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Securing Bush’s Legacy

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I was musing today on what President Bush would have to do in order to assure that he has a legacy to be proud of after his second term is up. Despite his detractors his first term was certainly not a disaster, but it also wasn’t a huge success. With three years to go, he still has the opportunity to use his time wisely and leave behind a legacy which he can be proud of, even if it doesn’t please all of his critics.

Given Bush’s past performance and apparent personality it seems to me that the model of James K. Polk is one for him to consider. Polk went into office with four specific goals, achieved all four of them and chose not to even run for reelection. All four were somewhat controversial, but absolutely necessary for the country, and by focusing just on those issues and spending all of his efforts and political capital on them alone he was able to achieve 100% success. Polk’s goals, BTW were to end the federal role in domestic improvement programs, restore the treasury without creating a national bank, substantially lower the tariff and resolve the nation’s border issues by acquiring Oregon, Texas and California.

Four goals in four years seems like a reasonable target for a president, even today, and if James K. Polk who was a political genius could only achieve four it might be unrealistic for the intelligent, but less remarkable Bush to do any better. Even completing three important goals would probably be a pretty impressive victory. Bush’s goals should be as clear and as simple as Polk’s and need not necessarily be as ambitious as Polk’s massive land grab from Mexico. Bush has already identified important issues he wants to take action on, so what he needs to do now is focus on them and follow through to completion come hell or high water. He needs to drop the petty issues, and focus on the four most important issues which he has already expressed commitment to and make sure those goals are achieved, not by half measures, but as completely as possible.

What I would recommend is that he pick 3 to 4 goals from the following list of the five most important issues currently facing the nation and make them happen.

Goal 1: Health Coverage for All Americans – This is the easiest of the four issues, because our system basically works. What we have right now is a hybrid system with managed healthcare for those who pay for it, and publicly underwritten healthcare for those who can’t afford to pay for it. The problem in the system is those who aren’t poor enough for Medicaid and either choose not to or are unable to pay for their own insurance. The answer for them is a system halfway between Medicaid and private insurance – government mandated and underwritten gap insurance. Short term coverage provided to anyone who seeks medical care and does not already have coverage or qualify for Medicaid, which the recipient pays for at a discounted rate because it is partially underwritten by the government. Coverage would be limited, and some costs would be recovered from the client, so the costs would not be high. This approach avoids the pitfalls of socialization, preserves the quality of the private system and makes sure everyone is covered.

Goal 2: Social Security Reform – Bush needs to push this issue much harder than he is. It would be better for him to pursue a full and fundamental reform of the system even if he loses completely than to settle for half-measures or compromise with the Democrats at all. Social Security reform is going to come eventually, and by putting forward a really good plan, Bush can get credit for his work whenever Congress grows the spine or feels the desperation to make the right changes. A reformed system should cut off the services of the current system for anyone under the age of 30, and offer those between the ages of 30 and 50 the option of voluntarily leaving the current system. Future social security contributions for those leaving the old system should be split, with half going into the trust fund to pay off the obligations of the old system and the rest going into strictly controlled private investment accounts based around broad market mutual funds. As the deficit in the old system gets paid off the amount of the total social security tax paid by individuals into the system would be reduced and that money would be switched over to the private accounts. Ultimately the target would be for the old system to be shut down around 2050, at which point the private account system would be the only system and the mandatory contribution level would be lowered to 10%.

Goal 3: Tax Reform – Bush has only hesitantly metioned how far he’d really like to go on this issue, but he should step forward and make a full commitment now. The income tax needs to be abolished and the IRS needs to be shut down. That system should be replaced either with a flat, uniform percentage tax on all incomes over the poverty level (adjusted for number of family members) with no deductions, or a ‘fair tax’ type system of federal sales tax. The system proposed by the actual ‘fair tax’ advocates is not a viable option as the tax rate is too high and their system of rebating hypothetical expenses for necessities is completely impractical. In both cases the tax rate should be set around 20% and the reform should be accompanied by a Constitutional Amendment strictly limiting federal government spending to projected tax revenue plus no more than 10%. Of course, I’d love to see Bush repeal the 16th Amendment and return taxing authority to the states, but I think that’s unrealistic, so failing that either of these plans will do. Realistically Bush ought to go for the flat income tax, as that can be sold as just a reform rather than a scrapping and complete redo of the system.

Goal 4: Immigration Reform – Bush’s general idea of a guest worker program could be an excellent solution to our immigration problems if it was implemented well. It would allow continued opportunity for Mexican workers and make cheap labor available to US employers, but make it practical to keep track of them while making it easier to control the borders and make sure that it wasn’t costing US Citizens jobs they were willing to do. The benefits of such a program for the workers, for the nation and in controlling terrorist entry to the country are incalculable. Plus this might be a program Bush could get some bipartisan support on.

Goal 5: Win the War on Terror – This one is a no-brainer. I don’t necessarily support unilateral military action on principle, but once you commit to it you have to follow through to the bitter end. Bush really has to continue taking the war to the enemy and not worry too much about the domestic side of the war or the potential fallout. By choosing this strategy he’s made the War on Terror an all or nothing proposition. Given that choice, the best defense in this case is a good offense. Just as Iraq was a good place to fight because of its location and potential for success, Bush ought to look for one or two other soft targets to move on to once the situation in Iraq resolves itself. He needs to steel himself to selling the American people on the idea of ongoing warfare in multiple locations with the objective of keeping the terrorists occupied and spreading order and democracy in troubled parts of the world. His next target should probably be Sudan, because it’s a breeding ground for Islamic discontent, relatively easy to take on, and will win him some good credit internationally. He ought to move troops there as soon as a significant number can be taken out of Iraq. Operations in Sudan shouldn’t take more than a few months, but the situation there will require long-term occupation which we’lll have to do even if the UN doesn’t get off its ass and help. After Sudan Bush should look closely at Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. If they don’t start implementing democratic reforms in the next two years he should use military pressure to bring them to their senses. Since Bush started with this idea of foreign intervention and making the war on terror military in nature, he has to follow that strategy through to the end. Weakening or abandonning it would be disastrous for the nation, for the world and for his legacy. The world can forgive someone who tried and failed, but they can never forgive a coward.

