September 27, 2004

In Defense of Heretics

I've spent a lot of words in this space smacking "the left" upside its own head for embracing or at least tolerating ranting neo-Stalinist goons while trashing liberal hawks as heretics, traitors, and (gasp) conservatives. It's one reason among many why George W. Bush is likely to be president next year.

In all this time hardly any anti-war left-liberal person I know of has been able to see how asinine and counterproductive it is. It works great as a Republican recruitment drive, not that most of these people really care. Results are immaterial. Purity is everything.

Marc Cooper gets it. He might be the only one. And so I have to link him today and say thanks. Read what he has to say. I've waited too long for this.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 01:45 AM
Comments

Memo to Marc Cooper - its the ideology, stupid! The leftist ideology you believe in is fundamentally authoritarian and corrupting. Is it any surprise that the followers of your ideology are authoritarian and corrupt? Spare me the indignation.

Posted by: HA at September 27, 2004 03:28 AM

I think Marc Cooper is contemplating a Hitchens-esque escape from the dark fantasyland that is leftist lunacy...

Posted by: $lick at September 27, 2004 03:35 AM

It's sad that such a common sense perspective can be viewed as insightful.


Posted by: Priscilla at September 27, 2004 03:53 AM

Heretic properly means "choice" and the meaning has bent to unacceptable choice of belief. It is not just irony is it? The left acts like organized religion, rooting out heretics, those who will think for themselves?

Posted by: D'Loye Swift at September 27, 2004 05:41 AM

I think the Left shot themselves in the foot for this election. If they win (which I consider likely) they'll face such a mess in their own ranks-- one that will take a generation to clean out.

How can a faction lead America when their most vocal and influential factions think that conservatives are worse than the worst dictators on earth? Such thinking justifies nearly anything in the name of political expediency. And, among the radicals, it has already. Certainly their treatment of hawks like Hitch illustrates this.

It's sad, because two parties ought to be able to produce at least two foreign policy perspectives. So far, the only two policies I've heard are "Me, too, but better" and "Operation Opposite Day".

No wonder the remaining rational liberals are freaking out. Marc will always be anti-war, but he's at least thoughtfully, reasonably so. The Left (especially the doves) desparately need him, but will they listen?

Posted by: Rob at September 27, 2004 06:02 AM

>How can a faction lead America when their most vocal and influential factions think that conservatives are worse than the worst dictators on earth?

Grover Norquist compared the estate tax to the Holocaust. How can a faction lead America when their most vocal and influential figures think that liberals are worse than the worst dictators on earth?

Posted by: pdf at September 27, 2004 06:28 AM

The democratic Left (which does NOT include Cockburn, Parenti, and the other idiots that Cooper fixates on) has no right to ostracize Hitchens. Our numbers are too small, and much of the Right anyway is quite eager to paint anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman as being intrinsically authoritarian (see HA's daily rant above). Plus, he's a gifted, interesting, unpredicatable writer, who remains a liberal and a humanist at heart. He's no David Horowitz.

That said, it was Hitchens who chose to leave the Nation, and it was Victor Navasky and Katerina vanden Heuval that tried to convince him to stay. I wish he had.

I also hope he decides to direct some of his polemical firepower at his new friends on the Right, particularly those peddling HA's "left ideology is inherently authoritarian" crap, and those who think that furthering democratic, Western, humanistic values requires kowtowing to the Jewish theocrats living in Judea and Samaria.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 06:51 AM

The Left tolerates everything except Western civilization. It represents "the Man", and they hate the Man. They represent the forces of anarchy and destruction, even though most of them don't even know it.

Posted by: dcbatlle at September 27, 2004 06:54 AM

>Memo to Marc Cooper - its the ideology, stupid! The
>leftist ideology you believe in is fundamentally
>authoritarian and corrupting.

Yes, maybe, but this isn't a good example of it. I've watched the Libertarian Party wander down this road of ideological purity for years. It is a problem any political movement which is controlled by its "true believers" runs into - the religious right, extreme left, libertarian, whatever. True believers have trouble recognizing that politics is about accepting that you can't have everything all at once, and building coalitions with people you agree with on some things, but not everything - politics makes strange bedfellows and all that.

Posted by: rvman at September 27, 2004 07:03 AM

I still am a Democrat (in registration and identity), and I still consider myself liberal in many ways, and probably am one of those dreaded "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" types.

I must admit I sometimes feel more comfortable in right-leaning (but centrist-ish) circles though - mostly because of the left's "tolerance" of the so-called "anti-Zionists."

That segment of the "left" has no problem wiping out a functioning, democratic country in the Middle East where women's rights (and homosexual rights) actually exist - in the name of rabid at-any-costs "underdoggism" or perceived "indigenous rights." Nary a word from those folks about the oppressive societies/governments of other Middle Eastern countries - which is what "Palestine" would unquestionably become. And they contribute absolutely nothing constructive to the debate and/or solution for any type of comprehensive Middle East peace.

As someone who's for a two-state solution, and is in favor of dismantling many, if not most, of the settlements, those socialists who supposedly value feminism, tolerance and equality are the one's who have "sold out" - to totalitarianist absolutism, and some of those people are Hitch's former "comrades." The Cockburn crowd at Counterpunch, for example, never seem to find any fault at all - ever - with all things and everything Palestinian. There's always an excuse for barbarous behavior and slavish devotion to a political agenda that only serves to bring more punishment and disaster.

President Bush has definitely brought out the far-left nutters in droves. And as MJT blogged a few months ago, it was sickening that someone can freely carry a "Smash the Jewish State" sign at an anti-war rally and not be confronted.

I haven't decided if the socialist crazies will push me over the centrist dividing line - at least not just yet. It doesn't matter though - since I live in D.C. - Kerry is getting my 3 electoral votes, no matter what (and I was an Edwards supporter during the primaries). I'm thinking about writing in John McCain.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 27, 2004 07:07 AM

The Left tolerates everything except Western civilization. It represents "the Man", and they hate the Man. They represent the forces of anarchy and destruction, even though most of them don't even know it.
Posted by: dcbatlle at September 27, 2004 06:54 AM

You're joking, right? You have to be joking peddling crap like that. Liberals are in favor of using government to help solve some of society's problems, like homelessness and poverty. They see government as something that should help people. If anyone's a force for anarchy, it's the right and their libertarian neighbors. They're the ones screaming for less government (though the Bushie Republicans seem to have dropped this tenet of their political foundation) and no "big brother", though Republicans have amended that to say unless, of course, it's in the name of this abstract concept of national security.

Conservatives can't have it both ways. They can't say liberals are authoritarians then turn around and say crap like this.

I've got a counterpoint to Totten's "liberals idolize commies" rant of the last several days. Why do conservatives like the Saudis? They're authoritarians. So is King Abdallah of Jordan. He's a benevolent dictator. As is Amir Hamad of Qatar, who gained power by ousting his own father in a coup. "President" Musharraf of Pakistan got power in a military coup in 1999 and promptly suspended that country's constitution until December 31, 2002, according to the CIA Factbook. Yet the President praises these people as friends of liberty simply because they've succumbed to our power. The administration claims to want to spread democracy throughout the middle east. I say that's great. Why not start with our friends? It'll then be easier to get our enemies to change. This administration has a very hypocritical attitude in foreign affairs.

Posted by: Greg at September 27, 2004 07:32 AM

SoCal, Michael -- I still don't quite get how intelligent political junkies like you guys are driven "away from the Left", "over the centrist dividing line" by the views of political radicals. If it's not fair to judge George Bush on the basis of what supporters like General Boykin, or Jerry Falwell, or "HA" say or do, why do you seem to judge Kerry or the rest of the non-totalitarian Left on the basis of how they respond to International ANSWER or Al Sharpton?

I used to be a radical who bought people holiday subscriptions to Z Magazine. Now I've grown up, disagree with just about everything I read in Z, and instead I buy people gift subscriptions to the Washington Monthly. I'll change my views again if the facts of life seem to warrent it. But I'm not going to change my views just because my neighbor down the street with the "free mumia" button says something idiotic to me. I've already rejected his perspective.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 07:35 AM

Greg,

the Left will need all the authoritarian government it can get to control the forces of anarchy it unleashes after it destroys our culture. In fact, it's no wonder the Left is for more government because all that will remain IS that government after it destroys the forces that once served as our cultural and moral glue. You promote nihilism and relativism, and then act shocked and surprised when men, released from their cultural taboos, descend into barbarism. You'll need all the guns and government you can get in your Leftist dystopia.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 07:43 AM

I had not appreciated Christopher Hitchins sufficiently, when I first saw him on Chris Matthews' "Politics" show in 1996. I didn't like the idea of defending President Clinton, so that put me off. I did see him as being an interesting character.

