Thumbs Down on Rice Open Thread

I don't like Susan Rice as a candidate for Secretary of State.


Besides being a lightweight, at least 1/3 of her portfolio is invested in fossil fuel companies, including at least $300,000 in TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, the very pipeline the Secretary of State would need to approve.


So thumbs down on Rice from my corner. And the less I say about Obama, the better.

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M Scott Eiland's picture

I hope Tagliabue gave you a bullet to bite on before slicing your gonads off, Commissioner.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

So how do people think H. Clinton did as SoS?



That and she's...

Bird Dog's picture

...more of a political operative than a diplomat. Her politicized behavior after Rwanda alone should be enough to disqualify her.

At an interagency teleconference in late April, Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”


Her appearances after Benghazi only reinforced the notion that she's a tool, and a lightweight tool at that, given her thin record of accomplishments.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Ha. Lightweight

HankP's picture

not like those Republicans Condi Rice and Colin Powell.


I blame it all on the Internet

Jesus in a Jumpsuit Hank


First, comparing the weight as a figure of Susan Rice to Colin Powell is ridiculous. Susan Rice clearly is at least an order of magnitude less well known and less accomplished than Colin Powell was in 2000.


Second, even if those two were lightweights, what is your point? That Obama has the right to be as bad a president as bush?


So far, the only reason in favor of Rice that you have given is that Obama can appoint whomever he pleases. That's not a good reason. That's not even a reason, really.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Here's my point

HankP's picture

you could say any of the following:


Susan Rice lacks (or has) experience with A

In situation B, Susan Rice made a mistake (or did the right thing) by doing C

In year D, Susan Rice advocated policy E. That turned out to be wrong (or right)


See, these are all fact based opinions that tell us something about Susan Rice, her background and capabilities. But the Morning Joe type analysis of who has "gravitas" and who is a "lightweight" doesn't do that, in fact it makes one stupider for listening to it because it takes time away from actually discussing any of the types of statements I listed and obfuscates actual facts that can be discussed about whether or not someone is qualified.


I blame it all on the Internet

OK then,


so what has Susan Rice done that's so great she deserves to be Secretary of State?

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

From wiki

HankP's picture

- US Ambassador to UN

- Asst SOS for African Affairs

- Member, NSC

- Rhodes scholar, BA Stanford

- Senior fellow, Brooking Institute


But we've been through this before. The only real qualification she needs is that Obama trusts her and (may) want her to be SOS. Presidents are usually allowed to appoint whomever they want to their own cabinet.


I blame it all on the Internet

Those Are Job Titles


She knows how to fill out a resume. I got that.


Kind of irrelevant to my question though. I asked you what has she done.


I am not discussing whether Obama can appoint whomever he wants or not. You can have that discussion with our right-wing friends.


I am discussing if she is a good choice or not, and you've come up empty. A bunch of job titles and you don't like the word gravitas, which is a silly word I never used in any case.


This post, by the way, is not some backwater like Interior or EPA. The Secretary of State is the face of the country with foreign leaders and business people. The job was inaugurated by Thomas Jefferson.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.


HankP's picture

yeah, Colin Powell never worked on filling out his resume.


You're the one who made the assertion that she's a lightweight, the onus is on you to back it up. And explain why her career to date (which strongly resembles Madeline Albright's BTW) makes her a lightweight but not Albright. Or maybe you think Albright was a lightweight too? It's hard to tell since there aren't any criteria for "gravitas" or "lightweight" other than personal opinion.


I blame it all on the Internet

Are you serious?


Colin Powell, as I said, led an international coalition in the first Gulf War, with enormous success. All these people can put together a resume. Few have actually done anything of any complexity or significant size. Colin Powell certainly had.


And, as a matter of fact Albright is not very high up on my firmament of Secretaries of State, so I've got little to say there.


The onus is not on me to prove a negative. It's on you to prove a positive. You still have nothing, and we've been going at it for days. And in any case my first issue was that her investments are in conflict with progressive foreign and environmental policy.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.


HankP's picture

so military service is a plus, but diplomatic experience isn't.


I blame it all on the Internet



It's a question of accomplishment. There was plenty of diplomacy involved in coordinating dozens of forces.


Susan Rice was in charge of Africa while Rwanda happened. What did she do? She was UN ambassador just now when the US wasn't even able to get Australia or the UK on board. Or, put another way, when the US voted with Netanyahu and got slapped in the face with the E1 announcement the very next day.


When has Susan Rice made a notable difference?


And, since you ignore the point, I'll insist. A person with 1/3 of her assets in fossil fuels has zero credibility when it comes to climate talks, for example. No accomplishments plus baggage. Tell me one thing she brings on board. Still waiting, and this is getting super old.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I'm sure she'll sell the stocks

HankP's picture

to avoid conflict of interest, just like Colin Powell did.

I blame it all on the Internet

So what?


Powell was and is a Republican. So he held stock in General Dynamics. That's ideologically consistent. I would not expect a Republican to invest in organic granola manufacturers.


Susan Rice is supposed to be a Democrat. What is she doing holding stocks of companies that overwhelmingly fund Republicans? What is she doing holding stocks of companies that fund FUD campaigns to foster ignorance and discredit science? What is she doing holding stocks of companies of a sector known for corrupting third-world governments to get at their natural resources for pennies on the dollar?

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Da, comrade

HankP's picture

all must follow the party line (or at least your version of it). To do otherwise is to be lightweight!


And yet, despite investing in all kinds of horrible things it's OK for Powell and he even has the added bonus of gravitas.


I'm not cut out for this ideologue stuff, it's even dumber than the horserace stuff.

I blame it all on the Internet

That's Rich!


The only one I see here following the party line is you, having insisted that Obama can appoint whomever he wants. Because the leader says so is not my argument, it's yours, repeatedly.


It was OK for Powell if you are a Republican. There is no aspect of the bush administration that I cared for and that includes Powell. Powell is useful as an analogy, from the point of view of the party in power. He was a coherent choice for them. Why can't we have coherent choices?


Susan Rice isn't a lightweight because of her investments. Her investments are contrary to the interests of the country as seen by any sane Democrat. Or are oil companies our friends now? Would it be OK with you if Rice was a Fox News (News Corp.) stockholder? It's roughly the same thing.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

The funny thing here

HankP's picture

is that I've never said whether Rice would be a good or a bad choice, because no one's asked me. I just object to the bulls*&t "analysis" of gravitas vs. lightweight, and the even more ridiculous "who owns what stock" sideshow.


The party line comment is just dumb. Presidents are usually given wide latitude in choosing their secretaries and aides.


I blame it all on the Internet

She got China and Russia to sign off


On the Libya resolution, which was an extraordinary coup and a small diplomatic miracle.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Compared to who MA?


NT ... 


Ask courageous questions. Do not be satisfied with superficial answers. Be open to wonder and at the same time subject all claims to knowledge, without exception, to intense skeptical scrutiny. Be aware of human fallibility. Cherish your species and yo

Yeah, But Jefferson Owned Slaves

M Scott Eiland's picture

So f**k SOS.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Re Jefferson...I've Meant to Write an Essay on(also War Crimes)



...situations were the power relationship between people, less than slavery of course, but still well and way beyond anything anyone would experience in the United States and the effects on both sides of the equation.


It is plenty weird...I'm thinking North East Brazil mid 1990's, the Philippines 1980's, Viet Nam during War....maybe more recently Guatemala and the far Reaches of Peru, the other side of the Andes...


Things are really different, (for everybody)


In this sense I can understand Jefferson a little....needing to make a living, unlike Washington, Jefferson was running a business, albeit a slave business, and needed to run a is just a different world and should not be judged by standards currently in effect.


Another thing...I had Free Fire Zones in Viet Nam...something considered a Serious War Crime now:


I rail at the Restrictions placed on our current troops and watch documentaries of them in action under ROEs I'd never recognize or...obey. I shake my head at their...restraint, waiting for instance for the Taliban to surround them when I would kill everything in sight and not hesitate an instance ( see the Battle for Marjah.. was just different rules, a different mind set for Jefferson.


To actually own people....I can't really fathom it, but that's where Jefferson lived.


Best Wishes, Traveller



You kind of missed the whole point on why free fire zones are a bad idea.


We had free fire zones in Vietnam. How did that work out again?


War is an extension of foreign policy in the interests of the nation. If acts of war hinder rather than help that policy, then the war is being fought wrong. The point of a war is not to protect the combatants.


