Tuesday, April 11, 2006

If the Wine Is Sour, Through It Out

Last Tuesday night I rushed home from my Book Binding class at the U. After weeks of waiting my wheat paste had arrived and I would finally be able to attach the carefully selected cloth cover to the book I had built. I had cut and folded each pair of pages from the heavy watercolor stalk, built the two leaf signatures and allowed them to sit under weight over night. I had carefully measured and punched the holes for the thread and double stitched the text block together. I had used up the last of the ‘class issued’ wheat powder gluing the spine and had waited two weeks for the arrival of the bright colored silk threads I needed to create the hand sewn head bands. The wheat paste was supposed to arrive with the silk but the company from New York had sent starch instead of paste and I had had to wait anther two weeks for the right stuff. My wife, knowing how eager I was, had called me at school to tell me it had arrived. I had rushed home to hold it in my hand before heading off to the University. The instruction on Japanese book boxes seemed interminable. I have little interest in Japanese bindings or boxes, I wanted to get home and finish the “round spine” binding which filled my dreams with art books to paint and build.

When the professor released us to work, I asked some final questions about attaching strings to the head and foot of the spine and about placing extra PVA along the spine to insure the cloth would stick. Then I left. At home, I mixed the paste, searched up my biggest brush, and spreading the mixture across the precisely measured and cut cloth; began to cover my painstakingly prepared text block. Then reality met my dreams. I couldn’t get the cloth centered, I had trouble with the pasted cloth sticking to itself and not laying flat on the book. In frustration I abandoned the mounting method I had been taught and laid the book on the table to try and center the cloth and get it mounted smoothly. It did not adhere properly to the spine and in the morning the cloth had not shrunk to fit the cover as I had hoped. Ugly creases and wrinkles ruined my dream. At first I had told myself it didn’t look too bad – it would pass, but I fretted about it all day, and that night I ripped the covers off and started over again. The boards warped when I took off the cloth and I had to relax them with water then press them for a day to get them straight again, I bought and cut to size a new sheet of cloth, reattached the covers to the spine and let them dry over night; then sanded the paper hinges smooth. Friday night I was ready to try again. With the help of my daughter and wife I followed my teacher’s instruction the best I could, and the cloth hung straight on the spine. I pressed it flat with my bone folder and got it trimmed and tucked. It looked promising as I put it under pressure for the night, but in the morning the same ugly wrinkles had appeared along the spine, only a few this time – but my dream had been the perfect form I had managed on the small practice book I had made weeks before. I ripped the covers off and set out to build the whole thing over again. I have abandoned the old boards, cut new ones, glued and sanded, and prepared a new piece of cloth. Tonight I will take the carefully assembled components to my “master” and get his help. I took the class to learn to do this difficult thing right. I’ll keep you posted.

We all want the easy way. We dream of doing wonderful things then get bogged down in the difficulty of process, and all too often fail. We either settle or give up. We long for the easy way. Yesterday, I took the easy way on the *Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe*. As I sorted through the hundreds of folders that make up the “paper work” for Camp, I put in the new DVD of the movie and watched the adventures of Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy. Even in its movie form; C S Lewis’ masterpiece teaches the important lesson needed by a frustrated book binding student. There is no easy way to perfection!!! It would be so easy to settle for Turkish delight, but that is not the way to real happiness. True happiness and success in life, to paraphrase Norman McClain, comes through Art, and Art does not come easy.

I have been dismayed as the people of America lose their resolve in the war on Terror; as they think of abandoning Iraq and Afghanistan to the clutches of Islamic Fascism; the “cut and run” scenario that would leave “Narnia” forever in winter. Evil has always offered the easy way out but the “not one will be lost so give me all the glory” plan has been a lie from the beginning.

I am dismayed by elected officials that think that a vote on the floor of Congress declaring this or that about the illegal immigrants that have flooded our boarders will solve the problems that thirty years of feasting on Turkish delight has wrought.

I am dismayed by “educators” who think that more money and new strategies cooked up in University Education programs and Teacher Union discussion groups will replace hard work and high standards in the classroom.

I am dismayed that in the wake of hurricanes and other disaster, "spoiled children" demand more Turkish delight without being willing to rebuild and go on by their own sacrifice and the welcome service of others. They want every thing at once and perfection from the start.

In a nation accustomed to instant gratification, in a society used to having others do the hard work, where everything, as Saint Exupery explains in *The Little Prince*, can be bought in the shops; it is hard to get people to stay the course and do the difficult things necessary to build dreams into reality.

I have aspired to draw and paint for decades. At last I am beginning to produce some minor works that please me, my harshest critic. Now I have this dream of binding them in perfect “round spine” books. In my struggles I am often inspired by the words Irving Stone gave to Michelangelo in *The Agony and the Ecstasy*. The great artist had been struggling for weeks to cover Julius’ ceiling with the Apostles and appropriate designs. Discouraged, he went to the wine shop of a friend. The cup he was given had just been filled from a newly broached cask. One sip and he spit it out. The host was offended. “I can’t drink this swill,” the artist informed the innkeeper. The man took a cup himself, tasted the wine, and smashed the cask. As the sour wine gushed out onto the floor, he shouted, “If the wine is sour throw it out.” Michelangelo went back to the Sistine Chapel and scraped his carefully made frescos off the wall and went on to dream, plan, and produce the work that will be his master piece.

Some years ago the Drama Department at our high school put on the musical *Working*. It was well done, of course, but there was one scene that bothered me. In it a young man was singing as he pantomimed a steal worker lifting bars from one pile to another. The “worker’s” line went something like this, “If Michelangelo had had to paint the Sistine Ceiling a thousand times; even his mind would have been dulled.” As an aspirant to Art I knew the truth of this. In his life long struggle to become an artist Michelangelo had painted the Sistine ceiling a thousand times, many thousand times. He had spent months dissecting rotting corpses to master the details of human anatomy, and a life time copying the drawings of his masters to learn the craft necessary to place Adam and his Creator in the center of heaven.

