Comments Posted By John Burke
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Rick's take is the right one -- and I've said much the same thing on my blog.

This is not a war we started but we must finish it by defeating al Qaeda ad its indispensable and loyal ally, Mullah Omar's. Taliban. Anything less would endanger Americans again and threaten the stability of the sub-continent. Obama clearly grasps this and has committed himself and the nation to this fight. In two waves -- early this year and now -- he has added more than 50,000 US troops to the fight -- more than doubling the number and raising the number of combat brigades from three to eight. He has appointed a smart, aggressive new commander and embraced his COIN strategy. At the same time, he has ramped up CIA-run operations against al Qaeada and Taliban inside Pakistan and appears to be pressing Pakistan for a stepped up commitment on their side of the border.

Yet, even as the pathetically pacifistic left wing of the Democratic Party -- meaning people like Feingold and Conyers, not just Michael Moore -- have blasted Obama's plans and begun to launch a new "peace" campaign, a large collection of right-wingers and Republicans have also jumped on Obama as if he had put up a surrender flag. Yes, the right generally "supports" Obama's surge but a quick look at the news shows that their criticisms stands out while their "support" is barely noted. Frankly, making a big deal out of Obama's setting forth a flexible time frame or failing to make it 40,000 new troops is ridiculous. The timing is conditions-based and easily changed. The 30,000 number seems to have come from Bob Gates ad is based on the outer limit of what the US logistics infrastructure can accommodate in a year. Anyway, McChrystal will see his combat power increase from three to eight brigades which is a very big deal.

One more thing: the talking point is taking hold on cable in in the blogs to the effect that the Taliban can lay low for 18 months and then take over. This is so ludicrous that people saying it should be laughed out of the room. It totally ignores the enormous combat power of 100,000 US troops. Give them 18 months without serious opposition and they will own Afghanistan.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 2.12.2009 @ 19:45


I think the 10 points are silly and any attempt by either party to enforce ideological discipline won't work anyway (voters do a nice job of that; heavily GOP states and districts elect mostly conservatives; heavily Dem areas mostly liberals; and split areas elect moderates or go back and forth).

But was any purpose served by dumping on the Sacrament of Reconciliation? I'm a mostly lapsed Catholic myself and have not been to confession in 40 years. But respect, Rick, show some respect. It's basic.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 24.11.2009 @ 20:40


There are two issues that get tangled together here and should be seen separately.

First, the amount and kind of care for a person certain to die soon. The problem to be confronted there -- who decides when death is a certainty -- is ethically dicey but not practically complicated.

Second, when is it right to provide advanced treatment for a person quite old or very sick that will be expensive but may be life-saving in that it provides a significant extension of life -- and who decides that. This is a much tougher question that cannot properly be dealt with by reference to average ages or average lifespans for people with a similar ailment.

The two are almost always rolled together with those statistics about the cost of care in the last two months of life. Except in the case of murders and suicides, and some sudden fatal heart attacks, the most extensive and expensive care is bound to be delivered in those last two months, because that is when a person is the most seriously ill. But to what should such a stat be compared? Should it not be compared to the cost of care for someone equally ill or equally old or both over a two month period who recovered and lived a good deal longer?

My mother dies at age 80 of post-operative complications of surgery to replace her aortic valve. She had been hospitalized repeatedly in the months prior to the surgery. She face death within a year without the surgery and the prospect of five or more additional years with it. She took the risks inherent in such surgery at her age and condition. The operation was a success, but a few days later, she acquired an infection which became systemic sepsis and died after about 1o days in an IC unit of one of the nation's leading teaching hospitals.

Between the pre-surgery hospitalization, the surgery and post-surgery IC care, I've no doubt that her two-month bills amounted to the largest health care expenditure of her lifetime. Her case added to those seemingly ominous two-month stats. But Barbara Bush, I believe, had the same surgery at about the same age not long ago. So far as I know, Mrs. Bush is going strong and may well live that extra five years the eluded my mother.

So aren't those two case a trade off, just as herioc care for two youinger accident victims might result in one saved life and another lost?

Comment Posted By John Burke On 23.11.2009 @ 14:30


I agree with most of this post -- except why do you feel it necessary to spend several paragraphs pointing out that the emails don't prove some global conspiracy? That's a lot like the talking points going around to the effect that what's important about the emails is that they don't demonstrate a massive Soros-funded conspiracy of vegetarian nuts, etc. That's a huge straw man.

Isn't it enough of a scandal if the emails pointed to a conspiracy among the guys emailing each other to suppress inconvenient data, discredit other scientists, muse about undercutting the reputation of a peer-reviewed journal, and manipulating reporters? I should think that confirming such conduct should be enough to get them drummed out of their academic posts. It won;'t, of course, and that's the core of the problem. It's not a conspiracy but as you got to in the rest of your post, it's group think. Dangerous group think because of the trillions of dollars that might be spent on public policies driven by faulty science.

There are a lot of laymen out there spouting today about the end of the global warming debate. That's nonsense. Others are writing about a world wide conspiracy. That also is nonsense.

That's what I was responding to.


Comment Posted By John Burke On 21.11.2009 @ 12:16


I stopped reading Sullivan in 2004. I've often wondered why anyone bothers with what he writes. The best way to put an end to his pathetic grip on influence is to stop referring to him, stop answering him, and stop linking to him. Most of his traffic today is likely coming from people who think he's a fool, or worse. Just stop it!

