How Does Mr Bush Do It?

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dulcinea
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How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by dulcinea » Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:29 pm

:D He has won FIVE elections in a row, and yet his opponents still persist in dismissing him as a dumbbell who can't even spell his family name right. It can't be because he resembles Alfred E Neuman a little: Neuman, with FIVE decades of unbroken success behind him, is without a doubt one of the cagiest businessmen of the USA and of the world.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

Gregory Kleyn

Re: How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:58 pm

dulcinea wrote::D He has won FIVE elections in a row, and yet his opponents still persist in dismissing him as a dumbbell who can't even spell his family name right. It can't be because he resembles Alfred E Neuman a little: Neuman, with FIVE decades of unbroken success behind him, is without a doubt one of the cagiest businessmen of the USA and of the world.
It's very simple Dulci. A huge swath of the American populace perceives that this "dumbbell who can't even spell his family name right" is just like them, - and like will vote like. Another formidable and much smarter (if much smaller) swath perceives that the imbecile can easily be manipulated as an instrument of their own ambitions and interests, which Bush in his great longing to be accepted as one of the clique himself (though without any distinctive accomplishments that might validate membership) serves in a cypher-like way as a kind of figurehead crony for.

Listen to this guy in a press conference, debate or other setting (even after almost 6 years) when he can't read a text someone else wrote for him. Never a single coherent thought (let alone idea) of even middling depth and nuance, - and the banal truisms and vacuities spoken with such a confused and tossed salad like articulation that even many observers who completely loathe the fellow often turn their heads in embarassment and pity.

The genius of a certain kind of calculated idiocy in American politics that has a long history, - I will grant Bush that.

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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:21 pm

He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
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Post by Barry » Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:56 pm

Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
He doesn't strike me as intellectually curious at all, but he's certainly capable of comprehending what his advisers say to him and can make decisions based on that. I knew early on in the 2000 campaign that he'd be a tough candidate because he has the type of personality that plays well with, as Gregory says, a huge swath of the American populace.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Re: How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:11 am

Gregory Kleyn wrote:Listen to this guy in a press conference, debate or other setting (even after almost 6 years) when he can't read a text someone else wrote for him. Never a single coherent thought (let alone idea) of even middling depth and nuance, - and the banal truisms and vacuities spoken with such a confused and tossed salad like articulation that even many observers who completely loathe the fellow often turn their heads in embarassment and pity.
It's penetrating insights like this that keep getting Bush elected, Gregory. I'm grateful for people like you who are running the opposition.
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Re: How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by pizza » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:17 am

Gregory Kleyn wrote: Listen to this guy in a press conference, debate or other setting (even after almost 6 years) when he can't read a text someone else wrote for him. Never a single coherent thought (let alone idea) of even middling depth and nuance, - and the banal truisms and vacuities spoken with such a confused and tossed salad like articulation that even many observers who completely loathe the fellow often turn their heads in embarassment and pity.
Why don't you write for him, Gregory! Imagine anyone trying to deliver the above with a straight face! :P

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How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by dulcinea » Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:50 am

:D I think Mr Bush follows the advice of I, CLAUDIUS, the perfect guide for getting ahead by playing dumb.
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Post by herman » Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:36 am

Whether you like his policies or don't has nothing to do with this. People who try to deny the man is just incapable of formulating a thought that goes deeper than "Hey, nice haircut, John!" without being 150% scripted are just compromising their own intellectual integrity.

The afternoon after the bomb attacks in London Blair gave a televised press conference at Edinburgh with Bush at his side. Blair improvised a speech that was not too bad. I don't like the guy nor do I like his way of speaking, but he clearly has a brain and leadership skills.

After Blair Bush got the mike, and he was like a bumbling idiot, completely clueless what to say. Just a mishmash of "Freedom" - "War on Terror". Rarely has it been so clear that this guy is as good as (bad) junior high kid if he isn't scripted from A to Z. (Remember he was off the air for a whole day at 9 / 11, needing to download a complete new brain?)

Bush's gibberish was so embarrassing, even offensive to those affected, the BBC switched back to London as Bush was "speaking" which is not typically something one does when "the most powerful man in the world" is talking.

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Post by pizza » Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:56 am

herman wrote:Whether you like his policies or don't has nothing to do with this. People who try to deny the man is just incapable of formulating a thought that goes deeper than "Hey, nice haircut, John!" without being 150% scripted are just compromising their own intellectual integrity..
Pure nonsense Hermie.

