Tuesday, August 24, 2004
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My kind of president
Screw Bush or Kerry -- why can't someone like Mikheil Saakashvili run for president in the United States? As someone who witnessed first-hand the Soviet-style traffic police in action when living in Ukraine, I could only weep with joy after reading C.J. Chivers' account in the New York Times of Saakashvili's police reforms. The good parts:
Read the whole thing. And here's a backgrounder on Georgia's current situation.
Finally, a president who actually wants to shrink the state!
The rest of the story explains why this schedule may be just a tad optimistic -- but damn, do I like this guy's instincts.
Finally, a leader for the lower-right quadrant!!
LAST UPDATE: Gavin Sheridan has lots of posts on Georgia.posted by Dan on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM
“Screw Bush or Kerry”
Agreed. Unfortunately, we have to live in the real world. It is either George W. Bush or John Kerry. We are therefore compelled to choose the lesser of evils. I literally do not know anyone who wholeheartedly supports the President. Kerry is simply too psychologically unbalanced to be our commander in chief. His immature behavior in the last few days truly borders on the bizarre.posted by: David Thomson on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Oh you prefer the behavior of crusader bunnypants who sat like a deer in the headlights for 7 minutes after he heard the US was under attack and then ran like a scared rabbit all over the country before the adults said it was ok to come home?
Or are you of the ilk that feels that any Viet Nam vet is unbalanced and immature. After all they were silly enough to go while your hero's "had other priorities" ( Cheney) or when asked by the Dallas paper in 1990 about why he didn't go to VN said "I wasn't willing to burst an eardrum with a shotgun or go to Canada so decided to better himself by learning to fly airplanes" so daddy got him a place in the National Guard ( which was a entirely different type of organization then it is now) checked the box that said he didn't want to go to Vn and spent the drinking, snorting and carouseing.
Gee what maturity.
I remember Ukrainian and Russian traffic police. I had bought a car when I lived there and had the pleasure of dealing with them on nearly a daily basis. Some of my best stories come from dealing with them. Some good some bad, but in the end not a real problem, but then agian I did not have to live my whole life there. I think Dan is right Georgia will be so much better off if this new system works. People here don't understand how much a pain it was. For about 3 years after I returned my heart skipped a beat every time I passed a police car on the side of the road here in the US. Even if I was doing nothing wrong, I had that gut feeling that I was going to get pulled over.
This story brought up so many memories, I just had to post.
Bartposted by: Bart on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
given what we know about US-Georgian relations, this was probably an American idea ...posted by: praktike on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
“I don't see where it is unbalanced to respond to a smear job that is traditional in any bush family campaign.”
John Kerry’s problems have little to do with the alleged shenanigans of the Bush family. We also can totally ignore the Swift Boat accusers if we so desire. The fact remains that Kerry lied about spending Christmas 1968 in Cambodia. He also falsely accused his fellow veterans of being war criminals. The Massachusetts senator’s own words haunt him. Karl Rove need not do anything. John Kerry placed the noose around his own neck and then jumped off the chair.
Mikheil Saakashvili should have been born in Georgia, USA. Oh well, such is life.
If Saakashvili is anything, he's brave. Unless the GAI were known to be unorganized and relatively powerless, taking on any corrupt group in a former Union block is a life-threatening aim (or so I read).
Our choices this election? Seems to be between the guy who has already done a bad job, and the guy a lot of people say can do no better. Half of us opt for the devil they know. But IMO, outside of partisan debate, the other guy hasn't proved to be a devil of any sort - yet.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
How do you think he would have dealt with these spoiled brats who obviously can not appreciate their liberation and freedom?
Iraq, Civilian Fatalities, and American Power
Iraqi group: Civilian toll now 37,000
"Gee what maturity"
This was certainly my first reaction upon reading Ken's post. How thoughtful of him to mock himself and save us the trouble.posted by: mj on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
"Finally, a president who actually wants to shrink the state!"
Re-introducing fewer traffic police than existed before does not mean he's for less government; he's just trying to remedy his institution's corruption problem.
