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Green Zone Echo Chamber

Every computer I touch or come near instantly breaks, so I am going to post this before the particular desktop computer in front of me explodes.

To pick up a thread from last week: There are too many echo chambers on the Internet, places where everyone agrees with one another and abhors anyone who thinks differently. But it's worse when you build an echo chamber in the real world. My colleague Rajiv Chandrasekaran, as I noted last week, has a new book about the Green Zone in Baghdad, and the excerpt yesterday showed how the Administration exerted great effort to give jobs to people with the right political connections and with the proper level of ideological purity. People didn't just have to be Republicans: They had to be the right kind of Republicans. Some of them were given jobs of enormous complexity for which they had not the slightest bit of training. Some were just blowhards, some were hardly more than children. The tale is both tragic and farcical.

[In the boodle last night, Curmudgeon commented, "It's as bad as --or probably worse than, if such a thing is possible -- the FEMA breakdown over Katrina, with hack like Great Job Brownie." Yes, it's Katrina on a bigger stage. And this wasn't a natural disaster with only a few days warning. We supposedly planned this occupation in advance (though, as noted here previously, they mostly winged it).]

Journalism department:

Marty Peretz has a new blog: It's a little bit cranky. Shafer didn't love it. And here's Jack on the Lee Siegel episode.

David Corn and Robert Novak aren't getting along.

Thanks to boodler Greg Sanders we see this pattern-spotting challenge from blogging professor Daniel Drezner.

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 18, 2006; 9:43 AM ET
 
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Next: Linking is Easier than Writing

Comments

...Drezner.....
...Dreznerrrr.....
...dreznr......
...dresrrr......
...ddrr.......

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Just kidding folks, one thing the Boodlers *aren't* is in complete agreement on everything.

And I like it that way.....
....way......
...ay.......
...ay......

bc

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Reposted (with corrections) from the last boodle with additions:

I read the entire "expose" on incompetence in the CPA. Not much new except for the anecdotes. Everyone knew from Day 1 it was overrun with hacks and cronies. A three page article in the WaPo won't do any good. When National Review starts running articles called "Who Lost Iraq?" change will start happening.

I read 'Florence of Arabia' by Christopher Buckley over the weekend. Some of it is too funny to be true and some is too true to be funny. It also has the best "twist" ending since the movie 'The President's Analyst'. The moral of the book is everytime we try to fix a mess in the Middle East, we just make a bigger mess. The "can of worms" corollary to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Another part of Rajiv's article that had me enraged (as much as Ricks' "Fiasco" had me enraged), like Mudge was enraged last night, was that for some people who had submitted resumes, their answers about their feelings about Roe v. Wade were of paramount importance in terms of whether or not they were hired to work in Baghdad's Green Zone. Kudos to Rajiv for telling these important stories.

I must be channeling LoneMule, but this president, President George W. Bush, stinks!

Lots of intereting chats going on at noontime, your time, today at the WaPo--Kurtz. Phlibrick, Rajiv. Also, a prominent author each day for a lunchtime chat for the next two weeks.

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Bush's asserted obsession with personal loyalty seems to be a handy mental shortcut for dealing with a complex world. He seems to believe that as long as he surrounds himself with loyal people, and returns that loyalty with positions of power, all will be fine.
Hey, it works for dogs.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone notice how linky the boss is becoming?

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The fetish of personal loyalty aside, it is, in general, very hard to break an echo chamber. It forces you to identify those spheres of knowledge in which disagreements are useful. Including presentations by the Flat-Earth Society in the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society might not, I assert, be truly justified. Unless, of course, you are a proponent of a flat-earth.

And that's where the problem comes in. One person's "crackpot theory" is another peron's "alternative analysis."

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

One of the organizers of next year's edition of the annual planetary science meeting has suggested that he would like to set aside a special session for "wacko stuff." Unfortunately, he refuses to modify the Speaker's Rule that limits a meeting participant to presenting only one paper; otherwise, I'd be all over it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, your take on the situation is absolutely correct. Sometimes, I don't think people mean to be hard to get along with, may be a case of thinking that they're keeping a thing in line or some sort of protection. Either way, it comes across as mean so much of the time. I don't expect easy.

Superfrenchie, love the picture, and you are so right!

Slyness, that sounds like a real mess with the vaccum cleaner.

I'm wondering, and pardon me if I step on any toes, does this job thing Joel refers to based also on race or is just being a Bush Republican the only criteria? I mean is there anybody in Iraq that looks like me, other than the soldiers?

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 18, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you're being too hard on the echo chamber.

As Lt. Minderbinder said, "What's good for the Corporation is good for the country."

Me, I'm gonna take a rubber life raft and go to Sweden, even if they did just elect a bunch of righties. (In the US political spectrum, they'd still be fodder for the HUAC.)

Posted by: byoolin | September 18, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the specifics of the hirings that the article speaks about, but I would imagine Bush has no problem having African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans - as long as they agree with him. Look at Condi, Gonzales, Chao (Sec of Labor?). That way his party, especially his faction of the party, doesn't look so WASP-y. Remember the 2000 Republican convention, when they had more minorities on the stage than in the rest of the party? Sorry if I'm cynical. I'm sure minorities feel like they're used by both parties, but I don't understand why they would go to the Repblicans - except that maybe they can move up because they are such a rarity. Can anyone explain why Colin Powell is a Republican?

Of course, I have a hard time understanding why *anyone* is a Republican. I certainly don't mean that someone's race or ethnicity or gender determines the way they think, politically (or any other way).

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra/"looks like me?"

Pretty? Grandmotherly? Humourous? Generous-spirited?

Seems unlikely there were very many people like that fielded to the CPA.


Posted by: Yoki | September 18, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra -- there aren't too many African-America Republicans. It wouldn't be a bias thing, it would be a selection thing -- when you're only appointing GOP hacks, there aren't too many blacks in the "hiring" pool. Something to be thankful for, I guess.

Missed out on the weekend boodle. I'm 2 days before Moving Day. I just may get packed by then.

I'm more than outraged at the whole sum of Bush -- Fiasco, the CPA obscenities, etc. I'm stupefied. Literally. I'm left slack-jawed at the enormity of criminal incompetence, arrogance, and plain old give-a-s&^%.

I read years ago about the CPA hiring methods. But RC's book brings my understanding of just how bad it was to another level.

I do agree that until stuff like this starts hitting the pages of The National Review (purview of Kate O'Bierne, spouse to the O'Bierne of CPA personnel fame) not much will change.

Meanwhile, there is no loyal opposition. Partly for fear of being branded disloyal, partly out of induced coma.

SF -- I enjoyed you're links for Cassandra. Very good. :-)

Also not surprised at the incorrect map of France. Maybe they used MapQuest to piece that map together -- twice now I've gotten bad directions from MapQuest.

Boxes beckon. 31 boxes of books and papers have been removed from apartment prior to the move. I'm now down to soft stuff -- linens and clothes.

Sigh . . . I keep trying to get rid of clothes, really I do. I don't even own a dresser anymore (there was no room for one in this small apartment). I have one pretty small closet that is bursting at the seams. In fairness, it contains all the clothes one normally keeps in dresser drawers, underthings, socks, etc., held in hanging storage units.

I probably don't have an many clothes as it seems. But it still is a bit obscene. I am one woman, with no need for a working wardrobe, or a "social life" wardrobe (dinners out, nightlife, etc). I wear mostly shorts and sleeveless tops in summer, jeans and turtlenecks in winter.

Easily 9/10ths of what is in my closet is never worn.

Ah . . . but I will have a big walk-in closet in the new apartment! So what now looks like an outrageous amount of clothes will suddenly become sparse, manageable, downright modest in size.

Ownership of vast numbers of books is somehow righteous to me . . while the abundance of clothes seems narcissistic indulenge. I suppose ownership of all those books is just as egotistical. I've shed lots of books over the years -- but I can't imagine not having my core library -- which keeps getting larger.

Cassandra -- may your fatigue fall away --heck, may *my* fatigue fall away!!! :-)

Happy boodling everyone. Won;t be around much for a while. Lose cable connection on Wednesday -- don't get hooked up again until Friday. Too much to do to pull this move off.

Posted by: nelson | September 18, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

How did the Brits turn out competent aristocratic 20-somethings in the 19th century? Darwin and FitzRoy on the Beagle come to mind. FitzRoy was only about 25 and the Admiralty sent him on the equivalent of a voyage to map the topography of Mars (and Richard Keynes says he and Darwin got along famously)

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 18, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, you have a point there. If my history is right, the Democratic Party was at one time made up of die hard racist. They took flight during the Civil Rights Movement, and that flight landed them in the Republican Party. You are so right, Mostly, both parties have taken advantage of minorities. Please correct me anyone, if my take on that isn't what it should be? As to why Colin Powell is a Republican, I don't have the slightest idea, but I believe him to be a man of integrity, but got a bad rap under this administration, used, and used, badly.

My dad says Powell and Rice carried buckets and shovels, and I guess you can figure out the rest of that.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 18, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Darwin, at least, came from the gentry and was exceptionally well-educated (though many biographies say he was a poor student). Because of his family connections, he was able to get in front of the right people. I think the classical education of the day did tend to turn out all-round competent people, rather than specialists (or communications grads, hehe). Being rich allowed them to explore their interests. And certainly in Britain at the time, the extent of the empire required agencies to hire the best and the brightest, rather than political loyalists. There wouldn't have been enough loyalists to go round. Lessons to be learned, perhaps?

As both a devotee of all things canine and an addicted reader, I was quite amused by this biographical entry on Darwin on Wickipedia:

"Scientifically pondering his career and prospects he drew up a list with columns headed "Marry" and "Not Marry". Entries in the pro-marriage column included "constant companion and a friend in old age ... better than a dog anyhow," while listed among the cons were "less money for books" and "terrible loss of time."

Posted by: Yoki | September 18, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I think some of this obsession with loyalty also stems from a deep-seated fear of the political opposition. A lot of Republicans I know are terrified of a Congress controlled by the Democrats. These Republicans fear that the Democrats will be so obsessed with their hatred of Bush that they will do things that are knowingly bad for the country, up to and including deliberately undermining the global war on terror, just to "get" Bush.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Tectonic shift. That's why wardrobes always have clothes that are unwearable--the minute you buy an outfit that just fits you, you gain weight, lose weight, or shift your weight around.

It seems women have worse problems than men with changing geography. After all, men can just shift their pants down, belt, and pretend their pants still fit.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 18, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

My wife informs me that the source of much of the hostility women have towards men is a result of an innate anatomical injustice. Women cannot "suck in" their thighs.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I just saw a breaking news flash that Willie Nelson's buss was stopped on the interstate in LA, the officer smelled MJ, searched the buss and found 1 1/2# of MJ and .2# of mushrooms. Issued citations to all 5 aboard (ages 50 - 75) & released. Is this a example of profiling?