Of course, if Bush does achieve three or four of these goals, the Democrats will be in serious trouble, as they will have nothing important left to do except screw things up if they ever get power again. And of course, we can expect them to resist these sorts of badly needed reforms with tooth and nail, because they care more about their personal power base than they do about fixing the nation’s problems.

The goals are also of different levels of importance. Bush can’t pass on #5. He’s already committed to it and not following it through would be disastrous. As for the others, he can pretty much pick and choose. Social Security reform is already running into problems, so vitally important though it is he might have to back-burner it. Tax reform scares people, so it will be a challenge. The easy route is to do Immigration and Medicaid reform which are feelgood measures which some Democrats will support, and then use the political capital that builds to tackle one of the tougher issues.

Bush will have to be very careful not to get distracted by partisan issues of lesser importance or to pay too much attention to criticism or polls. He seems to have an instinct for what is right and he needs to follow that instinct first. Everyone in Congress is going to come yammering at him with their pet issue, and he needs to stand firm and tell them to back off, or else make deals which will get the important bills passed before he’ll consider their lesser issues.

Bush needs to remember that he can’t be voted out of office, so he can afford to take some risks and step on some toes that badly need it. Each of these goals is enormously important for the nation, and if he can achieve even a couple of them he will have done more good for the country than any president in the last 40 years. In fact, even attempting them seriously and failing will leave him with a better legacy than most of his predecessors. In this he should take a note from the firm hand of Teddy Roosevelt who said:

    “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Even if this mission is hopeless and he fails, he’ll still win a legacy of respect if he at least goes down trying to do the right thing. It’s do or die time now for Bush. He can either take these vitally important issues which he has already identified and pursue them with everything he’s got, or he can accept a legacy of mediocrity at best. So far his ideas have outstripped his performance. In the next three years it’s time for his performance to make those ideals a reality.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • Richard

    Pie in the Sky. His legacy is death and destruction.

  • MDE

    Dave – Congrats on your marvelously Machiavellian post. Your ideas have reached new heights of bloodthirsty obscenity. Three cheers for war everlasting – or for universal democracy, whichever comes first.

    Mark

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Uh, thanks I guess. I just wanted to layout what he has to do to go down as a success – not a great president – but maybe someone on a scale with Polk or Truman.

    I’ve been working on a revision of the article with some additional refinements, so reread it tomorrow. You’ll probably hate it more, but it will at least be somewhat different.

    Oh, and as to the bloodthirstiness? I don’t see it anywhere in the article. We’re already committed to an interventionist foreign policy. I’d have been against it on principle before he started, but now that he’s taken that course he needs to follow it through if he wants a positive legacy.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    It’s a provoking post Dave, thought and otherwise. My personal take:

    Goal #1 I kinda like this one. Canada’s system really blows goats, and your proposal is meritworthy.

    Goal #2 I’m still not convinced, and I’m 47 so I figure that any change to privatization will probably screw my SS.

    Goal #3 Yes. Ditto. Yowza.

    Goal #4 This is a tough one. But I understand what you’re saying.

    “If we’re already on the road to hell, we might as well make it a four lane highway.”

    Nah, I’m just kidding. How’s

    “Since Bush is going to be hated by gazillions of folks anyway, we might as well have him finish this dirty job.”

    No that’s not right. Anyway, I’ll try to come up with something, and will read the revised post tomorrow.

    Good writing in any case.

    Bennett

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, Bennett, that last one is awfully close. The TR quote really says it all. With the course Bush has taken if he follows it through some will hate him and some will love him for it – if he wimps out everyone will just despise and pity him.

    As for #2, I’m about your age, and I’m not expecting much from SS either way. You can’t live on what it pays under the current system, so I figure even 15 years of paying into a more functional system would put me better off. I know if I invested the equivalent amount in mutual funds I already have I’d have more monthly income in 15 years than I’ll have from a lifetime of paying into SS by that time.

    Dave

  • Bennett Dawson

    so I figure even 15 years of paying into a more functional system would put me better off.

    Agreed, 401k all the way. I never really thought about SS until I started getting yearly notices telling me that I had paid enough in to qualify for benifits. Oh, $1100 a month? Really? Be still my heart.

    About Bush. I am usually wrong about these things, and the guy I hate ends up being a hero. Or the guy I like ends up shaming himself in office. So if he can muster the sack to really change the world into a better place, as I suppose Lincoln did in the end (still not sure we wouldn’t have done just ducky with a NUSA and a SUSA however), then he should go to it and not worry about what Bennett thinks of him.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Ok, revisions have been made. Nothing too dramatic, but I realized I had made a very important omission – especially considering the date.

    Dave

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    Has Bush even made mention of healthcare for all Americans? I don’t think that’s even on his radar…

    The social security reform won’t happen unless there’s first talk of long-term solvency issues and then maybe privitization. Democrats are uniformly opposed to the privitization aspect as are more and more Republicans who want to try a bi-partisan approach to actually make the system function for the long term. The white house did themselves in when they admitted Bush’s plan would not save social security despite Bush’s best efforts to sell it as that.

    All I’ve heard about the tax reform issue does not involve eliminating income tax or the IRS but simply shortening the tax code from it’s current 46,000 pages (or somewhere in that area) by eliminating loopholes and clauses that we average Americans probably don’t know anything about.

    Immigration reform – i dont know…let me get back to you on that.

    Winning the war on terror. Well, easier said than done, eh? Does the public see the war in Iraq as part of the war on terror? I don’t think so. There’s pretty much no way Americans will support another war unless it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they really really really pose an imminent threat. We probably do need to intervene in some way in Darfur/Sudan but attack Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Those are our buddies. I don’t see it happening. The major coup for Bush would simply be capturing Bin Laden, dont you think? I think that would mark a major victory in the war on terror. And maybe we’re getting closer to him now…

    “Operations in Sudan shouldn’t take more than a few months”

    that sounds awfully familiar for some reason…

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Has Bush even made mention of healthcare for all Americans? I don’t think that’s even on his radar…< <

    A Medicaid reform proposal was floated in 2003, but wasn't pursued. I don't expect Bush to tackle universal healthcare, but I think he ought to consider Medicaid reform and measures to adjust the gap between Medicaid and paid insurance. It's a real opportunity for him, but maybe wishful thinking on my part.

