Republican Convention Rundown

I spent last evening channel flipping between CNN and MSNBC in an attempt to catch a smattering of speeches amidst the punditry. The theme of the night was We Built This, a topic honored more in the breach, at least among the televised marquee speakers. Here in semi-random order are my day-old impressions of some of the speakers.

Bob McDonnell/Rick Scott/ John Kasich served up a round robin of feel-good pep talks on how great their economy was doing despite the best efforts of the Democrats to torpedo them. Every single one had hair that was perfect. The future of Romneytron Enterprises is assured with new models rolling off the assembly line with industrial precision.

Nikki Haley at least gave some visual relief for not being a lily-white male but her schtick was the same. Her one distinguishing remark was a passage where she union bashed Northerners and bragged of the low-cost right-to-work airplane factory she sniped from Washington State.

Artur Davis, DINO turned Republican, provided a little color, both literally and figuratively. Last time around the Republicans were able to snag Joe Lieberman as their token turncoat. Davis’s lackluster soundbites showed just how far the GOP has fallen in its outreach programs. He also wins lame musical call-out (barely beating out Christie’s Springsteen allusion) with his “Somebody that I used to know” reference.

Rick Santorum provided the red meat portion of the evening puffing on a dog whistle until his cheeks turned red by cramming as many instances of “work” and “welfare” as possible into a single sentence. He also went on a long extended handsy metaphor which ended is some sort of uplifting tale of his special needs daughter. By Santorum standards it was a well-thought out speech but it just seemed out of place given the other speakers.

Ann Romney was one of two featured speakers who made it to prime time coverage. Stepping onto the stage directly from the set of “Father Knows Best” she started off with a tribute to the recently departed Phyllis Diller with five minutes of man bashing. In it she outsapped Hallmark with her tribute to the mothers and wives who really make this country run. By the end of it I was ready to vote her PTA president. She must run a heckuva bake sale. Less convincing were her tales of deprivation as the spouse of a starving college student. She was aiming for touching but it just came off as phony. Having to eat tuna fish instead of caviar. How demeaning. She sure loves that affable lug Mitt and it showed even through all the scripted folksy gushing.

Chris Christie was the most anticipated speaker of the night and like a Chris Farley SNL sketch the dramatic tension was to see just how outrageous he would get. After his seeming de riguer tribute to his immigrant parents (a theme far more prevalent than the official one), he laid into to his trademarked schtick about how he stood up to the bullies in the teacher union and their cushy low-to-mid five figure incomes.  The Twitter game (which I indulged in) was to see how long he could speak with out actually saying the name Mitt Romney. Quite a while as it turns out, fifteen to twenty minutes depending on who was holding the stopwatch.

His speech was far less the keynote of the 2012 Republican National Convention than the kick-off of the 2016 Christie Presidential Campaign. Even by the standards of New Jersey blowhards, this was a monumentally self-aggrandizing performance.

Mitt Romney managed to say not a word the entire evening. After being introduced by his adoring wife, he rushed her off the stage so quick that if you blinked you missed it. My hopes for an Al “Get A Room” Gore display of public affection were completely dashed. The rest of the evening he sat as stiffly and uncomfortably as the victim of a Friar’s Club roast.

The conventions are carefully scripted spectacles but I had no idea who the target audience was. Romney was rarely mentioned by any of the speakers. The inspirational tales of constitutionally mandated state budget balancing were tepid at best. Even the conventioneer hats seemed oddly subdued. The entire evening was completely skippable and if it weren’t for bourbon and internet snark it would have been unendurable.

195 Responses

  1. From Santorum:

    “When my grandfather died, I remember as a kid kneeling at his casket and not being able to take my eyes off his thick strong hands — hands that dug his path in life — and gave his family a chance — at living the American Dream”

    . . . and then slowly,with much disappointment, I grasped the milky white, feminine, uncalloused hand of my father the psychologist and vowed never to mention his name or profession again in public

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  2. In the unseemly dancing on graves department:

    What do Joe Paterno and Arlen Specter have in common besides Pennsylvania?

    Both were so obsessively power hungry that they literally wanted to die in office rather than retire with advanced stages of cancer in their 80’s.

    “Arlen Specter seriously ill, hospitalized for cancer”

    Neither made it of course.

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  3. Thanks for the rundown yello. I didn’t watch any of it and probably won’t as we’re going to the beach for a few days tomorrow and it’s a good excuse to ignore politics and politicians until Labor Day passes. The only political theatrics I’m looking forward to are the debates.

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  4. I grasped the milky white, feminine, uncalloused hand of my father the psychologist and vowed never to mention his name or profession again in public

    The ancestor worship on display was rather perplexing and there was a fair amount of whitewashing. Ann Romney’s Welsh father was hardly destitute. A lot of pundits were making hay out of Christie talking about his father on the GI Bill completely oblivious to the fact that current Republican policy is aiming at making college even more unaffordable. There was a day when people like Christie’s father (or even Mitt Romney for that matter) could attend college while supporting a family.

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  5. I thank you too.

    You’re welcome. I’m glad some good can come from my misery.

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  6. “Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and candidate for a U.S. House seat, took to the podium first and brought many members of the crowd to their feet. Love recalled her Haitian parents immigrating to the United States with but a few dollars in their pockets.

    “When times got tough they didn’t look to Washington, they looked within,” she said. “President Obama’s version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. . . . We are not better off than we were four years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or campaign ad can change that. Mr. President, I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.”

    That’s funny, because she seems to previoulsy acknowledge that she had it easy because of those who came before her attempting to wipe out the racism that would have killed her chances in life.

    “I never questioned my rights,” said Love, who was recently elected as Utah’s first black female mayor. “I’ve never been beat down. I’ve never been hosed down. I’ve never been confronted by snarling dogs. I’ve never had a burning cross in my yard.

    “That is because of the people who have worked hard for us,” she said. Love, who was invited Thursday to speak at Hill Air Force Base’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, credits King’s dream of racial equality with helping generations of blacks to have a brighter future. ”

    I guess she and her parents did it all by themselves.

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  7. yello:

    Thanks from me too. I was so interested in the conventions 4 years ago and this year I just can’t muster up the impetus to watch. I think I’m a bit burnt out by watching all those negative ads that have been airing for the last couple of months.

    The only RNC speaker I’m really interested in hearing is Rubio.

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    • Rubio is very engaging. I sent Corker $25 when he first ran. I worry that he will become a TEA target. Corker and Rubio both serve on the Senate FRC.

      When Lugar leaves, in early January, Corker will become Ranking Member, or Chair, depending. From his background as a big city mayor I was surprised when he rose so quickly on the FRC. I continue to think he is a good ‘un.

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    • banned:

      I remain curious why you think Obama’s attitude towards rights means he isn’t a socialist.

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      • yello:

        You forgot to include this speech.

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        • You forgot to include this speech.

          Thanks for the video.

          I didn’t see it because I was watching MSNBC and as Troll’s link from the Daily Caller mentioned, they were deliberately ignoring any speaker which didn’t fit their narrative of the GOP as out-of-touch white elitists. I only saw Artur Davis because I had switched over to CNN to avoid Chris Matthew’s droning.

          I don’t have the link but another site in rebuttal to the Daily Caller noted that with the exception of Davis, MSNBC carried the exact same speakers as Fox. In looking at the list of slighted speeches they are largely backbenchers and up and comers as opposed to the governors and senators with established national reputations who did get air time.

          Mia Love’s speech is pretty content-free but not much more so than many of the others. She looks bright and energetic and could have a good future in front of her.

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        • don’t have the link but another site in rebuttal to the Daily Caller noted that with the exception of Davis, MSNBC carried the exact same speakers as Fox

          Man, the blood of the victimized republicans is all over the coverage of this Convention. There probably would be nary a single elected democrat if not for the vast mainstream…errr…lamestream media conspiracy.

          I’m surprised the aggrieved Troll McWingnut didn’t link to the story about two convention attendees who threw nuts at a black CNN cameraman and said this this how we treat animals. The 2 attendees were, of course, booted.

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        • yello:

          Mia Love’s speech is pretty content-free…

          If recent history is any indication, she’s well on her way to the White House then.

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  8. Corker’s problem is that he has a big drawl and speaks very slowly and almost nods off during the conversation, even though he can break things down very well.

    He would probably make a good president, but might lack the national appeal to get there.

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  9. scott

    fair enough, perhaps we should separate out socialism solely as an economic concept as it relates to actions he has taken, is that what you mean?

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    • banned:

      is that what you mean?

      Yesterday you seemed shocked that someone might suggest Obama is a socialist, given that, according to you, Obama is the most right wing Democratic president since Kennedy. When asked by what measure Obama could be said to be the most right wing Democrat since Kennedy, you replied with your claim about his attitude towards rights.

      I am just baffled by the relationship you apparently see between this attitude towards rights and socialism.

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  10. Newt Gingrich was on camera last night vociferously calling Obama a socialist.

    “Of course he is [a socialist]. I don’t see how you can have any other serious interpretation of it. This president would like government to run everything.”

    “So every time you turn around, Obama adds something new to government, either through bureaucratic socialism, where you get to keep your companies, they run it, or through direct takeover,”

    Not mentioned in the Politico article, but the nationalization of the student loan industry was also cited by Newt as an example of Obama’s socialist actions.

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  11. scott

    Ok I get it. I was implying that if anything he’s potentially more totalitarian than socialist but I didn’t make that clear.

    Well if you mean textbook socialism, we’re already there in the areas he is most active and have been for much of the 20th century. Social Security, Medicare etc. aren’t new Obama ideas. Neither is the ACA which rests on a GOP foundation.

    What specific things do you want to use as proof?

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  12. I’d argue that the term “socialist” has become so overused in America that it’s almost meaningless, much like “racist”.

    If using the term “socialist” one should specify if you are using the European usage, meaning that the state should own the means of production (i.e. nationalize certain industries), or the American usage which means one is a supporter of progressive taxation and income redistribution.

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    • I’d argue that the term “socialist” has become so overused in America that it’s almost meaningless,

      The American usage covers any government provided service that one wouldn’t find in Galt’s Gulch such as public schools, the post office, lending libraries, and municipal bus systems.

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      • Okie and I were very condemning of BHO for undermining workfare. Apparently, he did not undermine it.

        His administration in July issued a letter to state governments saying that the Department of Health and Human Services would consider requests from states to experiment with new ways to fulfill the work requirements. The letter said that in order to receive waivers to carry out the experiments, states would have to show that their plans would move more welfare recipients into jobs than existing policies. LAT

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    • jnc:

      I’d argue that the term “socialist” has become so overused in America that it’s almost meaningless, much like “racist”.

      How about when used as a self-description? I mean, I know describing oneself as a conservative has an odd attraction amongst even lefties, but when it comes to socialists, to quote Sean Connery’s Jim Malone, who would claim to be that who was not?

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  13. If recent history is any indication, she’s well on her way to the White House then.

    Maybe she can succeed where Hillary Clinton failed. It used to be a hypothesis that the first African-American president would be a Republican out of some sort of ‘only Nixon can go to China’ logic. Perhaps that still apples for the first woman president. The Republican party has a good deal of distaff talent.

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  14. “yellojkt, on August 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm said:

    I’d argue that the term “socialist” has become so overused in America that it’s almost meaningless,

    The American usage covers any government provided service that one wouldn’t find in Galt’s Gulch such as public schools, the post office, lending libraries, and municipal bus systems.”

