When you're right you're right
"Left-wing-linguist paid too much"
I was in the newspaper again this morning. The headline was "Left-wing linguist paid too much". Not exactly what I meant when I wrote it.
It's about Noam Chomsky, the diety of the Left. I can bet there will be a few angry letters to the editor on that one.
It's difficult to read because it has grey letters on a grey background. But if you highlight the whole thing, it becomes clear.
Democrats finally admit it: they have no ideas for Iraq
Politics pre-1994 was an entirely different world than politics today. In 1994, the Democrats held the White House, Senate, and the House of Reprentatives, much the same way that the Republicans do today.
As strange as it sounds, there were some advantages to being in the minority. Though the Republicans lacked the political capital to do much of anything, other than maybe slowing down the runaway train of Democratic government, they did have some advantages.
Republicans were in attack mode back then. These days they (or should I say we?) are in defense mode. Back then we could criticize everything the government was doing, placing all blame on the Democrats, and leave the folks on the other side of the aisle to defend the government's actions. These days, it's the other way around.
I've noticed the Democrats actually seem to revel in this. Don't get me wrong--the Democrats want their power back--but they've learned the advantages of being able to blame all political failues on their opponents. After all, the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress run the show. When things go wrong, the powerful must be held responsible. These days, "the powerful" are Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Frist, and Hastert.
But there's one thing that Republicans never did, and what the Democrats are doing now. Republicans never said "don't look to us for answers, we're in the minority!" When the Republicans stormed Congress in 1994, it was not with a battle cry of "we have no plan!" No, we did it with a simple, ten point plan we liked to call the Contract With America.
But the Democrats lack a major plan today. I'm talking about their position on the Iraq War. In my entire life, I have never seen such defeatism, Monday-morning-quarterbacking, and Arm-chair-generaling. In their minds, this is a substitute for a strategy.
These days, they're even admitting it. Just ask Paul Begala and James Carville, the former Clinton Administration's "dream team" of political advisors, and current regulars on political talking heads shows. In their most recent book, Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future,
Carville and Begala admit the complete lack of a plan on the behalf of the Democrats. Under the heading "Challenge Bush to Win in Iraq", the two write:
Only in the minds of Bush Republicans (and the national media) does it make sense to fault Democrats for not having the solution to the mess in Iraq. Democrats do not control the White House. They do not control the House or Senate. And they sure don't control the Pentagon. And we're supposed to clean up this mess?
The truth is, most Democrats opposed the war. If the politicians in Washington had listened to the Democrats in America (or the two Democrats on Crossfire), we never would have invaded in the first place.
Later, the political super-duo write:
Democrats can, should, and do criticize the Bush policy (or lack thereof) in Iraq. But it's unrealistic to expect them to solve Bush's problems in a sound bite. It's as if they are saying, "Because we've screwed up so badly in Iraq, there really is no good solution, which means you don't have a solution either. So, because you don't have a solution, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place."
Finally, Begala and Carville conclude, "America can do better. Democrats should set the bar for Bush in Iraq: victory. They should support any requests for funding our troops in the field. But they should not be shamed into silence merely because they don't have a silver bullet to a problem that has no obvious solution."
There are so many things wrong with these statements, it's hard to know where to begin.
First of all, the two are right to say that they don't hold the reigns of power in Washington, thank goodness. But they'd like to have those reigns back someday, wouldn't they? In order to do that, they need a plan, they need vision. They have neither. Instead they have complaints and a "don't look to us for solutions, we're the minority party" attitude. I don't believe that any party has ever been elected to power on a platform such as that.
Or just look at it the other way. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the Democratic onslaught has been entirely negative, and focused almost entirely on Iraq. Bush lied. Bush took his eye off the ball. Bush can't do anything right in Iraq. Boot the bum out of office, and elect us. But why? Your team can't do any better.
At least back in 2004, John Kerry claimed to have a "secret plan" to win the war. He used the phrase "I can do better" almost as much as he said "When I was in Vietnam..." But I guess Democrats don't even have that anymore. They can't do better, and now they're admitting it.
Furthermore, the "national media" does not ask Democrats for solutions. Reporters only ever seem to ask the "tough questions" about Iraq when talking to Republicans. When talking to Democrats, they toss them softballs, ready-made for the Democrats to wallop out of the park. Any question about Iraq posed to a Democrat can automatically be answered with some variation on the following Democratic talking points: Yes, it's terrible that 1) our commander-in-chief misled us into war, 2) that our troops don't have body armor, and 3) that he seems to have no clear exit strategy.
In other words, asking the "tough questions" about Iraq to a Democrat seems to put that Democrat in a position to bash his opponents. Once again, the Democrats have the luxury of playing offense, while Republicans have to play defense.
Carville and Begala are also wrong to say "The truth is, most Democrats opposed the war. If the politicians in Washington had listened to the Democrats in America, (or the two Democrats on Crossfire), we never would have invaded in the first place."
I can see here that Clinton's boys are drawing a distinction between Democratic voters and Democratic elected officials. What he's saying is that Democratic voters were against the war but Democratic politicians went against the will of their consticuencies and voted for it anyway. Is it even true that most Democrats were against the war from the start? They provide no evidence of this, and based on some of the other whoppers in the book, I'm not taking their scout's honor on it.
