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March 27, 2006

Jane Smiley’s “Notes for Converts”
Posted by Teresa at 09:42 AM * 153 comments

From Jane Smiley’s essay, Notes for Converts, in The Huffington Post:

Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O’Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush’s faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.

1. Bush doesn’t know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those “polls” that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed “integrity” on his part. It doesn’t. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.

Bush is to public discourse as Three Card Monte is to card game.

I’ve drafted a number of unfinished ML posts since autumn 2000 about Bush and his use of language. The first one was written after I watched an otherwise sensible friend get into a tizzy over some stupid things Bush said about an exceptionally stupid proposed amendment to the Constitution. She was trying to figure out what he meant by his remarks.

Nothing, I told her. He meant nothing. Bush doesn’t really talk to us. When it’s advantageous or required, he’ll go through the motions of talking to us; but that’s all. What it “means” is that he either has to do it, like the State of the Union speech; or he wants something from us, like votes; or he’s tossing out a string of words calculated to endear him to some fraction of the citizenry, like “manned missions to Mars” or “Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.” He doesn’t care what he’s saying, and afterward he doesn’t consider himself bound by what he’s said.

The implications are unpleasant. Someone who doesn’t care that he’s lying to you, and doesn’t care that you know it, doesn’t respect you, and doesn’t consider you part of his social or political universe. Look at how many disparate reasons Bush has tendered for cutting taxes for the rich, or going to war with Iraq. The only connection between those statements and his actions is that he believed that saying those things would get him what he wants.

2. Bush doesn’t care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn’t care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it.

He doesn’t care about you even if you do agree with him.

Here’s the truth about the Katrina relief mess: It doesn’t matter how Mississippi and Louisiana voted. FEMA would have screwed up equally badly anywhere in the country. They could still do it. Next time it may be your city, your home, your life-or-death struggle.

Bush views FEMA as a branch of his personal publicity apparatus. He was running for president in 2004, when a string of hurricanes plowed into Florida, so his appointees at FEMA were carelessly openhanded with aid for the hurricane victims. He wasn’t running when New Orleans got nailed, so his guys scarcely lifted a finger until the public outcry could no longer be ignored.

FEMA’s screwups aren’t all that surprising. You actually have to know something about large-scale emergency assistance operations to run the agency effectively. Unfortunately, competence and experience were not the basis on which Bush’s appointees got their jobs. (Some of them were his former Florida campaign operatives.) They don’t know what they’re doing, and they don’t seem to care. So, you have to assume that they’d perform just as badly if the disaster were another New Madrid quake, major brush fires in Idaho and Montana, ice-jam flooding in the Northern Tier, an Easter morning F5 tornado cluster in the mid-South, tsunamis on the coasts, or a mid-July terrorist strike on the Salt River Project dams.

You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn’t matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he’s not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because…

3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a “sense of entitlement”.

One of the great underrated temptations is the desire to just be ourselves, in our raw state of nature, and somehow have it work anyway. It’s why babies cry. In adults, it’s called a sense of entitlement.

Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He’s never had to before this.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an “Anything but Clinton” policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him. …

There’s more. Go and read it.

Comments on Jane Smiley's "Notes for Converts":
#1 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 09:58 AM:

Thanks for posting this. We may feel we've known it for years, but put so succinctly (and addressed to such an audience) it's even more deeply scary.

#2 ::: Captain Slack ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 10:32 AM:

If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.

"And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"

#3 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 10:38 AM:

One of the great underrated temptations is the desire to just be ourselves, in our raw state of nature, and somehow have it work anyway.

Good point. The impulse to say "I told you so!" is extremely strong. Should it be inhibited in favor of "Welcome aboard! Here are some good projects for undoing the damage."?

#4 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 10:50 AM:

Bush has been running open-loop since elected. Feedback from the public is irrelvant to him. He does what he wants when he wants to do it. People who blindly followed Bush until recently thought they were following a leader who was doing the right thing for the right reasons, and the main reason being because Bush was doing what they wanted him to do.

There are many now who believe Bush is doing the wrong thing, because they want him to do something else. But the point is that Bush doesn't care either way. He's been running open loop, without feedback, since he got elected.

It isn't that Bush is a leader, because to lead means to engage your people to follow you, it is that Bush has been going down his path since elected, and he never once looked back to see if anyone was behind him or not because he doesn't care. His supporters may think he is spurred on by their support, but he isn't even aware of them.

And now those who disagree with Bush and rage that he is going the "wrong" way need to understand that it isn't that Bush agreed with them before and then changed course and disagrees with them now. You need to be aware of someone to disagree with them. Rather, they need to get that Bush never knew they existed at all, whether they agreed with him or not.

I'm not even sure how the hell to fix this. But I think the first step in fixing something is to determine the root cause of the problem.

#5 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:04 AM:

The impulse to say "I told you so!" is extremely strong. Should it be inhibited in favor of "Welcome aboard! Here are some good projects for undoing the damage."?

I would tend to think that, myself. It's amazing how seldom people react to "I told you so!" with grateful cries of "Yes, I see now that I was completely wrong from the very beginning, and you were right!" Give the newly-converted useful work to do, and don't waste time trying to rewire their brains. Either they'll do their own rewiring in the privacy of their thoughts, or they won't. In the meantime, get some use out of them.

#6 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:09 AM:

I've linked to the essay in my blog and emailed it to my address book because Smiley so perfectly says everything I believe to be true. Thank you for posting it and if we can get the tipping point to reflect the truth about GWB than maybe we can start seeing real change.

#7 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:27 AM:

If someone probably isn't going to agree with you about economics, maybe they can be encouraged to work on verified voting (paper trail) and/or civil liberties.

#8 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 12:27 PM:
One of the great underrated temptations is the desire to just be ourselves, in our raw state of nature, and somehow have it work anyway.—T.N.H.

I recently thought that this is one reason why "we" "love" celebrities---especially in an age in which the acting ideal is a naturalistic one, so that the famous actor is very well paid just for being "themselves" (or at least that is the perception). This would hold all the more for non-acting "pure" celebrities. Where our treasure is, there also will our hearts be: we admire them because we admire/envy/covet their ability to be fabulously paid by being themselves.

On another note, I hold many of the Bush Administration's sins to be part and parcel of what is in effect a Sixties radical mentality---maybe that should be 'Sixties-envy'. Consider: lack of serious concern with what happens after you tear down an evil structure, the belief that purity of intent is all you need, the feeling that most people are living in The Old Age and can't really understand the new world, the feeling that almost all supposedly wiser and more experienced heads are by definition corrupted and not to be trusted, the only exceptions being those that agree with you anyway. I don't think that Mark Rudd is responsible for Doug Feith, or Danny the Red for Paul the Wolf, but I think each of the latter both disliked the former and also envied them their extravagant freedom (and, at least notionally, access to HippieChix(r), a semi-plastic consumer product not to be confused with actual human women).

(I say this as a basically 'thank-God-for-the-Sixties' sort of person---but any human thought and action can be prey to error, the anti-idolatry of my religious training is very useful, even if it did lead in my case to atheism. For a simple example, not the machismo and sexism on the Left that famously fuelled an early feminism that balked at being prone, supine, or cooking tasty organic dinners.)

I haven't read F. Barnes' book about Bush, as I'm too disgusted right now already, but the title "Rebel in Chief" might signify...it might also be a nod to the idea that you can be a real rebel against the poser structure by backing the Late Unpleasantness' rebellion.

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Bush's personal theme song
"Pet" by "A Perfect Circle"

Pay no mind what other voices say
They don't care about you, like I do, like I do
Safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils,

#10 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 01:50 PM:
One of the great underrated temptations is the desire to just be ourselves, in our raw state of nature, and somehow have it work anyway. —T.N.H.

Absolutely. This is the story of damn near every romance novel. Alas, in the real world, no old high school flame will seek you out and manage your damages; you will not be kidnapped by a kind pirate; there will not be an accident that deposits a handsome interesting person on your doorstep. You have to go out and hunt someone down and then you both have to adapt to each other. Takes way more courage.

#11 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 01:57 PM:

As much as I enjoyed reading "Notes for Converts" and agree with its points, I hope that recent converts do not actually read it. Speaking as someone who has made bad decisions and then has had to turn around and face the consequences of them, I know that I'm not a good enough person to deal with someone telling me "I told you so!" with the grace and tact that I should. This is the sort of thing that might drive me to uselessness.

Now, it could be that everyone else on the planet is a better person than I am. (I'm not willing to rule that out.) However, I think I would play the safety. Welcome them on board and ask them to convert those with whom they have credibility and I do not. All of these important truths about Bush can wait until they have settled into their new status. (Or maybe that Bush simply doesn't care is something that one has to discover for onesself?)

I think it's a terrific essay, but I agree with Debra Doyle and Nancy Lebovitz. First priority is to re-establish the republic.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Bush has been running open-loop since elected.

Strictly speaking, he was elected in November 2004, but for simplicity's sake, we all act like it really means four years before that. That being said, I am reminded of that line from Hamlet.

"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space..."

#13 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Odd to see the Cato Institute on that list of newly-minted dissenters. Othewise, fascinating essay.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Bush has been running open-loop since elected.

I'd use the term positive-feedback (aka feed-forward). In electronics, it makes the oscillations get worse, instead of damping them down. Think of someone who gets only positive reinforcement for everything done; they never get told 'stop, that's far enough'.

#15 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 04:02 PM:

Teresa, some of your "blockquote" coding didn't take: from 2. Bush doesn't care to This is called a "sense of entitlement". should be indented. (And I note that the punctuation in what I've just pasted is in the British/Australian convention. Is Jane Smiley not from the US?)

#16 ::: Joe J. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 04:14 PM:

What an elegant essay. It says it all clearly. And, even though I understand the frustration behind the snide little barbs aimed at the "converts," I agree with some of the posts above that feel that it might be counter productive to say, "I told you so" now.

It left me thinking about what I would say to a "convert." The best I could come up with is: "Welcome to the land of the weird, where the president is an enemy to the country. You may want to huddle close; it's cold out here."

#17 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 04:40 PM:

How often do you get to hear liberals say "I told you so?" If you wait until after the moment is ripe, you're just going to be accused of being shrill anyway. Show them you aren't flip-floppers.

#18 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 04:47 PM:

I've always thought that Bush speaks, even at supposedly "public" functions, exactly like someone who is used to being listened to and agreed with not because of what he's saying but because of who he is. He is utterly convinced of his own importance, to the point where he can't conceive of anyone not also thinking he's very important.

#19 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:01 PM:

The impulse to say "I told you so!" is extremely strong. Should it be inhibited in favor of "Welcome aboard! Here are some good projects for undoing the damage."?