    Nope. The usage I’m thinking of is the welfare state. Most conservatives and libertarians distinguish between true public goods such as roads, schools, etc and entitlement benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid which is “socialism” or if you prefer “socialized medicine” in the American conservative vernacular.

    Conflation of true public goods with entitlements is the progressive/liberal/democratic attempt to obfuscate what is driving the federal budget and by extension the need to increase revenue/raise taxes. It’s not roads & schools.

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  15. “markinaustin, on August 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm said:

    Okie and I were very condemning of BHO for undermining workfare. Apparently, he did not undermine it.

    His administration in July issued a letter to state governments saying that the Department of Health and Human Services would consider requests from states to experiment with new ways to fulfill the work requirements. The letter said that in order to receive waivers to carry out the experiments, states would have to show that their plans would move more welfare recipients into jobs than existing policies. LAT”

    The jury is still out. The new regulations had the potential to undermine it in that they gave HHS the ability to accept a plan that had less work requirements, in contravention of the actual statutory language. Whether that happens in practice depends on what HHS does, which in large part will be determined by how much scrutiny they are under.

    I.e., how much do you trust President Obama’s commitment to welfare reform?

    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2012/07/20/welfare_cant_be_gutted_because_its_too_big_220.html

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/08/do-new-hhs-work-requirement-waivers-gut?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reason%2FHitandRun+%28Reason+Online+-+Hit+%26+Run+Blog%29

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  16. “ScottC, on August 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm said:

    jnc:

    I’d argue that the term “socialist” has become so overused in America that it’s almost meaningless, much like “racist”.

    How about when used as a self-description? I mean, I know describing oneself as a conservative has an odd attraction amongst even lefties, but when it comes to socialists, to quote Sean Connery’s Jim Malone, who would claim to be that who was not?”

    I read that ad as the Democratic Socialists were hosting a forum that Obama was participating in, not that he was self describing as a socialist.

    On domestic policy, I view President Obama as a conventional liberal Democrat in the Ted Kennedy mold. On foreign policy, he’s one of the most hawkish since Sam Nunn or Henry “Scoop” Jackson. There’s definitely a contrast between Obama and say John Kerry.

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    • jnc:

      I read that ad as the Democratic Socialists were hosting a forum that Obama was participating in, not that he was self describing as a socialist.

      Yeah, me too. But clearly someone was calling themselves “socialists”.

      BTW, if you are a member of a political party created by the DSA, does that count as self-identification as a socialist?

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  17. How about when used as a self-description?

    That pretty much limits it to Bernie Sanders, about as reliable a Democrat caucuser as you would find. I would argue that Sanders is the obverse of Ron Paul in defining the brackets of American political discourse.

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  18. scott;

    Don’t know if you saw it or not, but on last night’s thread I linked to a story about yet another Goldman Sachs settlement just this month.

    I don’t know why four years later they’re still settling cases for the massive systemic MBS fraud they didn’t commit. Habit maybe?

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    • banned:

      Habit maybe?

      Cheaper than fighting it, maybe. It is, ultimately, a cost/benefit analysis. Also, in the current political environment, it has become more difficult from a public relations perspective to fight these things, so there is value in that, too. And, of course, they may be guilty.

      But with regard to your initial claim, Brent pointed out the real problem with it.

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  19. It’s not roads & schools.

    Oh, but it is. Just listen to the rhetoric used to defend vouchers. There is a wing which says that all government services which can be privatized should be even if there is a compelling public good or economy of scale behind it.

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  20. I’ll transfer this over here, FWIW, since I had put it on yesterday’s Morning Report and it fits better here:

    I listened to many of the speeches tonight on the radio starting with Rick Santorum (some in toto and some just hit and miss while doing chores) and was wondering what any of you who saw or listened thought. Santorum I thought was “meh”; for any of you who have ever heard a Mormon give his/her “testimony” in church, that’s basically what Ann Romney’s speech was (so I’m not impressed by her claim that this is the first time she’s ever spoken from notes–this was a speech that she’s basically given hundreds of times over the years at Relief Society events), and I was really surprised that I didn’t think that Christie’s speech was all that great. I’ve seen maybe 10 – 12 of his speeches over the last four years or so and I’ve always been blown away by him, so I was actually a little disappointed tonight. I didn’t expect to agree with his content, but I thought that I would enjoy it more.

    And why watch either CNN or MSNBC? Yesterday at work when I was watching/listening to the voting I was streaming CSPAN–that way you see everything/everyone and don’t have to listen to mindless punditry at all! 🙂

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  21. “yellojkt, on August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm said:

    It’s not roads & schools.

    Oh, but it is. Just listen to the rhetoric used to defend vouchers. There is a wing which says that all government services which can be privatized should be even if there is a compelling public good or economy of scale behind it.”

    Paying for your health care isn’t a public good. It’s a private benefit that you receive being paid for by someone else.

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    • Paying for your health care isn’t a public good.

      I’m pretty sure yello was talking about public school vouchers.

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  22. “ashot, on August 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm said:

    Paying for your health care isn’t a public good.

    I’m pretty sure yello was talking about public school vouchers.”

    That’s fine and you can make a case for public education as a private good as well.

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    • That’s fine and you can make a case for public education as a private good as well

      I hope my last comment didnt’ come across as snarky, because I was just tyring to be helpful.

      Anyway, I do agree on your point above. I just am hesitant to wade into this debate as I have not put nearly as much thought into the subject as you and yello and others have.

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  23. That’s fine and you can make a case for public education as a private good as well.

    Yes, I was. And haven’t we flogged the public/private goods topic enough around here? I’m interested in exploring the other end of the spectrum. What can the government provide without being called socialist? Police protection? Fire and emergency services? Trash pick-up and removal? Water and sewer service?

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  24. Yesterday at work when I was watching/listening to the voting I was streaming CSPAN–that way you see everything/everyone and don’t have to listen to mindless punditry at all!

    I do enjoy some punditry or else I wouldn’t even be here. CSPAN is way down in the standard def portion of channel line-up while the 24-hour news channels (Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, etc) are all nicely clustered in the HD section where they are easy to switch between, particularly when one goes to commercial. It just became real convenient to use the Previous Channel button to flick between MSNBC and CNN. I had been sampling Fox but their roundtable included both Krauthammer and Brooks (as opposed to the equally troublesome duo of Sharpton and Matthews on MSNBC). Besides, Fox went to hurricane coverage between 7 and 8.

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  25. scott

    I would not of course argue that the MBS industry originated in fraud, nor that every single sub-prime mortage and individual mortgage broker was fraudulent.

    However the evidence is overwhelming in consent decrees from state ag’s offices, regulatory actions by Federal agencies and lawsuits at every level which no financial institution is willing to fight in court that by 2007 the industry as a whole was engaged in a knowing, systemic, and massive fraud from documentation on the original loans themselves through robo signing in viiolation of state laws, all the way up to the ratings and packaging of the end product MBS for institutional buyers.

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  26. Dang, beat the networks.

    http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/during-night-one-of-rnc-fox-news-draws-more-viewers-than-any-other-network_b143392

    Yello, all those services could be, and are to varying degree’s are provided by the private sector. In fact, most of the services you mentioned are contracted out. I think those municipalites where the bulk of the services you mentioned are handled by themselves rather than by contractors, are the one’s in big financial trouble. Heck, even FEMA could be handled by Wal-Mart (IMO). I grew up in Arizona where Rural-Metro is prevalent in the fire/EMT milieu. Frankly, and I’m the total asshole here, I cannot fathom why anyone thinks the government could or even would do a better job versus the private sector. In fact, CA, Il, NJ and several other states, considering their over $4 trillion in debt, demonstrate that American Socialism is a complete failure.

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    • McWing:

      and I’m the total asshole here

      Now, now, I think it is only fair to take a vote before we go claiming such titles to ourselves. I know I’ve got at least one vote (although absentee), and I’m positive I could garner at least few others in my camp if I tried…and I’m betting I don’t even have to try!

      Don’t get me wrong…I respect your assholery as much as I do anyone’s. But come on. Think about who you are talking to here.

      Like

  27. Scott,

    I will not, I say again, I will not second my assholishness to ANYBODY!

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  28. “yellojkt, on August 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm said:

    That’s fine and you can make a case for public education as a private good as well.

    Yes, I was. And haven’t we flogged the public/private goods topic enough around here? I’m interested in exploring the other end of the spectrum. What can the government provide without being called socialist? Police protection? Fire and emergency services? Trash pick-up and removal? Water and sewer service?”

    All of those are fine examples of public goods. Also, defense. There’s also the FAA, FTC, FDA, FBI, interstate highways, etc. None of whose budgets are driving the current tax and spending fights.

    Like

  29. So we have one vote for and one vote against a Randian paradise (or nightmare, depending on your perspective).

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    • These arguments have been made here before, YJ.

      I have an interest in dealing with the Medicaid problem, which I see as far more difficult than either applying Randian or Bismarckian theory.

      On the one hand, there are almost no nursing homes, even exclusive ones, that can stay open without medicaid patients.

      On the same hand, ending medicaid would put millions out of the workforce while they struggle to deal with great grannie at home, plunging the economy into chaos.

      On the other hand, despite paying at barely above the cost of service, medicaid is quickly bankrupting the entire federal budget, which will plunge the economy into chaos.

      Public or private solution seems elusive, to me.

      We have not even factored in nursing homes in the health care discussion, except in the sense that medicaid will be bigger than everything else in the budget put together in the predictable future.

      So I’m sympathetic to some solution that doesn’t rely on euthanasia, that keeps the children of the elderly productive in the workforce, and that does not bankrupt the nation.

      Man, if we cannot talk about this one here, without getting caught up into theory, I am not interested. This is a smart group. If we haven’t even read any ideas to keep great-granny off the streets I’d be surprised. Shocked.

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  30. Scott/McWing:

    I don’t think either of you are–but, there, we disagree on yet another thing!

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  31. Yello,

    What is your understanding of a “Randian Paradise?”

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  32. Mark:

    medicaid is quickly bankrupting the entire federal budget, which will plunge the economy into chaos.

    Just to be contrarian (and present a target to get conversation going), this article suggests that a drastic overhaul of Medicare/Medicaid is not necessary to prevent the doomsday scenario you pose. The authors suggest that proceeding with the current cost savings measures and developing newer ones that may come out of the outcomes research legislated by PPACA would be sufficient to control Medicare/Medicaid spending.

    Like

    • Thanx, Mike.

      The article points out that medicaid is more difficult than Medicare, and I want to focus on Medicaid. Here is one quote:

      Achieving savings in Medicaid is harder because states have already adopted aggressive cost-containment policies. States currently have all the major tools that would be available with a block grant — such as control over provider-payment rates, managed-care contracting, and drug-pricing and utilization policies — as well as strong financial incentives to control costs, largely because they face competing priorities that are more politically popular. A block grant is therefore likely to stick states with higher costs, forcing them to reduce coverage.

      Then the article concludes:

      Rather than pursuing major restructuring of either program, then, we should continue adopting available strategies to contain costs within the programs’ current structure, especially since many of those implemented in the past decade seem to be working, and many on the horizon appear promising.