If he does/has done the same with his more important, central institutions, then you may have the beginnings of an argument.
posted by: Irv on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Thanks for posting that, brings tears of joy to this ex-Russia hand. The wife used to run a newspaper delivery business in Moscow so you might be able to imagine how much we despised GAI. Even the other police forces despised them.posted by: Tim Worstall on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
I don't see the problem with Ken's post. Maybe he used intemperate language. But a lot of the Bushies accuse people that disagree with them (kerry, other commenters) of being deranged or treasonous or pro-terrorist or appeasers or something else and then criticize others for making ad hominem attacks. And please don't say you don't know what I'm talking about.
I wouldn't have said it the way Ken did, but I am tired of these attacks on Kerry on behalf of an administration that continues to say day is night and black is white and two plus two equals five.posted by: MWS on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
I totally agree with you Dan. I started branching out to cover affairs in the Caucasus about the time Saakashvili led the protests after the November elections. He's certainly impressive and a strong argument for plentiful funding for US professional and education exchange programs.
It is interesting to see what the Russians (and the typically leftist, knee-jerk "if America's involved, it's evil" crowd) think of him. This and this seem to be fairly typical (though neither are written by Russians). In a nutshell, they accuse him of being a new Milosevic bent on exterminating or driving away Georgia's ethnic minorities. At the kindest, there is breast-beating over how aggressive and yes, heavy-handed, Saakashvili has been in going after corruption.
In my opinion, the conflict between Georgia and its separatist regions will define how Russia interacts with its near abroad (and how it reacts to US involvement in the region) for years to come. And, I have a bit of hope that if Russia begins to benefit from a free and less-corrupt Georgia, it will be less enthusiastic in its support for the tyrants in its backyard.posted by: Nathan Hamm on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Prof Drezner's "I just can't decide" posture was at first somewhat cute but now has become irritating. He's treating this campaign as if it's the high school annual choice for Most Likely to Succeed.
we're choosing an administration here, not just an individual. for a moment, forget which of the candidates has the more admirable character and forget who is more likely to "shrink government", "promote free trade", etc. and instead ask which administration is more likely to attack fundamental freedoms? we know the current administration's track record on individual rights (eg, proposals to end run constitutional review via jurisdictional gimmickery), the use of government machinery to achieve partisan benefit, war prisoner rights (8-1 says not so good), attacks even on their own party members who don't march in step, et al. given this histroy, would someone please explain how a libertarian can honestly be more fearful of a prospective democratic administration that would be mightily challenged to "increase the size of government" more than the current administration (and might even make token attempts at paying for it) and has no history and therefore no record of excesses such as those noted?posted by: CW on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Didn't they try something like this in Mexico City? I forget how that turned out.
And regarding Dan's pox-on-both-houses stance, lighten up. I know who I'm voting for, but the reality is that unless you live in one of a handful of states like Florida, your vote doesn't mean squat. Knowing that, it's hard to be a cheerleader for either of these goofs.posted by: George on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Glad to see this NYT story get an echo. We underestimate the way small daily corruption of the kind experienced in Georgia (and the former USSR) erodes the trust that makes any non-autocratic government work. The US has plenty of BIG corruption and a good deal of bureaucratic arrogance and waste, but it's noteworthy that most of us "trust" government agents not to simply be out to enrich themselves. (Perhaps I wouldn't be able to say this if I was dark-skinned and lived in certain urban neighborhoods, I realize...).
For this reason, I actually think it matters when restaurants cheat on sales tax, or building inspectors accept 'gifts' from contractors, or politicians go on junkets paid for by Halliburton. Trust in public propriety -- a fragile thing -- erodes in small ways as well as through big scandals.
As for David Thompson. His peculiar contention seems to be that because Kerry said (years ago) that he was in Cambodia in Christmas when it was really January, and because 23 years ago he brought to the Senate's attention the reports of atrocities he had heard fellow veterans report -- that for these two acts he is disqualified from being President as "psychologically unbalanced". Simply on the merits this seems absurd.
But when the most elementary comparison is brought into play, it also seems wilfully blind, leading me to conclude that Thompson is nothing but a Republican shill. After all, George Bush lied about critical intelligence in a way that justified a war that is not going well TODAY. And Dick Cheyney, it seems, claims to have been unaware of major changes in accounting at Halliburton that caused a 46% increase in reported quarterly profit, when he was Chairman and Chief Executive. These men are supposed to be "psychologically fit"????
'nuff said.posted by: PQuincy on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
1) Kerry did not accuse his fellow soldiers of being war criminials he reported the testimony of his fellow soldiers from the "Winter Soldiers" meetings.