He has some fixations that I can't relate to, such as the "Henry Kissenger as a war criminal thing", but I have found that he has a fresh and unpredictable viewpoint. The usual extreme leftist is predictable and tiresome, generally, as they don't provide interesting analysis.

Christopher Hitchins is my favorite British socialist, just as Susan Estrich is my favorite Democratic operative (I've transitioned from being an right-wing anarchist, to liberal Republican, to conservative Republican, having voted for Eldridge Cleaver, John Anderson, Ron Paul, and Ross Perot along the way).

Posted by: Jim Bender at September 27, 2004 07:52 AM

David,

You're funny. I'm not a leftist. I'm pro life. I voted for Bush in 2000. I'm voting for an ex-Libertarian Republican in my House district. If Richard Lugar or Evan Bayh were up for election this year, I'd vote for them.

Cultural and moral glue? That's hilarious. Is this the same moral glue that held together segregation? Is this the same moral glue that stands by while China stifles dissenters and kills Tibetan monks just because it also has its foot in the door in North Korea? Is this the same moral glue that has as its bonding agent men like Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart who just a week ago said he would KILL A MAN for being a homosexual and then lie to God about it? Is that the moral glue you're talking about? Get off your high horse.

Relativism? You mean like telling someone they can't have nukes, but we can? You mean telling a country with a military dictator (N. Korea) that they can't have nukes, but another one can (Pakistan)? That kind of relativism? Or the relativism that free trade is great, but buying medicine in Canada is bad?

Go back to your ideology. Us pragmatists have more important things to do.

Posted by: Greg at September 27, 2004 07:59 AM

Markus R.,

As I said, I still consider myself a Democrat (and a liberal) and was a supporter of John Edwards during the primary season.

And it's not just the "views of the radicals" that turns me off, but the tolerance of them by people I otherwise respect.

Any - any - antiwar rally sponsored by International ANSWER - should be sparsely attended. Instead, they were the largest, because uneducated or uninterested/unconcerned liberals and Democrats, who were also anti-War (I don't have a problem at all with most people who were/are anti-Iraq war - I've been a fence sitter throughout) attended in droves.

And I'm not talking about radicals who glom on to the reasonable anti-war crowd/position. They were running the show. Stalinists and Maoists who want to end the U.S. occupation of Haiti (amongst other places), but haven't said jack about mass slaughter of African Muslims in the Sudan.

And I've thought about your question a lot, btw. Is it a sign of intellectual/political weakness to be so turned off by the loud voice of the Communist-fringe? Perhaps - it could be. But it's a very loud, very obnoxious voice these days.

I'm still very pro-choice, pro-fair taxation, anti-huge deficits, anti-FMA, pro-gun control, etc...

And ideally, I would like to see a Democrat in the White House, and for them to regain control of the Senate - if for nothing else to maintain the balance of the Supreme Court. But I admit there's a little part of me that wouldn't be all that upset if the "Bush=Hitler crowd" has to live through 4 more years of their imagined "AshKKKroftian Fourth Reich," because they make me sick to my stomach.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 27, 2004 08:08 AM

SoCal,

I feel exactly the same, except that as a Massachusettsian I know and despise John Kerry ans would hate to see him inflicted on the rest of the country. He is as he appears, and will never be what so many democrats wish. I'm writing in McCain-Lieberman. There are a few more over at centerfield who are planning on doing the same. No need to join either wing. Join the middle.

Posted by: bk at September 27, 2004 08:19 AM

Michael, you are painting the "anti-war" with too wide a brush. "Anti-war" in this instance, includes quite a few conservatives.

You know, when one of the main military planners of the 1st Gulf War (Michael Turner) says the following about the current occupation:

"Two thirds of America's combat brigades are now tied down in this war which, under present conditions, is categorically unwinnable. Having alienated virtually every major ally who might help, our troops are simply targets. If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:

* Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
* The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam."

I have to think that wasting your time tilting at straw men, while perhaps satisfying, is a bit irresponsible, no?

Tell me Michael - how do YOU have such wisdom, intelligence, and ability from your desktop to confidently predict victory, over someone such as Mike Turner?

Seriously.

On the same note, how do you have more insight and intelligence than say, Richard Clarke, or Rand Beers, in formulating the best way to take it to Al-Queda terrorists?

Of course, your posters (not you) will engage in head-in-the-sand easy dismissals of the three mentioned above - although I could quote more, obviously.

I apologize for the frustration in this note - but the inability to admit error in such an otherwise intelligent writer, is frustrating. And that's the same problem with Hitchens.

Now, if you would, it might be worthwile to start thinking about how to create "relative" peace in Iraq - for example, if giving Hitchens the benefit of the doubt about Afghanistan - which is also coming from a couple of other sources - what are the takeaway lessons from Afghanistan, and are they appliable to Iraq?

One, for Afghanistan, I believe very few american troops are actually on the ground, correct? That most of the "governance" is left to geographically isolated warlords? Not the best outcome, but perhaps the best given the situation. (I believe opium production is at an all-time high though.)

Would that work in Iraq?

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 08:34 AM

Greg,

You're pretty funny too because I never said you were a Leftist. I'm only responding to your post. What you are in your own mind is none of my concern. But you're obviously confused, because you respond to my post about western culture and Leftist nihilism with a rant about Cold War policies. That response was about as relevant to my comment as calling Jesus a murderer because of the Crusades. How do you respond to a comment that has so little bearing? I don't know, but I'll try.

Here's the short answer. You're talking about politics, I'm talking about culture.

Western culture was the first to eradicate slavery, Western culture brought all men and women equality. All the things that our society has come to value, from its earliest days till this one, is the culmination of every step up the ladder progress. Do you see Western culture as only technological progress? You're wrong. It's our culture and institutions as well, with all their mistakes, and corrections, that make up Western culture.

Enter stage Left the nihilists and moral relativists who claim that Western culture is evil based on their view that freedom, productiveness, achievement, reason and happiness are evil. What they want instead is the nothing, das Nichts, that is death. This is why they fly with gay abandon into the inferno-to attain a zero, for their victims and themselves.

Of course they recognize, on some level, that the material products of the West are good, since they use the products of freedom in order to destroy the products of freedom. But this shows only that they use these products-they do not value them, and they do not value those who produce them. They much prefer nothing. They prefer relativism.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 08:36 AM

Michael,

Did you see the new George Packer article?

Here it is

Another use of your talents may be to talk as much as possible of the head-in-the-sand management of the Bush administration, of the Iraqi occupation. This is what Sullivan is doing, as an example.

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 08:41 AM

So Cal Justice -- The reason that I didn't march in any ANSWER rallies was because I supported the war at the time. I did observe one of the rallies, and I was turned off by the extremist rhetoric.

But if I had opposed the war...I'm not sure what I would have done. I'm very uncomfortable with anything that smacks of red-baiting because it has been used so often to discredit very legitimate and positive movements for social change, particularly the labor and civil rights movements. And the charges that those movements were communist infiltrated were not, in fact, without merit. Stalinists (and other socialists) DID help to create the Council of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and also did a lot of tough union organizing in the 1930's. And Stalinists were the earliest, most uncompromising fighters against segregation and Jim Crow. Southern racists and J.Edgar Hoover WERE correct when they claimed that some of Martin Luther King's top advisors were "known Communists."

Around the same time, of course, an anti-communist left did mobilize itself -- Americans for Democratic Action was formed as a liberal alternative to the communist-infiltrated Progressive Party, and the AFL and the CIO joined and purged communist elements from their unions. These corrective movements, however, while necessary, grew up only AFTER the initial organizing and hard-work had been done by the commies. It seems to be the justified fate of American Communists to start movements that eventually kick them out when they reach a certain level of legitimacy. That seems to be a fairly legitimate role to play, certainly a better one than espionage.

As I remember, the anti-war movement in Gulf War I WAS divided between pro- and anti- Workers World Party factions. (they even held rival marches on the Washington Mall in January 1991 as I recall). Now, they appear to have merged. That's moving in the wrong direction.

So...why aren't the Deaniacs purging the commies? Is it laziness because the Commies are such hard-working organizers, a sense among Deaniacs that they are too small and embattled to be able to kick anyone out of their ranks, or a reprehensible moral blind-spot to anyone else who hates Bush? I think either the first or the second possibility is the most likely.

