Monday, January 17, 2005

The Brownshirting of America

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

James Bovard, the great libertarian champion of our freedom and civil liberties, recently shared with readers his mail from Bush supporters (Lewrockwell.com, October 12). For starters here are some of the salutations: "communist bastard," "asshole," "a piece of trash, scum of the earth." It goes downhill from there.

Bush's supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US--truths now firmly established by the Bush administration's own reports--as treasonous America-bashing.

As well, Bovard is interpreted as throwing cold water on the feel-good, macho, Muslim butt-kicking that Bush's invasion of Iraq has come to symbolize for his supporters. "People like you and Michael Moore," one irate reader wrote, "is (sic) what brings down our country."

I have received similar responses from conservatives, as, no doubt, have a number of other writers who object to a domestic police state at war with the world.

In language reeking with hatred, Heritage Foundation TownHall readers impolitely informed me that opposing the invasion of Iraq is identical to opposing America, that Bush is the greatest American leader in history and everyone who disagrees with him should be shot before they cause America to lose another war. TownHall's readers were sufficiently frightening to convince the Heritage Foundation to stop posting my columns.

Bush's conservative supporters want no debate. They want no facts, no analysis. They want to denounce and to demonize the enemies that the Hannitys, Limbaughs, and Savages of talk radio assure them are everywhere at work destroying their great and noble country.

I remember when conservatives favored restraint in foreign policy and wished to limit government power in order to protect civil liberties. Today's young conservatives are Jacobins determined to use government power to impose their will at home and abroad.

Where did such "conservatives" come from?

Claes Ryn in his important book, America the Virtuous, explains the intellectual evolution of the neoconservatives who lead the Bush administration. For all their defects, however, neocons are thoughtful compared to the world of talk radio, whose inhabitants are trained to shout down everyone else. From whence came the brownshirt movement that slavishly adheres to the neocons' agenda?

Three recent books address this question. Thomas Frank in What's the Matter With Kansas, locates the movement in legitimate conservative resentments of people who feel that family, religious, and patriotic values are given short shrift by elitist liberals.

These resentments festered and multiplied as offshore production, jobs outsourcing, and immigration took a toll on careers and the American dream.

An audience was waiting for rightwing talk radio, which found its stride during the Clinton years. Clinton's evasions made it easy to fall in with show hosts, who spun conspiracies and fabricated a false consciousness for listeners who became increasingly angry.

Show hosts, who advertise themselves as truth-tellers in a no-spin zone, quickly figured out that success depends upon constantly confronting listeners with bogymen to be exposed and denounced: war protesters and America-bashers, the French, marrying homosexuals, the liberal media, turncoats, Democrats, and the ACLU.

Talk radio's "news stories" do not need to be true. Their importance lies in inflaming resentments and confirming that America's implacable enemies are working resolutely to destroy us.

David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine lacks the insights of Thomas Frank's book, but it provides a gossipy history of the rightwing takeover of the US media. Brock is unfair to some people, myself included, and mischaracterizes as rightwing some media personalities who are under rightwing attack.

Brock is as blindly committed to his causes as the rightwing zealots he exposes are to theirs. Unlike Frank, he cannot acknowledge that the rightwing has legitimate issues.

Nevertheless, Brock makes a credible case that today's conservatives are driven by ideology, not by fact. He argues that their stock in trade is denunciation, not debate. Conservatives don't assess opponents' arguments, they demonize opponents. Truth and falsity are out of the picture; the criteria are: who's good, who's evil, who's patriotic, who's unpatriotic.

These are the traits of brownshirts [fascists]. Brownshirts know they are right. They know their opponents are wrong and regard them as enemies who must be silenced if not exterminated.

Some of Brock's quotes from prominent conservative commentators will curl your toes. His description of the rightwing's destruction of an independent media and the "Fairness Doctrine" explain why a recent CNN/Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 terrorist attack on the US and 32% believe that Saddam Hussein personally planned the attack.

A country in which 42% of the population is totally misinformed is not a country where democracy is safe.

Today there is no one to correct a lie once it is told. The media, thanks to Republicans, has been concentrated in few hands, and they are not the hands of newsmen. Corporate values rule. If lies sell, sell them. If listeners, viewers, and readers want confirmation of their resentments and beliefs, give it to them. Objectivity turns listeners off and is a money loser.

In his book, Cruel and Unusual, Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at New York University, explains how rightwing influence has moved the media away from reporting news to designing our consciousness. "The Age of Information," Miller writes, "has turned out to be an Age of Ignorance."

Miller makes a strong case. His description of how CNN and Fox News destroyed the credibility of Scott Ritter, the leading expert on Iraq's weapons, reveals a media completely given over to propaganda. Ritter stood in the way of the neocon's invasion of Iraq. See Patriotism.


CNN's Miles O'Brien, Eason Jordan, Catherine Callaway, Paula Zahn, Kyra Phillips, Arthel Neville, and Fox News' David Asman and John Gibson portrayed Ritter as a disloyal American, a Ba-athist stooge on the take from Saddam Hussein, and compared him to Jane Fonda in North Vietnam.

With this, the rightwing talk radio crazies were off and running. Anyone with the slightest bit of real information about the state of weapons development in Iraq was dismissed as a foreign agent who should be shot for treason.

By substituting fiction for reality, the US media took the country to war. The CNN and Fox News "journalists" are as responsible for America's ill-fated invasion of Iraq as Cheney and Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle.

With a sizable percentage of the US population now addicted to daily confirmations of their resentments and hatreds, US policy will be increasingly driven by tightly made up minds in pursuit of unrealistic agendas.

American troops are in Iraq on false pretenses. No one knows all the fateful consequences of this mistaken adventure. Bush's reelection would be seen as a vindication of aggression, and more aggression would likely follow. A continuing expenditure of blood, money, alliances, good will, and civil liberties is not a future to which to look forward.

Paul Craig Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions

21 comments:

vern said...

Hello. I love your blog. Just wanna let you know that your atom/rss feed isn't working correctly. I use RSS Bandit to read blogs, and I keep getting an error...

this we'll defend said...

Thanks. I have no idea what that stuff is. I have never heard of an RSS feed. Sorry. I just post to a website, and the host (Blogger.com) does all the rest. Or, apparently, doesn't do it.

I hope you keep reading, and thanks for the compliments.

lonelyshade said...

TWD i hear a lot change of tune in your post.
And i am glad to it , your need to fight fire with fire.

And so what if you have less audience .
Those who spread the truth will always be heard sooner or later.

Why not post something about Trias Politica .
Cause its not working anymore , if people diregard the facts , the media is nothing more then a government tool.
And while the supreme court is still not corrupted.
Lower judges do not carry out there laws.

vrangel said...

lonelyshade said:

"the media is nothing more then a government tool"

LOL, another Alvaro claimimg to correctly perceive "reality".

lonelyshade said...

Vrangle you are in Russia right ??

Which part of Russia if i might inquire ?
Which Time or Era were you born ?

So are you saying Media can´t be in control of the Government.

vrangel said...

I am living in NY for 15 years already and was a reader of NYT until few years ago.
Maybe it fell under government control lately, I will check it out.
/end sarcasm

lonelyshade said...

Fox news inaugural coverage MELT DOWN.
Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach

oke Vrangel now you are living in New York.
You are right wing , nothing wrong with it .

How come the whole subject get changed to 40 million.

When in fact it boils down to this .

America is in a WAR ??
Bushlover support the troops ??

So there idea of supporting the troops , is allowing the commander and chief to throw 10 big party during
WARTIME !!

Now try to defuse that situation Vrangel .

an american said...

Sorry I’m a little late to the comment party, but normally I don’t have much time to post to blogs.

