Balkinization  

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why Bush Is Our Most Catastrophic President

Sandy Levinson

I have been taken to task for describing George W. Bush as the most catastrophic president in our history. Part of the critique is that worse catastrophes have happened in other presidential administrations, including, say, the capture and burning of Washington by the British in the War of 1812 or the decimation of the Union army in the early days of the Civil War. One might include Pearl Harbor in this list. Mention has been made of the fact that the 3,000 American dead in Iraq, though of incalculable loss to the families of the deceased, is a quite small number compared to the losses in earlier battles and wars. And so on. So why do I remain convinced that he is indeed our most catastrophic president?

Part of the answer lies simply in the expanded domain for decisionmaking by modern presidents. Michael Lind, in a Washington Post symposium on who have been our worst presidents, educated me as to the truly dreadful nature of the Madison presidency. The War of 1812 was awful, perhaps even catastrophic, in every way. Had the British in fact reconquered the US (and not simply a part of northern Maine, which they gave back), then Madison would obviously have been the hands-down winner of worst and most catastrophic president. But, of course, the US pulled through, albeit ingloriously. So the consequences of Madison's incompetence were relatively minor. And there just wasn't much else that Madison, or any President, could do, for good or for ill. He signed the bill establishing the Second Bank and he vetoed an internal improvements bill. The very fact that most Americans know nothing at all about Madison's presidency suggests that, at the end of the day, it was simply of little significance, one way or the other. And that's true of most 19th century presidencies, because the national government just didn't do much. And if one castigates some of the presidents for their collaboration with slavery, then one can respond that they were simply following the terms of the initial Constitution, a convenant with Death and an agreement with Hell, though some were more eager to live up to that covenant and agreement than others. But no US president comes through with flying colors, including Lincoln, who emphasized in his First Inaugural that he had desire to challenge slavery where it already existed and, indeed, would support an amendment guaranteeing the legal integrity of slavery in perpetuity.


Yes, the losses at Bull Run and elsewhere were catastrophic, but I'm not sure that one can properly blame them on Abraham Lincoln, unless one wants to address the question of whether he should have adopted James Buchanan's policy of declaring secession illegal but, nonetheless, non-prevetable by the national government. We've talked about that earlier, and I actually think there's something to be said for Buchanan's argument. As I've argued earlier, I think main justification for Lincoln's decision to join in going to war--it takes two to tango, after all--is along "humanitarian intervention" grounds emphasizing the necessity of eliminating chattel slavery, but this justification, as I've also argued earlier, calls into question the weakness of the ensuing "reconstruction" that utterly failed to achieve genuine "regime change" and permanently harmed American politics by giving the South even more political power in the long run than it had had prior to the War. So maybe Andrew Johnson is our most "catastrophic President" for his failure to crack down early and hard on the defeated Southern entities.

Incidentally, perhaps James Polk deserves mention, since it was his decision to initiate the Mexican-American War. Still, it's hard to argue that gaining the American Southwest, including California, has disserved the country (in the way that a weak Reconstruction clearly disserved the country, however understandable it is politically).

Perhaps it should be Woodrow Wilson, the most racist president in our history (relative to the cultural possibilities of the time, since, after all Teddy Roosevelt had had Booker Washington to the White House as a guest) and the implementer of America's debatable participation in World War I and then the various catastrophies linked with Versailles afterward. He was also a stunningly obdurate, self-righteous political leader, in part because of his assurance that he had been called by God to exercise his particular leadership. (Sound familiar?)

Harding scarcely counts. Corruption does not equal catastrophe. Hoover was the victim of structural forces as much as his own ineptitude. Indeed, had he accepted FDR's entreaties in 1920 to run for the presidency on the Democratic ticket (and been elected), I suspect we would regard him as a first-rate president, since he was a man of enormous ability (unlike you know who).

Some people might describe FDR as a catastrophe because of the New Deal. I don't. If anyone wants to take up the argument, feel free.

So now we're up to Truman, Ike and JFK. All were far from perfect, but catastrophic seems excessive, even for their detractors. JFK comes closest, because of his monumental ineptitude at the Vienna conference with Khruschev, which persuaded the latter that he was a weakling. Thus the Cuban Missile Crisis, where JFK risked nuclear holocaust in part so that the Democratics could avoid decimation in the 1962 congressional elections. (There might have been other considerations, but no less that Robert McNamara downplayed the genuine threat to the US posed by the missiles in Cuba.)

LBJ is the most tragic president in our history. For me he was the greatest domestic president we ever had, including Lincoln and FDR. Then there is Vietnam, which was, I think, an utter catastrophe. But, as I've argued earlier, it was a "soluble" catastrophe in the specific sense that acceptance of American defeat, as Gerald Ford was ultimately willing to do, had relatively little international effect. (Domestic politics are another matter.)

No one could argue that Carter was "catastrophic," so let's move on to Reagan. Again we could have all sorts of political arguments about the Reagan presidency, but it is true that, for all of his throwing down certain gauntlets, he was not bellicose or prone to take unnecessary risks. In retrospect, one feels almost nostalgic for the maturity of leadership of George Schultz in the State Department.

George H.W. Bush or Clinton? Highly imperfect, yes, "catastrophic," no. So this brings us, obviously, to George W. Bush. He embarked on a war of choice that has not only torn this country apart, but threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East and provoke ethnic bloodbaths, not to mention, for what it is worth, instabilities in the supply of oil and the like. He has, as Mark Graber has noted, turned a blind eye to global warming. He has, as Tom Friedman has repeatedly noted, been totally indifferent to achieving any real "energy independence" by adopting a more intelligent energy policy. He has threatened our children and grandchildren with economic insecurity by having to pay for his combination of reckless tax cuts and an expanding welfare state (such as the drug bill with its enormous benefits to big drug companies). The list goes on. In any event, I challenge anyone on this list to specify why another of our 43 presidents can legitimately be called "more catastrophic" or "worse" in terms of long-term consequences for the US and the world than George W. Bush, who, because of our defective Constitution, has 740 days remaining in his term.

Comments:

Sir, wasn't it 740 yesterday? ;)

I'm not the scholar to debate the merits of awarding 43 the superlative. He's been bad for us and the world, perhaps catastrophically so. That's enough. His defeats on the field of battle, the rife corruption of his allies (I'm thinking Enron and Abramhof), his steady attacks on the liberty of our citizens (HR3162, NSA Wiretapping, MCA), all of these things suffice to say that, whether "the" worst or "merely" unacceptable, the man---and the PNAC puppeteers behind him---have to go, post haste.

Besides, you shouldn't have to argue for the literal meaning of your every rhetorical flourish, at least not in a world where Cheney can get away with implying that to vote Democrat is to aid bin Laden or others can claim outright that there is any reason other than Bush's failures as c-in-c to account for the years long defeat we have been suffering on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
 

Doesn't Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears at least deserve a mention in the litany of catastrophic administrations?
 

It isn't the results so much, it's the incompetence involved -- the degree to which the catastorphe is needless and self-inflicted.

And that isn't the worst part of it, though I suppose Sandy can be excused for not pressing this point:

We've never had a President who enegaged in such a comprehensive and systematic effort to subvert the Constitution and the law. This administration is literally a crime syndicate. War crimes, torture, kidnappings... and that's just political window-dressing to these folks: I shudder to think what we'll find when we finally get inside their filing cabinets and account books.

They have literally attempted to establish the notion that the Constitution gives the President the powers of a Roman Dictator, and while I agree with Sandy that the Constituion has some very serious flaws, it isn't that flawed and it's preposterous to suppose that the founders of this country intended any such thing.
 

. In any event, I challenge anyone on this list to specify why another of our 43 presidents can legitimately be called "more catastrophic" or "worse" in terms of long-term consequences for the US and the world than George W. Bush, who, because of our defective Constitution, has 740 days remaining in his term.

The bold part worries me as a point of comparison. In your list, you dismissed Madison because the War of 1812's effects were negligible in the long term--the significance of which is gauged by the "fact that most Americans know nothing at all about Madison's presidency."

Can that be our criteria? If so, doesn't it weight the current/most recent presidents a little too highly, since first-hand experience would seem to trump history in terms of commonality.

Secondly, is the US or the world the proper place to gauge long-term consequences? QuiteAlarmed's suggestion that Jackson's pressure to create the Indian Removal Act of 1830 makes him a candidate for the label "catastrophic" is a good example. Did relocation of people within our own territory have any long-term consequences on the world? And if not, does that make it less catastrophic?

Polk is an example of the flip side. If the actions of the Mexican-American war (btw, another great subject to read Emerson's journals on) benefit the US, does that excuse the consequences of those actions if they happen elsewhere?

Finally, if long-term consequences are the stick by which catastrophe is to be measured, haven't you fallen into the trap of "history being written long after we're dead"? If we can exclude Madison on the basis that no one remembers him after 190 years, can we include GWB when he still has 739 action-packed days ahead of him in which to repent and fix all his mistakes?

Now, I'll still agree with you if you say "yes," but the logic in the argument escapes me at the moment. Maybe I need coffee. :)
 

But no US president comes through with flying colors, including Lincoln, who emphasized in his First Inaugural that he had [NO] desire to challenge slavery where it already existed...
 

Instead of debating each President individually, let me copy here the pluses and minuses I drew up several years ago for some of the candidates.

Some comments first. I tried to be as neutral as possible, but my own political bias may show especially on some of the more recent ones. I'd also add that it does take time for historical perspective. I'd say we probably have enough for Nixon, but not for Reagan and certainly not for Dubya. Finally, note that I made no comment about the relative importance of the various pluses and minuses; your own judgment there will have a big impact.

With that said, here they are:

Madison:

Pluses
1. Successful conclusion to War of 1812
2. Opening of Indiana and Illinois to settlement
3. Respect for civil liberties and constitutional process during wartime
4. Separation of church and state
5. Flexibility on Bank of US
6. Ultimate cabinet
7. Two terms
Minuses
1. Necessity for War of 1812
2. Overall management of War
3. Excessive strict constructionism in roads veto
4. Financing the War
5. Original cabinet

Jackson
Pluses
1. Democratization of country by universal white male suffrage
2. Handling of Nullification Crisis
3. Two terms
Minuses
1. Expulsion of Cherokees
2. Racism
3. Bank War
4. Temper
5. Excessive states rights construction
6. Censorship of the mail in the South
7. Spoils system

Polk
Pluses
1. Expansion of US into Mexican Cession
2. Agreement with Britain on Oregon boundary and settlement of Oregon
3. Management of Mexican War
Minuses
1. Bullying and aggressive foreign relations
2. Disgraceful instigation of Mexican War
3. Aggressive pro-slavery policies

Buchanan
Pluses
1. Opposition to Nativism
Minuses
1. Support for Lecompton Constitution
2. Support for Dred Scott decision
3. Fawning pro-slavery behavior
4. Inactivity in secession crisis
5. Panic of 1857

Andrew Johnson
Pluses
1. Purchase of Alaska
Minuses
1. Drunkenness
2. Pardon of Confederate traitors
3. White supremacist policies
4. Tolerance of violent resistance to civil rights for former slaves
5. Inability to negotiate with Congress

LBJ
Pluses
1. Civil Rights Act of 1964
2. Civil rights record probably best of any President ever
3. Kept the peace in face of Czech invasion
4. Expansion of opportunity for women and minorities
5. Medicare
Minuses
1. Deceit in obtaining Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
2. Mismanagement of Vietnam War
3. Inability to deal with anti-War protesters
4. Mismanagement of economy by inflation

Nixon
Pluses
1. Diplomatic overture to China
2. Handling of 1973 Arab-Israeli War
3. SALT I Treaty
4. ABM Treaty
Minuses
1. Deceitful prolongation of Vietnam War
2. Use of anti-crime rhetoric to fan racial fears
3. Intolerance of dissent
4. Watergate and forced resignation
5. Secret bombing of Cambodia
6. Wage and price controls
7. Cabinet appointments
8. Corruption in campaign financing
9. Choice of Vice-President
10. Ellsberg break-in and Pentagon Papers case

Reagan
Pluses
1. Control of inflation
2. Improved economic performance over second term
3. Courageous behavior in assassination attempt
4. Oratorical skills
5. INF Treaty
Minuses
1. Iran-Contra scandal
2. Poor Cabinet appointments
3. Poor Supreme Court appointments
4. Recession early in first term
5. Extremist, divisive rhetoric
6. Raising Cold War tensions
7. Budget deficits; overestimate of defense needs
8. Poor environmental record
9. Wasteful governmental spending
10. Invasion of Grenada

My own view is that Bush II has not yet reached the depths of Buchanan or A. Johnson, nor is he likely to. He is, though, giving Nixon a real challenge for the number three spot and I'd probably put him there even now.
 

