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June 09, 2005

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» A clever ploy…I like it from Pharyngula
Obsidian Wings has done a great thing. I've never quite understood the mix of contributors there before, but now I do. Hilzoy has written a magnificent article. All in one place, she has listed the ways our Republican masters have betrayed the ide... [Read More]

» What it means to love America from Resonant Information

Hilzoy at Obisian Wings has written an excellent essay on what it's like to be someone who loves the United States with open eyes. It's the answer to all the peop [Read More]

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» Not To Be Thrown Away from Bearcastle Blog
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Comments

Thank you, hilzoy.

From the bottom of my heart, Hilzoy, thank you.

A thing of heartbreaking beauty. Precisely what I needed to read to regain my balance before bedtime. Thank you.

I realize this is repetative,but I state it so late in a previous thread:

1) The "gulags" are unacceptable.

2) Rendition is unacceptable.

3) Bringing the prisoners inside borders of the U.S., especially if they are terrorists, is foolish and unacceptable.

4) Simply releasing the prisoners, especially if they are terrorists, is foolish and unacceptable.

I don't have any solution that is both moral and avoids endangering Americans and the fledgling democratic governments of Iraq and Afganistan. And have not seen any great ideas about how to accomplish this.

***

I understand the necessary right to criticize Gitmo, etc., but I have yet to see anybody offer an alternative course of action. I realize that in America, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty, but those people captured on the battlefield, I believe should be considered guilty until proven innocent, and this poses a number of problems.

Now I seem to remember an explanation from the administration early on that this is a "different kind of war" and that the US would take as allies some sorts of people that are not very nice. (Sorry, dialup, please somebody else find the exact words.)

I know I use the Amish altogether too often as examples, but they are protected in many ways by the non-pacifist people in the US whodo bad things to protect the country. I am not excusing doing any and every bad thing possible, but I personally on occasion do bad things when I think I have no other choice. Here is my question: What is the better choice? How best to protect ourselves without being immoral to some extent?

I don't believe that the UN or ICC or any other international organization is capable or willing to protect US interests, and generally have quite the opposite intent. So how then are we going to approach this very real "twilight war"?

There has been evil done by the United States in evry war that we have been in. We did terrible things in WWII, as has been often pointed out, in Korea, a duplicitous entry into WWI, mass carnage in the Civil War, terrible atrocities in the Indian Wars, etc.

Are the people in Texas, Arizona and California better off because the US won what were somewhat unjust wars against Mexico? I would say yes. Are Eastern Europeans better off even though the US murdered people in the Cold War. I would say yes again.

I am not saying that everything that America does is moral, and it is dangerous to say that the ends justifies the means. I do feel bad for the innocents that are killed and understand that their blood is on my hands, but my take is that the US has truly tried to minimize the suffering or else we would have just nuked Baghdad. You think that Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush don't understand that they are responsible for human suffering? Well I think that they do understand and accept the fact that they are doing some evil to other people with the understanding that it will ultimately protect US citizens. I am so thankful that I am not in the position to have to make those decisions. But I would argue that at least half of the US presidents were faced with a set of similar bad choices.

DaveC: I understand the necessary right to criticize Gitmo, etc., but I have yet to see anybody offer an alternative course of action

Really? Because I and several others have (possibly before you joined us) proposed a very obvious alternative course of action to just throwing people into a prison camp without bothering to determine if they actually deserve to be there: hold tribunals. For each detainee, hold a competent tribunal. If the tribunal determines the detainee is a PoW, treat as PoW. If the tribunal determines there is good reason to believe the detainee may be guilty of criminal actions, send the detainee for a civil trial where guilt or innocence may be determined according to civil law. If the tribunal cannot find any good reason to believe the detainee is guilty of anything, release him (or if necessary send him to an internment camp for enemy aliens, run according to the Geneva rules for civilian internment). Do not use evidence obtained by torture to determine guilt or innocence.

There you go, Dave. Not that it's a new alternative form of action: it's the alternative proposed (I suppose one can no longer say "required", since the US felt free to ignore it) by the Geneva Conventions, so it's been around since well before either of us was born.

And as far as ethical arguments go, I do tend to take more of a liberal attitude in the sense of John Stuart Mill's utilitarin position, rather than, say Kant's or Rand's point of view, although you can justly accuse me of using a moral abacus or even counting on my fingers. rather than having some sort of sophisticated ethical calculator.

I appreciate your comments Jes, and think that presenting alternative courses of action is exactly the right thing to do. It is either really late for you to be up, or really early. In any case, it is really late for me and I'm going to bed now because I'm too much of a coward to argue with you :)

It is either really late for you to be up, or really early.

Early. However, I have now had coffee.

In any case, it is really late for me and I'm going to bed now because I'm too much of a coward to argue with you :)

I'm not scary! I keep telling people this. Often when they are backing away from me...

Hilzoy,

The appreciation of America that you present in your post is only one side of the coin. The other side has Hamilton’s face on it.

Hamilton: “All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are rich and well born; the other, the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second; and as they cannot receive any advantage by change, they will therefore maintain good government.”

“Can a democratic assembly who annually [through annual elections] revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and changing disposition requires checks.”

Isn’t part of the inheritance of American citizens the Hamiltonian perspective that one sees today in the Administration and Neo-con circles, where the fickle masses are to be governed by experts and elites, and where the line between state and corporate power is at least fuzzy? How is America to stay great – and around – if it doesn’t address the issues of hegemony and resources that so concern the Neo-cons? As DaveC alluded to, how are Americans to safeguard and promote their values if they do not put force behind them and endeavor to best their rivals in this “battle for ideas”? How is America to deal with China, its principle imperial rival and the main focus of the Neo-con’s policy advice? The “respect for human rights and human dignity” aspect of the American nation was Jefferson’s contribution, not Hamilton’s. Is it fair to criticize America for expressing one side of its duality, one side of its inheritance?

I suspect that the greater problems (if they are such) and the causes of much of what one sees in America today lie in unregulated capitalism, a consumer economy based on constant “growthmanship,” and corporatism (to include the Military Industrial Complex), all of which are part of what defines America, especially from the Hamiltonian perspective. These are not recent developments that are the products of the current administration or even the rising Conservative “majority” of the last generation. (One often assigns blame for effects that begin to show themselves under contemporary leadership but have in fact been in the pipeline for years.) The path America is taking that you decry in your post is part of the American experiment as well and the expression of some of the “ideals that it stands for.” Abu Ghraib is as American as Ellis Island.