Anyway, “The Brownshirting of America” is an apt title for what has been occurring since the “Uniter, not a Divider” was placed in office by the Supreme Court the first time around. Actually, the message police serve the neocons well in what they seek to accomplish. At the Nuremburg trials, Hermann Goering recounted that there was a time before their preemptive war doctrine became public where Hitler’s cabinet was discussing whether the German people would support their plans. These are his words:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Goering went on to say under questioning essentially, what’s the big deal, that’s the way it’s always been and always will be. What’s the problem? Goering would be proud of the neocons and message keepers of today. No doubt he would be thinking he was proven correct, and still not see a problem.

If you haven’t already seen it, you can read the neocon’s manifesto for lebensraum at http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf This project paper was published in September 2000, and some of the signers are familiar names in the administration: Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby, Stephen Cambone, and others.

According to their site “The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization.” The Project was organized in 1997 by now household names like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and others. The “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” paper is 90 pages or so, but it’s a good read if you’d like to know the reasoning behind administration policies like….

Why we are in Iraq (has nothing to do with WMD, Saddam’s abuses, freedom for Iraqis, or any other reasons on the Wheel of Spin)
Why Rumsfeld would want to massage the tipfid for Iraq to as low a force as possible
Where we’re going (be able to go to the last chapter, for now)
Why Bush unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty
Why Rumsfeld cut some Pentagon programs and pushed others.

There’s a whole lot more in this project paper. I’m not suggesting there is some sinister cabal conspiracy afoot, and the reasoning is laughable, but there are a lot of check marks four years later next to their “to do” list. You read it and the neocons, who are quite liberal with OPM (Other Peoples Money) and OPB (Other Peoples Blood), seem like a group frustrated by their sons and daughters whipping their butts in war video games. They’re tired of that. They want to create their own video game to show the damn kids how to conduct a real war. Take a look at one of the features of the Land Warrior of tomorrow: “Skin-patch pharmaceuticals help regulate fears, focus concentration, and enhance endurance and strength.” But no doubt by the time that comes to pass they’ll be able to upgrade the technology to skin-implanted remotely controlled injectables. It would be funny except for the fact that many who were behind this paper and organization are now part of this administration or listened to. Anyway, it gives you an insight to BushCo.

MarineLiberal1775 said...

From one grunt to another:

Thanks for your comments on my blog. We liberal warriors have to stick together! Yes, Rehnquist is going to turn out to be "Deep Throat". You are on point about the brownshirting of America. Outstanding insight. Again, thanks for the feedback. Semper Fidelis

lonelyshade said...

He TWD i know you don´t like me ,
But go give CB some support .
I mean your expertise in the field and ex army life.
Really would mean a lot to him .
Especially when neocon are dishing him .

this we'll defend said...

I don't know why you think I don't like you, but I will go there and check out his blog.

1138 said...

TWD,

The jack boots are coming down NOW.
Today they are coming for the American Indian, tommorrow the American veteran.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

The nature of truth is not merely that it is stranger than fiction, but it is also more complex than can be neatly encapsulated in conspiracy theory, with gradiations more refined than can be expressed in the huge bombastic brush-strokes of protest, and often with exceptions to rules which make the rule-makers of "I know what's really going on" ...uncomfortable.

For example, in your treatment of the composition of the American people, you show the select sampling that meet your hypothesis: the unthinking, lockstep-marching, fanatical right-winger, and conveniently leave out those who would actually argue with your POINTS and debate with you respectfully, agreeing to disagree. You are building a fiction because the truth hurts your brain too much to try to describe. "Why gee, if some people are thinking conservatives, and respectful of other people who disagree with them, then how can I say with a straight face they're all BROWNSHIRTS???"

America is a continuum of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, not sharply divided between goose-stepping Manchurian Candidate types and suicide-bombing Jihad sympathizers who are also irrationally Communists at the same time (described by the hardcore left as the "bright shining freedom fighters who will wrest control of America away from the fascists for the glory of Allah and the Proletariat"). One thing Republicans attacked unwisely in John Kerry was his grasp of NUANCE, but apparently you've backed away from it and gone for the ultra-simplistic.

I have asked you before and will repeat the question now, as to which weapons of mass destruction were required for Al Qaeda to carry out the 9/11 attacks? If all you need are box-cutters to do great damage to the U.S., then it stands to reason that WMDs are a red herring when used by EITHER political faction as a reason TO or NOT TO invade a country. Instead what should be assessed is the level of threat as a function of intention to attack. To that end:

"What is required now is to deal strong blows to U.S. and British interests. These blows should be strong enough to make them feel that their interests are indeed threatened not only by words but also in deeds."
Al-Qadisiyah, February 27, 1999 (Saddam-controlled newspaper)

Perhaps to certain "true believers" who will only see what they want to see, that is "not a threat". Those of us who endeavor to see the world without ANY filters, from the left or the right, will see that for what it is: a threat.

They want no facts, no analysis.That behavior seems familiar when it comes to the threat assessment of Saddam Hussein. And it appears to me that both sides are equally guilty of said behavior.

The Republican Noise Machine...is very much like the DEMOCRAT noise machine. Lots of spin applied to tiny nuggets of truth, or sometimes just figments of imagination, all of which must be sorted out and understood step by step with a logical, REASONED analysis. I had hoped for more of it here than what you've presented.

inflaming resentments and confirming that America's implacable enemies are working resolutely to destroy usYour syllogism is:

a) Everything talk radio says is a lie
b) Talk radio says our enemies are out to destroy us
c) Therefore, our enemies are NOT out to destroy us

I think your conclusion is nonsensical. Regardless of the issues any of us may have with tactics, with propaganda, with the IQ of the Commander in Chief, etc., I think it's rather at two with reality to claim that Al Qaeda means us no harm.

Objectivity turns listeners off and is a money loserWould that be why you avoid dabbling in it here?

rightwing influence has moved the media away from reporting news to designing our consciousnessDesigning our consciousness? You flatter the right wing media needlessly. The left wing media outlets spin the news their way, and now the right wing media comes along to spin it their way. Of each other they may shout "liar liar pants on fire", but again, each side tends to take nuggets of truth to use as the solid core of their ammunition, and between the right-leaning truth and left-leaning truth you are in danger of finding a LARGER truth, and that prospect seems to frighten you for some reason.

US policy will be increasingly driven by tightly made up minds in pursuit of unrealistic agendasThe key case to be made is the charge of unrealistic agendas, to which there has been only fluff, and no substance, made in the foregoing thesis. Not a shred of logic or fact or syllogism or reasoned analysis, but simply a converse version OF the very same jingoism and sloganeering one might expect of a Sean Hannity.

You disappoint me.

this we'll defend said...

Cig, I would be disappointed in me too - if your characterization of my point is correct, that is. It isn't. We might be in "violent agreement" here on many points.

First, my fear is that the "unthinking, lockstep-marching, fanatical right-wingers" are in charge, and I feel they are, but you are correct that they are NOT representative of conservatives or Republicans in general. Are they ALL brownshirts? No. And in Germany in 1933 not all right-wingers or anti-communists were nazi brownshirts either. I think that the neo-cons have hijacked the Republican party, and the spending practices and interventionist foreign policy of this administration is anything but conservative. So I agree with you completely. There are more viewpoints on the political spectrum than just Bush v "the left." One point of this article is that, as in Germany in 1933, the cogent and rational debate of civilized and informed citizenry is being replaced by shrill partisan rhetoric, and THIS administration orchestrates it. Remember, this president accused Kerry of being "out of the mainstream." That assumes two things: 1) there is a "mainstream," and 2) Bush is in it. Both are untrue. And many, many right-wingers have noted how far away from traditional Republican thought this president is - not just Brent Scowcraft either.