Now there are some that will mistake, “throwing the sour wine out” for quitting. I can imagine the "Cut and Run" in Iraq crowd saying its time to throw the President out! But such “take the easy way out” types miss the entire lesson of mastery; one must stay the course to perfection through many a failed effort. What if Michelangelo had only painted the Sistine one time? What if Julius had fired Michelangelo after the artist had scraped his mess off the ceiling? What if Aslan had left Edmond to die on the stone table? What if I had placed my round spine binding on the heap of failed projects that litter my life? What if we had all accepted that Lie in the beginning?

Americans have hard choices in many things. The answer to the hard choices is never the easy way out.

26 comments:

Reach Upward said...

The easy way out is no way out at all (see here for a brief humorous view). But by all means, let's do it right, even if it takes a long time. If our current methodology isn't working, let's scrap it or rework it and do it right.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

We are not abandoning Iraq and Afghanistan to the clutches of Islamic Fascism, it is already there and growing strong under a misguided U.S. occupation. Under George Bush's nose Afghanistan has become the largest narcotics state in the world, and remeber, they kill you there if you reject Islam, it's the law. During a three year raging civil war in Iraq 39,000 have been slaughtered and many more still will be as the Bush plan cannot stop it.

The answer to the hard choices is sometimes very easy. You stumbled over it yourself in your rambling - and let's be honest, in the light of so many inconsistencies between reality and your Republican feality Lysis - irrelevant post. If the wine is bad throw it out! A lesson George Bush could learn about his Defense secretary. A lesson the U.S. public is learning the hard way about its ruling party, the GOP. Throw it out!

Strategos said...

A short time ago I was living in Brazil, in a slum town called Carapicuiba, on the outskirts of São Paulo. Almost every day my duties took me on a walk down what the locals called “O Marginal.” It had once been a beautiful river. As the slums grew up around it, and a large factory up stream polluted it, the river became contaminated with chemicals and garbage. The river became a serious health risk for the entire community. Those who could afford it escaped to other parts of town, but many had no money to move.
Soon a local politician was elected and promised to fix the problem by building a tunnel for the river to flow into and building a beautiful avenue, and parkway above it. The project began but it was slow, the construction had to build temporary muddy roads to get their equipment in. The people by the river grew tired of the mud and the noise, and the rich sitting comfortably on the hill, got tired of paying for the project.
Angry politicians began to blame the administration, and called for a change. Large cars with speakers on top roamed the streets, blasting loudly their slogan, “É tempo para uma mudança” (It’s time for a change.)
The blaming and shouting worked and a new administration was put in, they called a halt to the river project, leaving it half done, and abandoning the poor people along it’s banks.
Seven years later I walked along it’s banks, the River is now a great muddy scar through the town. The half finished tunnel often clogs with garbage causing the river to flood worse than ever, destroying homes and spreading disease.
If we loose our resolve in Iraq, if we abandon the poor people by the river because we are tired, or bored, the middle east will remain a great muddy scar on the world.

Strategos said...

I would also like to comment on the Chronicles of Narnia example. I love both the books, and the movie.

The movie emphasized, on part of the story that I think applies here.
Throughout the movie each of the children is faced with the decision to leave Narnia, or to stay and fight, each decides to stay but for different reasons.

This decision is emphasized more in the movie than in the book, perhaps because when C.S. Lewis was writing people naturally accepted the responsibility that each person has to come to the aid of those in need.

In the movie, Morgrim, the chief of the queen’s secret police, tells the children to leave, “This isn’t your war, all my Queen wants is for you to take your family and leave.”

Let’s examine why the children decide to stay and if we can apply it to foreign policy.

Lucy is the easiest to convince. She is friends with Mr. Tumnas, he is in trouble and she must stay and do all she can to help him.

Peter decides to stay after his first battle he saves his sisters, by killing the wolf Morgrim. Aslan knights him and Peter sees that he has the power and therefore the responsibility to help.

Edmund sees that his actions in the past have helped the queen and hurt the innocent people of Narnia. When he comes to repentance he realizes that he must stay to right his wrongs.

Susan sees that her family is staying, she knows that whatever happens in Narnia, she, and those she loves, will be affected.

We must stay and fight in Iraq, for all these reasons. Basic ties of humanity dictate that we must help our friends. We have a responsibility because of our strength and position to help. We must right the wrongs created by years of inaction. Also whether we like it or not we are in this, we can’t abandon our family who are already invested in the war,

Lysis said...

Flaccid;

If you’re going to try and deceive us; at least attempt a little finesse and suability. Theses bald faced howlers only trivialize all your comments.

First – Afghanistan was already the worlds largest exporter of opium – it has been since the days of the British Empire; this hardly happened under Bushes nose – let’s blame Queen Victoria – or better yet, let’s blame those who profit from and use drugs.

Secondly – Just last week the courts of Afghanistan released a Christian convert to Islam. Compare that to the thousands murder and tortured and to the women buried alive for seeking education and employment under the Taliban. Do you really thing your false sputtering can delude anyone on this but yourself. Where do you fish up this nonsense????

Thirdly - The thousands who have been murdered in Iraq by terrorists are less in number than those murdered by the Saddam regime in the same period of time, and more importantly, many have been killed by the same murderers who killed for Saddam when he was in power.

Here is a quote from today’s Washington Post Editorial page:

“The trial of Saddam Hussein achieved a rare and important moment of accountability this week. The former Iraqi leader acknowledged that he ordered the deaths of 148 civilians from the town of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against him there. “That is one of the duties of the president.” He concluded that he took only a cursory look at the evidence against the men and boys he condemned, all of whom were represented by only one lawyer at their “Trial.” That, he said, “is the right of the head of state.” He denied that of the victims were underage; prosecutors say 28 were minors. But he admitted the broad facts of the case against him. He does not deny that he is a mass murderer; he sees that as a perquisite of leadership. . . . it is no small thing when a former dictator in the dock looks the world in the face and does not pretend that his crimes did not happen, merely that he had the lawful power to commit them. It clarifies history against those who would later deny it. It assigns responsibility where it properly belongs. His admissions came a day after the special tribunal responsible for his prosecution handed up new and far broader charges against him: that he was responsible for the infamous Anfal campaign, the killing no of hundreds but of tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds, including by poison gas. One can only hope the coming Anfal trial – the first that begins to address the scope and magnitude of Saddam Hussein’s crimes – can achieve such clarity.”