Those Democrats who voted for the war, I salute you. It was the right decision. But to this point, I can think of only one Democrat who has stood up and taken the credit he deserves: Joe Lieberman.
But if Carville and Begala really want to blame Democratic politicians for not listening to Democratic voters, he must admit that it is those very same politicians who have a duty to their voters to provide a solution. Are they trying to tell me that an elected Democrat who voted for the war can now shrug his shoulders and say, "don't look at me"? I'm talking about Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, and Harry Reid among others. I'm talking about eighty-one Democrats in the House of Representatives. No, a majority of Democrats in the Senate and sizable 81 in the House voted for this war, and now they're trying to pretend that they share no responsibility to finish it, simply because they have a "D" after their names.
What Carville and Begala wanted to say was that the Democratic Party was against this whole thing from the beginning, so it's not their fault. But they couldn't say that, because a quick check of the roll call votes would reveal that the Democrats were in on it in a big way. In the Senate, a majority of Democrats voted for the war. The House is another story, but even there 81 Democrats voted for the war, and 126 against.
So they can't say that the Democrats had nothing to do with this, because they did. Instead they use the lame argument that the majority of Democratic voters were against the war, so that means that Democratic politicians (who didn't listen to those voters) are off the hook. Great, well now that we've exonerated all Congressional Democrats, the two strategists can get back to doing what they do best--slinging mud at Republicans. We all know that that's how we win a war.
According to Carville and Begala "Democrats can, should, and do criticize the Bush policy, (or lack thereof) in Iraq." Yes, and that's about all they do. I hate to use a cliche here, but they are "invested in defeat". Bad news for America is good news for Democrats.
But to say that Bush does not have a policy is a bold-faced lie. The short form of his policy is "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." That's what President Bush told troops gathered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 2005. I happen to agree--how else can we go home and leave a stable Iraqi government in place? Cuttting and running now? Carville and Begala mock Bush's Fort Bragg pronouncement, saying that it's a "a slogan, not a policy."
Okay, Paul and James. That's too short on details for you? How about this? Is this a strategy? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/Iraqnationalstrategy11-30-05.pdf That's the White House's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", released November 30, 2005.
It would be one thing if they thought that Bush's strategy wouldn't work. If not, fine. I would listen to the exalted former-Clinton staffers take me through their objections point by point, telling me what the problems are with the strategy, and what they would do better. But they haven't done that, and that's not even what they're saying. What they're saying is that Bush doesn't have a strategy. That's simply not true.
One of these days, I'm going to get around to reading that entire document. I suspect Carville and Begala haven't read it either. After all, they don't even seem to know that the document exists. I suspect that they actually do know of the existence of "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", but just choose to lie through their teeth anyway, singing in chorus with the rest of the Democrats that "Bush has no plan on Iraq".
So, in fact, President Bush and the Republicans do have a strategy, despite obvious lies to the contrary from hysterical opponents of the White House. The Clinton super-duo and their Democratic friends in Congress have no such plan, and don't think they have any obligation to come up with one. Their only obligation is to complain more. Still thinking of voting Democrat this Fall?
"But it's unrealistic to expect them to solve Bush's problems in a sound bite," write Carville and Begala. First of all, what's going on in Iraq is not "Bush's problems". I can't say that I really like Iraq refered to as a "problem" (was World War II "Roosevelt's problem"?) but I can understand what they mean. It wasn't over as quickly and cleanly as expected (though never promised) by Republicans. Now challenges lie before this. I think a little Yankee know-how and national unity will get us through this. We're Americans, and challenges are what we do best.
But note the fact that he calls it "Bush's problems". Huh? And he thinks that Republicans are dividing the country? Iraq is a "problem" (as I said, I don't like using that word) for the entire country. It's our boys and girls over there. It's our tax dollars being spent. If you ever want the voters to trust you again, you can't just sit on your hands and say that it's not the responsibility of the Democrats to fix "Bush's problems". If the Democrats can't muster the willpower (or the brainpower) to fix "Bush's problems", can't they at least solve the "problems" of a family in Ohio whose son is deployed, and whom they want to see come home, without the disasterous effects of abandoning Iraq now? To be sure, both Carville, Begala, and most congressional Democrats say that they're for victory. They just don't know how to achieve that victory, and asking them for a strategy is asking too much.
Furthemore, no one is asking for a "sound bite" from the Democrats. If they have an idea, they should say it. It doesn't have to be a sound bite, and no one ever said that it did. If that idea takes the form of 38-page pdf file, as Bush's strategy does, then fine. Democrats should write their own "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" and let America decide who has the better plan. But as it stands right now, our plan ("As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down") beats their plan ("Don't look at us to solve Bush's problems!") hands down. As you can see, we have one party with a plan (the party of the elephant), and one party that denies the existence of that plan while simoltaneously believing that it has no responsibility to come up with a plan of its own (the party of the ass).
Carville and Begala are really on a roll this time. They continue, "It's as if they are saying 'Because we screwed up so badly in Iraq, there really is no good solution, so you don't have a solution either. So, because you don't have a solution, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place.'"
