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Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn) - M

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 12:52:53 MST Print View

Jerry,

Say on topic.

"federal regulations have been reduced,..."

I have been referring to you comment on why you lean left. You said reduced regulations. I said give me a source from where we have reduced regulations. They only example you gave was Glass and both parties voted for this. A lack of enforcement is an issue, but not a reduction. Who is responsible for failure to enforce?

Again I'm not against some regulation and think it is needed. I think regulations are a much better route to address these problems than a union. Just as you say businesses are out for themselves, unions are out for their members. Govt is a more neutral party in establishing regulations. Today we have OSHA, EPA, and many others who do this, so why do we need unions for this? We did decades ago, but not now.

However a healthy balance is crucial because all regulations has a cost when it comes to compliance. That cost is passed on to consumers and if too onerous can make companies non competitive in the marketplace. It's sad when we regulate to a point that the jobs are driven overseas, but the consumer just buys those goods made abroad. The businesses and middle class are the ones that pay because the consumer is just going to buy the cheapest goods.

Weakest union industries: automotive and airlines
Strongest union industries: aerospace, defense, mining

What's interesting is which of those industries more closely align with democrats...weakest. Why is that? Democrats push for defense spending cuts, more mining regulation, etc. Just seems odd.

If you want the model company go read the history of Nucor Steel. This is the model I use for my company.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 13:40:38 MST Print View

The only topic that matters is whether regulations are hurting the economy.

I don't care whether "federal regulations have been reduced,..."

I gave examples that support the case that regulations are not what's causing our economic problems, if anything the opposite.

I do lean left, but more than that, I am objective. For example, rather than blaming unions or management for the loss of Twinkies, I say they should share the blame. You say it's all the union's fault.

That is almost cliche - liberals are wishy washy and see both sides, conservatives absolutely believe they're right.

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn) - M

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 14:18:33 MST Print View

"The only topic that matters is whether regulations are hurting the economy. "

I think some regulations help the economy and others hurt. Just kind of the nature of the beast. It's a balancing act and I think both parties do a poor job of it.

You know that I'm for Glass Steagll act, but it is surely not the sole cause of the great recession. I think that is a handful of things that need attention:
- Glass act. However it was really not being enforced much when Clinton did away with it
- CRA type concept that everyone deserves a house is not reality. Both parties have supported since 1970's when Carter signed because it is a good voter topic.
- Greenspans easy of monetary policies making funds readily available and cheap definitely fueled the meltdown
- Fanny and Freddy should be shut down. The government or taxpayers have no business being in the mortgage market. If these groups wouldn't have been in place to buy the mortgages, then it would have been more difficult have packaged mortgages. Need to return to if you make the loan you hold the loan. Processing loans for a fee, but having no risk in holding to collection is just a bad control.
- Increase leaning requirements on consumers. Too easy to get a loan and need to return to the days of larger down payment and credit scores mean something to get approved
- Rating agencies should have been held more accountable. I think they have largely changed their tune, but they really dropped the ball
- Derivatives are not a bad thing, but need tighter controls and transparency. Simple transparency by reporting using the market value on a companies balance sheet would have went a long way to preventing the recession.

So when you compare these to regulations what do you get? Probably less because if you make the loan originator hold the loan then you do away with a lot of useless paperwork and regulations. Much less if you eliminate Fanny and Freddy. More when you talk about controlling derivatives.

"I do lean left, but more than that, I am objective. For example, rather than blaming unions or management for the loss of Twinkies, I say they should share the blame. You say it's all the union's fault. "

The shutdown of Hostess is the bakery unions fault and even the teamsters union agreed with that. However if you want to look at the down fall of Hostess over the last decade then it is a combination of issues from several parties (management, unions, private equity, market in general, etc).

I didn't say that companies failed because of unions, but I did say that I think unions no longer serve a meaningful purpose. You believe unions are necessary to be employees advocates and get them better pay and benefits. I say the market has changed and we no longer have that employer/employee relationship. Businesses need employees as resources and have to pay the market rate. Employees value mobility and the easy of moving from company to company to better their career and improve their pay. We just operate in a different market environment.

"That is almost cliche - liberals are wishy washy and see both sides, conservatives absolutely believe they're right."

Disagree. I think you see the 30% on both sides absolutely believe they're right. The 40% in the middle are wishy washy. I get these numbers from a survey I read today. 40% of the population now considers themselves independent and not affiliated with either party. A majority surveyed also believe that we need to create a new party in the middle. Their is hope.....

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 16:00:08 MST Print View

I agree - we need to go back to old loan requirements - like 20% down payment and your loan payments can only be 25% of your income (or whatever percentage)

Isn't that pretty much the case now? I thought they made that change since the meltdown.

"Need to return to if you make the loan you hold the loan." - I think it's a good product for investors to package mortgages and sell them. It will make more capital available to borrowers. The problem was the unregulated derivatives based on them that the bankers selling them knew was junk but the investors didn't understand this.

