Reasoning with the Schoolyard Bully

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Every smart kid learns at some point in his or her young life that you cannot reason with the schoolyard bully. The more sense you make the more he will hit you. This is the quandary Democrats, liberals, progressives, and all other opponents of the right wing juggernaut have been grappling with throughout the Bush years, and in the run-up to them that began around the time the first Bush presidency whimpered to its end.

With the ascendancy of right wing talk radio and the development of what David Brock would come to call the "right wing noise machine," Americans have been subjected to a level of pandering demagoguery that has often been understandably disregarded by people with triple digit IQs. People to the left of Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly made the grave error of not taking the threat posed by these juvenile tactics seriously enough. How exactly does one address political commentary that is often the rhetorical equivalent of, "I know you are but what am I?"

As we wend our way towards the mid-term elections, the name calling and stupidity are in high gear and right wing bullies are predictably beating the stuffing out of their favorite whipping boys, those weak-on-defense-liberal-weenies and the "librul" media.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter offers some advice on "How to Beat 'Cut and Run'" which includes some very insightful analysis of the tactics of that master demagogue Karl Rove.

For more than a quarter century, Karl Rove has employed a simple, brilliant, counterintuitive campaign tactic: instead of attacking his opponents at their weakest point, the conventional approach, he attacks their strength. He neutralizes that strength to the point that it begins to look like weakness.

As a strategy this amounts to hitting your opponent in his "center of gravity." In warfare it would be the equivalent of wiping out the Command Operations Center, communications hub, or some other pivotal installation. Once accomplished you leave your enemy scrambling and uncoordinated. In Karl Rove's hands its things like the "Swift-boating" of John Kerry; turning a war hero into a coward to the point where the same knuckle-dragging troglodytes, who normally lionize the military, take to sporting band-aids with purple hearts on them in mockery of valor. It's an astounding feat on many levels; a triumph of brutal illogic over fact that Rove and his cohorts accomplish again and again.

After escaping indictment, Rove is focused again on what he does best: ginning up the slime machine. Anyone who dares criticize President Bush's Iraq policy is a "cut-and-run" Democrat. The White House's object here is not to engage in a real debate about an exit strategy from Iraq; that would require acknowledging some complications, like the fact that Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, believes it's time to start bringing some troops home. The object is instead to either get the Democrats tangled up in Kerryesque complexities on Iraq—or intimidate them into changing the subject to other, less-potent issues for fear of looking like unpatriotic pansies.

Indeed "real debate" is never the object of the right wing noise machine. Put simply, they cannot win on facts; only by turning logic on its ear and inverting reality itself. Astonishingly they have been accomplishing just that for years, leaving those of us in the "reality based community" shaking our heads in wonderment... and getting pantsed.

As Frank Rich points out in today's New York Times, they are relying on that age old technique of tyrants: scapegoating. Just as Hitler blamed the Jews for every ill confronting post-WWI Germany, Bush's political machine is cleverly distracting from his collapsing foreign and domestic policies by vilifying the New York Times for its reportage.

The history of that scapegoating begins on the Friday morning, June 23, that The Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal all published accounts of the Swift program first posted on the Web the night before. In his press briefing that morning, Tony Snow fielded many questions about the program's legality. But revealingly, for all his opportunities, he never attacked the news media....

By Monday, the president had entered the fray and Mr. Snow was accusing The Times of putting the "public's right to know" over "somebody's right to live." What had happened over the weekend to prompt this escalation of hysteria? The same stuff that always happens when the White House scapegoats the press (or anyone else): bad and embarrassing news that the White House wants to drown out.

With the dramatic capture of the seven wannabe terrorists rapidly degenerating into slapstick comedy, General Casey drafting actual plans to "cut and run" from Iraq, and Lawrence Wilkinson testifying before Congress that his former boss Colin Powell's presentation in front of the UN in 2003 was "the perpetuation of a hoax," a political show of strength was urgently needed. For team Bush that means whipping it out in the locker room to show whose is bigger. And those pointy headed intellectuals at the New York Times were just asking for a wedgie.