Well, I can see where Smiley is coming from. If the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill is ever to achieve something beyond just being loosely opposed to the madness of the current GOP apparatus -- and maybe voting against it in various ways in the future (but in some cases, maybe not) -- frank discussions have to take place about what's worked and hasn't worked, which ideas are good and which aren't. This means calling bad ideas what they are, and that in turn will mean offending some of the more fragile "converts."

OTOH there are other ways of doing this than saying "I told you so," particularly in view of the fact that even most of those who were anti-Bush from the outset didn't fully understand how radically far gone the GOP was until it was too late. I personally would rather see it framed as "we've all learned some hard lessons, conservatives in particular, and we need to learn honestly from them in order to move forward."

#20 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:09 PM:

His speech does seem rather like Saruman, I think. Or maybe Gríma Wormtongue; Saruman seems more fair-spoken. Only, if he is Wormtongue, who is Saruman or Sauron?

#21 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:09 PM:

My personal policy is never to say "I told you so" unless I'm teasing someone I like. If I have to tell you "I told you so," you're too stupid to get it. And if you're smart enough to get it, I don't need to say it.

But damn it would be nice!

Good essay. Thanx, Teresa, both for the link and your comments.

#22 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:15 PM:

There's always going to be a radical wing to liberalism, so I think it's a waste of time to try and paint an un-shrill face on it. Calling liberals shrill -- while ignoring their own lennie green footballs-wing -- was simply a means for neo-cons to prop up complacent, sedate liberal adversaries. Then beat them down. I don't think you should waste time stifling your own radical wing when conservatives aren't making any gesture to stifle their own wing-nuts.

#23 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Serge, I don't believe Bush was elected in 2004, either. See: Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, from the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff.

http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/ohiostatusrept1505.pdf

Report includes such highlights as there were more votes for Bush in one county than there were people in the county, much less registered voters; and in several precincts, there were
more votes counted by machine than signatures in poll books (which includes absentee voters).

#24 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:21 PM:

There are a few good non-schadenfraude reasons for saying "I told you so". They may not outweigh the practical considerations of welcoming new allies, but they should be at least considered.

First, the current abandoning of Bush is likely to be done along non-ideological lines. The essence of the incompetence charge is really an incompetence defense: it would have worked had Bush done things better (managed Iraq better, been a 'real' conservative and cut spending, etc, etc). But what is called (accurately) Bush's incompetence is not incidental to his ideology (or, more accurately, to the combination of ideologies that make up his base); it is tied to it. One small example: a commitment to cutting taxes without the political base to cut spending to match -- sometimes in hopes that the spending will later be forced out of desperation, sometimes out of blind or cynical commitment to tax cutting as such.

We must work hard to tie conservativism (at least as it is now in the U.S.) and the Republican party (ditto) to the disaster that is the Bush administration -- something that shouldn't be hard to do, given that open conservatives have been running the country essentially unopposed for more than five years. But it will be resisted -- is being resisted.

Otherwise, we'll do this all over again in a few years, possibly with someone marginally -- but only marginally -- better than Bush. Say, McCain.

Secondly (and less pressingly) the opinions and beliefs of those who used to support Bush are still given enormous weight in this country, at least by elite opinion makers -- moreso than those of us who have opposed him from the moment he stole the election. Saying "I told you so" to the elite opinion makers who now run for cover -- Buckley and Sullivan and so forth -- is a way of saying to those who generally agreed with them, but weren't fawned over for it, that these people should not be taken seriously any more. (This is a broader example of the bizarre but undeniable fact that people who opposed the Iraq-war from the get-go are taken less seriously in the SCLM than people who have repented, either wholly or on the grounds of incompetence.) The theory behind this version is that one can (hopefully) discredit the elite spokesmen (and spokeswomen, but mostly men) for this opinion and get those who follow them not to feel insulted but to think, 'Hey, I never thought that!' People are good at forgetting what they used to support. (Nixon would have lost 60-40 rather than won by the same margin if the polls done in 1974 about people had voted were accurate as to how they did vote.)

So let us not dismiss the "I told you so" argument without considering why it's necessary -- and how one might do this

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:23 PM:

His speech does seem rather like Saruman, I think. Or maybe Gríma Wormtongue; Saruman seems more fair-spoken. Only, if he is Wormtongue, who is Saruman or Sauron?

Cheney is definitely Sauron. Saruman.... Hmm. Condi?

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Down here in Georgia, we have the phenomenon of Bob Barr, once the sworn scourge of Clinton, having turned into a serious critic of Bush's policy. One result: letters in the AJC calling Barr a traitor to conservatism.

#27 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Re: "I told you so"

Well, maybe it isn't the "I told you so" per se, but more a question of how scathingly do you lambast the recent converts who've turned on Bush? Or put another way, do you attack Bush or do you attack Conservativism in general. To the converts, attacking Bush is no big deal, but to attack their conservative idealism may sting too much.

But the point is that Bush isn't just a wild, lone ranger here, running open loop with no support. You can't get elected twice with ~%50 of the vote* and not appeal to otehr people's principles. It's the principles that are teh problem, not just Bush. Attack Bush and you'll probably keep more converts, at least until the next election. Attack the principles that lead to Bush and supported him, then you may lose more initial converts, but hopefully you keep more after the next election.


#28 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Why don't we call the neocons by their true name--reactionaries--and thank the "real conservatives" for finally standing up for "real conservative values"? In my American history classes, there was a line drawn between reactionaries and conservatives, with the Radical Reactionaries being the very worst Americans ever.

#29 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:49 PM:

Saying "I told you so" smacks of a schoolyard taunt, and is basically a gloat. Its use could push converted Republicans back into the Bush camp. To do so intentionally would be extraordinarily stupid.

#30 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Cheney is definitely Sauron. Saruman.... Hmm. Condi?

This Bush shipwreck has seemed a little too adrift and captainless to give Cheney this kind of credit. Wouldn't it be awful if Frodo got to Mordor and it was deserted? If the rampaging hordes of Orcs and the Nazgul had long since been cut loose of their moorings to independent acts of mayhem? Because then it would mean we couldn't win it all in one battle; we'd just have a long, wearying war of attrition against the forces of chaos. There is no Sauron.

I think Cheney is Saruman. His exploitation of natural resources, associations with inhuman creatures, and willingness to harm old men were the most obvious tip-offs. I also like Addington and Libby for Wormtongues 1 and 2.

Bush would probably then be Lotho Sackville-Baggins.

#31 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:02 PM:
Saying "I told you so" smacks of a schoolyard taunt, and is basically a gloat. Its use could push converted Republicans back into the Bush camp.

Republicans in the Bush camp have already decided to side with the school bully.

I just think a lot of shame has been earned, and I'm not inclined to wonder if someone saying "I told you so" is too strong to drive the point home.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:09 PM:

I prefer

"What were you thinking?"

to

"I told you so."

#33 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:20 PM:

Well hey, Mike, if they're staying in the Bush camp, have at 'em!

#34 ::: otherdeb ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:40 PM:

Geez, Teresa, this is especially scary given that I just finished reading Dreiser's An American Tragedy and realized, as I read Irving Howe's "Afterword", that the reason the book was so uncomfortable is that it really did describe how easily many people can have their values swayed and warped by the culture they are living in.

#35 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:49 PM:

I just think a lot of shame has been earned, and I'm not inclined to wonder if someone saying "I told you so" is too strong to drive the point home.

And "you ought to be ashamed of yourselves" is just about as big a non-starter as "I told you so" when it comes to convincing those newly disillusioned with the other side that they want to join hands with your side now.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Rather than "I told you so",
or even "what were you thinking",
both of which contain the word "you"
to focus blame on the listener,
how about something like,

"Well, why didn't that (i.e. Bush, Iraq, insert
topic of interest here) work?"

It might invite the converts to air out
their principles and opinions, and allow
for discussion and, hopefully, permanent
re-evalutation.

#37 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 07:01 PM:

"Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others...You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them."

Brilliant! That will *totally* win over disaffected Republicans. It's not "Notes for Converts", it's "Preaching to the Choir". And it's because both parties are incapable of doing anything but preaching to the choir that the last two presidential elections were nearly fifty-fifty splits.

There's every reason to expect a Democratic Congress in '07, but I bet that somehow, by some astronomical chance, the Democrats will find a way to blow it.

#38 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 07:36 PM:

D'oh! Apologies for the blunt "extraordinarily stupid," which can be taken by some as an insult. It wasn't intended as such. That these words can offend, however, perhaps reinforces the point I was trying to make....

#39 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 08:03 PM:

And "you ought to be ashamed of yourselves" is just about as big a non-starter as "I told you so" when it comes to convincing those newly disillusioned with the other side that they want to join hands with your side now.

These guys don't want to join hands with your side. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It doesn't work beyond strictly limited times and places.

Bush is a lame duck, and people are seeing that they do better to cut him out of the herd. Republicans who oppose Bush at this point are saying "It's all his fault, it isn't my fault. I'm a *good* Republican, the kind you should have been voting for all along. We'll beat the Democrats and then we'll do the right thing, the right thing that Bush didn't do."

They aren't going to do anything to get Bush impeached. They're just positioning themselves to blame everything on Bush because there's a lot of stuff that has to be blamed on somebody, and they don't want it to be them.

#40 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 08:25 PM:

How about:

So now, what are WE going to do about this?

#41 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 09:46 PM:

These guys don't want to join hands with your side. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It doesn't work beyond strictly limited times and places.

I would have thought that we'd come to one of those times and places right about now.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Dan Lewis: Nah, W isn't pimply enough (and the thought of him being eaten by Wormtongue -- Karl Rove ? -- is faintly disturbing.

TexAnne: The neo-cons aren't reactionaries. They aren't responding to drastic change by demanding a return to the past. They're revolutionaries of the right, they seek a new order which will be stable and hierarchical, but won't be feudal or early industrial. They started out either as Trotskyists or under the tutelage of ex-Trots, remember.

#43 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 10:05 PM:

Fragano, the caption says it all for me.

;)

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 10:07 PM:

Greg: What's confusing? I don't mean to be opaque.

#45 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:06 PM:

Sadly, Smiley is spot on. Can 2008 get here fast enough?

I think Cheney is Saruman. His exploitation of natural resources, associations with inhuman creatures, and willingness to harm old men were the most obvious tip-offs. I also like Addington and Libby for Wormtongues 1 and 2.

A sound arguement, but for my money you can't beat the Darth Vader comparison for Cheney. I hear the theme in my head every time I see him... I also want to toss out SubPresident Rove for a Wormtongue ringer...

Give the newly-converted useful work to do, and don't waste time trying to rewire their brains. Either they'll do their own rewiring in the privacy of their thoughts, or they won't. In the meantime, get some use out of them.

As a Detox nurse, I seldom see any recovery success stories that don't involve a good Sponser for the recovering person. New converts need the gentle guidance of a seasoned Liberal to avoid the possibility of backsliding. After all, Bush and his Circus of the Damned are such awesome examples of humanity gone wrong that it would be easy for a disaffected Conservative to say, "It's not conservatism in general that's bad, just this Administration."