No, that's not what Republicans are saying at all, and these two clowns know it. First of all, we haven't "screwed up so badly in Iraq". It hasn't been as quick and clean as we would have liked, but that's okay. America has fought plenty of wars before that were neither quick nor clean. We persevere. That's what we do over here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Furthermore, there is plenty of good news coming from Iraq: we captured Saddam Hussein, and he's currently on trial (even though the Left said we wouldn't), we transferred sovereignty to a new Iraqi government two days earlier than planned (even though Democrats said it was a pipedream), we've held two successful elections and one successful constitutional referendum (even though Democrats said it was impossible). Last, but not least, the Iraqi people approved a constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, equality for women under the law, and universal suffrage, (even though the Democrats said we would be ushering a new Iranian style human-rights nightmare).
So we aren't doing all bad, and I have never ever heard a Republican say that we need the Democrats to come rescue us, because we've "screwed up so badly in Iraq". As mentioned before, we have also not said, as Carville and Begala claim "...there really is no good solution, you you don't have a solution either, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place."
Actually, what we're saying is that the Republicans do have a solution, and we'd like to compare our solution to the Democrats' solution, if only they had none. Furthermore, even if the two Democratic strategists believe that this whole war is misbegotten, a majority of their party voted in favor of it, in the Senate, if not the House. And they still think they can wash their hands of it, and pretend that "Bush's problems" are not their responsibility?
Finally, the Clinton tag-team writes, "Democrats should set the bar for Bush in Iraq: victory. They should support any requests for funding our troops in the field. But they should not be shamed into silence merely because they don't have a silver bullet to a problem with no obvious solution."
It's like they're from another planet! I'm glad that these two guys are pro-victory. So am I. But I'm not sure that their party is. Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, is not. He wants to cut and run, (or "redeployment" as he calls it), setting up bases in neighboring countries, where we can come to the rescue if the Iraqi forces are overwhelmed. Great plan, Howie. Stick to playing doctor. Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, wants to surrender as well. So does Representaive John Murtha.
Still, even those Democrats who say they're in favor of victory don't seem to act like it. Call me cynical if you want, but I don't think they have America's best interests at heart. I think that they see the "disaster" in Iraq as an opportunity to claim their power back for another forty years.
Furthermore, Democrats have not "support[ed] any request for funding our troops in the field." Not even close. Remember John Kerry and his "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it?" Kerry had a million explanations for that vote, but I didn't buy any of them. When the chips were down, he voted against it. So did lots of Democrats. In the midst of a war that many of them voted for, and which they still claim to want victory in, the Democrats--not exactly the party of fiscal discipline--couldn't seem to cough up the dough for our troops. All they knew how to do was complain that it was costing too much.
Nor are they being "shamed in silence" because they have no solution. Frankly, I wish they would talk more. But I'd like to hear some constructive criticism. Give us ideas, not complaints. According to the these DNC dieities, Democrats are not up to that challenge.
As the title of their section implies, the Democrats want to "challenge Bush on Iraq". What they mean by this, of course, is to resist everything he does, every step of the way, try to eliminate support for the war at home, embolden our enemies, and get elected on a rising tide of anti-Republican sentiment that they created themselves. But they don't say this. They say they're pro-victory, they just want our commander-in-chief (who can't do anything right, and never will so long as you're asking a Democrat) to fix everything. And they want to be consulted on everything he does, so they can complain about it, but offer no actual alternatives.
That's their idea of leadership. I'm not kidding.
How to go from militia member wingnut to blind government follower in ten years or less
It was a hot summer morning in 2004, and I was driving east on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Ahead of me, I saw a beat up old pickup truck, its tail end absolutely plastered with bumperstickers. I'm a bumpersticker reader, so you know I couldn' resist the temptation to read them. I hit the gas and tailed the truck closely.
The bumperstickers were entirely political: anti-war, anti-Bush, and "progressive". There was even a campaign sticker for the leftist clown from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich. Then I saw one that brought me back a decade. It read: "I love my country, but I fear my government".
It reminded me of eighth grade, the year that I really started to become interested in politics. Looking back, I realize that I didn't know much about politics, but there was one thing I did know--I didn't like the government. I wasn't an anarchist, but I did believe in Thomas Jefferson's maxim that "the government is best which governs least." I believed that people could take care of themselves better than the government could. I believed that our government is bloated and corrupt.
"I love my country, but I fear my government" was a popular bumpersticker at that time as well. Though I never bought the sticker (I was too young to drive, and thus had no bumper to put it on) I adopted it as my personal motto.
As a believer in smaller government, I naturally gravitated toward the Republicans, who were (at the time, at least) the party of smaller government. You could build a solid argument that after an eleven year reign in both houses of Congress, the Republicans have fallen as deeply in love with government as the Democrats ever were. Nonetheless, in 1994--that seminal eighth grade year--the Republicans ran and won on a platform of less government. I welcomed the new Republican majority.
The Democrats paniced. After forty years in power, the acted likes spoiled brats when they lost their majority. It was the first time I glimpsed the antics of prissy liberals who can't get their way anymore.
The Republicans took their seats in January 1995, and the long exile in the wilderness began for the Democratic Party. Later that year--April 19th, to be exact--a tradgedy struck the heartland of the United States. America's most infamous domestic terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people (including 19 children), and wounding in excess of 800.
The Democrats were quick to point the finger at Republicans, linking the Republican Revolution of 1994 with the "climate of hate" that produced McVeigh. President Clinton blamed it on "hate radio", i.e. the same Rush Limbaugh and his imitatators, who had played a large role in the Republican Revolution of 1994 . Overnight, right-wing militias and observant Christians became the objects of suspicion, despite the fact that McVeigh never belonged to a militia and was only nominally religious.
