They lost it at the movies

Jim Hoagland has another excellent column on Obama’s national security policy, which makes the rather complex points that closing Gitmo is an important first step, that the right’s fear-mongering over it is silly, that those on the left who say Obama is Bush-lite on these issues are absurd, but that Obama needs to go further by developing new international rules of conflict. I’m not sure that I agree with or even understand all of this perfectly, but it’s striking to read something so honest and nuanced side-by-side with all the “A Few Good Men” style idiocy that’s floating around (here and here, for example). Not surprisingly, Joe Scar makes the comparison with “A Few Good Men” explicit:

“This scene yesterday…I’m serious here, this comes straight out of ‘A Few Good Men.’ The reason why the closing scene with Jack Nicholson on the stand worked so well, is, of course, we were all rooting for the young attractive Tom Cruise, just like more Americans are probably rooting for President Obama. But at the same time, what was said on that stand by Nicholson…I was struck by that contrast.”

Let’s leave aside the fact that Scar is drawing the wrong conclusion from the movie (a point Steve Benen makes) as well as the fact that the conflict in the movie was about “toughening up” soldiers, not about torture. It seems to me that the real point is that “A Few Good Men” was a fictional movie. We’ve gotten used to wingers using Hollywood ticking bombs and asteroids to argue about reality, but it’s not just wingnuts who do this and it’s rather disconcerting to see this infecting so much of our discourse.

Where does this end? Can we use Harry Lyme’s ferris wheel speech to justify sending fake antibiotics to third world countries?

I understand why movie rhetoric appeals to pundits so much. There’s a whole genre of movie wherein one (usually younger) character’s idealistic view of the world is pitted against the “tougher” view of another (usually older) character. And that’s right in the punditocracy’s wheel-house: naive, hippie democrats versus tough, old Republicans. We see this on more or less every important issue, to some extent.

But doesn’t it seem that the issue of national security, in particular, is just a lot more complicated than that? And if Dick Cheney has such a good case, why won’t anyone other than his daughter defend him? Has anyone seen a single national security professional (Bush political appointees don’t count) argue in favor of torture or in favor of keeping Gitmo open? For God’s sake, even the Bush administration rejected much of the Cheney doctrine after 2005.

But what do I know, I’m just a hack blogger who drinks too much and falls in love with girls.






110 replies
  1. 1
    JL says:

    Did you watch Powell. He stated that he wanted Gitmo closed for years. He also said that Bush wanted to close it but could not come to agreement with the justice department. Powell also said that Bush stopped waterboarding. At no point did I hear Powell say that it is because of Bush, that we have Gitmo and torture policies.
    What a disappointment.

  2. 2

    Wingnuts fawning over pseudo macho bullshit seems quite appropriate based on current behavior. Of course they rarely take more than a superficial look at the”true meaning” of that which they observe. The best example of this was the near mastubatory celebration of the clearly homoerotic 300. But hey, it was entertaining to read all the swooning in the wingnutosphere.

  3. 3
    DougJ says:

    He stated that he wanted Gitmo closed for years. He also said that Bush wanted to close it but could not come to agreement with the justice department. Powell also said that Bush stopped waterboarding.

    I’d like to see him admit more blame, but this makes the point perfectly: almost no one — even among Republican national security people — agrees with Cheney.

  4. 4
    Walker says:

    At no point did I hear Powell say that it is because of Bush, that we have Gitmo and torture policies.

    Actually, I am hearing more and more information that suggests what we knew all along: Bush was a puppet and Cheney was in charge (at least in terms of national security). This does not excuse Bush, who let himself be so controlled, but let’s focus on the real villain here. Particularly since he is an easier target (I guarantee you it would be a lot easier to try Cheney as a criminal than it would Bush).

  5. 5
    El Cid says:

    Powell’s entire career was built off of deflecting damaging incidents (i.e., My Lai) off of the command structure. He’s a shill. That’s what he does. That’s part of what the establishment loves about him so much.

  6. 6
    Jay C says:

    But doesn’t it seem that the issue of national security, in particular, is just a lot more complicated than that?

    Of course the issue of national security, like most issues that we face: the economy, foreign policy, the environment, etc. is “complicated”. That’s the nature of human society. Unfortunately, it is just as human to want to have simple answers to questions, and simple solutions to problems. People don’t like “complicated”: hence the (usually temporary) success of politicians/political movements that promise “simple answers”.

  7. 7
    Persia says:

    Part of this, of course, is that fiction is powerful. We write and read and watch it for a reason. It appeals to us, especially since we can’t always be ‘inside’ the military, the judiciary, and other ‘closed’ institutions.

    But I never thought the Republicans would take that ‘reality-based community’ thing quite so literally.

  8. 8

    @Walker:

    I’m sure Cheney went to bed every night for the eight years of the Bush presidency secure in the knowledge that he was really the “commander in chief”.

  9. 9
    JL says:

    @Walker: Cheney would get on the stand and say that he worked on behalf of the President.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    I think Bush Jr. completely and utterly shit his pants and panicked upon 9/11/2001, not out of fear for safety or security but of fear of being hated and seen as a failure.

    I think the days just after the 9/11 attacks were the moments when Dick Cheney did the Twilight Zone Satan routine and appeared to Bush Jr. and promised to save him and his legacy, but only if he let Cheney run everything, and that involved going on the attack and fulfilling the superhawk fantasies of invading Iraq.