The US took a beating with Vietnam, suffering loss of influence around the world. The war was a poster child for anti-Americanism for two decades. Those free fire zones weren't just wrong on legal and humanitarian grounds, they were costly.


They probably also hardened the Vietnamese people against Americans. No village can be friendly to foreigners who can flip on a whim and kill them all for no reason. With the first free fire zone, the war was all but lost.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I Could Say I Understand, But Do I?



...seriously, in my heart of hearts I know you are correct...I guess, I think.


I was making the point that Jefferson lived in a different time as did I myself from our current troops.


I admire them...but they stress they live under is...phenomenal. I feely admit I couldn't do it.

I wouldn't want to be a soldier today...I doubt that I could be one.


I am currently reading Warlord, Churchill, a life of War,


And I think of the killing of 40,000 Muslim Dervishes at the Battle of Omdurman ( the Sudan) and we are fighting the same war. Churchill was against the slaughter by the way and the destruction of the Mahdi's tomb.


What if Moshe Dyan had not prevented the blowing up of the Dome of the Rock in 1967? What would that have meant re Jerusalem in general?


Enough...I accept your Point that Free Fire Zones, like Slavery itself, is a thing best put behind us.


Best Wishes, Traveller

If the Dome of the Rock had been blown up

mmghosh's picture

I do not think matters would be very different from what they are today, except that there would be more opprobrium towards Israel for being uncivilised.


The Saudis demolished the major Islamic monuments in Mecca and Medina in the 19th and 20th century as they regarded them as becoming objects of idolatry.


For the true Islamist, monuments and individuals are unimportant and may even be detrimental to the Faith.  This is what Abu Bakr said to the Muslim community when Muhammad died.

When the news of the Prophet's death came out, many Muslims were confused and stunned. 'Umar himself was so overcome with emotions that he drew his sword and declared, "If anyone says that the Messenger of Allah is dead, I will cut off his head."


Muslims stayed in such state until Abu Bakr arrived and gave his famous address:


"O People! If anyone among you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worshipped Allah, let them know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur'an. It says:



'Muhammad is only a Messenger of Allah, there have been Messengers before him. What then, will you turn back from Islam if he dies or is killed?' "



If the Dome of the Rock had been destroyed, the Camp David accords would have been impossible.


Given that non-trivial change in the historical timeline, the rest is really hard to predict.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Come on. The Saudis have, or sought to have, obliterated

mmghosh's picture

the entire historical record of the Prophet and his Companions, forget an individual mosque.  I don't see nations not associating with them.


We've blown up a mosque.


Mosques have been attacked in Najaf, Samarra and Karbala within the last decade.


In 1967 the Palestinian movement was largely secular.  Blowing up the Dome of the Rock would have been an act of vandalism, with local and maybe international fallout, but it would not have been that big a deal, IMO.

What Would Be The Reaction In India. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .if some indentifiable nation or terrorist group blew up the Taj Majal? I have a hunch that the reaction in the rest of the world would be at least as harsh as the one to the Taliban blowing up the Buddhas.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Cultural vandalism.

mmghosh's picture

What can I say?  History is littered with examples of cultural artifacts being blown up. The whole of Rome was sacked, as was Jerusalem, Constantinople and so forth.  Indeed, to take examples of historical cities - so were Rotterdam and Dresden, within recent memory.  


I don't see the Dutch, Germans or Britishers being any more acrimonious today.


As for the Taj Mahal, we built an oil refinery just 25 miles away (why? couldn't Indianoil have made it someplace else?) creating sulphur and acid pollution specifically to damage the colour of the marble. Why just us?  As humanity, we are willing to see our coastal cities inundated.  Sacred places of indigenous people are routinely ignored, even in advanced and educated lands.

You tend to underestimate...




The PLO was largely secular, and so was the Egyptian government, but that doesn't help at all. In fact your point was that a true Islamist would not care about this, but secular governments care about the destruction of symbolic buildings. You did notice the effect of 9/11?


You did not blow up a mosque. A mosque was blown up in your country. The Dome of the Rock is not "a mosque" by the way. Unless, for example, Notre Dame is "a church".


Also, the destruction of the Dome of the Rock would have hurt Israel badly in the West, where historical buildings and artifacts are highly valued by default. Especially in Europe but also in the US.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Sorry for the Jefferson Post in the Wrong Thread! Re Rice...



I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Insert Susan Rice for Doctor Fell.
Best Wishes, Traveller


Catchy should be happy with budget negotiations!


The Republican opening gambit is in the Gang of Six/Bowles-Simpson territory. If we split the difference between it and the Obama plan, you get something well to the left of anything that was seriously considered in 2011. Republicans gambled and lost, now they'll have to pay up.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

I'm don't think 1/2 way between the two plans


is better than passing nothing at all.


Obama's plan is better than doing nothing, but Boehner's offer is much worse than Obama's is good. 


And now I notice Boehner is clearing out his opposition from cmmtee chairmanships, so we may get a lousy bargain yet.


Don't cave, Obummer! 



Nothing at all is the fiscal cliff


or as Ezra more aptly calls it, the Austerity Bomb. I thought you thought that was a bad thing.


Even if Republicans cave on taxes for the rich, certainly not a given, that is not enough revenue to avoid the sequestration cuts, which include cuts to Medicare, and are a sort of mini-Austerity Bomb amounting to $1.5 trillion (weigh the tax hikes to the rich against these spending cuts, and you get a worse revenue:cuts ratio than what Boehner is offering in his opening bid!)


To manage this responsibly a deal is needed, there's no getting around that.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Better than the austerity bomb


is not the measure by which to judge a deal.


Better than kicking the can down the road is standard.


Obama's meets it, Boehner's doesn't, and 1/2 way between doesn't either.

Oh, boy...


And if Obama doesn't snap his fingers and make the Republicans cave he's a sellout, right?


You don't have the "why don't they just get rid of the filibuster?" card any more. (And when it's obvious how difficult it is to get 50 Dems to sign on to the mild filibuster reform measure that's on the table now, here in 2012, after nearly 4 years of Republican obstructionism, it should be obvious that it was a FireDogLake-induced fantasy to think it was a solution for passing HCR.) The Republican don't have many cards, but they have some. A deal needs to be made soon, when our leverage is at its maximum point, because a deal has to come.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

At some point you don't negotiate with hostage takers


You're implying that as long as Obama secures a better deal than the austerity bomb, or defaulting on the national debt, etc. that he's done his job.


I don't accept that. If Obama can't get a deal that's better than the status quo he should turn towards trying to kick the can down the road.


If Republicans insist on blowing up the economy instead, so be it. You can't continually give in to the demands of hostage takers.

I don't entirely disagree with that


He's got to have a red line somewhere.


I would just ask you what you consider the status quo to be. Our current Bush-era tax cuts? Umm, I don't think it would be too difficult to get Republicans to agree to that. Or is the Austerity Bomb the status quo? Please clarify.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

By status quo I meant


all tax rates etc. the way they currently are - no austerity bomb.


Obama's proposal is an overall improvement on the status quo.


I'm suggesting that a red line, at the very least, has to be drawn at a deal that makes things worse.


If Republicans are so intransigent that they outweigh what's good about Obama's plan with the crap they ran on and lost the election with, then no deal. And they don't get to hold the economy hostage again in order to get what they want. 


Unfortunately 1/2 way between what Boehner and Obama outlined is an overall bad deal, at least as I see it.

I think it would be pretty easy


To make the Republicans agree to revoke the sequester, and maybe even raise the debt limit, in return for keeping tax rates as they are. Hardly anything is more important to them than Keeping Richie Rich.


I think that would be a disastrous deal for the progressive project, however. The Republican demagogy on taxes would live on, ready to rear up another day. A stake could be driven through its heart instead.


And our debt-to-GDP ratio would balloon up, not just burdening the younger generation for the benefit of oldsters, but also choking off progressive projects.


It's not a status quo I would accept.



"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

debt-to-GDP ratio ballooning


Wags, the Bush tax cuts have almost nothing to do with a ballooning debt/GDP ratio. The short term deficit is all the housing bust:



The long-term debt/GDP worries are all because of rising health care costs:



The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy don't address and don't offset the underlying issues causing the short or long-term deficit.


I'm not saying rescinding them isn't worth doing, but not b/c it's necessary for a sustainable debt/GDP ratio. And not as a trade-off for anything like the kinds of cuts to SS, medicare, and medicaid the GOP is proposing. An extra 80 billion a year from the top tiers isn't worth it.


