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Author Topic: Kerry Gives Ridiculous "Advice" to Bush on Iraq
David Ricardo
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Kerry pens an op-ed piece in the New York Times right before President Bush's Tuesday speech on Iraq and presumes to give the President some snide advice. Unfortunately, Kerry ends up just making himself look foolish and contemptuous.

John Cole notes:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/archives/005584.html#005584

quote:
Dear Democrats,

A really good way to be perceived as playing with national security for purely selfish political reasons is to actually have your former losing Presidential candidate write snide and condescending editorials in the NY Times presuming to tell the President what to say in his speech. To make matters worse, you could repeatedly call him a liar, prescribe no real solutions, and throw around phrases that read like a grad school education training class ('establish a truly inclusive political process').

It probably isn't a good idea, the week after Rove unfairly painted you all as weak on security and the war on terror, to have the man who in many ways is still the symbolic head of the Democratic party demanding timelines and deadlines for withdrawal (as well as renouncing any future military bases- isn't that a military decision, not political? Didn't we have bases in Germany for, well, now?).

Also, you could avoid suggesting things that are already being done- like using ethnic tribal militias- you did get the memo, right? At any rate, this may have made Kerry feel good, and it may have given you a chance to vent your spleen, but this was not a very good idea.

Some might look at this piece in the op-ed pages of the left-leaning NY Times and think you are playing political games.

Meanwhile Greg Djerejian makes a more comprehensive criticism of Kerry's ill-fated opining with which I largely agree:

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004650.html

quote:
John Kerry, in today's NYT, has some advice for Bush in advance of his speech tonight. It's quite poor, in the main.

Kerry:

quote:
He [Bush] should also say that the United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December. We're doing our part: our huge military presence stands between the Iraqi people and chaos, and our special forces protect Iraqi leaders. The Iraqis must now do theirs.
There is an obsession with "deadlines," isn't there, among the Democrat camp of late? As I've said, and I agree with Rumsfeld on this, talk of deadlines and timetables provides a "lifeline to terrorists". It's a huge incentive to the bad guys to simply wait us out. It's simply bad policy, and it's sad that whoever is advising Kerry on such opinion pieces behind the scenes (Jamie Rubin? Susan Rice? Ivo Daalder?) continues to go on about artificial drop-dead dealines and such. Yes, it would be great if Iraqis were able to meet deadlines on the Constitution or the December elections. But to hold a gun to their head and intimate we might cut and run if they do not meet such timeframes is just as irresponsible as providing some drop-dead exit date (yet another fictitious "deadline"). It is simply not the right way forward. Moderate Iraqis must believe that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with them come what may.

Notice too how Kerry cloaks this recommendation in faux patriotic garb ("We're doing our part..The Iraqis must now do theirs.."). Let's re-rephrase that somewhat. We've not done our part, not by a long shot. In fact, speaking frankly, much of our involvement to date has been something of a pretty significant cluster-f*&k (this is not to discount the very significant strides made, ie. sovereignty handed over, successful elections, Sunni involvement in the Constitution-drafting but, still, the security situation remains dismal in large swaths of the country and so democratization and reconstruction is badly lagging). After all, a prerequisite to establishing a true democracy in Mesopotamia is providing basic order so that viable political governance structures can take root. So it is simply breathtaking--and speaks to Kerry's lack of real conviction and fundamental disinterest in seeing Iraqi democratization through--that he would breezily declare that "(w)e're doing our part." We've not yet, alas, and so this is simply rhetoric on par with Kerry's donning of the goose-hunting gear during the election. It's a bone to toss to presumed isolationist red-staters who wonder why we're spending so much blood and treasure helping out those so-far-away-ingrate-A-Rabs. It's the cheapest of rhetoric really, and until more serious Democrats emerge such talk only reinforces the view of foreign policy observers, like B.D., who chose Bush in '04 because the alternative was far worse.

He also needs to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six-month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them. The administration and the Iraqi government must stop using the requirement that troops be trained in-country as an excuse for refusing offers made by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more.