But I must admit to not really caring all that much in any case, because I'm simply not comfortable marching against regime change for Arab dictators no matter who is organizing it.
I'd also note that the Workers World candidate for President got just 4,795 votes - 0.004% of the popular vote - in 2000.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 09:03 AM

David,

I don't know, but when you say to me, "You promote nihilism and relativism, and then act shocked and surprised when men, released from their cultural taboos, descend into barbarism. You'll need all the guns and government you can get in your Leftist dystopia.", I take that to mean I'm a leftist. Maybe it's the fact that you called it MY leftist dystopia. Or maybe it's the fact that you said I promote nihilism and relativism. Trust me when I say that I know what those things are. I've taken philosophy classes. And I don't promote either.

Apparently, you're confused, trying to take politics out of culture. Political policies are reflective of the values of our culture, and that's what troubles me. It's the hypocritical and relativist thinking that makes it ok for Western culture to do something but not ok for another culture.

I have never heard anyone - anyone - from what you seem to perceive as the "Left" say that happiness was evil. In fact, I've heard some on the "Right" - some of the more puritanical fundamentalists - say that.

And as far as your assertions that "Western culture was the first to eradicate slavery, Western culture brought all men and women equality. All the things that our society has come to value, from its earliest days till this one, is the culmination of every step up the ladder progress.", this is true, especially that last statement. But the first two, about slavery and equality, I don't think those two are finished yet.

Slavery isn't just about taking people and putting them to work on massa's plantation, it's about forcing people to work for less than their labor is worth. As we try to bring China and others more in line with our Western values, we should make sure that they bring these aspects of their culture up to date as well. And the right simply isn't doing that. They're more concerned with the dollars coming out of China than the people. We should also make sure we do that here, too. Working the hardest jobs in our country for $5.15 an hour, as many are forced to do in this scarce job environment, is tantamount to slavery. I know this. I have worked such jobs and watched my parents work such jobs.

Many would argue, and rightly so, that equality just isn't there yet. Whether it's gender equality or racial equality or what I think will be the one to focus on in the years to come, class equality, it's just not there like it should be. I know this. I have female friends working in male-dominated industries. I have been discriminated against because of economic status. I have minority friends who don't get the breaks we do because of their race. I have done this myself. In a former job, I was a bouncer at a bar. Yeah, I checked the IDs closer and was more strict on the rules with minorities. I'm ashamed to admit it. But that's the problem with such things. I didn't realize it till someone pointed it out to me. So don't tell me Western culture has brought us equality. It's making strides, but it hasn't yet.

I think you need to get out among the Left a little. They're not as bad as you make them out to be. They're not nihlists. At least the vast majority aren't. Sure, there's a few in there. But there's also supremacists on the right. I just don't base my whole view of the right on that miniscule section.

Ideas are nothing if you don't base them on reality.

Posted by: Greg at September 27, 2004 09:23 AM

Markus,

Thank you for today's communist apologist rant. Nothing I could ever say discredits you as thoroughly as your own words.

Posted by: HA at September 27, 2004 09:34 AM

>>>"And Stalinists were the earliest, most uncompromising fighters against segregation and Jim Crow. Southern racists and J.Edgar Hoover WERE correct when they claimed that some of Martin Luther King's top advisors were "known Communists."

Markus,

stalinists were sending people to deathcamps for wearing glasses, or a watch. See Cambodia; so their "support" of MLK was purely from a perception that it helped destabilize the U.S. It wasn't because they cared about the negroes. Stalin called people like you 'useful idiots'.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 09:42 AM

"Trust me when I say that I know what those things are. I've taken philosophy classes.------ Greg

Posted by: dougf at September 27, 2004 10:03 AM

Apparently, you're confused, trying to take politics out of culture. Political policies are reflective of the values of our culture, and that's what troubles me. It's the hypocritical and relativist thinking that makes it ok for Western culture to do something but not ok for another culture.

Greg,

Only indirectly. Otherwise, to hate U.S. policies, whether they be GOP or Dem, would be to hate Western culture. You claim to hate the former, but not the latter. So you’ve already made a distinction without any help from me. So you may rant against U.S. Cold War policies, but it doesn’t amount to an indictment of Western culture as a whole.

Regarding something being OK for western culture but not ok for non-western culture, I invite you to provide me an example; I suspect you’ll revert to a criticism of U.S. policy, not Western culture. As far as hypocrisy is concerned, look no further than those who would claim to hate tyranny, yet defend that tyranny when it is threatened by a Republican president.

But the first two, about slavery and equality, I don't think those two are finished yet.

I’m sorry if I don’t agree with you that trade with China and fast-food jobs don’t amount to Western slavery. You may have a case that they are an evil of some sort, but slavery? No. That’s an insult to people all over the non-western world who actually do live as slaves.

Re Swaggart’s comments about “killing gays”, it’s a common regional expression to say ‘I’m going to kill you and tell God you died.’ Swaggart made the huge blunder of assuming he could treat gays as he treats anybody else by using that expression with them. It was taken out of context and exploded into a controversy for political gain, but it amounts to gotcha politics, nothing more.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 10:17 AM

Wow, I just had a good laugh. Someone up there was ranting about the hypocracy of telling some countries that they can't have nukes when we have them. That we permit Pakistan to have nukes but not North Korea. THAT was some funny stuff, whoever wrote that. Moral relativism, I think was the buzz term. It's called being a superpower, my friend. You must be one of those people who hates the biggest kid on the block, just because he's bigger than everyone else. Maybe you're right- let's just let every country have nukes and see how it all works out!! Better yet, let's get rid of ours while we're at it. Even better- let's give all of our nukes to Saudi Arabia!! That will make us the most relatively moral country on earth!!!

Posted by: $lick at September 27, 2004 10:37 AM
The comments here are shit.

Nothing but right-wing and left-wing ideologues without any reading comprehension.

Posted by: Wireless Orc at September 27, 2004 10:43 AM

This morning on some left-on-the-dial radio station I listened to a leftist woman rant against mass media and neo-liberalism and imperialism blah blah blah.

While I appreciate hearing other views, I think these people do deserve the smack up the head that MJT regularly administers.

But these Leftists will have almost no say in a Kerry administration -- no more than they did in the Clinton administration, where they ranted against neo-liberal trade policies and international corporations and Nike sweatshops blah blah blah.

Posted by: Oberon at September 27, 2004 11:01 AM

Greg:

"You're joking, right? You have to be joking peddling crap like that. Liberals are in favor of using government to help solve some of society's problems, like homelessness and poverty. They see government as something that should help people. If anyone's a force for anarchy, it's the right and their libertarian neighbors. They're the ones screaming for less government (though the Bushie Republicans seem to have dropped this tenet of their political foundation) and no "big brother", though Republicans have amended that to say unless, of course, it's in the name of this abstract concept of national security."

We can have a debate on whether or not government should take an interest in individual welfare. But if we do, we must never lose sight of the LIMITS of power granted to the government to effect such issues - the original intent was to enable pursuit of individual happiness, not any pretense at guaranteeing such a state. Even more importantly we should be honest and objective in such a debate. All the good intentions in the world make a mighty short stack against the track record of government actually 'solving' any of these issues to date.

There are two huge obstacles in the way of any return to power by the traditional progressive Left. Three, if you acknowledge that "progressive" no longer applies except as an obsolete logo. First, anyone who lived through the seventies remembers exactly what unrestricted social engineering and income redistribution did to the country. Second, younger voters have never been programmed to accept the line being pushed by establishment/traditional media. They look, they ask questions, and they tend to make decisions based on evidence.

Bad, BAD news for the left, there. The move to dumb down the electorate has resulted in public school graduates who arrive in the world three steps behind; the existence of the internet allows them grace to explore beyond the limitations of their PC indoctrination. There are few angrier men than those who know they've been cheated.

The domestic policies of the Bush administration are far short of utopic. No Child Left Behind has some flaws - but Ted Kennedy wrote half of it, and wrote out parent choice. The tax cuts affected every taxpayer in the system - but were condemned on the grounds that people who DON'T pay taxes didn't get a cut. Prescription drug benefit? Both sides of the aisle were all over this goody - but the Republicans managed to introduce at least a vestige of market force control to the pork. Where is the left, legislatively? In oppostion, as is their right, but to such an extreme that they have abandoned proposing options in favor of simply attacking.

In the eyes of the Democrats, our economy grows - but the new jobs are somehow the wrong jobs. The war continues but conflict=failure, and Kerry would do a better job than Bush. Even if he cannot articulate how or why; france nor Germany intends military commitments ANYWHERE, regardless of who wins our elections. We don't have allies; we've got puppets, especially the provisional government of Iraq. Just where would John Kerry begin a presidency based on his rhetoric, especially of the post-conventions panic-phase he's entered? Do puppets morph into honored allies with the turn of a calendar page? I'd love to be a fly on the wall if Kerry won and then met with Allawi.