I challenge anyone on this list to specify why another of our 43 presidents can legitimately be called "more catastrophic" or "worse" in terms of long-term consequences for the US and the world than George W. Bush

The difficulty is that we know the long-term consequences of the actions of past crises, but we do not know the long-term consequences of present crises. That is why past crises always seem more manageable in retrospect that the present -- because we know the outcome. As it became apparent that we were losing the Vietnam War, for instance, many people foresaw all sorts of catestrophic consequences that did not come to pass. The same applies to the Civil War. When the tide seemed to be against the Union many people believed this would be not only a catastrophy for the United States, but a devastating setback for democracy the world over.

Just as we ultimately triumphed over Communism and our defeat in Vietnam proved only a temporary setback, so I am confident that in the long run we will defeat Islamic radicalism. Any ideology decidated to turning back the clock to the 7th century is doomed to fail.

Obviously Bush's domestic policies are troubling. Why is Nixon not discussed as a potential candidate. To the extent that we can say Nixon begat Cheney, his long-term consequences were much worse than anyone could have foreseen.

But ultimately, I would say both James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson left some very small shoes to fill.
 

Why on earth can no-one argue that Carter was catastrophic? A surprising number of people consider him the worst president in recent memory. Even though you obviously disagree, I don't think his claim to this dubious honor can be disregarded to easily.
 

Love the Pluses and Minuses list! Great Job!

Back in 2005 and 2006 I posted about "No Child Left Behind" - That failure of policy implementation brought to you by our More-Interested-In War-Crimes Preznit and his RePiglicans in Congress.

I mentioned back then the Failing National Report Card of flat performances of testing results since the policy’s implementation. (And while it ought to go without saying...Be Competently RUN!)

And here we are, yet ANOTHER YEAR later, with this scathing performance audit from the Office of Inspector General - an independent arm of the Education Department - on the "[J]ewel of No Child Left Behind, Bush's education" -- The 4.8 Billion dollar The Reading First Program.

Hardly a been a stunning *Success* or any achievement at all. I personally think their "No Child SEEs a Behind" program has been much more thriving than this patronage boondoggle.

Same with his Medicare Part D plan; his Report Card on Homeland Security; Tax Cuts benefiting the wealthy - causing unprecedented Deficits; the Iraq War; the Afghanistan War...the list goes ON and ON.

So, I am reissuing my challenge for 'bAdministration' Successes to anyone out there:

Can Anyone of you list ANY *successful bAdmin policies*?

I'd like to get at least a short list of FIVE successes...but at this point - I'd like to hear about ANY successes in this 5yrs-and-counting Corruption, Cronyism and Unethical Government brought to you by this bAdmin and his former Rubberstamplicans in Congress.

Just remember the rules: To be a policy success - they have to have measured goals, fit within the purpose and design of the policy, and fit within the costs as laid out at their inception.

So - what would be on the Bush PLUS side? Anything? I'd love to see that list! (*snark*) Anyone got anything they can list as a GW PLUS?

Other than not another Terrorist Attack in the US since 9/11 - which somehow I doubt very sincerely is because of his FAB efforts at protection - are thay any actual accomplishments he can claim!
 

First, it is indeed 739 days. I mistakenly thought it was the 11th when I typed the missive.

I also agree that Zhou-en-Lai was probably right when he famously declared that it "was too early to tell" about the consequences of the French Revolution. I.e., what I should have said was something like "why I suspect that our grandchildren will believe George W. Bush to be the most catastropic president in our history," since many of my own arguments rest on debatable predictions, which I hope turn out to be wrong (since I would rather have my grandchildren live in an acceptable world than have the grim "satisfaction" of being proved correct in my predictions about the consequences of the Bush presidency.

Jackson and the Trail of Tears is a difficult case. I.e., there is no doubt that it was absolutely catastrophic for the Cherokees and counts heavily against both Jackson and the standard triumphalist narrative of American history. But it's hard to argue that the displacement was catastrophic for the US itself, in part because is significantly constituted by the displacement of Native Americans. Slavery, on the other hand, was clearly catastrophic for the slaves and for the US that slavery helped to constitute. But not given president can be given blame for slavery, since that was indeed part of the original constitutional deal. See, e.g., Story's opinion in Prigg, which I consider the most repugnant opinion in our history--moreso than Dred Scott--and his emphasis on the necessity to save the Union by climbing in bed with slaveowners and slavecatchers.

One final point: I was, all to predictably, a rabid partisan with regard to both Nixon and Reagan, but I do not recall feeling the level of sheer fear of either of those presidents as I do with Bush. Nixon was grievously flawed personally, but he was also superbly educated, by the time he became president, about foreign affairs. I don't recall thinking that he would blunder into World War III even I was appalled by his Vietnam policies.

Reagan is a more complex case, but I recall telling my daughter (then 10) after he was elected that I was appalled but did not really believe that he would get us into a major war. With Bush one never knows, partly because he is an ignorant fool about foreign policy, partly because I continue to fear that he has a messianic view of himself that I simply never suspected for a moment with regard to Nixon and Reagan.
 

One further comment, about Andrew Johnson: He was a terrible President, but, ironically, the short term consequences might have been quite good inasmuch as it was only his political ineptitude that brought about military reconstruction and the ratification of the 14th (and later the 15th) amendment(s). Had he been "better," there is no reason to believe that the national government would have made serious efforts to "reconstruct." We will, of course, never know what Lincoln would have done, but I think there is no particular reason to believe that he would have supported military reconstruction.

Buchanan is another tricky case, because, after all, one might believe that the War was a good thing inasmuch as it got rid of chattel slavery. The great dilemma is deciding whether we would rather have maintained slavery and avoided secession and war or eliminated chattel slavery even at the cost of the conflagration of war.

Thus my fear that Bush will end up as the most catastrophic, because right now, at least, it's hard to see much good coming out of his decision to go to war and be so absolutely obdurate about recognizing the problems attached to global warming, not to mention the long-term costs of his compulsive tax cuts for the rich. But, as I wrote immediately above, I hope I'm wrong about this.
 

testing account
 

Sorry for the test post, I did not know how to log in to post.

I have read this blog for here from time to time and find it interesting. This post is nuts however. First, it falls for the historically suspect notion that the times we live in are somehow more momentous than all past times so our current problems must also be more momentous. This may be true in general, but as applied to Iraq it simply isn't.

I'll address your complaints about how GWB is the "most catastrophic" in order. Your complaints seem to be as follows:

"He embarked on a war of choice that has not only torn this country apart, but threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East and provoke ethnic bloodbaths, not to mention, for what it is worth, instabilities in the supply of oil and the like."

Well, maybe he has, maybe he hasn't and in any event, regardless of what the US did, the Iraq situation would have been with us in any event upon Hussein's fall. The middle east today is a nasty nasty place. It has always been so and will always be so. The middle east has NEVER BEEN stable, there have always been bloodbaths and ethnic cleansings and there will continue to be them regardless of what we do. Even if the war is judged a complete failure (and it is too early to do that in my opinion) the result will be for the formerly unfortuante country of Iraq to be slightly more unfortunate. The killings and ethnic cleansing went on before (what was the Iran/Iraq war, 1.5-2 million?) Compare this historically to Viet Nam where a country of some 25 million (?) people was turned into a giant reeducation camp. Where millions of refugees fled the country getting away from communist tyranny. Is Iraq worse than that today? We can still pull off Iraq to be not a perfect country, but about as good as say Korea was after the Korean war (authoritarian, but slouching toward freedom) or what South Vietnam was before it fell to the Northern invasion.

EVEN IF Iraq completely fails, my view is the country will be about where it would have been had the US never been there once Saddam fell. It would have been like after Tito fell in Yugoslavia. To say this is the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in US history is again, just nuts. How about the Phillipine Civil War, Communist domination of Eastern Europe, failure of viable settlement after Versaille, disengagement from world after WWI, the CIVIL FREAKING WAR does not pass the laugh test.

"He has, as Mark Graber has noted, turned a blind eye to global warming."

So has everyone else in the World. How is Bush's policy any different than Clinton's in the amount of gasses actually emitted? Answer: it isn't. Clinton and Gore talked a lot about the evils of global warming but never passed a single policy that did anything to materially lower emmissions. In fact, during the elections, Gore made political points regarding the price of oil and gas and then the administration released oil for the SPR to DRIVE DOWN the price of oil and therefore gas. So we needed cheaper gas so we could burn less of it? REAL reductions in greenhouse gasses will take a level of economic dislocation that are not politically viable. Does your law school use heat? AC in the summer? Is your computer powered by gerbils? Everyone is for reducing greenhouse gasses until they actually have to do something concrete. Come up with a plan to reduce emmissions by 25%, sell it to the public and get back to me. GWB is just doing what the country wants here.

"He has, as Tom Friedman has repeatedly noted, been totally indifferent to achieving any real "energy independence" by adopting a more intelligent energy policy."

Again, your "energy independence" is something that sounds great in the abstract and is very easy to achieve by columnists and law professors who don't actually have to power anything, but is something that will happen or not because of the market.


"He has threatened our children and grandchildren with economic insecurity by having to pay for his combination of reckless tax cuts and an expanding welfare state (such as the drug bill with its enormous benefits to big drug companies)."

It's 5:00 pm on Friday when I go home, I will address the other points later.
 

Scott:

EVEN IF Iraq completely fails, my view is the country will be about where it would have been had the US never been there once Saddam fell.

"Your Honour, even if I hadn't plugged the guy, he would have died eventually anyway...."

And that's a surer statement than Scott's....

Cheers,
 

Scott:

... what South Vietnam was before it fell to the Northern invasion.

Here ya go. Read it and be enlightened.

Cheers,
 

I agree with the previous posters who have argued that it's near impossible to judge of the long-term consequences of Bush 43 while he's still president. In the "worst president" contest I'll take Andrew Johnson. Buchanan was dreadful, but I doubt he could have done much to stop secession, while I think A. Johnson did serious harm to the prospects for successful Reconstruction. I also am doubtful that he deserves back-handed praise for the 14th and 15th Amendments, which could quite plausibly have been enacted if Hannibal Hamlin had succeeded Lincoln instead of Johnson.

The Union victory in the Civil War was a necessary and good thing not only because it ended slavery, but because it preserved the American republic, vindicated popular government, and destroyed forever the false doctrine of secession. (No surprise that I keep pictures of Grant and Sherman in my office.)
 

The claim that "no one could argue that Carter was "catastrophic" is little short of absurd. Indeed, today's news brings the revelation that none other than President Ford held that very view:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Ford-Presidents.html
 

See, that counter someone suggested would avoid that problem.

I think it is usually easier to study history than predict it, so this post is a somewhat a hard sell, but some comments suggest the material is there. It does call to mind Sean Wilentz's Rolling Stone piece on Bush.

As to B&J, appropriate given PBS is re-airing the Civil War miniseries ...

Buchanan. The minuses are a bit overblown. Douglas "supported" the Dred Scott decision (it helped that he avoided troublesome dicta). It would have been deemed 'Republican' not to do so. I don't think he can be blamed too much for the Panic of 1857. "Fawning" was a credible means to keep the one national party united.

#1 (LC) was related to #3, but is worthy of criticism, since he worsened a bad situation. #4 is what truly made him memorable, not just another nonentity 19th Century president.

He was picked since he was deemed safe, but the times required someone a bit risky. Still, I'm not sure if the CW was avoidable at any rate though maybe a more skillful leader would have found a way to bridge the division with Douglas.

Not much he could really have done with the materials available before he left office once the rebellion started. e.g., did Congress -- in session -- want to do anything? A different leader might have forced its hand. Catastrophic? Quite arguably so.

Johnson: The perils of ticket balancing ... see also John Tyler. The talk of drunkness (including at the inauguration, which involved medication) is overblown. Lincoln would have done #2, surely to some degree, but with more strings.

The others are valid though ironically forced the country in a better direction. Thus, he was clearly a bad president, but not "catastrophic." This does not really do him many favors, though honestly, he was just a somewhat nasty face of a signficant minority of the country.

We should be glad in a fashion he was as unfit for the job as he was.
 

That article is interesting, but it doesn't really do the job ...

"There were no major mistakes. There just weren't a lot of exciting results."

Not quite what comes to mind when "Catastrophic" is used.
 