The total value of derivatives is many times the value of the underlying object - I think that is a problem and shouldn't be allowed. I think that was a big cause of the financial collapse.

"The shutdown of Hostess is the bakery unions fault and even the teamsters union agreed with that. However if you want to look at the down fall of Hostess over the last decade then it is a combination of issues from several parties (management, unions, private equity, market in general, etc)."

If you look at the last act, it was management that applied for bankruptcy. The act before that was the unions. But, I think you have to look at that downfall over the last decade.

Actually, we mostly agree, except I think that if a majority of workers want a union, then there should be a union, which you don't agree with. This will result in the middle class having more income and wealth which will make the total economy better.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/20/2012 16:06:52 MST Print View

@ Tom-

Well, I certainly don't consider myself any sort of an Afghanistan Subject Expert. I just happen to have spent a fair amount of time there (albeit sequestered on a FOB). Like anyone else I'm sure that my opinions have been colored by my personal experiences, even if those experiences don't represent the norm.

So, which conclusions "ring true" to you and which don't? There mere thought that I might agree with a Liberal on anything makes me shiver... :o)

Edited by acrosome on 11/20/2012 16:07:28 MST.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 16:44:07 MST Print View

"- Fanny and Freddy should be shut down. The government or taxpayers have no business being in the mortgage market. If these groups wouldn't have been in place to buy the mortgages, then it would have been more difficult have packaged mortgages. Need to return to if you make the loan you hold the loan. Processing loans for a fee, but having no risk in holding to collection is just a bad control."

@ Brad - Like most things government, Fannie & Freddy started out as a great idea and then morphed into a not so great idea. I think if we altered the rules a little bit Fannie/Freddy could remain a valuable tool in our housing sector. You're right - The originating entity needs to have some "skin in the game" so to speak. They should have to eat the first 30-40% (whatever percentage makes sense here) of the loss on a foreclosure. This way they can still sell their loan products, but know that if they go wild, it's gonna come back to bite them. Which will keep them honest.

Some banks will not want to participate in this model and will look for other avenues. Thus, Fannie/Freddy would slowly wind down to a more reasonable size instead of the five trillion dollar behemoths they are now. My two cents.


"I agree - we need to go back to old loan requirements - like 20% down payment and your loan payments can only be 25% of your income (or whatever percentage)
Isn't that pretty much the case now? I thought they made that change since the meltdown."

@ Jerry - Yes and no. For most conventional loan products yes, but there are still some Gov't based loans that offer less than a 20% down pymt such as Rural Development loans. Rural Dev loans are still 0% down pymt IIRC.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 11/20/2012 16:50:59 MST.

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn) - M

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 16:48:21 MST Print View

"This will result in the middle class having more income and wealth which will make the total economy better"

Providing that consumers are willing to pay the higher price to cover wage increases.. Hasn't been the case in the marketplace. Companies can't just absorb increase

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn) - M

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 16:54:19 MST Print View

Ryan that would surely improve the current situation. However still begs the question why is the federal govt in the home mortgage business. Why do we put taxpayer money at risk? I'm ok with govt regulating business but not running. They have a poor track record and we pay.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/20/2012 17:21:07 MST Print View

"So, which conclusions "ring true" to you and which don't? There mere thought that I might agree with a Liberal on anything makes me shiver... :o)"

OK, I'll take a stab at it, if you'll promise not to shiver to the point of having a seizure. We liberals are real softies, you know. ;=)

"I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t really the Pashtuns per se who fight for the Taliban- rather, it is the ignorant who fight for the Taliban, and most Pashtuns fall into that category, and maybe the ones who actually know better then find it hard to act against their fellow tribesmen, etc."

I think it is more complicated than that. Ignorant they may be, for the most part, although they are well enough led and financed to have inflicted some pretty severe damage on the mightiest army the world has ever seen, despite suffering enormous casualties. That, IMO is worth reflecting on.

"Oh, and another favorite, though it’s from Iraq not Afghanistan: The British got accused of releasing man-eating badgers in Basra to sow panic. Seriously. Most of Iraq still believes it, despite the predictable UK military response: “"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.” There is a strong tradition of believing conspiracy theories throughout the Muslim world, not just in Afghanistan."

Having been colonized by the British after WW I, and exploited, humiliated, and divided by them, most Iraqis have a knee jerk tendency to disbelieve anything the British say. Truly. Beyond that, I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that most of Iraq would never believe something as preposterous as the anecdote you have related. A few ignorant peasants, perhaps, but the typical educated urban Iraqi is far more sophisticated than that. Believe it or not, a lot of them are extremely intelligent, and also resourceful enough to, as in Afghanistan, inflict serious damage on a far superior military. I'm as certain as I can be that they weren't constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of man eating badgers while they were laying their IED's with such terrible effect.