2) It has been documented that Kerry had made runs into Cambodia to drop of teams of Green Berets etc. He had done that within weeks of Christmas. That may make his statement an error on the date but not a lie on th e underlieing facts.
3) Another moral failing would be being wholeheartedly supporting the war but for other people. Kerry went. Kerry voleenteered for service and then voleenteered again to go "in " country.
Kerry volunteered because his draft deferment was rejected, and he preferred the safety of the Navy over being drafted as a grunt. He volunteered for swift boats on a coastal patrol, before the swift boats got moved onto much more dangerous riverine patrols. He then insisted on getting purple hearts for extremely minor injuries, some self-inflicted, and when he got the third purple heart approved he abandoned his "band of brothers" for the safety of stateside -- where he slandered his "buds" in congress with testimony obtained from fraudulent vets.
I'd love to see the "documentation" of the Cambodia swift boat drops -- none of the other swift boat commanders, nor his crew agree that they ever entered Cambodia.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Irv is right about what the traffic police smackdown says about Saakashvili's views on the proper size of the state. I live in Georgia part time, and Chivers in no way understates the traffic cops' former omnipresence--good riddance.
Saakashvili has a comprehensive reform program, but his principal interests are in reunifying with Georgia's secessionist regions and securing the borders, and in rooting out corruption--which he tried to do a few years ago as Shevardnadze's Minister of Justice. He's delegated most economic issues to a Minister of the Economy who intends to privatize almost everything (http://www.economist.com/people/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2963216).posted by: Jonathan Kulick on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Ken criticizes irrelevant actions with a childish diatribe. There's not an intelligent argument in the post. I'm at a loss to understand why you would feel the need to defend someone simply because you both dislike Bush. When someone on my side makes such stupid comments I pray they shut up and quit embarassing my side.
Not only was his juvenile, it doesn't even address the post.posted by: mj on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
1) He voleenteered and didn't ask Daddy to get him a special spot.
2) When he voleenteered forthe Swift Boats he was on a Destroyer offshore. By any standard moving from the "Blue" water navy to the "Brown" water navy is increasing the risk of being in the range of small arms weapons, mortars etc.
3) I have never heard that his deferement was denied. But he didn't take 5 student deferments ( like Cheney, 7 for ashkroft and 6 for Phil Gramm) then when that ran out got married and had a child so he could apply for that deferment when his wife was in the 1st trimester ( Cheney again)
Plus people do remember that Kerry was there compared to the total absense of anyone who remembers aWol georgie when he supposedly "serving" in Alabama. Even people who were looking for him couldn't find him.
4) The border between Cambodia and VN was, and is, amorphorous in that area plus if you haven't seen any reports on Swift boots doing "ferry" service for Green Berets and other "special" units you are following your fearful leaders tactic of looking away to maintain deniability.
So rather then continueing to fabricate issues Why don't we talk about the loss of over 1 million private sector jobs in the last 4 years, the ballooning deficit, the quadmire we are stuck in in Iraq, the immenent collapse of Afghanistan or any of the other failures of this misadministration.
That doesn't even touch upon the gutting of the Constitution in the name of partisan advantage, the support of government subsidies for chosen theologies, the loss of $8.8 Billion in Iraq where there is no record at all ( like shrubs national guard records) of where it went, The disappearence of over $100 million in siezed cash or any number of criminial acts?
No you would rather talk about lies created to smear a man who VOLEENTEERED to go in harms way while your hero fought the battle of Tijuana.
That is sad.
The vets attacking him served there too. Is Kerry the ONLY person who gets to report on what happened? Are your fellow Americans not allowed to call him a liar if they so chuse? I'm sure Bush is loving it but he did not produce it. Your fellow Americans did. I thought dissent was patriotic to the Left. Has something changed for you over the summer? Like finally having the tables turned?
As for the reform in Georgia it is a little easier when you can eliminate complainers and those with vested interests with little trouble historically.posted by: Ptolemy on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
As for lies, yes the lies Kerry told from 1971 onwards (with some real WHOPPERS like the Christmas in Cambodia fable) earned him the enmity of vast numbers of his fellow Vietnam vets, and they are using their free speech rights to prevent someone unfit for command to ascend to the highest office in the land. Just deserts.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
shrub's lies started a war and has caused innumerable casulties.