“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy.” -Plato

In regard to “breaking the Army,” Rumsfeld understood the troop level issue very well which is why he pushed to focus US military power on weapons systems and other force multipliers as opposed to boots on the ground. Several generals disagreed with him on this and many on the Left now criticize the Pentagon for not having enough troops to “get the job done” in Iraq.

DaveC,

-“I know I use the Amish altogether too often as examples, but they are protected in many ways by the non-pacifist people in the US whodo bad things to protect the country.”

The dictum “Freedom is not free” seems to be a justification for discipline and control. If one needs to behave in certain proscribed ways in order to maintain “freedom,” where does the free part come in? An assumption by many in the American Civil Rights movement (and elsewhere) who embraced non-violent resistance was that if one behaves as if they are free, they are, regardless of the behavior, constraints, or support of others. This is the philosophy that makes it possible to face water hoses, dogs, clubs, and bullets and not respond in kind.

Otto: If this administration were sacrificing our honor for wealth and strength, we'd be having a different sort of argument. But we are squandering both halves of our inheritance. If our present course continues, we will have taken a wealthy country and left it hobbled by debt; we will have taken a strong country and destroyed both its army and its freedom of action (and, of course, the respect that it took generations to build up); we will have failed to act in the face of enormous challenges, including the emergence, for the first time, of countries whose internal markets are as large as ours; and, in the process, we will have sacrificed our ideals. That's not Hamiltonian; that's just, well, throwing things away. (The other sort of heir: the spendthrift who thinks the money will always be there, since s/he never had to earn it.)

As for the part about the people: well, as one of them, I am addressing my peers, or at least that comparatively small number of them who read this blog. As I said, the point is not just to "express" our inheritance; it's to preserve and improve it, so that we can hand it down in better shape than we found it.

One other note: I'm helping to teach an intensive course this week, and in DC, not Baltimore: out the door roughly now, back around eight every day. (I did not need to be writing this post until after 1am. Except, of course, that I did.) I suspect that today is the day when the sleep deprivation will really hit, so if I say something intemperate, I apologize in advance.

hilzoy, excellent.

But I also love it for the noble experiment I take it to be. We have never completely lived up to our ideals. We enslaved people, slaughtered the indigenous peoples of North America, and so on.

Your mastery of the understatement is second to none.

America has more often stood on the side of the angels.

Once in the twenthieth century and only because the US was attacked! More often than not it's been on the side of it's self-interest, or that of stupidity.

We are on the way to breaking our armed forces.
They threw a war and nobody is coming, besides which we are already spending 47% of the global military expenditures.

That's an idiotic thing to say, I replied. We don't just throw people in prison for no reason and torture and kill them. At that point someone asked: are you sure?

No, we only overthrow foreign goverments, setup dictatorships and train their military in the fine arts of torture. That's when we don't launch civil wars that kill 100,000 of innocent bystanders.

We are taking no serious steps to deal with the impending crunch in oil supplies.

The $300 barrel of oil will resolve that problem.

At a time when China, for instance, is training scientists and engineers like crazy, we seem to be stuck debating whether or not to teach evolution in our schools.

That's what happens when you let the Rush Limbaugh & the Pat Ronertson of the world set policy.

Bless you hilzoy. I am proud to know someone who can express these thoughts so well.

Excellent, hilzoy. I don't think I could summon, in my entire life, as much eloquence as you've packed into what's got to be just a few hours of writing. I am humbled.

I just joined the Coalition of the Chillin', and would like you to see my homepage and give me some input. Just click on my name and it will take you there. Also, unfortunately, many of those who care about politics are an elite group, at least in terms of intellect.

Good luck with the teaching, hilzoy.

"In regard to “breaking the Army,” Rumsfeld understood the troop level issue very well which is why he pushed to focus US military power on weapons systems and other force multipliers as opposed to boots on the ground. Several generals disagreed with him on this and many on the Left now criticize the Pentagon for not having enough troops to “get the job done” in Iraq."

Posted by: otto

Otto, I haven't seen anything indicating that Rumsfield understood the manpower issue. IIRC, the 130K troops which were used was much more than Rumsfield wanted. In terms of force multipliers, the US military has vast force multipliers - for conventional war.

What are our force multipliers for a guerrilla war?


Rumsfield (and Bush) actually used force dividers in Iraq - not having enough troops up front to take control of the situation and possibly prevent a guerrilla war, allowing (through forces and attitude) the looting and destruction after the fall of Baghdad, and acting in word and deed as if all problems were merely minor difficulties, not requiring any special effort at the top to deal with.

What are our force multipliers for a guerrilla war?

Besides specific training, there's really not much. I'm a force-multiplier kind of guy, and other than enhancing detection and identification capabilities, it's almost all training. It's nearly impossible to get around that there's not much tactically one can do when the enemy using the civilian population as protection.

Which is in itself a violation of the Geneva Conventions, not that we've gotten any traction from that.

Aside: Rumsfeld didn't start the tilt toward force multipliers, but I think he did quite a bit to tilt the military in that direction. And when the opposing force is conventional military that plays by the rules of the Geneva Conventions, or unconventional military that's away from civilian areas, that is exactly the right thing to do. Unfortunately it's next to useless in an urban setting, but there's not much that is useful there. And whatever the approach, there's no way to truly eliminate the threat without endangering the civilian population while curtailing civil liberties. It's an uncomfortable situation for us, which is a propaganda victory for them. The only saving grace that I can see is getting the civilian population fully engaged in safeguarding their own territory. And of course we've got to completely shut down the flow of people and weapons into Iraq, which is (I believe) also going to go much better with the civilian population more fully involved.

slartibartfast-
Just a semantic question, because I'm not familiar with the jargon: While I get the point that there may be no force multiplier technologies for a guerilla war (intent-seeking missiles not having been invented yet), is human intelligence considered a force multiplier? Reliable intelligence regarding the identity and activities would surely increase the effectiveness of our troops individually and collectively, could such efforts be properly referred to as a "force multiplier"?

Hilzoy,

Thanks so much for this post. Beautiful to read, and it reflects my feelings wonderfully.

crutan

What are our force multipliers for a guerrilla war?

I can think of two: intelligence and cooperation from the civilian population. Both require knowledge (including language skills) and actions that "win hearts and minds."