    >>The social security reform won’t happen unless there’s first talk of long-term solvency issues and then maybe privitization. Democrats are uniformly opposed to the privitization aspect as are more and more Republicans who want to try a bi-partisan approach to actually make the system function for the long term. The white house did themselves in when they admitted Bush’s plan would not save social security despite Bush’s best efforts to sell it as that.< <

    All true, which is why I now lean towards abandonning this issue alltogether. If he can't get a real solution with full privatization he's better off leaving the Democrats to take the blame for the disaster they made and yet refuse to even acknowledge exists.

    >>All I’ve heard about the tax reform issue does not involve eliminating income tax or the IRS but simply shortening the tax code from it’s current 46,000 pages (or somewhere in that area) by eliminating loopholes and clauses that we average Americans probably don’t know anything about.< <

    That's the most modest proposal. Bush has publicly toyed with the idea of a flat tax or a national sales tax. This is a perfect example of where he's liable to doom himself. If he settles for just cleaning up the code that's such a tiny step forward that it's nice, but not noteworthy. Not what you want to hang your legacy on.

    >>Immigration reform – i dont know…let me get back to you on that.< <

    IMO this is his strongest issue if he can actually put together and implement a working plan.

    >>Winning the war on terror. Well, easier said than done, eh? Does the public see the war in Iraq as part of the war on terror? I don’t think so.< <

    Like I said, he has to go forward without thinking about polls or whatever foolishness the public has gotten into its head.

    >>There’s pretty much no way Americans will support another war unless it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they really really really pose an imminent threat. < <

    None of the other situations I mentioned would necessarily be wars. Humanitarian military intervention can cover a lot of types of operations.

    >>We probably do need to intervene in some way in Darfur/Sudan but attack Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Those are our buddies. I don’t see it happening. < <

    I didn't say to attack them, just that they needed to be looked at. They need to be pressured and guided in the right direction.

    >>The major coup for Bush would simply be capturing Bin Laden, dont you think? I think that would mark a major victory in the war on terror. And maybe we’re getting closer to him now…< <

    That would be a cheap way out. Bin Laden is certainly the prime target, but the way Al Quaeda is organized now capturing him is more symbolic than substantive. And if Bush wants a legacy it needs to be based on real progress, not just symbolism.

    >>”Operations in Sudan shouldn’t take more than a few months”

    that sounds awfully familiar for some reason…<<

    We’re talking Sudan here, not Iraq and not even Afghanistan. If we can’t subdue a few Sudanese warlords in a couple of months we shouldn’t bother to go in there. It’s Europe’s responsibility anyway if they had the balls to do anything about it.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Goal 1: Health Coverage for All Americans – This is the easiest of the four issues, because our system basically works.

    Holy Toledo Batman, where exactly is this system working? The for-profit aspect has to be removed. Doctors and clinics are putting people through treatments unnecessarily for the money. Insurance companies put caps on the amount they will give out quarterly/yearly, etc. For everybody I know, myself included, it’s been a pain in the ass compared to the time before there were HMO’s and PPO’s, etc.

    I have no problem with keeping health care in the private sector, and would like to see universal health coverage be a given in this nation, but it won’t work right until the for-profit aspect is removed.

  • Mark

    Going after social security reform first was a huge error in judgement, but I understand that if anything, Bush’s “bold” move has inspired others in Congress to buck the trend and suggest even more sweeping changes (NOTE: usually termed “radical” by those who want to alienate the American public, just as the Demos are using the word “privatization” to describe voluntary choice). Tax reform should have been first on the agenda because it would solve all three critical issues – social security, medicare, and tax fairness – at the same time. Despite what you say about the FairTax, the marketplace will adjust to its implementation and force quick changes at the state level or risk a mass exodus of business interests and people. It’s easy to be a naysayer; it’s harder to offer up an alternative. You’ve done a disservice to your readers by doing just that. Plain and simple, the FairTax is the only viable solution as it has been analyzed to death and is now supported by a majority of reputable people who know about these things. Yes, it will be different and yes, there will be resistance, but the brave will see it through and a better, more competitive, and fairer America will result. It’s time to get on with it vs. Congress fiddling and tweaking everything to advance their own shallow self-interests. The FairTax should be adopted as is and soon.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Holy Toledo Batman, where exactly is this system working?< <

    I know it doesn't seem that way to us here in America, Steve, but it really is working. It's so much better than the alternatives that we should be dancing in the streets, but from the inside all we can see are the shortcomings.

    >> The for-profit aspect has to be removed. Doctors and clinics are putting people through treatments unnecessarily for the money. Insurance companies put caps on the amount they will give out quarterly/yearly, etc. For everybody I know, myself included, it’s been a pain in the ass compared to the time before there were HMO’s and PPO’s, etc.< <

    Even with all that, it's getting us treatment an average of 6 months faster than any other system in the world, and cutting out death rates from most causes by 50% or more compared to the rest of the world. And even MORE amazing, if you run the numbers our painfully high insurance premiums are substantially lower than the portion of the average salary which people in most developed nations pay for their healthcare. They pay the equivalent in taxes of $700 per month in insurance premiums.

    >>I have no problem with keeping health care in the private sector, and would like to see universal health coverage be a given in this nation, but it won’t work right until the for-profit aspect is removed.<<

    You can’t have a private system without some element of profit built into it. It certainly needs to be regulated better and something needs to be done about the gaps, but it’s still a better system for those currently covered than any observable alternative.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Going after social security reform first was a huge error in judgement, < <

    Very true. He had less 'political capital' than he thought he did and should have waited until he'd achieved something bigger domestically before going after SS.

    >>but I understand that if anything, Bush’s “bold” move has inspired others in Congress to buck the trend and suggest even more sweeping changes (NOTE: usually termed “radical” by those who want to alienate the American public, just as the Demos are using the word “privatization” to describe voluntary choice). Tax reform should have been first on the agenda because it would solve all three critical issues – social security, medicare, and tax fairness – at the same time. Despite what you say about the FairTax, the marketplace will adjust to its implementation and force quick changes at the state level or risk a mass exodus of business interests and people. It’s easy to be a naysayer; it’s harder to offer up an alternative. You’ve done a disservice to your readers by doing just that. Plain and simple, the FairTax is the only viable solution as it has been analyzed to death and is now supported by a majority of reputable people who know about these things. Yes, it will be different and yes, there will be resistance, but the brave will see it through and a better, more competitive, and fairer America will result. It’s time to get on with it vs. Congress fiddling and tweaking everything to advance their own shallow self-interests. The FairTax should be adopted as is and soon.<<

    I agree that the general concept of the FairTax is a good alternative, I just disagree with the specific method of implementation. The rate is too high, and the system of more or less arbitrary rebates based on estimated incomes is a potential nightmare. It would be so much simpler to just exempt certain classes of goods from the tax and leave it at that.