The claim that "no one could argue that Carter was "catastrophic" is little short of absurd. Indeed, today's news brings the revelation that none other than President Ford held that very view

Well, this is pretty misleading. Ford did say, in 1981, that he thought Carter was a "disaster". However, in 1998, he said Carter ''will be looked on as a better president than some comments we hear today.''

''He was a very decent, fine individual,'' Ford told the paper. ''There were no major mistakes. There just weren't a lot of exciting results.''

In any case, I think Ford's comments in 1981 are a good example why we need the passage of time in order to form a sound historical judgment. IMO, we're just now at the stage where we can do that with Nixon. We should be cautious with any President later than him, including even Bush (I would say "especially" Bush, but he's so bad that it's hard to imagine much improvement; still, ya never know).
 

I agree with a lot of what Scott said, but let me emphasize one thing and make a different point.

1. Scott makes a good point about how even if Iraq fails it is hard to show that the result (in the long term) would be much worse than if we hadn't invaded Iraq. What do people think would have happened when Saddam died? One of his two sons (who many consider worse than Saddam) would have likely taken over. If they didn't, the country could easily have broken down into a civil war over succession to the dictatorship. The current sectarian strife would likely have ignited in an instant without the heavy hand of Saddam to keep the Shiites down. Without the US in Iraq, you would probably have had even MORE direct influence by Iran in Iraq -- in trying to prop up its Shiite brethern and trying to install an Iran friendly regime in Iraq. So, to peer through the crystal ball, it is far from clear that the invasion made Iraq or the broader Middle East worse off in the long run.

2. Assuming the US doesn't suffer another major domestic terrorist attack during the last days of Bush's Presidency, history will give Bush the credit for the lack of attacks. Many historians and commentators note that Presidents receive both the praise and the blame for things that occured during their Presidency largely regardless of their influence on the events or even if they could prevented them from happening. Now, I think Bush is properly responsible for the lack of terrorist attacks, but even if you don't think he deserves the credit, history will give it to him.
 

hls: ...even if Iraq fails...

A) Wrong tense. The invasion of Iraq is an appalling failure in every sense of the word, moral, military, you name it. This c-in-c should hang his head in shame for the way it played out.

B) Wrong tense. The routing of funds into the military-industrial-intelligence-complex has ensured a lack of funding for social justice and social welfare programs for many a year. This grail of conservative thought has succeeded wildly. (I never will understand folks who are happy to have their money spent invading sovereign nations but resent having it spent on sending local kids to college, but that's just me and my "tired liberal values.")

As for last minute terrorism, if it doesn't happen the Rupert Murdoch noise machine will make sure we "know" it is to Bush's credit. If there is such an attack that same noise machine will make sure we "know" it is the Dem's fault. It's called a self-sealing prophecy, where all evidence leads to the same conclusion, and it's the prime characteristic of the political positioning of the "heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" style of "reasoning" we are daily subjected to by the GOP. What amazes me is that A) anyone falls for this nonsense, B) anyone has the brass balls to offer it up as legitimate discourse.
 

Robert,

Okay fine, but you aren't really rebutting my point -- just making a different one.
 

It appears that Bush is now getting credit for keeping America "safe" from terrorist attacks. Apparently the Clinton presidency constructively ended on 9/11/2001.
 

Scott makes a good point about how even if Iraq fails it is hard to show that the result (in the long term) would be much worse than if we hadn't invaded Iraq. What do people think would have happened when Saddam died?

There are lots of historical examples to choose from here. Yugoslavia ended up badly, possibly even worse than Iraq now. When Stalin died, things actually got better. Same with Mao. I'm guessing they will in Cuba too. Using just examples from the Middle East, Iran and Egypt simply replaced one strong man with another. None of them very appetizing, but none were Saddam Hussein either (to their own people, that is).

As for our presence, it worked out well in Korea, but that was more like the Gulf War in that it was conducted with UN approval. Pace Scott, our intervention in Vietnam almost certainly made things far, far worse than if we had stayed out.

Counter-factual history isn't very useful because the possibilities are infinite. All we can really know is that we took a bad situation and made it worse. How much worse remains to be seen.
 

Mark,

You are right, counterfactuals are problematic. It is only as good as the reasonableness of the counterfactual itself in light of the situation at the time. I would posit that either of Saddam's son's taking over or a civil war for control would have been by far the most likely possible outcomes. Of course, this doesn't mean they would have necessarily occured.

While yes, the possibilities are infinite, the reasonable or likely possibilities are not so hard to divine.
 

Professor Levinson:

For amateur historians like myself, rating Presidents is always a great deal of fun. It looks like your post has generated a great deal of conversation beyond Mr. Bush, but let us start with your indictment of the "catastrophic" Mr. Bush.

He embarked on a war of choice...

All wars are "wars of choice," unless the United States is being invaded and is defending its own territory and people. That has occurred once, unless you count the Revolution as a British invasion. That means every President who has directed a war since then has been a catastrophe.

Perhaps you would extend the definition of unavoidable wars to wars where the enemy attacked us or our friends. Interestingly, that would remove Mr. Bush (although not several other Presidents including Lincoln) from the list of catastrophic Presidents.

Iraq invaded our ally Kuwait. We defeated Iraq and entered into a Ceasefire (not a peace treaty) suspending the state of war to remove Saddam's regime so long as he followed the terms of the Ceasefire. Saddam violated the Ceasefire repeatedly over a series of years, attacked our aircraft, attempted to assassinate our ex President and planned a terror campaign code named Blessed July against the United States. Under any reasonable interpretation of the Ceasefire, Saddam reinstated the state of war which he initiated through the invasion of Kuwait. Mr. Bush merely finished what his father failed to complete.

...that has not only torn this country apart

Torn the country apart? Isn't that more than a bit of hyperbole? Where are the riots of the Civil War, WWII and Vietnam? Hell, Sheehan's merry band of anti war rabble rousers are lucky if they can gather a few hundred peaceful protesters.

...but threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East

When exactly was the Middle East stable? In any case, what countries in the Middle East do you contend have been or will be destabilized by the liberation of Iraq? Are Iran and Kuwait less stable now than when Saddam invaded their countries?

...and provoke ethnic bloodbaths

Prior to the liberation of Iraq, the Iraqi Sunni systemically murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi and Iranian Shia. Indeed, the vast majority of ethnic murder we have seen since the liberation of Iraq have been Iraqi Sunni continuing their murder of Iraqi Shia.

...not to mention, for what it is worth, instabilities in the supply of oil and the like.

Ummm... Oil production in the Middle East, including Iraq, has increased since the liberation of Iraq.

I am not seeing how the liberation of Iraq was any bloodier or more destabilizing than nearly any prior US war.

He has, as Mark Graber has noted, turned a blind eye to global warming.

Assuming the reality of a correlation between the human production of CO2 and the bouncing net miniscule rise in world temperatures since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, this phenomenon has been ignored by the populations of the industrialized world, including the countries who claim to have signed onto Kyoto, Presidents Clinton and Bush and nearly the entire Senate which rejected Kyoto.

He has, as Tom Friedman has repeatedly noted, been totally indifferent to achieving any real "energy independence" by adopting a more intelligent energy policy.

The US has not been "energy independent" since before WWII nor will it be at any time in the near future.

He has threatened our children and grandchildren with economic insecurity by having to pay for his combination of reckless tax cuts and an expanding welfare state (such as the drug bill with its enormous benefits to big drug companies).

Since the 1993 reductions of tax rates, tax revenues have increased at the highest rate since, well, the reduction of tax rates in 1981.

However, we do agree that enacting or expanding entitlement programs is a fiscal catastrophe. If that translates into catastrophic presidencies, then Mr. Bush has very good company for much of the past century.

In any event, I challenge anyone on this list to specify why another of our 43 presidents can legitimately be called "more catastrophic" or "worse" in terms of long-term consequences for the US and the world than George W. Bush...

To get a better perspective, let us reverse this search to look for better performances than Mr. Bush...

During my lifetime, I would rank the Presidents as follows:

Reagan - The most influential President of the 20th Century apart from FDR. Reagan completely changed the common wisdom around the world. When he came into office, my professors were teaching the inevitability of social democracy or outright communism, the inability of third world nations to become democracies and management of US decline. When Reagan left office, communism was being dumped on the ash heap of history, free markets were sweeping the world, dozens of nations had joined the club of democracies and the new unipolar world was and continues to be dominated by the US "hyperpower." Every President who followed Reagan used his language and played by the rules of the game he created.

JFK: Kennedy had definite potential if he had lived. After stumbling at the Bay of Pigs, he recovered very nicely during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After Eisenhower's benign neglect of the military, Kennedy rebuilt it. Kennedy had the right instincts about civil rights. Kennedy proposed the tax rate cuts which Johnson later enacted and expanded the economy.

Clinton: On balance, I think history will judge Mr. Clinton better than his contemporaries do. Clinton wanted to be a domestic policy president and ended up being a pretty good one. Clinton helped finish the Reagan Revolution by implementing a number of significant free trade agreements and signing off on the Gingrich balanced budget plan and welfare reform when he could have stopped both. As a result, he presided over a continuation of the Reagan economic expansion. Clinton's failure was focusing on domestic policy to the virtually complete abandonment of foreign policy. Islamic fascism rose and became a substantial threat to our security during the 90s while the Clinton Administration issued indictments. Additionally, Mr. Clinton committed multiple felonies while in office.

Bush 43: The current President is a mixed bag. Let me play to the crowd here and list his failures first. Expanding the already unsustainable Medicare entitlement, increasing spending by nearly 1/3 and thus creating an enormous deficit for future generations and expanding the federal education bureaucracy with Teddy Kennedy by enacting NCLB. On the plus side, Bush pulled the nation out of recession with a smaller version of Reagan's tax rate cuts (financing a portion of his spending increases in the process) as well as routing and decimating al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Baathist police state, and as a result liberating nearly 50 million Afghans and Iraqis.

Bush 41: Rather inconsequential. Caused a hick up in the Reagan expansion with his tax increase and failed to finish an otherwise well orchestrated Persian Gulf War.

Ford: Never had time to accomplish anything and never tried.

LBJ: Both a triumph and a tragedy. LBJ's civil rights efforts, his passage of the Kennedy tax rate cuts and resulting economic expansion could have catapulted him to the top tier of Presidents. However, LBJ's even more spectacular failures drop him towards the bottom of my list. LBJ's decision to go to war against North Vietnam while ruling out actually invading and defeating North Vietnam resulted in this nation's first defeat in a war. LBJ's war on poverty was also a complete failure which cost well over a trillion dollars.

Carter: The most self righteously incompetent President of my lifetime. Never met a dictator who did not roll him, blundered into stagflation, blamed the American people for the malaise created by his administration and presided over an eclipse of US military power for the first time since WWII.

Nixon: Most definitely the worst. A felon who exponentially increased the welfare state, ravaged the economy with socialistic wage and price controls, prolonged the Vietnam War after LBJ lost it and initiated the 70s appeasement of the Communists.
 

Vietnam and Iraq have one thing in common: Both were unnecessary and expensive U.S. military
interventions, but the Iraq debacle
has endangered the world, and specifically the U.S. As Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld put it, the invasion of Iraq is "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus... sent his legions into Germany and lost them" in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Only an unserious Randroid, (or Milton Friedman), would make a statement like this:

"Nixon... exponentially increased the welfare state, ravaged the economy with socialistic wage and price controls..."
 

Mark Field:
ok a bad situation and made it wor
Counter-factual history isn't very useful because the possibilities are infinite. All we can really know is that we tose. How much worse remains to be seen....

I think I said the same thing (@5:05PM) ... just phrased it a little bit differently.

Cheers,
 

Ooops, mangled that. Try again:

Mark Field:

Counter-factual history isn't very useful because the possibilities are infinite. All we can really know is that we took a bad situation and made it worse. How much worse remains to be seen....

I think I said the same thing (@5:05PM) ... just phrased it a little bit differently.

Now to see if I can delete the other one.....
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

For amateur historians like myself, ...

Oh, my apologies. I took "Bart" for an amateur lawyer....

[Prof. Levinson]: He embarked on a war of choice...

All wars are "wars of choice," unless the United States is being invaded and is defending its own territory and people. That has occurred once, unless you count the Revolution as a British invasion. That means every President who has directed a war since then has been a catastrophe.


Prof. Levinson said no such thing as "wars of choice are catastrophies". This is just "Bart"'s dishonesty, putting words in Prof. Levinson's mouth (what a refreshing change).

