July 24th, 2014

Moving to the left

It’s so rare to see a piece describing a political change from right to left that this one in Politico entitled “Why Am I Moving Left?” caught my eye.

It’s written by Thomas E. Ricks, a 50-something journalist who has spent the last twenty-five years specializing in writing about military matters, and he seems remarkably unreflective for a writer. He’s “puzzled” by not just his drift but by his “late-middle-age politicization,” since prior to this he had been a “detached centrist” who “didn’t participate in elections, because I didn’t want to vote for, or against, the people I covered.”

I can’t see how a person can follow politics and not have an opinion on them, so my guess is that until recently Ricks closely followed events in his field of expertise (the military) but not events in general, because he describes not a conscious effort to refrain from voting despite strong feelings, but a lack of strong opinions about politics at all.

So perhaps he’s just begun to pay attention recently, because he’s decided he doesn’t need to remain aloof anymore. One of the things he doesn’t like is what happened in the Iraq War, and he also thought that our conduct of the war in Afghanistan was “inept.” How that would translate into support for the left (or particularly Obama, who destroyed whatever good we did) I haven’t a clue, since a person would have no reason to believe the left would be better at conducting a war Ricks actually supported, such as Afghanistan. Nor does he explain what was so inept about Afghanistan, under the extremely difficult circumstances that country presented, circumstances that were known and predicted to be exceedingly challenging.

I’m not going to bother to fisk Ricks’ entire article. But if you go down the list of things Ricks says were what turned him to the left, you’ll find that most of them are emotional reactions where calling on the left to remedy things doesn’t seem to demonstrate much logic at all. Ricks doesn’t like the NSA spying, income inequality, bailouts, gun massacres. So: Democrats? Did they oppose the NSA data collection or the bailouts to a greater degree than Republicans did, and do they have solutions for gun massacres or income inequality that aren’t worse than the diseases? Ricks doesn’t even try to argue why he thinks they do.

I have no idea how typical Ricks is of any recent phenomenon. I’ve not seen any surveys on how political change has been going during the Obama administration, but I find it very hard to believe he’s not in a tiny minority, and that any change that has occurred has been in the other direction, particularly among millennials.

[ADDENDUM: Just now I looked up Ricks’ Wiki entry, and after reading it I am of the opinion he’s very much a liberal, and has been for a long time.]

68 Responses to “Moving to the left”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    And Ricks wrote the piece from his summer home in Maine.

    I am always astounded by the claims that we tortured captured enemies. Torture has a legal definition and we did not torture people.

    And it was very, very limited. And the info was very useful in finding OBL and stopping future attacks.

    Why don’t they get that?

  2. neo-neocon Says:


    What is so odd is that this guy covered the military for decades. You’d think he’d be more aware of the definition of torture, and of waterboarding compared to what other countries do, and of rendition and all the rest. It seems he was previously living in some sort of idealistic dreamworld.

  3. Sharon W Says:

    The crowd that regularly conflates what they wish were true with reality is best situated in the Democratic Party.

  4. Matt_SE Says:

    I had your take of things, neo-neocon, before I read the article: this guy must not have been paying attention, mistaking “apathy” or “ignorance” for “impartiality.”

    One other thought I had was that this article appeared two days after the one in American Thinker (linked in a previous thread) about changing from left to right. IMO, that was a powerful indictment of the left, by a leftist. Here’s the link again:

    This may be counterprop by Media Matters, or their ilk, to establish a false equivalence between the two changers.
    As you said, there doesn’t seem to be much meat to this guy’s story, just incoherent emotion.
    Something about it smells fishy to me.

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    Never discount the fact there are lots of jerks and asses out there, regardless of rank, of whom Ricks is one. We project our logic upon them to our error.We can’t change them, nor can we change the pinheads who heed them.

  6. Sam L. Says:

    I’m guessing he was lying to himself, and now to us.

  7. Matt_SE Says:

    Note also, recent revelations by Snowden detail how British intelligence has been manipulating social media to shape public opinion.
    I’ve also heard rumors that Putin has been doing the same…not in Russia, where it’s largely unnecessary because he’s unopposed, but in the U.S.

    If these two are doing it, I find it probable that our own government/media complex has been engaged in it for years. Probably starting right around the time Obama took office.

    One further point supporting this: the strange case of Rasmussen public polling. Right before the 2012 election, they had Romney up by a point or two. Either right before, or right after the election, they were threatened by Holder with an investigation.
    After that, Rasmussen has been consistently higher in Obama’s approval ratings than anyone else in the RCP averages. Something like 6% higher than everyone else. They are now the consistent outlier that pulls Obama’s numbers up.
    Obama obviously got to them.

    I’m pretty sure it’s established that there is a leftwing media conspiracy among the hardcore leftists at Media Matters to conduct these coordinating ops.

    This “change” story should be viewed in that light.

  8. Cornhead Says:

    Sam L.


    When he worked for Big Media he just said he was apolitical and objective.


  9. Gringo Says:

    Just now I looked up Ricks’ Wiki entry, and after reading it I am of the opinion he’s very much a liberal, and has been for a long time.]
    He was a faculty brat. Moreover, his father was a Psychology professor- very few wingnuts in that group. Think of all the “scientific” studies from psychologists and social psychologists which purport to prove the goodness and superiority of libs versus the evil and stupidity of wingnuts. The odds of his being raised a liberal are about 95:5 to 99:1.


    Disappointment in the American government over the last 10 years. Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the first big shocks. I thought that invading Afghanistan was the right response to the 9/11 attacks, but I never expected the U.S. military leadership would be so inept in fighting there and in Iraq, running the wars in ways that made more enemies than were stopped. I believe that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, not only launched on false premises but also strategically foolish in that ultimately it has increased Iran’s power in the Middle East.

    Whatever criticisms one can make of Bush’s record in Iraq, it would appear that Obama’s actions in Iraq have done a lot more than Bush’s actions to “increase Iran’s power in the Middle East.” Yet Ricks concludes that “Disappointment in the American government…in Iraq” is reason to support Obama and the left.
    Not to mention Obama’s incredibly stupid decision to give a pullout date for Afghanistan. Yet Ricks supports Obama and the left.

    Mind of mush, Mr. Ricks.

  10. chuck Says:

    My experience is that when folks list reasons, they are often deep in the throes of rationalization. Hence the apparent non sequiturs, etc. Smart people fall into that trap easily and have no awareness of the fact. It is the lack of self awareness that separates rationalization from simple emotion based choice, for the victim thinks they are being rational and that logic dictates their position. Academics are at particular risk for this form of folly.

  11. Gary Says:

    [ADDENDUM: Just now I looked up Ricks’ Wiki entry, and after reading it I am of the opinion he’s very much a liberal, and has been for a long time.]

    When I got about halfway through the post, I starting thinking this Ricks guy is a phony, and the ADDENDUM shows I was right.

    The left is constantly playing the same BS trick (among others) of presenting themselves as an unbiased-centrist-average-Joe who has recently been jolted by reality into believing in the wonderfulness of the left–and perfidy of the right. The implication being that any fair-minded person should do likewise.

    On the web, lefty trolls almost always identify themselves as “independents” or middle-of-the-road.

    Please don’t fall for this crap.

  12. Matt_SE Says:

    Some fisking of the article:

    Disappointment in the American government
    “…I never expected the U.S. military leadership would be so inept in fighting [in Afghanistan] and in Iraq…”
    Iraq was won before Obama got to it, whether you agreed with the reason for going into Iraq or not. If the ineptitude was on the left’s part, how then can one justify becoming even more leftist?

    Torture. Already covered.

    How we fought.
    “I never thought that an American government would employ mercenaries in a war.”
    For someone who has covered military matters, he doesn’t seem to know much about military history. Specifically, the wide use of mercenaries up to the modern age. Khaddafi used mercenaries in his war before he lost. They took their weapons into central Africa after their jobs dried up.
    Even if one accepts that use of mercenaries is unwise, I don’t see why one small policy failure justifies a personal shift in politics.
    “Yet to my knowledge, the U.S. government has not studied how the use of mercenaries poisoned the conduct of the war. Indeed, it gives every indication of planning to operate the same way in the future.”
    Failure to investigate. Failure to stop the practice. Both of those are on Obama.

    Intelligence officials run amok.
    Obama took the Bush policies and put them on steroids. Obama’s administration is demonstrably less transparent than Bush’s; so much so, that several reporters have complained that this administration is the least transparent in their experience.
    Once again, why would this act as a reason to move leftwards?

    Growing income inequality.
    They don’t call him “president Goldman Sachs” for nothing. No prosecutions of any major financial players in the 2008 crash, even though many suspect there was criminality. The excuse that they can’t find enough evidence is laughable.
    Meanwhile, the Fed’s policies continue to erode wealth through inflation and reduced interest to savers, and Obama’s EPA is cracking down on coal plants and stymying fracking, and the HHS is killing the economy through Obamacare.
    Yeah…all great reasons to become a leftist.

    Bailouts for bankers. Obama.

    Democracy for sale. Obama.

    Gun massacres. The left is COMPLETELY INCAPABLE of stopping this, as demonstrated by Chicago: the shame of America.

    This guy is full of shit.

  13. chuck Says:

    Please don’t fall for this crap.

    Yeah, in the ten years or so that I’ve known about Ricks, he has always struck me as a leftist. Being a military correspondent doesn’t imply anything about politics.

  14. Yancey Ward Says:

    His entire essay is a fraud. I am guessing his political persuasion was set early in life and has never changed. The commenter above who pointed to the piece in The American Thinker is probably right- Rick’s piece was an attempted counter to that article. Rather wait until an authentic conversion from Right to Left (they do exist), Ricks thought he would just pen his ridiculous and obviously false one.

  15. OldTexan Says:

    I think this jerk might be telling the truth. He does not exactly say he was a conservative although he tries to give that impression. He does say he is moving further to the left which I would take to mean he is moving from rabid socialist to crazy assed Marxist or something.

    At least he knows how to enjoy his summer home in Main while he complains about income inequality.

  16. Ann Says:

    Ricks, the guy who went on Fox News and said this: “I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of Republican Party.”

    I just did a search on his name and Benghazi to see if he’s written anything about it and found nothing. Odd that a man whose work is solely on the military isn’t more interested in what happened there. Unless he’s a liberal partisan, of course.

  17. parker Says:

    I agree that this ‘change’ is a fraud for all the reasons discussed above. Plus, Soros may be an evil sob, but he is a master of control so I’m betting everyone associated with media matters is thoroughly vetted and spied upon. Ricks rushing into the messiah’s embrace smells like agitprop.

  18. Phil Dayton Says:

    An Emily Litella moment at the end here: Never mind. The guy was a lib all along.

  19. M J R Says:

    The kindest verdict on Ricks, the *kindest*, is that he was fancying himself centrist because he tried to present his reporting in an even-handed way — but he always leaned left. [I haven’t ready any of his work, and I have no plans to.]

    Now, he’s not so much “more leftie than centrist” as he is “out of the closet as a leftie”. Big deal. Nothing to see here, folks — except another liar doing his part to advance The Agenda.

  20. MDL Says:

    It seems that you are assuming that Obama defines ‘the left’. If so, then you would be wrong. He does not define the left any more than Bush or Romney or McCain defined ‘the right’. They were the Republican nominees, yes. And the right may have voted for them since they were the only choice that was close to what defined the right for them. But they weren’t the prototypical right candidate on every issue. So the same applies for the left. I am far from pleased with Obama. Hate the NSA and bailouts and the wars. But the alternative is certainly further from the left. And I am sure many of you were far from pleased with Romney’s conservatism. But what choice did you have?

  21. Alan F Says:

    Much of the failure of Iraq can be blamed on Democrats and Radicals. See David Horowitz’ book Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America’s War on Terror Before and After 9-11. So, there is no reason to prefer Democrats because of discouragement about our efforts to defend ourselves. As the Iraq war entered its second year, I could see how the left was severely undermining the effort.

  22. MDL Says:

    Alan F, that doesn’t make much sense. The war in Iraq was fully funded and fully supported by both Republicans and Democrats. As noted Democratic politicians voted for the war too. Blame for what happened in Iraq [and is still happening] is squarely on those in charge. Blaming the boogeyman ‘left’ is absurd. The left has no such power to prevent soldiers from doing their duty or commanders from carrying out their plans. Also the left is not in the battlefield with the enemy firing weapons. As usual Horowitz is confused. As confused as he was when he was far left.

  23. Frank Says:

    Ann, Mr. Ricks explained why he hasn’t written about Benghazi (American contractors killed overseas is nothing new), and he also refused to appear on Fox’s counterpart … “MSNBC invited me, but I said, ‘You’re just like Fox, but not as good at it.’”

  24. Eric Blair Says:

    Didn’t Ricks write “Fiasco” a supposedly tell all book about Iraq and Afghanistan?

    When I saw the title, I knew the guy was a hack. the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, whatever their failures were not on the level, of say, the 1917 French Spring Offensive.

    That was a fiasco.

  25. artfldgr Says:

    Neo: Just now I looked up Ricks’ Wiki entry, and after reading it I am of the opinion he’s very much a liberal, and has been for a long time.

    the left for a long time has always had a problem with these warning stories and conversions. its like the soviets trumpeting a person who comes to them, as if that equalizes the number going the other way.

    ie. he never was on the right, or a centrist, he is a leftist lying to gather people under the left flag – a false flag

    Tsun tsu, all war is deception..

    The name “false flag” has its origins in naval warfare where the use of a flag other than the belligerent’s true battle flag as a ruse de guerre, before engaging the enemy, has long been acceptable. Such operations are also acceptable in certain circumstances in land warfare, to deceive enemies in similar ways providing that the deception is not perfidious and all such deceptions are discarded before opening fire upon the enemy.

    the moral actions in the above are not needed
    many on the left pose as the opposition (good cop bad cop)

    to them its a perpetual war (trotsky)
    and as such: All’s fair in love and war

  26. Snackeater Says:

    I think that type of behavior is fairly common in military circles. Military people understand that Democrats are spineless wimps and therefore don’t want to admit being one. But in reality they are, and reality eventually catches up to them. A la Colon Powell.

  27. artfldgr Says:

    I know writers like this… (sadly).
    i work with one… they are vacuous, do not know how anything works, are mostly helpless, but they can write… an writing makes stuff up, and they think they dont need to know.

    there are many words to describe them, and the ill they do
    but i also see people here do the same thing.
    they look at something and then go on from imagination..
    usually it starts with “i think” rather than “it was”.

    i can usually tell as they tend to start with words that say, i am imagining this, and as such, pissing into the zeitgeist more false things, rather than not. its a case of wanting to participate and enthrall more than wanting to state the truth of the facts or that they dont know the facts.

    so, in essence, most of the time we are swimming in a muck of mostly made up, but good sounding inventions in dialogue, and that which feels best is what then is what happened, not actually what happened or didnt.

    you can see it in lots of threads here.
    but most do not pay that close attention as to whether the mind food they consume is junk or sh*t or good… in fact they pay more attention to the junk food they put in their stomach a hell of a lot more than they care about the ideas they let into their heads..

  28. rickl Says:

    M J R Says:
    July 24th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    The kindest verdict on Ricks, the *kindest*, is that he was fancying himself centrist because he tried to present his reporting in an even-handed way — but he always leaned left. [I haven’t ready any of his work, and I have no plans to.]

    I agree. Many members of the media claim to be “moderates” or “centrists”. Some of them may even believe it.

  29. DaveindeSwamp Says:

    Ricks is a typical passed over douchebag Ivy league officer . He has always been a Leftist , a traitor to the uniform he so happily poops on .

  30. parker Says:


    I agree with your 4:26 comment. But your 5:10 comment does not sit well. The left, in and out government, quickly began to undermine the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq early in 2004. In a nutshell, harken back to “General Betraious” and all the outrageous code pink slime and you might begin to understand why no one on the right side of the bell curve will ever cut you any slack.

  31. expat Says:

    I don’t know if you ever checked out David’s Medienkritik during the Bush years. It was a blog about the German media coverage of Bush and America. Those German journalists had to get their info from somewhere, and it sure wasn’t reporting the WH line on anything. Michael Moore sold more books here than in America. And didn’t Democrat congressmen line up to see his premier?

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    Zombies do what zombies do.

  33. Gail Finke Says:

    A lot of liberals don’t think they’re “left,” they think that all reasonable people agree with them and they are just regular normal people… everyone else is either a crazy right-winger or a leftist kook. I read somewhere that most people think they are centrists. As an actual centrist (you’ll have to take my word on that, after what I just said) who has moved to the right, I always knew i was “right” on some things and “left” on others. But a lot of people don’t.

  34. Beverly Says:

    Speaking of moles: this guy — http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/610069/posts
    — John Pike, frequently seen on the network news as an “expert” on space and military issues, was the President of Vanderbilt University’s Young Communist League.

    He has not changed vectors, BTW.

    He got into trouble when he was testifying (one of many times) before Congress and calling himself “Dr. Pike”: he never even completed his bachelor’s degree.

  35. Beverly Says:

    I’ve been reading Whittaker Chambers’s “Witness,” which is fascinating and sobering. Communist infiltration of America’s government was wide and deep by the second world war. This is what Chambers discovered when he testified against Alger Hiss and others before the House Un-American Activities Committee:

    “I did not know, I could not have dreamed, of the immense scope and power of Hiss’s political alliances and his social connections, which cut across all party lines and ran from the Supreme Court to the Religious Society of Friends, from governors of states and instructors in college faculties to the staff members of liberal magazines.

    “In the decade since I had last seen him, he had used his career, and in particular, his identification with the cause of peace through his part in organizing the United Nations, to put down roots that make him one with the matted forest floor of American upper class, enlightened middle class, liberal and official life. His roots could not be disturbed without disturbing all the roots on all sides of him.

    “… The discrepancy between our strengths was too staggering. I stood almost alone.”

    Chambers at that time was a senior editor at TIME Magazine, but that shield proved to be flimsy.

    He also told how the Committee was slandered and vilified by most of the press (think America was conservative in the 1950s? well, the press weren’t!). Viciously and in a way we can all recognize as their standard operating procedure to this day.

    How many of you, like me, had a vague mental image of Chambers as “fat, sweating, unattractive;” and Chambers as tall and cool and attractive? How many of you know about the whole spider’s web of Communists, not JUST Hiss, that Chambers revealed, or that he was vindicated and proved true by the testimony of fellow ex-Communists?

  36. neo-neocon Says:


    I think it is you who are confused.

    Why do you think that Alan F meant the left undermined the Iraq War on the battlefield? That’s not the way propaganda works.

    Here’s an example of the way the left undermined the Iraq War. Even then, the only reason they succeeded in undermining it was because Obama was elected and failed to negotiate a SOFA agreement.

  37. Eric Says:

    Gringo (quoting Ricks):
    “I believe that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, not only launched on false premises …”

    Ricks is wrong about that.

    Excerpt http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html :

    The prevalent myth that OIF was based on lies relies on a false premise that shifts the burden to the US President to prove Iraq possessed WMD. In fact, the US held no burden of proof in the Iraq enforcement. The entire burden was on Saddam to prove Iraq was compliant and disarmed. The question of “Where is Iraq’s WMD?” was never for the US President to answer; it was always one of the questions Saddam was required to answer to the chief enforcer’s satisfaction in order to pass the compliance test.

    Iraq’s guilt was established as fact from the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire and presumed in the enforcement of the UNSC resolutions. From the start of the ceasefire, the basic presumption of the disarmament process was anywhere Iraq provided deficient account of its weapons imputed possession. Thus, had Bush presented no intelligence on Iraq’s weapons, the compliance-based enforcement procedure would have been the same because Saddam was guilty until he proved Iraq was compliant and disarmed.

    “The left, in and out government, quickly began to undermine the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq early in 2004.”

    One of the most striking features of the popular controversy over Operation Iraqi Freedom is that there has been a Democrat/Republican partisan divide at all.

    The whole Clinton presidency was preoccupied by the struggle to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire with Saddam. From 1993-2001, Democrat leaders – particularly the Clinton officials working the issue – rang the town warning bell on Iraq. Before 9/11, Saddam’s relationship with terrorism, including but not limited to al Qaeda, was both part of the UNSC resolutions and an active concern for Clinton officials. Bush’s case against Saddam, including the law, policy, and precedents to finally resolve the Saddam problem, was really Clinton’s case against Saddam, only updated by 9/11 threat considerations. Most significantly, Clinton cleared the penultimate military enforcement step with Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

    When Bush carried forward Clinton’s (updated) case against Saddam, Congress’s support for Bush on Iraq was consistent with Congress’s support for Clinton on Iraq. Notably, Senator Clinton’s support for Bush on Iraq was consistent with the former First Lady’s support for her husband on Iraq. When Clinton supported Bush on Iraq, Clinton cited to his own worried, stymied presidential enforcement with Saddam.

    As such, it’s been a disingenuous partisan spectacle for Democrats, particularly the Clinton officials who worked the Saddam problem, to adopt the false narrative that belies their personal experience with Iraq in order to censure Bush for moving to resolve the primary national security concern of his Democrat predecessor in the White House.

  38. M J R Says:

    Beverly, 9:37 pm —

    “How many of you, like me, had a vague mental image of Chambers as “fat, sweating, unattractive;” and Chambers as tall and cool and attractive?”

    That second “Chambers” was intended to be “Hiss” [smile].

    “How many of you know about the whole spider’s web of Communists, not JUST Hiss, that Chambers revealed, or that he was vindicated and proved true by the testimony of fellow ex-Communists?”

    I know, but far too many did not know and do not know.

  39. Eric Says:

    There does seem to be a concerted effort to impose a narrative that erases both the clearly rising trajectory of Iraq at the point we left and the proximate causes of Obama’s bungling of the SOFA negotiation and feckless ‘lead from behind’ approach to the Arab Spring, while establishing the false premise that post-Saddam Iraq was an utter failure all along.

    Regarding the “inept” post-war:

    Despite the modern history of successful American-led post-war nation-building occupations, the regular Army of 2003 simply was not prepared to do a nation-building occupation of the kind needed for Iraq. The Balkans post-war template fell short. The Army’s post-war shortcomings were mainly due to an institutional mindset deeply rooted in the fall-out of the Vietnam War, exemplified by the Powell Doctrine, that was averse to nation-building occupation. Before 9/11, when the Army was tasked to do a mission on the spectrum of civil affairs or peace operations, it was done ad hoc as an “operation other than war”. Given the military’s aversion to dedicated peace operations before OIF, the only way the Army could develop a sufficient peace-operations doctrine, capability, and more fundamentally, a proper civil-affairs mindset for occupying post-war Iraq was to actually occupy post-war Iraq and learn through necessity. Ergo, the conception and birth of the Petraeus-led FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency “Surge”.

    That’s normal, though.

    The standard of perfect preemptive anticipation, preparation, accounting, and execution that critics like Ricks apply to OIF is ahistorical. I agree we should do what we can beforehand to prepare. However, that the learning curve for victory in Iraq was driven by necessity on the ground is consistent with military history. The US military has always undergone steep learning curves in war that have included disastrous setbacks. OIF just demanded a steeper learning curve for the peace operations of the post-war.

    Ricks’ question is the wrong question. The wrong question is whether we’ll make mistakes or fail. We’ve always failed and made mistakes – bad ones. It’s not on purpose. The enemy has input in events and even under placid conditions, these tasks are hard. If they were easy, then US soldiers wouldn’t be needed to do them.

    In fact, our soldiers were forced to take on a bigger role than expected in Iraq because of the IOs and NGOs that promptly fled and abandoned the Iraqi people when the insurgency picked up.

    That’s just war or, in this case with this enemy, the post-war.

    The right question is whether we persist long enough in working the issue until we get it right. When the US military doesn’t quit, we tend eventually to succeed, and that’s how it was in Iraq, until we quit.

    Given the collaboration between vicious enemies over there and the toxic politics over here, the progress of our learning curve in Iraq was exceptional.

  40. waitforit Says:

    If there is a dry nose that bled from too much picking, thy name is right to left changers. The not known to the picker his condition clues one into the reality before the sticking finger. There was no change.

  41. waitforit Says:

    Now for an interlude, that decade last which produced understandable music not entirely corrupted by politicization. We may not see those times again, but God bless us, we see them once, and that is enough, at least in this lifetime. Next lifetime? Who knows.

    But there you go.


    I especially recommend Celine Deon’s song at 1:53. Remember when her voice first stirred you?

  42. waitforit Says:

    Are you on a road? Is that road moving or are you? Or is it both? Are you coming to a fork in the road and which road you take you know will make all the difference? What will you do? Merely chose the easy path, the path of habit and devise? The path willed to you? Or chose the new and unknown? Who can guide you on your decision? Who should you trust? jThe past or the new? If you do not make a decision, is that the same as making a decision? Who can tell?

    Isn’t that the power of life?

  43. M J R Says:

    “When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!” — Yogi Berra

  44. waitforit Says:

    Ohhh, that is sooo goood.

    Wish we would remember it. I’m wondering how to apply it to our own American fork (Obama). I hope it means that it’s time to exchange the elite consciousness for a new and emerging public consciousness. But I don’t know what that is. Still, the fact that those before us saw it and said it, well, maybe we’re just another iteration and the world isn’t coming to an end.

  45. waitforit Says:

    How are the Yankees doing?


  46. M J R Says:

    *MY* Baltimore Orioles are currently in first place, leading *those* Noo Yawk Yankees by three games (they are also leading the Toronto Blue Jays by three games).

    ‘Waaaaaaaaay off topic, but I’m happy with my O’s right now. (I moved to southern California two years ago, but I still bleed Oriole Orange.)

  47. Gary Says:

    Eric wrote (12:16 am):

    There does seem to be a concerted effort to impose a narrative … [to establish] the false premise that post-Saddam Iraq was an utter failure all along.

    The left rarely fails to appreciate the value of “imposing their narrative” (aka propaganda)–before, during and after a significant event like the Iraq war. Perhaps the simplest and most effective one goes like this:
    1) Bush pushed us into a pointless war by inventing a myth that Saddam had WMD and thus presented a serious danger;
    2) The fact that WMD were not found by US forces following the invasion of Iraq proved conclusively that Saddam did not possess WMD;
    3) Since Saddam did not have WMD, he was not a serious threat; therefore, the entire war was based on a false premise, a lie created by Bush, Cheney, etc., and should never have happened.

    Since there was a whole list of reasons given for deposing Saddam (WMD being only one of several), items 1) and 3) are false.

    What I find striking is the unanimous agreement–on all sides–that 2) is true. Why?

    * Saddam certainly had chemical weapons previously, and we know this because he used them against the Kurds. Did he secretly destroy all these weapons and the facilities for creating them and not inform the UN? Why would he do such a thing?

    * Iraq is bigger than California. How hard would it be to hide and/or destroy a handful of chemical weapons facilities in such a large area? The search was like looking for a few needles in a large haystack–while simultaneously dealing with bombings, shootings, IEDs, a ferocious battle for Fallujah, etc.

    * In the week or two prior to the invasion, large convoys of trucks were spotted driving across Iraq into Syria–lately known to have and occasionally deploy chemical weapons. What were those convoys delivering?

    I seem to be the last person in the US who is not convinced that Saddam did not possess WMD (chemical and possibly biological weapons). In fact, if someone discovered conclusive evidence one way or the other and offered me the chance to make a wager, I’d bet Saddam did have WMD in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

    Eric, you seem to know an awful lot about all this. Are there facts I’m omitting and/or errors in logic that invalidate my opinion?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  48. M J R Says:

    When did we establish such a familiarity with our once-buddy Saddam Hussein that we’re all on a first name basis? Why don’t we refer in our conversations to other once-buddies by their first names?

  49. waitforit Says:

    M J R.

    Okay, let’s go to an A’s game.

    That’s who you are now, Mr. Southern Cal.

    But the Orioles are great; it’s awesome they’re in first place. I hope they kick ass.

    Man, how about that Young hitter!

  50. waitforit Says:

    Moving to the left, I’d have to say I sprained an ankle.

  51. colagirl Says:

    (or particularly Obama, who destroyed whatever good we did)

    Bingo. 😛

    Worst. President. Ever.

  52. M J R Says:

    waitforit, 2:58 am —

    [smile ] No “Mr. Southern Cal” here, friend. Oriole Orange.

    (A’s play in Oakland, hardly Southern Cal, by the way.) See ya!

  53. I Callahan Says:

    I tried wading through some of the comments over there. That was a mistake.

    I am really depressed for our country if that’s even a small percentage of how Americans think now. I think I’ll start getting drunk early today…

  54. DNW Says:

    ” M J R Says:
    July 24th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    … he was fancying himself centrist because he tried to present his reporting in an even-handed way — but he always leaned left. … he’s not so much “more leftie than centrist” as he is “out of the closet as a leftie”. Big deal. Nothing to see here, folks — except another liar doing his part to advance The Agenda.”


  55. neo-neocon Says:

    M J R:

    To refer to him as “Hussein” might cause confusion between him and our current president.

  56. Eric Says:

    Gary: “Eric, you seem to know an awful lot about all this. Are there facts I’m omitting and/or errors in logic that invalidate my opinion?”

    Context is everything, right? My take in the debate over Operation Iraqi Freedom is the mission cannot be judged properly until the popular misconceptions of its policy basis are corrected.

    As such, my feedback to you is take a step back from where you are now in the OIF debate. Critically examine the premises and context that are presumptively imputed by anti-OIF activists.

    My 3 tips to dig out the false premises of the false narrative against OIF:

    1. Burden shifting. The fundamental false premise of the false narrative against OIF is the shifting of the burden of proof away from the probationary party, Iraq, onto the chief enforcer of the ceasefire resolutions, the US. Everything else follows.

    2. Context. Operation Iraqi Freedom is commonly misrepresented in isolation as a new foreign policy by Bush. In fact, OIF was only the coda of the US-led enforcement with Iraq that began in 1990 or 1991, depending on whether you mark the origin of the Iraq enforcement as the action to expel Iraq from Kuwait or the Gulf War and Gulf War ceasefire. To focus on the US-led military enforcement, I usually mark the origin in 1991 with PL 102-1. The Gulf War was only suspended by a ceasefire with strict conditions for Iraq. In fact, all of Clinton’s military enforcement actions with Iraq, including Operation Desert Fox, used the original Gulf War authorization, which of course, pre-dated Clinton’s Presidency. PL 102-1 was operative for OIF, too. PL 107-243 was less an activating law than a policy statement that summarized and restated with resolute language, with the threat calculation following 9/11, the existing body of US law and policy on Iraq. UNSCR 1441 served the same function with the existing body of Security Council resolutions on Iraq. As such, OIF is improperly considered in isolation as a new foreign policy. OIF can only be properly judged in the context of the whole 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement as a continuous progressive (organic escalating sense) foreign policy. Bush didn’t start the Iraq enforcement – his father did. Bush didn’t develop the operative enforcement procedure with Iraq that he carried forward with OIF – Clinton did. Bush didn’t create the intractable problem of an intended rapid disarmament and rehabilitation of Iraq that degenerated into a stalemated, toxic, dangerous, broken ‘containment’ – Saddam did.

    3. Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with at least the basic essential primary sources for OIF. The social-political effectiveness of activist propaganda is made evident by the stark divergence of the popular yet false narrative on OIF from the straightforward explanation for OIF in primary sources that are easily accessed on-line.

    Start with these basic essentials:

    If you’re open to a longer list of background readings that have informed my take on OIF, go here:

    I admit I haven’t pored over every eye-glazing technical and technocratic detail, but I’ve read enough for a working sense of the policy basis for OIF.

    My OIF FAQ linked at July 24th, 2014 at 11:20 pm is a cheat sheet for my take on the issue, but it’s not the same as developing your own working familiarity with the primary sources.

    So Gary, again, my feedback to you is take a step back from where you are now in the OIF debate. Critically examine the premises and context that are presumptively imputed by anti-OIF activists. Begin the debate on OIF by setting the record straight and correcting the frame.

  57. Eric Says:

    Add: Gary, regarding your questions, I suggest the Iraq Survey Group’s Duelfer Report and UNSCOM and UNMOVIC reports. (IAEA, too, probably, but I’ve been negligent looking up their stuff on Iraq.) The UN, US Presidents, and Congress have some worthwhile input on your questions, too, but mostly they’re reacting to UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and the ISG, so you might as well go to the source.

    Google will pull up the links for you. They’re also in my table of sources at:
    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2004/10/perspective-on-operation-iraqi-freedom.html .

  58. Eric Says:

    Neo: “M J R: To refer to him as “Hussein” might cause confusion between him and our current president.”

    IIRC, Bush the father started that practice talking about the Gulf War and it’s stuck as convention.

  59. MollyNH Says:

    I recall seeing this closet Leftist’s interview with John
    Scott on Fox. (The Wiki article alludes to it) It was rather *stunning* to see this live as apparently *he was willing to be interviewed by Fox, *this* just to zing them ???? Total A$$ hat move, as we ‘ve come to expect from Lefties.
    Guess his fellow Mainer & Lefty Steven King told him he had to make a grand gesture NOW or no more invites to
    King’s Lefty celebrity cocktail parties at the *gated* big, creepy Victorian !

  60. Eric Says:

    I Callahan: “I tried wading through some of the comments over there. That was a mistake. I am really depressed for our country if that’s even a small percentage of how Americans think now.”

    They’re left activists playing the activist game with the narrative contest to control the zeitgeist and with it, the general will of We The People. It’s the only social political game there is.

    If it helps, I made a comment over there:

  61. Gary Says:

    Eric wrote (7/25 @ 12:17):

    So Gary, again, my feedback to you is take a step back from where you are now in the OIF debate. Critically examine the premises and context that are presumptively imputed by anti-OIF activists. Begin the debate on OIF by setting the record straight and correcting the frame.

    I immediately noted your point about “burden shifting.” This is a common tactic of the left, eg they’re the ones making extraordinary claims about imminent, man-made climate disaster, but we’re supposed to prove it’s not going to happen; even though they’ve not yet come close to proving their case (and their models did not predict the current 15-year hiatus in global warming).

    I appreciate your feedback regarding OIF and will follow up by looking at some of the links you provided. As you say, understanding the context is key and the tendency is almost always to look at events in isolation.

  62. Eric Says:


    Here’s a good article:

    It’s worth for you to pick up Hoven’s analysis. His take on the issue tracks closely with mine.

    This research tip might also help. The key for me was the discovery that Clinton didn’t cite to the intelligence at all when he pronounced with Op Desert Fox, which was the penultimate military enforcement step, that “Iraq has abused its final chance” and Saddam was a “clear and present danger” that would require regime change to resolve. Clinton only cited to Saddam’s noncompliance in terms of insufficient cooperation and deficient account of weapons.

    Moreover, the record strongly implies that Clinton’s intel with ODF was no better than Bush’s intel with OIF. (Which only makes sense if you think about it.)

    That key discovery opened the door to the realization that demonstration of Iraqi possession – which goes to the foundational false premise of the anti-OIF position – was not necessary in the operative enforcement procedure that Bush inherited from Clinton. The test for enforcement was strictly whether Iraq proved compliance, which was determined by other means than demonstrated possession.

    The “clear and present danger” (Clinton) and “grave and gathering danger” (Bush) of Saddam were imputed from Iraq’s noncompliance, not demonstrated possession.

    Related to your questions, Iraq’s actual possession of WMD stocks in 2002 was only relevant insofar that a demonstration of Iraqi possession would have been dispositive evidence of noncompliance. However, a demonstration of Iraqi possession was not the expected nor normal way to test Iraq’s compliance.

    In terms of the policy and procedure of the Iraq enforcement, if not the distorted politics, whether Saddam actually possessed WMD stocks was only one of many possible triggers in the spectrum of weapons and non-weapons mandates.

    One more tip. Try not to feel let down, as I did, when you find out just how straightforward the Iraq enforcement actually is. There’s no cabalistic conspiracy. There’s no convoluted theory of the case. Instead, OIF is simply what over a decade of plain, open-source law, policy, and precedent for the Iraq enforcement said it is.

  63. Ymarsakar Says:

    “To refer to him as “Hussein” might cause confusion between him and our current president.”

    It’s a nice way to avoid the SS knocking on your door for making negative comments about the US President, however.

  64. Ymarsakar Says:

    Colin Powell and Tony Blair were the people mostly behind the UN dominated WMD issue. The public heard that mostly. It’s what the whole Niger deal was about too.

  65. Eric Says:


    I said it at the time and I believe it more now: Bush should have enlisted Clinton as his spokesman on Iraq. POTUS activating an ex-POTUS like he’s a retired General is unorthodox, but OIF was that important. No less than the future of American foreign policy pivoted on the Iraq mission.

    Fall 2002 was not far removed from Jan 2001. At that point, no one in the US understood the US case against Saddam as well as Clinton understood it because the US case against Saddam was Clinton’s case against Saddam. Clinton’s whole presidency had been preoccupied by the Iraq enforcement and he developed the law, policy, and precedent – the operative enforcement procedure – used by Bush to resolve the Saddam problem. Bush only carried forward Clinton’s case against Saddam with the addition of 9/11 threat considerations.

    Had Clinton been Bush’s spokesman on the Iraq enforcement, one, it would have kept the Democrats in check, two (related to one), it would have permanently fixed Clinton’s initial endorsement, and three, Clinton would not have fumbled the presentation of his case against Saddam like Bush and his officials initially fumbled it.

  66. Gary Says:

    Eric wrote:

    Here’s a good article:

    The above article debunks the following simplistic description of the Iraq war:

    The United States invaded Iraq based on false premises. The administration orchestrated a public relations drive to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and connections to the 9/11 terrorists – both proved false.” (USA Today)

    I think it’s a very good article and would recommend it to anyone interested in this.

    Eric, many thanks for your knowledgeable assistance.

  67. Ymarsakar Says:

    Clinton’s a weasel and a snake. No more reliable than Democrat Colin Powell or Labor Tony Blair.

  68. Eric Says:


    You’re welcome. This matters. The prevalent false narrative against OIF and those who benefited from propagating, validating, and protecting it are patient zero for the wrong turn in US foreign policy. Setting the record straight remains important because the public’s understanding of the Iraq mission with its fundamental premises of American leadership bears directly on the course of American foreign policy.

    By the way, the propaganda against the US-led Iraq enforcement didn’t begin with Bush. It was employed against Clinton’s Iraq enforcement. Like I talked about in my comment upthread at July 24th, 2014 at 11:20 pm, the change from Clinton to Bush’s Iraq enforcement was the Democrats adopting the same anti-US propaganda for domestic partisan profit.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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