« Open Thread Thursday | Main | Tin Foil Hats »

August 26, 2005

Comments

Well, the second sentence [of Gregory Djerrjian's post] is an egregious lie, but I'll keep reading, since it's you, Von.

But honestly: does the silly "flypaper theory" need rebuttal? Surely one just scrapes it off one's shoes and moves on: it's an ugly, stupid, piece of crap, and people have been pointing this out since September 2003.

I agree with Jes, this post doesn't seem to be a definitive anything. Just more backed-into circle arguements to bolster his own pet revisionist theories. Either these are insurgents dying there in large numbers, or dim witted locals so pissed off at us that they're murdering their own people. Human existence is far more primal than 10 points of argument can attempt to disguise.

"the second sentence [of Gregory Djerrjian's post] is an egregious lie"

The thing is, Jes, these people are waking up from a deep state of delusion that has lasted several years. They are finally coming to realize that Bush has been strategically incompetent and morally bankrupt. They made an idol of him, and the idol had feet of clay.

It is very important that they wake up--the ones who can. If it helps them during this painful process to keep repeating "but I'm sure Kerry would have been worse", then I'm willing to chalk it up to the costs of transformation.

Goodness. Greg D. is certainly less enlightened than my fellow commenters, but apart from some padding like the Kerry remark, his post seems quite sensible, even if not so cutting-edge as some would like.

The important thing is that BD has always been prowar, and a prowar blogger's rejecting the flypaper stuff is useful. It's good to have non-liberals saying that the President's favorite justification for the war is nonsense, and morally pernicious nonsense at that.

Take a look at Greg's commenters, some of whom are okay but some of whom are both arguing that flypaper does in fact work and that Greg is a degenerate for failing to agree with Dear Leader.

I never understand the classic ObWi insistence on bashing those who fail to be as clever, liberal, whatever as oneself. People who profess interest in politics should be a bit more, well, politic.

Anderson--

If your remarks were directed to me, then, yes, I should be more politic. (This is part of why I wish we had time-stamps back again; it's hard to figure out who is responding to what).

I do become impatient sometimes, and speak with ill-advised asperity.

But I certainly don't think this is a general failing at ObWi, nor, to whatever extent there are a few hotheads here, a failing at all unique to ObWi. There are lots and lots of civil people here, and lots of people at other sites who, e.g. argue that anyone who does not like Bush is a degenerate for failing to agree with the Dear Leader.

So--blame me, or whomever up thread you were responding to. But I wouldn't blame ObWi as a whole. (Perhaps you omitted personal references as a way to be--politic?)

Tad: The thing is, Jes, these people are waking up from a deep state of delusion that has lasted several years.

Indeed. And although all the evidence was available to them, somehow they mostly managed to avoid waking from this deep state of delusion until after November 2004 - and indeed are still in a deep state of denial about Kerry.

Anderson: People who profess interest in politics should be a bit more, well, politic.

Perhaps, then, you should address this useful comment to those of Greg's commenters who are "arguing that flypaper does in fact work and that Greg is a degenerate for failing to agree with Dear Leader"? Do you understand their insistence on bashing those who fail to be as clever, right-wing, loyal to Bush, whatever, as they themselves?

Or is it only liberals who are expected to be politic and understanding - conservatives get a free ticket?

Tad - I kind of assumed Anderson was talking to me... ;-) *also wishes for time-stamps back*

But seriously: anyone who is still holding on to the idea that Kerry would have been worse than Bush is still deluded about how bad Bush is. It's true it may be a gradual waking... but it doesn't promise well for whoever's next, if the past Bush voters are still under the impression that a President with a track record of utter failure and a habit of grandiose lies was the best possible choice.

I read it earlier this morning, and liked it a lot. One must consider the source, and Greg has influence outside of our circles. He is also very respected.

I actually don't think it will be long, in the next six months, before Bush either changes policy in a significant way or becomes toast is his own party. If, of course, Bush etc still have any control of what happens in Iraq.

Tad: So--blame me, or whomever up thread you were responding to. But I wouldn't blame ObWi as a whole. (Perhaps you omitted personal references as a way to be--politic?)

You posted whilst I was drafting my comment, Tad. And let me make clear I'm not "blaming ObWi"---it's a great bunch of people, including the folks I'm tsking over, or I wouldn't bother with the tsking.