It is true that you are saddled with a lot mre responsibility for a catastrophe if you instigate a "war of choice" and it turns out badly. If it's not such, at least you can say, "Yes, we f***ed up and we lost, but what choice did I have?"

As far as "wars of choice" go, there's a fair mix. WWII was not so, and neither was the Civil War. The Revolutionary War was such, as was the Spanish-American War, WWI and the Vietnam War. A mixed bag for the wars of choice, and a better record for wars of necessity. May very well be that when we have wars of necessity (because our butts are truly on the line), we put more effort and sacrifice into them ... but it may also be in part due to the fact that the reasons for "wars of choice" are less benevolent (or is it just Karma?).

But, getting back to the responsibility and the blame: That redounds mostly on those that start wars....

Perhaps you would extend the definition of unavoidable wars to wars where the enemy attacked us or our friends. Interestingly, that would remove Mr. Bush (although not several other Presidents including Lincoln) from the list of catastrophic Presidents.

Iraq didn't attack the U.S.

Iraq invaded our ally Kuwait....

Iraq was our "ally". <*SHEESH*>

... We defeated Iraq and entered into a Ceasefire (not a peace treaty) suspending the state of war to remove Saddam's regime so long as he followed the terms of the Ceasefire. Saddam violated the Ceasefire repeatedly over a series of years, attacked our aircraft, attempted to assassinate our ex President and planned a terror campaign code named Blessed July against the United States. Under any reasonable interpretation of the Ceasefire, Saddam reinstated the state of war which he initiated through the invasion of Kuwait. Mr. Bush merely finished what his father failed to complete.

Bullltwaddley. Historical revisionism. Not even Dubya presented the case for war on this basis. No wonder "Bart"'s an "amateur". He doesn't understand the basics....

[Prof. Levinson]: ...that has not only torn this country apart

Torn the country apart? Isn't that more than a bit of hyperbole? Where are the riots of the Civil War, WWII and Vietnam? Hell, Sheehan's merry band of anti war rabble rousers are lucky if they can gather a few hundred peaceful protesters.


We're just one big Happy Family, eh?

"Bart" is delusional here.

[Prof. Levinson]: ...but threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East

When exactly was the Middle East stable?...


"Bart" is in serious denial here. Iraq's a mess, and even Dubya, in semi-acknowledging mistakes, seems to be making the main case for staying in Iraq out to be that we need to fix things up there or it will really go down the hole.

.. In any case, what countries in the Middle East do you contend have been or will be destabilized by the liberation of Iraq? ....

Umm, when will Iraq be "liberated"? I'd venture to say "not until we take our troops and bases out".

... Are Iran and Kuwait less stable now than when Saddam invaded their countries?

Ummm, we were on Iraq's side during the Iran-Iraq war. "[A]mateur historian" indeed.

[snip unsupporetd assertion]

[Prof. Levinson]: ...not to mention, for what it is worth, instabilities in the supply of oil and the like.

Ummm... Oil production in the Middle East, including Iraq, has increased since the liberation of Iraq.


"Bart" lives on another planet....

[Prof. Levinson]: He has, as Mark Graber has noted, turned a blind eye to global warming.

Assuming the reality of a correlation between the human production of CO2 and the bouncing net miniscule rise in world temperatures since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, ...


"Bart" loves "reframing": "net miniscule [sic] rise". As Hertz says, "Not exactly." As for the data, "Bart" wouldn't know a correlation if it hit him in the head with a 2X4.

... this phenomenon has been ignored by the populations of the industrialized world, including the countries who claim to have signed onto Kyoto, Presidents Clinton and Bush and nearly the entire Senate which rejected Kyoto.

Which (if we assume arguendo "Bart"'s unsupported assertion here) changes the facts in exactly what way?

I'm getting tired of trashing the logorrhhoea emanating from "Bart"'s orifice here ... someone else will have to tackle the rest.

Cheers,
 

Scott said...
Sorry for the test post, I did not know how to log in to post.

I have read this blog for here from time to time and find it interesting. This post is nuts however...

It's 5:00 pm on Friday when I go home, I will address the other points later.

5:01 PM


That's OK, really... take the weekend off.
 

Bart thinks that Bill Clinton cut taxes in 1993 and that this led to the subsequent economic boom. Clinton raised marginal tax rates in 1993, repealed the cap on Medicare taxes, and raised the income ceiling on social security taxes. He did this despite no votes on his bill from every single Republican in the House, and cries from the supply side zealots at the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere that this would cause an economic calamity. Of course it was immediately followed by the biggest economic boom in American history.

This set of events is inconvenient for supply side economics, as it doesn't merely fail to confirm the theory, but represents its most direct possible real world contradiction. Hence it has gone down the memory hole and popped out as a tax cut.
 

Bart writes:Assuming the reality of a correlation between the human production of CO2 and the bouncing net [minuscule] rise in world temperatures since the advent of the Industrial Revolution,

Yes, in fact CO2 levels contribute to accelerated climate change. Just because GwB tries to censor science, doesn't mean you should.
 

Yes, but the date (1993) is also curiously close to the popularization and commercialization of the world wide web--an economic development that you'd have a bit more difficulty assigning to the direct influence of the Clinton administration. I agree, however, that there is a tendency to flip the terms of things to the advantage of one's position when retrieving them from the "memory hole." :)
 

JT Davis said...

As Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld put it, the invasion of Iraq is "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus... sent his legions into Germany and lost them" in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

This observation is a hoot given how van Crevald has glorified similar Israeli military operations in the past. The comparison of the German destruction of an entire Roman Army with Iraq is especially ludicrous given the fact that the enemy has yet to defeat even a platoon of our forces.

Only an unserious Randroid, (or Milton Friedman), would make a statement like this:

"Nixon... exponentially increased the welfare state, ravaged the economy with socialistic wage and price controls..."


Rand is an anarchist utopian, not an economist.

However, my comment does fall well within the Firedman school of economics. BTW, Friedman is to US economics as Reagan is to US politics. He changed the common wisdom in the field.
 

PMS,

But Al Gore invented the Internets! So, yes, the Clinton administration does deserve credit.
 

Arne,

You frequently claim that Bart makes false assertions, logical mistakes and the like. But your "fisking" is eqaully horrendous.

1. Very difficult to say that Iraq was our ally. Yes we tacitly supported them against Iran, as we saw Iran as the bigger threat, but there is little to conclude that we were their ally. Before you trot out some tripe about how we "supported" Saddam, we supplied only a relatively tiny amount of military hardware to Iraq. We provided .59% of his arms imports according to dollar value. Data can be found at http://www.sipri.org/contents/armstrad/access.html

2. The UN resolutions that ended the first Gulf War were "conditional ceasefires." Just go look at them yourself. Ceasefires are temporary cessations of hostility. If broken, the default state is war, not peace. There were several conditions to the ceasefire, many if not most of which Saddam openly broke. Bush didn't sell the war on this point, because it is a technicality, but it doesn't mean that it isn't still correct (sorry abouy double negative). There was a WP post from years ago explaining this point, but it isn't available online anymore. A lexis search should drudge it up.

3. You said Bart is delusional because he argues that this country is not torn apart (at least not by historical standards). Obviously, people have hard feelings over Iraq, but in historical terms if our country is torn apart now, I don't know what you would call the domestic reaction to Vietnam (mass protests and accidental shootings of protestors)or life during the Civil War, etc.

4. I won't go too much into the rest of your responses, because they are pretty worthless. But, here is a prime example.

Bart wrote: Are Iran and Kuwait less stable now than when Saddam invaded their countries?

Arne responsed: Ummm, we were on Iraq's side during the Iran-Iraq war. "[A]mateur historian" indeed.

- That's a response? Bart is making a point about the inherent instability of the Middle East and your response is completely tangential and then this non-response of yours somehow proves that Bart doesn't know his history. Come on arne.
 

I'm not claiming, of course, that the Clinton tax hikes caused the economic boom of the 1990s. Only supply side cultists (i.e., the entire contemporary Republican party, at least in terms of its public face) believe that small changes in marginal tax rates have huge effects on economic growth. I'm merely pointing out that if supply side economics had any merit it would be practically impossible for what happened between 1993 and 1999 to have happened. (Hike in tax rates immediately followed by rapid economic growth).

I note that in his reply Bart DePalma failed to acknowledge that what he posted on this issue was the opposite of truth.
 

Paul Campos said...

Bart thinks that Bill Clinton cut taxes in 1993 and that this led to the subsequent economic boom.

When did I ever post this? Professor Campos, please do not follow arne's lead and invent posts which I never made.

Clinton raised marginal tax rates in 1993, repealed the cap on Medicare taxes, and raised the income ceiling on social security taxes. He did this despite no votes on his bill from every single Republican in the House, and cries from the supply side zealots at the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere that this would cause an economic calamity. Of course it was immediately followed by the biggest economic boom in American history.

Since you brought up the subject, I would be glad to address your misconceptions about the economics of the Clinton tax rate increase.

The economy was already several months into growth before Mr. Clinton's marginal tax rate increases. Thus, Mr. Clinton's efforts to take credit for the growth are self serving and false.

In fact, the rate of economic growth slowed after the Clinton rate increases and tax revenue increases only reached 49% of the CBO projections.

http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/
ecoa4b.html

Compare this GDP and tax revenue growth far in excess of CBO projections after both the 1981, 1986 and 2003 marginal tax rate decreases.

The CBO has been consistently wrong in predicting the impacts of tax rate increases and reductions because it uses a static model which does not take in account the dynamic effects on economic activity caused by changes in marginal tax rates.

The economy did not start taking off again until Mr. Clinton signed off on the GOP balanced budget bills, which I noted in my previous post as one of the positives of the Clinton presidency.

I would note that tax revenue growth during this latter period of economic growth still did not match the revenue growth after the 1981 and 2003 tax rate reductions.

I would also note that much of the second boom was driven by the equities markets, on which Mr. Clinton did not raise capital gains tax rates.

Finally, I would note that both the Clinton tax rate increases and the Bush 2003 reductions were exceedingly small change compared to the Reagan across the board reductions which dropped the top rates from over 70% to 28% while closing numerous loopholes. If you take a look at the growth in GDP starting in 1982 after these massive reductions first took effect until the present, you will see the longest sustained period of economic growth and tax revenue increases in US history. This growth only slowed temporarily in 1991 and 2001 in two very mild recessions, the latter of which barely qualified as a recession.

It is easy to promote supply side economics because it has been proven to work every single time marginal tax rates have been reduced without fail.

BTW, supply side marginal tax rate reductions are completely distinct from the Keynsian model of promoting demand by giving back tax money in the form of rebates and the like to increase spending. The Bush presidency is actually a very good laboratory for this difference. In 2001, Bush provided a series of rebates and delayed the tax rate decreases. The increased money did not increase GDP or tax revenues. In stark contrast, when Bush cut tax rates in 2003, the economy and tax revenues took off at rates not seen since the 80s. The key difference is that tax rate decreases lessen the punishment of wealth creation and as a result there is more wealth creation.
 

I note that in his reply Bart DePalma failed to acknowledge that what he posted on this issue was the opposite of truth.

All of his comments are counter-factual (false). He's a DUI defense attorney. All of his clients are guilty.
 

Bart has probably already read this. He won't be able to comment. He's been banned.

Rod Dreher: "Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation this"?

(updated below)

 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes:Assuming the reality of a correlation between the human production of CO2 and the bouncing net [minuscule] rise in world temperatures since the advent of the Industrial Revolution,

Yes, in fact CO2 levels contribute to accelerated climate change. Just because GwB tries to censor science, doesn't mean you should.


Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?

The vast majority of warming and cooling of the atmosphere is fueled by solar and ocean cycles.

Please do not offer me a computer model as proof of a significant correlation between COs emissions and global warming because the data assumes the correlation.

Show me analysis of past warming and cooling cycles with other factors removed. I have never seen such an analysis.
 

humblelawstudent:

Arne,

You frequently claim that Bart makes false assertions, logical mistakes and the like. But your "fisking" is eqaully horrendous.


And I point out what my objections are. If you care to dispute them, have it it, but don't accuse me of "false assertions" unless you're prepared to back that up.

1. Very difficult to say that Iraq was our ally. Yes we tacitly supported them against Iran, as we saw Iran as the bigger threat, but there is little to conclude that we were their ally. Before you trot out some tripe about how we "supported" Saddam, we supplied only a relatively tiny amount of military hardware to Iraq. We provided .59% of his arms imports according to dollar value. Data can be found at http://www.sipri.org/contents/armstrad/access.html

Yeah, I can do links too.