    Bush Jr. believed him and all the other sh*tbags, just like he believed all the guys who sold him on how their insane ‘economics’ and non-regulation policies would make the economy awesome and make everyone love him.

    I’m not saying Bush Jr. wasn’t leaning in many of these directions, but my intuition tells me that this is about how it went down.

    And that’s why Bush Jr. is such a bitter f***er now, and didn’t pardon all those Cheney people on the way out, because he felt he was sold a big bag of sh*t on how all this crap would work and make everyone love him and instead the 2nd term of his Presidency revealed it all to be sh*t and, worse for Bush Jr’s point of view, involving a lot of hard work and people mainly hating him.

  11. 11
    Walker says:

    @JL:

    That’s not the crime that we would try him for, so that defense is meaningless.

    All I am saying is to give evil credit where it is due.

  12. 12
    Walker says:

    And that’s why Bush Jr. is such a bitter f***er now, and didn’t pardon all those Cheney people on the way out, because he felt he was sold a big bag of sh*t on how all this crap would work and make everyone love him and instead the 2nd term of his Presidency revealed it all to be sh*t and, worse for Bush Jr’s point of view, involving a lot of hard work and people mainly hating him.

    QFT.

    But it still does not excuse Bush. He should have never run for office if he was not able to handle the responsibilities.

  13. 13
    Persia says:

    @Walker: Look at it from his POV. What was going to happen? The country was safe, the economy was great….

    It’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

  14. 14
    DougJ says:

    @El Cid

    I think that’s right and you put it very well.

  15. 15
    beltane says:

    I thought those ‘I brake for hallucinations’ bumper stickers were only for hippies. Now I know that fantasy-world is where all the serious people reside.

  16. 16

    But what do I know, I’m just a hack blogger

    Now now, damning yourself with faint praise.

    But anyway, what I don’t get it is, the faux outrage over waterboarding, when the real issue, the one that really matters, the lesson that has got to be learned, is why they did the waterboarding. They did it to help gin up a war, to cook the intel, and to lay down a fog of confusion in a period of fearful reaction to 911 and start the war in Iraq.

    More Americans have died in Iraq than died on 911. Many tens of thousands of Iraqis have died.

    It almost looks to me as if the Republicans have welcomed the mini-storm over waterboarding because it gives them a chance to deflect attention from the lies and bad decisions that led to that war. That’s where the real crime was. Attacking a country that had nothing to do with 911.

    And that’s where the real lesson needs to be. America needs to reestablish needed checks on executive power, reestablish the use of the declaration of war, and make itself reluctant to use bombs and guns to advance foreign policy.

    But what do I know, I’m just a hack commenter who isn’t allowed to drink and wears reading glasses around his neck.

  17. 17

    Actually the thing everybody misses about the A Few Good Men comparisons is that it’s a terrible fucking movie.

    Sure, it’s fun watching Nicholson chew it up in the courtroom. The movie itself is a piece of shit in terms of theme and narrative and character arcs and all that stuff that makes fiction actually compelling. The movie is literally just that one entertaining scene, but it happens to be the last one so it’s the one everybody remembers.

  18. 18

    @El Cid:

    Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think Bush wanted a war, and specifically, a war with Iraq. I think he and his advisors saw 911 as the opening they needed to get what they wanted, and I think they employed the crazed Cheney to help them engineer what they wanted.

    I think that the bellicose policy toward the Middle East came directly from a corrupt relationship between the Saudis and the Bushes. I think that the Saudi royal family is the modern day Shah of Iran, the arab oil baron who can help us get our supply of the energy drug and give us a foothold in that volatile region.

    I think the potatoheads knew exactly what they were doing. Look at the face of George Bush when he stood on the pile at WTC and did his We Hear You bullhorn routine, and later when he stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier. Does he look scared to you? To me he looks like the hound dog that just ate the Thanksgiving turkey and hasn’t been caught yet.

  19. 19
    bago says:

    Remember David Iglesias, one of the US Attorneys fired by Gonzales?

    He served in the United States Navy, and is a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. While in the navy, from 1985 and 1988, he was a judge advocate (JAG), at the Pentagon and Naval Legal Service Office, in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Navy Yard. In 1986, he was one of the members of the legal team that was the inspiration for the film A Few Good Men, with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, a case involving the assault of a fellow Marine at their base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


    EPIC FAIL!

  20. 20
    Bhall35 says:

    Nice Pauline Kael reference in the title.

  21. 21

    @El Cid: I don’t buy the “Bush was manipulated” meme. Sure Cheney operated in the shadows, but Bush was the team leader and knew what was going on. Before the DOJ approved torture in the Yoo memos then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez signed off on torture in 2002. Bush was in on most of this and slowly history is being rewritten by the current Cheney publicity tour. Cheney’s current tour is to defend himself, his subordinates, em>and his President.

    Here is a piece run by NPR last week that gives of some evidence that Bush, or at a minimum those working in the White House and working directly for the President, knew what was going on with respect to the issue of torture. This wasn’t some secret back room manipulation by Cheney and his henchmen.

    One source with knowledge of Zubaydah’s interrogations agreed to describe the legal guidance process, on the condition of anonymity.

    The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

    Bush isn’t the brightest crayon in the box but he is nobody’s fool and he was in on it from the beginning. He was the leader of the team and I suspect we will find out soon enough that he personally signed off on everything done in our name.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    @SrirachaHotSauce: I guess I was thinking more of the face of Bush Jr. as he sat stupidly in the schoolroom, then of the next few days fleeing around the country.

