January 23, 2005

Not Just For Neocons

One reason I’ve been pushed toward, but not all the way into, the right since 911 is because it sometimes seems like conservatives and Independents are the only ones I can relate to anymore. Nevermind that I don’t sign off onto all their opinions. No one agrees with me about everything, and I don’t expect anyone to. So it’s a nice treat to find Kerry-supporting Democrats like Tom Frank at The New Republic who really know where I’m coming from, not just intellectually, but on a gut level.

This band of socialists was the most effective recruiting tool for the Republican Party I'd ever encountered.

To begin with, there were the posters on the wall: MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION. Let's leave aside that the meter is somehow dissatisfying (nine syllables followed by eight--no flow at all). The main point is, if the shallowness of this statement bothers you, to what party do you look for comfort? To the Democrats, many of whom condemn building firehouses in Baghdad and closing firehouses at home? Or do you say to yourself, in that moment, "I don't much care for Newt Gingrich--nor does anyone else--but I bet he hates that goddamn poster as much as I do"? I know where I was leaning.

Then there was the pooh-poohing of elections--any elections. Former soldier Stan Goff (supposedly of the Delta Force, Rangers, and Special Forces) spoke at length about the evils of capitalism and declared, "We ain't never resolved nothing through an election." This drew loud, sustained applause. Nothing to get worked up about, I thought; just a leftist speaker spouting lunacy. But today it seemed particularly bad. It wasn't just that I was missing what might be lovely canapés (or perhaps spring rolls being brought about on trays with delectable dipping sauce); rather, it was the thought that the speaker was dismissing something that Afghanis of all ages had recently risked their lives to participate in, something Iraq's insurgents view as so transformative that they are murdering scores of Iraqis to prevent it. No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.

But the worst came with the final speaker, a woman by the name of Sherry Wolf, who is supposedly on the "editorial board of International Socialist Review." She talked, and talked, and talked; terms like "architects of the slaughter," "war criminal," and "Noam Chomsky" wafted about the room; and my eyes grew so bleary that I ceased taking notes. But then she brought up the insurgents in Iraq. Sure they were bad, she admitted: "No one cheers the beheading of journalists." But, she continued, they had a "right" to rebel against occupation. Then she read from a speech by the activist Arundhati Roy: "Of course, [the Iraqi resistance] is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery, and criminality. But if we were to only support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity." In sum, Wolf said, the choice boiled down to supporting occupation or resistance, and we had to support resistance.

So there it was. I even forgot about the Constitution Ball for a minute. Apparently, we were to view the people who set off bombs killing over 150 peaceful Shia worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala as "resistance" fighters. And the audience seemed entirely fine with this. These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.
Very good, comrade. Welcome to the non-partisan, equal-opportunity, big-tent Militant Middle.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 23, 2005 09:16 PM

Comments

Amen brother. This is the reality based community?

Posted by: Mike Roark at January 23, 2005 09:43 PM

All right. This has to stop. I'm doing an intervention. You've been driven to the right, and voted for Bush because, there are idiots on the left and Democrat moderates and liberals don't spend enough time talking about how idiotic the idiots are?

I don't like people like that either. They drive me pretty crazy, actually.

But, Christ, I have bigger things to worry about. This crowd is utterly marginalized, even within the Democratic party. They have much, much, much, much less power than James "Get Spongebob Squarepants" Dobson. Unlike Paul Weyrich and the Family Research Council, they didn't get weekly phone calls from the Karl Rove (or the Democratic equivalent.) Unlike Judith Reisman, whose written about how gays weren't really targeted in the Holocaust and how the "German homosexual movement" actually helped create it, they have never been invited to testify before Congress. Unlike Tom "rampant lesbianism in high school bathrooms" Coburn, and Jim "fire the gay teachers" DeMint, they are not members of the U.S. Senate. (Democratic wackjobs in Congress are fewer in number and mainly confined to the House.) Some of them still have columns in the Nation--which is why more and more liberals read The American Prospect instead.

"9/11 changed everything", I used to think, might mean that we look seriously at what's going on in the world, pay attention to foreign policy, look at what's happening in Iraq, consider what the least bad option might be in North Korea and Iran, to say nothing of the nuclear black market in Pakistan that the administration is still bent on ignoring, and wondering just what is going on in the CIA and the Department of Defense these days, and whether Alberto Gonzales will ever give Congress a straight answer on the treatment of prisoners. Instead it seems to mean, "The president said something inspiring about freedom today. Huzzah for freedom! In more important news, some leftists are STILL acting stupid, and they don't understand 9/11, and we hate them SO much and Michael Moore is so fat!!!"

Enough. Really, enough. The election is over. Your vote is cast. There's no point justifying it anymore; we'll all see what happens. Que sera sera. But please, start concentrating more on what powerful people are doing, than what powerless people are saying.

Posted by: Katherine at January 23, 2005 09:44 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if some of these "socialists" took part in the localized "resistance" late Thursday night:

An impromptu demonstration by a crowd spilling from a "counter-inaugural ball" in Adams Morgan late Thursday turned into one of the biggest Inauguration Day disturbances, leaving windows smashed and nearly 80 people arrested.

Self-described anarchists, fans who had attended the punk-rock ball and passersby joined in a melee in the area of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, where police said they spray-painted buildings with the red "A" anarchists use as their symbol, threw a brick through the windshield of a police vehicle and smashed out glass windows and doors at a police substation and at Riggs Bank and Citibank branches.

[...]

Damage resulting from the incident was estimated at $15,000, police said.

The crowd of a couple hundred people was made up of anarchists who had attended the ball and several inaugural demonstrations earlier in the day, as well as people who decided on a whim to join the noisy, late-night procession. Police said the demonstrators were mostly in their early- to mid-twenties and largely came from out of town.

[...]

The late-night vandalism occurred in an ethnic and cultural hub of Washington far removed from the downtown symbols of government. But one marcher said the property destruction, particularly at Citibank and the police substation, was done for political purposes to protest businesses and institutions responsible for exploitation and oppression.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) criticized protesters for damaging property in an area of town that is largely liberal and diverse.

"Adams Morgan is not associated with the Republican Party," he said. "We are not the home of George W. Bush."

The trouble began shortly after 11 p.m., after the ball ended. The show, a benefit concert at Calvary Methodist Church at 1459 Columbia Rd. NW organized by Washington area activist group Positive Force DC, featured Anti-Flag and other acts.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at January 23, 2005 09:46 PM

Katherine: You've been driven to the right, and voted for Bush because, there are idiots on the left and Democrat moderates and liberals don't spend enough time talking about how idiotic the idiots are?

No, I voted for Bush because I prefer his foreign policy to John Kerry's incoherent psuedo-pacifist gruel. I can relate to the center and the right for the reasons described in this post.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 23, 2005 09:56 PM

So there it was. I even forgot about the Constitution Ball for a minute. Apparently, we were to view the people who set off bombs killing over 150 peaceful Shia worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala as "resistance" fighters. And the audience seemed entirely fine with this. These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation----

Yowsah !!!
My kind of guy,and in the New Republic no less.Another writer I must now try to follow in the future.

Posted by: dougf at January 23, 2005 10:02 PM

Not unrelated is the following post to my email address list (I don't blog yet). I appreciate your "gut" feelings and it's okay to spew occasionally, but remember that this remains really, really serious on an intellectual level. So spew, then get back to business:

>From "The Mesopotamian":

To start with, I wish to congratulate all Muslim people on
the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.

...The [outcome of the] battle with ... [those] opposing
change in our country [Iraq] ... depend[s] on the balance
of intimidation.... The basic error was in allowing this
balance to tip in favor of the enemy through inadequate
security measures coupled with underestimation of his
ability to subvert and cripple civil life. The enemy should
be well known by now as being an alliance of former regime
elements with the Bin-Ladenists ...; not to mention the
motley assortment of petty criminals and mercenaries. [TR's
note: i.e, the folks supported by the American and
European "anti-war" left, who hate the broad support and
desire for democracy in Iraq]. The basic ideas and
strategies of this enemy are broadly laid out in that
famous Zarqawi document. Unfortunately, his plan has been
implemented more or less successfully so far. I have always
insisted on the paramount importance of that document,
which I believe to be authentic. Careful reading of it
could shed much light on what has been going up to the
present time. He clearly states that one of the most
important elements of his plan is to gain control of the
Sunni areas and incite the people therein against the rest
and majority of the population namely the Shia, the Kurds,
Christians etc., thereby creating the conditions that would
lead to civil war of the worst kind: religious and
sectarian conflict. Thus and in pursuit of this vile
scheme, the most heinous barbaric crimes have been
committed, especially against the Iraqi people....

There is also very little doubt that regional powers are
playing an important role in financing and aiding the
terrorist campaign in Iraq, as a means of thwarting U.S.
and Allied strategies. All what the U.S. is expounding is
anathema to these neighboring regimes (and others more far
away): Democracy, freedom, standing up for the oppressed,
the promotion of more enlightened and open political
systems. Moreover; the hostility against these ideas are
perfectly understandable from their point of view, since
they spell death and doom to social systems based on
tyranny, despotism , blind bias, arrogance and prejudice.
 [TR's note: The anti-Bushie's just can't stand the idea
that a Republican president and Republican neo-cons are
carrying out a LIBERAL INTERNATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY; and
of course they want to forget who was president when the
United States with malice aforethought REFUSED TO HELP the
hundreds of thousands of Rwandans being massacred WITH THE
SUPPORT OF THE FRENCH FORCES.]