It's just false to say that we didn't tilt Saddam's way in the Iran-Iraq war (even though we knew he was using CW ... and even though it was pretty much undisputed that Iraq had attacked Iran to start the whole mess).

2. The UN resolutions that ended the first Gulf War were "conditional ceasefires." Just go look at them yourself. Ceasefires are temporary cessations of hostility. If broken, the default state is war, not peace. There were several conditions to the ceasefire, many if not most of which Saddam openly broke....

This is debatable, and I won't do it here unless forced to. It was quite beside my point:

... Bush didn't sell the war on this point, because it is a technicality, but it doesn't mean that it isn't still correct (sorry abouy double negative)....

Dubya didn't sell it on this because it was a looooosssseeerr in the realm of public (and legal) opinion. Try explain to some bereaved parent how their child had to be the last to die for a "technicality"....

... There was a WP post from years ago explaining this point, but it isn't available online anymore. A lexis search should drudge it up.

Have at it.

3. You said Bart is delusional because he argues that this country is not torn apart (at least not by historical standards). Obviously, people have hard feelings over Iraq, but in historical terms if our country is torn apart now, I don't know what you would call the domestic reaction to Vietnam (mass protests and accidental shootings of protestors)or life during the Civil War, etc.

I didn't say we weren't torn apart then (I was there then and we were). How does this refute my point?

4. I won't go too much into the rest of your responses, because they are pretty worthless....

OK. But.....:

... But, here is a prime example.

Bart wrote: Are Iran and Kuwait less stable now than when Saddam invaded their countries?

Arne responsed: Ummm, we were on Iraq's side during the Iran-Iraq war. "[A]mateur historian" indeed.

- That's a response? Bart is making a point about the inherent instability of the Middle East and your response is completely tangential ...


I think you missed the point: Our enabling of Iraq and support of Saddam certainly destabilized the ME, particularly Iran (in fact, that was the freakin' plan!), and it had the side-effect of destabilizing Kuwait. My point here was that U.S. policy in the ME was not for "stability".... If "Bart"'s [seeming] point was that we had to invade Iraq to stabilize the ME, it flies in the face of what the Republican administrations had been doing for a decade.

... and then this non-response of yours somehow proves that Bart doesn't know his history. Come on arne.

I point out that "Bart" ignores history (or at least the history that is "inconvenient".

Cheers,
 

Prof. Campos:

["Bart" says]: When did I ever post this? Professor Campos, please do not follow arne's lead and invent posts which I never made.

Ignore "Bart". It is he that states a fiction here, and claims I have "invented posts which ["Bart" has] never made." If "Bart" thinks I have done such a thing, and wishes to charge me with that crime, the burder of production is on him to produce actual evidence of such. But he can't, because I have done no such thing.

Cheers,
 

While yes, the possibilities are infinite, the reasonable or likely possibilities are not so hard to divine.

I'd have more confidence in this assertion if people could even predict the (much simpler) stock market.

In addition, and this is NOT directed at you personally, but I'm not inclined to accept at face value the counter-factual predictions of people who proved wrong about Iraq.
 

Coincidentally, the latest government figures showing continued surging tax revenues reducing the deficit were released in time for our discussion of the effect of reducing marginal tax rates on tax receipts.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2007/01/12/
D8MJU5901.html
 

"Bart" DePalma cuts'n'pastes "spin points":

Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?

Cites, please?

Cheers,
 

That's a response? Bart is making a point about the inherent instability of the Middle East and your response is completely tangential and then this non-response of yours somehow proves that Bart doesn't know his history. Come on arne.

# posted by humblelawstudent


This is rather childish. If you have any interest in understanding the history of the region, I'd certainly advise you to avoid De Palma's counter-factual rants. I'd suggest you read Col. Pat Lang's blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis and anything written by Ret. General William Odom of the Hudson institute. These men are experts. De Palma is pusillanimous, vapid hack. Or you could listen to Arne.
 

"Bart" DePalma becomes incomprehensible:

Please do not offer me a computer model as proof of a significant correlation between COs emissions and global warming because the data assumes the correlation.

No one has offered a "computer model" as such proof (IOW, "Bart" is tilting at the windmills of his mind again). A correlation is a correlation; make of it what you wish. It is not a "computer model".

WTF "Bart" is gibbering about with "because the data assumes the correlation" is a mystery to any person with minimal competence in science....

Cheers,
 

jt:

You are welcome to answer the question I posed to Professor Levinson concerning Middle East instability:

What countries in the Middle East do you contend have been or will be destabilized by the liberation of Iraq?

This "pusillanimous, vapid hack" contends that none of Iraq's neighbors have been destabilized by the US liberation of Iraq from the Saddam regime. Indeed, it appears that Iraq's neighbors Syria and Iran are busy attempting to destabilize Iraq by sheltering, training and supplying the terrorists in Iraq.

You are free to offer evidence that I am in error. Hint: Name calling is not evidence.
 

What countries in the Middle East do you contend have been or will be destabilized by the liberation of Iraq?

Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, so far, you pusillanimous, vapid hack.
 

And Jordan.
 

Probably Saudi Arabia, not that I give a rat's ass about that corrupt, bloated monarchy. Now I'm done with you. You are a monumental waste of anyone's valuable time.
 

arne,

You continue to argue against points I'm not making and misrepresenting what I am saying.

1. I didn't accuse you of false assertions. I said your fisking was horrendous.

2. You wrote, "It's just false to say that we didn't tilt Saddam's way in the Iran-Iraq war (even though we knew he was using CW ... and even though it was pretty much undisputed that Iraq had attacked Iran to start the whole mess)."

- I never said "we didn't tilt." I said it has hard to make a case that we were Iraq's ally. There is a huge difference between being his ally and selling small amounts of arms.

3. Your link that discussed the weapons we sold is largely irrelevant to my point about the amount of arms we sold Iraq. I fully admit we sold some weapons, including materials that could be used dual use for chemical weapons. My point was that we sold to Iraq LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of the arms that Iraq imported. My source backs that up and your source doesn't dispute that (from my cursory review of it).

4. Yes, the argument over whether we had legal justification for war because of Saddam's violations of the cease sire is debatable. It is fairly clear cut as a matter of law, though it is of course a terrible policy justification for war. As such, I was attacking you for basically calling Bart an idiot over it, when in fact his position on it is a perfectly plausible (though arguable) position from a legal standpoint.

5. I wrote "You [arne] said Bart is delusional because he argues that this country is not torn apart (at least not by historical standards). Obviously, people have hard feelings over Iraq, but in historical terms if our country is torn apart now, I don't know what you would call the domestic reaction to Vietnam (mass protests and accidental shootings of protestors)or life during the Civil War, etc.

You wrote, "I didn't say we weren't torn apart then (I was there then and we were). How does this refute my point?"

- Okay, so then we weren't torn apart during Vietnam. Just fine. Then why are you saying '"Bart" is delusional here' because he is saying that our country isn't torn apart now. Its very hard to argue that our country is torn apart now, especially if you are saying we weren't during Vietnam and/or during the Civil War (if that is indeed what you are arguing).

6. You wrote, "I think you missed the point: Our enabling of Iraq and support of Saddam certainly destabilized the ME, particularly Iran (in fact, that was the freakin' plan!), and it had the side-effect of destabilizing Kuwait. My point here was that U.S. policy in the ME was not for "stability".... If "Bart"'s [seeming] point was that we had to invade Iraq to stabilize the ME, it flies in the face of what the Republican administrations had been doing for a decade."

Several points.
A. Bart (I think) is saying that the Middle East is inherently unstable and then you point to our actions in the ME as creating instability. Well, that isn't a response. We may be increasing the instability, but that doesn't mean that the ME is some stable on its own.

B. Our support of Saddam in the past did INCREASE its stability. Our support for Saddam wasn't what caused him to attack Iran. The most common explanation is that Iraq saw an opportunity with the Shah diposed because Iran's military went to crap.

If Iraq didn't have its chemical weapons, many conclude that Iran could have conquered Iraq -- now an Iranian controlled Iraq might have eliminated Iraq/Iran tension, but it would have greatly increased the power of Iran as the regional hegemon and probably brought greater instability to the region as Iran sought to expand its influence, pressure Israel more with its new found strength, and/or pressure the US more with its new found strength.

C. If anything our past policy has been stability in the ME, it is the very problems with our seeking stability that brought about the current problems we face. Now, Bush sought to address the problems by removing one horrible regime (that in the past interests of stability we had thought it was in our interest as such that it survived). Our current policy seeks change to that old paradigm. Any change, by definition, brings instability at least in the short term. However, the idea is that a democractic or semi-democratic Iraq may help foster stability in the region.

D. And yes, or current strategy does fly in the face of Republican strategy for a decade and more. It flies in the face of the stability doctrine that was largely followed for the past 50 years. Stability was desired because it was feared that any change in the status quo would bring about a regime more favorable to the USSR. Terrorism and other things are the result of us supporting some unsavory regimes in teh past against the more formidable foe. Now, with the USSR gone, change at least now has a better chance of bringing better governments.
 

hls:Terrorism and other things are the result of us supporting some unsavory regimes in the past against the more formidable foe.

Oversimplified, but true-in-spirit, and a truth beyond the intellectual honesty of too many conservatives. You are a refreshing counter-example to that generalization. Rock on. ;)

However, your reasoning does not justify our illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of sovereign nations. We are not the world's police, we are not the arbiters of which regimes may and may not persist, no matter how unsavory. We are not Rome, and there is no legitimate equating of imperialistic hegemony with the fostering of liberty in other lands, no matter how flowery the rhetoric of PNAC and the Cheney junta.
 

JT Davis said...

What countries in the Middle East do you contend have been or will be destabilized by the liberation of Iraq?

Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, so far, you pusillanimous, vapid hack...And Jordan..Probably Saudi Arabia, not that I give a rat's ass about that corrupt, bloated monarchy.


You are not through yet....

OK, when you are making and argument, the next thing you need to offer is evidence of how any of these countries was somehow destabilized by the liberation of Iraq.
 

hls:

You are wasting your time with arne.

arne will misrepresent your arguments, claim you made arguments which you never posted, lie about the facts while falsely accusing you of doing the same, and then change the subject when he doesn't want to answer your point.

I wasted dozens of hours with him over at Greenwald's blog until it became clear he would not deal with anyone in good faith.

A word to the wise to save you from wasting similar time.
 

Robert,

In fairness to other conservatives, I think they would characterize our current problems similarily when pressed.

IMO, I see the attempt to bring democractic governance to Iraq as an outgrowth of our policies of the Cold War. As I have explained in my earlier posts, the US felt it had to support many, many unsavory regimes as long as they "were our bastard(s)" or perhaps, just not the USSR's bastards.

Much of the recent work on Islamic terrorism posits that this terrorism is a consequence of failed governments in the ME that are unable or unwilling to provide outlets for the citizenry to empower their own lives, primarily politically, but also in regards in having a say over how they conduct their life. Islamic extremism provides a way for them to empower themselves. Now, many of the ME governments use and channel this extremism against outside bogeymen, e.g. Israel and the US.

So, our support of these regimes helped create conditions within these countries amenable to Islamic extremism.

I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem. Now, whether it is possible or practical through the use of military force to depose dictators and establish a liberal constitutional democracy is an entirely different question.

Setting aside again our ability to bring about democracy, I see it as our responsibility to do what we can to bring better government to them because we did have a hand in creating the situations they are faced with today. Basically, what we (partly) created, we should destroy -- if practical. Of course, Iraq casts doubt upon the practicality of using military force to bring about these ends.

This is how I derive one of my personal justifications for invading Iraq.
 

Bart: I wasted dozens of hours with him over at Greenwald's blog until...

...you got the boot? Or is that another mis-representation? Were you banned or did you leave voluntarily? Do tell, please.
 

hls:Terrorism and other things are the result of us supporting some unsavory regimes in the past against the more formidable foe.

If you take the next logical step you will be almost there. "Terrorism" is a tool, a tactic. Everyone uses it. Including the US. That's one of the most hypocritical things about this phony GWOT.
 

He was banned and we were all glad to see him go. I think it was the third time he called Glenn a liar, but Glenn had stopped responding to De Palma months before that.
 

hls: I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem.

I'm with you up to about here. But the method chosen immoral and illegal (and that's notwithstanding the lies used to whip up the requisite public opinion.) Address our screw-ups, great. Break laws and act amorally, "two-wrongs-make-a-right" style, just doesn't fly. At least not with me.
 