Judging by results, it appears we are deficient in these areas.

awesome, beautiful, chilling

I like to believe, though, that the answer to your Canadian colleagues is that "our Government" did not sanction the arrest and murder of an innocent taxi driver. If "our Government" is responsible for that act in some way it's through negligence, not direct orders to do so, as we have reason to believe Hussein gave.

That belief is actually very important to me. Were that veneer that separates the plausibly deniable assertion that Bush, Gonzales, et al. didn't "officially" approve the use of torture from the mountains of evidence suggesting a systematic change in doing things came from the top fall away, AND STILL the folks who support Bush didn't demand his impeachment, then I'd suggest the great experiement had failed. We'll probably never know until he's long out of office, though, so plausible deniability wins the day.

As usual, I feel totally superfluous saying anything as long as hilzoy is there to say exactly what I would say, only with much more eloquence.

Edward_: is that "our Government" did not sanction the arrest and murder of an innocent taxi driver

Certainly the arrest and murder of an innocent taxi driver was sanctioned, after the fact. If you mean that Bush did not give orders to go out, find an innocent taxi driver, and beat him to death, well, I concur: but we know out of his own mouth that Bush considers arrest and imprisonment to be sufficient to condemn prisoners as "bad men"; and that Bush's response to widespread torture by US soldiers has not been to publicly condemn and root out of the military those responsible, of whatever rank.

More directly OT -
Hilzoy,
Thanks. If we toss these things aside in our pursuit of security, we become just another jousting, jostling power. Ascendant, triumphant, absolutely, but no different than the other empires that have risen, declined, and fallen. America may only rationally view itself as an exception, as outside the cycle, if we are, in fact, different. If the only thing we treasure and exult in and protect is our power, and the only thing we are concerned with is our safety, we are doomed, standing a thousand miles tall, ruddy with vigor, shield polished and held high, enemies at our feet, sun on our face, cancer in our belly, creeping, creeping.

human intelligence considered a force multiplier?

I don't know, honestly. My entire experience with the concept of force multipliers comes from the development of technology. I'd guess that the answer is "yes", but I have to confess that I read ral's answer before I wrote this.

But I think both humint and civilian support were covered in my comment as key to getting Iraq in some sort of decent condition so that we can get out.

And I agree that for some time beginning with the start of occupation and possibly including right now, we've failed to execute adequately in the area of intel and public relations (and I don't mean that last in the sense of PR propaganda, but literally: relationships with Iraqi communities).

A beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you, Hilzoy. Hang in there.

Badly attempting to interpret and paraphrase a bit of conversation in the Bhagavad Gita: No matter what others take from you, your property, your family, but especially your honor, you must not allow your heart to break. Should your heart become brittle or hardened or if you deny your heart altogether, the battle is lost. Soldiers should expect wounds. It is the ability to fight with wounds and to recover from wounds with a compassionate heart still beating that determines the outcome of the world in every battle throughout time.

And, Otto, even though I am no fan of Hamilton's elite school of thought, you make a good point that the development of the disasterous trajectory we now find ourselves on began much before the current administration.

Hi, DaveC, are you awake yet and ready to rumble? (joking--I don't want to argue with you). I wrote a long essay in response to your words on the subject of Bush and Rumsfield being aware of the harm they have done, but unable to avoid hard choices because they had to carry out their responisbility to protect us. Hopefully that's an accurate paraphrase. WEll my essay, nearly complete, suddenly disappeared when my computer spontaneaously said "Good by" and went to sleep. Hate that.
So here's the short version; we didn't need to go to war in Iraq. Bush and Rumsfield were aware that the war was a choice, not a necessity. As the Downing Street memo says, they "fixed the intelligence'. They were aware of the counter information, the facts that indicated that Saddam did not have WMD. They decided to minimize that info and promote the cherry picked details that suppported the decision that they had already made. Further proof that they chose this war, as opposed to being forced into it by circumstances, is the series of meetings held immediately after Bush was installed in 2000 wherein discussions were held on how to promote the idea of invading Iraq. One of Bush's former Cabinet officers (Foster?) wrote about this in a book last spring. He was present at the meetings.
The only way to make the Iraq war look like a defensive war is to either assume that the administration was genuinely fooled by the intell, which makes them incompetent, or not really fooled by the intell, which makes them evil conniving liars. Neither view makes the war truly defensive--preempting an imaginary attempt to attack isn't a defense.
Now we are supposed to believe that invading Iraq and creating a democracy there (which was not part of the original arguament) will somehow promote democracy elsewhere (as if Middle Easterners are incapable of thinking up the idea of promoting democracy themselves) which will in a roundabout way decrease terrorism ( as if many of the pro-democracy forces weren't also quite anti-American and in some cases, more or less pro-terrorism).
In any case it was a choice, not a necessity to invade a country on the off chance that after a great deal of hardship and suffering a democracy would emerge that might have the side effect of inspiring other people to seek democracy even thought they already are, and might have the effect of reducing terrorism even though terrorists are motivated largely by hatred of outsiders who they think are trying to control them.
The war was a choice, not a necessity. Bush and Rumsfield did not have to do the harm they did.

Hilzoy,
Most conservatives wouldn’t argue that you hate America, but that you have an unhealthy hatred of Bush. Von posted a rather benign rebuke of Amnesty International that agreed with Applebaum on 2 points-

1. Amnesty went over the line
2. The administration’s detention practices are abhorrent because it erodes our credibility with Muslims who otherwise might be sympathetic to our cause

But it was the criticism of the critics that was obsessed over and resulted in reflexive "with us or against us" circling of the wagons. Not exactly 200 of the most nuanced of responses.

The ultimate force multiplier for a querrilla war:

Don't start one.

Hilzoy, drat you; I'm really not supposed to cry at work.

Thank you for writing this. Thank you for having the patriotism to feel this, and the eloquence to express this. (And thanks to ObiWi for providing the forum.)

Thanks for the reminder what a treasure our heritage can be when we are true to our ideals, to "the better angels of our nature."

Don't mind me; I'll just be here at my desk sniffling...

Sulla: The administration’s detention practices are abhorrent because it erodes our credibility with Muslims who otherwise might be sympathetic to our cause

No, that was Charles Bird. ;-)

To do Von justice, I think that while he's got a little too obsessive over not calling a gulag a gulag, he recognizes that the administration's detention practices are abhorrent, period.