  23. 23

    @El Cid:

    I remember that face. Most people took it as a befuddled face. I saw it as a calculating face.

    Bush’s tendency to malapropisms cause people to think he’s a fool. I think he is a shrewd man who figures out how to get what he wants despite anything standing in his way. He’s an alcoholic. He thinks like an alcoholic.

  24. 24

    @The Grand Panjandrum: This is what should be quoted but for some reason WP wouldn’t let me edit.

    One source with knowledge of Zubaydah’s interrogations agreed to describe the legal guidance process, on the condition of anonymity.The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    @SHS

    It’s a reference to “The Third Man” (where Harry Lyme comes from).

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: Just because someone is manipulated doesn’t make them an innocent figure: Bush Jr. was a sh*t-head who wanted to do all these awful things.

    I’m not even arguing that my interpretation makes a tremendous difference in the storyline, unless someone’s being a knucklehead and thinking that only innocents can be manipulated.

    Typically among gangs of thugs and mafiosi, you still have manipulations going on. In fact, that’s why you often find that in organized criminal groups, paramilitaries, terrorists, etc., the strategic decisionmaking is most heavily influenced by some 2nd in command. It doesn’t mean that the head guy isn’t into it, or is some otherwise innocent naif, or wouldn’t attempt things of a very similar nature.

    At most it’s a question of style. And the narration of Bush Jr. being this clever, self-motivating actor bringing these schemes together — it’s just unconvincing. Kings have often been dumbasses, yet they’re often still aggressive, murderous punks.

    It doesn’t mean that their decisions aren’t theirs, and that they would have made good decisions if it weren’t for that evil Rasputin or whomever.

  27. 27
    DougJ says:

    But anyway, what I don’t get it is, the faux outrage over waterboarding, when the real issue, the one that really matters, the lesson that has got to be learned, is why they did the waterboarding. They did it to help gin up a war, to cook the intel, and to lay down a fog of confusion in a period of fearful reaction to 911 and start the war in Iraq.

    I think waterboarding for any reason is unacceptable. I agree the fact that it was to gin up bogus intel makes it a lot worse.

  28. 28
    DougJ says:

    Nice Pauline Kael reference in the title.

    Thanks. I’m one of those people who worships her a bit too much, probably.

  29. 29

    @DougJ:

    I have 100-200 movies in my Top Ten List, and The Third Man is always near the top of that list.

    I never get tired of watching it.

  30. 30
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @El Cid:

    And that’s why Bush Jr. is such a bitter f***er now, and didn’t pardon all those Cheney people on the way out, because he felt he was sold a big bag of sh*t on how all this crap would work and make everyone love him and instead the 2nd term of his Presidency revealed it all to be sh*t and, worse for Bush Jr’s point of view, involving a lot of hard work and people mainly hating him.

    That would take quantum leaps in both introspection and self-awareness for Bush. I’d bet a case of beer that if he was asked today, Bush would say that presidentin’ is hard work, that he and his administration worked hard and that they just had some bad luck was all. I’d bet a second case of beer that the reason Bush issued no blanket pardons on his way out the door is because in his eyes no one had done anything wrong.

  31. 31
    Stephen1947 says:

    Doug says: “We’ve gotten used to wingers using Hollywood ticking bombs and asteroids to argue about reality, but it’s not just wingnuts who do this and it’s rather disconcerting to see this infecting so much of our discourse.”

    I think part of the problem here is that potent clips from movies get lifted and shown in a lot in other venues, and come to represent the whole movie. In other words, they get taken out of context – and we all know how much wingnuts love to take things out of context – mostly because they frequently don’t have enough brain space to deal with foreground and background simultaneously.

  32. 32
    DougJ says:

    I have 100-200 movies in my Top Ten List, and The Third Man is always near the top of that list.

    Me too, though I probably only have about 25 in my Top Ten list.

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    @Dennis-SGMM: There’s something about Bush Jr’s style in the last year and a half or so that indicates to me that he was bitter about how it all turned out. I think he really did buy into all the sh*t he was sold by the movement right, mostly on how it would ‘work’ and how it would make Americans love him, and he never gave the slightest sh*t about how it would actually affect people.

    I think part of the explanation of why all the Bush Jr. administration idiots were so apparently taken off guard by the eventual turn against the Iraq war by the U.S. public was that it had never really occurred to them that the American public would even give much of a sh*t, and it surprised them when they did. (‘But sir, if we don’t do X, there may be chaos in Baghdad, a pretty much civil war situation.’ ‘So? Who gives a god-damn sh*t? Nobody in America other than liberal sh*ts that no one likes anyway is gonna care what the f*** happens in god-damn Baghdad and who’s blowin’ up what. It’s Baghdad, for god’s f***in’ sake.’)

    The public reaction changed some of their style of approach (i.e., selling THE SURGE) but of course not their core approaches, since they are completely obstinate, self-concerned shallow evil mother f***ers.

  34. 34

    @El Cid: I would argue that Bush was not manipulated. No, torture may not have been his idea but he was not manipulated into authorizing it. If anything it was he and his WH Counsel who gave explicit permission to do it when requested to do so. No manipulation required. They just didn’t think it was wrong to torture people. To me it really is that simple. The justification they used was that it was not torture. Through some leap in logic it was justified but no manipulation of Bush was required. He was on board from the beginning.