You can't sell objections. You must present solutions. Regardless of how many of the correct media outlets write well of your efforts, they aren't the people who elect presidents. The people do. That right there is another crucial difference between the extremes of the two schools of thought in our political spectrum. The Left seeks power in order to protect the electorate from themselves. The Right seeks to return as much power as possible to individuals so that THEY can succeed on their own without undue interference from above. In an adult environment of prinicpled compromise there would be progress toward common goals. We see instead obstruction as strategy, and unabashed willingness to exploit unavoidable mistakes in deadly times for short-term political gain.

I want you to recall the sights and sounds that YOU have witnessed via media or personal experience of all the most obscene moments of the last three years. For me the nadir is the sound of bodies slamming into the sidewalk in front of the WTC. Close behind are the images of bodies tumbling through the sky on the way down or the beheading videos. I find the Gore speeches and Teddy Kennedy's bloviations almost as offensive as the actions of the terrorists, too.

Recall those moments. Go ahead, close your eyes -

I don't see any nuance. Not a scintilla or shred or shade. The party of Kennedy, Truman, and FDR has abandoned its legacy of defending America and instead is become a cabal of hacks scrambling to herd cats for their own political ambitions.

I hesitate to make ad hominem judgements based on someone's post - but are you putting up a Moby here? Your positions seem out of kilter with a former Bush voter, especially given the agendas that Bush and Gore ran on in 2000. I'm interested in what swayed you to vote for Bush at all in light of the obvious contradiction his platform was to Gore's. No offense intended, just a bit of skepticism and an interest in understanding how you came to making your decision.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 27, 2004 11:27 AM

Oberon,

You may be right - it may be worthwhile to bash the extreme lefties - but the thing is, Michael does it so MUCH here.

For the month of September, it was the staple post - perhaps because of the CBS memos, but there it is. Michael's "specialty" seems to be nailing left-wing absurdity, either in the press or in politics. And, an occasional swipe at right wing absurdity.

But in the month of September, Michael has had, from what I can count, two posts about Iraq - one titled "Don't Give up" another about Israel and the wall, and that maybe the Palestinian and Iraqi situations MAY be similar.

There was one post at the beginning of the month about the absurdity of the RNC - but even in that post, equal time was given to the absurdity of BOTH the Democratic and Republican conventions.

There has been VERY LITTLE criticism this month, of the Bush administration's actual issuances. Nothing on the Bush/Allawi speeches, nothing on the election polcy for January, nothing on the contradictory speech "impression" by Powell yesterday.

Perhaps this is also because he wrote his "hawk defense of Kerry", and he has been working on that.

But after looking over the last two months, there has been very little linking to, or discussion about, actual policy on the ground in Iraq, or policy regarding elections, etc.

A curious absence.

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 11:32 AM

As a counterpoint, Dan Drezner has a post called "Remind Me Why Rumsfeld has a Job?" at least DISCUSSING the failed execution of policies in Iraq. And he also had a "what to do in Iraq now?" post a week ago.

For a person who fronted the Iraqi war so much, MT has been - again - curiously silent about the actual current situation, and assigning responsibility, suggesting improvements, praising advances, criticizing failures, etc.

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 11:37 AM

TMJUtah -- at some point I'll try to find the time to respond to your false claim that the government has never "solved" any problem it has tried to address. (For starters, free markets have failed to address those problems as well.) But that's for another time.

But two claims I can respond to quickly:

"The tax cuts affected every taxpayer in the system - but were condemned on the grounds that people who DON'T pay taxes didn't get a cut."

The people who needed tax relief who didn't get it were the Americans who pay only payroll taxes -- taxes that go into the same bank in Washington that income taxes are paid into, and that fund the same things income taxes fund: Social Security, Medicare, discretionary spending, interest payments. "Trust Funds" are a fiction, and everyone who knows anything about federal spending knows this.

"Prescription drug benefit? Both sides of the aisle were all over this goody - but the Republicans managed to introduce at least a vestige of market force control to the pork."

Only if your idea of a "free market" means spooning out lard to to HMO's in an attempt to get healthy retirees to join them, so as to drive up the costs of traditional Medicare for the sicker recipients who remain within it.

Real market force control would entail giving the federal government the power to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prices with pharma companies. The bill, per Republican insistence, explicitly prohibits this. It would also subject pharmaceuticals to free trade -- including cheaper Canadian imports. On this issue, however, Republicans miraculously become pro-regulatory.

Posted by: Markus ROse at September 27, 2004 11:47 AM

JC,

Don't tell me what to write about. If you don't like the topics, don't read the blog.

I am not particularly interested in the right, except for the neoconservative right which is, I think, intellectually stimulating. I am primarily interested in the left. And that's because I spent my whole life on the left and have never been a Republican.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 11:56 AM

Michael -- you ought to be more interested in the Right, and not just the neoconservatives. Why? Because, unlike the radical leftists that get your dander up, the Right has power and a lot of it: majority power in Washington and in most of the 50 states. They need to be criticized, especially by those who are persuaded by them on a few or on many key issues. Thomas Friedmann is a writer and a liberal who does a good job of this, I think.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 12:11 PM

Michael -- you ought to be more interested in the Right, and not just the neoconservatives. Why? Because, unlike the radical leftists that get your dander up, the Right has power and a lot of it,

That's precisely why he isn't so concerned. He's sleeping easy for the first time in his life.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 12:14 PM

Kerry's foreign policy is a failure already:

French, German Officials Say They Won't Send Troops To Iraq Even if Kerry Wins...

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/36048bf8-0ff7-11d9-ba62-00000e2511c8.html

The Arabs have already stated the same.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 12:25 PM

David,

Today's topic was Marc Cooper attacking the idiocies of fellow leftists, not Kerry's foreign policy.

(MJT -- I don't mean to police your blog. It's just fun to tease David.)

Posted by: Oberon at September 27, 2004 12:31 PM

Oberon,

I know, but I allow myself a freebie sometimes. Michael doesn't mind.

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 12:33 PM

MT,

Hmm...

My quotes began with "Now, if you would, it might be worthwhile to", and "Another use of your talents may be"...

These were meant to be suggestions - and I also praise your talent.

But, still, my apologies. I didn't mean to offend.

I'm curious, and would like feedback from other commenters here:

Do the two things that I did (or meant to do)-

a. Note the contradiction between the stated importance of the war for MT, and the relative lack of postings about it and how it is being handled, and
b. Suggest MT post more on what is, as stated by MT, so the most important point (war in Iraq) that he may well decide his vote on this one issue, post on THAT issue more.

Is this outside the bounds of blog impropriety?

Again, my apologies MT.

Posted by: JC at September 27, 2004 12:42 PM

Why do conservatives like the Saudis? They're authoritarians.

I can’t really answer that because I think the Saudi regime should be dismembered, but the same question could be asked of the Democrats – why are they allowing Carlyle member and Harken Energy owner George Soros have such influence over Kerry’s campaign? Why has Jimmy Carter accepted many millions of dollars worth of contributions from the Saudi royals and the bin Ladens? Why is Kerry alienating the Iranian students for democracy by supporting the Islamist mullahs there? Why does he want to improve relations with the French, who are allied with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the who helped Hutu 'rebels' slaughter hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in 1994?

Why do 51% of Democrats agree with the Saudis when they state that they believe that America may be to blame for the 9/11 attacks?

We’re not even talking about the extreme left here – we’re talking about a large percentage of Democrats. The fact that many Democrats agree with conservative and leftist authoritarians is what will help elect Bush this year.

And when they lose, they’ll blame it on neo-con operatives.

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2004 12:44 PM

David -- anybody of ANY political persuasion who is "sleeping easy these days" is on some really heavy narcotics.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 12:45 PM

Conservatives and liberals "like" the Saudis because the most likely alternative to the House of Saud is the House of Bin Laden.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 12:47 PM

Saudi royals refer to al Qaeda as their brothers. Their regime is already more harsh and restrictive than the Taliban. If the Kingdom ever did become the "House of bin Laden", the only thing that would change is the illusion they're our allies.

both sets of Saudi/Islamist 'brothers' are too smart to let that happen..

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2004 12:56 PM

Mary -- where last spring's Riyadh suicide bombings a put-on to deceive the West or something?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/04/21/saudi.blast/

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 01:04 PM

Why do 51% of Democrats agree with the Saudis when they state that they believe that America may be to blame for the 9/11 attacks?