"A true six-month wartime footing." Wrong! What General Petraeus needs to do--the military leader in charge of 'train and equip'--is to take all the time he needs to make sure this job is done right. One criticism I've had of Don Rumsfeld is that he has thrown around numbers, 160,000 and such, of Iraqi forces trained and equipped much too breezily. We're meeting targets, Iraqification is proceeding apace, exit strategy is a-ok on sched! Except, of course, very few of these units can operate without U.S. support, many of them are not specialized in counter-insurgency tactics but are more by way of constabulatory forces and the like, not to mention a good many other problems besides. The point is there is no way this job can be done in six months. To so suggest is grotesquely irresponsible. Even Rumsfeld on Meet the Press last Sunday starting moving away from tossing about numbers and stated: "The biggest problems are not numbers. The biggest problems are the ministries, which are weak, and the chains of command down through those and the linkages between the police and the military forces, because they have to work together if they are going to repress this insurgency. And it's--most people are focusing on the metrics, the hard numbers. I would say the soft things, the ministries, the chains of command are considerably more important." Actually both are important. And neither the requisite numbers of fully trained and equipped Iraqi forces, nor adequate communication via "chains of command"--neither could be adequately accomplished on a 'wartime footing' (whatever that means) of six months. Kerry and his advisors likely know this, but this isn't about coming together and figuring out, really, how to win this war by helping bring about a viable, democratic Iraq. It's more about throwing around fake and easy fixes to score partisan points. Again, no leadership. No real opposition. Put simply, a time of deep mediocrity in Washington.

[...]

quote:
The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress. The guideposts should take into account political and security needs and objectives and be linked to specific tasks and accomplishments. If Iraqis adopt a constitution and hold elections as planned, support for the insurgency should fall and Iraqi security forces should be able to take on more responsibility. It will also set the stage for American forces to begin to come home.
Again, a "detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities" would be a roadmap to the insurgents. And all this so that Senatorial blowhards like Kerry can windbag on a few months hence when the "plan...shared with Congress" misses a "deadline" because the going was a bit rougher than expected. Make no mistake. A good part of all this tiresome bloviating is making sure there is good political theater for the klieg-lights of the Beltway going forward. It's bad policy, but potentially good politics. Sad that this is what is proferred up as a serious alternative policy by the leading newspaper in the land and, perhaps, the leading Democrat (save HRC, of course!).

More from Kerry:

quote:
Iraq, of course, badly needs a unified national army, but until it has one - something that our generals now say could take two more years - it should make use of its tribal, religious and ethnic militias like the Kurdish pesh merga and the Shiite Badr Brigade to provide protection and help with reconstruction. Instead of single-mindedly focusing on training a national army, the administration should prod the Iraqi government to fill the current security gap by integrating these militias into a National Guard-type force that can provide security in their own areas.
What a horrible idea! Pushing the Badr Brigade and pesh merga out front smacks of desparation to provide security, whatever the consequences. Why? Because to integrate such militias into a "National Guard-type force" is likely to heighten the risks of inter-sectarian conflict. (Note also the inconsistency in Kerry's op-ed. He wants an all out "six month wartime footing" train and equip effort. But, apparently without really addressing the seeming contradiction, he more or less acknowledges that truly efficacious 'train and equip' will take more than two years).

[...]

Anything I agree with in his piece? Yes, this part:

quote:
So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in "the last throes" leads to frustrated expectations at home.
He's right, of course. But it's much less dangerous to have a Vice President disingenuously talk of "last throes" than it would be to pursue many of the policy recommendations being offered up by the almost-but-for-Ohio President. Not even close, really.
Kerry would be better off shutting his mouth instead of repeatedly sticking his foot in his mouth, sheesh. While the Bush Adminstration is making many incompetent mistakes in Iraq, Kerry's solution as described in his op-ed are mediocre at best and disastrous at worst.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Kerry is Bush's alter ego.
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Badvok
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quote:
Some might look at this piece in the op-ed pages of the left-leaning NY Times and think you are playing political games.
This line really cracked me up.
John Cole actually accuses Kerry of being a politician - uh?

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javelin
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Kerush! The next celebrity couple! Live at 5! Next up: Demopublicans and Repocrats! Can they live together? Find out here!
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kenmeer livermaile
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Kerush. Scary. Just pause a moment. imagine the two faces, then blend 'em twogether (sic) by crossing the eyes of one's mind.... (shudders)

"John Cole actually accuses Kerry of being a politician - uh?"