Jes: Perhaps, then, you should address this useful comment to those of Greg's commenters who are "arguing that flypaper does in fact work and that Greg is a degenerate for failing to agree with Dear Leader"? Do you understand their insistence on bashing those who fail to be as clever, right-wing, loyal to Bush, whatever, as they themselves?

I don't address them, Jes, because they are morons, by choice or by fate. You & blogbudsman (to "name names") are *not* morons, are capable of hearing and considering arguments, and therefore are worth disagreeing with explicitly.

Or is it only liberals who are expected to be politic and understanding - conservatives get a free ticket?

That does seem to be how it works, doesn't it? Libs have 2 pertinent problems: (1) we're in the political minority and (2) we aren't ever going to out-demagogue the conservatives. Merely imitating them, with our SCLM and our minority status, will get us creamed.

So I do think that liberals in America need to capitalize on appearing politer than their opponents, more understanding, more open to new ideas. With the caveat that there's a time & place for everything---I mean "understanding" the swing voter, not Osama bin Laden.

As Tad suggested, it's very hard for political types to admit mistakes and change their minds, and taunting them when they take steps in that direction is not helping very much.

I find Tad Brennan's clever asperity a useful antidote to the deadly earnest(and I mean deadly) asperity on the other side.

Wasn't asperity given as an enlightened character trait in the resume of the new ambassador to the u.n. (no more capitalization for me of institutions deemed useless by this Administration)?

By all means, let's disallow asperity by liberals. Perhaps the veteran's group cited by Bob McManus on another thread could sweep through the population and isolate those who would engage in asperity.

That said, Anderson's comment is pretty much on the money.

Do I really have to read someone who thinks "Democrat party" is grammatic?

If, of course, Bush etc still have any control of what happens in Iraq.

key sentence right there. No one really has control anymore. We're all - U.S., Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Iranian - just riding the roller coaster now.

Or is it only liberals who are expected to be politic and understanding - conservatives get a free ticket?

It's not as if this is unfair to liberals. Being understanding to conservatives who are already moving toward us helps us. The failure of the nitwits at BD to do the same to Djerejian hurts them. They're just going to tick him off and drive him even further away.

2shoes, you're right about control, but you do make me wonder whether "control" is what we should be looking for.

To be in "control," do you have to be a tyrant like Saddam?

"Riding the roller coaster" sounds to me like the status quo. Or maybe I'm just feeling Taoist today.

Anderson: As Tad suggested, it's very hard for political types to admit mistakes and change their minds, and taunting them when they take steps in that direction is not helping very much.

You notice I am not going over there and taunting them?

"Control" to my mind means being the primary party able to dictate events, regardless of the methods used. Each of the included groups has some degree of control over certain spheres of Iraq (and usually cancelled out by some other group). No one really is a 500 pound gorilla anymore.

Events, as they say, now control us.

Actually, the comments over there don't even look all that bad, on the whole. Most of them are liberals going over to praise him. This one was a bit egregious though. I especially enjoyed this: "There is an absolute mechanism for creating terrorists and it is indigenous to the Arab world. Period." and this: "The entire criticism of the flypaper theory is that western intervention causes terrorism, which is categorically untrue, or increases it, which is specious on its best face." and most of all, this: "To do that you need to hit the Middle East hard and catastrophically; everything else is management of the problem, a slow bleed." The whole Middle East? That's an awfully big target.

von: Gregory Djerejian has written the definitive rebuttal to the so-called "flypaper theory" of the Iraq War.

To reiterate what Jes said: You're aware that this rebuttal existed almost verbatim in the left blogosphere back in, I dunno, late 2003, right?

Tad: It is very important that they wake up--the ones who can. If it helps them during this painful process to keep repeating "but I'm sure Kerry would have been worse", then I'm willing to chalk it up to the costs of transformation.

I'm not, precisely because it isn't a transformation: as long as that view is maintained (despite, again as Jes noted, all evidence to the contrary) we're going to keep electing flagrant incompetents like Bush -- on the grounds that "I'm sure that would be worse", dontcha know -- and that's not acceptable. The only transformation I'm willing to accept is the one wherein people wake up and realize that this entire Republican machine is corrupt, top to bottom, both financially and (to a much greater extent) morally, because that's the only way we're ever going to stop a repeat of this fiasco.