I know because I used to be a convert, having voted for Ray-gun in my College Republican days. Although by 1984 I was starting to see the light, it was the influence of my wife that kept me on course, helping to finish my conversion by the late '80s. Full conversion/enlightenment can be a long process. Those lost and confused souls, those (oft-unknowing) Seekers, those pissed-off-and-ready-to-jump-ship Recruits for Rationality need an anchor, a rock, a port, or at least someone to give them a swift kick in the ass when it's called for. I needed, I got, and it worked. Several Conservatives I know were smart enough to abandon Bush in '04, but, having been left to themselves, show no progress towards true conversion today.

So yes, let's put all that energy and/or guilt in the newly disaffected to work while it burns brightest, but as the vine needs constant care to put forth new grapes each year, let us also play the role of Vintner.

#46 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:25 PM:

My take: essentially, what that essay says is "wake up dummies, here's some truth from the people you think of as enemies." That rhetoric might wake a few dummies up. But as an alchemical tool to transmute self-interested profiteers into ethical public citizens (or to convince diehard Republicans that Democrats are not their enemies), maybe it's not so useful. At best, it warns Republicans that they'd better get their act together and field more competent, dependable frontmen -- or they'll suffer the consequences of Bush's incompetence along with the Democrats. The speech doesn't really extend a cordial invitation for Republicans to form an "alliance of necessity" with the erstwhile Democratic "enemy."

We (the Democrats) are the ones who really desire the "alliance of necessity" -- to get the current criminals out of power and mitigate the damage to the Public Good. The converts addressed in that speech are more along the lines of "Bush is lousing up my daydream. My game isn't fun, anymore."

If Democrats do want to form an "alliance of necessity" to mitigate the destruction of the federal government, it seems to me they should appeal to powerful "rational" Republicans with several arguments:

a) You agree with us that the Monopoly game should be played according to established rules. Setting aside the fact that you know some of us really want to switch the game over to Careers, please join with us to compel Bush to respect the established rulebook. There's no game to play, if Bush is stealing your turn -- and slipping you loaded dice when you notice.

b) Bush really goes too far to *win*. His idea of winning is making you *lose.* He's ruining your business (unless you're a grafting, non-producing member of the small Old Boy network that put him in power). There's all that other stuff you might notice, too, about Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld reverting the country to the political and moral standards that preceded the signing of the Magna Carta. We'd be happy if you think about that, some. But, at least, let's agree that Bush is Bad for Business as well as being a cheater. He needs to be called out on that, if not removed from the game.

c) (The discredited KSAN News/Dave McQueen Humanist appeal) "Hey. Take the day off from work, sometime, and smell the flowers. We're all in this together. Number Two is Unmutual! It's your sons and daughters."

In the meantime, /w/h/e/n /y/o/u s/e/e/ t/h/i/s /p/o/s/t/ i/n/ y/o/u/r/ j/o/u/r/n/a/l/
let's all head on down to Firedoglake and rev up the Fax machines.

#47 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 12:34 AM:

"You can't get elected twice with ~%50 of the vote* and not appeal to otehr people's principles."

Oh, for heaven's sake! The problem isn't that W. Bush appeals to principles; the problem is that he appeals to principles and has none himself. Yet the principles he appeals to and the policies he advocates are unworkable; they were obsolete 40 years ago, and they're even creakier now. The W. Bush voters are reactionaries, though his administration is radical. So there are really two problems here: first, getting the crazies out of power and, second, getting the public fear level down, so that some new ideas can sneak in. Because conservativism in anything but ethics, in this time of rapid change, is doomed.

#48 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:09 AM:

I thought that while it purports to be a message to the enemy it is really a reminder to all friends why they are the enemy, and to not forgive them just because they're making friendly overtures. As such it works fine, I would think.

#49 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:33 AM:

Saruman and Grima Wormtonge both have a greater facility with words than any politician since Churchill -- that's part of their power.

Bush comes across as Theoden, and there's not going to be any Gandalf.

#50 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:46 AM:

Bryan, I think you're right, she is reminding us that these converts still have much to atone for. Despite that, I think we should forgive them for two reasons:
1) We need their help, even if their friendship is more of the "enemy of my enemy" kind.
2) Holding everlasting grudges is something I expect of Conservatives. That's how I thought when I was one . We need to be above that. Forgive, I say, but *never* forget.

#51 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:03 AM:
These guys don't want to join hands with your side. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It doesn't work beyond strictly limited times and places.
If we take that as a foregone conclusion, then what is there left for us to do?

I'm not ready to resign myself to shrill despondency. Bewailing an inevitable doom isn't a role that appeals to me. If only for pragmatic reasons, I prefer to take hope as my premise and work from there.

#52 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:44 AM:

The sad thing is, I've seen this before when I was a kid, when there was this woman down the block who had had a Nixon fetish to rival some people's Elvis fixations, but after Watergate, she was wandering around going "Betrayed! Betrayed!"

The people who've been following Bush come in two main varieties: people who honestly believed his horseshit, and ones who didn't but liked some other benefits he was providing. Now, some of the first camp have realized it was horseshit all along and are going "Betrayed! Betrayed" while some from the second camp have decided that following Bush is no longer in line with their personal interest.

Sullivan, for example, would still be a happy Bush-ite if Bush hadn't decided to torch the Log Cabin Republicans clubhouse with the anti-gay-marriage business needed to get votes in 2004. The losing war wasn't pleasant either.

Honestly, gloating and saying "I told you so" isn't going to win many friends, but rats leaving a sinking ship aren't much going to care if someone's doing a superiority dance on the dock, so do it if you feel like it.

#53 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:44 AM:

The trouble with the converts is that some of them (Bartlett, Wilkerson, O'Neill) were on the inside and didn't seem to do much to bring reason to the table while there. It's only after they bailed that they announced their apostasy.

For that reason I have trouble being too laudatory of them. I'll be polite (not that I expect to be in the same room), but that's about it.

#54 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 05:10 AM:

It's important to note that many of these "disaffected Republican" types are not really leaving the cult. The central personality figures are descending into a deepening spiral of craziness, leaving a lot of the cult members with incentives to split, but you're not seeing a mass awakening from the essential insanity of the conservatarian movement. It's therefore important to set down some markers to guide the diverging fraction away from positions where they might continue to be subversive apart from the core of the cult. Telling the "converts" exactly what they have to account for is not just preaching to the choir— it's warning them off from trying to pretend they've recovered their wits, if all they've really done is just reconfigured their personality disorders to survive while they search for another central cult figure.

Go ahead and coddle these extremists, if you must— by looking for ways to help them make their transition away from Bush-worship less discomfiting— but the central problem remains, and Jane goes right to the core of it in her concluding paragraph:

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.
This is the fact that none of them are ready to confess, that they must repent if they are to be of any help to us, and that we must not forgive until they have earned it. It does not help them for us to pretend otherwise.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 06:11 AM:

Stephen Frug points out that 'they' explain the incompetence defense this way: it would have worked had Bush done things better.

And Bush would have done things better if he were smarter. But he's not, so he didn't, and the whole house of premise cards falls down.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 06:59 AM:

He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas.

Yes, those ideas are all that. But they probably could indeed convince themselves that the ideas's problems came solely from the incompetence of those who tried to enforce them. Especially with hindsight, we can see that they were bound to fail. But were they? This all reminds me of John Le Carre's Absolute Friends, which I think came out just as the War was starting and it briefly looked like things would work out like the wingnuts said they would. The last chapter extrapolates from the then current situation, with the fascists basically taking over because things went their way. What even Le Carre missed in his extrapolation was the scope of the incompetence. Still, his premise had been that the neocon ideas could have worked.

That makes his book outdated, but I expect he doesn't mind, considering the alternative.

#57 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 07:15 AM:

Late night thoughts...

"Wouldn't it be awful if Frodo got to Mordor and it was deserted? If the rampaging hordes of Orcs and the Nazgul had long since been cut loose of their moorings to independent acts of mayhem?" But it's not deserted--it is occupied by a coalition of the religious right, of radical nationalists, of the greedier sort of corporations, and of family cronies. From which it follows that: we were wrong, too. Because W. Bush assembled that coalition, from the build-a-reactionary-coalition toolkit to be sure, but he did it, and set himself at its head. From which it further follows that: W. Bush is in charge. He is a very limited and ignorant man, a poor chief executive, but, like Reagan, he is amazingly persuasive. And W. Bush is an extraordinary corrupter: look at the trail of people who have lost their reputations after service in his administration; the people he has betrayed are legion.

With this in mind--is is nearly 4am here and tomorrow I may see a hundred posts telling me I am as big a fool as W. Bush--I turn to the question of Bush's motivations. This is, of course, a very muddy area; character is not a matter of who gives who blow jobs, regardless of the religious right's beliefs. It seems to me that Jane Smiley and Teresa are both, in different ways, describing fanaticism, though neither have used the word. And it seems clear that W. Bush sees himself as a spiritual leader. So I think his basic motivations are religious and moral fanaticism and "Americanism"--a belief that the USA is the moral center of the world. Under this are probably more personal motivations: competition with other family members and a sense of inadequacy. But the overriding motivation of his political career seems to be a missionary vision.

What to do about this? It is discouraging, though not terribly surprising, to find that the US public is vulnerable to this kind of moral flattery; I suppose one could say that, as a nation, we are infected with spiritual pride. The credibility of the W. Bush administration is collapsing as it becomes clear that god is not on its side, and it is horrifically corrupt as well. But that pride remains. How persuade the public and the powerful elites that a more moderate political leadership would be better? It is a tough rhetorical and political question.

...and here I think I will hang it up. I hope I don't wake up tomorrow feeling that I'd have done better not to post this.

#58 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 09:26 AM:

What's confusing? I don't mean to be opaque.

Fragano,
I don't know what the implications of "won't be feudal or early industrial" are, and I'd have to look up what a "Trotskyists" is. I'm just a simple farmboy, after all, trying to keep the evaporators on the back forty running.

Plus, I was feeling pretty punchy after 12 hours of work, so that might have had more to do with it than anything else.

#59 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 09:27 AM:

The thing that strikes me about people like Sullivan is that they're not, in any very meaningful sense, converts away from the Bush cause. What they're trying to do now is get away from the sinking ship, without accepting responsibility for having freely chosen to help drill holes in it in the first place. Someone saying "I still believe we could have liberated Iraq with a proper army and should have" and "Bush's fondness for cronies doomed a noble commitment to conservative principles" and the like hasn't yet faced up to the most improtant realities of the situation. And someone who acts as though now all decent people should join them in opposing Bush while still not apologizing for insulting everyone who said the same things four years ago just doesn't get anywhere on my respectometer.