    Dave

  • Merrill Bender

    This comment on the FairTax is way off and shows you have not read the whole package. You make the same old mistake as many others to busy to understand the package. You assume it is an add on sales tax to current pricing and that is absolutely wrong. You wrote;
    “or a ‘fair tax’ type system of federal sales tax. The system proposed by the actual ‘fair tax’ advocates is not a viable option as the tax rate is too high and their system of rebating hypothetical expenses for necessities is completely impractical”

    Several well known economists have calculated the effects of the Fair Tax on Consumer prices and the business supply chain. The consensus is that retail prices under the Fair Tax will first drop 20 to 30 % before you add on the National Sales tax portion of the Fair Tax. Consumers will pay close to what they pay now but take home 100% of their paychecks with no payroll tax or income tax deductions.

    The Rebate system is a standard number based on family size not a rebate of actuall purchases that has to be applied for. Just as the Social Security administration sends out millions of checks each month based on a Social Security number so will the “Prebate system” under the Fair Tax.

    Every family of 4 will receive a monthly check based on the poverty level of spending. That is a standard check of $479/Month; an individual would receive $178/m.
    The Fair Tax assumes 100% expenditure of food and necessities up to the poverty line and rebates the national sales tax on that portion. Therefor no one pays sales tax on the necessities up to the poverty line.

    Go to http://www.fairtax.org and read the FAQ section for more info.

    Or visit my blog at
    http://fairtaxreform.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    All the info I have on the FairTax comes from the FAQ page you refer to in your post. I don’t see anywhere on there an indication that it’s not a sales-type tax, and you don’t explain that either. If it’s not a consumption tax, what is it?

    And yes, I do understand the rebate system – that’s one of my main objections, since it’s based on the questionable BHS poverty figures not actual family expenses. Some families have to spend more on basic expenses for various reasons, from living far from work to ongoing medical costs to dietary requirements. None of that gets factored in. A simple market-based solution would be much better. Just exempt food, medicine, housing and other necessities from the tax. It would reduce the bureaucracy and get rid of the crazy and somewhat socialistic idea of paying rebates in advance based on an arbitrary and innacurate number.

    >>The consensus is that retail prices under the Fair Tax will first drop 20 to 30 % before you add on the National Sales tax portion of the Fair Tax. <<

    That’s so totally speculative as to be without any meaning. When have businesses ever responded to a drop in corporate taxes by lowering prices instantly? It just doesn’t happen that way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of the FairTax a lot – but some of the implementation is very poorly thought out.

    Dave

  • http://georgepope28@hotmail.com Georgio

    Dave..even though I don’t agree with all of your ideas I give you a hell of lot of credit for putting your ideas out there..one thing you have convinced me on and I was strongly for it is socialized medicine..your examples of other countries is the main reason..I don’t agree with the way Bush is fighting terrorists but I like your plan for going into the Sudan ..this is way overdue..I wish you would write an article on how to improve the United Nations..it is a disaster but I still think it is important to the world but not the way it is..Now that you have given your age could you also tell me what you do for a living…you are an extremely informed person and I respect you for that..wish you where on our side..

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    It’s forged. Forged. Foooorged. Sniff. Who wrote that comment? That’s pretty low. Sniff. Sniff.

    :-0
    (inside joke)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    LOL, Temple makes actual humor that’s funny. I am in pain, pain I tell you.

    Georgio:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    It’s nice to see someone paid attention to my socialized medicine article. I was surprised to find the statistics I did. I had known that wait times for treatment were longer in Europe, but I had not realized before writing that how badly underfunded hospitals were or what the implications of delays in treatment were for the fatality of many diseases. Really eye opening.

    I’m reading up on the Sudan/Darfur situation for a short article sometime soon. The situation isn’t changing in any meaningful way and isn’t likely to unless we take it on. The good and bad thing about Bush’s foreign policy is the unilateralism of it. It puts us at risk physically, financially and politically and makes us the target of massive criticism, but once we’ve committed to it we are in a sense liberated from conventional restrictions and limitations. At this point if we act unilaterally in Darfur we have nothing to lose – already being universally reviled – and much to gain. With our troops already deployed in Iraq, if we can pull any significant number out then Darfur is like a free prize in a sense because already being deployed in the region lowers the cost, and it’s so much less ambitious than Iraq or even Afghanistan that we can look good and do good for the people there with relative ease.

    I have no idea how to improve the UN. John Bolton isn’t going to do it, but until someone thinks of a good plan, putting him in there is a great way to annoy the UN, which I think has real value. The UN is corrupt, lazy and complacent and I think the Bolton appointment would at least put them on notice that we’re not pleased with them. The problem with the UN is that it’s become too institutionalized. It assumes it’s got a right to funding and support and its bureaucrats increasingly think of the UN as their primary allegiance rather than thinking of the UN as a representative institution which should look out for the interests of the member countries, not the UN itself. Fixing it is beyond me. As a world government it was poorly designed, and as an independent do-gooder organization it has too much pseudo-governmental structure. I’d probably scrap it and start over, but the problem is that I don’t think that in the current environment you could get everyone to agree to a new UN type body which worked any better. I think there’s a reason why every attempt at a world peacekeeping or government organization has failed.

    Shark and Temp keep ragging on me for supposedly thinking I’m an expert in every field, but I’m not one. I am a bang-up trivial pursuit player, though. If you read a book every couple of days for 35 years you do pick up some information on a whole bunch of subjects – at least enough to form an opinion and get a starting point for research.
    When I don’t know something but it interests me I read up on it.

    The only things I’m really an expert on are selected aspects of history and literature, because that’s where my zillion years in academia were focused, so the next time we see a posting on BC about the use of popular ballads for propaganda during the 100 Years War or misappropriation of wall-building funds in 13th century Yarmouth you’ll see me chime in with true expertise, since I can safely say that I’m the world’s leading expert in those two areas.