Your quote from a "Saddam-controlled newspaper" does not constitute any proof of intention to attack, and certainly no proof of ability. I won't go into details here, but it is clear that Iraq became less of a threat to the United States every year since 1991, and as I addressed in another post, "WMDs" whether real or imagined did NOT mean that invasion made us safer. It didn't, and this was known by most in the national security community well before we invaded. This is not a partisan viewpoint, but reality. You say "both sides are equally guilty" of analysis failure in favor of what they want to believe, ignoring facts. What "sides?" Our national security should be non-partisan, and the consensus from almost all save the neo-con extremists was that invading Iraq was not justified and would harm our national security. As, indeed, it has, WMDs or no.

Yes, both Republicans and Democrats have carefully crafted "noise machines." That is not what this argument is about. I expect partisan political parties to be, well, partisan. I also expect that when it comes to questions of national security that truth should overwhelm shortsighted political goals. This has been the norm for quite some time, from our Revolution until, well, about Jan. 2001. For example, unlike neo-con claims, Reagan did not "win" the cold war. What "won" that contest against communism was a bipartisan committment to containment as a national strategy, one developed in the Truman adminstration and followed by all administrations from Truman to the elder (and wiser) Bush, who was president when the Soviet Union dissolved. Spin is one thing, but when national security is sacrificed at the altar of partisanship we have a very different animal altogether.

The syllogism is incorrect, of course. Not everything on what I call "hate radio" is a lie. The danger is that much of it is true, but it is combined with dangerous falsehoods in a way that leads to false conclusions. For instance, Talk Radio says our enemies are out to destroy us. Well, yes, that is why they are "enemies." But that does not mean that we must put all our enemies into one pot and ignore differences in capabilites, threats, and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Of COURSE AQ is out to destroy us. And yes, Saddam was an enemy. But AQ does not equal Saddam. And by wrapping up truth ("our enemies are out to destroy us") with falsehood ("we must invade Iraq because of 9/11/WMDs/Freedom/fill in the blank") we weaken ourselves. As with hate radio, the debate ceases to be "how should we respond against our enemies" and it becomes "if you don't agree with MY viewpoint you must think our enemies aren't out to harm us." As in Germany in 1933, where if you weren't a supporter of the Nazis then you were branded a commie, and while you were defending yourself against that charge you weren't able to address the many flaws in Nazi ideology. Today the debate should be the best way to defeat our enemies, but even someone as smart as yourself thinks that those who oppose the neo-con extremists doubt if AQ threatens us. While I spend time trying to convince you that I too am patriotic, think we have enemies, and that we should hunt down and kill AQ and their allies, I would not be addressing the flaws in neo-con "logic." Which is exactly the point of such tactics.

I simply don't agree with your "left-wing/right-wing media" analysis. I agree that "rightwing influence has moved the media away from reporting news" but I don't agree with your (very common) assumption that there is a left-wing media, and thus right-wing media simply "balances" it out. Again you start off with the "side" assumption when you say "each side tends to take nuggets of truth..." "Side?" What "side" are you referring to? While every individual on earth is inherently balanced in some way, the ideal of journalism should be to report as factually and honestly as possible, and let the reader/viewer decide. Of course in an imperfect world perfection is impossible, but that does not mean we shouldn't strive for it. And we certainly should be afraid, very afraid, when our government uses our taxpayer dollars to try and influence the People through propaganda. And blatantly partisan media should be scorned instead of viewed as a counterweight. I don't want left-wing lies so that right-wing lies are "balanced." I want truth, and my left-wing or right-wing bias will interpret that truth accordingly. But that is not what is happening today, when "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" are able to make false charges and not be publicly shamed by both supporters of Kerry AND supporters of Bush. Most people assume the "larger truth" is simply somewhere in the middle. That is dangerous. If we are debating the cost of items at the .99 cent store, for instance. I say I think everything is .45 cents. You say you think everything is $1,000 dollars. Many would assume, therefore, that the cost is actually around $499.78. Well, no, we are both wrong. And it does matter that my "best guess" was .45 cents off, while you were over $999 off. I am closer to the truth than you. And saying "well, both sides have spin" doesn't mean that we shouldn't notice Fox News and hate radio, and think it is ok because Dan Rather is often biased to the left.

As far as your claim that the thesis didn't present substantive facts, but only fluff, to support the conclusion that "US policy will be increasingly driven by tightly made up minds in pursuit of unrealistic agendas," the article was written in the context of our times. The changing rationales for the invasion of Iraq, the neo-con agenda, the absence of WMDs, and more worringly, the absence of an informed and vigorous debate about the need to wage "pre-emptive warfare," are all well-known. There was no need to present such substantive facts. The change in the 2002 National Security Strategy is a matter of public record. The invasion of Iraq is pretty much known to all Americans. The complete disregard of all Army advice, the refusal by the administration to let the Army plan for the political consolidiation of initial military success, the attacks on patriots who dissent from the party line such as Scott Ritter - all of these substantive facts are the context in which this article was written. That is not the converse version of Sean Hannity.

Again, the problem in Germany in 1933 was not that there wasn't somebody around to shout out the opposite of what the Brownshirts were proclaiming. There were. The communists probably outnumbered the Nazis in 1933. The problem was that the truth was drowned out in all the shouting, and everything in German politics became a duality - if you aren't a Nazi then you are a commie. If you don't support Hitler you must be an enemy of Germany. If you disagree with Nazi policies you must be in agreement with those who wish to destroy Germany. Or, in today's terms, "you are either for us or against us."

Sorry to disappoint you.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

TWD, One point of this article is that, as in Germany in 1933, the cogent and rational debate of civilized and informed citizenry is being replaced by shrill partisan rhetoric, and THIS administration orchestrates it.I’m of the opinion that this administration couldn’t orchestrate the tying of W’s shoes. Of all the charges against it that I hear from the left, the one that rings the truest to my ears and jibes the most closely to the reality I observe, is that of incompetence. Sinister nazi plots are more extraordinary claims which will require more extraordinary evidence (at least more than some innuendo about Project Paperclip in the ‘50s, which is usually the best any dreadlocked THC-saturated “dissident” can come up with before he gets naked and shouts “death to America” in a street protest).

Your quote from a "Saddam-controlled newspaper" does not constitute any proof of intention to attack, and certainly no proof of ability.It’s a STATED intention to attack. And you don’t think he had anything at least as good as box-cutters in his arsenal? The psychological background is this: Saddam the Egomaniac felt one-upped by Bin Laden and wanted to generate an attack that would overshadow 9/11 as the American battle-cry against Islamist regimes in the middle east. True, Saddam may not have been strictly of the same Islamic cloth as Mohammed Atta, but he was never one to shrink from USING lip-service to Islam (and most especially, Jihad) as a political tool to rally his people in a conflict with the U.S.

I won't go into details here, but it is clear that Iraq became less of a threat to the United States every year since 1991There are no details to go into, because it isn’t true. He was shooting down our planes, defying the no-fly zone, and heating up his “attack” rhetoric in ways he did to Kuwait in the weeks leading up to his 1991 invasion.
My issues with how this Iraq war has been played out by the administration, are legion. But the case TO go to war, to me is at least more solid than certain left-wing fanatics will credit, for fear of “being wrong”. The trait of never admitting a mistake, oft-accused of Bush, is really the most prevalent among the protest crowd. Defense mechanism of projection, and all…
As it has turned out, the costs of the war probably do outweigh the arguments that could have been made to do so at the outset. But that lays at the feet of Bush’s “neocon” advisors, gaggle of fuckups that they are. The war could have been carried out as the Army and Pentagon experts advised, without the futile attempt to try to lure Europe into a “coalition”, and it would have played out with fewer casualties, and fewer “adjustments” to the deficit as time goes on. And in that scenario, it would have been worth it.

the consensus from almost all save the neo-con extremists was that invading Iraq was not justified and would harm our national security. As, indeed, it has, WMDs or no.I’m not a neo-con extremist and I don’t concede that our national security was harmed by the mere fact of invasion. I contend that any current harm is in the way the administration is fucking it up. You’re trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater, ignoring the threat that Iraq did pose just to try to solidify the anti-war stance more. It’s intellectually dishonest.