A man who can't formulate a thought is incapable of formulating policies. No one in his right mind who possesses an ounce of integrity would make such a claim. Not only has he formulated policies (whether you like them or not) but he's been able to implement them -- no easy task. He knows how to convert his personal attributes into political capital. He has that down-to-earth populist touch that pseudo-intellectuals easily dismiss at their political peril since they haven't the ability to understand or relate to his personal appeal. "Hey, nice haircut, John!" gets him a helluva lot more votes than any brilliant intellectual gibberish all the fancy-shmancy writers in Washington could collectively produce. He has already become an important president and even the most intransigent anti-Bush ideologues would admit it if they could force themselves to be honest about it.

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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 24, 2005 5:15 am

Barry Z wrote:
Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
He doesn't strike me as intellectually curious at all, but he's certainly capable of comprehending what his advisers say to him and can make decisions based on that. I knew early on in the 2000 campaign that he'd be a tough candidate because he has the type of personality that plays well with, as Gregory says, a huge swath of the American populace.
*****Few presidents have been "intellectually curious." Some, like Wilson, have been hampered rather than helped by their intellect.
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Post by Lilith » Sun Jul 24, 2005 10:43 am

I would rather have him for a neighbor than President, but I resent the cheap shots thrown at his intelligence. Bush is no dummy, although he does have great difficulty speaking 'off the cuff'. He is very hard to watch at these moments....it's almost painful.

Then again, JFK was great at spontaneous remarks and comments, but he was a less than successful President.

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Post by herman » Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:00 am

Lilith wrote:Then again, JFK was great at spontaneous remarks and comments, but he was a less than successful President.
So that adds up to Bush being a bad speaker and a disastrous president.

BTW the speech I was referring to, the one that was faded out by the BBC, was not so much evidence of his bad speechifying skills. What it showed was the man was completely and offensively clueless.

Alban Berg

Post by Alban Berg » Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:37 pm

Ralph wrote:*****Few presidents have been "intellectually curious." Some, like Wilson, have been hampered rather than helped by their intellect.
And some, like Lincoln and Jefferson, haven't.

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Post by Wallingford » Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:46 pm

Ralph wrote:
Barry Z wrote:
Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
He doesn't strike me as intellectually curious at all, but he's certainly capable of comprehending what his advisers say to him and can make decisions based on that. I knew early on in the 2000 campaign that he'd be a tough candidate because he has the type of personality that plays well with, as Gregory says, a huge swath of the American populace.
*****Few presidents have been "intellectually curious." Some, like Wilson, have been hampered rather than helped by their intellect.
Tempting thought.......Ah, if only we'd had good ol' Adlai as president 50 years back!!!
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 24, 2005 6:17 pm

Alban Berg wrote:
Ralph wrote:*****Few presidents have been "intellectually curious." Some, like Wilson, have been hampered rather than helped by their intellect.
And some, like Lincoln and Jefferson, haven't.
*****

And let's not forget the strongest presidential intellect of the nineteenth century, Millard Fillmore.
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Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:07 pm

Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
Chicken-hawk Bush spoken of in the same sentence with Field-general
Eisenhower? Please.

Ike was no genius, - but he came to the Presidency with a character, sagacity, and realism born out of some real struggle with conditions and the tests of experience.

Bush came with nada, - and it everywhere shows.

He may well be remembered as the president who opened the floodgates of American decline, - what with his insane massive tax cuts while simultaneously spending hundreds of billions on war, and universally clueless and classless relationships with the rest of the world.

What a pill.

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Post by Michael » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:11 pm

Certainly I respect that many of you guys are staunch Republicans and many members of this forum have formidable intellects and debating skills. What I simply can-t understand is how some of you defend this President. It is a plain as day that the man is an imbecile with no ability to convey original thought and even less ability to string a decent sentence together. Certainly there are those around him pulling the strings and formulating policy.. is he not just a figure head? I am not getting at Republican-s here just this man whom I find totally embarrassing......so many examples.. I have a desk diary with a GWBush quote for each day on each sheet... sometimes wildly amusing sometimes deeply terrifying. President of the most powerful country in the world: WOW :shock:
Michael from The Colne Valley, Yorkshire.

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Post by Werner » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:19 pm

Well, Michael, as Pizza says, he's an important President.

More like that we don't need.

Corlyss, I seem to remember that you look back on your days as a Democrat - eaons ago. Maybe it's tme for you to come home?
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:25 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:
Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
Chicken-hawk Bush spoken of in the same sentence with Field-general
Eisenhower? Please.

Ike was no genius, - but he came to the Presidency with a character, sagacity, and realism born out of some real struggle with conditions and the tests of experience.

Bush came with nada, - and it everywhere shows.

What a pill.
*****

I'm no Bush supporter. My comment went only to the same pattern of underestimation and attribution of a lack of strong control.