As discussed here abusers abuse because they're abusers. It's really that simple. And fact based arguments alone won't disarm them. The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. Or as Alter suggests:

We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on."

20 comments:

sevenpointman said...

The inherent courage we have to stand up to the bully is found in the simplicity of our values:peaceful and harmonious relations , a sense of justice based on equity, economic democracy, and the development of a multicultural global consciousness.
These values are much to real and universal to empower bullies-who thrive on possesivness, greed, disfranchisement and control.

We don't need to reason with the schoolyard bully-we only need to show him or her our true colors.
And their pale gray monster will melt away.

Simon Malthus said...

re: the swift-boating of john kerry

i remember as the Democratic National Convention folded feeling very clearly that in relentlessly selling John Kerry as a soldier 'reporting for duty,' the Dems had made their candidate terribly vulnerable. i'm not any sort of student of Rove, but i'm not convinced by the idea that the swift-boating of Kerry amounted to an attack upon an opponent's strength. given his laudable and well-known protest against the (criminal) war in Vietnam, the choice to play Kerry up as War Hero, while carefully ignoring his stint as War Protestor, seemed to me bound to backfire.

Curmudgette said...

I'm not a scholar of Rove either but I read "Bush's Brain" a couple of years ago and it left quite an impression. Here is a classic Rove aphorism: "If you're explaining you're losing." Sums it up pretty well actually. It's a formula for constant, relentless aggression. Keep the other side on the defensive; explaining and justifying. Sadly everything the Dems do, including that sad excuse for a convention, they do as beta dogs. They always look like they're reacting to something, rather than taking decisive action, because they are. If Kerry had been smart he would have presented himself as a warrior who had seen combat, seen horror, and turned against that bloody exercise in futility. In other words he could have told the truth instead of what he thought people wanted to hear, and basing that on a narrative already shaped by Rove et al. The more Democrats try to police themselves, water down their message, and anticipate the thing the GOP will go after, the weaker they make themselves. The simple truth is that no matter what they say or do, Republicans will hit them for it. They need to stop investing so much energy in trying not to be hit and simply hit back... hard.

svensun said...

The reason that Kerry couldn't, in 2004, and the Democrats today can't speak the truth to the American people is because, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, "they can't handle the truth" that Kerry and Democrats would tell them.

If the American people really understood what Democrats/progressives really stood for, there would likely be NO Democrats ever elected again to the Senate or Presidency.

I think sevenpointman summed up the 'progressive' agenda quite well: "equity, economic democracy, and the development of a multicultural global consciousness". Now THAT'S a winning platform for you, right out of the Marx/Lenin/Mao/Che playbook.

And Curmudgeonette neatly sums up the current leftist view on war: "that bloody exercise in futility". So, basically, an honest Democratic view on the War on Terror would be, to quote Von Rundstedt's advice to Hitler: "Surrender, you fool!"

Simon Malthus said...

i'm sorry, surrender what to whom?

sevenpointman said...

Svensun-

The views I express are clearly statedand are supported by the majority of people who have studied this war, and has the dynamic determinism to offer viable compromises to all feuding parties.
We, who you paraphrase as leftists progressives, directly pointed out the madness of attacking Iraq-with iron-clad proof about the subtefuge of Bush's arguments and aggressive tactics.
We emboldened a movement that was exactly right on every issue about this war-warning in advance-the catastrophic circumstances that woud go down.
At this juncture of time(2002-2003) Kerry was trying to play out his elitist role as a defender aginst the massive threat of weapons of death of Uncle Saddam.
If you feel I am exaggerating go back and watch hisi Senate speech before the initial vote on going to war- he made Bush sound like a rational choirboy looking for a way out.
Bottom line: the War is wrong. We must get out as soon as possible.
Nobody on the planet has a more comprehensive plan to do that, then me.

Go to my web site and read it.

svensun said...

Greetings!

I appreciate the responses and questions.

To Simon, my response is that you must ask the question itself is most telling about the problem faced in the West today, where a failure to recognize the most basic currents of history seems so prevalent. There is no doubt that our country, and more broadly, our civilization is locked in a struggle with an enemy that is both very old and yet new.