"So, maybe that does constitute a perception of “invasion.” I dunno- that culture is so alien to me that I hesitate to make assumptions. My impressions could very well be sampling bias, too. Every Pashtun I’ve spoken with seemed rational, but heck if they thought I might set them on fire and rape their mother they might have been feeding me platitudes."

They were almost certainly dissembling a lot of the time. It is a time honored tactic for staying alive in the presence of a superior foe. What they actually believe is almost certainly a bit less flattering. Witness the green on blue phenomenon for example.


"FWIW the Dari-speakers as a general rule are better educated, and also tend to support the coalition. Just about everyone but the Pashtuns and Nurstanis support us, as a rule. When we tell THEM that we really just want to squash the Taliban, maybe help increase security a bit, and then LEAVE SKID MARKS on our way out of the country… they get scared. That’s basically everyone who doesn’t live near the Pakistani border (and even a lot who do)."

While this sounds eminently reasonable to you, when you consider that we are currently negotiating with the Karzai government to keep ~20,000 troops in theater beyond 2014, leaving skid marks on our way out probably rings a bit hollow and serves to reinforce their distrust of us as just another army of foreigners bent of exploiting them and their resources, while spouting platitudes about our good intentions. Suspicion and conspiracy have long been a part of the culture over there, with good reason. The fact that the various ethnic groups are in the process of rearming themselves also indicates they don't think 20,000 troops is going to be nearly enough. Given we haven't been able to defeat the Taliban in 11 years of brutal combat, and counting, or even render them impotent, makes me wonder if they know something we don't.

"So, really, I think it’s MOSTLY about poverty, though their ignorance and belief in the Taliban propaganda potentiates this. As I said, most of those fighting the coalition are desperately poor and are paid to do so, even the ignorant masses who buy into the propaganda. Oh, and to boot they are promised that their families will get even more money if they are killed."

My suspicion is that it would take a lot more than $300 and an AK-47 to persuade someone over there, desperately poor or not, to strap on a suicide vest or drive a truck loaded with explosives, in both cases to certain death. Ditto the greens who turn their guns on blue. The sum total of all this behavior indicates to me that they want us the hell out of their country. Badly. Badly enough to die to make it happen.

"Estimates of the number of actual Taliban cadre in the country have never been above the low-hundreds since the initial invasion."

I can't give you the links off hand, but the estimates I have read in the NYT and elsewhere are for ~25,000. Who knows for sure, but I suspect if the number were in the low hundreds, this would have been over long ago. Either that, or the resistance is not merely a Taliban resistance at this point but, rather, something a bit different and much more potent, like resistance to a foreign invader. If so, I also have no doubt that the Taliban are exploiting it for their own purposes. If that is true, there will be some serious internecine killing going on after we leave. I include the ACM in this resistance, BTW. They are in most cases the same folks who resisted the Soviets the last time around, and I'm sure they don't see a lot of difference between us and them. They are also cunning, intelligent survivors of the best that the Soviets and us have thrown at them. All the dumb ones are dead, and those still standing have proven that they are a match for us. Better to declare victory and get the he!! out of dodge. There's nothing there worth the lives of some of our finest citizens, and what is there is not within our grasp. My 2 cents.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice @ Brad & Sean on 11/20/2012 17:46:05 MST Print View

"Just because someone makes a disgusting video that doesn't give the offended party the right to riot or murder someone. That seems very clear to me. This has nothing to do with the fire in the movie theater protection. Look I'm not justifying what he did nor do I approve of it. Last thing we need is the federal government telling us what is acceptable."

This is a tough one for me to dialogue with folks who have not spent time in the Middle East, Brad. The guy who made this movie was born and raised there, and he knew exactly what he was doing. That he chose to do it anyway displayed a cold calculated attempt to creat mayhem with a probable loss of life, IMO. If that was not the case, I'm sure he would have no trouble proving it in a court of law. Otherwise, he was yelling fire in a crowded movie theater and, as a result, countless Muslims died in the ensuing riots, and 4 Americans paid with their lives as well. One of your guys, John McCain, ranted that 4 Americans died and someone has to pay. My personal opinion is that this guy should be that someone. That is about as clear as I can make it. It doesn't make sense if you limit the discussion to the US, but like so many other things, speech has been globalized, and we will have to learn that with global free speech comes global responsibility. This requires that we take sensibilities different than our own into consideration before exercising our freedom. I know this will not go down well with most here in the US.
Heck, one of our Canadian neighbors is already questioning my "American-ness", so I guess I will have to expand that to most in the West. But I still feel it worthwhile raising the issue, if only to get across to you that there will be consequences if we continue to hurl religious insults at a vast population that already feels under seige by the West, particularly the US, and that takes their faith very seriously. One need only study our relations with the Muslim world since 9/11 to see the kind of consequences of trying to ride roughshod over them. 1 billion people is a lot of people to have p!$$ed off at us, and this kind of speech isn't helping. If you want to keep on going on down the same sorry road we have travelled the past decade or so, keep those boots on the ground and those movies coming. In the name of free speech of course. I would prefer responsible free speech myself. I direct this to Sean as well, beause I simply refuse to engage someone, particularly a foreigner, who questions my American-ness while blathering on about unrestricted free speech. That is beyond hilarious, and at the same time beyond being worthy of a reply.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/20/2012 18:38:15 MST Print View