Regarding the elections, it is almost evident what is going
to happen. Voting will take place mostly in those places
that are more or less out of reach of the intimidators,
namely, the South and Kurdish North. Unfortunately, much of
Baghdad is on the wrong side of line. In fact, this
intimidation is working against the interests of secular
and moderate political forces, and in favor of the more
religiously inclined and intransigent parties, since those
likely to favor the former are largely to be found in
Baghdad and the major cities. And; if the latter parties
gain power, they are not likely to treat the “insurgents”
very kindly; so, probably, the intimidators are stupidly
digging their own graves.

Moreover, no one should expect that the security situation
and strife would somehow improve after the elections; it is
more likely to intensify. This is an unfinished war; the
Saddamists and their allies have fully regrouped and
rearmed and are being very well financed and supported. The
brave American people have given President Bush the mandate
to finish this war despite the painful sacrifices and
material cost. The Iraqi people are up in arms through the
political groupings, new army, N.G. and various security
forces and are suffering the greater part of the sacrifice.
Despite all the snags and faltering, these forces are
getting bigger and stronger and should be supported and
nurtured until they can bear the full responsibility; this
is the only viable “exit strategy” available. In fact, we
do not like this phrase, for what is required is a “victory
strategy”. This war must be fought to the bitter end, and
there is only one outcome acceptable both to us and to you:
Total and Complete Victory. Anything else is completely
unthinkable.

Salaam

[TR's note: For many years I was "of the left" because a
significant part of the left (i.e., the part I was a member
of) fought FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY and AGAINST
AUTHORITARIAN AND TOTALITARIAN REGIMES. Furthermore, the
left was internationalist. I am no longer "of the left"
because ALL OF THE LEFT now fights IN FAVOR OF
AUTHORITARIAN AND TOTALITARIAN REGIMES and AGAINST FREEDOM
AND DEMOCRACY; while I remain internationalist, for freedom
and democracy, and against fascism, baathism, jihadism,
feudalism, isolationism, and defeatism. As a revolutionary
democratic socialist, I supported Democratic parties and
presidents and Republican parties and presidents WHEN I
AGREED WITH THEM--e.g., Richard Nixon's opening to
China--and opposed them WHEN I DISAGREED WITH THEM--e.g.,
John Kennedy's and Lyndon Johnson's war in Vietnam and
isolation of Cuba. Today, I do the same. I support George
Bush's and the neocons' revolutionary and liberal foreign
policy (while criticizing its implementation when it should
be criticized) while opposing the president's ILLIBERAL
domestic policy--e.g., I support gay marriage, a rigid wall
of church/state separation, etc. I invite anyone out there
to show how in any way my politics of yesteryear are
different from or inconsistent with my politics of today.
 I do have different views on some political subjects, but
not in the areas mentioned here.]

I fully support those Iraqi's who are attempting to build a
democracy and all of those who support them. They have my
best wishes for a successful election next week.

Tom Roland

Posted by: Tom Roland at January 23, 2005 10:58 PM

John Kerry's incoherent psuedo-pacifist gruel

"Psuedo pacifist"?

Kerry is not any type of pacifist. His foreign policy hardly differed from Bush's, and whomever is in the White House, there is a huge gulf between rhetoric ("freedom", "democracy", etc) and dirty reality.

Here's a reality check:

Fareed Zakaria:

The president said in his speech to the world’s democrats, 'When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.' But when democratic Taiwan stood up to communist China last year, Bush publicly admonished it, siding with Beijing. When brave dissidents in Saudi Arabia were jailed for proposing the possibility of a constitutional monarchy in that country, the administration barely mentioned it. Crown Prince Abdullah, who rules one of the eight most repressive countries in the world (according to Freedom House), is one of a handful of leaders to have been invited to the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas. (The elected leaders of, say, India, France, Turkey and Indonesia have never been accorded this courtesy.) The president has met with and given aid to Islam Karimov, the dictator of Uzbekistan, who presides over one of the nastiest regimes in the world today, far more repressive than Iran's, to take just one example.

Johann Hari:

I was a fool [for assuming America's benign motives], and I apologise unreservedly for it. I believe it was essential then to support the Iraqis against Saddam and to back their desire now for real self-determination, rather than the hollow version offered by the Coalition or the negation of it offered by the Sunni ‘resistance’.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 23, 2005 11:03 PM

Benjamin,

Where is your vaunted sensitivity to the machinations of the rich, priviledged, and political? We don't need Fareed and Johann to tell us about Kerry. We are adults, we can hear what he says, we can catch the undercurrents and unstated positions. We can judge his personality and integrity. That's why we didn't vote for the guy.

Posted by: chuck at January 23, 2005 11:38 PM

Yes, God bless the New Republic. Here a few thoughts on above-said things:

-As Katherine suggested, many and most liberals I know can't put up with the Nation anymore. They're all big fans of the American Prospect, which I can enthusiastically endorse. The Prospect is a tad too left for me at times, but it's always intelligent.

-I wouldn't say John Kerry is a psuedo-pacifist so much as he is a psuedo-realist. Sure, he's an internationalist and he momentarily embraced a touch of isolationist rhetoric to appeal to the midwest in running for president, but in his heart of hearts...his foreign policy principles are more in line with George HW Bush and Colin Powell than anyone else. I would call that moderate realism.

-And, finally, as much as I think Benjamin is blowing it out of proportion, he has a point. I love idealism and am a huge fan of Woodrow Wilson, personally, so it delights me to hear Dubya give speeches like the one he just gave. But the problem with giving speeches like that IS in the ultimate gulf between the ideal and the practical. I know people in the Muslim world and if there's one word to sum up their attitudes towards American foreign policy, it's not "hatred"...it's "pessimism". They're deeply deeply cynical of American intentions largely because, well, American intentions haven't always matched American rhetoric. Idealistic speeches give hope, but ideals wrapped in nationalism completely detatched from humility can be detrimental to the very causes we claim to support. For every highly idealistic "feel-good" speech, there ought to be a highly honest "humbling" one as well.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 23, 2005 11:54 PM

Catherine -

I'm a gentleman 24/7 but I will remind you of this:

"This crowd is utterly marginalized, even within the Democratic party."

... if Howard Dean is placed in the chair at the DNC. The press is working mighty hard to make it happen; remember, the most impassioned are the ones that will show up for the meetings to make it happen.

For what it's worth, I don't see how the Dems could allow it to happen... but they are so fragmented now and the media is so punchy about getting used where they can be caught that any necessary sandbagging is apt to be clumsy. Dean didn't disappear until he screamed, even though the knives (Clarke candidacy/news rumbles about lib credential doubts) were clearly drawn already.

The howlers are indeed fringe. But they are what is the base. Tough nut to crack, that.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 23, 2005 11:56 PM

Fareed and Johann are telling you about Bush, not Kerry. Bush is the guy you did vote for.

So maybe you should take an interest in what he actually does, perhaps more than what he says.

Johann still supports the original invasion - just - but does not view American actions and motives as necessarily benign anymore.

As for Kerry, there is no way - post 9/11 and post invasion of Iraq - that his foreign policy would have been much diffferent from Bush's.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 23, 2005 11:57 PM

Ben --

Yes Kerry was a warmed over pacifist. He had a recipe for doing absolutely nothing about threats and potential threats in the Middle East. In other words, EXACTLY what we had done since 1970 when our diplomats started getting assassinated. Insanity is defined as repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That's EXACTLY what Kerry offered. Lob a few missiles and that's it. Too much trouble to use force pre-emptively.

I don't agree with Bush on the DMA; though I'll note he's pretty much just dropped it (to the dismay of his conservative supporters). I don't agree with him on Social Security, or the Environment, or much of anything else. That won't matter if I'm dead.

Beinart is right; the Party right now is hopelessly torn and therefore bound for loser-ville. The Kos Kidz ("screw em"); MoveOn.org ("our grief is not a cry for war"); ANSWER; and folks like Soros, Moore, Streisand, Sean Penn etc. have a stranglehold over the Party's National Security policy. You'll note Bill Clinton is not involved in that lunacy; as a former President he knows there really are evil people who want to kill us. Despite what Moore, Penn, Robert Scheer, and even Kerry ("terrorism is a law enforcement issue") would have you believe.

NOBODY on the Democratic side even KNOWS anything about National Security or is interested in knowing. Where are the Democratic cries to reform NATO so that it actually has more than American men/equipment/blood? Or replace it with a new security alliance that actually works?

Americans are living in a Die Hard world, we want more than Hart Bochner's character making "deals" or Robert Davi's "by the book" nonsense that ends in defeat. We want someone like Bruce Willis. The more Europeans and the Democrats sneer at Bush for being a "cowboy" against terrorists ...

Hans Gruber (in a sneering, "posh" accent): Do you really think you can prevail against us, Mr. American Cowboy?

John McClain: Yippe Kay Yay .

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 23, 2005 11:59 PM

Benjamin, I'll tell how to tell that John Kerry is a pacifist...

While he does take every stance and it's opposite at the same time, his statements from the pacifist side are emphatic long winded and self consistant with his history while his stances on the opposite side are scattershot, brief and incoherent. He's not a hawk, he just plays one on TV.

Anyway when a man does constantly make self contradictory statements you have no choice but to make assumptions about what he'll actually do, and it takes a deep dissatisfaction with the alternative to choose someone like Kerry who's contradictions show that he's obviously dissembling much of the time.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 24, 2005 12:04 AM

The Loony Left is over represented in the media and in academia. And yes, as they drive center type folk into the Reps, they become more loony -- it's the peeeeeple's ignorance and being brainwashed by the evil genius idiot Bush bah bah bahhh.

There are 2 kinds of gov't. By ballot box -- or by Death Squads. Bush is claiming it's time to reduce/ eliminate US support for any dictators (= gov't by Death Squads).

The anti-Bush folk are supporting gov't by death squad. That's despicable.