HLS @ 5:51 PM

I used to think like you not so long ago. You are incredibly naive, as I was.
 

@jt: I didn't really doubt it, but wanted to see what BD would say when pressed for the truth. It rankled to see him try to present matters as if he was the one who got fed up when the truth was quite the opposite. His tone here with Scott Horton and Marty Lederman is almost as shamefully disrespectful as what you describe.

Nice to see words like "pusillanimous" and "vapid" getting some use. ;)
 

@jt: $.02, but for my money hls is the real deal. I may disagree, even wildly, but he really seems sincerely more interested in learning than mere debate wins, and, again, for my money, truly deserves my full respect. Yours too, I suspect. B^)
 

hls: I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem.

How many Iraqis flew planes into the towers?

Naive, and ill-informed. Listening to De Palma will do that to you. We invaded the most secular Arab country, aside from Turkey, that there was. Good Job! I gave you links to experts in this area. Read them or don't. It matters not to me.

Start with Col. Lang's Drinking The Kool-Aid.

Martin Van Creveld on Moshe Dayan's trip to Vietnam and comparisons with Iraq may interest you.
 

I respect HLS. I was just like him a few short years ago. If you've read Glenn Greenwald's book, what he describes as his political awakening in the preface corresponds exactly to my experience. I can be a bit "mouthy" myself. I'm not as smart as any of you guys. Just older.
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

.... any of these countries was somehow destabilized by the liberation of Iraq.

Iraq was liberated> What? Where? When? Is it on CNN? Say, just out of curiosity, I'm interested in knowing who had the good sense and integrity to do this. I know the U.S. invaded and occupied the country a couple years back, but I can't think of many countries that would have the courage to take on the U.S. head-on....

Cheers,
 

"Bart DePalma says:

arne will misrepresent your arguments, claim you made arguments which you never posted, lie about the facts while falsely accusing you of doing the same, and then change the subject when he doesn't want to answer your point.

Funny thing is ... he doesn't actually point out where he alleges I've done any of these things. I, OTOH, have given links (at least sometimes) to "Bart"'s past emissions when I've made claims about what he's said. And I at the very least quote him before eviscerating his 'facts' and/or 'logic'....

As for "chang[ing] the subject", pure nonsense. OTOH, "Bart" just ignores substantive criticism, and then goes on and makes the same ol' tired 'argument' a couple posts down the line like no one has said a thing about his claims the last time....

We report. You decide.

Cheers,
 

@jt: Would love to correspond "backchannel" as they say in the land of listservs. My addy can be had via my blogger profile. Arne and hls can testify: I don't bite.
 

humblelawstudent:

So, our support of these regimes helped create conditions within these countries amenable to Islamic extremism.

I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem.


Yeah, if so, an incredibly stoopid move. Iraq was one of the most secular countries in the area (albeit at the price of human rights, etc., but then again, compared to, e.g., Saudi Arabia, not that much different). What we've done is free the way for the sectarians, and the extremists at the forefront to boot. This was pointed out in advance of the Iraq war by those that knew a bit more about the area than the "White hats good, black turbans bad" gang.... "Bart" here is of the latter camp, FWIW.

What's happened shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. Sadly enough, it did.

Cheers,
 

humblelawstudent:

I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem. Now, whether it is possible or practical through the use of military force to depose dictators and establish a liberal constitutional democracy is an entirely different question.

Quite true, and an unanswered one. Hasn't been tried very often, certainly not by the U.S. In point of fact, the U.S. has tried to do pretty much the opposite over the last century. Read Stephen Kinzer's book Overthrow for the sanguinary details.

Cheers,
 

@jt: Would love to correspond "backchannel" as they say in the land of listservs. My addy can be had via my blogger profile. Arne and hls can testify: I don't bite.

# posted by Robert Link


Listserv? What's that? It sounds too technical! I'll think about it. I'm pretty much an insufferable curmudgeon. If HLS thinks Arne's bad, he has no idea... Arne's a good fellow. Me...?

HLS, forgive Arne his "horrendous fisking" of Bart. Bart deserves no less. He is an agent of misinformation and repression.


Recently declassified Warsaw Pact documents revealed the Soviet Union ceased to be a serious, credible threat to us in the early 70s.

Reagan was just a bumbling blowhard and some of the same people exaggerating the threat back then, (and manipulating the Iranian hostage crisis for political gain), turned up where? You guessed it. Iraq.

I recommend this book.

Book Review: The New American Militarism
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, by Andrew Bacevich
 

arne,

Yes, you are correct that Iraq was very secular at least compared to for example Saudi Arabia.

Part of the justification that I explained does apply with less force to Iraq than to a country like Iran. However, there were several other factors that aren't relevant in this line of posts that led me to think an attack on Iraq was worthwhile -- though let me touch on one.

My explanation focused on the Islamic extremism consequence from the Cold War, but I just hinted and didn't explain the other obvious one -- that we left powerful tyrants who may be (and are) more than willing to attack other countries for land/resources, etc. Just as Islamic extremism was an outgrowth in most countries of the ME (though it did exist apart from our influence), so was the strongman/tyrants of the ME, i.e. Saddam. As I explained in previous posts, we helped Saddam prevent an Iranian takeover of Iraq. An Iran/Iraq divide was in our interests. Now, once again, the invasion of Iraq was to fix that consequence of our Cold War policy. So, this is how I rebut your claim that it was stupid.


Now, I will readily admit that I didn't count on A) the lack of a plan for post invasion Iraq on the part of the administration or B) the incomptence in dealing with the problems in Iraq. So, in that sense, it was stupid. But, that stupidity was utterly preventable -- which makes it even more tragic.

I will say this though -- I honestly believe Iraq could have worked out. [As I have mentioned (a few months ago), I spent some time in post invasion Iraq (not in the military or as a contractor) and had other significant experience relating to the country specifically related to "bringing Iraq to its political feet" as it were. I won't say anything more detailed as I value my anonymity.]

I'll just say that we did really have a chance to make things work in the first 6-8 months after the invasion. We were really thought of as liberators many if not most of the populace. We had such a great chance to make things better for them. But, during those critical months nothing was accomplished. I can list mistake after mistake that was made. But, there is no need. What was sad was that people knew they were mistakes, but they were made anyway. And so now, we have this clusterf***. But, rightly or wrongly, none of this takes away my belief in the rightness of the action.

Bone to Robert: though of course I wouldn't support this invasion again if I knew how incompentently the aftermath would be carried out.
 

hls: Bone to Robert: though of course I wouldn't support this invasion again if I knew how incompentently the aftermath would be carried out.

(Aside: Godwin's Law applies to *any* subject; as the universe of discourse approaches infinity the likelihood of it encompassing all subjects approaches certainty.)

Were the competence of our invasion and occupation as amazingly efficient as the gas chambers in Auschwitz it would still have been illegal and immoral. See, efficiency and competence, however highly touted by the Posner's and Coase's of the world, turn out not to be the most reliable of criteria. Nothing about our complicity with Hussein prior to our illegal and immoral invasion and occupation gave us any rights to invade and occupy or in any other way diminished the sovereignty of that nation. Stipulating even the best of motives, our presence in Iraq is a sin and a crime.
 

Robert,

You do consistently say that the Iraq war was immoral. Well, let me ask you some questions.

Aside from actual self-defense, is force by the US ever moral/justified?

For example, was our involvement in the Balkans moral?

Our what about if Japan had never attacked us in WW2. Outside of a direct attack upon the US, would it ever have been moral for the US to have declared war on the axis?

I'm just trying to figure what you consider a moral use of force, beyond actual self-defense.
 

I see the attempt to bring democractic governance to Iraq as an outgrowth of our policies of the Cold War. As I have explained in my earlier posts, the US felt it had to support many, many unsavory regimes as long as they "were our bastard(s)" or perhaps, just not the USSR's bastards.

Agreed.

Much of the recent work on Islamic terrorism posits that this terrorism is a consequence of failed governments in the ME that are unable or unwilling to provide outlets for the citizenry to empower their own lives, primarily politically, but also in regards in having a say over how they conduct their life. Islamic extremism provides a way for them to empower themselves. Now, many of the ME governments use and channel this extremism against outside bogeymen, e.g. Israel and the US.

Agreed, with the addition that to the extent we supported the corrupt governments there, resentment against us was justified.

I see our invasion of Iraq as a long overdue attempt to address this problem.

If I were charitable about motives, I'd agree. Whether it was or not, though, it was staggeringly inept and misguided.

I see it as our responsibility to do what we can to bring better government to them because we did have a hand in creating the situations they are faced with today. Basically, what we (partly) created, we should destroy -- if practical. Of course, Iraq casts doubt upon the practicality of using military force to bring about these ends.

Yes, and this is the real crux of the issue. Invading another country is just not the way to advocate American values. Indeed, our behavior -- not just the invasion, but the arrogance, the scandal at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc. -- has made the situation much worse.

What's particularly sad is that there are people who said this from the beginning. They were ridiculed, dismissed as "not serious" or "moonbat lefties" or whatever Rush's insult de jour might have been. Even today, we see more "analysis" on television and in editorials by those who failed us than by those who were our real friends.

There are ways to restore America as an influence in the world, but they have to start with getting out of Iraq and restoring a commitment to lawful behavior. That will require both a change in leaders and a change in the type of leadership we seek.

IMO, people all over the world want to believe in America. The Jeffersonian ideal gives them hope (see Tianamen Square). We need to restore that ideal by rejecting Bushism and returning to our real values: charitable, open, law abiding, democratic, and, above all, honest.
 

humblelawstudent:

My explanation focused on the Islamic extremism consequence from the Cold War, but I just hinted and didn't explain the other obvious one -- that we left powerful tyrants who may be (and are) more than willing to attack other countries for land/resources, etc.

How dare they!?! That's our prerogative. ;-) Please, I do urge you to read Kinzer's book (that I linked to above). Then, if you're of the opinion that we've changed our ways in any respect (but you'd have that embarrassing little episode recently WRT Venezuela to deal with if you think that), you might start on James Bamford's latest book, A Pretext for War. Same game, different names....

Cheers,
 

Robert Link said...

Bart: I wasted dozens of hours with him over at Greenwald's blog until...

...you got the boot? Or is that another mis-representation? Were you banned or did you leave voluntarily? Do tell, please.


Sure.

Greenwald banned me from his blog after I started calling him out on a series of misrepresentations he was making about the facts and law concerning various Article II issues. Glenn gave me fair warning that he did not like being called a liar, but did not dispute the examples I detailed on his blog. I kept calling him out and he pulled the plug. I thought the banning was amusing coming from a self proclaimed First Amendment attorney who represented Nazis in the past.

As for arne, I started ignoring him long before Greenwald decided to censor me.

I primarily post on liberal blogs because, like Professor Levinson, I like to have my arguments challenged and to challenge those offered by others. I am willing to put up with the name calling that often suffices for argument among many on the left who simply do not like the ideas I post in order to have interesting conversations with serious intellectuals with whom I disagree.

However, I do not bother responding to strawman posters who maliciously misrepresent my positions so they can swat down the faux arguments and claim cheap "victories" for some sort of virtual win loss record.
 

... We defeated Iraq and entered into a Ceasefire (not a peace treaty) suspending the state of war to remove Saddam's regime so long as he followed the terms of the Ceasefire. Saddam violated the Ceasefire repeatedly over a series of years, attacked our aircraft, attempted to assassinate our ex President and planned a terror campaign code named Blessed July against the United States. Under any reasonable interpretation of the Ceasefire, Saddam reinstated the state of war which he initiated through the invasion of Kuwait.

The Korean War similarly ended with a ceasefire. No peace treaty has been signed yet. North Korea has violated the conditions of this 54-year-old ceasefire numerous times. According to your theory then, we could attack and invade the DPRK tomorrow on this basis alone. Correct? No other justification would be necessary.
 

porter,

Technically, as a legal matter, perhaps we could. But before you start saying that I'm a warmonger or something, I'm not equating legal technicalities with the otherwise merits or lack thereof of such an action.
 

>>Glenn gave me fair warning that he did not like being called a liar, but did not dispute the examples I detailed on his blog.

and then..

>>I do not bother responding to strawman posters who maliciously misrepresent my positions so they can swat down the faux arguments and claim cheap "victories"

Bart, seriously, do you not see the irony here? Glenn didn't bother responding to your strawman arguments that "maliciously misrepresent[ed] [his] positions so [you could] swat down the faux arguments" and you are claiming this as some sort of "cheap 'victory' for some sort of virtual win loss record."

