Palin on Obama’s Nuclear Policy

Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska for a few months before launching a career as a talk show host, objects to President Obama’s new nuclear policy thusly:

Now, the president, with all the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer, as a part-time senator, and as a full-time candidate, all that experience, still no accomplishment to date with North Korea and Iran.

Some very good responses to this:

  • Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, “Good Morning America”:  “[I]f the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.”
  • Jonathan Bernstein, political scientist and blogger, A Plain Blog About Politics: “You do realize that Obama won, don’t you?  And that therefore a whole lot of Americans…I’m gong to guess it’s about 300 million of them — think of him as a President of the United States, not as some upstart nobody.  I mean, even the ones who think he’s a Kenyan-born commie-nazi think of him as an impostor president, not an impostor community organization who wishes he was president.”

Also, some less-than-good responses:

  • Bob Owens, blogger, Confederate Yankee: “Palin’s view of nuclear weapons was shaped by her stint as the commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard, our first line of defense against Soviet nuclear weapons. Obama has held his same views since he was a stoner college student and has showed no signs of maturing.”
  • Michael Tomansky, blogger, The Guardian: “For those of you abroad who may not be familiar with this, this is one of the crucial nuances, and nuclear is a totemic touchstone in American politics. You see, if you pronounce it correctly, that proves that you are a coastal elitist who can’t be trusted with defending America and who wants terrorists to bomb US cities. It just proves it. Because it just does. Okay?

Look, there are good grounds for questioning the nuances of the Nuclear Posture Review and some of the positions Obama has announced.  I don’t get particularly excited about the issue because I think it’s mostly throat clearing:   A nuclear-free world is a pipe dream and the preconditions for it (essentially, un-inventing 70-year-old technology and changing human nature) are never going to be met.  Further, regardless of what anyone’s announced policy is on first — or even second — strike may be is completely meaningless.  Any national leader who strongly feels the need to nuke someone is going to do it, regardless of what he or any predecessor has pledged.   But all that’s a post for another day.

Obama’s policy changes are modest, indeed, and widely supported with the national security Establishment, which tends to hold bipartisan consensus on this type of thing.  This isn’t an issue where he’s going to waste a lot of political capital fighting an uphill battle.   The Republican objections to the new START treaty and the NPR and nuanced and modest, mostly centering on our relations with Eastern Europe.

Moreover, Bernstein is right:  Whatever one may think of Obama’s preparation to be president, he current holds the office of . . . president.  He has, in fact, held that office for fourteen months and counting.   One can question his judgment at this point but not his resume.  Furthermore, regardless of whether the SECDEF and JCS are giving Obama advice or he’s giving them orders and they’re spouting the party line, the fact of the matter is that he’s surrounded by people with enormous experience.  His National Security Advisor alone has been steeped in this issues since before Sarah Palin won her first beauty pageant.

And, unless you’re writing for “Saturday Night Live” or The Onion, spare me references to the deep knowledge of international security policy acquired during the 31 months she spent commanding the flippin’ Alaska National Guard.  Aside from the fact that it comprises something like 1850 part-time soldiers, it only reports to the governor when it’s activated for non-military missions such as disaster relief.   When it’s called up for military operations, it reports through the military chain of command which culminates with a certain former community organizer.

On the other hand, while there are all manner of meaningful and clever ways to attack Palin’s vapidness on this, her regional dialect is not among them.  Plenty of really bright folks, including genius-level folks with PhDs in nuclear physics, pronounce “nuclear” in other than the way Tomasky and I do.  That doesn’t make them idjits.

Oh:  One point in the Palin quote others seem to have missed:  President Bush didn’t exactly do a bangup job dealing with Iran and North Korea, either.  Not because he was incompetent, mind you, but because the options available are extraordinarily limited and unpleasant.  Obama hasn’t fixed it, not because he’s mullah-lovin’ commie but because it likely ain’t fixable.   And, campaign rhetoric aside, his approach to both cases has been remarkably consistent with Bush’s.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    He “won“and now is President. Shut up and sit down for now he knows all. Not a good argument IMO.

    James, you sure seemed to be sucking up to Obama and liberals lately. You didn’t even stick up for Bush this much. Have you been going to a great deal of Washington Parties lately or what?




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  2. Mike A says:

    As I read this article, I am reminded of what I believe is a major failing with political commentary today – the lack of perspective. It seems as though the “main stream” commentary, attempting to give perspective on conservative positions or speeches, is always concerned with what is NOW. It ignores the inescapable fact that circumstances of the past impacted, at least in part, the decisions that led to NOW. For example, this article essentially says that since Obama is president NOW, then he has somehow gained experience to make up for his complete lack of it prior to being president. Let’s completely ignore that he has displayed on numerous occasions a dangerously naive worldview when it comes to international politics and relations. Since he is president NOW, then it is somehow inappropriate to identify that, from obvious outward indicators, he has not benefited from his exposure to national security issues and concerns, nor has he changed his world view from what it was as a “community organizer.” Hence the appropriateness of Mrs. Palin’s observations and subject matter.

