Barnicle on Scarborough: Bush is Delusional

There’s been quite a bit of excitement in the blogosphere today over Joe Scarborough’s comments on Bush last night. Actually this is nothing new, considering how Scarborough previously asked if Bush is an idiot on his show. Scarborough also gave his opinions on Bush in an Salon interview last August. Still, it is of interest to hear Scarborough say what we all know, and to have others he is interviewing agree. It is worthwhile for the rest of the country to hear Mike Barnicle report that Bush is delusional.
Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, the Democratic frontrunner for 2008 takes her pre-campaign campaign to “The View.”  But first, stop the presses.  George W. Bush says America is not winning the war.  Yes, those words coming from the man who‘s decided the only way to turn things around in Iraq is by sending in more troop,  Despite being told by the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell and the man running the Iraq war, General Abizaid, that sending more troops to Iraq would only get more Americans killed.  Perhaps it was no coincidence that on the same day that Mr. Bush ignored his top generals‘ advice, General John Abizaid abruptly quit, announcing he would step down soon.

Now, seeming to confirm his opponent‘s worst suspicions that this president does not value the opinions of those with whom he disagrees, Mr.  Bush has now decided to go it alone in Iraq against the wishes of his allies, against the desires of his fellow countrymen, and yes, even against the advice of his own generals.  And in the face of this crisis, almost without precedent in U.S. history, the president offered this advice to the American people today.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And I encourage you all to go shopping more.


SCARBOROUGH:  Here to talk about the crisis that seemingly becomes more dangerous by the day, here‘s Michael Crowley with “The New Republic,” Josh Green, senior editor for “The Atlantic Monthly,” and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle.

Michael, Crowley, you know, the situation seems to become more and more grim in Iraq, and the White House—the situation there is every bit as disturbing as each day passes.  How can this president thumb his nose at the very military leaders who are fighting this war in Iraq just because they know that more troops in Iraq will not win this war?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I mean, Joe, there‘s something very unsettling about what we‘re starting to hear from Bush.  For so long, his mantra was that he was taking his lead from the commanders on the ground, and that was this—you know, this ultimate card he could play of credibility…

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael, as long as he said that—exactly.  As long as he said that, it didn‘t matter that only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s effort to send more troops to Iraq.  But when all of his generals abandon him, when the Joint Chiefs abandon him, the admirals abandon him, when John Abizaid abandons him, when Colin Powell abandons him, everybody abandons him, he‘s standing alone!  He just doesn‘t seem to have any credibility.  And this is extraordinarily disturbing to me, as a guy who supported this war and supported this president twice.

CROWLEY:  No, there‘s something almost kind of alarming about it.  I mean, he‘s been telling us the whole time, These guys know what‘s best, I take their lead.  And they‘re saying, This is not—not uniformly, but many of them, many of the senior guys, the smartest guys, Abizaid, people with a lot of credibility, are saying this is not the way to go, and it looks likes he‘s not going to listen to them.  And there‘s something quite alarming about that.

You know, things are—you thought things couldn‘t get worse, and now you have a situation where, gosh, he‘s overruling the people who really do seem to know best.  And we‘re sort of in uncharted territory here, if you ask me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, this is uncharted territory.  And Josh Green, I want you, if you will, to imagine, how would Republicans have responded if President Bill Clinton had ignored the advice of all of his Joint Chiefs, his top general in the war zone, his former secretary of state, and 80 percent of Americans?  Is it not a stretch to say that many Republicans would have considered impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton if this situation were identical?

JOSH GREEN, “THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY”:  I think they would have launched a coupe.  It probably would have been—probably would have been centered at Fox News.  They‘d be going crazy, the way, you know, frankly, quite a few of them are beginning to get with Bush.

You know, we heard yesterday for the first time, you know, at least an admission on Bush‘s part that this line about how we‘re winning the war in Iraq is no longer operative.  And he admitted to “The Washington Post” yesterday that while they‘re not winning the war, they‘re not losing.  So at least he‘s come a small step down the road toward being where everybody else is, you know, most importantly his top generals. (more…)

BBC Reports on British Paper on Robot Rights

The subject of robot rights, which I posted on here yesterday, remains under discussion in the British media and the blogosphere. Today the BBC reports:

The research was commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation’s Horizon Scanning Centre.

The 246 summary papers, called the Sigma and Delta scans, were complied by futures researchers, Outsights-Ipsos Mori partnership and the US-based Institute for the Future (IFTF).

The papers look forward at emerging trends in science, health and technology.

The scans explore a diverse range of areas from the future of the gulf stream and the economic rise of India, to developments in nanotechnology and the threat posed by HIV/Aids.