So it's important not just to congratulate people on starting to wake up -- and yes, I'd say Djerjerian's post is by-and-large a welcome addition to the reality-based community, though as Anderson dryly notes it isn't exactly cutting-edge -- but it's important to remind them that a) some of us were awake already, that b) some of us had already said the things they're just now realizing, that c) they're repeating some out-and-out lies which will not stand, and that d) because we were right so much sooner than they, perhaps they should have a serious re-examination of their decision algorithms to figure out why they were so appalling wrong. On those grounds, at least, Greg D's post deserve healthy criticism.

Or, to steal from Bill in Portland Maine:

Cheers to you for waking up. Jeers to you for not waking up soon enough.

Both, here, are well-deserved.

You notice I am not going over there and taunting them?

True, Jes, and prudent. And I'm sure that if I hadn't seen Charles & Sebastian, for ex., pilloried for their insufficiencies every time they take a step towards recognizing errors that our gov't has made, the sniping at BD wouldn't have attracted my notice.

For that matter, my comment seems ill-directed, because comment threads at blogs are probably just the place to vent about how slowly some of our conservative friends are taking reality into consideration. I would just caution against conflating, as I did, the proper attitude in a comment thread and the proper attitude in politics generally.

I take the rebuttal of my "let's be politic" position by someone tagged Anarch as an important confirmation of my views! ;)

This is a serious question: Do those that supported a discredited, disasterous even, policy deserve to be received back into the fold?

Or, are they in fact no longer worthy of being taken as credible observers on future subjects?

This is a serious question: Do those that supported a discredited, disasterous even, policy deserve to be received back into the fold?

Or, are they in fact no longer worthy of being taken as credible observers on future subjects?

See, the moment we start talking about "received back into the fold," like we're Pat Robertson, we are becoming the monster. Stop!

We are all of us too prone to error to be setting up membership tests. Remember the CPA flunkies, interviewing people on their positions re: Roe?

Some smart people messed up on this whole war thing. It happens.

Anderson: I take the rebuttal of my "let's be politic" position by someone tagged Anarch as an important confirmation of my views! ;)

Haha! And years later... we were both enlightened.

In seriousness, though, I do agree that a level of tact is required when dealing with this kind of situation. [A ballsy, "in-your-face" attitude is very cathartic and all, but shockingly counterproductive when trying to get people to see the error of their ways.] What I don't agree is that "tact" should mitigate parts of the corrections that still need to be made. That is, it's important to acknowledge the worthiness of the post -- which, other than the various lies and slanders towards the Democrats,* is quite high -- while at the same time helping/forcing the author to acknowledge the deficiencies of the process whereby those ideas were produced.

* It says something about the nature of discourse in this country that I barely even notice them any more.

On which note...

2shoes: This is a serious question: Do those that supported a discredited, disasterous even, policy deserve to be received back into the fold?

Uh... yes? Is that even in doubt?

Or, are they in fact no longer worthy of being taken as credible observers on future subjects?

The only sticking point for me is that they make legitimate corrections to their observational process in future. Beyond that, I don't see why they can't be considered credible; absent that, I have a hard time seeing why they should be granted any credibility.

Interestingly, The Rude Pundit has more, although I don't agree with the entirety of his point.

So that's a yes, with caveats.

It's just that an argument can be made, and I'm not saying I agree with it, that a significant percentage of these observers will make the same mistakes over and over again in the future.

John Thullen--

thanks for your appreciation of my clever asperity. I still suspect that I deliver too much asperity and too little clever.

And I'm a fan of your clever quirkiness, while we're at it. Hey, I even thought it was quirky of you to *wonder* whether you were quirky the other day. As far as I can tell, the quirk is your fundamental particle, providing both flavor and charm.

Anderson--thanks for clarifying all.

I know--let's everybody get *really* huffy and impolitic and demand our time-stamps back!

This is a serious question: Do those that supported a discredited, disasterous even, policy deserve to be received back into the fold?

Or, are they in fact no longer worthy of being taken as credible observers on future subjects?

Very simply, either one believes in democracy or one does not.

And last I looked, democracy wasn't about vetting people for Correct Opinions and casting out the Unclean. YMMV.

"Clarifying all"---I like that! Must have business cards printed with that motto. Might be fatal to my work as a lawyer, though.

Anarch, other than being amused at his words on the story I blogged yesterday, I'm being very slow, and completely not seeing the connection between the RP post you linked to and this thread. Must adjust the caffeine drip.

Very simply, either one believes in democracy or one does not.

This isn't about democracy. It's about giving weight to opinions.

The scientific community no longer gives weight to the purveyors of the theory of, say, a flat earth.

Time-stamps now! Time-stamps now! Time-stamps, er, wait, I can't tell when we first start asking....

