Somehow I’m not surprised by

Somehow I’m not surprised by this:

“And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq… All of a sudden you’ve got a battle you’re fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques. Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq.”

That’s Dick Cheney in 1992,via Andrew Sullivan. This doesn’t surprise me either:

Cheney’s office did not respond to requests for comment about his 1992 statements, nor did the White House. The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, also asked about the 1992 statements, did not respond

The fact of the matter is that, however much he messed up the budget and the economy, George H.W. Bush was one of the best foreign policy presidents we’ve had in recent times; in many ways, he was as good as even Reagan. He had a hard-core realist policy team that expected the worst and planned accordingly. Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker made a FP dream team. It’s downright depressing that the only one of them who’s currently holding office is repeatedly ignored by the White House and the Defense Department. If I were a conservative, I’d be opposing Bush on that alone.

I personally had mixed feeling

I personally had mixed feeling about Matt Klam’s piece about blogs in the New York Times Magazine. My notes:

  • Klam seems to think that Zoe Vanderwolk is some kind of bimbo. Observe:

    Jesse and Ezra, whose blog is called Pandagon, were lying with two cute women in tank tops — Ezra’s girlfriend Kate and Zoe of Gadflyer — on futon beds that had been placed on the tiny stage of the performance space. Their computers and wireless mice and some carrots and radishes and paper plates with Chinese dumplings were scattered between them. A month ago, at the Democratic convention, Zoe had accidentally spilled a big cup of 7-Up on Jesse’s computer, killing it. She and Jesse now looked as if they might be dating.

    Zoe? The Harvard statistics student? Tank-top indeed.

  • Wonkette makes slim pickings for her blogging:

    She was filling out applications for a master’s in social work when Nick Denton called.

    Denton is the world’s first blogging entrepreneur. He owns a bunch of these smart-alecky blogs — Wonkette; a New York City gossip site called Gawker; a Hollywood site, Defamer; and Fleshbot, a porn site. Anytime somebody builds a media empire, especially one that includes pornography, you assume the money is good, but in the Wonkette’s case, it isn’t. Her starting salary was $18,000 a year. (She’s getting bonuses now for increased traffic, but not much.)

    Meanwhile, Josh Marshall is nearing rich:

    Since February, with the explosion of blog traffic and the invention of blog ads as a revenue source, a few elite bloggers have found themselves on the receiving end of a Howitzer of money, as much as $10,000 a month. Marshall is one of them, and now that the release valve has become a job, albeit a well-paying one, he has to resist the tendency to ruin it.

    120 big ones a year? I could live with that, especially for blogging.

  • Zephyr Teachout isn’t nearly as cool as I thought she was:

    Moulitsas’s ”friendly relations” with particular candidates got him into a public fight with Zephyr Teachout, who became briefly famous last winter as the guru of the Dean Internet campaign, which in fact employed Moulitsas for several months. Over the summer, she complained in several online forums, and to Moulitsas directly, that he and other bloggers were blurring the lines between editorial and advertising, lines that had always been sacred in journalism. According to Teachout, they were posting comments in support of candidates for whom they were also working as paid consultants and not explaining that conflict of interest, or at least not fully enough for Teachout. In an online discussion with Jay Rosen, who heads the journalism department at N.Y.U., she wrote, ”I think where we essentially disagree is that transparency alone is enough.”

    ”Zephyr can go to hell,” Moulitsas said at the Democratic convention.

    Chivalry, Markos, chivalry. Anyway, Zephyr grew up in the town I live in, and she’s sort of a local hero in these parts. Naturally, as another politically oriented person, I was a big fan of hers. But this blog bashing won’t get her anywhere.

  • As for the actual piece, it was more a rambling diary of the RNC than an actual profile. It claims to find out whether bloggers are helping (duh) or hurting (luddite) political journalism. But it never does. It’s nonetheless very entertaining, and makes for a good read.

  • Che Guevara has always deserved

    Che Guevara has always deserved to be taken down a peg. And Paul Berman is the perfect man to do it:

    The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che’s imagination

    Exactly! Che was bloodthirsty, power-hungry man who made Cuba the tyranny it is today. That is nothing to be proud of. He had the power, and the contact with Castro, to make Cuba a democracy. He was the third-ranking member of Castro’s cabinet, after all. But he didn’t. He deliberately didn’t. He chose autocracy over freedom, and his reputation must suffer as a consequence. It is unbelievable that it hasn’t.