I know, I know. The things one gets accused of just because one is a public figure.

'But I'm a...a... a SENATOR!,' says Kerry.

"But you're no politician," says Jon Stewart.

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musket
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It was better than the gagging I would have done had I voted for Bush... but that's the best I can say about holding my nose and voting for Kerry instead.
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Daruma28
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Kerry, and Gore, both need to take a cue from Bush Sr. about how to LOSE GRACEFULLY. In other words, shut up and go away and you will look magnanimous and like actual, dignified statesmen.

Even if Kerry is speaking 100% truth, it still looks like sour grapes.

The Dems should have had Obama or some other person do this.

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Digger
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He's also mustering the troops for public backlash to the speech. From an e-mail sent by his office:

quote:

Tonight, President Bush will speak to the nation about the situation in Iraq. It's about time.

I hope tonight he'll address his words not just to us, and certainly not to Karl Rove or Donald Rumsfeld, but to a young American soldier in Iraq right now -- the soldier carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place where he or she can't tell friend from foe, the marine out on patrol at night who doesn't know what's coming around the next bend. America's brave young men and women deserve to hear the truth.

For too long, the Bush administration's strategy has been to divide not unite, to spin not to lead, to attack their political enemies at home rather than fight America's enemies attacking our troops in Iraq.

It's long past time to get it right in Iraq. The administration's current lack of a coherent strategy is courting disaster instead of doing what's needed for success.

That's what we need from this administration. No more false rosy scenarios. No more happy talk about the Iraq insurgency being in "its final throes" when our military leadership knows that's just spin.

It was with our troops in mind that I offered up a plan for Iraq in a New York Times op-ed this morning. I wrote: "The reality is the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war -- a breeding ground for jihadists."

As I said in the article and I will say again on the Senate floor today, there's no time to wait -- this is a time for humility from the White House, and a time to take specific steps to finally get it right in Iraq. It starts by telling the truth, and being straight with Americans.

Here's what I think President Bush needs to address tonight - and we need to hold him accountable:

* The president must announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence or bases in Iraq.


* The United States must also insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the constitution and holding elections in December.


* We need to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them.


* The administration needs to work not just at security but at reconstruction -- Iraqis need to see the electricity working and the water flowing.


* The administration needs to get Iraq's neighbors off the sidelines -- they can't afford a failed Iraq on their doorstep, and Bush-style unilateralism needs to bend to getting these countries on board.


* And the administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress.

It's the only way we can set the stage for American forces to begin to come home.

The next months are critical to the future of Iraq and our security. If the administration fails to take the kind of steps I outlined today, we will stumble along, our troops at greater risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face.

I urge you to watch the president's speech tonight with a careful eye and to act in every way possible to demand what our troops deserve - leadership equal to their sacrifices.

Sincerely,

John Kerry

He had a handy tagline, though. The e-mail was entitled "Leadership Equal to Their Sacrifices".

As for the bolded portion, why on Earth would we possibly say something so foolish? Of course we should keep bases in Iraq. It's the single most strategic move we could make. Evrything else, while maybe not the best ideas on the planet wouldn't be so bad. Milestones are ok as long as dates aren't attached. "Getting Iraq's neighbors off the sidelines" sounds great for a newscast, but has it occurred to John that maybe the neighbors are on the sidelines for a reason and they aren't going to budge, no matter who's doing the negotiating?

As with any political communique, the most important parts are often what's left unsaid. Note that Kerry didn't offer any ideas on how to deal with the insurgency, he just demanded that the results of utterly defeating them and bringing the troops back home need to be accomplished pronto. Why sully yourself with the details when you can blame someone else, after all?

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FiredrakeRAGE
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I find it interesting that Kerry wants no permenent bases in Iraq. That is one of the major things we stand to gain from Iraq - a base of operations in Iraq.

Edited to add: I just re-read the above post. My appologies for being an echo.