For more on McVeigh's religious views, read Time
Magazine's 1996 interview with McVeigh. Time
asked McVeigh if he was religious, and his response was "I was raised Catholic. I was confirmed Catholic. Through my military years, I sort of lost touch with the religion. I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs." Sounds like a lot of luke-warm, wishy-washy Christians I know--oh, I don't really practice my faith, but I still maintain the core beliefs.
asked if he believed in God, his response was "I do believe in God, yes. But that's as far as I want to discuss." Not exactly a Jesus freak.
Democrats tried to spread McVeigh's guilt far and wide, in order to discredit political enemies (Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich) and associate anything Christian or conservative with McVeigh. They had a large degree of success, judging by the amount of people who hold the false belief that McVeigh was Christian fanatic.
My teachers at the time were largely liberal, and they swallowed this matrix hook, line, and sinker. Suddenly, my anti-government ideas made my teachers wonder if I was angry enough to run off and join the Michigan Militia or some "survivalist" group with a compound in Idaho. My motto--"I love my country, but I fear my government--sounded like something Timothy McVeigh might say.
This was nonsense, of course. Looking back, I may have been a little extreme in my anti-government views, but I was not going to bomb a federal building and kill innocent people. My parents raised me better than that.
Over the years, my anti-government ideas have softened, if only a little. If you had asked me in 1995, what I thought about welfare, I would have told you that I objected to it on principal--government should not be in the business of taking from those who work and giving to those who don't. Robbing Peter to give to Paul is wrong. But my views on welfare have changed. I now support a sensible welfare program. What I mean by "sensible" is a program that provides basic needs (not luxuries), lasts for a limited amount of time, and encourages people to get back to work.
After learning a little more about politics, I realize that the most anti-government folks out there, short of obscure anarchist cults, are the Libertarians. Back in eighth grade, I probably would have associated myself with that party, if I had even known of its existence. But I'm not a Libertarian, and even though I prefer them to the Democrats, I still think that Libertarians sometimes go too far with their anti-government ideas.
But it's funny what a difference a decade makes. In 1994, "I love my country, but I fear my government" was the rallying cry of a new conservative movement that swept the Republicans to victory in the historic 104th United States Congress. After Oklahoma City, anyone who would say such a thing immediately aroused suspicion of being an extremist, a disciple of Timothy McVeigh. By 2004, it had morphed into a slogan of the Left.
Don't get me wrong--I still believe that skepticism of the government is healthy and proper. That's what burns me so much about the Bush-era Left--they act as if I have blind faith in the government. I assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth. I can criticize my government with the best of them, and frequently do so.
Looking back on recent history, I see plenty of room to criticize my government. I'm angry that it failed to uphold the provisions of the Treaty of Paris and condemned our allies in Vietnam to death and misery in the Communist hellhole that the liberals said would never materialize. I'm angry that Margot Kidder, the actress who played Lois Lane in the cinematic version of Superman
series, had to become a US citizen so that she could protest the Iraq War on American soil without fear of being deported to her native Canada. I'm angry that the US gives money to Palestinian "charities" that have refused to sign pledges stipulating that they will not provide material aid to terrorism. I'm angry that our government allows--and in some cases, pays for--the tragic human right abuse known as abortion. I'm angry that our government sent a small child back to live in Castro's Cuban police state. I'm angry that our government keeps itself afloat on loans from Chinese banks. I'm angry that schools, hospitals and housing on are military bases are subpar. I'm angry that my government funded both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. I'm angry that our judiciary arrogantly disregards the limits of its own power. I'm angry that the doctrine of Eminent Domain now permits cities to take private property from its citizens and give it to corporations, if it results in "the greater good" (more tax revenues for the government).
But to hear the Left tell it, we're all living in George Orwell's 1984
and I'm the brainwashed boob who follows the edicts of Oceania without question. The Left, on the other hand, thinks of itself as the heroic Winston Smith--the only man who dares to think for himself. The rest of us are just brainwashed.
In 1994, I was looked upon as a dangerous, anti-government extremist. These days, I'm called a blind follower of the government. Irony abounds.
Am I a believer in the Iraq War and the larger War on Terror? Absolutely. Do I believe that Guantanamo Bay should remain open and is completely legal under international law? Yes. But I'm not a "Kool-Aid" drinker. I came to these conclusions through reason, not blind faith. I'm not, as the Left suggests, some kind of mindless zombie in Orwell's Oceania.
In fact, it angers me that the Left seems to have claimed Orwell's 1984
for themselves. I'm a big fan of Orwell. 1984
is a dystopian masterpiece, and Animal Farm
is probably just as good. First they stole my bumpersticker, then they stole one of my favorite authors.
I found that Orwell's books appeal to me because of their anti-government message--something that made me a dangerous potential McVeigh devotee back in 1995.
If anything, these books should be a warning to the Left, not the Right. Animal Farm,
in particular, is an anti-communist parable. If Orwell wrote Animal Farm
today, he would probably be defamed as a "McCarthyite". True, you could say that Orwell was warning about any variety of totalitarianism, whether from the Right or from the Left. But Bush-age America is not a totalitarian state, and exaggerations to that extent are not valid. No, the Left does not own the works of Orwell, and I wish they would give them back. You might say that they don't "belong" to the Right either, but they certainly don't belong to the Left.
