Is Dennis Miller America’s Top Douchebag?

Here is my favorite brush with greatness story. During my first year of doing standup comedy, a friend of mine was booked to open for Dennis Miller. My friend knew what a huge fan I was of Miller, so he asked if I wanted to go to the show with him. My friend added that he would introduce me to him after the show. Now I’m not the type generally to get starstruck, but this was one of the 10 people I most would have wanted to meet on the planet, so I gladly took the invitation.

After the show ended, I went back to the dressing room. Since it was a theatre show, it was a good sized room, with about 10 people mulling around in it. Papa John’s pizza boxes were on one table and Dennis was sitting at the other table. A few radio contest winners for the show were in line to get an autograph from Miller. I stepped behind them at the end of the line. I’m not an autograph guy, but I did want to mention to Miller how much I admired his work.

So the last person in front of me is done. I step up to Dennis. Without even looking up he says "Do you have something you want me to sign?"

I offered up, "I just wanted to tell you how much I love your act. I’m a young comic and you, Carlin, Kinison, and Bill Hicks are the reason I wanted to be a comic."

Without skipping a beat, he offers a quick, "OK", then lifts his head up looking completely past me and yells over "hey, save me some of that fuckin’ pizza."

 

This was it. I walked away a bit sheepishly and our lives continued on. I’m glad that the whole thing went down the way it did, though, because of a couple of reasons.

  1. It was completely in keeping with the behavior he exibits on stage. Wouldn’t you feel a bit let-down if you met Simon Cowell on the street and he treated you nicely?
  2. The experience has helped me keep my focus when annoying audience members ramble aimlessly to me after shows, as I don’t want to do a "Dennis Miller" to them.

If your guess is that I never could watch him again, you would be wrong. My brushoff with greatness happened at what I consider the peak of Miller’s career, the early 1990’s. I continued to be a big fan of his standup specials, his talk shows, and anything that didn’t include him acting. Any topical comedian has a hard time transitioning into an acting role, as they have developed such a strong persona which is based on opinionated rhetoric. It is really hard for the general public to buy you as anything else. Chris Rock is the one political satirist I can list that has somewhat broken past that stereotype, but even his success rate has been low when he is the lead of a movie.

When Miller was at his peak, I believe he was the greatest topical standup of all-time. Carlin has always been more of a big picture guy, not usually caught up in the specific events of the moment. Dennis Miller was like Mort Sahl, but much funnier. While Lewis Black is the premier standup of this decade whose main focus is politics, he can’t hold a candle to what Miller was doing between 1985-95.

As much fun as Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd, and Bill Murray provided as anchors on SNL’s Weekend Update, Miller brought the segment to a whole new level. During his tenure doing Update, his material was smarter and edgier than any topical humor that had ever aired on Network TV. The Daily Show is half a Dennis Miller fake news rant and half a Michael Moore-like satirical journalism piece. Craig Kilborn always seemed to be doing an homage to Miller. Current host Jon Stewart is the closest thing I’ve seen to Miller during his prime, but he has never had a stand-up set as good as Mr. Miller Goes to Washington or Black and White.

My problems with Miller began when he started shilling for any commercial product who offered him a nickel. Ads for 10-10-220 or Net Zero proved that he was the potential kiss of death to a complete industry. I mean how often do you now use a long distance phone carrier or a dial-up internet service provider? He also was a pitchman for Miller Lite and did a lot of commercials for M&M’s. I have no problem with anyone trying to make a buck, but when you have built your career on pointing out the foibles of the rich and famous, you have to be really careful what you do yourself. When you are willing to interview a hard-shelled chocolate candy for a paycheck, I believe you lose a bit of credibility, as ripping on some politician for taking a free lunch from a lobbyist can seem a bit hypocritical.

As the decade came to a close, Miller started to lose a little steam, but considering he spent 15 years consistently blasting out great takes on political events, it was liable to occur. I would be delirious with joy, if I could say I had written 5% of the great stuff that Dennis Miller has produced. This was not to say that he still wasn’t one of the best at what he does, just that he seemed to be more interested in other opportunites.

In 2000, Miller took on his biggest challenge when he was asked to join the Monday Night Football booth. I was excited about the idea, as I felt a smart, funny voice during the game could really be revolutionary. It didn’t work, as he was too reverential to the players and coaches, never capturing the tell it like it is style of Howard Cosell. I cut him some slack for not wanting to be too strident in his opinions on athletes who are twice his size, but challenging the status quo, instead of being a mouthpiece for the league (like the typical color man/ex-jock provides) was the only way he would serve a purpose in the booth. Instead he offered up a few esoteric references that pissed off many of the average football fans tuning in, while calling some coach each week a genius.

While his syndicated talk show in 1992 flopped, it wasn’t because he didn’t do a good job, just that The Tonight Show killed it by basically saying " if you want to appear on our show you won’t appear on his show." The Monday Night Football gig was the first large scale failure of his career and he has never seemed to have the same spark since then. The increasing respect that Bill Maher developed from his standup specials and Politically Incorrect show made Miller seem like an after-thought to many on the Left.

Miller claims that the events of 9/11 pushed his viewpoints more to the right of center. While I can respect this turn, I think he has lost more credibility by being a rubber stamp for the military policies of George W. Bush. Hollywood is made up mainly of liberals, so his turn into a comedic commentator against the Left has marked him by many in the entertainment world as a pariah. Being a bit of a contrarian myself, I have some respect for Miller taking the path less traveled, in regards to becoming a conservative political satirist. My problem stems from his stridency towards defending Bush. Even if you believed in the goals of going to Iraq, it’s pretty obvious that the War has been horribly mismanaged. Of course, when you have traveled in Air Force One and have appeared at fund raisers for the President, it does make it more difficult to be fair and balanced.

Instead, in 2004, Miller made the cardinal sin when it comes to being a topical comic. Here’s what he said about doing jokes about Dubya.

I like him. I’m going to give him a pass. I take care of my friends.

While some might see this as being a standup guy, in the stand-up world of the topical comedian, you can’t take the President off the radar. It’s like unilaterally disarming. How can I respect the guy’s views, when he isn’t calling the game with even a modicum of criticism for the President? While I believe the biggest weakness to the Daily Show is how it skews too far to the left, it still makes a target of Democrats who can get the show a laugh. I don’t think comedians or radio talk show hosts need to be right down the middle, but I struggle to listen to anyone who can’t concede that neither side is always right or wrong.

After another high profile failure hosting a political talk show at CNBC, Miller has bounced over to Fox News, appearing on many of their shows as a regular guest. He recently started up a daily radio show which is syndicated all over the country. Even though some of what he spouts off about doesn’t sound like something he truly believes in, the way he says it is often so brilliantly constructed I do listen. To think that the same guy who brought Henry Rollins to a national audience and would regularly feature someone like Janeane Garafalo (both on his 1990’s talk shows) is now hobnobbing with the likes of Sean Hannity.

When I’m channel-surfing, I will still continue to stop and see what Miller has to offer because he has built up enough collateral with me from his great body of work. Unfortunately though, he no longer holds any type of exalted status with me. For awhile, I thought Miller would come out and make a mea culpa, admitting that he had been dosed by Karl Rove with some right-wing Jonestown kool-aid. (And tell me that flavor wouldn’t sell well here. Hey, you could drink it out of a No Spin mug.) I have given up on this fantasy of Miller talking fire at both sides again, so I’m a lot less apt to try to seek out his opinions. And I can tell you with full confidence that I wished I would have walked over to that table in the dressing room, picked up all those "fuckin’ boxes of pizza" and thrown them against the wall. Egotistical douchebag. But of course, that’s just my opinion.

 

93 thoughts on “Is Dennis Miller America’s Top Douchebag?

  1. 1.  “Recent census figures indicate whites are now a minority in New York City. And I for one am tired of being hassled by The Man.”

    On SNL and his HBO show, he was brilliant. And at times, he could be as hard on Clinton as anybody. He could skewer the left as skillfully as the right. But his conversion to the dark side is certainly puzzling, especially since he continues to be an apologist for the right. Nice piece.