Maybe the mushrooms were for Mudge's receipe for steak reduction sauce.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Shhh, bh. That sauce variation is only for when Mudge's boating in the Netherlands.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 18, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Happy Constitution Day, everyone! (Actually September 17 is the anniversary, but officially observed today by the Federal Government). Let's all review and discuss, shall we?

Posted by: Slats | September 18, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"Constitution Day?" So that explains all the drunken revelers outside my window last night.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

RD,
I think the Republicans are "projecting" - after all, that's what they did when Clinton was in power - went against the best interests of the country in order to get him. The Democrats, on the other hand, would be saving the country from Bush and his cronies. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

BTW, I'm looking forward to Sean Penn in All the King's Men. I love Robert Penn Warren, but I've never been able to read that book (latest try was about a year ago - too many pages, too small print). And I don't remember the movie that was made in the 40's - I've probably seen it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Interesting question, Cassandra. As much as I loathe and despise virtually everything about the Bush Administration, I gotta say thjey try hard to find and promote black conservative Republicans wherever they can--Michael Steele here in Maryland, Lyn Swann in PA, and a handful of others. So I think they'd fall all over themselves to name/promote/appoint a black person--but here's the kicker: that black person would still have to toe the conservative party line. The problem, of course, is that there only about nine black people in the United States who fit the criteria. So, no, there probably aren't very many people in Iraq in the reconstruction team (The CPO) who like you, though not for want of trying. (And one or two Cassandras would be worth a couple hundred Bush apparatchiks, IMHO.)

The thing about the Bush Administration, the Katrina disaster re: FEMA, and the Iraq business we're talking about that really just slays me is this: THESE MAROONS DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO DO POLITICAL PATRONAGE PROPERLY.

Say what you will about political parties having massive patronage programs, and all the old stereotypes (which of course were staggeringly true) about the "smoke-filled back room" politics of the Chicago machine (Daley et al.), the Boston machine (Jim Curley), the Kennedy Irish mafia crowd, both Lyndon Johnson and Tricky Dick Nixon, the old (Republican) New York City Boss Tweed machine, and a thousand other examples, is this: those people (in both parties) knew how to run a patronage shop, down to the local sheriff and dogcatcher level. It isn't a question of "corruption" or wasting taxpayer money, or rewarding "friends" and contributors--that's all a "given."

No--what those patronage shops knew how to do was follow the "rules," and generally stay below the radar and keep out of trouble. Sure they appointed a zillion incompetent people to jobs--but they were usually (though admittedly not always) meaningless out-of-the-way jobs, whether high or low. Uncle Charley out of work? Get him a job at the Post Office. Got a million-dollar contributor? Make him ambassador to Tahiti, and let him sit on the beach while his staff (competent civil servants all) did the real work and kept him/her out of trouble.

The key thing was, regardless of party, the patronage people WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO DO ANYTHING, and, outside of voting D or R (as the case may be), and getting out the vote, and generally supporting your machine, the jobs weren't idealogical. Nobody ever expected Uncle Charley to transform the Post Office into a right-thinking organization. Nobody ever expected the ambassador to Tahiti to tell the natives to keep from having sex and refrain from stem cell research.

There are in government what they call in the sports world "skill positions." The patronage people know that you don't give patronage jobs to those skill positions. I can easily understand Bush wanting to give Michael Brown a job--third deputy assistant to the fourth assistant deputy of the undersecretary for counting paperclips at $110,000 a year, and mazel tov, Mikey, have a nice day. That's how you do patronage. You don't make the sumb1tch head of FEMA--that's a skill position. There are plenty of Reblublicans floating around who can fill skill positions, and in a Democratic administration there are plenty of available Democrats for any given job. You fill the skill positions with people who you think will do the job correctly (by whatever your standards are), and then you give the rest to the patronage department and let them be St. John's wort inspectors in the Department of Agriculture. That's how it is supposed to work.

The chickens came home to roost during and after Katrina, which is where Bush got blindsided by his own mistakes. But setting up the CPU in Iraq was a whole different ballgame. In Iraq, it was in Bush's best interest to SUCCEED. He needed skill players in skill positions to do that(assuming, of course, that it was even doable, which it probably was, given the right people and enough resources).

Skill players aren't skill players because they are ideologically in step; they are skill players often because they are exactly the opposite, which is to say, "pragmatic." If it works, it works, and if it doesn't, try something else. Don't stick to some rigid formulaic notion, especially if it isn't working in the field.

And of course, it is the concept of "pragmatism" that Neo-cons in particular and Conservs in general despise the most. That was the rap gainst Bush's father--too pragmatic, didn't adhere to rigid Conserv philosophies, etc.

I don't so much blame Bush as I blame Rove and his people, the people around Bush who are running the machinery. Bush didn't apooint those idiots in Iraq--they were appointed by apparatchiks in the system (like O'Beirne) who don't understand the difference between patronage, ideaology, and getting the job done.

The enemy isn't patronage. It's ideology. Patronage is just about money, favors, pay-back. Yes, it costs taxpayers and wastes resources, but generally nobody gets hurt (outside of a few bucks out of their wallets). Ideology, on the other hand, is always dangerous and often kills. IMHO, doesn't matter what kind of ideology or whose it is.

Stalin and Mao had it right: the day after the revolution is over, round up and shoot all the revolutionaries who helped you take over(they're always the rigid ideologues). Bush even screwed that up.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC: (The CPO) who like you" should be "(The CPO) who look like you"

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, Mudge -
you also typo'd it as "CPU" - but that's ok, you nailed how patronage "should" work. I just hope that American voters wake up and throw them out, but I'm not optimistic about that...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge. Please. We have had this discussion many, many times before. NO POSTINGS OF UNRELENTING HILARITY WHILE PEOPLE ARE DRINKING DIET COKES AT THEIR DESK.

Posted by: annie | September 18, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you said that very well. I'll petition Error Flynn to appoint you to the skill position of your choice.

Maybe Undersecretary of Patronage-- that way everybody that wants a job due to political ties has to see you for a serious ego-scrubbing and assignment of duties.

"You can't be an ambassador if you can't even spell the name of the country you're assigned to. THIS (waving the civil service exam) is what flunkies that fill the diplomatic offices have to pass in order to have the honor of putting up with your screw-ups. Right now being an foreign service officer is even more dangerous than serving in the military, with all the embassy bombings. What are you going to do about THAT in your country?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 18, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd be delighted to be Secretary of Patronage, wilbrod, thanks you. Please name the tropical island of your choiice.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

annie,

I think 'mudge was as serious as a heart attack. A more honest assessment has never been written. Truth to power.

Plunkitt explained patronage back in 1905.

http://www.panarchy.org/plunkitt/patronage.1905.html

There's Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft. The current admin keeps forgetting (or never learned) how to run a crooked organization.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd be happy to become Secretary of Patronage, Wilbrod; thank you. Please name the tropical island of your choice.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra writes:
As to why Colin Powell is a Republican, I don't have the slightest idea, but I believe him to be a man of integrity, but got a bad rap under this administration, used, and used, badly.

My dad says Powell and Rice carried buckets and shovels, and I guess you can figure out the rest of that.
***

Do you always believe what your daddy tells you? Powell and Rice have free will and the ability to use it freely every day. Powell could have said "No" to his U.N. speech. Powell could have quadruple-checked the intel he presented. Powell could have declared, "Not so fast." And he waits two years while out of office before finally speaking up and dissenting about issues of torture? Powell had been marginalized by Cheney & Co. early on during Bush's first term.

And, oh, poor Condi. All that training and education about the Soviet Union and unable to look beyond the end of the Cold War and see the activities of al Qaeda. Classically trained as a musician, she should have stopped tinkling the ivories and and starting tinkling the likes of Richard Clarke's mind. Why was she so dismissive toward his ideas? Do you want do discuss Condi's ties to Chevron, Cassandra?

Is this how you source your material, Cassandra, through your father's racism filter?

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Of course, Mudge, what you say works at all levels in all organizations. Being a skilled person in a skill position, I am watching with amusement the jockeying around replacing me when I retire. My boss asked me if I would work as a contractor, and I told him I would. But...if someone is just given the job for political reasons, I won't bother to contract. Let them fail all on their own.

Posted by: slyness | September 18, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mudge, I think you'd be the best guy to run the Ministry of Apparatchiks. Natch, they have a Dept. of Patronage.

At least you'll be able to swing that plan of yours to live on the Sequoia.

yellojkt, as I've said a 1000 times, it's all about the incompetence.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

As Rajiv pointed out in his chat today, some of those M.B.A.ed young'uns have returned from their stints in the Green Zone to receive even more plum political appointments back here in the states.

Wish Rajiv'd elaborated and named names. Yet, these former CPA kids spoke to him DESPITE being Republicans. Ah, that was swell of 'em. Because they didn't want to see future administrations make the same mistakes. Yeah. Right. "I've fed at the trough, but now it's time to dismantle the trough." Don't buy it.

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

But the kicker was someone challenging Kurtz during his chat, saying, in effect--you've got these great s*&$-kicking books by Chandrasekaran and Ricks, now tell me, why doesn't the op-ed board of the WaPo read them (given their previous endorsement for the war)?

Wasn't it Kurtz himself who reported that Joe Wilson, of Plamegate fame, decided to cancel his Post subscription because of the apparent disconnect between the reporting and op-ed sides of the Washington Post house as regards war coverage?

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I think the last line of your 3:00 PM was overly harsh.

I think that Powell and Rice are far too savvy to allow themselves to be used simply because of the color of their skin. I believe anyone in the SoS position for Administracion del Arbusto was going to end up in untenable situations, no matter what their ethnicity or background.

Call me naive, but I believe that Powell and Rice had reasonable qualifications for the SoS job, but they ended up selling their souls to the Wrong Guy down at the Crossroads.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I loved your bit about Stalin and Mao. Although appointments of cronies to skill positions is a big mistake, it seems to me that a more fundamental problem is letting successful campaigners actually try to govern.

It seems to me that winning an election requires a different skill set than running a country. Unfortunately, though, all too often successful campaigners are rewarding with positions of power in the government. This can cause trouble.

I think George Stephanopoulos was a much better campaigner than a White House official. Much worse, of course, is the awful mess caused by Nixon's campaign crew of Halderman and Erlichman.

And then there's Karl.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Just trying to get caught up with news of the world and boodle, I was working all weekend and had no time to read anything, I feel very uninformed right now.

Read the comments about catalogues, finally a topic I could have spoken intelligently about and I missed it, my soft spot is gardening catalogues.

Did just see this news today, Canada lost another four troops to a suicide attack, this is particularly sad as the troops were speaking with civilians and giving gifts to civilians and children when it occured. Is it just me or are things getting a lot worse in Afganistan and Iraq?

Posted by: dmd | September 18, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra and Linda Loomis:

I think that Powell and Rice fit into the category of having had a somewhat different upbringing in the United States that in someways insulated them from some of the slings and arrows, hurts and slights, that most people of color were exposed to in the United States.