I also expect that when it comes to questions of national security that truth should overwhelm shortsighted political goals.Truth itself gets colored by people with partisanship coursing through their veins, as it does through yours. That’s my entire point. Pro-Bush extremism contends he can do no wrong, that the National Guard has all the armor it needs, that the administration isn’t railroading troops in situations like Abu Ghraib, etc., and anti-Bush extremism cannot for the LIFE of it bring itself to a rational, reasonable realization that it was vital to U.S. security interests to escort Saddam out the door. It posits a false dichotomy that to do so made the war on Al Qaeda impossible to prosecute. It hypocritically hand-wrings over civilian casualties when in “more politically correct times” it didn’t worry about them at all in a nation called Serbia. It reads the very words of Saddam himself stating an INTENTION TO ATTACK, and denies the reality thereof. You have yourself holding up four fingers, and because Michael Moore says there are five of ‘em there, you parrot “five”. Flying kites in Baghdad, indeed.

This has been the norm for quite some time, from our Revolution until, well, about Jan. 2001Wishful thinking, and faulty at that. Many of our past conflicts (and lack of conflict where we should have stood up for our interests) have been based on short-sighted political goals and shamelessly partisan views of world politics. Teddy Roosevelt charges up San Juan Hill. For what? Investigations have shown that the Maine was sunk by our own people to justify that war. We just wanted to grab Puerto Rico. 99% of our “Indian Wars” were that way too—we break the treaty and blame them for retaliating, and off the Cavalry ride.

unlike neo-con claims, Reagan did not "win" the cold war. What "won" that contest against communism was a bipartisan committment to containment as a national strategyThis doesn’t mean that containment at all costs and at all times is the smart way to go, though. When a power is NUCLEAR it’s the only rational choice (e.g., North Korea). When it isn’t, that gives you more options to nip problems in the bud, in ways that are potentially less costly than nuclear-era containment (if done right).

the elder (and wiser) Bush…who didn’t finish the job in 1991, according to Democrats!
Bush41 is also the one with supposedly all the nazi ties (as a former CIA director), in far-left Tinfoil Turban conspiracy tabloid literature. Are you saying there’s wisdom in nazism? Or rather, are you distancing yourself from the left?

when national security is sacrificed at the altar of partisanshipWhich it would have also been had we been forced to worship at the altar of “Europe Must Be Obeyed At All Costs” at a time Saddam was announcing hostile intent. The way out would have been a SMARTER approach to eliminating Saddam, Uday, and Qusay, but that wasn’t any of the numbers on the dice we rolled. American elections only give us two realistic choices.

The danger is that much of it is true, but it is combined with dangerous falsehoods in a way that leads to false conclusions.Just like the Tinfoil Turban propaganda you often parrot here. You take your own grains of truth (like Bush being an embarrassing fuckup) and salt them up with conjecture, fallacy, and just plain figments of your imagination, of a peace-loving, harmless Saddam, for example.

by wrapping up truth ("our enemies are out to destroy us") with falsehood ("we must invade Iraq because of 9/11/WMDs/Freedom/fill in the blank") we weaken ourselves.Your premise is that Saddam lacked any capability or intention whatsoever to do us any harm, at all. There’s most definitely a flag on that play. Half the distance to the goal line, because you and I both know you’re deliberately ignoring salient aspects of the truth, and distorting it at least as much as the very worst examples of “Hannitized reality”.

the debate ceases to be "how should we respond against our enemies" and it becomes "if you don't agree with MY viewpoint you must think our enemies aren't out to harm us."Well you DID say Saddam wasn’t out to harm us. Scroll UP for chrissake, to remind yourself of what you said. (This is part of the reason why I quote copiously.)

Today the debate should be the best way to defeat our enemies, but even someone as smart as yourself thinks that those who oppose the neo-con extremists doubt if AQ threatens us.I recognize that you recognize AQ to be a threat, now that you’ve clarified what your syllogism was intended to be. As for Saddam, you previously said he was NOT a threat, and now I suppose you might (or might not) “clarify” that position as well. Am I calling you a “commie” here? No, I’m putting your arguments in the status of fallacy, until they read otherwise.

While I spend time trying to convince you that I too am patriotic, think we have enemies, and that we should hunt down and kill AQ and their allies, I would not be addressing the flaws in neo-con "logic." Which is exactly the point of such tactics.It seems to me that you are trying to use this line of argument to excuse yourself from having to make logical points. Any attempt to point out fallacy in what you say, and you cry “NAZI”. That may keep an eight year-old at bay, but if you think it will mask your Special Pleading fallacy here, think again.
You claim with one of your straw man fallacies that I accuse you of being unpatriotic. I don’t. I accuse you of being illogical. Invoking the magic n-word (the OTHER magic n-word) is not a “get out of logic free” card.
You claim with one of your other straw man fallacies that I adhere to neo-con “logic”. No, I adhere to REAL logic. A = A. Wishful thinking will not make A cease to be A. A threat is a threat. You and I have read the threat above. I see A to be A, and you see A to be Z, because you wish it to be Z. One of us has a problem with REAL logic, and that one isn’t me.

I don't agree with your (very common) assumption that there is a left-wing media, and thus right-wing media simply "balances" it out.The premise of your syllogism needs further exploration here. Is it that there is more influence in right-wing talk radio than there is in the Dan Rather Clones droning a mantra day-in and day-out that the war is evil, that Bush is evil, and so on? Or is it simply that you wish to see no diversity of thought at all in the media, and make it all left, all the time, just the way you like it in a neat and tidy little world, a best of all possible worlds? Europe has that, with predictable results. And even in Europe they sometimes see the error of their own ways.

the ideal of journalism should be to report as factually and honestly as possibleWho decides what stories TO report? If it bleeds, it leads, particularly because if it bleeds it can make the Iraq policy look more categorically disastrous than if they do a story on the completion of a power plant, or the bloodless pacification of a neighborhood with the aid of Iraqi security forces. The reported stories can be 100% factual, and still present a biased view of what’s going on.
The Internet isn’t all factual all the time, but it’s uncensored, so every POSSIBLE view of any situation gets told, and it’s up to the reader of the various web pages to make their own judgments. I wonder, do you call that “hate Internet” because that sometimes fails to give a monopoly to the lefty Party Line?

we certainly should be afraid, very afraid, when our government uses our taxpayer dollars to try and influence the People through propaganda.Read my assessment above about the Bush administration being classic fuckups.

And blatantly partisan media should be scorned instead of viewed as a counterweight.Well, Dan Rather IS retiring, so many of us just cut him some slack as he derails into his senile rants.

I don't want left-wing lies so that right-wing lies are "balanced."Pure lies of any sort are easily laughed off. It’s a selective presentation of truth that happens most often in partisan media. From the left: carnage in Iraq. From the right: success stories. The whole truth you only get by widening your horizons: some success stories, and some carnage. THEN you are equipped to “decide”.