But: what do we want? Time-stamps! When do we want them? At a time we can't determine!

2shoes: science makes predictions and then tests them out experimentally.

Whether to fight a war is not the kind of thing that can be addressed scientifically.

For that matter, even today, we cannot *prove* that invading Iraq was wrong, not in the way that we can prove that E = mc^2.

N.b. that by defending, or mitigating, the Greg D.'s of the world, I'm not defending Bush & his cohort. The best evidence we have is that they studiously deceived themselves into finding "evidence" to support a war they were determined to fight without any real regard for policy or consequences.

This isn't about democracy. It's about giving weight to opinions.

The scientific community no longer gives weight to the purveyors of the theory of, say, a flat earth.

Yeah, but we're not talking about a scientific issue of fact. We're talking about political issues in a democratic system.

"It's just that an argument can be made, and I'm not saying I agree with it, that a significant percentage of these observers will make the same mistakes over and over again in the future."

And so what? Democracy is the right to be wrong.

Yes, the scientific method cannot (unfortunately), be transposed onto politics.

But then, we no longer take Marxism seriously as a system upon which to base society.

I think people are misunderstanding where I'm coming from. Neo-conservatives can certainly: vote, voice their opinions, write their literature, and indeed, write their apologia.

But why should I, and you, and the country in general, in the fabulous year 2005, take this theory and those that espoused it in 2003 any more seriously than I would a disheveled individual handing out handwritten leaflets in a park?

The answer, of course, is because they are in power. But I meant more in relation to the blogosphere.

Why should I take Belgravia Dispatch seriously anymore, after all this time?

I believe we're going to see just how much this "isn't about democracy" when Teheran Lite is poised to roll out their prayer rugs on the east lawns of Baghdad's mansions of power.

Gary: were you thinking the time-stamps would be nice again?
(me too).

It's actually been my impression that the flypaper has, unfortunately, worked very well. Right now it seems to have about a quarter million flies stuck to it. If you look really close, you can even see the little US flags stitched on their uniforms...

"Right now it seems to have about a quarter million flies stuck to it."

140,000, but who's counting.

If we had 250,000, things might not be so bad. Maybe.

This reminds me of the people who, quite soon after the past election, decided they had buyer's remorse in voting for Bush (I think Roxanne was collecting a few of these links). I can't quite remember what happened between all their "Democrats are the root of all evil and besides, Kerry windsurfs" posts and their "Oops, my bad" mea culpas, but my reaction is the same...

Give them (minimal) credit for finally seeing through all the right wing nonsense, but wait and see where they take it from there.

How can a "democracy" be born, while it attracts thousands of non-democratic forces?

Imperialists and terrorists are not the greatest soil from which democracy can bloom.

I'm not a Christian, but I seem to recall something about "let he who is without sin" and something about motes in one's eye.

I probably misunderstood the meanings and points, though, not being Christian.

I think anyone can get a clue at any time and I rejoice when they do. But when they've set themselves up as authorities in some sense back when they were clueless I want more than the fact of the clue now - I want them to understand and explain how they went wrong, before they ask me to trust their authority again.

This doesn't have to involve any sackcloth or ashes at all, not if they're willing to be a little modest about it. "I had this bad information, let my prejudices here get away with me, and then let my desire to have that happen turn into a conviction that therefore it could and must." Then they show me better methods, and they get my respect as someone who's clearly learning from experience. It's more painful than that only when they want to dodge the simple responsibility for having been wrong in fact and interpretation, as though perfection is reasonable to ever expect.

To use myself as an example:

In 2000, I gravely underestimated the differences between Bush and Gore, focusing on what I took to be crucial similarities as far as being basically generic technocrats. I dismissed a bunch of the objections to Bush as merely shrill, and underestimated the extent to which the press coverage of the candidates was skewing even further than I was already expecting.

So here's what I've done since then.

First of all, I've apologized to a bunch of the people I dismissed as shrill.

Second, I've forced myself to go slower in reacting to tone before I can evaluate the information, and for good verifiable info I will put up with more than I used to. I rejoice extra when good info and good tone combine, but I see the problems as serious enough that I don't indulge myself in ready dismissal nearly so much.

Third, while I myself was already pretty well ignoring the mainstream media, I've gotten a lot more active about keeping key contexts and rebuttals handy to pass along to friends, so as to help keep counter-currents circulating. I'm also supporting and contributing to people doing genuinely careful reporting, in hopes of letting them keep at it.