  35. 35

    @El Cid:

    I agree that his relationship with the Movement Right was a key factor in his presidency.

    First of all, I think both he and the movement thought they were getting something else. He thought that they would love him, and they don’t love anybody who doesn’t kiss their asses at every turn. They thought he would give them their ponies, but he used them to get elected and then didn’t really give them that much, and definitely did not kiss their asses. I think they bitterly disappointed each other.

    Knowing that makes me, and the baby Jesus, tear up and get all sad. So sad.

  36. 36

    @DougJ: We need a movie list thread. Let’s find out who the Real Movie Elitists are around this joint! (I’m looking at you Cole.)

  37. 37
    southpaw says:

    I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with referring to a piece of well-crafted fiction to illustrate a moral point. Our moral sense would be much poorer without, for instance, The Crucible and Billy Budd and To Kill a Mockingbird. But using those resources requires (i) having a sophisticated understanding of the works on their own terms and (ii) making the argument that those works are relevant to whatever real world situation you’re discussing. Scarborough seems incapable of (i) in this case.

  38. 38

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    I need a few days to put my lists together. I have so many favorites that it takes me a long time to round them up.

  39. 39
    gizmo says:

    I sometimes get impatient with Obama and his apparent lack of commitment to progressive values– and then I remember that he has inherited a Congress full of dipshits, and a media that is even worse. Given the hand he’s been dealt, he’s doing OK.

  40. 40
    Bhall35 says:

    Yeah, I was kind of obsessed with Kael for a while too, but I’ve since been able to see her from a few different angles. Still love her writing, though.

    There was a movie thread I missed out on about a week ago. Maybe time for another one?

  41. 41
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think Bush wanted a war, and specifically, a war with Iraq.

    Iraq was sufficient, but not necessary. Bush said before he pulled the trigger, before he was even elected, that all the great presidents were wartime presidents. But what’s always pissed me off was that their goals were so petty. It really was all about the money.

    The war qua war was the tool that would deliver the one-Party state.
    The war gave you the means to do a Canada-Conservatives-1993
    on the Dems.
    The war gave you the green light to sic the state security apparat on the opposition.

    But why the one-party state? Basically to jigger the tax code, re-write environmental regulations, and pack the courts with corporatist hacks. It’s like breaking into the Vatican Museum just to clean out the tills in the gift shop.

  42. 42
    JK says:

    I second the kudos for the reference to Pauline Kael.

    Joe Scarborough is simply paralyzed above the neck. Morning Joe is a supersized, putrid, steaming pile of excrement and MSNBC and cable news in general would be better off without it.

    MSNBC doesn’t have a goddamn clue when it comes to morning programming. First they had the idiotic and repulsive Don Imus and now they have the smarmy, knuckledragging Joe Scarborough.

    Scarborough tries to package himself as a jocular, friendly, easygoing guy, but he’s just as much of a malignant cancer in cable news as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, and Chris Matthews. All of their shows amount to nothing more than a bottomless cesspool of lies.

    The more you watch of these guys, the less you know.

  43. 43
    AhabTRuler says:

    That’s what I get for scanning the comments, but I am going to exploit the magic time machine edit this time!

    And I give you this!

  44. 44
    DougJ says:

    Maybe time for another one?

    Maybe later today, I’ll be stuck at the airport and bored for hours, so it’s a good time for me.

  45. 45
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @SrirachaHotSauce:

    I agree that his relationship with the Movement Right was a key factor in his presidency.

    The ironic part is that while the Movement Right was given little of what it wanted beyond lip service, the people who are really important to the GOP, the wealthy, were given nearly everything that they wanted including carte blanche to loot the economy and to be reimbursed for their efforts.

  46. 46
    omen says:

    I understand why movie rhetoric appeals to pundits so much.

    i thought it was because they lack the context of having served and rely on movies instead, which, of course, gives a skewed view of reality. and people wonder why pundits are out of touch.

  47. 47
    Rosali says:

    I think I’m qualified to offer up my own armchair psychoanalysis since I’ve been discussing this with my friends for the past 8 years. The conversation usually starts with, “WTF are they thinking?” and we go on from there. I think Bush is a simple, base asshole who equated power with the use of force and he came into office with a hard-on for Iraq.

    Cheney recognized Bush’s dumb, incurious nature many years earlier and maneuvered his way into getting selected as VP so that he can manipulate Bush. Bush was open to war and torture and giving away billions to private contractors and Cheney knew what buttons to push to get it done. The unitary executive theory, the torture memos, the preemptive war principle, miltary commissions, and the fixing of the intelligence around the decision to invade Iraq all came out of Cheney’s office. And Cheney got Bush to sign off on them after they were conceived and developed by Cheney.

  48. 48
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @AhabTRuler:
    That is just fun. I only have this to offer.

  49. 49

    @Davis X. Machina:

    According to the mission statement of the PNAC (Rebuilding America’s Defenses), the war in Iraq WAS necessary, and the plans were put together before Bush was elected as well.

  50. 50
    JGabriel says:

    DougJ @ Top:

    it’s striking to read something so honest and nuanced side-by-side with all the “A Few Good Men” style idiocy that’s floating around

    The number of people who seem to think Jessup was the good guy in that film really is depressing. I don’t why I’m so surprised by it – these are people who think 1984 is a how-to guide.

    .

