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pudge's Journal: Sunday Thoughts 25

Journal by pudge

Political Politics

I've talked about this before, but it is an issue again, largely because of Bush ads, so I'll say it again: John Kerry would not have allowed the troops to not get their $87 billion. Assertions or implications to the contrary are made out of ignorance or attempts to decieve.

I am not going to vote for Kerry. I like him, basically, as a man, but I disagree with him. He does annoy me greatly in his campaigns, because he is so nasty and hypocritical (like most of the rest of them). But I get even more annoyed at constant charges that are clearly false.

And how about all the nonsense where people thought John McCain was going to run as Kerry's VP? McCain simply said the truth: Kerry is a friend of his, and if asked, McCain would entertain the possibility. I disagree with Jamie McCarthy on many things, and if he ran for office I might campaign for the other side; but if he asked me to serve with him, I would certainly consider it, because he's a friend and a good man. But McCain is the co-chair of Bush's campaign in Arizona, for crying out loud.

There was a resolution on the floor of the House recently (H. Res. 557) that said, essentially, the war on Iraq has made the U.S. a safer place. If you vote for it, then you agree with the war; if you vote against it, you're unpatriotic. Someone needed to just stand up at the mic, say, "This is a transparent attempt to trap people, and rather than play this game, I think I'll go do some real work," and then just leave, and encourage others to do the same.

Kennedy slammed Bush on Meet the Press this week for "bribing" Turkey (our ally); I only wish Russert would have asked Kennedy if it was wrong for Clinton to bribe North Korea (our enemy).

Kennedy was asked about which world leaders support Kerry, and he dodged by saying Cheney hasn't given names of the energy task force, and then said "the CIA knows [the names of all of those countries] ... all you have to do is look at what happened yesterday in the demonstrations all over the world." The CIA knows which world leaders told Kerry they support him? How would they know that? And demonstrations in a country mean the leaders support Kerry? So Bush supports Kerry? Too bad Russert didn't ask those questions.

Somebody Call 9/11

Richard Clarke's book comes out this week. From what I've read and heard, he is an angry man writing an angry book, and much of it is mountainous molehills. For example, he tries to use an exchange with President Bush to show that Bush was trying to mislead people into thinking Iraq was behind 9/11/2001: shortly after the attack, Bush tells Clarke to see if there is anything to show Iraq was behind it, Clarke says they don't have anything like that, Bush says look, Clarke says OK, we'll look again.

How is this supposed to prove anything? Bush wanted to know if there was a link, he wanted him to doublecheck. This is bad? How? Three days later, Bush refused to take military action against Iraq, despite Wolfowitz's urging, so clearly, Bush was not prepared to strike Iraq without evidence they were involved with 9/11. Bush just wanted information, and finding there was none, acted appropriately. Where's the problem? It's much ado about nothing.

Bush-haters tell us that this is evidence Bush wanted Clarke to manufacture a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. But there is no reason for us to believe this, except that Clarke says he felt it. That's not good enough, unless you are a Bush-hater; but if you are a Bush-hater, then you don't really need any evidence of any kind anyway: of course Bush wanted to manufacture links, because he is Bush! And if you don't see it, you're naive! Yawn.

It is possible Bush intended to order Clarke to fabricate a link. Of course. But Clarke's recalling of the event does not come close to showing it, and it is irresponsible -- at best -- to say it does. Clarke's feelings about what was inferred do not constitute proof of what was implied. This is a fundamental truth.

Clarke does make some reasonable charges. Clearly, Bush did not do enough against al Qaeda. Clearly, the administration was more concerned with states than individual terrorist groups, thinking that the source of the power of terrorists was the real problem, not the terrorists themselves.

The question is not whether Bush failed; of course he did, because we did not go after al Qaeda, and they attacked us. But in this political season, the question -- raised primarily by the Bush-haters -- is whether someone else would have done it differently. I don't know if Clarke thinks Clinton would have done better, but that's what many people are saying, and it's not supported by the evidence.

First, let's note that it is a lie to say al Qaeda was ignored, as many do. Clarke himself notes several meetings he was a part of that focused on al Qaeda. However, al Qaeda was not enough of a priority. But did Clinton make it enough of a priority? Would Gore have?

Following the attack of the USS Cole in October 2000, Clarke was at a meeting with Secretary of Defense William Cohen, CIA Director Tenet, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Attorney General Janet Reno, and others, and only Clarke was in favor of going after bin Laden, according to a 2003 book by Richard Miniter, Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror, a book for which Clarke was a primary source.

According to many Bush-haters, Clinton's only reason for not attacking al Qaeda at the time was to not step on Bush's toes. Even if that were true, it doesn't mean much: if al Qaeda were really thought to be a threat to the U.S. homeland, there is no way Clinton, or any President, would hesitate to strike.