    Up until a couple of years ago I taught college history for a living, but I got tired of the bureaucratic hassles and departmental politics, so I decided to take a hobby and turn it into a business, becoming a full time font designer and eventually it started to do well enough that I now have my own little company with a couple of employees and 460+ fonts available for sale.

    And maybe I am on your side, Georgio – if not on every issue, in more ways than you might think.

    Dave

  • http://georgepope28@hotmail.com Georgio

    Dave ..thanks for answering everything..I appreciate it..

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Here’s an article that might be relevant to Bush’s legacy. Unfortunately the MSM didn’t cover it because nobody named Jennifer was involved.

    The London Times reports:

    “[T]he British government and the United States government had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in 2002, before authorization was sought for such an attack in Congress, and had discussed creating pretextual justifications for doing so.”

    “The Times reports, based on a newly discovered document, that in 2002 British Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a meeting in which he expressed his support for “regime change” through the use of force in Iraq and was warned by the nation’s top lawyer that such an action would be illegal,” he adds. “Blair also discussed the need for America to “create” conditions to justify the war.”

    You can click on the link to read Congress’s letter to the President for more information, as well as a complete list of the 88 Congressional members who are jumping on board with this inquiry.

    We now return you back to your regularly scheduled Crazy Jennifers programming.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    The link has a quote mark at the end of it, making it not work.
    This should work.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I’m not one bit surprised by that, Steve. I would have guessed that was the case even without evidence. I’m equally sure the Bush administration at least started running scenarios on attacking Iraq before 9/11. I know that the DOD and the CIA are doing this sort of thing all the time on hypothetical crisis points, but I’m sure the administration had a more than academic interest from day one.

    I realize that the thought that we cynically planned to invade Iraq and were looking for reasons to do it probably horrifies some people, and they’re outraged that the whole WMD thing was basically a convenient excuse for what the administration already wanted to do. I’m still convinced the administration genuinely believed the WMDs were there – the dishonesty is that they really didn’t care whether they were or not because WMDs weren’t their main motivation.

    That said, while all of this is horrific to some of you, it doesn’t bother me much at all. What deception there was in all of this was relatively trivial and sort of irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, and while I’m not one to excuse any and all misbehavior from the administration, a bit of deception in a just cause is why we have politicians as leaders rather than saints.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    well..it horrifies me..and does show something of how the Shrub’s Legacy may dwell in the annals of history..

    remember the last president was impeached for a personal piccadillo, and then being deceptive about it?…this one has shown to be deceptive about a fucking WAR for Bog’s sake…one that is costing us over 280 billion dollars and more than 1580 lives lost…that’s not even counting limbs missing and other injuries..

    scale and perspective are two of the Lenses with which History views event, eh?

    some other bits of the Shrub’s Legacy..
    bankruptcy law changes
    cuts in Medicaid for the poor
    going from budget surplus to record deficits
    changes in class action suit procedures and laws
    signing a Law for a single individual(remember Teri’s one time only Law? from not so long ago…nope, no “big government” stuff here)

    as well as one of my favorites..”nukyular”
    “but Mr. President, it’s pronounced nuclear”
    “ah know that Stretch, but that’s how ah say it”

    what does it say about the innate Character of a Man when he has been shown he is wrong about something, knows it and acknowledges it…but still does it anyway?

    /end twaddle

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>remember the last president was impeached for a personal piccadillo, and then being deceptive about it?< <

    Yes, and that was a silly waste of time and look at the results - zip.

    >>…this one has shown to be deceptive about a fucking WAR for Bog’s sake…one that is costing us over 280 billion dollars and more than 1580 lives lost…that’s not even counting limbs missing and other injuries..< <

    Deceptive, but not necessarily in a negative way. Deceptive like FDR was in getting us into WW2. And not necessarily lying, just picking what arguments to make so that his position would look stronger. That's the kind of deception you see in advertising and politics all the time. It's to be expected.

    >>some other bits of the Shrub’s Legacy..
    bankruptcy law changes< <

    Not something he initiated, but he did sign off on them.

    >>cuts in Medicaid for the poor< <

    Which came about because he was blocked from actually reforming the system.

    >>going from budget surplus to record deficits< <

    Unavoidable given the circumstances and the profligate greed of congress.

    >>changes in class action suit procedures and laws< <

    I'm fuzzy on these, but weren't they changes for the better?

    >>signing a Law for a single individual(remember Teri’s one time only Law? from not so long ago…nope, no “big government” stuff here)< <

    One of the things I have a gripe with about Bush is his apparent willingness to sing absolutely anything Congress sends him. He'd sign his own death warrant if it appeared on his desk.

    All of thee things you mention are irritating, but they're not the kind of great achievements or failures a presidency is judged on. They're trivia when you come right down to it.

    >>as well as one of my favorites..”nukyular”
    “but Mr. President, it’s pronounced nuclear”
    “ah know that Stretch, but that’s how ah say it”< <

    All the bidnessmen down here in Texas say it that way y'all.

    >>what does it say about the innate Character of a Man when he has been shown he is wrong about something, knows it and acknowledges it…but still does it anyway?<<

    It shows that how he pronounces nuclear isn’t a major priority with him, nor should it be.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Yes, and that was a silly waste of time and look at the results – zip.

    Personally, I think it did yield the Republicans results. I think it gave them a lot of Democrats and liberals today who no longer want to work with or listen to Republicans.

    I don’t think it gave them the results they wanted, but it did give them results.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I think there are certainly some Republicans who aren’t much use to anyone and they’re the same group who were behind the attempts to impeach Clinton. Of course, there are people just as bad in the Democratic party, who’ll start a witch hunt on pure partisan hatred with virtually nothing behind it. The bad part is that these people appear to be the leadership of both parties in the House and Senate. The respectable people stay somewhat detached and thus don’t get major leadership roles. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Reid will start a witch hunt on pure partisan hatred? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, Biden? You don’t think they’re full of partisan spite?

    Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Strange that I can see the evil in Delay and Frist as well as the Democrat leaders, yet Democrats seem not to be able to see their leaders feet of clay.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    DeLay’s and Frist’s horrors are directed at the American people. Pelosi and Boxer have more gumption than most of their counterparts and direct their aggression towards the Republican agenda yes, but it is in response to what the Republicans are doing to the American people.