Dead horse Kerry has a record. 20 years of actual votes, as well as gasbag bloviation. Look at how he votes.
Like a pacifist.
Before AND after 9/11 -- except for his "wimpout" authorization of force before the Nov 2002 elections. In other words, not only is he generally a pacifist, he's an unprincipled one, willing to vote against his principles in order to follow the democratic herd.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 24, 2005 12:25 AM

Again, I say...he's less of a pacifist than he is a realist. John Kerry has no grand vision for American foreign policy largely because, well, as HW Bush put it, realists don't believe in that sort of "vision thing".

Kerry lost the election for that very reason. Because, after 9/11, we have to do something big in the world to try and keep 9/11 from happening again. There are multiple alternative-visions he could have offered to contrast with Dubyas, and he chose not to offer anything at all. I wished to God he would have taken up Paul Berman's argument, for instance, as laid out in his book "Terror and Liberalism". He didn't. He didn't offer anything, really. It's as my mother told me right after the Dem Convention, "Great, he went to Vietnam, he's a hero, and probably a pretty decent guy. But I still don't know what he believes in." Pacifists believe in something. Realists don't. The man is a realist.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 24, 2005 12:25 AM

Benjamin -

"So maybe you should take an interest in what he actually does, perhaps more than what he says."

I believe that's why he was reelected, Benjamin.

Our last president asked for and got a congressional resolution defining the U.S. policy toward Iraq as "regime change"... largely because his own party new it was never anything more than a gesture. They could vote for a gesture.

They've had lots of practice doing that sort of thing. One news cycle, two news cycle, what's the shiny new thing today...

Bush hasn't done anything except do exactly what he said he would do. That makes pre-9/11 types unhappy. It really scares the hell out of people actively engaged in trying to kill us, too.

The philosophy behind al Q's attack is insane. They wanted to inflict a horrific wound on our national soul (and against the free world as a whole) that we would fail to counter.

Their victory condition is to wake up tomorrow with targets to choose from, and again the day after that. Forget the caliphate. The brains behind the masks aren't driving truckbombs or wearing bomb belts.

It's their industry. They are corporate. You only see them on the shop floor for special occasions, like burning effigies or cutting heads off of bound captives. Bush looked at what it would take to stop the killing.

And here we are. The rest of the world has fair warning, too. Run your country in such a manner that you generate clear and present threats to us - and you get what you pay for.

If I had a child murderer on my block and the cops did nothing but pick up the bodies every week for years on end I think I'd probably pay a visit down there. I know I would, matter of fact. Expand that to the world, even include the useless, contemptible, U.N., too, in their self- assumed role as the hope of the world.

The existing Islamist regimes are hard pressed to compete with Scandanavia economically, and that's including their oil receipts. A billion people; maybe more. We leave them as is and we consign ourselves to a twilight war, on the enemy's terms.

Screw that.

The funny thing about this world war, to me, is that once again it's really Europe that hangs in the balance much, much more than it is us. But the progression from the iron defense of the French Poilius in 1914-18 to the wet bag collapse of Vichy in 1940 has bottomed witht the mean and cowardly tapdance of Chirac as he tries to knife us in the back with one hand while assuring his citizens that those millions of muslims in the projects are a gooooood thing for la belle patrie...

they only want to kill the jews, right? No threat to real frenchmen there, is there?

I'd rather change the mideast than see another single white cross planted in some crappy european field. And that's exactly what is at stake as Bush sets out to do exactly what he said.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 24, 2005 12:26 AM

Benjamin: So maybe you should take an interest in what he actually does, perhaps more than what he says.

Demolition of the Taliban in Afghanistan, followed by elections.

Demolition of Baath regime in Iraq, followed by elections.

I like it. Those who don't like it voted for the other guy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 12:29 AM

Hey, thanks for all your interesting responses.

I don't have time to reply in detail to all, or if I do later, the thread would have moved somewhere else by then. Thanks anyway.

I think I am with Grant McEntire, generally.

Kerry is more of a realist than a pacifist. In the classic realist/idealist split in international relations he falls more on the realist side of things.

Just on Jim Rockford's very interesting mention of the fact he disagrees with Bush on nearly everything else but "it won't matter if I'm dead".

Well, he mentions envronmental policy - crucially important not only for quality of life, but the very sustainability of life on earth.

One report in the British press says this:

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".

Dr Rajendra Pachauri is no tree hugger. He was supported by Bush into his job, when Bush got his predecessor, Robert Watson, replaced at the request of Exxon.

So it's important to think about other issues too.

I don't go as far as Jim Rockford in sacrificing everything on the altar of security policy, as it were.

This is a habit of pro-Bush liberal hawks. It's a bit of a flawed approach, IMO.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 24, 2005 12:58 AM

Benjamin: I think I am with Grant McEntire, generally.

Well, Grant and I agree on almost everything, even though we voted for different people. So, okay Benjamin, I guess you aren't a space alien after all. We found some point of agreement, at least kinda sorta via a middle man. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 01:33 AM

So, okay Benjamin, I guess you aren't a space alien after all.

No... I am just English. A terrible affliction! :-)

But I agree with Grant on his assessment of Kerry as being a realist in international relations terms (roughy speaking... much more can be written etc.)

I am unfamiliar with Grant's other views. May catch up on that later.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 24, 2005 02:40 AM

“But please, start concentrating more on what powerful people are doing, than what powerless people are saying.”

Powerless? Not in the least. The radical Left holds the veto power over who is chosen as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. Please note that Howard Dean will probably be the Democrats next Chairman. Joseph Lieberman has been marginalized to the political boondocks. I suspect that these people comprise at least a third of the Democratic Party. But even a mere ten percent is sufficient to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

Posted by: David Thomson at January 24, 2005 02:44 AM

I don't like people like that either. They drive me pretty crazy, actually.

Now that really IS news. Then why didn'tcha just say so?

Next thing you're going to tell us is that the Dems are actually in favor of the war on terror.

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 06:36 AM

One does wonder if Sherry Wolf and Arundhati Roy have ever considered that while the United States is hardly pristine, if they support only pristine governments and policies, then no government will be worthy of their purity. For that does seem quite relevant.

The US is not pristine; the resistance is not pristine. But we're the ones promising elections, and the resistance is the one promising to prevent the "evils" of democracy at all cost.

I understand to some degree the principle of holding the US (and Israel, and other democracies) to higher standards because we expect better of them. Fine. I don't understand actively going over to supporting an insurgency despite them committing worse horrors, because apparently as an insurgency and not a democracy they should be judged less harshly, or something.

Posted by: John Thacker at January 24, 2005 06:59 AM

Additionally, Michael Moore is fat.

Really Michael, haven't you ever heard of the fallacy of the excluded middle? (Not Moore's belly)

Posted by: praktike at January 24, 2005 07:00 AM

The radical Left holds the veto power over who is chosen as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Do they? Then why was Kerry the nominee, as opposed to, say, Dean, or Sharpton, or Kucinich?

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 24, 2005 07:25 AM

Michael Totten is not allowed to find it difficult to relate to the left because of seeing the antics of some of their prominent members? That's a "fallacy of the excluded middle"? Um, sorry, that's politics.

Here's a real fallacy of the excluded middle:

...the activist Arundhati Roy: "Of course, [the Iraqi resistance] is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery, and criminality. But if we were to only support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity."

The choice is between anti-Shia terror aimed at stopping the election, and "pristine", therefore she must side with terror.

koo-koo

Posted by: Blixa at January 24, 2005 07:35 AM

"Then why was Kerry the nominee"?

Because the leftists thought he was "electable," aka: A liberal in sheep's clothing. That somehow his purple hearts would overcome his liberalism.

It didn't.

Hence, that's why the liberals in the democratic base are now willing to write off Jesusland, because they've given up hope of being able to con that part of the country into voting for another leftist.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at January 24, 2005 07:37 AM

Personally after 4 years or so at war, I've been feeling a bit beleaguered. After losing my job, and taking a 17% pay cut to get another one; after seeing my credit debt rise just to pay the bills, and being turned down for car loans b/c my credit rating isn't what it used to be (I now drive a 10 year old Honda Civic and it's hurtin), John Kerry was saying some pretty tempting things. However no matter how good it sounded, no matter how "tough" on terrorism Kerry said he would be, I never forgot the shrill cries for restraint that came from the Dems, and the left, on September 12th, 2001.

I was 13 when Clinton took office, and 21 when he left, and I grew up watching the economy grow, my father's profit sharing checks get fatter, and we even got a pool in the backyard. However I also saw an enemy sniping at us. Taking lives whenever and where ever possible. I saw us barely flinch, barely even react, and when we did we lobbed Cruise Missiles at tents and were ridiculed for our cowardice, and wanton malice against poor brown people.

When Bush took office, for all his flaws; of which many still persist, I was glad that we at least had someone who would stand up to the bully. Kill those who kill Americans. And when we endeavored to do just that, who was it that shrieked in hysteria? The Democrats and the left; and people like Noam Chomsky who said American deserved what it got.

I don't always agree with Liberals and Conservatives, and I think both sides have positive contributions to make to American life, but foremost on both agendas has to be the preservation of American life. I look forward to the day when I get a better job, a better car, and my main concern is how I'm gonna pay for my daughter's college. But right now we have bigger concerns, we have people who's whole goal is to destroy our lives, crush our economy, and kill our children.

I'll be happy to go back to debating domestic policy when the time calls for it, but right now my allegiance lies with anyone who's top priority is defending our nation and our people from our enemies, and the relentless pursuit and eradication of those enemies.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 08:15 AM

I fully agree that there are many looneys on the left. I agree that the majority of Democrat 'dissidents' have no clue what they're really talking about. In fact, I am of the opinion that the downfall of the Democrats would be a good thing, hopefully giving rise to a better option.