"I love my country, but I fear my government"; my old motto is still just as applicable today as it was during my eighth grade year. I can't believe that the Left has adopted it as its own, but that's okay; it's a free country. They have a right to be stupid. Still, this slogan asks us to be skeptical of our government, not to have a knee-jerk reaction against anything President Bush does, simply because it's President Bush who's doing it. Just as blind faith in the government is a vice, so too is irrational opposition.
The fear card
It was February 8, 2006 and Hillary Clinton was addressing a convention of the United Auto Workers Union in Washington, D.C. She accused Republicans of "playing the fear card" to defeat the Democrats, said that the Democrats had lost the last two elections on imagined deficits in their stances on national security issues, and that "[The Republicans] are doing it to us again." She mentioned that a recent Karl Rove speech demonstrated that the message of the Republicans has been "All we've got is fear and we're going to keep playing the fear card."
Oh Hillary, you're so funny. Well, in actuality, national security did play a major factor in the last two elections, and she is right to say that losing this crucial issue was a deathblow to the Democrats. But it isn't paranoia, it's honest concern for a real threat.
Just once, I would like to hear Hillary Clinton or any other elected Democrat say that terrorism is not a threat. Please, just do me that favor, Hillary. Get on national television and tell the nation that Bush made it all up so he could go steal Iraq's oil, build a non-existant pipeline in Afghanistan, and do the bidding of his Israeli masters. Why not, Hillary? All of your friends in the blogosphere are saying it. Your friend Michael Moore (who once described Hillary Clinton as "one hot, shit-kicking feminist babe") has said it. Why don't you say it too?
No, Hillary won't ever say that. She knows it would be political suicide, so she continues to tell the voters that "I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to fighting terrorism and standing up for national homeland security."
This is what grates me about the Democrats. Supposedly, both parties agree that we are in a global War on Terror. Supposedly both parties are equally committed to winning that war. These statements are both ridiculous lies, but we're supposed to humor the Democrats so they don't have one of those "Are you questioning my patriotism?" fits that always get embarrassing for all persons involved. So here's my question: if we all agree that terrorism is a threat, why is it that no one in the Bush Administration is ever supposed to talk about that threat?
Because that's "fear-mongering", and it's the only thing that is keeping the Democrats (who, as we all know, rightfully deserve to win) from gaining monopolistic control of the Congress and White House. Color-coded threat level warnings? Fear-mongering. Talking about bloodthirsty terrorists who want to destroy our country? Fear-mongering. Mentioning that the inmates at Gunatanamo Bay are not Boy Scouts and will return to Jihad the second they are released from prison (as the Democrats want)? Fear-mongering.
You see, only Democrats are ever allowed to talk about terrorism. The Republicans are supposed to shut up if they don't want to be accused of playing "the fear card". Of course, the Democrats can talk about terrorism all they want, flexing their pathetic national security muscles, showing the nation that despite what everyone already knows, the Democrats
are just as tough as the Republicans, and a whole lot smarter too.
For this reason, Democrats can claim America is in more danger because of the Iraq War, not less. Isn't that fear-mongering? Not according to the Democrats, it isn't. And what about the endlessly reiterated claim that terrorists are going to slip a bomb into an American port in the cargo-hold of a ship because the Bush Administration has yet to undertake the utterly impossible task of inspecting every container that comes into this country? Wouldn't a non-biased observer call that
"fear-mongering"? Not according to Hillary Clinton.
The truth is that there are real dangers in the world, and simply mentioning them out loud does not constitute "playing the fear card". In fact, how could the President possibly administer his duties without ever mentioning the words "terrorism" "al-Qaeda" "threat" or (the word that is absolutely never supposed to cross a Republican's lips, lest he be accused of "politicizing a catastrophe") "September Eleventh"? It's kind of like asking Franklin Delano Roosevelt to fight World War II, but never mention the word "Nazi".
The threat of terrorism is real. While both political parties seem to acknowledge that, some unelected members of the Left do not. Michael Moore (seated as the guest of honor next to President Carter at the 2004 Democratic National Convention) is probably one of the famous of those who deny any such threat exisits. In Moore's book Dude, Where's My Country?
Moore writes, "THERE…IS…NO…TERRORIST…THREAT!"
There is no terrorist threat, Mikey? "Well, not until Bush created it out of whole cloth for the benefit of his oil-buddies," is what I think Moore would say. Actually Michael, al-Qaeda (not the only terrorist organization in the world by any means) has attacked US interests either nine or six times, depending on how you count. And the majority of those happened before George W. Bush ever came to office. In essence, there was a War on Terror long before September 11th, we just didn't know it. As time went on, as we ignored the terrorist threat (as many liberals suggest that we do today, in order not "to make more terrorists") the damage and the audacity of the al-Qaeda network increased.