Flaccid – your way would be to turn these countries back to the killers rather than fight them. Note; it is the Iraqi Security Forces that are daily improving in their fight against terror.

Finally - The Bush Plan is working – although, as this post indicates it is a hard job. Thank the gods that your limp ilk is not directing the show. Innocents would be dieing in the streets of America if your cowardly ilk had their “cut and run” way!!! I read you drivel against the “Bush Plan”; which you obviously don’t understand, as they don’t post the truth on the neo-lib web sights you rely on for your talking points; but neither you nor any of the “cut and run” crowed in the Congress or the Democrat party has ever offered any plan at all. I “double dog” dare you to come up with one concrete suggestion by any of the leaders of the Democrats. Murtha’s laughable “cut and run” to the borders inanity couldn’t even get a vote from the Democrats in the Congress; it was and is a farce. Didn’t the fool see how that it didn’t work in China/Taiwan, or Vietnam? Of course the liar Murtha couldn’t understand this; he is to busy running for office on to consider the truth!!

The hard choice is to stay the course. The only real course to anything but death is to deal with the difficult problems as they come along, and face the fact that there is no “royal road” to world peace in the face of Islamic terror. Flaccid, your pipe dream paradise will go down the road of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time”. Flaccid, your betrayal of America in the vain hope of finding the easy way out is the very thing the terrorists and tyrants are counting on. When your stumbling mob takes power, the lights may well go out in the West!

Strategos;

You comfort me a great deal. It is always encouraging to see that reason still exists in a world were lies are the stock and trade of the relativists seeking for votes. At this point, let me point out that C. S. Lewis’ fantasy land of Narnia is far more “real” than the neo-lib’s “let’s pretend” land of peace through weakness. The fantasy is not a land but the lies the Democrats gin up to grab their way back into power. They have indeed been taking lessons form the White Witch. The flip flopping of fools in any nation have always been the hope of tyrants and terrorists. The ease with which people loose resolve in the face of difficulty is the hope of “do nothing” politicians grasping for power in every generation. Read Flaccid’s post above to see how easily a few lies and terrorist acts have driven delusional those who will not take the time to master the truth nor do the work necessary to build success.

Anonymous said...

Lysis,

You are wrong. Check your facts. In the years prior to 2002 North Korea led the state department list of world's largest opium producer. Opium production was curtailed under the terrible rule of the Taliban. Afghanistan drug production has grown under U.S. occupation. It was once before the largest opium producer. Now, under the Bush plan, Afghanistan is again the world's largest narcotics state.

Yes people were ruthlessly killed under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Yes, people are still being ruthlessly killed, buried alive, sentenced to death in Afghanistan based solely on what they believe. It is part of the constitution of the country, the constitution that was written under Rumsfeld's woefully undermanned occupation. Look it up.

Next you wildly guess, "The thousands who have been murdered in Iraq by terrorists are less in number than those murdered by the Saddam regime in the same period of time." Prove it. The 39,000 slaughtered by Bush's choice to go to war, not counting the 3,000 plus coalition casualties is going to be a tough number to beat in just three years. Now if you want to compare Bush to the slaughters of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, then I think you would be definitely be in the right bloody neighborhood.

A subpoint to your last statement: You acknowledge a lot of the killing being done today is perpetrated by the people we went into Iraq to liberate the country from. It's been three years. The killings are accelerating and the country still lives in fear of these very people, plus the U.S. occupiers. You call this success!? That had to be a typo. I think you meant to say Bush's policy is a failure.

You accuse me of wanting to turn Iraq back over to these killers. I simply point out that Iraq is already in the hands of these killers - and so do you when make inconsistent "arguments" like the one above. The fact is that Iraqi security forces are daily getting better at fighting, fighting eachother and covering up their death squad activities in Sunni neighborhoods.

Finally, since you quote one op-ed I think it only fair that I do the same. I provide an opinion from one of those who did direct the show, Lt. General Gregory Newbold who spoke to Time magazine on April 9th.

[ The three-star Marine Corps general who was the military's top operations officer before the invasion of Iraq expressed regret, in an essay published Sunday, that he did not more energetically question those who had ordered the nation to war. He also urged active-duty officers to speak out now if they had doubts about the war.

Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who retired in late 2002, also called for replacing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and "many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach." He is the third retired senior officer in recent weeks to demand that Mr. Rumsfeld step down.

In the essay, in this week's issue of Time magazine, General Newbold wrote, "I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat — Al Qaeda."

The decision to invade Iraq, he wrote, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results."

Though some active-duty officers will say in private that they disagree with Mr. Rumsfeld's handling of Iraq, none have spoken out publicly. They attribute their silence to respect for civilian control of the military, as set in the Constitution — but some also say they know it would be professional suicide to speak up.

"The officer corps is willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, but not their careers," said one combat veteran who says the Pentagon's civilian leadership made serious mistakes in Iraq, but has declined to voice his concerns for attribution.

Many officers who served in Iraq also say privately that regardless of flawed war planning or early mistakes by civilian and military officers, the American public would hold the current officer corps responsible for failure in Iraq. These officers do not want to discuss doubts about the mission publicly now. General Newbold acknowledged these issues, saying he decided to go public only after "the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership" and in order to "offer a challenge to those still in uniform."

A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't — or don't have the opportunity to — speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important."

General Newbold served as director of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the war in Afghanistan. He left military service in late 2002, as the Defense Department was deep into planning for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy," General Newbold wrote.

His generation of officers thought it had learned from Vietnam that "we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it," General Newbold wrote.