He may well be remembered as the president who opened the floodgates of American decline, - what with his insane massive tax cuts while simultaneously spending hundreds of billions on war, and universally clueless and classless relationships with the rest of the world.
Last edited by Ralph on Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Barry » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:27 pm

Michael,
I don't know whether you're including me in there, but I'm a lifelong Democrat, albeit a Democrat disappointed in his party's performance in recent years.

And I strongly dislike Bush personally (as I've said before on here, he personofies some of the aspects of American culture that trouble me the most). But realistically, I don't think a complete moron who is as stupid as many people seem to think Bush is can get to where he is. I also have to put aside my personal dislike for him when I judge what he's doing with regard to Iraq and the war on Islamic terrorism. I certainly think he's made some big mistakes along the way in terms of planning and specific strategy points, but overall, I'm not convinced he's doing the wrong thing. The people who paint Iraq as nothing but a total disaster are wrong in my view. It's too soon to say how things will turn out, but in spite of bungling the pre-war message, there were legitimate and good reasons for the invasion, and there is still a good chance that things will turn out reasonably well in the long run. If that happens, Bush will go down in history as an outstanding president. Of course, one can't rule out the possibility that Gregory is correct in saying Bush may also have started the ultimate decline of the U.S. There are no sure things. But I'm putting my money on things going closer to how the administration has predicted than to how the doomsayers predict in the long run.
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:28 pm

Michael wrote:Certainly I respect that many of you guys are staunch Republicans and many members of this forum have formidable intellects and debating skills. What I simply can-t understand is how some of you defend this President. It is a plain as day that the man is an imbecile with no ability to convey original thought and even less ability to string a decent sentence together. Certainly there are those around him pulling the strings and formulating policy.. is he not just a figure head? I am not getting at Republican-s here just this man whom I find totally embarrassing......so many examples.. I have a desk diary with a GWBush quote for each day on each sheet... sometimes wildly amusing sometimes deeply terrifying. President of the most powerful country in the world: WOW :shock:
*****

He is certainly not a figurehead. He controls those around him, not the other way around. As to his famous penchant for malaprops, that has nothing to do with intelligence with regard to anyone. Some are gifted speakers, others aren't. Malaprops seem to be a neurolinguistic phenomenon unrelated to root intelligence.
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:30 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:
Ralph wrote:He's no dumbbell-he's an astute politician with good instincts.

The attacks on his intelligence always remind me of those that some enjoyed levying on President Eisenhower, canards that history has clearly discredited.
Chicken-hawk Bush spoken of in the same sentence with Field-general
Eisenhower? Please.

Ike was no genius, - but he came to the Presidency with a character, sagacity, and realism born out of some real struggle with conditions and the tests of experience.

Bush came with nada, - and it everywhere shows.

*****

Incidentally, Eisenhower never was a "field commander" in World War II (and he missed out in WWI). He started as an Army commander for the North African campaign, the top honcho but with no operational duties.

He may well be remembered as the president who opened the floodgates of American decline, - what with his insane massive tax cuts while simultaneously spending hundreds of billions on war, and universally clueless and classless relationships with the rest of the world.

What a pill.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

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Post by Werner » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:38 pm

Barrry, yours is a thoughtful post. There is reason to see things differently than you do - nevertheless we must hope that your optinistic view comes true.

As they say over there, somewhere: Inshallah!
Werner Isler

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Post by Barry » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:47 pm

Thanks Werner. After writing that I don't think a complete moron could get to where Bush is, the film Being There immediately sprung to mind :roll: .
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by pizza » Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:51 pm

Michael wrote:Certainly I respect that many of you guys are staunch Republicans and many members of this forum have formidable intellects and debating skills. What I simply can-t understand is how some of you defend this President. It is a plain as day that the man is an imbecile with no ability to convey original thought and even less ability to string a decent sentence together. Certainly there are those around him pulling the strings and formulating policy.. is he not just a figure head? I am not getting at Republican-s here just this man whom I find totally embarrassing......so many examples.. I have a desk diary with a GWBush quote for each day on each sheet... sometimes wildly amusing sometimes deeply terrifying. President of the most powerful country in the world: WOW :shock:
You make certain assumptions that do not necessarily have factual bases. Pointing out the political strengths of the President is no indication of one's party affiliations. In America one can admire the political skills of an opponent without being considered a supporter or defender.

The ability to "string a decent sentence together" doesn't of itself make a good politician or leader. The past is replete with many linguistic geniuses who literally mesmerized their audiences with their speeches but nevertheless brought disaster upon their respective countries. I needn't name them -- you know who they are as well as I do.

