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April 22, 2007


Philip the Equal Opportunity Cynic

If President Bush were to call for the withdrawal of troops, Reid would be clamoring for more to be sent.

That's preposterous. You can make up hypotheticals all day long -- "George Bush would rather eat little children than accept Constitutional checks and balances," look, I can do it too! -- but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Try arguing with facts.

I'm all for a return to civility and working together for the common good and all that nice stuff. But if you think that's the spirit that reigned for the years the GOP controlled everything in Washington, you are delusional.


The behavior of the Democrats speaks for itself. We have troops in Iraq who need funding, that's pretty simple. But the Democrats are going to drag this out as long as possible, that's painfully obvious.

I never said anything about civility reigning supreme when Republicans were in charge. As for the facts, the fact is the Democrats have no strategy to win the war, but they insist on running it. Their only strategy is to oppose the President. Thats a fact. A date certain for withdrawal, broadcast to our enemies, is something the President (he is still the President) is not going to accept. The Democrats know that but as I read recently, they cannot help themseleves. They must oppose him. And why is it the President must work with the Democrats? How about the Democrats working with the President? Ain't gonna happen.

One more thing, I'm not so worried about civility in Washington right now. I do however worry about our troops in Iraq. And for the Senate Majority Leader to come out and say the war is lost is despicable. And as far as I concerned, that's a fact.

Philip the Equal Opportunity Cynic

"We have troops in Iraq who need funding, that's pretty simple. But the Democrats are going to drag this out as long as possible, that's painfully obvious."

By passing a funding bill you mean?

"the Democrats have no strategy to win the war, but they insist on running it."

They also don't have a strategy to draw water from a rock, spin lead into gold, or make the sun rise in the West. "Winning", in the grandiose sense that everyone in Iraq gives up their arms and merrily lives together in peace, is simply not a reasonable goal.

But the Democrats are not responsible for the existing mess. They very wisely run on the issue of Iraq, and will continue to win votes from it, because the public recognizes that the ongoing occupation of Iraq does nothing to further US interests. The public also recognizes that the GOP-controlled Congress sat around for years doing NOTHING to hold the executive branch accountable.

There was a time when conservatism meant personal responsibility: You make a decision and expect to be held accountable for the results. The contemporary Republican Party has turned that concept on its head by holding its leadership totally unaccountable for the results of its decisions.

It's not the Democrats' fault that George Bush has embarked on such a foolish mission and pursued it so clumsily, and it's not their responsibility to undo his failures. If Republicans *willfully* choose to ignore the message the electorate has sent then, then they will need to learn to be persistently in the minority. We're headed toward a tiny GOP Congressional delegation made up mostly of Alabamans and Utahns.

"I do however worry about our troops in Iraq. "

So then, you must be leading the way for full accountability for the Walter Reed scandal [ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701172.html ] and for the failure of the GOP Congress for years to provide adequate body armor.

Incidentally, the way I show my concern for our troops is to do everything possible to make sure they have the leadership they deserve. That means holding their civilian leaders accountable, not carrying those leaders' water regardless of their performance as though I'm cheering for my favorite football team. (Actually people here demand more accountability from a football coach than from the President.) Pity you don't think the troops deserve better than this.

"A date certain for withdrawal, broadcast to our enemies, is something the President (he is still the President) is not going to accept. The Democrats know that but as I read recently, they cannot help themseleves."

We don't live in a dictatorship. It's not Congress's job to give the President a bill that suits his fancy. Separation of powers is a reality, and in my opinion a very wise one, that the founders put in place to keep one branch from running amok. For Congress to attach conditions to ongoing funding is a very Constitutional step, no matter how much the executive may pout or try to spin a fiction that Congress isn't funding the troops. Congress, not the President, has the Constitutional power to declare war. Congress passed the AUMF and has the right to rescind or amend it.

"And for the Senate Majority Leader to come out and say the war is lost is despicable."

Because you believe that he and 50% of the public are in factual error? [ http://abcnews.go.com/images/US/1036a3Bush.pdf ] Or that the Majority Leader has a responsibility to lie to preserve morale?