  51. 51
    It's Pat says:

    i thought it was because they lack the context of having served and rely on movies instead, which, of course, gives a skewed view of reality

    Didn’t Reagan believe that he had participated in some battle because he had played the role in a movie?

  52. 52
    Lilly von Schtupp says:

    I’ve always felt that the war was nothing more than a Texas size shake down. It served so many purposes for Bush/Cheney cabal. It was a patronage vehicle for all the war profiteers, a PR campaign for their ’04 election, and a distraction from all the other horrible things they were doing to undermine this country. I wish someone would ask Cheney if Saddam ever gave any indication of a relationship between him and the 9/11 terrorists. We had him in custody for a time, surely they would have asked him.

  53. 53
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    The war gave you the means to do a Canada-Conservatives-1993 on the Dems.

    “Tories, Party of Two”. Good times, good times.

  54. 54
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Dennis-SGMM: That was pretty awesome!

  55. 55

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    We need a movie list thread. Let’s find out who the Real Movie Elitists are around this joint! (I’m looking at you Cole.)

    As a semi-professional critic I will smoke the lot of you.

  56. 56
    HyperIon says:

    @JK:

    The more you watch of these guys, the less you know

    I have NEVER watched any of these guys (including Imus). That must be why I am so smart! ;=)

    Seriously I do NOT understand WHY ANYONE would EVER watch ANY of these guys. And yet millions do. No wonder I feel like a zombie in this country.

  57. 57
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    As a semi-professional critic I will smoke the lot of you.

    Well, you’re a good man, lieutenant. A good man always knows his limitations…
    Are you talking a Cahiers du cinéma type of obscurantist throwdown or just well-made, entertaining movies? : )

  58. 58
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I think you are naïve Doug. Workers in Central America make $3/day and have essentially zero health care or social safety net. An entry level job in America pays over $50/day before government programs. Wages in Africa are $1/day.

    The modern left is very arrogant in that they think they can bring the entire world up to American standards. They can’t.

  59. 59
    JGabriel says:

    BOB, are you defending Harry Lime?

    .

  60. 60
    LD50 says:

    I’ve always felt that the war was nothing more than a Texas size shake down. It served so many purposes for Bush/Cheney cabal. It was a patronage vehicle for all the war profiteers, a PR campaign for their ‘04 election, and a distraction from all the other horrible things they were doing to undermine this country. I wish someone would ask Cheney if Saddam ever gave any indication of a relationship between him and the 9/11 terrorists. We had him in custody for a time, surely they would have asked him.

    Given what we know now, I doubt Saddam had much of anything to say that the US was interested in. The plans were all preordained, as were all the conclusions.

  61. 61
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Every time BOB posts, another kitten dies.

  62. 62
    JL says:

    The Contender comes to mind. “Ladies and Gentlemen of Congress, it pains my soul, to tell you that you have brought blood and shame to this dome.”

  63. 63
    JL says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: It’s apples and oranges. In order to make a cogent statement, you need to compare the USA to other democratic and wealthy nations.

  64. 64

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    I suppose you’ve never heard of the cost of living? I’m not claiming that the inhabitants of those other countries have an easier time surviving on the pittance that they earn, but if I made $1 a day, I would need to work almost four years just to cover one month of payments on my living arrangements. That of course does not include food and personal care needs, transportation, insurance on said transportation, clothing, or any additional monies. Health care coverage would be impossible to afford.

    Are you suggesting we should be earning $1 a day or perhaps three?

  65. 65
    omen says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    The modern left is very arrogant in that they think they can bring the entire world up to American standards. They can’t.

    costa rica has universal healthcare, has a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate than we do.

    http://www.internationalliving.....ealth-Care

    it’s republicans who are keeping this country down

  66. 66
    omen says:

    costa rica has a higher life expectancy rate than we do. they also have a lower infant mortality rate. what’s their secret? they have universal healthcare. we need to catch up with them. it’s republicans are keeping this country down.

  67. 67

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    What a fucking ignorant ass you are.

    The left is interested mainly in lifting America up to American standards. Which are aspiring to a standard already established in the rest of the Western world. Namely, affordable and quality healthcare for every citizen.

    We are going to have it in this country probably sooner rather than later, whether you like it or not, and you are going to pay taxes to keep my stents happy, in return for which I will allow you to kiss my entire pink ass.

  68. 68
    LD50 says:

    It’s apples and oranges. In order to make a cogent statement, you need to compare the USA to other democratic and wealthy nations.

    I suppose it’s much easier for BOB to argue that nothing needs changing in America if his primary point of comparison is Bangladesh.

  69. 69

    I hereby dare you to have a “great or at least entertaining movies” thread where *every entry* passes the Bechdel Test.

    I *double-dog dare you*.

  70. 70
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    The entire Western world is going broke. The reason for this is a combination of naiveté and arrogance on the part of high-minded people who prefer their own peace of mind to the well-being of their Country.

    The end result of their work will be to lower America, not raise the rest of the world. We very well may be entering an era of global instability, or a Global Katrina. Thank you high minded people. Thank you Tom Cruise.

  71. 71
    jshubbub says:

    I’ve always thought of myself as at least a marginally nuanced thinker, but after having read the op-eds by Broder and Parker that DougJ linked to I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the case. Both esteemed columnists (and I’m assuming they’re esteemed based on the fact that the storied Washington Post has seen fit to print their opinions which, I admit, could be my first mistake) suggest that the Obama vs. Cheney dueling national security speeches constitute competing valid arguments. Parker was especially egregious in her Obama-sure-does-talk-pretty-but-Cheney’s-the-one-who-was-watching-from-the-bunker-on-9/11 comparison.

