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18 November 2006

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Got A Watch

""tale told by an idiot."" Exactly.

The next logical step is to ask: What does it say about the quality of a nation when it (re-)elects truly incompetent morons to the highest offices, then blindly follows them off a cliff? Bush and Blair have both reached the absolute pinnacle of stupid folly, yet many still continue to follow them into further idiocies.

There is something fundamentally rotten in a society where such cretins can rise to the top. A qualfication for national leadership should be having an IQ greater than your shoe size, and enough humility to admit when you have made a mistake and seek to correct it. Instead we get endless spinning of failed strategies, over and over.

It has been said "you get the leadership you deserve" (to paraphrase), if so, Western society is pretty much finished, by the hands of our own arrogance and stupididty. Sorry if I sound negative today, a long reading of world news has given me little reason for confidence in the future.

ali

This Vietnam trip was surreal. We know the POTUS inhabits a different reality but it seems to be losing any logical coherence.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

MarcLord

Some people are so far Right, they're Left.

VietnamVet

There is a reason George W is an aged Alfred E Neuman. He has the certitude that his beliefs are true. He can say the USA is on the path to victory in Iraq because he believes it. History and reality are of no concern. If an old fart told him that the Silent Mutiny by troops in Vietnam intent on surviving their 365 days ended the war, the President won’t hear it. He knows the USA quit Vietnam because of the liberal media and hippies at home.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I agree with you - some times it is best to keep quiet.

de Gaulle was in a German Factory after WWII and he gave a speech about how incredulous it was for a French statesman to be addressing those German workers.

But, then again, de Gaulle was a great man.

I alos agree with you about the US intervention in Vietnam - the ills of Vietnam were aggravated by that war (as it also negatively affected US polity).

Which brings me to one of my central thesis about US intervention in the Middle East - "Stop trying to pick winners and loosers - you are only making things worse."

Walrus

Col. Lang I'm starting to get depressed about the future of America and the English speaking world. The depression will last until people in the U.S. wake up and ensure that no one as bad as Bush can ever be elected again.

Bush's reality is simply chilling.

1. The death penalty is acceptable all the time.

2. Torture is acceptable.

3. Detention in secret without trial is acceptable.

4.The removal of Habeas Corpus is necessary.

5. Evesdropping, search and siezure without probable cause is acceptable.

6. The invasion and occupation of a foriegn country on trumped up evidence is acceptable.

7. Denial of access to properly constituted courts is acceptable.

8. The use of "secret" evidence that a defendent is not permitted to question is acceptable.

9. The deaths of tens of thousands of foriegners for no particular reason is acceptable.

10. The act of holding elections "in time of war" is somehow a priviledge he has bestowed on us.

11. The Constitution is nothing but a "goddamned piece of paper."

12. A dictatorship would be desireable provided he was the dictator.

..And he believes China, Russia, and now Vietnam are role models that we could do well to emulate????????

How much evidence is required before the Bush Administration is recognised as being populated from the very top by homicidal megalomaniacs?

I predict that if we have another shock to the American social system, be it an attack on Iran, or a terrorist attack, or a birdflu pandemic, Bush is going to declare martial law, round up and suppress his critics, and assume the role of permanent Dictator, and not one legislator will stop him.

There is an interesting study on the web of stupidity which contains two postulates:

1. The definition of a stupid person is someone who creates loss for everyone including himself.

By contrast an intelligent person creates win/win situations and a "bandit" makes others lose, but at least keeps the proceeds so that the community wealth is not diminished.

2. The community and individuals consistently underestimate the dangers inherent in having anything to do with stupid people because their actions make no logical sense.

I believe Bush is stupid and that by the time we realise this, America's treasure, honor and reputation will be in tatters, the economy bankrupt, the people in tears and the Union and Constitution destroyed.

Jerry Thompson

I'm really confused -- The Pres sees Vietnam as an example of what Iraq can become if we don't quit(?). I thought we did quit in Vietnam. What did I miss?

Rider

His comments always remind me of the kind of answers you find in the Blue Book of a student who has read none of the assignments for the course and has skipped most of the classes but shows up hoping to pass the final exam. Total BS. Weak BS. Cheap BS. Worthless.

matt

I would second "riders" comments above, only to add: insulting BS .....why aren't more of the American people actually insulted by the president's statements?

Cloned Poster

He is just hopeless. Why the US media cannot see the Emperor is Naked is beyond me.

North Bay

If recollection serves, Ronald Reagan was also wont to tell similar feel-good stories culled from thin air.

His heartwarming tale of GI's and German soldiers agreeing to leave a farmhouse intact during the battle of the Bulge was my favorite (the Germans would occupy it during the night, and the Americans by day). Especially charming was the twist that both agreed to leave a fire burning for the other guys.