Also, they might be very strong individuals that adhere to the idea of a "rugged individualism" that is part of the myth of life in these United States and believing in it so strongly that they may have felt that it is only by their individual efforts that a person succeeds, regardless of the roadblocks in one's path.

Interesting that though of different generations, they seem to be of the same mindset. At least that's my quick take, based on observing them over the years.

Aroc

Posted by: aroc | September 18, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

dmd - No, it's not just you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I agree with bc about the harshness. It seemed like an attack, which is weird because I think you agree with Cassandra's father about Rice and Powell. You obviously think they are less than admirable--is that a result of a "racism filter?"

And as far as Colin Powell's integrity, Cassandra is not alone in believing in it. The U.N. speech was more than I could take, but in general he did a lot to attempt to show people in the administration that the war in Iraq was a serious mistake. Maybe he could have done more, but maybe he tried the best he could, in the framework he was in, knowing that dissent was punished by banishment, thinking he could do more good if he stayed in the administration--and also, as a military man, respecting the chain of command, as he had been trained to do.

Condoleeza is another case. She's in love with George W. She's a true believer in the neo-con cause, as far as I can see.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 18, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Did somebody say something a few boodles back about a BPH tomorrow night? Off topic, but tomorrow coming right up the way it's doing, need to make some plans.

Posted by: annie | September 18, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Not just you dmd. This morning cbc was reporting that some think tank did a study and found Afghanistan was much more deadly.

http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/09/18/report-soldiers.html

Past governments, past prime ministers, past MP's should all be ashamed for the quality of the gear they send our people out in, and I dearly hope that this government is allowed to fix that.

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

And in all honesty, so should every Canadian voter. Voters allowed a corrupt government to operate by special interest group far too long.

The problem with Canadian military equipment purchases goes back decades and decades. Everything else was more important and we allowed it to go on.

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I've told the Boy that I think W himself is not racially prejudiced. {Actually, what I said was that his slow response in Katrina wasn't because the people were mostly black, it was because they were poor.) He appears to have no problem appointing people of color to responsible positions, as long as they agree with him. I don't have any confidence that holds true for his flacks and minions, however, and they do a lot of the appointing work.

I know two or three Republican African-Americans. They are all socially or fiscally conservative, as opposed to the reactionaries one so often sees running the Republicans these days, and none of them much like W.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, Padouk, about the differences between campaigning and governing; they are two entirely different skill sets. There's a long-standing ruleof-thumb in politics that governors tend to make better presidential candidates (and are more often nominated) than senators, because governors by definition have run large organizations, made up budgets, served largely administrative roles, dealt with civil service branshes as well as varied legislatures, etc.--all this is experience "governing." Senators, on the other hand, only have to manage a staff of several dozen people, they don't have to prepare major budgets (voting on them is different from the nuts and bolts of putting one together). They are more familiar with national and international issues, of course, but familiarity isn't the same as leadership ability.

And in part this marked preference for governors explains why people like Bush, Reagan, Clinton, FDR and Carter got elected, why Dukakis got nominated, why George Wallace was a somewhat credible candidate (at least to some) and why there's always talk about governors like Allen, Pataki, and Warner, etc., as presidential timber. Even, god help us, Ahnold.

Four out of the last five presidents were governors, and the fifth, Bush Sr., was never a senator (though he was a congressman)

The theory is, a governor already knows how to govern, and he can always learn the foreign policy stuff, but a senator who knows the foreign policy stuff has to also learn how to govern--and that's much harder. Which is mostly correct.

Or as Arbusto likes to say, "It's hard. Hard. Hard work."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Here's a question: is US President and Commander-in-Chief a no-win situation?

Has there ever been a President that we've looked at through that 20/20 vision of history and not had some significant knocks on?

We have the advantage now of Internet Time, with information flow, communications and discussion at a rate commensurate with Moore's Law.

So, with Administracion del Arbusto taking office in Jan 2001, that's roughly 69 months so far. In Internet Time (according to Moore's Law), that's 510 months, more or less, if I can believe my fingers.

Based on that, the Bush Administration looks like they would as if it were 42.5 years since Dubya took office (note: it sure as hell feels like it, don't it?).

Well, with 42.5 years of perpective, Repubs and Dems can't get far enough away from him come election time, and Bloggers are tossing around "worst prez EVAR" verbiage like confetti at New Year's Eve.

History is NOT kind, particularly when you're able to read everything that's going to be written about you after you're gone.

On a lighter note, as of Sept 2006: well, only 1,968 Moore months of the Bush Administration to go. Or 164 years, depending on how you look at it.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Swashbuckle responsibly.

Stolen shamelessly from a billboard add.

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I can do tomorrow night for a BPH at M&S--this would be a TLAPD BPH (Talk Like a Pirate Day Boodle Porching Hour). Loomis, would you be insulted if we all wore eye patches?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

dr, I agree with you, our military deserve good equipment, we had interesting discussions about their equipment this weekend. As it happens where I was working, one of the Frigates was on display and touring around on the lake. We also had a fly pass of the F-18 and some helicopters for the Veterans Memorial on Sunday.

I will admit to being more of a passifist than anything else but if we are to have an army, and to send them to war/peacekeeping etc I believe we must ensure they have the best possible equipment, however, this often gets complicated by patronage, pressure from other nations to buy their equipment etc (think Avro Arrow, not an isolated event).

Back to the conversation at hand saw two articles hinting at Obama for 08.

Posted by: dmd | September 18, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I echo yellojkt on Florence of Arabia, but must kvetch about the comment from the previous boodle, reposted at 11:25: 'I read the entire "expose" on incompetence in the CPA. Not much new except for the anecdotes. Everyone knew from Day 1 it was overrun with hacks and cronies. A three page article in the WaPo won't do any good.'


Y-dude, I think you aren't giving Rajiv enough credit. This isn't just a 3-page story: It's a book. It's not an "expose" either in quotes or out of quotes: It's a reported, eyewitness account by a very talented journalist. It's not muck-raking, it's the truth as Rajiv saw it with his own eyes. One of the reasons we knew from Day 1 that the CPA had serious problems was that Rajiv was there, writing more than 140 front page stories as head of the WaPo Baghdad bureau. And I will wager that people will read his book for many years, maybe decades, as an authoritative account of How Not To Do Something. Business schools, international affairs programs, etc., they're all going to use this book as a textbook.


Here's an excerpt from the Book World review:


'What caused the massive collapse of common sense that doomed the CPA and undermined the U.S. gamble in Iraq? That is the question that every page tacitly forces on the reader. American ingenuity, pragmatism and practical approaches to problem-solving are legendary. But Chandrasekaran shows that what reigned in Iraq was massive incompetence, patently unfeasible schemes, naive expectations and arrogance fueled by ignorance. His book methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq's fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis. Nor are the book's complaints Monday-morning quarterbacking. The CPA's failings caused widespread grumbling at the time. Chandrasekaran tells of a message board on which some Marines had drawn a gravestone inscribed with the words "COMMON SENSE." The caption underneath it read: "Killed by the CPA." '

Posted by: Achenbach | September 18, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I can go swashbuckling tomorrow nite (funny, dr).

I think I'm going to a Cosmetics party.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 18, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge & RD, for the comments on patronage & governing. All so true. By some accounts, W just never was as interested in governing as he was in running. That would certainly explain the preeminence of Rove (preeminence of the Grey Eminence?) in what should be policy roles. Oh, you say he's not involved in those anymore? Uh huh.

Ivansdad gave me a big "I told you so" this weekend -- gas down close to $2.00, as he had predicted it would be before Election Day.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Arrh, me lads and lasses, I'll not be able to come partake of grog with yerselves on Tuesday night. I'll be coachin' the ScienceKids on various matters o' schoolin'.

Yar.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Was actually thinking of popping in, lurking in a nearby corner just long enough to be able to put faces to names. But no Mudge or Tim (particularly dying to see who Tim is. And Son of Carl). Who else is local?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 18, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: //The theory is, a governor already knows how to govern, and he can always learn the foreign policy stuff, but a senator who knows the foreign policy stuff has to also learn how to govern--and that's much harder. Which is mostly correct.//

I would think it has a lot more to do with the fact that senators have a voting record, which can easily be attacked. The longer the voting record, the easier it is to find flip-flopping.

Governors have no such voting records.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Flip-flopping, or some vote in favor of a tax raise that was burried somewhere in some obscure law.

Very hard to recover from the accusation of wanting to raise taxes, in the US.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I'll be there, LostinThought. It's bc who has to go to a cosmetics party (he's an Avon Saleperson on the side; has the pink Cadillac and everything).

Won't be the same without him, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

superfrenchie has hit the nail on the head. Opposition research against a senator consists of picking up a copy of the Congressional Record. No need to follow a senator around waiting for a gaffe. There is something in print that will do just fine.

Governors, as an executive branch member, don't get their elbows quite as deep in the sausage making. They also have a much lower national profile and can more proactively craft an image. Having a foreign policy blank slate is a big help too.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Cool. Good to know. If I can break away from my life for a few minutes, I will be the strange woman sneaking a peak. But the question is...if I don't know what anyone looks like, how will I know it's you? Should I just eavesdrop and find the existential conversation?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 18, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

LostinThought -- you'll know which ones are the right group. You can trust me on this.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I was just telling ya what the "conventional wisdom" on the subject was. If you don't like the majority theory, fine. But it is still the majority prevailing theory among political operatives whether any of us agree with it or not.

(As it happens, I don't much "like" it myself, but I recognize that it is the prevailing theory of most pols. Party delegates tend to agree, which is why governors tend to get nominated. Difficult as it may be for you, you gotta deal with reality when its smacks you in the face, SF. Four of the last five presidents have been governors. That's why. Deal with it.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The thing that bothers me most regarding all the lies, incompetence, greed, and lack of 'reality' in the Bush administration is their utter inability to put the country's founding principles and reputation ahead of politics. It has been said over and over what a golden opportunity Bush had right after 9/11 to unite us for a common good. I would like to see someone of either party step up to a microphone and tell it like it is, no holes barred, acting like a statesman instead of a politician. I'd also like to be able to fly and have xray vision.

Regarding governors being more qualified to be president, I'm not so sure I buy this. I remember reading somewhere that in many state governments, Texas for one, the role of governor isn't even truly a full-time job. (That would make sense re: W.) At least members of congress have some familiarity with foreign affairs, etc., and have cultivated relationships with other members that would be useful in navigating the maze of politics. I do see how their voting record could be used against them but I'd still rather have someone with more federal government experience. The past 3 or 4 governors we've had here in MA (including the current one who seems to be running for president) have all been fairly useless and ineffective at best.

Slightly off topic, I remember reading a few years ago a quote from Bush that he "didn't know any poor people." I would wager that he doesn't know any middle class ones either. The way he was brought up wouldn't have given him much exposure and if his mother's statement in Texas last year about the Katrina victims is any indication of the Bush family view of the poor, it seems there is no empathy or understanding there at all and that makes me angry.

Only 854 days, 6 hours, 59 minutes and counting, by my new key chain, until Bush is gone.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 18, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

How do French pirates express their piratical identity?