    Obama is still bowing and scraping to foreign leaders whose self interests are often in direct opposition to the national security concerns of the United States. Except now he is gambling with the citizen’s money, not just his political capital, by betting our security not on deterrence, but on the good will and intentions of our international rivals. To say that they are not rivals is naive.

    This lack of perspective also shows in comments in this article about the job Bush did in containing North Korea and Iran. The focus on NOW conveniently forgets about the uproar from the left when Bush made the “Axis of Evil” statements and how he was excoriated in the media for “war mongering” and acting like a “cowboy.” There was no support whatsoever for taking or even threatening military involvement. No credible threat equals no credible deterrence. An honest assessment regarding the lack of containment by the Bush administration would realize that this had everything to do with the left’s attempt to demonize Bush’s foreign policy, and very little to do with Bush’s ability or will.

    This article is just as self-deluding as most that reject the new conservative resolve and the associated disdain for Obama’s policies and abilities. This self-delusion is going to come at a high price to the left.




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  3. steve says:

    I grew up with realism and am most comfortable with that school of thought. However, I do read neocons and liberal interventionists. There are a lot of thoughtful people out there with interesting POVs. I might disagree with, say Cheney or Rumsfeld, but I think they know their stuff. I would not consider Palin among that group. I do not know why you would either James.

    Steve




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  4. John425 says:

    It is the perception of weakness that Obama is projecting. It encourages rogue states to further their WMD acquisitions because Obama has pretty much said that he won’t retaliate.

    Palin sees this. Too bad Eastern elites don’t understand different perceptions and impressions except from those with whom they agree.




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  5. Clovis says:

    Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska for a few months

    Well. There’s an intro that ensures a calm and reasoned article is to folow. But, hark

    before launching a career as a talk show host,

    An uncharitable mind might think that the author is diminishing the experience and knowledge of talk show hosts.

    While holding community organizers in great esteem.

    Look, there are good grounds for questioning the nuances of the Nuclear Posture Review and some of the positions Obama has announced.

    As long as they are made by someone else?




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  6. Mike A says:

    Does the author of this article realize that the United States has signed a treaty promising not to use biological or chemical weapons? And that this latest mistake by Obama means there is effectively NO action that the US will take in response to a WMD attack except a “boots on the ground” response? Where is the deterrence in that?




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  7. Steve Plunk says:

    What flippin’ experience might our president have? A few months in the US Senate.

    A lot of very smart people are saying the same thing Palin is saying. To some degree I’m sure she is relying on the experts opinions which is a very smart thing to do. If I say it’s the wrong policy is that vapid?

    I just don’t get the Palin hatred. I don’t think she’s presidential material but for gosh sakes she not Pamela Anderson either. She was smart enough to be elected governor and held her own in the debate with Biden.

    I’m getting the feeling only the opinions of PhD’s are welcome around here.




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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Mika A:

    What a pitiful, dishonest and stupid comment. And all in the guise of granting us your wise perspective.

    It ignores the inescapable fact that circumstances of the past impacted, at least in part, the decisions that led to NOW

    .

    So you agree that Obama is in now way to blame for an economy left in shambles by the previous president, or to blame for a mess in NK and Iran left likewise, or for the debt he inherited, or the unemployment already spiraling when he came to office.

    Duh.

    Obama is still bowing and scraping to foreign leaders whose self interests are often in direct opposition to the national security concerns of the United States.

    Do you have a single example of bowing and scraping? Even one? He’s increased attacks on our actual enemies, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. So to what enemy did he grovel? Give me your list of enemies and the groveling you think occurred.

    The focus on NOW conveniently forgets about the uproar from the left when Bush made the “Axis of Evil” statements and how he was excoriated in the media for “war mongering” and acting like a “cowboy.

    So, let me get this straight: if some of his political opposition loudly opposed him he’s excused for his inability to cope? And of course in fairness you’d say the same about Obama and his spittle-flecked, rage-a-holic, hysterical opposition. Right?

    You know, I just love it when some intellectual featherweight from the right sets out to explain things to us. Jesus, you’re so thick you don’t even see that you undercut your own arguments.

    Summarizing your points:

    1) The past matters. Unless it doesn’t.
    2) Obama groveled to Al Qaeda by sending Predators into Pakistan to kill them.
    3) Presidents can’t be held liable if they had opposition. Unless the president in question is a democrat and the opposition is you.
    4) You’ve taught us all a lesson in long-term perspective.




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  9. Clovis says:

    the fact of the matter is that he’s surrounded by people with enormous experience. His National Security Advisor alone has been steeped in this issues since before Sarah Palin won her first beauty pageant.

    Aside from the blatant douchiness of that, let us discuss the vast experience of every single President before. Does that make them immune from criticism?