You entire last comment just exploded in an ironic starbusrt.

I welcome your comments, even if they are usually a string of straw men. And you usually don't engage in ad hominems, which I give you credit for.
 

humblelawstudent:

arne,

You continue to argue against points I'm not making and misrepresenting what I am saying.

1. I didn't accuse you of false assertions. I said your fisking was horrendous.


Pardon me. I guess I just don't know what "fisking" is (or what you meant by it).

But here's the context:

[HLS]: "You frequently claim that Bart makes false assertions, logical mistakes and the like. But your "fisking" is eqaully horrendous."

Perhaps I shouldn't have assumed you were accusing me of a similar crime, but that's the way it read....

OTOH, "Bart" has accused me of false accusations, yet he has not trotted out a single example of such.

2. You wrote, "It's just false to say that we didn't tilt Saddam's way in the Iran-Iraq war (even though we knew he was using CW ... and even though it was pretty much undisputed that Iraq had attacked Iran to start the whole mess)."

- I never said "we didn't tilt." I said it has hard to make a case that we were Iraq's ally....


But did I say that you said that? Perhaps implied, but there's plenty to back up an assumption that we're someone's ally when we "tilt [their] way". Hell, we gave them military intelligence. Compare and contrast to what we did for Iran. Yes, you may choose a cribbed reading of "ally", but I think the truth of the matter is, no matter how you phrase it, we were on Saddam's side....

... There is a huge difference between being his ally and selling small amounts of arms.

If that's all we did, maybe... But we were far from neutral there; we were on Saddam's side.

3. Your link that discussed the weapons we sold is largely irrelevant to my point about the amount of arms we sold Iraq. I fully admit we sold some weapons, including materials that could be used dual use for chemical weapons. My point was that we sold to Iraq LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of the arms that Iraq imported. My source backs that up and your source doesn't dispute that (from my cursory review of it).

So we gave him CW (and intelligence and other assistance). Thanks. As they say in another arena, it's not how much you have, but what you do with it that counts...."

4. Yes, the argument over whether we had legal justification for war because of Saddam's violations of the cease sire is debatable....

Thank you.

... It is fairly clear cut as a matter of law, ...

Can I take back my thanks?

... though it is of course a terrible policy justification for war. As such, I was attacking you for basically calling Bart an idiot over it, when in fact his position on it is a perfectly plausible (though arguable) position from a legal standpoint.

My point is that some lawyers might have made it out as a defence and.or justification for the action. But in fact they didn't.

5. I wrote "You [arne] said Bart is delusional because he argues that this country is not torn apart (at least not by historical standards). Obviously, people have hard feelings over Iraq, but in historical terms if our country is torn apart now, I don't know what you would call the domestic reaction to Vietnam (mass protests and accidental shootings of protestors)or life during the Civil War, etc.

You wrote, "I didn't say we weren't torn apart then (I was there then and we were). How does this refute my point?"

- Okay, so then we weren't torn apart during Vietnam. Just fine. Then why are you saying '"Bart" is delusional here' because he is saying that our country isn't torn apart now....


That we were torn apart back the doesn't preclude the same now. Fortunately, things are settling down. Now pretty much everyone is atarting to think Itaq was a complete bollix and a crime. Took years to figure that out in Vietnam.

... Its very hard to argue that our country is torn apart now, especially if you are saying we weren't during Vietnam and/or during the Civil War (if that is indeed what you are arguing).

Never said such a thing. You musunderstood me.

6. You wrote, "I think you missed the point: Our enabling of Iraq and support of Saddam certainly destabilized the ME, particularly Iran (in fact, that was the freakin' plan!), and it had the side-effect of destabilizing Kuwait. My point here was that U.S. policy in the ME was not for "stability".... If "Bart"'s [seeming] point was that we had to invade Iraq to stabilize the ME, it flies in the face of what the Republican administrations had been doing for a decade."

Several points.
A. Bart (I think) is saying that the Middle East is inherently unstable and then you point to our actions in the ME as creating instability. Well, that isn't a response. We may be increasing the instability, but that doesn't mean that the ME is some stable on its own.


So you don;t disagree with me.

B. Our support of Saddam in the past did INCREASE its stability. Our support for Saddam wasn't what caused him to attack Iran. The most common explanation is that Iraq saw an opportunity with the Shah diposed because Iran's military went to crap.

True. But our suport for Saddam during the war with Iran certainly didn't stabilise Iran.

If Iraq didn't have its chemical weapons, many conclude that Iran could have conquered Iraq -- now an Iranian controlled Iraq might have eliminated Iraq/Iran tension, but it would have greatly increased the power of Iran as the regional hegemon and probably brought greater instability to the region as Iran sought to expand its influence, pressure Israel more with its new found strength, and/or pressure the US more with its new found strength.

Perhaps. Guess it's not nice to invade your neighbours... But hard to figure out why, if Saddam was so great back then, why he was the most Evil Tyrant In The World and had to go now (outside of Dubya's political fortunes, that is...)

C. If anything our past policy has been stability in the ME, it is the very problems with our seeking stability that brought about the current problems we face. Now, Bush sought to address the problems by removing one horrible regime (that in the past interests of stability we had thought it was in our interest as such that it survived). Our current policy seeks change to that old paradigm....

Hate to be sceptical, but I have yet to see any signs of that....

... Any change, by definition, brings instability at least in the short term. However, the idea is that a democractic or semi-democratic Iraq may help foster stability in the region.

Yeah, and free millions to every man, woman and child will do wonders to alleviate poverty (or will it?)

D. And yes, or current strategy does fly in the face of Republican strategy for a decade and more. It flies in the face of the stability doctrine that was largely followed for the past 50 years. Stability was desired because it was feared that any change in the status quo would bring about a regime more favorable to the USSR. Terrorism and other things are the result of us supporting some unsavory regimes in teh past against the more formidable foe. Now, with the USSR gone, change at least now has a better chance of bringing better governments.

Hate to say it, but I'll paraphrase The Who: "Meet the new USA, same as the old USA." I see no signs of change. Read the Kinzer and Bamford books.

Cheers,
 

Also, just to clarify: if I post an argument detailing why the earth is flat, and the blogger ignores it, have I "called out" the blogger on some other completely unrelated arguement that he was making? If a blogger refuses to debate a commenter on his (counter-factual and absurd) terms, is it a "victory" for the commenter?
 

BD:Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?


Dismissing global warming is so 1990s.

From The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Oreskes, Naomi, Science, 12/3/2004, Vol. 306, Issue 5702:

The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.

The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change".

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.


As for the question you ask, the answer I've seen most often in the literature is a temporary increase in other factors (e.g. sulfates and volcanic aerosols) during that period that offset the effect of anthropogenic warming.
 

Bart: I primarily post on liberal blogs because...

...as quoted here...:

"Preaching to the choir on libertarian and conservative blogs is mental masturbation and is generally boring."

Bart: ...to have interesting conversations with serious intellectuals...

I'm not sure how to square such a claim with this outburst:

"We are engaged in a debate, not 'proceed[ing] as partners in search of a richly nuanced truth via synthesis,' whatever you think that incomprehensible drivel means.

Bart: I thought the banning was amusing ...

...because somehow you managed to pass the Bar without actually comprehending the difference between protections from state infringement of your right to free speech versus some imagined entitlement to attack a person who is publishing your words on his personal property for free. You really are an embarrassment to the profession.
 

hls: I'm just trying to figure what you consider a moral use of force, beyond actual self-defense.

Seems to me the burden of answering such a question is on the supporters of the war, not the dissenters. We could, of course, consult our 1l outlines on crim and review the self-defense and defense-of-others defenses and exceptions thereto. But don't you suppose that reasoning from there to describe the rights of nations in using force might be suspect? After all, the crim rules as we know them typically apply to a single-life opposed to a single life. As the stakes go higher it seems to me there is an increasing requirement to avoid use of force.

Still, it won't do for me to make generalizations about when it is acceptable to use force, so you can pick them apart with counter-examples. It is for supporters of our invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq to prove, and not by a mere preponderance nor even by clear and convincing means but beyond a reasonable doubt, that such use was legal and morally justified.
 

Mark: The Jeffersonian ideal gives them hope (see Tianamen Square).

A beautiful post. My most vivid memory from the broadcasts of Tienanmen was a young man holding a sign which read, "We love democracy more than rice." Wish that were true for more of _our_ citizenry.
 

@jt: The invite for email is always open.

Took a look at the "kool-aid" link. I'm not sure I agree with the central premise on the term's use. Yes, there was Jonestown. But before that there was Keysey and the Merry Pranksters. I've tended to parse "drank the kool-aid" not as a reference to being duped into doing something against one's self-interest but rather as a gloss for "crazy," like someone on acid. $.02. Sic Semper is still a great link, and brand new to me, so thanks!
 

ARTICLE I

The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II

The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

Kellogg-Briand Pact (Washington, 1929), 46 Stat. 2343.
 

HLS - My explanation focused on the Islamic extremism consequence from the Cold War, but I just hinted and didn't explain the other obvious one -- that we left powerful tyrants who may be (and are) more than willing to attack other countries for land/resources, etc. Just as Islamic extremism was an outgrowth in most countries of the ME (though it did exist apart from our influence), so was the strongman/tyrants of the ME, i.e. Saddam. As I explained in previous posts, we helped Saddam prevent an Iranian takeover of Iraq. An Iran/Iraq divide was in our interests. Now, once again, the invasion of Iraq was to fix that consequence of our Cold War policy. So, this is how I rebut your claim that it was stupid.

As you are, by your own admission, a humble law student, I'll assume you are also young, and that explains the naivete. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by Robert Pape. That link goes to a Wiki entry on the work, being a law student, I suppose you don't have much time to read extra-curricular stuff. Here is a brief sketch of Chapter 10:

Ch. 10: The Demographic Profile of Suicide Terrorists
“In general, suicide attackers are rarely socially isolated, clinically insane, or economically destitute individuals, but are most often educated, socially integrated, and highly capable people who could be expected to have a good future” (200). Pape discusses problems of data-gathering (201-02). He establishes 462 individuals in his “universe” of suicide terrorists available for analytical purposes (203). Hezbollah suicide bombers in the period 1982-1986 were 71% Christian, 21% Communist/Socialist, 8% Islamist (204-07). In general, suicide terrorists are in their early 20s (207-08). Females are fewer in Islamist groups: “Islamist fundamentalism may actually reduce the number of suicide terrorists by discouraging certain categories of individuals” (208-09). Female suicide terrorists tend to be older than male (209-10). There is no documented mental illness in any case of suicide terrorism, though there are 16 cases of personal trauma (e.g. the loss of a loved one) (210-11). Arab suicide terrorists are in general better educated than average and are from the working or middle classes (211-16). “[T]hey resemble the kind of politically conscious individuals who might join a grassroots movement more than they do wayward adolescents or religious fanatics” (216).



This brief description of what is herein described by our own CIA as the greatest mass murder of the 20th century might help you better understand some things.


A massive manifestation is held in Jakarta two days later, demanding a ban on the PKI. The main office of PKI was burned down. On October 13 the Islamic organization Ansor holds anti-PKI rallies across Java. On October 18 around a hundred PKI are killed by Ansor. The systematic extermination of the party had begun.

Between 300,000 and one million Indonesians were killed in the mass-killings that followed. [7] Lists of suspected communists were supplied to the Indonesian military by the CIA. A CIA study of the events in Indonesia assessed that "In terms of the numbers killed the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century..." [1].

It must also be noted that the CIA was not the only party to the issue, and there was also British involvement in the events.

Time Magazine presented the following account on December 17, 1966 :

"Communists, red sympathisers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of communists, killing entire families and burying their bodies in shallow graves."

"The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travellers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies."

Amongst the worst affected areas was the island of Bali, where PKI had grown rapidly prior to the crackdown. On November 11 clashes erupt between PKI and PNI, ending in massacres of PKI accused members and sympathizers. Whereas much of the anti-PKI pogroms in the rest of the country were carried out by Islamic political organizations in the name of jihad, the killings in Bali were done in the name of Hinduism. Bali stood out as the only place in the country where local soldiers in some way intervened to lessen the slaughter.

On November 22, Aidit was captured and executed.

In December the military proclaimed that Aceh had been cleared of communists. Simultaneously, Special Military Courts were set up to try jailed PKI members. On March 12, the party was formally banned by Suharto, and The pro-PKI trade union SOBSI was banned in April.