Plus Boehner's proposal contained no short term stimulus, no unemployment insurance, and let the payroll tax cut expire. Killing the short-term chances of achieving a self-sustaining recovery can have long-term consequences. 1/2 way between their two proposals still isn't a deal worth making. 

Let me see if I can understand your reasoning


You say the short-term deficit problem is driven by the housing bubble/financial crisis... of course it is.


You say the long-term debt problem is driven by health care... again, of course.


But how do you get from there to the conclusion that nothing must be done about the debt problem? Because we should only address the driver of the problem? I don't understand why that should be, but you know, Medicare is health care. The possible solutions there are not just things like raising the eligibility age, which I agree would be odious, but also reimbursement reforms and higher payments for the wealthy.


I agree that we shouldn't be cutting anytime soon to prevent a foiling of our recovery, but the debt problem is real. A progressive project that burdens future generation to protect, at all costs, the interests of oldsters is not truly progressive, because it is not about progress. It is defensive and backwards-looking.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Not addressing the driver, not significantly offsetting debt


FYI, I'm not at all concerned about scary public debt:


and even if I were I don't think it's useful to pretend that Congress today can or should be tackling the speculative budget problems of 2025-30. For one, who knows what our healthcare system is going to look like after a decade of Obamacare. 


But forget that and let's adopt your "the debt problem is real". I still don't think that provides much reason to prioritize rescinding the Bush taxes for the wealthy. 


80 billion per year from rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy isn't going to significantly offset a long-term trend in which health care costs are rising at 4x the rate of inflation/average income growth, and public spending on medicare and medicaid moves from 5% of GDP to 10% in the next 15 yrs. (see above).  


Finally -- "burdens future generation to protect, at all costs, the interests of oldsters is not truly progressive" is a poor frame. We should be giving oldsters better retirements and more health care for less money.


We can afford a massive increase in SS right now and oldsters are already increasingly paying more out of pocket for their health care. We should work on fixing the broken healthcare system that is costing us all a tremendous amount of $, young and old alike. We don't have to start talking like we should cut benefits for seniors in order to invest in our youth.

Again with the fallacy!


It's like your house needs a new roof, and you say "no, I can't work overtime or cut down on expenses, because that won't fix the roof." Ummm, no, but it will help pay for it.


The rise in health care expenses is partly because of rising health care costs, but a lot of it is baked in because of demographics... older people just get sick more. Obamacare has some initiatives that could bend the cost curve, but to wait and see whether they will work is irresponsible. And Obamacare won't solve the demographics problem.


You post a graph showing interest as a percentage of GDP. Interest rates today are at an all-time low, and only a portion of the debt we're taking on is long-term. A lot of our debt is short-term debt that gets rolled over, and thus is prone to rising interest rates.


I don't suppose you were politically aware in 1993. For many of us, it was eye-opening. As soon as Clinton's tax hikes went into effect, interest rates plummeted because investors suddenly found US debt to be much more palatable. Suddenly people could refinance their homes and receive what was the equivalent of a huge tax cut. Businesses could invest more. That was the basis for the 90s boom.


Now it won't make a difference, because interest rates are already low. But once the economy speeds up, high interest rates could stultify growth. And yes it is a generational issue too. I'm not saying throw granma off the cliff, but sacrifices have to be made, and to load those all on the coming generation instead of spreading the pain around is cruel and irresponsible. And all from an emotional attachment to the progressive projects of last century! Break free! Imagine the future, instead of clinging to the past.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Fixing the employment problem fixes the debt problem

HankP's picture

if the Fed actually paid attention to the "full employment" part of their mandate we'd have far fewer economic issues.


I blame it all on the Internet

It will certainly help


But it won't fix it.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Except that Simpson-Bowles was very right wing!


Other than that ...

On The Bright Side. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .at least Whitlock (and Costas) didn't blame the tragedy on Serena Williams' purportedly fat and lazy @$$.

Memo to Bob Costas: please explain in 100 words or less how gun control would have saved Nicole Brown Simpson. Show your math.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Guns Kill People, Obvious is Obvious, No Need for 100 Words...


“Our current gun culture,” Whitlock wrote, “ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, (and its possible connection to football), will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, (wrote Jason Whitlock) is what I believe, If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”


Simple truth.


No need for sophistry:


A sophism is a specious argument used for deception. For example, sophisms can use obscure words and complicated sentence structures to intimidate the opponent into agreement to avoid feeling foolish or can manipulate the opponent's prejudices and emotions to overcome their logical faculties.



Uh Huh

M Scott Eiland's picture

Perhaps a picture, then:


Of course, if Costas really wanted to be brave--rather than hiding behind the prose of the clown Whitlock and the approval of his liberal friends--he'd be suggesting that this might be another example of the sport itself producing a bunch of domestic-abusing rage monsters who find all sorts of clever ways to kill themselves and their loved ones. Of course, that would get him fired from his cushy job faster than you could say "Rush Limbaugh."

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

"Knife control"


is considered perfectly normal and instituted in many western countries - both purchase and carry.


This is from the T&Cs of a UK website selling martial arts supplies including edged weapons for Iaido practice. It is very similar to what you would see from a gunsmith in many European countries.



Swords and other cutting edge weapons
7.1 Certain of our products are not available for sale to anyone under the age of 18. We may ask you to provide proof of your age. We reserve the right to withdraw acceptance of your order without providing you with a reason and without liability on our part.
7.2 Further, the sale of swords with a curved blade of more than 50cm in length is banned in the UK under The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) (Amendment) Order 2008 ("the Order"). Under certain circumstances a defence may be raised. Therefore, you warrant, undertake and represent to us that pursuant to the Order you are:
7.2.1 currently registered as a member of a bona fide martial arts club within the United Kingdom;
7.2.2 you will use any product falling within the scope of the Order only for a permitted activity;
7.2.3 to the best of your knowledge, the martial arts club to which you belong has relevant public liability insurance cover in place pursuant to the Order;
7.3 You give your permission for us to carry out all checks we, in our sole discretion, deem necessary in order for us to comply with the Order and any other applicable law and for third parties to provide such information and/or documents as we request for such purpose;
7.4 A non-refundable deposit of 10% of the value of each order will be taken in every case where we, in our sole discretion, deem verification checks are necessary.
7.5 You will indemnify us for any liability arising from the performance, non-performance, or breach of this agreement, or from use of any information or materials supplied by you under this agreement including, but not limited to breach of clause 7.2.

I'd really love an explanation on why


curved blades are regulated but straight blades aren't.  I'm not up on the whole history but I think it's accurate to state in the US we've had more of a hang-up with concealability than the capability of the weapon itself.  Switchblades are commonly regulated, broadswords are not.  You see the same thing with our gun laws.  You can buy and own the phase plasma rifle in a 40 watt range  (terminator fan?) but you can't stick it under your jacket in 1/3rd of our states and in 2/3rds that you can you need a license to do so. 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

That's 40 gigawatt range

HankP's picture

a 40 watt plasma rifle would probably be a good letter opener.


Curved swords are used for slashing, straight swords are used for thrusting. I'm guessing it's because you could do a lot more damage in a crowd with a curved sword rather than with a straight sword.


I blame it all on the Internet

Hank, I'm blowing the dust of my copy of 'Obscure but True


Facts n'Sh*t' by D. A. Cuddly................Chapter 7, Sh*t That Has Never Been Said Outside of This Book.......Ok here it is, entry 117, and I quote "No,no,no,no,no, folks it's practically harmless.  See, it's a straight blade.'  Ok, so now that we've verified that no words have been spoken, thus no sentiment expressed, again I'm back to why the law excepted straight blades.  Having had time to reflect I suppose it's cultural more than anything else.  The English tooled around with curved blades off and on since the 1750's or so but all their signature blades were straight. 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I assume it is cultural


but more to do with a modern fascination with the katana. I think I remembre a case in the uk of someone hacking a lot of people up in a church with one around the end of the 90s. It might even be engendered by that.


As for their signature blades being straight - only if you ignore the Napoleonic wars where the Brits came down heavily on the curved side of the "what shape should my cavalry sabre be"

I had hoped it was consumer protection


brought about by all the shiddy $79 katanas that have flooded the market in the last 25 years.  Those that have not snapped in half by striking trees and other shiddy katanas now festoon the vast medieval armories of your aging D&D player (sorry MSE).  Nothing against the katana, I have a WWII Japanese military issue and it's nice and all function, zero form.