Why would I shiver? You basically disagreed with everything I've said. All is right in the world. :)

But, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. You're clearly wrong on many points :o) but the only point on which I'll argue with you vehemently is this one:

"My suspicion is that it would take a lot more than $300 and an AK-47 to persuade someone over there, desperately poor or not, to strap on a suicide vest or drive a truck loaded with explosives, in both cases to certain death. Ditto the greens who turn their guns on blue. The sum total of all this behavior indicates to me that they want us the hell out of their country. Badly. Badly enough to die to make it happen."

For a couple of reasons.

The first is- the Taliban paying for fighters as I have described is demonstrably common. Really. I'm not making it up. It particularly helps that the Taliban don't advertise the actual chances of surviving an attack, of course. And they also pay for IED placement- and quite well by local standards, too. Clearly, no, those paid fighters aren't the guys strapping suicide vests- those are usually tweens from the Madrassas in Pakistan, who as I have mentioned didn't have a chance since their brainwashing started the moment the began to speak.

The second and more important point regards this: "The sum total of all this behavior indicates to me that they want us the hell out of their country." This seems to indicate a consensus of thought and opinion that simply does not exist in Afghanistan. Heck, you even mention the various ethnic groups arming a few paragraphs before that. I don't think that you can use a communal "they" to describe anything there, or make such sweeping generalizations. Of course, all you hear about in the media is the Taliban and the Pashtuns and others of their supporters- you never hear about the Hazara or the Tajiks, because that doesn't sell papers. As a rule most of the smaller ethnic groups (essentially everyone not near the Pakistani border) want exactly what I have said that they want- security, and to hell with the Taliban. They are tired of war, and they are tired of abuse from armed thugs. (Though, admittedly, most include the Karzai governement in the "armed thug" group.) They are terrified at the prospect of the Coalition leaving the country in its current state. Several have flat out told me that if we left any time soon that there would be terrible chaos, and they don't want that. I've seem many of them get visibly agitated just talking about it.

If you think about this it makes sense- after all, how did we invade Afghanistan? Well, we almost technically didn't. Instead we sent Special Forces teams and airstrikes to support anti-Taliban forces that already existed in the country, the so-called Northern Alliance. There are in fact MASSIVE groups in Afghanistan who are very opposed to the Taliban.

As I said, I understand the concept of feeding platitudes, but this I do believe. I'm not well-versed enough to say something like it is a vast majority who fear our leaving or anything, and I'm certain that most think of us as a lesser evil, but on the other hand IMO you're sweeping "they want us out" strikes me as lacking appreciation for the complexity of the issue.

The 25,000 figure makes me chuckle, though, as a basic difference of definitions. I would agree that there are that many organized and armed anti-coalition fighters, if not more, but they aren't TALIBAN. That's an important distinction because their goals are different, though they do ally themselves with the Taliban, get technical support from them such as bomb-building training, etc. My low-hundreds figure was for actual Taliban cadre, most of whom stay in Pakistan. So, as I said, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Susan Rice on 11/20/2012 19:29:47 MST Print View

Brad-

The short version answer to your question is that the GSE's provide easy access to capital for banks/lenders. This is important because the housing & financial sectors are huge drivers of the economy which the Govt, rightly or wrongly, wants to have a hand in stimulating. How would each sector look without GSE involvement over the last decades? Tough to say.

Keep in mind though that the GSE's had been around for nearly 70 years without any tax payer handouts. They had a solid business model once upon a time. It's only in the last 20 yrs did Bush & Clinton create the monstrosities we know today. Still, I think they've created far more wealth than they have ever taken from the taxpayer.

Ryan

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/20/2012 20:18:39 MST Print View

"The first is- the Taliban paying for fighters as I have described is demonstrably common. Really. I'm not making it up. It particularly helps that the Taliban don't advertise the actual chances of surviving an attack, of course. And they also pay for IED placement- and quite well by local standards, too. Clearly, no, those paid fighters aren't the guys strapping suicide vests- those are usually tweens from the Madrassas in Pakistan, who as I have mentioned didn't have a chance since their brainwashing started the moment the began to speak."

