light of the collapse of Fannie and Freddie, both John McCain and Barack Obama now criticize the risk-tolerant regulatory regime that produced the current crisis. But Sen. McCain’s criticisms are at least credible, since he has been pointing to systemic risks in the mortgage market and trying to do something about them for years. In contrast, Sen. Obama’s conversion as a financial reformer marks a reversal from his actions in previous years, when he did nothing to disturb the status quo. The first head of Mr. Obama’s vice-presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, a former chairman of Fannie Mae, was the one who announced Fannie’s original affordable-housing program in 1991 — just as Congress was taking up the first GSE regulatory legislation.

    In 2005, the Senate Banking Committee, then under Republican control, adopted a strong reform bill, introduced by Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole, John Sununu and Chuck Hagel, and supported by then chairman Richard Shelby. The bill prohibited the GSEs from holding portfolios, and gave their regulator prudential authority (such as setting capital requirements) roughly equivalent to a bank regulator. In light of the current financial crisis, this bill was probably the most important piece of financial regulation before Congress in 2005 and 2006. All the Republicans on the Committee supported the bill, and all the Democrats voted against it. Mr. McCain endorsed the legislation in a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Obama, like all other Democrats, remained silent.

    If the Democrats had let the 2005 legislation come to a vote, the huge growth in the subprime and Alt-A loan portfolios of Fannie and Freddie could not have occurred, and the scale of the financial meltdown would have been substantially less. The same politicians who today decry the lack of intervention to stop excess risk taking in 2005-2006 were the ones who blocked the only legislative effort that could have stopped it.

    See link for entire article:

    29. Elayne:

    Do-Gooder Jimmy Carter started the whole mess by insisting that unqualified minorities who would never be approved under any prevailing underwriting standards be allowed to participate in the American Dream by circumventing the prevailing mortgage lending criteria:
    2 yrs on job, good credit history, sufficient income to support the housing expenses, and in some cases, sufficient down payment. Then Jesse Jackson and his crowd joined in with bullying tacticts against lenders who balked at lowering credit standards. Along comes Bill Clinton with more threats of boycotts and extortion from the Jackson and Sharpton crowd, now requiring lenders to make the loans whether they wanted to or not. If there were no loan programs that would accomodate these applicants, lenders were forced to come up with creative financing to make it happen. Under threat of Janet Reno who would make it ‘tough’ for any lender who did not comply with a 40% minority loan ratio on their portfolio,later increased by Andrew Cuomo to 50% minority ratio, the “no-down, no-income-doc, stated-income, ARM” etc loans were created. When the advantage of these loans became known, more of the borrowing public took advantage of them. As the cloud of probable disaster when ARMs came due to re-set at a higher interest rate after 5 years, members of the GOP called for investigation of Fannie/Freddie, but were shot down by the democrats, many of whom had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank are at the top of that list. GOP made another attempt at investigation around 2005, but were again
    blocked by the democrats. Now that the whole house of cards has collapsed, the very miscreants who were in the middle of the whole mess, are now the head of the committee to fix the problem. This whole fiasco is a result of misguided social engineering by the democrats who have used the minority voters solely to maintain their power base.

    Dec 20, 2008 - 12:30 pm

    34. 888:

    You got it right, zanne (32) and Elayne (29).

    The CRA, signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1977 then re-signed and reinvigorated by Bill Clinton, were not only designed to assist and increase minority home ownership, but also to claim and keep beholden to them millions of minorities (potential votes), especially black homeowners who will be forever grateful for helping them become a homeowner.

    An excellent expose of CRA written in 2000,, explained why CRA is corrupt and should not continue, and correctly predicted an financial disaster. The article’s author wrote, “Under its provisions, U.S. banks have committed nearly $1 trillion for inner-city and low-income mortgages and real estate development projects, most of it funneled through a nationwide network of left-wing community groups, intent, in some cases, on teaching their low-income clients that the financial system is their enemy and, implicitly, that government, rather than their own striving, is the key to their well-being…Even without a no-down-payment policy, the pressure on banks to make CRA-related loans may be leading to foreclosures. Though bankers generally cheerlead for CRA out of fear of being branded racists if they do not, the CEO of one midsize bank grumbles that 20 percent of his institution’s CRA-related mortgages, which required only $500 down payments, were delinquent in their very first year, and probably 7 percent will end in foreclosure. “The problem with CRA,” says an executive with a major national financial-services firm, “is that banks will simply throw money at things because they want that CRA rating.” From the banks’ point of view, CRA lending is simply a price of doing business—even if some of the mortgages must be written off…Looking into the future gives further cause for concern: “The bulk of these loans,” notes a Federal Reserve economist, “have been made during a period in which we have not experienced an economic downturn.” The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s own success stories make you wonder how much CRA-related carnage will result when the economy cools. The group likes to promote, for instance, the story of Renea Swain-Price, grateful for NACA’s negotiating on her behalf with Fleet Bank to prevent foreclosure when she fell behind on a $1,400 monthly mortgage payment on her three-family house in Dorchester. Yet NACA had no qualms about arranging the $137,500 mortgage in the first place, notwithstanding the fact that Swain-Price’s husband was in prison, that she’d had previous credit problems, and that the monthly mortgage payment constituted more than half her monthly salary. The fact that NACA has arranged an agreement to forestall foreclosure does not inspire confidence that she will have the resources required to maintain her aging frame house: her new monthly payment, in recognition of previously missed payments, is $1,879…Like affirmative action, it robs the creditworthy of the certain knowledge that they have qualified by dint of their own effort for a first home mortgage, a milestone in any family’s life. At the same time, it sends the message that this most important milestone has been provided through the beneficence of government, devaluing individual accomplishment. Perhaps the Clinton White House sees this as a costless way to use the banking system to create a new crop of passionate Democratic loyalists, convinced that CRA has delivered them from an uncaring Mammon—when, in all likelihood, banks would have been eager to have most of them as customers, regulation or no.”