(Incidentally, I'm far from a Democrat [ http://blog.godblessthefreaks.org/2007/4/24/a-political-post ] -- rather, a small-government conservative who's realized for about three years what a disaster this administration was, both for the country and for conservatism. It will be decades before conservative principles get a fair hearing by my generation. That is George W. Bush's legacy.)

Finally... any way you could set your blog to allow basic formatting and hyperlinks? This is very hard to compose a reply.

Full Power To The Shields

I wrote an article on my blog regarding those concrete walls and how they can stop the more than 1,000 years of violence.

The blog article is entitled:

“10 years of inconvenient walls VERSUS another 1,000 years of violence”

The URL for the above article is at




Regarding 50% of the public being in factual error (that leaves 50% on the other side of the issue, correct?) Running a country by listening to polls may be popular but that does not mean it's correct. Jonah Goldberg has a column out today addressing governing via polls:

"Pundits and politicians love to be on the side of the people, even if the people don't have a clue."

HUGE NUMBERS of Americans don't know jack about their government or politics. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, 31% of Americans don't know who the vice president is, fewer than half are aware that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House, a mere 29% can identify "Scooter" Libby as the convicted former chief of staff of the vice president, and only 15% can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader.

Also last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' firing of eight U.S. attorneys was "politically motivated."
So, we are supposed to believe that two-thirds of Americans have studied the details of the U.S. attorney firings and come to an informed conclusion that they were politically motivated — even when Senate Democrats agree that there is no actual evidence that Gonzales did anything improper. Are these the same people who couldn't pick Pelosi out of a lineup? Or the 85% who couldn't name the Senate majority leader? Are we to imagine that the 31% of the electorate who still — after seven years of headlines and demonization — can't identify the vice president of the United States nonetheless have a studied opinion on the firing of New Mexico U.S. Atty. David Iglesias?

Citing polls as proof you're on the right side of an argument is often a symptom of intellectual cowardice. If the crowd says 2+2=7, that's no reason to invoke the authority of the crowd. But pundits and pols know that if they align themselves with the latest Gallup findings, they don't have to defend their position on the merits because "the people" are always right. Such is the seductiveness of populism. It means never being wrong. "The people of Nebraska are for free silver, and I am for free silver," proclaimed William Jennings Bryan. "I will look up the arguments later."

Read the whole thing at:


To be continued...

('ll see what I can do about setting up comments to allow formatting and hyperlinks, I don't know if I can or not.)



I did something, our links changed. It's an either/or thing, allowing HTML disables URLs transforming into links. Is this better or worse? I admit I'm not up to speed on the technical stuff.


Full Power, thanks for the link. I'm going to read it now.

Philip the Equal Opportunity Cynic

Sorry my replies are going to have to be a lot shorter today.

In the ABC poll, "Will lose" was 51%, "Will win" was 35%, "Neither/tie" (volunteered) 11%, "No opinion" 3%. (Incidentally my position is neither/tie.)

Of course leaders shouldn't govern by polls. But my point is, it's a lot harder to demonize Reid as some sort of extremist America-hating pussy liberal when a majority of the public agrees with him. More importantly, according to a Fox News poll, 61% of the public rejects the attempts to equate withdrawal with surrender. (linke attempt) The point isn't that the public is always right. The point is that bucking the will of the public, but trying inaccurately to paint Harry Reid as the one who's out of touch, is pretty standard operating procedure for the GOP but just plain dishonest. Fortunately it doesn't really fool anyone except other Republicans.

Now, there are times when the public is just wrong, and a good leader will make decisions that look bad in the short run in faith that they'll work out in the long run. But the chronology of this war suggests that that statement applies to the anti-war position in 2003-4, not the pro-war position today! The public overwhelmingly supported the war as it was sold to them. (So did I. I was gullible.) It was only after a few years of seeing that things did not turn out as promised that the public turned against the war. So to claim that the Republicans are now right to dismiss the public, you've got to claim that there's some still-longer-term where history will vindicate their judgment. And I just don't see that. It's obvious to me that the Administration is grasping at straws, doesn't have the manpower to accomplish anything else in Iraq without a draft, but doesn't want to admit it was wrong.