Comment Posted By John Burke On 19.11.2009 @ 16:36


I do think that liberals routinely try to characterize Republicans as not smart, even dim wits or light weights. Thus Ike was nice but transparently shallow, while Adlai was some sort of intellectual. Gerry Ford was lampooned as a klutz. Reagan was portrayed as a mere actor who needed to read a script. And of course, Bush 43 was a brainless dunce.

This is all part of a sickness that affects liberals disproportionately -- an incurable sense of superiority that is impervious to any and all empirical evidence to the contrary.

All that said, Sarah Palin really is ignorant -- probably not stupid, which is not the same thing, of course. My minimum requirement for Presidents and Vice Presidents is that they know at least as much about pubic affairs as I do. That's not being an "intellectual" (who in politics really is an intellectual? I can't think of anyone, and it's just as well because leadership requires people of action).it's a matter of acquiring knowledge and being able to put it to use in public debate and action.

Which brings me to Rick's point, which is right on. Palin manifestly lacked knowledge -- even basic facts -- that people in public life must have when she was first "rolled out" as a candidate. In the 15 months since, she has shown no inclination to make up for this glaring deficit, leaving one forced to conclude that she's incapable of doing that or just not interested for some bizarre reason. Either way, it's a disqualifier that a great many Americans notice.

Sure, Couric and others were thrilled to be able to play gotcha with Palin. The troubling thing is how easy that was and the fact that I could trip her up on a dozen topics.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 16.11.2009 @ 19:18


I have a photo on my blog of Reagan greeting Hirohito himself with a hearty handshake and another showing lesser folk greeting Akahito the same way. Check it out:

Comment Posted By John Burke On 15.11.2009 @ 13:20


Reynolds: "It’s been like that from the start. A bunch of red-staters from places bin Laden’s never even heard of run around demanding we round up Muslims, stockpile guns, torture anyone who looks at us cross-eyed and just generally freak out like a bunch of little girls seeing a tarantula.

"Meanwhile New Yorkers enjoy another bagel."

If you're going to keep this stuff up, you will need to find another excuse when New Yorkers' opinions begin to get noticed. I live in New York and every one I talk to is either bewildered or furious that Obama is doing this.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 15.11.2009 @ 00:39

Sorry, Reynolds, when you serially throw out what you think are examples of successfully prosecuting terrorists, you're bringing them up -- with whatever baggage they may have. And they have a lot to tell us about how crazy it is to be giving KSM a trial in Federal court in Manhattan

I've dealt with the UK-IRA example. Now whate about the first one you threw out above:

"We tried the Lincoln conspirators in Washington — a city that had been very close to being lost to CSA forces on several occasions — despite the fact that armed bands of Confederate sympathizers were still around."

Yeah, we tried them in Washington, and Washington had once been threatened by Confederate forces, but by May 1865, the Confederacy couldn't threaten anyone any longer and Lee had surrendered. There might have been Confederate "armed bands" roaming Missouri, but DC was a Union armed camp.

But far more important was the nature of that trial of the Booth conspirators. They were tried by a Military Commission ordered into existence by President Andrew Johnson, based solely on an opinion of the Attorney General to the effect that the assassination was an act of war and without so much as asking Congress's opinion. The Commission of nine officers convened less than a month after Lincoln was shot and four days after he was buried (swift justice in those days). By the President's order, the Commission itself was tasked with setting up its own procedures and rules, which were generally fair to the accused but would be well short of ACLU demands. The accused were tried and convicted and several sentenced to death before mid-July. When the death sentence was handed down to be carried out promptly, lawyers for the convicted managed to get a Supreme Court Justice to issue a writ of habeus corpus to review the proceedings.

Acting entirely on his own authority, President Johnson quashed the writ -- in effect, ignoring it -- and ordered the hangings to take place, as scheduled, which they did.

So is this the justice you would have us impose on KSM? I'd be thrilled. And if we could figure on getting KSM and his cohorts to the hangman by three months from now, there would be little reason to worry about al Qaeda havingn time to organize any new terror atacks on NYC.

But I'd settle for trying him before the Military Commissions created by Congress expressly for that purpose, with their myriad of due process protections and indpeendent military judges.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 15.11.2009 @ 00:31

Michael Reynolds: "None of your remarks even is relevant to me."

Sure they are. You brought this up above to make a point:

"As pointed out above, the Europeans have tried, convicted and incarcerated Al Qaeda terrorists. The UK held IRA terrorists, the Spaniards held Basque terrorists."

The point you made was, they can do it, so can we.

OK, but at least in the case of the UK, it would be wrong to think they just sent the cops out, gathered evidence, read the IRA suspects their rights, and hailed them before some fine British court. Faced with a number of terrorist casualties that was minimal, compared to 9/11, they launched what people might call an extra-legal crackdown, rounding up anyone remotely connected to Irish nationalism in Ulster, trying them in star chambers, holding them indefinitely without trial, and not incidentally, subjected many of the to beatings and inhumane treatment. AND THESE WERE THEIR OWN CITTIZENS.

So maybe, at least, you'll stop going round saying, well, if they can do it, so can we. What some of us propose -- trying them before the Military Commissions created by Congress for that purpose and embraced by Obama and Holder -- hardly comes close to what the Brits were prepared to do -- and did.

It's very relevant.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 14.11.2009 @ 20:49

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