 

Robert,

Col. Pat Lang is a very conservative fellow. I wonder if he even has any idea who Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were. He is an extremely literate fellow, but a different kind of literature. In any case, around that time he was probably slipping LSD into unsuspecting San Franciscans drinks down in North Beach to test it out for the CIA. Either that, or doing night jumps over the Vietnamese jungle for fun.

(chuckling)
 

You [Bart] really are an embarrassment to the profession.

# posted by Robert Link


"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

;-)
 

humblelawstudent said...
Robert,

You do consistently say that the Iraq war was immoral. Well, let me ask you some questions.

Aside from actual self-defense, is force by the US ever moral/justified?

For example, was our involvement in the Balkans moral?

Our what about if Japan had never attacked us in WW2. Outside of a direct attack upon the US, would it ever have been moral for the US to have declared war on the axis?

I'm just trying to figure what you consider a moral use of force, beyond actual self-defense.


You really should read this:

The Blemish of Conquest

Moshe Dayan questioned American goals in Vietnam. What would he say about Iraq?

Martin van Creveld

(...)

The third of Dayan’s observations, and the most relevant to a comparison with the current war in Iraq, is that the Americans found themselves in the unfortunate position of beating down the weak. As Dayan wrote, “Any comparison between the two armies was astonishing. On the one hand there was the American army, complete with helicopters, an air force, armor, electronic communications, artillery, and mind-boggling riches; to say nothing of ammunition, fuel, spare parts, and equipment of all kinds. On the other there were the [North Vietnamese troops], who had been walking on foot for four months, carrying some artillery rounds on their backs and using a tin spoon to eat a little ground rice from a tin plate.”

That, of course, was precisely the problem. In private life, an adult who keeps beating down a five-year-old—even one who had originally attacked him with a knife—will be accused of committing a crime; he will lose the support of bystanders and end up being arrested, tried, and convicted. On the world stage, an armed force that keeps beating down a weaker opponent will be seen as committing a series of crimes; therefore it will end up losing the support of its allies, its own people, and its own troops. Depending on the character of the forces (whether they are draftees or professionals), the effectiveness of the propaganda machine, the nature of the political process, and so on, this outcome may come about more or less quickly. But it is always the same. He who does not understand this does not understand anything about war—or, indeed, about human nature.

In other words, he who fights against the weak—note, in this connection, that the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed—and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins, also loses. To kill a much weaker opponent is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force, however rich, however powerful, however advanced, or however well motivated, is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if American troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did—with the last American troops fleeing the country while hanging onto their helicopters’ skids.



In the Balkans we did not act unilaterally, but under the aegis of NATO and with an actual multinational force and with the approval of most of our friends and allies in the global community. It makes it acceptable. It's that "global test" Kerry was talking about that he took such a beating for. You're a bright kid. You should be able to figure these things out. Morality is a prickly issue where lethal force is concerned. Ambrose Bierce's definition of homicide comes to mind:


HOMICIDE, n.

The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homocide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another -- the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.

 

porter29 said...

BD: ... We defeated Iraq and entered into a Ceasefire (not a peace treaty) suspending the state of war to remove Saddam's regime so long as he followed the terms of the Ceasefire. Saddam violated the Ceasefire repeatedly over a series of years, attacked our aircraft, attempted to assassinate our ex President and planned a terror campaign code named Blessed July against the United States. Under any reasonable interpretation of the Ceasefire, Saddam reinstated the state of war which he initiated through the invasion of Kuwait.

The Korean War similarly ended with a ceasefire. No peace treaty has been signed yet. North Korea has violated the conditions of this 54-year-old ceasefire numerous times. According to your theory then, we could attack and invade the DPRK tomorrow on this basis alone. Correct? No other justification would be necessary.


I do not know the terms of the Korean ceasefire, if there were any. I suspect that there were no terms apart from agreeing not to attack one another. If that is the case and North Korea attacked South Korea, then the ceasefire would be abrogated and we would be again in a state of war with North Korea.
 

porter29 said...

Bart, seriously, do you not see the irony here? Glenn didn't bother responding to your strawman arguments that "maliciously misrepresent[ed] [his] positions so [you could] swat down the faux arguments" and you are claiming this as some sort of "cheap 'victory' for some sort of virtual win loss record."

I am unsure whether you understand the nature of a straw man argument.

If Glenn states that 1 = 2 on his blog, I point out that 1 does not in fact equal 2, Glenn again posts 1 = 2, and I then point out that he is lying, this is not a straw man argument.

A straw man argument would be something along the lines of the following: Glenn states that 1 = 1 on his blog, I falsely claim that Glenn is actually arguing 1 = 2 and then I swat down the 1 = 2 argument which Glenn never made.
 

PMS_Chicago said...

BD:Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?

Dismissing global warming is so 1990s. From The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Oreskes, Naomi, Science, 12/3/2004, Vol. 306, Issue 5702:


You are engaging in the logical fallacy of citation to authority rather than answering my point. Your Science article does not address my point.

You might want to recall the parable about the boy who pointed out that the king wore no clothes...
 

Robert Link said...

Bart: I primarily post on liberal blogs because...

...as quoted here...:

"Preaching to the choir on libertarian and conservative blogs is mental masturbation and is generally boring."

Bart: ...to have interesting conversations with serious intellectuals...

I'm not sure how to square such a claim with this outburst:

"We are engaged in a debate, not 'proceed[ing] as partners in search of a richly nuanced truth via synthesis,' whatever you think that incomprehensible drivel means.


Given the frequency in which you bring up that post, I apparently hurt your feelings with that skewer. If so, I apologize. You were avoiding the topic and I was getting tired of dancing.
 

Bart said: I do not know the terms of the Korean ceasefire, if there were any.

And this is why no one takes you seriously. When you aren't completely ignorant of the facts, you are wrong on the facts. Try this:

http://www.intellnet.org/resources/korean_war_docs/armistic.htm

A further 10 seconds of searching and you'd come up with this:

"over 200 violations of armistice noted to 1959." And there have been numerous other violations since '59. Try Google: "north korean armistice violations."

Bart said this: I am unsure whether you understand the nature of a straw man argument.

I don't think high-school debate tactics will work here.
 

Bart said: "You might want to recall the parable about the boy who pointed out that the king wore no clothes..."

I don't think you understand what a parable is. A parable is a short and simple story that illustrates or teaches a moral or religious lesson. So a parable is different from an allegory or a fable.
 

Bart: Given the frequency in which you bring up that post, I apparently hurt your feelings with that skewer. If so, I apologize. You were avoiding the topic and I was getting tired of dancing.

Well, gosh, thanks for the apology, but you couldn't be further from the truth. You have never hurt my feelings, nor have I ever felt you meant to.

When I find your posts especially annoying, or downright disingenuous, it seems useful to trot out that post for folks to see. Still, darned civil of you to give it thought, which is not to be overlooked. But forgive me if I am a bit cynical about the utility of such civility in the face of what seems to be a winning maneuver---and recall that it was you, not me, who chose a zero-sum relationship for our discourse. My offers of private correspondence stand open to you as well, and I have found such "backchannel" conversations to be of great value with true friends who happen to be of a conservative bent.

Peace.
 

De Palma... I primarily post on liberal blogs because, like Professor Levinson, I like to have my arguments challenged and to challenge those offered by others.

Is this "liberal blog"?

If it is, you seem to admit than only on "liberal blogs" is such a thing possible.
 

You are engaging in the logical fallacy of citation to authority rather than answering my point. Your Science article does not address my point.

I didn't say that it did. If you read below the quotation, you'll see a partial answer to your question.

Here it is again, you say:
BD:Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?

I say: As for the question you ask, the answer I've seen most often in the literature is a temporary increase in other factors (e.g. sulfates and volcanic aerosols) during that period that offset the effect of anthropogenic warming.

You obviously are in a tight spot if you try to argue against the long-term relationship between CO2 levels and global temps.

What the Science article does do is support my point that "Dismissing global warming is so 1990s." In the 1990s, as you know, there was considerable debate amongst scientists about whether or not global warming was occurring and if it were, was it the result of human activities? Studies done in the 1990s showed that scientists were split--many remained unconvinced, and demanded more data to be gathered to test the hypothesis.

The Science article shows that due to a subsequent explosion of data from ice core, subsurface oceanic, and satellite sources, the idea that global warming is not occurring is untenable and furthermore, such warming is definitely linked (to some degree) to human activity. To put it simply: the data is too strong to deny the relationship anymore.

The idea that you seem to have about global warming (to paraphrase roughly: "it may or may not exist, but certainly isn't proven to be the result of human activity") is not so much wrong, as it is simply out of date. Your words are absolutely correct--for 1995. Science has progressed, however, and you need to adjust to keep up with the times.
 

porter29 [to "Bart"]:

I welcome your comments, even if they are usually a string of straw men. And you usually don't engage in ad hominems, which I give you credit for.

Well, except when he gets irritated, or just can't help himself in adopting the Freeperville/RNC approach: "The Democrat party" and Nancy "Pelousi".

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

[porter29]: Bart, seriously, do you not see the irony here? Glenn didn't bother responding to your strawman arguments that "maliciously misrepresent[ed] [his] positions so [you could] swat down the faux arguments" and you are claiming this as some sort of "cheap 'victory' for some sort of virtual win loss record."

I am unsure whether you understand the nature of a straw man argument.

If Glenn states that 1 = 2 on his blog, I point out that 1 does not in fact equal 2, Glenn again posts 1 = 2, and I then point out that he is lying, this is not a straw man argument.

A straw man argument would be something along the lines of the following: Glenn states that 1 = 1 on his blog, I falsely claim that Glenn is actually arguing 1 = 2 and then I swat down the 1 = 2 argument which Glenn never made.


Of course, the difference between the first case and the second case is quite fact-specific. If in fact, Glenn had stated that "1=1", and "Bart" kept insisting that Glenn said "1=2" (or even if Glenn had been silent, and "Bart" kept insisting that Glenn had said something he didn't say) and kept calling him a liar for it, it would be the epitome of impoliteness on "Bart"'s part (and an obvious "straw man" by "Bart").

If "Bart" wants to insist that he was just knocking down obvious false statements by Glenn, and that's what got him banned, it is incumbent on "Bart" to produce evidence of such (just as it is incumbent on "Bart" to produce evidence that I make "straw man" arguments about what "Bart" has said [you know, like this and this and this]). But "Bart" won't do so; and will whine once again, over and over, that he's being misrepresented and people just don't understand him and refuse to see the hallicinations that are so clear in his own mind....

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

["Bart"]: Perhaps, then, you can explain why world temperatures went up less than a degree from the start of the Industrial revolution to the 1930s, then temperatures went down by less than a degree between the 1940s and 1970s when the rest of the world industrialized, went up again less than a degree in the 80s and early 90s and then have been basically flat since then when human CO2 emissions have been increasing pretty steadily since the Industrial Revolution?

[PMS_Chicago]: Dismissing global warming is so 1990s. From The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Oreskes, Naomi, Science, 12/3/2004, Vol. 306, Issue 5702:

You are engaging in the logical fallacy of citation to authority rather than answering my point. Your Science article does not address my point.


"Bart" is refusing to give any cites to studies to point out his claimed "facts". PMS_chicago pointed out that a virtual unanimity of studies accept global warming. In science, while no guarantee of the "truth" of a proposition, virtual unanimity of opinion on a question is nonetheless strong evidence for the proposition and it needs to be, at the least, tentatively accepted. "Bart" trots out the "argument from authority" fallacy as if it means that someone of authority speaking in favour of a proposition is somehow an argument against the truthfulness of the proposition (rather than being what it is, simply not a guarantee in itself as to the truth of the matter absent any other evidence). If "Bart" wanted a true "argument from authority", he might rather look at the young GOP political appointee that decided, absent any scientific reason for doing so, to muzzle a NOAA scientist:

"The censorship issue became much more prominent in late January 2006 when it became clear that one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) had been subjected to having political minders sit in when he discussed climate science with the news media. A week and a half later this minor embarrassment for the Bush Administration became much more damaging when it was revealed that the person overseeing this attempted censorship of Hansen was a 24-year-old political appointee who had apparently misrepresented that he had graduated from Texas A& M when he had no such degree. This young operative resigned but the whole affair emboldened Hansen to speak out on the broader issue of censorship of climate science."

Now that's a lot closer to "argument from authority": "I'm in power, so what I say is right."

Cheers,
 

Ooops. "NASA scientist".
 

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