As for embarrassment, there is nothing one can point to in anything Bush has ever said, whether deliberately or as a slip of the tongue that can even approach the well-constructed, linguistically polished but nevertheless disgusting and horrendous sentences strung together by London's mayor. Is he supported, defended, admired and elected exclusively by terrorists, anti-Semites and hate-mongers?

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Re: How Does Mr Bush Do It?

Post by karlhenning » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:02 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:It's penetrating insights like this that keep getting Bush elected, Gregory ....
So the repeal of presidential term-limits is official, then? :-)
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Ted

Post by Ted » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:18 pm

I am a supreme Bush Basher, yet I have to admit that his failings as a public speaker are not enough to discount his innate intelligence.
He was Gov of Texas and is now a two term President of the United States
I can argue with his polices, but to call him stupid is rather stupid in its own right

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:31 pm

Good marketing:

http://www.nucular.com/
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:45 pm

Ted wrote:I can argue with his polices, but to call him stupid is rather stupid in its own right
It is a gross simplification, which is something Bush is sometimes accused of.

(And, I suppose, this could be time to recall that there are different modes of intelligence.)

Acknowedging that Bush has his share of intelligence, is still some distance (as Ted indicates) from confidence in his decisions:
A Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll released Sunday shows that a majority of Americans now believes that the Iraq war has made the US more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The poll found that 49 percent of those surveyed felt the US was more vulnerable, 36 percent felt the US was more secure, and nine percent were undecided. As well, more than 66 percent felt that Prsident Bush has "no clear, well-thought out plan" to get US troops out of Iraq.
Can US, Britain 'win' in Iraq?
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Alban Berg

Post by Alban Berg » Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:12 pm

Some sense at last:

What Bush Doesn't Know
By BOB HERBERT
Published: New York Times, July 25, 2005

I remember the arrogance that accompanied the "shock and awe" bombing campaign that kicked off the war in Iraq more than two years ago. The war was supposed to be quick and easy, a cakewalk. The enemy, we were told, would fold like a dinner napkin. And then, in the neoconservative fantasies of some of the crazier folks in the Bush crowd, the military would gear up for an invasion of Iran.

In one of the great deceptions in the history of American government, President Bush insisted to a nation traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks that the invasion of Iraq was crucial to the success of the so-called war on terror.

"Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror," said Mr. Bush in a speech in the fall of 2002 that was designed to drum up support for the invasion. "To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror."

In the speech, delivered in Cincinnati, Mr. Bush said of Iraq: "It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

I've always urged politicians to be careful what they wish for. The president got the war he wanted so badly. But he never understood an essential fact that Georges Clemenceau learned nearly a century ago - that "it is easier to make war than to make peace."

So where are we, now that the real world has intervened? The military is spinning its wheels in the tragic and expensive quagmire of Iraq and there is no end to the conflict in sight. A front-page story in The Times on Sunday said the insurgents "just keep getting stronger and stronger."

As for the fight against terror, the news runs the gamut from bad to horrible. The Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik in Egypt was traumatized by a series of early-morning terrorist blasts on Saturday. London is trembling from the terror attacks on its public transportation system that have claimed dozens of lives.

Here in New York, where the police have begun random searches of the backpacks and packages of subway riders, there is an odd feeling of resignation mixed with periodic bouts of dread, as transit riders struggle with the belief that some kind of attack is bound to happen here.

Interviews over the past few days have shown that subway riders in New York almost instinctively understand what the president does not - that the war in Iraq is not making us safer here at home.

"No, in fact I think it makes us less safe here," said Edmond Lee, a salesman who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "We went over there with no real plan. No real thinking about what we'd be able to do."

He said he was concerned that "what happened in the London Underground might happen here."

Memories of the destruction of the World Trade Center are still etched, as if with acid, in the minds of New Yorkers. Very few people are dovish when it comes to the war on terror. But Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is another matter.

"Our soldiers being over there make it worse here," said Michael Springfield, a 32-year-old engineer from Brooklyn.

One of the people encountered in the subway was Andy Dommen, a musician from Germany who was pushing a shopping cart filled with luggage. He made the fundamental distinction between Iraq and Al Qaeda and said the war in Iraq was a distraction that "was taking the public eye off" other important problems, namely the fight against terror.

"Messing up other countries," said Mr. Dommen, "doesn't make the world or America safer."

There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism. What was required in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was an intense, laserlike focus by America and its allies on Al Qaeda-type terrorism.

Instead, the Bush crowd saw its long dreamed of opportunity to impose its will on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the great tragedy of Sept. 11. Many thousands have paid a fearful price for that bit of ideological madness.