I want truthYou looked RIGHT AT truth, up above, and denied it. How am I supposed to take this claim of “wanting truth” seriously? Go back to those comforting partisan rants where the whole world is simplified, and the Evil Bush Monster continues to Take Over the World, a la Doctor Evil, in his pact with the Grey Aliens, and clandestine nazi storm-troopers as they abduct innocent Americans and sap their vital boldily fluids, rape all the black women, and destroy every aspect of the environment because they hate Gaia.

If we are debating the cost of items at the .99 cent store, for instance. I say I think everything is .45 cents. You say you think everything is $1,000 dollars. Many would assume, therefore, that the cost is actually around $499.78. Well, no, we are both wrong.Again, complete and obvious lies are easily laughed off. The analogy to partisan media sources is that Republicans argue the shoes are $62, and the Democrats say “NO, you’re LYING, the pants are $49!!! Evil nazi bastards!!!”
Both are telling the truth about different things, because the different things favor their view of the store’s inventory.
If they blatantly lie about a price tag you can easily fact-check over the Internet, they know they will have egg on their faces.

the absence of an informed and vigorous debate about the need to wage "pre-emptive warfare,"You mean the absense of what we’re doing right now? Funny.
How many THOUSANDS of editions of Crossfire will it take to prove debate, with vigor (and INFORMED vigor if it’s with the right guests)?

The complete disregard of all Army advice, Shows a fuckup approach, not that the goal was flawed.

the attacks on patriots who dissent from the party line such as Scott RitterYour demand that people not be criticized for illogical claims will fall on deaf ears. Ritter’s claim:
A) Iraq has no WMDs
B) Without WMDs, no nation can possibly be a threat.
C) Therefore, we should not invade Iraq.
Totally fallacious, and he got the business for it. Whine all you want. Tough titty, and grow the fuck up.

The communists probably outnumbered the Nazis in 1933And wouldn’t have been any better for Germany, or for the world. They just would have swapped Jews out with any “bourgeois” people who dared to own private property, and euphamized their “final solution” as “reeducation”.
It seems to me that danger to any country lies in the extremism of the vicissitudes of public opinion, not whether they sway left, or sway right. In Russia they swayed left, and got the Gulags. In Germany they swayed right, and got Gulags of a different name. Your passion and extremism in wanting to stamp out any last vestige of right-wing speech, anywhere and everywhere, will lead to no less of a tyranny than what you ascribe to the most extreme of right-wingers today.

this we'll defend said...

Cigman, in short, no.

This adminstration IS incompetent - at governing, not at campaigning. I am pretty damn good at legal analysis, but I don't write good poetry. Were you to criticize my poetry and later claim I was pulling some "legal trick" in a lawsuit, I could claim "you said I was no good at words." The fault with this administration is in part that it is so disciplined and determined and GOOD at getting its BAD policies enacted.

Your claims of Saddam's "intention" to attack go against the reality on the ground, and also against his known capablities. It turns out he was even weaker than we thought at the time, and before we invaded it was well-known he presented next to no offensive threat to our interests at all. That is the truth, and can be found in numerous articles in Parameters, monographs from the Council on Foreign Relations, or in the National Security Strategy of 2000. He WAS a threat, and an enemy, but not one that required invasion. And waiting, far from increasing the threat to us, instead made him weaker with each passing day. Your claim that he was "shooting down our planes" is false. He fired constantly from 1991 on, but never ever shot down a US plane. He never came close. Your claim that he was "heating up his rhetoric" is false as well. Iraq re-admitted UN inspectors in the face of US and international pressure in 2002, and made available all information and documents that we asked for. At the time the Bush administration claimed it was incomplete and erroneous, and Saddam was left with the impossibility of proving a negative. Turns out that he was telling the truth, just as Scott Ritter claimed. As the UN weapons inspectors claimed. As the CIA, before bowing to adminstration pressure for "favorable" intelligence, claimed. And your premise is that he was threatening US, but in fact he had no means to attack us even if he wished to do so. And it was well known then and proved now that he had no "terrorist" connections.

Whether the war could have been conducted in a manner that made it "worth it" is debatable, but I agree that had the Army been allowed to plan and execute the mission without Bush administration meddling and neo-con "hope is a method" fantasies forced upon it, that the cost would be far less and we would be much further along the road to a free, independent, and most important, stable Iraq that did not threaten our national interests.

I don't think I am "intellectually dishonest" nor that I "ignore the threat Iraq" presented. Iraq was a threat, and so is Cuba today. Iraq, as Cuba is today, is a declared enemy of the US. I don't think we should invade Cuba, and I don't think we should have invaded Iraq, and far from "ignoring" the "threat" Iraq presented, I base my conclusion on the nature of that threat. Iraq's military grew weaker by the day, his "WMD" programs were, as Scott Ritter pointed out, either non-existent or practically so, there were no terrorist connections and little threat of "unconventional" attacks from Iraq - in fact, Iraq presented a perfect case of strength deterring a threat. Saddam dared not strike us in any manner other than to ineffectually fire at our aircraft patrolling his airspace now and then. And if he wished to attack us there was simply no effective way for him to do so short of producing WMDs and covertly planting them. Such a course of action would be not only detectable beforehand (as Scott Ritter showed) but also a surefire suicide plan (as the Taliban found out after 9/11.) It didn't make any sense to conclude he was a threat, and post-invasion proof of this is now called "20/20 hindsight" by neo-cons. BS. I wrote my editorial months before we invaded. I have been shown to be correct. I expect a president making such a momentous decision as whether to go to war to be at least as intellectually curious and well-informed as me, for goodness' sake. And he was NOT "misled" by poor intelligence from the CIA either. He FORCED that intelligence to support his preconcieved notions and desire for war, and then blamed it when things went wrong.

Your claims that US agents sunk the USS Maine are unsupported by facts. First, it would be possible to manufacture cassus belli without destroying a ship or killing US sailors, as Bush shows us today. And you assume that US agents would murder US sailors with no threat of that information coming to light, yet as Watergate shows us, conspiracies are difficult to carry out, much less one that requires US military deaths at the hands of US agents. I doubt any administration would run that kind of risk, not even the Bush administration. Even Hitler when he invaded Poland used concentration camp victims dressed in German uniforms to claim the Polish fired first. Even the 3rd Reich couldn't carry out a deception like killing its own troops to provide cassus belli. The likely cause was a boiler explosion. Had the USS New Jersey gun explosion happened in 2002 while it was off the coast of Iraq, well, you can figure out the likely result. Roosevelt charged up San Juan hill to "liberate" the Cuban people from tyranny. Sound familiar?

I agree that "containment at all times and at all costs" is not the right way to go. I never said it was. I said containment was a successful policy that showed bi-partisan cooperation on vital matters of national security, and containment was working (even better than we knew) against Iraq. But at "all times and at all costs?" Of course not. There was little cost to continuing to contain Iraq, though, and MUCH cost to invasion, as has now been shown in blood and treasure and HARM to our national security in numerous other ways. Invading Iraq was an Al Quada wet dream, one that they could only wish for but knew was unlikely to happen. We deposed an enemy of Al Quada and Islamic Fundamentalism in general, and at the same time weakened ourselves. Osama must think it a gift from Allah.

Your claims that "democrats" criticize Bush I for not "finishing the job" are unsupported. Sure, I suppose some "democrats" did so, as did some Republicans, and ALL neo-con extremists. But the policy of containment against Iraq enjoyed broad and bi-partisan support. If you recall way, way, way back to 1992, Mr. Clinton didn't run against Bush I by criticizing Desert Storm, but emphasized "the enonomy, stupid." Desert Storm and the aftermath was widely acknowledged by both parties to have been well-done, and Mr. Bush the elder is still a master of foreign policy in my book. As for your "conspiracy" nutbag criticism, I don't care what fringe elements of either party think, and feel no need to defend any left-wing conspiracy nuts, nor do I accuse you of holding right-wing conspiracy theories. And of course my view that we should not invade Iraq was not based on a view that Saddam was, as you put it, "peace-loving" and "harmless." He was and is an evil bastard, and would nuke us if he could get away with it. Fact is, though, he couldn't, he knew it, we knew it, and we knew he knew it. And we invaded anyway.