--Firedrake

[ June 28, 2005, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: FiredrakeRAGE ]

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Everard
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Depends on how you define "gain."
Our bases in saudi arabia haven't worked out all that well for us in the foreign relations department, and there's about 3000 dead people who were minding their own business 3 1/2 years ago who might object to the idea that bases in arab nations "gains" us anything.

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
Depends on how you define "gain."
Our bases in saudi arabia haven't worked out all that well for us in the foreign relations department, and there's about 3000 dead people who were minding their own business 3 1/2 years ago who might object to the idea that bases in arab nations "gains" us anything.

You're forgetting the biggest factor in this equation...we are more beholden to Saudi's oil than they are to us, so when they say they didn't want us to use our bases there, we had to listen.

That position is exactly reversed in Iraq....AND Anaconda and other bases have allowed us to pull ALL of our troops out of Saudi - the biggest gripe the Wahabbist's have had about us having infidel troops defiling holy soil of Mecca and Medina just for being present in SA.

I think establishing a permanent base in the heart of the region (positioning us for quick deployment anywhere in the region) was the primary reason, and the causus belli of Saddam's regime offered the best excuse to get that. PNAC in action.

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Everard
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"I think establishing a permanent base in the heart of the region (positioning us for quick deployment anywhere in the region) was the primary reason, and the causus belli of Saddam's regime offered the best excuse to get that. PNAC in action."

I agree. I also think PNAC is an organization that is terrible for america.

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RickyB
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Well, lets see what Duck boy has to say here...

quote:
TONIGHT President Bush will discuss the situation in Iraq. It's long past time to get it right in Iraq. The Bush administration is courting disaster with its current course - a course with no realistic strategy for reducing the risks to our soldiers and increasing the odds for success.
Seems that way to me too, unless they truly believe they can use Iraq to suck the world dry of jihadists. I find that implausible.


quote:
The reality is that the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war - a breeding ground for jihadists. Today there are 16,000 to 20,000 jihadists and the number is growing. The administration has put itself - and, tragically, our troops, who pay the price every day - in a box of its own making. Getting out of this box won't be easy, but we owe it to our soldiers to make our best effort.
Pretty true, sanctimoniously put of course...

quote:
Our mission in Iraq is harder because the administration ignored the advice of others, went in largely alone, underestimated the likelihood and power of the insurgency, sent in too few troops to secure the country, destroyed the Iraqi army through de-Baathification, failed to secure ammunition dumps, refused to recognize the urgency of training Iraqi security forces and did no postwar planning. A little humility would go a long way - coupled with a strategy to succeed.
All true.

quote:
So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in "the last throes" leads to frustrated expectations at home. It also encourages reluctant, sidelined nations that know better to turn their backs on their common interest in keeping Iraq from becoming a failed state.
Very true.

quote:
The president must also announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq. Erasing suspicions that the occupation is indefinite is critical to eroding support for the insurgency.
Suspicions won't be erased until we actually leave, so this won't help a damn bit.

quote:
He should also say that the United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process
They already are. The Iraqi gov't under Jaafari is so far doing a very good job at this. Kerry is an ass for barging in to an open door here.

quote:
and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December.
This is indeed crucial, but us "demanding", as in publicly, ain't gonna do a damn thing. I'm fairly certain that the administration is privately twisting all the arms it can on this. They know how bad it'll look if these deadlines are blown. Kerry is again being a posturing ass here.

quote:
We're doing our part: our huge military presence stands between the Iraqi people and chaos, and our special forces protect Iraqi leaders. The Iraqis must now do theirs.
And this is different from things Rumsfeld the putz has been saying this past week....how, exactly? Again, Kerry is "demanding" that the admin do or say what it already is.

quote:
He also needs to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six-month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them. The administration and the Iraqi government must stop using the requirement that troops be trained in-country as an excuse for refusing offers made by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more.
This argument has much merit. There's no reason the training has to take place in Iraq. Doing it elsewhere could be very very conducive to the development of essential esprit de corps

quote:
The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress.
As has been pointed out, publicly wedding yourself to deadlines is very counter-productive. Kerry, for the fourth time if I'm not too stoned to count, is being an ass. The only conditions under which the US should publicly commit to a timetablke for withdrawal are those of a deal with the insurgents.