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Post by Wallingford » Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:21 pm

Lighting once more on the subject of the Bush intellect:

It's amazing how so many apparently want Homer Simpson or Hank Hill for president.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Mon Jul 25, 2005 7:41 pm

On the qualities of our president one should really make the following discriminations:

Bush, in fact, may well be very smart (I think so) but still without much discernible intelligence (the two are not the same) let alone any encompassing wisdom (different again). One could say he's stupid but not dumb (unlike Al Gore who was highly intelligent but pervasively dumb - the latter characteristic being why he lost). Thus, to my observation Bush is a fine and astute politician but lacks the presence or command of a real leader, - and even moreso any hint of the stature that qualifies one a statesman. He cajoles and manipulates by the power of suggestion and a quite primitive kind of associative thinking full of illegitimate connections and unconscious projections , - but is unable to convince with careful, coherent, and cogent argument and defense (which has never entered his mind, - hence his "deer in the headlights" articulation problems), let alone inspire through the force of a vision and conviction that transcends even reason (the "higher father" business notwithstanding, - Bush's regressive tendencies are not transcendence).

He's simply a lacklustre guy, well-suited for a board of directors or some other glad-handing position, but obviously and severely constrained by the limits of endowment and experience in a job that's clearly and entirely beyond him. The country will suffer for decades to come from the consequences of his ill-considered and foolish actions.
Last edited by Gregory Kleyn on Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Werner » Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:31 pm

Well, he was elected - and, at least the second time, quite convincingly. Blame the electorate.

At least, the electorate does get the opportunity periodically to correct its mistakes. Will it?
Last edited by Werner on Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
Werner Isler

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Post by pizza » Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:58 pm

Bob Herbert's NYT article is typical of the defeatist hogwash spewed by the liberal handwringing press, who have no understanding whatsoever of the nature of the enemy, their objectives, who supports them, the psychology they employ in choosing their targets and what is required to defeat them. To these simpletons, every car bomb in Baghdad is a major defeat, every subway attack a major strategic setback and every military confrontation that doesn't resolve in a week or so is another Vietnam.

This is precisely the attitude and response the Islamo-fascists are hoping to provoke in order to weaken our resolve and split our alliances. They've succeeded in Spain, in Turkey and are now aiming at England, Italy and the US. The NYT and writers such as Herbert will help them achieve their objectives.


WHY THEY ATTACK US

The Smell of Fear
Talk of leaving Iraq makes terrorist attacks more likely.

BY CALEB CARR
Saturday, July 23, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

The ultimate targets of the London bombings were not, of course, human beings. Rather, they were a set of governmental policies that the terrorists hoped to change by separating political leaders from the support of their shaken citizenry. Despite this distinction, however, the underlying psychological principles involved in investigating such crimes remain the same as they would were we studying a mass- or serial-murder case, of which terrorists are in many respects the politicized version. Is this to say that the four young men suspected of being the instruments of terror on this occasion can be classified as clinical sociopaths? We will likely be unable to answer that question with certainty, now that they are dead. What we can focus on, however, are the motivations and perversities of the vastly more dangerous Islamist clerics and terrorist organizers who sought out youthful pawns and instilled in them a theology of murder.

Many political analysts have long been anxious to exclude terrorists from psychological profiling. Some fear that such scrutiny undermines the rationalization that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (as indeed it does), while others worry that focus on the mental pathologies of terrorists will detract from whatever legitimacy their causes may hold--just as the psychosis of Hitler overshadowed Germany's grievances about excessive war reparations. But Hitler did not redress injustices against his nation, he prostituted them to his megalomaniacal visions. In the same way, the preachers of Islamist terror are less interested in securing prosperity and dignity for their peoples than they are in finding new communities of human instruments that they can enlist in their demented campaign to turn History's clock back. In all such cases of international criminal psychology, we have no choice but to move beyond police work and questions of political motive, and reach for the tools of the forensic psychologist--most importantly, the art of profiling.

But it is not only or even primarily the killers and their tutors that must be so examined: Thorough profiling demands that we also study the victims, who in cases of terrorism are whole societies. The point is not to see those societies as they actually are, but as the planners of the outrage saw them. In this particular case, we must try to understand why a terrorist group associated to at least a degree with al Qaeda was suddenly inspired to move beyond the general desire of that organization's leadership to punish Britain; why, that is, such an affiliate became overwhelmingly convinced that at this particular moment, British citizens were not only deserving of the usual terrorist brand of ritualized bloodshed, but would prove, more importantly, willing to gratify al Qaeda's demands in the wake of the bombings. What had these Islamist organizers seen, as they stalked through the land that had so unwisely given them asylum, that convinced not only them, but their young acolytes, that the time had come for a more-than-rhetorical assault on Britain's people?