It's Charles Bird who argues that the administration's detention practices are only abhorrent because they're bad PR with the Islamic world.

Sulla, I'd like to assure you that I don't think hilzoy's...dislike for Bush is anything resembling reflexive and unthinking, but is the result of a great deal of consideration. But maybe I don't fall in the "most conservatives" bin, in that regard.

Slarti-
Amen re: PR. and the sad thing about it is that it seems that there are genuine efforts being made by the majority of soldiers. I for one don't scoff at the whole 'painting schools' thing; it's great that we are painting schools, setting up markets, trying to get power restored, trying to act as honest arbiters, distributing supplies, all of it. The goddamn shame seems to be that the troops that are trying to help are getting their hamstrings slashed by our own government, from the massive PR (in the sense you describe) debacle of Abu Ghraib, to smaller things like insufficient Arabic translators to help in these missions. I heard several accounts of earnest, hardworking infantry captains trying to negotiate with town leaders and civilians, depending only on an arabic phrasebook and what little English was possessed by the population. Even without considering the insurgency (obviously a related and unavoidable factor), it seems like we are swimming upstream in the "hearts and minds" department. It's frustrating.

st: agreed. I love it that we're that involved, but I think it's a huge mistake not to invite THEM to get that involved.

ST: Amen re: PR. and the sad thing about it is that it seems that there are genuine efforts being made by the majority of soldiers. I for one don't scoff at the whole 'painting schools' thing; it's great that we are painting schools, setting up markets, trying to get power restored, trying to act as honest arbiters, distributing supplies, all of it

I totally agree with this. I've heard some great, direct accounts, from soldiers who've served in Iraq, about their direct efforts - just because, as human beings, they wanted to do stuff for the Iraqis they were meeting. From soldiers writing home to their friends to say "send school supplies" for a local Iraqi school that had nothing (beyond, perhaps, fresh paint!) all ways up. And this is all good.

But the whole attitude of the Bush administration to the reconstruction of Iraq appears to have been that it's got to be done from the top down - via orders from Washington, via contracts awarded in the US to big US corporations. There has been, as far as I can see, no concerted support for grassroots action.

Slarti
Yes, we’ve been talking about you at the VRWC meetings. There is a great deal of concern about your reluctance to fully commit to the dark side.

Jes,
If that is so I’ll stand corrected.

A very fine post, Hilzoy, one that makes me sad because evidently what you say is not obvious to every American.

There is a great deal of concern about your reluctance to fully commit to the dark side.

Well, I've always had commitment issues. Should that concern lead to termination, though, I'm still keeping the VRWC Jackboots of Suppression.

prof:

we get the country we deserve.

Ronald Reagan told us it was morning in America, and promptly borrowed billions of dollars from future generations of taxpayers. The Bushes don't have nearly Reagan's rhetoric, but they understand that americans

just
don't
care

about mortgaging their future.

Hilzoy:

Another excellent and eloquent post. Like tonydismukes above, I feel like lurkerdom is all that's called for when you are posting on the frontpage. Good job.

Oh and Sulla: I'd like to second Slarti's comment at 11:12; and ask you to take a short quiz:

Part I:
Since January 21, 2001, which of the following has occupied the office of President of the United States (thus Head of the Executive Branch of the US Government)?:

a) Albert Gore, Jr.
b) William Jefferson Clinton IV
c) George Walker Bush
d) John Forbes Kerry

Part II:
Which of the following branches of the United States Government is primarily responsible for setting and implementing US military and foreign-affairs policy and actions?:

a) Judicial
b) Legislative
c) Executive

I think an analysis of the correct answers here might give you an insight as to why so much of the criticism of American policy (by those disagreeing with it) gets directed where it does. I know it is just so much easier to chalk up critique of, say, the US' war efforts in Iraq, or domestic fiscal policies to "unhealthy hatred", rather than actually having to defend said policies, or deal with the issues: but when it IS the Presdent who is responsible for as much as he, by law, is: he/she WILL be on the firing line.
Yeah, for the crank commenters on Atrios and their ilk for whom repetitiously posting "Bush sux" is the be-all and end-all of political discourse, you might have a point: for hilzoy, though? No. Way.

Slartibartfast:

"Aside: Rumsfeld didn't start the tilt toward force multipliers, but I think he did quite a bit to tilt the military in that direction."

The way that I see it, the US military has been tilted that way for a long time. Rumsfield's mistakes were (1) not having a clue as to what he was doing; (2) taking a system which was overbalanced, and pushing it even more in that direction; (3) making sure that everybody knew that telling him he was wrong was a career-ending move; (4) not realizing that things were going wrong, way after they obviously had (that's assuming that he has realized it by now, which I've seen no evidence of).

"And when the opposing force is conventional military that plays by the rules of the Geneva Conventions, or unconventional military that's away from civilian areas, that is exactly the right thing to do. Unfortunately it's next to useless in an urban setting, but there's not much that is useful there. And whatever the approach, there's no way to truly eliminate the threat without endangering the civilian population while curtailing civil liberties. It's an uncomfortable situation for us, which is a propaganda victory for them."

In short, an enemy facing an overpowering conventional force goes, guerrilla, or loses in short order. Which has been true for quite some time, now.

"The only saving grace that I can see is getting the civilian population fully engaged in safeguarding their own territory. And of course we've got to completely shut down the flow of people and weapons into Iraq, which is (I believe) also going to go much better with the civilian population more fully involved."

I agree with the first sentence - guerrillas with low popular sympathy have a life that is nasty, brutish and short.

I also agree with the first clause of the second sentence, although this might not be enough, due to this being one of the better-supplied guerrilla movements in history (all of those ammo dumps!).

The second clause is doubtful - there is a lot of hatred towards the Sunni guerrillas from many Shiites and Kurds, but also for the Sunnis themselves, and lots of hatred for the US. This is a bad situation.

Juan Cole's forecast is for Lebanon II - 10-15 years of ethnic/religious civil war, ending in exhaustion when the Sunnis believe that they can't run things again.
I haven't seen anybody more accurate than him, so I'll go with that.


Well said, hilzoy. And your solution is?

Most conservatives wouldn’t argue that you hate America, but that you have an unhealthy hatred of Bush.

Let's turn that around though, matching speculation with speculation: The argument from the conservative POV as far as I can tell is that overall Bush is no worse than your average president and in some areas (mostly with regards to advancing a conservative social agenda) he's actually quite good. Given that he'll be out of office in three years, how much harm can the guy really inflict.