However, a democracy is judged by its treatment of its dissidents, not its assimilated conformists (Abbie Hoffman). So the conclusion of that article concerns me greatly.

I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.

NO NO NO.

These democrats were holding a rally and speaking in public... while I don't necessarily agree with the shit they're spouting, I'll die defending their right to say it. In fact, I'll die defending an American's right to freedom, before I'll worry about Iraqis, Afganis, Iranians, Jews or Palis.

This attitude is what really concerns me about the future of this democracy. If we do not equally support the rights of those we agree and disagree with, then we have failed in this experiment. If we aren't willing to die to protect existing freedoms of Americans that we disagree with, what sort of mockery will be make of democracy abroad?

I'm sure that the poster was simply in some sort of rant mode... but thats a bit too authoritarian for my tastes.

Posted by: Ratatosk at January 24, 2005 09:41 AM

Liberalism is ruled at its heart by two opposing drives: rationalism and egalitarianism.
It is rationalist because it thinks that the ideas it comes up with should shape the human world. Its allegiance is to these ideas, not to their effects. The other drive is to make everyone equal, in every way. And this deeply moralistic project works itself out by lionizing all forms of inferiority and pathologizing all forms of success that are not the successes of the pathologized.

I live in Liberal Central. I hear comments directed against George Bush (of course) and against RepublicaNazis and against America’s greedy, soulless, corporate, capitalist, etc. But I never ---and I repeat, never— hear comments against Islamic misogyny, theocracy, sacred violence, totalizing ambitions, etc. And when I raise the question of whether Islam might have a problem, you can feel the anxiety in the room. If I am not overtly chastised for my incipient racism (which shows you how liberals categorize and respond to this particular religion), the conversation moves quickly back to the root causes, driven, of course by evil Westerners, that make Islam –“a wonderful culture of tolerance about which we know so little, being the ill-educated self-centered Americans we are”-- currently a bit testy.

You can quote me all the exceptions you like; it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference to me any more. I have passed over to the Dark Side. I have been in the process of becoming a conservative –still working on what that means—because it is apparent to me that people who espouse the kind of liberalism I encounter every day –and I take it to be the coin of the realm, the real thing-- do not 1) have a clue about the nature of their own species and 2) have about as much chance of surviving long on this planet as dodos. George Bush may not be anywhere near Perfect, but at least he knows what where he is.

Posted by: EssEm at January 24, 2005 09:52 AM

Michael: Just found your site the other day, but so far, you sound like an ideological clone of me. Or maybe I'm the clone of you. Whatever.

Katherine: Yes, there are idiots on both sides. The Left has their Neo-Marxists and the Right, their Neo-Fascists. But the reason those on the Right seem scarier right now is that they're the only ones with access to power as the Republicans control everything and the Democrats, nothing. If things were reversed, and we had a President Kerry and Democrat Congress, Michael Moore would seem just as scary as Dobson does now.

If the Democrats dump their radicals or at least push them into a corner where it's clear they have no influence whatsoever, they'll start winning again. Conversely, if the GOP decides to bow to Dobson and his ilk on social issues, they'll start losing again. In other words, both parties better start running to the center. Whoever gets there first, wins.

Posted by: Dave at January 24, 2005 09:52 AM

Tosk,

I'm right there with you; if Janet Reno, John Ashcroft or any other authoritarian reprentative came crashing through the doors of ANY group freely excercising their First Amendment rights as American Citizens, then I will be right there freely excercising my Second Amendment rights to kick their arse back into it's place.

I do think however that his statement was merely one of revulsion from what he was hearing, and not his rationalized, thought out response.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 09:53 AM

What a great post! Tom Frank explained himself quite well, I think, and with pointed humor. Fine, sensible stuff.

Posted by: Curtis at January 24, 2005 09:56 AM

Praktike: Really Michael, haven't you ever heard of the fallacy of the excluded middle?

Did you miss the last sentence of my post?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 10:24 AM

Mike: I'm right there with you; if Janet Reno, John Ashcroft or any other authoritarian reprentative came crashing through the doors of ANY group freely excercising their First Amendment rights as American Citizens, then I will be right there freely excercising my Second Amendment rights to kick their arse back into it's place.

Yes, me too. Of course I don't really want activist twits hauled off to Gitmo. It was a joke. I laughed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 10:30 AM

The other [Liberal] drive is to make everyone equal, in every way. And this deeply moralistic project works itself out by lionizing all forms of inferiority and pathologizing all forms of success that are not the successes of the pathologized.

Dave,

an excellent observation. And let me add that their concept of "equality" is actually based in "sameness". It is not based on a man's inherent value/worth in the eyes of God (as implied in our Declaration of Independence), but rather in his economic worth.

In other words, a poor man and a rich man aren't really equal until they are "equalized" by the benevolent Left--they have to be the "same." That's why there can be no differences between the sexes--that would make them "unequal." To a Lefty, Equality=Sameness.

Therefore, if there are rich and poor, they are simply unequal, because their worth is determined not by something inner or divine, but by their outer/observable circumstances.

Essentially, they place themselves in the role of god by doling out "equality" (and therefore worth) to the "unequal." After all, if you kill God, he's got to be replaced from somewhere. And that's what they've done. They've become little gods doling out "worth."

Posted by: at January 24, 2005 10:39 AM

David

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 10:41 AM

Anonymous,

Those are some excellent points to ponder, but one shouldn't generalize the left in that way. I believe there are some true egalitarians on the left, who don't wish for sameness so much as they strive to alleviate the misery of the daily lives and futures of the underclass.

While Egalitarianism is a noble cause, it isn't practical because it runs against human nature, and while it might sound good in theory, it will never succeed in practice. Not even when imposed by force (i.e. Stalinism).

However having said that, I believe that there would be a lot more people with permanant bootprints upon their faces, were it not for the efforts of many an egalitarian.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 11:01 AM

I believe that there would be a lot more people with permanant bootprints upon their faces, were it not for the efforts of many an egalitarian.

Mike,

I'm assuming your comment was directed at me.

I don't dispute that. On a personal level, I know atheists who put many so-called christians to shame in that regard. And I don't lump all individuals under either banner. I'm only speaking of the fundamental philosophical bases, and their soundness.

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 11:15 AM

David: I'm assuming your comment was directed at me

Not really, it was more a reaction to what Anonymous said in expanding on your comments, and a little bit of a response to EssEm's post. I think, or at least it seems to me, that while of generally conservative opinion, you only appear reactionary or irrational when you're angry. However, most of the time you make a pragmatic and well thought out representation of your views. This is not a criticism as I am very much guilty of the same thing. Judging by my youth and Irish temper I'd bet I get worse than you at times. : )

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 11:25 AM

If we aren't willing to die to protect existing freedoms of Americans that we disagree with, what sort of mockery will be make of democracy abroad?---Tosk

I don't know the answer to your question,but I DO know the answer to your statement.
How many people do you know or more importantly how many people could you theoretically estimate would be willing to sacrifice their lives,the lives of their loved ones,and their friends and relatives to defend the rights of those with whom they totally disagreed on serious existential issues?
This is a completely unrealistic interpretation of how human systems actually function.
" I may not agree with what you say,but I will defend unto death your right to say it".
Probably incorrectly quoted but close enough for government work.Good sound bite;not indicative of how societies function.
We can still quite reasonably act as an example even if virtually none of us are willing to ACTUALLY die to support the rights of the Ayran Brotherhood ,or A.N.S.W.E.R to be complete idiots.That is precisly why we have the intricate system of checks and balances built into the system. And the reason we have constructed this system is NOT because we are so deeply enamoured with hearing all the idiotic opinions enunciated;it is because we have learned over and over again thru hard experience that once started down the road of repression,it is almost impossible to stop before the end of the line.To ensure that we all don't lose,we make the decision that none should lose.Until a better system arises,this works for me.

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 11:26 AM

Those of you who view Dean as a radical leftist are profoundly unfamiliar with his fifteen-year history as a center-left politician in Vermont, including, among other things, an A+ rating from the NRA.

If you pretend that the mainstream voices are wingnuts, then you can support almost any conclusion. But Howard Dean was held up by the DLC as a model governor as recently as 2001. Dean is socially quite liberal -- witness the civil unions law in Vermont -- but he balances budgets, was known for being business-friendly as a governor, and has been willing to moot an increase in the retirement age for Social Security. The only position you don't like was his opposition to the war, which I think is the point of this whole piece -- to demonize anyone who opposed the war.

And if Mr. Totten gets to take credit for Bush's one foreign policy success (the elections in Iraq still haven't yet happened), then he has to take responsibility for Bush's record of first allowing the worst terrorist incident in US history to occur on his watch, then creating an international gulag in which torture and murder are regular occurrences. As you say, those who like Bush's record voted for him.

(This puts aside Bush's deliberate bankrupting of the Federal government, current attempt to dismantle Social Security, massive cuts to Americorps, planned cuts to student loan programs, etc. etc. But we've already established that Mr. Totten isn't a liberal in the sense where he is interested in the welfare, as versus the security, of the American people.)

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 24, 2005 11:27 AM

Kimmitt,

Show me where I support cuts in Americorps, student loan programs, etc. (Hint: you can't.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 11:31 AM

then he has to take responsibility for Bush's record of first allowing the worst terrorist incident in US history to occur on his watch, then creating an international gulag in which torture and murder are regular occurrences.--Kimmett

So Bush allowed the 9-11 terror attack.You know I am gaining respect by the day for his EVIL genius.Here he could have prevented the attack,but NO,it suited his master plan for world domination to ALLOW it to proceed.What a man!!
Can't say that I approve,in any way, but you do have to admire the dedication to the goal,and the brilliant grasp of the mechanics.And here I thought he was just a CHIMP.You learn something every day,I guess.