The "consequence of the military's quiescence" in the current environment, he wrote, "was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, Al Qaeda, became a secondary effort."

A senior Pentagon official on Mr. Rumsfeld's staff said Sunday that the Pentagon leadership provided ample opportunity for senior officers to voice concerns.

"It is hard for the secretary and the rest of the policy leadership to understand the situation if they are not getting good, unvarnished advice from military commanders," the civilian official said.

While General Newbold said he did not accept the rationale for invading Iraq, he wrote that "a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake" because it would tell the nation's adversaries that "America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts."

General Newbold's essay follows one on March 19, by another retired officer, Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces in the year after Baghdad fell. General Eaton wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld's management of the war, adding, "President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once."

When asked about that essay, President Bush rejected the call to dismiss Mr. Rumsfeld, repeating as he often has that he was satisfied with Mr. Rumsfeld's performance.

On April 2, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who previously led the military's Central Command, responsible for operations in the Middle East, said in a television interview that Mr. Rumsfeld, among others, should be held accountable for mistakes in Iraq and that he should step down.

General Newbold has been quoted previously describing his concerns about Iraq planning, including in "Cobra II," a book by Michael R. Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine lieutenant general who is a former military correspondent for the newspaper. In the book General Newbold is described telling fellow officers that he considered the focus on Iraq to be a strategic blunder and a distraction from the real counterterror effort. He is also quoted as expressing concern about Mr. Rumsfeld's influence on war planning, in particular his emphasis on assigning fewer troops to the invasion. ]


My plan is to hold people accountable for the catastrophic mistakes they have made, not give them Medals of Freedom or promote them to the World Bank Presidency. Fire the Les Incompetents and sycophants of this administration and start listening to the generals; stop worrying whether to call them insurgents or enemy-combatants and get the gear to the troops they need; stop torturing detainees and concentrate oncapturing the terrorists that did attack the U.S. on Sept. 11; stop abusing the Constitution and U.S. intelligence assets whenever I feel like and get serious about using the resources justly; be open to all possibilities that may restore security to Iraq without stubbornly rejecting alternatives based on nothing more than the political persuasion of its messenger; stop desperately clinging to an undermanned, misguided, and incompetent occupation plan that is making violence and security worse (this cannot be called a succeeding plan in anyone's imagination). In short, I would do everything that George Bush has not done.

And by the way Lysis, despite your hot air and frothy flag draped rhetoric, doing this would not be "betraying America." It is just the right thing to do, fight this war COMPETENTLY.

My party will take power in Washington, and when we do there is no need to turn the lights out in the West. We are angry that your state voted Republican by the widest margin of any state in the last five Presidential elections but not so mad we would bomb the place.

(This last paragraph is having me tracked by Roberto Gonzalez and may not be removed. You see he acknowledged last week that the NSA program is being used to spy on communications wholly within the U.S. I will just add that to the "I told you so" file for Lysis.)

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

Flaccid:

In one thing I will admit you are right, under the Taliban the export of opium did drop. The Taliban was to busy producing dead bodies. Your own words, “Afghanistan is AGAIN the world largest narcotics state, just like during the days of Her Majesty the Queen!

Again, the people being murdered in Afghanistan are still being murdered by the Taliban, but at a far far smaller number than they were able to do when they were in charge. As for the Constitution of the country; you must admit the truth; the court constitutionally released the Christian believer. Your claim that people are being killed by the government of Afghanistan for what they believe is a lie!

Bush’s choice has saved the lives of thousands – probably tens of thousands. The killing that goes on there now is be the very terrorists that would love to kill you Flaccid, that Rumsfeld and Reberto Gonzalea you are still alive to spread your lies./

There is a difference between your op-ed and mine. You quote a disgruntled general speculating on what he might have done IF. I quote the words of Saddam himself. That is a difference evident to any thinking person.

There hundreds of out of power generals out there, some are no doubt upset they are not the ones in charge. Newbold is such a “has been”, a “never was”. Peter Pace, Newbold’s superior in every way, said today that he would not have done anything differently, given the same information, today. Newbold’s remarks are not worthy of any other counter.

You have voiced your vengeful anger at those of us who voted and will vote again for America’s future, but neither you nor your “party” have offered a single PLAN to do anything. All you can do is quote half truths and cast the aspersions of “has beens” and “never wases.” Save your bombs for the Islamic-fascists, once you and your crew get into power you’ll need them in the streets of your home town.

Dan Simpson said...

I have several problems with anonymous' proclamations. He seems to make a habit of mischaracterization of facts, and use of unsubstantiated rumor as fact. He also shows his true colors through many of his words.

Anonymous on War:

During a three year raging civil war in Iraq 39,000 have been slaughtered and many more still will be as the Bush plan cannot stop it.

I think this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what it might require to bring stability and freedom to a country. For one example, let us look to our own country.

Total deaths:
Union---389,753
Confederate---289,000

While I admit that our country is not perfect, there are plenty of flaws and shortcomings we could and have discussed, I believe that this country is a wonderful example of freedom for the entire world.

Anonymous on magnitude:


The 39,000 slaughtered by Bush's choice to go to war, not counting the 3,000 plus coalition casualties is going to be a tough number to beat in just three years. Now if you want to compare Bush to the slaughters of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, then I think you would be definitely be in the right bloody neighborhood.

First, arguing that Saddam's numbers couldn't be proven is a joke. No one would have argued those numbers before the war. It has denegrated into a political game here.

Second, lets again return to some actual numbers.

Stalin: estimates range from 20-43 million deaths.

Mao: estimates hang right around 1 million

Pol Pot: Estimated 2 million (out of a population of 7 million)

Now, does this mean that 39,000 is small beans and has no place to be discussed. Absolutely not. However, it does help us put things into perspective.

First, Bush is not responsible for the 39,000 deaths. That takes responsibility away from terrorists who set of bombs, and kill during this war. It would be tantamount to saying that Lincoln was responsible for 670,000 deaths. He wasn't.

Does Bush have responsibility, sure, he's the President. Is the blood spilled by terrorists on his hands, no, that is a ridiculous argument.