    Am I the only one who sees this framing as complete and utter BS? These weren’t competing valid arguments.

    In his speech, Cheney argued the case against the rule of law and for the capricious use of executive authority. He was also quite fond of the notion that since no war crimes were committed (“enhanced interrogation” was legal, honorable, and justified) then he and others should not be held accountable.

    Obama, however, argued for a partial return to the rule of law and a technical rejiggering of our justice system to allow the somewhat less capricious–in the sense that he wants Congress and the judicial branch on the hook, too–but still radical use of executive power in preemptive detention.

    I’m not sure who these two men were intending to speak to other than the punditocracy, but it doesn’t strike me that they were really speaking reason to the opposing side. This whole thing is being framed as a healthy, constructive back-and-forth between two great advocates. I just don’t see it that way. This is ass-covering for Cheney and damage control for Obama.

  72. 72
    LD50 says:

    The end result of their work will be to lower America, not raise the rest of the world. We very well may be entering an era of global instability, or a Global Katrina. Thank you high minded people. Thank you Tom Cruise.

    Really? I tend to blame Travolta more.

  73. 73
    JL says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: A special thanks to Greenspan, Paulson and President Bush who gave the tax cut to rich. In fairness Clinton signed the Gramm/Rudman act so he deserves some credit. It was under Bush though when Paulson decided it was a good idea for investment companies to lend 30 to 1.

  74. 74
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    I think you are naïve Doug. Workers in Central America make $3/day and have essentially zero health care or social safety net. An entry level job in America pays over $50/day before government programs. Wages in Africa are $1/day.

    Without a doubt, you are the most ignorant person in the history of the internet.

  75. 75
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    That is a very compassionate thing you guys are doing feeding third world populations who have seven kids per female without mandating birth control.

    This child will thank you within ten years. What a high minded group, doing good deeds, these enlightened SWPL types are. Enjoy your mint julips.

  76. 76
    LD50 says:

    That is a very compassionate thing you guys are doing feeding third world populations who have seven kids per female without mandating birth control.

    Wow. Is BOB’s new strategy to say things so stupid that his antagonists are paralyzed with amazement?

  77. 77
    LD50 says:

    I hereby dare you to have a “great or at least entertaining movies” thread where every entry passes the Bechdel Test.
    I double-dog dare you.

    Yeesh. That wipes out pretty much all of MY favorite movies. :-(

  78. 78
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    That is a very compassionate thing you guys are doing feeding third world populations who have seven kids per female without mandating birth control.

    I rest my case, Your Honor.

  79. 79
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    I guess that having 90% of the nation’s wealth concentrated in the hands of less than 10% of the population has no negative effects.

  80. 80

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    If the world is going broke, it’s because we spent more money on war machines than lifting up the citizens our each of these countries.

    Fear created our demise, and if we keep stating that we can’t make it better, Fear will eventually have been responsible for our fall.

    But, I’m sure you’ll never understand that.

  81. 81
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    There is nothing wrong with classical liberalism, in fact, we should embrace it at this time. This includes the study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. It opposes restrictions on speech and thought as were imposed by the Church of the time, and by SWPL ideologies now. Here is an excellent article from a true liberal thinker who recognizes the human toll that overpopulation will impose on our world, Africa in particular.

    The flaw in his analysis is not taking into account kerogen deposits, but even these will not be able to stop the pain that this high-minded, arrogant, and naïve SWPL ideology will impose on this world. Thanks Tom Cruise. What a nice guy. I’ll have a vodka tonic.

  82. 82
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Regarding restrictions on speech imposed by SWPL ideologies, the comment that is not yet posted above, endorsing classic liberalism, is being moderated.

  83. 83
    omen says:

    are the comments that have been swallowed going to show up later on? i didn’t even get a “in moderation” message.

  84. 84
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    In the interim, the effects of overpopulation, by a true liberal thinker.

  85. 85
    LD50 says:

    So, to recap, in BOB’s alternate universe, conservatives advocate birth control and libs suppress it.

    I can no longer tell if BOB is either a carefully crafted spoof or a befuddled 80-year-old.

  86. 86
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Brick Oven Bill is just a pie fetishist.

  87. 87

    LD50:

    What would be the point in double-dog daring you to do something *easy*?

  88. 88
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Well, these are the same folks who believe that 24 is a how-to manual as well.

    I agree with El Cid in that I think W. was manipulated by Cheney. However, I think Cheney only pushed W. into doing what W. wanted to do, anyway. I agree that W. was checked out during the last year or so of his presidency. The world was fucked, he didn’t know how it got there, he didn’t know how to get us out of it, and he didn’t know why some Iraqi guy threw a shoe at him.

    He was extraordinarily sheltered as president, and quite frankly, he was/is stupid. Cunning, but stupid. He should never have been in politics, but nepotism has its privileges.

  89. 89
    LD50 says:

    @Doctor Science:

    Then allow me to counter-dare: name one movie that passes the Bechdel test that (a) isn’t already in rotation on the Lifetime Channel (b) doesn’t completely suck.

  90. 90

    I don’t know from the Lifetime Channel, but just guessing:

    Coraline. Alien. Picnic at Hanging Rock. Bend It Like Beckham.

  91. 91

    The modern left right is very arrogant in that they think they can bring the entire world up America down to American Third World standards. They can’t.