As for Carter he was a better President then any of the R's that have followed him.
Addled Ron and poppa involvement in Iran/Contra was an act of treason.
They have a name for that - Treason.
Uh... looks like someone needs a constitution
Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.posted by: h0mi on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
I recommend you add that to your DU talking points: "Carter was a better president than Reagan or either Bush". That one will attract the undecided vote!posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Matthew C: the sad thing is that it's true. Although the combination of Republican political slime and the SCL media have retrospectively painted Carter's presidency as a disaster, he actually was a far better president than Bush I or II. I'd consider claiming 'better-than-Reagan' as well, although that's a harder one to justify.posted by: john b on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Carter's appeasement-oriented, weak foreign policy both during his presidency and afterward (such as the NoKo debacle of 1994) and his failure of leadership domestically mark him as a catastrophic loser, despite some good instincts with supporting Paul Volcker and with deregulation.
His almost treasonous activity trying to undermine the foreign policy of the United States during GW1 and GW2 mark him as despicable.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
"His almost treasonous activity trying to undermine the foreign policy of the United States during GW1 and GW2 mark him as despicable."
This is what I get tired of about the conservatives. They are completely unable to disagree with someone with calling him a traitor or something. Carter's not my favorite and I think he has undermined other presidents' foreign policy (he also did the same with WJC but notice not a word about that). But anyone that thinks that constitutes treason (or even "almost" treason), as someone said above, the definition of treason.
" Ken criticizes irrelevant actions with a childish diatribe. There's not an intelligent argument in the post. I'm at a loss to understand why you would feel the need to defend someone simply because you both dislike Bush. When someone on my side makes such stupid comments I pray they shut up and quit embarassing my side.
Not only was his juvenile, it doesn't even address the post."
David's comment, in which he called Kerry "mentally unbalanced" didn't address the post either. Ken was simply responding to that.
Ken was certainly impolitic in some of the things he said and I don't particularly agree about the seven minutes thing. But he legitimately criticizes Bush, Cheney and all the rest for avoiding combat at the same time that they attack Kerry for, apparently, not being in "enough" combat. I think he raised a lot of legitimate issues. I think it is certainly "intelligent" to express concern about the way the WH whines about any criticism, while viciously attacking opponents. I think he raises "intelligent" points about the Cambodia issue.
The funny thing is I am a moderate. I don't consider myself a leftist certainly and I have not been sympathetic to the Bush-bashing. I am not defending Ken because I dislike Bush but because every attack on Bush seems to elicit some ad hominem attack on the commenter. But none of Bush's supporters seem too concerned about other "immature" arguments made on this post, such as Kerry being mentally unbalanced or Carter approaching treason. I have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt for years. I don't think he is evil or seeking to be a dictator, but he and his whole group are ruthless, intellectually vapid, and totally unconcerned with issues that don't affect him, such as civil liberties.posted by: MWS on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Have you missed the part about Saakashvilli doing his very best to start a war with Russia?
Saakshivilli is a warmongering imperialist who has re-ignited ethnic warfare from a decade ago.
I collected some background on that here.
I clearly didn't say that Carter was guilty of treason. I agree with you 100% that he undermined the foreign policy of the presidents who followed him (don't remember what he did to Reagan and Clinton, but he definitely did both Bushes). To me, that is despicable for any politician to do, but most particularly a former sitting president.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
"I clearly didn't say that Carter was guilty of treason. I agree with you 100% that he undermined the foreign policy of the presidents who followed him (don't remember what he did to Reagan and Clinton, but he definitely did both Bushes). To me, that is despicable for any politician to do, but most particularly a former sitting president."
You said it was "almost treasonous." You could have said, "unwise, arrogant, stupid" or a host of other things. But you used the term "almost treasonous." I object to overstatements that do nothing but foul the waters of political debate. SSaying something is "almost treasonous" is like
A new force was recruited, trained and dispatched
GOVERNMENT-PAID TRAINING?! My God, what a bunch of Commies! We'd never stoop to such depths to get advanced and productive labor and employment in THIS country, thank you very much!...posted by: kt on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
Georgia should be ready to sell “everything that can be sold, except its conscience”.
Does that include the rain?posted by: kt on 08.24.04 at 01:29 AM [permalink]
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