    One could hope that this was a belated April Fools. Or written by Knapp. Or done in a wrestle with Bacchus. It still reads like the type of rant that one might want to reconsider, else appear as a misogynist fool.

    Advice. Which you can take or leave. Say it was an experiment. That excuses almost everything.




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  10. Triumph says:

    Palin is an American hero. I love how all of these elitists think that she somehow makes unreasoned arguments.

    Well, the whole reason-y thing is yesterday’s beans. Sarah is the future of conservatism, the future of the Republican party, and the future of our world.

    If you don’t like it–go to Venezuela and bus tables for Chavez. This is Sarah’s turf now!




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  11. Davebo says:

    On the other hand, while there are all manner of meaningful and clever ways to attack Palin’s vapidness on this, her regional dialect is not among them. Plenty of really bright folks, including genius-level folks with PhDs in nuclear physics, pronounce “nuclear” in other than the way Tomasky and I do.

    Can you name one?




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  12. Mike A says:

    To Michael Reynolds:

    Obviously, I struck a nerve. You can always tell a raving liberal when they start out in a reply to your comment by stating how stupid you are for offering your comments. This is also a sure sign that the next thing they say will be a blatant attempt to twist your words in order to attack the obvious meaning and support their position. “Yawn”

    While I’m sure you will try to trumpet this as indicating I have no evidence, nonetheless I will respond to your request for examples of bowing and scraping by saying “look it up yourself.” There are numerous video clips of this behavior with the emperor of Japan, King of Saudi Arabia , or whatever. Nice try, unless you’re serious about your ignorance of this, in which case you need to expand your news sources.

    Second, regarding my supposed “get out of jail free” card for Bush’s responsibility for the current economic disaster that is our economy. Here’s a quick civics lesson for you – THE PRESIDENT DOESN’T PROPOSE BUDGETS AND SPENDING – Congress does. The congress has been controlled by Democrats since 2006. This whole argument by you and others on the left is completely bankrupt – remember when the democrats pressured George Bush senior onto passing new taxes, and then the press DESTROYED him for violating the “read my lips” promise?

    Obama OWNS this economic disaster now, and so do the democrats, who have been in the majority for the last 4 years. And don’t snivel about Bush signing TARP, or whine about the “cost of the war in Iraq” because Mr. Obama has RAPED the future of my children by proposing programs that result in spending more money than all other presidents in history combine up to this point in our history.




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  13. The Q says:

    Mike A,

    Hey buddy, here’s a little tip, if you are going to try and disabuse someone’s argument, it might be a good idea to actually have a fact or two on your side to buttress your rebuttal.

    Why no one can take you seriously is because of idiotic statements like this one:

    “Mr. Obama has RAPED the future of my children by proposing programs that result in spending more money than all other presidents in history combine up to this point in our history.”

    If you truly think that (and I a bet you do) then you are a moron (politically speaking).

    Your comment is typical of the loony, infantile wingnut arguments that liberals are constantly coming up against when dealing with right wing fools.

    I am sorry to be so cruel, but there is zero way to substantively debate you idiots.

    Where do you guys pick up this shite?

    I mean seriously, do you think before you write?

    Do you really think, factoring for inflation, and the 230 odd years of our history that Obama will outspend all those president’s combined.

    Yeah, and the same idiot that got you to think that also got you to think that Reagan had nothing to do with the success of the 80s since, according to you, congress passes budgets and spending.

    So, the next time some rabid Republican comes up to me and praises Reagan for ending the cold war or getting us out of the Jimmy Carter economic mess, I will just retort to them:

    “Hey according to Mike A. “Here’s a quick civics lesson for you – THE PRESIDENT DOESN’T PROPOSE BUDGETS AND SPENDING – Congress does.” Reagan had nothing to do with anything since it was the Democratically controlled Congress who really was responsible for “Morning in America”..Reagan was just a two bit player.”

    Yeah, Mike, try selling that to St. Palin and all you other crazies who worship at the alter of Prince ronnie.




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  14. Mike A says:

    To Mike Reynolds:

    Still waiting for a stray fact in your response…rather than emotional diatribe If you stick around I’d be happy to provide links to graphs, charts and projections by the CBO based on current spending commitments.

    Just as a quick example, how did you like the quote by the current CBO director that came out yesterday stating the current projected debt level is “unsustainable?” Yet we’ve just taken on a 2 trillion dollar entitlement program by the name of ObamaCare. I’ve got more independent evidence to back up my position than you’ve got insults, of that I have no doubt..




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  15. Dodd says:

    [I]f the secretary of defense

    Oops:

    Discussing his approach to nuclear security the day before formally releasing his new strategy, Mr. Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions. To set an example, the new strategy renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons, overruling the initial position of his own defense secretary.

    This is supposed to be a “good” response to Palin?!? He can’t even get the first clause out of his mouth without screwing up.




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  16. James Joyner says:

    Hence the appropriateness of Mrs. Palin’s observations and subject matter.