    Fixed That, Fuck You.

  92. 92
    Bill H says:

    I think Hoagland is full of crap. The laws do not need “modernization” at all. We need to ditch this idiocy of elevating terrorists to the status of “mighty warriors” and reduce them to the criminals that they actually are. Once we do that, then existing laws will deal with them very nicely. It is this “war on terror” meme that has rendered laws ineffective. Britain has employed law enforcement methods of dealing with these criminals with a great deal better success than our “war on terror” has enjoyed.

    Obama wants to imprison anyone who has “sworn allegience to Osama bin Laden.” That means imprisoning someone for a thought crime. That goes beyond mere “modernization” of our laws.

    Obama wants to imprison individuals who “remain at war with the United States.” The United States, in any sane world, does not declare war on individuals, nor on a particular method of violence, and Congress, the only agent of this nation authorized to declare war, has not done so. Once more, we need to deny these criminals the status they seek, that of “holy and noble warriors.” Apply criminal processes and criminal law to these individuals, because they are criminals.

    Hoagland is an idiot and Obama, whom I support in almost every other respect, is wrong on this.

  93. 93

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    The entire Western world is going broke.

    No it isn’t, Bill. But the US will go broke unless it controls healthcare costs and provides healthcare to everyone.

    That’s why you are going to get universal healthcare in this country, fairly soon. If you don’t like it, you can always move to … uh …. well, I guess the US is the only developed country that doesn’t have it.

    That’s something to be proud of, isn’t it Bob? Thanks to lying fuckstains like you, we are the only developed country that doesn’t have it.

    Well, that little honeymoon period is about to end for those of you who want to keep America fucked.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    Bill H says:

    From Jim Hoagland’s “excellent column,”

    War in Afghanistan is at its core a matter of collateral damage. Without large organized military units confronting each other along fixed fronts, battle is haphazard and free-floating, a sometime thing that wounds or destroys whatever turns up in its path.

    The first sentence is not really even a sentence; it is a bunch of words strung together to look like a sentence, but it is utterly devoid of content. As close as I can come to deciphering it, it means something like,“The purpose of putting a bull into the china shop is to cause accidental damage.”

    As to the rest of it, Hoagland might be good at writing fictional novels, as this is very colorful. But even with “large organized military units confronting each other” war is still going to “wound or destroy whatever turns up in its path.” What it has to do with imprisoning people from Guantanamo…

  96. 96

    Obama wants to imprison individuals who “remain at war with the United States.” The United States, in any sane world, does not declare war on individuals, nor on a particular method of violence, and Congress, the only agent of this nation authorized to declare war, has not done so. Once more, we need to deny these criminals the status they seek, that of “holy and noble warriors.” Apply criminal processes and criminal law to these individuals, because they are criminals.

    Well, I think you are inventorying the difficulties of assymetrical conflict, which is fine , but …. A nation bound to traditional policy cannot declare war on a person. A nation bound to protections for the criminally accused cannot easily protect itself against the kind of criminals who will strap explosives onto children and ask them to blow themselves up and kill other people. That level of crazy doesn’t lend itself to conventional measures.

    Obama may not have the easy answers and solutions, but I support his taking his time and exploring all manner of options in this regard. People who talk as if they have simple answers to these things are people I simply don’t trust. For the simple reason that we haven’t seen any simple answers that stand up to scrutiny.

  97. 97
    HyperIon says:

    We are merely continuing to assert that WE are special.

    American Exceptionalism: if we decide that Iraq needs to be invaded, then OK. if we decide that torture is needed, then OK. because no country has ever been as special as the US of A.

    and don’t you ever forget it, especially on this memorial day weekend, when we remind ourselves of how special OUR dead soldiers are.

  98. 98
    omen says:

    yay, swallowed comments survived.

  99. 99
    jl says:

    Yes I absolutely agree with Joe Scarblood, bird, boob, whatever he’s called.

    We can use the famous stirring speeches of Boris and Natasha to justify the destruction of Moose and Squirrel. Anyone who doubts that just hates America.

    The tragedy depicted in Ghost Busters reveals the danger of the EPA.

    Insights from the Three Stooges should bring back the nugee as a form of universal corporal punishment.

    Wisdom from the mouth of the teevee -it feels good and it’s good for you too!

  100. 100
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Personally, I believe that a large part of the financial problem is that the West is offering what HotSauce refers to as ‘developed world’ standards of care to individuals from parts of the world that are defined in polite company as ‘developing’, but which never seem to develop, and often tend to slide backwards.

    It further is my opinion that if health care were offered for free to everybody, that the people in ‘developing’ countries, instead of working to ‘develop’ their own countries, will instead take a short cut and just take a car-ride to the ‘developed world’, and get free stuff.

    I am not sure how this will reduce the cost of medical care to the US government, and in fact suspect that costs might rise, and standards of care will fall. This as I have witnessed the health care system in ‘developing’ countries. I have also walked around Detroit.

    Oh and fuck you too Bouffant. You have a stupid name.

  101. 101
    omen says:

    It’s apples and oranges. In order to make a cogent statement, you need to compare the USA to other democratic and wealthy nations.

    not really, cuba is dirt poor and yet still manages to deliver medical services.

    in sicko michael moore points out the brits developed their healthcare system in the immediate after affect of world war 2, when the country was starting again from scratch, heavily in debt and struggling to repair a bombed out infrastructure. we are better positioned now than the brits were then. if they can do it, why can’t we?