In other words, depsite the fiscal irresponsibility, the unimaginable debt, despite the piss-poor way he's fought the war in Iraq, despite the growing division among Americans he willingly promotes, the lack of trust among our allies, the weakening of environmental protections, the weakening of our science programs, the rewriting of scientific findings to suit business, the weakening of the division between church and state, the advance of a radical right-wing Christian agenda, the increase in the calls for banning of books, the increase in hatred spewed toward gays...despite all that, he's not so bad.

Charles Bird: And your solution is?

Solution to what?

otto: Isn’t part of the inheritance of American citizens the Hamiltonian perspective that one sees today in the Administration and Neo-con circles, where the fickle masses are to be governed by experts and elites, and where the line between state and corporate power is at least fuzzy? [Emph mine]

Part of the problem is precisely that we are not being governed by experts, only elites. The Bush Administration has, whether by accident or design I do not know, managed to discredit much of the objective notion of "expertise" and replace it with the notion that all forms of expertise are equal and hence differentiated only by their political persuasion. This, I'd argue, is probably the second-greatest systemic problem -- and, to my vast regret, I think it now is a systemic problem -- facing the Administration today, the greatest being the related notion that factuality itself is open to subjective interpretation and hence can only be differentiated by political ramifications.

Jes: It's Charles Bird who argues that the administration's detention practices are only abhorrent because they're bad PR with the Islamic world.

No offense, but could you please take it to the other thread? I'd rather not see this one sullied.

And finally, hilzoy? Beautiful. Thank you.

Barry, Cole's got his politics so intricately intertwined with his academics that I'm not sure I could give him much weight even when it comes to statements of fact. I mean, this is a fellow who publicly opined that the IraqTheModel guys were CIA plants, among other bizarrely reasoned things.

So, respectfully, I decline.

Well, technically, it was Sulla who started this...

the solution, CB, is to have people like you and your fellow posters at Redstate to force a change in policy.

given the partisan atmosphere in DC, hilzoy and I have no traction. As during the Clinton admin, when the push to the center first came within the party, the responsibility now lies with the republican grassroots, i.e., YOU personally, to redirect our nation.

I'd be interested to know what your solutions are.

Can we stay the course on the budget? If not, where would you make the cuts and/or raise taxes? (and please, let's not pick on seven-digit programs when eight-digit solutions are needed.)

Can we stay the course in Iraq? If not, what would you do differently?

Can we stay the course in Gitmo?

Can we stay the course in energy policy?

Barry, Cole's got his politics so intricately intertwined with his academics that I'm not sure I could give him much weight even when it comes to statements of fact.

And yet, I would rather have had Juan Cole estimating the results of invading Iraq than Richard Perle, or Paul Wolfowitz (whose apologia in the new Atlantic is strange and wonderful to read; apparently the anthrax scare, not 9/11, was the principal motive to remove Saddam. No, really).

Thank you, Anderson. Slartibartfast, I didn't say that Cole was perfect, just better than anybody else I'd heard of. And, of course, anybody in or being listened to by the adminisrtation.

Sulla--Most conservatives wouldn’t argue that you hate America, but that you have an unhealthy hatred of Bush.

In my apparently not so nuanced response to Von's post I noted that Applebaum's characterization of AI as anti-American was inaccurate. I think that the heat with which people committed to the continuation of the war in Iraq (whether an enthusiastic or a reluctant commitment) reacted to AI's criticism, and their outrage at one inflammatory comparison stems from an unfortunate tendency to collapse 'America' into 'America's Commander-in-Chief.' Any criticism of a policy that is tied to the C-i-C in an attempt to create some sense of responsibility for changing that policy is immediately reinterpreted as an attack on America.

I want to be very careful in this, because my argument, hopefully nuanced enough for you, is that this reflects in a plurality of American voters a tendency towards identifying en masse with a strong leader. I say I want to be careful because I am not talking about the President here, and I do not want this to turn into a Bush = Hitler/Stalin comparison. This is about the people who support the C-i-C and excuse his mistakes and do not hold our leadership responsible for the crimes committed as a result of these 'states of exception' that the C-i-C and his supporters feel are necessary to preserve the state. I am worried because this 'follower mindset' is the mindset present in totalitarian states. Even if the wrongs we have done in pursuit of security are not of the same order of magnitude as those committed by the totalitarian states we all decry, I can't help but be sickened to see otherwise rational and moral people adopt the same methods and mindsets that allow those atrocities to happen, even if they believe that they have the moral fortitude to refrain from those excesses. History has far too many examples of societies who allowed themselves to create a state of exception, only to have that license get away from them and lead to greater atrocities.

I am thinking as much of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France as I am of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism here. 'We the People' are always seen as right from the moment of setting aside the rule of law or the 'state of exception' right through the reign of terror or the detention of stateless individuals.

In every case, it is not the leader that is to blame, but the scared core of people willing to personally abhor the practices and policies enacted under the auspices of that leader, but unwilling to stand up and demand that the leader acknowledge that these practices are morally repugnant and that they must stop without trying to justify them or preserve the loophole that allowed them in the first place.

It is time to break that slide toward authoritarianism and demand that the 'state of exception' be returned to the rule of law.

"Well said, hilzoy. And your solution is?"

Posted by: Charles Bird


Kick the GOP out of power. That's pretty much the only way to change it. These policies aren't the result of the Evul Klinton, or Evilooshunists; or the dreaded Dictatorship of Relativism. And after the '04 elections, they aren't merely Bush policies; they are the policies of every Republican who voted for them.

Whether or not they whine about media coverage, or Amnesty International.

Jay C
It is precisely the condescending attitude that drips from your post that makes the answer to Part I- c. Let’s review the chronology of events:

- Applebaum takes offense to the use of gulag and writes a column that also includes
“Like Khan and Schulz, I am appalled by this administration's detention practices and interrogation policies, by the lack of a legal mechanism to judge the guilt of alleged terrorists, and by the absence of any outside investigation into reports of prison abuse.”
- Von aggress and posts it along with some of his thoughts
“Never forget our errors, our sins of omission of commission, or our excesses of fear and anger. Never forget the wrongs that have been perpetrated in our name in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and other places whose names and places remain unknown. “
- Hilzoy then posts some thoughts on why criticism of the administration isn’t unpatriotic with a title nearly identical title to Von’s.