Troops are dying because of Republican stubbornness! I'm afraid that doesn't count as supporting the troops in my view.

But if Republicans are convinced of the rightness of the pro-war cause, then there's only one option. Fall on your sword. Forget about winning elections and take the stance you believe to morally right. If the public disagrees, as it will, and puts someone else in your job, as it will, that's a small price to pay for the vindication of history, right?

But you won't see that. Almost ALL of Congress loves its cushy jobs too much to take a principled stance, with only a few exceptions. You'll see the "rats off the sinking ship," phase as GOP legislators rush to separate themselves from GWB before it's too late. Mark my words.


Unfortunately Republicans aren't immune to the polls either, with the possible exception of President Bush. Of course he can't run again so maybe that's a factor. My point about Reid is that he is more anti-Bush than he is pro-America. That's my opinion based on his actions and his words.

But if Republicans are convinced of the rightness of the pro-war cause, then there's only one option. Fall on your sword. Forget about winning elections and take the stance you believe to morally right. (That HTML stuff works!)

Same goes for the Democrats. If they're so conviced of the wrongness of the war, they should refuse to fund it. (Many of them, however voted for it, and were all for it until mistakes were made. Please show me a perfect war.) Most of them were also convinced Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Of course they count on the voters having really short memories and they are not disappointed.

I happen to believe our troops can "win" this war. Win, I don't think means the same thing as it did in World War II. We aren't fighting an enemy that will surrender. I truly believe though if we can kill enough of the terrorists in Iraq, the Iraqi people will start to feel secure and will be able to rebuild their country. Not just the physical Iraq but the spirit as well. Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq for almost 25 years. Many of his supporters are still in Iraq attempting to regain control. I just don't think you can turn that around as quickly as we would all like.

I would like nothing better than to see our troops come home. I have been involved in Soldiers Angels for about a year and I have "adopted" three soldiers so far. I spent Friday afternoon visiting with an Alabama soldier home from Iraq, who also had an "Angel" while he was there. I will not go into the circumstances now, but I will say I learned a lot from this young man and he does not necessarily agree with me. He is fine young man who did exactly what he was supposed to do and when he left Iraq his mission was accomplished.

I know the toll this takes on our soldiers. And we've lost too many. But I believe, from everything I've read, the majority of our troops believe in the war and they know they are making a difference. The mission is not over for them. I don't know if you've been to Michelle Malkin's site and read the responses from some of our troops to Reid's "lost war" comment. It's worth your time, I think.

Philip the Equal Opportunity Cynic

I admire that, unlike most Republican public figures, you do have the integrity to seek to define what exactly victory would look like. I disagree with your assessment that it's attainable under present conditions (which I would define as: any troop escalation constrained by the size of our existing military, i.e., no draft). Essentially the largest of many problems is that for every terrorist we snuff out, our occupation of Iraq so enrages the local population that another one takes his place. Then again, it's not always obvious who's the terrorist, and when public sympathies are with the insurgency then even those who aren't so desperate as to blow themselves up are still willing to greatly complicate our ostensible mission there.

And of course that mission has crept badly. I'm of the opinion that we should declare victory and get out. Saddam is ousted. The WMD, which were never there in the first place, have been "eradicated". Democracy such as it is has been installed. So although I applaud your efforts to define exactly what this further victory would look like, it seems that it's just one more of a long line of ever-shifting goals. Even the best military in the world, ours, can't succeed when the goalposts are constantly moving.

But again, I'm glad we're having this discussion. IMO demonizing Reid or the rest of the 50-70% of the country that wants to end the occupation is just a way to avoid having this conversation.

As for Malkin -- I might check it out. Of course I value what the troops have to say, but I know full well that anything Malkin presents is going to be cherry-picked to the point of irrelevance. I'd consider this Military Times poll far more representative.

If I read Malkin, will you read these two posts on Josh Marshall's site?

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The Federalist Papers

  • Degree of Madness
    "...... ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm.....But what DEGREE OF MADNESS could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity." Federalist #46 James Madison

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