    The other culprit to our current worldwide recession and this economic crisis, is Alan Greenspan who continued to lower interest rates to dangerously low levels during his reign at the Federal Reserve. His low interest rates cause the money supply to expand and make money and credit available everywhere.

    Alan Greenspan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton started this mess, and then the likes of Barney Frank and Chris Dodds who refused to fix it a few years ago, are also to blame. Shame on all of them.

    Dec 20, 2008 - 2:26 pm

    from Pajamas Media

  55. During the winter, the eagles all congregate, along with some 4 legged critters, like bighorns and elk, down around the lower elevations, and the rivers.

    Why freeze your ass off in twelve feet of snow? Only people are dumb enough to do that:)

  56. Good that god invented woman. :)

  57. WiO, that Colchicine for gout sounds kinda scary. I've used Naproxem Sodium to some results, but don't use aspirin, that makes it worse. Indomethicin was prescribed for me, and worked like a wonder drug. However, I always had to get to a doctor. Teresita recommended pure black cherry juice, and it works for me, though seems to take a day or two to kick in.

  58. UAV Sniper

    Seems like a doable project.

  59. bob, here is the money line, in your lengthy cut and paste

    ... the only legislative effort that could have stopped it.

    So in over a decade, the GOP tried ONCE. And FAILED. While it held the majority. Looks more like posturing for posterity than any real effoert at reform or change.

    trish just wants to eat the frosting and avoid the cake. Afer a decade of not reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, the US military establishment looked to others to blame for their defeat, in Vietnam.

    They could never win, not without defeating the North Vietnamese. Nor while allowing sancutuaries in the 'Parrot's beak".

    Not while limiting the battle, geographicly. while the enemy did not. Basic strategic errors.

    The same scenario played over and over again for the past 60 years.
    None so blind as those that will not see.

  60. They knew they couldn't get it past the democratic Senators. Maybe they should have tried harder, but, the result would have been the same.

    It was the politicians that got us into Vietnam, it was the politicians that felt constrained not to expand the war, perhaps with good reason, lest the Chinese come marching in, or something else occur with the Russians, and it was the politicians that finally cut off the funding. To me it's kind of hard to fault the military, but, maybe I'm wrong. The tragedy was the Vietnamese, who had a long history of fighting foreigners in their country, got the foreigners out, but got saddled with a foreign ideology, though, as Teresita once said, it may not stick over the longer haul.

  61. Why, even Senator John McCain tells US we've made it back to the future.
    Back to June of 2003:

    "... Violence has fallen to the lowest level since the first months of the war.

    Let US review, the first months of the war, there was "low levels of violence". This was after the "Liberation" but before the "Occupation"

    No longer does Congress need to be locked in partisan trench warfare over withdrawal dates and funding cutoffs. Our shared, central task now is to work together to support a responsible redeployment from Iraq, based on the new and improved realities on the ground.

    These new and improved realities, had been achieved by June of '03, but had been discarded as not being 'enough'.

  62. No, bob, the result would have been an educated public, and President.

    If ash's cut and paste is accurate, the President would not have been asking "How'd we get here?", not if he had known.

    That he did not know, just another incidence of his catastrophic leadership.

  63. If it was all the politicains fault, bob, then General Westmoreland should have said so. That he could not win, under the restraints imposed.

    He did not, not once.

    Victory was just ahead, the light was visible. The enemy on their last legs.

    Just was not true, he misled the US public and they abandoned their support of the effort. The politicians not leading public opinion, but folowing it.

    As is most often the case.

  64. Can't turn in with reminding everyone that tomorrow is Global Orgasm For Peace Day

    Like one poster said, "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

  65. Westmoreland probably should have resigned, all right.


  66. The McCain piece

    A Chance for Consensus on Iraq

    By John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham

    Sunday, December 21, 2008;

  67. bobal said...
    WiO, that Colchicine for gout sounds kinda scary.

    it scary if you like shooting out both ends for several days laying on the bathroom floor in and out of stupor...

    B: I've used Naproxem Sodium to some results, but don't use aspirin, that makes it worse.

    dont know Naproxem Sodium

    B: Indomethicin was prescribed for me, and worked like a wonder drug. However, I always had to get to a doctor.

    Yep i have those for the bad flare ups however using advil in doses of 4-6 several times a day also knocked down the swelling.

    B: Teresita recommended pure black cherry juice, and it works for me, though seems to take a day or two to kick in.

    yep that's good as is cranberry juice...

    hydration is very important and its important BEFORE the flare ups...

    drink tons of water.........

    i feel your pain, used to get all kinds of bad attacks...

    now I am off all med's except advil for almost 2 years...