"Errrhhh, mes amis, shiver mes Citroëns?"

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey all, back from a long weekend away, up in northern B.C. Looks like I missed some great discussions.

Friday morning, there it was. Spread all over the cruel, cruel earth. Some sort of nuclear fallout? I wish. Gigantic volcanic eruption on the other side of the world? We should be so lucky. I even fantasized that maybe it was a new form of fungus. Alas, no, it was snow.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 18, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

By Texas standards, your 4:06 is silly, Mudge. "The theory is, a governor already knows how to govern, and he can always learn the foreign policy stuff..."

From Molly Ivins' book, Shrub," in her introduction, which came out in 2000, before the election, in fairly sufficient time time for all to have read before that fall's general election:

The political career of W. Bush is a fairly funny yarn, on account of being the son of a former president is not...how to put this...not actually sufficient job training for the governance of a large state. Fortunately, in Texas, this makes no difference.

Unqualified to govern Texas? No problem! The single most common misconception about George W. is that he has been running a large state for the past six years. Texas has what is known in politicl circles as "the weak-governor system." You may think this is just a Texas brag, but our weak-governor system is a *lot* weaker than anybody else's. Although the governor does have the power to call out the militia in case of an Indian uprising, by constitutional arrangement, the governor of Texas is actually the fifth most powerful statewide office: behind lietenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner but ahead of agriculture commisioner and railroad commisioner. Which is not to say iit's a piddly office. For one thing, it's a bully pulpit. Although truly effective governors are rare in Texas, a few have made deep impressions and major changes.

There is no index for Ivins' little gem, but a thumb-through is like a walk down memory lane. Laughable now is Ivin's pistol-smart observation (p. 50) about Bush...sound familiar?

In early summer, Rove pulled Bush off the hustings and they all went to East Texas for a weeklong come-to-Jesus session. Bush never got off-message again. Richards took to calling him "the phantom candidate" because he so seldom went into an unscripted situation--tlevision interview, press conference, even one-on-one interviews.
***

As far as the eyepatch, I have never, ever understood why your BPHs are so gimmicky. *sigh*

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

There's a dress code? And men wonder why it takes us so long to get dressed. Perhaps it will be easier than I thought to spot the peanut gallery.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 18, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Joel really took me to the woodshed over my use of scarequotes around "expose". He correctly points out that it is really a book excerpt that has very detailed solid in-depth reporting. What is doesn't have is that Woodward-level smoking gun revelation. CPA members were hired for their party loyalty and had to pass a litmus test to get a job they were at least three Peter Principle Promotions underqualified for? It's not news to people that have been paying attention, and that is largely a testament to the quality of reporting by WaPo and Time and others.

Our "reconstruction" of Iraq (and I use the scare quotes again because we were the ones that invoked the Pottery Barn Rule) has been an abject failure by any metric. KW of power. Hours of electricity. Hospital beds. School enrollment. Murders. Literally billions have been stolen or wasted. I daresay that much of the money spent has been counterproductive to our bigger goal of creating a stable friendly democracy that can counter the oil shock when, not if, the Saudi regime falls to Islamic extremists.

Even the most ardent war supporters have backed away from their Panglossian assessments. Most of the fellow travelers like Friedman are close to jumping ship and even George Will has been mumbling from a different songsheet.

Chandrasekaran has done a great service by documenting the sheer level of ineptness, but I doubt it will penetrate to the people that need to hear it. As long as there is an ideological or partisan divide on the goals in Iraq, there will be apologists willing to overlook the incompetence of our effort and defend the intent.

My bigger point is that it this is all preaching to the choir until high level conservatives start publicly questioning the wisdom of our nation building experiment as well as its execution.
We need a conservative leader that will say it was foolish to invade Iraq and the people responsible need to make amends. Only Nixon can go to China, and I don't hear any fat ladies rehearsing.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: //Hey, I was just telling ya what the "conventional wisdom" on the subject was. If you don't like the majority theory, fine. But it is still the majority prevailing theory among political operatives whether any of us agree with it or not.//

Like, there's been some kind of poll on the topic? How do you decide what is the "majority theory"?

Besides, foreign policy has not really been a deciding factor in US presidential elections until 2004.

//Difficult as it may be for you, you gotta deal with reality when its smacks you in the face, SF. Four of the last five presidents have been governors. That's why. Deal with it.//

I have no problem dealing with reality. The reality I remember best is that Kerry was accused of being a flip-flopper, not a foreign policy ignoramus, or somehow incompetent to govern.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I had a brother that lived in Texas, and as he explained to me, the Railroad commisssion was the most influential none elected body in the US, setting oil prices and all.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Methinks bc likes to be around beautiful women - and oooh, the perfume! Aaarrr!

There was a dusting of snow in the mountains around here (Seattle) over the weekend, although they're saying we may have a dry, mild winter. We're finally getting rain - fall has set in.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

none = non

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

It's not a poll, SF. It's convential wisdom.

Gov. Bush vs. Sen. Kerry
Gov. Bush vs. Sen. Gore
Gov. Clinton vs. Sen. Dole
Gov. Clinton vs. Congressman Bush
Congressman Bush vs. Gov. Dukakis
Gov. Reagan vs. Sen. Mondale
Gov. Reagan vs. Gov. Carter

The score sheet:
Governors 6-2
Presidents 3-2
Vice-Presidents 1-4
Senators 0-4

How would you bet?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you saying that the "I voted for it before I voted against" line did not have a major (deciding?) impact?

There would have been no such line had Kerry been governor of Mass, and thus unable to vote for before he voted against.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Ever notice how gravity doesn't apply to children? My youngest fell asleep (school is so draining!) on the top of the back of the sofa. It isn't against a wall. She seems to be leaning precariously to one side, yet hasn't fallen.
Time to start making dinner, before the older ones stage a coup attempt.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 18, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

No, no, no, Joel and yellojkt - the media just isn't reporting the good news from Iraq! Because the media wants the terrorists to win, right? That's what I keep hearing over my right shoulder, anyway.

Ivansmom, gas prices are down here, but still a long way to go to $2. Maybe it's a red state/blue state thing.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The boys are back from the male bonding adventure. All are wet up to their gizzards.

bc, porching hour or cosmetics party. Isn't that a win win situation for you?

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I think you missed the point, Loomis. The theory is the theory. It exists as a theory, and many, many political operatives hold it. Whether anyone particular example (such as Arbusto) "justifies it as being valid is beside the point.

If you don't like the theory, fine. But you (a generic, editorial "you") then have to explain the facts according to an alternate theory, which is four of the last five presidents have been governors. If I had the time, I'd go through the whole list and see how far back it goes. But yes, political types prefer governors over senators, as a generally rule, for the reasons I stated. It doesn't make them right. It just explains their thinking.

OK, Here's Broder on why few senators get to be president. Go argue with him. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A26390-2002Jun21

Never mind--I counted. If I counted right (hurriedly) it's 19, plus Taft, who was governor general of the Philippines: Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, Andrew Johnson, Hayes, Cleveland, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush.

Broder has some stats--between 1960 and 1996, 37 percent of candidates were senators, and only 10 percent were governors--but governors won nominations and presidencies--and not one senator did. Yes, senators like to run--but they don't succeed very often.

Quick--name the last president who was a senator? (I can. Many of you weren't even born then.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

i *of course* can attend the porching hour!

Posted by: mo | September 18, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

i forgot to add ARGH!

(can we put an eyepatch on the achenfish?)

Posted by: mo | September 18, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Nixon as well

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 18, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Only one senator won the presidency from 1960 to 1996. (The guy I was talking about.)

Running for the bus.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Nobody (at least not me) is arguing that the last 4 of 5 US Presidents were not governors. I'm not even arguing that "the theory" is wrong.

I'm simply arguing that the voting record is a major factor as well. In the last election (Kerry vs Bush), it was a critical factor.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy - LBJ, too, although he didn't get elected. Makes me sad to think how things may have turned out if the assassinations hadn't happened...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Superfrenchie, you are misunderstanding Curmudgeon. He did not say why he thinks that Arbusto beat Kerry. He did not say that he thinks that governors make better Presidents. He did not say that the "conventional wisdom" is correct -- in fact, he indicated in his follow-up that he thinks it is not correct.

He said that it is an empirical fact that 4 of the past 5 Presidents have been former governors and that political operatives interpret this (correctly or otherwise) as evidence that governor-ship is an inherently preferable resumé item (you both agree on this). He said that the political operatives claim a belief that this is related to a perception of competency to run a large political organization. It may be that the hacks and operatives have a different private opinion, but choose to go on-record only with the perception-of-competency claim. I know that I have read such claims in coverage of previous elections. I do not know whether Curmudgeon is recalling journalistic coverage of past elections, opinion editorials of past elections, inside knowledge of the community of political hacks, or his groundbreaking 3-part in-depth interview with Niccolo Machiavelli, the (start italics) capo di tutti capi (end italics) of political operatives.

Note that it is not necessary to conduct a poll of all political hacks -- it is necessary only to obtain the opinion of those political hacks who executed the campaigns of successful candidates. It is reasonable to hypothesize that these successful hacks will be admired and emulated by lesser political hacks, the flunkies of unsuccessful candidates. It also is reasonable to hypothesize that copying other soulless hacks is not a successful political strategy, but it probably is a very successful strategy for getting hired as a political hack.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I have a tentative dinner tomorrow night, but she may bail since her daughter is due to give birth any day now. Will know in the morning.

LostInThought -- if I *do* come, I will wait for you on the sidewalk in front of McCormick & Schmicks, and lead you to BPH GHQ. Will be the tall blonde woman with the big red shoulder bag.

Will check in in the morning.

Posted by: annie | September 18, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Science: I understand that it is not his theory. I'm saying that it is no more a prevailing theory than the one I advance. And I'm also saying that there is no proof that this is a prevailing theory.

//I know that I have read such claims in coverage of previous elections.//

Sure. But I have also read claims that it was the voting record. Here are some:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ec/primaries/2437106.html

http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=11003

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

And another one:

http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=11003

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm feelin' so beat up today, it's not a stretch to think I could show up at a SLIPDBPH in tattered clothes, a la a shipwrecked pirate.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt on Bob Woodward:

Joel really took me to the woodshed over my use of scarequotes around "expose". He correctly points out that it is really a book excerpt that has very detailed solid in-depth reporting. What is doesn't have is that Woodward-level smoking gun revelation.

Ian Buruma in the NYT on Sept. 17 on Bob Woodward in a review of Frank Rich's new book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold":

Yet -- and this is where Rich is particularly acute -- most serious papers published the White House claims on their front pages, and buried any doubts in small news items at the back. Political weeklies with a liberal pedigree, like The New Republic, fell in line with the neoconservative Weekly Standard, stating that the president would be guilty of "surrender in the war on international terrorism" should he fail to make an effort to topple Saddam Hussein. Bob Woodward, the scourge of the Nixon administration, wrote "Bush at War," a book that seemed to take everything his White House sources told him at face value.