  2. 3.  I always enjoyed Miller, even before he became enlightened and migrated more toward my position on the political spectrum 🙂

    While I do agree that Miller’s material has fallen off, I have no problem with his feelings about Bush. In this day and age, it has become all too easy to pile on Bush and call Iraq a failure, but I don’t agree with that position (I strongly believe history will be much kinder to Bush than the present). Miller is one of the few public figures who seems to feel the same way (and strongly so on many counts), so I have no problem with him deciding to not kick the same dead horse.

  3. 4.  Scott nails it by calling Miller out on that quote about Bush. An unwillingness to recognize the falibility of either side is death to critical thinking not just in comedy but in life. Stewart and Maher have absolutely killed the Democrats over their relenting on the war funding/timetables, while Maher has fallen in love with Republican candidate Ron Paul. It’s not about us vs. them, it’s about the quality and integrity of ideas and about doing the right thing.

  4. 5.  Is Dennis Miller as funny as he once was? No. Do I blame the guy for not publicly bashing someone he calls a friend? Not at all.

  5. 6.  I think Miller seems off these days primarily because he’s backing the dead horse, not kicking it. Regardless of you opinion on the war, it’s clear to all but the most brain dead supporters that it hasn’t gone as planned. The administration’s own stated reasons for pursuing war have changed monthly if not daily. The left has viewed this as a historical clusterfuck, the clear-eyed right at the very least sees Iraq as a missed opportunity.

    Miller by continuing to parrot Tony Snow looks like an out of touch TV dad from 1966 who keeps mumbling that “this rock and roll thing is a fad”.

    I wonder how much they are paying him to be the last comic on the Titanic??

  6. 7.  I don’t bash my friends on-stage, either. My problem with Miller is that he should have never gotten close enough to Dubya to consider him a friend. This is the same beef I have with some of the Washington media elite who go to dinner parties with the same people they cover. By doing this, you lose your objectivity. Miller is a topical comic. To take the President off of your radar wrecks your credibility.

  7. 8.  7 The old Dennis Miller probably would have said something like “I like George W. Bush, but sometimes he’s full of shit.”

    It would have probably been followed by an obscure reference.

  8. 9.  I don’t have a huge opinion on Dennis Miller, I agree he has fallen off of his game, as I suppose most people do after a long string of good performance, but otherwise, don’t really care. My question is, why in the last 2 years or so has douche and douchebag become such a huge insult? Five, ten years ago, it was a second tier insult, rarely used at all. What has vaulted it back to prominence? What was behind its decline in usage? These are the things that interest me.

  9. 10.  His radio show is mediocre at best, with his Hawkish ways causing me to change the channel all too often. I was looking forward to listening to it, but now I only flip over to it if sports radio is on commercial (or talking about racing).

    I think a friend of mine who was a huge Dennis Miller fan 10 years ago said it best, “I think the Dennis Miller of the 90s would have made fun of the current Dennis Miller for his political viewpoints.”

    Maybe the most frustrating thing is he still can reel you in every couple of weeks because that underlying talent is still there. It’s just disappointing, really.

  10. 11.  My guess is it has something to do with the ever-changing landscape of radio censorship. This was one word that has a visceral quality in its insult that could still be uttered across the airwaves. I don’t even know after the Imus deal if you can still use it, though.

    Comedians have a great ability to bring some words or phrases to the popular culture. As a member of the profession, let me proudly accept this award and thank all of you that have put Douchebag on the pedestal it deserves.

    Note: I’ve been using the word and its different forms for the past 20 years. A more fun way of calling someone an asshole.

  11. 12.  I think it’s really hard to do conservative, political comedy. (I don’t know enough about Larry the Cable Installer or the Blue Collar Tour to say if their views are expressly conservative, so I may be wrong).

    The Daily Show has a left slant, but (to me) it seems really organic. I don’t know that you could do a conservative Daily Show and not make it forced. I’d like to see it, but I get the feeling that anyone in that genre would just do what Miller is doing, i.e. being a company shill.

    That being said, I saw some clips of that Red Eye show on Fox, and thought it was genuinely hilarious.

  12. 13.  11. Yeah, asshole is one of those insults that has really fallen by the wayside in place of douche. Where I’ve just really seen douche explode is in chatrooms and blogs.

  13. 14.  13 Exploding douches, now THERE’S a visual.

    Dennis Miller is (unfortunately) now one of the biggest douchebags in entertainment, but not in America. I would reserve that sobriquet for those hold real power and wield it as true assholes. Everyone can fill in their own blanks here, but I’d start with certain political power brokers and some mega-corporate CEOs.

  14. 15.  Miller publicly stated that Sept. 11 changed him and it would change his comedy. Then he goes out and acts as he said he would.

    That’s honorable. If he’s a “douche” simply because you disagree with his stance on Islamic radicalism et al, that’s your problem, not his.

    If he’s a douche because he was an asshole backstage, then that’s understandable.

  15. 16.  Well said. Dennis was the quote for my high school year book photo, back in 1990. Wonder if I can get that, and my youth, back.

    Or to put it in Miller-esque terms, Dennis’ career makes as much sense as a frickin’ Fellini ending. Ease off the Rogaine cha-cha, there’s enough chemicals on your noggin to qualify for a Superfund cleanup, cause some of the run-off is starting to seep into the underground aquifer. Capice?

  16. 17.  15 I think Scott explained quite clearly why he thinks Miller is a douche:
    1) He’s a topical comedian who tells no jokes at the expense of the president. It might emboldenate the terroists.
    2) Sticking with #1 through the complete CF that is the Iraq war and the WH’s tortured justications thereof.

    Basically, Leary’s no longer relevant by virtue of the material he will or will not do. Because he won’t reconsider point that, he’s now on the same level of the Washington Times.
    Washinton Times = Douches.
    QED.

  17. 18.  I worked at a Bank that Miller frequented quite often, and he was always kind and cordial. Of course, we were dealing with his money, so maybe that is why.

  18. 19.  Scott just thinks Dennis Miller is a douche because he’s a conservative.

    Well, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart are bigger douches, and less funny douches.

    So why not pick on them?

  19. 20.  I think it’s really hard to do conservative, political comedy.

    Seriously?
    The far left enviromental, PETA crowd jokes write themselves.

  20. 21.  The politically correct side of liberalism, which acts like a thought police determining if any jokes pointed at a specific ethnic group is racist makes me crazy.

    The politically correct side of conservatism which goes bonkers when you make light of Judeo-christian traditions or fake flag waving makes me crazy.

    Let me state again for those not listening. I generally vote democratic, but have voted Republican. I think Dubya is easily the worst President of my lifetime. I thought John Kerry was the worst Democratic candidate for President of my lifetime. (and that includes Dukakis, who was no great shakes)

    My Big-ass problem with Miller is that he said he took the President off the table as a target. Have you watched Maher and Stewart? They have made many jokes at Clinton, etc.
    Do they hit Republicans most? Yes, but that also has to do with him being the President and an incredibly easy target.

    Miller claims he is a Libertarian and I take him at his word. Bush has been very far away from Libertarian in his policies, as he has exploded the budget, has a foreign policy of nation building, and has opposed laws that are about personal freedom like drug laws, FCC rulings, and especially the Patriot Act.
    Ron Paul he is not.

    I have laid out a post discussing Miller’s great body of work. I just believe a comedian/political commentator like Miller should not make statements like the one saying Bush is off the table.

    Specific to Jason O. comments. I’ve been bullied before from people claiming that 9/11 changed everything. To the extent that I think Islamic fundamentalism is the most dangerous thing affecting the world today, I will agree. Does it mean that we should give the President a blank check to deal with. Uh, we tried that for a couple of years and it has put us in the worst position the country has been during my lifetime.

    I’ve done shows for the Military and if you think they are not critical of the President and his policies, you are in a coma and must have had someone post your comment.

    Miller doesn’t have to slam Bush on the level of someone like Jon Stewart, who obviously is partisan to the other side. But he can’t be flying around on Air Force 1, so he can introduce Bush at rallies and expect to keep his credibility on my comedy tote board.

    Jersey Todd. Congrats. Best Dennis Miller-esque line I’ve read in awhile. It had just enough comedic intellectual superiority to evoke the image a good Miller rant would possess.

    EL LAY DAVE. I understand your point, but I never say I think he is America’s biggest douchebag. I try to convey how much I respect his talents, even though I think he is become hit or miss. To be honest, the headline was a bit over the top, using yellow journalism techniques to get more interest.