Fourth, I've made a crucial shift in my evaluations. I want honest, sound, and focused government, to a degree that puts every major candidate away from my ideal position. And I'm really aware of the trap of partial solutions, when they make it possible for folks to say "okay that's enough" and then just stop going in a direction I think good. But now I'm giving a lot more weight to the vector of their actions. Show me someone heading toward balanced budgets, open decision-making, honest accounting, and the like, and I'll favor them over someone heading away from some or all of those. Likewise with careful diplomacy, attention to long-term economic and environmental consequences, the rule of law, and so on. I will now hasten to vote for a major party's candidates when they seem to me to differ in any meaningful way from their major-party opponents on matters of policy and procedure, where I used to hold out for the very rare candidate of whom I could say "Yes, their policies would really satisfy me."

There are some more points but those are the biggies, and I think they'll keep me from making that particular category of mistake again. I'm not angst-y about it, nor would I respond to a big guilt trip about, even as I'd say "Yes, you're right, I should have seen what a lot of others did then, and I sure hope I'm out of that particular set of traps."

Based on the above, I nominate Bruce Baugh - Adult of the Month.

(Nicely put, Bruce).

Bruce has been an adult for all the years I've been reading him, which is, my memory vaguely indicates, since somewhere in the mid or late Nineties on the Usenet newsgroups we used to both see each other's posts on. (I used to once think that many of the folks I interacted with there would come over to my blog and comment now and again, when I made the move, but I misunderestimated that drastically.)

I second xanax's nomination.

Gary, this seems like a nice place to talk, and one such suffices for me. One problem with an owner-run site for discussion is the always-upward orientation. Here when hilzoy starts ranting I just go chat on one of von's threads, or SH's, and how Slart feels about my tendency to obscenity and intolerance of the serial comma doesn't necessarily matter.


The adult comment above might deserve posting.

rilkefan (upthread): "Do I really have to read someone who thinks "Democrat party" is grammatic?"

You have to admit, rilkefan, the red team's recent/sly shift from Democratic to Democrat, as in Democrat Party, Democrat Candidate, etc. is one area in which the Rs are winning the all important war of terminology. We live in a quasi Democracy and ergo Democratic sounds good. Unwilling to cede that advantage, I noticed in this past election cycle they've all begun replacing Democratic with Democrat. It wrankles and I believe it's working for them.

yeah god I hate it when hilzoy starts ranting.

Just like, non-stop vituperation, invective, and cheap shots. A lot of cheap shots.

Course, I couldn't even *say* this on one of her threads, or she'd lay into me all snide and hostile like. Trouble I don't need.

i agree: very adult.

on a similar note, i was surprised to see the Daily Show audience applauding Hitchens on his recent appearance. he and Stewart had one of the best TV discussions of Iraq that I've seen. even though Hitchens was very pro-Iraq-War, pro-Bush, etc., he did a good job of actually debating and not just shouting and demonizing. i disagreed with his conclusion, but at least he seemed like he based it on reasonable premises and wasn't just trying to clear the brush for Bush. Hitchens smacked down the flypaper theory neatly (paraphrase): "either the war is 'global' or it's not."

In the xanax lexicon "wrankles" = rankles.

[applauding Hitchens after he made relatively non-Daily-Show points, and not just at the end, that is]

xanax,

The shift to "Democrat Party" isn't recent. It started with Joe McCarthy.

But, you must admit DTM, that terminology hasn't again been taken up much until very, very recently. Least as far as I've heard / been paying attention / for the last 40 years.

I second xanax's nomination.

And so also seconded. Or fourthed. Or whatever.

Indeed, I believe this approach to life epitomizes what a citizen in a modern democracy should model themselves on.

Don't get cocky though, with all this sunshine blowing up your nethers, Bruce.

Umm. I meant in base 9. Yeah. That's it.

Since there is general agreement that Bruce Baugh has outlined an *adult* approach to how a democratic citizen should arrive at their political opinions, may I take this opportunity to make the converse point?

One of the things that I find most upsetting about America under the Rove/Bush/DeLay regime is the extent to which it *infantilizes* citizens.

The regime's entire attitude to the voting public has been: Father Knows Best.

They have made it clear that the job of a good citizen is to take everything on trust, never question, and never ask for accountability. They have even gone so far as to have people swear loyalty to Bush.

And now, of course, we are simply told to Stay The Course, which is another way of saying Father Knows Best.