Smoking gun? Hardly.

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

And it is possible to cover a candidate's record as governor, as Molly Ivins did quite capably in "Shrub."

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the pirate boodle porching hour:

arg ARG ARG <> arg arg<> arg arg arg<> arg arg arg arg / arg arg/ ARG arg ARG arg <> ARG ARG ARG<> arg arg ARG<>arg ARG arg arg <> ARG arg arg/ ARG arg arg arg <>arg / ARG arg arg arg arg<> arg <>arg ARG arg<> arg / arg arg ARG ARG arg arg /

That is all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Blast it! Message should read as follows:

arg ARG ARG <> arg arg<> arg arg arg<> arg arg arg arg / arg arg/ ARG arg ARG arg <> ARG ARG ARG<> arg arg ARG<>arg ARG arg arg <> ARG arg arg/ ARG arg arg arg <>arg / ARG<> arg arg arg arg<> arg <>arg ARG arg<> arg / arg arg ARG ARG arg arg arg /

Darn those args to heck!

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 18, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

ahoy RD, avast arr arr arg, matey?

I also suffer from the embarrassing condition of Premature Piratical Exhortations.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 18, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I can speak French pirate (some would argue that this is all I can speak):

Yarrrr! du rhum! (I'm happy)
Yarrrr! crève! (I'm angry)
Yarrrr! poulette (I love you)
Yarrrr! moi aussi (yes)
Yarrrrahahaha! (funny)

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse

avast, ye traitorous dogs! ye've neglected ta mention the time, and which M&S the BPH be at. Can't walk the plank without knowin where it be, can we?

Posted by: sparks | September 18, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Ahoy mateys... It still needs work. I can channel cowboys so much better than pirates.

I might just have to read 'Kidnapped' this week. I could also watch 'Princess Bride' though Dread Pirate Roberts is a touch more educated sounding than normal. Do you suppose that his speech changed on board ship?

Posted by: dr | September 18, 2006 6:49 PM | Report abuse

also, i meant to add that the current gubernatorial trend is an interesting change from the first many years of the young republic, when the position to hold if you hoped to be president was secretary of state.

Posted by: sparks | September 18, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

sparks: //when the position to hold if you hoped to be president was secretary of state.//

Hasn't being vice-president historically been the best shot at becoming president?

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

sparks,
I'm from way out of town, but I think it's the McCormick and Schmick's at 16th and K - but you'd better check me on that (last time I called it McCormick and Schmidt's, so you can see what an idiot I am). The time is from about 5 pm till whenever...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Best shot? Nice double-entendre...those who got the job via a bullet, or the current veep's (lack of) ability to aim.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 18, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

SF: lemme check.

Posted by: sparks | September 18, 2006 7:08 PM | Report abuse

yeah, long term, VP is the job to hold: 13 VPs have become president, but 5 of the first 8 presidents were secretaries of state first. the most recent president to have been secretary of state: James buchanan (#15), for a total of 6.

The VP gets an unfair advantage though, on account of automatically getting to be president if the president dies, and even if you only count the ones who were subsequently reelected (which drops the count to 8), they still have the advantage of incumbency.

Posted by: sparks | September 18, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* The prevailing theory is still the prevfgailing theory.

Nixon was never a governor.

On my scorecard, 19 governors beats 13 vice presidents, and any way it is 14 vice presidents, not 13. But of the 14 only 5 were elected, which is the entire point. So that makes it 5 veeps versus 19 governors. Of the other nine, four were by death by natural causes, four by assassination, and one by resignation (you know who).

Now if the question was "What's the best way to become president without the fuss and bother of actually running," then yes, being veep is certainly the way to go.

Even President Santos was never a governor, and beat Senator Vinnick.

I rest my case. If SF opens his yap, somebody pop him. I'm going to go rustle up some dinner. Since my wife's out of town, I'm thinking of eating mac and cheese right out of the pot, over the sink. Standing up. I may even drink a beer, and belch out loud, and not have to apologize to anyone. Ah, the wicked, wicked joys of (temporary) bachelorhood.

Then I have to sew some bling onto my eye patch. Left eye or right eye? Sequins, or rhinestones? Decisions, decisions...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 7:45 PM | Report abuse

SCC: prevfgailing? Jeez, I really do need a beer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I don't see why you think SF was arguing with you. It seems to me that he just ADDING the extra, and true, idea that in addition to having the perceived governing experience a governor ALSO does NOT have a voting record to dredge up out of context.

And I agree with both of you.

Now shake hands and make up.

Mudge, I don't think SF will insist on kissing you on BOTH cheeks, although it is a nice touch.

And SF, please remember why Mudge's "real" name is Curmudgeon. Don't let the perkiness fool you.

Posted by: TBG | September 18, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge,
Right out of the pot is best, stays warm and doesn't dirty another serving/eating plate to clean before the Miss's returns.
But:
Given the hour, are you eating instant? Real M&C takes a better part of the afternoon to prepare.

Please post a fast recepie if not just hot water and a Kraft package.
Got to run to get ready for the football game: Start the BBQ, watch first half hour of Countdown, get the steaks out find the russets, etc. opps!
open a bottle of red.
hurry, hurry, hurry, Always late this tiime of day.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Because he's wrong, flat-out wrong, TBG, to say nothing of pointlessly argumentative. The prevailing theory is the prevailing theory. That doesn't mean it's the correct theory, as Tim pointed out. It only means it is the one most pols believe. Either that's correct, or it isn't, and I claim it is correct. It's NOT a question of accuracy. It is a question of do most pols claim it, yes or no. And the answer is yes, and in view view beyond dispute.

The point about voting records is crap. It is crap because governors also have records and decisions that are every bit as subject to opposite party criticism as senators do. They just happen to be about different topics than what senators vote about. All politicians running for high office have opposition research done on them, and all their prior history and decisions, votes, etc. are subject to review and criticism. It is plain foolish to suggest that one can criticize a senator because of his voting record, but NOT criticize a governor because of his performance record.

At 4:43, SF wrote: "I would think it has a lot more to do with the fact that senators have a voting record, which can easily be attacked." That is a flat contradiction of what I said, TBG. That's why I think he's disagreeing with me. Which is his prerogative. "More to do with..." is the operative phrase. It doesn't mean "could also be a factor." It means he thinks his theory is more operative than the other theory. It doesn't say which is right. it only says that it is his opinion his theory is more prevalent. It isn't. In particular, his theory doesn't explain why 19 presidents have been governors, most especially the early ones -- Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk --who were elected before the concept of opposition research was honed to a fine art.

What he's arguing is that the theory I advanced (and it isn't even my fording theory--I was only reporting the frigging thing) isn't the "prevailing" one. So he needs to disclose which alternative theory is even MORE prevalent, which he hasn't done. And if that theory was MORE prevalent, you'd think a lot of people woul;d have said something like, "Yeah, I've heard that other theory, too."

Which they haven't.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 8:24 PM | Report abuse

And good day to you, Loomis. I believe Colin Powell and Condi Rice are very intelligent people and good at what they do, just believe that perhaps they've gotten caught up in an administration that did not have a plan for Iraq, and some other things.

As to what my father said, he said it,and I repeated it. That was his opinion. And he may very well have a point. All of us I suspect get used at some point in this life, some may have a choice in that situation, others may find themselves without options. And that could very well apply to me, and also you.

You know Loomis, I think I just offend you period. I could almost feel the heat coming through that post. I am not offended by you. You've been not so nice to some people on this blog, and perhaps it was not intentional, but some have left because of things you've said. I believe the folks here enjoy your contributions to the conversations here, and are sincere in their concern for you. Do you not feel that care and concern, is that what this is about? Do we have to be stomped in order to get along with you? I hope not. I don't have room for another boot print.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 18, 2006 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Alas, it's Kraft, bh. Worse, it's with one of those synthetic margarines, not real butter. I reckon about 90% inorganic material, one way or the other. I'm surprised it isn't listed on the periodic table of elements, Kraftmacaroniandcheesium.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Ay matey. Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Take a tot'o grog for me when ye raise a toast to the Royal Navy and all'at serve in'er. Argh!

Posted by: Yoki | September 18, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

KB, you are a sweetheart. I got the message and the book, and have been reading it since the mail person left it. I laughed out loud at some of the stuff in that book. And Scripture is always right on time.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 18, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Korn invents a new football term, according to him the NFL rules NOW allows the coach to throw the challenge flag "LIGHTLY".

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Will we now have instant replays of weither the coach threw the flag lightly or with determination? Will it result in instant replay? Inquring minds want to know.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

mudge, only 5 of them were never elected. did you mean that 5 of them were elected before holding presidential office?

Posted by: sparks | September 18, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

bh, I'm really, really abashed to report it's even worse than I thought. All out of Kraft, so it's one of those generic mac-and-cheeses we got at BJ's Club. Better raise the coal-tar-derivitive content to about 95%. Plus it's 2% milk, not the good stuff.

There's no limit to the depths of depravity a man will sink to when the wife's out of town.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

No; meant that only five of the 14 veeps ran for the office, rather than succeeding to the office without an election. In short, only five veeps ran for and then were elected president.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 18, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Now, folks, let's not become like those "other" blogs -- you know the ones. We can be crabby and argumentative and hold firmly to our points o' view, and still hoist a beer together (if we are of the beer-drinking persuasion, and are not debarred from beer-consumption by other issues. In such circumstances, enjoy your celebratory potable of choice).

For my mac & cheese, I whip up a pot of white sauce with moderately big chunks of onion in it (I am a Philistine: I like my sauces lumpy with garlic and onion), and layer a casserole with pasta, then the sauce, then shredded cheese (I rather like a mix of cheddar and Swiss (Emmental), but I can't find kosher Swiss). Build it layer-by-layer. Sprinkle with sprinkle-cheese (grated hard cheese, whatever you like). Cover, and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350°F (177C), uncover and give it an additional 15 minutes. During the last 15 minutes, steam some broccoli. Simple, tasty, doesn't take all afternoon -- although, I admit, it still takes something like 1.5 hours. I have two trays of prepared mac&cheese sitting in my freezer right now, waiting to be thawed and baked.

I find that the generic crud improves immensely by throwing some peppercorns and dried onions into the water with the boiling pasta, then melt some cheese into the fluorescent orange sauce.

Thank you for coming to the Mommy Blog.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra writes:
I believe Colin Powell and Condi Rice are very intelligent people and good at what they do, just believe that perhaps they've gotten caught up in an administration that did not have a plan for Iraq, and some other things.
***

I believe that Rice and Powell were good at what they did, before their appointments within the first term of the Bush II administration. I'm willing to venture that the Peter Principle might apply in their respective, individual situations.

Powell was a great soldier and military commander, who deferred well to higher authority, as a soldier is trained to do. Rice was a solid expert on the Soviet Union and even learned Russian.