quote:
Iraq, of course, badly needs a unified national army, but until it has one - something that our generals now say could take two more years - it should make use of its tribal, religious and ethnic militias like the Kurdish pesh merga and the Shiite Badr Brigade to provide protection and help with reconstruction.
This is already happening to various degrees - it's happening a whole lot in Kurdistan and down south in overwhelmingly Shi'ite areas. But letting the Badr boys strut around in the volatile middle is a multo dangeroso propositzione.

quote:
Instead of single-mindedly focusing on training a national army, the administration should prod the Iraqi government to fill the current security gap by integrating these militias into a National Guard-type force that can provide security in their own areas.
Not quite. From what I've read about history, in tense and heterogenous populations like Iraq trying to become a single nation, you can either have a unified army, or you can have partisan militias. they are pretty much mutually exclusive. This isn't the colonies with a common cause and the virginia boys take care of virginia, the pennsylvania boys of their state and so on. This is especially impractical since the Sunnis don't have their own militia. Well, of course they do, only they're called "the enemy" at this time.

quote:
The administration must work with the Iraqi government to establish a multinational force to help protect its borders. Such a force, if sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, could attract participation by Iraq's neighbors and countries like India.
(emphasis added)

Um, Senator, perhaps you'd be wise to consider switching your ketchup brand. You're joking, right? Which neighbors, exactly? The Syrians who are helping the insurgents? The Iranians who still hope to install a sympathetic (not to say puppet) regime? The Turks who can only be deployed south of Baghdad for fear of getting into a fight with the Kurds? The @#$% Saudis? The vast armies of Kuwait? Do us a favor, dummy, try to speak less and shut up more.

quote:
The deployment of capable security forces is critical, but it alone will not end the insurgency, as the administration would have us believe. Hamstrung by its earlier lack of planning and overly optimistic predictions for rebuilding Iraq, the administration has failed to devote equal attention to working with the Iraqi government on the economic and political fronts. Consequently, reconstruction is lagging even in the relatively secure Shiite south and Kurdish north. If Iraqis, particularly Sunnis who fear being disenfranchised, see electricity flowing, jobs being created, roads and sewers being rebuilt and a democratic government being formed, the allure of the insurgency will decrease.
This is a good paragraph. Nothing earth shattering, and no suggestions on how to actually achieve this, but true.

quote:
Iraq's Sunni neighbors, who complain they are left out, could do more to help. Even short-term improvements, like providing electricity and supplying diesel fuel - an offer that the Saudis have made but have yet to fulfill - will go a long way. But we need to give these nations a strategic plan for regional security, acknowledging their fears of an Iran-dominated crescent and their concerns about our fitful mediation between Israel and the Palestinians in return for their help in rebuilding Iraq, protecting its borders, and bringing its Sunnis into the political process.
Buncha mumbo jumbo. The insurgents don't give a rat's ass what Iraq's Sunni neighbors think. Electricity from SA ain't a bad idea, though I don't know technically how feasable it would be for Baghdad and the surrounding region, or how much electricity the Saudis can actually offer. Maybe it's not a problem. But any real strategic plan for regional security woould have to include stuff Iraq's neighbors ain't gonna want to hear. So lower your sights and work on Iraq first.

Final tally: Nothing of value that hasn't been said before (except the idea to train elsewhere, which he evidently didn't invent here but hasn't gotten nearly enough play, it seems) and a big load of crap. No soup for you. Come back one year.

[ June 28, 2005, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Daruma28
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Good Fisking Ricky. [Smile]
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RickyB
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Didn't know that term, thanks!
But I've been employing the technique ever since I've been debating online.

[ June 28, 2005, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Digger
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Even better, we actually agree on virtually every point. [Wink]
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RickyB
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I figured you guys from the other side of the aisle would enjoy my ripping into the twit [Smile] But that's not why I did it [Smile] . Feel free to show it to others as "this total liberal I know and what he had to say about Kerry's article"
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Digger
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Oh Ricky, we all know you did it because it was the 'right' thing to do...
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RickyB
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[Big Grin]
I did it because that's what I think, and I suck at keeping my opinions to my damn self.

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