Anonymous on Rumsfeld/War decisions:


Fire the Les Incompetents and sycophants of this administration and start listening to the generals

Again, anonymous begs the question. He assumes that no generals are listened to. He assumes that all generals agree with the ones he can find to support his position. He claims that the only reason every single one of them doesn't say the same is that they are cowards worried more about their own promotions than protecting the soldiers under them.

It is one of the greatest of mistakes in political argumentation. Anonymous is assuming that if someone doesn't agree with his(or the generals he quotes) position on strategy, they are either liars, or fools. It could be that different generals see strategy differently. This is the opinion Paul Bremer came to.

I have heard him used as a 'proof' of the administrations failures and inability to listen. He, however, states clearly (as I have heard from his own lips) that while he had opinions about what should happen, what resources should be used, in Iraq, it was just that, one mans opinion. He freely admits that others, that had the same opportunity to see the problems, disagreed with him.

It will always be easy to find people who will back up a position trying to be argued. It is much harder to actually look at the others who disagree, and not dismiss them as fools and liars, just because they disagree. Though in the end, the ability to do so makes the discussion much more useful.

Anonymous said...

Dan:
Yes, I have read Anons' characterization of Lysis as a fool and a liar.
I have yet to see you comment on Lysis' characterization of Anon and myself as COWARDS and as TRAITORS!!!!

Are you lost to all sense of proportioality, rationality and bias????

Anonymous said...

-The PLAN to confiscate Saddam's WMD's
-The PLAN for "NATION BUILDING"
-The PLAN for "DEMOCRATIZATION"
-The PLAN to rid the World of TERRORISM
-The PLAN to stop Illegal IMMIGRATION
-The PLAN to save SOCIAL SECURITY
-The PLAN for HOMELAND SECURITY

What the country needs is not ANOTHER damn fool "feel good" PLAN that becomes merely a cloaking device for more cynical Administration OPPORTUNISM and CRONYISM.

VIRTUE is in the VERACITY of the leadership that brings ANY plan to successful fruition, and that LACK has disgraced America's intents today.

I think that it is the LACK of Virtue and Veracity that has corrupted, and will continue to corrupt, ALL Bush PLANS. Success is achieved by great inspired leadership, not by some preconceived notion of reality offered up in a PLAN!!!!

Lysis "double-dog dare" is particularly disingenuous -- tomorrow should be given to leadership of vision and veracity, hopefully not again to dishonest, self-interested, scheming, social PLANNERS.

Perhaps Democrats will do better than this present "sour wine" -- I lack the "prophetic divinations" that Lyisis will surely claim for himself. (guided by Divine Jupiter AKA Holy Ghost)

However, through 6 plus years, OPPORTUNISM is the ONLY CONSTANT I have found in the Bush Administration!!!!

Lysis said...

Anonomy;

As your Post implies, Bush has had a Plan.

The PLAN to confiscate Saddam’s WMDs – Saddam is in prison on trial for his life – That plan has already worked. If Bush had not acted, Saddam’s WMD and nuclear acquisitions would make Iraq’s look like a side show. Way to work the PLAN, GWB!

The PLAN for “NATION BUILDING” = Two new and allied nations in the middle of the Middle East. That plan worked why to go GWB!!!

The PLAN for “DEMOCRATIZATION” – Two new democracies where people voted for the governments they wanted and wrote and ratified their own constitutions in the face of terror and murder at a higher rate of electoral participation that we have in the US. Why to go GWB!!!!

The Plan to rid the World of TERRORISM; a work in progress through which thousands of terrorist have been killed or captured and under which many new allies from Afghanistan to Baghdad to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan, to Saudi Arabia and Dubai have been marshaled to continue the long and difficult war against terror. This is a hard one, but unlike the “cut and run” crowd, the President is still hard at the hard job. Way to go GWB!!!

The PLAN to stop Illegal IMIGRATION – Bush has a good one, the only real one on the table. It is being blocked by Democrats who want a campaign issue more than a solution, but we have a President how persists in the face of difficulty. Why to go GWB!!!

The PLAN to save SOCIAL SECURITY – Bush presented a workable plan, the Democrats killed it for political reasons, but once again Bush has not given up. Already seniors are benefiting from improved health care support, and personal retirement accounts are an all time high. We can be confident that Bush will continue to work for this important goal, the Democrats have offered nothing but politicized squealing. Way to go GWB!!!!

The PLAN for HOMELAND SECURITY – going on five years without an attack on the homeland while al Qaeda types have gone on record as recently as last week to attest that further attacks led by Zacharias Mouossaoui and others have been thwarted. Way to go GWB!!!

Flaccid you give an unsupported attack on the VIRTUE and VERACITY of Bush’s leadership – you present nothing to support your accusation but your misrepresentations. In fact you don’t even present any of those here. You disparage my “dare” to come up with something real because you can’t. Your shriveled little show is most unimpressive!

Democrats can not DO better than the present Administration until they come up with some thing to DO. They can DO nothing but flip flop – Flaccid you are the whole party in micro, and I mean micro! form.

Thank Jupiter that George Bush has taken the opportunities presented by the massive challenges that have faced the world these past six years. “I thank what ever gods there be for [his] unconquerable soul!”

Strategos said...

Anonymous Lyses has pretty much covered your claims about the war. I’ll just point out one more mistake you made.

Just a quick clarification, Jupiter is not the Holy Ghost, (at least not in a historical or poetic sense); The Holy Spirit is Jupiter’s wife, the Moon Goddess or triple Muse, that inspires men to love and search after truth.

You mention immigration, I have read Bush’s plan and I find it very reasonable, two of my normally left wing Left wing professors, (one of them has his Doctorate in Latin American Studies) agree with Bush and me. Agree that the Bush plan is reasonable and effective.