    Here’s the problem: Obama now has oodles more experience than Palin on national security policy.

    There are a lot of thoughtful people out there with interesting POVs. I might disagree with, say Cheney or Rumsfeld, but I think they know their stuff. I would not consider Palin among that group. I do not know why you would either James.

    I don’t know why you’d think I do.

    Does the author of this article realize that the United States has signed a treaty promising not to use biological or chemical weapons? And that this latest mistake by Obama means there is effectively NO action that the US will take in response to a WMD attack except a “boots on the ground” response?

    We weren’t going to launch a nuclear strike in response to a biological attack under any president in living memory. Or, if we were, we’d still do it under Obama. The pledge is meaningless either way.

    What flippin’ experience might our president have? A few months in the US Senate.

    Fifteen months as PRESIDENT. That’s fifteen months more experience that matters than all but a handful of people alive.

    Aside from the blatant douchiness of that, let us discuss the vast experience of every single President before. Does that make them immune from criticism?

    Not at all. I criticize them all the time. But it makes criticisms based on experience — especially from Sarah Flippin’ Palin — idiotic.

    Can you name one?

    Jimmy Carter, who has degrees from Georgia Tech and the Naval Academy and was a pioneer in the nuclear Navy for one. Education doesn’t necessarily change one’s accent.




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  17. Mike A says:

    To Michael Reynolds:

    Regarding your ignorance about “Ronnie” and his congress:

    “The 97th Congress (1981-1983) saw a relatively thin Republican majority in the Senate (53-46, so not enough for the 60% override) and a Democrat majority in the House.

    In the Senate, Republicans held the majority until 1987. From 1987-1995, the Democrats held control. Republicans regained the majority in 1995, which they held until 2001. The 107th Congress (2001-2003) saw a tie, with the Senate split 50-50.

    In the House, Democrats had the majority through both Reagan and Bush, Sr.’s Presidencies, until the Republicans gained the majority (in both the House and Senate) in 1995 (election of 1994). ”

    So, not to put too fine a point on it, your premise is in error and to use your own words ” you’re so thick you don’t even realize that your points undercut your own argument” But hey, you get an A for trying…




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  18. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Why would Hussein Obama defend that which he hates? It took him 17 minutes to answer or rather avoid answering a simple question. Since he seems to be unable blind us with his brilliance he is trying to baffle us with his bull shit. Most of America is not buying what this man is selling. A supposely smart President made a simple criticism a news item by responding and giving his critic another chance to respond. Guess they really know how bait a hook in Alaska.




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  19. The Q says:

    Mike A,

    Since you are so big on getting people to respond to your flatulence, please respond to my critique of your fatuous claim of Obama “proposing programs that result in spending more money than all other presidents in history combine up to this point in our history.”

    Come on big boy, I patiently await your response.

    Perhaps I can assist you…maybe your retort could go something like this..

    “Uh, my bad, what I wrote was incomprehensible dreck. I take it back. I was wrong and will admit it. Of course its preposterous that Obama himself will outspent all previous Administrations in our governments history, especially when we use constant and not current dollars. Sorry for my appalling lack of using the small intelligence god saw fit to give me.”




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  20. Mike A says:

    Michael Reynolds:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were waiting for a response to that particular point you called into question. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be back with a link…

    By the way, are you going to respond in kind to my post about Reagan’s congress? Or are you going to conveniently “let that one slide by?”




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  21. Mike A says:

    To James:

    Obama may have “oodles” more experience now than Palin, but Mrs. Palin’s position is also backed up by every prior president. So Mr. Obama is not, in fact, in disagreement with Palin alone. He is also in disagreement with all of his predecessors in the nuclear age.




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  22. The Q says:

    Mike A,

    FYI, I am not Mike Reynolds….in your zeal to argue, you don’t even know who you are debating.




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  23. Mike A says:

    Sorry “The Q” – you so seamlessly picked up Mike Reynolds arguments and vapid insults that I thought you were the same person… Oh, well…birds of a feather and so forth.

    I notice that you still haven’t responded to any of my points with verifiable facts.

    The “spend more than all other presidents combined” is not dreck at all. If you take the CBO estimates of the deficit out to 2020, then this a simple mathematical exercise.

    Unless you’re suggesting that we aren’t going to keep our financial commitments to ObamaCare that long? Or perhaps the magic money machine is going to crap out dollars for all our children to pay for their share of the national debt?

    Or, wait for it…we’re going to extract enough money to pay for it from the evil corporations (that our parents and grandparents have invested their 401Ks in) and the top 2% of income earners in the country. Right…

    It’s going to turn into another great Governmental Ponzi scheme like Medicare and Social Security have become. But hey, the democrats bought some more votes with it, right? Who cares if it will enslave our kids economically?