I was reading Bainbridge the other day, and wound up on a site by somebody called "The Anchoress". It was a fascinating glimpse into one segment of the Bush base. This woman, heavily Christian, clearly thinks that Bush bears a sort of divine grace. He is always right. He is always triumphant. Any apparent stumbles are only clever ruses to trip up his opponents. Any temporary setbacks are merely delays before the day of glory arrives.

She trusts him, and indeed puts a sort of child-like trust in him. She was willing to say that she is a little disappointed that democracy has not been marching quite as quickly in the last few months as it did in the early months of the year. But--and this was the best part--she was sure these setbacks were only the prelude to a special surprise that Bush has planned for September. Something that will astound the world, confound his critics, and set everything to rights. She has no idea what it will be, but she has complete faith in Bush.

This is what it means to be infantilized as a citizen. This is deeply pernicious, and contrary to any possible understanding of how democracies work. Democracies are not supposed to function on blind faith and charismatic father-figures. That may be a good model for fascism, but it is not how democracy is supposed to work.

So I offer this by way of a useful contrast, since our topic is what it means to be an adult citizen in a democracy.

No. Hold on. That doesn't work either. Darn.

"...the always-upward orientation."

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what that means; could you explain, please?

"Here when hilzoy starts ranting...."

When has hilzoy ever "rant[ed]"?

"Unwilling to cede that advantage, I noticed in this past election cycle they've all begun replacing Democratic with Democrat."

I was going to respond, but DTM got there first; it's a trend accelerating for a long time, and absolutely in no way started in the last one, two, or three, Presidential election cycles.

2shoes: Don't worry. I am entirely confident that I'll break my own principles in a minor way soon and in some major way before not very long. Having a good standard won't guarantee I keep to it. :)

Tad: Very strongly agreed about the infantilizing thing, and how creepy and wrong it is.

"The regime's entire attitude to the voting public has been: Father Knows Best."

That follows from wanting to gather unto yourself power without restraint of any sort; it's inherent. As I blogged here, I immensely recommend this. Go forth and read it all, all, I hope.

"here" was supposed to be a link to my original post, but screw it.

Re: Democrat vs. Democratic: Perhaps my ears, only of late, have grown more finely attuned to this (glaring!) nuance. But I certainly didn't hear it in evidence at this level during the 2000 election cycle. Did you? By the way, I'm surprised, Gary, you didn't catch 'wrankles' before I did.

"...the always-upward orientation."

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what that means; could you explain, please?

I was partly grooving on the assonantal trochees, but also saying that in this community the Powers are more primi inter pares - it's maybe a historical accident that DaveC isn't a poster, or Anarch - while on your blog (as on say John Cole's blog) you set the agenda and tone and everything is to some extent about you.

"Here when hilzoy starts ranting...."

When has hilzoy ever "rant[ed]"?

When has she not ranted? Just the other day she was threatening to tear my head off and go bowling in traffic, hence the beauty of being able to comment-chill with von till that blew over.

Jack Lecou: No. Hold on. That doesn't work either. Darn.

Emacs calc tells me that 9#250000 is 150,903. Well, it's close. The idea is the important thing. [Base 8 is just like base 10, really -- if you're missing two fingers.]

rilkefan: I can't remember the exact words, but I think Sulla called my 'More Things We Throw Away' post a 'teary rant', or some such thing.

And you weren't supposed to overhear the bowling part -- I was just going to ask you politely to borrow your head, keeping my nefarious plans to myself...

"...while on your blog (as on say John Cole's blog) you set the agenda and tone and everything is to some extent about you."

Ah, okay. Guilty as charged, absolutely, m'lud.

Um, commenting is gravy (which I get relatively little of, and thus crave, but still); I'd just hope you'd find, at least when I'm posting much, some timely and interesting or amusing stuff on my blog (for instance, many things blogged here are things I blogged the day or days before). But if not, not, and if life is too short, understood, and no hard feelings.

About hilzoy, you can give me my leg back whenever you feel like it.

Just the other day she was threatening to tear my head off and go bowling in traffic, hence the beauty of being able to comment-chill with von till that blew over.

I dunno, I thought I overheard von telling Slarti to harvest the spleens of various posters for his famed comment-chilli...

Tad, following up on your comments, I was commenting at Reason the other day on a post that was not particularly kind to GWB, and where a couple of commenters came in and just unleashed vicious personal attacks on Nick Gillespie and on other commenters. After which I noted that, while all Presidents (at least in the modern era) appear to develop personality cults of one kind or another, GWB's is of a different sort altogether.