Except it isn't the Taliban who pay but, rather our close allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. Not the governments directly, but wealthy businessmen who contribute to "charities" in Pakistan. That aside, I think it is an overstatement to say that the vast majority of people planting IED' or going on suicide missions, is only motivated by money. There is a long history of resistance to invaders in Afghanistan. Why would it be different this time around? The greens on blue attacks are most definitely not carried out by tweens from Pakistan. They wouldn't even make the first cut in the screening process. I would suspect the same applies to truck drivers, but of this I am not 100% certain. To assume that everyone who opposes us is either a brain washed tween or a paid thug is a serious mistake, IMO, that leads to underestimating our opponent's will to fight. This is not to say the tweeners and paid fighters are not an issue, but they are by no means the only ones fighting us.

"Heck, you even mention the various ethnic groups arming a few paragraphs before that. I don't think that you can use a communal "they" to describe anything there, or make such sweeping generalizations. Of course, all you hear about in the media is the Taliban and the Pashtuns and others of their supporters- you never hear about the Hazara or the Tajiks, because that doesn't sell papers. As a rule most of the smaller ethnic groups (essentially everyone not near the Pakistani border) want exactly what I have said that they want- security, and to hell with the Taliban. They are tired of war, and they are tired of abuse from armed thugs. (Though, admittedly, most include the Karzai governement in the "armed thug" group.) They are terrified at the prospect of the Coalition leaving the country in its current state. Several have flat out told me that if we left any time soon that there would be terrible chaos, and they don't want that. I've seem many of them get visibly agitated just talking about it."

I thought it was clear I was talking about the Pashhtun belt to the south and east. Sorry if that was not the case. No question the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara, et al are perfectly content to let us try to make hash of the Pashtuns while they sit back and prepare themselves to finish the job after we have, hopefully from their point of view, decimated the Pashtuns. No question they are not enthralled with Karzai as well, given he is a Pashtun and a crook in the bargain. We do not disagree on this point at all. Rather, it appears I was not precise enough in my comments. It's a bit off the track, but I don't think Afghanistan should be one country at all. It is no more cohesive than Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, or any other of the ba$t^rd offspring of the British Empire. Afghanistan was never a British colony, but their division of the Pashtuns by setting the Durand line directly contributed to the mess we see today, and so I mention it in the same breath.

""If you think about this it makes sense- after all, how did we invade Afghanistan? Well, we almost technically didn't. Instead we sent Special Forces teams and airstrikes to support anti-Taliban forces that already existed in the country, the so-called Northern Alliance. There are in fact MASSIVE groups in Afghanistan who are very opposed to the Taliban."

That may be how it started, but it ended up with some 168,000 ISAF troops in country who were still unable to finish the job. I hope my clarification that I was referring to Pashtuns in my original reply to you at least narrows down our disagreement. I trust we will agree that when we leave there will be little unanimity among the ethnic groups arrayed against the Taliban and non Taliban Pashtuns beyond dealing with the Pashtuns, and that they will soon set about dividing up the northern part of Afghanistan into fiefs run by the usual suspects, Dostun, Fahim, Ismail Khan, et al, and take up where they left off with persecuting the Hazara for being the ethnic remains of Gengis Khan's Merry Men and apostate Shi'a in the bargain.

"As I said, I understand the concept of feeding platitudes, but this I do believe. I'm not well-versed enough to say something like it is a vast majority who fear our leaving or anything, and I'm certain that most think of us as a lesser evil, but on the other hand IMO you're sweeping "they want us out" strikes me as lacking appreciation for the complexity of the issue."

Again, I was referring to the Pashtuns. The others, I believe, see us as you say: the lesser of two evils, to be eased out after we have done most of their fighting ofr them and they have milked us for as much reconstruction aid as they can. Not that much of the money will go to reconstruction.

"The 25,000 figure makes me chuckle, though, as a basic difference of definitions. I would agree that there are that many organized and armed anti-coalition fighters, if not more, but they aren't TALIBAN. That's an important distinction because their goals are different, though they do ally themselves with the Taliban, get technical support from them such as bomb-building training, etc. My low-hundreds figure was for actual Taliban cadre, most of whom stay in Pakistan. So, as I said, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe."

I don't see the disagreement here, Dean. That is pretty much what I was saying earlier, that the resistance has spread beyond the Taliban to include Pashtun nationalists who want us the he!! out of their land. I have little doubt that they will turn on each other after we leave as a result of their different goals. In the meantime, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I am no fan of the Taliban, BTW. Just to be clear.

My overall concern is that we will continue to involve ourselves in a conflict that is beyond our ability to resolve, at a horrific cost, for no worthwhile purpose. As long as we are there, we will be a magnet for every militant for countries around, aching for a shot at The Great Satan and a chance to polish their skills for the struggles in their home countries.

The unspoken strategic reason for trying to maintain a presence is to keep an eye on Pakistan and the militants there, but that, too, if a fool's errand, IMO. We cannot pull it off at any acceptable cost, but that is for another discussion.