These questions will not be answered by focusing on the grievances by which the terrorists later claimed to have been propelled: The sociopath's motivations are revealed in his behavior, not in his grandiose self-justifications. Therefore, we must put the issue of the timing of the bombings into the context of the series of similar crimes that have been committed by al Qaeda and its subordinates during the long and deadly spree that they have pursued since the 1990s. Only a few examples from al Qaeda's catalogue of outrages resemble the London attack, in specific purpose and method, enough to be of real use in establishing this pattern. These few are: the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001; the bombings of a synagogue, the British consulate, and a Western bank in Istanbul in November 2003; and the Madrid bombings in March 2004. What common elements can we establish among these societies at the given moments that they were victimized?

Of paramount interest is the fact that each nation had recently exhibited a weakening public determination to aggressively meet the rising challenge of Islamist terrorism. Consider the U.S. of 2001: The Clinton administration had left behind a record of essentially ignoring those few terrorism analysts who asserted that full-fledged military action against al Qaeda's Afghan training bases, backed by the possibility of military strikes against other terrorist sponsor states, was the only truly effective method of preventing an eventual attack within U.S. borders. President Clinton himself, we now know, at times favored such decisive moves; but opposition from various members of his cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and finally (as well as most importantly) a general public that would not or could not confront the true extent of the Islamist problem generally, and al Qaeda specifically, forced him to confine his responses to occasional and counterproductive bombings--even as the death toll from al Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests abroad rose dramatically. Correctly sensing that the new president, George W. Bush, was treating the terrorist threat with a similar attitude of denial, al Qaeda's Hamburg-based subsidiaries launched the 9/11 operation.

Turkey, for its part, had taken the dramatic step of withdrawing its cooperation with the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. This move had drastically reduced the number of troops that the U.S. could bring to bear quickly on the operation, and may have colored the entire course of the war. Turkish leaders explained their decision by citing concerns about their nation's role in the region, as well as by saying that they did not trust the Kurds not to try to take advantage of the invasion. Perhaps so; but reports persisted that the Turkish government was worried about revenge attacks by Muslim extremists, along exactly the lines that (in a seeming paradox) did occur in November. Once again, an attempt to deal with the terrorist problem through avoidance only produced savage assaults.

In Spain, during March 2004, a similar public wish to avoid any forceful confrontation with terrorism prevailed, but for entirely different reasons: Spain had joined the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, which, after enjoying dramatic early success, ran into a buzz-saw of bitter resistance organized by Saddam loyalists, Iraqis angered by occupation, and foreign Islamist terrorists (many trained and supplied by al Qaeda's network). The majority of the Spanish public had never supported participation in the invasion; and the Iraqi insurgency's viciousness only made them more committed to adopt a neutral stance in the global war on terror generally. But Spain was also, at that time, facing an election, and a bizarre component of that contest were warnings issued by an obscure Islamist group (later connected to al Qaeda) which stated that the Spanish people's failure to elect a candidate who would withdraw troops from Iraq would result in attacks against them. As election day neared, it seemed likely that voters would comply; yet despite--or in fact because of--this cooperative posture, the terrorists detonated a particularly cruel series of bombs aboard commuter trains in Madrid just days before the voting. We may never know how much the victory of the antiwar Socialist candidate was prompted by the attacks; what we do know is that Spain's posture of pre-election submission did not save her citizens, and that after the election, when the new government did obey the Islamists' demand that they withdraw troops from Iraq, the terrorists ultimately announced that not even this move could guarantee Spain's future safety.

In all of these examples, then, the "trigger" for terrorist action was not any newly adopted Western posture of force and defiance. Rather, it was a deepening of the targeted public's wish to deal with terrorism through avoidance and accommodation, a mass descent into the psychological belief, so often disproved by history, that if we only leave vicious attackers alone, they will leave us alone. It is hardly surprising that by actively trying--or merely indicating that they wished--to bury their collective heads in the sand, the societies were led not to peace but to more violent attacks. Al Qaeda and terrorist groups in general have tended to press their campaigns of violence against civilians in areas where they have sensed disunity and a lack of forceful opposition. In the manner of clinical sociopaths, they seem to "smell fear"--and to find in it, not any inspiration to show mercy or accept accommodation, but a compulsion to torment all the more vigorously those who exude it.