It is only possible by ignoring the lessons of history not to perceive the profound threat posed by Islam. This is a danger that has existed for all of civilization since the 600's, yet for many centuries it has laid dormant, since the defeat of Ottoman Turkey at the gates of Vienna in 1683 by the combined forces of the Hapsburgs and their Western European allies with the King of Poland & Lithuania.

If you think the threat has been simply to Christian Europe, I would point out that it is no longer possible to travel to Byzantine Asia, North Africa, Sassanid Persia, the Hindu heartland on the Indus, or Buddhist Central Asia. These cultures no longer exist, thanks to our Islamic friends. One only has to look at what is going on in Sudan to get an idea of what happened to innumberable peoples. And you probably thought only Westerners wiped out native cultures!

The threat of militant Islam has re-emerged in our time due simply to one commodity: oil. The tremendous infusion of trillions of petrodollars into muslim lands, primarily into the Wahabi-dominated Saudi Arabian kingdom, has provided the fuel to reignite the Islamic imperative to bring all nations of the world into the Dar al Islaam, the Land of Submission.

If you doubt this, just talk to any Coptic Christian who has grown up in Egypt. They will tell you that while there are many Arabs who are fine, decent, inoffensive people, it is those who become religious, who become dangerous.

One Coptic friend explained it to me this way: "you Americans make the mistake of viewing Islam as another religion, like Buddhism or Christianity; you cannot understand it if you view it in this way. Islam is at its heart a political ideology."

That's the WHOM. I'll leave it up to you to imagine the WHAT that we will have to give up if we lose this war.

To sevenpointman, I would simply say that your claim that the majority of people who have 'studied this war' agree with your values is an unprovable claim, yet easily testable.

I suggest that the Democratic Party openly embrace your values, your seven point proposal, along Noam Chomsky's proposal for Iran, and run on those this Fall in the Congressional and Senatorial elections. The American electorate could then render their verdict. I wish you luck in getting the Dems to be so honest and forthcoming with the American people.

Curmudgette said...

And Curmudgeonette neatly sums up the current leftist view on war: "that bloody exercise in futility".

That doesn't even sum up my view, let alone the leftist view. I was speaking specifically of the Vietnam conflict which is the one Kerry fought in. I never said war was futile and the view that all war is futile is one held by a very small percentage of "leftists." Quakers, for instance, hold that view. I do not share it.

I am not a Democrat and I do not speak for Democrats, but I will say this. More Democrats have worn this country's uniform than Republicans. More Democrats have fought in actual wars. There's a thing you learn when you fight in an actual war; that it is hell and should only ever be a last resort. That's the reality you learn when you watch your buddies get blown up.

My view on the "War on Terror" is that it is a meaningless phrase. How exactly does one wage war on an emotion? But the war in Iraq is quite real, has nothing to do with the actual threat of terrorism -- or at least it didn't before we blew up their infrastructure and plunged them into civil war -- but it is yet another bloody exercise in futility. My husband has was there. He saw fellow Marines, men he cared about, get blown up. And for what?! Where are all those weapons of mass destruction? Oh right. Where were all those ties to bin Laden? Oh right. So we blew apart a secular, totalitarian government, and freed its overwhelmingly Shia population to join with Iran. Brilliant. What a strategy. They weren't terrorists, by gum we'll turn them into terrorists. What a boon to that wacky war on an emotion.

sevenpointman said...

Svensun-
Your critique of the world situation is at best misinformed and at worst patently Islamophobic.
You are turning a fanatical wing of radical religious zealots that pratice a form of orthodox poilitical power relations, into a global threat of enormous proportions. The facts on the ground do not support your assessment of this 'behemoth of an enemy'.
I am opposed to any action of repression by one ethnic or cultural group against another. And it is quite obvious that certain secular elements in Arab nations, through assimilation of Western values and ethos, have repressed the more radical elements.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are two examples.
Out of these historical and economic conditions of social development, the radical elements have struck back at this assimilated Arab culture
and the Western powers of imperialism that support these cultures.
The methods used in opposition have been as brutal as the forces of original oppression.
I for one support the evolution of an inclusive democracy in all nations which allows the various voices of dissent a fair hearing.
I also am against the usurpation of territorial and authority rights of any member of society.
When any member or group endangers these rights they should be treated with the legal means available to that society.
If this endangerment cannot be stopped by an internal or international legal system, then I am in support of actions of self-defense.