While the Reagan personality cult seemed at least to be grounded in a genuine affection for and admiration for the man, and Clinton's was based entirely on his immense personal charm, GWB's personality cult is rooted in something base and ugly, that really brings out the worst in people. Say something negative about him, and you will find yourself on the receiving end of a tirade usually reserved for implying that someone's mother slept with the fleet or something. It's really weird, how personally people take it.

Phil: I agree. I want to say something that I fear will be taken as a sneer, even though I don't mean it that way...

I think very strongly that a significant part of the GWB cult is unacknowledged fear.

Men in particular get a lot of cultural prejudice against saying "I'm afraid' and actually meaning it, not rushing on to explain how it's father-knows-best worry about the exuberant kids, or a manly intellectual awareness, or anything but actually being scared about something. As with my earlier comments about it being harder to deal with a serious mistake when you're not willing to say "I was wrong", so it's easy to get into all sorts of trouble for not being willing to say "I'm afraid".

For one thing, it leaves us open to manipulation by people who are willing to pander to the fear without requiring us to face up to it and deal with it as an emotion that might not actually be appropriate, nor to ask whether lashing out in a particular way is actually going to relieve the fear in a constructive way.

I could be a lot harsher about this if I weren't prone to the same problem. I'm better than many almost-40 guys about this, but that's because I have chronic health problems and have to be able to deal directly with emotions that are going to affect my neurochemistry and to ask for help from strangers on short notice. So that's not really virtue on my part, just dealing with a rare reality. On the other hand, I feel very comfortable condemning those who exploit it.

[Base 8 is just like base 10, really -- if you're missing two fingers.]

Actually, if you use the spaces between your fingers, you have got base 8. It has been posited that native American tribes in California use base 4 because of this (when counting, it was noted that they use the spaces rather than the fingers)

link

I started trying to teach Mrs. R. how to count up to 1023 on her fingers yesterday.

I hope the title of the post will prove prophetic; that President Bush's future speeches and our actions will provide the evidence. Recent speeches, http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-aug2405-text_of_president's_speech.a685560d.html>not so much:

You're not only protecting the American homeland, you're also taking the fight to the enemy.

Since September the 11th, 2001, more than 243,000 members of the National Guard have been mobilized for various missions in the war on terror.
...
We remain a nation at war. The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001... Our enemies murder because they despise our freedom and our way of life. We believe in human rights, and the human dignity of every man, woman and child on this Earth. The terrorists believe that all human life is expendable.
...
During the last few decades, the terrorists grew to believe that if they hit America hard, as in Lebanon and Somalia, America would retreat and back down.
...
On September the 11th, 2001, we saw the future that the terrorists intend for our country and the lengths they're willing to go to achieve their aims. We faced a clear choice. We could hunker down, retreating behind a false sense of security, or we could bring the war to the terrorists, striking them before they could kill more of our people.

I made a decision -- America will not wait to be attacked again. Our doctrine is clear: We will confront emerging threats before they full[y] materialize. And if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist.

We will stay on the offense. We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq. An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I'm the President, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror.

Since September the 11th, we've followed a clear strategy to defeat the terrorists and protect our people. First, we are defending the homeland.
...
The second part of our strategy is this...the only way to defend our citizens where we live is to go after the terrorists where they live.

When the terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks on America and the rest of the civilized world. So we're after the enemy across the globe.

And the third part of our strategy is this: We're spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.

One of the most important battlefronts in this war on terror is Iraq. Terrorists have converged on Iraq. See, they're coming into Iraq because they fear the march of freedom. Their most prominent leader is a Jordanian named Zarqawi, who has declared his allegiance with Osama bin Laden.
...
The stakes in Iraq could not be higher. The brutal violence in Iraq today is a clear sign of the terrorists' determination to stop democracy from taking root in the Middle East. They know that the success of a free Iraq, who can be a key ally in the war on terror and a symbol of success for others, will be a crushing blow to their strategy to dominate the region, and threaten America and the free world. They know that when their hateful ideology is defeated in Iraq, the Middle East will have a clear example of freedom and prosperity and hope.
...
And so they're fighting these efforts in Iraq with all the brutality they can muster. Yet, despite the violence we see every day, we're achieving our strategic objectives in Iraq.
...
Like free people everywhere, Iraqis desire to defend their own country... As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when the Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

The battle lines in Iraq are now clearly drawn for the world to see, and there is no middle ground. ... Terrorists will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated.
...
Since the morning of September the 11th, we have known that the war on terror required great sacrifice, as well. In this war, we have said farewell to some very good men and women, including 491 heroes of the National Guard and Reserves. We mourn the loss of every life. We pray for their loved ones. These brave men and women gave their lives for a cause that is just and necessary for the security of our country, and now we will honor their sacrifice by completing their mission.