The question was if the respondent believed if "there is anything that the U.S. did wrong in its dealings with other countries that might have motivated the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

In 2002, the following % said "yes":

Rep: 31
Dem: 33
Indep: 50

In 2004, the "yes" numbers changed to:

Rep: 17
Dem: 51
Indep: 45

This stat is used to portray Democrats as the "blame America first" crowd, but in fact it was independents in 2002 that stood out, and now Dems and independents are pretty close on this question.

It is an interesting change since 2002, and I can't explain it.

(Personally, I'm not sure how to answer. I don't believe we did anything "wrong" to motivate the attacks, but OTOH the question was phrased as "might have" so maybe the correct answer is yes.)

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=866
http://www.rjwest.com/blog/index.php?s=wtf

Posted by: Oberon at September 27, 2004 01:09 PM

oberon - No society deserves or 'motivates' unprovoked and unannounced attacks against its most vulnerable members.

No society should accept or respect the judgement of terrorists. The fact that a majority of Democrats will consider this possiblity has convinced me not to vote for them.

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2004 01:24 PM

markus - the saudi govt. responded to those attacks by sending their brothers abroad and giving them lots of money.

they're still spending billions to fund the spread of wahhabism and the philosophy of violent jihad around the world. Is this how they 'fight' terrorism?

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2004 01:30 PM

Markus Rose -

"Real market force control would entail giving the federal government the power to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prices with pharma companies."

So you would rather have the eeeeevil pharmaceutical companies beholden to whichever majority exists in the congress vice the market choices of their customers?

1972. Price controls. That certainly worked well, didn't it? Better think that one through, pilgrim.

I don't deny that government has ever done anything worthwhile, and if I gave that impression I apologize for the lack of precision. Hooray for winning WW2 and keeping the Sov's at bay, then defeating them, and all that. The beef I have with classic American liberal solutions is that they are marketed to victims, to include advertising campaigns and rhetoric to ensure they can create enough victims to make the effort politically profitable. The inertia of good intentions is NOT a valid justification for programs that prove to be counterproductive.

The New Deal wasn't instituted as a philosophical lark; there were damned good reasons for trying something new in order to get the country back on its feet. The problem arose when all that government money became reelection ammunition for incumbents vice good-faith investment in the financial well-being of the nation. The same things are true of the War on Poverty, and to a lesser extent the Civil Rights Act. Nobody can deny that terrible inequalities existed at the institutional level and were even more egregious in certain states and regions. Good was done - but at what cost? We find ourselves around the cracker barrel here in 2004 with the last bastions of institutional racism being (a) government and (b) institutions of higher learning. Where's the sense in that? Oh, and I decline to grace what the NAACP has become with any analysis. They are our domestic U.N.; a convenient forum for professional grifters. It's NOT Selma any more, and it's not going to be in this country. The Dream is mostly reality to the vast majority of citizens. We are too busy looking to hire the best and brightest or seek employment with the same to put all that much weight on skin.

Unless, of course, it is our life's work to live off the vestigal remnants of a culture that would be dead by now if we just took it off the respirator. That's your contemporary civil rights movement in a nutshell.

I also believe that character counts a lot in the choices we are asked to make. Our own, and that of the people who would earn our trust to lead.

I wouldn't choose the top-tier of what passes for leadership in the Democrat party to organize a square dance, much less the government of the sole superpower on earth in time of a world war. The best of their best is John Kerry? That's a pretty shallow bench.

Happy to disagree with you of course, as always.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 27, 2004 01:42 PM

Mary,

I don't disagree with you- the Saudi's are not our friends and they're certainly dubious allies at best. My question to you is how would YOU fight them? I'm not taking shot at you- I'd just like to know, because you obviously have very strong feelings against the current policy. My theory is that we're fighting them right now without them (or us) even knowing it. I think the plan is to simply "assimilate" them into our way of life over an extended period of time.

Would you support an outright invasion of Saudi Arabia? Do you realize that this would result in the US vs. the ENTIRE world (except maybe Israel)? Seriously, what is your plan?

Posted by: $lick at September 27, 2004 01:54 PM

JC: But, still, my apologies. I didn't mean to offend

Okay, no problem. Don't worry about it.

I hear what you're saying, anyway. I think Andrew Sullivan does a great job criticizing the right. I'm sure one of the reasons he is more likely to do it than I am is the same reason I am more likely to criticize the left. Conservatives are supposed to be Andrew's "people." And he isn't happy with them right now. I don't blame him. Many of the things that irk him about the GOP today have kept me on the left for my entire life. A lot of that stuff is old news to me. I agree with damn near every criticism he has of the Republican Party right now.

As far as the policy on the ground in Iraq, honestly I feel like I'm in over my head sometimes. I am not a military tactician. Some mistakes are obviously being made right now. But I am not there and I cannot say in confidence what, precisely, I think those mistakes are. The information we get is refracted through both the media and the fog of war. I could say something like "we need more troops" but the fact is that I don't know if that's actually true. If I had to guess, I would say it probably is true. But what I'd really like to know is what the troops and commanding officers think we ought to be doing differently. I don't know everything, and I'm not foolish enough to think that I do. So I keep my mouth shut, so to speak, on certain topics and leave it to experts in the field who have earned my respect - like Victor Davis Hanson whom I frequently link to.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 02:04 PM

TmjUtah -- I think the market does a lousy job with health care. Why? Because 1) people who get sick, really sick, are in no position to shop around comparatively and intelligently. and 2) this society has everyone who needs high-priced care gets it, whether that means a lung transplant or a lifetime supply of protease inhibitor drugs, pays for it whether they can afford it or not. So you and I have to pay for it anyway.

I don't have time to continue writing now. But I will leave you with a link to a book review in the best liberal magazine, the Washington Monthly, by John K. Galbraith of Thomas Frank's One Market Under God, and After Progress by N. Birnbaum. Just in case you feel like reading a more articulate presentation of from the other side than I can provide. It's a pleasure disagreeing with you as well.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0103.galbraith.html

Posted by: Marklus Rose at September 27, 2004 03:05 PM

Michael -- I read Victor Davis Hanson regularly as well. But if you're looking to him to tell you how the military campaign is really going in Iraq, you're certainly not going to get an unbiased picture of what's going on from him. Would he admit that the Administration was making a mistake if he thought doing so would give ammunition to its critics? I doubt it.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 27, 2004 03:11 PM

$lick - The Saudis are more extreme than the Taliban. Their laws are based on their state religion, Wahhabism. They have been homicidal zealots for hundreds of years. They’re also very traditional homicidal zealots. Given their history, it’s not likely that they’re planning to change, no matter what they say.

Since you asked..I wouldn’t support a unilateral invasion of SA. Since Saudi-funded paramilitaries currently threaten most of the non-Wahhabi world, we should be working on building up alliances to fight them.

We could begin to build alliances by being honest about what we’re fighting. Nearly every Islamist terrorist attack can be traced back to Saudi citizens, money or philosophy. Most people in Russia, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Morocco, don’t blame ‘terrorists’ for these attacks. They blame Wahhabis. Most Muslims, even moderate Sunnis, hate Wahhabis and they hate us for our alliance with them. They know more about who is at fault than we do.

SA has a weak army. The only allies they have are the ones they’ve bought. They, like other terror supporting states (Iran, Syria) are vulnerable that way. If we could gather the allies, we’d have to remove the Saudi threat the way you’d remove a hornet’s nest – all at once.

If we froze Saudi assets in the US and elsewhere, confined attacks to the Saudi government, not the holy places (Mecca, Medina) and allowed all allies to share the oil wealth, we could build a force that was strong enough to act quickly against a weakened target.

If we gave Israel a chance to take potshots at the (hopefully not yet developed) Iranian nuclear reactor, and Syria, at the same time, and if we could encourage Europe to crack down on their known terrorist cells, also at the same time, we could reduce the possibility of terrorist response.

This is what I’ve been expecting the Bush administration to do ever since the Taliban were chased out of Afghanistan. It’s finally starting to occur to me that they’re not going to do it.
Of course, Kerry’s plans are more lame than Bush’s, but I do agree with him on healthcare.

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2004 03:26 PM

Markus: Would [Victor Davis Hanson] admit that the Administration was making a mistake if he thought doing so would give ammunition to its critics? I doubt it.

Perhaps not. That's why I read other people, too. Like Matthew Yglesias, Marc Cooper, Andrew Sullivan, and Matt Welch, for instance.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 03:32 PM

For the record, I think Mary is absolutely right about Saudi Arabia. They are the enemy and must be declared such.

I wrote an article about this a while back where I said the US should let the House of Saud fall even if it is replaced by the House of bin Laden. This "realpolitik" is killing us.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 03:36 PM

Markus -

I don't think that "articulate" is anything you lack.