You claim that my "premise is that Saddam lacked any capability or intention whatsoever to do us any harm, at all." No. He was a threat, but a steadily weakening and successfully contained threat. And as shown by NO WMDs and the poor performance of his military when attacked, he simply did not have the capacity to threaten his neighbors, much less us. If we stopped the containment policy he would have quickly reverted back to his pre-1991 policies and tried to go nuclear, of that I am sure. But I am also sure that we would not have stood idly by while he tried to do that, and that our containment policy was in fact working. As has now been proven by what we found on the ground after he was overthrown.

You say "the debate ceases to be "how should we respond against our enemies" and it becomes "if you don't agree with MY viewpoint you must think our enemies aren't out to harm us."Well you DID say Saddam wasn’t out to harm us. Scroll UP for chrissake, to remind yourself of what you said. (This is part of the reason why I quote copiously.)"

Well, no. Saddam was, as I have always said, a threat and an enemy. As is Castro's Cuba. But he did not have the capacity to harm us as long as we contained him, at little cost to ourselves. Imagine a spider crawling along your sleeping bag. You know it is poisonous, but not deadly, and you also know that it can't bite through the sleeping bag. You can 1) flick it away, or 2) smash it, ensuring it can no longer threaten you by one day crawling back, as I would, or 3) take the Bush administration approach and shoot yourself (and the spider) with a shotgun, right through the sleeping bag. As you are medevaced to the hospital with grievous wounds I tell you "you didn't have to do that!" and you reply "So you think that spider wasn't poisonous and didn't want to bite me, huh? Well, go ahead and live in a world where dangerous spiders can go and bite whenever they want." Yes, Saddam was a dangerous spider, but he was not in a position to "bite" us and our response caused us more harm than he ever could have. Was he a "threat?" Perhaps. But not one that should have kept us up at night, and certainly not one that required invasion.

I never claimed you, or Bush, was a Nazi. I do claim that tactics used by the fascists and communists in many countries are being used here today. That does not mean Bush is a Nazi. It means he is manipulating public opinion and defeating informed public discourse, the lifeblood of democracy.

As to the rest of your post, I sum it up with this: Crossfire is NOT vigorous public debate. It is shouting, period. A debate is not where you say one thing, I say the opposite, and we move to the next issue. Monty Python had a famous skit about an "argument" clinic. That makes the point better than I ever could. And my point about the commies and nazis in 1933 Germany was NOT that the commies were better. It was that the truth was lost, and your references to hippie liberals that worship "Gaia" make that point. The far-right does not want to debate the moderate faction of either party, but desperately longs to portray anyone that disagrees with them as Jane Fonda hippie weaklings attacking Jesus and burning the flag. Hence Swiftboat Veterans, purple-heart "band-aids" and other shameful and despicable tactics that destroy the fabric of our Republic.

Excerpt from "argument clinic" - could easily be a "Vigorous Debate" on Crossfire:

M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn't.
A: Did.
M: Oh look, this isn't an argument.
A: Yes it is.
M: No it isn't. It's just contradiction.
A: No it isn't.
M: It is!
A: It is not.
M: Look, you just contradicted me.
A: I did not.
M: Oh you did!!
A: No, no, no.
M: You did just then.
A: Nonsense!
M: Oh, this is futile!
A: No it isn't.
M: I came here for a good argument.
A: No you didn't; no, you came here for an argument.
M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
A: It can be.
M: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
A: No it isn't.
M: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
M: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
A: Yes it is!
M: No it isn't!

A: Yes it is!
M: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
(short pause)
A: No it isn't.
M: It is.
A: Not at all.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

(Because the italic tags in blogger seem to eat all whitespace no matter what, I'm going to try a new quoting style; see if it works better.)

"The fault with this administration is in part that it is so disciplined and determined and GOOD at getting its BAD policies enacted."

I see no evidence of that. They can't get any supreme court nominees confirmed. Social Security "deform" is dying on the beach (as I agree it should). They get arm-twisted by a legislative minority to establish Executive agencies they didn't want to create (e.g., the new "Intelligence Czar"). Gay marriage obviously didn't get banned. Abortion remains legal. Public funding for stem cell research is moving forward in spite of administration resistance. If these neocons are "clever nazis", count on them being run over by the Sudetenland sometime soon.

What the Bush administration is skilled at is getting INTO OFFICE. Once in office, he and his people aren't skilled at IMPLEMENTING jack squat. He gets the date with the hot supermodel and then when the time comes, no amount of Viagra can help him. It's rather sad to have to observe in the news, day by day. But it's hilarious and ridiculous to see screeching, seething, hateful maniacs in the Tinfoil Turban crowd equate him to some sinister genius of an Antichrist. Yeah, maybe if he's not eating pretzels while the people get their wrist tatts. Or if he isn't asked to pronounce "hegemony". If you're afraid of this Homer Simpson think-alike, my gawd, you must be afraid of your own shadow.

And checks and balances keep the stupid from being dangerous. I suggest observing a filibuster, for example.

"Your claims of Saddam's "intention" to attack go against the reality on the ground, and also against his known capablities."

Claims? It's an accurate quote. Your wishful thinking that it wasn't, does not change reality with a wave of your magic wand. You're also not crushing my head by tapping your index finger against your thumb, from a distance of 20 feet.

Capabilities get completely redefined in an age where box-cutters enabled 9/11. Yet another area where you attempt in vain to contradict reality and fact by a fallacious fiat of your own fantasy.

"Your claim that he was "heating up his rhetoric" is false"

Uh huh. Let us examine said rhetoric, shall we?

"The United States reaps the thorns its rulers have planted in the world."
Saddam Hussein, September 12, 2001

"The real perpetrators [of September 11] are within the collapsed buildings."
Alif-Ba, September 11, 2002 (State-controlled newspaper)

"[September 11 was] God's punishment."
Al-Iktisadi, September 11, 2002 (State-controlled newspaper)

"If the attacks of September 11 cost the lives of 3,000 civilians, how much will the size of losses in 50 states within 100 cities if it were attacked in the same way in which New York and Washington were? What would happen if hundreds of planes attacked American cities?"
Al-Rafidayn, September 11, 2002 (State-controlled newspaper)

"The simple truth [about September 11] is that America burned itself and now tries to burn the world."
Alif-Ba, September 11, 2002 (State-controlled magazine)

"[I]t is possible to turn to biological attack, where a small can, not bigger than the size of a hand, can be used to release viruses that affect everything..."
Babil, September 20, 2001 (State-controlled newspaper)

"The United States must get a taste of its own poison..."
Babil, October 8, 2001

=======
Doesn't look nearly as conciliatory as you claim. I propose you are once again embroiled in a fantasy of some sort.

"I don't think we should invade Cuba, and I don't think we should have invaded Iraq"

Well, is Castro announcing an intention to attack us? If not, just contain the old fart. If so, flatten his regime, to get the drop on him.

In an old west cowboy duel, stating an intention to attack is tantamount to pulling the six-gun out of the holster. You would be one DEAD shootist right about now.

"He FORCED that intelligence to support his preconcieved notions and desire for war"

Which further supports my contention that he is a fuckup and a goofball. Not that he is some evil genius from the sixth plane of hell.