    Yes, I guess it is perspective, I know the aggression you’re talking about, and thank God it’s there otherwise there would be nothing at all opposing the right wingers. It’d be a mandate, a one-party state. Thank Goodness they are speaking out aggressively on behalf of the majority of Americans who do not support Bush’s SS plan. Thank goodness they are speaking out and calling for investigations and inquiries into Iraq, and the possibly impeachable offense of deceiving the American public for the purpose of war. Thank goodness they are speaking out against the Right’s erosion of church and state, the meshing of church ideology and the public school system, Thank goodness they are working to stop the Republican agenda! (and yes, I concede, not the Republican agenda that is promoted. Just the one actually being put into place).

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    And there you have it in a nutshell. I have no problem with them going after Delay or Frist or legislation which is clearly bad for the nation, but when they go after programs that are so clearly in the public’s best interest – as I see it, anyway – just because of partisanship, I find that enormously troubling.

    They also lost all credibility when they backed the Republicans on the Schiavo bill. If they aren’t going to draw the line on that ridiculousness I can’t take them seriously on much else they do.

    >> Thank goodness they are working to stop the Republican agenda! (and yes, I concede, not the Republican agenda that is promoted. Just the one actually being put into place).<<

    You see, that’s exactly the issue. The theoretical agenda turns into the weak, half-assed thing that gets debated in congress specifically because of their inflexible opposition to what ought to be fairly reasonable policies that deserve some open discussion. If it were not for their outrageous obstructionism, Bush might have the guts to submit a real SS reform bill, but their stated resistence to any elements of actual reform kills our best hopes before they even get formulated.

    IMO they need to pick their fights better. Going after Bush over the WMDs is a losing proposition, and I suspect they know it. They are as much at fault in that as he is and their glass houses aren’t stone proof. They should stick with what they’re good at, like defending public schools and workers rights, and let the Republicans do what they’re good at like fiscal and bureaucratic reform.

    A little bipartisanship sure would be nice to see.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    A little bipartisanship sure would be nice to see.

    I agree, and I concede some of your points. I also truly believe that in regards to most of the powerful Republicans in power (DeLay and Frist types), bipartisanship is NOT an option, THEY are the ones not interested in meeting halfway, so more power to the Democrats in D.C. who already take that into account.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I agree that there are prominent Republicans who aren’t interested in any kind of compsomise, but there are just as many Democrats who have become equally intractable.

    Dave

  • BillB

    An excerpt from the Times of London in line with SteveS’ link. This article has more info.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-523-1592724,00.html

    This should be Mr. Bushes legacy. If somehow all turns out well, it will be a blip on the radar. If not, this may be it.

    “The next contributor to the meeting, according to the minutes, was “C”, as the chief of MI6 is traditionally known.

    Sir Richard Dearlove added nothing to what Scarlett had said about Iraq: his intelligence concerned his recent visit to Washington where he had held talks with George Tenet, director of the CIA.

    “Military action was now seen as inevitable,” said Dearlove. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”

    The Americans had been trying to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks; but the British knew the evidence was flimsy or non-existent. Dearlove warned the meeting that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”. ”

    Dave
    >>That said, while all of this is horrific to some of you, it doesn’t bother me much at all. What deception there was in all of this was relatively trivial and sort of irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, and while I’m not one to excuse any and all misbehavior from the administration, a bit of deception in a just cause is why we have politicians as leaders rather than saints.<<

    I will refrain from playing to your sense of decency, since you’re a heartless realist and all, but are you at all concerned with our credibility? Wouldn’t you acknowledge that a lack of credibility may/will inhibit Bushes ability, to marshall support home and abroad, to reach these goals of which you speak?

    I would truly like to see how dead soldiers families would feel about your carefree take on this irrelevance, triviality and deception. I hope you’d forgive them for not being able to see the larger scheme of things.

    Oops! There I go again! Tryin’ to pull those heartstrings where they ain’t.

    While I’m not looking for a saint to run this country, just about anyone else has a slam dunk chance of displaying more integrity than this cast of characters.

    Dave – You’re obviously a well read, intelligent and thoughtful guy. But dude! Who hurt you! You are one harsh guy!

    Your welcome for the backhanded compliment.

    It’s kind of funny – I’m the moral/spiritual liberal and you’re the Godless (at least that’s how it seems) conservative.

    I don’t want to presume a lack of religion/belief in God or whatever on your part but man!

    To be fair, there certainly is a sense of morality in your health care ideas as well as some of your other points.

    Yea, I know, you likely feel that there’s a definite sense of morality or rightness if you prefer, in sacrificing American lives (not to mention the rest) at the alter of middle eastern democratization to quell both religious fundamentalism and social injustice.

    I agree with your aims, disagree with your approach.

    Bill

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>I will refrain from playing to your sense of decency, since you’re a heartless realist and all, but are you at all concerned with our credibility? Wouldn’t you acknowledge that a lack of credibility may/will inhibit Bushes ability, to marshall support home and abroad, to reach these goals of which you speak? < <

    Ultimately the only measure of credibility is success. If we bring Iraq under control and leave a viable government there, then we have credibility.

    >>I would truly like to see how dead soldiers families would feel about your carefree take on this irrelevance, triviality and deception. I hope you’d forgive them for not being able to see the larger scheme of things.< <

    Are we doing good in Iraq? Will the world be a better place for the sacrifices made? Those are the questions to be asked. The methods which got us there aren't really relevant at this point.

    >>While I’m not looking for a saint to run this country, just about anyone else has a slam dunk chance of displaying more integrity than this cast of characters.< <

    That suggests a lack of experience or a short memory. Do you remember Nixon? Or even some of the shennanigans of the Reagan years? There are different kinds of integrity. Loyalty to leaders, loyalty to a cause, loyalty to the country - these all have value. A person can be motivated by one of these and have great integrity in that context, and yet seem duplicitous when judged in a different context or on different priorities.

    >>Dave – You’re obviously a well read, intelligent and thoughtful guy. But dude! Who hurt you! You are one harsh guy! < <

    Not harsh, realistic. And I got this way by studying history. When I look at contemporary politics I look at them from the perspective of a historian and judge our actions the way they're likely to be judged in the future, and for the future success matters enormously more than methods.

    >>Your welcome for the backhanded compliment.< <

    Well,thank you, I guess.

    >>It’s kind of funny – I’m the moral/spiritual liberal and you’re the Godless (at least that’s how it seems) conservative.