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  24. Mike A says:

    The graph for the deficit projection at the link below is straight from numbers presented by the CBO. Of course, they don’t include the double-counting of $500 billion from the Medicare smoke and mirrors trick. Think of that alone – $500 billion that the Democrats and Obama are playing parlor tricks with in order to keep the cost under $1 TRILLION dollars! Frankly, that alone is insane, we’ve just become numb to what that much money represents.

    http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/05/past-deficits-vs-obamas-deficits-in-pictures/




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  25. The Q says:

    Mike A,

    You confuse spending with deficits.

    Reagan never had full control of congress. dems had the house or senate or both.

    Obviously, when you voted for Reagan, bush and bush, you didn’t care about enslaving our kids economically as they collectively added $6 trillion to the tab.

    i can’t waste my time arguing with infants.




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  26. Mike A says:

    The Q:

    You’ve changed the point of argument (why am I not surprised)? The point I was responding to was a contention that, since I said that congress spends and not the president, I could not say that Reagan was responsible for the prosperity of the 80s.

    The point I was making about Reagan’s congress was that his policies and programs were enacted because he had traction in the congress due to a Republican majority in the Senate. In other words, credit is due to Reagan because the final bills retained his priorities, at least in the important features. JUST as Obama should take credit (read responsibility) for the huge deficits, and resulting debt, that reflect his programs, as passed by this Democrat-controlled congress.

    As usual, instead of discussing the issue it takes more time to point out that the rebuttal given does not address the point that was made…




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  27. Mike A says:

    The Q:

    It’s amazing that every point is responded to with an insult and a dismissal. What is it you don’t understand about QUADRUPLING the deficit?

    So.. under your argument, if someone were to, say steal a carton of cigarettes from a store, a proper defense for someone that stole a car would be to state “So what. The guy that just left stole a candy bar!”

    Sorry, doesn’t fly. For one thing, Bush’s deficits and spending weren’t opposed by the majority of Americans, and he didn’t blow off the wishes of the American people when he signed them into law.




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  28. Patrick T McGuire says:

    Your sudden fascination with Sarah Palin puts you in the same company as Andrew Sullivan. What, is there something in the water back there???

    And I thought it was beneath you to defend Obama with another round of “well, Bush did too!”. Obama got elected on the promise of change and yet the only defense of his inexperience and arrogance is that he is the no worse than Bush!?

    From a brain-dead liberal I expect this, from you I expect better.




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  29. steve says:

    What is it you don’t understand about QUADRUPLING the deficit?

    You need to break it down into what parts are due to increased entitlement spending, left overs from TARP, prior tax cuts, etc. If you have followed budgets for a long time, and want to be honest, you know that the debt was going to go up due to entitlements anyway. If you cannot find them, I will be glad to give you links. Riedl often “forgets” such details.

    Steve




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  30. JKB says:

    This just in, a political opponent of Obama’s questions his recently announced position for using nuclear weapons. All those in the “know” agree she has no expertise, no experience and no business having the freedom of speech. Yet, they can’t keep from obsessing about her and what’s in her pretty little head, which doesn’t matter…really.

    A little secret. If you want get along and be a drone, you have to adopt the diction and mannerisms of your betters. But is you want to do something, you use language that the others latch onto while they miss your point and ultimate goal until it’s too late.




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  31. TangoMan says:

    Here’s the problem: Obama now has oodles more experience than Palin on national security policy.

    An old professor of mine used to drill me with this question: so what?

    This is a policy issue. It is a realpolitik issue. In fact, this is an issue which upends national security precedent, so while you’re defending Obama and slamming Palin, you’re also, by implication, directing the same criticism to all of Obama’s predecessors. How is it that they, who have MORE EXPERIENCE than Obama never came to the same conclusion reached by Obama? After all, if you’re arguing that experience leads to good judgment on the issue of national security, Bush and Clinton both had 8 years of experience to the 15 months that Obama has tallied up. This is not an issue that is mired in the minutia of nuclear physics or any issue where authority or experience become paramount criteria for reaching a satisfactory end-state.

    Secondly, this bizarre reliance on appeal to authority seems very selective in its application. Senator McCain had far more experience in national security than did Senator Obama but I didn’t see Senator Obama withdrawing himself from issues because of his comparative lack of experience. A man with a history or racial activism arguing national security against McCain, who spent a lifetime on the issue of national security. Moreover, if someone tried to disqualify his opinion or to diminish his opinion in a POLITICAL CONTEST by relying on a logical fallacy they would have been laughed out of the room.

    Irrational Palin hated sure seems to lead to irrational thinking taking over wider swaths of the hater’s world.

    Look. There are two entwined issues at play here, national security and domestic politics. Obama responding to Palin elevates Palin and diminishes Obama. She is his equal in the world of policy ideas because he has to take time to address her criticisms, even if he tries to minimize her influence by snarkary. He doesn’t make any effort to argue with inconsequential political opponents. This is a win for Palin on the domestic front, and by aligning herself with the policies of every President that has governed during the nuclear age she stands side by side with the good judgment of past Presidents and isolates Obama as the idealistic, flower child-type peacenik that works to his disadvantage, both in the domestic and international realms.