  102. 102
    jl says:

    @101 omen. your reasoning is total Fail.

    The UK health system is leading that poor lost socialist country to ruin. It will blow up any day. Their life expectancy is increasing at an alarming rate, which will bankrupt the country sometime soon, because everyone knows healthy old people will cost a lot to keep alive, and everything there will go bad.

    The brilliant U.S. health care system is keeping the life expectancy safely low, so as to avoid the unintended consequences of old people.

  103. 103
    jl says:

    @101 omen. I humbly beg to differ with your very impressive but subtly flawed reasoning.

    The UK health system is leading that poor lost socialist country to ruin. It will blow up any day. Their life expectancy is increasing at an alarming rate, which will bankrupt the country sometime soon, because everyone knows healthy old people will cost a lot to keep alive, and everything there will go wrong.

    The brilliant U.S. health care system is keeping the life expectancy safely low, so as to avoid the unintended consequences of old people.

    (well, I guess it wasn’t the KABOOM! I will take out the ironic flame of the other commenter, see what that does.

  104. 104
    LD50 says:

    in sicko michael moore points out the brits developed their healthcare system in the immediate after affect of world war 2, when the country was starting again from scratch, heavily in debt and struggling to repair a bombed out infrastructure. we are better positioned now than the brits were then. if they can do it, why can’t we?

    Well, obviously, because Michael Moore is fat.

    I can’t believe how we have to explain everything to you.

  105. 105
    omen says:

    @Bill H:

    I think Hoagland is full of crap. The laws do not need “modernization” at all. We need to ditch this idiocy of elevating terrorists to the status of “mighty warriors” and reduce them to the criminals that they actually are.

    ah, i hadn’t considered that before. placing detainees in jail and into the law enforcement context shifts the frame away from the “we have to go to war with the terrorists” model that’s bankrupting the country.

    no wondering republicans are bitching. it’s not just playing politics. vested interests are threatened.

  106. 106
    omen says:

    @Bill H:

    Obama wants to imprison anyone who has “sworn allegience to Osama bin Laden.” That means imprisoning someone for a thought crime. That goes beyond mere “modernization” of our laws.

    “sworn allegience” i think is a reference to the contract new recruits to al qaeda sign.

  107. 107
    omen says:

    @jl:

    ha. had to read twice to make sure it was satire.

    the trick is to press the arrow only, next to the time stamp, to get it to do the reference thingy.

  108. 108
    IndieTarheel says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Bless you, sir.

  109. 109

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Developed Country is not a term I invented, you lying sack of shit.

    For starters, you can use this convenient list. The more developed ones are at the top. The list is from this article.

    Sorry, the POS blog editor ate the column header format.

    Countries

    HIE OECDCIA AEIMF AEWB HIEHDI≥0.9QoLTop30All
    Australia YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Austria YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Belgium YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Canada YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Denmark YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Finland YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    France YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Germany YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Greece YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Iceland YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Ireland YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Italy YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Japan YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Korea, South YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Luxembourg YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Netherlands YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    New Zealand YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Norway YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Portugal YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Spain YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Sweden YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Switzerland YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    United Kingdom YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    United States YES YES YES YES YES YES 6
    Hong Kong NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
    Singapore NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
    Taiwan NO YES YES YES YES YES 5
    Cyprus NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
    Israel NO YES YES YES YES NO 4
    Slovenia NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
    Malta NO NO YES YES YES YES 4
    Czech Republic YES NO YES YES NO NO 3
    Monaco NO YES N/A YES YES NO 3
    Slovakia YES NO YES YES NO NO 3
    Andorra NO YES N/A YES N/A NO 2
    Bahrain NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
    Bermuda NO YES N/A YES N/A N/A 2
    Brunei NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
    Faroe Islands NO YES N/A YES N/A NO 2
    Greenland NO YES N/A YES N/A NO 2
    Hungary YES NO NO YES NO NO 2
    Kuwait NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
    Liechtenstein NO YES N/A YES N/A NO 2
    Macau NO NO N/A YES YES NO 2
    San Marino NO YES N/A YES N/A N/A 2
    United Arab Emirates NO NO NO YES YES NO 2
    Antigua and Barbuda NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Aruba NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Bahamas, The NO NO NO YES N/A NO 1
    Barbados NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Cayman Islands NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Channel Islands NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Estonia NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Equatorial Guinea NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    French Polynesia NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Guam NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Holy See NO YES N/A N/A N/A N/A 1
    Isle of Man NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Netherlands Antilles NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    New Caledonia NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Northern Mariana Islands NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1
    Oman NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Qatar NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Saudi Arabia NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    Trinidad and Tobago NO NO NO YES NO NO 1
    U.S. Virgin Islands NO NO N/A YES N/A NO 1

  110. 110
    windy says:

    Nuanced? It’s completely insane.

    Chaos, not the order of final victory or defeat, is the purpose that drives al-Qaeda and its allies. Disruption of the guerrillas and any civilian environment they can control — Mao’s sea in which the fish swim — is the antidote necessarily pushed by the United States, NATO and now the Pakistani army in the Swat Valley.

    The terrorists want chaos, and the antidote to chaos is to ‘disrupt civilian environments’? How stupid is this guy? (And how is this ‘new’- wasn’t this what was tried in Vietnam?)

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