How is it that a rebuke of Amnesty’s poor choice of words (while all the while being critical of the Bush administration’s policies) is somehow interpreted as calling someone un-American? The only problem I see is that Von and Applebaum failed to tow the party line.

Fevered Swamp Watch: ObWi edition

Edward,
Feel free to speculate all you want. I only hope it acts as a therapeutic exercise to vent your spleen. It’s your house after all.

Sulla:
You said of Hilzoy: Most conservatives wouldn’t argue that you hate America, but that you have an unhealthy hatred of Bush.

JayC responded with a simple example to show why Bush is a legitimate focus for criticism of current US policy, and that criticism of policy and/or Bush himself is not, therefore, inherently irrational or "unhealthy."

You have responded by asking "How is it that a rebuke of Amnesty’s poor choice of words (while all the while being critical of the Bush administration’s policies) is somehow interpreted as calling someone un-American?, and objecting to JayC's condescension.

To which I say: Whuuh?

First, JayC was not addressing that point.

Second, the Applebaum article contains the following sentence: I don't know when Amnesty ceased to be politically neutral or at what point its leaders' views morphed into ordinary anti-Americanism. So Applebaum, at least believes that one critic of the Bush administration (Amnesty International) is motivated by hatred of America, and one presumes that Von cited Applebaum for a reason.

nous,
The problem I have is that Applebaum and Von both attacked the policies Amnesty was critical of. This hardly makes them sycophants for Bush and I can’t understand why the knives needed to be drawn on them. If Applebaum’s characterization of AI bothers you then fine however, I don’t see how their posts reflect a lock step attitude your worried about.

And now Sulla and nous: would you mind taking this dispute (or, indeed, anything Applebaum/Amnesty/"gulag"-related) to the other thread? Again, I'd rather not see this one sullied (no pun intended).

nous,
The problem I have is that Applebaum and Von both attacked the policies Amnesty was critical of. This hardly makes them sycophants for Bush and I can’t understand why the knives needed to be drawn on them. If Applebaum’s characterization of AI bothers you then fine however, I don’t see how their posts reflect a lock step attitude your worried about.

st,
Well if presumption is en vogue I presume gulag is as offensive to Applebaum as Bush/Hitler might be to a holocaust survivor. It demonstrates that the user has experienced a departure from reality and isn’t worth serious consideration, which is what she laments in her article.

SUlla -- checking in during lunch hour (they have computers available, and I am trying not to fall asleep): had I meant to draw a knife on von, it would have been a lot more obvious. I was not.

4) Simply releasing the prisoners, especially if they are terrorists, is foolish and unacceptable.

Maybe they could release the prisoners who are not terrorists, and not release the prisoners who are terrorists. Unless they have all become terrorists while in custody, which is quite possible, and would be quite the microcosm of our "Wipe out an enemy and create ten more" policy.

Ah, Sulla, glad to see you still have that extra-special tough of mordancy in your prose (seriously though, thanks for posting, don't let the spleen-venting scare you off, especially when you damned-well invited it). ;-p

You do see, though, that my speculation was in response to yours, don't you? Or are you a qualified psychiatrist? Able to diagnose healthy, versus, unhealthy degrees of hatred?

"And your solution is?"

My dad has a friend who calls himself a "Republican in Exile". He has decided to vote for Democrats until the Republicans divest themselves of their oligarchical/theocratic leadership. Quite seriously the solution to our problem--the things that we are throwing away--is to reform and clean up the Republican party. That won't happen unless Republican rank and file folks start insisting on reasonable, responisible candidates and withhold their votes from extremists.

Anarch,
If Hilzoy asks me to take off I will. Until then sorry, I’m feeling obstinate today. I get the feeling you’d prefer this thread to be some type intellectually pure echo chamber, which I find puzzling.

Hilzoy,
If your post is in no way related to Von’s I apologize. Say the word and I’ll beat it.

Edward,
You didn’t actually expect me to defend Bush’s fiscal and social policies? When backed in a corner attack the first opening you see.

lily: That won't happen unless Republican rank and file folks start insisting on reasonable, responisible candidates and withhold their votes from extremists.

But does Charles Bird (if we may take him as a representative of Republican rank and file) see Bush&Co as extremists, or as "reasonable, responsible candidates"? I suspect the latter.

Sulla - er, ok. I'm still not clear what that does as a retort to JayC's actual point, but never mind. My mind must be clouded by my unhealthy hatred of the President. Oh, no! I'm in DC, and Hilzoy must have brought the contaminant with her from Baltimore! Soon the DC streets will be filled with rabid anti-Bush zombies, chanting "Bush lied....people died....aggggg....brains...."

Damn you, Hiiiiillllzzzzoooooyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

Francis,

"(and please, let's not pick on seven-digit programs when eight-digit solutions are needed.)"

Your numbers are off. A solution in the tens of millions (eight digits) is worthless. We need at least twelve digits, as our annual deficits are in the hundreds of billions.

don't let the spleen-venting scare you off, especially when you damned-well invited it

I'm outraged about this

You didn’t actually expect me to defend Bush’s fiscal and social policies?

That would make me entirely unreasonable...I'm only "moderately" unreasonsable.

It's Charles Bird who argues that the administration's detention practices are only abhorrent because they're bad PR with the Islamic world.

That is a complete distortion, mischaracterization and smear. Please retract, Jes.

Or, at least, take it to the thread in which you believe Charles was arguing that.

ack ... need more coffee . . . can't count the number of zeroes in 10 billion.

Dantheman, instead of asking for cuts in 12-digit programs, which would be DOD, I intended to ask for 11-digit programs, which would be sub-programs within DOD.

Anarch--

Sorry that my (failed) attempt to redirect the digression back to the topic at hand (i.e.--at least in part--returning the US to the rule of law rather than the state of exception) only led to a retrenchment. I don't know how to shift the dialogue back to the most important point already in agreement, which is that there is no excuse for a free and democratic nation to allow a state of exception in which immoral acts are not checked by the rule of law. It is not enough to claim that we allow ourselves that loophole only because we believe ourselves moral enough to not allow it to get out of hand.

Which is, as I read it, on-topic.