There's no doubt that the Brits used curved blades but just limiting the discussion to cavalry alone you have the ribbon and basket hilt broad swords through the 18th century, the 1796 heavy pattern.  The Brits went back and forth on whether chopping or slicing was the better approach through most of the 19th century finishing off with stabbing in the final years of horse cavalry.  When you take the discussion beyond cavalry and include a few more centuries, curved blades are in a tiny minority.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Darth is right.




1796 light trooper is the only standout curved blade I suppose. It's been too long since I've dipped into the world of cavalry cutlery of the 1800s. I've kind of reached the conclusion that the ideal cavalry sabre is about 6 foot long, straight, with a 5'6" wooden hilt. 


To make amends I shall offer some real live factuals on the reason for the ban. From

Policy background
7.1 The Government has been concerned for some time about the use of offensive weapons in violent crime. Section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 gives the Secretary of State a power to specify weapons by Order. Where such weapons are specified, it is an offence to manufacture, sell, hire (etc) them and their importation is prohibited. The availability of such weapons is therefore significantly restricted.
7.2 Recently, the Government has been concerned in particular by a number of reports of weapons described as “samurai swords” being used in violent crime, including murders. Police advice is that portability and availability of these swords make them the weapon of choice for growing numbers of young men with criminal intentions.

That's the spirit, Nyoos. Thanks.


I think the US and UK sort of had your idea in mind when they developed their respective 'sabers' in the early 1900's.  They gave up some of the reach of the lance but gained durability and retained the ability to fight close.  I'm still curious about the process for sword development when metallic cartridges, repeating firearms had become common and even the machine gun had started to proliferate.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 



But I wouldn't want to skewer someone with one of those 1908 models at full gallop. I really can't imagine many ways to do so and keep your arm attached to your body and your ar5e attached to your horse.


But as you say, once the Hiram Maxim got his little invention into the field it all gets pretty academic. Still, it looks like the Brits were still using my 6 foot sabre in anger as late as 1916 and with some little success. The battle for Bazentine ridge included a successful lance charge iirc.

Nyoos, when attacking at a full gallop I prefer


to do a superfly off the saddle.  I have read the technique on how it was used in the charge, leaning way forward, arm fully extended, but I have no idea how practical it was.  And it's not like I'm about to go out and try stabbing anyone right now, I don't have a horse.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

No Offense Taken

M Scott Eiland's picture

Though these days I'm playing Pathfinder in a semi-monthly live campaign while my online 4E campaign is on hold due to my GM aka fellow Forvmite Steve Peterson being very busy with his screenwriting career and having a real life (how inconsiderate of him!).

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.


M Scott Eiland's picture

As is often the case, TV Tropes has something to offer on this topic: Katanas Are Just Better.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.



the slicing gun barrels and so on stuff is rediculous, but I'd still haeva  healthy respect for the Katana's ability to cut. I've done a bit of tameshigiri and on targets meant to be roughly equivalent to a human arm and with good technique it is disturbing how little effort it takes to sail right through. I would be surprised if any of the troopers sabres I have in the attic would achieve anything near the same.

Sorry, you're blowing who now?

HankP's picture

I never said straight swords weren't dangerous, just that curved swords seem to be better suited to the kind of melees you'd find in a bar or a pub. And let's face it, most problems in England start in a bar or a pub.


I blame it all on the Internet

The upright Westerner vs twisty Orientals

mmghosh's picture



Reminded me of this. There's a bunch of these, and I find them strangely hilarious (though you certainly don't need to watch the whole thing). Love the guy doing most of the demonstrations.

Hey man, I loved those sword videos. Though I've always


wondered, since there is such a thing as a great sword, then what does the ok sword look like.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I've never killed anyone

HankP's picture

but I have to believe it's a lot easier by pushing a button from ten (or more) feet away than doing the bloody work of stabbing someone to death.


I blame it all on the Internet

You should try a longer knife.



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

With a longer reach than a bullet?

HankP's picture

I don't think so. They're called spears and they're still pretty gory - and harder to aim.


I blame it all on the Internet


HankP's picture

if "mayhem" means hitting just about every thing you're not aiming at, sure. Have you ever tried archery? It's not as easy as it looks.


I blame it all on the Internet

Archery was fun as a kid

mmghosh's picture

about 3 decades ago. This is what we used - bamboo bows and cane arrows. Accuracy was not bad at upto about 40ish ft, IIRC. Don't think handguns are any more accurate at those distances, are they?  though I've never used one.  They were good fun though.


I've shot both


I'm slightly more accurate with a handgun than with a bow and arrow, at 40 feet or thereabouts. I'm pretty accurate with both.


The setup for a bow and arrow is much slower, as is the rate of fire. And then there is portability, plus you can ignore wind with a handgun, though not with a rifle if you shoot far enough.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

About 3 decades since I picked up a bow too.


We used to make recurve ones in my grandfathers workshop and then keep our guardian angels very busy.


I don't do much shooting of any type, least of all handgun, but I think it is easier to be accurate at 10m with a handgun than a bow. At least that's my experience. Maybe not on your first shot, but after 30 minutes instruction on both.


Rate of fire and stopping power are also important considerations. Also, portability.

It Isn't Safe in Church Either..Kill the Ex, Threaten Worshipers


Dec 3

Gregory Eldred, 52, is in custody accused of shooting dead Darlene Sitler about 20 minutes into the service on Sunday in Pennsylvania. Court papers say he then threatened to shoot the pastor and two other worshippers who confronted him. The 53-year-old victim was organist and choir director at the First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport.

Mr Eldred has been a music teacher to young students in Coudersport since 1986.

His ex-wife also taught music at a primary school in a neighbouring district, Northern Potter, for 30 years.

The school superintendent there said the couple had been divorced for several years.


Hand Guns are so much fun.


We've had this argument before...every day in every way hand guns kill people for weird, (but true!) reasons.


Best Wishes, Traveller


So we go over the cliff


and then House Republicans introduce the the Bush tax cuts for the lower 98% and deduction caps on the upper 2% and dare Obama to veto it.


Will Obama veto that bill?

Doesn't get to his desk


There's the little matter of the Senate.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Ok, not the smartest question I've asked


so then Senate Democrats refuse to bring it to a vote.


then the house passes another version of it to pressure team D.


This thing could go on for awhile is what I'm thinking.

Senate Dems can introduce a budget bill...


or heavily amend one the House has sent over. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Can They?

M Scott Eiland's picture

There's been precious little evidence of that in recent years--Tiger Woods was a happily married man the last time Harry Reid managed the feat.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.



I'd rather say he was happy and he was married.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Well. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .his wife wasn't coming after him with his 3-wood in their driveway, in any event.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

That's been the pattern


OTOH, if this goes down after Jan. 1, the Senate D majority will be greater, less centrist, and they'll have full WH backing. 

Democratic Senators Have More To Lose There

M Scott Eiland's picture

Obama's a lame duck regardless of what he does--Senate Democrats are facing another election in 2014 where Obama isn't at the top of the ticket.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

on the other hand


the polling i've seen has over 60% of the public poised to blame the GOP if an agreement isn't made.


so depending, senate democrats might want this fight.

I Will Not Abandon Israel, But This is The Definition of Bad...




JERUSALEM -- Israel said Sunday it would withhold more than $100 million in tax revenue this month from the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, the latest reaction to last week's U.N. vote recognizing the Palestinian territories as a "nonmember observer state."

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he would use the money to repay part of an outstanding Palestinian debt -- estimated to be about $180 million -- to Israel’s electricity company for power supplied to parts of the West Bank.

The action was expected since Israel previously halted the transfer of monthly tax payments in response to a similar U.N. bid by the Palestinians last year. The money is collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority from West Bank importers using Israeli ports.


I will say that Israel is making my support very difficult for me to maintain.




PS...I will also note that the Two State Diary from MA has been Deleted...while I was trying to post in it.


I Don't Understand


Why do you conflate support for Israel and support for Netanyahu and Likud?


I support Israel.


I believe it has a right to exist in peace and security, as an ethnically Jewish state (meaning one where non-religious Jews have the same rights as religious ones).