The point is that the Clinton administration did not go after al Qaeda following the USS Cole attack because they did not think al Qaeda was a clear and present danger to the security of the people of the United States. The arguments Miniter says were provided by the Clinton administration against attacking al Qaeda, treated al Qaeda like they were criminals that should be brought to justice, not people at war with the United States:

Reno thought retaliation might violate international law and was therefore against it. Tenet wanted to more definitive proof that bin Laden was behind the attack, although he personally thought he was. Albright was concerned about the reaction of world opinion to a retaliation against Muslims, and the impact it would have in the final days of the Clinton Middle East peace process. Cohen, according to Clarke, did not consider the Cole attack "sufficient provocation" for a military retaliation.

And then twice, Clinton rejected Clarke's attack plan.

This was not about whether or not al Qaeda did it, or whether they should act in the late days of the administration. SecDef Cohen thought what al Qaeda did didn't warrant military retaliation. And apparently, Clinton agreed, as he did not take military action.

Prophetically, Michael Sheehan, counterterrorism coordinator for the State Department, remarked to Clarke later: "What's it going to take to get them to hit al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon?"

Clarke has reason to be angry with both Clinton and Bush. We all do. Both of them failed to get al Qaeda, despite numerous warnings and opportunities. But the contrast of Bush to Clinton, as though Clinton recognized the threat and was prepared to do something about it, is false.

U.S. First

I am getting tired of Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation -- he often says stupid things, some of which I've mentioned in this journal before (he was the first I heard in the press to criticize Kerry for voting to leave the troops without funding) -- but he spoke to an idea I favor in his closing statements yesterday: Bush and Kerry should have a joint news conference affirming their common committment to the war on terror, to bringing down terrorists who want to bring us down.

This discussion was created by pudge (3605) for no Foes, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sunday Thoughts

Comments Filter:
  • He's a snowboarder! [nytimes.com]
  • Voting in the US is a strange ordeal. Kerry and Bush seem like identical people to me, yet maybe that's because I'm Canadian; not like we have any choice here either, really. I'm for a system that would allow anyone to run with equal opportunity for success in victory for each, and that'll never happen when you have elections funded by special interest. Instead of this giant money-to-burn campaigning we see in North America every time there's an election, let's spend NOTHING on elections and make it law. Ho
    • Voting in the US is a strange ordeal. Kerry and Bush seem like identical people to me

      FWIW, they are extremely different. They have nearly opposite opinions on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, education), economic issues (taxation, trade), military issues (Iraq, North Korea, homeland defense), and more.

      On every issue important to Americans, there are significant differences between the two candidates. I can't think of any issue where they agree with each other, apart from in ge
      • On every issue important to Americans, there are significant differences between the two candidates.

        That isn't accurate. In my opinion, they are far more alike than different. The only "important" issues that they differ enough for me to vote one way or the other is the war on terrorism and taxes. (That and my "rule" never to vote for any MA democrat).

        Example: Immigration. John Kerry [johnkerry.com] (under Earned Legalization). His immigration policies, while he (for obvious reasons) doesn't flat out SAY it, are p

        • That isn't accurate.

          I do think there are significant differences between their positions on immigration. I think Bush's policy is designed to help businesses who hire illegals, and no one else, not even the aliens, who would be forced to leave the country after a few years; whereas Kerry wants to grant permanent legal status to illegals.
          • Not really [whitehouse.gov]:

            Providing Incentives for Return to Home Country: The program will require the return of temporary workers to their home country after their period of work has concluded. The legal status granted by this program would last three years, be renewable, and would have an end. During the temporary work period, it should allow movement across the U.S. borders so the worker can maintain roots in their home country.

            Essentially, it provides unlimited resident status. In my opinion, their policies are

            • It would be renewable *once*. It's not unlimited, it's a maximum of six years. That's how everyone reported it at the time, and I've never seen it contradicted.
              • I've never seen any limitation expressed. Any citations?
                • CNN [cnn.com]: "The special status would last for three years and could be renewed once, for a total stay of six years."

                  Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]: "The Bush proposal would allow illegal immigrants who hold jobs to apply for three-year guest worker visas, which could be extended for another three years."

                  PBS News Hour [pbs.org]: "Initially, Luis Herrera says his family welcomed President Bush's recent immigration reform proposal, until they realized it was for another temporary visa of three to six years," and also [pbs.org]: "To fill those job
                  • Yeah, after I posted that, I found a few references.

                    I've given this some thought and I plan to give it some more. My initial thoughts are that this still doesn't qualify as a significant difference in policy.

                    Why? First, I'm not initially buying that it would be at all that simple. We can't get rid of these people NOW -- I can't see things being much different 6 years down the road. These people are already here with a disregard for the law. Without significant changes in current enforcement policy, t
                    • I've given this some thought and I plan to give it some more. My initial thoughts are that this still doesn't qualify as a significant difference in policy.