  21. 22.  I listened to Dennis Miller’s radio show today and I will admit that I thought it was pretty good. I do think his mix of big words, obscure references, and not being too strident in his overall politics leaves him with a small audience, but if I didn’t have satellite radio, I think I would listen to him on a regular basis. In Indy, my choices for talk radio are either right-wing politicos or sports talk shows with hosts that are forced to discuss off-season moves in the NFL or NBA. Fortunately, I have Sirius and XM radio.

  22. 23.  15 I too think that radical Islam is a major issue, probably #2 behind our sickening national debt. I simply disagree with how we have been dealing with the problem. We got stung hard on 9/11 and instead of thinking deeply over what our next best move should be, our president and his team of mouth breathers did the first thing that popped into their head: “Hey, that there bee just stung me—I’m gonna grab me a stick and start smacking Hives.”

    Speaking as a card-carrying liberal, many, many of us would have supported a thoughtful, well-designed agenda concerning the middle east—even if it included military action—unfortunately for the US and the globe, the next clever thought that comes out of 1600 Penn will be the first.

    Miller is like a kid who always made smartass remarks about the jocks in high school until they asked him to sit at their lunch table. He’s a Whore.

  23. 24.  Douchebag is an awesome put-down… but sorry Scott, I think I got it from South Park as I was growing up…

    Honestly, it will be interesting to see what kind of show the Daily Show will be if Clinton/Obama/Edwards wins. My opinion? It will be the exact same type of show, exposing the absurdities of the current political landscape. I would bet that if it was McCain v. Kerry, Stewart would be in the Republican’s corner. I’m not going to claim the Daily Show is conservative, or even in the middle, but I see no bias in who they nail, they just nail the most absurd. Unfortunately, G-Dub is the MVP of that team.

    Dennis Miller…ahh, I may be too young or not cultured enough to appreciate his references. His references are not obscure, they are a foreign language to me 🙂

    However, I do agree with Scott’s premise about not getting into bed with those who you need to roast. It’s why the best GM’s (like say Kenny Williams v. Frank Thomas) don’t get close to their players and can make the best clear decision. It’s why jury’s are not allowed to know any of the players in a trial. Human relationships skew the ability to make choices in regards to the other person. For Dennis Miller to be considered a true “political comedian”, he must distance himself from politicians.

    Maybe thats why I love The Daily Show. Stewart does seem to have those relationships with McCain and Kerry and Clinton, etc. But they know if they open their mouthes without thinking, Stewart is going to call them on it.

    As an aside, I think it is inherently odd that humans feel that they can fight an idea (whether it be religion, political beliefs, etc.) with combat/wars/violence. You can’t kill an idea, all you can do is do your best from preventing the idea from hurting you, and allow the poor idea to run its course and collapse on itself. There will ALWAYS be Islamic radicals, communists, radical environmentalists, fascists, racism, etc. This is not to say to stick your head in the sand (or there would be no Civil Rights laws, and my neighbor would be a cow), but you can’t fight it by killing all KKK members, or PETA members, or Islamic radicals. History, particularly when it comes to religion, has proven time and time again that wars over ideas and beliefs are failures, usually in the short term and always in the long term.

  24. 25.  No, JoeyP. Leary’s a douche because he’s a political comedian who’s ignoring the biggest source of comedy out there. It’s like the douche of a GM who ignores the best players because he doesn’t like their agent.

  25. 26.  The only time I ever laughed at Jon Stewart’s political commentary was during his 2004 election night coverage, where he said something to the effect: “This is payback for Will & Grace”…

    I actually liked Stewart when he was on MTV a long long time ago.

    Daily Show hasnt been good IMO since Kilborn left.

  26. 27.  Long, it’s incorrect to put Miller in the same category of people who you say have “bullied” you re: Sept. 11. With Miller you can always immediately change the channel.

    Off topic, I disagree on your comments re: Bush and the state of the US. Huge mistakes? Of course. However, we sure as hell can’t turn the clock back to the “client state” relationship that the west had with the middle east from 1945-2001 (depending on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey and the USSR to keep the place calm)

    Most of Miller’s libertarian cred comes from drug legalization, gay marriage and other social issues, I agree with him on that stuff.

    But, no matter how much I read the NYT, the economist, slate, et al, I’m still convinced, like Miller, that we are dealing with barbarians.

    Still a douche move by him backstage, for the record.

  27. 29.  Scott:

    You throw around the “worst” this, and “worst” that a lot, what about Dhimmi Carter (http://tinyurl.com/38nkpr)? I know you’re old enough to remember how we were in the crapper in the 70s, and it’s not a stretch to see that this entire current mess could be traced back to that smiling, terrorist-embracing POS.

  28. 30.  BTW, that’s 29 not a defense of Bush, it’s just calling out hyperbole. And even if you think Bush is worse, mentioning Carter–and where he put us in the world–in the same breath would at least give you a modicum of credibility. But to ignore him when discussing “worst of our lifetime” is like failing to mention Greg Luzinski in shorts as “worst sports uniform ideas” or not mentioning Kruk when discussing “best one-testicled baseball players.”

  29. 31.  29 I’m not going to declare that Jimmy was a good or even decent president, but he never sold arms to terrorists like THE GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER ™ did (that’s Ronnie Reagan for those who are unfamiliar with the modern revisionism). Carter has his own faults and sins even, but starting wars under false pretenses and wiping his Peanut Farmer’s ass with the Bill of Rights aren’t among them.

    Jimmy might have tried to make nice with some unsavory characters, but he never gave them implements of war for currency to fund illegal Central American adventures.

    BTW, the British are squarely to blame for the conflict in the Middle East, not to mention India/Pakistan and Rwanda.

    Look it up.

  30. 33.  26 Stewart had a good bit recently when the Hill Democrats chickened-out on the Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill.

    27 So we’re dealing with barbarians? Great, let’s act like them as well. The actions of our government (Iraq, Gitmo, Extraordinary Renditions) have left this country isolated in the world stage. A more capable leader (not saying whom that would be) wouldn’t have blown off NATO after 9/11 and then pissed them off in the ensuing years.

    Why is this isolation important?

    You need to look no further than the WH’s own rhetoric. The Administration has pushed a WWII parallel very stridently. Instead of National Socalism, we’re fighting Islamo-Fascism. Instead of Churchill standing alone, it’s Bush. Instead of sacrificing through rationing and the draft, we’ve got NSA wiretapping. More importantly, after three years and nine months of US involvement, We won. Thus the parallel is that by standing alone like Churchill, and because we’re the US, we can win this war as well.

    This plays well with people who don’t quite know thier history. These people assume, because of our movies and books, that the United States did the heavy lifting in WWII. Based on casualty numbers, this is false. That war was won because we had allies, namely, the despicable Josef Stalin. Now, however, we have few allies and fewer friends, and we’re tied down in Iraq like Germans in Stalingrad (ok, not quite, but close). I don’t envy the next President – (s)he’ll have a hell of a job pulling our asses out of this one. (Clearly, Energy Indepenece is key, because once we aren’t we don’t need anything from the Middle East, we may be a bit more, eh, liberal in our applications of soft and hard power there.)

    Leary, who doesn’t recognize that this admistation’s thrashing about in the Islamo-Fasicist quicksand is only causing us to sink in deeper, deserves the title of douche.

  31. 34.  Not sure how we’re pissing everyone off, capdodger, since both Germany and France have now elected center-right gov’ts since Sept. 11

    Sarkozy post-election: “the French stand with the imprisoned women of the burqa”…not exactly at odds with the United States.

    Your implication that the actions of the US/UK since the invasion of Iraq put us on par with who we currently fight is specious:

    Tony Blair: “If we’re confronted with something that’s totally evil — to drive a car bomb into the middle of a crowded market and kill a hundred completely random, innocent men, women and children — [and] we end up saying, ‘Since we’re facing that battle and since it’s tough and ugly and we’re losing our troops and our forces and that’s a tremendous thing of grief and anguish’ … [and] we then back away, we’ve handed an enormous victory to the enemy we’re fighting.”

    Examine West Bank/Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal.

  32. 35.  3history will be much kinder to Bush than the present

    Because, hey, who needed that pesky habeas corpus protection anyway.

    Worst. President. Ever. The stupidest, most corrupt in history. The only history that will be kind to this putz is the kind written by his dysfunctional toadies, who believe all the lies they write in all the press releases they spew.

  33. 36.  34Your implication that the actions of the US/UK since the invasion of Iraq put us on par with who we currently fight is specious

    Baloney. Every action taken against the terrorists, especially the stripping of habeas corpus protections and outright torture, has been justified because “they do it, too”. That puts the U.S. in the position of being every bit as bad as the “evildoers” the U.S. is fighting.

  34. 37.  34 Firstly, I believe you are confusing French and German domestic politics with our influence in (little) and relationship with (poor) those conutries. It’s generally ver bad diplomatic form for a foreign head of state to endorse or attempt to influence a country’s electorate.

    Even assuming we were able to and did influece the elections of Sarkozy and Merkel, let’s examine if what your saying is true. In France’s case, Chirac and Sarkozy are both members or UMP, a center-right party, and the former is a member of the Neo-Gaullistes whereas the latter is a Liberal Conservative. Basically, they’re exactly the same, only Sarkozy lacks the Gaullite, France-First ideals. Even so, it’s doubtful that he will start sending French soliders to Iraq. It would be political suicide.

    Germany is a more interesting case. Merkel, on the other hand did take the reigns of power from a socialist governemnt, so it would seem that your assumption that we influenced the Germans would be correct. You must know, however, that Schroder, the Socialist, sent soldiers to Afghanistan. It was only Iraq where he refused to commit boots on the ground. His successor has continued that policy. While the parties may have switched the policies remain the same.

    It’s probably more helpful to go look for polling data to see what people in those countries think the the US and it’s government. Generally, as of late, they don’t like the administration much.

    Secondly, I didn’t “imply” that some of our actions are and have been barbaric. I out-and-out said it. I also didn’t stop at Iraq, though it has, unfortunatly, produced many exampes.

    Pyramids of naked people? Wrong. Raping a girl and killing her family because of an IED? Wrong (though our courts martial seem to be dealing with that one). Snatching people off the street and flying them off to be tortured? Wrong, as well. Keeping people locked up for five, going on six years without charges or possibility of parole (because the war isn’t over)? Wrongish and inept looking, as is, and dead wrong if their being tortued (What do the Gitmo guys know anyway at this point?). NSA Taps? Illegal and wrong. We’re a beacon of hope and light, yet much of our behavior has been somewhat shady.

    Your Blair (heh… a centerlefter who stood by Bush and is getting tossed out on his arse) quote is entirely irrelevant to what I’m saying. Pulling out of Iraq would be an absoulte CF, and everyone, even the most moonbat, liberal, DailyKos-er, knows it at some level. In fact, I never even suggested that as an option. What I did suggest is a long-term (10-20+ years) policy that allows us to slowly extricate ourselves from the Middle East. Mind you, I’m not talking about pulling out of Iraq next week (can we just run the invasion video from CNN in reverse?). I’m talking about the entire region. That area of the world has two main exports: Oil and Unrest. We need the former enough that we put up with the latter. Once the former is no longer necessary, we can deal with the unrest in a manner and time of our choosing. Coming up with a plan that lets us do that is going to take a visionary who can really lead. Sadly, I don’t see that person.

    Maybe Romney? He’s Mormon and they looked and Utah and said, “Hey… Let’s farm here.” He just might be nuts enough…

  35. 38.  35 Warren Harding was pretty bad. To wit:

    A U,S. History Scholar friend of mine was in a Senate office building when he noticed a plaque hidden behind the flag of the State of Washington, noting that a particular chamber had been Harding’s office. When he wondered aloud to no one in particular why anyone would want to note a connection to Warren Harding, a woman who had come up behind him, stated, “Why do you think we keep it behind the flag?” She then walked into the office, and as he was walking away heard someone greet her with a “Hello, Senator.”

  36. 39.  31 I don’t know, Chris. Carter has pretty much used Article III section 3 like a roll of Charmin for the past 30 years.

  37. 40.  39 I must have missed the point where Jimmy Carter took up arms against the United States. Silly me…

    (And don’t you dare tell me that writing books rises to the level of “aid and comfort”.)

  38. 41.  39 Really?!? Carter committed treason?!? Really?!?

    I’m honestly astonished that you would consider Carter a traitor to the Republic and at the same time give a man who supplied deadly weapons to be used against our soldiers and our allies a free pass.

    Terrorists blow up Marine barracks in Lebanon and THE GREATEST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD‘s response is to sell weapons to different terrorists??? If Clinton had pulled that shit, Fox News would have had a one hour special: “Clinton, Worse Than Hitler??”

    Carter is a forgettable president not a threat to civilization.

    Good Grief.

  39. 42.  Going into Iraq basically by ourselves, without the support of any other country but GB is why he is the worst president of my lifetime. The escalation of the deficit has went hand in hand with this military fiasco.

    The idea that we are keeping the terrorists in Iraq and not letting them get to the US is ludicrous. We have little control over Iraq. Yes, the terrorists have moved to Iraq from other countries, but is it better to have them there next to a NATO country like Turkey or able to be aided and abetted by Iraq and Syria? I would rather still have them in Afghanistan or Northern Africa.

    I have been consistent on this point from the beginning. My biggest reason for not going into Iraq was that I knew we would be there for a long time and I didn’t want my country to be the only one to have to pay for it.

    When we decided to not continue with letting the inspectors look for WMD, my thoughts were to give it more time like the Germans and French wanted. My caveat was that if we were to do this, they (Germany and France) had to put some of their money and soldiers on the line, right outside of Iraq, since this was the only reason Saddam was cooperating at all with the UN inspectors. By doing this, we would have really seen if the countries that opposed us were being sincere in their support of the inspectors. It also would have not put the big fiscal and manpower bullseye squarely on our back.
    (Of course, by going in basically alone, we were able to control the rebuilding phase run by administration allies from Halliburton and its subsidiaries.)

    I know this is looking way back, but I just don’t understand how some can claim that this engagement in Iraq has ever been run well. What happened to fiscally conservative Republicans? The Democrats have been ineffectual for for quite awhile now, but they haven’t had any real power to govern since Clinton left office.

    It’s fun for me to have some political throwdowns once again back here at the Juice Blog. I suspect it will be happening more and more as the election gets closer.

  40. 43.  Well Scott, you’ve kind of hit upon the dirty little GOP open secret: They claim to be fiscal conservatives and sometimes are as long as the baubles for sale are things like butter and education. Once the guns and bombs go up for bidding however, they suddenly turn into horny sailors who just docked in Bangkok—they can’t spend it fast enough.

    Who’s the last GOP President who had a balanced budget, McKinley??

  41. 44.  Going into Iraq basically by ourselves, without the support of any other country but GB is why he is the worst president of my lifetime.

    Scott, the US won the Iraq War in less than 30 days. So, even in hindsight, the US did not need the help of any other military powers to execute the fall of Iraq/Saddam/Baghdad. That aspect of the war was executed flawlessly. While undoubtedly there needed to be more forces there to stabilize the country AFTER the war, that in an of itself can not stop suicide bombing attacks. Iraq hasnt had a democracy in a long time, and democracies take long times to build. It took the US having an 11 yr revolutionary war before establishing a full sovereign state.

    Worst. President. Ever.
    Insane.
    Look at the economy and the standard of living in the US.
    Re-Elected Twice.
    First president since Bush I (iirc) to garner over 50% of the popular vote.
    Overthrew two hostile regimes (Iraq and Afganistan).
    Presided over an economy, that despite 9-11 and a recession when he entered office off the collapse of the dot-com boom—has been an unyielding success.
    Passed No Child Left Behind
    Passed permanent tax relief.
    The leadership exhibited post 9-11, in building consensus within both houses of oongress to after an act of war—that has to be considered a success.

    I dont know how on one hand you can blame Bush for Iraq, yet at the same time not blame all the rest of the democrats who voted right along for it? The President cant do anything without the approval of congress. So, if the President is the worst President ever, that must mean Congress is the worst congress ever?

    National Defense comes before fiscal conservatism. Because, if America falls, then we have no America that can apply fiscal conservatism.

  42. 45.  I’m not really sure why Chris in Illinois is so angry.

    Illinois is a state ran entirely by Democrats, led by Gov Rod Blagovech.

    Well, now that I think about it–may thats why he lives in Illinois? 🙂

  43. 46.  Every action taken against the terrorists, especially the stripping of habeas corpus protections and outright torture, has been justified because “they do it, too”.

    I’m an American.
    If its a situation of life/death–I want to make sure I/we win.

    Therefore, I have no problem with whatever my side does because my only interests are in the US winning. I would hope that all Americans would feel that way, but unfortunately some bizarrely dont.

  44. 47.  44, 45, 46

    Gosh where to start??

    I’m not angry, I’m sad. And disappointed at the missed opportunities after 9/11.

    Illinois was recently run by GOP member George Ryan who is due to report to prison for his numerous crimes. Illinois was a GOP run state for over 20 years—Illinois is Democratic due to inept, corrupt Republican leadership over the last 25+ years.

    “Scott, the US won the Iraq War in less than 30 days” If that is the case, would you care to explain to the families of 3000+ dead soldiers why they’ll never see their loved ones AFTER WE WON THE WAR?? Historically people STOP dying after wars are won, they don’t don’t BEGIN to die.

    “Iraq hasnt had a democracy in a long time”

    Well, there has never been a democracy in Iraq and that fact should have made us think twice before attempting to execute some half-assed plan of installing one.

    “Passed No Child Left Behind”

    …but didn’t bother to fully fund the fucking thing.

    “Passed permanent tax relief.”

    Only the very rich see any breaks. My wife and I make 100k+ and have seen ZERO tax relief. She’s a CPA, there isn’t any $$$ for us out there (not that there should be).

    “I dont know how on one hand you can blame Bush for Iraq, yet at the same time not blame all the rest of the democrats who voted right along for it?”

    I do…the problem is that Harry Reid and his spineless companions didn’t illegally wiretap thousands of Americans, or hold them UN-Constitutionally or make up shit about Weapons Of Mass Destruction. Bush did that stuff.

    “National Defense comes before fiscal conservatism

    I agree, but just because a deceitful president says something is about National Defense doesn’t make it so. Strange that all the GOP presidents see boogymen everywhere exploding the debt in the name of “National Defense”, yet we’ve never been invaded during a Democratic presidency when presumably our guard is down.

  45. 48.  I was willing to debate you JoeyP, until your comment 44. Even, Richard Perle has basically given up on Iraq working. Of course we were able to march into Iraq and depose Saddam. Why we needed a coalition of the willing was to not appear as sole occupiers to the rest of the middle east (and Iraq), when the real heavy lifting would take place.

    In regards to the “executed flawlessly”. Not even Rummy would state something like that now. The breaking up of the Iraqi military and police, not to mention the looting of important institutions in the country, set the “Democracy” opportunities way back. Going in at that juncture, in the long run hurt our chances of capturing Bin-Laden and creating a democracy in a country where it might have worked, Afghanistan.

    Wolfie, Rummy, and Cheney were of the belief it would take a couple of years to turn the country around. Do you think if anyone would have come out saying it was going to take 11 years to create a fledgling democracy in Iraq, it would passed a vote?

    The British f-ed up Iraq a long time ago when they created it. The different factions are not going to work in any type of Democracy. Not in 11 years, not in 21 years… The Neo-con experiment has gone horribly wrong.

  46. 49.  Not to be reductive or anything, but it’s really about the work. I suppose he could be funny and still be a shill for Bush. If that were the case, I wouldn’t give a shit. He simply isn’t funny. And that’s something I generally want from my comedians.

  47. 51.  Wolfie, Rummy, and Cheney were of the belief it would take a couple of years to turn the country around.

    Thats not true.
    Almost all of the people in the administration said the US would be in the Middle East for at least 10+ years in dealing with the islamo-fascist movement.

    Whether by design or chance–Iraq became the battlefront for fighting Al Qaeda. The US would rather fight those battles on foreign soil rather than the US mainland. I think its a sound strategy.

    The US cant go into Syria, Iran,Pakistan,Sudan, or Saudi Arabia and attack the terrorist cells in those countries. Therefore, the only way to actively seek and destroy those cells is for those cells to engage the US in Iraq—which has happened. I think thats what the US govt wants, and I think its a much better strategy rather than to wait for the next attack on the US mainland–or go into an isolated foreign policy.

    The US is the lone world superpower, and thus has the resources to fight global threats (terrorism is), that other countries do not have. Therefore, waiting for those other countries to join the US in military and financial support for the campaign in Iraq– isnt going to happen.

  48. 52.  Dealing with it for that amount time is one thing. To have over 100,000 troops in Iraq 4 years later, in the middle of a Civil War was never part of the sale I ever heard.

    We don’t have the resources to threaten our power and muscle anywhere else (other axis of evil countries, darfur, etc.) because our military is stretched so thin in Iraq. It is killing our guard and reserves system. Do I need to go on?

    I don’t begrudge the average citizen who thought going into Iraq was smart move, considering it was sold so well by the administration. Where I fault people are the one’s who claim it was still a worthwhile venture. The mess we have created there does not even have one decent solution. I don’t blame Petraeus, as the surge is the best plan we have had. It is just way too late have any real chance of success.

  49. 53.  *Thats not true.
    Almost all of the people in the administration said the US would be in the Middle East for at least 10+ years in dealing with the islamo-fascist movement.*

    Bullshit. The administration said that the Iraqis would welcome us in the streets, that and the oil would be paying for the reconstruction of Iraq within a few years. That was what the bill of sale read.

    Whether by design or chance–Iraq became the battlefront for fighting Al Qaeda. The US would rather fight those battles on foreign soil rather than the US mainland. I think its a sound strategy.

    Chance… Yeah. I guess that’s what you’d call the CIA’s analysts saying that that would happen. Al Qaeda’s leadership wasn’t, and still isn’t, in Iraq. They were in Afghanistan and Pakistan. God knows where they are now.

    The US cant go into Syria, Iran,Pakistan,Sudan, or Saudi Arabia and attack the terrorist cells in those countries. Therefore, the only way to actively seek and destroy those cells is for those cells to engage the US in Iraq—which has happened. I think thats what the US govt wants, and I think its a much better strategy rather than to wait for the next attack on the US mainland–or go into an isolated foreign policy.

    This is bizzaro logic. Excepting training purposes, why would a terrorist cell in, I don’t know, Sudan or Kenya or wherever, travel to Iraq to attack US intrests? There are US intrests in their own countries, like an oil rig, embassy, or Marriott. Terrorists can attack anywhere. Iraq gives them a great training ground, recruitment, and propaganda. That just wasn’t there before the war.

    The US is the lone world superpower, and thus has the resources to fight global threats (terrorism is), that other countries do not have. Therefore, waiting for those other countries to join the US in military and financial support for the campaign in Iraq– isnt going to happen.

    After 9/11 NATO ratified Article Five. The member states judged the attack to be a global threat to the alliance and acted accordingly. NATO soldiers are on the ground in Afghanistan. These same countries judged Iraq not to be a cental battleground of this war.

  50. 54.  41 Google “Carter treason” or “Dhimmi Carter” or “Carter Father of Terrorism” or “Carter schtick” and you will see he is far from benign. He has been undermining the US for over 30 years. Just ask Bill Clinton.

    >>”Passed No Child Left Behind”

    >”…but didn’t bother to fully fund the fucking thing.”

    I call bullshit on both counts. NCLB is precisely the kind of argument that makes sense to me when you start talking about worst ever. Re-read the Constitution, folks: the Fed govt should have no role in public education. NCLB is a steaming pile. I’m glad it’s not “fully funded.”

    >>”Passed permanent tax relief.”

    >”Only the very rich see any breaks. My wife and I make 100k+ and have seen ZERO tax relief. She’s a CPA, there isn’t any $$$ for us out there (not that there should be).”

    Again, I call bullshit. You are an absolute liar. Anyone can look up the tax tables. I just did, to prove you are a liar.

    Taxable income, married filing jointly
    level: 40K/60K/80K/100K/120K/140K
    2000: 6004/11107/16707/22300/28321/34521
    2006: 5249/8249/13121/18620/23370/29380

    So, Chris, if you didn’t pay less taxes, it looks like everyone else in America did. Ask your CPA wife if it’s not too late to amend your tax returns for the past four years.

    And which of these groups saw the greatest tax relief, by percentage? The married couples making 60K of taxable income at 25.7%.

  51. 55.  And just for good measure, let’s look at even poorer married couples

    level: 15K/20K/25K/30K
    2000: 2254/3004/3754/4504
    2006: 1503/2249/2999/3749

    Those rich cocksuckers making 15K a year! How dare they deserve a tax break???

    (There is no sleight of hand or statistical cherry-picking here–I’m just looking at tax tables, the same way I have done my own taxes all my adult life.)

  52. 56.  Strange that all the GOP presidents see boogymen everywhere exploding the debt in the name of “National Defense”,

    I have a degree in finance, and like to think that I know at least a little something about how economics work. I’m wondering what you are fearful of in terms of the national debt?

    Are you fearful that foreigners will lend to these American companies, and thus lead inevitably to foreign ownership when the companies default on their corporate bonds?

    Are you upset with the trade deficit? The primary reason that there’s a trade deficit is due to the US dollar being much stronger than other currencies. Therefore, our products are too expensive for other countries to buy–while we can buy most anything we want from those same countries.

    Debt financing–is still the cheapest financing on the planet. While you may see “huge debt=bad”—I see it as just different. I see a growing economy that is investing in itself. “Investing” does not equal “saving”.

    “Investing” IMO means borrowing and building—which are good things. The US treasury bonds are never going to default no matter how large the debt gets. If thats the fear—then I think its unfounded and unnecessary.

  53. 57.  Re-read the Constitution, folks: the Fed govt should have no role in public education.

    I agree in theory but I dont think it can be applied today. Education is much more important now than in the 18th century. I think there has to be some sort of national standarized testing to ensure that American children are learning what they need to learn.

  54. 58.  54 You clearly don’t understand the meaning of Article III Section 3. I looked at your googles and saw on those (slanted) sites no mentions of Carter joining an armed struggle aginst the United States. I also saw no proof of him providing “aid and comfort” to the enemeies of the United States. What I did see was proof that he has talked with our enemies, and then talked about those conversations. Imagine that, talking with our enemies instead of bombing them?

    I’m sick of going around in circles on this, so I’m going to fisk from the constution:

    Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

    Proof: Carter has not committed treason.
    Assume: Carter has committed treason.
    From the Constitution, therfore, Carter levied war against the United States or “adhered to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    Case 1: Carter has levied war against the United States.
    Trivial to disprove. War in the context of the Constitution is Declared. Jimmie Carter has not declared war against the United States nor taken up arms against them. Neither has he joined any group that has done so. (Unless you count the Democratic party, but then I’m farting into the wind…)

    Since Case One is clearly not the case, it must be Case Two: Jimmie Carter “adhered” to ememies of the United States, “giving them aid and comfort”.

    Let’s start parsing. Clearly, a condition of adhering to ememies of the United States was to provide said enemies “aid and comfort”. Simply talking with them isn’t enough, otherwise, how would the diplomatic corps do its job? The framer’s definition of “aid and comfort” can be found from the OED and the writings of William Blackstone. Blackstone states that “aid and comfort” must be “some overt act, as by giving them intelligence, by sending them provisions, by selling them arms, by treacherously surrendering a fortress, or the like.” This must be done to an enemy, as defined as “the subjects of foreign powers with whom we are at open war”.

    Clearly Carter has provided no money, weapons, or intelligence to Hamas and the like, but, even if he had, it would not rise to treason because we are not in declared war with Hamas, or Hezbollah, or Iran. Therefore, case two is false.

    Since both cases are false, the assumption that lead to them must also be false. Therefore, Carter has not committed teason.
    QED

  55. 59.  56 Are you fearful that foreigners will lend to these American companies, and thus lead inevitably to foreign ownership when the companies default on their corporate bonds?

    Aren’t you confusing public and private (personal or corporate) debt? What does the US gov’t’s debt have to do with ownership of US companies? I’m not being flip, just asking…

    I don’t fear the debt. I just bought a house, so I understand how debt/investing/saving works (I hope :-P). I fear that the debt will be used as a way for the government to legislate it’s way out of it’s unpaid obligations. Thus, my generation (b:1982) will be left to pay (out of pocket in many cases) for both our boomer parent’s medical care (No Medicare/Medicade) and retirement (paying in to SS) while saving for our own (getting nothing from SS).

    Of course, that was probably part of the plan all along.

  56. 60.  58 As an aside:
    The restrictive nature of the Constitutional definition of Treason is the reason we have or had many treason-like offenses on the books: Espionage (Rosenbergs) and the Espionage Act of 1917, Conspiracy to Murder US Nationals (John Walker Lindh), Alien and Sedition act, etc…

  57. 61.  Long, I disagree that it is too late and I must warn you to check embedded online guys who are posting online from Iraq, not just the mainstream media who have done an extremely poor job covering the counterinsurgency for the past 18 months. (The reason for that is a another debate)

    First place to start is Michael Yon’s website, an ex US special forces guy who embeds himself with US/UK units. He does not pull punches, he was the first guy to declare that there was a civil war going on in Anbar/Diyala province in 2005.

    Yon’s overarching point is that any conflict is dynamic, so if you listen to the media giving a quick snapshot casualty figure you’re missing about 90% of what’s actually going on.

    There is evidence that the surge is working…the coalition has had success in turning Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda in Anbar province. Pay attention to what’s going on now with the 10,000 combat force north of Baghdad…and not from the mainstream media, which by and large isn’t covering the largest combat action in Iraq since 2003.

    I agree with Tony Blair: We fight for a universal set of values that are not exclusive to any culture. Millions of people would not have voted in Iraq if they didn’t want a piece of pluralistic (if not democratic) gov’t.

  58. 62.  There is evidence that the surge is working…the coalition has had success in turning Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda in Anbar province.

    Great. Now they’ll fight one another. Better them fighting then us fighting them, I suppose. Of course, thinking that this is a good thing ignores the fact that Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the war. There’s also the matter of getting the Sunni tribesmen to stop killing the Shia. Also, the surge is temporary, as it owes its existence to manipulations of the combat brigade rotation schedule. What happens when it’s over?

    The problem with some of our behavior is that we degrade our adherence the universal set of values which Blair outlines, and for which our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines fight. By doing so, we degrade our ability to appeal to people who, like the Iraqi voters, share those values.

  59. 63.  56. Everyone I met with a degree in finance knows just enough economics to be dangerously ignorant. Yes, borrowing is the cheapest source of funds to be investing, the problem is, when you look at what the funds that are being borrowed are going towards, it is not towards investment, it is towards consumption. It would be one thing if the debt was being used to invest, but at best you could say it is an indirect investment as government payments are going primarily towards entitlement programs and wealth transfer. There may be some indirect investments because some of this consumptive money is going to industries that are investing (pharmaceuticals, defense technology), but by and large it does nothing.

    The real fear of the large national deficit is that if the Chinese ever decide to stop pegging the yuan to the dollar, interest rates will skyrocket and the dollar will collapse further. The high interest rates will severely hinder the government and private enterprises ability to invest in our economy. And, while highly unlikely, there is the possibility that at some point down the line, especially if interest rates do get out of the control and the US is unable to bring down its debt, the government will default.

    As for your analysis of the trade deficit, it is horribly wrong. The dollar is at historic lows, yet the trade deficit continues to grow. It exists, primarily because we are so well off and we want to, and are able to acquire much more than the rest of the world can.

  60. 64.  I’m traveling, so my sidekick is my source. Since I don’t want to add to my thumb arthritis, I will just offer that Penarol hits most of my rebuttal. Big thumbs up from me.

    On the subject of the surge, I’m not cherryIpicking my intel, unlike what this administration did before we invaded. I read conservative and liberal voices. We could do everything right, but it still will not work. Too much sectarian anger for things to come together. Bush 41 advisors were right about not going in and deposing saddam, even with a coaliton behind us.

    I agreed with pre-9/11 dubya. No nation building.

  61. 65.  Fascinating discussion here so far. Is it too late for me to nominate General Harry “The Surge Has Failed Because I Say So” Reid for the title of America’s Top Douchebag though?

    Scott, I have two questions to ask you to hopefully further illuminate things:

    1) Had a President Al Gore declared a similar War on Terror following September 11th 2001, and Dennis Miller had subsequently taken exactly the same positions and made the same statements about him as you quote above re: the Miller-Bush friendship, would your opinions of him (= Miller) change or not?

    and 2)

    Seriously, if you ever met say Barry Bonds (or in your case Ozzie Guillen) in person, why on Earth would you expect them to be anything but a douchebag?? 😉

    [And JasonO, you wouldn’t happen to be a Nittany Lion by any chance, would you?]

  62. 66.  No das411, diehard Vanderbilt fan and alum, and mark my words: They’re going to do some damage in the SEC this year.

    but how can you not respect PennSt and JoePa?

    Long, the cherrypicking intel charge is puzzling, particularly given the statements of Clinton while in office, hillary, Kerry and basically every other Dem about Saddam’s intentions for a nuclear program…not to mention French, British and German intel reports.

    If your charge is that they were all cherrypicking intel, then you’re solid.

    Re: Nationbuilding, et al, the most compelling argument against the war came from Pat Buchanan shockingly enough, who warned of a complete upset of the 200 year old international system that was put in place at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

    I believe that defeating Al Q. with some kind of pluralistic federal system in Iraq makes the region safer and is in our nat’l security interests.

    Bottom line, we need to break the OPEC cartel with a transition to non-mideast sources of oil…alternative fuels are fine, but there’s something like 2X the oil reserves (750 billion bbls or more) of the mideast in western canada (oil sands) and western US (oil shale) and the technology is developing
    to extract this stuff within 2-4 years.

    Again, we have to to break OPEC.

  63. 67.  66. The problem with extracting the oild and oil shale is that it is extremely expensive and it is much more difficult to refine, so the middle east still holds our balls when it comes to the decent quality and cheap to extract stuff. The sands and shale really show that peak oil is not as big a concern as many have said. My preference is for more investment and incentives for use of alternative energy sources. The more sources we have the better, the biggest proble of course, is that we are probably blocking one of the best alternative fuels from the US at the behest of corn farmers and ADM and Cargill, which are keeping a sugar based ethanol like product that appears to be much more cheap to produce and much more effective out of the US.

    As for the compelling arguments against he war, what won me over from the start was that committing to Iraq for as long as it was realistically going to take was going to eliminate our ability to operate with a free hand towards states that were funding a lot more terrorist activity and had much more advanced WMD programs (namely Iran).

    The only even remotely persuasive argument I read for the war was from Christopher Hitchens, in which he stated that Saddam’s regime was already on the verge of collapse and that we could not let it happen and allow his WMD program to fall into the hands of terrorists in the chaos that followed.

  64. 68.  Penarol, I just read a report in which Shell says that by 2010 they could make money on oil shale extraction at $30-$40 per bbl. The new technology is not to extract the shale and refine, but rather to extract the oil from the shale in situ, while it’s still in the ground.

  65. 69.  RE: Saddam’s WMD Calculus
    It’s pretty clear now that Saddam had no WMD at the start of the war. The question I find somewhat intriguing is why he didn’t just let the inspectors do their jobs. Had he just sat by and let the inspectors continue to find no WMD, then he’d probably still be the tyrant of a more stable Iraq. He, more than anybody, would have been aware of the tension amongst the factions in his country. He would also be aware of what would happen in the country if he lost his grip on power. After all, he’d been working hard to maintain his position for years, and he’d needed to be absolutely ruthless to do it. It’s almost as if he expected that a sane, rational, and just person would look at the country and think, “Eh… Too much trouble.”

    But then, everyone, including Iran and the Kurds, would know he had no WMD…

    67 I remember that Hitchens article. Pity that its assumptions were so unfounded.

    Aside: I hate how it has become acceptable to plualize “WMD” into “WMDs”. It’s “Weapon of Mass Destruction” or “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. It’s a pet peeve of mine along with “RBIs”. It’s a “Run Batted-In” or two “Runs Batted-In”, not two “Run Batted-Ins”.

  66. 70.  68. I’m not as familiar with the oil shale as I am with the oil sands, which is hugely promising, but a huge mess, but my point about shale was that from my understanding, the quality of the oil is more akin to the quality of the tarry, not so good oil that is found in Venezuela, which takes much more money and time to refine into usable fuel that light, sweet, crude.

  67. 71.  68 A great argument for the development of alternative fuels that extracting and burning oil is inheirently wasteful. Look around you. Oil is a great chemical source that should really be used for more useful things like CDs, Milk Jugs, Computers, and dildos. Plastics and polymers have made our lives better, and we might want to be careful about wiping out all of the source material for that fabulous organic chemistry. I, for one, don’t want to have to drink my milk straight from the cow…

    There’s also the whole carbon-cyle-neutral-global-climate-warming-change thing…

  68. 72.  Right, alternative fuels: Like nuclear power, which is safe, cheap, effective and could cut US total use of fossil fuels by 20% or so if we got off of our asses.

    Capdodger, if you’re willing to place your faith in an unverifiable computer model that simulates something as complex as the Earth and tells you what the average temp will be in 40, 50, 60, 70 years and more, then I have a great investment opportunity in Nigeria.

    I’ll have my contacts there send you emails….

  69. 73.  72. So you are of the whatever we don’t know won’t hurt us rather than the better to be safe than sorry school of thought. Personally, I’d rather heed the warning of 95% of the people who study these things for a living than the studies of people who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. At the very least, diversifying the energy sources available to all of us a common good that most everyone can agree on, even if they don’t necessarily agree on why.

  70. 74.  Tough for me to weigh in much, as I’m without laptop.

    I ripped Gore when he threw his support for saying elian gonzalez should be kept in florida, just so he would not lose too many votes in florida. (Oh florida)

    I thought kerry and gore were lousy candidates, which I was very vocal about. Bush is just way worse. My politics are very close to bill clinton. Love him still.
    I also liked bush 41, dole, amd mccain. Don’t agree with everything they believe, but I have respect for them. I have made jokes about all of them, as I feel that I need to be an equal opportunity offender.

    The politician I have the most respect for is chuck hagel.

    2 of the best voices on Iraq that I listened to before we actually went in were buchanan and tucker carlson. They also happen to be 2 of my favorite political commentators. I’m a free-thinker.

    There is a difference in being spineless (reid), moronic (dubya), and a douchebag (Miller). Read my piece again. I said that his behavior towards me did not make me not watch or respect his talents. Saying dubya was off-limits was my big problem.

    So everytime a liberal voice said we were going into iraq for oil, neo-cons were angered saying this was not the case. Now Jason O is saying this is why the war was necessary. Let’s get our story straight here. Since I paid less than a dollar for gas a few times when clinton was in office and now have been payong over 3 times as much, well…..

    Enough sidekick thumbing for now

  71. 75.  Penarol, I’m not a climatologist but I do work very closely with high performance computing simulations that are similar to climate models in many respects (Or, rather, I have been blowing off that work for a few minutes at a time to post on this thread since Wednesday)

    this is what I do understand very well:
    1) Global climate models are unverifiable, i.e., there is no physical/experimental data with which to validate these models because the future hasn’t happened yet. In fact, climate model predictions over the short run (like the last 5 years) have demonstrated statistically significant gaps between the predicted outcome and actual data.

    This seriously undermines any predictions for 20, 30+ years in the future.

    2) these models have several user-defined inputs, various boundary and inlet conditions that must be specified before the simulation begins. At best, these user defined inputs re: future events are speculative and at worst it’s incredibly easy to “tweak” a simulation to get the desired results.

    The IPCC et al depends on these models for their public policy statements.

    I don’t contend that human activity has no climate change impact. It’s just that the extent of human contributions vs. several other climate drivers (solar activity being one) is impossible to discern.

    And global climate models are suspect in any event.

  72. 76.  75. So, why not invest in trying to eliminate whatever the human contribution to climate drivers that exist? I’m not a big fan of the groups that trade on panic of pointing out the worst case scenarios as what will happen, but to me, it just seems sensible to try to limit the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, rather than waiting to see what will happen.

  73. 77.  72 Dude… Touchy about global warming much? Work for an oil company? You’d think that with all that money they’re making they’d be able to afford some decent spam filters to keep the Nigerians out of your inbox. Of course, there’s a lot of oil there…

    Most of what I said had to deal with oil as a chemical source. It’s too damn useful to be burning. Alternate energy sources like nukes and biomass were exactly what I was talking about. Admit it. You pulled that 20% number out of thin air. I checked with DOE and we’re at ~%20 of electrical right now (8.2% overall), and that’s without any new plants for quite some time (1973 sounds about right). I suggest you pay more attention to the Fearless Leader( http://tinyurl.com/2adf3v ).

    As for your complaint about computer-modeled experiments, I can only say that we live in the experimental control. If we reduce our carbon emission, and there’s no benefit, so what? At some economic cost, we’ll at least have longer to figure out what we’ll use next to power our lives.

  74. 78.  72 77 Hmm… I think I misread your post. You said reduce by 20% (below current levels – to 40% electrical production), where I think I read reduce to 20% electrical production.

    Maybe I should have sat on the post instead of firing from the hip on the way out of the office. Even so, I think that we should aim to come close to the French ratios of nuclear power production (~75%). I do find myself amused by the standoff between the old greenies (you can’t hug with nuclear arms!!) and the new greenies (plug-in hybrids FTW!!). I wonder who will prevail in that segment of the population.

  75. 79.  Scott –
    I’m curious about your take on the (now old) Jon Stewart vs Tucker Carlson fight. It seems from your writings on this thread that that was a showdown between one of your favorite political commentators and a political comedian that you highly regard. Penny (or not) for your thoughts?

  76. 80.  I’m still waiting for Chris in IL to admit he lied about his taxes.

    (And hoping everything is all right w/ him and his. Seriously.)

  77. 81.  I wrote back at the time that I agreed with stewart’s sentiment, but I felt he threw the wrong guy under the bus. I watch tucker as much as I watch the daily show. Olbermann’s my favorite news show, but I sometimes watch o’reilly.
    Most of what is on air america anymore is crap. Don’t be too quick to guess where my politics are. I worship at the church of the rational thinker

  78. 82.  I’ll ask it again Scott:

    >>
    1) Had a President Al Gore declared a similar War on Terror following September 11th 2001, and Dennis Miller had subsequently taken exactly the same positions and made the same statements about him as you quote above re: the Miller-Bush friendship, would your opinions of him (= Miller) change or not?
    <<

    To clarify, what I am asking is would a post-9/11 Dennis Miller declaring a (still somewhat sane and Clintonian) President Gore off-limits provoke the same reaction from you? That is, should no comedian ever declare the President of the United States to be off-limits? Even in wartime and in today’s hyperactive media environment?

    67 – Then Penarol, who do you think was behind the French/Russian/Chinese stalling at the UN in winter 2002 so that the Russians could move those WsMD into Syria?

    77, 78 et al – Interesting discussion of this same topic can be found today here:

    http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/010314.php

    Meanwhile everybody else can take a break and check out http://www.JasonOMusic.com, as that is NOT the JasonO in this thread but rather the one I met at PSU! Yet it seems both are apparently cool fellows and should be glad to share their name with such esteemed company 😉

  79. 83.  80
    I’m still waiting for Chris in IL to admit he lied about his taxes.

    Well, I’ll admit I was wrong, but not by much. I do appreciate the sincere concern for my well-being—I’m suddenly very busy: selling a house, chasing my three munchkins around, working every day (lately), trying to help my pregnant wife…whew!

    I had asked my wife to go back and research our taxes, so it took a bit of time. Basically, we are paing less taxes than we would have been in 2000, but it’s about $400. The tax rates themselves have indeed been reduced, but the tax laws on virtually everything else have changed as well: child deductions, medical expenses, investment taxes, stick sales, etc. These and other various economic activities’ tax ramifications have been changed since 2000, some for the positive some for the negative. Overall my personal ‘tax break’ would be higher if all we had going on was a salary, but our other activity cuts into that tax break.

    I humbly apologize to jgpyke and all other offended ‘Juice’ parties for my flagrant hyperbolizing…seriously…if politics will again begin to creep up over the next year, I need to get my shit straight.

  80. 84.  That’s cool, Chris, and I’m glad to hear you’ve just been busy (and not some emergency that kept you from cyberslacking here).

  81. 85.  82. What does that have to do with what I wrote at all? Any WMD in Syria that Russia moved (And you are treating something that is disputable as fact, great way to make an argument) is still far behind our much more legitimate threat of Iran, and was in 2002. What does it matter who was behind delaying to supposedly move this when the point is that regardless, we have no free hand to operate against legitimate threats?

  82. 86.  Hey Scott anytime you want me to chime in on these political matters, just advise.

    🙂

    I can’t tell you how funny it is to read posts like 61…after all this time…

    sun rises in the east / wash – spin – wash / idiots still posting right-wing jibberish

    sigh

  83. 87.  I don’t understand why it would be a question. Of course I would have a problem with Gore getting the same treatment. Being a political comedian who doesn’t take on the Prez is like being part of the roast and not slamming the honoree.

  84. 88.  85 – “no free hand to operate against legitimate threats” is where we disagree, because instead of having to deal with two terror-sponsoring states with WMD programs (which you seem to agree with so long as Hitch is claiming this), the free, stable, and perhaps most importantly modern Iraqi society we are working with allies to to build would be an invaluable ally in any future conflict with Iran.

    Let’s try something:

    “As for the compelling arguments against he war, what won me over from the start was that committing to [South Korea] for as long as it was realistically going to take was going to eliminate our ability to operate with a free hand towards states that were funding a lot more terrorist activity and had much more advanced WMD programs (namely [North Korea]).”

    Creating a free, strong, democratic ally in that part of the world is and has been the mission all along, regardless of whatever opinions (or facts, apparently) one holds regarding WsMD.

    87 – So basically then Scott, your only beef with Miller is that he thinks there is enough of a target-rich environment for political comedians today (“targets” = Reid, Pelosi, etc) to stay successful without slamming the President. Clearly you disagree, eh? 😉

  85. 89.  88. That is, without a doubt, the worst analogy I have ever read, I really don’t know if it is even worth it to discuss anything of even the most remote substance with you. First of all, the Hitchens article I referred to admitted that Saddam had limited, if any ties to terrorists, the problem was that Saddam was weak, so no, it was not two regimes with WMD programs with terrorist ties, unless the two you are counting are Iran and Syria, two countries that we did not invade. Now onto your awful analogy. First of all, given the fact that we went to Korea to actually fight the North Koreans, not overthrow South Korea’s regime, thus the war was not a distraction from. You also seem to think that we are operating in a vacuum, but the fact is, we still have significant resources tied down in Korea, in addition to Afghanistan, another commitment, especially since Afghanistan and the border region were far from settled, just stretched us far too thin. Even committing resources to Korea, we were still able to pledge significant resources to Europe, Japan, and eventually, Vietnam, do you really see us having any resources to deal with Iran, especially if it takes Iraq 35 years to become a democratic nation as well? This is of course ignoring the severe ethnic tensions that were well known in Iraq versus an ethnically homogeneous population in Korea.

  86. 90.  chris…couldn’t read all the tax related stuff, but do you really have three kids and one on the way?..You My Man Are An Inspiriation!

    And to hell with the fact-checkers. Really. 🙂

  87. 91.  TFD,

    I do in fact have three kids and one due in October. A few facts to scare our younger readers off of women for a while:

    * My oldest will be all of 3 1/2 when the fourth is born—no I’m not a Mormon or a Catholic (long-time juice readers know this implicitly), we had twins in the middle.

    * My fourth is proof that NO BIRTH CONTROL METHOD IS FOOLPROOF.

    * I am currently spending $750 every four weeks for 10 total days of daycare which will balloon to $1000 in Oct.—and that my friends is reasonable.

    * In the future, I will have four years where I have three kids in High school at the same time.

    * College is not getting any cheaper.

    * I will have three girls who will all be teens at the same time for a total of six years.

    * On the day before Earth Day, I bought a Suburban. There are damn few cars that can hold four car seats.

    * I’m selling my house because I’ve run out of room.

    * There are damn few houses that have the bathroom power necessary to handle three teenage girls.

    All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for the world—although my golf game is suffering from extreme neglect.

  88. 92.  91. I’ll echo the thought on no birth control being fool proof. My wife got pregnant with #3 while on the pill and me using condoms and with #4 after she got her tubes tied during the c-section for #3.

  89. 93.  92 Jesus…. It sounds like someone needs to sit in a recliner working on a really hot laptop.

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