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 11:36 AM

Kimmett: And if Mr. Totten gets to take credit for Bush's one foreign policy success (the elections in Iraq still haven't yet happened), then he has to take responsibility for Bush's record of first allowing the worst terrorist incident in US history to occur on his watch

It is exactly this sort of disingenuous drivel that makes people like me, tune people like you out. Intellectual honesty, it's a simple concept.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 11:38 AM

For what I swear is the last time: no, I do not beat my wife.

And no, I and the other Americans who question or oppose George Bush policies, including his decision to invade Iraq, do NOT support the tactics or the goals of the Iraqi terrorists.

Mike: "I never forgot the shrill cries for restraint that came from the Dems, and the left, on September 12th, 2001."

Aside from Barbara Lee, not a single elected Democrat in Congress opposed giving Bush authority to overthrow the Taliban regime. And all but a handful of Congressional Dems and national candidates supported Bush in his foreign policy UNTIL the Iraq regime change project got going in the summer of 2002.

The Dems are not the party of the Left. The leftists quoted here either oppose the Democratic party or consider them "the lesser of two evils"

I don't know why I bother carrying on a debate with people who think it is acceptable to associate me, a mainstream Democrat, and nearly 60 million other voters like me, with the International Socialist Organization, just because we share ONE thing in common: a refusal to fully support George W. Bush's foreign and military policy.

But of course I know why you do it: truth be damned, it is politically effective.

Posted by: Markus Rose at January 24, 2005 11:39 AM

from
Statement from International ANSWER on the 2004 Election:

"...This is not just Bush's war. The Democrats, including Kerry, complain only that the criminal war has been badly managed. Kerry’s program was to bring in other imperialist countries, give them a share of the contracts (also known as the loot) and share the burden of aggression and occupation with others. There are millions of people including many "conservative" working people in swing states who are either opposed to, or apprehensive about, the war. Just as in the Vietnam War, millions of people can turn actively against the war—and can even become its most militant opponents—once they come to understand that they have been lied to by the government. Their children and spouses and neighbors are being sent to kill and be killed.

"For people to learn the truth and accept the fact that the government that they pledged allegiance to is really a bunch of lying criminals takes a process. It requires people who know the truth to tell it and to speak plainly so that there is no misunderstanding. Kerry has always known that Iraq was not a "grave and imminent threat" to the people of the United States. He also knows that the war was a brazen act of lawless aggression and that every life lost in Iraq constitutes an act of homicide by the officials who planned and ordered the war, who should all be tried for war crimes.

"Instead of stating clearly that Bush was lying, instead of telling the people that this was a war of aggression for the power and enrichment of Corporate America, Kerry voted for the war, agreed that he would do it all over again, and then asked people to vote for him because he had a "better plan" to win the war."

Posted by: Markus Rose at January 24, 2005 11:44 AM

Mike,

anonymous is me. Thanks for the compliment.

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 11:49 AM

David,

...Umm, I uh... I knew that was you.. I was just testing you out...(hey, I never said I was smart anyway!)

You're welcome. : )

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 11:53 AM

David,

...Umm, I uh... I knew that was you.. I was just testing you out...(hey, I never said I was smart anyway!)

You're welcome. : )

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2005 11:54 AM

I'm wondering how many more election cycles we'll have before "off the shelf" politics will become less than acceptable for the bulk of the electorate.

Posted by: Bill at January 24, 2005 11:58 AM

Markus: The Dems are not the party of the Left. The leftists quoted here either oppose the Democratic party or consider them "the lesser of two evils"

Markus is certainly right about that. One reason I was tempted to vote for John Kerry is because it would have driven a wedge between the liberals and the leftists. The leftists would have gone fully into attack dog mode against Kerry. And, yes, that includes Michael Moore. He would have turned his guns onto the Democratic president, and he would stop getting awards for his movies. It would have been a refreshing cultural adjustment.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 12:00 PM

Mike,

and I referred to "Dave" when I was actually posting about Essm's :-r

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 12:57 PM

And speaking of John Kerry ---
-------------------------------------------------
U.S. Senator John F. Kerry, D-MA, said the Zarqawi speech reinforced his own repeated calls to withdraw American troops from Iraq as quickly as possible, "to avoid imposing our culture-bound values on its people."
"Zarqawi offers a powerful alternative to Bush's provincial rhetorical hubris," Mr. Kerry said. "Even though Mr. Zarqawi is Jordanian, he has won the hearts, and often the heads, of the Iraqi people."

Courtesy of:-- http://www.scrappleface.com/

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 12:58 PM

For the good of the Republic, I seriously hope that the more level-headed liberals can either wrest control of the Democratic party from the rapidly growing fringe, or split off into a viable alternative party.

The latter os far less likely, I know.

And I also know that the same could be said of the right and cultural conservatives of the more partisan bent.

Problem is, the Republicans are in power now, so it's even more unlikely that they'll chuck the less considered religious folks over the side.

I may not be a liberal Dem, but I sure can recognize that a one party system benefits no one.

Posted by: hobgoblin at January 24, 2005 12:59 PM

And, yes, that includes Michael Moore. He would have turned his guns onto the Democratic president, and he would stop getting awards for his movies. It would have been a refreshing cultural adjustment.

That's not necessarily true. Rightwingers in this country don't turn against the GOP just because they're too moderate. At worse, they don't show up to vote.

True, the far Left may not "represent" the Democratic party, but the party goes out of it's way to embrace them and get their votes (see their convention and platform).

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 01:02 PM

Show me where I support cuts in Americorps, student loan programs, etc. (Hint: you can't.)

I didn't say you supported them; I said you were indifferent to them. The damage done by Bush's domestic agenda is irrelevant to you. You're the one who made the claim that those who like Bush's record voted for him. Obviously, if you don't like cuts in Americorps and student loan programs, your interest in the issue must be very low if you voted for Bush.

And, yes, the 9/11 report makes clear that the President and this Administration were asleep at the switch. It was our government's job to keep 9/11 from happening, and it failed -- and it failed partially because of the Bush Administration's profound disinterest in preventing terror attacks.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 24, 2005 01:05 PM

Markus: The Dems are not the party of the Left. The leftists quoted here either oppose the Democratic party or consider them "the lesser of two evils"

Good, I'm glad SOMEONE's saying this for once. I'm sick of people around here acting as though Michael Moore was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 24, 2005 01:14 PM

Kimmitt:

it failed partially because of the Bush Administration's profound disinterest in preventing terror attacks

this isn't the thread for this topic, but c'mon. Are you really saying that any administration since Kennedy, aside from Reagan, took terrorism seriously? (and Reagan did so mostly out of anti-communist goals and ignored the islamic menace).

Clinton lobbed cruise missles and destroyed aspirin factories, Bush I had little to respond to but didn't take out Saddam and thereby lessen state support for terror, Carter just managed to kill some very fine soldiers in the process of bending over for Iran.

How can you reasonably say that 9/11 was Bush II's fault, without an indictment of American policy regarding terrorists for the last 40 years under both Dem and Repub administrations?

Posted by: hobgoblin at January 24, 2005 01:15 PM

I'm sick of people around here acting as though Michael Moore was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004.

As opposed to Moore being embraced by Pres. Carter at the Dem Nat'l Convention?

Posted by: hobgoblin at January 24, 2005 01:17 PM

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 23, 2005 09:56 PM

"No, I voted for Bush because I prefer his foreign policy to John Kerry's incoherent psuedo-pacifist gruel. I can relate to the center and the right for the reasons described in this post."

Yes, but now that your hanging out you might find 'the right' receptive to some of your domestic policy agenda ideas too. Provided your willing to compromise a bit. We have the same problems getting the left to give an inch (negotiate in good faith) on domestic issues as with foreign policy... We could have the best (while maybe not most equitable) social service net in the world. We have had the opportunity of watching the Europeans go first and can learn from their mistakes... But, the atmosphere is so poisoned by partisanship, and the left's paranoia about 'the right,' that we cannot get anything pragmatic done.

Posted by: Thomas at January 24, 2005 01:21 PM

Kimmitt: Obviously, if you don't like cuts in Americorps and student loan programs, your interest in the issue must be very low if you voted for Bush.

You're right that these things are not on the top of my list. But these things have never been at the top of my list, not even when I was a college student and depended on loans (which I am still paying back).

Look, if it were up to me state colleges, or at least community colleges, would not charge students tuition. Expand the "free" education to include at least some higher education.

But we have bigger things on our plate right now, sorry. Maybe the Democrats will give us a "guns and butter" option next time. If you're going to force the country to choose between guns or butter, they'll choose guns in war time and butter in peace time.

I know you're not happy about it, but think about it this way. Would you rather have guns and butter, or guns without butter? If the former, nominate a liberal hawk next time. If the latter, nominate another limp noodle.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 01:22 PM

Hobgoblin: As opposed to Moore being embraced by Pres. Carter at the Dem Nat'l Convention?

Carter wasn't the candidate either, though.

Michael Moore bugs me as much as the next guy, but he really isn't a Democrat. Just because the clapping seal activists swooned over him doesn't mean the Democratic establishment did any more than the Republican establishment is going to go apeshit over Spongebob Squarepants.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 01:26 PM

MJT "Michael Moore bugs me as much as the next guy, but he really isn't a Democrat.

It's not like Moore was isolated and shunned by the party establishment. And that's the real point. Babs Boxer's crying on TV and explaining how Moore tells necessary truths. Carter calls him the best filmmaker of the time.

If these are fringe Democrats, they're an awfully powerful fringe.

I didn't think Stephen's comment was literal---i.e. that people viewed Moore as a candidate---but rather that he though Moore is far more marginal than I personally think he is.