Po-tay-to po-tah-to indeed, and all because I apparently didn't make it clear enough that I was referring to Pashtuns and not all of Afghanistan.

Darn, at the end of the day, we have not actually disagreed all that much. At least not on the basis of what you posted here. You're gonna have to do better than that if you want to maintain your conservative credentials in good standing, and avoid the dreaded Liberal Shivers. Po-tay-to po-tah-to just won't cut it. ;0]

Edited by ouzel on 11/20/2012 21:08:16 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/21/2012 07:10:36 MST Print View

@ Tom-

So, yes, we're talking about subtly different things.

And, no, I don't think we disagree terribly, even accounting for your straw man- I never said that suicide bombers are motivated by money, Brother. Please don't put words in my mouth. I said that most FIGHTERS are bought men. Is that their only motivation? No, I don't think so- but they wouldn't be fighting and dying if it weren't for the money. And most of our resistance is just fighters (including IED technicians). I spent an entire year in Paktika province, which is one of the more active fighting areas in the middle of Pashtunistan, and we had exactly ONE suicide bombing while I was there, though I admit that it was a doozey, involving a dumptruck that blew up a construction site and anti-Taliban madrassa. Oh, and precisely zero green-on-blue incidents. Contrast this with innumerable incidents of small-arms fire and IED detonations. Suicide bombings are dramatic and get press, but aren't COMPARATIVELY common. Likewise, green-on-blue gets a lot of press because it is dramatic and is effective against us because it is essentially impossible to predict, prevent, or mitigate, and sows discord between us and our Afghan allies, but is also comparatively rare. (Note I keep saying "comparatively"- compared to direct action like SAF and IED, where you find all of these paid guys.) I still think that, were it not for the money most of these desperately poor people would not be fighting in any organized way and would be willing to just live in peace and tend their herds. But when 45% of the country lives on less than $1/day...

Come to think of it, the bombing of that moderate madrassa is an indication that even in Pashtunistan "everybody" isn't for the Taliban. Commander Z is another- he's a Paktika local and HATES the Taliban- it would be accurate to say that he's on an anti-Taliban crusade. (I treated him once, after a failed assassination attempt against him.) He's been very effective, too- he fights almost as dirty as the Taliban.

Mind you, I'm not trying to say that the Pashtuns have a warm-fuzzy for us. I'm just maintaining that the situation is absolutely not a clear-cut as you seem to think that it is. Also, you sort of shoot yourself in the foot by both resisting my "ignorance" theory AND trying to limit the discussion to the Pashtuns, because those Pashtun hillbillies are precisely the demographic of ignorance to which I refer. I'm not saying that they are stupid, mind you, just ignorant. I'm talking "they don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun" kind of ignorance. Elsewhere regarding ignorance you've said something like "maybe the peasants"- but 80% of the Afghan population ARE peasants- farmers or pastoralists. That's one hell of a demographic, Brother. (In honesty probably a bit less than the 80% I describe would really qualify as a peasant, since they are involved in more than subsistence, but still- even half of that would be a boatload.) Afghan farmers don't have M.B.A.s they way American farmers do. And I'd say that the percentage is even higher among the Pashtun hillbillies.

And are green-on-blue attacks done by men from Pakistan? Well, yes, a fair number of them. The "tweens" thing was a different example. (As is, for that matter, using mentally deficient children as suicide bombers.) Locals don't really recognize the border with Pakistan, so many cross to attend the Madrassas, then come back to commit mayhem after their minds have been set right. And if you think that there is any sort of rigorous screening process for the Afghan military and paramilitary establishment you're mistaken. Nonetheless the vast, vast majority of the 200,000 ANA soldiers were at least willing to bear arms against the Taliban, albeit unrelaibly.

And, yes, the money ultimately comes from SA, Qatar, etc. but that's like saying that the Red Cross doesn't provide humanitarian aid, but rather the U.S. and other western countries do so THROUGH the Red Cross. Ultimately, that money gets disbursed by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist organizations.

Edited by acrosome on 11/21/2012 12:11:13 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/21/2012 13:16:07 MST Print View

"And, no, I don't think we disagree terribly, even accounting for your straw man- I never said that suicide bombers are motivated by money, Brother. Please don't put words in my mouth. I said that most FIGHTERS are bought men."

OK, I'll give you that one, if it's really bugging you, although I don't think it's too much of a stretch to consider a suicide bomber a fighter.

"Is that their only motivation? No, I don't think so- but they wouldn't be fighting and dying if it weren't for the money. And most of our resistance is just fighters (including IED technicians)."

No disagreement here at all. Soldiers everywhere get a paycheck. Money clearly has to be part of the equation, but without motivation I'd bet most of them would prefer to stay on the farm. The Taliban may not be upfront about the odds of coming back to the farm as opposed to buying it, but I think you'd have to agree that the word on that score is out by now.