Sulla: my "quiz" in my 11:54am post was meant to sarcastic, not condescending; apologies for any misunderstanding.
So as to clarify: the formulation ...rebuke of Amnesty’s poor choice of words (while all the while being critical of the Bush administration’s policies) perfectly sums up my reaction to the whole AI/"gulag" affair: so no dispute there; my snark was directed at the "unhealthy hatred of Bush" remark; which is a pet peeve of mine.
For years now, I have been seeing, mostly on right-wing blogs, wholesale dismissal of any and all criticism
of the Bush Adminstration and its policies as being motivated mainly by "Bush-hatred" or "Bush Derangement Syndrome" - the implication being, as I see it, that any criticism of this President and his Adminstration's policies/actions is just so much irrational nuttery, and thus, ignorable. Applying this to hilzoy's post, though, just seemed to me to be WAY off-the-mark; hence my comment.
Oh, and FWIW, I certainly believe that there IS plenty of "unhealthy hatred of Bush" out there (mostly on left-wing blogs) - few commenters, I think would have a lower opinion of our current President and his Administration than I - but at least I try to frame my opinions on some level of informed critique of policy, ideology, and action rather than just "Bush sux" reactionism (tidy formula though it may be).

To anybody with any sense, the attempt to make that loophole is the waving flag that it is already out of hand.

nous, I believe you have hit the nail on the head (or at least reinforced my own preconceived notions ;-)

Unfortunately, another of my preconceived notions is that this is a problem which cannot, in practice, be addressed directly. At least not any more than gravity can be addressed directly. When you want to lift something away from earth, you have to expend energy, period. Ain't no way 'round it -- the closest you can get to cheating is with leverage. By the same token, if you want to impede tyranny, the absolute best you can do is to invoke leverage as best you can. I was just commenting recently (Mark Schmitt's place, as it turns out) that when people are nervous, they cluster together. For most people, that means acquiescence to whoever is in the alpha role.

I think quite a few of the founders of the US were viscerally aware of this basic problem, despite not having the language and resources of modern cognitive and social psychology to express it. I consider that the fundamental reason why the US Constitution is (IMHO) a work of remarkable, world-changing genius. The game will always be rigged in favor of tyranny, and I try not to harbor any illusions about my country being inherently "good," but by Odin's whiskers, it is a damn good effort.

A republic, if we can keep it.

DaveC:


I don't have any solution that is both moral and avoids endangering Americans

I've think you've hit on the crux here, Dave. The problem is that since Sep 11, too many Americans have decided that safety is a little more important that they thought, and morality is a little less important than they thought. Or that safety is even worth compromising morality at all. They've forgotten that freedom isn't safe. It was never intended to be safe.

I'll ask you the question directly. Would you accept a 1% greater risk that you and your family would be killed in a terrorist attack if in exchange you were assured that no innocent men were taken from their families, tortured, and killed? It's not a flippant question. . it's a terrible one. And it's the question that lies at the heart of all these issues we're arguing about.

My followup question is this, what do you think 'bravery' means in this context?

Bush-,God- and America-Hating Terrorist #405969, formerly known as Edward_:

"Ah, Sulla, glad to see you still have that extra-special tough of mordancy in your prose (seriously though, thanks for posting, don't let the spleen-venting scare you off, especially when you damned-well invited it). ;-p"

Terr, you are warned about the misuse of the sacred American language - this so-called 'spleen-venting' does not exist. One might inflame one's spleen, a doctor might remove one's spleen, a spleen might presumably drain whatever it produces, but there no such thing as spleen-venting.

This shocking misuse of the American toungue, the one that Jesus Himself used, outweighs every other evil ever carried out in all of history (aside from hounding Nixon out of office and not confirming St. Bork to the Supreme Court, of course - I'd hate to exaggerate).


I call upon the Injustice League of America, the Might Warbloggers of the 101st Keyboard Brigade - whenever the wretched scum >dares to pollute our sacred blogosphere by mentioning any alleged 'evil' or 'torture', I command you to bring up this incident, filling thread after thread with the slimy Kudzu of GOP talking points.

st and Jay C.
The President is a justifiable target for criticism but I saw nothing that would lead me to believe Von or Applebaum were trying to defend the administration in their critique of Amnesty and as such the only reason to take offense by said criticism is because it lacks enough Bush bashing. I posted what I did here because I thought, with similar titles, this post was in response to Von’s. Maybe it’s me who is clouded. I saw a lot of conservatives go bonkers over the littlest thing in Clinton years and it seems to me the converse is true now.

Oh, there’s a fine line between sarcastic and condescending, I cross it all the time. And there is no need to ever apologize to me, I like to play rough.

Barry, I suggest to you that the fine edge of the sarcastic knife is rather more quickly dulled when you use it as a screwdriver, paint scraper and prybar. IOW, do you ever turn it off?

“the Might Warbloggers of the 101st Keyboard Brigade”

It’s good to see that despite the movement">http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/1/235540/0351">movement to clean">http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/2/231224/1709">clean up Kos their moonbats will still have a home.

hilzoy
I have an old friend who recently returned from Iraq and is now venturing into politics by running for Rob Portman's Ohio district. He is running as a democrat - certainly an uphill battle in that district.
I am sending this great post to him for inspiration. You put into words what many feel and been unable to.

By the way, Amnesty using THAT word may have been the primary presspoint that moved the debate into the general populace and press. The unwilling administration this week seems to be more willing to address the issue.

Links both horribly broken, Sulla.

A beautiful post, hilzoy. Many separate points and arguments, from fiscal to diplomatic, and perhaps not quite a succinct enough conclusion. May I suggest?

This "government" ...quotes are meant to include Congress, etc, administration is inadequate and regime possibly offensive....is the most radical and dangerous in American history.

I dislike the focus on Bush, by both left and right. No organization of the size of the US Gov't is controlled by one man. No area of policy is directed by one man. Many people in the 80s "won the cold war". If Alexander or Ashcroft had won in 2000 many of these players, Rumsfeld,Cheney,Wolfowitz,Bolton,DeLay,Thomas,Hatch, Roberts etc etc would have been involved in policy and administration and legislation. To give all credit or blame to one man is simply absurd, and incomprehensible to me.

To say:"Bush chose war in Iraq."...or any other policy decision...is, for me, to misunderstand the nature of bureacracies and the nature of power. Yes, in a sense he made the "final" decision, but I can't remember many "leaders" making such decisions in stark opposition to the majority of their closest advisors. If it even happens once, the leader needs different advisors.