    I don’t want to presume a lack of religion/belief in God or whatever on your part but man!< <

    You're exactly right. Religion doesn't feature in my philosophy, though morality does.

    >>Yea, I know, you likely feel that there’s a definite sense of morality or rightness if you prefer, in sacrificing American lives (not to mention the rest) at the alter of middle eastern democratization to quell both religious fundamentalism and social injustice.<<

    I didn’t entirely support the war in Iraq before it got started, but once we’ve committed to that particular approach to our problems in the Middle East we absolutely have to follow through to the bitter end.

    In reflection, I also think that the alternative to taking military action in the region would have been what I call the ‘Fortress America’ option – which would have been the Patriot Act raised to a higher order of magnitude. Completely closed borders, high levels of internal security and pretty radical changes in law enforcement and investigative procedures. All of which would have cost us a lot of our liberties. I don’t know how this factored into the decision to make war in the Middle East, but when faced with the choice of creating a virtual police state here in the US and taking the war to the terrorists I think I’d have to go with making war.

    Dave

  • BillB

    >>Ultimately the only measure of credibility is success. If we bring Iraq under control and leave a viable government there, then we have credibility.< <

    Are you that confident that the Iraq situation will be hashed out one way or another in time for Bushes agenda?

    I also have to differ in that regardless of how the Iraq question turns, our intelligence gathering, analyzing, and administration proclamations relating to intelligence will be considered questionable for years to come. Especially if it becomes more and more indisputably that the intel was massaged to fit the policy.

    Everyone is not a results oriented historian.

    >>Are we doing good in Iraq?< <

    You obviously think so. With so little being reported on (you know, journalists not straying very far from the reservation and all) I couldn't possibly be sure. Once again I'd like to think so, but this operation has been so botched to this point I'd have to disagree with you.

    >>Will the world be a better place for the sacrifices made?< <

    Once again, remains to be seen. It would sure have been nice if this policy was above board so we all knew what we were getting into. I suspect (as alluded to in a different post of mine) if the administration were truthful with the American people about it's true agenda this dog wouldn't hunt.

    If this were the case, and the public (as I suspect) were overwhelmingly against invading Iraq as an approach to neutralizing terrorism in general, sans the more and more ridiculous WMB and 9/11 connection claims, would you dismiss the will of the people as not knowing what's in their own best interest? Of course you would.

    If the argument isn't persuasive enough to sway the will of the people than just possibly it's not worthy of the peoples committment.

    I know, history is littered with examples of deceitful leaders. Doesn't make it right. You can point to examples of your "ends" justifying the "means" and producing results you're pleased with, but without having taken other paths how could you possibly know what may have resulted if other methods were followed?

    Recorded history is only a partial and often painfully sterile rendering of the past. The devil is in the details and often isn't written about.

    >>Loyalty to leaders, loyalty to a cause, loyalty to the country – these all have value.< <

    Or maybe a Party?

    >>A person can be motivated by one of these and have great integrity in that context, and yet seem duplicitous when judged in a different context or on different priorities.< <

    Of course you're right, but are they all equally noble?

    >>When I look at contemporary politics I look at them from the perspective of a historian and judge our actions the way they’re likely to be judged in the future, and for the future success matters enormously more than methods.< <

    You discount the roll of methodology in the texture and aftermath of success. I suspect one could draw a relationship between malicious methods and bittersweet success.

    To use Iraq history, when the Baathists successfully gained control of the country and enforced their brutally repressive measures, Iraqi Shia were hardly impressed with this success.

    I don't mean to imply that history can not tell this particular tale but that by its very nature it limits and can not tell all and may often leave out significant consequences.

    Sometimes the relationship between action and consequence may not even be recognized and therefore not recorded.

    IMHO your reliance on results without much if any concern for methods is at best problematic and at worst borderline immoral. I say this knowing full well that you believe you're serving a higher morality.

    I can not swallow the notion of violating ethics and morality in pursuit of morality.

    >>but once we’ve committed to that particular approach to our problems in the Middle East we absolutely have to follow through to the bitter end.< <

    I'm not one who believes we should cut and run. We owe it to the Iraqis to do everything in our power to stabilize the country. I'm not so sure we'll succeed, but for their sake and our sake I hope so.

    I may differ with you on what course to take from here and where the "bitter end" is.

    >>…but when faced with the choice of creating a virtual police state here in the US and taking the war to the terrorists I think I’d have to go with making war.<<

    I have to believe there is/was an in between. From reducing toward eliminating our dependence on oil to developing renewable energies to securing our nuke and chemical facilities to inspecting more than 4% of our imported cargo containers, to sanctions against repressive regimes that are awash in wealth while their less fortunate countrymen are mired in poverty that foments fundamentalism.

    Oh but the political will is not there! The political will is what the public says it is. Make that apathetic public.

    Bill

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Are you that confident that the Iraq situation will be hashed out one way or another in time for Bushes agenda? < <

    Is this even a meaningful question? There's no time schedule for the War on Terror. It goes on until it's won, be that on Bush's watch or in the future. It's not something you can expect to resolve overnight.

    >>I also have to differ in that regardless of how the Iraq question turns, our intelligence gathering, analyzing, and administration proclamations relating to intelligence will be considered questionable for years to come. Especially if it becomes more and more indisputably that the intel was massaged to fit the policy. < <

    There's no question that there have been multiple intelligence failures, but that's a problem that has now been identified and can be addressed. Better to have discovered the problems so they can be dealt with than to let them continue.

    >>>>Are we doing good in Iraq?< <

    You obviously think so. With so little being reported on (you know, journalists not straying very far from the reservation and all) I couldn't possibly be sure. Once again I'd like to think so, but this operation has been so botched to this point I'd have to disagree with you.<<

    There's more info out there than you realize. I'm able to find news direct from Iraq which isn't filtered or controlled by the US media or the military. There are scores of Iraqi bloggers, Iraqi newspapers translated into English and lots of other sources. You can find out virtually anything you want to know. There are also good sites which collect all this info and distill it for you. The best is http://www.chrenkoff.com

    >> I suspect (as alluded to in a different post of mine) if the administration were truthful with the American people about it’s true agenda this dog wouldn’t hunt.< <

    So you think the American people wouldn't support a war designed to remove terrorism from our shores and focus it in a foreign land while we liberate 26 million people from a brutal dictator. Well, maybe they wouldn't if they're selfish and apathetic. It's certainly harder to explain and harder to sell than WMDs.