But I do not support the Israeli right, any more than I support the American right, and I think right-wing Israeli policy is dishonest, destructive, and ultimately harmful to Israel itself, not to mention the Palestinians. And I think this is especially the case under the leadership of Netanyahu.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

This is deliberate ethnic cleansing

mmghosh's picture

in other words, make it unpleasant enough for Palestinians to live in the West Bank so that they will all, or mostly, emigrate.  


This view is closely tied to the various fictional narratives perpetuated - that Palestine was empty land into which Arabs infiltrated after the Zionists made it habitable, that Palestinian Arabs are Bedouin nomads who can move anywhere, that Arabs can migrate anywhere from Morocco to Iraq and find a home, the UN is perpetuating dependency etc.


One major problem that Israel has is the anti-Semitism built into Islam, the various narratives of Jewish betrayal of the Prophet in the early days, documented in the Quran and the Hadith, the seminal turning away from prayer in the direction of Jerusalem towards Mecca, the ethnic cleansing of Arabia of the Jewish tribes and so forth.  This latent and overt anti-Semitism means that Islam and Israel will always be in conflict, at least until Islam leaves off its direct hostility to the Jewish faith.  But this will take a long time.  Even after several hundred years of post-Enlightenment pressure, it was only in 1994 that Lutheran Christianity finally, explicitly, disavowed its own anti-Semitic history.  


Islam will take longer, naturally.  But Israel has to find a road to peace with Islam in the interim.  And ethnic cleansing of Muslim Palestinians, rather than integrating the population into Israel, will be a large stumbling block in the process.  A potentially volatile USA will not be around to bail out the Israelis for very much longer.

It wasn't deleted

HankP's picture

something in the update got it flagged as spam. It's now been unflagged and is back to normal.


I blame it all on the Internet

Stuff Happens, No Big...nt





looks back on some recent two term presidents and how their tax policy affected growth. I guess looking at it this way un-skews the results for them:

George W. Bush Gradually Becoming a Non-Person...

(#297290) is weird...almost Soviet Era like the way Stupid George has been relegated to the closet.


Best Wishes, Traveller



The last GOP president to these folks is a fictionalized Reagan. Gotta hand it to the conservative politburo here in the USA. 

Farewell, Big E

M Scott Eiland's picture

May your successor serve just as proudly.

Admiral, we have found the nuclear


Ah, well done, team 2.

And Admiral, it's the Enterprise.

--script, Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

She was a hell of a wessel. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Now we know who the a$$holes are


Republicans have put in their bid, and they want to:


* significantly cut social security

* cut medicare benefits for the upper *and* middle classes

* raise the eligibility age for medicare

* avoid raising tax rates on the wealthy

* instead cap deductions

* let long-term unemployment insurance expire

* let the payroll tax cut for workers expire


The Republican party is lead by gigantic, unmitigated a$$holes.

And how much would Republican a$$holery save?


Krugman estimates that Republican spending cuts to medicare and social security, which fall almost entirely on the backs of the poor and middle classes, would only save about 30 billion per year. We could save twice as much by returning tax rates for the wealthy to Clinton era levels.


Part of the reason for these small savings is that medicare is more efficient than private insurance, so simply raising the eligibility age in a post-Obamacare world doesn't save much money. The Fed government will end up subsiding a lot of private insurance for those under 67, which is expensive and produces worse outcomes. So, basically the plan is to screw the elderly in order to transfer money to the private sector, and not save the government much money.



The Keystone Sellout is Inevitable


there's just too much money at stake.

Not a Sell Out, Our Principled Opposition Was Successful...



CALGARY, Alberta—TransCanada Corp. TRP +0.74% submitted a reroute of its Keystone XL oil pipeline to the Nebraska state government Wednesday, moving a step closer to reviving the project after it was rejected by the U.S. government earlier this year.

The reroute will avoid an environmentally sensitive area in the U.S. Midwest state, and comes a day after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill allowing the state's review of the pipeline to continue.

Nebraska was a hot spot for protest against Keystone XL last year because of its path across the Sand Hills and the Ogallala aquifer. Getting the reroute approved by Nebraska will help ensure that TransCanada can move ahead with reapplication to the U.S. federal government.


My objection to Keystone was always premised on the protection of the Ogallala aquifer.


What was your objection?


Best Wishes, Traveller


My Objection Was Premised


on the belief that we shouldn't build (or allow to be built) gajillion dollar projects that make it easier to despoil the ground and befoul the atmosphere while also prolonging our dependence on oil and oil producers.

Then I work back from there.

The problem is

HankP's picture

if you have a gajillion smaller projects the net result is the same. And that's where we are now.


Until we have cheaper, superior technology to replace things like the internal combustion engine the best you can hope for is well designed and safeguarded gajillion dollar projects.


I blame it all on the Internet

Everyone's going to look like a lightweight after Hillary.


Of course, Hillary would've seemed like a lightweight in 1992, and probably again in 1996....

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Ms. Rice Does Seem to be a Light Weight, W/O the Gravitas


...of Hilary.


As to Obama, this is to be determined...the start of his Second Term is beginning auspiciously for me.


Best Wishes, Traveller


PS I'm not in favor of Kerry either.

Could you explain exactly what that means?

HankP's picture

because it's not making any sense to me. Did Condi Rice have gravitas? Does John McCain?

I blame it all on the Internet

Colin Powell Did


Though he wasted it.


Condi did not.


So, are you saying Obama should do as bush did? Hire another oil-soaked Rice with little weight or credibility? If that's not what you are saying, what are you saying?

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Still waiting for a definition

HankP's picture

because it doesn't seem much more than "I like that person". It's an awful lot like deciding who's "serious" about economics, which usually means someone who supports conservative ideas.


I blame it all on the Internet



Colin Powell ran a successful war with a huge coalition of countries to coordinate with. There wasn't any significant gaffe or complaint. He was a viable presidential candidate, especially if the Republican base wouldn't suck.


Susan Rice got Micronesia to vote with the US a couple of days ago.


If you don't see the difference in caliber, all the time in the world will not suffice for me to explain it to you.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Probably not

HankP's picture

because "gravitas" sounds like one of those media words that means someone buys into the whole media "common wisdom" BS. In other words, willing to go to war whether it's justified or not.


BTW, how did Colin Powell actually turn out with his "gravitas"?


I blame it all on the Internet

Go With That


Try to persuade me that among my faults you will find a fawning acceptance of MSM conventional wisdom. Sounds like a winning plan to me.


Besides which, you've inverted the requirements. I don't need to demonstrate that Rice isn't worthy. Obama needs to demonstrate that she is, if he picks her. Her record of accomplishments is rather thin, and you haven't mentioned a single reason she should be Secretary of State.


Colin Powell was instrumental in giving bush cover for the invasion of Iraq. In so far as the invasion was a disaster, Powell certainly did not help the US. But that would be missing the point. The point being that Powell did, as secretary of state, give significant credibility to the bush administration, as he would have given to any other administration. Powell ended up paying with his own credibility for it, but that's a separate issue. Despite this, Powell still has friends abroad.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I just think it's a BS term

HankP's picture

I'm sure Henry Kissinger is full of gravitas, but he's a moral monster who helped Nixon kill millions around the globe.


Also, historically the President is allowed to pick pretty much whomever they want for their cabinet, since the President is going to be responsible for their performance anyway.


I blame it all on the Internet

In Practice. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . ."gravitas" is a term used by US journalists (and bloggers) to ascribe an intangible quality to politician A in order to denigrate politician B.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Has it come to this?

HankP's picture

That you're the only one here to understand what I'm saying? I need another drink.


I blame it all on the Internet

I'm Just Amused. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .at remembering all the liberal journalists were climbing all over themselves in 2000 to explain how adding Dick Cheney to the ticket was for purposes of gravitas--not to mention hearing the term applied to Joe "I Nightly Cram My Foot In My Mouth Up To The Hip" Biden.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

But to what end

HankP's picture

did his "gravitas" help or hurt the position of the US?


I blame it all on the Internet

Cemented the role of the USA as the chief military

mmghosh's picture

power in the ME, and in fact the world.


Removed Mr Saddam Hussein, a threat to Kuwait and KSA, both key US allies.  Enabled the development and application of drone technology, the premium military technology available today.  The USA is the undisputed world leader in military drone technology.  If they can manage to knock out the Taliban in Afghanistan, the most difficult and asymmetric military targets in the most challenging terrain and resupply areas today, what hope is there for any other enemy with conventional forces?  Need I go on?


There is a reason why the US is the successful state it is - it has the biggest and best guns.  Historically, that is the thing that counts.  Drone tech has saved the US military, IMO. And not just IMO.