When the situation is viewed through this lens of victim profiling (never to be confused with "blaming the victim"), we can begin to see why al Qaeda's leaders and affiliates evidently began to think themselves capable of breaking an alliance that once withstood the assaults of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. For a widespread psychological phenomenon has gained strength in Britain in recent years, coming to a crescendo in the last few months. In political and editorial writings, but perhaps even more tellingly in the mass entertainment media to which the young bombers were reportedly heavily exposed, many Britons have subscribed to a new narrative of the post-9/11 world, one in which the U.K. is portrayed, not as a willing partner in the invasion of Afghanistan, nor as the author of much of the incorrect and/or deceptive intelligence that so rallied support in the West for invading Iraq, but rather as the largely innocent tool of a nefarious U.S., one whose government has been "bullied" by Washington. In this remarkably distorted yet equally powerful version of events, Britain emerges as a nation that would, if its leaders would only obey the true will of its people, display greater concern with such benevolent programs as ameliorating world hunger and climate degradation, and far less with combating terrorism. Indeed, they are only involved in the latter, runs the new "history," because of Tony Blair's obliging participation in Mr. Bush's oil-propelled policies.

Nations that experience collective psychological crises frequently attempt such reinventions, just as do individuals. By revising the facts surrounding irrationally violent incidents so that they themselves are somehow made responsible for them, victims often seek to exert some kind of control over if, when, and how their tormentors will inflict their random cruelty. But what British citizens who have participated in this revision of the historical record do not realize--just as Americans in 2001, Turks in 2003, and Spaniards in 2004 did not--is that showing fear and self-disparagement in the face of al Qaeda's threats only marks the society in question as a suitable candidate for attack. Sociopaths revel most in assaulting terrified, submissive victims; and a Britain so concerned with avoiding attack that its ordinarily wise citizenry would give voice to the kind of simplistic thinking expressed in the media in recent months evidently fit that description to an extent irresistible to al Qaeda's minions within its borders.

In this light, the trigger for the London bombings was far less the presence of British troops in Iraq, and far more the media circus that surrounded protestors outside the G-8 summit, as well as the utterances of musical and other celebrities during the "Live 8" performances in support of an end to world hunger, many of whom allowed their declarations to bleed over from understandable economic and political sentiments into dangerously blatant statements of opposition to the Iraq war, the global war on terrorism, and the U.S. generally. As a branch of sociopaths, terrorist leaders possess their own deformed cravings for fame, which makes them particularly susceptible to the false realities projected by celebrities. And if al Qaeda or one of its cohorts indeed mistook the angry but deeply confused language recently bandied about Britain as final proof that that nation's will to fight terrorism had become mortally compromised, then we may well have our answer for why the London attack occurred when it did: The long-sought-after moment when a seemingly retreating Britain could be fully separated from the U.S. had finally arrived. It only required violent exploitation.

What the result of that violence will be is by no means certain. Early polls suggest that the majority of the British public has been sharply and tragically reminded of what its true interests and who its true friends are, whatever the momentary shortcomings of this or that government or administration in London or Washington. Is this only a temporary reaction to outrage? Perhaps, but this much is certain: While we in the West, in our efforts to defeat al Qaeda's terrorist network, occasionally elect unwise or even duplicitous leaders and courses of action, there is no lack of wisdom so profound (to paraphrase the often duplicitous FDR) as that produced by fear. As it feeds historical distortion and ignorance, so does fear feed terrorism--indeed, it is terrorism's very DNA. Citizens afraid of future attacks, along with ignorant protestors and careless celebrities, do no good--do, in fact, the work of terrorists for them--when they divide the members of the most important Western alliance by displaying faintheartedness at a time when the West needs above all to maintain its unity. Just now, that unity must be defined as seeing the Iraq endeavor through to some sort of safe conclusion, if only because al Qaeda have themselves made it clear that their fate hangs on their ability to demonstrate their potency, as well as gain a new home, in Iraq.

But whatever the ultimate reaction of the British people to these latest terrorist outrages, we must hope that American intellectuals and celebrities will not emulate Britain's recent exercises in wavering, revisionist behavior. Already there has been unfortunate evidence that the tendency to "blame the victim" after July 7 was greater in America than it was in Britain. Such words and actions only cause the scent that emerges from our own communities to become that of fear--and should al Qaeda again detect such an odor inside our borders, we may expect attacks such as those that struck our oldest and most trusted ally to once more visit our own shores. And we may expect them very soon.

Mr. Carr is author of "The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians," and "The Alienist." He teaches military history at Bard.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial ... =110006989

Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:48 am

Fainthearedness, as cited in the article you posted, is as much out of place as your formulaic disparagement of thoughtful authors or publications that do not kowtow to the sweep of incompetence from which we are suffering. The author quite properly refers to the unwise (or otherwise unsuitable - my paraphrase) governments, with one of which, whatever your persistent disagreement, we are afflicted.