Anonymous since you claim that Democrats as “your party” what are the arguments against it? What’s the hold up? (You may have addressed this in an early blog, I don’t read them all, if so please point me in the right direction)

If your comments resemble those of Sean Hannity let me be preemptive,
His argument is basically, Bush’s policy rewards law-breakers with citizen ship. This is ridiculous because in actuality it changes the law, the immigrants broke, it is ridiculous to punish someone retroactively for breaking a law that was so unreasonable and unjust that it no longer exists.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I wonder if anyone saw this interview today. I don't know where Lysis reads the "news" that he does so I think he missed it. Either way, this is just another opinion saying that the Bush plan is unworkable and Rumsfeld should be fired from another coward, has-been, traitor of the United States - or as some called him, Commander of 1st Infrantry Division in Iraq and Senior Military Advisor to Deputy Sec. of Defense. Oh, and the article is from the same Washington Post that Lysis pointed to earlier.

The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the secretary of defense's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-05, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste noted that many of his peers feel the same way. "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," he said earlier yesterday on CNN.

Batiste's comments resonate especially within the Army because it is widely known there that he was offered a promotion to three-star rank to return to Iraq and be the No. 2 U.S. military officer there, but declined because he no longer wished to serve under Rumsfeld. Also, before going to Iraq, he worked at the highest level of the Pentagon, serving as the senior military assistant to Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense.

String of high-profile attacks
Batiste said that he believes the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he believes that the violation of another military principle of ensuring enough forces helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops.

His comments follow similar recent high-profile attacks on Rumsfeld by three other retired flag officers, amid indications that many of their peers feel the same way.

"We won't get fooled again," retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who held the key post of director of operations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 to 2002, wrote in an essay in Time magazine this week. Listing a series of mistakes such as "McNamara-like micromanagement," a reference to the Vietnam War-era secretary of defense, Newbold called for "replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach."

Last month, another top officer who served in Iraq, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he called Rumsfeld "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically." Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi army troops in 2003-04, said that "Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

‘We've wasted three years’
Also, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a longtime critic of Rumsfeld and the administration's handling of the Iraq war, has been more vocal lately as he publicizes a new book, "The Battle for Peace."

"The problem is that we've wasted three years" in Iraq, said Zinni, who was the chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, in the late 1990s. He added that he "absolutely" believes Rumsfeld should resign.

On Tuesday Gen. Peter Pace, who is the first Marine to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attempted to tamp down the revolt of the retired generals. No officers were muzzled during the planning of the invasion of Iraq, he said.

"We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds, and if we do not, shame on us," he said at a Pentagon briefing. "The articles that are out there about folks not speaking up are just flat wrong."

Lawrence Di Rita, a counselor to the Defense Department, disagreed with the retired generals' characterizations of Rumsfeld's style. "People are entitled to their opinions. What they are not entitled to is their own facts. . . . The assertions about inadequate exposure to military judgment are just fundamentally incorrect."

Lingering resentment
Other retired generals said they think it is unlikely that the denunciations of Rumsfeld and his aides will cease.

"A lot of them are hugely frustrated," in part because Rumsfeld gave the impression that "military advice was neither required nor desired" in the planning for the Iraq war, said retired Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, who until last year commanded Marine forces in the Pacific Theater. He said he is sensing much anger among Americans over the administration's handling of the war, and believes the continuing criticism from military professionals will fuel that anger as the November elections approach. He declined to discuss his own views.

Another retired officer, Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs, said that he believes his peer group is "a pretty closemouthed bunch," but even so his sense is that "everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out."

He emphatically agrees, Riggs said, explaining that he believes Rumsfeld and his advisers have "made fools of themselves, and totally underestimated what would be needed for a sustained conflict."


What a bunch of complete cowards! - Right Lysis! Never-was's! Traitors! You and Dan just keep ignorning them. The problems they talk about are bound to go away by themselves. No need to throw out the kool aid. Some people are saying that it is making them sick. Just close your eyes. Drink deep and dream of Ronald Reagan. It will all be over soon.

Dan Simpson said...

Herein lies your fundamental error, anonymous.

I am not ignoring them, I have always maintained that things could have, and could still be done better in Iraq. You seem to continue to ignor that fact.

You have also missed a major portion of my point. First, my denuciation wasn't of your calling Lysis a fool and a liar, the two of you will continue to toss things back and forth at each other, I don't care.

My point was that you call (either implicitly, or directly), all those who disagree with you fools and liars, including anyone who is in the administration, or who is in the military who disagrees with the military leaders you can find who are against the administration.

Interestingly, what I haven't seen you able to find, is quotes from these retired generals that support your most inflammatory attacks. Is Rumsfeld a bad boss, you have some evidence backing that claim. Did Rumsfeld make mistakes, and should he be gone, again, there is some evidence to that as well.

You see, I don't ignore when a man who has commanded troops in Iraq gives his opinion. You, on the other hand, only listen to those who bolster your claim. You ignore those who agree with what happens. You ignore those who wholeheartedly support the efforts, and actions, and decisions that are being made there. I assume you believe Tommy Franks to be either a fool or a liar, as you continually claim the things he says are not true.

That is the fundamental difference. I look at the differences in the opinions of top military leaders, and I see normalcy. People always disagree on specifics and strategy.

Could things be done better, probably, it would be hard for me to believe that everything has gone optimally from the beginning. Have people's opinions been ignored, maybe, but it is easier for me to believe that there were others who disagreed with them, and their opinion was given precedence.

Maybe it is easier for you to lump, rather than argue different people, but maybe it will do you good to take a stroll down memory lane (blog-wise). I have disagreed with Lysis as often as agreeing with him (sometimes heatedly). I have never made claims to wholeheartedly support Bush, and have never proclaimed the Iraq war to have been run flawlessly. I support the things Bush does when they are good, and attack them when they are not.

I'm sure it won't make a difference, because you are likely to either attack me for what I say, or ignore it on your next post, but I am NOT a republican. I don't like the Republican party. I vote for some Republicans and some Democrats, based on who I think is a good person, because each platform is crap.

Continue to lump everyone who supports action in Iraq as a fool, a liar, and a kool-aid drinker, continue on your personal fued with Lysis, I don't care.