      The article also points up that Medicaid is not growing fast per person, but very fast because of the rapidly increasing number of people covered.

      Here is what I get from the article. States demand Medicaid services at near cost -I think below cost in some instances – and they get it, but I must add that pushing down on that part of the balloon makes it get bigger elsewhere, for sure.

      Some random thoughts:

      Rosanne and I have been paying State Farm for 8 years, so far, for nursing home insurance. Our policy has an annual inflation benefit of 5% per year. If we had to get nursing home care, our policy would pay out enough to cover us in a mid-level home. I understand that the policy we bought in 2004 is more generous than any available in Texas, today. I don’t know what has changed. We both hope to never use the policy. We currently pay about $260/mo.

      We also know that nursing home care at midlevel is 3x higher in NY than in TX. Cadillac care in Austin is $7500/mo now. Average care is $5400, and $3500 is possible, but a more than a bit Dickensian. Takes ’em awhile to clean piss and vomit off the floor, etc. Midlevel in Westchester County, NY is $15K.

      Kaiser has a lot of stats on nursing homes. About 1.4M are in nursing care in the USA and 2/3s of them are on Medicaid. In TX, Medicaid is paying $3k per month. Even the $7500/mo nursing home has some medicaid slots. The Dickensian ones have a higher %, of course. I am going to guess that Medicaid pays more in NY, as TX is especially cheap both for the service and in its state response.

      For those of you who have dealt with Medicaid apps, as we did for my M-in-law, you know that there are many hoops through which to jump. In PA, they try to enforce filial obligation – a colonial dated statute that makes adult children responsible for their parents. More states are likely to move in that direction, but probably not the old community property states. Basically, an elderly person must exhaust her savings and resources before Medicaid kicks in. So we have a million folk in nursing homes on medicaid, and that population will increase.

      My guess is that the part of Medicaid that is blowing up is actually health care for the poor young, at this point.

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  33. Mark

    I haven’t read this entire thing yet but it might be a great starting point for all of us for some kind of discussion. I won’t have time to finish it or weigh in until Sunday or Monday probably but I thought it looked interesting.

    http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/how-would-you-fix-medicare-and-medicaid-6-hospital-leaders-respond.html

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  34. lms: Look away for a second

    Hey, Scott!

    I found Hendrick’s here in UT–that liquor store near me really has upgraded their stock! And when I opened my CSA bags when I got home, what should I find but a lovely, organically-grown cucumber or two. . . so tonight will be a two G&T night (appropriate, since it’s 94 here right now). I’m sipping my Rangpur one right now, since being a scientist I have to have a control for my experiment, and then I’ll fix a Hendrick’s one. Ahhhhhhh.

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  35. Taibbi takes a stab at Mitt Romney.

    Then in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.

    In a typical private-equity fragging, Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a “dividend recapitalization.” The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans – $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain’s owners and investors, including Romney. “The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else’s credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off,” says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO.

    Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB’s former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain’s “unjustified” return on the dividend recap was actually “900 percent in a mere 16 months.”

    Mitt Romney isn’t blue or red. He’s an archipelago man. That’s a big reason that voters have been slow to warm up to him. From LBJ to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin, Americans like their politicians to sound like they’re from somewhere, to be human symbols of our love affair with small towns, the girl next door, the little pink houses of Mellencamp myth. Most of those mythical American towns grew up around factories – think chocolate bars from Hershey, baseball bats from Louisville, cereals from Battle Creek. Deep down, what scares voters in both parties the most is the thought that these unique and vital places are vanishing or eroding – overrun by immigrants or the forces of globalism or both, with giant Walmarts descending like spaceships to replace the corner grocer, the family barber and the local hardware store, and 1,000 cable channels replacing the school dance and the gossip at the local diner.

    Obama ran on “change” in 2008, but Mitt Romney represents a far more real and seismic shift in the American landscape. Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart. The entire purpose of the business model that Romney helped pioneer is to move money into the archipelago from the places outside it, using massive amounts of taxpayer-subsidized debt to enrich a handful of billionaires. It’s a vision of society that’s crazy, vicious and almost unbelievably selfish, yet it’s running for president, and it has a chance of winning. Perhaps that change is coming whether we like it or not. Perhaps Mitt Romney is the best man to manage the transition. But it seems a little early to vote for that kind of wholesale surrender.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz24zLFal6l

    Like

    • lms:

      Taibbi takes a stab at Mitt Romney.

      The headline on the article is Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

      What a joke. It’s hard to imagine that anyone with half a brain and a passing familiarity with Taibbi’s schtick could possibly believe that anything he writes is in fact “the true story”.

      Like

  36. Paul Ryan speaking reminds me a bit of Otter in Animal House http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROxvT8KKdFw

    Like

  37. McCain said tonight:

    “I trust him to know that an American president always, always, always stands up for the rights, and freedoms, and justice of all people.”

    despite the fact that the last GOP president established the first prison in US history where the inmates are neither POWS nor criminals and are not under a sentence of any kind.

    Also, he said :

    “We can’t afford another $500 billion in cuts to our defense budget — on top of the nearly $500 billion in cuts that the president is already making…And yet, the president is playing no leadership role in preventing this crippling blow to our military.”

    this despite the fact that he personally voted FOR the legislation in question!

    You can see why the GOP appeals to Catholic voters. Every time you turn around it’s another Immaculate Conception.

    Like

  38. Brent–that was perfect!!

    DJ!

    Like

  39. From Ryan:

    “There are the songs on his iPod, which I’ve heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, I hope it’s not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin.”

    Ah the GOP, always trying to be “current”, despite the fact that the LZ guys are older than Romney and AC/DC only a little bit younger.

    Could have been worse I suppose. They could have brought in the surviving Beach Boys to pretend to play for the convention, or maybe that new group Earth Wind and Fire to help with minorities.

    Like

  40. “When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself.”

    I was thinking to myself, if only I can get that first government job, I’m sure I can stay in it for the rest of my life!

    Like

  41. “Instead of managing American decline, leaving allies to doubt us and adversaries to test us, we will act in the conviction that the United States is still the greatest force for peace and liberty that this world has ever known.”

    Unless you live somewhere outside North America in which case you’ve either already been invaded by us in the past , or are on the Romney “to invade” list for the future.

    Let’s see, where first China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria . . . so many many choices!

    Like

  42. Looking at the convention floor on tv, I can only conclude that anybody who walked through the doors and wasn’t white, of European ancestry, and over 50 was immediately given a speaking spot on the program.

    Like

    • banned:

      I can only conclude that anybody who walked through the doors and wasn’t white, of European ancestry, and over 50 was immediately given a speaking spot on the program.

      I’d wager that the average convention goer isn’t as old as this tired cliche of yours. And I see that the liberal obsession with the color of people’s skin continues apace. Hang on to it well. If the Dems ever lose their monopoly on the black vote, they may never win another election.

      Like

      • And I see that the liberal obsession with the color of people’s skin continues apace.

        Right. Because it was a liberal poster here that posted a list of links that all related to race issues. I don’t know if that reflects more on the Republican obsession with media bias or what exactly, but the point remains that the issue was raised here by a conservative poster.

        Not to mention, age jokes aside (I saw plenty of young faces in the crowd), banned appears to be right in that there appeared to be as many minority speakers as there were minority attendees.

        Like

        • It was reported in 2007 that Calif median age was 38, but median voting age in both primaries was 60. Obviously, registered voters skew 18 years older than the population, but interested voters skew even older. Considering that convention goers are either local party leaders or people who self funded a very expensive, boring, vacation [no offense to Tampa intended, I am insulting the conventions as entertainment] it would be stunning if the median age at either convention were less than 50.

          And I must add that 50 looks young to me.

          edit – You gotta love the apperance of Condi Rice last night. She looked young to me, too.

          edit – on race and party, everything that could be said about it has been said.

          I wonder at either party continuing to use it as a divisive tool. Short term, it always makes sense, politically. But long term?

          Like

        • ashot:

          I don’t know if that reflects more on the Republican obsession with media bias or what exactly, but the point remains that the issue was raised here by a conservative poster.

          Yes, McWing definitely raised the issue of how the left is trying to frame the R convention in racial terms, which banned has now contributed to. How the fact that McWing is a conservative is relevant to whether or not liberals are doing this escapes me.

          banned appears to be right in that there appeared to be as many minority speakers as there were minority attendees.

          I didn’t notice. But then again I am not as hung up on racial accounting as liberals tend to be.

          Like

        • How the fact that McWing is a conservative is relevant to whether or not liberals are doing this escapes me.

          It isn’t relevant to how liberals at large are doing this, but it is relevant to the fact that the topic is often raised here by conservatives.

          But then again I am not as hung up on racial accounting as liberals tend to be.

          Right. You didn’t notice the skin color of the speaker in the only youtube link of a speech you posted? Did you only notice after the fact when you responded to yelo (I think it was yelo)? You noticed, you just don’t care whichi s fine, but it’s not the same thing. I don’t care either but it’s darn near impossible not to notice.

          Like

        • ashot:

          Sorry…missed this earlier.

          Right. You didn’t notice the skin color of the speaker in the only youtube link of a speech you posted?

          Sure I noticed it, but I wouldn’t have thought it worth pointing out except for yello’s “lily-white” comment and his reference to providing “a little color”. Obviously skin color is something he find important enough to be worth noting.

          Like

        • Sure I noticed it, but I wouldn’t have thought it worth pointing out except for yello’s “lily-white” comment and his reference to providing “a little color”.

          Right, but just because yello points it out or banned makes a joke doesn’t mean all democrats or even those two posters think its important. It’s impossible not to notice. You conclude from the fact that the obvious disparity is covered means there is a an obsession by democrats. That’s such a self-serving conclusion to draw. It would be like me saying that you point out our obsession with race just shows that you and other Republicans are very defensive about the demographics of your party. That obviously isn’t true as you seem to think the disparity isn’t even worth pointing out.

          Anyway, since it’s a topic you and I don’t seem to care about…let’s move on.

          Like

        • ashot:

          Right, but just because yello points it out or banned makes a joke doesn’t mean all democrats or even those two posters think its important.

          I don’t think I ever said anything about all Democrats, and actually I think it does suggest that banned and yello do find it important. If they didn’t they wouldn’t introduce it.

          You conclude from the fact that the obvious disparity is covered means there is a an obsession by democrats.

          No. I conclude that, because I see people on the left so often frame things within the context of race, the left has an obsession with race. (Of course, I am not using the term in the clinical sense.)

          It would be like me saying that you point out our obsession with race just shows that you and other Republicans are very defensive about the demographics of your party.

          I think lots of republicans are defensive about the demographics of the party. When the demographics of the party are so routinely used as a cudgel to (falsely) imply hostility to blacks, being defensive about it is rather natural. Surely you don’t deny that the Dems employ a political strategy of portraying R’s as hostile to blacks in order to maintain their near-monopoly on black votes.

          Like

  43. scott:

    According to both Pew and Gallup, the average Republican is 50 years old and the party is 87% white (excluding Hispanic as a separate category)

    It’s not a cliche. It’s a statistic.

    Like

    • banned:

      According to both Pew and Gallup, the average Republican is 50 years old and the party is 87% white (excluding Hispanic as a separate category) It’s not a cliche. It’s a statistic.

      According to Merriam-Webster’s, a cliche is “a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation” or “something that has become overly familiar or commonplace”.