    I can’t believe I missed

    I can’t believe I missed this in Bush’s speech. I just noticed it in the paper this morning:

    The U.N. and its member nations must respond to Prime Minister Allawi’s request and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal and free.

    Emphasis added. This can’t be an ad-lib; this has got to have been carefully written out ahead of time. So, are they listening to Peter Galbraith? Let’s hope so.

    We bloggers have known this

    We bloggers have known this since, well, forever, but it’s good to see it in print:

    [A]n examination of Kerry’s words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments during candidate forums and answers to reporters’ questions does not support the accusation [of flip-floping]. As foreign policy emerged as a dominant issue in the Democratic primaries and later in the general election, Kerry clung to a nuanced, middle-of-the road — yet largely consistent — approach to Iraq …

    [T]aken as a whole, Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking Iraq became a national conversation more than two years ago.

    Via Josh Marshall. It seems today that any position that can’t be answered as “yes” or “no” is perceived as a “flip-flop”. If it doesn’t work as a soundbite, it doesn’t work at all. A sad statement on the American electorate.

    Being the best blogger online

    Being the best blogger online is one thing; creating a new unit of measure is quite another:

    Edward_ at Obsidian Wings laments that a Google search for “Obsidian Wings” nets only 33,000 hits compared to 127,000 for David Brooks. Actually, though, that strikes me as pretty decent, considering how long Brooks has been around and how many high-profile outlets he has for his writing.

    But that made me curious, so I entered “Kevin Drum.” Result: 143,000 hits. Not bad!

    And that in turn gave me an idea: I propose that we formalize this as a measure of Internet Fame (IF): 127,000 Google hits is equal to one “brooksie.

    I’m not high on the brooksie scale, as you probably know – 5.65 millibrooksies (thousandths of brooksies), to be exact. But this is big. This could be incredibly useful in measuring sites; Brooks is right smack dab in the middle of name recognition, so he’s the perfect person to base it on. Besides, it’s a more esoteric system than the English one, and that has got to count for something.

    I’ve always found the repeated

    I’ve always found the repeated attacks by Republicans, claiming that we’d “let Paris and the U.N. veto our national security”, to be rather funny. After all, they’ve always let another country do that: Israel. They’ve repeatedly supported it, with or without good cause, even though this has caused us irreparable damage in the Arab world (to be fair, Democrats have too). They claim to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, but of course they don’t. Just look at this gratuitous Palestinian-bashing in Bush’s speech today:

    Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption and maintain ties to terrorist groups.

    “I don’t hate Palestinians, I just hate Arafat.” How diplomatic. And all the while, he’s supporting a government that kills children for sport. Don’t get me wrong; I support Israel’s right to exist. I believe in ethnic self-determination, and Israel is no exception – especially after the Holocaust. However, even as I support its creation, I recognize that it caused the displacement of thousands of Palestinians, whose only choice is between a state with an entirely different society and religion, and the autocratic theocracies surrounding it. No one should have to choose between their freedom and their culture. The Palestinians deserve better than our shoddy leadership on this.

    Bush’s speech at the U.N.

    Bush’s speech at the U.N. today is one of those speeches that you just don’t know whether to laugh at or cry over. But for me, most of it was laughing. Because, after all, Bush doesn’t know the first thing about international politics. Take these sections, for example:

    We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace

    Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace.

    Translation: democracy leads to peace, whereas dictatorship leads to war. This argument, as no doubt Bush doesn’t know, originated in the Enlightenment. It was part of a broader doctrine of world politics. Known as liberalism. The irony could not be more delicious. Bush propounding hard-core liberalism, the ideology he despises most, at the U.N., the institution he despises most; it doesn’t get much better than that.

    Will Saletan has probably the

    Will Saletan has probably the best piece that can possibly be written about Bush and the Guard. His summary:

    In short, Bush has pulled Guard troops away from their homeland security duties to fight and die in a war unrelated to the service for which they enlisted. A guardsman who did less than he signed up for is coercing other guardsmen to do more than they signed up for.

    Read the whole thing; it’s worth it. This is why Bush’s guard service matters – he’s exploited the institution twice in his life. In the 1960s, he used it to avoid serving his country in Vietnam (before you call me a hypocrite, I find Clinton’s draft dodging despicable as well). In the 2000s, he’s using it to increase the number of troops in another unnecessary war. Guards(wo)men everywhere should be outraged at this utter lack of respect for the institution. It’s disgusting, vile, and unbecoming of a president.