We all recognize the fight we're up against - thank you very much - but we might wish we had a "duplicitour" FDR, or a strategically competent Ike instead of a Lieuetenant of dubious qualifications prattling about "completing the mision." Would that he were able to conceptualize it in the first place, and strategize a campaign before tumbling head-first, without adequate means or intelligence about what he was facing into consequences no one had an inkling of. We'd have a better chance of winning.
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Post by pizza » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:20 am

Werner wrote:Fainthearedness, as cited in the article you posted, is as much out of place as your formulaic disparagement of thoughtful authors or publications that do not kowtow to the sweep of incompetence from which we are suffering. The author quite properly refers to the unwise (or otherwise unsuitable - my paraphrase) governments, with one of which, whatever your persistent disagreement, we are afflicted.

We all recognize the fight we're up against - thank you very much - but we might wish we had a "duplicitour" FDR, or a strategically competent Ike instead of a Lieuetenant of dubious qualifications prattling about "completing the mision." Would that he were able to conceptualize it in the first place, and strategize a campaign before tumbling head-first, without adequate means or intelligence about what he was facing into consequences no one had an inkling of. We'd have a better chance of winning.
Too bad he didn't consult with you first, Werner. I'm sure things would look much different if he had. If Bob Herbert's puerile rant is a thoughtful assessment of the Iraqi campaign in your view, I can well understand your view of "affliction" -- it means a conflict that doesn't immediately resolve favorably or whose favorable resolution you can't personally fathom.

Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:13 pm

I guess if you can call anyone who disagrees with you here puerile, then I fit that category, too. I feel so young!

None of that negates the many descriptions of incredible incompetence that characterizes this campaign. THAT'S the fact, sir!
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:34 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:On the qualities of our president one should really make the following discriminations:

Bush, in fact, may well be very smart (I think so) but still without much discernible intelligence (the two are not the same) let alone any encompassing wisdom (different again). One could say he's stupid but not dumb (unlike Al Gore who was highly intelligent but pervasively dumb - the latter characteristic being why he lost). Thus, to my observation Bush is a fine and astute politician but lacks the presence or command of a real leader, - and even moreso any hint of the stature that qualifies one a statesman. He cajoles and manipulates by the power of suggestion and a quite primitive kind of associative thinking full of illegitimate connections and unconscious projections , - but is unable to convince with careful, coherent, and cogent argument and defense (which has never entered his mind, - hence his "deer in the headlights" articulation problems), let alone inspire through the force of a vision and conviction that transcends even reason (the "higher father" business notwithstanding, - Bush's regressive tendencies are not transcendence).

He's simply a lacklustre guy, well-suited for a board of directors or some other glad-handing position, but obviously and severely constrained by the limits of endowment and experience in a job that's clearly and entirely beyond him. The country will suffer for decades to come from the consequences of his ill-considered and foolish actions.
You supersophisticates who can't decide whether Bush is bumblingly stupid or cunningly evil should read Yale's John Louis Gaddis's, Surprise, Security, and the American Experience. Of course you won't, but you should.
From Publishers Weekly
The post–September 11 strategy of the Bush administration is often described as a radical departure from U.S. policy. Gaddis, one of America's leading scholars of foreign policy and international relations, provocatively demonstrates that, to the contrary, the principles of preemption, unilateralism and hegemony go back to the earliest days of the republic. Gaddis resurrects the 18th-century idea of an "empire of liberty": whether as a universal principle or in an American context, liberty could flourish only in an empire that provided safety. The British burning of Washington in 1814 highlighted American vulnerability to certain forms of surprise attack. In consequence, Gaddis recounts, John Quincy Adams developed a strategy of seeking control over the North American continent with minimal coercion, but through preemptive action where necessary. The attack on Pearl Harbor extended the concept to global dimensions, eventually expanding the U.S. sphere of influence exponentially. The events of September 11 extended the concept of preemptive action even at the expense of sovereignty when terrorism is involved. Gaddis describes this latest expansion of American power in response to surprise attack as a volatile mixture of prudence and arrogance. But instead of the usual caveats, he recommends the U.S. continue on an interventionist course, and he has no qualms about calling America the best hope of liberty in the eyes of most of the earth's inhabitants. The ability to question all values that is liberty's essence depends, he finds, on defending certain values—unilaterally and preemptively when necessary, but not randomly. This compact, provocative history of an idea-in-action has the potential to alter the U.S.'s collective self-image
.
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