Living in PDX, MJT, you know that not a few (and certianly not a "fringe") of Dems believe Moore hook, line, and sinker. PDX is a pretty blue town, but Moore's appeal goes far beyond just a few wild-eyed black bloc-ers.

I hope, sincerely, that Dems can shuffle off the more Lefty elements. They'll have to to get the union workers and such back in the fold. But to say Moore is marginalized in the party is to ignore the appearance that folks like me got from the Dem's convention and subsequent events.

Posted by: hobgoblin at January 24, 2005 01:56 PM

So Moore was a guest of Carter at the convention- so what? It's not like he spoke at the convention himself, or was even next to Kerry at any point during the campaign.

The difference between Democratic crazies and Republican crazies is that Pat Robertson and James Dobson have the ear of the president- a luxury that would not have been granted Michael Moore (or Noam Chomsky, etc.) in a Kerry White House.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 24, 2005 02:04 PM

Regarding Zarqawi...

Proposed new bumper sticker:

"I'm an infidel and I vote!"

Posted by: Odrady at January 24, 2005 02:57 PM

Steve Silver,

I don't know how much Dobson and Robertson really have the ear of the president. To an extent, I guess so. But he hasn't exactly enacted any legistlation to suit them.

The gay marriage ban is pretty obnoxious, in my opinion, but it's not a right-wing fringe position. My very blue state of Oregon voted to ban same-sex marriage. It's mainstream, though I wish it were not so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 03:18 PM

Um...I'm not so sure about that, Stephen. I mean, okay, yes, a filmmaker of any stripe is not likely to be advising the President on policy matters. But the Far Left would have to be coddled to, one way or another. Because, for Christ's sake...not even 2 months ago MoveOn was telling the DNC "we bought it, we own it"...DESPITE THE FACT THEY LOST!!!

Just stop and imagine the kinds of things they would have been saying had Kerry actually won. I have little doubt that their public demand #1 would be an immediate removal of troops from Iraq. Kerry would either at least have to pay them lip service or slap them down VERY hard into submission. Considering John Kerry's bold leadership style over the years, steady refusal to pander to opinion polls, and in-your-face campaign in running for the nomination (heavy heavy sarcasm), I would be seriously worried in that moment. You bet your ass Bill Clinton would do it, where he in that position, but Kerry is no Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 24, 2005 03:23 PM

The hard left's influence on the Dems is fairly strong and massive. Akin to Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson on the Reps in 1992 (and the reason why both parties lost as they moved to the extremes).

MoveOn was marching in the streets of NYC carrying "Our grief is not a cry for war" opposed to the invasion of Afghanistan, and MoveOn was THE big player money-wise for Kerry in the General Election. More to the point, it seems Kos/MoveOn are appointing Dean as their man to move the Party even further leftward in foreign/national security policy. Embracing or apologizing to the patronizing European governments who do not shoulder their fair share of the security burden and free ride on the American taxpayer, and paying off terrorists which only encourages more extortion and blackmail, as well as encouraging states to let bin Laden and folks like him operate.

Ben -- Kyoto is a joke. It was rejected by Clinton's Senate 98-2, and consisted mainly of a "screw America" program. The Europeans met their carbon targets by shutting down the uneconomic coal mines and steel mills operated by their various governments, in favor of all their nuclear power plants. China and India were specifically exempt from any Kyoto obligation.

Therefore, the US if it signed it would have had the choice of building nuke plants EVERYWHERE, or a total collapse of the economy. While carbon emissions STILL rose because China and India are not capped.

I agree that Global Warming is a threat that needs being taken seriously, but Kyoto wasn't it and it's a good thing Bush didn't submit it AGAIN to the Senate (Clinton signed it, but did not dare submit it, the 98-2 vote was an "advisory" sense of the Senate measure). Real action would require capping China and India and everyone else's carbon emissions (hint: the planet doesn't care if the carbon comes from "good" China instead of "bad" America) in a way that's politically sustainable. You can't expect Chinese leaders to throw their country either into economic pits for the good of everyone else.

This means new technology that's less polluting and more economic, both in total cost and scale (no massive Aswan-Dam type projects).

In the meantime, I am far more at risk from a bomb in my city than "Day After Tommorow" style sudden Ice Ages.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 24, 2005 03:28 PM

Steven Silver,

You're wrong. You're both overestimating the influence of the Religious Right on this White House and underestimating the influence of the Radical Left on a potential Kerry White House. Kerry's convention speech last year convinced me that plenty of left wing interest groups had his ear. Otherwise, lines like "trees are cathedrals of nature" wouldn't have come anywhere near it. Similarly, Bush dumped the FMA and Ashcroft as soon as the ink was dry on the election results, and his social agenda for his second term seems to consist solely of appointing a couple of SCOTUS Justices. Not exactly taking marching orders from Dobson.

Like I said, the influence of the wackos on both sides is equal in their respective parties. We just notice the right wing nutjobs more because their party can actually pass legislation and so forth.

Posted by: Dave at January 24, 2005 03:29 PM

My very blue state of Oregon voted to ban same-sex marriage. It's mainstream, though I wish it were not so.

A very good point. But mainstream America doesn't make a very good boogeyman. Let's go after the fundies instead and convert the converted.

Posted by: David at January 24, 2005 04:00 PM

Would you rather have guns and butter, or guns without butter?

This is disingenuous -- it was Senator Kerry, after all, who proposed increasing our troop strength, while Bush has not. If your issue is, "Kerry wouldn't have invaded Iraq, while Bush did," come out and say it; don't pretend that those who have different defense priorities than you have no defense priorities.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 24, 2005 04:04 PM

Excuse me folks - but Dougf's post above seems to have escaped under the radar:

"U.S. Senator John F. Kerry, D-MA, said the Zarqawi speech reinforced his own repeated calls to withdraw American troops from Iraq as quickly as possible, "to avoid imposing our culture-bound values on its people." "Zarqawi offers a powerful alternative to Bush's provincial rhetorical hubris," Mr. Kerry said. "Even though Mr. Zarqawi is Jordanian, he has won the hearts, and often the heads, of the Iraqi people."

Excuse the valley-girl speak - but HELLO?

Have I missed something or is Kerry making common cause with America's (current) public enemy number 1? Was he emboldened perhaps by Bin Laden's pre-election endorsement?

Doesn't this tell us that Michael Moore was not a lunatic fringe of the Democratic party and that it was no accident that he was embraced at the convention?

Is this even for real?

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 04:06 PM

Is this even for real? --Caroline

Sorry Caroline.My bad.Scrappleface is a satire site.Pay it a visit.It's very FUNNY.What makes him interesting is that his pieces always have just enough validity to ALMOST be belivable.

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 04:12 PM

GeeZ Doug! You bloody gave me a heart attack!!!!

I feel like a real idiot about now!!

BTW Michael - you're traffic just decreased by about 10%. I discovered the Refresh button!
(I used to have to log out and then back in).

I do keep the dunce cap next to the computer for times like these....

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 04:17 PM

I read too fast to catch the part about the HEADS!

Well - what can I say - but LOL!

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 04:20 PM

GeeZ Doug! You bloody gave me a heart attack!!!!---Caroline

Excellent !! Today I almost gave you the big one,and on the weekend I managed to drive liberals around the bend with an assault(justified IMHO) on our glorious media.
I feel ---- empowered.
Take care,and stay safe in the war zone here.You will like scrappleface,by the way.He posts MANY,MANY articles on the current news.

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 04:30 PM

Dougf - how can I NOT bookmark the scrappleface site after that? Actually - rather than a war zone, doesn't this perhaps more resemble a duel at dawn?? A CIVIL War? :) But - where are all the women? There's Mary - I saw Katherine today - but isn't the relative absence of women rather odd?

On a more serious note, I noted this post from our host (la guerre civile, non?) - pardon my lousy french..):

"One reason I was tempted to vote for John Kerry is because it would have driven a wedge between the liberals and the leftists."

I recall that Andrew Sullivan made a similar point - in favor of voting for Kerry because he thought it would force the Dems to get more serious on the WOT. My own thought at the time was that such an argument was a huge fallacy. I thought the answer for the Dems was to face unambiguous defeat. I'm surprised Sullivan even made the argument. (Perhaps I'd have to review his thoughts on Fallujah to evaluate his credibility on that point). Anyway, looks like I got my wish. Guess we're still waiting to see what the Dems learn from it.

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 04:48 PM

Grant McEntire: I wouldn't say John Kerry is a psuedo-pacifist so much as he is a psuedo-realist. .... in his heart of hearts...his foreign policy principles are more in line with George HW Bush and Colin Powell than anyone else. I would call that moderate realism.

Maybe we can agree that he's a timid cynic?

MJT: Michael Moore bugs me as much as the next guy, but he really isn't a Democrat. Just because the clapping seal activists swooned over him doesn't mean the Democratic establishment did any more than the Republican establishment is going to go apeshit over Spongebob Squarepants.

The DNC chairman endorsed Fahrenheit 9/11, saying he bought Moore's suggestion that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan at the behest of corporate greedheads. A lot of Democrats outside the "clapping seal activist" set adore the guy.

Posted by: MDP at January 24, 2005 05:01 PM

I'm going to go way negative with this post - which is dedicated to the neo-cons - so hopefully I cannot be accused of being too O/T.