Still, ours remains an intact, unrebellious, professional military.  If you really want to see a force on its last legs, you need to leave the post-9/11 years behind and go back to the Vietnam era.  In 1971, in Armed Forces Journal, Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr., author of a definitive history of the Marine Corps, wrote of “widespread conditions among American forces in Vietnam that have only been exceeded in this century by the French Army’s Nivelle mutinies of 1917 and the collapse of the Tsarist armies [of Russia] in 1916 and 1917.”


The U.S. military in Vietnam and at bases in the U.S. and around world was essentially at the edge of rebellion.  Disaffection with an increasingly unpopular war on the Asian mainland, rejected by ever more Americans and emphatically protested at home, had infected the military, which was, after all, made up significantly of draftees.

Desertion rates were rising, as was drug use.  In the field, “search and evade” (a mocking, descriptive accurate replacement for “search and destroy”) operations were becoming commonplace.  “Fraggings” -- attacks on unpopular officers or NCOs -- had doubled. ("Word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units.")  And according to Col. Heinl, there were then as many as 144 antiwar “underground newspapers” published by or aimed at soldiers.  At the moment when he wrote, in fact, the antiwar movement in the U.S. was being spearheaded by a rising tide of disaffected Vietnam veterans speaking out against their war and the way they had fought it.


In this fashion, an American citizen’s army, a draft military, had reached its limits and was voting with its feet against an imperial war.  This was democracy in action transferred to the battlefield and the military base.  And it was deeply disturbing to the U.S. high command, which had, by then, lost faith in the future possibilities of a draft army.  In fact, faced with ever more ill-disciplined troops, the military’s top commanders had clearly concluded: never again!

So on the very day the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January 1973, officially signaling the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam (though not quite its actual end), President Richard Nixon also signed a decree ending the draft.  It was an admission of the obvious: war, American-style, as it had been practiced since World War II, had lost its hold on young minds.


There was no question that U.S. military and civilian leaders intended, at that moment, to sever war and war-making from an aroused citizenry.  In that sense, they glimpsed something of the future they meant to shape, but even they couldn’t have guessed just where American war would be heading.  Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams, for instance, actually thought he was curbing the future rashness of civilian leaders by -- as Andrew Bacevich explained in his book The New American Militarism -- “making the active army operationally dependent on the reserves.”  In this way, no future president could commit the country to a significant war “without first taking the politically sensitive and economically costly step of calling up America’s ‘weekend warriors.’”

Colin Powell enabled drones?

HankP's picture

My God, is there anything he can't do?


You're learning the wrong lesson from the excerpt. A wiser policy is to not go around declaring wars that are unwinnable. The main reason we don't have the dissent in the ranks they had back then is that we don't have a draft anymore.


I blame it all on the Internet

Mr Powell was SOS at the time of declaration of the Afghan war

mmghosh's picture

until 2005, so yes, I do think he was part of the group who came up with the use of drones, which started in Pakistan in 2004.  We were discussing this in Tacitus at around the time it happened IIRC.


And it is part of the continuum of military strategy.  As for the article, I agree the premise is that getting into unexitable (rather than unwinnable - after all the USA won in both Iraq and Afghanistan) wars is bad strategy.


HankP's picture

or really radio controlled airplanes, have been around for decades. The technology finally got to the point that they could be used effectively in combat coincided with the Afghan and Iraq wars, but that was just coincidence.


Also, the US in no way won either Afghanistan or Iraq - unless you consider an orderly retreat a victory.


I blame it all on the Internet

Agreed, but you need a stage to perform on

mmghosh's picture

iron out bugs, improve accuracy and so forth.


See this report for example, where the drone operator doesn't launch when he realises the potential "terrorist" he is targeting is actually a child.  This is a great example of real humanitariansim, in real life.


So the tech is improving all the time, but as in this example, multiple civilians, children etc will need to die before such technology is perfected to the state when the targets are genuine.  Now this could not be done in war theatres where there is more media attention.  OTOH, few, either in the US, or the ROW really bother about random Afghan civilians.


And both Iraq and Afghanistan were victories.  Mr Hussein and the Taliban are out.  Napoleon was victorious over the Fourth Coalition.  That he met a Waterloo later doesn't invalidate that fact.

Saddam had already been neutralized as a threat,


and none of the other consequences you mention required a full-scale invasion of Iraq to carry out.


The invasion of Iraq became the longest military conflict in US history, and the most expensive save only for WWII. Meanwhile the outcome, a dangerous, factionalized Iraq run by a strongman who maintains power through a massive and brutal secret police organization, offers no discernible improvement over the outset.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

3rd longest.


Vietnam and Afghanistan both were/are longer military conflicts.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Perhaps you need to be outside the USA

mmghosh's picture

and not even as an adversary - to be really impressed by the (metaphorical) impact of bombs hitting the ground.


My point being, a lot of issues hinge on demonstration of effective military action.  And the USA really demonstrated war-tech in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Very effective in arms sales, for one example.  It works both ways, too. Take something like IEDs which have been taken on by guerillas all over the world.  Israel, too, may have engineered the latest Gaza conflict to demonstrate/test the Iron Dome system.

I think that's truer in Asia than elsewhere.


American soft power should not be underestimated, at least in the broad Western Hemisphere (Europe, including Russia, Latam, Australia-NZ, and some of Africa).


Nobody in Russia, for instance, fears an American bomb. Yet American film, lifestyles, role models, brands, and so on, had a huge impact and still do. The same applies to many other places.


Your location isn't just outside the USA; it's between the Middle East and South East Asia. It borders with Pakistan, next to Afghanistan. You've been historically a subject of British guns (though I will argue that the guns were not the primary source of power). Outside the USA is a big place, and the reasons for American influence vary.


I note this also because the Chinese are busy acquiring guns, but their ability to project soft power is still small, especially in the cultural realm.


They have a lot of work to do. There isn't a soul on the planet who lusts for the average Chinese way of life, even in idealized form. It is not impossible to change this. Traditional Chinese culture has much appeal to Western eyes, as does modern economic dynamism. But the perception is that the country is a huge sweatshop, and who wants to copy that?

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Chinese GDP per capita is 90 ish out of 180 odd

mmghosh's picture


so there are plenty of people in plenty of countries who lust for the Chinese way of life.  Even our elites - there are many well off industrialists here I've met at meetings who are very supportive of the way in which labour is kept cowed down in China.


That Russia isn't competing with the USA is, IMO, definitely because of Russian military weakness.  Look at the state of their clients - Bashir Assad, for instance.

Wait a minute...


I don't doubt that your elites like cheap labor. Elites usually do. But my point is that I doubt they would actually want to live in China.


You are making a big mistake if you think Russia lost to the US from military weakness. Assad is a bad example, he does have the superior weapons. His problem is the ethnic makeup of Syria.


Russia gave up their Soviet path because it became apparent to them, and specifically to their elites, that their economic model was hopeless. As far back as Nikita Krushchev's visit to an American supermarket in 1959:

I've been lucky enough to spend a few hours in East Berlin when there still was such a thing. And I visited the closest thing I could find to a supermarket. Even then, 20 years after Kruschev's US visit, the store could best be described as pathetic, with long, half-empty shelves having at best one poor quality product. The packaging was depressingly drab, the place was gray and badly lit. This in capital of the richest country in the Eastern Block except for Russia itself.


Détente had by then meant that thousands of officials, artists, sports personalities and other Soviet representatives had spent time in the West. These people could not return in anything but a state of shock at huge difference in wealth, mobility, diversity and dynamism that they saw. By the time Gorbachov took power, it was clear to all but the most primitive nationalists that the Soviet economic system was hopeless.


I think you are missing the big picture by focusing on guns. Commerce is actually more powerful.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I agree, commerce is more powerful. But

mmghosh's picture

there is no reason why the Soviets could not follow, say, the Chinese model.  The Chinese have always been careful not to get into arms races, and Afghanistan-type imbroglios.  


I would say you are discounting the psychological and economic effect of the military defeat of the Red Army in Afghanistan.


Something similar could easily happen in China, if the PLA is defeated in an external war (not a Vietnam style microwar), or be unable to exterminate internal opposition.

Yeah, I'm discounting It


And I am discounting it because the US suffered a similar humiliation in Vietnam, and though that led to significant internal crisis and self-doubt, it did not lead to the end of capitalism, or even the two party system.


The reason is that Americans have traditionally understood the power of the country to be based in commerce, as far back as the founders, and before really. The notion that the country derives power from the military is really quite new, a result of World War II amplified by the permanent militarization brought on by the Cold War.


In the classic American model, the military had no more than a supporting role for commerce. The country did not even have a significant standing army.


The Soviet loss in Afghanistan stung because the system had nothing else to show for itself except a gigantic and discredited military.


The Soviets could not turn into China because, to begin with, they did not have the example of the Soviet Union collapsing, which the Chinese Communist Party did. Second, the Chinese are neighbors of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, all of which adopted capitalism to enormous success, and Taiwan in particular without needing to resort to democracy for many decades.


So the Chinese saw what worked and what didn't, and made their move. The PLA could suffer a defeat without collapsing the system. The dynamism of the Chinese economy has no parallel at any period of the Soviet State.


The fact is, the 20th century we all found out that Capitalism sucks, but Communism is completely unworkable. The most successful countries have capitalism and then try to keep it from sucking too much through regulation and the welfare state.


It's a kludge, but for this stage of the species nobody has shown anything better. Ideological purists on the right and left are simply too stupid to see that a very simple system does not work. It needs to be more complicated, so there are safety valves and redundancy.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

It Helped The bush Administration


And it helped a lot.


Powell did fall on his sword. He did burn his credibility capital for bush. But he had a lot of that capital going in. You cannot be seriously questioning that.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I'm not saying he didn't have an effect

HankP's picture

in that case it was because of his military background IMO. But I don't see how Rice wouldn't have had a similar effect in presenting information from the Obama administration in a similar situation.


I blame it all on the Internet

So Why Don't You Like George Mitchell or Howard Dean or...



...Richard Holbrooke, each have their pluses and minuses, but all are heavy weights, unlike Susan Rice whom also just grates whenever she speaks.


It's not like I'm not giving you interesting options here.





My two cents.... Mitchell is to old.... Dean has no foreign


affairs experience...( Not that it is completely disqualifying)  Holbrook would be on the short list for the job if he was alive... IMHO Kerry should stay in the senate for political reasons... Also IMHO most but not all of the push back against rice is the Senate as a club wanting one of its own to be Sec State. I have also heard that McCain also is holding a grudge from Rice being a surrogate and attack dog for Obama in the 08 race. I have also heard the same about Hillary. Susan Rice for all her faults was an early Obama supporter. She is also by many accounts still in his inter circle.  I'm a Samantha Powers fan....I'm indifferent to Rice....I have issues with the fact that she was attacked for doing her job..... This makes me more likley to support her.... Richard lugar would be an interesting choice since most policy is run out of the west wing and not Foggy bottom.... Obama has a good relationship with him.... He has a huge breath of Knowledge....

Ask courageous questions. Do not be satisfied with superficial answers. Be open to wonder and at the same time subject all claims to knowledge, without exception, to intense skeptical scrutiny. Be aware of human fallibility. Cherish your species and yo

Agreed On All Three


Dean especially would be interesting, but Mitchell and Holbrooke are definitely respectable.


If you want interesting, Susan Rice was Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995, under Bill Clinton.


The Rwandan Genocide was in 1994. Does anybody in the room recall Rice as a figure trying to do anything about this at the time? Does anybody recall her at all?

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Susan Rice is a Condiment....



As to your questions, No and No, But then Bush the Minor Was a Two Bit Player Also...elevated above his ability. We all would have been so much better off if his brother Jeb had been President.


So it was natural that Condi was a light weight also.


I like the arguments made over at Coming Anarchy:


From the first secretaries of state up until the end of the 20th century, the secretary of state was invariably a senior statesman. Presidents generally picked a person with institutional connections in the ruling party and administration who could be seen to truly speak for the President and act as his trusted agent in foreign affairs. Time after time, senior figures or trusted mentors of the President have been selected to fill this position — Alex Haig under Reagan, James Baker under Bush, and Warren Christopher under Clinton. 


And in comments, defending Hilary as fitting above:


The serious nitpick is that Hilary Clinton, as the runner up for the Democratic nomination (and who was very narrowly defeated), definitely fits in with the classical model of the Secretary of State. She has a power base, in what is essentially the Clinton faction of the Democratic party, separate from Obama and her selection actually harks back to the early days of the Republic, when the Secretary of State was viewed as a President-in-waiting. Also, being telegenic is not really among her talents, one of the reasons she was defeated in the primaries is that she has a poor, even grating, presence on television (compare here presence on television with that of female politicians who became prime minister in other countries, particularly the new prime minister of Australia).


George Mitchell or Howard Dean for SoS were this my choice.


Susan Rice is a condiment.


Best Wishes, Traveller


I bolded the above, I rather like that quote from me!


Sounds like bulls(*t to me

HankP's picture

whether or not someone can "be seen to truly speak for the President and act as his trusted agent in foreign affairs" is up to the President. I'm not seeing how many people on this list meet your criteria, and whether that made them a good SOS or not.


I blame it all on the Internet

the premise is right


the conclusion is wrong. h. clinton really is connected to the levers of dem party power. as many of us will recall, those dlc parts of the party were welcomed into the obama adminstration after besting mccain in 2008. (which maybe speaks to another issue... obama does not have an institutional power base of his own...)


HankP's picture

so if she didn't approve it, what would that mean?


I blame it all on the Internet

It's not just Keystone


Fossil fuels are a global problem and our approach has heavy foreign policy implications all over the map. A foreign policy aligned with the fossil fuel industry, or sympathetic to it, is a continuation of one of the worst features of the bush administration. Susan Rice represents that.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

You're dreaming

HankP's picture

there's far too much money and geopolitical influence in the oil industry to have any government be "neutral" towards them. The only solutions to that are long term and involve alternate energy - which Obama has been pushing. You're not going to get anything better than that for the next few decades.


Also, anyone with any kind of wealth holds oil stocks. Even I do from time to time when the price of crude drops enough. Does that make anyone with investments in oil stocks unsuitable? Because you just restricted your pool of potential applicants to almost nothing.


I blame it all on the Internet

Not True


1/3 of her portfolio is in oil stock, which is high, and 1/3 of that in tar sands, which is not just high but unusual.


I don't personally know anybody who has tar sands stock. I know some people who trade or hold oil stock. But TransCanada isn't exactly McDonalds, is it? You could argue that for Exxon, but not for a Canadian tar sands company.


I might be dreaming but you are truly defending the indefensible. The first Rice had a tanker named after her. Isn't that enough? Is this Rice so brilliant and so qualified that Obama can do no better? Really? These choices send signals. Bush II, the return, is not a good signal to send.


And though I ordinarily should have nothing to say about your investments, I must say, since you brought it up, that I find baffling and illogical that you would choose to invest your money with oil companies. They are actively working day and night to place Republican candidates in office all around the country, and to subvert the legislative process through the funding of organizations like ALEC.


Even if you are not an environmentalist at all, this is self-defeating behavior for any partisan democrat.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.


HankP's picture

so if I see easy money on the table I shouldn't take it? Especially when I'm taking it from the oil companies? Unfortunately for me I don't have anyone else but me to depend on to fund my retirement, so your advice is a bit difficult to take seriously.


I blame it all on the Internet



You help generate liquidity for their stock and thus their ability to obtain financing, reward their employees, or buy other companies.


And I am not giving you advice. I am pointing out that your investing in oil companies goes directly against your political priorities. Make of it what you will, but don't try to deny a simple economic fact.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Shakes head sadly


Stocks are priced as an estimate of future earnings. Even if half the people in the world decided to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock, the investors in the other half would see the stock falling below its true value and snap it up.


Now if half the people in the world decided not to USE fossil fuels, then that would have an effect. The price of fossil fuels would plummet, and so would the earnings of fossil fuel companies.


But I suppose that's HARD to do. A divestment campaign might be wan and feckless, but it's easy and allows for a quick shot of righteous feeling.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Just One Problem With That Theory


There is no such thing as "true value" for any stock, and stocks are not priced in terms of future earnings alone.


The one value investors should care about is market value. If half the market won't buy it, the stock has fewer buyers and will see less liquidity as well as a lower price.


Nor would the other half of the market be able to compensate even if such a thing as "true value" existed. Investors have limits on how much of their portfolio they will invest in a given sector or company, so the "other half" will not be able to absorb the stock without a price decrease.


Further, part of the money freed for the non-investing half can fund renewable sources and thus accelerate investment in that sector.