Ooooh - Galbraith? Well, I always ask for more data, so I'll give him another look. grin

Thanks for the debate. We are off to dinner outselves.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 27, 2004 04:17 PM

Markus: VDH DID criticize the handling of the Iraq war on his web site, not in a column. However, his criticism had perspective and was mild, as it should be.

Interesting of Michael to admit why he isn't commenting on the war on the ground in Iraq. I feel the same way. The picture is way too murky. However, these repeated car bombings of people waiting in recruitment lines to join the Iraqi police is very significant. The fact there are lines, that is.

The brain drain from left to right over Iraq is going to really hurt the democrats, perhaps for decades. I think the dems are truly becoming a party of the elite, and they are going to start losing the underclass soon. The leadership of the democratic party is more and more out of touch with middle class america.

Posted by: Raymond at September 27, 2004 04:28 PM

MJT writes: For the record, I think Mary is absolutely right about Saudi Arabia. They are the enemy and must be declared such.

True, they also have no sense of irony, and the largest per-capita share of chutzpah on the planet.

On today's AP wire: Saudi Arabia Seeks World Terror Conference*

Just an excuse to blame all Islamofascist murdering/maiming on the Israelis/Zionists.

*no, I don't think they mean a conference for terrorists, although that's certainly more their speed.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 27, 2004 04:55 PM

Perhaps the Saudis will invite Jimmy Carter and the United Nations. They could issue some sort of combined resolution denouncing America for the humiliation at Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: d-rod at September 27, 2004 05:33 PM

Wow, I just had a good laugh. Someone up there was ranting about the hypocracy of telling some countries that they can't have nukes when we have them. That we permit Pakistan to have nukes but not North Korea. THAT was some funny stuff, whoever wrote that. Moral relativism, I think was the buzz term. It's called being a superpower, my friend. You must be one of those people who hates the biggest kid on the block, just because he's bigger than everyone else. Maybe you're right- let's just let every country have nukes and see how it all works out!! Better yet, let's get rid of ours while we're at it. Even better- let's give all of our nukes to Saudi Arabia!! That will make us the most relatively moral country on earth!!!
Posted by: $lick at September 27, 2004 10:37 AM

I was that person. You misunderstood the nature of my argument. My argument is not that we should let everyone have them. My argument is that no one but no one should have these things. They do nothing but breed more fear. Who are they protecting us from? The Soviets are no more, no one is within reach of us with an ICBM no matter what the North Koreans say. Who are you going to nuke? How will they stop terrorism? How will they prevent war? Mutual destruction no longer applies. Nukes do nobody any good.

I think it's great that we are a superpower. But I think being a superpower comes with certain responsibilities, not the least of which is to demand the same level of disarmament among our friends as we do our enemies.

Posted by: Greg at September 27, 2004 05:40 PM

Markus,

Would he admit that the Administration was making a mistake if he thought doing so would give ammunition to its critics?

If the critics were honest and constructive, yes he would. But since the Democrats leadership and their MSM propaganda organs are dishonest, corrupt, and trying to undermine the war in order to gain partisan political advantage over Bush, honest criticism is best given in private.

Posted by: HA at September 27, 2004 05:42 PM

Greg,

Working the hardest jobs in our country for $5.15 an hour, as many are forced to do in this scarce job environment, is tantamount to slavery. I know this. I have worked such jobs and watched my parents work such jobs.

If it was "slavery", wouldn't you and your parents both still be working such jobs?

Your comment is "tantamount" to stupidity.

Posted by: HA at September 27, 2004 05:51 PM

Markus,

And Stalinists were the earliest, most uncompromising fighters against segregation and Jim Crow.

Sorry to burst your dialectical materialism bubble, but the Abolishionist and the Civil Rights movements were Judeo-Christian movements. Now that you have been corrected, should I expect that you will start singing praises of Jews and Christians instead of Stalinists?

Posted by: HA at September 27, 2004 06:12 PM

By the time "the left" got through denouncing everyone you would have them denounce they'd be too exhausted to say anything else.

Posted by: kc at September 27, 2004 06:14 PM

So Cooper get kudos for pointing out the obvious? Get real. These trivial theological disputes in the tiny left hot house are BORING. Not least because they have been going on for ninety years, repeating the same skit again and again. I think these folks get reincarnated into the same situation so they can get it right, but they never do.

Posted by: chuck at September 27, 2004 06:17 PM

Groupthink is "fundamentally authoritarian," and no ideology is immune to groupthink.

Ideolouges of all stripes reliably dog-pile upon anyone among their ranks demonstrating the insufferable audacity to consider the beliefs and arguments of "the other side." Open-mindedness just plays havoc with the purity of right vs wrong, good vs evil, us vs them. Afterall, if "they" might be right about something, then "we" might be wrong about something, and, holy crap, that can't be true? (Perish the thought.)

All this business about how "the LEFT thinks this" and "the RIGHT thinks that," is a whole bunch of worthless postulation, reminding me of the endless "women are from Neptune" and "men are from Uranus" debate. Guessing what a person believes based on their party affiliation is like determining how tall a person is based on their last name.

There are many sub-groups on every side; pulling out a thread here or there to damn the whole lot of them is not critical thinking.

Posted by: sivert at September 27, 2004 06:51 PM

Markus,

And Stalinists were the earliest, most uncompromising fighters against segregation and Jim Crow.

Clarence Darrow became quite disenchanted with these folks. He felt that they used these issues for their own end, without really caring about the people involved. Samuel Leibowitz of Scottsburo fame also broke with the ILD over their unscrupulous attempts at jury manipulation that endangered the lives of his clients.

Communists were immoral opportunists and proud of the fact. They the promised land reform to the Russian peasants to gain their support. Whatever happened to that? No, there was nothing good about those folks.

Posted by: chuck at September 27, 2004 06:51 PM

MJT:

Cooper said in part "It seems that your opposition to capital punishment, to racism and to fascism is all outweighed by your other heretical views in the eyes of thousands of self-satisfied leftists."

If Cooper believes he's on the left because that's where opposition to racism and fascism is he's completely clueless about his own politics. There are plenty of people who like to believe they're still fighting the civil rights battles, but the word for them is delusional. I don't know if you buy into this crap, but this translates to non-lefties as "I am a big fucking idiot". Lefties not only support totalitarians around the globe, their personal behavior and the cultures of the institutions they control reek of totalitarianism, as the main point of his article makes clear.

I'm not trying to bust you for something Cooper wrote, but I was astonished to see you link to something that makes such a point. Did you ignore this since it was not Cooper's main point? Or do you agree with such sentiments?

Posted by: mj at September 27, 2004 07:12 PM

JC, is this guy the Michael Turner you're quoting? Heh. That guy didn't have anything to do with planning the first Gulf War. Where did you get that quote from and when?

2/3rds of the Army's combat Brigades are NOT 'tied down' in Iraq, since the Army has something like 73 combat brigades both regular army and national guard, and there's only 14 brigades in Iraq right now. (and 2 in Afghanistan).

And what crystal ball is he using to predict the future? Hmmmmmm?

How do you know Michael Turner isn't feeding you a line of bullshit?--which is exactly what you'd be saying if he was supporting the war instead of criticizing it.

Seriously.

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 27, 2004 07:35 PM

Markus,

Too expand on the Scottsboro Boys:

They arrived too late. The International Labor Defense, the legal arm of the Communist Party, already had rounded up the necessary signatures to gain the right to represent the Scottsboro Boys. Arriving in Birmingham, Darrow received a telegram, signed by all nine black prisoners (though probably concocted by ILD lawyers): "We do not want you to come and fight the ILD...just to help the NAACP." Yet the ILD could hardly afford to flatly close the door on an attorney with the reputation of Darrow. The ILD offered Darrow the case on the conditions that he repudiate the NAACP and allow the ILD to dictate legal tactics. Darrow found it impossible to accept the case on the ILD's terms, and returned home.

Did you ever see such a collection of assholes as the Communist Party? You should be ashamed to associate yourself with them in any way.

Posted by: chuck at September 27, 2004 07:46 PM

mj: I was astonished to see you link to something that makes such a point. Did you ignore this since it was not Cooper's main point?

Anti-racism is an important ethical plank on the left. Any left-wing person, radical or moderate, will tell you that. It doesn't mean pro-racism is any kind of plank on the right. Only fools think otherwise, and Marc is no fool. I know him personally and can definitely vouch for him on this one.

Am I understanding your objection? Is that how his sentence came across to you?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 07:56 PM

Greg,
My argument is that no one but no one should have these things.

Sure, I agree. Why don't you go out and collect them? Bon Voyage.