    >>If this were the case, and the public (as I suspect) were overwhelmingly against invading Iraq as an approach to neutralizing terrorism in general, sans the more and more ridiculous WMB and 9/11 connection claims, would you dismiss the will of the people as not knowing what’s in their own best interest? Of course you would. < <

    There's no question people don't know what's in their own best interest. That's what the entire political strategy of the Democratic party is built on. That's why we have a federal republic and not a mob-rule democracy.

    Have you considered what the alternative to the strategy Bush has taken would be? I think about it a lot and I can't imagine an alternative strategy which wouldn't have produced far worse results for the US.

    >>If the argument isn’t persuasive enough to sway the will of the people than just possibly it’s not worthy of the peoples committment.< <

    But why make the complex argument when you have what you believe to be a legitimate and easy to explain argument you can use instead. This is why I'm positive Bush believed there were WMDs in Iraq - or at least enough WMD technology and hardware to justify the invasion. Think about it logically, what person with any common sense would think Saddam didn't have WMDs? He was doing everything he could to make it look like he did.

    >>I know, history is littered with examples of deceitful leaders. Doesn’t make it right. < <

    There's deceitful and there's deceitful. Full outright fraud is certainly unacceptable, but choosing what bits of top secret data you release to the public so you can create an effective presentaion isn't the same thing at all.

    >>You can point to examples of your “ends” justifying the “means” and producing results you’re pleased with, but without having taken other paths how could you possibly know what may have resulted if other methods were followed?< <

    But you can't go back and take those other paths. What's past is past. You can't go back and replay it, and once a course is chosen you have to do the best you can with it.

    >>>>Loyalty to leaders, loyalty to a cause, loyalty to the country – these all have value.< <

    Or maybe a Party?<<

    Party loyalty generally seems like a poor choice for the nation as a whole. Look at all the damage it's doing today when our two parties so clearly need to be torn down and rebuilt on different lines. Loyalty to principle seems like a better course to follow.

    >>To use Iraq history, when the Baathists successfully gained control of the country and enforced their brutally repressive measures, Iraqi Shia were hardly impressed with this success. < <

    Sure they were. They learned to shut up and play along if they wanted to live.

    >>IMHO your reliance on results without much if any concern for methods is at best problematic and at worst borderline immoral. I say this knowing full well that you believe you’re serving a higher morality. < <

    But in this case the methods aren't suspect and the objectives are highly desirable, so where is the problem?

    >>I can not swallow the notion of violating ethics and morality in pursuit of morality.< <

    Huh?

    >>I’m not one who believes we should cut and run. We owe it to the Iraqis to do everything in our power to stabilize the country. I’m not so sure we’ll succeed, but for their sake and our sake I hope so.

    I may differ with you on what course to take from here and where the “bitter end” is.< <

    The problem is that we have too many people in America who are willing to call it quits before the job is done, and that will ultimately leave the situation worse than when we started. Once we commited to involvement in Iraq we obligated outselves to leave the country better when we are done than it was when we started.

    >>I have to believe there is/was an in between. From reducing toward eliminating our dependence on oil to developing renewable energies to securing our nuke and chemical facilities to inspecting more than 4% of our imported cargo containers,< <

    Most of these things are happening or being accomplished by some means or other.

    >> to sanctions against repressive regimes that are awash in wealth while their less fortunate countrymen are mired in poverty that foments fundamentalism.<<

    Except that this hasn’t worked in the past. Iraq is a prime example of how it hasn’t worked. Iran is an even better one.

    Dave

  • BillB

    “”>>Are you that confident that the Iraq situation will be hashed out one way or another in time for Bushes agenda? < <""

    >>Is this even a meaningful question?< <

    To digress,

    Me
    Wouldn't you acknowledge that a lack of credibility may/will inhibit Bushes ability, to marshall support home and abroad, to reach these goals of which you speak?

    You
    Ultimately the only measure of credibility is success. If we bring Iraq under control and leave a viable government there, then we have credibility.

    Me
    Are you that confident that the Iraq situation will be hashed out one way or another in time for Bushes agenda?

    You
    Is this even a meaningful question? There's no time schedule for the War on Terror. It goes on until it's won, be that on Bush's watch or in the future. It's not something you can expect to resolve overnight.

    OK. I'm speaking in the context of GB securing the legacy you allude to. There is a limit on his Presidency, thus if credibility plays into his ability to persuade, and as you correctly point out there is no time limit on fighting terrorism and stabilizing Iraq, thus diminishing the chances of securing credibility in the next 3 or so years through such accomplishments, will he be crippled in the pursuit of his agenda?

    I can't help but wonder if some snake oil salesman type baggage from Iraq war misgivings is already weighing down his persuasiveness in the SS debate.

    >>Better to have discovered the problems so they can be dealt with than to let them continue.< <

    I agree in principle but with no one being held accountable the likelyhood of repeating mistakes increases. Especially if there was intentional deception and twisting of intel to suit the policy.

    There is much about how pressure was applied to our intelligence agencies to cook the intel and yet the official line out of the CIA was that there was no outside pressure. What else are they going to say?

    While the White House was busy selling out the CIA there were many leaks from the CIA accusing the White House of undue influence.

    While I believe some structural issues may have been improved, it's still people who implement policy. People who are not held accountable.

    Isn't that supposed to be one of the big conservative/republican issues? Individual responsibility? Where is it?

    >>Huh?< <

    OK. We may be on different pages here. and maybe I wasn't very clear.

    I'm saying that lies, deceptions, distortions (violation of ethics and morality) that were given to justify and rally support for the war, in pursuit of our security, a democratic foothold and reduced fundamentalism in the middle east(an arguably moral pursuit)is difficult if not impossible for me to swallow. I understand your take, but something inside me can not accept it.

    Now I'm not sold on your take of our motives but that's another discussion. For the purpose of our chat I'll go with your sense of our motives.

    >>Except that this hasn’t worked in the past. Iraq is a prime example of how it hasn’t worked. Iran is an even better one.<<

    By no means are sanctions alone enough and I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers.

    Interesting that both are also examples of countries with repressive leaders that we supported.

    Bill