I'll continue to judge your own comments, not label you with my personal feelings of Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, or Sean Hannity, even when you do agree with them, and spout the same drivel.

I don't think you are a traitor, but with comments like this one:

"Now if you want to compare Bush to the slaughters of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, then I think you would be definitely be in the right bloody neighborhood."

I do think you are a fool.

Lysis said...

Dannyboy:

Well argued, as always, whether you are in agreement with me or not. You have made much of what I would have said to the Child’s post above redundant. I will, however say a little in response to the whining of the “has been” generals.

Child;

1. I have not called any of these “sour grapes” traitors. If their vile bile gives heart to the enemies of America, you have judged their actions and their consequences for yourself

2. It appears that Batiste was speaking on CNN. Therefore, after leading him with questions to their point of view, the talking heads of that propaganda engine no doubt took his words out of context and twisted them to meet their agenda.

3. The only people indicating that “their peers feel the same way” are the grumblers desperate for support. In the mean time, they sully the reputations and honor of active military leaders by claiming that they are more interested in their careers than the lives of their soldiers. If such bitterness is not treasonous it is distasteful.

4. Newbold’s article is quoted again and again, as if it were representative of many speakers – but it remains one op-ed written by one “has been”.

5. Eaton is taken out of context. Perhaps “Child” will post the entire article or at least read it, rather than taking one line out of it because it blusters CNN.

6. Zimm, out of the loop since the 1990’s, can believe what he pleases – he doesn’t know anything.

7. I was pleased that the Child did post General Pace’s account of what actually happened. Something Pace has some credibility on – as he was actually there.

8. Lawrence Di Rita – who I don’t know, has at least the advantage of being a counselor to the Defense Department at this time, not some “has been” trying to sell books on CNN’s book talk.

9. As for General Wallace Gregson – his view from the Pacific is hardly comparable to that or General Tommy Franks; who has been unabashed in his support for Rumsfeld and President Bush.

The “Sack Rumsfeld” campaign is the admitted central plank of the Democrat 2006 campaign. The sour grapes and sour wine they press is the strategy of losers seeking to regain power at any cost. Since Flaccid and the Child only drink deeply at the vinegar jar, there is little chance of any objectivity of taste there. Thank goodness – as Dannyboy point out; there is some vintage stuff out there for those with a more discriminating palate.

That every thing has not gone perfectly is the nature of any difficult project. Those who harp on the problems soon give up in failure and go on to other dreams which never a success in the real world.

On a final note: I add that none of the “has beens, or “never wases” whose bitter bile the Child has sighted above have yet put forward anything but complaint. In this world there are those who gripe and those who do. Rumsfeld and Bush will always have the advantage of being doers not gripers. In the end their works will be real and the sour grapes squeezed by the “easy way” crowd, so much stain on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Here those never was's and non-doer's go again. Maybe you saw this complaining from another lazy, good for nothing, traitorous, coward who is not one of the doers of the world. Some people - obviously those whose only hope is to pray for the failure of America - called him Gen. Charles Swannack, Commander of Elite the 82nd in Iraq. He says Rumsfeld shoud resign, Bush should fundamentally change his plans, and honesty and competency should be restored to strategy in Iraq. But come on, what the hell does he know!? Just a bunch of sour grapes. Read if you can stomach these cowards:

Washington, April 14 -- The commander who led the elite 82nd Airborne Division during its mission in Iraq has joined the chorus of retired generals calling on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to leave the Pentagon.

"I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him," retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, told CNN's Barbara Starr on Thursday.

Swannack is the second general who served in Iraq under Rumsfeld to call for him to resign.

Retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste -- who led the 1st Infantry Division in northern Iraq in 2004-2005 -- called for Rumseld's resignation during an interview on CNN Wednesday.

He also suggested other changes among the top brass at the Pentagon.

"I think we need senior military leaders who understand the principles of war and apply them ruthlessly, and when the time comes, they need to call it like it is," he told CNN.

Former U.S. Central Command chief Anthony Zinni, former Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold also have called for Rumsfeld to step down.

Swannack criticizes Rumfeld's management style.

"Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there," Swannack said in the telephone interview.

"And I believe he has culpability associated with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and, so, rather than admitting these mistakes, he continually justifies them to the press ... and that really disallows him from moving our strategy forward."

Swannack, who served more than 30 years in the Army, said part of the problem at the Pentagon is Rumsfeld's system of promoting senior leaders.

"If you understand what Secretary Rumsfeld has done in his time in the Pentagon, he personally is the one who selects the three-star generals to go forward to the president for the Senate to confirm."

Swannack also criticized the way the war was being run before he retired.

In May 2004, while still on active duty, Swannack told the Washington Post that he thought the United States was losing strategically in Iraq. He has maintined that success in Iraq has been hampered by Rumsfeld's meddling and the administration's unwillingness to the face facts.

Lysis said...

Child:

I see you did find another “has been”, and I am glad we agree about his character. I wonder what Swannack means by “applying the principles of war. . . ruthlessly.” What ever he means, I’ll bet is has something to do with why Sec, Rumsfeld’s didn’t recommending Swannack for his third star. (Major Generals only get two).

You and CNN will probably be able to drum up a few more sour grapes to diss on the Rumsfeld: (it is the Democrat’s PLAN between now and November) but I’ll put my trust in Tommy Franks – (he has four stars) and with Myers and Pace, (They each have four stars too.) I guess if we were playing cards we would say you and CNN are holding the LOOSING hand.

Dan Simpson said...

Anonymous, again you are following the same pattern. I think you have given good quotes, that should lead to questions. I don't think it a coincidence that there are so many high ranking military leaders who are unhappy.

However, and this is a big however, I think you are misusing the quotes to try to prove your point, which they do not do.

You quote Swannack:

""And I believe he has culpability associated with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and, so, rather than admitting these mistakes, he continually justifies them to the press ... and that really disallows him from moving our strategy forward."