I have sent my plan to many Democratic and Rebublican politicians.
I have had very few responses.
Both parties are responsible for the horrors of this war.

I am trying to reach those who have analyzed the situation and want to save they next person who dies or is wounded from suffering that fate.

This can only happen when we get out.

Simon Malthus said...

so, can i just go down and surrender at the local mosque, or do i have to travel back in time to Vienna circa 1683 and open the gates?

in the meantime, let me say that Curmudgette gets to the heart of what's wrong with your learned narrative. namely, that even accepting the potential validity of warfare as a means, and the premise of a grave threat posed by the forces of historical islam (Today Somalia, Tomorrow the World!!!) the invasion and decimation of secular Iraq was a tremendous tactical blunder. (call it a catastrophic success, if you will.)

what's more, it was obviously wrongheaded beforehand - a fact only overlooked by strenuous efforts undertaken to fix the facts around the policy. given the monumentally expensive disaster that has unfolded in Iraq, you cannot excuse the lies that led us into this war as statecraft in service of national necessity. they were merely a social evil characteristic of power in service of itself.

as far as your method of argument is concerned, it seems to me that you cling to your strawman liberal in order to avoid facing the fact that even given your premises, the invasion of Iraq benefitted no one so much as the nebulous Islamists you imagine poised to lead us all into the Land of Submission (if, that is, we could find them in order to surrender). scratch that - i guess it benefitted the defense contractors and oil companies just about as much as it benefitted the militant islamists. add to that group all those who hunger for an authoritarian state in which civil liberties exist at the arbitrary discretion of the Executive.

finally, if the honest Democratic view is akin to Von Rundstedt's, then which member of the Nazi hierarchy best represents the Republican mindset? Goebbels? Himmler? help me out here.

svensun said...

Dear Curmudgette,

I must make several apologies. First, an apology for tardiness in responding to your reactions to my corrections. As an amateur at this 'blogging' thing, I just do not find the time available to make such rapid responses, and thus I have not had a chance to comment on your postings.

Secondly, my apologies for misreading and misunderstanding your original post. As you have noted , I have corrected my post, removing attribution to you of that statement regarding war, and posted the following apology on my blog:

> It seems to me the current leftist view on war is best summed up as a: " bloody exercise in futility". So, basically, an honest Democratic view on the War on Terror would be, to quote Von Rundstedt's advice to Hitler: "Surrender, you fool!"
>
> ADDENDUM: My apologies to the blogger Curmudgette on two counts: for misspelling her name, and for mistakenly taking her comment on the Vietnam War as applying to all wars in general. She has pointed out my error to me, and I have corrected this post to reflect that. While I do not attribute such an attitude regarding war to her, I still insist that based upon the rhetoric we are seeing in general from the Leftists, self-described 'progressives', their position is that war is a 'bloody exercise in futility', at least when it is practiced by the United States, or not sanctioned by a communist dictator, as in the case of WWII.



As a way of explanation, my mistake was based upon my understanding of the totality of your comments in your post. The fact that Kerry seems to feel that the current Iraq War is just as futile as the Vietnam War also led to my misunderstanding. I appreciate the fact that you clarified that there were wars in the past that you supported. Your statement that it is sometimes worth it to fight, leads me to think that there might be some common ground in our positions, and the real difference in our views might just be a matter of mistaken assessment of the facts.

I would like to explore these issues further, and have a discussion regarding 'just war'. I will try to address each in a separate post.