I don't think Rice was particularly competent in a changing world for her role as national security advisor, let alone Secretary of State. I think Powell was much better suited to have been SecDef, rather than SecState. Have we had a former four-star who became SecDef or SecState? I think Powell would have been a far superior pick for SecDef than Rumsfeld, who had already been SecDef for Ford, but had little or no actual battlefield experience (naval aviator and flight instructor, yes).

Powell is the cover story, in a Q&A interview with Nancy Perry Graham, in AARP's July/Aug. 2006 magazine (before you start laughing, it's the magazine with the largest ciculation numbers in the world, according to AARP). The long article is worth a read for what Powell says versus what he doesn't say. (And Graham throws him a tremendous number of softballs.)Powell acknowledges that the U.N. speech was a blot on his record and realizes he has to live with this blotch. Powell knew and also acknowledges that he was involved in "bureaucratic warfare" with Dick Cheney. Powell grants that he never had a private audience with President Bush, that Condi sat in to listen in on their exchange. (Q: Did you go into him personally, without other people? A: Yeah, one on one, me and him. [Gotta love the grammar.] Condi was there [Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who as then national security advisor] was there to listen, but I did it alone.)

Graham asks Powell why he didn't resign, if the situation was so untenable. I don't know that I buy Powell's reply.: "Why would I have quit? Because we had bad intelligence? If I had been lied to, that would have been different."

There never was a Phase IV plan for Iraq within the administration. According to you, Cassandra, Powell and Rice are just poor, yet highly intelligent, innocents who happened to have gotten swept up in this administration. I don't buy this in a Washington second, particularly in Rice's case.

Cassandra, please don't give me the old "boot print" speech. You were completely wrong when you applied it to Gustavus Loomis, and you're incorrect in applying it here.

As for being used, a person always has options: resign, separate, divorce, whatever the situation calls for. No one uses another without his or her permission--Bush's cabinet included.

Posted by: Loomis | September 18, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, that mac and cheese sounds yummy.

I don't like to spend more time cooking something than it takes to eat it, so you can imagine, I don't qualify as any kind of gourmet. But I have to say, I think it's kind of crazy to use those boxes of macaroni and cheese unless it's a purely economic issue--sometimes the generic ones are on sale 4 for a dollar, and you can stave off starvation with no money. Purely for convenience, however, they are not necessary. Here's how I make macaroni and cheese:

Boil the macaroni. Take it off the heat. Add some butter and milk, salt and pepper. Add grated cheese and stir.

It's possible to mess this up; if it's too hot the cheese can get glumpy, but once you figure that part out, you will never go back to the box version. Any kind of cheese works--sharp cheddar is traditional and great. I also like monterrey jack, muenster, gouda, mozzarella, Swiss, colby, and provolone. In any combination.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 18, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse

loomos, cool it. i'm what Casandra said.

Science Tim. Like I said good MC is not what you can whip up when the wife is late. Unless you are the exceptional husband like you that plans far ahead to freeze yours in advance of the wife being late. Much too much of the red with my steak to go on. Tomorrow morning I will go back to copy tou receipe. sounds faster than from Susan Branch. The half is over, back to the TV and finish the bottle.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: //SF wrote: "I would think it has a lot more to do with the fact that senators have a voting record, which can easily be attacked." That is a flat contradiction of what I said, TBG. That's why I think he's disagreeing with me.//

Yes. I am disagreeing with you. (I know, some nerve!)

In 3 (actually 4) respects:

1. It is my opinion that the voting record, which can be attacked, is more important in the eyes of the voters and the political operatives than the lack of governing experience. Perhaps not going back to the beginnings of time, but lately. It certainly was for Kerry-Bush.

2. I disagree that what you advance is the prevailing opinion.

3. I disagree that you can prove that it is the prevailing opinion. Nowhere is there a count of how many people agree with one theory versus the other. Having said that, I can no more prove than it isn't. My feeling is that if we were to play the experts and what they have written about it, we could each throw links that would favor our particular theory at each other for days.

4. Only 3 of the last elections turned out in favor of a governor, not 4. In the case of Bush-Gore, the senator won that election. The governor was nominated president, not elected.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

My daughter made her favorite version of Mac & Cheese for dinner tonight:

Egg noodles, cooked per package.
Drain, melt butter in pot, pour noodles back in pot and stir.
Put in individual bowl.
Shake Kraft Parmesan cheese all over.
Add a glob of apple sauce.
Stir and eat.

Yum. Better than the prevailing opinion, I'm sure.

Posted by: TBG | September 18, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: //And if that theory was MORE prevalent, you'd think a lot of people woul;d have said something like, "Yeah, I've heard that other theory, too."

Which they haven't.//

Is that how one decides whether something is correct or incorrect, around here? By acclamation? Should we do the Roman salute?

Many people have heard that the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon, that humans only use 10% of their brain cells or that water drains backwards in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of those people also think it's true. Yet all of those things are patently false.

Although I know of a few people who make a strong case for the 10% of brain cells! (no, not here of course...)

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I confess I was a believer in the drain thing. Damn you, superfrenchie, is nothing sacred? ;)

http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.htm

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 18, 2006 10:44 PM | Report abuse

ST, I forgot to ask, do you grate your own chedder? If you don't that is a 15 minute advantage if you use one of those bagged industrial processed scientific alternitives.

Posted by: bh | September 18, 2006 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? (Apply this passive-aggressively to whichever comments you like.)

I had microwave-reheated instant generic leftover macaroni tonight for supper. Mmmmm. I don't know when I lost my will to cook - but I did whip up some killer instant banana cream pudding with real banana pieces today. And I must freeze more Asian pears before they rot or the squirrels get them.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 18, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, as far "prevailing" opinion goes -- yes, it is a vote by acclamation. That's what qualifies it as "prevailing" rather than "correct." Of course, that only tests for prevalence among us, not the target population.

I believe that the cliché expression relates only to the visibility of the Great Wall from space, not from the Moon. Thus, Low Earth Orbit is good enough to qualify. China's sole veteran astronaut has confirmed that he was able to spot the Wall from LEO, and took pictures to show it. I do not believe it is visible to the unaided eye from the Moon. With appropriate camera technology, consistent with current capabilities, it should be perfectly possible to photograph it from the Moon. I am too lazy right now to calculate the angular size. I just don't care that much.

Although the actual structure of the Great Wall may be the only human-built object directly visible to the unaided eye, we have had many influences with far-reaching consequences that can be seen from space. Pollution. Lake Nasser. Probably Lake Meade. Irrigated crops in semi-arid regions. The Netherlands. The Mississippi Delta (rather, alterations from its natural state).

An amusing amount of effort has gone into showing that the direction of the vortex in draining a tub is dominated by mechanical effects in the design of the tub, rather than any Coriolis forcing, which is quite negligible.

But you're telling me that we use a quantity other than 10% of our brain cells in cognitive processes? Holy moley! Is the correct fraction greater or lesser than 10%?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I grate my own cheese. The pre-grated stuff gets nasty real fast if you don't use it right quickly after purchase. Plus, they have to coat it with some sort of dry lubricant to keep it from glomming together.

I have weakened, however, and I have taken to using pre-grated mozzarella. I just don't use mozzarella often enough or heavily enough to completely use it up before it goes to the Dark Green Side of the Fridge. I can freeze the pre-grated stuff that I buy in bulk from BJ's. It takes a little whacking to crumble the frozen globs, but it's not impossible.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 11:02 PM | Report abuse

//Well, as far "prevailing" opinion goes -- yes, it is a vote by acclamation. That's what qualifies it as "prevailing" rather than "correct."//

Except that in this case, the question is not whether WE THINK it is prevailing, but whether IT IS prevailing. And no, not amongst ourselves.

Re brain cells, see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain#Popular_misconceptions

Re Great Wall of China:

Actually, chinese astronaut Yang Liwei did not see it:

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/workinginspace/great_wall.html

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 18, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I think the last line of your 3:00 PM was overly harsh.
bc

You know Loomis, I think I just offend you period.
Cassandra

loomos, cool it. i'm what Casandra said.
bh

The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

Posted by: Error Flynn | September 18, 2006 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, dang, my memory has gotten it exactly backwards regarding the visibility of the Great Wall. Poo. Thanks for the correction.

Umm, I already agreed that a vote among ourselves establishes the prevailing opinion among the wrong population (i.e., us). It carries some secondary weight about our prevailing opinion of what we have heard is the prevailing opinion.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

that was what i meant mudge, i was just trying to draw a distinction between those who ran for president as president, after the death of the previous president and those who ran for president as vice president (or vice president emeritus, not sure if we have any of those or not.)

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, Error, you just picked an interesting day. Nice to see you lurking. Cassandra's been asking after you.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

jack's m&c:

Preheat your oven to 375F. Can't convert it to metric as I post but I'd guess 200C. If you have a convection setting, use it and heed the cooking time addendum below.

Get a large pyrex bowl, like the green one or the yellow one that used to come as part of a nested set of pyrex bowls Mom had, and smear it thoroughly with real butter.

Put on enough HOH to cook 2# of elbow 'ronis; salt the water, then...

Grate 1 1/2# of NY Sharp Cheddar. Nothing else will do.

Melt 1/2 stick of real butter in a large saucepan. When the butter is melted, add a couple of heaping tablespoons of flour and whisk to make a white roux. Measure about a teaspoon of salt, black pepper in your palm (about the diameter of a quarter, but piled up) and about 1/2 the latter amount of dry mustard (optional since I don't consume mustard in any form; bugs won't eat it, so I don't). Keep whisking until the flour begins to turn the slightest shade of gold.

Gradually add somewhere in the vicinity of three cups of milk to the roux, slowly as to avoid lumps. Turn up the fire and heat it until it thickens, nearly to boiling. Add half of the cheese to the mixture and whisk it in to make a cheese sauce. Keep this on a med. low heat.

The water should be boiling, so throw in the 'ronis. Cook them only 1/2 the recommended time, about 7 min.

By this time, everything should be ready for assembly. Take the 'ronis off, drain them and shock them with cold water.

Ladle enough sauce into the bottom of the bowl, add a layer of macaroni, and sprinkle enough grated cheese from you reserve to cover the 'ronis. Repeat these steps: sauce, 'ronis, cheese; until you're near the top of the bowl. End with a layer of grated cheese.

Get another medium sauce pan. Melt 1/3 - 1/2 stick of real butter in it.

Take about seven slices of middle class white bread and gently use a bread knife to cube it while the butter melts.

Add the bread to the butter and try to let all of the cubes get a bath; this is best done with your hands.

Cover the top of the m&c with the bread cubes and pop it in the oven until the cubes brown up and the cheese sauce is bubbly, about 45 min., about 10 min. less for the aforementioned convection setting. Let it rest for 5 min. or so after removing it from the oven.

I attempted to convert the oven temp. to metric, without converting all of the rest of the stuff. Y'all are smart enough to handle it. Start to finish, about 1 1/4 hr. Packaged grated cheese saves time.

I'm so tired of the administration's incompetency/blundering that it's beyond words. If only we could mobilize the masses through the blog...


Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

EF: I almost added "where's EF when you need him ?" to the end of my last post. I miss your civility and wry sense of humor. You hit it right on the head agein. When you're elected, I will respectfully petition for the Secretary of Useless Information vacancy.

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Hey, EF, nice to see you're still looking in occasionally. Yep, nothing much changes. Somehow I once again mentioned something that spiraled into a squabble. Nothing but trivial posts from me from now on. Bayou Self posted awhile back - maybe you knew that.

I'm going to retreat to my corner and sing Kumbaya.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 12:33 AM | Report abuse

SCC - not that I post much that could not be called trivial anyway

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 12:37 AM | Report abuse

And I'm waiting for Achenfan to give the definitive word on the drain business.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the first poster here, bc. The article doesn't exactly break new ground (maybe the book does). But it's good to have the patronage and idiocy in the CPA documented for posterity; maybe someone will learn.

However, the CPA isn't the only victim of patronage. Take a look at our own Capitol Hill, every administration, etc. My guess is some very muted, maybe different, form of it also exists in the Washington Post's operations.

Not to excuse the CPA follies, just think it's useful to take a wider view of phenomenon when we express our outrage.

Posted by: bakedalaska | September 19, 2006 1:25 AM | Report abuse

if i were clever, i'd write a higgledy piggledy or a limerick in pirate-speak.

ARRR arr arr ARRRR

but i'm not...

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 19, 2006 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Ahoy, mateys!

Shiver me timbers!

A Happy National Talk Like a Pirate Day to ye!

Arrr!

bc

Posted by: bc | September 19, 2006 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Error! Good to hear from you! Hope you'll be back with us!

Posted by: slyness | September 19, 2006 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Error Flynn is that really you? So glad you checked in. I hope everything is going well with you. Good morning, Nani. We've missed you, Error, and Nani.

And to Loomis, I'm crazy about you too. I cannot get in a word fight with you Loomis about Colin Powell and Condi Rice. I don't have the kind of information that is available to you to make my point. I'll stick with my earlier observations, if that is okay with you.

Pat, I went outside my apartment this morning to check the weather, and looked up at the sky, and it was some kind of reddish tint. And it was so humid. We're expecting rain today so I don't think I'm walking this morning. I'm a Baptist, but don't want to get wet. Already have enough aches and pains.

All that talk about mac and cheese sounds like an atery buster. Rich, rich. I love it too. Not the box, but the real deal.

Ivansmom, Mr. Bush may be exactly what you say, but at some point in this country racisim does rear its ugly head. I don't believe people get up in the morning with the intention of being racist. I do believe there are things in the system that promote racisim and the practice is sometimes done unmindful. Just certain practices and situations that have been done over the years that people may not even consider racist, but have those overtones. I am probably not putting this well, but I hope you can understand what it is I'm trying to say. It is just basically the way we treat each other. The one on one thing I talk about sometimes. Habits, mannerisms, behavior, all it combined at times to treat some differently, but done so long, not able to see wherein it may be offensive and treat others less than.

It is suppose to rain today, but I believe it will be a good day even with the rain. I have said my prayers this morning, and as always blessings have been asked for you and yours. May you know that God loves you so much more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!

Hey EF!!! *waving madly*

jack, sorry, but I MUST contest your appointment as SUI and throw my hat in the ring. I'm obviously the reigning useless trivia meister here.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Happy Pirate's day. Dread Pirate Roberts is my favorite pirate. Second favorite is that dude who created Napster.

I think everyone needs to relax and remember why we are here, which is, of course, to make fun of Joel's hair.

Pat, when I got up this morning the sky was, like, totally dark, so you really aren't missing a thing.

I hope one of you allegedly clever people can decode my pirate code.

The secret to good mac and cheese is the secret to so many good things in life. Butter, and lots of it.

Remember, just because you see something in print doesn't give it greater validity than if it were simply spoken. It should be just as easy to ignore.

Like this post.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Hey RDP;

Arr, tho he be landbound, aye must reckon Dennis Moore as me favorite pirate, mateys.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Mostly, you didn't do anything, it's always hanging in the air. I'm not perfect, don't profess to be, get on folks nerves to no end. But guess what, it's okay, these same folks get on peoples' nerves too. And in my book, it's always okay to tell the truth, even when it's "a not so like" truth.

Nelson, your assessment of the Republican in relation to African-Americans is right on target. I'm a registered Democrat, and have been for most of my life; however, my people have been known to vote for the person instead of the party. Those that show interest in the things that are important to us, such as fair treatment, breaking down walls of exclusion, and more inclusive government, as well as those things that most Americans consider important. The Republican Party over the years has not shown that much interest in African-Americans being a part of their group. And as I said earlier, some from the Democratic Party during the Civil Rights Era took flight to the Republican Party, so to me, and I suspect some of my race, that would not make one "warm and fuzzy" about the Republican Party. But then, sometimes we fall into error by following party lines, but it just seems that the Democratic Party has been a little more receptive to folks like me. But we all know that if by some strange force, people leave their homes and vote, the political scene as we now know it will most certainly change.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

RD, you are so right about the butter, and lots of it. That's one things that is said whether in person or in post that stands, and stands, tall.

KB, complicated book, but a good read. Still on it.

Pat, a quick glance, and the sky may not be interesting, but a full view offers up a world of colors, tints, shades, and nuances. But that's just me.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - Aye, Dennis Moore is a fine one. Then again, I be thinking Cleese is a divine being.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I do far more lurking than posting here so maybe I'm out of line, or maybe that gives me a less partial viewpoint. I also admit to having a very short fuse for rudeness. But here goes.

I don't think the mere fact that one posts on this Boodle gives one the license to use blunt and often hurtful words to criticise another boodler's opinions. I've said previously that the thing that attracted me here was the intelligence and civility of the commenters. I can understand a snarky reply to a troll who comes here with uninformed and/or outrageous statements, but I do not get why a regular poster would stoop to ill mannered language when addressing another regular. Sure there is a temptation to shoot off a quick, angry retort now and then, but with the aid of an online thesaurus and the preview button, plus the knowledge that once one commits words to the printed page, there is no taking them back, the temptation could be resisted. One would think that intelligent people could fashion their statements of disagreement with more wit than venom. Failing that, a simple, "I disagree with your comment and here's why," would suffice without raising hackles and driving away good people like Error ( and possibly Nani).

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers - That was a very eloquent post. The rule of thumb I try to follow (mostly...) is that if you wouldn't say it to somebody in person, then don't type it. And if you would say such things to somebody in person, well, perhaps you need to consider a career as a mime.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:46 AM | Report abuse

What sneakers said.

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

RDP;

Yarr, there be plenty o' mimes rude enough to make ye parrot blush, me fine friend!

Yo ho ho!!! (pirate *L* IIRC)

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Sneak, I generally agree with you and RDP. OTOH, I think one also needs to be a bit tolerant of occasional barbs. It seems to be the nature of the net world that folks will sometimes say things here they wouldn't say in person. However, if the barbs and flames continue and/or become personal, then everyone has license to jump on the offender.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 19, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Error Flynn, please come back. A couple of harsh words are not characteristic of the boodle in the last several weeks.

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Another bit this morning in favor of the argument that the voting record counts for a lot:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/18/AR2006091801353.html

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Here's Eugene Robinson's article this morning, an argument that a clean slate on Foreign Policy may not be a positive when considering Presidential hopefuls.

Re voting records, if I understand the way your bills get passed, don't Senators often vote on a bill they may not agree with in order to get something they want included or passed in the future, thereby looking at the mere voting record does not tell the true story?

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link - Sorry

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/18/AR2006091800995.html

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Arrgh, S'nuke...I guess I kin work with ye...

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

dmd: //don't Senators often vote on a bill they may not agree with in order to get something they want included or passed in the future, thereby looking at the mere voting record does not tell the true story?//

Of course it doesn't tell the whole story. It's just great for sound bites, which pretty much is how someone gets elected, or not.

Did you know that Kerry voted for 350 tax increases:

http://www.slate.com/id/2097656

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I think if we elect based on sound bites, this includes my country, they we really get the leaders we deserve.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

RD, shouldn't that be

"I think sea dogs an' land lubbers needs t' relax an' reckon why we be here, which be, o' course, t' make fun o' Joel`s hair."

Courtesy a pirate translator at

http://www.syddware.com/cgi-bin/pirate.pl

All I hear running through my head is Gaby Hayes. How about Gaby Hayes talking like a pirate?

Dadgumit, what in tarnation be goin' on?

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SCC then we, not they we

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

SCC then we, not they we

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

In honour of talk like a pirate day I translated by Bush quote of the day from Google. Thanks dr, I would translate my writing but it is confusing enough as I write.

We hold dear what our Declaration o' Independence says, that all be havin' got uninalienable starboards, endowed by a Creator.
--George w. Bush

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Here's yon kneehaulin' clerihew, mateys

Pirate Arrenbach
After bein' shot by Jacques on th' dock
O'er stereotypes o' th' French
Chose a better life o' rum an' a wench


Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Ahoy or avast or summat, mateys! Faith 'n begorra, Error! Oops, wrong day. Maybe I'll stick with Howdy!

Cassandra, I absolutely agree with you about the systemetic & habitual face of racism -- and I'd even say there are in fact some folks who wake up in the morning and know they're going to be racist. It is just that I so seldom say a good thing about W that when I find one (however qualified it is) I feel like I should repeat it.

All you mac 'n cheese folks make me jealous -- I live with two guys who truly think the Kraft boxes are food. They even prefer the ones with plastic cheese to the ones you mix with milk and butter. Sigh.

You realize, of course, that the running dispute about governance v. voting record as qualifications for election actually (shudder) complements the Kit's discussion of echo chambers and actual qualifications. We've been on-topic all this time!

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 19, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

And no, they don't eat the boxes. I know you all -- bunch of pedants. Science types. Precise.

RD, that was a CODE?

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 19, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm off to a pointless meeting. Arrgh!

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 19, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Pat, sorry I forgot the sky report. On my daily grocery trip (necessitated by the fact that I have NO kitchen right now), there were lots of grey bottomed cumulus clouds hurrying across the sky. By the time I got home, they had vanished and it is just pure blue.

What I wouldn't give to be able to make mac & cheese, or any food that needs a stove top. I have a mad craving for hard boiled eggs, Call me fussy, but the instructions for producing them in the microwave don't sound like what I have in mind. (Separate oiled containers, poke the yolk first, etc.) You know, I haven't truly cooked a real meal, not counting quick ones on the grill, since we moved here in May.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom;

Do ye not be thinkin' in Pirate Morse already, ye learned wench, ye?? Arrrgh, ye old cursed grog had me a-sleepin' through that class in Pirate School, damn me to Davey Jones' Locker!

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - Yes! I figured either you or Mudge would recognize it as Pirate Morse because of your background as military men.
Pirate Morse is handy to know in case we are suddenly attacked by extra-terrestrial pirates ala "Independence Day: Pirate Edition." (And if it were an illegal download it would be a pirated pirate edition.)