Posted by: chuck at September 27, 2004 08:17 PM

MJT:

Anti-racism is an important value to virtually all Americans, as is anti-fascism. If he believes such a stance distinguishes left from right, he must believe rightists aren't against racism and fascism at the very least. If he doesn't believe this is a distinguishing feature why does he use them as examples in his reasoning for Hitch "belonging" on the left?

Yes I think that's how this sentence comes across.

Posted by: mj at September 27, 2004 08:44 PM

>>>"Did you ever see such a collection of assholes as the Communist Party? You should be ashamed to associate yourself with them in any way."

Chuck,

Markus has to associate with communists/stalinists, and now islamists, because who else is there to oppose the Great Satan? He's exactly the kind of tool Hitchens is talking about when he's explaining his schism with the Left.

Horowitz too. They've both figured out just exactly what these guys mean by "peace" and "justice". It means they're for the other side. The U.S. has to be cut down to size, they think, because most of the world's evil originates with us. To Markus, and his ilk, it's about "the elites" you see. There would be no islamists if it weren't for America. We created them, spawned them by our evil doings around the globe, particularly towards the normally peaceful Arabs/muslims, thinks Markus. So defeat American power in order to force America to retreat from the world stage, and islamism will vanish. Peace and justice will finally have a fighting chance!

Posted by: David at September 27, 2004 08:57 PM

David,

I've been reading Markus's posts for a long time and I have to say that's a silly caricature of his positions. Some people really are that stupid, but Markus ain't one of 'em. I mean, come on, the guy just said he reads Victor Davis Hanson on a regular basis.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2004 10:15 PM

Greg- Perhaps I did misunderstand your point, but I still flatly disagree that we have a responsibility to disarm our friends as well as our enemies. I take the position that we (and our friends) are GOOD, and our enemies (and their friends) are BAD. As long as the bad people seek and procure weapons, we need the good people to have them. I mean, doesn't this question sound ABSURD to you- "How can we expect criminals to shun weapons when our cops are armed?"

I'm sorry, I just think it's funny...

Mary,

Once again, I don't dispute that the Saudis are extreme and dangerous to all. I appreciate your plan for a Saudi showdown, and nobody would like to see that plan come into being more than I. There is no doubt in my mind that we could remove the Royal Family in one day. Even with the current operations in Afghan and Iraq. However, I can't believe that you would expect a US administration to carry out such an operation. You're wrong that we'd have to coordinate it with an attack on Iran and Syria as well- it would be a declaration of war against the ENTIRE Muslim World- pure and simple. The American people are having a seriously hard time stomaching Iraq right now. Iraq has an estimated 5,000 extremists operating against us right now. Could you imagine if we were up against 30,000,000? I'm not talking military forces here. I'm talking about AT LEAST 10% (would probably be MUCH more than that) of the 300 million folks in the Arab world deciding that bin Laden was right- the US really IS the enemy of Islam. It would be the mother of all showdowns. Getting our "allies" to help us by promising some oil spoils would be more of an effort than you think. Do you REALLY think that the anti-US United Nations would endorse such an action? Do you really think that 25%-Muslim France would follow our lead?

I'm not saying I'm against your plan, I just don't see how it can happen on any level of reality. If you're waiting for an administration to declare war on Saudi Arabia (Islam), you'll be waiting for a VERY long time.

I do agree that SOMETHING must be done. I think the current plan is to slowly-but-surely bring them on board with the power of free-enterprise. Sort of like the US model. That's right- the US used to be a nation of puritan freaks who burned "witches" and hunted down non-believers. As we developed into an economic powerhouse and allowed freedom and education to take hold, we came to our senses. Nobody PLANNED for that to happen. It just happened. I don't think the Saudis are PLANNING to change. I think we're counting on them to change as their society developes. I think right now we're focussing our diplomatic efforts on getting them to close those Madrasses and take other measures to separate church from state. Their would ultimately be a "lost generation" of radical Saudis that would grow old and die with their hatred of America and all things Western intact. But the NEW generation would be educated and free from the brainwashing that has plagued them for so many centuries.

I know this may seem too lenient in the face of such outright evil, but I'm telling you- sticking our hands in Mecca's cookie jar is not even close to feasible...

Posted by: $lick at September 28, 2004 02:29 AM

Some people really are that stupid, but Markus ain't one of 'em. I mean, come on, the guy just said he reads Victor Davis Hanson on a regular basis.

MJT-

There is a difference between reading and understanding. A big difference. And...When you have a guy running around talking about Jews in terms of 'tribal supremacy', just about the most charitable thing you can say is that he's about as sharp as a sack of wet mice. The question with Markus isn't whether he's stupid, it's how does he remember to breathe.

I like your work, but you have a real blind spot when it comes to certain members of the genus Leftus Dimwitus.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 28, 2004 04:20 AM

$lick
The problem is that those changes in the US and how they happened are part of the historical record. Bin Laden and the other Islamists know about this and a large part of their efforts are devoted to preventing a repeat happening in Saudi Arabia.

I agree the Saudis probably aren't planning to change in any directed fashion but there are people devoting a lot of time and effort to blocking or reversing any changes that happen. I'm not sure how much we can rely on social development to bring about such radical change in the region. If it does it probably won't be just one "lost generation", but probably a whole series of them each smaller than the last.

Posted by: sam at September 28, 2004 04:24 AM

And that certainly includes Marc Cooper.

I'd suggest that Cooper uncross his eyes for 10 minutes and read Hitchens' letter of resignation from The Nation. As I said above, though, there is a big difference between reading and understanding...but hope does spring eternal, doesn't it?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 28, 2004 04:27 AM

All this talk about communists might have folks wondering who the Communist Party of the USA is endorsing this election cycle. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you no longer have to wonder. They have endorsed John Kerry:

http://www.dmregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040927/OPINION01/409270325/1035/OPINION

So why would the CPUSA endorse John Kerry? Is it because they think he will be good for America, or bad for it?

And to all you Kerry supporters out there, doesn't this endorsement by the CPUSA give you pause? The commies obviously support Kerry BECAUSE he will be a disaster. Meanwhile, rank and file Democrats have been persuaded that supporting Kerry will be good for America. Both can't be right.

So what is the right answer? Are the commies so stupid that they will support Kerry believing he will be a disaster, only to be disappointed? You could make a good argument for their stupidity. They are commies after all. Or has the Democratic leadership orchestrated a campaign of lies that have confused and persuaded enough rank and file Democrats that Kerry might actually be a good leader. To answer that question, I'll leave you with Christopher Hitchens:

http://www.slate.com/id/2107193/

Posted by: HA at September 28, 2004 04:38 AM

MJT,

Some people really are that stupid, but Markus ain't one of 'em.

Markus drives me crazy. He's not a dumbass like Kimmitt, but every once in a while he serves up a comment that is just so stupid, I have to wonder about him.

Here is a guy that says he supported the war in Iraq becaue it was a "celebration of internationalist values." He has agreed that American sovereignty is a "dubious" proposition. He has accused the Israelis of being tribal supremecists. And now he says the communists were the masterminds of the Civil Rights movement.

Markus has a unique ability to both insightful comments and jaw-droppingly stupid ones. That's why he drives me nuts.

Posted by: HA at September 28, 2004 04:45 AM

"Anti-racism is an important value to virtually all Americans, as is anti-fascism. If he believes such a stance distinguishes left from right, he must believe rightists aren't against racism and fascism at the very least. If he doesn't believe this is a distinguishing feature why does he use them as examples in his reasoning for Hitch "belonging" on the left?"

Those on the Right are undoubtedly anti-fascist (at least to the totalitarian side of it's equation) and I doubt many on the right consciously support racism or believe themselves to be racist. But the anti-racism movement, at least as it goes in the U.S., has traditionally been a cause more closely associated with the Left than the Right. Certainly in current times, the modern Left view racism, as much more widespread and in need of urgent attention than the modern Right does.

Besides, I don't think the point of Marc Cooper's piece was to rest the identify of a Leftist solely on the issues of racism and fascism. I think he was just pointing out how silly the notion is to Hitchen's critics (who would regard him as dead) that simply supporting the liberation of Iraq, turns him from a Troskyite socialist into a full fledged Neo-Conservative(which is what many of Hitch's critics have been calling him)

As far as I know, Hitch hasn't changed his opinions about the Israeli-Palestenian conflict, still believes that there is something inherently immoral in 'Capitalist' practices and the ineffectiveness of 'bureaucratic primitivism' to successfully regulate said practices, still has healthy contempt for the likes of Bush the Elder, Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger, still holds the U.S. accountable for realpolitik alliances with as Kirkpatrick would say 'Moderately oppressive regimes' during the cold war, still detests religion of all types etc.