Regards,
SFV Conservative


Curmudgette wrote:

> And Curmudgeonette neatly sums up the current leftist view on war: "that bloody exercise in futility".
>
> I see you've relocated your distortion of my meaning from my comment section to your own blog. Again, it should have been clear from the context of my statement that I was referring specifically to the conflict Kerry fought in: Vietnam. If not I will make it clear now. I was referring to Vietnam, not to all war. And since you brought up Hitler, I 'd just like to point out that FDR, who was President during WWII and was key to convincing this nation that resisting Hitler was worth our blood and treasure, was a DEMOCRAT! Yes. There are things worth fighting for. They just don't happen to include canards like the "domino theory" or non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
>
> --
> Posted by Curmudgette to SFV Conservative at 7/04/2006 09:10:37 AM

svensun said...

Curmudgette

In your second post you make several statements that I find hard to believe. The one that concerns me here is your assertion that in your lifetime spent "amongst various factions of the American left. you "have only rarely encountered the extreme position" of opposition to all wars waged by the US leads me to suspect, first of all, that you have never even been near an anti-war rally, and secondly, that you most likely don't hang out with too many leftists.

By way of proof, since you insist that you focus on 'reality-based politics', I would point out the organizations that have sponsored the largest anti-war rallies: International ANSWER, United for Peace & Justice, and Not In Our Name.

For reference I would suggest you read David Corn's LA Weekly article:
The odd and troubling origins of today’s anti-war movement from Wednesday, October 30, 2002
http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/behind-the-placards/3458/

I would also suggest that you take a look at the extensive collection of groups that David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture has amassed on it's FrontpageMag.com website: http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/viewGroups.asp?catid=9

Note especially the lists of groups that belong UFPJ:
http://unitedforpeace.org/groups.php?country=USA

There seem to be quite a lot of rather 'mainstream' left/progressive groups on this list. However, if you visit some of the websites, you will find a LOT of ani-American vitriol, groups opposed to the draft (?), and even groups dedicated to stopping recruitment for our voluntary military! The goal of the Coalition Against Militarism In The Schools is "to create and present positive nonviolent alternatives which promote the value of human life, justice and equity for all persons.
We envision accomplishing this in the following ways:
By bringing together a network of organizations and individuals to oppose the growing intrusion of the military commonly present in the lives of young people throughout Southern California, and to present organizing strategies, campaigns and actions."

That doesn't sound "very supportive or our armed services" to me.

There are other groups, too, like 'Leave My Child Alone', which are working to stop the military from recruiting. I suppose it's a form of left wing abortion for the military: stop the military, by preventing soldiers from joining up in the first place.

Personally, if I were someone who supports the military, and military families, I would ensure that I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with groups like these. I would refuse to join any group they belong to, and I would object to any group of which I was a member affiliating in ANY way with these groups, because by doing so, I would be lending my support to their anti-american, anti-military cause.

Yet, ALL these numerous left/progressive groups apparently have NO problem joining and affiliating with these blatantly objectionable groups, including communists, trotskyites, maoists, etc.

I have no doubt that you are a member of organizations that are very supportive or our armed services, and that you and your family are very patriotic and support our military. I profoundly thank your family members and your husband for their service to our country. They are truly deserving of all our thanks, for I truly believe that it is the soldier, and not the politician, the writer, or the journalist, who defends our freedom. This was true in 1775, and it is still true today.

It would appear to me, from what I see of today's left/progressive movement, however, that you and those you associate with are a distinct minority within that movement. Today's left is overwhelmingly anti-military and anti-american. To believe that a strong military and a strong US is evil and dangerous is, frankly, to be anti-military and anti-american.

I know where I and my friends, and the groups I belong to, stand when it comes to our troops, our armed forces and our nation. If there was even an inkling that any group I affiliated with was in opposition to those things, I would leave it. I realize my direct experiences are only anecdotal, but from what I read and hear, they seem to be representative of conservatives across the country. The people with whom I am politically active and affiliated organize weekly support-the-troops rallies here in the San Fernando Valley, and organize events to help military families. ( http://supporthetroops.blogspot.com/ ) Another started and runs Operation Gratitude, a volunteer organization she runs out of her garage in Encino that seeks donations for our troops and assembled and mailed over 150,000 care packages to our troops fighting overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. ( http://www.opgratitude.com/ ). My church is conducting a similar effort. Another lady I know is a volunteer at the Sepulveda VA, where she has done great work with the oral history project to honor our veterans by collecting their stories and recording them for posterity. ( http://www.loc.gov/vets/partners/california.html ). Another group I associate with here in the Valley had a special reception for Ann Coulter after her Tonight Show appearance, and the group leader made sure that we got tickets and bought dinner for a group of Marines and a Navy Corpsman stationed at 29 Palms who joined us. These guys, all just kids really, are at the base recovering from wounds they received in Iraq, where their unit is currently deployed until September. Whenever this group has an event, they insist upon making active-duty personnel our guests of honor. By the way, Ann Coulter insisted on it, as well. ( http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1651473/posts?q=1&&page=1#1 ).