#60 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 10:07 AM:

they're trying to do now is get away from the sinking ship, without accepting responsibility for having freely chosen to help drill holes in it

ah, "responsibility". If only you could put some in a syringe and inject it into people's veins. I picture a small group of folks dressed in kahki's and pith helmets sneaking about D.C. with "responsibility dart guns", putting ear tags on their targets to indicate they've already gotten their dose. Of course, by days end, certain individuals would likely have about a dozen tags hanging from their ears.

Oh well...

#61 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Those aren't friends or potential allies she's talking to. Those are Bush allies who are demoralized. The point isn't to convert them, pleasant as that wishful thought might be, but to further demoralize them and make them less capable of effective action.

Whatever works.

#62 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Greg, I love the idea of Responsibility Ninjas.

#63 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 11:42 AM:

j h woodyatt writes "It's important to note that many of these 'disaffected Republican' types are not really leaving the cult." I'm not sure what is meant by "cult," but disaffected Republicans are indeed unlikely to leave their party and register as Democrats. After all, why should they? Basic tenets of conservatism -- discipline, personal responsibility, a preference for gradual rather than abrupt change -- continue to remain valid for these people. Perhaps the most we can hope for is that the hold of wingnut ideologues will be lessened. It ain't much, certainly, but still, we shouldn't throw this opportunity away with choruses of "Nyah, nyah, nyah." Future presidential races may again come down to the balance of a few percentage points.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 11:55 AM:

"Responsibility Ninjas, please meet my George W. Bush action figure."

#65 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 12:28 PM:

His speech does seem rather like Saruman, I think. Or maybe Gríma Wormtongue; Saruman seems more fair-spoken. Only, if he is Wormtongue, who is Saruman or Sauron?

My husband and I were watching the extended DVD of The Return of the King, and when the Mouth of Sauron came on he asked, "Who's that?" And without even thinking about it I said, "Scott McClellan."

And while we're on the subject, I was disappointed that this quote from Theoden wasn't in the extended version: "Even if your war on me was just -- as if was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired..."

#66 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 12:57 PM:

I can't see Bush as Theoden. I see nothing at the core that's worth redeeming, and I know that's a terrible thing to say about any human being, but ... he's just an orc, as far as I can tell.

#67 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:18 PM:

he's just an orc, as far as I can tell.

If he's an orc, he's a very bad specimen. Orc's wouldn't join the national guard then go awol.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Dubya isn't anything from Tolkien. He is Fritz's buddy from Bakshi's Wizards.

#69 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Basic tenets of conservatism -- discipline, personal responsibility, a preference for gradual rather than abrupt change

My bunkum light just flared up. How exactly did conservatives claim a monopoly on all this? And how can they continue to do so in the face of so much evidence to the contrary? Taking a quick look at the headline news of the last 6 years, I see nothing but passing the buck around stuff like Katrina, Bush recently tried to sidestep responsibility for the Iraq-911 connection, republicans on teh supreme court gave Bush the election by shutting down teh Florida recount, not a single person on the administration has ever owned up to the continually shifting sequence of excuses for invading Iraq, not a single person has owned up to the fact that the invasion of Iraq was a clstrfck from the point of view of trying to win Iraqi hearts and minds (guarding the oil ministry and leaving all the other doors unlocked), no one has ever owned up to having hemmed in Osama Bin Laden in a mountain range in afghanistan surrounded by US troops only to hesitate and let him slip through the cracks, no one has ever owned up to completely ignoring all the intelligence and indicators floating around before 9-11 that Al Queda was planning an attack.

If anyone can say they supported Bush for the last 6 years and have only recently become a convert, and in the next breath say their core values include personal responsibility, I would suggest they up their medication.

Oh, unless of course by "personal responsibility" they are refering to the unwashed masses. You know, the people living off the government through welfare checks, unemployment checks, food stamps, military contracts, no-bid reconstruction contracts, and pork barrel legislation.

Basic tenets of conservatism continue to remain valid for these people only because they have sufficiently trained themselves to subconsciously apply those tenets in a selective and subconscious process so they aren't even aware that they're doing it.

#70 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:56 PM:

Greg, you pretty much highlight the reasons why traditional conservatives are now feeling uneasy with the Bush administration. The lack of responsible behavior regarding allies, reasons for war, and federal expenditures should perhaps be at the top of the list.

#71 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:16 PM:

traditional conservatives are now feeling uneasy

Richard, my problem is the use of teh word "now" in the above sentence. I'd cut some slack to people who voted for Bush teh first time on principles and on the excuse that they didn't know the man, but anyone who voted for Bush the second time around and is a "convert" only now has made clear by their own actions that they have no principles other than "win the next election", that whatever religious or otehr dogmatic belief that caused them to vote Bush a second time, after four years of Bush made it clear that Bush himself didn't follow the basic tenets of personal responsibility, etc, that these second-time voters put some political gain (anti-abortion, prayer in school, creationism in school, anti-flag-burning ammendment, whatever) over any sense of moral principle like personal responsibility.

#72 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:21 PM:

I think Greg's question would be: "Now?"

I don't see what's apparent about Bush's deviation from what are supposedly the core principles of conservatism that wasn't apparent five years ago, other than that he is now unpopular.

(My answer, BTW, would be that in practice the core principles of American conservatism are different from what typically gets listed as core principles, and that Bush has been considerably more faithful to those principles-in-practice than he has been to the Platonic ideal of conservative principles. American conservatism today is Bushism, and Bushism without Bush is not enough of an improvement to be worth talking about.)

#73 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Maybe saying "I told you so" is not productive, but I think there is a need to ask: "Do you admit now that we were right all along?"
"Do you see who lied to you and who told the truth?"
That Gore was right about global warming?
That Kerry was right about nuclear proliferation?
That Feingold was right to vote against the patriot act?
That Joe Wilson was right that there were no WMDs in Iraq?

It's not I told you so but face the facts on who lied, otherwise they'll just fall for the new and improved lies.

#74 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 03:52 PM:

"anyone who voted for Bush the second time around and is a "convert" only now has made clear by their own actions that they have no principles other than "win the next election"

I don't necessarily agree--I think there are plenty of rank-and-file republicans who simply didn't have the time to look at the Bush administration's actions with the kind of skepticism that was needed to realize how terribly incompetent and cruel it was. Let's remember the media climate of 2004: if you weren't hooked into the blogosphere, how were you even to know what was going on?

I am willing to make that presumption of innocence for the rank and file. For the pundits just now seeing the light, I think you are absolutely right.

#75 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Since the invasion of Iraq was March 2003, and since even a hermit knew about it, knew about the sliding reasons for invasion, knew the "coalition of the willing" was code for "unilateral action", knew the cost estimates for the war were grossly underestimated, knew predictions of being "welcomed as liberators" was sufficient smoke up the backend that you could blow smoke rings out your nose, that the excuse that folks didn't "have the time to look at the Bush administration" falls completely into 2-D space.

And if you are so naive that you believed all teh things the administration said about the war then your stupidity is inexcusable based simply on the destruction you brought down upon the world without so much as a "really?" Personal responsibility, the alleged cornerstone of conservatism, does not allow you to vote in favor of a war that kills tens or hundreds of thousands and then outsource the blame for your vote to your president when shite hites the fane.

In fact, personal responsibility would take the "they didn't have time" excuse and tell you to get stuffed. Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"? The people who voted for Bush in 2004, after the war had started, they are responsible for the war they brought on the world. And if they claim "personal responsibility" as a cornerstone of their convictions while blaming Bush for how they voted for him in 2004, they are a bunch of gutless wonders.

And I don't think I have near enough darts to fix it.

#76 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 04:54 PM:

Quoth Edward Oleander: ...for my money you can't beat the Darth Vader comparison for Cheney.

Nah. Cheney is Palpatine without the initial veneer of wounded virtue-- Lord Sidious from the start, the shadowy old man pulling strings behind the curtain. Dubya is the one who's Darth Vader-- oh sure, he looks impressive striding around in his boots all day, but underneath it all he's just a loathsome brat with an chip the size of Tatooine on his shoulder, which makes it easy to steer him with appeals to his rampant sense of entitlement.

Sadly, I don't think we can expect Jenna to rise up and strike them down anytime soon, though it would sure be fun to watch.

#77 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Cheney is Palpatine

now that you mention it, he even kinda looks like Palpatine.

Hmmm... And we've never seen Cheney and Palpatine in the same room at the same time, have we? Kind of makes you wonder....


#78 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 05:37 PM:

I always thought Cheney looked like the Penguin from Batman.

Seriously, if you put a top hat and a monocle on him, jabbed a cigarette holder in his mouth and got him to quack like Burgess Meredith, he'd be a dead ringer.

...following that theme, Rumsfeld would probably be the Riddler (known unknowns?) and Bush would be the Joker (or the smirker).

#79 ::: Douglas Scott ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 05:50 PM:

A suggeted emendation:

"Bush's intent is to political discourse is as three-card monty is to a card game. Bush's accomplishment is to political discourse is as
52-card pickup is to a card game."

#80 ::: jami ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 06:18 PM:

hey, even bush knows he doesn't care what you think. he was honest about it right before he failed to prevent september 11:
http://dir.salon.com/story/opinion/feature/2004/03/19/bush_encounter/index.html

#81 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Oh god no-- now you've got me envisioning Condi in Eartha Kitt's Catwoman suit. Mrowr???

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Greg:

The term 'reactionary' was coined to refer to those who were opposed to revolutionary change and wanted to go back to the way it was before the revolution. This would be, in the case of the French Revolution, to restore the feudal order of lords and peasants, and in the case of the Russian Revolution(s), to return to the early industrial capitalism that was taking off just as the revolutions occurred.

In both cases, the past to which reactionaries wanted to return was based on principles of fundamental inequality of status and class.

In contrast, the Shrub administration, wants to change things and keep on changing them. This is, in large part, a result of the neo-cons who have played a major role in shaping the ideology of the administration (in particular of its foreign policy) having either been Trotskyists themselves or the children or students of Trotskyists. In contrast to Stalin, who sought to consolidate the power of the Communist Party in the USSR in the 1920s and 1930s, Trotsky had argued for 'permanent revolution' -- that is for constant revolutionary activity both domestically and internationally -- intended to bring about the desired end state of communism worldwide.

While the neo-cons have not adopted Trotsky's politics (which, after all, were radically egalitatian) they have adopted the idea of permanent revolution. This is what is behind the concept of the 'reality-based community' which struggles to understand how Shrub's boys and girls are engaged in actively revolutionising the world.

This revolution -- and it is a revolution -- seeks to create a new order which will be radically unequal, though fundamentally different from earlier forms of inequality in that the ruling class will include people who aren't white Protestant men.

I hope this clears up the confusion.