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  32. Clovis says:

    Your sudden fascination with Sarah Palin puts you in the same company as Andrew Sullivan. What, is there something in the water back there???

    That is unfair.

    I’m sure that the good Doctor has his reasons, based on sound reasoning.

    Not at all. I criticize them all the time. But it makes criticisms based on experience — especially from Sarah Flippin’ Palin — idiotic.

    Well, perhaps there is something in the water.

    He will, of course, now take back all of his previous criticisms of all previous Presidents by affirming that they had experience.




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  33. TangoMan says:

    We weren’t going to launch a nuclear strike in response to a biological attack under any president in living memory. Or, if we were, we’d still do it under Obama. The pledge is meaningless either way.

    Do you really imagine that this is a line of argument that has persuasive merit? This line of reasoning is built on a foundation of post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    We never had a biological attack of any significance, therefore it has been unthinkable to launch a nuclear attack in response to what we imagine would ONLY be a small, isolated attack.

    I’d love to see the reasoning behind an argument that a nuclear response would be off the table if we could verify that a country was responsible for a biological attack on the US which resulted in 25 million casualties. Frankly, under such a circumstance, I can’t imagine why a nuclear response wouldn’t be given serious consideration.

    Lastly, if the pledge is meaningless, a proposition with which I concur, then why even make it? What utility is gained and what utility is lost by making such a pledge.




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  34. anjin-san says:

    Your sudden fascination with Sarah Palin

    This is an odd comment. Palin is, for better or for worse, really the only star the GOP has. The rest of the pack is coma inducing at best. So why is it odd that Palin would get a lot of attention from James or anyone else? She is certainly working 24/7 to draw attention to herself.




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  35. Gerry W. says:

    Look. There are two entwined issues at play here, national security and domestic politics. Obama responding to Palin elevates Palin and diminishes Obama. She is his equal in the world of policy ideas because he has to take time to address her criticisms, even if he tries to minimize her influence by snarkary. He doesn’t make any effort to argue with inconsequential political opponents. This is a win for Palin on the domestic front, and by aligning herself with the policies of every President that has governed during the nuclear age she stands side by side with the good judgment of past Presidents and isolates Obama as the idealistic, flower child-type peacenik that works to his disadvantage, both in the domestic and international realms.

    TangoMan,

    It is Obama that is aligning himself with past presidents. Each president has expressed to cut back on nuclear armaments and could not at the time.

    Joseph Cirincione was a guest on C-Span’s Washington journal and he explains it all. April 8, 2010.

    http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/04/08/WJE/A/31549/Joseph+Cirincione+Ploughshares+Fund+President.aspx

    The problem with this nuclear arsenal is that it is costly to maintain, a liability, and you have more fear of nuclear material getting into the hands of terrorists. A good start is to have an agreement with Russia and the U.S. who both have more weapons than what is needed. It is an attempt to have other countries make similar agreements with the U.S. and Russia.

    And as far as Palin on domestic issues, I am afraid she has no idea what she is talking about. Which is the same right wing ideology, that ignores our problems.




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  36. tom p says:

    Obama is a RADICAL!!!

    He has been in office for 15+ months and has yet to start an unfunded war with an Islamic country!

    Really, I don’t know how else to respond to most of the tripe from the right. (and no, I am not happy with a # of things he has done, or not, as the case may be)




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  37. An Interested Party says:

    Obviously, I struck a nerve.

    Actually, James is the person who struck a nerve, as does anyone when they rightly criticize Our Lady of Wasilla…the frothy rants that come down the pike whenever she is “attacked” speak for themselves….but don’t lose hope, gentle souls…if you pray really hard every night, perhaps you will have the chance to vote for her again…oh, and keep seeing those little starbursts…




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  38. pylon says:

    Senator McCain had far more experience in national security than did Senator Obama but I didn’t see Senator Obama withdrawing himself from issues because of his comparative lack of experience. A man with a history or racial activism arguing national security against McCain, who spent a lifetime on the issue of national security.

    MCain’s national security experience wasn’t much to speak of, especially considering the number of years in office he had. Could it be that the party didn’t see him as overly knowledgeable, and therefore didn’t put him on committees dealing with that topic?




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  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    Mike A:

    I want to say this as politely as I can and then move on: you don’t rise to the level.

    There are people I enjoy tormenting because they are actually bad people and going after them is a civic duty. On this site only TangoBrimelow sinks to that level.

    There are people I enjoy engaging because I disagree with them but they’re smart enough to teach me something in the process. Steve Verdon would be one of those. And my selfish motivation is to use the blogosphere to extend my education and sharpen my reasoning.