                      That's fair, of course, but I disagree. Your points are good -- and certainly, unlike what proponents of Bush's plan have said, it IS a form of amnesty, as you say -- but the bottom line is that we will not be giving permanent legal status or a path to citizenship for these workers, and Kerry would do both (IIRC).

                      I am against amnesty in any form, inc
      • > FWIW, they are extremely different. They have nearly opposite opinions on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, education), economic issues (taxation, trade), military issues (Iraq, North Korea, homeland defense), and more.

        I think of these things as mostly token stances to split the vote; like market share. The bottom line is that nobody knows what a politician is going to be like until they have held office for some time. What a politician stands for is fodder for voters, and n
        • I think of these things as mostly token stances to split the vote; like market share. The bottom line is that nobody knows what a politician is going to be like until they have held office for some time.

          Yes, and we have nearly two decades of Kerry as a Senator, and most of a term of Bush as President.
          • > Yes, and we have nearly two decades of Kerry as a Senator, and most of a term of Bush as President.

            I think it's worse than that. Situations of the office will demonstrate what will happen, and you can't judge the past for the future. We have no idea if Bush can hold a second term without blowing up the world or if Kerry would be any better than he was as a senator. It's easy to speak out against some perceived enemy; what's hard is making the enemy your friend.
  • Supposed to be doing the whole abstain for a week thing, but there is one thing that does lend credence to the position that the Bush administration took terrorism less seriously than the Clinton administration did. At least, prior to 9/11.

    The demotion of counterterrorism(Clark) to a non-cabinet level position. That's all I got.

    Of course, saying Clinton(or Gore) would've prevented it is beyond the ability of anyone to say. Even Clark didn't go that far(IIRC he said there would've been a better chance,

    • We have two contrasting administrations here, not three. Clinton faced terrorism attacks on the US also.

      Clinton kept Clarke in his cabinet but after an attack on the US (the Cole in particular which was after the first trade center bombing by Al Queide if memory serves) he didn't go after Al Queida as Clarke advised.

      Bush demoted Clarke and when the US was targetted, went after Al Queida anyway.

      I'm sure how someone can look at the whole picture and and say that Clinton was more serious about terrorism tha
      • Umm, so you're asserting the Bush administration didn't change at all post-9/11? That's a pretty scary assertion, and one I don't happen to agree with.

        I hope, for all of our sakes, that you are very, very wrong.
        • so you're asserting the Bush administration didn't change at all post-9/11?

          Bush did change, while Clinton did not.

          However much Bush changed, its worthy to note that the plan to remove the Taliban from power and go after Al Quieda was signed the day before 9/11.

          I'm awaiting the final outcome of these trials, but the attempts I've seen to exhonerate Clinton and dismiss Bush on this matter amount to straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

          Relevant quote from Clarke, "For Clinton Al Quieda was the top pri
  • There was a resolution on the floor of the House recently (H. Res. 557) that said, essentially, the war on Iraq has made the U.S. a safer place. If you vote for it, then you agree with the war; if you vote against it, you're unpatriotic. Someone needed to just stand up at the mic, say, "This is a transparent attempt to trap people, and rather than play this game, I think I'll go do some real work," and then just leave, and encourage others to do the same.

    The clearest sign to me that many of the great sta

  • Clearly, Bush did not do enough against al Qaeda. Clearly, the administration was more concerned with states than individual terrorist groups, thinking that the source of the power of terrorists was the real problem, not the terrorists themselves. The question is not whether Bush failed; of course he did, because we did not go after al Qaeda, and they attacked us.

    I am curious as to why you believe it that Bush "clearly" did not do enough against al Qaeda. And why do you believe that Bush was not concer

    • I am curious as to why you believe it that Bush "clearly" did not do enough against al Qaeda.

      Because al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and tens of thousands of lives.

      And why do you believe that Bush was not concerned enough with al Qaeda

      Because al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and tens of thousands of lives.

      Why do you believe Bush "failed"?

      Because al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and tens of thousands of
      • Because al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and tens of thousands of lives.

        Pedantic mode: ON

        Actually, it's ~2800 lives. [cnn.com]

        Pedantic mode: OFF

        Unless you mean the loss of a loved one equates to "destroyed"... But that's a different arguement.

        You are quite right. Bush was left standing when the music stopped. He gets the bulk of the blame. The questions we need to ask ourself is what have we done SINCE we learned of our vulnerability and who will make us SAFER in the lon

        • Actually, it's ~2800 lives.

          I didn't say tens of thousands of lives were ended, I said destroyed. Ask the surviving husbands, wives, children, etc. if they agree.

          You are quite right. Bush was left standing when the music stopped. He gets the bulk of the blame. The questions we need to ask ourself is what have we done SINCE we learned of our vulnerability and who will make us SAFER in the long run.

          But we need to look at what we did and didn't do, and where we failed, so we can learn from our mistakes.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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