As well as assessing the current state of thinking the research also examines the possible implications for society.

The paper which addresses Robo-rights, titled Utopian dream or rise of the machines? examines the developments in artificial intelligence and how this may impact on law and politics.

The paper says a “monumental shift” could occur if robots develop to the point where they can reproduce, improve themselves or develop artificial intelligence.

The research suggests that at some point in the next 20 to 50 years robots could be granted rights.

If this happened, the report says, the robots would have certain responsibilities such as voting, the obligation to pay taxes, and perhaps serving compulsory military service.

Conversely, society would also have a duty of care to their new digital citizens, the report says.

This is clearly very hypothetical as we don’t even know if it is possible for artificial intelligence to advance to the point where a robot can be conscious and self-aware as in seen in science fiction stories ranging from Isaac Asimov’s robot series to Data of Star Trek. As discussed yesterday, some conservative bloggers outright rule out the possibility of sentient robots believing that robots were not born, lack a soul, and therefore cannot be conscious. For others the nature of consciousness is not as clear, and the question remains as to whether consciousness is a result of sufficient complexity in the brain which really could be developed by artificial intelligence. While hardly an urgent question for the present, this is a topic which must be considered as research in artificial intelligence advances.

Pragmatism and the Liberal-Libertarian Question

Talk Left has further comments on the topic of Libertarians And Liberals discussed in my last post, showing an understanding of the idea missed by several other liberal bloggers:

The continuing faux-negotiations of our Lefty wonks with Libertarians is an interesting exercise but it does suffer from a fatal flaw in my view – our Lefty wonks are attributing ideological rigidity to liberal policy prescriptions that simply does not and has never existed. To be a liberal DOES NOT mean being for big government programs, state intervention and single payer healthcare as a matter of ideology. Rather to be a liberal is to to have a set of values and objectives for which good policies to achieve those values and objectives are sought. The policies need not involve state intervention – they need only work.

Just as libertarianism includes a variety of views ranging from total opposition to any government program to a support of liberty with greater pragmatism on specifics, liberalism also includes a variety of viewpoints. As the post at Talk Left later concludes, liberalism “does not mean ideological purity or political ingenuousness.”  Labels suffer from the problem of lumping together people who might hold different viewpoints on specific issues, while also separating those who agree in many areas. While there are some liberals who have little agreement with some libertarians, there are also a number of liberals and libertarians who hold common views. This is especially true when you get beyond labels and consider the large number of swing voters who are socially liberal and fiscally conservative and might not label themselves at all.

Libertarian Ideas and Liberals

The discussion between libertarian Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute and liberals (previously discussed here and here) continues at The New Republic. Jonathan Chait presents objections, with Ezra Klein raising similar objections at Tapped. These objections boil down to how you see an alliance between liberals and libertarians. Obviously this will not work if we are considering hard core libertarianism which sees any government program as immoral, but there are more moderate libertarian viewpoints which are closer to the views of liberals. Repealing Medicare and Social Security are not on the table, and liberals are not going to give up reforming health care as a priority. Even a growing number of my colleagues in the medical profession, which historically has been very conservative on this issue, now recognize that the current system is collapsing and government action is needed.

This does not mean there isn’t a potential for common ground, especially on civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to the war. If conservatives of the religious right and libertarians found common ground in the Republican Party there is certainly hope that libertarians and liberals can find areas where they can work together. Chait prefers an alliance of liberals and populists but I agree with many of Lindsey’s objections in his reply at TNR. Lindsey echoes many of my previous posts when he points out that “economically conservative, socially liberal sentiment runs fairly strong in a good-sized chunk of the electorate–and it’s especially common among the nation’s disproportionately influential socioeconomic elites. In a closely divided country, swings in this group’s opinions and voting patterns can decide elections.”

It was easy to reach agreement in opposing the incompetence and harmful policies of the Republicans in recent years. Now that Democrats are in power there will a diversity in viewpoints as to how to govern. One reason that neither party has been able to achieve an permanent majority is that the conventional party lines often do not reflect the views of a large number of voters. While Americans (with notable exceptions) are becoming more socially liberal, and are more aware of the need for a competent government following Katrina, this does not mean that they support the idea of “tax and spend” liberalism. Populism is a dead end in an affluent nation where most people aspire not to attack the wealthy but dream of becoming wealthy themselves. As Lindsey notes, “the American electorate’s most obvious libertarian characteristic–its aversion to high taxes–imposes real limits on the government’s overall claim on social resources.” Hard core libertarianism will include policies which are not tolerable to many liberals, but that does not mean that liberals should not be considering some ideas held by libertarians, which greatly coincide with the original ideas of liberalism.

Update:  Pragmatism and the Liberal-Libertarian Question