"containment was working (even better than we knew) against Iraq"

It appeared to in Afghanistan too, on 9/10/2001. One day later we learned to take threats a little more seriously. Or rather, SOME of us did. Some of us just plain never learn.

"Invading Iraq was an Al Quada wet dream"

Diverting AQ resources to Iraq which could have been focusing on the U.S. for attacks? Pitting AQ against a MUSLIM government (the new Iraqi democracy) in a way that pares off mainstream Muslims from their pseudo-Jihad, family by family by family? Hell, they don't even have CAIR on their side anymore, after they whacked Margaret Hassan. How silly is that? That would be like Bush losing Rush Limbaugh as a supporter.

Do you perhaps need to drink a little more coffee before you analyze a situation?

"We deposed an enemy of Al Quada"

Former enemy. Just as AQ is fighting a FORMER enemy of the U.S. (Russia). Ansar Al Islam and the O'Zarqawi factor wouldn't be there if the enmity were present tense. But you ignored the middle eastern prime directive of tribal politics: THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND. And you remain woefully ignorant of it, apparently.

"the poor performance of his military when attacked"

His military was BYPASSED by President Fuckup's SECDEF, leaving a grizzly bear at our troops' backs in a mad race to plant a flag in Baghdad. So his military switched to civilian clothes and became insurgents, and the rest is IED-shredded history. Poor performance, well, you might want to break out a Ouija board and ask about 1,800 departed spirits about that right now.

The first time around we lost about 70 or so. The aspect of that which could play to Bush41's credit was that he gave Schwartzkopf everything he asked for, and Schwartzkopf was never too shy to ask. But then, having Japan bankroll it always helps...

Sure, sure, Iraq is different from Kuwait, but only by degrees. The terrain doesn't magically become the 7th plane of Yog Sothoth and swarm with invulnerable demons just when you step across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq. They get a bit more of a home field advantage, but not 20x more.

"That does not mean Bush is a Nazi. It means he is manipulating public opinion and defeating informed public discourse"

Everyone would LOVE to manipulate public opinion their own way. The protests on American streets make quite clear, though, that Bush is, if anything, more impotent than most in the arena of propaganda battles. He's the satanic bogeyman of MTV, reviled in Hollywood, and really can't get a break anywhere except in a few trailer parks in the hinterlands. That gets him ELECTED, but only due to the geographic effects of the electoral COLLEGE. Not by popular support, not by a longshot.

By ascribing to him an ability to "defeat informed public discourse" you have to say, with a straight face, that he has shut down all the blogs; pulled the plug on NPR; burned down all the print media starting with the New York Times; and paved Hollywood to put up a miniature golf course. Once again: you indulge in fantasy, overmuch.

I concede on my example of "Crossfire" being informed public debate. There is indeed too much crosstalk to get any real debating done there, as you illustrated. But you still remain insistent that a huge part of reality, as I listed in the above venues of discussion and evaluation of public policy, don't exist.

There is an Arab phrase: "You cannot make the sun disappear by putting your fingers in front of your eyes."

this we'll defend said...

They can't get any supreme court nominees confirmed? What supreme court nominees? There has been no vacancy. As far as the judicial nominees that haven't been confirmed (Three) Mr. Bush has a higher confirmation rate than Clinton or Bush I, and appoints far, far right judges while blasting democrats for "obstructionism." As far as the list of things he hasn't accomplished (a list which chills me to the bone) the fact is that he got tax cuts for the rich and a war that he shouldn't have been able to wage. He never expected a gay marriage amendment, he only wanted a divisive issue so that working-class Americans who are harmed by his rich-centric policies vote for him because they foolishly think he is defending their cultural norms. And he is well on the way to outlawing abortion as soon as his greasy hands can appoint some Ashcroft-type evil crusader to the high Court. BTW, I think abortion post-viablitity is murder of a human being, but I do NOT believe zygotes are humans. I respect those who disagree.

You say "Capabilities get completely redefined in an age where box-cutters enabled 9/11." Uh, no, they don't. 9/11 surprised only the uninformed. We have always faced such dangers, and the Millenium Plot in 1999/2000 would have been "9/11" except that it was crushed before it could occur. The methods of dealing with stateless terrorists are very different from states. For instance, states can be deterred by the threat of military action - as Saddam indeed was. While 9/11 might have changed your world it did not make Saddam more or less dangerous than he was on 9/10, or change the appropriate ways to deal with him. See Bounding the Global War on Terrorism found at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/pubresult.cfm?pubid=207.
It explains the differences between deterrable nation-states like Saddam's Iraq and stateless terrorists like AQ.

Your extensive quotes of "heated" rhetoric don't show 1) an INCREASE, since mr. "mother of all battles" had kept up a steady diet of propaganda since 1991 (you REALLY should check out Castro's speeches as well, the bearded one often threatens to attack and destroy us, as does Iran and North Korea), and 2) don't show any change in capability or liklihood of an Iraqi attack. It is a fact that prior to our invasion no instance of Iraqi terrorism EVER took place, since Iraqis weren't easily recruited into terrorist cells in Saddam's totalitarian, secular state. You mention 9/11, but no Iraqis were involved, only Egyptians and Saudis.

Your reference to an "old west cowboy duel" is apropo. First, the world isn't like the old west, but Bush seems to act like a cowboy instead of a statesman and national leader, something that pisses off potential and even actual allies and costs American lives. Second, the old west wasn't like the old west. The only instances of shouting "draw" and pulling from holsters on main street took place on film, never in reality. The old West had a much lower murder rate than the "new west" does today. But that is a side issue.

Your claim that containment was actually working against Afghanistan until 9/11 is mistaken. We didn't "Contain" the Taliban, and actually had diplomatic relations with them, something Bush was criticized for at the time. And the Taliban was known to have connections with terrorists and was totally deserving of being wiped from the face of the earth even prior to 9/11. The fact that Taliban leaders survive along with much of AQ that was in Afghanistan shows this President sucks at national security, but there is no support for the invasion of Iraq to be gained from comparing it to Afghanistan, an invasion that enjoyed broad public and international support, met all the criteria for a just war, and that was required for our national security. It actually points out how weak the case for invading Iraq was in comparison.

Your claim that invading Iraq diverted AQ resources there is another desperate attempt to seek some good reason for our invasion. Guess what? We don't need to invade other countries in order to have AQ attack us, and they have NOT "diverted" their resources there, as Spain and Bali and numerous other attacks clearly show. What we have done is increase the ranks of those who would like to kill Americans and at the same time put US soldiers in harms way, making it much easier for Americans to be attacked. You call this a good strategy. I call it what it is - stupid. And those who claim "we haven't been attacked since 9/11" are wrong. First, we weren't attacked on US soil from the 1993 WTC bombing until 9/11. AQ is patient. Next, we have been attacked since then, as over 1500 coffins attest to, just not in the US. That is NOT ok with me and should not be ok with the SUV driving "I support the troops" crowd either. But they are ok. Some support for the troops that is. Finally, there have been several attempts here on US soil that were prevented (which was often the case from 1993 to 9/11 as well) and that shows no decrease in the number of attempted attacks. Period.