This quote would say, if it is quoted correctly which I assume it is, that this man agrees with the strategy, and that is what upsets him. That strategy, which he agrees with, is not moving forward.

So, how does this support your theory that the strategy is fundamentally flawed.

Lysis said...

Note of Interest:

There are over 9,000 retired generals in the U.S. Even if you throw in Clinton’s general, that Clark guy, who has been running for president for 10 years, that means that CNN and the Democrats could only shark up 7 sour grapes. Sounds like a pretty good vintage for Rumsfeld supporters to me.

By the way these seven “has beens” are entitled to their own opinions of the President and the Secretary of Defense, and they are free to speak them. That’s the wonder of the America our service men and women secure. Just remember what happened to Saddam’s Generals if they disagreed with him, even if they were members of his own family. Puts the monster, so many on the anti-war front are nostalgic for, a little more in perspective doesn’t it?

a quiet listener said...

there were plenty of zone leaders who weren't chosen to be AP in my mission. only a one ore two got really upset about it. these only saw problems in the existing AP's. one such was a companion of mine. he had the nerve to tell the president that he thought he had been wrong in choosing those AP's and not himself. the president told him politely that he was the one receiving revelation and such positions shouldn't be sought after etc.

these upset generals are behaving like children. i trust the president's decision.

Lysis said...

A Quiet Listener:

One such grumbling underling, as you describe above, is Wesley K. Clark.

Clark, who has been running for president ever since the 2000 campaign and is often pushed by the media as the perfect Democrat candidate because he has “military” credentials; was Commander-in-Chief of US. Forces in Europe and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 1997 – 2000. It was on Clark’s watch that tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of Yugoslavs of all faiths were murdered, during which a “real” civil war tore that country apart and during which the U.S. was committed to a “no exit strategy” plan to maintain peace and nation build in Europe.

I have nothing against the !eventual! U.S. intervention in Europe that has no doubt saved the lives of millions, only with Clark’s foot dragging and incompetence, followed by his now intense criticism of those who are involved in even more difficult tasks in the Middle East. It is worth noting that as of April 12, 2006 there were still 18,000 U.S. Troops in Kosovo. If they left the blood bath that would ensue there would make the terrorist attacks in Iraq look like a day in the park.

It is so easy to criticize; so politically “savvy” to point out the difficulties faced by those who are working while one sits on the side lines and enjoys the selective amnesia of the neo-lib press concerning the failures of their own actions.

For those who now fault Donald Rumsfeld for his handling of the Defense Department let me stir a few memories. Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Mogadishu, Carter tricked into a Nobel Peace Prize while North Korea developed nuclear technology, terrorist attacks on New York’s Trade Center and US embassies in Africa, and the bombing of the USS Cole. One could go on, but the point is made. There are always difficult challenges for those how are wiling to take responsibilities.

The controversy stirred by the Democrats seeking political power and the Media that support them over the competence of Sec. Rumsfeld can now be dumped on the pile of failed attacks against this Administration ranging from NSA wire tapping to Katrina response to Jack Abramoff to “How can one remember them all”? It was interesting to me that the “giant” anti Immigration Reform demonstration held Saturday in LA., (originally predicted to draw 100,000 demonstrators) brought in about 2,000 Mexican Flag waving students and professional protestors; most calling for turning the South West over to Mexico. Wouldn’t that solve the Problem!!! (Child – that was sarcasm.)

Lysis said...

In case anyone is interested, I finished my book on Tuesday night. My professor helped me and reveled all my mistakes. We went on to finish it off. It looks great, although the eye of the maker can always see the flaws. I have since produced another that is in the drying cradle right now. It promises to be far better still. Hard work and practice – the learning and attending to detail, all these things do pay off – if we take the chance to master them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lysis,
I was trawling through comments about “The Agony and the Ecstasy” (If the wine is sour, throw it out" (Not "through" as you wrote in your blog - Tsk! Tsk! When will you learn the Queen's English).
I must say that we have had similar cultural input. I loved the Narnia series as a child but I wouldn't want to live there. “The Agony and the Ecstasy” was a dog of a movie but we both saw it. Its star, Charlton Heston was one of my favourite actors in the 60's and 70's. Then I discovered what a rifle-wielding foaming at the mouth Republican he was. (He seemed better than that in Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man). When Mike Moore got stuck into him in "Bowling for Columbine" I thought: "Fair Comment! Everyone has a Judgement Day" (Though I sure felt sorry for him with his Altzheimer's - I wouldn't wish that on anyone.)
Anyway, back to you. You seem to be living under the illusion that thew war in Iraq can be won. It can't! And there is no use blaming Rumsfelt for that. The Iraqis will embrace their version of democracty when they are ready to and not when a smarmy President Bush with a "Mission Accomplished" banner in the background tells them to. Bush, Blair, and my Prime Minister (John Howard - Australia if you didn't know) took their countries into Iraq on a number of proven lies: That there were weapons of mass destruction there, that there were strong links between Saddam Hussein and Al Quaedah) and that, old chestnut, "the war will be over by Xmas". This was a really stupid war. The US allowed Bush to bullshit them into another Vietnam. Well, the American people just cast their verdict on him at the ballot box. It reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's, "But you can't fool all of the people, all of the time."
A great thing about US democracy is that, there is a great capacity for Americans to say "We got it wrong but we can fix it now" (Don't you just love that innocent idealism?). US democracy cannot be exported - and never at the end of a bayonet. People in other countries will imitate it when they are ready to and when it smells kosher. Until the Democrat victory it was smelling a lot like rotten fish. Now is the time to get rid of the source of the stench - Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. These stink around the world - believe me. They are symbols of corruption and brutality. There is no due process. They are not answerable to US civil courts. They are military prisons that provide Islamistsa with the best propaganda they can get.
We are fond of Americans here in Australia but we are also good bullshit detectors. And our Prime Minister may be George's bitch but our critique here is:
"Know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em; know when to walk away".
We should definitely be walking away from the Middle East.
Regards,
Red Bingham
Melbourne,
Australia

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