    I consider it a rather wonderful thing when someone takes me down in a reasoned debate, because I’ve profited. So much cheaper than formal education. I still remember being schooled by a guy named Kenneth Kisser, of all things, back in 7th grade. He took me apart on evolution vs. creation and I knew I’d lost and he was right. If I knew where he was I’d send him some cookies.

    But then there are people who are too stupid to teach me anything and boring to boot. You’re one of those. So is Wayne. You’re the guys I have to spend hour upon hour with in the vain hope of giving you some slight grounding in the political facts. It’s boring.

    Some may say, “Well, MIchael, you’re being selfish. You greedily absorb whatever you can learn from others, but are less enthusiastic about teaching those you might be able to help.”

    That’s true to some extent. But I’ve developed an instinct for those interested in learning and those who are not. I think you’re a “not.” It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a choice you made or a simple intellectual incapacity, it amounts to the same thing in the end: a waste of my time.

    Please don’t feel badly about it. I can imagine if I were trying to talk quarks and dark matter with a physicist he’d get pretty tired of it pretty quickly. And it wouldn’t matter whether I was just too stupid to grasp it (bingo) or unwilling, either way I would be a sad bore to him as he had to go, “Okay, so first, there’s the atom . . .”

    So feel free to declare victory in your own mind. And enjoy your day.




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  40. Mike A says:

    Michael Reynolds:

    Congratulations, you have once again affirmed your vast superiority to the ignorant unwashed masses, of which I am obviously a member in your eyes.

    In the midst of your eternal quest for that rare intellect from which you can glean some small measure of new knowledge, please take a moment to pity my feeble attempt to try and put two coherent thoughts together in the face of the brilliant pearls that you have lain before my swinish feet.

    As you repose and bask in the glow of your self-admiration, please take a moment to search deep within your heart for the mercy to forgive my temerity in approaching you with a point that is contrary to your own.

    And, as you ponder the verbal and mental thrashing you have given me here today, please don’t let your satisfaction be sullied by the realization that your empty arguments contained not a single fact in support of your position. Your rapier-liker wit and the acidity of your insults should, in any just world, be a sufficient substitute for hard facts and thoughtful commentary.

    I am in awe of you – thank you for allowing me to breathe the same air… thank you, thank you…thank you.

    Heaven save us from elite pigs..




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  41. James, you sure seemed to be sucking up to Obama and liberals lately. You didn’t even stick up for Bush this much. Have you been going to a great deal of Washington Parties lately or what?

    Lord knows I often disagree with James’s take on things — to the extent, in fact, in some specific instances, of being something close to enraged at his views. That said, I think the answer to your question is not that James has been going to “a great deal of Washington Parties lately” or that he is “sucking up to Obama and liberals lately.” I think the explanation is simply that James is less uncritically ideological than many commentators on the right are these days. That being so, he has the ability to actually respond to a given point of discussion based on facts or reasonably supportable opinion, rather than basing his response on what would be required if he were committed to opposing everything the Obama administration said or did, just on partisan grounds, without doing any critical thinking.

    I hope that answers your question.




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  42. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Fact is James is turning left as is this site. More negativity to conservative thought here than any other place I visit. Reynolds and Anjin are prime examples of the lack of progressive logic. It does not take Palin 17 minutes to not answer something. You on the left should be very afraid of Sarah as she will curtail your agenda when she is elected President of the United States. Put that in you pipe (bong) and smoke it.




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  43. Mike A says:

    Michael Reynolds:

    I have considered my previous response and, as I am about to retire for the evening, I will leave with this additional comment. I know you.

    I’ve seen your tactics on a hundred different blogs and comments. You hide behind a carefully crafted mask of supreme intellect but you’re a craven coward in reality, afraid to engage in a battle of ideas unless you sense someone has made an unsupportable claim of fact – an error that feel you can safely pounce upon and say “Ah ha! You are a complete [insert insult here].

    It is only under this limited set of circumstances that you will risk saying anything that can be proven, because it is only then that your ego is protected and safe from the fateful blow of being shown to be less than what you pretend to be.

    You have no real intelligence or originality of thought, you simply weave a tapestry of diversionary disdain to disguise the shallowness of your arguments. Funny isn’t it? None is so insecure as the man who feels the need to continually make others appear less than themselves.

    It is no wonder that so few rise “to the level.” There is a lot of risk in many words – you might actually have to say something meaningful. You enjoy your day, as well.




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  44. More negativity to conservative thought here than any other place I visit.

    Assuming that by “any other place” you visit, you are referring specifically to conservative places, then your statement doesn’t say much, given that at most conservative blogs there is no inclination to question conservative orthodoxy at all.

    James takes a conservative position on many, if not most, issues — but not all issues. That is more than enough in the current political climate on the right to trigger accusations of “moving to the left.”

    Moreover, from where I sit, on the outside of the conservative movement (because I’m not conservative), it looks to me like the more pressure there is on conservatives to be unwaveringly conservative down the line, and the more a politically correct “party line” is enforced by the conservative base, the more it seems to be causing former conservatives to rebel against that kind of totalitarianism. Just look at all the conservatives who have either become more liberal or who have actually left the Republican Party to become Independents. You guys are cutting off your own noses to spite your face.