#83 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 08:03 PM:

Greg:

Let's try to differentiate between ignorance, stupidity, and sociopathy, shall we? Not being politically aware isn't the same as being stupid, and being taken in by an incredibly sophisticated and well-funded con job isn't the same as being calculating and vicious. Do you really think that "even a hermit knew" that "knew about the sliding reasons for invasion, knew the "coalition of the willing" was code for "unilateral action," knew the cost estimates for the war were grossly underestimated," etc.? Remember, it was around that time that 70% of Americans thought there was a direct link between Saddam and 9/11. They were lied to, and are being lied to. Us early adopters of alternate information technology can't really fault them for not having access to the same facts and perspectives that we have.

If you really think that everyone who voted for Bush understood how bad the Bush administration is, then you are buying into a theory that half this country is sociopathic. That is clearly not the case, as Bush's tanking numbers demonstrate. The American people were lied to, and they are slowly figuring that out. Shockingly slowly, it's true, but it is hard to admit your mistakes when you have been taken for as much as they have. It will take a while. Some of them will never be able to admit it.

Again, I am not making excuses for the pundits and cognoscenti who fawned over Bush from the get-go. They are paid for their (theoretical) political savvy, and they should have known better. They deserve no pity.

#84 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 08:30 PM:

I always thought Cheney looked like the Penguin from Batman.
...following that theme, Rumsfeld would probably be the Riddler (known unknowns?) and Bush would be the Joker (or the smirker).

All this has previously been discussed, here.

#85 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 01:30 AM:


Let's try to differentiate between ignorance, stupidity, and sociopathy, shall we? Not being politically aware isn't the same as being stupid, and being taken in by an incredibly sophisticated and well-funded con job isn't the same as being calculating and vicious.

The poor Americans, hoodwinked, like the French, the Germans, the New Zealanders--

Wait! Those countries knew that Bush wasn't being totally honest, and didn't join the invasion of Iraq. So, it was possible for people to tell that Bush wasn't being totally truthful. (OK, on one issue, but a very important issue.)

Come on. You can't say, with a straight face, that there was no way to know that Bush was lying.

If you really think that everyone who voted for Bush understood how bad the Bush administration is, then you are buying into a theory that half this country is sociopathic.

One quarter, actually. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the turnout rate in Presidential elections approx. 50%?)

That is clearly not the case, as Bush's tanking numbers demonstrate.

Bush's tanking numbers do not necessarily show that people dislike `sociopathic' candidates. They could show that people dislike incompetent sociopaths.

The American people were lied to, and they are slowly figuring that out. Shockingly slowly, it's true, but it is hard to admit your mistakes when you have been taken for as much as they have.

To be honest, people who are having trouble admitting they were wrong about Iraq need to grow up. Iraq doesn't have the time to let Americans have those self-indulgences.

#86 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 01:31 AM:

One can leave the cult as an organization but still be in its grip as a state of mind. In this case the danger is that the newly disaffected will thnik all the problems are due simply to Bush's incompetence in carrying out his goals. They may try to continue Bushism without Bush (as someone else already noted). In a sad way it reminds me of the circles of ex-Scntlgsts who got fed up with the autocratic ways of the Church but still get together and audit each other.

#87 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 03:35 AM:

Richard Andersen writes: I'm not sure what is meant by "cult," ...

Then, please let me clarify. I'm using the word "cult" in exactly the same sense used by Glenn Greenwald in this post on his weblog.

He says:

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.
He uses the word once more further into the post:
And what I hear, first and foremost, from these Bush following corners is this, in quite a shrieking tone: "Oh, my God - there are all of these evil people trying to kill us, George Bush is doing what he can to save us, and these liberals don’t even care!!! They’re on their side and they deserve the same fate!!!" It doesn’t even sound like political argument; it sounds like a form of highly emotional mass theater masquerading as political debate. It really sounds like a personality cult. It is impervious to reasoned argument and the only attribute is loyalty to the leader. Whatever it is, it isn’t conservative.
I hope that helps sort out what I mean. Go read the whole post and the follow-ups Glenn wrote on the topic if you're still in the dark about what I mean.
#88 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 03:55 AM:

Allan Beatty writes: They may try to continue Bushism without Bush (as someone else already noted)

The 2008 Presidential Campaign has already started. Republicans know they will have to transfer their authoritarian fetish from Bush to his successor, so they're getting ahead of the curve now. If Bush were more popular, then he would be able to appoint his own successor. Fortunately, he is not— and the Republicans will have to unite around a new Maximum Leader, whom they see as a credible bearer of the standard apart from any blessing from Bush.

Disaffected Republicans who are newly willing to criticize the President but still unable to admit the essential facts of what Jane Smiley writes about are not potential friends and allies of progressives. They are merely the advancing vanguard of the next wave of authoritarian revolutionaries. When they all fall in line behind the 2008 RNC Nominee for President, you'll see.

#89 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 04:11 AM:

Keir: "The poor Americans, hoodwinked, like the French, the Germans, the New Zealanders--Wait! Those countries knew that Bush wasn't being totally honest, and didn't join the invasion of Iraq.

Yes. Isn't having a more-or-less functional media nice? Wish we had one of those.

"Come on. You can't say, with a straight face, that there was no way to know that Bush was lying."

That's not what I'm saying. A reasonably determined person with access to the internet could have, in a few days, no doubt put together a rather frightening picture of Bush. A lot faster if they happened upon dailykos, or myDD, or any of the other early liberal blogs. But how many Americans do you think had that kind of access and time and motivation? Very few, I think.

Speaking of motivation, wouldn't a quick google search have been a good way to make your point about voter turnout? But that would've required effort, wouldn't it?

Mock the lazy at your peril. We are all guilty of that sin.

To be honest, people who are having trouble admitting they were wrong about Iraq need to grow up. Iraq doesn't have the time to let Americans have those self-indulgences.

You're right, Iraq doesn't have time for American self-indulgence. Which begs the question: who is being more self-indulgent, the former hawks who want to switch sides quietly and without fuss and bring Bush down, or the liberals who want to rub their face in their mistake? Which do you think will help get us out of Iraq faster and safer?

Talking about how dumb the policies were loudly and repeatedly is absolutely necessary and has my wholehearted support. Tarring and feathering any and all who didn't oppose the war from the get-go is another thing altogether. Discrediting the idiots who embraced the war will only get them replaced by new idiots who think the same things--an army of little Benjis. We need to discredit the policy, not the people. Once that is accomplished, anyone who touches the policy will discredit themselves.

#90 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 05:28 AM:

"Tarring and feathering any and all who didn't oppose the war from the get-go is another thing altogether."

Nobody has proposed doing that. Describing as "tarring and feathering" how even the least forgiving of us say we should treat such people is a bit over the top, don't you think? We aren't the ones making excuses for torture.

All we want is for them to admit the shame of what they did. Okay, it would be nice if they also stopped calling us traitors to our faces, but baby steps...

#91 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 05:50 AM:

Speaking of motivation, wouldn't a quick google search have been a good way to make your point about voter turnout? But that would've required effort, wouldn't it?

I did search Google. I also checked Wikipedia. If you are complaining that I didn't link to my source, then you are quite right. I'm sorry, and in future I shall try and source such claims.

That's not what I'm saying. A reasonably determined person with access to the internet could have, in a few days, no doubt put together a rather frightening picture of Bush. A lot faster if they happened upon dailykos, or myDD, or any of the other early liberal blogs. But how many Americans do you think had that kind of access and time and motivation? Very few, I think.

Well, really, all they'd needed to have done is to go to, say the Guardian website.

And they'd have found articles like this one. That took me maybe ten minutes to find. (Of course, I knew that the Grauinad is likely to be a good Lefty paper, so...)

So, if one took in papers like the Guardian, and so-on, then one would have a pretty good understanding of the issues. Certainly, enough to tell that Bush et al were being economical with the truth.

Mock the lazy at your peril. We are all guilty of that sin.

However, most of us are not lazy about matters of life and death. It is one thing to forget to include a link to a Google search; it is another to wage war.

You're right, Iraq doesn't have time for American self-indulgence. Which begs the question: who is being more self-indulgent, the former hawks who want to switch sides quietly and without fuss and bring Bush down, or the liberals who want to rub their face in their mistake? Which do you think will help get us out of Iraq faster and safer?
Talking about how dumb the policies were loudly and repeatedly is absolutely necessary and has my wholehearted support. Tarring and feathering any and all who didn't oppose the war from the get-go is another thing altogether.
Discrediting the idiots who embraced the war will only get them replaced by new idiots who think the same things—an army of little Benjis. We need to discredit the policy, not the people. Once that is accomplished, anyone who touches the policy will discredit themselves.

(I'll leave aside the tar and feathers hypebole; just to note that I tend to think that it would be a disgrace to the feathers.)

`Measures, not men.' Is that what you are saying?

#92 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 09:10 AM:

Heresiarch

If you really think that everyone who voted for Bush understood how bad the Bush administration is, then you are buying into a theory that half this country is sociopathic.

No, I am buying into the theory that people who voted for Bush voted for the candidate they thought would let them mix their Church with the State. The theory is that people who think all abortion is murder felt that making abortion illegal is more important than some distant war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The theory is that people who want to teach creationism in school were willing to overlook certain issues of integrity in Bush, and voted for him anyway. The theory is that a certain segment of the population was so terrified of the possibility of gay marriage that they would have voted for Hitler if Hitler promised them he would veto any law supporting gay marriage.

What I recall about the election was that it had nothing to do with "alternate sources of information" or whatever. It had everything to do with the Republicans trotting out something big that they knew their supporters would FEAR, and then basically make the case "vote for us and we'll stop this. Vote for the other guy, and he'll put this into law."

And all of this was in teh context of Richard Anderson's post that said "Basic tenets of conservatism -- discipline, personal responsibility, a preference for gradual rather than abrupt change -- continue to remain valid for these people." And in the face of "personal responsibility", ignorance and stupidity is an unacceptable excuse.

If you're a conservative, if you voted for Bush in 04 and you're a recent convert against him now, and you make no claims that "personal responsibility" is one of you basic principles, then you're irresponsible, but at least you're being honest.

#93 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Oh god no-- now you've got me envisioning Condi in Eartha Kitt's Catwoman suit. Mrowr???

Villains

#94 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 10:15 AM:

I hope this clears up the confusion.

Fragano, thanks for the clarifications.

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Greg: You're most welcome.

#96 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 11:53 AM:

OG - That's hilarious! What's even funnier, for me at least, is that I have never seen that picture before. Is it scary that the comparison is that obvious?

#97 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Woah. Had a thought. About people who are only now deserting Bush when the signs that they ought to do so were apparent years ago?

A lot of us have probably had this experience: You have this friend, right, only she's not really a friend. But you think she is. You've invested a lot of energy, emotion, and identity in that friendship for the sake of those good times y'all had at the beginning of it, so now when she acts in a very un-friend-like way, you explain it away as "she's just in a bad mood today" or "she was hurt in the past and this is her self-defense mechanism" or whatever. You refuse to see the trend; you only let yourself see easily rationalized single instances. You defend her to other friends, you defend her passionately, and in doing so you hurt people who looked to you for support when she hurt them, and you lose some friends. And the more you defend her, the more you lose other friends over defending her, the more energy you put into holding onto this friendship, well, the more you have invested in defending her. Denial? Hell yeah. Lotsa denial.