Going back to work know.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

scc: know. now. Whatever it takes.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers, crock pots can help too.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Avast, ye scurvy dog! Bad Sneakers, you lack yon pirrrate spirit. Ye got the fire o' the grill, no? Arrr.

Ye put the pot o' eggs on it, an' yon eggs will cook before yon pot blackens. Or, get and wet yer swagskin, fill it with eggs and water and let it cook o'er the fire. That be more piratic, ye ken?
When 'tis boiled, eat wi' yer hardtack.

Top off with some port as ye list to starboard wi' joy o' bein' full.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Ahoy, Pat, the sky is as gray as the cook's Tuesday gruel, but there's a fair breeze off the larboard bow.

We're three leagues to windward of a son of a bilge rat Plaintiff today. She thinks she's home and away with the Queen's gold, but we'll be boarding her by sundown.

Posted by: Scurvy Son o' Carl | September 19, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers: an electric skillet can be a wonderful thing.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Aye, if you want to landlub, go electric not piratic.
But remember a right galley slave knows the secrets of not kindlin' the tinder of a ship when brewin' swill. 'Tis that wet wood dasn't torch an' burn.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Science Tim, you mean like the one I threw out in the pre-move tossing frenzy? It gets worse, the refrigerator, which is now in the dining room, is on the same circuit as the microwave on the porch which has made even zapping food a challenge as the breaker keeps tripping. I'm waiting for the electrician to come do some reconfiguring of the electrical lines. I've got plenty of space in the breaker box since I got rid of the electric stove.

Wilbrod, LOL! My grill is charcoal and I packed up all my pots and pans, but I may just run out and buy a cheap pot. Praytell, what is a 'swagskin?'

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

This wench tells how they boarded The HMS Wife Swap and carried off pride and pieces o' eight.
http://www.keeptothecode.com/12features.html

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The WaPo article about the Canadian citizen that we kidnapped and had tortured is horrifying: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/18/AR2006091800883.html

There was a time, just a few years ago, when someone would make the claim that the U.S. government had kidnapped him, tortured him, and covered it up, and I would have laughed it off. We're the U.S. We don't do that. We make an easy target for lurid accusations because we are a powerful world leader, but we don't do that sort of thing. Those are the actions of illegitimate governments, governments that rule the people against their will. We are a government *of* the people.

One of the most painful consequences of the Bush Administration (for those of us who have not actually been tortured, ourselves) is that I can no longer believe that such accusations are patently false. My presumption now is that they are true. How have we permitted our country to come to this? I'm sure most of us here did not vote in favor of these evil-minded fools. But clearly, we could have been more persuasive in making our case against them, so it's our fault, too.

Even scarier: if this had just been Bush's administration, then surely the government and the military would have been full of people who would recoil from such actions, who would have refused the order or publicly resigned rather than compromise themselves and our nation this way. So, I have to believe now that we have been sliding down this slope for a long time. Bush is only the one who publicly endorsed it, and encouraged it to become official policy. Did previous Presidents know that we did these things? Or was it just "day-to-day operations", stuff that the Chief Executive wasn't even aware of? And does that make it better, or worse?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

And another thing: we sent this poor fellow to Syria. Syria? I thought that we had, at most, very limited dealings with Syria. It's officially labelled as a state sponsor of terrorism, isn't it? But when we want a confession beaten out of a guy, they become our buddies?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers, how about picking up a small camp stove. It saved me from death by grill during our kitchen reno. Or rather:

Bad Sneakers, how about pickin' up a wee camp stove. 't saved me from Davy Jones' locker by grill durin' our galley reno.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Avast, a swagskin is a leather wineskin for swaggin' grog.

Leather, ye ken, dasn`t burn if 't be soaked an' has boilin` drink in 't an ye hung 't above th' fire then take 't off before 't boils dry.

Ye could use an old seafarin' hearty boot if ye dasn't mind a lil' seafarin' hearty flavor t' yer eggs.

Posted by: Pirate Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Scurvy Sono'Carl, that sounds like fun!

Cass, I was ROTFL when I read this story from Molly Ivins, so enjoy:

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/columnists/molly_ivins/15526062.htm

Posted by: slyness | September 19, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

SciTim, I believe our government, intelligence officials share some of the cupability (sp) in the Arar case and perhaps many others if the reports of rendition flights landing here on route elsewhere are correct.

Wilbrod, sadly my daughter and I have a fascination with Wife Swap, I am not proud of it, it is trashy but amuses us and last night we watched that Pirate episode, my justification for last night was research for talk like a pirate day.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Gotta agree wi` ye, SciTim.

Aye, make th` lad`s keel haul th` plank or drop th` lad`s off on a tropical isle fer a lil` thinkin`, but arrr, ye dan`t drop e`en th` scurviest dog off in th` desert wi` camels an` landlubbers fer a lil` torture.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Science Tim, after a royal commission up here part of the finding is that your people were given information that was less than good.

http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/09/18/maher-arar.html

There were some interesting things that came out in this inquiry about US law, and the rights of those who just so happen to be passing through your fair and fine nation. What the lady from your justice dept said reportedly made the courtroom fall silent.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

dmd - i share your shame... it's like a train wreck isn't it? you WANT to stop but gosh darnit... you just CAN'T! of course, i justified it when i heard they were the fam that made up "talk like a pirate day"... (and the non-pirate husband - what a jacka$$ he was, huh? sheesh!)

oh, ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! avast ye scurvy lot! be we havin' bph tonite?

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse

mo I just spend the hour thinking what makes these people want to be on the show and trying to decide what they are making up and whats real.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

ARRR! Methinks the greatest pirate of all time be captain blood, character o' the great errol flynn. The dread pirate roberts portrayor, cary elwes, been channelin' flynn since he been just a wee bilge rat.

as for the discussion on racism, there's an interesting chapter in a book called freakonomics (which i am sure many of you have read) where he looks at the tv show "the weakest link" to determine if there is racial or gender prejudice in the way people get voted off. I believe the result was that women and blacks were voted off commensurately with how well they answered questions, while (correct me if i'm wrong, because i don't quite remember) hispanics and old people were actually discriminated against much more. his theory was that in our society, we have become so aware of, and consequentially averse to, gender discrimination and discrimination against blacks that people are no longer willing to admit that they hold these prejudices in public, even if their vote is anonymous.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I missed 't-- I thought I be hallucinatin' when I saw gentlemen and wenches o' fortune on TV an' decided t' cut down on me grog an' lie down.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

ScienceTim -- what part bothers you? That an *innocent* man was subjected to such a nightmare? Or that our nation engages in torture *at all*?

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I dan't know about SciTim, Wench Annie, but th' thinkin` o' torturin' foreigners bothers me, especially our handin' th' dirty jobs o'er t' other governments. Canadians-- I mean, what`s next, secretly disappearin' US citizens whenerethey go on a `trip`? Think about 't.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Annie...I won't be able to make it tonight, but thank you for offering to meet me out front. I would really like to attend (I gotta put faces and voices to names). Let me know when the next one will be?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 19, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Tim, my feeling is that it has a lot to do with "American exceptionalism," which from my vantage point is deeply anchored in the American psyche, and in turn in most Americans.

How can a leader of a country that considers itself morally superior could ever do anything immoral?

Feel free to answer me (or not) in the next thread.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I takes it as a given, true as the North Star, that the heaviest ball on the brass monkey when the enemy was the pox-y Reds was that we was in large part on the side of the angels, and every swabbie over there knew it, even when they were shinin' ol' Cap'n Ivan's boots.

Some marks you can't scrape off the deck, and if we want this ship to make it all the way 'round the Horn, we should keep in mind that either ye practice the keel-hauling and cat o'nine tails or ye don't.

Posted by: Scurvy Son o' Carl | September 19, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I see ol' Linky hisself has tried to give us the slip. New Kit, three points off the starboard bow. Hoist the top gallants, me hearties.

Posted by: Scurvy Son o' Carl | September 19, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

annie asked: "ScienceTim -- what part bothers you? That an *innocent* man was subjected to such a nightmare? Or that our nation engages in torture *at all*?"

That we do it at all. Arar's innocence merely happens to explain why the story has come to light. Torture is indefensible in every way:

(a) it's of no value: a man with a real secret may be able to hold that secret against torture, but a man with no real secret will say whatever it takes to make the torture stop. Having a real secret, a secret that matters, can give you something to hold onto. So long as I keep my secret, I defeat you.

(b) It erodes our ability to recruit allies. The world was with us after 9/11. We could have led them anywhere and accomplished great things that would have been derided as idealistic claptrap beforehand. Now, the world doubts us. We have made ourselves as bad as those who oppose us. If you were one of our erstwhile allies, wouldn't you suspect that there is greater safety for everyone in letting the U.S. be weakened by its overt enemies? A weak "torturer" state is less frightening and dangerous to other nations than a strong "torturer" state. We have assured our allies that it is better, and safer, to desert us.

(c) It destroys us. It undermines the essence of the shared values that make it possible to operate as a democratic state. How can I be sure that these tactics never will be used against me or other citizens? There's no reason to think the government would stop short of using it against political opponents; maybe not today, but what about tomorrow? Other governments do it. Which means, the survivalists and black-helicopter crowd may be right. It's every man for himself. We need to be prepared for war against our own government, because our government is on the path to illegitimacy.

(Please note: I am describing the nature of the slippery slope. I don't think we have reached the bottom yet, by any means. But we need to act soon to reverse our slide. We can see where the slide ends up.)

(d) It's simply, purely, evil. We do not purify the world by torturing evil persons, assuming we can even be accurate in identifying them. We simply transfer their evil to ourselves. Mortification of the flesh does not exorcise demons. Mortification of someone else's flesh simply multiplies the (metaphoric) demons. It replaces the one evil person in the room, the victim of torture, with a whole roomful of evil persons, the torturers.

As an individual, I find (d) the most persuasive. However, it is unfashionable these days for a secular person like myself to advocate morality, and religious morality is routinely abused and reinterpreted to justify the policy of the moment. Points a-c are arguments that we serve our self-interest better by refusing torture. Torture is impractical and destructive, regardless of whether you (the metaphoric you) are sufficiently depraved to think it would be personally satisfying to torment someone that (you suspect) holds a desire to do us harm.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Tim:

Torture sends a message: Be nice to Americans! Or else they will bring you democracy.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse


YO HO (A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME)
Lyrics by Xavier Atencio and music by George Bruns
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

We're rascals, scoundrels, villans, and knaves,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Posted by: omni | September 19, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim -- thank you for your thoughtful answer. Here's another question: Suppose you had in captivity a person whom you knew was in possession of information which, if passed along to you, you could use to avert the murders of hundreds or even thousands of innocent people. Suppose further that this prisoner was not willing to share the information out of the goodness of his heart, and that the attack was imminent.

I would argue that in such a situation you have the right, indeed the *obligation*, to extract the information -- by torture if he makes that necessary.

So the question in my mind therefore is when, not whether, torture is justifiable.

It gives me no pleasure to hold this position, need I add.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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