      Whatever else your observation may be, it is definitely a cliche. I don’t think there has been a convention in my lifetime when this “party of old white men” meme wasn’t trotted out (or wheeled out, as the case may be at this late stage) by the left. Although I guess you did drop the “men” portion, so congratulations are due on that small deviation from the party line.

      Like

  44. Looking at the convention floor on tv, I can only conclude that anybody who walked through the doors and wasn’t white, of European ancestry, and over 50 was immediately given a speaking spot on the program.

    That’s a great line. The demographics of the Republicans are an issue because the Republicans are trying to push back on it as an issue. It’s Daily Caller and such which are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill about MSNBC ‘snubbing’ minorities in their TV coverage. Normally a five minute speech from the mayor of a mid-size city or a currently out-of-office House member is not newsworthy enough for prime time coverage.

    Despite all the spin, the speakers are not demographically representative of the party as a whole. As much as conservatives rail against affirmative action, they still get their panties in a wad when they go out of the way to engage in it and it is ignored. The faux umbrage is palpable.

    Condi Rice’s speech was very nice except that it trafficked in the same disingenuousness of the party as whole in that it blamed the Obama administration for problems for which she had a personal hand in creating.

    Like

    • yello:

      they still get their panties in a wad when they go out of the way to engage in it and it is ignored.

      Having just congratulated banned for pointing it out, you sure must have an odd understanding of what it means to ignore something.

      Like

  45. yello:

    You gotta love the apperance of Condi Rice last night.

    Nothing llike having a pro-choice black women speaking on behalf of a no-choice Romney-Ryan white male ticket while racist,untrue welfare ads get the commercials in between. Of course in the good news department she reminded us all what happens when you let GOP foreign policy bunglers anywhere near the White House.

    Any chance she could speak again tonight?

    Like

    • With JNC’s caveat about implementation in mind, I am ready to accept the welfare waiver attack as hyperbole and probably false.

      Assume the ads are motivated to anger the middle class against the poor – some of our commenters here in good faith believe that they should not be tax burdened with the poor. I don’t think it is useful to call the attack racist. I don’t think George is a racist, to be blunt, but I do think the ad appeals to him. If someone were a racist, it might appeal to her, too. That is irrelevant. Are there visuals for the ad that depict browns and blacks with their hands out? If not, I think Ds calling the ads racist is just whining.

      Like

  46. “The convention functions a bit like a reality show, a singing competition, only with speechifying…There is a belief in the hall that the Republicans have a deeper bench than the Democrats.” Joel Achenbach in The New York Times.”

    While I am a Democrat, I’m not a fool.

    This is unfortunattely very true as the GOP refreshed itself in internal bloodletting in 2006-12 while the Democrats in office all seem determined to die there or pass the job on to their children.

    Like

    • while the Democrats in office all seem determined to die there or pass the job on to their children.

      That may be more true in the machine politics of the northeast urban Ds than it is in, say, the southwest. You have alluded to this before. Are we talking about mayors? State legislators? congresscritters? Are there readily available stats?

      At one level, my perception is similar to yours. When I think of rising star Rs I think of Rubio and Ryan, but when I think of rising star Ds I think of Castro and Booker. Castro and Booker are mayors, and thus not in the national limelight yet. Although Booker did run into that burning building.

      Like

  47. mark:

    “I wonder at either party continuing to use it as a divisive tool. Short term, it always makes sense, politically. But long term?”

    several commentators have pointed out this week, I’m paraphrasing, that the GOP may be adopting what seems extreme positions because this is the last presidential election in which they can rally the exclusively disaffected white voters in numbers large enough to have any chance to win, the demographic time bomb if you will.

    Whether or not it’s valid, it’s interesting as a theory to explain the rightward march of the party.

    Like

  48. “Let’s see, where first China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria . . . so many many choices!”

    Do you really believe this? Do you think Bush and or McCain wanted to invade Iran?

    Like

  49. mark

    I was speaking in terms of national office holders, specifically Congress. Presumably there are any number of talented Democrats at the lower level who are blocked by the aged and infirm Democrats at the top.

    Like

  50. congresscritters?

    My current congressman is John Sarbannes, the son of the retired senator Paul Sarbannes of Sarbannes-Oxley fame. Taking the place of the elder Sarbannes is my former congressman Ben Cardin who has a nephew Jon Cardin currently in the Maryland State House.

    Nancy Pelosi is from a long line of Baltimore politicians. At least in Maryland politics seems to be a family business.

    Like

    • At least in Maryland politics seems to be a family business.

      Reinforces my view of northeast urban machine politics. I guess Great Lakes state urban machine politics, too?

      Like

  51. george:

    Bush? you mean Romney? yes I do because Romeny will do whatever Netanyahu tells him to. He warned Lebanon the other day that he won’t invade Lebanaon on the ground again, but will bomb the hell out of them from the air.

    Like

  52. yello

    I think we can safely call the ascension of Hillary Clinton to the Senate a family succession as well, having never run for office before, nor any connection to the state of NY.

    Like

  53. mark

    In your own state, their was another case, George W something, can’t quite recall.

    Like

    • GWB. True. But the D leaders when I was 25 were LBJ-Yarborough-Briscoe-Hobby. Followed by Bentsen-Bullock-Jordan-Armstrong. Followed by Bentsen-Bullock-Richards. Followed by Bullock-Laney. Followed by Edwards-Doggett. Followed by the former mayor of Houston. Followed by the current mayor of San Antonio. Dwindling D leadership, of course.

      No family continuity at all. NADA. Although Mayor Castro’s twin bro is going to be Congresscritter Castro. So there. Do twins count?

      Like

  54. Assume the ads are motivated to anger the middle class against the poor – some of our commenters here in good faith believe that they should not be tax burdened with the poor.

    At the very least, these ads are a form of class-warfare, pitting wage earners against the lazy undeserving poor. The semiotics of these ads are interesting in that the words ‘work’ and ‘welfare’ are said five to six times each in every ad and the words appear prominently in all the pull quotes so as to hammer home the distinction. One has to only give slight credence to the Atwaterian confession about the development of increasingly subtle code words in order to see what subliminal message is being sent here.

    Are there visuals for the ad that depict browns and blacks with their hands out?

    The earlier ads had stock clips of uniformly white men doing sweaty manual labor. The most recent ad’s only visual is Bill Clinton signing the welfare reform bill surrounded by a largely African-American audience.

    These are all very subtle distinctions giving a veneer of plausible deniability against race-baiting as Chris Matthews has accused Reince Priebus (whose name defies all spelling logic) of directly. That they appeal to doctrinaire conservatives who oppose welfare as well as to people motivated by racial and class animosity is the entire point of the ad campaign.

    Like

    • YJ – assuming this is a call to “class warfare”, which I suppose every pitch from both sides based on “whose ox” actually is, who will benefit from Ds calling it out as “racist”? The only persons who would like the ad but still be persuadable to vote D are presumably not racist, or they would not vote for BHO no matter what else was at stake. For Ds, the better approach to this ad is to point out that it is false. If I liked the ad, but I was told persuasively that it was false, I would move an inch toward BHO. If I liked the ad, but was told it was racist, I would turn off before I learned why it was racist.

      edit – thanx for the Bush story. There are two strands we are busily confusing. One is dynasty and the other is aging bench.

      Like

  55. Reinforces my view of northeast urban machine politics.

    It’s not just the northeast. Here is a long excerpt from Joel Achenbach looking back at some old reporting he had done:

    Years ago – who am I kidding, DECADES ago – I wrote the very first story about a young man named Bush who would one run for president.

    Jeb Bush.

    I called it. The story was emphatic. “Born to Run,” the headline proclaimed. Jeb Bush appeared on the cover holding his son George P. Bush (as I dimly recall – there were also lots of American flags waving). This ran in The Miami Herald’s legendary Tropic Magazine, back in the 1980s, when Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder were editing it and Dave Barry was rapidly turning himself into the nation’s top humor columnist. The story is pre-Internet, but I can tell you the gist: George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush had a bunch of kids, and the one who seemed most interested in public life, and most likely to flourish in the political arena, was Jeb.

    He was head of the Dade County Republican Party back then. He worked in the private sector but clearly had ambitions for public office. He didn’t deny them.

    The story referred to his older brother George as “George Jr.” I never quite grasped the nomenclature of the Bush clan. Whatever: That George was a struggling businessman with, as we knew later, a drinking habit. He just wasn’t part of the conversation.

    Now I’m at the Improv Theater in Ybor City, watching George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, be interviewed on stage by Chuck Todd. George P. was just a kid when I interviewed his dad. I vaguely recall playing catch with him in the street outside the modest Bush house. Now George P. is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He’d get a ton of attention if he ever decided to run for public office.

    But the lesson of this story is that even the things you know for sure might not turn out to be true. Inevitability remains conjectural. In politics, anything can happen.

    As you recall, “George Jr.” and Jeb both ran for governor of their respective states, Texas and Florida, but only the older brother won. Jeb later became governor of Florida, but by then the wheel of history had turned. George W. became president, and by the time he left office there was no desire in the country for another Bush presidency.

    I bumped into George P. Bush as he was headed to the elevator before today’s event, and reminded him of that magazine story I wrote long ago about his father.

    “Born to Run?” he asked. Yep, that one, about how his dad would run for president someday.

    “Timing is everything,” George P. said with a smile.

    On a lighter note, I once predicted the match-ups of every election between 2008 and 2048 would be won by either a Clinton or a Bush.

    Like

  56. Banned,

    Just wondering if you thought that McCain would have invaded Iran if elected.

    So, just to be clear, it is your opinion that Romney wants to invade China, Russia, North Korea and Syria? And wants to because the current Israeli PM wants him to?

    Like

  57. george

    You don’t accept sarcasm as a legitimate form of posting now do you?

    Like

    • You don’t accept sarcasm as a legitimate form of posting now do you?

      I do, but I also think WMR is bound and determined to go to war with Iran and wants to bomb Syria. He has as much as said so and I don’t think he was being sarcastic. McC, otoh, was being sarcastic when he sang Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran

      Like

  58. just to be clear, as I have said before I think the only reason that Netnayahu is holding off an Iranian strike is because he can’t be sure of the effects on Romney’s election chances, whom he desperately wants to be president.

    Like

  59. Hi all, agree with Mark on the racist angle. It’s more clearly class warfare and I think lowering the debate to racism turns a lot of voters off. There are enough false claims in the welfare stuff to show Republicans are not only lying in the welfare to work stuff but somehow trying to start a campaign where the middle class that is better situated looks down or with anger on the poor. It seems an impossible task to envy the poor in this country but I suppose they must think it’s possible………….pension envy seemed to work.

    I missed Ryan’s speech last night although I heard it was very well received. I read it this morning and thought he has a pretty blatant way of either stretching the truth or out right lying.

    Here’s a fact check sheet from yahoo. Here’s the one on welfare to work which I think is a huge lie that has been repeated by nearly every top level Republican on the various tickets.

    Edit: The quote below is in response to Santorum’s speech, but the link has some of Ryan’s doozies checked as well.

    THE FACTS: The administration did not waive the work requirement. Instead, it invited governors to apply on behalf of their states for waivers of administrative requirements in the 1996 law. Some states have complained those rules tie up caseworkers who could be helping clients directly.