I would have presidential contenders questioned by historians during both the primary's and general election. The League of Women "debate" format currently in place is damn near a joke, insofar as any substantive insight into the contenders is concerned.

Will

It's more than straight I.Q. His intelligence quotient is probably is quite high. A Harvard MBA & a pilot. But there's a constellation of other intelligences. He has no judgment, no emotional quotients. In those regards, he is a blithering idiot.

As Jay Leno observed, Dumbya finally found the way to Vietnam. He could have asked Kerry for directions or for that matter McCain.

Arun

Learn to live with it! We (collectively, not many individuals here) were stupid enough to RE-ELECT this man.

We really need a "neither of the above" option on our ballot, and if it wins, the candidates are barred from elections for ten years, and a new election has to be held.

confusedponderer

Walrus,
you could add as 13th: He thinks that international law only slows the US down, as US righteous rightness trumps ... whatever, and thus must not be constrained by ... whatever (staring with international law and ending with reality). Evidently the rest of the world is being a little nitpicky by wanting the US to abide by international law. Go figure.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyID=2006-11-17T233143Z_01_N17445714_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-USA-LAW.xml&WTmodLoc=NewsArt-C2-NextArticle-2

"International law is being used as a rhetorical weapon against us"

Huh, huh, need a hanky? Iirc the US were the nation who invoked the idea that there are rules, ius cogens, that need not to be written or agreed to (because they are self evident and everyone agrees on them as fundamental principles of the civilised world anyway), and must not be violated ever - during the Nuremberg Tribunals.
Take a hint Chertoff: If everyone agrees you're against international law, you may be just that.

Not only that, the US should have learned that, from a certain scale on, no matter what hard power they have or had, they can't go it alone, period. Nevermind. Chertoff is singing the Federalist Society tune. Another of the US affording themselves the luxury to formulate foreign policy for domestic audiences, only.
Sorry folks, per definition the *inter*national community has a say in *inter*national relations (result of that silly legal 'sovereignty equality' thingie). That's to say that the rest of the world doesn't really care about how nutty the US domestic audience is. In the international arena _consistency_, _reliability_ and _rule abidance_ are hard currency.If one doesn't care about that he has to pay a price: Being ostracised.

What about: 'Doh!' Chertoff?

Trent

Didn't the civilians who pulled him from the lake break his shoulder?

I remember reading how he was also denied medical treatment for about 2 months after the crash. He writes of visits from a VN doctor who refused to treat him. Rumors circulate to this day that he cannot raise his arms above his shoulders because of the lack of medical attention which was available but withheld to torture him. Apparently his wife has to comb his hair.

5+ years in the Hanoi Hilton, 1.5 years in solitary confinement so The Moron in Chief can wax poetical about how McCain was "saved" in Vietnam.

What a sad party.

McGee

Was at a meeting last week with a German business associate who asked dumbfounded how we could have ever re-elected this man. Accepting his first disputed win he could understand, but reappointing him after such obviously disastrous policy was beyond his comprehension. Couldn't even begin to explain or defend.

Arum - love your idea. If we get the expected McCain-Clinton non-choice or something equally unsatisfactory, perhaps we could start a national write-in "neither of the above" campaign here at the good Colonel's blog?

ali

Now Condi has caught the fantasy Vietnam bug:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/18/ap/world/mainD8LFEEF00.shtml
Yes Condi after all we've done for them if only those troublesome Iraqis could get it together like the Vietnamese Communists. Obviously what we need in Iraq is Võ Nguyên Giáp and a nice constructive peoples war.

Sad thing is even a brutal totalitarian regime would be an improvement over the Hobbesian vortex the neocons have created by decapitating Iraqi society.


Rider

Condi is now joining The Fool's Chorus:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/18/ap/world/mainD8LFEEF00.shtml

You have to wonder. Were these statements made under duress?

confusedponderer

Well, think I gotta get more precise about 'base politics' and foreign policy. The GOP today has a leadership that has mastered wedge politics. Under Bush, more than ever before, they got to appeal to what they see as their bases, along the line: 51% of the people are a majority.
The point where todays right-wingers are IMO very much not conservative is that they refuse the middle ground for the sake of polarization. It seems as if they have internalized in the last 25 or so years that that's how policy works. Correspondingly, in the GOP today pragmatic moderates are a dying breed.

The Federalists are one interest group group, then there are the 'I'm afraid of the UN' folks, the Floridan Cubans, AIPAC, the abortion opponents and so forth. Delivering to these folks gives genuine election advantages. So the GOP delivers.