Spend a week or so going through the current posts and archives of jihadwatch.com. Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzjerald make a very good case that democracy and Islam can never mix. In fact Hugh made a good case that the apparent support of the Shia - Sistani being the major spokesperson - has nothing to do with any appreciation for "democracy" - but rather for the inevitable fact that the Shia will win. They make an excellent case for the idea that Islam is perpetually at war with the infidels - and that said infidels will be tolerated for the ends they bring, but there is no love. I get the impression that we could someday be at war with iraq over jihad (not the al-Zarqawi extremism - merely mainstream Islam). This is not an indictment of Bush (who apparently thinks Islam is a religion of peace) - nor of the political left - who is simply unwilling to address such a "bigoted" idea. But it may be the truth. How much did we(pre-invasion) - or does (the current administration)- understand about jihad? Jihad is NOT an extremist idea in Islam. Sure - there are some exceptions to this pessimism - our favorite Iraqi bloggers included. This is of course far from an endorsement of the left's much-vaunted "resistance" to occupation. It's neither. It's about jihad. A central tenet of even moderate Islam. My fear is that we are engaged in a fool's game. And I will say again - it isn't because of any criticism coming from the left - if anything, considering their domestic policies -they will be the last to get it.

Admittedly these are dark thoughts. I have little business posting them right before Iraq's election. But - I am.

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 05:24 PM

"Then there was the pooh-poohing of elections--any elections. Former soldier Stan Goff (supposedly of the Delta Force, Rangers, and Special Forces) spoke at length about the evils of capitalism and declared, "We ain't never resolved nothing through an election." "

That was from the current thread. And then - from an earlier thread about Spongebob - we have posters pretty much stating that polygamy is OK.

So - from the left, we have polygamy is OK, and possibly the wave of the future - and democracy is useless - it's never solved anything.

What is wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 05:39 PM

Dave said to Steve Silver:

"You're wrong. You're both overestimating the influence of the Religious Right on this White House and underestimating the influence of the Radical Left on a potential Kerry White House. Kerry's convention speech last year convinced me that plenty of left wing interest groups had his ear."

Question: have you spent much time getting involved with / personally interacting with the grassroots activists in either party? I've spent a fair amount of time doing so (in a long sojourn from the GOP to the Democratic Party) and still know more than a few people involved in politics on both sides of the fence, and I can tell you that the Religious Right has a lot more influence in the GOP than the Michael Moores of the world have in the Democratic Party. It is damn near impossible in most states other than those on the coasts for a socially liberal Republican to get anywhere past the level of precinct chair in the Party, while there is no shortage of influential Democrats who have Tottenish views with regard to foreign policy, and they aren't bottled up in a few isolated states. (Also, the people that Tom Frank talks about in his article aren't Democrats anyway, so they aren't relevant to any conversation about the present or future of the Democratic Party, any more than some meeting of Libertarian Party cranks or gathering of militiamen in the forest says much about the GOP.)

Now, you may say that the Religious Right doesn't speak for you, or that you don't care about internal party politics. That's fine. However, the people who do care about party politics and who actually play the political game (as opposed to just write about it -- no offense intended, Michael) are the ones that get appointed to office from the municipal level up and they are the ones who set policy or get the invitations to sit at the table with those who do. The Religious Right is the grassroots backbone of the GOP, and their leaders get their phone calls answered at the White House much faster than any libertarian blogger will. Given that the GOP runs all three branches of government right now, I think that if you have concerns about the relative power of the hard right vs. the hard left in this country, you should be more concerned about the former.

Posted by: mistermark at January 24, 2005 05:56 PM
Benjamin - You’ve been so kind and diplomatic on this comment thread. But - you mentioned Dr Rajendra Pachauri and described his fairly standard Malthusian ‘we’re all gonna die’ global warming-‘ Club of Rome’ end-of-the-world scenario. You said:
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive”

Dr Rajendra Pachauri is no tree hugger. He was supported by Bush into his job, when Bush got his predecessor, Robert Watson, replaced at the request of Exxon.

Not only is Dr. Pachauri a rabid tree hugger who (with his fellow Malthusian tree huggers) believes that the world will end in 10 years, his appointment was contested by Al Gore because of his “virulent anti-American statements”
His anti-American statements, according to Gore, “called for, in his words, "a worldwide movement which boycotts American goods as a source of global pollution." …[He] is also the principal opponent of President Bush's stated policy that developing countries should share in the reduction of greenhouse gases.” “Pachauri's tactic is to insist that the United States and other highly developed nations make drastic reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases before less developed nations (like his homeland of India) are forced to.
One question – if we did what the Left suggests, if we wrapped ourselves in banana leaves, rode bicycles, killed every farting cow on the planet (without eating them, of course) lived on organic farms, worshipped Gaia and beat ourselves on a regular basis to punish ourselves for having been such evil greedy capitalists, can you offer any proof that this would have any demonstrable effect on Global warming?

Because I can’t find any data that states that proves that human-generated greenhouse gases cause global warming, or that changing our habits would have any measurable effect. The whole global warming routine sounds like yet another excuse to attack capitalism & America.

Posted by: mary at January 24, 2005 06:09 PM

I'm going to go way negative with this post-Caroline

Oh my,that near heart attack seems to have shaken my friend,Caroline.I have some doubts on the Islam/democracy front as well,but what gives me a great deal of hope in Iraq is that in this case,practicality is married to theory.
The Shiites are largely very un-educated and are by inclination and training inclined to follow the dictates of their 'spritual'advisors.I happen to think that the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani has conducted himself brilliantly since the invasion and has been a force for PROGRESS in Iraq.He has forbidden reprisals and has encouraged his people to use the ballot not the bullet to prevail.That alone is a giant step in the right direction.
Going forward the Shiites CANNOT enjoy the new Iraq IF they try to impose a theocracy or start leaning to Iran(which I don't think they want to do),because it would cause not only ALL the Sunnis to fight but would lead to a separate Kurdish state protected by US power.They would end up as kings of nothing and be consigned to the economic and social backwaters while others advanced.Al-Sistani KNOWS this.He wants his people to be something other than slaves and/or peasants,and wants the Iraqi holy sites to once again be the focus for world-wide Shiism.
Practicality and theory combine to point to a positive outcome despite the inherent problems in an Islamic environment.Once the Shias see that democracy does not have to mean majority tyranny or state attacks on their religion,why would they want to turn back?Only Al-Sadr and his totally ignorant followers want an Islamic State and Sistani has forced him to take a back seat.
Even if it's not all a matter of good intentions,but rather a matter of neccessity,the result is the same.More tolerance;more freedom;more opportunity;ballots NOT bullets.
Works for me and there is no other reasonable choice for us or for them.
As Dan(who ME biased) would say;

COURAGE

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 06:25 PM

"Oh my,that near heart attack seems to have shaken my friend,Caroline"

Well Dougf - near death experiences have a way of doing that :)

All I can say is - I hope your optimism is warranted. Thanks for cheering me up :) In any case - the world is certainly about to change in a few days! And whatever the course of 1400 years of history until now - the forces of oppression and tyranny ain't seen nothing like the big guns we got now - the INTERNET! So we might as well soldier on!

Posted by: Caroline at January 24, 2005 06:47 PM

Caroline,

If Islam is incompatible with democracy, how to you explain Turkey?

Of course Turkey succeeds because it has the separation of mosque and state. Ditto for Christian countries, though. If we had no separation between church and state in the US, America would look something like General Franco's Spain.

Separation of mosque and state is required for democracy, just as separation of church and state is required for democracy. And since at least some Muslim countries (see also Mali, in Africa) are able to pull this off, I see no reason why others can't too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 24, 2005 08:06 PM

. Otherwise, lines like "trees are cathedrals of nature" wouldn't have come anywhere near it.

Wow, I hadn't been aware that liking trees is now a "radical left" position.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 24, 2005 08:07 PM

It is time for Democrats (of which I remain a registered member) face up to some facts. The party stands for nothing except the gaining of power. Because the party stands for nothing it can only stand in opposition to Republicans. If President Bush is seen as resaonable, what is there to oppose? So of course liberals believe Dobson has the ear of Bush. Bush has said exactly nothing that indicates that he makes common cause with those right wing Christians who hate everybody not like them. Quite the opposite. Bush has said exactly nothing to indicate that he is anything but a gracious decent person who knows how to play the political game and seems to be doing so better than his internal enemies. Democrats believe the worst things about the President but choose to ignore the fact that Terry McCauliffe actually endorsed Michael Moore's hateful propaganda screed. Meanwhile President Bush never endorsed the Swift Boat Veterans and always said he thinks Kerry served honorably. He never once mentioned either Kerry's service or his protest actions after he came home. Yet he is tarred with having denigrated Kerry. Yet Democratic surrogates can say ANYTHING and of course it is not the Democratic party speaking. It's disgusting and thousands of people who are not Republicans have noticed it. This goes down to the lowest levels of the party. I have a friend who calls himself a "Scoop Jackson" Democrat. He told me "Before 9/11 Bush knew he was a one term president so his whole presidency was geared towards looting the economy to benefit his oil buddies." I just walked away. This is really really bad for the country and I tell you the Democrats need an intervention badly. Liberals denigrate the president's mandate? They say his victory is much less than other re-elected presidents? Yes but he has a pliable Congress! Something Reagan never had. Who are the Democrats kidding? Do they think they will be able to block Republican programs with their fillibuster? Democrats! Either move to the center and stay there or move to the left and admit what you are and lose with pride. Maybe someday the revolution will come or the Depression will return and you can rebuild your left majority. But it does not exist right now. And you lost those of us who are not so conservative on domestic issues but care about American National Security. I am sure the lefties here will have glip answers for all of this. They always do. But it does not change the reality. Bush is not that popular because he is doing difficult risky things. We who support him believe history will vindicate him as it did Truman who was much more unpopular when he left office in 1953.

Posted by: Doug at January 24, 2005 08:15 PM

It is time for Democrats (of which I remain a registered member) face up to some facts--Doug

Great post.Civil,reasoned,moderate,fair,and TRUE.
I hope your fellow Democrats are listening,but I think we both know they are not.For some reason they have gone mad and have decided lemming-like to hurl themselves from the heights,and once you commit to the jump,you lose all possibility of altering the direction of your travel.
At this critical time for the world it is a great pity that a once great Party is in the grip of a self-imposed madness,but there it is.
Pity.