"I spent an entire year in Paktika province, which is one of the more active fighting areas in the middle of Pashtunistan, and we had exactly ONE suicide bombing while I was there, though I admit that it was a doozey, involving a dumptruck that lew up a construction site and anti-Taliban madrassa. Oh, and precisely zero green-on-blue bincidents. Contrast this with innumerable incidents of small-arms fire and IED detonations. Suicide bombings are dramatic and get press, but aren't COMPARATIVELY common. Likewise, green-on-blue gets a lot of press because it is dramatic and is effective against us because it is essentially impossible to predict, prevent, or mitigate, and sows discord between us and our Afghan allies, but is also comparatively rare. (Note I keep saying "comparatively"- compared to direct action like SAF and IED, where you find all of these paid guys.) I still think that, were it not for the money most of these desperately poor people would not be fighting in any organized way and would be willing to just live in peace and tend their herds. But when 45% of the country lives on less than $1/day...

No disagreement here either. By their very nature, suicide bombings are destined to be a less commonly used tactic. But they are often devastatingly effective when they are used, as much for psychological reasons as the actual damage they cause. Similarly with green on blue, but you have to admit that the psychological impact is enormous, not just tactically, but strategically as well in that these attacks severely impact our ability to train and operate with the Afghan army and police with potentially dire consequences as we continue to draw down our forces.

"Come to think of it, the bombing of that moderate madrassa is an indication that even in Pashtunistan "everybody" isn't for the Taliban. Commander Z is another- he's a Paktika local and HATES the Taliban- it would be accurate to say that he's on an anti-Taliban crusade. (I treated him once, after a failed assassination attempt against him.) He's been very effective, too- he fights almost as dirty as the Taliban. Mind you, I'm not trying to say that the Pashtuns have a warm-fuzzy for us. I'm just maintaining that the situation is absolutely not a clear-cut as you seem to think that it is."

I don't think I ever said anywhere in our conversation that EVERYBODY is against us.
Not everybody has to be against us to mount a serious resistance. It is clear they have enough support to maintain a steady supply of fighters, which indicates there is also a substantial number of others providing food, shelter, and intelligence. How many of them do this out of conviction, for money, or under duress is almost beside the point. In any case, I doubt we'll ever really know the answer to that one. Beyond that, in a population riven by blood feuds at the family, clan, and tribal level going back centures in many cases, there is unlike to be unanimity on anything at all, let alone matters of war and peace. I am well aware of this, and that is why I doubt I ever said every Pashtun is against us. If you can point out where I did, I will humbly eat a large portion of crow in public.

"Also, you sort of shoot yourself in the foot by both resisting my "ignorance" theory AND trying to limit the discussion to the Pashtuns, because those Pashtun hillbillies are precisely the demographic of ignorance to which I refer. I'm not saying that they are stupid, mind you, just ignorant. I'm talking "they don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun" kind of ignorance. Elsewhere regarding ignorance you've said something like "maybe the peasants"- but 80% of the Afghan population ARE peasants- farmers or pastoralists. That's one hell of a demographic, Brother. (In honesty probably a bit less than the 80% I describe would really qualify as a peasant, since they are involved in more than subsistence, but still- even half of that would be a boatload.) Afghan farmers don't have M.B.A.s they way American farmers do. And I'd say that the percentage is even higher among the Pashtun hillbillies."

Again, IIRC, my only disagreement with you regarding ignorance had to do with the hilarious "man eating badger" anecdote. I know from personal experience that Iraqis as a whole are just not that ignorant or gullible. I don't doubt for a minute that rural Pashtuns are a pretty benighted lot, as is often the case in other parts of the world. There is even a fair amount of rural ignorance here in the good old US of A; witness the whole intelligent design uproar, Obama's a Muslim, etc. He!!, just take a trip down thru southern Appalachia. As long as that does judgment does not also extend to their intelligence as well, we don't have anything to argue about here.

"And are green-on-blue attacks done by men from Pakistan? Well, yes, a fair number of them. The "tweens" thing was a different example. (As is, for that matter, using mentally deficient children as suicide bombers.) Locals don't really recognize the border with Pakistan, so many cross to attend the Madrassas, then come back to commit mayhem after their minds have been set right."

Sure, Pakistan has long been a rear area for the Taliban and other factions. Pashtuns have never recognized the border, the infamous Durand Line. As long as you are not saying that all of them have crossed the border and been indoctrinated in a madrassa, we have no argument.

"And if you think that there is any sort of rigorous screening process for the Afghan military and paramilitary establishment you're mistaken. Nonetheless the vast, vast majority of the 200,000 ANA soldiers were at least willing to bear arms against the Taliban, albeit unrelaibly."