You claim there is some middle eastern tendency to think "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." That is actually common throughout the world, as our support of Pakistan shows, as well as our initial support for Saddam himself. But Iraq's Saddam was not ever in cooperation with AQ or Islamic Fundamentalist allies. Saddam, rightly, saw them as a threat to his secular regime. There have been many false claims of connections, but even the administration has now admitted that there were no connections. Some claimed that since Saddam supported Hezbollah he was in leaque with terrorists. Whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization or not, it was NOT and IS NOT a group that attacks US interests, so this claim is false. He never even tried to hide this but announced his support - just as Saudi Arabia STILL DOES. Others claimed that a group in Northeastern Iraq allied with AQ (Al Anser or something like that) was proof of Saddam's connections. THis was a blatant and knowing lie since this terroritory was in the no-fly zone and not in any way under Saddam's control. It actually showed that AQ allies could not be based in areas under his control since they knew he would attack and destroy them. Finally there is Zarquawi, who was in Iraq for medical treatment. The truth is that he was hiding there, under a false name, and had Saddam's intelligence discovered him they would have "disappeared" him as an enemy of the state. It makes as much sense to claim this shows Saddam was in league with AQ as it does to claim the US is also, since AQ members hid in the US prior to 9/11. Yet, in the extremeosphere of right-wing rhetoric such already-disproven claims are still repeatedly made to justify invasion.

Yes, we bypassed his military just as our doctrine calls for. That did NOT leave a "grizzly" at our backs. His military collapsed and went home, and there was a golden window of opportunity when we had the chance for political consolidation of our initial military success. Instead there was a lack of post-war planning (at the orders of the administration that forbade the military to properly plan - because then the true extent of our committment would become clear and the claims of "flower-strewn streets" and "less than 2 billion dollars" and "troops will soon be home" would be discredited.) This lack of planning led to a security deficit, anarchy, and eventually the insurgency that costs us lives daily. The insurgency is not because we "bypassed" his military. It is because the Bush administration believed its own neo-con rhetoric.

Your claim that since there are dissenting voices we still have informed debate sounds good but falls apart upon further examination. First, in the past any administration that lied like this one does would be discredited. Instead many Americans aren't aware of it, and the "mainstream liberal media" that the fascist right attacks so much has not called the administration to account, but instead merely presents platforms where a lefty gives his opinion, and then a right-winger responds. That is not the same as happened during Watergate, for example, where what the Washington Post reported was repeated by media throughout the nation, and not presented as a partisan attack but as an even-handed investigation into malfeasance. Which it was.

Also, the lack of debate and genuine challenge to Adminstration claims prior to Congress writing a blank check to the administration shows what I am pointing out - there is no debate and there should be. Instead any attempt to debate national policy quickly degenerates into charges of "left v. right" as you yourself have done to me in this discussion.

You can't make the sun disappear by putting your fingers in front of your eyes, but you might be able to convince yourself and others you have blinded that it is gone.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I meant "judicial nominees" when I said "supreme court nominees". "Any" I suppose was hyperbole.

However, you need some schooling on the facts:

--All nine of the Homer Simpson administration's North Carolina and Michigan appointees were blocked, six of which didn't even make it to Committee. Eight of the nine vacancies have been open more than 1,000 days.

--In this Presidency, more appeals court nominees have had to wait over a year for a confirmation hearing than in the last 50 years combined.

--More than one-third (11) of the President’s 25 pending judicial nominees are waiting to fill seats that have been designated judicial emergencies.

So why has your Evil Genius Antichrist who's "so good" at getting his way politically, been just about the most politically IMPOTENT bastard in the last 50 years? Why is it your assertions time and time again contradict reality?

"the fact is that he got tax cuts for the rich and a war that he shouldn't have been able to wage"

In spite of acting jobs by Democrat politicians that should win them Oscars, their lip-service against the tax cuts aside, they had to be on-board with it or else they could have filibustered that as well. The war, too. What "Bush got" was really something Democrats could also live with, by consensus.

Any time Democrats don't like what they see, it's as easy for them to defeat it in the Senate, as falling off a log.

"You say "Capabilities get completely redefined in an age where box-cutters enabled 9/11." Uh, no, they don't."

You are once again in complete denial of reality. They didn't bring nukes with them onto the planes. They didn't bring biologicals. They didn't bring chemicals. They brought box-cutters. No amount of your sanctimonious denials will change the facts of it either.

"the bearded one often threatens to attack and destroy us"

That's good enough for me. Let's bomb the rat bastard and his minions.

"the world isn't like the old west"

Another denial of reality. This takes me over the limit of what I can argue with, because it seems you don't even have a basic ability to look at the lawlessness in the world and see it for what it is. You just plain do not live on the same planet I live on, nor see anything with the same set of eyes and neural processing systems that I use. Whatever plane of existence you are from, it's not the one where I live.

Dance and ululate in victory with your last words here. I'm done trying to tell you up is up, down is down, and A = A. You've exhausted me.

this we'll defend said...

See, Cig, you just can't see it. I DO see that we live in a very, very dangerous world, but unlike the neo-cons and others who cheerleaded the invasion, I also see and accept the uncomfortable fact that we have limited resources, that there are limits to our power, that our great military is not invincible, and that there are some fights it is better to avoid if we can. Thus many simple-minded ones want to label me an appeaser (I am not) or a pacifist (anything but,) or in your case you want to claim that I "don't even have a basic ability to look at the lawlessness in the world and see it for what it is." But in fact I do see the lawlessness, the sheer evil in the world, and I see our limits as well. I see the world for what it is, not what I would wish it to be. I find we have many, many threats and I conclude we must be very careful with how we spend our resources in order to be able to defeat any threat. Like any prudent commander, I know that defending everywhere is to defend nowhere. I know that the way to defeat the enemy is not to attack along an entire front but to concentrate at one point. That is not to pretend there is no enemy, but to defeat the enemy by understanding the nature of the threat. Any mission must include an understanding of enemy and friendly strengths and weaknesses. Neocons, and this president, do not understand the enemy at all, and do not understand our strengths and weaknesses either. Hence the invasion of Iraq, a mistake that has harmed our national security a great deal at a time when we should have concentrated our resources against AQ and allies.

Neo-cons want to export democracy at the point of a spear, and see anybody that disagrees as an enemy of democracy or a supporter of evil. I think that by taking on the entire world we pretty much not only guarantee our demise, but we also endanger democracy itself.

As for your nominees, I didn't count them if they didn't make it out of committee. Three failed, six died in committee.

Whether Democrats voted for or against the tax cuts is immaterial but another example of the bipolar world this "uniter, not a divider" president has thrust us. He proposed these fiscally irresponsible tax cuts for the rich, and who cares if some dems voted for them? Does that somehow make them right? Or even bipartisan? I think not.

The fact is that this president has created an atmosphere where there are only two sides to an issue, for him or against him, left or right, for invasion or for appeasement, etc. The truth is that we can be against him and against the far left as well. We can be in the middle and not left or right, or we can be to the left of him without being a "lefty" and in fact still be a right-winger. We can be against the invasion and against appeasement with no self-contradiction. We can disagree with the invasion and still see Saddam as a danger and an enemy. But if we limit our choices to only two then we will usually be picking one of two wrong choices.

In fascist states there were two choices: 1) agreement with the authorities, and 2) being an enemy of the state. And in our nation today we find ourselves increasingly limited to being defined as being for the President or against him, and those against him are all cast into the same category even when there are huge differences among them. That is very, very dangerous, and one symptom of the coming of fascism - the brownshirting of America.

an american said...

Hmmmm....happen to stop back by and see a gentleman's brawl in progress. If it's over, as a fair and impartial observer with no vested interest in either party, I'll render a decision.

Though not by knockout, TWD by a clear and decisive margin. The other contestant claims to use earmuffs guarding himself against the right-wing noise machine while tilting at imaginary tinfoil turbans. However, it's apparent he's left a backdoor unprotected. ;)

TWD, your last paragraph was a good, simple summation. If Goering and other like-minded neocons of his day are watching this administration from wherever, no doubt he is passing out cigars like a proud new parent to his compatriots.