One of Sulla's links is here and the other here

{OT, but... It's fascinating what's happening on Kos...I'm getting some back-channel reports from friends who feel they're no longer welcome there and Armando is certainly emerging as enemy #1.}

the solution, CB, is to have people like you and your fellow posters at Redstate to force a change in policy.

given the partisan atmosphere in DC, hilzoy and I have no traction.

That is a diversion, Francis, but to answer your question, I am doing my part. Here's my beef. Eloquent and elegant as my colleague Hilzoy phrases it, the structure of her post still boils down to this:

1. We have a great country and great system of governance and I'm proud of it.
2. We done some things I profoundly disagree with, some of which bring me shame.
3. I care more about my country than Amnesty International.

It begs the question: Then what? No matter the readability and deft turns of phrase, her post is still a rant. A well-written rant, but still a rant it is. The venting may make her feel better, as well as the readers who agree with her, but where does it go after that? Nowhere. If Hilzoy truly wants change, then I expect her to tell me how. Where is the constructive strategy, what are the big ideas, what are the tactics, what are the priorities, etc. You can't just say "we have no power so we're not obligated to provide solutions." Well, how are you going to get your power back without them? "No" and "anti" aren't good enough.

I disagree, Charles. hilzoy's post wasn't, as far as I'm concerned, a rant. It's simply an explanation of why there's a great deal of upset going on.

I saw a lot of conservatives go bonkers over the littlest thing in Clinton years and it seems to me the converse is true now.

See, this is what's odd. From my perspective, which I think is shared by most of the Bush opponents posting on these threads, what's going on here is, once again, a lot of conservatives going bonkers, in that they're making a huge fuss about word choice in AI's report on U.S. government-sanctioned abuse rather than making a fuss about the abuse itself.

Now, when Von or one of the other decent conservatives around here has this reaction, I give that a fair bit more weight than the latest pile of Bird droppings, and I do stop to think that there's value in noting that our country has not yet completely run off the cliff. I think it's likely that we'll get through this. But I don't think it's inevitable. I think there's a danger--not a huge danger, but a real one--that we could slide from what's happening now into a truly ugly situation. That's why I think that in the situation we're in now, it's much more important to point out what we're losing than to remind us of what we still have, and why I think that Von et al are off-base to spend time bashing AI for poor word choice.

Yeah, hilzoy, why can't you pull together a great idea like, er . . . "Get a bunch of conservatives to join Amnesty International" or "Appoint a 'commission' to 'study' something that the President could end with the stroke of a pen tomorrow?" What's your deal, anyway?

I dislike the focus on Bush, by both left and right. No organization of the size of the US Gov't is controlled by one man. No area of policy is directed by one man. Many people in the 80s "won the cold war". If Alexander or Ashcroft had won in 2000 many of these players, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton, DeLay, Thomas, Hatch, Roberts etc etc would have been involved in policy and administration and legislation. To give all credit or blame to one man is simply absurd, and incomprehensible to me.

Okay, but (1) Bush won, not those guys and (2) who appointed Rumsfeld? chose Cheney? Wasn't it that President Bush guy?

Bush, and the voters who think he's doing a splendid job, is the problem. If a Democrat wins in 2008 and continues Bush's wicked policies, he or she will be the problem.

If Bush was genuinely misled, if he didn't approve of the evisceration of human rights or the trumping-up of WMD evidence or the botching of the post-invasion of Iraq, then heads would have rolled. Heads have not rolled. THAT is why I detest Bush.

I don't understand at all the implication that our anger and blame should be so dispersed as to be meaningless. One man is supremely responsible for the crippling of America's military, diplomacy, and civil rights, and that man is the President of the United States.

I'm with Slarti.
America has always tried to close the chasm between our ideals and our reality. The current upset for many is that they feel that may no longer be the case.
I thought hilzoy's post was her attempt to define what she sees with what she feels.

Well, how are you going to get your power back without them?

I think a good place to start would be to convince people who keep formulating the question this way that talking about "your" power and "ours" are the same [expletive deleted] power. That means, in part, that where we agree, we acknowledge a we and not just argue about whether we disagree on other points.

It seems from actions and responses that the majority leadership is unwilling to listen to criticism and only recognizes familiar voices. So on these issues, where there is a clear consensus, this means that the familiar voices need to be louder. It also means that both sides might do well to set aside the divisive issues with the thinnest margins for the time being to concentrate on the ideas with the biggest "we". It's bad game theory, but good citizenship, which may be the more important thing right now.

Supermajorities all around.

DaveL
That is where the gulf begins I guess. I wouldn’t define Von or Applebaum as conservatives and they criticized both Amnesty and the President. Consequently I was left scratching my head to the negative reaction it generated.

Edward- thanks (ow, that killed)

It's not a flippant question. . it's a terrible one.

Yes it is. 1% is too high a number for me. I can't answer the question right now, and may never have a good answer.

I have to second Charles Bird, here, hilzoy (boy, I betcha that you'd never hear that from me, did you?).

You and these other liberals are yacking about 'torture' and 'rendition' and 'loss of constitutional rights'. Meanwhile Charles, not-a-conservative Von, Slartibartfast and a dead latin dictator nanmed Sulla and the Ann 'not conservative, merely foolish' Applebaum are working hard, doing hard work, you know - drowning some seriously unpleasant news under squeals and screams of outrage.

So much that when they're through, the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the real crime was the use of the word 'gulag'. And, honestly, I've got to agree that it's a hard job to generate that much realistic-seeming outrage - I could never do that, even with extra help. I salute you, CB, and you, NaC Von, and you, Slart, and you, Ann 'destined for Fox News' Applebaum, and even you, Sulla, although I generally don't like roman dictators.

Thanks to your hard work, George Bush has the breathing space he needs to clean out those very, very few bad apples (undoubtedly left there by the Evul Librul Klintoooon), to Restore Honor and Dignity to the White House, and to show the world that the Adults are Back in Charge.


I challenge any liberal here to dare to disagree with me, when I say: thanks to these guys, and millions more Americans just like them, when the world sees a picture of the White House on TV, or our President, the last thing that they think of is blowjobs.

Don Quijote,

Hilzoy: "America has more often stood on the side of the angels."

Don Quijote: "Once in the twenthieth century and only because the US was attacked! More often than not it's been on the side of it's self-interest, or that of stupidity."

Hilzoy's perspective here is as subjectively valid as yours and can be argued for just as persuasively. I appreciate many of the things you mention in your comments, but try a little empathy - it will help your arguments.

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Whatnot


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