The first three attacks occured in 1992, when al-Qaeda bombed three hotels in Yemen where US troops were staying. Fortunately, no troops died. In 1993 came the masterpiece of Ramzi Yousef--the first attack on the World Trade Center, which killed six and wounded over 1,000. Al-Qaeda was probably behind the 1995 bombing of US Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia, and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers. In 1998, al-Qaeda bombed US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing upwards of two hundred innocents and injuring five thousand. They bombed the US Navy's USS Cole
in October 2000. And then of course came the big daddy of all al-Qaeda attacks--September Eleventh. Four airplanes were hijacked and used as projectiles to attack the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The last plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
And this is not counting the various other attacks that were foiled--the attempt to bomb the Catholic cathedral in Stasbourg, France for example. Nor does this include attacks against other countries, to include the bombings in Istanbul (2003), Madrid (2004) and London (2005). Nor does it include the almost daily attacks on civilians, coalition and Iraqi soldiers, and Iraqi policemen in Iraq.
There is no terrorist threat? The people New York, Washington, D.C., London, Madrid, Istanbul, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia beg to differ.
But no, George W. Bush, the commander of the United States, is never supposed to talk about it. At the same time that he's not allowed to talk about terrorism, he's supposed to be everywhere and know everything about terrorism. He's supposed to know that "Bin Laden determined to attack within the United States" means that Islamic crazies are going to hijack four airliners and crash them into the WTC and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, starting at approximately 8:46 AM Eastern Standard Time.
But the Democrats can talk about terrorism all they want. The Democrats can run off at the mouth that they are the toughest dudes on the block, that Osama bin Laden secretly fears a Democratic White House (when he isn't endorsing John Kerry, that is), that terrorists love
George W. Bush, and that we're all in more danger because of the man who sits in the Oval Office. None of that is fear-mongering.
The Democrats have a fear tactic of their own. It's the ever-looming draft scare that never seems to materialize. I remember the year 2004, probably the most-politicized year of my shot lifetime. All over my campus, there were students handing out fliers to "stop the draft". Stop what
draft? "Well, there is no draft yet, but there will be if Bush gets elected. And he's going to draft girls and college students too!"
Well, it has been 498 days since John F. Kerry (did you know that he fought in Vietnam?) conceeded the election to George W. Bush. The "November Surprise"--a middle of the night executive order from the Bush White House instituting conscription--never materialized. 498 days later, and the Marines still haven't come for my college student sister, dragging her away kicking and screaming to Parris Island and to her certain death in Fallujah.
Anyone from the Left going to apologize? Didn't think so.
It was silly then, and it's silly now too. I was hoping that this particular fear tactic had been sufficently discredited that it would not rear its ugly head again. I was cruising www.michaelmoore.com the other day, and he had it posted. The draft is coming back, said Michael. Act now to impeach Bush, resist, register as a conscientious objector, yadda yadda yadda.
There are a number of reasons why the draft scare was preposterous. The first reason is that the President of the United States does not have the authority to declare a draft by executive order. That's a function of Congress. Nice try though, guys. Also, we didn't need the troops. Yes, our forces were spread thin, but they were adequate. And the last and most important reason why this talk of Bush and the draft were absurd was that the only people talking about a draft were liberal anti-war Democrats, while a Libertarian-minded Texas Republican by the name of Ron Paul had sponsored a bill to abolish the Selective Service System all together.
The sponsor of the draft bill, Representative Charles Rangel, was a liberal anti-war Democrat, who openly admitted that his bill was rooted in anti-war sentiment. His bill was co-sponsored by fourteen other Democrats, all liberals, all anti-war. In the end, even Rangel voted against his own bill, and it went down in flames. That was 2004, and no similar measures have been considered since.
Meanwhile, the news media was trying to fan the flames of the draft fear. CBS News (if you can call it that) ran a story on Beverly Cocco, who was portrayed as a typical suburban mom. In fact, she was even portrayed as a Republican who was considering voting for the Democrats on the basis of the ficticicuous draft "issue". They failed to mention that Beverly is the Philadelphia affiliate for "People Against the Draft", a "peace" group that seeks to sew the fear of a draft in the populace in hopes of turning public opinion against the war. And she's a Republican? Somehow I doubt that.
Still, the CBS report made the not-so-subtle insinuation that vote for the Democrats was a vote against
a draft. Meanwhile, Representaive Rangel and his fourteen Democrat sidekicks were pushing their bill through committee, only to vote against it when it finally got to the House floor. What's going on here?
You might wonder why a draft might benefit the "anti-war" Left. Aren't they completely opposed to such a thing? The short answer to that question is no, not really. It's their number one scare tactic. It's their trump fear card. When they're out on the street with their "No Draft No Way!" signs, their purpose is not oppose a draft. Their purpose is to deceive the public into believing that a draft is coming and they have to do something--vote against Bush, march against the war--to avoid impending doom. There is no crebible evidence that a draft is coming, but that never stopped them before.
The unpopularity of the draft was a major factor is our defeat in the Vietnam War. The Left found a lot of support for the "anti-war" movement on college campuses; not because the students were honestly opposed to the war, but because they knew that they (or their brothers, boyfriends, etc.) could be drafted the second that their student deferment expired.
Writers such as David Horowitz have written about the loss of momentum the Left experienced when the draft was ended and the drawdown of US troops in Vietnam began. The hard Left believed that the US still provided ample reasons for protest--even for armed struggle--but they saw their support sliding away beneath them. The core of the movement had been young people whose only concern had been avoiding the draft, and seeing their friends and families do the same. Without that threat hanging over their heads, they weren't such enthusiastic Leftists anymore, and most went on to live ordinary, middle-class lives.