    In a July 18 letter to congressional leaders, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that to be eligible for a waiver, governors must commit that their plans will move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work. Moreover, states must show clear progress toward the goal within a year, or lose the waiver.

    “We will not accept any changes that undercut employment-focused welfare reforms that were signed into law fifteen years ago,” Sebelius wrote.

    Ron Haskins, a former senior Republican House aide who helped write the welfare-to-work law, has said “there is merit” to the administration’s proposal and “I don’t see how you can get to the conclusion that the waiver provision undermines welfare reform and it eliminates the work requirement.”

    Haskins, now co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families, says the administration was wrong to roll out its proposal without first getting Republicans to sign off on it. But he said the idea itself is one both parties should be able to agree on, were it not for the bitter political divisions that rule Washington.

    http://news.yahoo.com/fact-check-ryan-takes-factual-shortcuts-speech-070905927.html

    I’m out for a few days…………………………….see y’all

    Like

  60. In FL, we have:

    The Diaz-Balart brothers (Reps from S FL).
    Former Rep. Kendrick Meek, son of Rep. Carrie Meek
    Rep Connie Mack IV, son of Sen. Connie Mack III, husband of Rep Mary Bono Mack.
    Outgoing state Sen. JD Alexander, grandson of state Sen/Rep Ben Griffin, great grandson of Gov. Broward, cousin(?) of FL SoS/Rep Katherine Harris.
    My current Rep (until the new Congress) Gus Bilirakis, son of Rep Mike Bilirakis.
    Rep Kathy Castor, daughter of Rep Elizabeth Castor.
    Gov/Sen Bob Graham’s dad was a state Sen.
    Rep John Mica’s brother was a Rep at one point.

    I’m sure there’s more I’m missing. Oh, and we had a Bush.

    Like

  61. Banned, I admittedly freely and frequently admit to be{ing} dense, so I asked for clarification. You answered with the following:

    Bush? you mean Romney? yes I do because Romeny will do whatever Netanyahu tells him to. He warned Lebanon the other day that he won’t invade Lebanaon on the ground again, but will bomb the hell out of them from the air.”

    Not only did you not mention you were being sarcastic, you introduced a conspiracy theory. Now, given that you’ve often mentioned Israel in the past and allude to it’s seeming control of the US government along with the fact that when asked for confirmation on which countries Romney intends to invade you agree and add in an Israeli conspiracy, what did you expect?

    Like

  62. “Rep Connie Mack IV, son of Sen. Connie Mack III, husband of Rep Mary Bono Mack.”

    Now there’s a woman who clearly could have been a Borgia had she been born in another time and place!

    Like

  63. george:

    In re-reading your original post, I clearly mistook you. I thought you had substituted Bush for Romney in the present by mistake, when clearly you were talking about past events.

    So to correctly reply to your original post. I think that Mc Cain is apt to use American miltary power almost anywhere especially Iran. Bush however went to great pains and established high level politcal contacts with Iran to explain to them that yes we really did want to take down their greatest enemy for them at no cost and leave them dominant in the Islamic Middle East.

    Of course the Iranians reportedly even stopped their nuclear program at that time, not believing that Bush or any american president could be so incredibly stupid and thinking Iraq must be a stepping stone.

    When the Iranians realized that it was actually true that Bush had assembled the greatest group of foreign policy bunglers ever in one adminstration, they of course were emboldened as we have seen ever since.

    Like

  64. “markinaustin, on August 30, 2012 at 7:33 am said:

    With JNC’s caveat about implementation in mind, I am ready to accept the welfare waiver attack as hyperbole and probably false. “

    I’d argue that the attack suffered from being premature in that they hadn’t actually granted the waivers yet. I trust Obama about as much on welfare reform as most progressives/liberals trust Romney & Ryan on abortion rights. And for the exact same reason, Obama’s entire history on the issue in the public record starting from his time as a state senator shows a hostility to welfare reform as hurting the poor, especially during an economic downturn due to the work requirements.

    My impression is that they got caught in the act, and backpedaled rather than make their case on the merits.

    Like

  65. “yellojkt, on August 30, 2012 at 8:19 am said:

    Assume the ads are motivated to anger the middle class against the poor – some of our commenters here in good faith believe that they should not be tax burdened with the poor.

    At the very least, these ads are a form of class-warfare, pitting wage earners against the lazy undeserving poor. “

    I’m unwilling to pay more taxes to subsidize someone else’s health insurance when I already have to pay for my own. If you want to call me racist for that position, feel free.

    Making the argument for new entitlements in a weak economy has always been dicey. The Great Society was enacted during a much better economy. Now, people are feeling a lot less generous.

    Like

  66. Banned,

    Just to be clear, you were being sarcastic when you wrote that Romney wants to invade, China, Russia, North Korea and Syria?

    Was Bush just carrying out Israel’s desires when he “assembled the greatest group of foreign policy bunglers ever in one adminstration,”?

    Like

  67. As a follow up banned, did Bush know prior to the invasion of Iraq that there were no WMD’s? Did the Israeli’s know? Did the Iranians?

    Like

  68. george:

    I would bet the israelis knew. We actually have very little human intelligence in the Middle East and get most of our info from them. The Iranians must have also known because Ahmed Chalabi knew and he was working for them.

    I would guess that Bush’s people knew that there was no nuclear program since they manufactured evidence of one, but may have genuinly believed that there were still chemical weapons stockpiles.

    Like

  69. If you want to call me racist for that position, feel free.

    Take the chip off your shoulder. Nobody is calling you racist and we aren’t even talking about health care. I respect and understand your principled objection to all forms of public assistance. I just disagree with them.

    We are discussing whether or not creating a phony debate on yet to be implemented or even proposed welfare-work requirement waivers requested by Republican-led states is really a code for drumming up resentment against people on the public dole and whether that attack also serves as a proxy for fanning racial animosity.

    Like

  70. george:

    yes of that group he only wants to invade Syria. He would probably get talked into missile strikes against North Korea.

    “Was Bush just carrying out Israel’s desires when he “assembled the greatest group of foreign policy bunglers ever in one adminstration”

    No I think that’s his own personal accomplishment. The Israelis and Iranians just took advantage of the situation.

    Like

  71. “The Iranians must have also known because Ahmed Chalabi knew and he was working for them.”

    Do you believe that Saddam’s own generals did not know they had no significant stockpiles of chem/bio weapons?

    Also, if the Israeli’s knew that Iraq was not a nuclear/chem/bio threat, just what was their interest, if any, in overthrowing Saddam?

    Like

  72. According to Rubin, there are more polls out today suggesting that voters don’t think that Akin represents mainstream Repulican thinking. I find this puzzling, since the platform language very clearly DOES state that there are no exceptions for aborton anywhere anytime in it’s opening paragraph:

    “Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. ”

    The ability to convince gullible GOP voters that GOP leaders don’t mean what they actually say, and that the policies they promote will not do what they plainly plan, is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the success of the Republican Party on the national level.

    Like

  73. “yes of that group he only wants to invade Syria. He would probably get talked into missile strikes against North Korea.”

    So, just to be clear, Romney wants to use US forces and invade (by sea, presumably) Syria?

    If Romney can be “talked into” missile strikes against North Korea, doesn’t that go against your theory that Iran only wants nukes (a pursuit they are denying) to prevent US military aggression?

    Like

  74. “Also, if the Israeli’s knew that Iraq was not a nuclear/chem/bio threat, just what was their interest, if any, in overthrowing Saddam?”

    A semi-permanent US military force perched neatly between them and Iran and next to Syria..

    What was so hard to figure out about that?

    Like

  75. “The ability to convince gullible GOP voters that GOP leaders don’t mean what they actually say, and that the policies they promote will not do what they plainly plan, is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the success of the Republican Party on the national level.”

    How many restrictions on abortion were passed by the House and Senate and then signed by the President when they were in Republican hands and Bush was President?

    Like

  76. “A semi-permanent US military force perched neatly between them and Iran and next to Syria..
    What was so hard to figure out about that?”

    Why does Israel, with perhaps the third most capable military in the world, need this? Considering the US troop levels in the Gulf, what with the bases in Saudi Arabia (at the time) and Bahrain, along with the Marines floating in the Gulf, what difference could it make to Israel where those troops were specifically as long as they were in the region? Also, considering the Israeli’s stated reluctance to see Mubarek go along with Assad, why would they think toppling Saddam would lead to a more, I don’t know, beneficial to Israel Iraq?

    Also, do you believe that Saddam’s top general’s knew they had no WMD’s?

    Like

  77. “So, just to be clear, Romney wants to use US forces and invade (by sea, presumably) Syria?

    If Romney can be “talked into” missile strikes against North Korea, doesn’t that go against your theory that Iran only wants nukes (a pursuit they are denying) to prevent US military aggression?

    does it matter how they arrive or strike? (of course this thing will probably be settled before Romney takes office even if he wins)

    As far as Korea, no it means he would be a very bad FP president advised by some of the same bunglers that Bush was.

    (beside I never actually made the claim you suggest. nuclear weapons are not nation specific)

    Like

  78. “How many restrictions on abortion were passed by the House and Senate and then signed by the President when they were in Republican hands and Bush was President?”

    This was the only one they managed to get through, did you forget?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial-Birth_Abortion_Ban_Act

    Like

  79. ‘”Why does Israel, with perhaps the third most capable military in the world, need this?”

    Because they quite clearly are not and got their asses handed to them by the rag tag tthird world types in Lebanon last time.

    Like

  80. A semi-permanent US military force perched neatly between them and Iran and next to Syria..

    The geopolitical goal (as opposed to the oil oligarchy goal or the personal revenge goal) of our invasion of Iraq was to create a pro-US puppet regime in the region where we could have military bases for when, not if, Saudi Arabia fell to Islamic fundamentalists as Iran did in 1979.

    It didn’t turn out quite the way it was planned.

    Like

  81. “Also, considering the Israeli’s stated reluctance to see Mubarek go along with Assad, why would they think toppling Saddam would lead to a more, I don’t know, beneficial to Israel Iraq? ”

    george the first rule of succesful cross-examination is to never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.

    Because quite obviously they had a peace treaty with Egypt and a “peaceful” co-existence with Assad. The same cannot be said for Saddam.

    There is also the point that Iraq is no longer one state but three in a cold war with each other, and so much weaker than it was before under any circumstances. The threat of the Kurds has actually pushed the Israelis and Turks closer together as well to the point that Israel is exporting weapons to them. (although that possibly started during the Clinton years)

    Like

  82. “george the first rule of succesful cross-examination is to never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.”

    I understand the cliche but not it’s application here. Why wouldn’t I ask a question if not to find out your answer? Seriously, I’m not a lawyer (obviously) nor am I particularly quick on the draw, so, being the self-actualized average person that I am, trying to manipulate a conversation to my benefit would obviously be impossible for me and I would know that beforehand. So, what are you talking about?

    “Because quite obviously they had a peace treaty with Egypt and a “peaceful” co-existence with Assad. The same cannot be said for Saddam.

    What possible threat could Saddam have posed to Israel if they knocked out his nuclear capabilities in the ’80’s and they knew (where Bush presumably did not?) Saddam did not have significant WMD’s. Further, we had, since the early ’90’s, a very large troop presence in the gulf anyway, in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Bahrain (as well as anytime we wanted we could significantly increase our troop levels in Afghanistan as they border Iran from the east). So what possible benefit could destabilizing Iraq have provided Israel when it posed no possible threat to them? Unless you believe that Iraq was planning to invade Israel.