I never said it was rigorous, merely effective enough to eliminate a fuzzy faced tweener from consideration. As for bearing arms, the paycheck definitely comes into
my mind here. As I understand it, the rate of desertion and drug use among the Afghan Army and Police is extremely high, so the unreliability does not surprise me in the slightest, not to mention their effectiveness when they do bother to show up.
This plus the impact of the green and blue attacks does not portend a rosy future for our excellent adventure in the Graveyard of Empires, IMO


"And, yes, the money ultimately comes from SA, Qatar, etc. but that's like saying that the Red Cross doesn't provide humanitarian aid, but rather the U.S. and other western countries do so THROUGH the Red Cross. Ultimately, that money gets disbursed by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist organizations."

True enough. I just threw that in to highlight the irony of our alliances with those countries. I also forgot to mention another reenue stream for the Taliban which does not depend on foreign sources: heroin. Nasty business all around. The sooner we're out of there the better, IMO.

I hope all this doesn't aggravate the shivers. If it does, a doc friend of mine highly recommends 500 ml of your microbrew of choice, administered orally at 1/2 hour intervals until the symptoms subside. ;)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/21/2012 15:04:35 MST Print View

@Tom-

OK, I guess we've hashed this out and just have to agree to stop interpreting what the other says as some sort of absolute declaration. Clearly, we both understand the complexities of the region.

That said, several times you said "You must admit..." But I don't think that I do have to admit any of that... because I pretty much just STATED it! :o)

Ugh- getting shivers. I'll have to go take my "medicine"...

The only thing in your last missive upon which I might want to comment is this:

"Not everybody has to be against us to mount a serious resistance. It is clear they have enough support to maintain a steady supply of fighters, which indicates there is also a substantial number of others providing food, shelter, and intelligence."

I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but that almost sounds like you think there is some sort of standing armed force migrating around the countryside and drawing upon "support" from noncombatant locals. But most fighters are locals.

But, yes, they do have an effectively infinite supply of Angry Young Men. We failed to address one major tenet of counterinsurgency- no insurgency has failed when it has a safe haven into which to retreat where it is safe from effective attack. In this case, Pakistan, land of the radical madrassa.

Edited by acrosome on 11/21/2012 15:29:46 MST.

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn) - M

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/21/2012 15:31:11 MST Print View

Jerry,

I see your brethren the SEIU union is going to protest at LAX airport over Thanksgiving. Blocking entrances and make the airport a parking lot on the busiest travel day of the year. What a selfish bunch of people to ruin other peoples holidays. If you want to protest go ahead, but why screw up innocent peoples holiday who have nothing to do with the problem. I hope the travelers take a stand.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So much to respond to...@Dean on 11/21/2012 16:36:05 MST Print View

"OK, I guess we've hashed this out and just have to agree to stop interpreting what the other says as some sort of absolute declaration. Clearly, we both understand the complexities of the region."

I'd say that's a fair statement. Works for me. :)

"That said, several times you said "You must admit..." But I don't think that I do have to admit any of that... because I pretty much just STATED it! :o)"

Darn, you won't let me get away with anything. ;(

"I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but that almost sounds like you think there is some sort of standing armed force migrating around the countryside and drawing upon "support" from noncombatant locals. But most fighters are locals."

Absolutely not. If they were so foolish as to mount a standing force, it goes without saying that it wouldn't remain standing very long. It is a classic guerilla
war being prosecuted very effectively by a people with centuries of experience resisting vastly superior militaries, but none have ever completely subdued the place for long. There is a lesson here for us, IMO, if we choose to study it. As I understand it, they do have a courier system that is quite mobile and does migrate around the country when there is information to disseminate that they do not want to risk being picked up by our extensive, sophisticated electronic surveillance systems. Not to mention risking their own a$$es by providing a cell phone signal/voice pattern match for a Hellfire missile to home in on, as it has in so many cases, both in country and in the Tribal Areas on the other side of the putative border.

"But, yes, they do have an effectively infinite supply of Angry Young Men. We failed to address one major tenet of counterinsurgency- no insurgency has failed when it has a safe haven into which to retreat where it is safe from effective attack. In this case, Pakistan, land of the radical madrassa."

True. Given this reality, and the infeasibility of eliminating that safe haven, it seems clear to me that we made a grievous miscalculation in electing to continue the war after driving the Taliban from power. Better to have sat down with the leaders of the majority of Pashtuns who wanted nothing to do with the Taliban, told them in no uncertain terms that we had no designs on their country but would return in much greater force if they allowed the Taliban back into power, and then left those skid marks on the road back to Karachi, leaving them and the neighboring countries to sort the ensuing mess out on their own, in their own way. It is their neighborhood anyway, and neither the Russians, Iran, or Pakistan have much use for the Taliban. I doubt very much if the Taliban would have gotten much of a welcome under those conditons, but that is just my personal opinion.

How's the medicine working? :)