Basically, Hitchens may not ally himself with any official leftist idealogy or movement anymore, but he stil has alot more in common with the left than the right. The only thing Christopher Hitchens and David Horowitz have in common besides support for regime change is a hatred for Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Epitome at September 28, 2004 06:13 AM

it would be a declaration of war against the ENTIRE Muslim World- pure and simple. The American people are having a seriously hard time stomaching Iraq right now. Iraq has an estimated 5,000 extremists operating against us right now. Could you imagine if we were up against 30,000,000?

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Saudi Wahhabis do not represent the entire Muslim world. In fact, the large portion of the Muslim world, Sunnis included, HATES our Saudi allies. Ask them about it sometime. I did, and I learned that in the Muslim world, the Saudi Wahhabis are seen as ‘parasite usurpers to the throne’.

I also mentioned that we should leave Mecca and Medina alone. Kicking the Saudis out and regaining control of the Holy land is something that non-Wahhabi muslims have been dreaming about for years.

Muslims didn’t give the Saudis power, the British did, in a stunning act of idiocy that was comparable to handing Jamestown’s Jim Jones the Papacy.

And we continue this alliance. If you’re wondering why they hate us, there’s one good reason.

The news will tell you that bin Laden has supporters among the general population. They’ll also tell you that Al Sadr and the Iranian mullahs have supporters. The news also told us that, before the war, Saddam Hussein won a popular election with 100% votes.

People ‘support’ bin Laden and al Sadr for the same reasons they ‘supported’ Saddam. Right now, we allow bin Laden and his ilk to appear to be powerful, and they use that power to extort support. When they come under attack, they can expect as much popular support as Saddam received.

There are some hardcore paramilitaries who would fight with bin Laden et. al., and there are a lot of leftist/Islamist paramilitaries based in Europe. They’re at war with us now, and they will be at war with us if we attack their state support. We’re already fighting them, and the combination of soft diplomacy and urban guerrilla street fighting is a very losing strategy. There is no reason to sacrifice so many innocent lives in the vague hope that someday the Wahhabis may become enlightened. Why should anyone be willing to die for the hopes that we can someday reform the racist Wahhabi cult? Why shouldn’t we treat this cult with the same respect we showed the Thousand Year Reich?

We’re already fighting this war. I’m talking about changing our tactics so we can actually win.

Posted by: mary at September 28, 2004 07:31 AM

Mary,

I don't know- I haven't seen a lot of support from the Muslim community in any of our efforts so far. Meddling in the house of Mecca seems to me like it would rally the masses against us like never before, regardless of how they feel about the Wahabbis. I don't believe that bin Laden and Sadyr have as many supporters as the media would have us believe, but I'm just not impressed with the Muslim world as a whole as far as their willingness to support us or our policies. I think it would be great if you were right and we could good have all the "good" Muslims join us in a virtuous fight against the "bad" Muslims, but I just don't see it. I think it would be the disaster to end all disasters. But trust me, I'd be the first guy to go in there and start making martyrs. I think it's a fight worth fighting, but I have no faith in the American people's ability to stomach such a conflict. If Saudi Arabia doesn't have 50 nukes aimed square at NYC, I don't see how we could sell this thing. Am I wrong?

Posted by: $lick at September 28, 2004 11:12 AM

I'm just not impressed with the Muslim world as a whole as far as their willingness to support us or our policies

People who know a lot more about the Muslim world than I do have said that the best word to describe the majority of non-extremist Muslims is ‘apathetic’. I don’t think they’d give us strong support at all. But I don’t think they’d rise up en masse against our military, either.

Right now, I don’t think that the American public would support it. Until the press and the government repeat and stress make the obvious connection between Wahhabi supported Chechens, Wahhabi supported Hamas, Wahhabi supported Sudanese genocidal Janjiweed and other groups, most people will have no idea what’s going on.

The best way to understand the Saudi strategy is to read about the massacre in Rwanda. The Hutu rebels didn’t use WMDs to kill hundreds of thousands – all they needed was to a way to spread their message of hate to the people who would respond to it. The Hutus used the radio and the Saudis use the mosques. They don’t need nukes.

Posted by: mary at September 28, 2004 01:26 PM

HA -- If someone pins me down, the politician I feel most closely aligned with ideologically is Tony Blair. But actually the more I learn and see of life, the more confused and unsure of myself I get. I think this is a fairly common trait of today's liberals, and exemplary in some ways, although it also means we are less ideologically unified and less effective in our rhetoric.

Also, since I'm not fighting in your Manichean war against evil, I'm mostly interested in the facts. If in fact Mussolini made some of his trains run on time, or Communists supported full civil rights for black people back in the 1920's, or more Iraqi women are getting raped in Baghdad now than compared to when Saadam's thugs ruled the roost -- I want to know these things, regardless of whether it gives the devil his due or hurts "the right side" politically. Chuck's comments about the CPUSA's conduct during the Scottsboro Boy's case was a useful fact. I agree with him that the party's attempt to make martyrs out of them rather than free them was reprehensible.

The reason that today's tiny Communist Party USA has endorsed Kerry is probably that they are a rather tame group, made up largely of very old men and women (lots of them Jewish by the way -- a plus in my book). That was my impression, anyway, when I used to go to their bookstore and talk to their members. Most radicals view the CPUSA as way too reformist, and they have formed a bazillion other groups (like Workers World) that are much more radical and that are definately not endorsing Kerry. Together these groups vastly outnumber the CPUSA.

The other point of course is that Reagan was endorsed by the Klan. I wonder what it was about the Gippers campaign they found so appealing. In neither case is it be fair to link a campaign to the views of its most extreme supporters.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 29, 2004 08:11 AM

Mary,

Well said! The Sauds are definately a serious cause for concern. While most Muslims are simply people who believe a particular religious creed, the more extreme islamic groups are a dangerous lot (just as any extremist group would be).

However, we do have a bit of a problem, and its one I haven't seen answered yet.

1. The Wahhabi movement needs to be checked soon. Given more time, they will be able to spin our current battle in Iraq into a large anti-western propaganda tool. Once the propaganda is entrneched, it will be difficult to curb Wahhabism.

2. Iran is working toward nukes (we think). Given a little time, they will be a nuclear power.

3. North Korea is also near nuclear weapon capabilities. How much time can we give them before it's too late?

4. We have to stabilize Iraq ASAP

Those four issues are things I see us needing to deal with over the next two years.... Sadly, two years may be too long, so we may have to pick and choose our targets. Iraq is obviously top priority. Until Iraq is at least somewhat stable, any other actions may simply further strech our resources.

What order would you put the other three in? What needs to go first?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 29, 2004 08:56 AM

Tosk - All of them.

If a weak nation like Iran or Saudi Arabia wants to win a fight against a western nation, they’re going to avoid a direct military conflict, because they know they have no chance of winning. They’ll fight us they way they’ve been fighting Israel – by funding terrorist paramilitary groups.

If one of these weak states is forced into a direct military conflict, they quickly lose, but they know they can eventually win by using the occupation to drag the western power into a long, drawn-out guerrilla war. When one state falls, others send in their own paramilitary reinforcements, who use innocent civilians as human shields. They’ll also extort support from civilians and journalists by threatening them. The news will report that we're losing 'hearts and minds' and that we're in an unwinnable war.

That’s the way Iranians, Saudis, Syrians, the Sudan and the Palestinians have been fighting their wars for decades.

If we think we can use our old divide and conquer tactics, we’re wrong. The terror in the Sudan is supported by the Iranians and al Qaeda. These Islamist states work together. Al Qaeda/Saudi Arabia and Iran often work together when it’s convenient, despite the whole Shiite/Sunni conflict.

These states are experts at playing the victim, using the UN, diplomacy, and subterfuge. We're not.

When we attacked Iraq and then just sat there, it was a given that ‘insurgent’ groups would appear. Iran-financed Iraqi terrorists and other foreign fighters are just going to keep hitting us, and it will probably get worse. I have no idea why our government planned it this way, but only if we realize that we, like Israel, are fighting all of these states, not just local insurgents, can we get out of this mess.

That’s why the area is comparable to a hornets nest. We’ve been fighting them by poking at it, and it’s not going to work. We have to remove the whole thing. Our strength is a military force that makes their combined armies look like a girl scout troop, but we shouldn’t attack another one of these states unless we have the plans and the allies necessary to attack all of them, at once, in a way that would avoid the occupation/insurgency problem.

Posted by: mary at September 29, 2004 02:48 PM

- oops - just wanted to mention, none of this applies to North Korea. I really haven't read enough about that situation to comment on it.

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