And then one day something nasty she does is finally far enough up the scale that it cuts through your denial and you realize, Shit! This person is not your friend and, come to think about it, hasn't been for a long time. And you finally allow yourself to get mad, because emotionally you've finally cut your investments and have no more to lose in getting mad at her.

(And some of your friends say "I told you so." And others of them bite their tongues because they know you don't need "I told you so" right now, you need coffee and hugs and crying-shoulders and listening ears.)

While it's a little weird to speak of a political figure as one's "friend," this is how I kinda sorta understand a certain segment of well-intentioned everyday joes who are only now going, "Shit! Bush isn't good for this country! Why didn't I see this long ago?" Especially considering how much they emotionally invested in defending Bush to their reality-based™ Bush-bashing™ friends (that would be us).

(I doubt this applies to the higher-up buddy-buddies, but it may apply to a lot of people who voted for him in 2004.)

#98 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Roughly appropos of this discussion is complete text of an internal Republican memo that was posted on the Hotline yesterday. Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen tells RNC chairman Ken Mehlman that attempts by congressional Reps to distance themselves from Bush could backfire. The money quote is at the end:

The President is seen universally as the face of the Republican Party. We are now brand W. Republicans. The following chart shows the extremely close correlation between the President's image and overall ratings of the party.

President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the '08 nomination. Attacking the President is counter productive for all Republicans, not just the candidates launching the attacks. If he drops, we all drop.

Georgia10 over at DailyKos has a relevant comment on the memo:

This is what happens to a party that spends so much effort on branding and not enough effort on, you know, actually implement a decent policy. Republicans can't splinter off from Bush because they don't have anything to independently stand on. What will GOP incumbents point to? The soaring deficits? The lack of funding for national security? Their failure to demand an exit strategy for Iraq? There is no independent record to run on when you're a rubber-stamp Republican.

Indeed, what we are witnessing with the Republican Party is a case of separation anxiety. They know they have to distance themselves from the President--after all, he is one of the most unpopular Presidents ever. But gosh darn it, they just...can't...do it. Because without the specter of Bush looming over them, Republicans feel naked and vulnerable. Little do they know that specter casts over the entire party a dark shadow of discontent and incompetence.

For more than 40 years, we've been complaining that politics was looking more and more like selling soap. When I was on a campaign staff 20 years ago, we had discussions about it over beer and such. We stole ideas and techniques from the marketing folks to build the tools we needed to compete. But even as we started to see the first signs of permanent campaigning, we always saw this as a sometimes fun, more often tiring and unpleasant, but absolutely necessary means to the real end -- to get the chance to affect how government really works, to try to implement the policies we thought were better, through a real democratic process.

With Bush 43, it's all sizzle and no steak, all hat and no cattle. We finally have a Perfectly Postmodern President, where only the signifier, the brand, counts, and the signified is irrelevant. You don't have to actually win an election, you only have to look like you have. Right now they are pull the same thing in Congress by saying that even if both houses actually didn't vote for the same budget bill (the difference is not trivia -- about $2 billion) as required by the Constitution, as long as the Republican leaders of both houses and the President signs it.

Right now the great white shark of reality is closing on the GOP, and the only thing they can see to do now is swim faster.

#99 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 02:38 PM:

j h woodyatt said: "Describing as "tarring and feathering" how even the least forgiving of us say we should treat such people is a bit over the top, don't you think?

I don't know, you be the judge. I was responding to these claims: "Anyone who voted for Bush the second time around and is a "convert" only now has made clear by their own actions that they have no principles other than "win the next election"" and "if you are so naive that you believed all teh things the administration said about the war then your stupidity is inexcusable based simply on the destruction you brought down upon the world without so much as a "really?"" and then Keir claiming to think that a quarter of the U.S. population is made up of sociopaths. Who is being over the top again?

Keir: To look around from where you are standing, as a savvy user of technology, no doubt politically liberal before Bush, and excoriate others for not having the same advantages you have is about as convincing and morally fair as a twenty-something IT consultant ripping into an eighty-year old woman for being taken in by a phishing scam. Things that are obvious to you are not obvious to everyone else.

"`Measures, not men.' Is that what you are saying?" Precisely right. Unless you think we ought to be executing the horses that run over a pedestrian rather than the driver?

Greg: Do you understand how the arguments that you make in your last post are entirely different than the arguments you were making before? Do you understand how saying 'they have no principles other than "win the next election"' is different than saying "people who think all abortion is murder felt that making abortion illegal is more important than some distant war?" The difference between "so naive that [they] believed all teh things the administration said about the war" and "so terrified of the possibility of gay marriage that they would have voted for Hitler if Hitler promised them he would veto any law supporting gay marriage?"

There is a big difference between not having any morals and having effed-up morals. There is a difference between being stupid and being afraid. Being amoral and stupid aren't problems we can solve. Messed up morals and fear are. That's a big difference.

#100 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Condaleeza Rice at Catwoman? Wrong movie.

There's something about tyhe way her lips move when she speaks that suggests her teeth are about to launch themselves at a passing Democrat.

#101 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Claude, I agree with everything you say there. And I'm wondering where, say, Hillary Clinton would land on the Sizzle-to-Steak spectrum of things.

While its relatively easy to see the cardboard characters in the other side's team, I'm just a little put off by the number of times I read that Hillary is a shoe-in for the `08 nomination, since I think she's a sure bet to lose the election itself. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like Hillary is to the presidency the way Courtney Love is to great rock and roll. But then I think great rock and roll is Hendrix, so the bar is pretty high. I suppose that if Bush has taught us anything, it is just how low the bar to beign president really is.

#102 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Dave, do you mean something like this?

#103 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 03:24 PM:

After hanging around politics since the '72 election (and remembering the '60 presidential) I would say that being the frontrunner now only makes you everyone else's target. Hilary will be a factor. I'm not sure if the eventual Democratic nominee is even on the radar right now.

#104 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 03:56 PM:

C'mon, Greg, Courtney Love at least deserves a kudo for having covered the Young Marble Giants.

#105 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Richard: can't say I'm impressed with that one. My current hopes for the recovery of rock and roll rest in a band by the name of the White Stripes. "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" being my current favorite. It ain't Hendrix, but it sure as hell ain't the Back Street Boys either.

Claude: not "on the radar right now". you might be right about that, rabbit. you might.

#106 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Nah, they were only any good before because they had husbands who were writing all their stuff.

#107 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 04:29 PM:

lousy formatting. That should have said:

Claude: (not) "on the radar right now".

you might be right about that, rabbit. you might.

#108 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Who in 1990 thought that Bill Clinton would become president (apart from the man himself)?

#109 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Nicole, that's sounds so much like my experience with my old manager. At first she was likeable and friendly, but our relationship deteriorated in exactly the way you described. I kept making more and more extreme internal rationalisations for her behaviour, until one day I realised that I just wasn't welcome in her department anymore. This was confirmed in a most horrible way when I handed in my notice, and she told me in a very friendly way that I would find it a big help in future job interviews if I addressed my body odour problem -- a problem that seems indetectable to everyone else of my acquaintance, btw.

Thinking back, I can scarcely believe how I ignored certain things or made excuses. But it creeps up on you, especially when a personality is either fake (that's the point of a fake personality, of course, to deceive) or it slowly disintegrates over time.

Hm, still making excuses....

#110 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 05:48 PM:

This week's Keith Knight cartoon is highly apropos:

Bush is da bomb

If you are not a subscriber, prepare to watch an advert.

#111 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 06:01 PM:

Who in 1990 thought that Bill Clinton would become president (apart from the man himself)?

Well I met a few people who knew him personnally before 1992 and while some hated his guts, a few really thought he could do it. (I grew up in Bossier City, LA and actually drove through Hope several times. By that point though, Bill and Co. had moved.)

Of course anyone who had watched his legendary performance at the '88 Democratic convention would have doubts. So bad and so long that you prayed that they would use the hook. Who knew?

#112 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 06:17 PM:

so off topic, but hooray for keith knight! i'm seeing him this weekend in seattle at emerald city comicon, & it seems like he's gonna have a very full con season across the country this summer.

i recommend going to see him if he comes near your town, he is a super-nice & interesting guy as well as, you know, talented.

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Claude: I watched that 88 speech and thought 'There go his chances of becoming president'. And, boy, was I wrong.

#114 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 07:28 PM:

I don't really see any of those recent dissenters as my allies. There's no point saying "I told you so" because it's not like they're suddenly listening to the left. They're not admitting that the left was right and they were wrong, they're just admitting that they were wrong. We still don't exist to them. These are policy wonks on the right working out who will lead them in the next neo-neo-con march for freedom and liberty. I don't get the sense that they suddenly care about helping the poor, or actually putting lots more money into education, or working with the rest of the world all fo a sudden.

They seem preoccupied with how best to use immigrants at the moment. That's their big crisis. Send 'em back, or keep paying them dirt wages?

#115 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 08:20 PM:

NelC: Ouch. Wow. I feel for you. I hope things bounced back up after that.

#116 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 09:03 PM:

Sean: Since the 'immigration' issue boils down to 'kick those dirty Hispanics out' and, every time it is raised, anyone who 'looks Mexican' faces increased harassment, you might think the Republicans would have thought the issue through. In the 80s, the Republicans in California tried to mobilise their base using the same kind of argument. Given that California tipped demographically shortly thereafter this proved to be a mistake. They now seem determined to repeat in on a national scale.

#117 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Fragano, here in California, Proposition 187 was an even bigger factor. This was a ballot prop passed here in 1994 cutting off an array of social services to undocumented aliens. It died from a combination of lower Federal courts finding it unconstitutional and a new governor deciding not to pursue appeals.

The biggest supporter of 187 was then governor Pete Wilson. At that time, the state GOP was working very hard to win over Hispanics, appealing to their traditionally conservative social views -- and from the polls up to that time they were starting to succeed. If the state Republicans had suceeded, that would have counteracted other social trends, and give them a stable political base. This was nationally important as no Republican had taken the White House without California since WWII.

Since 187 Republicans have had no chance with most Hispanic voters here, and therefore have had little luck statewide. It was a key factor in the shift of areas such as Orange County towards the D column. Bush's team have always included a strong appeal to Hispanic voters as a core strategy, which indicates why he would not touch Kyl's bill with a ten foot pole.

(I first typed that as "ten fool pole" -- hmm, that sounds better somehow . . .)

#118 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Thinking about some of the comments about how one might deal with a friend in the situation of late repentence, and related stuff...