Thanks for this excellent review of a sad situation.

Posted by: dougf at January 24, 2005 08:53 PM

Of course Turkey succeeds because it has the separation of mosque and state.

Actually, the new theory (of Raul Marc Gerecht and others) is that the Turkey model shouldn't be our aim, (Turkey actually has a lot of problems) but that democracy in Islamic countries will look very different, with a much lower degree of separation of religion and state than in Turkey or even here (which is much less secular than Turkey); a sort of "Islamic democracy" led by mostly Shia political parties.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at January 24, 2005 10:49 PM

Caroline,

We'd better be right in our optimism, or the results don't bear thinking on. Remember what we did to Japan in early August, 1945 once we were convinced that they were fanatics who couldn't be reasoned with... I don't fancy turning large sections of the Mideast into sheets to Trinitite. (Well, maybe on my bad days, before I get some coffee in me...) Nuclear weapons are a 60 year old technology, and here in the States anyone who pays attention in high school Physics knows the basics of how it works. More so than Oppenheimer, Fermi, and Teller had going into the Manhattan Project, to be sure. If we don't bring about a change in the way Islamic countries are run, it's a question of when we'll lose a city. Not if. If folks worldwide were scared of our response to the murder of 3000 of our citizens, they'd do well to think on what would follow the murder of 300,000. The story of Kipling's "Grave Of The Hundred Head" would be considered a measured response. If that idiot professor got his wish for "a million Mogidishus", he'd find that the toll on both sides would be proportunate to the original battle. This is what we're trying to prevent by being in Iraq in the way that we are.

Posted by: Cybrludite at January 24, 2005 10:59 PM

Steve Silver: Wow, I hadn't been aware that liking trees is now a "radical left" position.

Where I live it's completely normal for almost everybody. Maybe that's evidence that I live in a bubble. But I think it's really just evidence that I live in Oregon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 25, 2005 12:43 AM

"Separation of mosque and state is required for democracy, just as separation of church and state is required for democracy." (MJT)

"We'd better be right in our optimism" (Cybrludite)

I found this post on a jihadwatch thread. The posters are contemplating whether the Bush administration really grasps the threat of Islam itself, given their public rhetoric (ROP and all that). The poster, Cornholio, says:

"Bush is playing the only game he can. It's a slow game. He knows that to raise the red flag on Islam would be disastrous. Every banner headline in the western word would scream CRUSADER and ISLAMOPHOBE BUSH. Every leftist and fence-sitter would holler for his impeachment. And in reference to the remark that BUsh is off-track going after dictators and thugs instead of Islam itself, what's he supposed to do - start burning mosques and qurans? I am certain he has only 1 long-range plan to eliminate the scourge of Islam: women voters. Guarantee safe and secret voting rights for muslim women, and you'll begin to see "reform" candidates getting more and more votes. It's a guess to be sure, but I'll bet that for every devout and submissive-to-allah saudi woman, there are 10 who would like to see a few changes made".

I think he(she?) may have it right. It reminds me of something I read on a Symposium at frontpagemag - that much of Islam is about fear of women (the subjugation follows from that) and that a good deal of its edifice would crumble if women were granted equality.

Cool thought - women at the forefront of WWIV.

Posted by: Caroline at January 25, 2005 02:12 AM

MJT: If Islam is incompatible with democracy, how to you explain Turkey?

Turkey has required a relatively autonomous, interventionist military to keep Islamist forces in check even in the recent past.

I'm optimistic about Iraqi democracy, but it does seem that Islam is (or has been understood to be) more inherently political than any other major religion.

Posted by: MDP at January 25, 2005 03:22 AM

"You're wrong. You're both overestimating the influence of the Religious Right on this White House and underestimating the influence of the Radical Left on a potential Kerry White House. Kerry's convention speech last year convinced me that plenty of left wing interest groups had his ear."

I am a theological modernist but I still find the above statement most peculiar. A number of years ago, one had to belong to the John Birch society or Ku Klux Klan to be regarded as a member of the radical right. Today, this person apparently must only be pro-life and antigay marriage. The bar has definitely been dropped.

“One reason I was tempted to vote for John Kerry is because it would have driven a wedge between the liberals and the leftists.”

This is now thankfully mere abstract speculation. However, I am convinced that you would have been quickly disillusioned. John Kerry possesses no core values. He would have simply put his wet finger into the air to see which way the wind is blowing. Michael Moore represents those leftist Democrats who must be appeased before a presidential candidate can be selected.

Posted by: David Thomson at January 25, 2005 05:19 AM

Michael Moore represents those leftist Democrats who must be appeased before a presidential candidate can be selected.

Oh, that's nonsense. What did John Kerry ever do to "appease" Michael Moore, who as you may remember was a Wesley Clark supporter? If the radical left had to "approve" Democratic candidates, then they would certainly demand far leftists, or else they wouldn't be so "radical."

There's much more of a litmus test for the far right in the Republican party than for the far left with the Democrats.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 25, 2005 06:42 AM

"Oh, that's nonsense. What did John Kerry ever do to "appease" Michael Moore"

John Kerry sucked up to the radical left to gain the nomination. Have we already forgotten:

"I voted for the 87 billion, before voting against it!"

Posted by: David Thomson at January 25, 2005 09:23 AM

To all you folks wondering if Kerry is a realist or an idealist I can give you the answer. Since he has been the Senator from my state (I've lived here since college 30+ years ago) all these years. I can say that Kerry is neither. He is a cynic, totally self-absorbed except for that portion that genuflects to the Kennedys.

If the first JFK was the tragedy, this version is definitely the farce. His record in the Senate is an almost perfect example of exactly nothing. A more fitting description could not be written.

His political trajectory started with those "opinions" that would best fit the Kennedy run Mass. of the Vietnam War period (as did his service) and has stayed firm throughout.

Mentally, emotionally, politically he was and is a cipher on which the Kennedy clan (99% Teddy) can project anything they want. This has been happening so long I think that it happens telepathically now.

Posted by: AlanC at January 25, 2005 12:10 PM

Tom Frank once did an interesting, small magazine with a somewhat marxist bent called the Baffler. His slide right to the New Republic is nothing but a career move. He knows he has a bright future as a professional pundit and shill for the democratic party. Frank undertands the left well -- so bashing them is easy pickings for a few bucks.

As far as his analysis goes-- its weak. Frank led the charge immediately after the election that Gay marriage and other conservative moral issues won the election for Bush. Its petty clear now that the "War on Terror" won it for Bush.

Posted by: Drydock at January 25, 2005 03:57 PM

Not the same Tom Frank- the TNR Tom Frank and Thomas Frank (author of "What's the Matter With Kansas" and Baffler editor) are two different people. Kind of like the two conservative Robert Georges.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at January 25, 2005 04:54 PM

My Bad. Thanks Stephen. I take back my comment about "Tom" Frank #1 and his career move-- wrong Tom. My comments about "Thomas Frank" (the Baffler guy) and his analysis stand.

Posted by: drydock at January 25, 2005 05:12 PM

Michael --

I think any separation of religion and politics in the Islamic world will come very slowly if at all.

Whereas the Christian world from the very beginning had the separation, which continued more or less intact throughout it's existence, Islam is very different. Mohammed was not just THE final prophet of God but the Ruler, God's Shadow on Earth. Imagine Jesus Christ who was never crucified and Caesar/Alexander the Great being all the same guy.

Thus, the very idea that democracy or rule of men's laws could happen really is blasphemy. For the devout, ALL law comes directly from God, through the Koran and the Hadith (the collected sayings of the Prophet), interpreted by the Ulema (religous scholars). Accomodations can be made for circumstances, but the idea that men could arrogate for themselves what only God can give is still considered blasphemy. This is why most Islamic countries have had a hard time of it, adjusting to more modernistic forms of government.

Even the limited, enlightened tyrants of the Mahathir mode appear not in the Arab heartland but on the fringes (Maylasia, Turkey). Kemal Ataturk saw the ahniliation of the Sultan's Army by the Brits at Megiddo, and recast his nation right down to outlawing the Fez and veil, re-doing the alphabet in roman script.

So, yes, it will most definitely be difficult in Iraq. The plus side? The Iraqi clergy are natural rivals to the Iranians (being Shia ARABS not Persians) and are likely to be more circumspect in their wielding of power.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 25, 2005 08:59 PM

"Thus, the very idea that democracy or rule of men's laws could happen really is blasphemy."

That is my understanding of Islam as well but then how to account for acceptance of secular governance in the form of the Baath party - in both Iraq and Syria? Its not democracy but it is the "rule of men's laws". Of course it was largely imposed against the people's will but where was the big outcry from the Islamists? Where is the big outcry against Syria's Baath party today?

Posted by: Caroline at January 26, 2005 11:49 AM

Jim the Baath party was founded by a Christian.

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Tom Roland said it best above. While I am a republican I am a supporter of gay marriage am pro choice and a number of other issues I would be considered liberal or moderate on.

When it comes to foreign policy which for me as a vet of the first gulf war was the most important issue to me in this election that decided it. The medicare bill was horrible and the social security does need serious reform but private accounts are only a small part of what is needed.

I voted a split ticket this past election and the point of your post originally is dead on. I don't agree with anyone 100% so I take who is the closest and this past election it was George Bush. The far left has abandoned what is used to be under presidents like Roosevelt and JFK and has become a socialist party supporting fascist, dictators and terrorists.

There are some who are not that way but to get through a primary whether it is democrat or republican you have to appeal to the far left or right to get through the primaries.

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