    You on the left should be very afraid of Sarah as she will curtail your agenda when she is elected President of the United States.

    LOL, Zelsdorf — I pray, night and day, that Sarah Palin will run for President, that the GOP will throw all their support to her, and that she will be nominated. Every liberal/Democrat/progressive I know prays for that. 🙂

    Put that in you pipe (bong) and smoke it.

    I don’t smoke, thank you very much (tobacco or anything else).




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  45. Herb says:

    James, you sure seemed to be sucking up to Obama and liberals lately. You didn’t even stick up for Bush this much. Have you been going to a great deal of Washington Parties lately or what?

    Couldn’t even get passed the first comment before I see something objectionable.

    This is just lazy. What, if you don’t like Sarah Palin so you’re automatically a liberal sucking up to Barack Obama??? Please.

    I can’t wait to read the rest, but before I do, let me just say this: Regurgitating what you hear on talk radio doesn’t make you a conservative.




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  46. sam says:

    I notice that Confederate Yankee updated his trenchant observation on the depth of Palin’s experience with neukewlar weapons vs Obama’s lack thereof:

    Update: I stand corrected. Palin does not have any experience with the AANG. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion AANG, Fort Greely is (literally) the first line of defense against Soviet nukes with 25-30 anti-ICBMs, but they do not report to the governor.

    Obama? Still utterly untrustworthy, and getting more so every day.

    Confederate Yankee? Actually, no question here — An effing idiot with no prospects of ever getting any better.




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  47. Davebo says:

    Jimmy Carter, who has degrees from Georgia Tech and the Naval Academy and was a pioneer in the nuclear Navy

    Try again James. That one has been tried and debunked already.

    And I just knew you’d use it!




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  48. James Joyner says:

    Try again James. That one has been tried and debunked already.

    And I just knew you’d use it!

    I haven’t heard Carter say “nuclear” in years. When he was president, talking about the advice he got from Amy on nuclear proliferation, he pronounced it in a very non-standard way. I don’t know that it was Bush’s “new-KEW-lur” but it was something very different from “NEW-klee-ur.” I remember this contemporaneously, so it would be quite difficult for someone to “debunk” this for me.




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  49. anjin-san says:

    It does not take Palin 17 minutes to not answer something.

    Of course not. She just says “Duh” and moves on…




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  50. Michael says:

    Fact is James is turning left as is this site.

    If anything, James has become more defensive of conservatism, and more offensive on liberalism, than he was during Bush’s presidency. I attribute this more to the shift in power that places liberals in policy-making positions, and conservatives in policy-opposition positions.

    The problem that you and many on the right are making is that you are systematically redefining “conservative” to mean something altogether different from what it meant when James first subscribed to it’s principles. 17 years ago, you were a “conservative” if you supported individual mandates for health insurance. Only 7 years ago, you were a “conservative” if you supported the expansion of Medicare prescription drug coverage. Under Clinton, you were “conservative” if you opposed foreign military involvement and nation building. 4 years ago “conservatives” supported a nearly omnipotent federal executive branch.

    You’re not offended because James is changing his political beliefs. You’re offended because he hasn’t.




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  51. TangoMan says:

    I stand corrected. Palin does not have any experience with the AANG. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion AANG, Fort Greely is (literally) the first line of defense against Soviet nukes with 25-30 anti-ICBMs, but they do not report to the governor.

    I haven’t checked to see exactly what this fellow has written, but the details are as follows. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion are under a, let’s call it, dual command structure. On matters of operation they report up the chain of command, ultimately leading to the Commander in Chief. On matters of administration they report up a separate chain of command, ultimately leading to the Governor of the State of Alaska. The last time I checked they were the only unit of the national guard which were on permanent active duty.




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  52. Franklin says:

    It is the perception of weakness that Obama is projecting.

    Yes, because the perception of strength that Bush projected worked out *so* well.

    Well, except for the fact that most countries distanced themselves from us, for example Britain refusing to render detainees for fear that we will beat them.

    Yup, perceptions matter alright, you’ve just got the results backwards.




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  53. TangoMan says:

    Yes, because the perception of strength that Bush projected worked out *so* well.

    Ahem. You were saying:

    Libya has tried to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles in the past, but has agreed to dismantle the programs, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday in simultaneous televised speeches.

    Bush said Libya’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, had “agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya.

    “These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination,” Bush said.

    Libya’s nuclear weapons program was “much further advanced” than U.S. and British intelligence had thought, and included centrifuges and a uranium enrichment program, all necessary components in making a nuclear bomb, a senior administration official said Friday.

    Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, said Saturday Libya’s decision to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction, is “welcome” and surmised the action might have been spurred by Gadhafi’s fear over “what he saw happen in Iraq.




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