My point with all this is not to brag, but to make the point that these types of activities are normal, run-of-the-mill stuff that people on my side of the political spectrum do. There is nothing special about conservatives in the San Fernando Valley. We're as boring and average as the next American, aside from living in La-La Land. Again, these aren't special conservatives; they're just average.

I have no doubt that you and your friends do even more for the troops, since you are a member of a military family, but I defy you to demonstrate to me that support for the troops is just normal or average conduct for the great majority of left/progressive groups.

svensun said...

Sevenpointman said...

Svensun-
Your critique of the world situation is at best misinformed and at worst patently Islamophobic .
You are turning a fanatical wing of radical religious zealots that pratice a form of orthodox poilitical power relations, into a global threat of enormous proportions. The facts on the ground do not support your assessment of this 'behemoth of an enemy'.


To your first point, I concede that I am 'islamophobic', assuming that the term means 'someone who is fearful of islam'. Obviously I am fearful of an ideology which believes that I, as a non-believer, should either suffer the fate of death or dhimmitude, a form of serfdom, unless I convert to Islam.

To your second point, that I am exaggerating the threat, I would simply ask this: what other enemy has ever managed to kill almost 4,000 Americans and severely disrupt our national economy with a single blow? The Japanese couldn't do it; the Nazis couldn't do it; the Soviets couldn't do it. The only comparable threat we have faced historically was Great Britain, which managed to occupy our cities, burn down our public buildings, blockade our coasts and severely disrupt our economy, but that threat ended almost 200 years ago.

The Islamist threat, if you prefer, is in the here and now, and if you think WMD could not possibly be used against us, you are deluding yourself.

That is the threat which I fear. Fear is a healthy response to real danger. And this danger is real.

svensun said...

Sevenpointman says:

certain secular elements in Arab nations , through assimilation of Western values and ethos, have repressed the more radical elements .
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are two examples


I would agree that Islamic radicals in Egypt have been repressed, especially since they assassinated Anwar Sadat, but the facts do not support your assertion that Saudi Arabia is such an example.

In fact, Saudi Arabia is an example of radical Islam run amok. Sharia law imposed by imams governs the land. The cruelest punishments are meted out for what we would consider relatively minor offenses, such as adultery or promiscuity, and Religious Police patrol the streets and shops, looking to either beat or arrest those who don't comply with strict religious observance. ( http://saudijeans.blogspot.com/2005/09/horror-at-al-mamalka.html ) In the schools, the most radical ideas are taught, that Jews are equivalent to swine, and that Christians are unworthy of equal rights. The possession of a Bible is a serious offence, and it is death to hold church services, proselytize or convert from Islam.

Are you sure you really want to think of the Saudis as SECULAR? Please rethink that notion, even if it doesn't fit into some theory you have about the Islamic world.

Curmudgette said...

Dear Svensun,

Let me apologize right off the bat for the fact that I will not be able to respond fully to your very long posts. As you can see I have been very blogging very little lately. I am extremely busy right now and my time for reading and writing is more limited than I care for. But I did want to respond in some form.

Firstly, I accept your apology and appreciate your acknowledgement of my viewpoint.

Just as you see extremity in some far left positions, I see a great deal of hypocrisy on the political right. I fully acknowledge that my knowledge of right wing people is probably a bit surface as I do not spend a good deal of time with people who are diametrically opposed to my beliefs. I expect we are all guilty of that to some degree, but then life is short isn't it?

I will also give you some links. I made the statement earlier that more Dems that Reps have worn the uniform. I meant to say of those who hold political office. That's what I get for trying to fire off a post before my morning coffee. I stumbled on an article a short time later that makes that point, somewhat. I used to have more complete data on what Senators and Congressmen of both parties had and had not served, but it was on my old computer which has been put out to pasture. This should give you some idea of what I mean, however. I am well aware that there are many Republicans in our armed services, especially amongst the officers. Amongst the enlisted ranks, which include many minorities, it shakes out a little differently. But I have actually been somewhat astonished and disheartended to learn how many "chickenhawks" we have amongst congressional Republicans.

The second reason I see a lot of hypocrisy on the right, is well exemplified by the case of the Marlboro Man. This article tells his story somewhat, but it doesn't do justice to the way people on the Free Republic and other right wing sites savaged this poor man when he turned out to be a human being, with problems, rather than the icon they wanted him to be. And I see a lot of that on the right; the lionization of the military as symbols and the abuse of the term "support the troops" but little support for the troops themselves. That includes vilification of veterans who don't support their political viewpoint, as if suddenly their valor doesn't matter. John Murtha comes to mind. The man fought in two wars, was wounded in combat, and has always supported our fighting men and women. But the minute he disagrees with Bush and with this particular war, they throw dirt on everything he's accomplished. Those are views I'd want to distance myself from.

I'm just skimming, but here's a point. I will never read David Horowitz on anything. He's not credible. What he's doing to editors at the New York Times is a form of terrorism. He should be in jail. Of Ann Coulter, I could say about the same. Twice she has "joked" that the New York Times offices should be bombed. She's psychotic.

I will take a look at the David Corn thing, when I get a chance. I am also troubled by ANSWER, but I give them credit for being able to organize events, and the majority of people who go to those marches do not share their more extreme views.

"Leave My Child Alone," I agree with. So does my husband and he's a Marine for Christ's sake. A lot of the tactics used in recruiting are deceptive, and they are getting more aggressive because recruitment is way down, particularly in the Army. There is a difference between supporting the military and supporting militarism. We are not historically a militaristic country, but we are turning into one. It makes many in the military, including my husband, very uncomfortable. He chose to serve of his own free will; not because he was misled, coerced, or drafted.

We did not even start out with a standing army, but rather, militias. I agree that a standing military establishment has become necessary because we now have so much country to protect, but you should really read Ike's speech on the military-industrial complex. If you search my site for Eisenhower you will find a link. Leave it to the former Five Star General, Supreme Allied Commander, to articulate the dangers of a militarized society.

As far as what the left does for our troops, I don't have the links to hand, and I don't have time to dig for them but there are a number of leftwing groups that have organized supply mailings to our troops in combat and so forth. There may be links up on Michael Moore's site, for instance. Anecdotally, I can say, a number of my friends, who are very opposed to the war in Iraq, were incredible about sending reading material, snacks, etc to to my husband when he was in Iraq. I encountered exactly one person on a bulletin board who was derisive of his service. Everyone else was every bit as laudatory as you yourself.

I appreciate, on a personal level, the things you and your friends do and have done, for the men and women who serve. But, sadly, I see a lot on the right that is downright derisive of our troops. Republicans have repeatedly shortchanged our veterans, which I have written a bit about in another post. Again, I'm not in and amongst, and will likely never be, but what I see on the right is a lot of flag-waving and posturing but very little support for our troops as human beings. If only jingoism and fashion accessories were enough! The human costs of war are tremendous and with militarism comes excessive warfare. War should be a last resort. I say that in part, because my husband is one of those who has to actually do the hard part. We have a Department of Defense. These are not tin soldiers. They are men and women with lives and families who should only be called upon to make the supreme sacrifice when it is absolutely necessary. What I read in your post is that same conflation of militarism with support and intolerance of any ambivalence about the direction this country is heading in militarily and politically. To question these things and how we are using our military prowess in the world is NOT anti-American. It's an exercise of rights guaranteed by the Constitution that my husband swore an oath to protect.

I'm rambling, and I really do have to run. I also now see that
Blogger ate part of my response to you and I can't recall it just now. Again, I apologize if I've misread your statements or given them short shrift. I'd be more than happy to discuss in future when I have more time. Best.

stephen said...

Simon,
You don't have to go down to the nearest mosque to surrender. They will come and find you.

"All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing."

I grew up as a Jew. Muslims hated me then. I am now a practicing Hindu. Muslims still hate me. They want to push Israel into the sea. They have already taken over a good portion of what was once India.

Was blowing up ancient Buddhist statues in Afganistan really neccessary?

Muslims hate Christians too. They are not too keen on unbelievers either.

Was invading Iraq a mistake? Absolutly. We should have invaded Saudi Arabia and Iran instead.

I am not a Republican, although I once was. I am not a Democrat, although I was once one of those too. I know how they both think. They are both correct on some points and incorrect on others.

Did Bush lie? I don't think so. I think he's just stupid.

Svensun knows his history. He majored in it at UCLA. He may not be correct about everything, but he's not wrong either.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was getting people to believe he doesn't exist."

Curmudgette said...

Oh my but the air is thick with xenophobia. Stephen, judging an entire religion by its extremists is not only unfair. It's palpable nonsense. No one deplored what happened to those statues more than I did, but it was the Taliban for Christ's sake. I also deplored what they did to Afgani women, draping them in restrictive burkas and not letting them work or go to school. But what your little diatribe ignores is that not all Muslim people or nations are so reactionary. Your post is insufficiently sourced and overly simplistic. It's also racist and offensive. As I said in an earlier post, I'm under a number of time constraints just now, so I am being brief, but I could not let such drivel remain unremarked upon on my blog. You are always welcome to post here. I don't censor anyone but spammers or outright trolls, but, wow, is that offensive.

Curmudgette said...

Oh, one more thing, Mr. Soze.

Did Bush lie? I don't think so. I think he's just stupid.

So, um, did Cheney lie? He's many things, but stupid isn't one of them. How about Rumsfeld? Did he lie? Inquiring minds want to know.

stephen said...

I am sure that not all Nazi's were bad people. I am sure there must have been some good people who were members of the Nazi party. That didn't stop the Holocaust from happening.

I am sure that not all Muslims are bad people, but their silence is deafening. Why do they not speak out against the extremists?

You want a reference? Read "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" by Hannah Arendt.

Curmudgette said...

I am sure that not all Muslims are bad people, but their silence is deafening. Why do they not speak out against the extremists?

Such a nonsensical statement. The better question would be: Why don't the media cover it when Muslims speak out against terrorism and exremism?

May I recommend Google? Here's a couple of minutes, literally, of research.

Here's the contrarian viewpoint, and I don't disagree. I feel zero responsibility, as an Episcopalian, to reign in Pat Robertson. I don't see his insane hate speech as falling under my purview. Ditto for Jerry Falwell. Just because I was born and raised in the Christian tradition does not mean I have anything to do with the stone cold nuttiness perpretrated in the name of Jesus every single day.

But there is another reason for the silence -- one that for many overrides all others.
Why, many Muslims ask, should they have to speak out against, or apologize for, actions of radicals who do not represent them -- people they do not even regard as true Muslims?

Many find the very idea of being asked or expected to denounce such acts "extremely offensive and insulting," said Khurshid Drabu, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"I'm British," said Tuhina Ahmed, 24, a British-born Muslim in London whose family came from Gujarat in India. "I could have been blown up as well." Why, she asked, should she have to make a public statement to prove her objection to terrorism?
To many, the pressure to denounce acts of terror smacks of President Bush's warning that 'you are either with us or against us.'

"People and politicians say, 'Where are the Muslim people? Why aren't they on the streets defending themselves?' They say we should go into the streets and condemn what happened so they see us as good Muslims," said Karima Ramani, a 20-year-old Dutch born to an Algerian father and Moroccan mother. "I don't feel it's my duty. I'm not responsible for the death of Van Gogh."

Many European observers of Islamic communities agree.

"If they protest as a group of Muslims against these terrorist attacks, they take on an extra responsibility which is not theirs. So I can fully understand their reasons," said Ruud Peters, professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Amsterdam.


From here.