For me, I think, the key thing is not just the admission "I was wrong" but "you were right all along, and this time I'm going to pay closer attention". And that second step is the one a bunch of Bush deserters aren't taking. Andrew Sullivan is a particularly handy example of this - even though the substance of his position now is quite close to what he was denouncing as fifth-columnist and objectively pro-Saddam three years ago, he hasn't done anything to admit that he is in fact following a path blazed at great cost by people he helped drive out of the public discourse.

Part of genuine repentence is being willing to learn for a while before trying to teach again.

#119 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 01:51 AM:

To Heisarch; I don't think that 25% of the US population are sociopathic. For one thing, I wouldn't know enough about both sociopathology and the American populace to judge one way or the other. I was merely pointing out that it would only be one quarter of the population which would be sociopathic, which, while implausible, is not merely laughable, as claiming that half of all Americans are sociopathic is.

Keir: To look around from where you are standing, as a savvy user of technology, no doubt politically liberal before Bush, and excoriate others for not having the same advantages you have is about as convincing and morally fair as a twenty-something IT consultant ripping into an eighty-year old woman for being taken in by a phishing scam. Things that are obvious to you are not obvious to everyone else.

I'm not really a `liberal', if you mean what I think you mean, i.e. a Democrat.

So, the fact that I knew Bush wasn't telling the truth in 2003 makes me `technically savvy'? Well, better look to France for the next Google. Because they knew that Bush wasn't being absolutely honest. As did the Germans. And the Belgians. And the Greeks. And even the Solomonians.

They were not all technologically skilled.

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 09:29 AM:

Claude: That's what I meant. Wilson's pushing of 187 alienating the Hispanic vote.

The thing is, while W might be opposed to using it, an exclusionary strategy helps mobilise the base. The problem is, of course, that the base is shrinking and such racist posturing quickly becomes a liability.

#121 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 10:42 AM:

Keir, the article you linked to makes no mention of the Solomon Islanders believing they were being lied to by the Bush administration. Keep in mind that in 2003 there were very good reasons for opposing the war that had nothing to do with concerns about Bush's honesty.

Fragano and Claude: I'm wondering if the current immigration debate within the Republican party might not lead to the sort of acrimonious internal schism that could kneecap 'em in '08.

Fragano, seems to me an exclusionary strategy helps mobilize only part of the Republican base, and this might not be adequate for winning an election. Remember: in '04 a centrist Republican won the governorship of California. The in-state Republican power structure would've preferred someone with stronger conservative beliefs, such as Tom McClintock, but the general electorate obviously wasn't interested in voting for a partisan extremist.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Since the 'immigration' issue boils down to 'kick those dirty Hispanics out'

I'm pretty sure their wording is slightly different.

#123 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Xopher: Slightly.

#124 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 01:17 PM:

Taking out the letters 'H i a n'?

#125 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Xopher: Got it in one.

#126 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 02:17 PM:

kck tose drty Hispaics out?

#127 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 02:25 PM:
Whatever the ultimate nature of evil -- there is this: evil does not see itself as evil. Those who commit evil acts do not see those acts as evil or even malicious. They see themselves as justified.

http://www.gerrold.com/soup/2004_05_16_archive.htm

#128 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Keir,

You don't have to be technologically skilled if the immediately available media are not skewed. If all you get is Faux News, then you need Google.

Greg,

That looks like an odd new version of dsmvwllng - as though the dsmvwlld post had been ROT-13d. Almost

#129 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 02:35 PM:

Greg: Consistency, m'lad, consistency.

#130 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 04:25 PM:

From Jim's link:

Schindler tells the camp commandant that if he has the power to take life, he also has the power to grant life. He has the ability to be compassionate -- but the conversation fails because the man he is talking to has moved himself beyond compassion to that realm of existence, that way of being for which the word "thoughtlessness" is insufficient. We have no word for it.


No word for it at all? where did I put my thesauris....

I think there's a word for it, the problem is that for anyone incapable of being so thoughtless no word will ring true, because the person will still be left with the feeling, "no human being coudl do that." The word is something like "unempathetic". But you can't use empathy to put yourself in someone's shoes if that soemone is completely un-empathetic. So, most people can't relate to it as real.

#131 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 08:58 PM:

Keir said: "I don't think that 25% of the US population are sociopathic. For one thing, I wouldn't know enough about both sociopathology and the American populace to judge one way or the other. I was merely pointing out that it would only be one quarter of the population which would be sociopathic, which, while implausible, is not merely laughable, as claiming that half of all Americans are sociopathic is."

"Merely pointing out" that statistically implausible voting patterns could conceivably allow percentages as low as a mere 25% of the American public to be sociopathic is an implicit endorsement of the assumption that only sociopaths would vote for Bush. Rhetorical sloppiness is hardly a convincing excuse.

Not even to mention your strange claim of ignorance regarding sociopathy from someone who is busy extolling the ease of finding information. According to Wikipedia "approximately 3% of men and 1% of women are thought to have some form of antisocial personality disorder." Claiming that a quarter of Americans are sociopathic is just slightly less laughable than claiming half of them are.

Oh, and when I say "politically liberal," I mean politically liberal.

#132 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 10:52 PM:

If you are truly interested in sociopathy, take a look at The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. And yes, 4% is the number she uses.

#133 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2006, 04:44 AM:

Richard Andersen: You are quite right. I shouldn't have presumed that the
Solomons acted so because of a disbelief of GWB.

Abi, talking about skewed media. I don't know if America really has a skewed
media. But, if they do, then one still has to find out why it was that few media outlets disagreed with Bush over WMD. One possibility is that that was not
what their viewers/listeners/readers wanted to hear.

Of course, that doesn't mean that Fox et al are blameless; but any analysis of
the media coverage has to contend with the fact that the media exist to make
money. And you make money by telling people what they want to hear.

Heresiarch: "Merely pointing out" that statistically implausible voting patterns could conceivably allow percentages as low as a mere 25% of the American public to be sociopathic is an implicit endorsement of the assumption that only sociopaths would vote for Bush. Rhetorical sloppiness is hardly a convincing excuse.

No, the following are not equivalent:

If x, then y.
and
X is true.

Heresiarch: Not even to mention your strange claim of ignorance regarding sociopathy from someone who is busy extolling the ease of finding information. According to Wikipedia "approximately 3% of men and 1% of women are thought to have some form of antisocial personality disorder." Claiming that a quarter of Americans are sociopathic is just slightly less laughable than claiming half of them are.

I see no shame in admitting that I can not diagnose sociopathy. I never said I am ignorant of sociopathy,
I said that I am not capable of determining whether or nor some one is sociopathic.

Nor did I say that I thought that a quarter of Americans were sociopathic. I said that, in light of my inability to judge, and the fact that experts do not agree with that premise, I do not think that one quarter of Americans are sociopathic.

(Oh, and Heresiarch, sorry for getting your name wrong. Egg on face, etc.)

#134 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2006, 03:44 AM:

These guys don't want to join hands with your side. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It doesn't work beyond strictly limited times and places.

If we take that as a foregone conclusion, then what is there left for us to do?

Encourage whoever you meet toward compassion. Come up with some sort of plan for organised action, and follow it.

A lot of conservatives have the firm idea that government is a bad way to get organization, that it's over-expensive and unworkable. They make some exception for the military, where private enterprise builds the bombs and the military inefficiently drops them. So if you want government to help with organised compassion, it's good to have an argument how it can be effective.

The central thing is to do what you can to spread the political ideas you like. A temporary alliance with anti-Bush neocons is not going to get you much.

These guys are going to try to squeeze out one more presidential election. Get a last four years to raid the treasury. They are not your friends.

They haven't gotten around to explaining yet because it's a minor side issue for them, but it's going to go, "I'm a patriot. I supported the war because it was the right thing to do. I'm opposing it now because Bush has made so many mistakes that there's no way to salvage it. That's the patriotic thing to do. But liberals opposed it all along because they're traitors. They wanted the USA to lose. They did everything they could to make us lose. Patriots supported the troops then and now -- now we support the troops by getting them out of there. Liberals -- traitors -- didn't support the troops then and they don't support the troops now."

They haven't bothered to say this because they think they mostly don't need to talk about liberals any more, everybody who counts already knows that liberals are traitors but are clueless, unimportant, and irrelevant.

They will not help you impeach Bush, unless they think it will improve their chances in 2008. They might help us get out of iraq by early 2008, provided they think it will help their chances in 2008.

You might arrange some sort of temporary alliance with them, but I can't see it lasting until November 2006.

What's left for you to do is beat them in 2006 and beat them in 2008. You're going to have to ask for sacrifices from the american people to rebuild. We're going to face sacrifices regardless, but a lot of us prefer not to believe it.

#135 ::: Steven List ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2006, 11:04 AM:

Given how many people agree with this, and other sentiment like it, how did he get to be president? I mean, there have to have been many far better options, and yet sufficient people voted for him (or the electoral process was sufficiently corrupt or broken) to elect him president not just once, but twice!

I don't get it. Thank goodness there's a two-term limit!

Steven List
Co-Founder, Back of the Room

#136 ::: hp ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2006, 12:08 PM:

We're going to face sacrifices regardless, but a lot of us prefer not to believe it.

You're starting to see this belief in odd places. The places that "look forward" and see a pretty messy future no matter who's in charge.

Example: the financial analysts who have started campaigning retirement investment accounts that are POST-TAX. The Roth 401(k)s and the like. There's a growing knowledge that we're probably at the lowest tax brackets we're going to see for the next century, and thus people may actually be harming their retirement investments through traditional 401(k)s. It's better to pay tax now than a couple of decades from now. That's a total reversal from advice in the past.

#137 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Well, the big advantage of a Roth IRA is that the capital gains or other growth of the money you have there is also tax-free. So it's not just a matter of taxes going to increase.

#138 ::: greensmile ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2006, 01:37 PM:

You might as well argue politics with our dog as with Dubya. If you don't raise you voice or move in an alarming way, at least the dog won't bite you.
The inexplicable thing is the acceptance by Bush faithful that there actually is some content in his utterances. Are they all just projecting the the Rove talking points on to the pap?

I don't read here often. That should change as I am greatful for the force and clarity with which my own frustrations with bushspeak have been put into a helpful context...I have been boxing with shadows, arguing with a dog.

Now to put the dog in the pound and get his rabies treated in the usual way.

#139 ::: sparafucilli ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Thank goodness there's a two-term limit!

perhaps Amendment XXII of the Constitution can also be "interpreted" in the time of "WAR".


Go see the film "V".

#140 ::: sparafucilli ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2006, 02:52 PM:

From Wiki - Definition of a Sociopath

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental and behavioral disorders, defines antisocial personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
2. deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3. impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4. irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others
6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain steady work or honor financial obligations
7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Does this apply to anyone you know? Feel free to provide examples against any item.

#141 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2006, 10:13 AM:

I just learned, via Bush Out, that my initial post here was quoted yesterday by Dan Froomkin at WashingtonPost.com.