Don't fool yourself. The Left would love
a draft in the United States. It would lead to a revolt in the streets that would bring this war, this president, and possibly this nation to the ground. All three of these are goals of the Left. Wisely, the government has denied them the most powerful tool the Left can use to achieve these goals--the "fear card" known as the draft.
The City of San Francisco, for example, recently voted to keep military recruiters out of city schools in an initiative they call "College, not combat". The initiative is non-binding, of course, because schools have to allow the recruiters in their schools if they want to continue to receive funds from the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). So the decision was entirely symbolic.
Nonetheless, it was spearheaded by a number of radical, "anti-war", anti-military entities. The slogans of "College not combat" include "An Army of None" and "Don't Die for Recruiters' Lies". Among them, there seems to be a split--those who demand immiediate retreat from Iraq, and those who want to undermine the military recruiters so much that the government is forced to institute a draft. As counter-recruitment activist April Owens said "When the soldiers are really hurting because there are no new recruits, then we're getting somewhere."
April Owens is more candid than most Leftists I've talked to. At least she will admit what I've always known--it's not that the Left is angry because the war is going badly, they're angry because it's going too well. Hence, they do everything they can to make sure it turns out to be the nightmare that they want it to be; that way, Americans will learn "the lessons of Iraq" the same way that we learned "the lessons of Vietnam". In case you were wondering, only Leftists/liberals are allowed to determine what those lessons are, and high-browed history teachers will be teaching those "lessons" to your children and grandchildren for years to come.
So that's the tactic of the counterrecruitment movement: starve the Imperialistic War Machine (the IWM; that's our country, and it's military, by the way) to death by taking away its most precious resource--recruits. Fewer recruits mean that those already serving will have to serve longer and more tours (recall April Owens's comment When the soldiers are really hurting because there are no new recruits, then we're getting somewhere
). Long tours mean that those soldiers will be more likely to die in combat, or will have a large negtive impact on their moral. More disgruntled soldiers mean more soldiers joining "anti-war" movements, more soldiers deserting to Canada, and fewer soldiers reenlisting. More soldiers in the "anti-war" movement, more soldiers deserting to Canada, and fewer soldier reenlisting turns public opinion against the war. And fewer soldier reenlisting will inevitably be covered by the press, making potentional recruits wonder why people aren't reenlisting, and make them reconsider joining in the first place. Once again, this leads to fewer soldiers. And the cycle goes on.
This is exactly the tactic of the Left. And they hope that in the end, the IWM will be forced, because of lack of recruits, to institutue a draft. This would play right into the hands of the "anti-war" movement , and they're dissapointed (but not yet discouraged) that something like that hasn't happened.
Lacking an actual draft, they complain about the "economic draft" and the "back-door draft", both of which are inventions of a left-wing movement that has to make up phantom "drafts" because they can't seem to force a real one.
The draft is the Left's number one fear tactic. Fear of terrorism is the Right's "fear tactic". One difference between the Right and the Left, is that the Left's fear tactic is completely unfounded, where as the Right's is just common sense. The other difference between the two is that the Right actually hopes to thwart terrorism, and it's record of success thusfar works in their favor, while the Left secretly dreams at night of eighteen year old girls getting their draft notices in the mail.
Still think the military is behind you, Cindy?
Cindy Sheehan failed to show up at Ramstein Air Force base this Saturday. That's too bad. I was waiting for her.
Last Monday, America's most famous gold star mother was arrested in New York City. She had travelled to the Big Apple to present a petition of 60,000 signatures to the US Mission to the United Nations. According to Sheehan, they refused to meet with her. According to Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the US Mission, “We invited her in to discuss her concerns with a US Mission employee. She chose not to come in but to lay down in front of the building and block the entrance. It was clearly designed to be a media stunt, not aimed at rational discussion.”
Lying down in front of the mission as a method of blocking the entrance is, of course, criminal trespassing. When the police were called, she resisted arrest, also a crime. She has been charged with both.
Sheehan backed out of her scheduled plans to bring her circus to Europe, and particularly to Ramstein and Landstuhl, locations of a vital American Air Force base and military hospital, respectively. "If I am there, I won't be anywhere near the Air Force base...or participate in the march. I was brutalized in New York the other day by the NYPD and I need to go to the doctor today (Wednesday)."
Brutalized? Well that's a strong word. I would suggest to Cindy Sheehan that officers of the law have the right to use force to subdue criminals who are resisting arrest. Not excessive force, but force. So if Cindy got hurt, her injuries her her own fault, not the responsibility of the New York Police Department. To me, it sounds like another "oh poor Cindy" media stunt mixed up with a little anti-police sentiment.
Cindy's supporters in Germany said that they would go on with the march despite the absence of their Dali Lama. That's fine. The loyal opposition came out to oppose her as well.
The weather was raw this Saturday. It was a cold Saturday afternoon in March, with intermittent rain, but that didn't stop about fifteen counter-protestors from coming out to meet Cindy Sheehan. Our message? You're dead wrong, Cindy. You don't speak for the military, and you don't speak for their families.
We positioned ourselves just outside of Ramstein's West gate, in full view of the road. Hundreds of airmen and their families passed by in the four hours that we stood there. We held signs that read "German-American Friendship" "One Iraqi Freedom vet against Cindy" "Our troops need support not pity" and "Democracy in Iraq", among other slogans. The reaction we got was overwhelmingly positive--thumbs up, horns honking, smiles and waving. It felt good.