I realize that "taking the fight to the terrorists", as a phrase, is not equivalent to "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here". It encapsulates actions (policing, military surgical strikes, even invasion of uncooperative/unrepentant state sponsors of global terrorism) that approximately the same 90% of the public who supported the Afghanistan invasion would support as a strategy in the ill-named War on Terror. Plus its focus group numbers are much higher...

Here's my problem though: the 9/11 -> WoT -> Iraq -> take the fight to the terrorists construction is the flypaper theory. And the biggest difference between Bush's actions and the likely actions of any President following 9/11 is the Iraq invasion with all its mismanagement - what that construction is intended to justify. It is a device to avoid responsibility for past mistakes, and gives no cause to believe that lessons have been learned.

The speechwriters deserve raises. They are doing an commendable job of turning lemons into lemonade. That this administration won't provide them with any other working materials is hardly their fault.

But I'm damn tired of lemonade. So I hope that Republicans who are similarly tired of it won't settle for merely adjusting the sugar/juice ratio.

I started trying to teach Mrs. R. how to count up to 1023 on her fingers yesterday.

Smart move, waiting after the wedding.

Have you given her the broken weights/balance/whatever problem yet? That's always good for a laugh too...

Here's my problem though: the 9/11 -> WoT -> Iraq -> take the fight to the terrorists construction is the flypaper theory.

This, I think, is not correct. The Flypaper Theory isn't just 'fighting them where they are.' It's going where they aren't -- or at least where a great many of them aren't -- drawing that great many to our forces, and then fighting them there. It's using our Army as bait. And, more commonly, using the people in Iraq who work (or might work) with us as bait.

It was, in my view, always a post hoc rationalization by bloggers, and never an accurate description of Admin policy. That is, we never put the bait on a hook, and tossed it over the side on a line. We've just been watching as big fish come jump into our boat, eat the little fish we've got there, and then either slip back into the sea, or flap impotently on the deck (but having made the point about safety of little fish and dedication of big fish). That is, it's not causal.

Now there are, we're told, some foreigners who are coming to Iraq to fight the Crusader, and his heretic and apostate lackeys. I suppose there is some benefit to capturing those people -- and I suppose we can do a better job of it in Iraq than we can in Saudi Arabia. (Even if we can do only a poor job of it in Iraq). I'm not sure, though, whether we're really capturing all that many of them, or whether the way those foreigners who are killed in Iraq are dying is in car bombs -- a dreadfully inefficient way for us to "fight" them.

There is a sense, though, in which the factual underpinning of a flypaper theory may well be partially sound. Suppose you're a Saudi, outraged by the acts of the West. You want to fight the infidel, give your life in the cause. Become one of the 'honored dead,' as Bogie put it in Casablanca. Where do you go -- Las Vegas or Ramadi? The choice is so easy, it may be sound to say that we won't see any jihadis in Las Vegas as long as we're giving easy access to targets in Ramadi.

It's clear enough to see that the Admin has created what is, for now at least, a failed state -- at least over large stretches. The notion that it did so on purpose -- and this is what you'd have to buy to fully buy the FT -- is I think even beyond these guys. Rather, the FT is the result of a search for a silver lining, any silver lining.

I overly condensed that. Iraq was not a hothouse of terrorists prior to the invasion, so the idea that we'd be "taking the fight to the terrorists" in Iraq is of course silly. I should have included a parenthetical to that effect.

The continuous attempt after the fact to blur the edges and pretend the Iraq invasion meshes seamlessly into a grand strategy in the WoT rankles. Doing so partly by refusing to give up that "silver lining" -trying instead to polish it- is what I was pointing to. This as opposed to admitting error, firing screwups and moving forward constructively.

On the merits of the theory: To the extent that we do provide a magnet, it is probably worth noting the formulation "fighting them there so we don't fight them here" is unlikely to fully encapsulate this. Fighting them there so they don't fight other governments is much less likely to garner domestic support. Particularly if "them" includes Chechens, Uighur, etc.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad