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June 17, 2004

Comments

Actually, that's a great point you make at the end. What's the point?

Let's just face the facts... we're not perfect but so many people want to make us seem evil when we aren't. We are fighting a war against a vicious enemy. Far far more vicious than ourselves and everyone in the middle knows it.


This site has really fallen off... it seems to be focusing on all the wrong things. It used to strike me as intelligent... now it just seems like rants and alot of whining.

This post is too long by half already, so I'll just put these quotations in the comments.

"Q: You seem to be drawing a distinction between that and the order that you sent out that allowed this other prisoner to be not registered immediately. Why is --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not an expert on that. Dan Dell'Orto is. And what I can say is that I think it's broadly understood that people do not have be registered in 15 minutes when they come in. What the appropriate period of time is I don't know. It may very well be a lot less than seven months, but it may be a month or more."

Later on:

"Q: And the last thing. (Off mike.) How is this case different from what Taguba was talking about, the ghost detainees?

SEC. RUMSFELD: It is just different, that's all."


I think your bias is showing a bit more than you realize Blue.

"All the wrong things"?

What pray-tell are the "right" things?

Oh...never mind...I fear I may have answered my own question there. If not, please feel free to correct me.

Only problem being that, this is not (or should not) be a partisan topic. Coming to terms with why Abu Ghraib happened is something all Americans should be focussed on. Not just the whiny ones (which is shorthand for "left" I suppose) or the intelligent ones (which is shorthand for "nonthreatening" I suppose). Again, feel free to tell me I'm wrong.

Then again...what's the point?

Edward,

This probably doesn't belong in this thread or maybe I have no business posting it at all. I certainly don't mean to offend anyone.

I don't deny being biased. Everyone is.

By wrong things I mean many of the people posting seem to be distracted by their overt dislike of Bush and that's is all that is really communicated. Or maybe they are stuck in a rut.
I'm not sure really.

You of all posters should certainly know if anyone does that this site has many left leaning posters so there is no way that I could be implying that I thought the site was good at one time because it leaned to the right. Most of the time it leans the opposite direction. What originally attracted me to this site was the quality of posting even if it did lean in the opposite direction of myself.

Like I said it's just my opinion that the hatred of Bush has distracted many to focus on the wrong things. Wrong meaning the site just isn't as interesting to me.

Not that I think it is the purpose of this site to interest me.

"Like I said it's just my opinion that the hatred of Bush has distracted many to focus on the wrong things. Wrong meaning the site just isn't as interesting to me."

I think it's much more likely that you're just unhappy with the direction public feeling regarding this administration has gone. Sullivan and Tacitus, once proud stalwarts, are declaring Bush the lesser of two evils at best.

You might also be interested to know that the word Bush didn't appear in this thread until your last comment, so if it's motivated by Bush-hatred, it's a weird sort.

Blue,

I think sidereal might be on to something here.

Nothing in Katherine's post was bashing Bush, or even mentioned Bush. She's continuing here excelletn series about torture (and she's blazed a trail cited again and again across the blogosphere noting that Clinton was guilty of some of this as well), so no charges of Bush-hating really stick here.

I think you're bringing that to this thread. Why you're doing so is a good question though.

You might also want to examine the postings made by Moe Lane, self-described Right Wing Death Beast. I'm not sure he would be flattered to be called a liberal. He certainly seems to take the whole torture issue pretty seriously.

Actually, given the important conservative virtues of valuing individual freedom & mistrusting government power, I would think that conservatives would be extremely interested in pointing out situations where our government in abusing its power by committing or enabling torture. Judging from what I'm reading, at least some conservatives agree with me on this.

"You might also want to examine the postings made by Moe Lane, self-described Right Wing Death Beast. I'm not sure he would be flattered to be called a liberal. He certainly seems to take the whole torture issue pretty seriously."

I do, although by the time my cobloggers got done with the topic there wasn't much original left for me to say about it. They tend to do that a lot. :)

Moe

PS: If you can read this, then my job's webblocker is still down. For how long? (Shrug)

Sidereal & Edward,

I think you missed my point. I clarified my comment by stating upfront that my post probably didn't belong on this thread. Please read my post more carefully so that you don't accuse me of something that just isn't true.

But both of you seem to have missed that comment. The fact that you missed or dismissed that sort of validates how I feel about this site now.

Actually, I am not unhappy with the direction the public is taking on this issue. I think it is only the media and those that hate Bush that are trying to get many to focus on the "wrong" issues. I think the public in general gets that the administration is dealing with the issue.

And finally, how can one say that they openly dislike the Bush administration and then be surprised that others think that may taint what they post. I think it has and that's why I said the site isn't as interesting to me anymore.

Ton,

I didn't come anywhere near calling Moe a liberal. Why would you want to put those words in my mouth when you know I didn't say it. I said that the site had many left leaning posters. That's just a fact. Why didn't you focus on what I actually said? Go back through some of the threads and count them up? Even look at the responses on this thread. 4 to 2.

And I didn't discount the torture issue. I discount how eager so many appear to be to make us appear as if we are the bad guys. We are the evil ones. We are the ones who desire to kill innocent people. That's just not the case and we all know it.


"I discount how eager so many appear to be to make us appear as if we are the bad guys. We are the evil ones. We are the ones who desire to kill innocent people. That's just not the case and we all know it."

That is a completely false characterization.

Your first post was at best a mixed message though, Blue.

There's nothing to be gained by belaboring the point, clearly, but you seem a rational person, so I'll give this one final go.

You did include a critique of Katherine's text:

Let's just face the facts... we're not perfect but so many people want to make us seem evil when we aren't. We are fighting a war against a vicious enemy. Far far more vicious than ourselves and everyone in the middle knows it.

I can understand that you would be less interested in the site if it's taken a turn you dislike, but you did choose this thread to post that comment on, so---despite the caveat---and based on the fact that your critique of the site followed your specific critique of Katherine's text, I believe sidereal's and my comments are not fairly characterized as "dismissing" your point.

Back to your point (and I accept that it's not meant to reflect this post, per se), it requires a rather tricky balance to keep folks engaged across the spectrum (you won't believe how many times liberal friends of mine tell me I'm pandering to the right). It should hardly be unexpected that we'd get it wrong from time to time, leaning too far one direction or the other.

Comments like yours do help us recognize when it's tilting too far one way, though, so thanks for contributing it. And sorry for making too much of the fact that you posted the comment on this thread (we could use more open threads here, it's true).

"That is a completely false characterization."

False on this site, at least. (Wearily rubbing forehead) Blue, you're reading into these posts stuff that their authors aren't intending, to their justifiable umbrage. I just had to shout and threaten a long-time poster here with banning for doing precisely that*; do not even remotely think that I won't toss people from my own side of the spectrum for similar transgressions. We have Posting Rules: read them, please.

Moe

*And if any of you think that I enjoyed it, think again.

Oh, the catastrophic equilibrium beckons, Moe.

Borrowing an illustration from Phil in another thread, if you drew a Venn diagram of the interests and attitudes of all of the commentors, the overlap would be enormous -- everyone loves their kids (or someone else's kids), wants to be safe, enjoys a laugh, hates the Yankees, and so on -- and the exclusion zone would be a relatively small section, mostly related to practical implementations to achieve shared goals. And yet the entirety of the political blogosphere (and the offline political world) squeezes into that exclusion zone, until that's the entire world of discussion, wherein the perspective is narrowed down until disagreements look like canyons and disagreers looks hardly even of the same species.

That's a shame. Maybe if you hang the Venn diagram on the wall and throw a dart at it and see how often everyone basically agrees, you remember how small that section is.

Blue - just to clarify, I wasn't really reading you as saying that Moe, specifically, was a liberal. I was reading you as saying those who are highly upset with the torture situation and the administration's handling of it are just upset because they are liberals or because they started out with a hatred of Bush. I was pointing out that, on the contrary, many conservatives are upset with the situation and the administration for good conservative reasons.

"...so many appear to be to make us appear as if we are the bad guys. We are the evil ones. We are the ones who desire to kill innocent people. That's just not the case and we all know it."

I've never seen that attitude among my many liberal friends or in 95% of the coverage of the torture issue. I will accept in good faith however, that this is the impression you are getting. How about I try to give an alternate explanation of the meaning intended and you tell me if it makes sense to you.*

Some of us hold pretty high ideals for our country. Saying, we're better than Saddam Hussein or we're better than the old Soviet Union just isn't good enough by a long shot. We recognize that as individual human beings, we're not inherently better than the inhabitants of any other country. Therefore, if we want to behave better as a country than other countries, we need to practice vigilance to ensure our behavior is up to snuff. We recognize that our government has at numerous times behaved immorally in foreign situations. (You'd think a traditional conservative, with a suspicion of governmental fallibility, would be quicker to acknowledge this than a liberal would.) We recognize that our government is the government we have the most power to influence. (I can criticize the rulers of Pakistan or North Korea all I want, but won't have much effect, whereas I do have some small influence at home.) Therefore, when I see that the current administration of my country is behaving in such a way, with such certainty of its own infallibility, as to institutionally encourage unacceptable behavior**, then I become angry. That's not hating my country, that's loving my country. That's not saying "we're evil", that's saying "we're better than that, and we need to fix things now."

* This is of course my perception of where many of us are coming from. Since this was Katherine's post to begin with, I apologize if I mischaracterize her stance in any way.

** You can argue about whether you think the evidence really shows the administration has done such a thing, but that's separate from the issue of whether posters such as Katherine are calling the population of the U.S. evil.

sidereal - Great comment.

Moe - I may have erred in mentioning you in my original comment. I had the memory of seeing some posting where you were expressing your concern over the torture issue. I may have been conflating your comments with some other poster's in my mind, so I apologize if that was the case.

Ton,

I was being very generic in why I said I found the site has lost some flavor in my opinion. I have tried to describe why in previous posts. I am moving past that in order to respond to you.

I agree with so much of what you said. It was well written and thoughtful. Stating it once gets your point across well. If you kept telling me that for the next 30 days 3 times a day and ignore all the good you would probably lose me . I would think that you have an agenda since you would only be focusing on what I do wrong.

I don't think I ever implied that we shouldn't be upset about the some things that have taken place in the prisons. I still stand by my comment that so many of the issues have been clouded because of peoples hatred of Bush.

And this is what I truly find discouraging:

(I can criticize the rulers of Pakistan or North Korea all I want, but won't have much effect, whereas I do have some small influence at home.)

This is exactly what we should be doing. We should be putting pressure on the really bad situations. So many on the left are like cops giving out speeding tickets all the while ignoring the real dangerous criminals in our midst. I'm not saying we should stop giving out speeding tickets, it could put more people in danger if we did. But the two just aren't equal in my mind.

So many are putting so much energy into opposing Bush that they are focusing on the "wrong" things.

** I said people want to make us "seem evil". And by us I include the U.S. as a whole and this administration.

"This is exactly what we should be doing. We should be putting pressure on the really bad situations."

I agree with this to the extent that it's practical. Diplomacy, economic pressures, and in extreme situations even military action can be used abroad to work against the abuse of human rights. Of course, it's always tricky to more good than harm even with the best of intentions, and frequently such interventions are governed by the interests of those in power more than actual concern for the well-being of others, but it's still an important goal.

The options for individuals seeking to redress such wrongs abroad are much more limited. Amnesty International sponsors letter-writing campaigns to repressive regimes attempting to influence specific cases where individuals are being abused. Supposedly this sometimes has a good effect. Many times, it probably doesn't make much difference.

Domestically, though, I've got not only more power, but more responsibility. Let me give your traffic ticket analogy a different spin. Suppose I have a kid at home whose getting into trouble. He's swiped money out of Mom's purse, wrecked the car, bullied the kid next door, etc. Across town there's a gangster who has killed, robbed, blackmailed, etc. Obviously the ganster is the "real dangerous criminal". Guess which one we're going to spend more time talking about and yelling at in our house? No, our kid isn't nearly as bad as the mobster, but our kid is the one that we have the responsibility to straighten out. And if the kid keeps screwing up for months on end, he's probably going to be hearing about it for months on end - especially if he refuses to ever admit responsibility or straighten himself up.

I will grant you that those who hated Bush to begin with are the quickest to jump on evidence of his wrongdoing - just as avid Bush supporters are willing to find excuses or avoid the issue. In the case of the folks who run this site, I don't think either one is the situation.

Ton,


Good analogy, let me add to it just a bit.

The left seems more interested in hindering the cops from taking care of the gangster because they have real problems in their own house.

Now, that looks like an accurate assessment of the situation.

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