So:

If you've followed Froomkin's link and are here for the first time, hello and be welcome -- signed, The Moderator.

#142 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2006, 12:12 PM:

From Steve Barnes:

As more Republicans begin to admit their dismay, it is VERY important that they be allowed to expose weakness without being laughed at, attacked or “I told you so’d.” One day the shoe will be on the other foot, I promise you. As citizens of this country, we have to be able to admit to weakness and mistakes without being savaged. I can’t do anything about the hyena laughter on Air America as new information strongly suggesting Bush lied to our faces, or at the very least, stretched truth to the breaking point. I don’t approve of the mockery…but then again I didn’t approve of Rush Limbaugh or Micheal Savage either. Their job is to stir the masses, not encourage reasoned discourse.

#143 ::: wd trtl ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2006, 11:45 AM:

Y mst ll b sffrng frm ltr Bsh Bshng Sndrme, UBBS.

#144 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Ah, refreshing! Haven't had a good "you people" post in a long time!

Meanwhile, a couple of articles worth reading from the War Nerd:

This Ain't 1864, Bush Ain't Lincoln, We Ain't Winnin'

To establish the War Nerd's bona fides, here he is a year ago, correctly predicting this morning's headlines:

Iraq: Guerrilla Evolution

#145 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2006, 02:10 PM:

I'm surprised that the "Darwin Fish" thread didn't get a "you people" driveby first. I guess Cult of Personality wins over Cult of Christianists.

#146 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Larry, all the driveby Christians are over at Pharyngula making comments about Pianka and about the fishapod. Most of them aren't doing really well at it, IMHO.

And as for the piece on 1864 and Iraq: I don't think our Civil War was quite that clean. (I've read some unpublished letters and journals. It's interesting if occasionally shocking.)

#147 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2006, 08:06 PM:

To establish the War Nerd's bona fides, here he is:

Q. Who'd be easiest to attack next: Syria, Iran or North Korea?

A. Kinda like asking what'd be smartest, throwing rocks at a beehive or a yellow jacket hive or a car full of Crips. They're all pretty dumb ideas but one is dumber than the others. If we attack North Korea, it's over, America is over. These are the craziest bravest people on Earth.

And they're smart which is how they developed their own bomb. You need smart guys, physicists, to do that.

And they have the best special services in the world even better than the British SAS or Israeli Mossad. They managed to wipe out the South Korean Cabinet, the whole Cabinet, in BURMA!!

So how does anybody know the North Korean special services haven't already buried a nice little nuke in San Fran harbor or Long Beach? They could do it and maybe they already have.[let's hope not, nukes are relatively maintenance intensive and very much use it or lose it devices - I trust we are watching for fishing trawlers pulling maintenance in San Fran Harbor cem] Picking a fight with the craziest people on earth, that's just the stupidest idea I ever heard.

Interview: Gary Brecher, 'war nerd'
By STEVE SAILER
UPI National Correspondent

Mr. Brecher may well be correct as to Iraq.

His view of Vietnam is received wisdom from someone born in 1965 but does not precisely match mine. I'd suggest the best comparison to Iraq today is drawn from Edward L. King, The Death of the Army: A Pre-Mortem New York: Saturday Review Press, 1972, and not from the nature of the military or political fighting itself in Vietnam - bright shining lie though it was it was in fact largely a military victory for the United States through 1972 to the extent it was decided militarily. Vietnam really did bleed Communism dry. Remember it took 20 divisions invading not local agrarian reformers to decide the ultimate outcome - there will never be 20 fresh divisions opposing American forces in Iraq but armored attack on coalition troops would fail quickly if such were tried.

In much the same manner as Vietnam we may see the death of the American Army but further parallels of alleged military disaster seem to me to be remote, no military disaster at all - Sadr's militia, or any militia in Iraq can emulate the Tet offensive and die but never win or even inflict large casualties on the allied forces.

As to Quantrill's raid on Lawrence and the subsequent disdain for Jesse James I am reminded that: the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard laid poor Jesse in his grave .... Jesse had a wife who mourned for his life... and all that. Frank James of course died a respected member of his community though perhaps not welcome at Jayhawk basketball games (well established by the time Frank James died in 1915).

Equally I'd not defend Mr. Hanson or anyone who disagrees with my own opinon that MacArthur's planned defense of the Phillipines was the worst-thought-out campaign of the Pacific and cost [many] American casualties No doubt Mr. Hanson's argument by analogy that all is darkest just before the dawn is at least as deficient as Mr. Brecher's.

#148 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2006, 10:56 PM:

Remember it took 20 divisions invading not local agrarian reformers to decide the ultimate outcome - there will never be 20 fresh divisions opposing American forces in Iraq but armored attack on coalition troops would fail quickly if such were tried.

Minor quibble -- we were already driven out at that point. Comparing to iraq, after we're out it hardly matters whether the iraqi government as we know it holds honest elections and gets a bunch of politicians who won't do us any favors whatsoever, or whether it gets replaced by some alternative government that won't do us any favors whatsoever. It just won't matter.

Major logic error: You say it took 20 divisions to knock out our vietnamese puppet government. But what we know is that 20 divisions were available, and they did so. Would it have worked with 19 divisions? 15? 10? A bunch of agrarian reformers? We don't know, there was no control group, the experiment was never tried.

So the 20 fresh divisions didn't attack american troops in vietnam and we don't know whether they were needed. The comparison with iraq is blurred.

In much the same manner as Vietnam we may see the death of the American Army but further parallels of alleged military disaster seem to me to be remote, no military disaster at all - Sadr's militia, or any militia in Iraq can emulate the Tet offensive and die but never win or even inflict large casualties on the allied forces.

That makes sense. We are a superpower with a third of our military might tied down in iraq, and our enemies are underequipped amateurs. It shouldn't be possible for us to have a military disaster, not unless we do something particularly stupid.

But I could imagine the possibility. My logic depends on reasonable assumptions that I haven't confirmed from classified or nonclassified sources. It goes like this:

When we had too much trouble convoying supplies from kuwait, we switched to moving some supplies by air and producing some others locally. We set up water purification plants locally and stopped shipping in bottled water. And surely we set up bases near some of the oil fields, and set up refineries at the bases, and we refined our own fuel on the spot. That provides the fuel for those airbases and we use whatever methods seem best for transporting fuel to other bases. At the least it's shorter supply lines than shipping fuel from kuwait. The statistics show that iraqi oil production has gone down since prewar days, but that isn't just insurgents blowing up pipelines and such, that's also us not counting the oil we use (and don't pay for) in the total.

No doubt we aren't letting any iraqis within 10 miles of the oilfields or refineries, but if they did manage thorough sabotage, our war effort would slow down dramatically. We could get a disaster from that.

I don't have any links for this. We got announcements when they made the big push to switch to air supply, they said we'd switch to local water. They didn't say anything about local oil and I haven't seen much on the topic since then. The convoys are still coming in from kuwait with some fuel trucks. Air tankers are offloading an average of 2.4 million pounds of fuel a day. Logic about what's probably going on is not reliable.

#149 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2006, 12:10 AM:

1972 with a ceasefire in January of 1973 is arguably an indicator of the alternate - in the absence of Watergate - outcome if not a controlled experiment. I'd quibble with driven out and I'd remember some of the ARVN who acted more like obs SF folks from one of John Dalmas's regiments as much as I'd talk about the "puppets" we abandoned.

JFK should have withdrawn rather than agree to the death of Diem (assuming arguendo those were the only choices) but by 1975 there were American creations but I'd argue not puppets - a state that in the absence of outside invasion would have been a better state today than the Vietnam we have. The trouble is taking 15 years to get there.

My guess is that with no more effort by American forces in 1975 than in 1972 we would have maintained a status quo ante bellum indefinitely. Maybe not.

Point well taken on the forces but notice that it was a large part of our global success that the Communists found it at least desirable and so chose to use such force and spend so much - a program of relatively cheap assassinations say would not have cost the Soviet Union nearly so much.

It will indeed matter if we see a one man one vote one time style government in Iraq and whether the government in Iraq be well disposed toward the United States or not, an honest government with rotation in office is indeed to our advantage just as a kleptocracy is to our disadvantage.

Certainly true that amateurs study tactics professionals study logistics and a disaster is more likely to be logistical than tactical.

I'll repeat the Death of the Army idea with reference to current headlines - we are losing much of the officer corps once again - and see e.g. Terry Karney (as I'm sure most of the group does)
I joined the Army, in the guise of the National Guard, because there was something I wanted to conserve. I believe in the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, and of the Constitution, enough that I was willing to risk, as the first of these said, “My life, my fortune, and my Sacred Honor,” to defend them. Being in the Guard that fortune part is more true than not as well. Guys who have businesses often lose them (or see them founder for years) if they get deployed. The Active Component often pisses me off when they say, “they knew what they were signing up for,” because it’s not true. World War 3 is what they signed up for, in that context, and that hasn’t happened,

The American forces when they won't be beat can't be beat.

#150 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2006, 05:24 PM:

Clark, I won't argue alternate history with you. I'm not going to make claims about how things would have been if they were different.

Point well taken on the forces but notice that it was a large part of our global success that the Communists found it at least desirable and so chose to use such force and spend so much - a program of relatively cheap assassinations say would not have cost the Soviet Union nearly so much.

I have the strong impression that vietnam cost the USA a whole lot more than it did the russians. I haven't seen any figures but I also have the strong impression that the russians spent a lot more on vietnam than we did arming the mujahedin. I expect the russians felt like they won big on the first one and lost big on the second. But that's all guesswork on my part.

It will indeed matter if we see a one man one vote one time style government in Iraq and whether the government in Iraq be well disposed toward the United States or not, an honest government with rotation in office is indeed to our advantage just as a kleptocracy is to our disadvantage.

Traditionally we've had the easiest relations with dictator clients. They do what we want for a share of the profits. If they don't we replace them with new dictators and the rest of the world doesn't blink. We don't do nearly as well with democracies as clients. Sometimes they make stupid decisions and usually the best we can think of to do about it is arrange a coup, and that's usually unpopular in various ways. Worse still are governments run by religious fanatics. Why would you think we'd benefit from an iraqi democracy with strong religious overtones? Two trillion dollars worth in borrowed money?

I was willing to risk, as the first of these said, “My life, my fortune, and my Sacred Honor,” to defend them.

Somehow that phrase never meant the same thing to me before. Sure, you risk your life in battle. And your fortune. But the idea that it's proper to give up your sacred honor for the nation's victory -- that puts Abu Ghraib etc in a new light.

#151 ::: tykewriter sieht Spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2011, 07:37 AM:

Warum nicht?

#152 ::: Syd sees more apparent spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2012, 04:57 AM:

At #154. The spammers, they seem to be out in force tonight...

#153 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 07:12 PM:

Serge @154, a Serge Broom sweeps clean? {grin, duck, and run}

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