    “Because they quite clearly are not and got their asses handed to them by the rag tag tthird world types in Lebanon last time.”

    Was that a case of an incapable military or poor planning and execution? I’m not convinced that the IDF couldn’t of handled Hezbollah, just that it could not given restraints that the the government put on them. Again though, please understand that I’m not asking the above question because I “know” your answer.

    Like

  83. “Why wouldn’t I ask a question if not to find out your answer”

    Because you want a gotch moment of course. I enjoy them myself a few times a day against the advice of my doctor!

    Like

  84. What “gotcha” moment am I looking for here, seriously? I’m trying to understand your opinions here.

    Also, do you believe Saddam’s top generals knew that there were no WMD’s?

    Like

    • My two cents: I believe that almost everyone thought Saddam had chemical weapons, including Saddam.

      I think the nuke info was planted, and false, and whether or not it was known to be false by the GWB Admin and when and by who is up for grabs. I think Powell thought it was true after he spent two days at CIA and I think he believed it when he told the UN. I do not for one minute think he knowingly lied and he has referred to it often as the low point of his career when he found out the info was bogus.

      I agree with YJKT about Cheney’s motives – he believed Wolfie that Iraq could be a stable, western oriented, middle class Arab state. I read Wolfie from about 1991 on arguing that Iraq could be like the Phillipines and democracy could flourish there. I told my Friday breakfast group what I was reading from Wolfie and I said that he had all the credentials and I had none but it sounded like a pipe dream to me. That was 1998, when Clinton refused Blair’s blandishments for invasion.

      Blair had a different agenda, and I bought into it. The no-fly zone and the naval monitoring was costing GB much more as a % of their budget than it was of ours. Once the UN truly failed to impose the sanctions, Blair thought it was stupid for the UN to continue to implicitly rely on the US and the UK to spend billions overseeing keeping Saddam in a box. He wanted a quick strike and a turnover of post-Saddam Iraq to the UN. But he could only do it with Clinton’s agreement, or GWB’s. Clinton actually thought Blair, not Cheney, had talked GWB into the invasion, at one point; but Clinton backed it, on Blair’s terms, in the UK press. I could probably still find his gotowar op-ed.

      I do not think Israel had anything to do with it, except in this most roundabout way. Perle, who believed Wolfie, also thought a stable western oriented Iraq would be good for Israel as well as the USA. He, unlike Wolfie, was hawkishly pro-Israel, with friends in Likud. Likud was not in power 1999-2001. The Barak government did not see any gain from toppling Saddam and in fact thought of Iraq and Iran as counterbalancing forces that kept Israel safer from either. Well, Perle was influential with Cheney.

      Like

  85. “So what possible benefit could destabilizing Iraq have provided Israel when it posed no possible threat to them? Unless you believe that Iraq was planning to invade Israel”

    Ask this guy:

    “General: Israelis exaggerated Iraq threat”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-12-04-israeli-iraq-threat_x.htm

    As pointed out in the article, Iraq had missiles capable of hitting Israel even if they weren’t carrying WMDs

    I don’t think anybody believed Iraq had a nuclear capability but there may have been a genuinely divided opinion as to whether he still had a chemical capacity.

    Like

  86. “Was that a case of an incapable military or poor planning and execution? I’m not convinced that the IDF couldn’t of handled Hezbollah, just that it could not given restraints that the the government put on them. Again though, please understand that I’m not asking the above question because I “know” your answer”

    If these are geunine questions then I take you at your word and please accept my apology for implying that they were otherwise.

    Like

  87. george

    I would guess that Saddam tried to keep everyone in the dark out of fear on the WMDs, but I don’t guess any of his generals were truly fooled. Why does it matter?

    Like

  88. Because I believe his Generals were fooled, as we’re the Iranians and therefore it would have been impossible for Chalabi to know more than Saddam’s most trusted subordinates.

    We’re the Scuds really a threat to Irael such that they wanted Saddam toppled?

    Like

  89. “He wanted a quick strike and a turnover of post-Saddam Iraq to the UN. But he could only do it with Clinton’s agreement, or GWB’s. Clinton actually thought Blair, not Cheney, had talked GWB into the invasion, at one point; but Clinton backed it, on Blair’s terms, in the UK press”

    I don’t enough about Blair to know if he was that big of a fool. I also don’t think that any member of the Bush FP team needed to be talked into Iraq except Powell perhaps. As you may have read Treasury Secretary O’Neill says that Cheney had plans to invade Iraq even before 9/11

    Like

  90. “would have been impossible for Chalabi to know more than Saddam’s most trusted subordinates.

    We’re the Scuds really a threat to Irael such that they wanted Saddam toppled”

    Why, Chalabi manufactured some of the phony testimony for the Bush adminstration on WMDs. He was operating for some time out of the Kurdish area of Iraq, until he got kicked out by Saddam’s people and had a lot of close access to human intel, the ONLY source that we actually had on the ground in Iraq at that time.

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  91. I’m not sure why we’re doing this all over again.

    Israel is working in their own best interest as they shoud be. If we are stupid enough to fall for their phony intelligence and false flag operations that’s our fault.

    Just like we eavesdrop or attempt to, on all communications at the UN. if somebody says the wrong thing, shame on them not us. This is what countries do.

    I am blaming the Bush people for being so bad at FP, not the Israelis for trying to lead us.

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  92. It was a judgement call on Saddam’s veracity. From the CBS 60 minutes piece you linked a while back:

    “”And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?” Pelley asks.

    “He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s. And those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq,” Piro says.

    “So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?” Pelley asks.

    “It was very important for him to project that because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq,” Piro says.

    Before his wars with America, Saddam had fought a ruinous eight year war with Iran and it was Iran he still feared the most.

    “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?” Pelley asks.

    “Absolutely,” Piro says.

    “As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction.’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?” Pelley asks.

    “He didn’t. But he told me he initially miscalculated President Bush. And President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 under Operation Desert Fox. Which was a four-day aerial attack. So you expected that initially,” Piro says.

    Piro says Saddam expected some kind of an air campaign and that he could he survive that. “He survived that once. And then he was willing to accept that type of attack. That type of damage,” he says.

    “Saddam didn’t believe that the United States would invade,” Pelley remarks.

    “Not initially, no,” Piro says.”

    “The Piro interviews with Saddam turned up other revelations about one of the most notorious war crimes of his regime: the use of chemical weapons on Kurdish civilians in 1988. Iraq gassed its own people in something called the Anfal campaign to counter Iranian incursions and Kurdish resistance to his rule.

    Piro says Saddam told him he himself gave the orders to use chemical weapons against the Kurds in the North. When shown the graphic pictures of the aftermath, Piro says Saddam reacted by saying, “Necessary.”

    In fact, Piro says Saddam intended to produce weapons of mass destruction again, some day. “The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there,” Piro says.

    “And that was his intention?” Pelley asks.

    “Yes,” Piro says.

    “What weapons of mass destruction did he intend to pursue again once he had the opportunity?” Pelley asks.

    “He wanted to pursue all of WMD. So he wanted to reconstitute his entire WMD program,” says Piro.

    “Chemical, biological, even nuclear,” Pelley asks.

    “Yes,” Piro says.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-3749494.html?pageNum=6

    Intentional deception by the United States and Israel doesn’t enter in to it. It was a judgement call based on Saddam’s attempts to have it both ways by maintaining the uncertainty about whether or not he still had WMD’s and the capacity to reconstitute them in the future.

    Like

  93. The no-fly zone and the naval monitoring was costing GB much more as a % of their budget than it was of ours. Once the UN truly failed to impose the sanctions, Blair thought it was stupid for the UN to continue to implicitly rely on the US and the UK to spend billions overseeing keeping Saddam in a box. He wanted a quick strike and a turnover of post-Saddam Iraq to the UN.

    I had never thought of that but it makes a lot of sense without resorting to Blair-as-poodle rhetoric. There were two fundamental flaws in our whole fiasco: That there really were WMDs and that it would be cheap and quick. (Reminds of the old adage: Cheap, quick, or right, pick two).

    Part of our hubris was from how well Gulf War I went. Between the Kuwaitis and other backers we actually turned a tidy profit on the exercise. With the promise of funding reconstruction through oil revenue (and charging Iraq Halliburton level mark-ups) we literally did a hostile takeover of the country.

    Again, things just didn’t turn out as planned.

    Like

  94. The larger fundamental flaw was the failure of the occupation planning for, yes, primarily ideological reasons. Had the United States organized an Iraqi election in 2003 and left by 2004 after Saddam was captured rather than do the whole CPA effort, things would have been perceived quite differently.

    Banned’s point also goes to the question of what the alternatives to taking out Saddam were? Indefinite no fly zones and sanctions? An end to sanctions that left Saddam in power and a subsequently reconstituted WMD program?

    Like

    • JNC, when I discussed this with my late friend who taught at the Army War College, that spring before the invasion, he said the indefinite no-fly zone was doable for the then foreseeable future, and that strengthening the Kurds and the Shia while theywere under US-UK air protection was also doable. He thought the countervailing serious argument was political: Germany and France continued to trade with Saddam and ignore the sanctions, on other than oil-for-humanitarian supplies. Germany, he said, had built Saddam a state-of-the-art bunker. He also echoed Shinseki: 400k troops to make it quick.

      Like

  95. ” If we are stupid enough to fall for their phony intelligence and false flag operations that’s our fault.”

    What “phony intelligence” has Israel created? Also, what “false flag operations” have they created?

    Again, how could Chalabi know what only Saddam knew, that there were no significant amounts of WMD’s?

    Like

    • Again, how could Chalabi know what only Saddam knew, that there were no significant amounts of WMD’s?

      All this discussion over WMD’s makes it seem like there was no way to know with any degree of certainy whether the WMDs existed or not. If that is true, no invasion should have occurred. I bought hook, line and sinker into the hype and was positive there were WMDs. Everything I’ve learned since, including the things posted today, makes me think the certainty I heard was either purposefully false or reckless. Either way is bad.

      Like

      • Ashot, there was then no reason to think he did not have WMDs, because he used gas against Iran and against the Kurds and in the south against the mud Arabs. We knew he would not hesitate to use poison gas because he had done so three times in the recent past. It doesn’t matter now that we were wrong, except that the Admin hung its hat on that peg.

        Why I now think I was wrong is that in the week before the invasion it looked like Iraq was going to let the inspectors back in. That was why Canada pulled out of the coalition, while readily involving itself in NATO command in AFG.

        I also think that once we found Saddam, we should have begun the withdrawal, leaving enough troops to let the UN come back in.

        Like

        • Ashot, there was then no reason to think he did not have WMDs, because he used gas against Iran and against the Kurds and in the south against the mud Arabs.

          When did that happen? And the “there was no reason not to think” logic requires a leap that I think is enough to hold off starting a war.

          Why I now think I was wrong is that in the week before the invasion it looked like Iraq was going to let the inspectors back in.

          Yeah, I remember that, but as I recall, I bought into the idea that Sadaam had repeatedly duped the UN and never really let them have a real inspection. Didn’t the UN reports say there were no WMDs?

          Like

  96. “Banned’s point also goes to the question of what the alternatives to taking out Saddam were? Indefinite no fly zones and sanctions? An end to sanctions that left Saddam in power and a subsequently reconstituted WMD program?”

    if wanted him dead, we could have gotten him eventually. Remember the false premise that was floated by the Bush adminsitration was that we DIDN’T go to war for regime change sake. They were very specific about that. it was only AFTER they didn’t find the WMDs that they started to say that Saddam hiimself had to go.

    Like

  97. george:

    this is just one instance:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/13/false_flag

    there are many many others

    Like

  98. “Again, how could Chalabi know what only Saddam knew, that there were no significant amounts of WMD’s?”

    You keep writing about something that is neither in evidence nor stipulated to.

    He was on the ground in Iraq for years with US money backing him during the Clinton administration and had a network of spies both before and after. He tried to plan a coup against Saddam that implied to everyone US support, but the Clinton White House had already decided that he was untrustworthy (as of course he proved to be) and ruled out support for a coup.

    Saddam got wind of course and knocked out his group and Chalabi fled to probable obscurity until he was picked up by Richard Perle and the Bush team.

    Like

  99. Banned,

    I guess I had a different understanding of “false-flag” operation. I took it (and still do, FWIW) that the intent of the false-flag operation is to have someone else receive the blame for the action. In this instance, considering that (I believe) the Israeli’s view Iranian nuclear capabilities as a direct threat on themselves and also considering the animosity a fundamentalist Sunni muslim might have towards Israel, even above the US, it would make sense for them to play as CIA agents in recruiting these people for their purposes, which I believe is to hinder Iranian nuclear progress. I don’t think their intentions were, for example, the Reichstag fire, which is, to me, what a false-flag operation is. Obviously, you disagree.

    Like

  100. “lmsinca, on August 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm said:

    Taibbi takes a stab at Mitt Romney.”

    Worth noting from Taibbi’s article:

    “But the way Romney most directly owes his success to the government is through the structure of the tax code. The entire business of leveraged buyouts wouldn’t be possible without a provision in the federal code that allows companies like Bain to deduct the interest on the debt they use to acquire and loot their targets. This is the same universally beloved tax deduction you can use to write off your mortgage interest payments, so tampering with it is considered political suicide – it’s been called the “third rail of tax reform.” So the Romney who routinely rails against the national debt as some kind of child-killing “mortgage” is the same man who spent decades exploiting a tax deduction specifically designed for mortgage holders in order to bilk every dollar he could out of U.S. businesses before burning them to the ground.

    Because minus that tax break, Romney’s debt-based takeovers would have been unsustainably expensive. Before Lynn Turner became chief accountant of the SEC, where he reviewed filings on takeover deals, he crunched the numbers on leveraged buyouts as an accountant at a Big Four auditing firm. “In the majority of these deals,” Turner says, “the tax deduction has a big enough impact on the bottom line that the takeover wouldn’t work without it.”

    Thanks to the tax deduction, in other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. Romney the businessman built his career on two things that Romney the candidate decries: massive debt and dumb federal giveaways. “I don’t know what Romney would be doing but for debt and its tax-advantaged position in the tax code,” says a prominent Wall Street lawyer, “but he wouldn’t be fabulously wealthy.”

    Adding to the hypocrisy, the money that Romney personally pocketed on Bain’s takeover deals was usually taxed not as income, but either as capital gains or as “carried interest,” both of which are capped at a maximum rate of 15 percent. ”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829?page=5

    I don’t care how you get there, the result is always the same:

    The solution is the flat tax. No deductions or exemptions.

    Like

    • jnc:

      The solution is the flat tax. No deductions or exemptions.

      That’s a good solution. An even better one is total elimination of any tax on income and tax consumption instead.

      Like

  101. “You keep writing about something that is neither in evidence nor stipulated to.”

    Back to the start then, did Saddam’s top generals know there were no WMD’s of significance? Did Saddam even know he didn’t have any?

    Like

  102. “Back to the start then, did Saddam’s top generals know there were no WMD’s of significance? Did Saddam even know he didn’t have any?”

    back to the start indeed

    Like

  103. “I don’t think their intentions were, for example, the Reichstag fire, which is, to me, what a false-flag operation is. Obviously, you disagree”

    I think if I as an anonymous poster who just reads a lot, knew exactly what the Israelis had done in the past or were capable of doing, that they would be far less effective than they in fact are.

    Like

  104. jnc:

    I’m with you flat tax and throw in single payer and I’ll drive the car for you.

    Like

  105. “bannedagain5446, on August 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm said:

    jnc:

    I’m with you flat tax and throw in single payer and I’ll drive the car for you.”

    Single payer with supplemental insurance is the second best solution next to Wyden-Bennett.

    Like

  106. My two cents’ worth. Context: I was a US Army Chemical officer. During Gulf War I I was one of a small group of people responsible for briefing units deploying to the Gulf on what chemical weapons SH had, where he had them, how much was there, and what the munitions looked like. We knew, pretty accurately, all of that.

    Post GWI we knew what we had found and removed, and what we had found and destroyed. We knew that extremely accurately.

    At some very basic level (I, for example) we knew that he didn’t have squat left after GWI and that he hadn’t reconstituted those weapons by the time GWB took office. Why it was used as an excuse to invade I don’t know, but it had to have been known at very high levels that it was nothing more than an excuse.

    And to answer your question, McWing, I’d be shocked if SH’s generals didn’t know that the emperor had no clothes.

    Like

    • Kelley, I never knew that the Army even thought it had got all his chem weapons. It certainly left him with the facilities to make more, didn’t it? Your two cents is worth more in this area than everything else we have read or said, so please tell more.

      Like

  107. Everything I’ve learned since, including the things posted today, makes me think the certainty I heard was either purposefully false or reckless.

    It doesn’t need to be either/or. And we ‘knew’ Saddam had WMDs because we had sold them to him during the Iran-Iraq war. We have a disturbing habit of overestimating the military capabilities of the armies of tin-pot dictators and underestimating guerrilla resistance organizations.

    I think it is now unknowable who actually knew what about Iraq’s WMD capabilities because of all the internecine posturing and dissembling even within the Iraqi military and government. Even if our intelligence had been 100% accurate, it would have been wrong just because so many people were believing things that weren’t so. Similar to the fog of war there is a fog of intel.

    Personally, I found Powell’s presentation to the UN slim and unconvincing but people wanted to believe so they did. A decent human being destroyed his career and reputation carrying water for dishonorable people.

    Like

  108. michi:

    I’m sorry, we have to give a red card to you.

    There is a strict rule about blogging that we only discuss things in general we personally know very little about. (otherwise how could Yglesias have a job?)

    Your expertise is getting you thrown out of this game.

    Like

  109. Banned, I don’t understand your answer. Did Saddam know he did not have a significant WMD capability? Did his top generals?

    “I think if I as an anonymous poster who just reads a lot, knew exactly what the Israelis had done in the past or were capable of doing, that they would be far less effective than they in fact are.”

    Uh, ok. Just out of curiosity, what in your opinion is the worst thing the Israeli government has purposefully done?

    Like

  110. “Michigoose, on August 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm said:

    My two cents’ worth. Context: I was a US Army Chemical officer. During Gulf War I I was one of a small group of people responsible for briefing units deploying to the Gulf on what chemical weapons SH had, where he had them, how much was there, and what the munitions looked like. We knew, pretty accurately, all of that.

    Post GWI we knew what we had found and removed, and what we had found and destroyed. We knew that extremely accurately.

    At some very basic level (I, for example) we knew that he didn’t have squat left after GWI and that he hadn’t reconstituted those weapons by the time GWB took office. Why it was used as an excuse to invade I don’t know, but it had to have been known at very high levels that it was nothing more than an excuse.”

    He had more left after GW I than was thought at the time, as was exposed by the defection of his son in law in the mid 1990’s. That incident is what colored all the subsequent inspections under the “fooled us once” premise.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussein_Kamel_al-Majid

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/unscom/experts/defectors.html

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  111. Michi, just for clariy’s sake, you’re stating that it was commen knowledge in the highest US military circles that Iraq, post GW1 had no significant WMD weapons. Also, that the Clinton administration and then the Bush II admin also knew this.

    If you agree with the above, what was the purpose of our invasion, and why did HRC go along with it?

    Like

  112. I’ll post this to both columns since we are dividing our attention today

    I have never kept my feelings hidden about how badly the auto bailout was done as you know but all the various columns today about the Janesville plant closing are crazy.

    Only in the Republican Party would it make sense to vote for Romney who didn’t want to save ANY GM jobs, because Obama didn’t save EVERY GM job!

    Like

  113. I’d be shocked if SH’s generals didn’t know that the emperor had no clothes.

    No doubt. That is the problem with running an authoritarian regime where the wrong answer means death. You rarely get the truth.

    Like

  114. jnc,
    From your Wikipedia link:

    In the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bush administration figures—including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell—repeatedly cited Kamel’s testimony as evidence that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, even though Kamel had openly stated that he had overseen the destruction of all such weapons.

    We were convinced Iraq had WMDs because a high ranking defector had told us they had all been destroyed. What sort of rabbit hole logic is that?

    michi,
    Thanks for the first hand information. It’s so hard to come by.

    Like

  115. If you agree with the above, what was the purpose of our invasion, and why did HRC go along with it?

    That’s a rhetorical question, right? It was sheer political calculus. She was determined to not be branded pro-Iraq in a general election. I wonder how that worked out for her.

    Like

  116. Uh, ok. Just out of curiosity, what in your opinion is the worst thing the Israeli government has purposefully done?

    Wow, I don’t know if you mean covert or overt.

    Covert I wish I knew because I do believe that we are getting a lot of false Iran info from israel, for instance this which just suddenly came up about the time that the airstrike againt Iran was being debated in the press:

    “IRAN is developing a missile capable of hitting the east coast of the US, according to an Israeli government minister, intensifying Western anxiety over the Tehran regime’s nuclear ambitions.

    The fresh alert was further heightened by reports that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta believes a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel is likely, and could come as soon as April.

    The increasingly murky issue is a prime focus of US foreign policy deliberations, with Barack Obama insisting in last month’s State of the Union address he would ”take no options off the table” in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal.

    But contrary to assertions that the chief threat was to Iran’s near-neighbour, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, Moshe Yaalon, said the missile project was ”aimed at America, not us”.

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/new-iranian-missile-could-strike-us-20120203-1qxpp.html#ixzz253sHPsdp

    Overtly, the idea that Israel is threatened by iran with a nuclear weapon when Israel has 300-400 under most estimates, including ballistic missile submarines that Iran could not wipe out even in a first strike.

    Like

  117. jnc: Quite a bit of disinformation was in that data dump from Kamel.

    Mark: Oh, we knew we didn’t get them all. And the facilities were largely rubble and/or we knew where they were, anyway, and could keep an eye on them.

    Like

  118. “yellojkt, on August 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm said:

    We were convinced Iraq had WMDs because a high ranking defector had told us they had all been destroyed. What sort of rabbit hole logic is that?”

    It’s based on how much was missed by the first round of inspections and the assumption that there could be even more that Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid was unaware of.

    See the Frontline piece:

    ” And they deliver to UNSCOM one million pages of newly-declared documents, which show a lot of biological weapons programs, which show a lot more chemical weapons programs, which show material shortfalls, which show missile stuff, which show nuclear stuff. But — and it took a long time to do this — as UNSCOM went through these million pages of documents, and hundreds of crates, they found that there were interesting gaps.

    For example, all the biological stuff was described as research. There was nothing on weaponization, that is to say, nothing on taking what you know to be a toxic bug — anthrax say — and putting it into a warhead that can be used as a military weapon. That’s a big part of the problem. … So in each case, Iraq kept back something important. Usually the most important thing. “

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/unscom/experts/defectors.html

    At no time did Saddam Hussein give a complete and accurate account of all of his WMD’s due to his desire to maintain strategic ambiguity vis-a-vis Iran about whether or not he still had the capability. The fundamental question was did Hussein get the benefit of the doubt on WMD’s?

    Regardless, all of this was revealed in 1995 four years after Gulf War I. The premise that we had successfully accounted for everything in Gulf War I is mistaken.

    Like

  119. McWing:

    Michi, just for clariy’s sake, you’re stating that it was commen knowledge in the highest US military circles that Iraq, post GW1 had no significant WMD weapons. Also, that the Clinton administration and then the Bush II admin also knew this.

    If you agree with the above, what was the purpose of our invasion, and why did HRC go along with it?

    If I knew it, I don’t know why folks higher up the food chain wouldn’t/didn’t (in the military and permanent DoD staff), but I also don’t know how many of them cared that it was merely an excuse. What politicians knew I don’t have any way of speculating. And the purpose of our invasion? That’s one of the great unknowns, isn’t it, given the number of competing reasons that were put forward at the time–everything from the WMDs to GWB wanting to avenge an assassination attempt on GHWB. By 2003 I was long out and largely a voice crying in the wilderness when I protested against the WMD reason for war.

    Like

  120. jnc:

    At no time did Saddam Hussein give a complete and accurate account of all of his WMD’s due to his desire to maintain strategic ambiguity vis-a-vis Iran about whether or not he still had the capability. The fundamental question was did Hussein get the benefit of the doubt on WMD’s?

    Correct. The ambiguity was part of the excuse-making process. No intelligence is ever100% accurate, so. . .

    The premise that we had successfully accounted for everything in Gulf War I is mistaken

    We never accounted for everything, but what was left was not a big enough problem for us–in my opinion–to justify invading in order to get rid of it.

    Like

  121. hey can someone with the power throw up an open thread for Romney’s speech tonight please?

    We’re getting pretty far down teh line here.

    Like

  122. That’s one of the great unknowns, isn’t it, given the number of competing reasons that were put forward at the time–everything from the WMDs to GWB wanting to avenge an assassination attempt on GHWB.

    I would say ‘overlapping’ rather than ‘competing’ since they were all mutually reinforcing. And the real reasons (and there are multiple reasons from multiple parties) may never be truly known. Revenge, bloodlust, greed, misplaced idealism, and naivete are prime contenders in my book.

    Like

  123. Banned, What is the worst overt thing the Israeli government has knowingly done?

    Why does Israel fear Iran if not for it’s nuclear capabilities?

    Did Saddam know he had no significant WMD capabilities? Did his top generals?

    Like

  124. Michi, surely you have a pet theory on the reason for the invasion?

    Like

  125. “Michigoose, on August 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm said:

    The premise that we had successfully accounted for everything in Gulf War I is mistaken

    We never accounted for everything, but what was left was not a big enough problem for us–in my opinion–to justify invading in order to get rid of it.”

    That’s fine, but it’s still a judgement call. The calculus changed after 9/11. Threats that were previously viewed as acceptable risks were reevaluated in light of the successful terrorist attacks.

    Like

  126. “bannedagain5446, on August 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm said:

    hey can someone with the power throw up an open thread for Romney’s speech tonight please?

    We’re getting pretty far down teh line here.”

    Can someone with the power please teach banned how to use the blog?

    Like

  127. “Gina Rinehart seems to court controversy – from her family lawsuits to her battles with Australian media.

    Now, the Australian mining heiress, worth $19 billion dollars and earlier this year thought to be the world’s richest woman, has sparked another controversy in her latest column in Australian Resources and Investment magazine. (Yes, I am a registered reader online.) Rinehart rails against class warfare and says the non-rich should stop attacking the rich and go to work.

    “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she writes. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/48842456

    Now there’s a woman who knows how to inheirit money . . . er, something like that.

    Like

  128. jnc:

    I’m a blog hog, not a blog cog!

    Like

  129. george:

    Meaning no disrespect, why do you keep asking me the same questions over and over again no matter how many times I attempt to answer them for you?

    Like

  130. hey can someone with the power throw up an open thread for Romney’s speech tonight please?

    We’re getting pretty far down teh line here.

    Done. But I agree with jnc (both of your posts directly above But even in a post-9/11 world I didn’t think that we should have gone into Iraq).

    Like

    • FYI everyone. There are about 4 open threads right now. I’m going to get rid of all but one of them so nobody else do anything.

      Like

  131. McWing:

    Michi, surely you have a pet theory on the reason for the invasion?

    I do, in fact I have two–one flippant, one not–but you won’t like either one and there are better things to flog.

    Like

  132. ash:

    are you going to use drone strikes?

    Like

  133. There are about 4 open threads right now. I’m going to get rid of all but one of them so nobody else do anything.

    Mea culpa. I’ve already deleted mine.

    Like

  134. Michi,

    It’s not a question of my “liking” them, I’m genuinely interested. As for better things to flog, for me anyway, this is the most interesting.

    Banned,

    No disrespect taken and none intended with my questions. I wouldn’t keep asking them if I understood your answers. Please, for my sake, will you try again? Obviously you’re under no obligation.

    Like

  135. Banned, What is the worst overt thing the Israeli government has knowingly done?

    Overtly, the idea that Israel is threatened by iran with a nuclear weapon when Israel has 300-400 under most estimates, including ballistic missile submarines that Iran could not wipe out even in a first strike

    Israel says it cannot live with a nuclear Iran even thought the world has been living with a nuclear Pakistan and North Korea and despite the fact that we can’t possibly end the Iran program without putting boots on the gourns and keeping them there.

    If Iran wants them, it will have them sooner or later.

    Like

  136. “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    Like

  137. Banned, the reason I keep getting hung up on my questions is because initially you seemed adamant that everybody knew there were no WMD’s, and then you write this:

    “I don’t think anybody believed Iraq had a nuclear capability but there may have been a genuinely divided opinion as to whether he still had a chemical capacity.”

    Followed by this:

    “george
    I would guess that Saddam tried to keep everyone in the dark out of fear on the WMDs, but I don’t guess any of his generals were truly fooled. Why does it matter?”

    See what I mean? If there was a “genuinely divided opinion on whether he still had a chemical capacity” I posit that it would not be unreasonable to suspect he still had a nuclear capability. The bottom line though is that there was some doubt that you seem to allow for sometimes and then again sometimes not.

    Finally, if Israel isn’t fearful of Iranian nukes, why exactly are they afraid of Iran?

    Like

  138. McWing:

    The flippant reason is that GWB has a small dick.

    The non-flippant one is that Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, et. al. saw a chance to (1) run a real world test of cool new equipment, (2) establish a permanent base in a part of the world where we’ve never been able to (the Saudis would have kicked us out soon–we’d overstayed our welcome there, anyway), and (3) make lots of $$$. They’ve never cared about the military, just the defense contractors.

    Like

  139. All four reasons sound plausible to me, michi.

    Like

  140. “See what I mean? If there was a “genuinely divided opinion on whether he still had a chemical capacity” I posit that it would not be unreasonable to suspect he still had a nuclear capability”

    Well I would say no but tha’ts cause I wrote it of course, but if you didn’t understand me, tha’ts probably my fault.

    I separate out the two. No I don’t think anybody outside of Iraq thought that he had nuclear weapons but yes, because he definitely had them at one time. I’m sure opinion was divided as to their existence in 2003.

    and to your other question because they have non-nulcear missiles that can hit Israel.

    Like

  141. “and to your other question because they have non-nulcear missiles that can hit Israel.”

    So does Pakistan though, so it still makes me wonder why Iran over Pakistan. Do you have a theory on that?

    Thank you Michi.

    Like

  142. I’m curious, McWing–why do you think we went in? And was it worth it.

    And you’re most welcome, Marine–you always are!

    Like

  143. Michi, I took / take Bush at his word. In hindsight, yes, the toppling of Saddam was worth it. We should have put in a friendly ruthless thug though and kept a base there. Ditto Afghanistan.

    Like

  144. McWing:

    That’s interesting to me, given your previously stated general dislike/distrust of officers. Or just Marine officers? Or was I projecting that you distrust authority, and misunderstanding a specific for a general distrust?

    I don’t think I’ve taken a politician at his/her word since Iran/Contra (and yes, that includes the current President). There are some I’m more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, but I’d have to say that’s as far as it goes.

    Like

  145. Michi,

    I’m pretty anti-authoritarian I guess, and can be deeply cynical when it comes to politics. I tend to “draw the line” if you will when it comes to putting our military in harms way. I don’t think LBJ did it for reasons other than what he stated, ditto Clinton in regards to bombing Iraq on the same day as his Lewinsky testimony. I don’t believe in a Kennedy assassination conspiracy either, for what it’s worth. Chalk it up to willful ignorance or blind naivete but I don’t want to think I live in a country like that because if those things (or any one of those things) are true, well then our Republic is gone, or maybe never existed. It just doesn’t feel gone to me and I don’t think we could have been (and will continue to be again at some point) so fundamentally successful with such a centralized all-powerful authority.

    Like

    • McWing:

      but I don’t want to think I live in a country like that because if those things (or any one of those things) well then our Republic is gone, or maybe never existed.

      I’m with you.

      Like

  146. Thanks, McWing. I agree wholeheartedly with your final sentence.

    Like

  147. I discount all the conspiracy theories that revolve around oil, “Daddy issues”, or the size of Bush’s phallus. Prior to 9/11 there was no talk of invading Iraq. The focus was on “smart sanctions” and in fact Colin Powell was circulating a draft resolution in the UN to revamp the entire sanctions regime with the idea of making containment a sustainable solution.

    Click to access iraq_smart_sanctions.pdf

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/jun/28/russia.iraq

    There was no plan to invade Iraq from the start of the Bush regime. What changed was 9/11 and the idea that threats that were previously acceptable were now too risky given the reevaluation of the potential impact. The Bush admin was quite up front about this. See the Bob Woodward “Bush at War” series or the 1% doctrine. You can argue that they were wrong, but it was a judgement call, not perfidy and the only reason it looks wrong in hindsight is the absence, to date, of a successful WMD attack on American soil.

    With regards to Iraq, the issue of the reasons for going to war has been conflated with the failure of the Bush administration in the occupation planing and execution. This was not preordained from the beginning, but the result of a series of bad decisions and also successful operations by the Iraqi insurgency and Al-Queda in Iraq. A prime example of an inflection point would be the successful attack against the UN and the death of Sérgio Vieira de Mello.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A9rgio_Vieira_de_Mello

    Had the United States elected to withdraw in 2003 or 2004 and thus skipped the nation building and major insurgency in 2005 – 2007 the entire operation would probably have been evaluated differently.

    Like

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