The Floridan Cubans will cry bloody murder (and will help elect an irresponsible Floridan Democrat over an irresponsible GOP politico) if the GOP doesn't deliver pork to the anti-Fidel industry, and those pointless sanctions and the goal of regime change against Cuba. I mean, Bush can visit Vietnam to strike a 'Great Bargain', but Cuba? Never, ever. So they are served.

To pick another obvious example: AIPAC and their Christian allies very successfully promote Israeli interests in the US.

There are folks in the US who fervently believe in Global Warming being a liberal hoax. Most prominent nut case here is Sen. Imhofe. His line is: 'International scientific consensus is ... a conspiracy!' Damn' right! I have spectacular ocean front real estate in Utah I want to sell you (in case you're interested, please e-mail me).

After Bush took over, he delivered to the described special interests, and others. Their alumni were handed corresponding political posts. So the fox is guarding the hen house - a UN hater at the UN, another UN hater investigating oil for food, a pro-Israel lobbyist defining foreign policy in the Middle East, a climate change doubter (not) negotiating on climate change, an oil lobbyist gutting government agency reports on clean air and global warming, and so forth.

The result is an arsonist policy in the respective field.

When domestic political groups can control the government process in the sense that they can define as US national interest their domestic agendas aimed on holding voters - foreign policy also becomes part of the domestic process aimed on perpetuating majorities and playing voter blocks. Foreign and domestic policy become inseparable. I think that's what we see at work here.

That would suggest that not only the political process in the government is broken, but that there is a general loss of comprehension what national interest is. The political system is broken. It might be that we witness an increasingly Weimaresque dysfunctionality in the entire US political arena (believe me, I hope I'm wrong).

That interpretation suggests that the foreign policy disaster the US is in right now is primarily a symptom of the political crisis at home.

confusedponderer

PS: A Fourth Generationist would probably argue that we witness the slow corrosion of national cohesion into primary loyalties (in the sense that gruoup loyalties trump national interests), but that yet the unifying element of national identity is strong enough to prevent collapse.

Frank Durkee

Simply note that when only 40% or so of those who can vote do vote, the percentage for victory is much smaller and therefore easier to do. That is the key statistic for the so called 'base' strategy.

rowdy

Walrus -

You captured the heart of the matter precisely. The brilliant essay on stupidity was created by the late Carlo M. Cipolla, Professor Emeritus of Economic History at Berkeley.

There are four types of people, he says, depending on their behavior in a social transaction:

Hapless (or “hopeless”)
Someone whose actions tend to generate self-damage, but also to create advantage for someone else.

Intelligent
Someone whose actions tend to generate self-advantage, as well as advantage for others.

Bandit
Someone whose actions tend to generate self-advantage while causing damage to others.

Stupid
Defined below in the Third Law.
***

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, according to Dr. Cipolla:

First Law - Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

This is not as obvious as it sounds, says Cipolla, because:
1. people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid; and,
2. day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

Second Law
The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Stupidity quotients appear unrelated to gender, ethnic heritage, education or other sociodemographic.

Third (and Golden) Law
A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Fourth Law
Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

Fifth Law
A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

This is probably the most widely understood of the Laws, if only because it is common knowledge that intelligent people, hostile as they might be, are predictable, while stupid people are not.

First Corollary:
A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.
Second Corollary:
A supremely powerful stupid person is the most dangerous person of all.

ikonoklast

A nod is as good as a wink to a horse's a**

From the White House Office of Toadyism:

"On Saturday, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, conceded that the president had not come into direct contact with ordinary Vietnamese, but said that they connected anyway.

'If you’d been part of the president’s motorcade as we’ve shuttled back and forth,' he said, reporters would have seen that 'the president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles.'

He continued: 'I think he’s gotten a real sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people and their willingness to put a very difficult period for both the United States and Vietnam behind them.'

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/world/asia/19vietnam.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Can't we just lose this guy over there or something? Let him wander off, forget to put him back on the plane?

JM

matt: "...why aren't more of the American people actually insulted by the president's statements?"

Those of us who have lost all respect for Bush seem to have particular moments when anything that may have been left of that respect vanished.

For me, it was the White House correspondent's dinner back in '04, when Bush showed a video of him looking around his office for the "WMDs."

I simply couldn't believe that he was joking about the primary marketing strategy for selling the war to us, while our guys were getting killed over it.

It was even more disgusting to hear the "jounalists" in attendance roaring in laughter.

FDRDemocrat

Colonel Lang -

Just curious, what do you think about the fact that Henry Kissinger is apparently playing a role in the coming recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission report? And his comments today, where Kissinger said victory in Iraq, defined as a unified country able to defend itself, was no longer possible in a time frame the US could support? This all seems to be heading toward an international conference of some kind with Henry the K pulling the levers behind the scene.

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