To be sure, not every passerby was so positive. A few people gave us negative reactions: I counted two middle fingers, and one guy screamed out "go home!" as he sped past. But people who felt this way were definitely in the minority. For every middle finger we got, there were at least a dozen people who gave us the thumbs up or honked.
There's no denying that this war has divided our nation. People have different opinions, and no one can say that any organization--especially one as large as the US military--is of a single mind on the war in Iraq. There are Iraq war vets who favor "peace", and there are Iraq war vets who favor victory. I happen to be one of the latter. There are military spouses who oppose the war, and military spouses who support it.
But which group is larger? To hear the Left tell it, no one is more opposed to the Iraq War than the people who are fighting it. Why? Because anyone who has ever been to Iraq knows that this is an illegal, unjust, and unwinnable war. To prove this point, they parade out a small number of gold star mothers and veterans to speak, as if everyone in the military feels just the way they do.
Cindy Sheehan has never claimed to speak for every military family in America. But it wasn't until Move America Forward brought their "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour to Crawford, Texas that she even admitted that other military families, gold star mothers, and veterans of the Iraq War might have other opinions. "You know, I never got up here and said 'I speak for every gold star family, I speak for every military family.' I never said that. But I know I speak for thousands of them."
Yes Cindy, and thousands more oppose you.
Cindy's attitude towards military families who oppose her is reprehensible. According to Sheehan:
I have been silent on gold star moms who still support this man (President Bush) and his war by saying that they deserve the right to their opinions because they are in as much pain as I am. I would challenge them, though, at this point to start thinking for themselves...How can these moms who still support George Bush and his insane war in Iraq want more innocent blood shed just because their sons or daughters have been killed? I don't understand it. I don't understand how any mother could want another mother to feel the pain we feel. I am starting to feel a little compassion for them. I know that they have been brainwashed as the rest of America, but they know the pain and heartache and they should not wish it on another. However, I still feel their pain so acutely and pray for these "continue the murder and mayhem" moms to see the light. (Emphasis added).
"Want more innocent bloodshed"?"Brainwashed"? "'Continue the murder and mayhem' moms"? Is this lady for real? First of all, simply disagreeing with Cindy Sheehan does not make someone brainwashed. There are plenty of legitimate arguments-- indeed the bulk of all legitimate arguments-- that favor the pro-victory side of this debate.
Furthermore, gold star moms who support the Iraq War do not want to "continue the murder and mayhem", nor do they "want more innocent bloodshed." In fact, what they really want is to ensure that Iraq doesn't turn into the bloodbath that it will become if we fail to leave a competent Iraqi army and police force in place, and bloodthirsty terrorists overthrow the government. That is the worst case scenario, and Cindy Sheehan knows that if it happens--and it will, if Cindy has her way--there will be more "innocent bloodshed" and "murder and mayhem" than ever before.
So just how many gold star families does Cindy speak for? Well, I took a look at the website of her organization Gold Star Familes for Peace (www.gsfp.org). I was surprised to find a complete list of members, and even more surpised to read just how few gold star familes who have lost loved ones in Iraq actually belong to Cindy's organization.
GSFP is a rather small organization, with a total of 91 members. But please don't assume that these 91 members represent 91 servicemen and -women who have died in the Iraq War. Actually, they represent the families only 57 fallen troops. Seven of the 91 are part of the Sheehan family: Cindy and Pat Sheehan (Casey Sheehan's parents), Dede Miller (Casey Sheehan's aunt), and Carl, Andy, and Janey Sheehan (Casey Sheehan's siblings). Another GSFP member is Sabrina Worsham, who is not even related to Casey at all, but rather an "honorary family member". So obviously membership requirements do not stipulate that a person has to be an actual member of a family that has lost a loved one. Simply knowing a gold star family is good enough, and then you can call yourself an "honorary family member" and join GSFP.
Nor have all of these families lost loved ones in the current Iraq War. I think that Cindy would reply, once again, that she never said that they had. They aren't called "Iraq War Gold Star Families for Peace", but rather "Gold Star Families for Peace". True, but I know that the media leaves the impression in the public mind that these are all family members of troops who have died in the Iraq War. It's been very misleading, and Cindy knows this. I know that I held this false belief until I checked their website.
Actually, of the 57 fallen troops, nineteen of them did not die in Iraq. Four were killed in Afghanistan; one died in a car accident before being deployed anywhere; one committed suicide after coming home from Iraq; seven died in Vietnam; three died in World War II; two died in Operation Desert Storm, and one died in the Korean War. Some of those who were killed in the Iraq War actually died as the result of non-combat injuries, such as accidents, etc.
So when you subtract the nineteen troops who were not killed in Iraq, you can see that only 38 families of troops killed in Iraq have actually joined Gold Star Families for Peace. Total number of troops killed in the Iraq War so far? 2307. In other words, 1.65% of all gold star families who lost loved ones in the Iraq War have joined Cindy's organization. Not exactly a tidal wave of support.
Cindy doesn't speak for the majority of gold star mothers, and the military is not squarely behind her. As Army Staff Sergeant Genther put it, "Anything I would have to say about her (Cindy Sheehan), you couldn't print." Well said, sergeant. I agree.
"US lacks in Foreign Language Education"
I was in The Daily Collegian
again this morning.
It's basically about the lack of foreign language education in our country. Sad.