I'll agree that demand reduction is more important than divestment, but divestment works.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Google "how do I value a stock?"


You'll see lots of methods, but returns are always part of the equation.


I doubt sector limits would be a factor if half of the market boycotted fossil fuels, but of course, that's an absurd hypothetical. You'd be lucky to get even 1% of investors on board.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Part of the Equation


It's a phrase without specific meaning. Sure, they are "part of the equation", that's practically a tautology.


The question is, what part?


Not to mention, the thrust of the argument is really the drug pusher's defense: "If I don't sell the stuff, somebody else will." It doesn't get much more morally bankrupt than that.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

"Coca Cola Racism"

M Scott Eiland's picture

I attended UCLA at the height of the South African divestment controversy, and it was not uncommon to hear advocates of divestment accuse users of Coca-Cola products (Coca-Cola being a company with a prominent business presence in SA) of racism. Fortunately, it was before PC really got a powerful foothold in campus politics, keeping my loud and unapologetic mockery of idiots who engaged in such inane rhetoric* from getting me in hot water.

*--limiting said characterization to that particular time and place and by no means including any Forvmites, of course.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

I'm Sure There is a Point In There Somewhere


But considering the effectiveness of the divestiture strategy, what it is, I have no idea.


It was an unqualified success, causing capital outflows and the collapse of the Rand. It forced the government to negotiate.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

But It Was The End Of The Cold War* That Ultimately Won The Day

M Scott Eiland's picture

And the point is that if anything, the activists impeded the implementation of their strategy by insulting people who didn't go along with the program right away. *--Botha dying in 1989 and being replaced with the more pragmatic De Klerk helped, too.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

going to have to disagree... First that one or a few


overzealous In your view of activist driven divestment does not mean that it was counter productive or wrong as a strategy as MA points out even those on the other side talk about how it worked. That apartheid was racist is not arguable that people or companies that did business or supported that government were at the least complacent in supporting that policy is also true. Unless you view any externalities to making money just that and you do not think that you should be judged as at a minimum a passive support seems strange. In fact divestment was driven because it is pretty much indefensible when addressed in this fashion. Climate change activists are pursuing the same strategy on the fossil fuel industries starting with university divestment. Wonkblog talks about what needs to happen to keep the increase in temp less that 2 degrees. Which IMHO view is probably what you or your children will have to explain to your grandchildren what you did to slowdown or stop this problem. This is just one of the groups pushing it and why.... 

Ask courageous questions. Do not be satisfied with superficial answers. Be open to wonder and at the same time subject all claims to knowledge, without exception, to intense skeptical scrutiny. Be aware of human fallibility. Cherish your species and yo

A lot of things helped.


Mandela being a wise and brilliant man helped a great deal, and in that South Africa was simply lucky.


But your premise was to mock the divestment movement, though it is acknowledged by all sides to have been a major pressure point on the regime. Just because some people went overboard with PC garbage does not nullify the success of the concept and its execution.


Divestment works.


I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

I'll tell you what

HankP's picture

you put on the hairshirt and go live in a cave, and let me know how it goes. Becuase buying oil apparently goes against your political priorities.


I blame it all on the Internet

It Does


And it goes against yours as well. Do you deny it?


I'll be oil free within a year or two, at least in terms of direct consumption. I already use very little. Just need the electric car.


I am not going to be a Taliban about this. I am not going to stop buying things that were shipped by truck, for example. But I will and have removed optional uses. And putting money in oil stocks is definitely optional.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.


HankP's picture

"I am not going to stop buying things that were shipped by truck, for example" Of course not, or you'd starve and freeze. And that's really the tip of the iceberg, because pretty much everything in our entire world runs on  oil.


I'm glad you're in a position to reduce your carbon footprint (although I think it's by far less than you think you are). But not everyone is in that position. And you know what? If I don't put away enough retirement savings I won't be able to reduce my carbon use in the near future the way I've planned to.


I blame it all on the Internet

I love the sound of cognitive dissonance in the morning.


There is an apt phrase here, something about money and mouth.


There is something called ethical investing:


It's not really new. It goes back at least as far as the 1700's.


To hear you, one would think that by investing this way, I will spend my retirement living out of a rusting 1979 Chevy Caprice. Yet back in real life, ethical investment vehicles perform on par with conventional ones.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

My rule for investing

HankP's picture

is that I only invest when I (at least think) I understand what's going on. I've watched the oil markets for my adult life and I have a pretty good idea of when I think it's a good idea to buy or sell. There are a few other areas that I feel comfortable with, mostly involving offsetting futures contracts. I have no such understanding of ethical investments. And I don't have a safety net of any kind other than SS and Medicare. So sure, mock me for not being willing to risk my future (and that of my wife and child) by investing in stuff I don't understand.


I blame it all on the Internet

I am not mocking you.


I am telling you that investing in oil, or coal for that matter, is counterproductive for someone with your views.


And, by the way, part of the future for your child is having a planet worth living on. Investing in oil to "protect the future of my family" is a contradiction in terms. It's the very definition of cognitive dissonance.


And I do understand you want to invest in that which you personally understand. Articles by stock analysts are almost always worthless, and often deliberately misleading. You can only invest where you have personal insight. I get that.


But that doesn't change the simple fact that what you are doing contradicts your political objectives. It plainly does. At least admit that, and we are done here.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

No, it doesn't

HankP's picture

what will make a difference will be someone developing a technology that can replace the internal combustion engine. I've invested in several of those over the years as well (all except one money losers). The fact is that every virtually product and service in our society depends on fossil fuels,


I blame it all on the Internet

That is a fact.


But that is not a necessary fact. It is the result of decades of policy choices. Germany has half our carbon footprint and I don't see their society lacking in products or services, or the wealth to acquire them. Dependency of fossil fuels is by design. It is not a law of physics.


And, if I understand you correctly, you are making a ludicrous claim. Investments through stock purchases do make a difference, and a big one. If they didn't, no company would go through the considerable trouble required to issue stock and keep it listed.


A replacement for the internal combustion engine cannot come from thin air. The oil companies have gone through considerable lengths to thwart such a development, for example by buying battery patents and then sitting on them, not to mention the money they have spent supporting right wing politicians. They have distorted American research into energy and climate, American foreign policy, and American transportation policy. And they continue to do so.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Likewise, I Own Lots of Oil, Shell, BP, Total, Marathon...

(#297308)'s up and down as is any commodity; buy low, accumulate the dividends....What's not to like?





Oh, there is the little detail...


...that they are rendering the planet unfit to live on.


And the other matter that they corrupt the political process in pretty much every country they operate in.


Other than that...

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

Point Noted...I Sigh You are Correct, But I Must Surivive AlsoNT



Fair Enough


At least you acknowledge the issue.


But let's backtrack a bit. This was about Susan Rice, not Hank's retirement fund. Susan Rice is a millionaire. A member of the top 1%. Is her survival at stake if she does not invest in tar sands?


Yet we are supposed to pump money into Democratic campaigns so that they have the firepower to counter the money companies that Susan Rice invests in give to Republicans? This so Susan Rice can be rewarded and become Secretary of State? That's just wrong on too many levels. F that.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.

And They Do Pay Nice Quarterly Dividends...nt



While I Admire Condi And Have Little Use For Susan. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .pointing to the tanker named after Condi Rice as a reason for opposing Susan Rice seems a bit weak. It's not as if they're conjoined twins.

Apparently, HRC isn't a fan, either.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

The Naming Reflects Her Relationships


The point is that they both have oil industry interests.


That might be weak for you, because it doesn't bother you. It bothers me though.

I am not a pessimist. I am an incompetent optimist.


M Scott Eiland's picture

Given the lack of overall enthusiasm for her both online and among Democratic pols, I'm thinking that the only reason that Obama's people are hinting that she might be nominated is to give the usual scum (no one here) an occasion to imply or state openly that the Republican opposition to her is based in racism and sexism (ignoring that the flip side of Jon Stewart's smart@$$ery the other day is that Republicans clearly have no problems with a black woman named Rice serving as Secretary of State--they have problems with *this* black woman named Rice being named Secretary of State).

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Don't underestimate the power of extreme phrasing quibbling

brutusettu's picture

that borders on people actually thinking  Rice "trotted out the talking points that Benghazi attackers found heavy weapons that spontaneously generated in the middle of a protest."

"Jazz, the music of unemployment."


Frank Zappa